We sailed on the Jewel on February 22 and would give the cruise a B+. It was our sixth cruise and fourth on NCL, and there were four of us including our 24 y.o. son and 11 y.o. daughter. We stayed the night before the cruise at the Epic in Miami, which is a beautiful hotel and a cheap cab ride to the Port of Miami.
Here is my report card for this cruise:
Cabin: B+. We had a 9th deck balcony. The cabin was adequate for two people but I missed our mini-suite from last year's cruise on the Dawn. The toilet compartment is very small. Almost no noise came in from the hall and the bed was the most comfortable we have ever had on a cruise. The layout of the cabin was good and there was enough storage for the mountain of stuff we haul on every cruise.
Service: A. From the cabin attendant to the wait staff to the desk clerks, it couldn't have been any better. There are some superstars on this ship: John O'Hara, Hotel Manager, and Paul Baya, Cruise Director. BY FAR the best we have encountered on any cruise. I met them at our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and they remembered us and spoke to us every time our paths crossed for the rest of the cruise. Many CD's are obnoxious but Paul Baya is funny, talented and charming. John O'Hara really cares about the passengers' experience and hands out his phone number at every event so you can communicate with him if anything is not to your liking.
Food: B. The buffet was ok but lacked variety- this is one area that RCI's Windjammer cannot be beat. The main dining rooms had good to very good food, everything served at the appropriate temperature. We ate at Teppanyaki (fun, especially for the kids); Mongolian Hotpots (fun to cook on your own table); Cagney's (service good but not worth $25 upcharge).
Bars: C. The bartender on Star Bar makes the best drinks, and for the first time on a cruise ship I have seen quite a bit of variability in how good the drinks were. I think the bars could have a little more personality and I think that some of the bar staff could also be improved when I look back at the Dawn or the RCI ships. There are big screen tvs in The Maltings bar and it was The Olympics- why is competitive fishing on the tv? Our bar tab was the lowest it's been on any cruise so far.
Entertainment: B. Jean Pierre Parent, a magician/comedian was great. The juggler was pretty good. I shouldn't comment on the musical shows because they wouldn't be my cup of tea anyway, but Band on the Run... The taste level there is pretty low- way too much male and female butt wiggling. My daughter went to Country Gold with the Kids Crew and disliked that. Cirque Bijou was impressive. I really liked the pool band- Uprisin'. The female vocalist is very talented.
Kids Crew: B+. My daughter really liked the staff but she felt they mixed the ages too much because there weren't a lot of 10-12 y.o.'s on the cruise. They take the kids to some of the shows , which she enjoyed.
Shore Excursions: A. We did only one ship excursion, to Lamanai in Belize, and it was excellent.
We would definitely sail the Jewel again and felt we got great value for money. The crew exude pride in their ship and seem very happy working on it. The ship is a little gaudily decorated for my taste but scrupulously clean
Quiet cabin near mid-deck elevators but not too close. No noise from above at all. Storage adequate.