I guess I would have to start off by saying, I am a frequent cruiser and wanted to experience the "freestyle" Norwegian experience, but what a mistake that was. My husband and I booked the Jewel for our honeymoon, and as soon as we walked onto the ship we noticed the differences in the cruiseline from other cruiselines we have been on.
The dining experience was absolutely horrible. Throughout the 9 nights we were on the boat we tried to tell ourselves that tomorrow night would be better....it never got better. The food in the dining room tasted like nothing but grease. The waitstaff was there to push you in and push you out and had no customer service skills whatsoever. One night, we dined by ourselves (2 of us) and we waited and hour and 15 minutes before we received out entree. The waiter never asked us if we wanted anything to drink besides water, just filled our glass and left. On a separate occasion in the dining room, the waitress took a fork from me and gave it to the man sitting at the table next to me. When I asked her what she was doing and if she was seriously taking my fork and giving it to a complete stranger her response was "what, you weren't going to use it." I was utterly disgusted with this, especially seeing how I had had a horrible cold the entire trip and was constantly coughing. Next I would not believe that you had to pay a cover charge to eat at the specialty restaurants. I couldn't believe it when I was comparing the menus from the specialty restaurants to the main dining room and they were serving the same food some nights. I guess you are just paying for the smaller atmosphere, but give me a break! I dined at both Cagney's, and the Tangos restaurant. Cagney's the food was decent but the steak tasted overwhelmingly greasy. However, I must say, the waitress there was the best we had all cruise. On the other hand, Tangos, was HORRIBLE. Everything seemed like it was set up and had just come from the microwave. Chips were stale, cheese was like canned cheese whiz, just HORRIBLE. Next to move to the shows, The Cirque Bijou was the best the Jewel had to offer and if it wasn't for that amazing talent and the 2 gymnasts there would have been no show. The normal dancers and singers were no where near as good. Every show they did the same dance moves and were not the greatest singers. There was never anything new to anticipate. The juggler was sort of funny, but he didn't have very exciting tricks, it wasn't that great that the Jewel should have had him in 2 separate shows. The Magician was pretty cool.
Embark and Disembark was HORRIBLE as well. It seemed as though the cruise staff had no idea what was going on and how to handle the situation. Absolute Chaos!