We normally spend our vacations on the Hawaiian Islands; however, after visiting the islands for the last 9 years in a row, we needed a change, so we opted to take an eastern Caribbean on the NCL Dawn in 2009. When we returned, we could not wait to book our next cruise for 2010 with NCL and selected the Jewel's western Caribbean itinerary.Just prior to our departure date, we were offered an upgrade to the owners suite, which we accepted. Experiencing the owners suite provided a total unique and wonderful cruising experience that cannot be captured in this review or the 900 photos (many of them taken just of the features in this awesome suite). To begin, when we arrived at the port early, the ship was not yet ready for embarkation, so we were escorted through the back way bypassing hundreds of people to walk on the ship first and were led to Cagney's where we enjoyed our first lunch of colossal shrimp cocktail and fettuccine. As we ate, we watched the other passengers begin to arrive on the ship. We then made our way to our cabin and our jaws dropped when we opened the door. With a balcony out the front and 2 off to the side, we were in awe. To describe this room would take this entire review, just believe that it was everything in a 5 star resort suite. We went out onto the front balcony and met our neighbors to the right. As we were talking with the neighbors, enjoying our complimentary bottle of campaign, we heard bells and wondered where it was coming from. then we heard it again and a few moments later, our Butler, Nelson, was standing in the doorway to our balcony. He rang our "doorbell" but we didn't answer. We laughed, realizing that the methodical tune we heard earlier was our "doorbell". Nelson was gracious and immediately made us feel welcome and special as he walked us around the room to show us the special features of the owners suite. Soon after, our concierge, Adrian also appeared. Between Nelson and Adrian, we were made to feel as if we owned the ship - though they had to know we were in the room as part of an up-sell, they did not treat us as such. Adrian greeted us every morning to see how he could arrange our day and Nelson was there in a heartbeat whenever we needed him. As occupants of the owners suite, we had access to the private courtyard area, where we spent most of the week. Very rarely did anyone else occupy that area, so we had the entire courtyard and sundeck to ourselves most of the time. One day, Nelson even went down to Cagney's and brought us a couple french dip sandwiches/fries and a bottle of chardonnay and served it poolside in the courtyard.
Although you don't need to make reservations for dinner, we let Adrian do that for us and we were glad that we did. We were treated special wherever we went. The best table in the house in all the specialty restaurants and table #1 at Tsars. The service was top rated. The lobster/grouper night, we both enjoyed the lobster. "Hold the grouper", we said, and they filled our plate with lobster instead.
We ate at specialty restaurants, Cagney's and enjoyed top quality service/food. We also ate at Chin Chin, which was our favorite, and La Bistro for our last dinner. The other nights we either ate at Tsars or Blue Lagoon for our late nights. No matter which restaurant we were at, the food was top quality and the service was 5+ stars. Not hungry, one day we even experienced the buffet because the food all looked so good. So we filled our plates and tried a little of everything and though they could have rolled us out of there, we did not regret the experience. We enjoyed our breakfasts at Cagney's every morning and experienced the entire menu, even having lobster brioche for breakfast one morning. The food was fresh, enjoyable, and the service was top rated.
Though we had the option for full in suite menu, we chose to visit the restaurants for all meals to complete our cruising experience. In the owners' suite, we never had to leave if we chose not to. with 3 door walls, large balcony in the front, we spent a lot of time sunbathing there. The bathroom even had a window over the tub that I could look out to the ocean. Fresh sea salts for my evening baths completed the experience. Because of the size and amenities in the owners' suite, We had to force ourselves to leave the suite to enjoy everything the Jewel had to offer - and she didn't disappoint us even once.
The entertainment was top notch. Similar to that on the Dawn, we were familiar with which shows were the best and took advantage of our reserved seating for every show.
Ports of call - we decided to stay on the ship in Belize and experience the entire ship at our leisure. It was fun staying behind and watching 1500 passengers leave on the tenders. The ship was deserted. Roatan gave us the opportunity for shopping which we did at the port. Quaint area to walk around the talk with the locals. In Costa Maya, we took the NCL excursion to the Chacchoben ruins and the trip was fantastic and memorable.
With priority tendering, we were on the first tender to the private island but did not claim a beach chair. instead, we walked around to enjoy the view and shop at the straw market. this actually was our favorite shopping spot. After a couple hours, we returned to the ship to continue our enjoyment.
We took advantage of the old world/new world wine tasting experience and highly recommend it. It was wine education - not simple tasting and for the wine enthusiasts, it was definitely a learning experience.
We experienced the private cocktail reception with the captain and crew up at the private courtyard early in our cruise which was very enjoyable. We also were invited to take a private tour of the bridge on our last full sea day where the captain was gracious and explained the operation of the bridge. He allowed us to take photos of the bridge in action. This was one of our highlights of the cruise, not having been invited on the bridge before, it was truly an experience. We were invited to the chocolate buffet VIP which granted us access 30 minutes before the doors opened so we could walk at our leisure and sample the massive amounts of "chocolate" desserts or select that special one without being mobbed.
The entire crew, from bar staff to officers, were gracious. We cannot say enough about Nelson,our butler, and Adrian, our concierge. WE cannot give high enough marks for the food, the ship's public areas that were always clean and pleasant, the entertainment, - we cannot express how impressed we were with the jewel and this cruise. In fact, again, we couldn't wait to book our next cruise on NCL; so last week, we booked a 9 day southern aboard the NCL Dawn - a ship we are both familiar with from our 2009 cruise and one that, though it does not have some of the features of the Jewel, are looking forward to walking on board again.
9504 - If you can afford it, book it..if they offer you an up-sell, don't hesitate. words cannot describe it. 3 glass door walls, large balcony off to the front and 2 off to the side. 3 flat screen TVs including one over the bathtub, large bathroom (about the size of our mini suite cabin on the prior cruise). Large king size bed, mini bar, fresh ground coffee, water, sodas, fresh flowers, work station (if you dared to work while in this glorious suite), living room, dining area, suite treats delivered every afternoon (we couldn't wait to see what the days treats would be). The bed was luxurious, the bathrobes and slippers comfortable. We literally had to force ourselves to leave the suite!!
Roatan - quaint village - beautiful island - we chose to simply walk around the area, do a little shopping and visit with the locals.
Costa Maya has a lot to offer. We visited the Chacchoben ruins which were fascinating and truly a great experience. When our driver brought us back, we began to walk around the shopping area as this one of our favorite activities to do while on vacation; however, our time in the shopping area was abruptly ended because of a woman who kept following me while having 15 foot boa constrictor around her body - not understanding my fear of snakes, she would not take my advice and find someone else to follow - so we simply left and returned to the glorious (and safe) ship.