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My husband, two teen boys (ages 16 and 13), and my mother booked two rooms (connecting mid-ship mini suites) on the Norwegian Jewel during the kids' spring break. We wanted to drive to the port, so we chose a ship leaving from Los Angeles. We also knew we wanted some beach time so we chose the Mexican Riviera itinerary. What attracted us to Norwegian was its casual cruising policy - we liked the idea of eating whenever we wanted to, and avoiding stuffy dress code policies. Embarkation was a decent experience. We had one of the first embarkation times, and got there early, so we did have to wait in line. However, everyone is pretty excited to go on the cruise, so we spent time chatting with others in line. Inside, everything was easy to navigate, and they have a well planned system to get you onboard. Completing the eDocs made this process very simple. It is nice to hand over your luggage and get ready to go on board. Bring a swimsuit and anything you need for the afternoon in a carry on!! That way you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day onboard, without worrying about when your luggage will show up in your room (which won't happen till late in the afternoon). The room was cozy. Our king bed was very comfy, but my son was not super happy on the rather hard sofa bed. The TV was not high quality (newer ships have the flat screen TV's) but since we didn't spend a ton of time in the room, it was fine. I will never cruise without a balcony! It was great to eat breakfast or just sit and stare at the ocean. We saw lots of marine animals. The food was fabulous! We loved going to the buffet (where they sang the washy washy song and made sure no one got in without sanitizing their hands. The food was well covered, and I didn't get an "ewww" feeling from it being a buffet. The main dining rooms offered a good range of food, so you really could get away with not going to the specialty restaurants. However, the specialty restaurants were fun, and I would spend the money again. Next time I would get the specialty restaurants on the Free at Sea plan. Drinks flowed! We had the ultimate beverage package, because we do like to drink on our vacations! Plus, it just minimizes the stress - no worries about how much it is adding up. The drinks can be watered down, however, with the package you just need to ask for an extra shot and you can "customize" it to your liking. :) The only thing not covered on the package was good wine (I'm from California...we love our wine) and any spirits that were over $15 (you just pay the difference in that case). The entertainment was great. They had a cirque du soleil type of show, but I thought the main performers were the best part. They did a cabaret show near the end of the cruise that was a highlight for me. We of course did the fun "Not so Newlywed Game" and enjoyed a few rounds of Deal or No Deal. We even got the teenagers to play Bingo with us, so we ended up having a fun family time in places I never would have expected my teenagers to join us! Speaking of the teenagers, the Entourage club was a bust for them. That might be more my own teens' style than anything good or bad about the club. They did enjoy playing Dodgeball on the ship and the video arcade. Caution on the arcade - my 13 year old didn't pay attention to how much he was playing and ran up nearly a $200 tab on my mom's account. He primed and painted her entire garage to work off that bill. Puerto Vallarta - we went to Las Caletas. It was about a 45 minute boat ride to get there, and then about 4 hours on the island. The best part was the hammocks over the water! The worst part was the jellyfish that made the snorkeling have to change location and closed down the water slide and water park area. The kids were bummed. Mom and I enjoyed wonderful massages and facials though. My 13 year old enjoyed the sting ray and sea lion experience. If you do something like that WASH out their swimsuit afterward. Learned that the hard way from the smell the next day. Mazatlan - We did the Huana Coa zip lining. So scary! But it was fun. Not the most picturesque of scenery though. Very brown and a lot of agave plants (actually those were pretty cool). There is a tequila tasting afterward at Los Osuna that was boring for the boys but my husband and I enjoyed it! We got to bring some home. I wish I had bought the vanilla tequila, I haven't seen it since. Cabo San Lucas - It's kind of cool that you have to take the tender in to this port, but it adds a little disembark/embark time. However, once you get to the dock, you are right there in the middle of Cabo. My husband and boys went snorkeling with Cabo Adventures, while mom and I went shopping downtown. They loved this excursion the most. Mom and I got drinks at Cabo Wabo, then we ate lunch with the guys at Senor Frogs. Had to do the tourist stuff. Now my son wants to go there after graduation when he is 18. Hmm... Disembarkation at the end was easy as well. Pack up your bags and put them in the hallway the night before, then they grab them and have them in the terminal after you get off the ship. This did make me a little nervous about theft, so don't put anything out that you would be nervous about being stolen. The bags are all in one place in the terminal so it's easy to walk out with the wrong one. Just beware that anything valuable needs to be carried by you. Or you can do a walk off where you take your bags and just get off the ship - the drawback to this is carrying all your bags up or down the stairs to the disembarkation deck. We liked having our bags taken off for us so we could enjoy one last breakfast in the buffet. Overall, Mom, Husband, and I absolutely loved cruising, and we have the Jewel to thank for it! It forces you to relax, stop, and enjoy your time. The teenagers were not as enthusiastic, although we had so much fun family time, that I think they will come to appreciate it when they get older. They loved getting to eat whenever they wanted (and they are teenage boys so we definitely got our money's worth). They just didn't love the older game consoles in the teen club and the limited pool space (water slides were "lame" they said). They did enjoy the freedom to roam without parental supervision.

First Cruise! We are hooked.

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by football99mom

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2017
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
My husband, two teen boys (ages 16 and 13), and my mother booked two rooms (connecting mid-ship mini suites) on the Norwegian Jewel during the kids' spring break. We wanted to drive to the port, so we chose a ship leaving from Los Angeles. We also knew we wanted some beach time so we chose the Mexican Riviera itinerary. What attracted us to Norwegian was its casual cruising policy - we liked the idea of eating whenever we wanted to, and avoiding stuffy dress code policies.

Embarkation was a decent experience. We had one of the first embarkation times, and got there early, so we did have to wait in line. However, everyone is pretty excited to go on the cruise, so we spent time chatting with others in line. Inside, everything was easy to navigate, and they have a well planned system to get you onboard. Completing the eDocs made this process very simple. It is nice to hand over your luggage and get ready to go on board. Bring a swimsuit and anything you need for the afternoon in a carry on!! That way you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day onboard, without worrying about when your luggage will show up in your room (which won't happen till late in the afternoon).

The room was cozy. Our king bed was very comfy, but my son was not super happy on the rather hard sofa bed. The TV was not high quality (newer ships have the flat screen TV's) but since we didn't spend a ton of time in the room, it was fine. I will never cruise without a balcony! It was great to eat breakfast or just sit and stare at the ocean. We saw lots of marine animals.

The food was fabulous! We loved going to the buffet (where they sang the washy washy song and made sure no one got in without sanitizing their hands. The food was well covered, and I didn't get an "ewww" feeling from it being a buffet. The main dining rooms offered a good range of food, so you really could get away with not going to the specialty restaurants. However, the specialty restaurants were fun, and I would spend the money again. Next time I would get the specialty restaurants on the Free at Sea plan.

Drinks flowed! We had the ultimate beverage package, because we do like to drink on our vacations! Plus, it just minimizes the stress - no worries about how much it is adding up. The drinks can be watered down, however, with the package you just need to ask for an extra shot and you can "customize" it to your liking. :) The only thing not covered on the package was good wine (I'm from California...we love our wine) and any spirits that were over $15 (you just pay the difference in that case).

The entertainment was great. They had a cirque du soleil type of show, but I thought the main performers were the best part. They did a cabaret show near the end of the cruise that was a highlight for me. We of course did the fun "Not so Newlywed Game" and enjoyed a few rounds of Deal or No Deal. We even got the teenagers to play Bingo with us, so we ended up having a fun family time in places I never would have expected my teenagers to join us!

Speaking of the teenagers, the Entourage club was a bust for them. That might be more my own teens' style than anything good or bad about the club. They did enjoy playing Dodgeball on the ship and the video arcade. Caution on the arcade - my 13 year old didn't pay attention to how much he was playing and ran up nearly a $200 tab on my mom's account. He primed and painted her entire garage to work off that bill.

Puerto Vallarta - we went to Las Caletas. It was about a 45 minute boat ride to get there, and then about 4 hours on the island. The best part was the hammocks over the water! The worst part was the jellyfish that made the snorkeling have to change location and closed down the water slide and water park area. The kids were bummed. Mom and I enjoyed wonderful massages and facials though. My 13 year old enjoyed the sting ray and sea lion experience. If you do something like that WASH out their swimsuit afterward. Learned that the hard way from the smell the next day.

Mazatlan - We did the Huana Coa zip lining. So scary! But it was fun. Not the most picturesque of scenery though. Very brown and a lot of agave plants (actually those were pretty cool). There is a tequila tasting afterward at Los Osuna that was boring for the boys but my husband and I enjoyed it! We got to bring some home. I wish I had bought the vanilla tequila, I haven't seen it since.

Cabo San Lucas - It's kind of cool that you have to take the tender in to this port, but it adds a little disembark/embark time. However, once you get to the dock, you are right there in the middle of Cabo. My husband and boys went snorkeling with Cabo Adventures, while mom and I went shopping downtown. They loved this excursion the most. Mom and I got drinks at Cabo Wabo, then we ate lunch with the guys at Senor Frogs. Had to do the tourist stuff. Now my son wants to go there after graduation when he is 18. Hmm...

Disembarkation at the end was easy as well. Pack up your bags and put them in the hallway the night before, then they grab them and have them in the terminal after you get off the ship. This did make me a little nervous about theft, so don't put anything out that you would be nervous about being stolen. The bags are all in one place in the terminal so it's easy to walk out with the wrong one. Just beware that anything valuable needs to be carried by you. Or you can do a walk off where you take your bags and just get off the ship - the drawback to this is carrying all your bags up or down the stairs to the disembarkation deck. We liked having our bags taken off for us so we could enjoy one last breakfast in the buffet.

Overall, Mom, Husband, and I absolutely loved cruising, and we have the Jewel to thank for it! It forces you to relax, stop, and enjoy your time. The teenagers were not as enthusiastic, although we had so much fun family time, that I think they will come to appreciate it when they get older. They loved getting to eat whenever they wanted (and they are teenage boys so we definitely got our money's worth). They just didn't love the older game consoles in the teen club and the limited pool space (water slides were "lame" they said). They did enjoy the freedom to roam without parental supervision.
football99mom’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11054
I didn't have high expectations, because everyone told me how tiny cruise ship cabins could be. I was pleasantly surprised! The bed was super comfy and I'm not one that loves all hotel beds. While I didn't feel any rocking in the cabin, I slept better on this trip than on any trip I could think of. The decor is dated, which many have talked about, but not so much that it bothered me. I'd trade a cheaper cruise rate for dated decor. The bathroom was a decent size, with hand soap, body wash, and shampoo/conditioner all available. It was nice to have several shelves to place our toiletries. The full size hair dryer was a plus too.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Kids went snorkeling and I went shopping. We all had fun! The boat operator took them at high speeds out to the popular snorkeling area. It's a cool experience to tender in to Cabo since there isn't a port for cruise ships. So many great bars and restaurants to choose from.
    View All 63 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Mazatlan
    The operators were great and very concerned about keeping everyone safe. I had never zip lined before, but I'm glad I faced the fear. They were patient and understanding with me. You have to control your speed with your hand holding the line behind your head. I didn't love that. There is a tequila tasting at Los Osuna afterward. Good stuff!
    View All 13,797 Mazatlan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Mazatlan Cruise Port Review
  • Beach
    So relaxing! The massage and facials were great. I loved the hammocks by the water. Kids were disappointed because the jellyfish were everywhere, and so the water slide and teenager area were all closed off. Lunch was yummy.
    View All 79 Beach Reviews