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

Excellent trip for the price...

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by waltcchatttn

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

I can now scratch Alaska from my bucket list of places to visit, and I could not be happier with my choice to sail with NCL for my trip and first cruise experience. We chose NCL for the overall cost, and the date because of the itinerary (I highly recommend a South to North trip, as each stop got better than the previous one). I travelled with my wife, and we were both overly impressed with the entire staff we had contact with, and the organization of everyone to ensure that things went smoothly at all times (particularly shore excursions).

About my trip...hopefully I can give some useful information for future travellers!

We sailed from vancouver, BC, but began our trip in Seattle. (some cruises begin in Seattle). Highlights there were the Boeing Museum (fantastic...on par with Smitsonian Air and Space), the Public Market (go to Pike Place Chowder, even if there is a line!), a visit to the Space Needle following its renovations (went early and had no line...830am), though it took me a while to try the revolving glass floor, Museum of Pop Culture, and walked through Fremont district (had to see the troll, and Theo Chocolate).

We used AMTRAK to get to Vancouver...efficient and fun and cheap. Vancouver probably deserved more time, but our hotel on Barclay St was perfect, even if it was older with no elevator. It was a short walk to Harbor Green Park and Gastown, and even shorter walk to Stanley Park. If you do nothing else in Vancouver, you must visit Stanley Park. We rented bikes from Spokes and rode the very easy 12 km seawall around the park, then walked through the gardens in the center of the park. There is a great laundromat on Davie St if you need one that opens early, and has a coffee shop next door.

Now for the cruise...why everyone is reading this! It was our first cruise, and I and no idea what to expect and nothing to compare it to. We arrived at Canada place at our assigned time, and at first I was overwhelmed with the length of the line to check in, but it went smoothly and quickly (30 minutes). Sailing from Vancouver requires two stops at customs...one to get out of Canada, and one to enter the U.S. (another 20 minutes), then we were on board with our rooms ready and luggage waiting. We had upgrade to a balcony room, and though small (think cozy, I guess) it was perfect for the two of us, with plenty of space to put things. I highly recommend a balcony room for an Alaska trip, but there are plenty of public spaces on the boat to take in the views as well. We explored the ship a bit to find where things were, headed to the Garden Buffet for some lunch, then found some chairs at the aft section of the boat to watch our departure and the view as we passed under the Lionsgate Bridge.

The first two days were at sea, (inside passage) and this gave us more time to explore the ship. Over the course of the cruise, we visited the fitness center several times, and it was never over crowded. As part of our package, we had the Ultimate Drink plan, so any beverage under $15 was available {mixed drinks, soda, etc.}, and probably tried something from every bar on the ship. (I wish I had more cash on hand to tip everybody, as you do not get a paper receipt anywhere except the specialty ding restaurants). We only took in one show, but it was very good (Band On The Run). Visited the casino a couple of times (I won $30!!!), the gift store, the bridge viewing area, the forward sundeck and just wandered aimlessly a lot. One thing I liked was the fact that a lot of the time on the ship, I paraded around in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and never felt out of place .Casual was perfectly fine, but I also saw many who dressed to the nines for some occasions. The photographers were especially great, and we purchased a photo package at the end of the trip. Our room steward (Gerald) was the highlight of the staff, as he always took time to chit chat when we saw him. The only two places we found where staff was really busy and it showed a bit was at guest services and the shore excursion desk. We did not use the pool or spa, but the hot tubs looked like fun.

As for food...we ate breakfast and most lunch in the Garden Buffet. It was good, but not Vegas. I always found plenty of things I liked, but it could be crowded in the morning, especially on port days. We ate at Azura main dining room twice (very Good), O'Sheehans twice (very good}, and, with the specialty restaurant plan as part of our package, chose Cagney;s (great), Le Bistro (good), and La Cucina (very good). Many people said the Brazilian restaurant was very good also. We had one meal off ship in Juneau, and I strongly suggest visiting The Salmon Spot (salmon burgers with no breading and some terryaki). Thanks to bus driver Dave for this suggestion. In Anchorage at the conclusion of our cruise we ate at the Bridge (excellent) and Snow City café (beyond excellent...get the deadliest catch...salmon and crab cake benedict).

Port stops started with Ketchikan . (we just walked around Creek Street and town that day, but a must do is the Tongass National Forest Visitors Center. A nice little museum and a short film about bush pilots (you will want to take a seaplane ride after watching the film). In Juneau, we booked the Mendenhall Glacier explorer excursion, which, after a short bus ride, gave you three hours at the glacier...plenty of time to take the easy 1 mile hike to the base of Nugget Falls. The rest of the day we explored downtown. Skagway was one of my favorite stops. It looks like a wild west town with a lot of history, We tried a Spruce Tip Ale at Skagway Brewing Company, and took the White Pass Summit train excursion...a lot of fun, even after it began to rain and get a little foggy in the afternoon. It is narrated throughout, telling the story of the railroad and the trials and tribulations of those who came to the area during the gold rush. Cruising Glacier Bay National Park was fantastic (bring your national park passport book with you!) and watching the park rangers board the ship was one of those small things that just added to the overall fun. The rangers gave narrated programs through the ships intercom about the park, and were setup in Spinnaker lounge with park souvenirs. Hubbard Glacier was absolutely impressive to see the next day, and a bright sunny day probably helped. The glaciers were where th balcony paid off, with the ability to sit by ourselves with a beverage and watch things go by. The last two days were at sea, then we boarded Rail Alaska for our transfer to Anchorage. We elected to stay a few days after the cruise to drive to Denali, and whether you do it on your own or part of a cruise tour, Denali is NOT to be missed! ( TIP! Enterprise rental car on Spenard is located across the street from the Lakefront Inn...the Lakefront Inn has complimentary shuttle service to/from the airport every 30 minutes)

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed our trip. I heard some people complain that other cruise lines were more inclusive...I looked up similar itineraries for this other cruise line, and found that the cost for one person was about the same as what I paid for two people, with a balcony upgrade, ultimate dining package and ultimate beverage package included. Will I take another cruise with NCL? Yes, definitely (I am already looking at Hawaii for a future cruise destination) Will I recommend NCL to others...ABSOLUTELY! Until I have a bad experience, (which I doubt will happen) NCL has my business. If yo do Alaska, go south to North, get a balcony if you can, but most of all enjoy yourself!!!

waltcchatttn's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Family Balcony
Cabin B3 9662

Perfect for two people...had a pull out couch to accommodate a third (or fourth, maybe), but may have seemed crowded with more than two people

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Fun town to walk on your own...go to Tongass National Forest Visitors Center

Mendenhall Glacier

Bus Driver Dave was great (a history professor at the University of Alaska)...walk to Nugget Falls...have a Salmon Burger at the Salmon Spot

View All 971 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
White Pass Scenic Railway

Fun wild west looking town...take any of the White Pass Railway excuesions...and have a Spruce Tip Ale, if that is your thing

View All 1212 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews

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