Pleasant Surprise!: Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Mel77

Norwegian Jewel 5
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Pleasant Surprise!

Sail Date: February 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
My 16-year-old daughter and I just sailed with extended family on the Jewel out of NYC. Having never been on a cruise ship, based on the reviews posted here and pictures of the ship, I was expecting a cheezy, bad-food-filled, surly serviced, perpetual up-sell experience, but what I found was way different.

First, the ship looks MUCH better than it photographs. It does not actually resemble a Vegas performer's tastelessly-decorated RV. The cabin we had was small but well put together so that it didn't feel too tight (full disclosure: I live in a Manhattan apt). The staff who work on the ship are really, really excited to be there, and super nice. This was a pleasant surprise. The entertainment was the high point - we saw a great magician, an excellent house band, and a lot of other good quality performers. The mood set by the staff, performers and cruise director is fun, friendly and light without manifesting the kind of institutional aggressive cheerfulness that makes me want More to run away screaming. The gym was great and not too crowded, and the up-sell was either absent or quite low key.

The food: We ate at a couple of the cover charge restaurants, and only the steakhouse was at all worth it. Save your money - the free buffet offers a great salad bar, a good carvery, good grill, good desserts and outstanding fresh fruit. I saw a lot of people piling plates with mystery foods that I would not consider eating - "oriental" stir fries, "Indian" food, all kinds of icky-looking stuff in casserole dishes. I saw a lot of plates of this stuff left behind on tables, and I'm guessing these folks probably complained about the food quality. You can assemble a menu out of what is available there that is actually quite good. The all-you-can-eat Norwegian smoked salmon offered every day for breakfast was outstanding. While I'm on salmon, my only complaint: you cannot get grilled/seared salmon at any restaurant on this ship that isn't overcooked to rock-hard. Don't even try it, they will promise you that it is only seared on the outside... they lie.

Overall, I was sold on cruising as a holiday, and would go back to this ship and line. My parents, who cruise all the time, said they prefer Holland America, but they loved the entertainment on this one and the whole free-style thing. This is a great way to holiday, and I felt like NCL really went the extra mile to make sure it was a great experience. I was impressed with the whole thing. Less

Published 02/28/12
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Cabin review: IA Mid-Ship Inside

Quiet, super clean, well thought-out design. Very comfortable beds.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Blue Lagoon Dolphin Swim

Dolphin swim was fun, and well-run. Long boat trip to get to the Blue Lagoon island where it was, but a nice enough ride. The swim involved about 30 minutes in the water with dolphins, including being propelled across a lagoon by two dolphins pushing on your feet. My daughter had an ear-to-ear smile the whole time. It is a pretty intense line-standing, on- and off-loading thing, though, not for those who don't feel like a lot of waiting.

We went on a kayaking trip to a manatee preserve. It was OK, nice to get some outdoor exercise, didn't see any manatees because they hang out by the power plant in cold weather and it was a long paddle to get over to it with high wind and a lot of inexperienced kayakers. All told the excursion was about 4 hours, only one of them spent in a kayak. The rest were assembling, busing, etc... The guides were kind of useless at explaining anything remotely scientific but full of irritatingly bad jokes.

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