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I will start by stating a few things that certainly influenced this review. This was my first cruise ever, and I was vacationing alone. Prior to getting on the ship I tried to find some info for first time cruisers, what to expect, what there was to do, things particular to Norwegian from their website, but it just didn't exist. So I did what most people do and talked to friends and family that had cruised before. I also read some stuff on this website. In my opinion, the crew and staff on the Jewel made things very uncomfortable and confusing (particularly on the embarkation day) for 1st timers. For example, I knew that they were having a lunch somewhere, but once you got on the ship there were no signs or crew members directing you where to go. I eventually found my way to the buffet but once there it was soooo crowded, they was no where to sit, plus I was by myself,so I had to carry my food, drink, ect all with me (along with my carry on because rooms weren't ready yet) and search for a place to sit. I also knew (from speaking with friends/family) that sodas would be extra so I paid for the soft drink package and got a sticker and mug, but had no clue how it worked to get a drink at the buffet. I ended up just eating a little because the 1st time I got up I came back to my seat being taken. (As a side note on the buffet I will say I only ate here twice more, both times feeling it very difficult to find a seat, and also that the food was never better than OK, and most of the dishes I tried were terrible) I also felt very disappointed with the ship activities, particularly on the 2nd at sea day. It seemed that the majority of activities were either aimed at children or gambling. My family/friends had all told me stories about things they had done on ships from seeing movies, to watching culinary and sushi demos, music, ect. While I will say they did have many musical acts in the evenings, during the day activities seemed very limited unless you wanted to shell out $50 per bingo session during the day. As far as port and shore excursions I have a few points. Due to the length and travel time needed to get to Alaska from Seattle and back port time is very limited on this cruise. While in port I did chat with people on other ships, as well as at several of the ports all aboard times for each ship at port were listed, and the all aboard time for this ship was much earlier than any other. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every single excursion I did. (Ketchikan- AK Logde and sea feast, Juneau- Mendanhall Glarier by helicopter and guided walk, Skagway White pass rail and Gold panning, sled dogs and 40 below experience, Victoria- Orca whale watching) That being said, if I had not gone to the excursion desk by chance before meeting for my excursion in Juneau I would have not been notified the excursion I had originally booked was cancelled in time to select a different one. While I understand a rule not to call a stateroom prior to 7am, if a excursion is meeting at 7:30 there should be some exception to this so people can actually make new plans and make them. The excursion staff was not the most pleasant or helpful, and that's putting it gently. The last point I will discuss in this review is dining. While I obviously was underwhelmed in the buffet, the rest of the dining experience I will call a mixed bag. I ate at both main dining rooms, and both Chin Chin and O'Sheehans (the other 2 complimentary restaurants on board) I also paid the eat at 1 signature restaurant; Tepanyaki. As far as variety and selection, I was very happy with my choices, and with the exception of the fried chicken night at O'Sheehans, enjoyed every meal (foodwise) at each restaurant. It should be noted that while very food, the portion size at chin chin in tiny, I ordered 2 entres and could have easily eaten 3 with no issue. The reason I call my overall experience a mixed bag was primarily the way you are handled as a single diner. Norwegian does "freestyle" dining, so you are not assigned a dining room or service time each evening. They also don't seat you with others, this meant that I was seated alone at nearly every meal. Occasionally (like breakfast, I am sooo not a morning person) this was nice, but it did make for an isolated feeling some days. If you are going in a group this wouldn't be an issue, it just was for me as a solo vacationer. Overall, I enjoyed my time in Alaska, I don't think I will give up cruising. It was my first time, but next time I will absolutely try a different cruise line. Perhaps if I am going with someone else I may give Norwegian another try, but its unlikely.

Loved Alaska, Norwegian not so much

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by danieller811

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2015
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Obstructed Oceanview
I will start by stating a few things that certainly influenced this review. This was my first cruise ever, and I was vacationing alone. Prior to getting on the ship I tried to find some info for first time cruisers, what to expect, what there was to do, things particular to Norwegian from their website, but it just didn't exist. So I did what most people do and talked to friends and family that had cruised before. I also read some stuff on this website.

In my opinion, the crew and staff on the Jewel made things very uncomfortable and confusing (particularly on the embarkation day) for 1st timers. For example, I knew that they were having a lunch somewhere, but once you got on the ship there were no signs or crew members directing you where to go. I eventually found my way to the buffet but once there it was soooo crowded, they was no where to sit, plus I was by myself,so I had to carry my food, drink, ect all with me (along with my carry on because rooms weren't ready yet) and search for a place to sit. I also knew (from speaking with friends/family) that sodas would be extra so I paid for the soft drink package and got a sticker and mug, but had no clue how it worked to get a drink at the buffet. I ended up just eating a little because the 1st time I got up I came back to my seat being taken. (As a side note on the buffet I will say I only ate here twice more, both times feeling it very difficult to find a seat, and also that the food was never better than OK, and most of the dishes I tried were terrible)

I also felt very disappointed with the ship activities, particularly on the 2nd at sea day. It seemed that the majority of activities were either aimed at children or gambling. My family/friends had all told me stories about things they had done on ships from seeing movies, to watching culinary and sushi demos, music, ect. While I will say they did have many musical acts in the evenings, during the day activities seemed very limited unless you wanted to shell out $50 per bingo session during the day.

