Sail Date: November 2014
The ship rocked and shook continuously. If the constant rocking and chugging does not make you sick, then the constant singing in the inferior buffet dining about "washy, washy, washy" will make most definitely nauseate you. ... Read More
The ship rocked and shook continuously. If the constant rocking and chugging does not make you sick, then the constant singing in the inferior buffet dining about "washy, washy, washy" will make most definitely nauseate you. This was my 10th cruise; second on NCL. The first time was 20 years ago on a different ship which at the time was probably new and simply re-christened as the Jewel. We had a balcony room which was exactly the same size as any other ship I have been on - only this one was completely outdated. The food was awful. Usually I try to lose 10 pounds before going on a cruise so I can eat away and not feel guilty about gaining. I probably lost 15 pounds on this cruise. The choices that were repeated nightly were slim. The "specials" of the night were especially disgusting. Our steward kept the room clean but didn't seem overly excited to clean or replenish towels and toilet paper as needed. I am a neat-freak so I do not let the room get messy. There were three of us in the room - and cruise lovers know you are not in the room that much. But when we would go out for the day and come back at 2ish and the room still had not been cleaned and the hallways smelled like dirty socks - well it was not pleasant. The weather played a factor in docking in Belize so it took longer than normal to get on the tender to take us to the island. There were so many people trying to get off at the same time and it was so unorganized, but those who had excursions planned were given first priority. So since we were one of those with priority, we were re-routed through a section of the ship that I am quite certain whoever has shares in NCL would have flipped out that we were even privy to this area. It showed their survey scores. Guess what? They were ALL terrible - every section was 80 or below. It is not a kid-friendly ship. The entertainment was mediocre. The dining staff made new rules every night. One night men could where shorts; the next my 18 year old son came in with shorts and was told he could not enter the half-full dining room. Seconds later four older gentlemen all in separate parties entered the dining room wearing shorts. After speaking with all 4 men I found out the hostess had told them the same, but they told her there had been no dress code regarding shorts the previous nights, so she let them enter. I went from person to person until I got to the 6th person who finally was a true angel; he cared. None of the 5 before him cared to listen to my complaint; passing it off to the next person. This 6th man, who was the ONLY person on the ship who seemed to really truly care about the passengers calmed my down, called the kitchen and had a pizza sent to my son's room. The next night he arranged for champagne and a fresh full size chocolate cake to be delivered to our table. That was the ONLY positive part of this entire debacle. Other than that one truly wonderful experience with the head of the dining area who had to be called in after arguing continuously with the 5th person, I would never, ever, ever - even if it was free, go on this ship or this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our first cruise and nothing like expected. It was all so noisy with Americans hootin' and hollerin' from morning to night. When the compere says "who's going to beach tomorrow?" is it really necessary for ... Read More
This was our first cruise and nothing like expected. It was all so noisy with Americans hootin' and hollerin' from morning to night. When the compere says "who's going to beach tomorrow?" is it really necessary for the deafening OOO OOO's. The pool disco was trying to make itself heard in England, we sat on a deck above but still couldn't make ourselves heard. The shows at night were full of self congratulations for the crew. I know they do a good job but we were paying a lot for it. Very few people even bothered to change for dinner, I know it is freestyle, but some effort would have been only courteous to restaurant staff and fellow passengers. Food was nice enough but it would also be nice to have different choices in the two main restaurants. Perhaps, being English we fail to appreciate how other nationalities enjoy themselves, but it was definitely not for us   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more ... Read More
