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This is a long review and thank you for reading: please save yourself some time and look at the section headings to see if they’ll apply to your needs. This was my first cruise ever. While there were good points, the trip overall was a disappointment and while I may take another cruise someday I do not plan to go with NCL again. Readers should note that I’m not a typical traveler, and some/all my complaints may be non-issues to many others. I went with my mom on this trip. It was her seventh cruise, first (and probably last) with NCL as well. Trip: 09/29/2015 to 10/04/2015 Itinerary: Vancouver, BC > Victoria, BC > Astoria, OR > Los Angeles, CA Trip Type: Pacific Coastal Re-positioning Who I am: In my mind it is important to explain who the reviewer is, so that readers can put what they’re reading in perspective to their own lives and lifestyles to see if it is relevant to them. I’m a 32-year-old male business professional from Minnesota without children—and doesn’t particularly care for them, either. While there weren’t a lot of kids on the trip, what they lacked in numbers many made up for in verbosity. I also don’t care for crowds, so that this was a sold-out ship didn’t help. Why I Travel: Photography. This cruise was part of a larger, 11-day trip we took, spending four nights in Seattle and a fifth in Vancouver, before I flew home from Los Angeles. In that time I took over 9,000 photographs. Unless doing portrait work, people are the enemy to most photographers, and most people are utterly oblivious to the shots they’re ruining on a ship. I also understand this is a non-issue for most people. I’m used to getting up at 5:00 a.m. (or earlier) just to beat the crowds whenever possible. Nickeled and Dimed: This trip was a five night/six day sales pitch, trying to drive my bill higher and higher at every turn. I felt like if they could have flipped me over by my ankles and shaken the money out of my pockets they would have. While I understand this is standard operating procedure for a cruise ship it is still disappointing. The Most Frustrating Part: The day before we were supposed to disembark the ship we received an envelope placed above our room number (between 10:00 a.m. and noon) with information inside stating that our shore excursion (and ride to the airport) was canceled. We went to the Shore Excursion desk to discover our options. The Shore Excursion desk was closed until 5:00 p.m., which led us to the Customer Service counter. We felt put off, and a gentleman at the desk was supposed to contact the Shore Excursion staff. We didn’t feel good about this. After talking with another guest, she recommended we go back to the Customer Service desk and talk to the lady with the three stars on her blazer. This person contacted the Shore Excursion staff. As we were returning to our stateroom the phone rang. We were able to choose a new shore excursion in Los Angeles with airport drop-off. Prior to talking to the lady with the three stars we had been stonewalled, let down, misdirected, or lied to by several other employees. There is a lot of “pass the buck” and broken communication on this ship, which is so frustrating. The Ship: Vividly decorated and while sometimes confusing in its layout it is a beautiful vessel. It is regrettable that passengers have to walk through the casino or shops to get from one end of the ship to the other on Decks 6 and 7, but I’ve been assured that this cash grab attempt is an industry standard and not endemic to NCL. I got many beautiful pictures from Deck 14, the Sun Deck. It was also a nice place to run away to when the crowds got to be too much. The Stateroom: We stayed in room 11042 (mini-suite), on the Starboard side of the ship. The staff split the bed for us after we arrived. This room was a lifesaver. The Garden Café on Deck 13 was often too busy to even get a table at, and we ate at least three meals in the stateroom, using the desk, coffee table, and sofa to accommodate food trays. Our stateroom attendant was very friendly, accommodating, but we always felt that our room was being taken care of last. I’m not sure if NCL gives priority to previous guests, if there’s a “tip culture” we’re not aware of that happens on the first day, or exactly why we were always the last served—and it could be as simple as a sick colleague that he was filling in for—but it was strange. He did do an excellent job. Tsar Dining Room: Gorgeous, but arrive 30+ minutes early to get a table anywhere close to a window. The food was generally delicious, but (and maybe this is a Minnesota thing) I had to beg to get coffee before dessert—and even then it sometimes fell on deaf ears. There is a rigidly-enforced order to which meals are served and deviation is strongly resisted. The wait staff was sometimes curt when a request was made. That said, the room was truly gorgeous, and the food was 20 times better than what was in the Garden Café. It was spoiled at times by screaming children, but this is a failure in parenting (remove your children when they’re awful!) and not NCL’s fault. Ship Amenities: I don’t swim, but prospective passengers should know that the pools are small. They have two hot tubs, which were heavily-used. The art is expensive but much of it beautiful at the auctions. Shows: I loved almost every show I went to (show up early! There’s fierce competition for good seats!), especially Band on the Run and Cirque Bijou. Both of these shows were in the Stardust Theatre on Deck 7 at the bow—the Tsar Dining Room is all the way at the stern on the same deck. Fred Bevill (comedian) in the Spinnaker Lounge (Deck 13) was terrific! Magnum Wine Bar: The ship is full of restaurants, bars, and other places to spend lots of money, but the best place on the ship—for me—was the Magnum Wine Bar on Deck 6. Fabrizio (piano player) regaled a healthy crowd every night while the fantastic Filipino bar staff bantered, mixed, smiled, shook, stirred, and delighted nearly everyone—these guys were awesome. From Elton John to Italian pop, Fabrizio has incredible range. The bartenders possessed all of the pizzazz that was missing from the restaurant staff, and embodied the spirit of customer service that was utterly missing from the Shore Excursion workers. Cruise Director: We flat out despised his persona. His voice was grating and he reeked of false smarminess. We’d even go out on our balcony to avoid hearing his voice during his daily briefings over the PA. We avoided him at all costs. Restaurant Staff: The serving staff in the Tsar Dining Room performed their tasks adequately. For non-managerial employees there was no joy, showmanship, or indication that they enjoyed their jobs. Mr. Messiah (in charge of the ship’s restaurants) was instrumental in helping me when no one else did—thank you to him. I don’t know if the staff was burned out from a long tour of duty, but morale is lacking and customer service was uninspired. Getting help was very difficult in the Garden Café. English barriers were a frequent problem for many of the staff. When I asked (begged?) for a tray, a worker cleaning up the counters by the beverage dispensers took his rag, cleaned off a spill tray, and offered it to me. I was (and still am) appalled that the tray wasn’t first sanitized through a dishwasher. Shore Excursions: We went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. While I did get a few good photographs the trip was an anguished frustration for me. There were many people when we arrived, and it was a full-on, Disney-worthy crowd by the time we left: people are the enemy for a photographer trying to capture delicate flowers, sweeping vistas, and lovely waterways. Astoria greeted us with thick fog that lifted as the day wore on. From what we saw it is a lovely town. I didn’t realize we’d be taking school buses from the Knapp school district or that our trip to Cannon Beach would be shortened so the buses could go back and pick kids up. I also twisted my ankle badly, but powered through the pain so I could get the pictures I wanted—though I’m still using photo-editing software to crop out the people I couldn’t work around. Los Angeles wasn’t what I expected. It is pretty, though. The tour guide on our bus was grating and obnoxious, but we got to the TCL (Grauman’s Chinese) Theatre and then the airport—the most important parts.

