The Jewel, four times aboard her now and this was the best trip yet. That isn’t saying much since I am attracted by her itineraries more so than by what it delivers. That being said, it really was the best of the four trips.
The trip was booked well in advance as it was our first time to be able to take advantage of a repositioning cruise. The trip went from Vancouver, to Victoria, to Astoria. Then there was a sea day before visiting San Francisco and Monterrey and finishing in Los Angeles. We flew up to Vancouver a couple of days early and stayed at the Accent Inn out near the airport. Nice place- fun “punny” signage and easy access. We rented a car out at the airport and spent Sunday seeing the sites in Vancouver. Stanley Park was very nice with the fall foliage adding some color.
On Monday we took the AirTrain to the Cruiseport. It could not have been any easier. We checked in earlier than we had planned, and apparently many others did as well. There used to be special lines that NCL would use for repeat customers that were members of Latitudes, but this time the only ones able to skip the lines were Haven and Suites guests. We were in line for over an hour, though it was constantly moving.
We carried our bags on ourselves, and the rooms were immediately available when we boarded about 2:00. Our friends hadn’t been on the ship before, so we toured and saw some of the newly improved areas from the last drydock.
We were a little late setting sail, but not as late as the Norwegian Joy had been the day before. They missed low tide and had to sit in Vancouver overnight since they couldn’t fit under the bridge. The word from the unhappy customers was that they were losing their day in Victoria due to the problem. It was no problem for the Jewel and we were only about an hour late- and Victoria was plenty close. We dined in the main dining room that evening and I think we got the best seat in the house- at the very back of the ship with a tremendous view. This is where they used to place the Captain’s Table back in the days before Freestyle dining.
Victoria was glorious. We have visited there before, but this was the first time we ventured out to Butchart Gardens. Simply said- they were magnificent. We will return there on future visits to Victoria. We had about 30 minutes of rain, but that was the only weather we had all trip long. Not bad for early October in the Pacific Northwest.
Astoria didn’t have a car available to rent by the time I got around to shopping for one. We went on the ship’s tour out to Fort Stevens. There isn’t much to see, and having a car would have been cheaper, but it turned out well. We visited the “Tower” in town and had some beautiful views both from the base and after we went up the 164 step circular staircase to the top. Then we headed across the bridge to Ft. Stevens State Park. The waves crashing on the beach was something out of a movie. The actual Fort Stevens stop was not that interesting. Our tour guide, Dita, was funny so she made the trip better than it would have been. We took the local transit bus into town, but instead of being on the bus we were give a ride in a 1926 Dodge Brothers car. That was a blast. The drive pointed out a fish and chips place just across the street from the Maritime Museum that is a converted fishing boat- and we had a wonderful lunch there.
We spent the sea day quietly. The hot tubs were not overly crowded so we were able to stay in for as long as we liked. Then just some reading and relaxing, along with a single visit to the nicely furnished fitness facility.
San Francisco has become such a disaster that we decided to stay only in the touristy areas. We hadn’t ridden the trolley cars for years so we rode on up, then watched the Marine Band give a mini-concert and rode another back down. We then walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf and had a great lunch of Clam Chowder and Sourdough bowls at Boudin’s on the Wharf. We then returned back to the ship in anticipation of the air show that was being put on due to it being “Fleet Week” in the Bay Area. The Blue Angels did not disappoint and the fantail area up on Deck 12 was the perfect place to watch it. The ship even got buzzed at the start of the show- when no one was expecting it so we got off to a rousing start.
Monterrey once again did not have a car available. The only car rental there was an Enterprise office that you could not pick up a car before 9, and had to return it by 12. We just decided to stay onboard ship and relax again.
Getting off in Los Angeles was simple. Again we just carried our bags off and left when we wanted to. Since we live only about 30 miles away our son came over and picked us up about 8 AM.
We had the Specialty Dining Package for three nights. The Teppanyaki Grill was fabulous, probably the best meat and meal available on the ship, and the presentation was done well. They have their shtick down to a science. We also dined at Le Bistro one night and had a very good meal. La Cucina- now that is a different story. This was the last time I let my friends choose which specialty restaurant to go to as it was really not good at all. To give you an idea the best tasting thing on the menu was the antipasti appetizer! We dined in the main dining room twice and thought the food and service was better than our last couple of trips on the Jewel. The other night we walked up to Chin Chin early without a reservation. The food was good, but the service was non-existent. Both times we ordered food different foods came out from what we had ordered. Geronimo just didn’t have a clue! The MDR was a better experience, contrary to our last visit on the Jewel. The buffet was where we ate breakfast each morning. The food is the same every day so it is a struggle to change things up a little. I do appreciate that you can order freshly cooked eggs at the Omelette station. I’ll have mine over easy please!
Entertainment was pretty good, but not outstanding. We don’t do magic or comedy shows but enjoy the musical performances. Candice Glover, from American Idol Season 12, was the headliner the last couple of nights. She has an amazing voice, but has very little stage presence. She needed to have Dan the Man, the Cruise Director, up there cracking jokes to keep the audience entertained….but he wasn’t there……
The room, an Oceanview on Deck 5, was just fine. We got a guaranteed room last time and got stuck behind a support structure so we appreciated the big window in the room. The attendant never introduced himself but everything was cleaned up every time we came back to the room. They have a hard job so his efforts were appreciated. The safe in the room was not in working order, but we just dealt with it.
Good size, attendant kept it up well.