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We embarked on the 14 night Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Jewel on November 25, 2016. Previously, we have cruised four times - moving from inside to outside cabin and to a mini-suite. For the first time, we chose to stay in a Penthouse Suite. We were met at embarkation and shown to the suite line (with only one couple ahead of us!). We were then taken to meet our concierge, Bruno (more on him later) and shown directly to our suite. The smoothest, easiest embarkation ever. Our cabin was absolutely lovely - clean, plenty of room (with a very large queen bed, a small dining table and a sitting room with a three seater couch) and a lot of storage space for all the "stuff" we brought along on a two week cruise. The front-facing balcony was enormous! There were two loungers and two tables on the balcony; we added two deck chairs and there was still room to walk around. This balcony was amazing for the daylight transit of the Panama Canal - while all the other passengers were standing four deep to get a good view, we were able to sit in comfort on our balcony and watch the entire passage. I could gladly go into a ton of detail on this trip, as it really was our best vacation ever, but I'll try to just provide an overview..... For breakfast and lunch, as a suite perk, we ate at Moderno's. The wait staff was absolutely amazing - remembering our preferences and ensuring that everything was perfect. For dinner, we ate at Cagney's (fabulous), Moderno's (excellent), Teppanyaki (fabulous), Le Bistro (fabulous), La Cucina (excellent) - all specialty restaurants. We also ate at O'Sheehan's (very good), Azura (very good) and Tsar's (very good). We definitely found the specialty restaurants worth the extra cost. There was nothing inherently wrong with the free restaurants - we just didn't find them as spectacular as the specialty restaurants. There was so much to do entertainment and activity wise, that you could truly be busy every minute of the day. One of the greatest things about Norwegian is the Freestyle Cruising, where you can choose to be busy or not! We often chose not - and loved relaxing on our balcony or just wandering the ship. We did go to the nightly entertainment in the theatre and found it excellent. Our favourite show was definitely Jean Pierre - he had us laughing so hard, we lost our breath - and what breath we had left was taken away by his magic! One other thing we splurged on was the thermal spa suite - daily access to steam bath, sauna, whirlpool, therapy pool and heated loungers in a quiet atmosphere was a lovely way to escape. From a service perspective, I can't imagine Norwegian being beat. The Captain and all the Senior Officers were regularly wandering the decks, talking with guests and interacting. This is not something you see all the time on cruise ships. Their friendliness and level of interaction with guests set the tone for the rest of the crew, all of whom were friendly and went out of their way to make the cruise extra special. A special shout out to our concierge, Bruno. As a suite guest, we had access to Bruno to help smooth out any rough patches. He was an absolute dream - helping everyone and always with a smile. Our only regret was that we couldn't take him home with us!!! Our room steward, Renelito, our butler, Putu, and our regular server, Jonas, all went above and beyond to make this cruise so special. We did shore excursions in every port except Corinto. All the excursions were wonderful. Our favourite was the Original Zipline in Costa Rica - totally awesome!! The only hiccup was our tour in Colombia - where an extremely rude guest ruined the tour for many. She was rude and aggressive with the poor tour guide - and she left all her garbage on the bus when she left. All I can say is: if you're going to act like that, pay for a private tour so you don't ruin it for others. All in all, this is the best cruise ever. Yes, the ship is a little older, but the amazing service, great food, fabulous crew and wonderful ports make it easy to overlook the age of the ship. We will remember this cruise fondly for a long time!!

Best Cruise EVER!!!

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by langsner

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We embarked on the 14 night Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Jewel on November 25, 2016.

Previously, we have cruised four times - moving from inside to outside cabin and to a mini-suite. For the first time, we chose to stay in a Penthouse Suite. We were met at embarkation and shown to the suite line (with only one couple ahead of us!). We were then taken to meet our concierge, Bruno (more on him later) and shown directly to our suite. The smoothest, easiest embarkation ever.

Our cabin was absolutely lovely - clean, plenty of room (with a very large queen bed, a small dining table and a sitting room with a three seater couch) and a lot of storage space for all the "stuff" we brought along on a two week cruise. The front-facing balcony was enormous! There were two loungers and two tables on the balcony; we added two deck chairs and there was still room to walk around. This balcony was amazing for the daylight transit of the Panama Canal - while all the other passengers were standing four deep to get a good view, we were able to sit in comfort on our balcony and watch the entire passage.