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more relaxing than the usual 7-day cruises, it is a warm weather cruise and there are an almost equal number of port and sea days. This was our 10th Norwegian cruise; we have also cruised once on Crystal. We are unapologetic Norwegian ambassadors! Pre-Cruise Preparations - My husband has emphysema and travels with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), and mom walks with a cane or a rolling walker. That said, traveling can be challenging in this situation. We contacted Norwegian's Access Desk to inform them that we would need 2 wheelchairs at embarkation and disembarkation. We also advised them that mom needs a low/no salt diet. The representative said that once on board we would be contactd to pre-order her meals. More on that under Dining. The airline also requires advance notification with doctor's signature that we are traveling with a POC, as well as the request for wheelchairs for distance. Travel to Embarkation - We flew United to NOLA on Good Friday. We decided to fold, duct tape and check the walker as luggage. It came through with no problem. The wheelchair porters/pushers were prompt and very helpful. The Airport Limosine driver went above and beyond fitting us and our three large, one medium, one carry-on, a POC and the walker in the Town Car (yes, we always manage to overpack!). New Orleans - We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, booked through our travel agent. It did not disappoint. The room included "Continental Breakfast" but we ordered a full breakfast and it was covered. We dined at Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Good food, but getting to the upstairs dining room was difficult for mom to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through a crowded dining room, up the elevator, then back to the front dining room, then back again after dinner. We took a trip to Rouse's market to purchase 8 bottles of wine. Embarkation - We caught a taxi to the port for $7 per person. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal. After we unloaded all our luggage and the porter put it on his cart we found out we would have to walk a long hallway to get to an entrance that would have been closer, and no wheelchairs were available until after we went through security. It would have been better to go to the furthest entrance. We went to the head of the line as mom can not stand for longer than a few minutes without pain. The security agent got us an escort that took us through security quickly. We knew to hand carry our wine, and were directed to the corkage table to pay the $15/bottle corkage, and then to the section to wait for a wheelchair. We waited about 30 minutes for our turn to get 2 wheelchairs. They were very slow in coming. Eventually we got the wheelchairs, got checked in quickly, taken to the VIP lounge and on to the ship. Yay! The Ship - The Jewel was going into dry-dock immediately after our cruise. There was some wear and tear visible that I assume will be upgraded in dry-dock. The ship was clean and the crew was quite visible in cleaning. We had a 2-bedroom Haven Villa and mom was next door in a Haven Penthouse. The living room, bedroom and master bath are exactly the same in both cabins, but the balcony is 1-2 feet deeper in the 2-bedroom. The cabins are luxurious with wood paneling, queen bed in the master bedroom, lots of closet space and storage space in the master bedroom and bath. Minimal storage in the second bedroom. Hot water was slow in coming to the cabin, we had to run the shower to get it more quickly. The butler and steward were fine, though not impressive. We have had some that matched us much better and may have unfair expectations. Dining - We ate at five of the specialty restaurants and in Azura main dining room the rest of the nights. Le Bistro, Cagney's, Chin Chin, Mama's/La Cucina are always our favorites. We also ate at the Teppanyaki, which was better than the last time. Mom needed a low/no salt diet. We were not contacted as promised by the Access Desk rep, but the first night at Azura we asked about it and were introduced to one of our Vacation Heroes, Felicitas J. She was helpful, knowledgeable and a delight. She explained that mom could see the next night's menu and pre-order so sauces and dishes would be prepared with no salt. She also explained which restaurants prepared foods "a la minute" with low/no salt and which needed a pre-order. The result was that it worked extremely well and mom had minimal ankle swelling. We like Azura as it is midship and easy to get to from the Haven. Most of the time the food was varied, good, and well prepared. Ports - Cartagena - we didn't get off this time as we've been there twice before. Huatulco - rglcruise organized a tour with Adelino. He had a late model 13 passenger van and took us through Huatulco to Santa Maria. We walked through a portion of the town, had quesadillas with fresh made tortillas, and watched a carniceria wield his knife. He also told us the history of the area. We drove up into the mountains to a coffee plantation and small town. Adelino was great a communicating his love of his home nation and state. Puerto Vallarta - Just off the ship is a small area with shops to purchase souvenirs and the ever present Diamond International. Walmart is within walking distance from the port for those sundries you've run out of. Cabo San Lucas - This is a tender port. Lots of shopping and restaurants at the dock. Also, there are lots of opportunities to catch an independent operator for a tour of the area by boat. Disembarkation - We arranged with Virginia, the concierge, to have the wheelchairs pick us up. They came a little after the designated time, but then whisked us off very quickly.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
My wife and I looked forward to cruising the Panama Canal. We chose the NCL Jewel because my wife had never been to New Orleans and we figured we could kill two birds by sailing from there. We also wanted to try Freestyle Cruising since ... Read More
My wife and I looked forward to cruising the Panama Canal. We chose the NCL Jewel because my wife had never been to New Orleans and we figured we could kill two birds by sailing from there. We also wanted to try Freestyle Cruising since our previous cruises had on the more traditional RCCL line ships. Although the food in the premium restaurants we tried was very good, the main restaurants and buffet we re just mediocre. But it was about what we expected from a mid - grade cruise line. The mini suite was a little smaller than RCCL's but the balcony was just a bit larger so the room was very comparable. On board activities were about as expected and the shows were well done. One caveat - NCL nickel and dimes just about everything so be prepared to pay extra for nearly everything. The huge problem came about on the fourth day and it basically ruined the rest of the cruise for us. We were on the pool deck that morning and when we went back to our room there were crewmen in the next stateroom dressed in hazmat gear, including suits, head covers and respirators working on something in the room. I could see the cover from the side of the bathtub leaning against the wall in the hallway outside the room and also saw a crewman spraying something in the room. That process was partially repeated the following week - we saw more crewmen with respirators spraying something in that room. The night after the first incident, my wife and I had trouble sleeping because we were coughing almost constantly. These symptoms continued for the duration of the cruise. In fact we are still sick 3 days after disembarkation. After the second incident, I questioned someone at the Customer Service desk about what the crewmen were doing and why it appeared to affect our health. The woman called our room later with a story about them installing something. In full hasmat gear? I had the opportunity to talk to the room's occupants on the last day of the cruise. They were unaware of the crew's work in their room and the woman said she was suffering from the same ailment starting around the same time. Caveat Emptor! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We were first time cruisers and we decided to choose NCL. We cruised to the Western Caribbean. Our ports were: - Cozumel, Mexico - Roatan, Honduras - Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico Embarkation was fairly easy although the wait time was ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and we decided to choose NCL. We cruised to the Western Caribbean. Our ports were: - Cozumel, Mexico - Roatan, Honduras - Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico Embarkation was fairly easy although the wait time was over 30 minutes. Once on the ship, it was easy to navigate to our floor/cabin. Our room was an inside cabin and it was small but clean. We never had any issues with the cleaning crew. The bed was always made and the cabin was spotless. The crew members were friendly and always smiling. We never encountered any issues when asking questions or needing guidance. Our biggest 'Port' disappointment was Belize. We did not book an excursion. The port shopping area was small and the locals were not very friendly. We were eager to get back on the ship and forget the visit. Cozumel was very nice and we booked the Dolphin Excursion via NCL. It was a great experience and I would recommend it highly. We chose an excursion outside NCL for Roatan. We booked a 'resort for the day' and spent the day at Club Natale Bay. It was quiet and very relaxing. We had access to the beach and to the resort, itself. We did not book an excursion for Costa Maya, but the shopping area was nice and the locals were friendly. The food was another issue. Tsar's Palace and Azura basically had the same menu. It varied slightly from night to night. Tsar's required that men wear pants whereas Azura had a more relaxed dress code. The buffet had quite a few menu options but the food was not that tasty. We did pay to upgrade to Moderno Churrascaria (brazilian steakhouse) and we were disappointed. It seemed that once the waiters made their first round with the meat selections, they did not return again for some time. After waiting 10 minutes for a dessert menu, we decided to skip it and just pay for our bill. Perhaps, if we had chosen to upgrade all of our meals via their dinner package for $119, we would have had a better overall food experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent ... Read More
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent bikes-- the exercise room stayed empty most of the time but the tread mills, elliptical machines and bikes stayed very busy. The food was the best. We ate at both the freestyle dining rooms -- Azure and Tsar's for dinner And the Cafe on deck 12 for breakfast and lunch. The choices were amazing and there were plenty of serving stations so there were virtually no lines. We were greeted regularly by the officers as they moved through the dining room. Our excursions were as advertised and went well. They were worth the money. One was cancelled in Puerto Vallarta b/c of lack of participation but there was room on another which turned out to be a lot of fun. We rode the camels in Cabo San Lucas and our guide was a scream. I loved it. The only issue we had was the shuttle to the airport. We had to wait an hour after disembarking for a bus-- there were several which filled up fast. We were told that there weren't enough buses available that day. Don't know if it was NCL or the bus company that messed up but next time we will take a taxi. The shuttle for 2 people was $30. No idea what a taxi would cost but there would be no wait. OVERALL, we had a wonderful trip. The passage thru the Panama Canal was exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We took this Panama Canal repositioning cruise from New Orleans to San Francisco. It was very relaxing and we loved the ports we stopped at. There were only 4 ports on this 15 day cruise--1 day was the Panama Canal. NCL is not a high ... Read More
We took this Panama Canal repositioning cruise from New Orleans to San Francisco. It was very relaxing and we loved the ports we stopped at. There were only 4 ports on this 15 day cruise--1 day was the Panama Canal. NCL is not a high class cruise line--the cruise itself was very casual--only one "formal" night as far as I could tell and that was barely advertised. The food on NCL is at the regular dining rooms is generally fair--the unlimited dining package is a great deal--and the food is excellent at the Cagneys steak house, Brazilian steak house, and French restaurant. As far as "fast food"--their Burgers and Pizza are lousy and there is the same menu daily at sit down breakfast and lunch--I shouldn't complain though--I still managed to gain an unacceptable amount of weight on the cruise. It's not a huge ship--there are 2 swimming pools on the Lido deck--have gotten used to hanging out at the back of the ship's pool on other lines and we missed that. Not a lot of indoor areas where you can sit and watch the view--also some of the indoor areas are designated concierge level areas only during certain hours--so indoor space is very limited. Not sure that I would do a colder weather cruise like Alaska on this ship. Casino was VERY friendly--there wasn't a huge crowd gambling and the pit bosses were very generous with buying drinks even though we weren't technically eligible point wise yet for that. The ship was scheduled to go into dry dock right after our cruise--but all facilities were open, clean and functional. Wouldn't have known that a dry dock was planned except that it was announced. Cruise critic activities were very nicely done on board--the meet and greet was well attended by officers and we had an active cabin crawl--we were even allowed access to the Haven Suite area. Had last taken an NCL cruise 2 years ago and since then they have had a major attitude adjustment. Have never in all my cruising experience of over 20 cruises been asked so many times how the cruise was going?, did I have any suggestions?, and what could they do to make the cruise better? After talking to the staff--they asked for our room number and we received chocolate covered strawberries (on more than one occasion). The staff is 100% committed to giving the guest a "dream vacation".   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was out 6th cruise with NCL... We enjoyed the cruise and like cruising with NCL but had two bad experiences this time that will keep us from cruising with NCL until we have cruised with RCL a couple of times... Overall we have been on ... Read More
This was out 6th cruise with NCL... We enjoyed the cruise and like cruising with NCL but had two bad experiences this time that will keep us from cruising with NCL until we have cruised with RCL a couple of times... Overall we have been on 11 cruises and the main reason we have cruised with NCL and Carnival is that we can drive to New Orleans in 5 hours.... Overall the cruise was good but our first and only meal in the MDR was on the first night aboard... We had the lobster and filet beef... Not very good at all... the lobster was so small and very chewy and the filet was not good at all in any way... It was not a filet but a thin strip steak with many tough bites that could not be swallowed.... Because of that and because we found the buffet to be great we chose not to eat any other times in the MDR... We chose to leave the ship in New Orleans on Sunday Morning and carried our two small carry on's off the ship as advertised by NCL.... WOW! what a mistake.... we had been told we could leave the ship at 7:45 a.m. so we arrived on deck 6 with our two small luggage's at 8:00 a.m. To our great surprise there were approximately 1000 passengers ( per the front desk) waiting in line on deck 6... The line went down the length of the ship in one hallway and back up the other hallway...(this is a 8:10 a.m.) over half of these passengers had large suitcases and the hallways were almost blocked and unpassable....No one was allowed to leave the ship... We went back to our room for 30 minutes then I called the front desk where a NCL employee told we that no one could leave until the ship was cleared by customs... That is not the problem... The problem is that no one in authority every got on the speakers to announced the problem ... this allowed more people to crowd in the stairwells and other decks trying to get to deck 6.... It was dangerous and unsafe but still the Captain nor anyone tried to announce or explain the problem... We went to the buffet for awhile and came down to deck 6 at 9 a.m. when the cruise director finally announce that we could now start leaving the ship... After leaving the ship we had walk the length of the NCL ship and the length of the Carnival berth to that building to go through customs... We then walked the same distance to leave the building and go to the parking lot... This bad taste would ruin cruising with NCL for many first time passengers but this was out first bad experience leaving a NCL ship... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager ... Read More
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager vacationers allowed to board at noon. We need wheelchair assistance, and have found it is better to wait until closer to noon, when attendants and WCs are released to pick up guests. There was a special, shorter line for those using canes, walkers and rollators, which proved a big help. Our first lunch was in Tsar's main dining room, rather than braving the super busy Garden Cafe buffet on deck 12. Daniela proved the excellent service NCL is known for, and we noted a new luncheon menu in the past couple of months. Scallops, Caesar Salad and cheeseburgers proved tasty and filling as we waited for the announcement that cabins were now ready for us. Muster is a short process without need for life vests, and then it was time to be underway. Well, at least that is the information in the ship's Daily newsletter. We had plans to meet with others in our robust Cruise Critic roll call for a Sail Away party, and I was looking forward to getting some great shots from Port side as we slowly cruised past the French Quarter. In one of the Jewel's few 'oops' moments during our 13 night modified Panama Canal repositioning cruise, no one owned the PA to inform us that due to the double length of our cruise, from the Jewel's more typical 7 night Western Caribbean run, and with the addition of a 2 week dry dock now tacked onto the end, lots and lots and lots of provisions and building supplies would be needed to see us through. This delayed Sail Away by 4 or 5 hours beyond that posted...not a major disappointment, but one that could easily have been explained sooner rather than later. Our first of many Sea Days, the Group Event Coordinator had helped to set up our Meet & Greet, with at least 70 CC members in attendance. There was a full compliment of department managers, with Hotel Director Richard Janicki introducing the friendly officers and fielding some spirited Q&A with a bit of extra information about Jewel's planned dry dock. As several CC members in the know had speculated, Blue Lagoon would become transformed into the 24/7 Comfort food and bar, O'Sheehans, also taking over space from the starboard side of deck 8 mid ship Moderno's Brazilian Grill. Moderno's would move up to Deck 13, in the annex portion of Cagney's Steak House near the Star Bar. A well-needed facial recognition system was being installed in the Photo Department, so no more hunting and stooping and surveying thousands of photos for your own special bunch. It would also save on both chemicals, paper and so forth, a win-win situation all around! Besides the usual Dry Dock refurbishments, a special deck 15 penthouse of the Haven type, was being included, and we were all thrilled to be reassured that the Spinnaker Lounge with the great ceiling to floor Forward windows, would be retained. I'd asked for a special room set-up to better the interaction between roll call members and we also enjoyed light refreshments and the feedback that our opinions were valued. Janicki did remark, "We read Cruise Critic, but I must say sometimes reading a particular review I must wonder if we were on the same cruise as someone saying it was dreadful." We divided our meal time between the more opulent Tsar's and the smaller, more frentic Azura main dining rooms. The menus are the same as ones introduced in 2011, with one side being 'always available' standbys such as strip or rib eye steaks, burgers, baked chicken, salmon, lanmb shank, spring rolls, mushroom quesadillas, a variety of pastas and salads. Service continued above average throughout, and it was of interest to note a Surf & Turf night featured real Maine lobsters vs the wimpy rock sort previously offered. The noise level is increased in the more casual Azura, whose hot pink and orange color scheme create a different vibe than the cream, sage green and gold of Tsar's. The lowered ceiling also influences this and of note, the chairs in Azura's are rock hard and not comfortable at all, which should help ensure more rapid turnover of diners. We sometimes selected Garden Cafe buffet for a quick breakfast and tried the poolside Grill a couple times for burgers, very good hot dogs and more. A special Bavarian feast was held toward the end of our cruise, and Messiah Ritzinger's Free State of Bavaria touches could be seen through the variety of sausage, schnitzel, kraut and Bavarian cream pastries...very well done! We enjoyed Blue Lagoon, just a few steps from our cabin, for breakfast and