We traveled on the Norwegian Jewel from 12/27-1/3/10. It was our 1st time on the Jewel or on any NCL cruise for that matter, although we have already cruised on Royal and Carnival. We enjoyed the amenities on the ship. The staterooms were nicely appointed. The overall ship ambiance was great; the ship is well maintained. It didn't really seem crowded except for the pool area which we thought was rather small and the Garden Cafe which always seemed crazy busy. We had trouble finding a table at this place usually and it just did not make for a pleasant meal. It was loud, crowded, the food was only so-so and frankly not worth the aggravation to fight the crowds to go there for any of the meals.
The entertainment was fairly good. Our favorite shows were Cirque Bijou and Band on the Run. The other shows were OK, but these 2 were by far the best in our opinion.
We share the same thoughts as some of the other cruisers that this cruise line is ALL about the up-sell. There is a hidden cost associated with everything and the prices do seem overinflated. Nonetheless, we did eat at some of the specialty restaurants looking for a more enjoyable dining experience. The best one of the ones we sampled was Teppanyaki. Both the service and the food were good. The food at Le Bistro was very good, but the service did not match the quality of restaurant they want to portray there. Tango's and Cagney's were good but certainly not worth what the ship charges to eat there.
The price of the pictures was too high and it is true the photographers were NOT professional. The pictures were cheap looking and often had errors in them such as someone in the party with eyes half closed or a third person in the background and they printed them for sale anyway!!
Having said all of this what left us shocked beyond words was the absolutely horrible service from the wait staff that we encountered on this ship. Just to give a few examples... At Tsars I was given a drink that sat at that table for approx 5 min after which the waiter took it telling me the drink was intended for someone from another table. He didn't even bother to find out if I had taken a sip from it!! I was aghast!! The same waiter told me he was not ready to take my order when I asked for coffee at the time I asked for dessert!! At the Blue Lagoon, we were served milk that was sour after waiting so long for it the kids were done eating by then. When I told the waiter about it, no one apologized, no one removed the glasses and no one offered us another drink!! At one of the poolside bars my daughter was told by the barman not to ask him for her unlimited soda (which the ship pushes) but to ask the guy in the back for it, thus prolonging her wait, even though he was covering the front of the bar!! One of the photographers got mad at one of the people in our party and then rushed our photo session, taking only 2 pictures of our family and acting like it was a big hassle. He did not ask whether we wanted pictures of the kids or us by ourselves. At the restaurants you got the sense that no one took ownership or responsibility for caring for the guests. The pervasive attitude is that "it is not my job". Few people have a can do attitude that will actually get things done. By the end of the cruise, you are either resigned to this fact or decide to take matters into your own hands and request things several times or ahead to time to make sure things will get done!!!
Don't recommend getting off the ship here.
Very nice. Great ziplining and trip to the mayan ruins. Do your own tours NOT the ship sponsored tours. Reputable tour operators at port way cheaper than on ship!!
Great Beach. Beautiful warm water. Great seafood at any of the local restaurants. No need to do any of the excursions if you'd rather do your own thing!! Can rent a golf cart for the day to use around the island but do it early or they will run out!! A taxi to the beach will cost $5.00 round trip.