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We chose this cruise based on its itinerary and it was very enjoyable. It was a first cruise for us (well, I had been on a cruise 28 years ago with a girlfriend but that was a long time ago) so we were not sure how we would enjoy this type of travel. We did a lot of research and it paid off (mostly). FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SEEMED SURPRISED BY ADDITIONAL COSTS, TENDERS AND OTHER MATTERS, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SPEND SOME TIME ON RESEARCH! For example, by reading other reviews of cruisers, we knew that getting to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and back in time would be difficult because of traffic and the timing of the ship's arrival and departure, so we took the NCL excursion. We were Haven Guests and were very grateful for the extra service (such as embarkation and disembarkation priority along with a reserved area for meals at breakfast and lunch) making our trip experience much better than many others, I am sure. What we didn't fully understand, though, was that being on deck 9 instead of 14 meant that we sometimes missed the true benefits of the Haven experience (such as having a butler and concierge ready to make things easier for us). Our butler and concierge were generally MIA unless we called and they both seem surprised that we hadn't asked to have something when we thought it would just be done (they only discovered that we were first time cruisers at the end of the trip and things might have been easier if we had volunteered that up front). There were a few other blips but we figured out what we needed to do in the first few days (and I did express my concerns to them) and we did get in tune with them after that. However, if you want to experience the full benefits of the Haven, I would recommend that you find a cabin/suite on Deck 14. Our cabin was right up front and the benefits of two balconies was wonderful, allowing us to have the best of both views and, while the noise of the anchor going up and down was clearly evident, it really didn't disturb us. Also, I am very prone to motion sickness and didn't feel the least bit queasy for the entire trip. We took mostly independent tours and they were, overall, excellent. There was one dud excursion which had more to do with the lack of English by the tour guide but we did hit all the sights. The tour into Bangkok using NCL was excellent, given that the guide was herding 32 people around but I cannot recommend the tour at the end of our trip into Singapore. We took the 4 hour tour ending at the airport and it was very expensive and certainly unimpressive. Dining was very hit and miss; Chin Chin was dreadful and La Cucina wasn't far behind. I would certainly not waste my money on La Cucina! Both service and the food was way below average. The first week seemed generally off for most of the entire dining areas - it was as if the waiters did not know what they were doing or where they should be at any one time. We were left waiting for several minutes without so much as a glass of water on a number of occasions and sometimes the food was not very warm when it arrived. A couple of very nice meals were had at Cagney's and Teppanyaki (go for the show, although the food was very good) but none of the meals made me feel that I had to go back. I admit I had expected better prepared food and the quality of the raw ingredients seemed lacking sometimes. The meal at Azura was very good and I would highly recommend going to the free sit down venues over the buffet (where a couple of times when we ventured in, we were horrified by the noise and people eating right beside the food - presumably so they could go back for more immediately. The fitness facility was good although I'm sure that it would have benefitted from some extra space. The free classes were generally well attended (or, on sea days, over attended) but the paid classes were almost empty. Internet was very poor but the guy at the Internet cafe was very helpful to get the most out of it. I must admit that I didn't pay enough attention to the small print and it was annoying that the service we had only applied to one device at a time! We had one unlimited service and two 250 minute services (that came as part of our package) so it was okay but I saved any big work on my computer for our days on shore when we could get 4G wifi service. Overall, we were very happy with our first cruise with Norwegian. They do seem to have worked out most of the problems with embarkation and disembarkation and tendering (at Koh Samui, for example, the ship was using commercial tender operations along with its own lifeboats) on this particular routing. This allowed for at least triple the numbers to get on the tender and the lineups were greatly reduced.

Four and a Half Bubbles

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by CaymanDuk

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony
We chose this cruise based on its itinerary and it was very enjoyable. It was a first cruise for us (well, I had been on a cruise 28 years ago with a girlfriend but that was a long time ago) so we were not sure how we would enjoy this type of travel.

We did a lot of research and it paid off (mostly). FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SEEMED SURPRISED BY ADDITIONAL COSTS, TENDERS AND OTHER MATTERS, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SPEND SOME TIME ON RESEARCH! For example, by reading other reviews of cruisers, we knew that getting to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and back in time would be difficult because of traffic and the timing of the ship's arrival and departure, so we took the NCL excursion.

We were Haven Guests and were very grateful for the extra service (such as embarkation and disembarkation priority along with a reserved area for meals at breakfast and lunch) making our trip experience much better than many others, I am sure.

What we didn't fully understand, though, was that being on deck 9 instead of 14 meant that we sometimes missed the true benefits of the Haven experience (such as having a butler and concierge ready to make things easier for us). Our butler and concierge were generally MIA unless we called and they both seem surprised that we hadn't asked to have something when we thought it would just be done (they only discovered that we were first time cruisers at the end of the trip and things might have been easier if we had volunteered that up front). There were a few other blips but we figured out what we needed to do in the first few days (and I did express my concerns to them) and we did get in tune with them after that. However, if you want to experience the full benefits of the Haven, I would recommend that you find a cabin/suite on Deck 14.