lunch or late evening snacks. Besides the burgers and chicken wings, the fried fish and Chef Salad were good, not to mention the cheese cake and brownie sundae. It was always nice to be able to whisk covered dishes back to our digs, and the small refrigerator helped with any midnight munchies. We did not try room service or the option of the always available anywhere $5 pizza. We dined at several of the specialty/fee restaurants including Moderno's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's/La Cucina. A favorite senior waiter, Sheddy, attended us at Moderno's and Cagney's, while another favorite Assistant MaitreD and also a special senior waiter, (Rizaldi), had us coming back to the Asian Fusion spot a second time for succulent lamb curry, broccoli beef, chow fun noodles, BBQ spareribs, deep fried calamari and the wonderful pancakes with bananas, caramel syrup and coconut ice cream. We used the Card Room and back portion of the buffet between meals for our group's Farkle games and variety of card games and enjoyed musical serenading in the Crystal Atrium and deck 6 lounge area outside Le Bistro. Several of the CD led audience participation game shows could be seen re-played on our 24" LCD TV, as well as a half dozen first run movies including Frozen, The Hobbit Part 2, Desolation of Smaug, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity and so on. Our cabin was located on deck 8 midship, a great location close to so much. Since the ship's tenders are strung up outside the windows here, the category is Oceanview Obstructed. Luckily the tender was strung several feet lower outside rooms 8100 and 8102, so that we had a good view, at least 60% at all times. Perhaps due to approaching dry dock, there were only 2 incidents of crew walking past our window, and no surprises or loud banging or maintenance overall. This accessible cabin has 36" no threshold outer and bathroom doors, with light switches and climiate control about 3 feet from the floor. Both the hanging rod in the closet and oversink mirror in the bathroom have easily grasped cords to lower them to wheelchair or scooter height, a definate plus. The room is about 20% larger than non-accessible sideways cabins, and the hallway on deck 9 actually is partially over these rooms; perhaps the dearth of small ones on the PC itinerary accounts for the fact there was little to no noise of running or stomping feet? We did need to call Guest Services desk several times during the cruise and the interaction was all right. Our immediate needs were attended to and we were able to get questions answered without making the trip down there again and again. We didn't attend any of the large production shows due to (chronic) health issues and decision to grab as much restful sleep as we could. Luckily, on NCL, there is never a need to do anything but exactly what we'd like...in that respect, our vacation was tailor-made to suit our interests and needs. The itinerary was changed as we would no longer be disembarking in Los Angeles, which was a big part of our choice in this cruise; we'd be just a short flight from our West Coast home. We also lost 2 ports, one of them the highly anticipated Costa Rican port, the other of less interest. This gave us more sea days and the choice of disembarking in either San Diego or San Francisco. NCL considered San Diego an additional port-true if you were taking the full 15 days, but not the case if this was your disembark point. We decided to take the shorter version since our nonrefundable plane tickets were at LAX. We now had a 4, rather than 2, day stay in Southern California, totaling 3 weeks in all. I think it would have been best with the original mix of port and sea days and the Los Angeles disembark, but the entire Jewel crew made us forget the small quibbles and feel pampered to the max. It also helped that we were traveling with such a wonderful bunch of CC members as well! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and our third overall....the first two being with Carnival. I have to admit I was skeptical after reading the boards...so many negative comments...I was seriously worried that we'd made a ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and our third overall....the first two being with Carnival. I have to admit I was skeptical after reading the boards...so many negative comments...I was seriously worried that we'd made a mistake sailing on the Jewel. We were pleasantly surprised and I am glad to report that you should ignore all of the negative remarks about NCL and Jewel. We drove to NOLA from Cincinnati....a very easy 12-13 hour drive. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Superdome the night before our cruise. Found a good rate through stay123.com that included parking for the week. The total for the room and parking was $189 which I thought was fair for a Saturday stay in NOLA during the French Quarter Festival and parking for 7 days. The hotel was very nice no problems at all. I seriously don't understand all of the complaints that I've read. We were on the eleventh floor and the noise from the street could be heard if you were listening for it. We walked to the FQ around 4 PM and did not return to our hotel until about 9 PM. On the way back we didn't realize that Loyola turned into Elk Street once you were on Canal so we got a little lost coming back and I did not feel safe. Nothing happened but I do not recommend walking to the Holiday Inn at night. Take a cab! We (husband and I in late 40's) got a cab about 10:30 Sunday morning...the hotel was very busy and trying to find the bellman was difficult. Finally we hailed our own cab and we got to the Julia Street port in about 10 minutes. There was a lot of traffic and congestion at the port at that time but it was manageable. We got our number and waited for about 40 minutes until they called our number. We then showed our passports, set up our sail cards, had a photo taken and boarded the ship. The line to get on the ship moved slowly but it was not a miserable process. By 1:00 we were eating lunch in Tsar’s dining room. Cabins were ready right around 3 PM and they announced it over the PA system. Sail away took place at 5 PM and it took about 9 hours to get down the Mississippi to the Gulf. We at dinner every night at Tsar’s as we like dressing up for dinner. The first night they told us there would be a 20 minute wait and we were given a voucher for a free glass of champagne or soda. The wait only took about 10 minutes. Sunday was Surf & Turf night and we had no complaints about the food. We chose not to eat at any of the specialty restaurants and did not regret our decision at all. We found the food to be plentiful, delicious and always available. Monday was a sea day. We spent most of our time at the pool. We also did a martini tasting which was a lot of fun and a very good value (we each received 6 mini martinis for $15 per person). My only complaint of the entire cruise is how NCL handled the payment for those who attended the martini tasting. They collected everyone's cards at once ant then laid them out on the bar for us to pick up. There was a mistake made on my card and I was charged for someone else's tasting. Luckily she was honest and had the charges removed from my card. Note....the charge was still on my card at the end of the cruise. We reported the mistake and it was taken care of promptly. Not a complaint, we just feel that the cards should have been handled in a different manner. On Monday we ate lunch at the buffet and we were pleased with the selection. Kenny Byrd (the ventriloquist who entertains on Jewel) joined us for lunch and we had a great time chatting with him! We did an excursion at each port that we did not book with NCL. I will review those separately. Getting off at each of the ports was very easy including the tendering process in Belize. Be sure to read your daily news for tips on how to get a ticket to tender etc. They give those to you for a reason and it really helps keep you organized and aware of the activities that take place on the ship. At each port (except Belize), NCL staff are there to greet you with water, cool washcloths and popsicles...they make you feel like royalty and that they are truly happy to see you. My husband and I are not "show" people but we did see Kenny Byrd's show and the finale concert that took place on Saturday. Kenny Byrd was hysterical and the concert was good not great but again....I am not really into that kind of variety show. We did happen to find out by chance that they were showing movies in the Stardust Theatre. We never heard or read a thing about movies so not sure how everyone found out about them. Maybe we just overlooked something and we probably wouldn't have watched a movie anyways but if you are into movies, you should try and find a schedule. We do not play BINGO or gamble so we did not use that Casino other than to change large bills into small. The ATM is also located in the casino. It costs $5.50 to use it so use it sparingly. I was told that the ATM sometimes runs out of money towards the end of the cruise. We used it on Tuesday and didn't have a problem. The onboard gift shop had a little bit of everything...I had to use it because I ran out of dental floss and it was very convenient. I think I can do better at Macy's than what they were selling the perfume for but it appeared that a lot of people were buying. We went to line dancing lessons the first night onboard and it was fun. That was the only time that we made it to the “disco”. We really wanted to go to the White Party but we were exhausted and fell asleep! Next time, we will pace ourselves and save our energy…lying in the sun really tires you out after 5 days! We went to a few of the game shows and again wanted to go to Quest on the last night but fell asleep. Maybe it was the time change, the sun, the alcohol or all three! We got up really early every day so we had a hard time staying awake at night! We did another martini tasting on Saturday; again it was a lot of fun and entertaining. We tasted 6 different martinis (from the previous tasting) so it was again worth the money. Television channels are very limited but who really needs TV on a cruise? There were 2 news channels, 2 movie channels, Nickelodeon channel and a sitcom “on demand” channel. We are already thinking about booking our next cruise…and hope to make it on Norwegian!   Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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