NCL Rocks - Freestyle is the only way to go: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by gailg123

Norwegian Jewel 5
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

NCL Rocks - Freestyle is the only way to go

Sail Date: December 2009
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
I would absolutely go on a cruise with NCL again. It was an amazing experience and I loved it. We were aboard the Norwegian Jewel, which was spectacular. Here are my observationa:

Public Rooms - None of them are subtle - think Las Vegas glitz. The Tzar's Palace dining room is a perfect example - lots of gilt, highly patterned, bright carpets and a grand staircase.

Cabins - All are furnished with cherry wood finishing, televisions, a safe,refrigerators, duvets, and bathrooms with showers and hair dryers. They are stylish and comfortable.

Dress Code - Casual dress is a very popular aspect of freestyle cruising. Formal wear(black tie or dark suit for men and cocktail dress for women) is optional during the one formal evening. On our trip, about 5% of passengers dressed up in evening wear and tuxedos.

The Food (free venues) - There is 24 hour room service aboard ship but we never bothered with it because of all the great dining options. More

"The Garden Cafe" (indoor) and "The Great Outdoors" (seating area to the rear of the Garden Cafe) are both buffets and are good for breakfast and lunch but are not as good for dinner, sometimes the food was cold. During the day, seats were hard to find but we always found one eventually. They have soft-serve ice cream dispensers and self-serve beverage machines. Excellent choices here were little roast potatoes, sausages and roast tomatoes at breakfast, the pizza, and all the juices. The eggs Benedict were great if you got them while they were hot. On the last night of the trip, the chocolate buffet and ice sculptures were amazing.

"The Blue Lagoon" which overlooks the atrium is another option for breakfast or lunch. I liked the Full House breakfast of eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, hash browns and toast. Lunch choices included fish and chips, potato skins, soups, nachos, excellent hamburgers and wings and salads.

"The Poolside Grill" is great for morning juices/pastries or burgers/hot dogs for lunch and is quick and convenient. You will be able to listen to live music while you eat. The reggae band "Uprysn" was noteworthy.

"Tsar's Palace" had excellent food. It is served by waitstaff who were quick and efficient. We tried "Asura" for dinner only once. It is noisy, because it doesn't have the spaciousness of Tsar's, and generally feels cramped. Deck 7 is the home of reception and shore excursion desks, art/photo galleries, Internet cafe and shops with duty-free items, clothing and jewelry. The Crystal Atrium features the "Java Cafe", awesome light fixtures and an elegant, white, baby grand piano. It also offers outdoor seating when the pool deck is too busy.

The pool deck has two pools, four spas, and a big yellow water slide for kids. The pool and spas are almost empty by dinner time, and you can enjoy the sunset from the hot tubs or on a chaise lounge. I found an empty lounge chair poolside most days; there was no deck chair hogging around the pool.

"The Spinnaker Lounge" wass sunny and quiet during the day and home to some great entertainment at night - be prepared to laugh your socks off.

The Stardust Theatre is the main entertainment venue for nightly Broadway/Vegas-style productions, comedy, music and ventriloquist acts and a Cirque du Soleil-type aerial show called Cirque Bijou. The talented group of gymnasts, acrobats and bungee jumpers played to packed houses.

Other entertainment on board included live guitar and piano music available at various locations. My favourite was a group of mariachi musicians. There are also late night parties with themes such as White Nights (where those who attend dress in all white), Caribbean and disco.

Other recreational options include a jogging and walking track and a sports deck (with bleacher seating) for basketball, volleyball and tennis. There are also golf driving nets, a shuffleboard court, ping pong tables and a life-size chess set.

Shore Excursions - Do not book them on board. They are very expensive and you can pay way less for the same thing by booking privately. Check out Trip for ideas and don't be afraid to book locally.

Drinks on Board are expensive. We brought our own decanted liquor and had cocktail hour in our cabin each night before dinner. Also, for security reasons, all bags go through a metal detector and X-ray equipment on returning to the ship on excursion days. Any duty-free liquor is confiscated until the end of the cruise. Karaoke is available at the FYZZ Lounge and in the private red, green or blue karaoke rooms at no extra charge.

Gratuity - Each passenger is automatically billed $12 per day. Guests who prefer to tip individually can fill out a form at reception.

The Casino offers one penny to $100 slot machines, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and poker.

My compliments to all the staff for making this the perfect holiday Less

Published 02/01/10

Cabin review:

Small but ample room for the two of us, really comfortable beds and bedding. Very clean and quiet.

Port and Shore Excursions

Booked the cave tubing with Major Tom and the Fun Bunch. It was phenomenal. Be sure to have the optional Creole lunch for just $5

The rocky beach is awful - go to the little village 3 miles away for a sandy beach - the shopping is much cheaper there, also. We went to the Mayan ruins with Native Sons, which was really interesting but very hot and steamy as the ruins are in the jungle.

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We had the best day with Bodden Tours. We went on a trip around the island with a private driver and vehicle for $25 pp. We also went to the monkey/bird refuge and the iguana farm - both great choices. Had a wonderful lunch at Half-moon Bay. Best buy was the mahogany, carved boxes - $28 each for the small size.

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