Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by celebritytracy
- Sail Date: August 2007
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
We left home a day early in order to have a night in Barcelona to explore. I would wholeheartedly endorse this ! Even though we lost some sleep, we did have a bus tour of Barcelona and some time to stroll. The city bus tours are great, but the tape and ear piece method of delivering the spoken parts of the tour were difficult to follow and hear. You have to be careful in Barcelona because there are apparently a number of pickpockets. We did not have any negative experiences. We stayed at the Tryp Apolo Hotel as provided by the cruise line. It was fine-not 5 star but great for one night. Buffet breakfast was very good and included in the price.
Embarkation was very smooth and no wait. Our suitcases arrived very quickly. The ship is quite new and in great condition. This is where our comparisons to Celebrity really began. The room was nice, but not as nice as Celebrity rooms. The colors are a bit loud and the pillows were not comfortable. The room steward introduced himself and we rarely saw him again. I realize that this is deliberate but a couple of times I wanted to ask for things and the notes I left in the room were ignored. I think the practice of not directly tipping negatively affects room stewards, waiters,etc. I was spoken to rudely a couple of times on the ship. I don't think this would happen on Celebrity where tipping is personal.
Pools and sports areas were well used because there were a lot of children on board. I am not used to seeing ships with so many kids, but since I don't use the pools, it did not matter. The kids were a bit noisy, but it did not bother us.
Food is another area where NCL compares poorly. First of all, Freestyle Dining is anything but freestyle. Passengers in suites could book the whole week, but the rest of us could only book two days in advance. Much of one's time is spent scheduling meals. Since the show times are only published the day before, it is difficult to know when a good restaurant time is. Most of the time it was a scramble to get into an alternative restaurant. And an alternative restaurant is what we were after since the food in the regular restaurants was very ordinary. I don't think we should have had to pay extra on an already expensive vacation to get great food. All food on the Celebrity cruises was very good. The chocolate buffet was particularly disappointing. I had anticipated it for months and it consisted of some recycled choc statues and some ordinary cakes and breads.
On a more positive note, shore excursions were a highlight. We took mostly ship organized trips and they were well organized, punctual,and interesting. We did not see many ways to take private taxis the way you can do it in the Caribbean. The itinerary on this cruise makes it very busy if one wants to see as much as possible. We are in our 50's and although we found it tiring, I would recommend seeing as much as you can because there is so much great scenery.
Entertainment was very good with the usual variety of singers, dancers, magicians and comedians. The theatre was not as nice as that on Celebrity where there are little drink tables.
I would agree with other reviewers about the practice of "nickel and diming" passengers. There were so many little ways in which passengers were asked for more money, such as being sold water at meals. I would rather have paid $100 more for the cruise and have water included.
Disembarkation was smooth and uneventful. On the whole, I found that the NCL cruise fell far short of what I expected. I chose the cruise because Celebrity did not offer the same itinerary. I won't make that mistake again.
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