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We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL. We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we had a shorter flight home at the end of the trip. We flew in a day ahead and stayed at the Doubletree San Pedro. Nice, generic hotel but a bit more isolated that I would have liked. Taxi from LAX was about $70 with tip. The hotel had a van to the port. Drinks at the bar were priced ok during happy hour, but the margarita was not that good. Embarkation went smoothly, once it started, but the ship had an unexpected inspection upon docking, so we were delayed getting on board. We had an aft balcony, 9674. Great location, cabin was smaller than I remember NCL cabins to be. On the ship drawing, this one did look smaller that other afts, but I didn't see that until the day before we sailed. There were some minor age related issues with the drawers, but it was clean and the bed fairly comfortable. Our cabin steward was great. The passengers were generally older, 50+, with a few exceptions and very few children. The staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be there, especially the cruise director's staff. Iain Bagshaw was the CD and he did a great job. Shakin' Shirley deserves to be promoted, she was always on, remembered peoples names and where they were from and made everyone her friend. The shows were good, with Cirque Bijou the best. I didn't like all the musicians on board, but the show band, Rockaway Duo and Tropical Four were our go to evening entertainment before dinner and after the show. JP the magician and Pat the comedian were our favorite entertainers. We ate most breakfasts and not specialty dinners at Tsar's Palace. We found one waiter we really liked, Julius, and tried to sit in his section whenever we could. We always asked to share a table and met lots of great people and shared our experiences on board as well as life in general. We met people from Sweden, England, Scotland, Germany and Canada, and a few other Americans. Political conversations seemed to be inevitable with a new president, but they were polite and educational. Julius made menu recommendations and the food was generally good. Hint: on nights that you don't want dessert, ask for the cheese plate. It is not on the menu and is very nice. We used to like to have a cappuccino with our dessert, but the ship used boxed milk, which I don't like the flavor of, so we saved some money and did not have it after the first night. We ate at Cagney's twice, liked the steaks and the service; La Cucina once, which was once too many. OK food and just barely OK service. Le Bistro was our valentine's day dinner. Service was less attentive than we expected, but the place was busy all night. The food was good, but I liked Cagney's better. We ate at Moderno once, and as in the past, we felt like we rolled out of there, even when we went to sharing meat servings. Service was good, but the food came too fast. We should have said "not yet" more frequently. We had the UBP and felt we didn't drink much more than we would have without it. Exceptions were when we tried something we didn't like, we got something else without buyers remorse. Bar service was always good when we were at the bar, and staff service was usually good in the bars, but less so outside by the pool. I do think they jacked up the prices with so many people using the UBP. What used to be $7.95 is now $10.95. And forget about trying top shelf liquor, they are all off limit with the plan unless you want to shell out another $5 per drink. And the wine selection is VERY limited. But we found a Cabernet and Chardonnay that we liked and stuck with those. The highlight of the trip was the day spent going through the Panama Canal. So impressive. There was an authority on the Panama Canal onboard giving commentary all day so we knew what we were seeing. As recommended I went all over the ship taking photos from the bow, the sides and the stern of the ship. Due to work commitments, I did not do as much research for the other ports. Instead I joined other CC members on their excursions to Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We booked off ship for a whale watch in Cabo San Lucas and with the ship for Acapulco and Guatemala. The whale watch at Cabo was less impressive than I had hoped, but we had a good time and enjoyed lunch at a place recommended by some ship staff. I would go back to Cabo to explore some more. Acapulco was not a favorite port. We did the "historical, picturesque and cliff divers" tour through the ship. It was all ok. We saw a bit of the city. We stopped a few times and went to the cliff divers show. After we were treated to a "free beer" in a store across the street from the cliff divers. In Guatemala I took the "Casa Santo Domingo and Antigua" tour through the ship. Casa Santo Domingo is an old convent that is now a five star hotel. very beautiful and the lunch was delicious. But the guide spent only a few minutes with us and then said "follow the signs, there are some museums here" without giving a tour. We spend a bit of time walking in Antigua, but I would have liked more time with a guided tour and less time for shopping. We booked with CC favorites Julio tours in Nicaragua, Gio Tours in Costa Rica and Dora in Columbia. All did a good job. Our favorite port was Costa Rica and would gladly go back. One of the surprising flaws of the trip was disembarking at the port of Miami. We did walk off and due to some scheduling issue we were lined up outside on deck 7 waiting inline to get off for about half an hour while the excursion folks were getting off. They seemed to have called us all at the same time. And then we had to walk through the terminal past all of them trying to find their luggage on the airport style conveyor belts. Once outside we went to find where to pick up the shuttle to Budget to get a rental car, and the van pulled into the excursion bus area instead of where the sign was for the rental car vans. If I hadn't caught seeing it we would still be standing there! Overall rating of the cruise 4* Would I go again, no. but no fault of the cruise. I just don't do the same vacation twice. Too much in this world to see. Would I recommend it? I would recommend the Panama Canal, but wouldn't say it HAD to be this ship/itinerary. But if asked specifically about this one, I would say sure, I had a great time and you might too!

Friendliest crew on the high seas!

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by How much longer?

Trip Details
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL.

We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we had a shorter flight home at the end of the trip. We flew in a day ahead and stayed at the Doubletree San Pedro. Nice, generic hotel but a bit more isolated that I would have liked. Taxi from LAX was about $70 with tip. The hotel had a van to the port. Drinks at the bar were priced ok during happy hour, but the margarita was not that good.

Embarkation went smoothly, once it started, but the ship had an unexpected inspection upon docking, so we were delayed getting on board. We had an aft balcony, 9674. Great location, cabin was smaller than I remember NCL cabins to be. On the ship drawing, this one did look smaller that other afts, but I didn't see that until the day before we sailed. There were some minor age related issues with the drawers, but it was clean and the bed fairly comfortable. Our cabin steward was great.

The passengers were generally older, 50+, with a few exceptions and very few children.

The staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be there, especially the cruise director's staff. Iain Bagshaw was the CD and he did a great job. Shakin' Shirley deserves to be promoted, she was always on, remembered peoples names and where they were from and made everyone her friend. The shows were good, with Cirque Bijou the best. I didn't like all the musicians on board, but the show band, Rockaway Duo and Tropical Four were our go to evening entertainment before dinner and after the show. JP the magician and Pat the comedian were our favorite entertainers.

We ate most breakfasts and not specialty dinners at Tsar's Palace. We found one waiter we really liked, Julius, and tried to sit in his section whenever we could. We always asked to share a table and met lots of great people and shared our experiences on board as well as life in general. We met people from Sweden, England, Scotland, Germany and Canada, and a few other Americans. Political conversations seemed to be inevitable with a new president, but they were polite and educational. Julius made menu recommendations and the food was generally good. Hint: on nights that you don't want dessert, ask for the cheese plate. It is not on the menu and is very nice. We used to like to have a cappuccino with our dessert, but the ship used boxed milk, which I don't like the flavor of, so we saved some money and did not have it after the first night. We ate at Cagney's twice, liked the steaks and the service; La Cucina once, which was once too many. OK food and just barely OK service. Le Bistro was our valentine's day dinner. Service was less attentive than we expected, but the place was busy all night. The food was good, but I liked Cagney's better. We ate at Moderno once, and as in the past, we felt like we rolled out of there, even when we went to sharing meat servings. Service was good, but the food came too fast. We should have said "not yet" more frequently.

We had the UBP and felt we didn't drink much more than we would have without it. Exceptions were when we tried something we didn't like, we got something else without buyers remorse. Bar service was always good when we were at the bar, and staff service was usually good in the bars, but less so outside by the pool. I do think they jacked up the prices with so many people using the UBP. What used to be $7.95 is now $10.95. And forget about trying top shelf liquor, they are all off limit with the plan unless you want to shell out another $5 per drink. And the wine selection is VERY limited. But we found a Cabernet and Chardonnay that we liked and stuck with those.

The highlight of the trip was the day spent going through the Panama Canal. So impressive. There was an authority on the Panama Canal onboard giving commentary all day so we knew what we were seeing. As recommended I went all over the ship taking photos from the bow, the sides and the stern of the ship. Due to work commitments, I did not do as much research for the other ports. Instead I joined other CC members on their excursions to Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We booked off ship for a whale watch in Cabo San Lucas and with the ship for Acapulco and Guatemala. The whale watch at Cabo was less impressive than I had hoped, but we had a good time and enjoyed lunch at a place recommended by some ship staff. I would go back to Cabo to explore some more. Acapulco was not a favorite port. We did the "historical, picturesque and cliff divers" tour through the ship. It was all ok. We saw a bit of the city. We stopped a few times and went to the cliff divers show. After we were treated to a "free beer" in a store across the street from the cliff divers. In Guatemala I took the "Casa Santo Domingo and Antigua" tour through the ship. Casa Santo Domingo is an old convent that is now a five star hotel. very beautiful and the lunch was delicious. But the guide spent only a few minutes with us and then said "follow the signs, there are some museums here" without giving a tour. We spend a bit of time walking in Antigua, but I would have liked more time with a guided tour and less time for shopping. We booked with CC favorites Julio tours in Nicaragua, Gio Tours in Costa Rica and Dora in Columbia. All did a good job. Our favorite port was Costa Rica and would gladly go back.

One of the surprising flaws of the trip was disembarking at the port of Miami. We did walk off and due to some scheduling issue we were lined up outside on deck 7 waiting inline to get off for about half an hour while the excursion folks were getting off. They seemed to have called us all at the same time. And then we had to walk through the terminal past all of them trying to find their luggage on the airport style conveyor belts. Once outside we went to find where to pick up the shuttle to Budget to get a rental car, and the van pulled into the excursion bus area instead of where the sign was for the rental car vans. If I hadn't caught seeing it we would still be standing there!

Overall rating of the cruise 4* Would I go again, no. but no fault of the cruise. I just don't do the same vacation twice. Too much in this world to see. Would I recommend it? I would recommend the Panama Canal, but wouldn't say it HAD to be this ship/itinerary. But if asked specifically about this one, I would say sure, I had a great time and you might too!
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