As far as port and shore excursions I have a few points. Due to the length and travel time needed to get to Alaska from Seattle and back port time is very limited on this cruise. While in port I did chat with people on other ships, as well as at several of the ports all aboard times for each ship at port were listed, and the all aboard time for this ship was much earlier than any other. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every single excursion I did. (Ketchikan- AK Logde and sea feast, Juneau- Mendanhall Glarier by helicopter and guided walk, Skagway White pass rail and Gold panning, sled dogs and 40 below experience, Victoria- Orca whale watching) That being said, if I had not gone to the excursion desk by chance before meeting for my excursion in Juneau I would have not been notified the excursion I had originally booked was cancelled in time to select a different one. While I understand a rule not to call a stateroom prior to 7am, if a excursion is meeting at 7:30 there should be some exception to this so people can actually make new plans and make them. The excursion staff was not the most pleasant or helpful, and that's putting it gently.

The last point I will discuss in this review is dining. While I obviously was underwhelmed in the buffet, the rest of the dining experience I will call a mixed bag. I ate at both main dining rooms, and both Chin Chin and O'Sheehans (the other 2 complimentary restaurants on board) I also paid the eat at 1 signature restaurant; Tepanyaki. As far as variety and selection, I was very happy with my choices, and with the exception of the fried chicken night at O'Sheehans, enjoyed every meal (foodwise) at each restaurant. It should be noted that while very food, the portion size at chin chin in tiny, I ordered 2 entres and could have easily eaten 3 with no issue. The reason I call my overall experience a mixed bag was primarily the way you are handled as a single diner. Norwegian does "freestyle" dining, so you are not assigned a dining room or service time each evening. They also don't seat you with others, this meant that I was seated alone at nearly every meal. Occasionally (like breakfast, I am sooo not a morning person) this was nice, but it did make for an isolated feeling some days. If you are going in a group this wouldn't be an issue, it just was for me as a solo vacationer.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Alaska, I don't think I will give up cruising. It was my first time, but next time I will absolutely try a different cruise line. Perhaps if I am going with someone else I may give Norwegian another try, but its unlikely.
danieller811’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Obstructed Oceanview
Cabin OX 8098
This cabin was a wheelchair accessible (even though I didn't need an accessible room) which ended up being very nice as the bathroom had a little bit of elbow room. I was worried that it might be noisy since it is VERY close to O'Sheehans (the 24 hour eatery) but I was very sheltered and quiet.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Helicopter Tour
    Very cool. After a short helicopter ride over Mendenhall glacier we set down for a short walk on the top. It was chilly but worth it. I even put my hand in the stream to try some glacier water!
    View All 98 Helicopter Tour Reviews
  • Alaska Lodge Adventure & Seafeast
    We started by getting on an open boat to head to the lodge, our guide for the boat was very good. He brought frozen sardines which he threw to some eagles to have them dive down and grab them from the water, it was extremely cool. We visited an eagles nest and saw some local wildlife.

    At the lodge there was a nice decked trail through a bit of the rainforest. It was a pleasant walk, and was nice to get a little bit of the experience without overexerting myself.

    THE FOOD WAS INCREDIBLE! It was hands down the best seafood I've ever had. I would have kept eating if it forever if I could have.
    View All 11,895 Alaska Lodge Adventure & Seafeast Reviews
  • City Tour
    I booked the Best of Seattle tour to kill some time before my flight left. I was expecting like a bus tour of the city. The day I left also happened to be the day of the rock and roll marathon so I'm sure my experience isn't the rule its the exception. We were dropped off at Pike's Market for an hour, unfortunetly it was about 1.5 hrs before most of the shops opened...then drove around a bit to be dropped at the space needle for about an hour (a good amount of time). Then drove a little bit and went to the airport. If i'd have know it was 2 hours of walking I may have changed my mind about going.
    View All 43 City Tour Reviews
  • Gold Panning
    The goldpanning was fun. They also have the sled dogs there and they were the real draw! You don't get to ride in a sled but the dogs are fun and the puppies are adorable.
    View All 55 Gold Panning Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    A Beautiful ride up the railway. Absolutely a must do.
    View All 961 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews