Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Proseknitic
- Sail Date: March 2012
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Obstructed Oceanview
Flying in a couple of days ahead of time, I stayed with friends prior to meeting my daughter at the Pier. I know better than to try and catch a ship when completely jet lagged.
This was my 6th NCL Cruise, her 2nd with. The first on the Jewel for both of us. Checking in at the Latitudes desk was a breeze as was dropping off luggage. Less than 15 minutes, including security, and we were on the way to the ship. My daughter's suitcase was outside the room 15 minutes after the rooms released. Mine took a tour of the ship prior to arrival outside our door. I promptly notified the desk and the suitcase (perhaps I should buy one that is not black?) was located. One of the pursers checked back with me several times to make sure that everything was all right.
Our cabin was neat and clean with great cabin steward service. Our schedule varied widely; our steward managed to clean-up, turn down and otherwise keep the place organized in spite of my early hours and the daughter's rather late night forays. Our cabin was midships and parallel to the line of the ship rather than the standard set up. It was comfortable for two people and not rated for more than two. The small desk was useful. Both the shower and toilet area inside the bathroom had sliding glass doors - much nicer than open or curtains. It was noisy early evening with music from the main atrium. That was less noticeable than some elephants traversing the corridor on deck 9 over our heads a few times.
Meals - being on Deck 8 meant the Blue Lagoon was just right around the corner which made it all too easy to stop in for coffee, tea and an extra piece of cheese cake or three. The service there, with only one morning as the exception was always prompt and friendly.
The buffet has a great selection of vegetarian (including vegan) entries - more than any other cruise line to this point. Foods are clearly labeled. The wait staff were all knowledgeable about ingredients: including getting items that otherwise weren't available in the dining room but were on the buffet. This gave me the best of both worlds - service and excellent stir-fries, curries and some of the best Indian breads I have had in a long time. Both the Tsar and the Azure are good dining venues. I would recommend making reservations if you want to eat at a prime time.
The only specialty restaurant we tried was the Teppanyaki. My daughter (now aged 19) really enjoyed the show. They also did a great job of noting food preferences and allergies prior to starting any of the cooking.
The ship (according to the hotel director) had over 1200 passengers in the 21 and under category. Never the less, as someone who spend a lot of time relaxing in lounges, there were no issues with screaming, running, loud or otherwise inappropriate behaving youngsters. There seemed to be plenty of activities during sea days for the younger set while the college age crew had both formal and informal spring break activities.
We didn't do any formal tours, rather traveled on our own in Port Canaveral. Grand Stirrup Cay was interesting from a photo and environmental status. Nassau doesn't currently have much for museums if that is your interest (the slavery and emancipation museum is currently a frame only pending renovations, the Art Museum is open on Sundays 1300-1600) but you can have a good time at the Pirate Museum. Like many other cruise ports - there are a lot of stores devoted to tourists with the usual suspects of t-shirts, made in China gee-gaws and chain Jewelry stores.
The fitness area was clean and kept strictly to the posted hours which didn't seem to be a problem since I could always get a treadmill at 0600. The attendants were knowledgeable and showed great patience for a few cruisers who just couldn't quite get the coordination required for the elliptical. Plenty of both towels and cleaning supplies on hand. Of note to those who like sauna's/steam baths. You can spend the money on the high priced version run by the spa. Or you can use the one inside the fitness area for free (available from 0600-2300 every day).
The library didn't have as great a book selection as some of the other NCL ships and no paperback swap shelf. The library chairs are lined up in rows, uncomfortable, and without side tables. The card room was standard. The extra card room/game room on the 12th deck has been turned in a Photo Studio.
Not being a casino or bingo fan - can't provide any enlightenment but it looked like people were having a good time.
The main shows emphasis is on aerial performance - both a great Russian duo and several of the NCL dance crew combined for their extravaganza performance. Having seen "Elements" on three different ships, I was delighted with a different show.
The rest of the music was heavy on classical rock, modern rock and other loud varieties. I miss classical, but this is spring break and the selections seemed right for the majority of the passengers. The teen (19) reported that the DJs were good, there was plenty of dancing; and that the beer/wine in international waters functioned well.
Over all, it was good value for the price. We both had a relaxing vacation. My daughter was able to spend time with other college students in the evenings, I met more than a few other parents along for the ride. I found the service and support people willing to go the extra distance from getting non-alcoholic drinks at some of the member receptions to serving food that wasn't strictly on the menu.
Debarkation was not quite as smooth. Getting a good breakfast and walking off the ship was painless. Spending more than 30 minutes in the customs line had not been on my list of *things to do when getting back to NY* but that is not under NCL's control. We did the walk off with luggage which I really appreciate. I would rather leave the tip money for my cabin attendant than pay it to a porter for 5 minutes worth of damaging my bag.
The location, only a few meters in from one of the stairways/elevator complexes and directly adjacent to the atrium area meant convenience but not quiet whenever there was music playing. Still, I was happier with that than I would have been with ships engines or vibrations.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Great Stirrup CayPrivate Cay owned by NCL. There was beach, there was food, there was a huge water slide over run by the under 14 set.View All 827 Great Stirrup Cay Cruise Port Reviews
I had a lovely walk around the Cay followed by a tender trip back to the ship and a lovely afternoon at the pool without many people around.
View Cruise Critic's Great Stirrup Cay Cruise Port Review
NassauLike most other Caribbean towns visited by cruise ships - there was a downtown area devoted to tourism. We were one of four ships in port (NCL Sky, RCI Monarch and Disney Dream being the others) so that there seemed to be more tourists than locals. There is an over abundance of chain jewelry, t-shirt and trinket stores. It took over a dozen stops before I was able to find any written material and 20 prior to finding a cookbook. I can't believe that no-one reads.....View All 5,279 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
Walking several streets away from the port area was interesting, there is still obvious hurricane damage that has not been repaired as well as some fun and imaginative graffiti. None the less, the streets were clean, the signage clear and downhill lead back to the port.
View Cruise Critic's Nassau Cruise Port Review
Port Canaveral (Orlando)Rather than take anything formal, we just took a bus around the area followed by a self planned stop at one of the malls. Since the daughter needed a swim suit, we saved the bus fare in the reduced price of the suit alone (compared to on ship prices).View All 1,860 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Reviews
Other people we talked with rented a car for a large group and saved significantly on their trip to Disney.
The weather was clear and crisp. I am sure it might have been a fine day for fishing or snorkeling but I really needed the stop at the bookstore.
View Cruise Critic's Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Review