Crowded Pacific Coastal Disappointment

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Salty_Minnesotan

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2015
  • Destination: Pacific Coastal
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
This is a long review and thank you for reading: please save yourself some time and look at the section headings to see if they’ll apply to your needs.

This was my first cruise ever. While there were good points, the trip overall was a disappointment and while I may take another cruise someday I do not plan to go with NCL again. Readers should note that I’m not a typical traveler, and some/all my complaints may be non-issues to many others. I went with my mom on this trip. It was her seventh cruise, first (and probably last) with NCL as well.

Trip:

09/29/2015 to 10/04/2015

Itinerary:

Vancouver, BC > Victoria, BC > Astoria, OR > Los Angeles, CA

Trip Type:

Pacific Coastal Re-positioning

Who I am:

In my mind it is important to explain who the reviewer is, so that readers can put what they’re reading in perspective to their own lives and lifestyles to see if it is relevant to them. I’m a 32-year-old male business professional from Minnesota without children—and doesn’t particularly care for them, either. While there weren’t a lot of kids on the trip, what they lacked in numbers many made up for in verbosity. I also don’t care for crowds, so that this was a sold-out ship didn’t help.

Why I Travel:

Photography. This cruise was part of a larger, 11-day trip we took, spending four nights in Seattle and a fifth in Vancouver, before I flew home from Los Angeles. In that time I took over 9,000 photographs. Unless doing portrait work, people are the enemy to most photographers, and most people are utterly oblivious to the shots they’re ruining on a ship. I also understand this is a non-issue for most people. I’m used to getting up at 5:00 a.m. (or earlier) just to beat the crowds whenever possible.

Nickeled and Dimed:

This trip was a five night/six day sales pitch, trying to drive my bill higher and higher at every turn. I felt like if they could have flipped me over by my ankles and shaken the money out of my pockets they would have. While I understand this is standard operating procedure for a cruise ship it is still disappointing.

The Most Frustrating Part:

The day before we were supposed to disembark the ship we received an envelope placed above our room number (between 10:00 a.m. and noon) with information inside stating that our shore excursion (and ride to the airport) was canceled. We went to the Shore Excursion desk to discover our options. The Shore Excursion desk was closed until 5:00 p.m., which led us to the Customer Service counter. We felt put off, and a gentleman at the desk was supposed to contact the Shore Excursion staff. We didn’t feel good about this. After talking with another guest, she recommended we go back to the Customer Service desk and talk to the lady with the three stars on her blazer. This person contacted the Shore Excursion staff. As we were returning to our stateroom the phone rang. We were able to choose a new shore excursion in Los Angeles with airport drop-off. Prior to talking to the lady with the three stars we had been stonewalled, let down, misdirected, or lied to by several other employees. There is a lot of “pass the buck” and broken communication on this ship, which is so frustrating.

