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Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,389 Reviews

Perfect Place to Relax and Have a Little Adventure

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Tw in OR

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2015
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Family Oceanview Picture Window

This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation!

The Jewel is a bit older, and seems geared to an older crowd. We chose a cruise that was after school spring breaks and of a length that most working adults could not get away: hence, it was nearly all retired people. While we are younger, that pace was ideal for us. We don't drink or gamble or need spectacular shows to keep us entertained: spending the day reading, talking together, meeting a few interesting people and having a menu of possible but not pressing events was just ideal. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but having a cabin steward make up our cabin every morning and return to tidy it before bed was heavenly! We had cute towel animals whenever we got out of the cabin for turn down.

Some people have complained about the food on Jewel, and I will admit that one of the meals we had at Chin Chin during lunch time was cold: the tea was cold, the entree's were cold, it was like some piece of equipment had failed. However, everything--even the too cold food--was prepared artfully, creatively with fresh and appropriate ingredients, inventive recipes with influence from multiple cultural traditions. While I will grant that there were repeat dishes on the menus and buffet, there were many choices and specials to keep it interesting. It was also easy to eat a delicious and healthy diet--many fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar free desserts, multiple protein choices. While there were tempting desserts and breads, if you wanted to avoid them, there is no need to feel deprived.

A few days into the cruise, we discovered that the Italian Restaurant next to the Garden Cafe is open for overflow seating during breakfast and lunch! So we took our buffet plates in there, where the tables are charming wood, the walls real brick arches, and the viewing of the ocean is ideal. We enjoyed long brunch conversations while watching sea turtles, porpoise, and flying fish go by.

I enjoyed dragging my husband to the dance lessons offered most days. There were several kinds of linedancing, swing dance, waltz, square dancing salsa and merangue. The one thing I did wish was that the instruction was more geared to just dancing with a partner to music rather than doing a routine. Those teaching are show dancers and seemed to relate more to teaching a dance to perform rather than teaching how to lead/follow and a vocabulary of moves.

I had heard that there would be sales at the store just before the last day but that did not happen. Rather, there were specials on various items throughout the cruise and not everything went on sale at any given time. I was also surprised that the number of things like games offered at the store was limited. However, if you wanted any toiletry, candy, t-shirt, underwear, clothes, luggage, etc it is a good (if expensive) option. I liked shopping there.

We booked ship excursions in all but one port, where we had a private guide. You do lose a little time when the ship first docks when you choose to do this--you have to wait until the tour operators are ready for you, and wait your turn to disembark. This means an extra two hours on board sometimes. In Cabo San Lucas, we were able to grab an early tender and meet up with our tour at the pier instead of waiting to be dismissed from the ship with our group. This allowed us to do some shopping that we would not have had time to do.

I loved that you just don't hear "no" on board. No one tells you when to eat or sleep or where to be or what to do, it is completely relaxing. The staff is laid back and friendly and really good at making you feel welcome. They have also apparently toned down some of the selling that perhaps has happened on other ships or in other times, because we did not feel pressed to buy drinks or anything. Yes, you can definitely spend a lot of extra money: but no one is going to make you feel bad if you choose something else instead.

We stayed at the Best Western Suites in Seabrook before we boarded. It has a free shuttle to the cruise port and is a terrific place to be the night before a cruise.

I wish there had been more educational opportunities on board, lecture series or the like.

Don't miss the Spinnaker Lounge, even if you don't drink! It has the best views and the most unusual furniture.

Tw in OR's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Family Oceanview Picture Window
Cabin O1 5076

Ideal room and location! Perfectly quiet. Has four more drawers than a balcony cabin, so lots of storage. The window is large and has a ledge wide enough to sit on if you aren't too big. I really felt like it had more room than my parent's balcony cabin, because of the bed placement. And without the door open to the outside, the temperature stayed more steady/less humid.

The door that would open to adjoin the next cabin is on your right, after you pass the wardrobe/tv area. If you have four people in the room, there is a trundle bed under one of the king/twins, and a bunk on the right wall. I thought that bunk would be inconvenient, but it doesn't get in the way when it is folded up.

The room has two chairs, a stool and one with a back, and a table that can be moved front and center for a room service picnic.

The bathroom door has hooks and rods for hanging towels, so putting a shoe holder there with toiletries does not really work. There are three small shelves with railings that work nicely, but I did wish I had some kind of little basket or something for my toiletries so they wouldn't slip off.

The closet has a fold down shelf so you can hang blouses and pants one above the other, and a light in the back of it.

There are plug ins at the desk, under the TV, under the fridge, and over the mirror in the bathroom.

Nearly all the walls are magnetic and I brought magnetic hooks with me which let me hang my lanyard up by the desk, and make a kind of collage of postcards collected on the trip. I also used the magnetic hooks in the bathroom to hold up the cord of my toothbrush so it could sit on the top shelf without the cord hanging in front of the mirror. I had considered bringing christmas lights for the room but wasn't sure about plug ins or if the walls were magnetic all around-- using the magnet hooks would have worked just find for that, I think.

We were in the room a lot over the 16 days and heard hardly a peep from the rest of the ship. Being near the stairs/elevator at midship was ideal.

There is apparently no end of hot water or water pressure--heavenly showers, as long as you like!

Keep your expectations in line with this being an older well-cared for ship, and you will not be disappointed. The carpet in the room definitely shows wear. But everything is clean and in good repair. We were very happy with our room.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Interesting place, surprised a little by all the oil. We felt safe. The cruise terminal is isolated in an industrial area. We stayed at the Best Western and found it very adequate--good breakfast and free shuttle.

Las Bovedas

We took the shortest city tour. The bus seats and aisles were smaller than expected. The vendors were pushy. The city was dirty and did not make me feel very safe. However, the shopping at Las Bovedas was good--we stopped there first and I held off on buying and should not have. I am glad we got off the ship, but the city did not impress me much.

View All 6 Las Bovedas Reviews
Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)

We booked a private tour that we found on Trip Advisor, Tratursa. We were THRILLED with the experience. Where the busloads of other cruisers got to catch glimpses of wildlife if they were lucky, we got to hand feed monkeys and coatis, and the driver turned around to show us several different plants or animals of interest. Instead of a long communal table, our lunch was private to just our group. Our stops were carefully chosen as the best, cleanest, least expensive and most positive possible. We loved not feeling rushed and saw so much more than we would have in a big group.

Roqueta Walking Tour

Really enjoyed this. The guide told us stories about the history of the area on the boatride there. The hike was pleasant and offered a nice escape from being on the ship or in a city, or pressed by vendors. The hill itself is not especially fascinating. Visiting the lighthouse at the top is genuinely dangerous--rusted out stairs and bare wires, but perhaps only mildly risky, if you are fit and careful. The bathrooms are rustic, not clean, not for the faint of heart--and actually, one of the lady hikers was told to use the bushes later on the hike, so keep that in mind when choosing the activity. Our guide was friendly but not well versed as a nature guide. It would be more fun, in my opinion, with a guide who knows the flora and fauna as well as the history. Still, a very enjoyable day.

View All 3 Roqueta Walking Tour Reviews

Took a catamaran to Chilleno Bay and had a first rate snorkeling experience. Cabo San Lucas is pretty Americanized--dollar accepted everywhere, perfect english spoken. They have the tourist gig dialed in.

View All 74 Snorkeling Reviews
San Francisco

We enjoyed driving around this beautiful city with friends. Lots of character. We saw Sausalito, the Golden Gate, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight Ashbury (?), China town. So much diversity! The airport was easy to use.

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Tw in OR
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