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This is my review of our recent cruise onboard the Norwegian Jewel, sailing out of the new Houston Cruise Terminal. The duration of the cruise was from Saturday January 3, 2015 to Saturday January 10, 2015. The itinerary was Houston-Day at Sea-Cozumel-Belize City- Trujillo, Honduras-Day at Sea-Day at Sea-Houston. This was our 17th overall cruise, and our fourth with NCL. I might add that prior to booking this cruise we booked another NCL cruise for mid-year on the Getaway, out of Miami. We are looking forward to that one. Previous reviews of the NCL Jewel have made statements like, "the ship is showing its age."While that may be true, it is not, in my opinion the fault of the ship. It is the fault of the crew and the mindset that seems to prevail on this ship. The crew of the Jewel have apparently decided to embrace apathy as a viable work ethic. Sadly, this misguided idea seems to emanate from the top down on this vessel. Rust visible in areas frequented by passengers, wood deck rails in complete disrepair to the point of bare wood being exposed to the elements in multiple places, and, in fact part of the rail missing and replaced with nylon rope in one area, little or no real maintenance being performed by the crew, and a lackadaisical attitude by most crew members seems to be the norm. For example, this was the only time in all our cruising that our cabin steward did not make himself known to us. Never once inquiring about our needs or the state of the cabin, we literally never met him, or were absolutely sure which crewman he was. Our room was only "turned down" on two occasions prior to our retiring for the evening. Given our Latitudes level, we were supposed to have chocolate on our pillows each night. That never happened, even once. To be fair, the room was clean and well maintained. On several occasions we observed crew members making light of their duties by remarks among themselves, even during an abandon ship drill. Crew members were seen making faces at their officers behind their backs, and at customers in the gift shop as they walked away from potential sales. Their also seemed to be an abundance of casual interaction between crew members who seemed to prefer visiting with each other rather than performing their jobs. Many crew members wore no distinctive uniforms, only their small oval gold name badge, which made identifying crew more difficult. Most crew members failed to greet passengers or even to make eye contact, although the degree of this action varied by crew member. The Jewel being a smaller ship does not have the public spaces and seating areas that larger ships enjoy. This can make finding things to see and do during the day a bit of a challenge. On the two occasions that we went looking for a ping pong table to utilize, we found three bent up tables in two locations. In both those locations the boxes labeled "table tennis equipment" were empty with no crew members working on the "Sports Deck" to ask about the location of such equipment. Again, this seems typical for this ship. Be aware, that this ship does rock and roll a bit in rough seas. This was the only cruise that we have taken where we noticed "barf-bags" strategically placed near the elevators. We had no problem with the motion, but "first-timers" may want to be prepared. A strong point of this ship was the "Tradewinds" tax and duty free shop onboard. It was spacious, well staffed, and contained many items that one usually does not see on board a ship. This was a welcome addition to the experience. Another little known place to visit on the ship is on Deck 11. It is the "bridge viewing room." It not only offers a good view of the activities on the bridge, but duplicate radar and navigation screens to check out. It is a great place for the techies and sailors to visit. Very interesting. The food on the Jewel was in a word, excellent. With the exception of the pastries and desserts, the food in all venues was outstanding. The Garden Cafe is the best place to eat, and never disappointed. Our experience at O'Sheehan's Pub on Deck 8 was mixed. Again, the food was great, but the service was hit and miss . On our second lunchtime visit to O'Sheehan's we ordered cheese sticks as an appetizer, a hamburger, and a pot pie, and waited. While we waited a man was seated adjacent to us, several minutes after we had ordered. This gentleman ordered a meat loaf lunch and cheese sticks. While we waited he was served, finished his meal, and departed while we still had not been served. At this point we informed the greeter that we were leaving after waiting for 45 minutes. Keep in mind, they were not overly busy. We simply had the misfortune of getting one of those crew members who doesn't take her job seriously. We had perfectly acceptable service there the day before. So, be aware. At O'Sheehan's the food will be good, but the service is S-L-O-W. We also dined at the CHIN-CHIN specialty restaurant where we experienced both outstanding food and service. Such is the reality of the NCL Jewel. You take your chances and hope that those crew members that you deal with will be competent and committed as they surely should be. The onboard entertainment on the Jewel is simply not very good. The troupe of singers and dancers are weak, and their productions are not very well done. The one shining exception to the disappointing entertainment was the appearance of a young Russian married couple who bill themselves as Duo Déjà Vu. They are outstanding and their show is well worth taking in. Also worth the time was a magician named, Jean Pierre. His magic is so-so, but his card tricks and sleight of hand are amazing. He also interacts with the audience and seems very personable. The ports of call on this trip were pretty standard for a Western Caribbean cruise out of the Gulf Coast. Cozumel doesn't change much, and you can expect the same pushy sales tactics, and touristy items that have been the mainstay of this port for years. NCL does, however, make use of the Langosta Pier which puts you in town and among a group of merchants who must compete with the stores a few miles away at the new pier. Therefore, the prices are better here, and the salespeople a bit less pushy. Overall, a pleasant experience this time in Cozumel. At Belize City nothing has changed in years. A few stores in an area fenced in to keep locals out. The prices are high and the quality is low. The one new spot on this trip is Trujillo, Honduras. Like in Belize, you must tender to shore, however, at this location the ship's lifeboats are employed as tenders. Once ashore you will find a nicely kept up shopping village with very friendly people, and good prices. You will also find some of the cleanest restroom facilities in Central America. The area is poor and only recently has been under development to receive cruisers. We took the "Historic Trujillo" tour which lasts about an hour. Honestly there is not much to see, but what there is, is interesting. Our guide was a bit too focused on preaching his religion to us, and having lived in the area for only four years was not as well versed on local history as perhaps he should have been, but he was pleasant and accommodating. The town is small and unimproved with a long way to go before it becomes "tourist-ready." Many facilities in the town are surrounded by razor wire and high fences. Be aware that in this locale you will notice a heavy presence of armed police and private contractors hired to guard key facilities like banks. Twelve gauge riot guns and semi- automatic assault rifles are common. Our guide who constantly went out of his way to insist that all was peace and harmony in the area said that their presence was to help control the flow of traffic that increases during port days. This was clearly ridiculous. Traffic is never an issue in Trujillo, Honduras. The embarkation and debarkation experience at the new Houston Cruise Terminal is actually pretty good. Parking for a week is $80.00, although it can be purchased online in advance for $75.00. Getting in, dropping off luggage and parking is easy. Inside the terminal you will find the usual snaking lines, and a few employees who don't know the drill. After being directed to the Latitudes member line by one terminal employee, ourselves and another couple were verbally accosted by another terminal worker who rudely accused us of attempting to cut in line. We protested and stood our ground until someone from NCL came over and informed the terminal employee that she was, indeed, wrong, and that we did belong in the line after all. On our arrival back in Houston everything went smoothly with it taking only ten minutes from leaving the ship to clear customs and make it to the parking lot. In conclusion, I realize that I have been very hard on NCL and the Jewel in this review. I also realize that others surely will come away from the cruise with different interpretations and conclusions. This is my review, and my opinions based on some years of cruising experience on Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line , Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line. If you don't like my review, then by all means, write your own. I have tried to be honest and fair in my descriptions. Based upon past experience with NCL I feel sure that the problems encountered on the Jewel are unique to the Jewel, and are not common to the whole of NCL. As I previously stated, we are cruising with NCL again this year, and I am confident that the Getaway will provide a completely different, more enjoyable experience. All that being said, we really did enjoy this cruise and found many things to like about the experience.  

A Slightly Tarnished Jewel

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by thebigtripper

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2015
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window
This is my review of our recent cruise onboard the Norwegian Jewel, sailing out of the new Houston Cruise Terminal. The duration of the cruise was from Saturday January 3, 2015 to Saturday January 10, 2015. The itinerary was Houston-Day at Sea-Cozumel-Belize City- Trujillo, Honduras-Day at Sea-Day at Sea-Houston. This was our 17th overall cruise, and our fourth with NCL. I might add that prior to booking this cruise we booked another NCL cruise for mid-year on the Getaway, out of Miami. We are looking forward to that one.
Previous reviews of the NCL Jewel have made statements like, "the ship is showing its age."While that may be true, it is not, in my opinion the fault of the ship. It is the fault of the crew and the mindset that seems to prevail on this ship. The crew of the Jewel have apparently decided to embrace apathy as a viable work ethic. Sadly, this misguided idea seems to emanate from the top down on this vessel. Rust visible in areas frequented by passengers, wood deck rails in complete disrepair to the point of bare wood being exposed to the elements in multiple places, and, in fact part of the rail missing and replaced with nylon rope in one area, little or no real maintenance being performed by the crew, and a lackadaisical attitude by most crew members seems to be the norm. For example, this was the only time in all our cruising that our cabin steward did not make himself known to us. Never once inquiring about our needs or the state of the cabin, we literally never met him, or were absolutely sure which crewman he was. Our room was only "turned down" on two occasions prior to our retiring for the evening. Given our Latitudes level, we were supposed to have chocolate on our pillows each night. That never happened, even once. To be fair, the room was clean and well maintained. On several occasions we observed crew members making light of their duties by remarks among themselves, even during an abandon ship drill. Crew members were seen making faces at their officers behind their backs, and at customers in the gift shop as they walked away from potential sales. Their also seemed to be an abundance of casual interaction between crew members who seemed to prefer visiting with each other rather than performing their jobs. Many crew members wore no distinctive uniforms, only their small oval gold name badge, which made identifying crew more difficult. Most crew members failed to greet passengers or even to make eye contact, although the degree of this action varied by crew member.
The Jewel being a smaller ship does not have the public spaces and seating areas that larger ships enjoy. This can make finding things to see and do during the day a bit of a challenge. On the two occasions that we went looking for a ping pong table to utilize, we found three bent up tables in two locations. In both those locations the boxes labeled "table tennis equipment" were empty with no crew members working on the "Sports Deck" to ask about the location of such equipment. Again, this seems typical for this ship.
Be aware, that this ship does rock and roll a bit in rough seas. This was the only cruise that we have taken where we noticed "barf-bags" strategically placed near the elevators. We had no problem with the motion, but "first-timers" may want to be prepared.
A strong point of this ship was the "Tradewinds" tax and duty free shop onboard. It was spacious, well staffed, and contained many items that one usually does not see on board a ship. This was a welcome addition to the experience. Another little known place to visit on the ship is on Deck 11. It is the "bridge viewing room." It not only offers a good view of the activities on the bridge, but duplicate radar and navigation screens to check out. It is a great place for the techies and sailors to visit. Very interesting.
The food on the Jewel was in a word, excellent. With the exception of the pastries and desserts, the food in all venues was outstanding. The Garden Cafe is the best place to eat, and never disappointed. Our experience at O'Sheehan's Pub on Deck 8 was mixed. Again, the food was great, but the service was hit and miss . On our second lunchtime visit to O'Sheehan's we ordered cheese sticks as an appetizer, a hamburger, and a pot pie, and waited. While we waited a man was seated adjacent to us, several minutes after we had ordered. This gentleman ordered a meat loaf lunch and cheese sticks. While we waited he was served, finished his meal, and departed while we still had not been served. At this point we informed the greeter that we were leaving after waiting for 45 minutes. Keep in mind, they were not overly busy. We simply had the misfortune of getting one of those crew members who doesn't take her job seriously. We had perfectly acceptable service there the day before. So, be aware. At O'Sheehan's the food will be good, but the service is S-L-O-W. We also dined at the CHIN-CHIN specialty restaurant where we experienced both outstanding food and service. Such is the reality of the NCL Jewel. You take your chances and hope that those crew members that you deal with will be competent and committed as they surely should be.
The onboard entertainment on the Jewel is simply not very good. The troupe of singers and dancers are weak, and their productions are not very well done. The one shining exception to the disappointing entertainment was the appearance of a young Russian married couple who bill themselves as Duo Déjà Vu. They are outstanding and their show is well worth taking in. Also worth the time was a magician named, Jean Pierre. His magic is so-so, but his card tricks and sleight of hand are amazing. He also interacts with the audience and seems very personable.
The ports of call on this trip were pretty standard for a Western Caribbean cruise out of the Gulf Coast. Cozumel doesn't change much, and you can expect the same pushy sales tactics, and touristy items that have been the mainstay of this port for years. NCL does, however, make use of the Langosta Pier which puts you in town and among a group of merchants who must compete with the stores a few miles away at the new pier. Therefore, the prices are better here, and the salespeople a bit less pushy. Overall, a pleasant experience this time in Cozumel. At Belize City nothing has changed in years. A few stores in an area fenced in to keep locals out. The prices are high and the quality is low. The one new spot on this trip is Trujillo, Honduras. Like in Belize, you must tender to shore, however, at this location the ship's lifeboats are employed as tenders. Once ashore you will find a nicely kept up shopping village with very friendly people, and good prices. You will also find some of the cleanest restroom facilities in Central America. The area is poor and only recently has been under development to receive cruisers. We took the "Historic Trujillo" tour which lasts about an hour. Honestly there is not much to see, but what there is, is interesting. Our guide was a bit too focused on preaching his religion to us, and having lived in the area for only four years was not as well versed on local history as perhaps he should have been, but he was pleasant and accommodating. The town is small and unimproved with a long way to go before it becomes "tourist-ready." Many facilities in the town are surrounded by razor wire and high fences. Be aware that in this locale you will notice a heavy presence of armed police and private contractors hired to guard key facilities like banks. Twelve gauge riot guns and semi- automatic assault rifles are common. Our guide who constantly went out of his way to insist that all was peace and harmony in the area said that their presence was to help control the flow of traffic that increases during port days. This was clearly ridiculous. Traffic is never an issue in Trujillo, Honduras.
The embarkation and debarkation experience at the new Houston Cruise Terminal is actually pretty good. Parking for a week is $80.00, although it can be purchased online in advance for $75.00. Getting in, dropping off luggage and parking is easy. Inside the terminal you will find the usual snaking lines, and a few employees who don't know the drill. After being directed to the Latitudes member line by one terminal employee, ourselves and another couple were verbally accosted by another terminal worker who rudely accused us of attempting to cut in line. We protested and stood our ground until someone from NCL came over and informed the terminal employee that she was, indeed, wrong, and that we did belong in the line after all. On our arrival back in Houston everything went smoothly with it taking only ten minutes from leaving the ship to clear customs and make it to the parking lot.
In conclusion, I realize that I have been very hard on NCL and the Jewel in this review. I also realize that others surely will come away from the cruise with different interpretations and conclusions. This is my review, and my opinions based on some years of cruising experience on Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line , Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line. If you don't like my review, then by all means, write your own. I have tried to be honest and fair in my descriptions. Based upon past experience with NCL I feel sure that the problems encountered on the Jewel are unique to the Jewel, and are not common to the whole of NCL. As I previously stated, we are cruising with NCL again this year, and I am confident that the Getaway will provide a completely different, more enjoyable experience. All that being said, we really did enjoy this cruise and found many things to like about the experience.
 
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