The Ship:

Vividly decorated and while sometimes confusing in its layout it is a beautiful vessel. It is regrettable that passengers have to walk through the casino or shops to get from one end of the ship to the other on Decks 6 and 7, but I’ve been assured that this cash grab attempt is an industry standard and not endemic to NCL. I got many beautiful pictures from Deck 14, the Sun Deck. It was also a nice place to run away to when the crowds got to be too much.

The Stateroom:

We stayed in room 11042 (mini-suite), on the Starboard side of the ship. The staff split the bed for us after we arrived. This room was a lifesaver. The Garden Café on Deck 13 was often too busy to even get a table at, and we ate at least three meals in the stateroom, using the desk, coffee table, and sofa to accommodate food trays.

Our stateroom attendant was very friendly, accommodating, but we always felt that our room was being taken care of last. I’m not sure if NCL gives priority to previous guests, if there’s a “tip culture” we’re not aware of that happens on the first day, or exactly why we were always the last served—and it could be as simple as a sick colleague that he was filling in for—but it was strange. He did do an excellent job.

Tsar Dining Room:

Gorgeous, but arrive 30+ minutes early to get a table anywhere close to a window. The food was generally delicious, but (and maybe this is a Minnesota thing) I had to beg to get coffee before dessert—and even then it sometimes fell on deaf ears. There is a rigidly-enforced order to which meals are served and deviation is strongly resisted. The wait staff was sometimes curt when a request was made. That said, the room was truly gorgeous, and the food was 20 times better than what was in the Garden Café. It was spoiled at times by screaming children, but this is a failure in parenting (remove your children when they’re awful!) and not NCL’s fault.

Ship Amenities:

I don’t swim, but prospective passengers should know that the pools are small. They have two hot tubs, which were heavily-used. The art is expensive but much of it beautiful at the auctions.

Shows:

I loved almost every show I went to (show up early! There’s fierce competition for good seats!), especially Band on the Run and Cirque Bijou. Both of these shows were in the Stardust Theatre on Deck 7 at the bow—the Tsar Dining Room is all the way at the stern on the same deck. Fred Bevill (comedian) in the Spinnaker Lounge (Deck 13) was terrific!

Magnum Wine Bar:

The ship is full of restaurants, bars, and other places to spend lots of money, but the best place on the ship—for me—was the Magnum Wine Bar on Deck 6. Fabrizio (piano player) regaled a healthy crowd every night while the fantastic Filipino bar staff bantered, mixed, smiled, shook, stirred, and delighted nearly everyone—these guys were awesome. From Elton John to Italian pop, Fabrizio has incredible range. The bartenders possessed all of the pizzazz that was missing from the restaurant staff, and embodied the spirit of customer service that was utterly missing from the Shore Excursion workers.

Cruise Director:

We flat out despised his persona. His voice was grating and he reeked of false smarminess. We’d even go out on our balcony to avoid hearing his voice during his daily briefings over the PA. We avoided him at all costs.

Restaurant Staff:

The serving staff in the Tsar Dining Room performed their tasks adequately. For non-managerial employees there was no joy, showmanship, or indication that they enjoyed their jobs. Mr. Messiah (in charge of the ship’s restaurants) was instrumental in helping me when no one else did—thank you to him. I don’t know if the staff was burned out from a long tour of duty, but morale is lacking and customer service was uninspired.

Getting help was very difficult in the Garden Café. English barriers were a frequent problem for many of the staff. When I asked (begged?) for a tray, a worker cleaning up the counters by the beverage dispensers took his rag, cleaned off a spill tray, and offered it to me. I was (and still am) appalled that the tray wasn’t first sanitized through a dishwasher.

Shore Excursions:

We went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. While I did get a few good photographs the trip was an anguished frustration for me. There were many people when we arrived, and it was a full-on, Disney-worthy crowd by the time we left: people are the enemy for a photographer trying to capture delicate flowers, sweeping vistas, and lovely waterways.

Astoria greeted us with thick fog that lifted as the day wore on. From what we saw it is a lovely town. I didn’t realize we’d be taking school buses from the Knapp school district or that our trip to Cannon Beach would be shortened so the buses could go back and pick kids up. I also twisted my ankle badly, but powered through the pain so I could get the pictures I wanted—though I’m still using photo-editing software to crop out the people I couldn’t work around.

Los Angeles wasn’t what I expected. It is pretty, though. The tour guide on our bus was grating and obnoxious, but we got to the TCL (Grauman’s Chinese) Theatre and then the airport—the most important parts.
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MX 11042
We stayed in room 11042 (mini-suite), on the Starboard side of the ship. The staff split the bed for us after we arrived. This room was a lifesaver. The Garden Café on Deck 13 was often too busy to even get a table at, and we ate at least three meals in the stateroom, using the desk, coffee table, and sofa to accommodate food trays.

Our stateroom attendant was very friendly, accommodating, but we always felt that our room was being taken care of last. I’m not sure if NCL gives priority to previous guests, if there’s a “tip culture” we’re not aware of that happens on the first day, or exactly why we were always the last served—and it could be as simple as a sick colleague that he was filling in for—but it was strange. He did do an excellent job.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins