This is our sixth cruise, second with Norwegian, the others have been with Royal Caribbean.
I haven’t submitted a review before, but have spent a great deal of time reading others before booking previous cruises so thought it’s my turn to give some (hopefully) helpful tips.
We cruised with Norwegian Jewel, in penthouse suite 9000 which is at the forward of the ship, sailing from Sydney to Auckland.
We flew into Sydney from Melbourne on the morning of the cruise. Booked transfers through Norwegian which cost about $48 each (Australian). Easy to find the right person at the airport, they held up a sign identifying themselves as Norwegian transfers and were dressed professionally. There were other travellers that had booked transfers also so it was a small walk to another terminal & short wait for them to collect their luggage then into a comfortable mini van. Dropped off at the pier, then it was mayhem.
People crowding around a small table where there were about four staff to help people to attach their luggage labels onto their luggage, but so many people had not printed out their labels prior which delayed others who just wanted to staple their labels on. They needed lines put in place of people who had heir labels and other line for others that didn’t.
Tip- bring your own small stapler. Then a few steps to other staff who took the luggage then onto checkin.
Because we were in a penthouse suite, we skipped the queues, was so quick and easy to get our ship cards, and through security then we were personally escorted onto the ship by a butler, and taken to one of the restaurants for lunch for suite & haven guests only.
We had breakfast every day in this restaurant, menu didn’t change but all the food was amazing, never got bored. There was cooked breakfast which was cooked to order, wait staff brought out cooked breakfast, tea & coffees & toast. There was also a good sized buffet where you could help yourself, there were fresh fruit, porridge, meats, cheese, pastries, yoghurt, water & juice. (Drinks weren’t individually packed so couldn’t take back to room, apart from chocolate milk)
We sometimes had lunch there also and again, menu didn’t change but never got a chance to try all that was available. What was impressive was that the suite/haven restaurant was open every day for lunch, sea days & port days.
For dinner we mainly went to Tsars restaurant which opened at 530pm. There was usually a queue starting at 5pm and sometimes they let you in 15 minutes early but try to get there at 530pm to get the good seats. Not sure if it was because we were suite guests but we mainly got window tables, except for the two times that we went later, were sat in busy areas. Service was a bit hit & miss but overall I think they did a pretty good job considering how busy it is. Food again, fabulous! You can order what you want, if you can’t decide between two entree, just order both! Menus changed daily but the meals under the heading ‘classic’ remained the same. The restaurant had large floor to ceiling windows at the back of the ship so to get a table there, you could watch the ship depart the port, while sipping your wine, so relaxing.
We tried the Asian restaurant, Chin chin. Was free of charge, but not really impressed. Wait staff busy, polite enough but appeared unhappy, food a bit blah. The only thing that was good was the spring rolls - delish!
The other free of charge restaurant was Azure which served the same meals as Tsars, room not as impressive, ate there once just to see what it was like, preferred Tsars.
There of course was the buffet, had amazing amount of choice of food, always busy, a bit to noisy for me. Walking through the buffet was another small buffet outside where you could sit, lovely view.
There was a 24hour restaurant which served pub style food, again free, good for a late night snack, sometimes a live band played on the steps near there so good to enjoy a drink before dinner watching some music.
There were also many other bars with music, all good. Found it much quicker to get served at bars in Norwegian compared to Royal Caribbean, less queues, happier bar staff. Don’t know if it’s because there are more bars and that they are open longer?
Every night there were shows, 715pm and 915pm (except for first and last night where there was one show only). Get there early to get good seats. There were bar staff that wander the aisles so you can order drinks and they’ll bring them to you. Went to most of the shows, all were fantastic, except for first night, was an introduction to the entertainment, give it a miss.
Now some tips to you cruisers, hopefully it will help you save some money.
The only reason I gave Norwegian Jewel 4 out of 5 was the expense. I thought Royal was terrible with trying to sell you extra things, well Norwegian does it in a sneaky manner.
We got our room with deal of 50% of second guest. This meant the we didn’t get free at sea deal. No drink package, no specialty dining, no internet, no extra $ to put to shore excursions. I thought that by choosing this 50% of second guest saved about $2000, and that we wouldn’t spend that much on extras. Was I wrong!
(By the way, when I mention $, I’m referring to Australian $)
I bought water package and internet package prior to cruise. I think the water was $75 for 24 one litre bottles. This was enough for the two of us for the ten day cruise. There is water available in the buffet but you aren’t allowed to fill up bottles, so if you can be bothered to bring cups back & forth or bring a jug to fill then that would save you $. Restaurants do serve you iced water in glasses.
The internet package cost close to $500 for unlimited access and streaming. We could only use one device at a time but was easy to use, a bit slow at times but pretty impressive considering at times it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere and could still access the internet! There was other plans for the internet, we got the most expensive one as didn’t want to worry about going over with access and getting stung with excess use $.
The other thing we paid upfront was the gratuities. This was almost $500 for both of us. Think it should be included in the price, didn’t realise you have to pay it until you go to pay your deposit for the cruise. So keep in mind, the advertised price sounds good but there is the additional gratuities on top of that.
Now the sneakiness - almost everything you buy on board has extra gratuities added onto. So you are paying extra gratuities.
So keep in mind that all $ on board is US. A cocktail was US$11. Then they add 20% gratuities on top of that. Then you need to convert to AU$. So one cocktail costs A$19.20
I also got a wine package that I bought the day we embarked. It was four bottles for US$88. Thought that wasn’t too bad AU$130, $32.50 per bottle, expensive but better then paying for seperate glasses. Wasn’t told that they were going to add an extra 20% onto that. Got charged US$105.60 which was AU$154, queried at customer service and was told that it was written on the piece of paper that I signed, I said that I wasn’t told this and felt I was mislead. She shrugged at me and repeated that I had signed agreeing to it. When I said that I’d already paid the gratuities, she said that was for housekeeping, not for bar staff. Got the impression that she has to tell this to many people often. I felt so ripped off.
So please people, be aware of this. I think in hindsight it is worth paying extra upfront for the free at sea promo if you can get that. We did have a rude shock at the end when we got our final bill.
The other thing is don’t book shore excursions through the ship. It’s very expensive. We booked our tours through cruiseexcursions.co.nz, book one tour, get 10% off on your other tours booked. They use smaller, local tour groups. Had fantastic tours through them and they guarantee to return you to ship in time for departure.
Disembarking was easy. Meet at Chin Chin restaurant, escorted to front of line and followed queue out. Was messy picking up luggage, people were jumping the queue, a bit frustrating but didn’t stress as we didn’t have a plane to catch.
Ship docks right at Auckland city, so was easy to get off ship and walk to our accommodation. We stayed for two nights at Barclays suites (don’t bother, not clean and they gave a stranger access card to our room, thank goodness we were in the room at the time. Front desk just shrugged it off.)
Oh, and another tip - the ship doesn’t have laundry facilities for guests to do our laundry but about halfway through cruise there was a special where you could fill a large bag of clothes to be laundered for US$20 (no gratuities added onto this one!) Returned the next day washed and folded.
Hope this review helps you cruisers out there!
We were in a forward facing penthouse suite, had a large balcony with two lounges, two chairs, small table. Mainly private under the overhang, fellow neighbours can look onto your balcony if they go to the end of their balcony and peek over!
King sized bed, table with four chairs, small couch, plenty of storage, coffee machine that makes hot water also, tea and coffee supplied.
Also had glasses, wine glasses and champagne glasses and cup & saucer supplied.
No water supplied, bottles were in room for US$6 each (don’t forget your 20% gratuities on top of that!).
Was given two bottles of champagne (one on first day, second on the second day), assuming one bottle was due to being in suite room, the other as we are bronze members.
Also had marvellous stateroom attendant who learnt our routine quickly, never saw him in our room, it seemed like the room was made up by magic! Also had butler & concierge which we didn’t use much.
Tip - if wanting a penthouse, go for level 10, rooms are bigger, they have a small bay window in the lounge area. Also our room was over the theatre so could hear rehearsals and shows quite clearly. Wasn’t a problem for us as we love music.
Sorry, couldn’t figure out how to attach photos.
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