This was our 6th cruise on NCL, but our first transpacific. We chose it because of its itinerary, its length, and that it ended as an Alaska cruise, which we have always talked about doing. This combination of Asia, Pacific, and Alaska was perfect for us.
All the port stops in Japan were wonderful - Yokohama, Aomori, Hakodate and Otaru. The ship docked very close to town, and there was plenty to do in each place. Our most treasured experience was finding an onsen (hot springs bath, all nude, segregated by gender) in Hakodate.
We were not impressed with Petropavlovsk though. Access was by tender, which wastes a lot of time especially with old folks with bad knees struggling to get on and off. Prior to the cruise, we were told quite specifically that we needed visas just to roam around town, so the best thing to do was sign up for an NCL shore excursion. Turns out that the Russians will let cruisers with no visas into town, just can't go beyond the city limits.
The many days at sea crossing the Pacific was a real treat. Even better was getting an extra Wednesday because we crossed the International Date Line. Conversation with the cabin steward was fun - "what is today?" "Wednesday" "what is tomorrow?" "Wednesday."
We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants. Of the free ones, we went to the Azura only once, and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Garden Café buffet the whole trip. Food was good, not great. The first top round roast in the carving station was so tough, however, it defied mastication.
Our cabin steward, Aris, was the best. He was never intrusive, did a great job with the room, and answered all our questions. His towel art creations were ones I had never seen before.
If it were not for the the ship being even more worn out, we would take her back to Japan in September.
When we got on the Jewel in early May, it was pretty run down. The bathtub would not drain, so at the end of a short shower, we were standing in dirty water. A plumber came by to try to snake it, but it didn't really work.
In a Mini Suite, we got a chair instead of a stool, but the this chair's seat had lost all (I mean all) of the screws that held it together.
The TV was ok, however, unlike the newer ships, we could not get our personal account on it, nor could we book excursions or reserve dinner.
Our balcony was not acceptable. It had pipes running above it. It was obvious the pipes had been painted white several times, but there were rust areas (not just spots) all over. And each day, new flakes of white paint could be found on the deck.
I know that the Jewel is going in to dry dock in Singapore in October, but it would be nice if NCL refurbished their ships more frequently.
The Jewel, at the time we were there, was basically a rusty bucket.
An excellent experience. It was marred only by a woman from New York who suddenly decided to sit in the seat behind the driver of the bus, and the Russians who had been sitting there all along were not having it. So embarrassing.View All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews