We selected this ship and itinerary because we wanted to visit this part of the world for the first time. Cruising seemed an ideal way to see a lot of New Zealand including the sounds on the South Island. We planned our own air since we wanted to stay an extra few days in Auckland at the beginning and Sydney at the end. More on this later.
The Norwegian Jewel was just refurbished and it’s clean overall. If you’ve been on other Jewel-class ships, this will feel comfortable. There are a few differences (no Atrium Bar, for example) but they were small things. The crew kept saying that this was the “friendliest ship” in the Norwegian fleet, and I must say that they lived up to this billing.
Embarkation was smooth and quick. We arrived around 12:30 pm so the crowds had not started growing too large. Disembarkation went smoothly also, but was a bit jammed up at 9:30 am since it seems that is when many people want to leave.
We originally booked a midship balcony on Deck 9 and got an upgrade to the aft-facing penthouse with larger balcony for a pretty good price. It turned out really well, since the penthouse includes access to Moderno for breakfast and lunch (with the Haven guests) and access to the Haven deck for viewing Doubtful, Dusky and Milford Sounds on the last day in New Zealand. Our personal butler kept the amenities well stocked (including our own Nespresso machine in-cabin). We hosted the CC cabin crawl for our sailing, and they brought snacks, orange juice and glasses for making mimosas. We also got priority access to board tenders and we could disembark at any time we wanted.
We stayed at the Avani Metropolis for three full days before embarking on Monday. We took a tour to Hobbiton and the Glow Worm caves on one day, which we booked in advance. We toured Waiheke Island on a wine tasting day, which we booked once we arrived in Auckland. We had a day free to walk around the city and meet up with other cruisers from the roll call for a casual sunset snack.
The weather was cooperative and the clouds that hugged the coastline did not extend very far into the sounds. As a result, we had beautiful conditions in all three sounds. We feel fortunate, as the cruise before us could not visit the sounds due to high winds.