Exceeded Expectations: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by newto

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Exceeded Expectations

Sail Date: August 2009
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Dover
I am 16. I pretty much organised this cruise, mum paid and brother (14) came for the ride

Embarkation at Dover was easy. The check in queue moved quickly, and there was a short wait to board, but the process was all very efficient.

During the day, the pool had quite loud music playing, whether it was live or not. The music was usually played over and over again. The pools were good, as was the slide. The lounges were spacious. In my opinion, Spinnaker was the best, as it provided quite a variety of seating, and a number of activities. The teen club wasn't fantastic and a lot of the activities didn't materialise. I would recommend going on the first couple of nights, just to make friends. I had no issues with any of the public rooms, and had no bad experiences.

Our room was set up just to a double bed when we arrived, and this was quickly rectified to a twin bed. When the third bed was pulled down, there wasn't much room to move around. The bathroom was More functional, nothing flashy, but it did the job. The balcony was a great investment.

I have read horrors of dining, but there was no issue. We mainly ate at the Garden Cafe, which had a new selection of food every day. The food was tasty. Blue Lagoon offered a 24h service, but had a small menu and was the same every day. Azura and Tsar's Palace have the same menus, which changed every day. The food was of good quality and the service was excellent. We only went to two cover charge restaurants. Teppanyaki for $25 was by far the best eating experience I have had. It was well worth the cover charge. I recommend chicken. The other was Chin Chin ($15). The food here was fantastic, and very filling.

The shows were of mixed quality. Cirque Bijou was fantastic. The Jean Ann Ryan company shows were probably the best (they did Cirque Bijou). The two comedians didn't have much of an act, and mainly picked on the audience. Word of warning. Sit at the back, and don't come in late, or leave early. You will be picked on. The crew show was ok. It was interesting to see some of the faces you had picked up on the cruise. The Fountains production was hilarious.

The service throughout the ship was excellent.

We didn't do any NCL shore excursions. They seemed quite expensive. I would highly recommend a private tour for St. Petersburg and would highly recommend Guide Guru.

Drinks were generally expensive. The cheapest bottle of wine (for my mum) was $28. This turned out to be a lot cheaper than buying it by the glass. Tea, Coffee and water was available at the Garden Cafe for free all day.

We could have had a similar cruise with another company at the same price, but it would have been an inside room. We liked the freestyle aspect of NCL. Less

Published 08/15/09
Helpful? Thank newto

Cabin review: BA9556 Mid-Ship Balcony

Bow waves broke right ouside our cabin, good position regarding stairwells, crowded with 3 people, no public rooms above or below.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Make sure you get a good map beforehand if you're going independently!!! The map NCL supplied us wasn't great and missed off some of the roads, leading us to get lost. I think the Little Mermaid is a bit over-rated, and it is being replaced by a replica soon. Tivoli Gardens are lovely, and have some good rides, notably Vertigo, but not on the scale of UK or US theme parks. It was a bit expensive too for the amount of time. It doesn't open until 11, and the rides don't open until 11.30. The town centre is busy. It may be worth going for a canal tour - they looked quite good, but I don't know the prices.

We didn't have the best cruise berth in Helsinki, but the walk to the Market Square itself was easy enough to navigate. The Market Square was brilliant. The stalls of fresh fruit and veg, with giant piles of berries, sold by the litre, were fantastic. Also the cooked food stalls with various dishes ranging from salmon cakes to reindeer casserole looked and tasted delicious. In Helsinki, we went on a boat trip, which was a great way to see all of the islands. The trip itself was reasonably priced and lasted 1 1/2 hours. It was also interesting to see the cathedral, which was very simple inside, in stark contrast to the churches in St. Petersburg.

Read 667 Helsinki Reviews

If you don't fancy the 12 hour excursions to Berlin, Warnemunde is a fantastic little town. The harbour is busy, and there are plently of boats of all shapes and sizes coming in and out all day. The beach is sandy and absolutely MASSIVE. It is a popular place for kite flying apparently. You could take harbour tours, but we just walked around and sampled the plentiful fish rolls for sale. The ship tours of Warnemunde are not worth it. You can see just as much walking around, and you dock right next to the town. The weirdest thing about Warnemunde is the massive number of dead ladybirds around, just in massive piles!

We were docked at the old cruise port, right in the middle of the commercial port. It wasn't pretty, but there is a new cruise port. Disembarkation at the old port is lengthy if you leave as little as half an hour after the doors open. We were there early and were among the first off. We had no problems despite the fact we were on a private tour. We had read lots of horror stories about the whole process, with NCL letting their groups off first but we didn't find this to be the case. I would fully recommend Guide Guru for a tour. We arranged via. email, giving them the places we wanted to visit and they arranged a tour according to our wishes. There were three of us and we were given a driver and guide (Natalia, our guide, was fantastic). We had a comfortable, air-conditioned car, which was bliss given the hot weather. Peterhof was amazing when the fountains switched on. Church on the Spilled Blood was a particular highlight. The inside of St. Isaac's was amazing, as were the metro stations. I was particularly interested in the State Museum of Political History, which wasn't included in any shore excursions, but that was really interesting and well worth going to see the cultural differences in the past. Natalia was a really accomodating guide and although it wasn't on our itinerary, she let us stop at a Russian supermarket. The tour was fantastic and far cheaper than it would have been by doing an NCL tour, not to mention the small group and you don't have to pay in advance.

The cruise terminal is a way away from the main attractions in Stockholm, so expect to pay for a taxi or shuttle bus if you aren't taking a tour. Firstly, we visited the Vasa museum - the taxi journey was about SEK150 or 22USD. The Vasa is a warship which sank on its maiden voyage, and has since been fully restored. We spent much longer than we expected at the museum - it was very good. We took a short ferry trip to old town (Gamla Stan). We visited parliament building and intended to visit the town hall, but we were too tired.

At the port, there are some stalls offering souvenirs. I strongly suggest checking the prices and comparing it with in-town stores - you will find the port ones are quite expensive. Old Town Tallinn is a pretty area. It is an easy walk from the port. The view from the top of the town hall is amazing, well worth the small charge, but the spiral stair cases are tiring. It is also worth visiting the Russian Orthodox Church. The inside and outside are both impressive. When we were there, there was a string of weddings going in and out and we were allowed in to watch. It was ... different.

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