Awesome Cruise: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Jatimer

Norwegian Jewel 5
Member Since 2010
5 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Awesome Cruise

Sail Date: January 2010
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
We did a western Caribbean sailing from Miami on Jan 3, 2010. There were 7 of us altogether in 2 cabins. My wife and self and three kids (12, 10, 7) as well as my parents. For us it was our first cruise, my parents had been on many cruises over the years (Princess, HAL, Royal Caribbean and others) but their first on NCL. We were attracted to this particular cruise because of the ports, price for kids, and the fact that it looked family friendly. We were very impressed with all areas of the cruise and had great fun and tremendous adventures while in port. My parents felt that the service and cleanliness of the NCL were comparative to other cruise lines and in some cases better. We were so pleased with the activities. While not a perfect cruise, we were pampered and well looked after. One thing that did affect things was that it was unusually cold for most of the cruise (this coming from people from quite far north in Canada)- which did hamper some of the activities. The sea was not More very rough most of the time but it did rain, was windy, and not very hot.

We spent a few days in Miami before the cruise. We returned our car rental and caught a couple of cabs to the port arriving quite early (by 10:30). Friendly porters greeted us and took our luggage. Because we were early we were through security quickly and then on to check in. We found the lines somewhat confusing inside and the person who looked after the line we selected was slow and not very friendly. We were ushered upstairs to a waiting lounge. After a period of time there was an announcement letting us know things were delayed getting the ship ready - we had to sit for quite awhile as we did not start boarding until noon. Once we started boarding it was quick. We went to Azura for a leisurely lunch- uncrowded with great choices. We did a walk around the ship until rooms were ready and got hot chocolates from the buffet. There was not much to the deck party for sailing, but the weather was cold and windy so that effected it.

We booked 2 adjoining mini suites. We found them very roomy. There was lots of cupboard space and a decent sized closet. The privacy curtain was very nice and helped keep noise down between the parts of the cabin. The main bed was extremely comfortable - we loved it. The hide a bed was adequate for kids but larger teens and adults might not find it large enough or comfortable enough. The bathroom was divided in three with glass doors - we wish they were completely shaded so one could use the toilet while someone else used the sink. There was good water pressure in the shower although the tub was a little small. The TV was in the sofa bed area and was mostly NCL channels with a movie channel, couple of news channels and a sports channel (or 2?). There was a mini fridge, a coffee maker and a safe with more storage space around a desk. The deck was large and we loved having it. We had the stewards open up the dividing wall to give us lots of space. We had 2 chairs - 1 reclinable - and a small table.

The food was very good. We ate at the main buffet a couple of times for lunch and breakfast. At key times it is very busy but the food was excellent. In the morning there were make your own omelet stations and a fresh waffle area. There was lots of fruit and pastry items. We liked almost everything. The only thing was because there lots of us we had to go all the way to the secondary buffet, The Great Outdoors for seating. We discovered that the buffet down there had almost everything that the main one did (including omelettes) but without the crowds. For lunch there were fresh pasta stations, sushi, soups, sandwiches, various meats, salads - tons of choices. We always ate at busy times - so it was always hot and fresh. We ate at Azura twice for breakfast. It was a little slow but with excellent and varied choices. The waffles with blueberry sauce was exceptional. We tried Blue Lagoon for one breakfast, two lunches and a snack - it was often overlooked but a really well done sit down restaurant. It did get busy at times and could be slow but we especially enjoyed it for a casual sit down lunch -with great appetizers (we enjoyed the tomato soup, wings and potato skins especially). We once also tried the burgers on deck which were very good with salads,corn and other choices. For dinner we mostly ate at Azura. With a party of 7 we would make sure we made reservations (we waited 45 minutes the first night of the cruise- although they gave us a beeper so we could wander the ship). The menu changed and was excellent. There often was something disappointing when ordered but more often than not we enjoyed things. The lobster night was great, we enjoyed most of the fish dishes, and the pastas. The service was exceptional. We switched to Tsars one night - it was harder to get into and we preferred the service at Azura - although the menus are identical. We tried two specialty restaurants. Teppanyakis was fun with good food although a little expensive with a family -but as a treat it was fun. It took 3 days before we could get a reservation - so try early. On the last night we ate at Tangos. The lobster taco was good, the portions were huge and the service was great. It came with a small drink (a rare free thing).

The kids club was a hit with our kids. It was very secure (they kept adults from wandering through) and our kids kept wanting to pop in even if they only had a little time. The evening events were well done. Even on the day Great Stirrup Cay was cancelled they quickly came up with lots of events for the kids.

The spa was expensive and often busy, but my wife had a massage and I went for a shave. Very relaxing although they are always trying to sell things and take note that a gratuity is included but they leave space to add more - my wife did not notice this and so it was very expensive.

The shows that we saw we enjoyed. The kids club takes the kids to some shows- if they don't it probably is not family friendly. The 70's show was OK but not for kids. Cirque Bijou is exceptional - a Cirque d'Soliel knock off and well done. The Cats Pyjamas were very entertaining and we went to their encore the next night at Spinnakers. We missed the comedian and skipped the country singer.

Around the ship there was a fair bit to do. This ship does not have all the bells and whistles of some ships but we did enjoy the golf driving cages, the giant checkers/chess sets, the sports court, the pools and small waterslide, the library and the shops. We would have liked more information sessions such as a lecture about the ports etc, but the only things like that were sales presentations for things.