I could gladly go into a ton of detail on this trip, as it really was our best vacation ever, but I'll try to just provide an overview.....

For breakfast and lunch, as a suite perk, we ate at Moderno's. The wait staff was absolutely amazing - remembering our preferences and ensuring that everything was perfect.

For dinner, we ate at Cagney's (fabulous), Moderno's (excellent), Teppanyaki (fabulous), Le Bistro (fabulous), La Cucina (excellent) - all specialty restaurants. We also ate at O'Sheehan's (very good), Azura (very good) and Tsar's (very good). We definitely found the specialty restaurants worth the extra cost. There was nothing inherently wrong with the free restaurants - we just didn't find them as spectacular as the specialty restaurants.

There was so much to do entertainment and activity wise, that you could truly be busy every minute of the day. One of the greatest things about Norwegian is the Freestyle Cruising, where you can choose to be busy or not! We often chose not - and loved relaxing on our balcony or just wandering the ship. We did go to the nightly entertainment in the theatre and found it excellent. Our favourite show was definitely Jean Pierre - he had us laughing so hard, we lost our breath - and what breath we had left was taken away by his magic! One other thing we splurged on was the thermal spa suite - daily access to steam bath, sauna, whirlpool, therapy pool and heated loungers in a quiet atmosphere was a lovely way to escape.

From a service perspective, I can't imagine Norwegian being beat. The Captain and all the Senior Officers were regularly wandering the decks, talking with guests and interacting. This is not something you see all the time on cruise ships. Their friendliness and level of interaction with guests set the tone for the rest of the crew, all of whom were friendly and went out of their way to make the cruise extra special.

A special shout out to our concierge, Bruno. As a suite guest, we had access to Bruno to help smooth out any rough patches. He was an absolute dream - helping everyone and always with a smile. Our only regret was that we couldn't take him home with us!!!

Our room steward, Renelito, our butler, Putu, and our regular server, Jonas, all went above and beyond to make this cruise so special.

We did shore excursions in every port except Corinto. All the excursions were wonderful. Our favourite was the Original Zipline in Costa Rica - totally awesome!! The only hiccup was our tour in Colombia - where an extremely rude guest ruined the tour for many. She was rude and aggressive with the poor tour guide - and she left all her garbage on the bus when she left. All I can say is: if you're going to act like that, pay for a private tour so you don't ruin it for others.

All in all, this is the best cruise ever. Yes, the ship is a little older, but the amazing service, great food, fabulous crew and wonderful ports make it easy to overlook the age of the ship. We will remember this cruise fondly for a long time!!
langsner’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

Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SE
Definitely worth the extra money to have the extra space in the room and the amazing forward-facing balcony - not to mention all the great perks of being in a suite!
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    The cliff divers were amazing - and put on a special show just for the tour groups. It was fun to see the highlights, but really hot (30 Celsius), so we skipped the fortress tour.
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  • Cabo San Lucas
    Small group (five people) shown around Cabo by a very knowledgeable professional photographer (Gus). Saw unique parts of Cabo and got great advice on photos.
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  • Magnificent Cartegena
    Victor (guide) and Roberto (driver) were both excellent - very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. We saw the walled city, ruins, cathedrals, Inquisition Palace and more. The only downside was the horrible woman on the tour who complained (loudly, often and at length) about everything. She didn't tip and left all her garbage on the bus. She was awful. I felt really bad for the guides - they kept trying to please her, but of course nothing pleased her. I hope other people speak out about how great Victor and Roberto were - and how wonderful the tour was. It was super hot that day, but the a/c on the bus helped us!!
    View All 15 Magnificent Cartegena Reviews
  • Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)
    We did the Antigua on Our Own excursion through NCL. Very knowledgeable guide. We were dropped off at the Jade Museum and given a detailed map of Antigua. We had four hours to tour the town on our own. Amazing cathedrals and ruins. Very beautiful architecture. Alfredo (our guide) made himself available in the town, so we never felt lost or alone.
    View All 305 Puerto Quetzal (Antigua) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Punta Arenas
    Our favourite excursion! Monica (guide) and Marco (driver) were very knowledgeable. At the zipline, Edgar (photographer) and our guides (Danny, Walter, Herman and Jeison) were fabulous!! Beautiful scenery, super fun and lots of laughs. After the zipline, there was fresh pineapple (the best we've ever tasted) and watermelon. We purchased the USB of photos and videos to remember this grand adventure.
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