Well, where does one start ?
My partner and I decided to take a break for a few days. We had chosen NCL's Jewel because it was a newer ship with a 5 day intinerary.
We arrived at the seaport of Miami only to find chaos. Taxis, Buses and hordes of people. There were very few porters, and no support staff from NCL. There were huge bins of luggage strewn around like it was the lost & found at O'Hare. After finding someone with NCL, we were directed into an hour long line up to security screen & register. From there we spent more time waiting to board. Not to mention the terminal is musty and is in need of updating.
Once onboard we waited 6 hours for our luggage to be delivered to our stateroom, and only after pressuring them to expedite it.
The first stop was the Garden Cafe as we hadn't eaten since early morning. Food selection was good, taste & presentation were substandard. As for the other dinning rooms, we enjoyed: Tsar's Palace & Azura (which were at no additional cost) Cagney's Steakhouse & Teppanyaki Room @ Chin Chin were good, but I question the $20 cover charge for such standard fare/quality.
The amenities onboard were fine, if you got a chance to use them. There were so many children onboard,(600+ due to American Thanksgiving) it was impossible to relax and enjoy a swim or use the hot tub. These were filled from morning to night with young unsupervised unruly kids. Children as young as 2 playing in the hot tub. Where are the parents? (Heads up for all you parents reading this, hot tubs are not for kids.How is it that diapers are allowed to use these facilities? The main pool was right beside the children's slide pool and hence over lapped into the "Adult Only" pool. Which made it impossible to use.
At the poolside buffet we witnessed a little boy come running only to jump in front of us to get some cake. Once he had accomplished that, he proceeded to lick the icing from the tongs and return them. Once again, where were the parents? We should have left the tongs for everyone else to enjoy, but we couldn't bring ourselves to do that.
Children were everywhere, running in the hallways at all hours of the day or night. The cabin next to ours was where the lazy parents of hordes of children played, jumping off the bed, banging into walls, screamed, yelled and played loud music on their laptops on the balcony (which made using ours almost impossible)Once again for all parents reading this, just because it's a big ship & the children can't get off, is no reason to let them run wild. Especially in light of such recent occurrences onboard some of these ships. Several complaints to security did not solve this ongoing problem. That's why "Never Again." If NCL cannot or will not ensure the comfort of all their guests, then they do not deserve my business.
We had only 2 POC, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. If anyone finds themselves on Cozumel, my recommendation is to take the 30 minute ferry ride across to Playa DelCarmen, where the shopping is fantastic, and the beaches are beautiful. Like most places in Mexico the people are friendly and pleasant.
The Casino was looking old and dirty, and there wasn't a good selection of anything. The Theatre was nice and we enjoyed a few good shows. Gift Shop & Duty Free were pedestrian in nature and their selection reflected that.
As for NCL's Freestyle format, it brought Smart Casual down to Poor Trash. The concept in theory is good, letting people eat and dress (with decorum) to their own schedules and desires. Unfortunately most people onboard dressed and behaved like poor trash.
The only thing that we enjoyed was meeting a few new friends that we hope we'll stay in touch with. Other than that, there are better, more organized and more accommodating cruise lines out there to choose from.