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

When you think you've budgeted enough, budget more.

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by NrsFrg31

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Sep 2016
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Oceanview Picture Window

My husband and I had a short window to take our honeymoon (14 months after getting married) so we elected to do an Alaskan cruise instead of going to Europe. Since Europe was the original plan we had saved/budgeted plenty of money to make this trip possible - or so we thought. But I'll come back to that in a moment.

Embarkation was very easy in Seattle. We checked in at 2pm and even then it wasn't that crowded or inefficient.

The ship is nice enough, plenty of food options and entertainment, but the food in several of the dining areas (The pub, some of the buffet options, and Chin's Asian fusion in particular) was pretty lackluster. I've cruised with Carnival before and the food on this line pales in comparison. The best dining was at Moderno (Brazilian - had to pay extra for) and Tsar's for the officer's dinner we were lucky enough to get selected for. A lot of the entertainment was pay extra, like the bingo games, which was kind of a bummer. The theater performances were excellent. We even made friends with some of the gymnasts and they made our sea days and some of the ports more fun. The room itself was a good size for two people with plenty of shelf/drawer space, and absolutely spring for at least a window if you can. It helped with those rough sea days, and I still got to see everything when I was sick while we were in Glacier bay

We bought excursions through the ship at 4 of the ports - Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Icy Strait. The lumberjack show was a lot of fun in Ketchikan, and it gave us plenty of time to run around town and hang out with the gymnasts I mentioned before. We did a whale watching excursion and the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau - Oh. My. Gosh. If you do this cruise and don't whale watch you are WRONG. Seeing the humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, porpoises, and eagles in their natural setting, pretty up close, was nothing short of a dream come true for me. And the glacier was breathtaking. We did the musher demo/sled dog puppies/40 below/gold panning in Skagway, which was fun, especially playing with the puppies :) Skagway is like the Old West towns I grew up visiting, make sure you go to the Red Onion and do the brothel museum/tour too. Icy Strait isn't really a town like any of the others, but we did the cooking class there. I think that was my husband's favorite because we learned a lot about how to select and cook fish, got some great recipes, and the instructor, Dodie, has lived the most interesting life.

That leads me to the point about the budget. They nickel and dime you for everything (see eating at Moderno and the entertainment), and the excursions were NOT cheap. If I had known/researched more ahead of time about our itinerary and each city, we would have done the excursions on our own time with the companies on the docks. We had credits, but they don't apply them until after you complete the excursion so we started our trip with an $860 hold on our credit card. That was a shock. The tips for the drink package were applied in advance, which was annoying to me because we went to the same two bartenders most days and I would have preferred to tip them directly. Then when were were still in Washington waters, they charged us extra tax on top of the drink package, which is fine, but WARN US about that, please. The final surprise, which left a bad taste in my mouth, was that they drop a $13.50 per person per day charge on you - so $270 tagged on at the end that we weren't expecting. To be clear, I was expecting to leave a gratuity for OUR steward, but apparently this gets spread around to other ship staff too. You don't even have one waiter to tip most of the time! I was extremely displeased with that. And they didn't even change our sheets... I know this because I had a makeup smudge on the sheets about day 3 that stayed there the entire trip.

All that to say, yes I am glad we did this. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world and it was great to be able to see so much without having to drive. But knowing what I know now, I would probably choose a different line or just not buy anything on the ship (which is lame).

NrsFrg31's Full Rating Summary
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Mid-Ship Oceanview Picture Window

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