A Jewel of a Cruise -- Canada/New England 9/11/10: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by bookwormztwo

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A Jewel of a Cruise -- Canada/New England 9/11/10

Sail Date: September 2010
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
This was our first NCL cruise and we were a bit apprehensive at first because we had heard some negative things about NCL. Let me say that nothing we heard was true and, in fact, this was one of the best cruises we have taken.

We flew into LGA on Friday and used Dial7 car service to pick us up. (http://www.dial7.com) I found an internet coupon and the cost of a private car was the same as a taxi. We stayed at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central (141 East 44th Street, New York City, NY 10017.) This is a quaint, quiet hotel. We took cab to the pier on Saturday morning and completed the check-in process in less than 30 minutes.

The cabins were not available until 2 p.m. so we walked around the ship and sat on one of the upper decks and watch the boats and activity on the water. We were docked at Pier 88 (next to the Intrepid).

The rooms were done early so we found our room (10022). The room was small but efficient. The balcony does help make the room seem larger More and not so cramped. Our luggage arrived by 5 p.m. No kidding!! We originally had not booked a balcony cabin, but with the itinerary changes, we moved to a balcony.

We signed up for the Thermal Spa pass for the week. This gave us access to the spa facilities (sauna, steam room, hot tub, and heated ceramic chairs). Best money we spent all week. The relaxation room was quiet and is the right up front of the ship with a wonderful view.

I needed this cruise for the downtime to rest and relax from a busy and chaotic year. The extra sea days allowed me to take time for myself and relax. Type A people will not like all the sea days in this itinerary. Having the balcony to sit and watch the sea was wonderful.

The food was good -- both in the general dining rooms and in the specialty restaurants. The two speciality restaurants we visited were Chin Chin (Asian) twice and Tapas (Tex-Mex) once. I had a seafood dish at each dinner.

The entertainment was great. Cirque Bijou was phenomenal. Lynn Trefzger, ventriloquist, had great audience participation. The Second City shows were funny and the cast showed up at other ship-sponsored events which allowed them to showcase their talents.

The entire crew was friendly -- even the guys doing maintenance. Our cabin stewards (Umberto and Myrna) were fantastic. We asked for an extra pillow and it arrived in seconds (I kid you not!).

Because of the itinerary and length of cruise, this tended to draw an older crowd. There were few children on board (at one time, I heard a count of 6). We never had to wait for an elevator (unless it was after a show). The passengers were pleasant and friendly.

The highlight of the cruise was having the captain invite the Cruise Critic members to visit the bridge during a sea day. I encourage you to sign up for your cruise's roll call on Cruise Critic and go to the meet and greet. We met the captain and his officers and this is where the bridge invitation came from. Overall, the captain was really involved with the ship's activities.

Shona (cruise director) and Sinan (assistant cruise director) were fantastic.

We lucked out and had excellent weather for the entire cruise. Sun, 60s, and smooth sailing was the norm. The last day was windy and rocky but it was a sea day and there was packing to do!

Things to know before taking this cruise: 1. This is not a large ship so there are not a lot of activities taking place. We heard several people complaining that they did not have enough to do as they were used to being on the larger cruise ships. We went for rest and relaxation and this ship was perfect for this. 2. Plan to pack clothes that can worn in layers. The weather would be cool in the mornings (high 50s) and warmer in the afternoons (middle 60s). It can also be windy. 3. If you're looking to see the leaves changing, take this cruise on a later date. The leaves were just beginning to turn colors when we were there. 4. If you use a wheelchair, take the handicapped accessible tours. Both Halifax and Quebec City are on steep hills and it would be difficult for companions to push the chair. Also Quebec City, in the areas we were, were full of steps and I saw few ramps. 5. The ship offered two laundry specials which meant we didn't need to pack as many clothes since we could send them out. There are no public laundry facilities on board.

We were disappointed by the itinerary changes but would take this cruise again in hopes of getting to the other ports.

We arrived at 8 a.m. in NYC. We elected to carry off our own luggage and sailed through customs. We walked across the street for a taxi and there was a large line waiting for taxis. An event at the United Nations had forced a lot of street closings so there was a lot of chaos at the taxi stand. At one point, a private car driver asked if we needed a ride and jumped at this opportunity to get out of the taxi line. We found two other ladies to ride with us to LGA and we arrived at the airport way before some people found a cab. Next time, I would arrange for transportation to pick us up.

To sum it up, we enjoyed our first NCL cruise and this will not be our last. Less

Published 10/04/10

Cabin review: BB10022 Balcony

Our cabin (10022) was quiet. We never heard any noise in the hallways nor from our neighbors. In fact, housekeeping was using the vacuum cleaner in the hallway and we didn't hear it until we opened our door to leave the cabin. The cabin was small but we had a balcony.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We docked in Halifax and walked off the ship and headed towards town. We did not have any excursions booked for this port. We needed a pharmacy and stopped at the tourist info booth for that information. Found the pharmacy with no problems. We noticed that we were close to the Citadel and proceeded to walk to the Citadel. Note: The Citadel is built at the top of a steep hill and requires strong legs to get to it. However, once you enter, the ground is flat and easy to get around. Of course, you could also take transportation to the top but what fun is that?

After visiting the Citadel, we walked back to the ship; stopping to shop and eat.

We enjoyed Halifax and would like to go back and vacation there.

Read 570 Halifax Reviews

The ship must use tenders to get to the pier. Since we did not have a planned excursion, we did not disembark until later in the morning. There is a Panera Bread right across the pier so you can take your laptop for the free wi-fi.

We walked around the shops in Newport pier area.

We went back to the ship early and spent the day exploring the ship and taking advantage of the spa.

People who took the estate/mansion tours raved about them. This is a port that you should take an excursion.

Read 171 Newport Reviews

There was some sort of problem getting the gangways set up so the lines to get off the ship were long. We booked the Quebec countryside tour. The tour guide, Gretel, was fun to listen to as she had stories to tell about the city. Unfortunately, halfway through the tour, the microphone died so Gretel had to talk twice: once to the front of the bus and once to the back of the bus. We stopped at a maple sugar processing plant and sampled lots of maple products. We did not spend a lot of time at Montemorency Falls as we would have liked but this gives us a reason to go back.

After the tour, we hiked through the city, shopped and ate lunch.

I highly recommend the "e bus." For $1, you can get on the bus and ride it through the upper city. Our bus driver went off duty at the top of the city so we had to get off bus and then get on another (for $1) to go back to the lower city. The lower city bus will drop you off by the pier. As long as you don't get off the bus, you only pay $1. As soon as you get off the bus, it will cost another dollar. We priced the Hop On/Hop Off bus ($55) but felt that between walking and riding the "e bus" we would see what we wanted.

There were a lot of people at Hotel Frontenac but it is worth visiting just to see it.

We did experience some language barriers since we only speak English. However, we were able to muddle through the barrier but knowing some French would have been helpful.

There was a Holland American ship docked in port. We had heard that it had been there for three days. With all that there is to do in Quebec, it would be great if NCL could overnight in Quebec City too. Twelve hours in port was not enough time to do all we wanted to.

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