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Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,389 Reviews

Great time on the inaugural northbound Alaska Jewel Cruise

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by InternetAgeTraveler

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jun 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Family Balcony

This was the very first Vancouver to Seward sailing by the Jewel so we didn't have much history to base it on as far as timings and activities but we had a lot of fun. The full trip report with pictures and additional details can be found at https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2647072

Itinerary and cabin.

Our cruise was for our 30th wedding anniversary and was 2 couples, myself and my wife (60+) and her sister and husband (50+). It was our 3rd Alaska cruise and their 1st. We booked over a year in advance. We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary. When originally booked, it was on the NCL Sun which wouldn’t have been our choice had it not been this route. It was later changed to the NCL Jewel which was a much better option. The main considerations were a northbound tour that did Glacier Bay and preferably Hubbard Glacier. Most cruise lines do Hubbard only on Southbound cruises. We preferred northbound because the scenery gets more spectacular as it goes. That is, starting with capped hills, leading to snow capped mountains, glaciers, and ultimately Denali instead of the other way around. We also chose portside balcony rooms mid ship. While conventional wisdom says the starboard is better for northbound, from my experience, Glacier Bay is better enjoyed from a port cabin. We were in 10604 and 10606, adjoining cabins that we had opened so we could occasionally communicate without going out in the hall or over the balcony. We were happy with the rooms, they were convenient to the elevators and all activities. We did some noise from the kid’s club and arcade but typically only during the day. Because of the weather we hit during the cruise, some of the outside kid activities were forced inside so the rooms under it on the 11th deck were likely quite noisy at times so cabins to avoid just in case.

The good

Great itinerary. I think it is one of the best options available with long port times, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier, in a northbound cruise.

Ship officers. Credit goes to Steven Jacobsen, the hotel director, but this was one of the best crews I have sailed with. We had an issue that our specialty restaurants did not transfer to the ship properly and once they were aware of it, it was handled. The amazing thing was the restaurant manager, Maria Theresa Mangat, tracked us down in the Tsar Palace to try to work out a time for our teppanyaki dinner.

Entertainment – overall was pretty good, a few exceptions, but NCL does a good job of providing a variety of options

The not as good

Bingo / Deal or No Deal – the cost outweighs the potential winnings

Smoking in the casino – I know its tradition, but not desirable for the average person these days.

Photos – always expensive on cruise ships, but we typically buy a few. The pictures that they printed out had some filter process applied that made your teeth very white and also highlighted other white areas and for us looked very unnatural. We got a number of different answers about hem but eventually talked to someone that said if we committed to buying them, they can reprint without it. I talked with a few others and they didn’t have as obviously bad photos as our original so it may depend on the photo itself but don’t accept them if you don’t like it.

Internet – the service was good and generally reliable but they charge by minute which is not ideal. It would be better to switch to charges by megabytes since a lot of what we used it for messaging which is very low usage. We had the 250 minutes package and they wanted $200 to upgrade to full cruise which was a bit pricey. We ended up with about 10 minutes left logging in and out a few times a day since we didn’t need it in port.

The General

Cabin Steward – every cabin steward has their own style. On this cruise, ours was very low key. We didn’t actually see her much at the start but finally we did see her more regularly. We found that she relied on us setting the dial outside our room to make up or turn down the room which we didn’t originally do.

The bests…

Best investment: A rain jacket. We needed it almost every day. We chose ones that were just jackets, no lining, and went over whatever we were wearing.

Best advice: Layers. For us, it was crucial, we had weather all over the place so being able to strip a layer as needed was essential.

Best deal: The laundry bag on Day 4. Amazing how much you can get into the bag. We calculated about $200 worth of washing compare to the $19.99 it cost

Most fun: Elevator roulette with the cruise staff. Although it did annoy the people on the elevators I think.

Best planning: Book independent when you can. Not only is it cheaper, but smaller groups make it so much more enjoyable.

Our actvities

Vancouver: Capilano Bridge

Ketchikan: Kayaking with Southeast Exposure

Juneau: Whale watching with Harv and Marv

Skagway: Avis Rental car and stop at Tagish Lake Kennels

Seward: Hertz rental car to Denali on our own, Nenana Raft Adventures, Denali ATV and the Shuttle Bus to Eielson for views of Denali

InternetAgeTraveler's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Family Balcony
Cabin B2 10604

The cabin was as expected. There were only a few minor flaws. The door to the balcony stuck a bit when opening it, the safe was problematic, working sometimes and not others, and the shower door needed some help to slide. We didn't report any of these although I am sure if we had, they would resolved them.

As noted above, being 2 decks down from the kids club, we did notice some noise.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Capilano Canyon

exceeded our expectations, it's not just a bridge, a lot to do there.

View All 35 Capilano Canyon Reviews
Whale Watching

We chose the larger ship to give the most stability but the group was still only 13 people. We saw a couple of humpbacks and a pod of orca whales. It was amazing. Normally, on these tours, you get closer views of the humpbacks than on the ship but the killer whales were a great addition.

View All 906 Whale Watching Reviews
Scenic Drive

We booked a car and did the drive up to Emerald Lake and back. It was a great way to see the area as we could stop as we wanted. In one section, we u-turned twice as we heard there was a bear in that area and eventually spotted him. We also stopped at various other activities along the way.

View All 117 Scenic Drive Reviews

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