Our cabin was right up front and the benefits of two balconies was wonderful, allowing us to have the best of both views and, while the noise of the anchor going up and down was clearly evident, it really didn't disturb us. Also, I am very prone to motion sickness and didn't feel the least bit queasy for the entire trip.

We took mostly independent tours and they were, overall, excellent. There was one dud excursion which had more to do with the lack of English by the tour guide but we did hit all the sights. The tour into Bangkok using NCL was excellent, given that the guide was herding 32 people around but I cannot recommend the tour at the end of our trip into Singapore. We took the 4 hour tour ending at the airport and it was very expensive and certainly unimpressive.

Dining was very hit and miss; Chin Chin was dreadful and La Cucina wasn't far behind. I would certainly not waste my money on La Cucina! Both service and the food was way below average. The first week seemed generally off for most of the entire dining areas - it was as if the waiters did not know what they were doing or where they should be at any one time. We were left waiting for several minutes without so much as a glass of water on a number of occasions and sometimes the food was not very warm when it arrived.

A couple of very nice meals were had at Cagney's and Teppanyaki (go for the show, although the food was very good) but none of the meals made me feel that I had to go back. I admit I had expected better prepared food and the quality of the raw ingredients seemed lacking sometimes. The meal at Azura was very good and I would highly recommend going to the free sit down venues over the buffet (where a couple of times when we ventured in, we were horrified by the noise and people eating right beside the food - presumably so they could go back for more immediately.

The fitness facility was good although I'm sure that it would have benefitted from some extra space. The free classes were generally well attended (or, on sea days, over attended) but the paid classes were almost empty.

Internet was very poor but the guy at the Internet cafe was very helpful to get the most out of it. I must admit that I didn't pay enough attention to the small print and it was annoying that the service we had only applied to one device at a time! We had one unlimited service and two 250 minute services (that came as part of our package) so it was okay but I saved any big work on my computer for our days on shore when we could get 4G wifi service.

Overall, we were very happy with our first cruise with Norwegian. They do seem to have worked out most of the problems with embarkation and disembarkation and tendering (at Koh Samui, for example, the ship was using commercial tender operations along with its own lifeboats) on this particular routing. This allowed for at least triple the numbers to get on the tender and the lineups were greatly reduced.
CaymanDuk’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony
Cabin H2 9004
This cabin really met our needs for a 13 day trip. There was lots of storage and, while we were concerned about only having a curtain between the bedroom and the dining/living room areas, in fact, the curtains were very heavy and prevented sound from penetrating between the areas. The powder room was a blessing! Why the door to the toilet in the main bathroom was clear with some small bands of frosting is anyone's guess. The mini bar was filled with our choice of water and pop (soda) so we did not need to buy any water on board. The water in all dining venues was cold and tasty.
Deck 15 Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    Another big hit! Our guide was excellent, spoke excellent English and, despite the enormous crowds, she managed to get through to allow us to easily see the sights. Lunch was fabulous and the sights were awe inspiring!
    View All 40 City Tour Reviews
  • Imperial Hue
    This tour was another hit and I highly recommend it! Our guide spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable about Hue. He kept us entertained with stories and answered all of our questions thoughtfully.
    View All 12 Imperial Hue Reviews
  • Halong Bay
    Our guide was fluent in English and very knowledgeable about the area. Our junk boat was clean and the lunch was delicious. The small boat rowed out to the floating village was beyond belief! The day was misting and cool but it was everything we hoped for.
    View All 55 Halong Bay Reviews
  • City Tour
    We had an excellent tour given that our guide (who's English was excellent) was wrangling 32 guests some of whom did not appear to think they needed to arrive on time nor stay with the group.
    View All 94 City Tour Reviews
  • Koh Samui
    Another great excursion, our guide (who spoke excellent English) took us to some places that were not big tourist attractions, thereby avoiding the enormous crowds. We did end up seeing a couple of the main attractions at the end of the tour when the crowds had died down. We loved seeing "off the beaten path" places - they were every bit as good as the things tourists think they want to see!
    View All 12,802 Koh Samui Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Koh Samui Cruise Port Review
  • Sihanoukville
    We paid for the NCL booked shuttle bus to the beach but the driver got lost thereby adding another 15 to 20 minutes onto our drive...
    View All 12,802 Sihanoukville Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Sihanoukville Cruise Port Review
  • City Tour
    A waste of money and our time. We spent 45 minutes getting a coffee/tea with special toast that is supposed to be a staple of coffee houses in Singapore and another 35 minutes wandering around a park to take photos. It was a drive by & "look at the left, look at the right"; oops you missed it.
    View All 31 City Tour Reviews