There is no place for a port review for Great Stirrup Cay, so I will mention it here. The weather was poor and deteriorating so we only had two hours on the island before being ordered back to the ship. However this made it easy to find space on the beach! The water was clear and warm. The little shops were cute and it looked like there were nice walking paths (we were part way down one when the order to return to ship was given). The seas were getting rough tendering back and so getting back on the ship was a challenge but the crew was very good at getting us safely on board one at a time (was tricky to get off).

Once on board we never had a complaint about the crew. Some were exceptional- the assistant manager at Azura quickly learned about some diet concerns and always was looking out for us and helping us out. Our cabins were always clean and any requests were quickly looked after. The pool staff was on top of kids safety issues a couple of times and looked after stuff.

One thing I would have changed was the mandatory gratuity charges. I thought it was a little excessive to charge all the kids the same as adults as $12 a day per person adds up very quickly with a family.

For disembarking we booked a tour and airport drop off. We met at the theater for that. Weather concerns and the speed of customs officials meant we ended up waiting for more than a half hour. The lines to get off were long but moved quick. Because NCL could not walk us through, our group was given thorough instructions on how to disembark and meet up at the end. These instructions were repeated and we all made it.

We enjoyed our first cruise and found it to be a great family adventure. Less

Published 01/23/10

Cabin review: MA11564 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

The location of the cabin was very handy to get to most places since it was near the main stairs, spotlessly clean, lots of storage, great balcony (and on the right side of the ship when at port to see the port.)

Read All Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony (MA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We have always wanted to go to Belize and this stop was one of the reasons for picking this cruise. Belize City is not the tourist stop - do book a tour and enjoy this delightful little country. We booked a tour through NCL to Lamanai. We had an hour + bus ride with an informative guide to the New River. We had a short shopping break and then boarded a small boat for an adventure up the river with thick jungle all around you. We saw some wildlife (birds, iguanas, bats, one small crocodile, lizards and a turtle). We occasionally stopped for pictures but because of time mostly sped along the river (we would have loved more time). At our arrival we walked to a sheltered picnic area for a traditional Belize lunch of various rice and beans, chicken, salad, assorted pops and a delicious coconut tart. Lunch was good. We had a few minutes in the museum and shopping area (small shops with locally done souvenirs). We were fortunate to have lots of howler monkeys all around us through lamanai - we were told we were witnessing two different troops have a territorial dispute. They were very active and loud. We were taken to 4 different parts of the ruins with great jungle walks in between. We did not bring bug spray and ended up using some that one couple bought there. A can was $10 so I would highly recommend bringing some from home. The highlight of Lamanai was climbing the main pyramid - a tough steep climb with a bit of a scary descent - but the view on top was breathtaking. Our time was way too short there. We returned the same way we arrived (boat, bus). And got back with enough time for a short look around pier area.

Costa Maya is the name of the port built beside the town of Mahahual. It is a small town in the very south of Mexico that built this port to improve their situation from a small poor fishing village with a declining population. Their story is very inspiring of how this town of 700 has become a major cruising stop - how 700 handles that many tourists is remarkable. Our family (3 kids 7, 10, 12)went snorkeling in the morning on a catamaran - booked through NCL. The crew was very helpful and since we had smaller kids the leader of the crew, Mario, stayed near us the whole time. The reef was amazing and we saw many fish. It was a cool day but the water was warm. Coming back the water was quite rough but that added to the adventure. Our 7 year old thought the waves were awesome! We spent the afternoon in town enjoying the beach and doing lots of shopping (typical Mexican set up with bartering and hard salesmanship)-educational for the kids and lots of fun. There is still damage from Hurricane Dean - particularly the vegetation. There is lots of construction going on in this well run and well looked after town.

Read 1767 Costa Maya Reviews

Our rating is just for the tour and unfortunately greatly affected by the weather. It was strangely bitterly cold in Miami (wind chills below freezing). We booked a disembarkation tour with NCL to do an airboat ride and alligator show. The airboat was cancelled so NCL gave us a 20% discount. The alligator show was good as was the walk around the ground (although it was cold and the animals were very inactive). The restaurant was crowded (because it was warm) but we got to try alligator and frog legs - very good and enjoyable. Our tour guide was informative as we drove with great stories. We were driven to the airport in a timely fashion. It was a good way to spend a travel day - even if we missed the most exciting part of the tour.

Read 1843 Miami Reviews

On the basis of reviews here, we prebooked a tour with Bodden Tours. They left excellent communication throughout and were the first booth on the pier when we arrived. We had Derek as a driver and he was exceptional. He was very informative and drove us all over the island. He showed us all the sites before taking us to the Bodden farm. We did the zip lines (took better part of an hour). Everyone had fun zipping through the jungle. The guides even took our cameras and took lots of pics. Then we were escorted around to see the animals and hold the toucans and parrots. We were allowed in the spider monkey cage and had monkey's climb all over us. Because there were multiple guides though - there were lots of tips to give out. Derek then took us to an out of the way island restaurant to sample island fair - we even got to try iguana. We had a short shopping stop as well. We wanted to go to the iguana reserve but simply ran out of time. We would have loved more time in Roatan - what a beautiful island with friendly people.

Read 2447 Roatan Reviews

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