63 New Orleans Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

We've cruised a fair amount in the past few years & are now Platinum on NCL. Had booked this cruise months ago & had an inside room. My wife (she's the one who constantly is checking NCL for "deals") found a ... Read More
We've cruised a fair amount in the past few years & are now Platinum on NCL. Had booked this cruise months ago & had an inside room. My wife (she's the one who constantly is checking NCL for "deals") found a mini-suite for only a couple hundred dollars more & I call our NCL TA and upgraded....then, had our luggage tickets, just about packed, etc., & the Thursday before we left, I received a phone call from NCL in Miami wanting to know if we were interested in upgrading to the Haven. I had no idea what that was, but contacted my wife & looked info up & said "Heck Yeah!" Lady said that if I hadn't answered, she'd just "go on to the next person on the list!" Have been out of New Orleans several times in the past years & no problem getting there. Parking in an "open" lot sucks though! Our first cruise there, NCL had a parking garage, but guess Carnival has both of them now???? Dropped luggage off & parked. Once we showed the "tickets" w/the Haven on it, we were escorted to a "special" check-in, & then to the "VIP Lounge." Nice amenities & met our Butler, Concierge, etc. In approx. 10 minutes, we were escorted to the ship & to our rooms. Rooms were amazing! I ran the M&G the next day & we did a Cabin Crawl....got to see an Aft Balcony (first for us) & a Penthouse (also first for us.) The Penthouse was exactly the same room layout as ours. BUT, we had access to the Haven Pool area....small pool, but had a hot tub....plenty of lounge chairs, etc. PLUS, we had access to Cagney's for breakfast & lunch IN THAT AREA w/our own private waiter....Penthouse folks could use Cagney's itself, but not access our area. Our waiter, Benny, was FANTASTIC! One of the few times on a cruise where I've agreed w/my wife that he/she deserved an extra tip ($). Anyway, treats every day in the room (usually 2-4), service, etc. We're spoiled for life re: cruises now! Pretty much anything other that an Owners Suite is going to be a letdown! But, that won't stop us from cruising! P.S. Ate at Le Bistro (good as usual), Tapanyakki (not impressed), & Moderno (LOVED IT!) Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our first cruise as a family. I have cruised before but my husband and kids (5y girl, 7y girl, and 9y boy) had not. Our 7y daughter has autism (moderately verbal, echolalia with severe sensory issues). We drove from Ohio to NOLA, ... Read More
This was our first cruise as a family. I have cruised before but my husband and kids (5y girl, 7y girl, and 9y boy) had not. Our 7y daughter has autism (moderately verbal, echolalia with severe sensory issues). We drove from Ohio to NOLA, stayed overnight near port and boarded the ship early on Sunday for a 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. The Port of New Orleans is a disorganized mess. There is a lot going on and, if you drive, you have to get in several different car lines- one to drop bags, one to park. The signage is confusing and there are a lot of people walking in places that only cars should be. They have the sky walk from the lot to the pier shut down so you have to walk in the busy intersections, over a rail road and road ways. If you have anyone with sound sensitivity- take ear muffs, you'll need them! Prior to the cruise our TA setup an escort through the security line that was a godsend. NCL sent a representative that helped us by pass a line the would have taken hours and would have prevented our ASD 7y to board- she would have been in full meltdown if we waited in the line. Instead we boarded in less than 10min. The escort then took us to check in and allowed us to bypass this line as well. We were staying in a Family Suite AB so we were afforded suite perks and the escort took us to the VIP lounge prior to boarding to meet our concierge and butler. Then we were taken to Cagney's for lunch and then to our suite. We booked the AB Suite for the perks because we were not sure how well our ASD 7y would do on her first cruise. We wanted a larger room, the shower and tub would help during meltdowns and food from almost anywhere on the ship could be delivered (so we wouldn't miss out if she didn't fare well and we were stuck in the suite). Best decision we could make. Our other children loved the kids club and pool. Our ASD did not tolerate the restaurants well and had no desire to go to the kids club (I think there was too much noise for her)- so we spent a lot of time in cabin, on the balcony and had several meals delivered. She did not use the tub for meltdowns as much as it was for entertainment. The suite also allows priority tenders- escorted past the line in GC without an issue. It also comes with snacks delivered in the afternoon and prior to bed (cookies each night- kids loved it). The snacks range from sandwiches to chocolate covered strawberries. I also had pitchers of iced tea delivered which was nice while sitting on the balcony watching the ocean. There was also a complimentary bottle of Prosecco for the suite which was nice in the evening- mixed with a little juice it kept our bar tab down. The suite itself has a large bedroom/ bath with a tub, dining and sitting area, kids bedroom/bath and a large balcony. It was a good amount of space for us and the kids fit nice in the bedroom with a pull down. We also liked the coffee machine and we had the fridge emptied for sodas/juice we brought on board (also our ASD has the fun skill of being able to open pop tabs- that is an expensive skill when a minibar is involved). The restaurants we did venture our to were great. Cagney's for breakfast everyday was a treat- the staff were great and they were really nice to the two other kids. They have good choices for breakfast and a nice little buffet of fruits, cereals and sliced meats/cheeses to pick from. The choices for lunch were good but they had few kids choices so we ate several lunches at the outdoor buffet or Garden Café. We also ate at Chin Chin, Mama's and Le Bistro. Each specialty restaurant was worth the cover for choice and serving size. Service was always prompt and they accommodated us with a sleeping child at times without a problem. Also had several meals delivered by butler from MDR- always prompt and hot.The ASD 7y didn't eat much due to her sensitivity and pickiness- pizza, cereal, grilled cheese, and cookies. We spent a lot of time by the pool. Pool chairs are at a premium and NCL does nothing about people saving chairs- it makes it hard to watch 3 smaller kids in the pool without having to stand the entire time. The pool is salt water but the kids enjoyed it. The water slide is only open from 10a-6p, which makes it hard to explain to the special needs kid who wants to ride it at 8a and 8p.The pool deck always has a band or some sort of entertainment. The kids participated in the Nickelodeon events and the hubs did a relay to win beer. Waiters are plentiful and there is a small buffet mid-day and the Garden Café is close. We saw several shows and listened to several cover bands in different bars. All were good. The Band on The Run was fun. Twosome Awesome did a great Beatles rendition. We also did the Dora Dance Pty and went to the White Hot Party. All were fun and had great music. As with any cruise alcohol is expensive so plan accordingly. There was also the usual cruise classes and exercise sessions- we did not participate in any. Montego Bay Jamaica is a beautiful yet very poor port. We took a cab $5/person to Doctor's Cave Beach. The cab let us out 5 blocks away from our destination and we had to walk. The "Hip Strip" is very seedy and the people of MoBay are pushy and don't lose any opportunity to sell anything. There are people pushing "ganja" right at you. I did not feel "unsafe" but it is a place to know where you are going and be confident- watch your belongings and give firm "no's". However, once you get to the beach you are in a crystal blue paradise. Chairs and umbrellas cost but t is worth it. There is a café, waiters delivering drinks on the beach and calm blue water. People are also selling things on the beach. The 5y got her hair braided and loved it. The ride back to the pier was less intimidating- we ate lunch on the ship and waited for sail away. We tendered in Grand Cayman. For ASD you need ear muffs again- the boats are loud and completely filled with people(so a lot of voices). We then took an excursion to Sea World Observatory boat. It was really neat and perfect for ASD- not completely enclosed and there is an upper deck if you encounter problems. The guide was nice and pointed our fish to my other two kids- they were fascinated. After that we walked around and shopped. We ventured to Burger King to get nuggets for the ASD (because she had only eaten cereal and pizza in days)- it was really expensive and they did not have nuggets. Stopped at duty free to pickup Doritos (for the ASD) and tendered back to the ship. My son was impressed with the cold towels (there was no greeting in Jamaica). Cozumel was a later day than the other two. We left the ship and walked through a market and around the streets close to port for a while. The ear muffs came in handy again- a lot of cars and people. The people of Cozumel also try to sell everything but they are less pushy than in Jamaica. We got several souvenirs and stuff for the kids. Then we took an $18 cab to Mr Sanchos (free beach and a VIP section). The water is gorgeous and there are free beach chairs. There is food and alcohol available and water toys to rent. My hubs and son rented a jet ski. We got tacos and nachos delivered along with some drinks. There is also a VIP section that charges $50/person for unlimited alcohol and use of a pool and water toys- we chose the free (pay as you go) because we had kids with us and could not possibly drink that much alcohol. In all we spent $45 and had a really good day. Then we took another cab ride (this time $25) back to port. Upon boarding the ship this time there was a huge greeting line with music and cold towels- the kids loved it (even the ASD). One service we did use a lot of was the kids club. My ASD 7y only went one night- sounds did echo and she did not seem interested in the activities. However, the other two LOVED the kids club. They asked to go as soon as they were done in the pool everyday. The activities for the day are adjusted for age. The did crafts and a princess parade for the little ones. They also did a pirate scavenger hunt for all ages that they both liked. Before this cruise I did not understand why anyone would send their kids to a kids club on vacation- I thought "I like taking vacations with my kids why would I send them away". I was so wrong. The kids loved it and it let them make friends. It also gave us a little down time (even though we had the ASD 7y with us she was usually asleep and we could put ear muffs on and take her along to dinner and shows). I would not hesitate now to let them go as long as they want to. The night that the ASD 7y did go, she had a great time and we were able to eat a whole meal and go see a cover band in a bar before they called us to pick her up- that was nice and the staff handled her well. Another thing we noticed is that there is a person at the door but a "wanderer" could easily get by them- so we warned them that our ASD 7y was a wanderer and may try to get out. Disembarkation was easy. We were in priority due to the suite. We met the concierge and were walked off quickly. Finding a porter in baggage claim was difficult and the porters have to walk all the way across a busy street in traffic, over rail road tracks to your car. It was awkward and I felt compelled to tip more than I would have if they just had to go to the curb. We will definitely be cruising as a family again and will chose NCL because this experience was nice and the suite perks are helpful with ASD. It is more laid back than other lines and it fit well for our family.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I have been dreaming of a cruise for several years. I had been planning to do one, and I was offered a free cruise from Horseshoe Casino. After upgrading, fees and taxes, it seemed to equate to a buy a cruise get one free. It was not a bad ... Read More
I have been dreaming of a cruise for several years. I had been planning to do one, and I was offered a free cruise from Horseshoe Casino. After upgrading, fees and taxes, it seemed to equate to a buy a cruise get one free. It was not a bad deal. I also received 2 casino cards that provided complimentary drinks in the casino. We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and stayed the night. We were able to park for free at the Harrahs Casino garage. On Sunday morning, we drove over and dropped our luggage off. It seemed a bit hectic as there was a lot of cruise traffic for Norwegian Jewel and Carnival. We parked our car, and walked back over to board. The boarding too me was much like boarding at the airport, although it may have been a bit quicker. Our cabin was located on deck 10, midship, port side. One thing I recall is as I exited the elevators and started down the isle, a certain area seemed to have a bad sewer smell. I just walked fast to get by, and was happy that the smell was not near my cabin. In preparing for my trip I knew I have a history of getting motion sickness. Therefore, I had my seabands on, and had the travel patch for behind the ear. The doctor had instructed me to put on when I boarded the ship. I thought better, and figured I would rely on the seabands. I felt good the first day, but basically we were just cruising very easily down the Mississippi River. I thought this is a piece of cake. The first day at sea, I woke up early, and felt fine. We had breakfast and a nice lunch. We walked and explored the ship. The wind was very strong, and I felt a lot of ship movement. All of the sudden I started feeling bad and I applied the patch behind my ear. Well the patch usually takes a few hours. I started feeling miserable. The sea sickness to me is so bad, that you almost feel like jumping into the water and ending it. By this time we must have been dead in the center of the Gulf of Mexico. I had no idea of what to expect, all you see is water, nothing else. I think I thought I would see birds, and fish jumping in the water. My nice husband fetched me green apples and I slept for a while. Later I went to the high center of the ship and tried to relax and get fresh air. Wonderful news the next day, I woke up and felt great. The patch worked. We had another day at sea. The next day we arrived in Jamaica. I booked excursion to see Rose Hall. The trip was long as traffic seemed terrible, and I was surprised that the tour bus took us by their airport. The airport did not seem to be anything to see, and a waste of time. They also took us to Margaritaville, which too me was cliché. Also the tour bus was packed, and there was not a free seat. It seemed miserable. Rose Hall was very interesting and historic and had a nice high view of the ocean. The next day we arrived at the Cayman Islands. I did a beach excursion. It was nice, but did not feel like a lot of time at the beach. I am used to Florida beach, and never really can see my feet through the water. There it was like I could see too much, and there were these little spiny ball things, that you were afraid you would step on. Day 5 we arrived at Cosumel Mexico. I booked the Tulum excursion, as my husband had always wanted to see the Mayan Indian ruins. I did not realize that we would be taking a ferry from Cosumel to Tulum. I was scared to death I would again get sea sick. People all around me got seasick. But this time my patch was on, and I did not get sick. Although it was not a fun time on the ferry. Tulum was beautiful, and worth the ferry ride. I was very pleased with what I saw of Mexico, as I had very low expectations. I was picturing it being dirty and very unpleasant. I found it was great, and was my favorite stop. The ocean and beach on the side of the cliff of the Tulum ruins were simply beautiful. Time just went way to fast. We enjoyed some tacos at Tulum, the salsa and chips are still fresh in my memory, and I cannot wait to go back and have some more. Maybe some day. Day 6 we were back on ship for the last day at sea. The evening was very interesting as it appeared as that we were close to land. We could see a lot of lights and maybe sandbars. I think we were seeing oil rigs. It was dark so it was hard to see. I did see another cruise ship come by. We were able to wave at each other. Day 7, we awoke and we were back in New Orleans. We had breakfast and got off the ship. I removed my patch. I felt great. We walked around New Orleans, and had dinner at Mothers. We spent the night at Harrahs. The next morning when I woke up, I felt bad. I had a rocking feeling, and felt like I was moving. I did not get really sick, but I just did not have balance. I felt like this for almost a week. At that point I said never again will I cruise. Now, the feeling is behind me, and it has been almost 3 months. The cold weather here at home, has made me want to do it again. I do want to try cruising again. I don't know why, but overall I had a wonderful time. Next time, I will do the patch correctly, and I am wondering if one of the bigger ships would help.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Well, I just got home from my Norwegian Jewel cruise yesteday (11-10-13). So, here is my review of our travel! We flew to New Orleans from Kansas City (We are from Nebraska) and stayed in nearby Gretna. Accommodation: We had two rooms, ... Read More
Well, I just got home from my Norwegian Jewel cruise yesteday (11-10-13). So, here is my review of our travel! We flew to New Orleans from Kansas City (We are from Nebraska) and stayed in nearby Gretna. Accommodation: We had two rooms, here is my review of both. Inside Stateroom: Nice, worked well for three people, 4 would be pushing it. Works for three 16-year-olds that were kinda messy:) Balcony: Small, not really suited for four people. Could've been a bit bigger. Shore Excursions: None through the ship... here is what we did though! Montego Bay: Took a van tour around the town... very pretty town! Me and my dad and the boys went and hung out at Margaritaville while my sister, friend, and mom went to the beach. Georgetown: Did the same thing as Montego Bay, took a tour. Went to the turtle farm, tried rum cake (wasn't that good to my taste), and went to hell. Jewel's sister Pearl was there as well as the Carnival Liberty. Cozumel: Went shopping most of the time... nothing really. Mom got a new ring however. Pearl was in port with us here... as well as the Allure of the Seas and Carnival Magic. Entertainment/activities: Not-So-Newlywed gameshow, Karaokie, and Jeff Bradley. Some of the entertainment that we went to on board. Jeff was a comedian and hilarious! Kids Facilities: Well, I didn't hang out at the teens club, but my sister and friend did. They said it was kinda boring... they did have fun though. Boys liked Splash Academy though. Dining: Tsar's Palace was the favorite on this ship. Very beautiful decor and wonderful food. Garden Cafe was a good one... as well as Azura main dining room. Staff/Service: We had a few favorites on this ship... Rowen the Wishy-Washy guy, Christina our Tsar's waitress, and Brian the room steward. All of them were really nice and accomodated our needs. Especially Brian. He was very good about avoiding our messes but still cleaning the room. Disembarking went well, after some small hiccups with the Customs card, we were on our way. All in all, we had fun. My friend and Sister have never been on a cruise before and they had fun. I would defiantly recommend this ship to people. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. ... Read More
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. Embarkation: We've never cruised from NOLA, so you need to know that the ship will be mostly comprised of southern conservatives with a sprinkling of liberals and few international travelers. There were a high percentage of senior citizens and "rednecks", but the mix of folks was fine. As a penthouse guest, we were escorted through the entire process, and on the ship in less than ten minutes. John D'Souza the concierge had a staff member escort us to Cagney's Steakhouse for lunch. A very impressive and stress-free embarkation. Cabin: The penthouse suite is roomy and basically the size of your typical hotel room. The shining features include the Lavazza espresso machine and china, glass, and silver arrangement in the china cabinet. The bath includes private water closet and full size tub as well as Elemis bath products. PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING: Avoid deck 8 Aft. In order to reach your stateroom, you must walk through either Blue Lagoon or Moderno each and every time. It is not only uncomfortable for you, but also a distraction for the diners in the restaurants. Pick a suite on decks 9, 10, or 11. Dining: We chose specialty dining most of the time including Le Bistro, Cagney's, China Chin, and La Cucina. All were wonderful and worth the small fee. Our meal at the MDR Tsar's was serviceable but rushed. Hats off to the manager of Chin Chin who delivered our desserts to our suite. Entertainment: Typical song and dance for a cruise. Don't miss the staff talent show....awesome! Also, the live band they had on our cruise was one of the best we have ever heard. They played one evening for the Mardi Gras pool deck party, and they were sensational! Spa: Had four treatments between the two of us and the staff was professional and excellent. Staff: Shout out to Angel in Star Bar on deck 13 by Cagney's where the LGBT happy hour was held. He was lovely and gracious. Our room attendant Caril was efficient, polite, funny, and caring. Sir Walter, our butler went above and beyond everyday of the cruise. Ports: Montego Bay is to be avoided unless you have an excursion-the folks are fairly aggressive. Georgetown is lovely and our trip to Seven Mile Beach was exquisite. Cozumel is one of our favorite ports and we dined at Pancho's Backyard and bought rugs at our favorite shop. Disembarkation: Piece of cake- from the suite to the cab was 10 minutes... Summary: Our time was restful and delightful. The "rednecks" were annoying but mostly respectful. This cruise is a great value that you should consider. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We just returned from a western Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Jewel and can report a super experience. By way of reference, it was our 26th cruise overall and 15th with Norwegian - and 12th in a row on NCL ships - ... Read More
We just returned from a western Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Jewel and can report a super experience. By way of reference, it was our 26th cruise overall and 15th with Norwegian - and 12th in a row on NCL ships - we wouldn't keep coming back if we didn't like NCL's brand of hospitality and ammenities Flew to New Orleans a couple of days early and learned there were 30,000 Optomitrits in convention there - a real zoo, but we managed. Embarkation was a breeze and we were in Cagney's for lunch before noon. Excellent service and food there a usual. Staterooms ready right after lunch - we had an aft facing Penthouse and actually have stayed in the same cabin several time before. The food and service was exactally as we have come to expect - excellent. We ate in Chin Chin Asian, Mama's Italian, Le Bistro French, the Sushi Bar, Blue Lagoon, Great Outdoors, the Garden Cafe and had room service - all very good. Went to 2 shows - the comedian and magican and both were very entertaining and LOL funny. did the glass bottom boat in Grand Cayman and had a good time - only concern in the ports was too many ships and people crowed in small areas. Our room steward, Darius took excellent care of us - room always neat and tidy - and the ship was bright and cheery. Only met a couple of crew members from previous cruises - Ignanitio (sp), food and beverage director and Elvina concierge - however, made many new crew friends to look for on future cruises. The only disapointment, was cruising in and out of New Orleans in the dark. Next cruise is back on the Breakaway out of NYC. Can't wait. spent an extra day in New Orleans because of ice in Dallas and Oklahoma CIty. After 15 cruises with Norwegian, we know what to expect - and that we will be literally spoiled - and you can' beat that - we're hooked. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
After reading months of Jewel reviews, I was prepared to be a little let down based on the comments of so many. Boy was I wrong! My wife and I are experienced cruisers including working for Cunard. I will try to keep my comments about the ... Read More
After reading months of Jewel reviews, I was prepared to be a little let down based on the comments of so many. Boy was I wrong! My wife and I are experienced cruisers including working for Cunard. I will try to keep my comments about the ship and crew and not the ports of call. Embarkation was relatively painless, although the construction around the terminal made for a huge traffic jam. Arriving on the ship we were greeted by music and a very welcoming cruise staff, and there was never a let down in the enthusiasm and courtesy for the rest of the cruise. The entire cruise staff had such a positive helpful attitude! Being a cc member I attended a meet and greet and the entire hotel management team showed up. We were given their personal phone extensions and asked that we call with any issues. I don't think they got a call all week! After meeting them I was amazed how often I saw them all week mingling with passengers or overseeing their people to ensure everything ran smoothly. We were a party of seven from 15, 19 and 22 to 50's to 80's so this is a "consensus" review. We had two balcony cabins and one inside cabin. The balcony cabins we big enough for two comfortably, but the third person made for cramped quarters when the sofa bed was out. We will try to get a cabin that has a fold down bunk the next time. There is literally no way to get to the balcony without walking on the bed! Storage was just enough for three. The baths were big, but we felt the glass door for the toilet wasn't needed. In fact the inside cabin was slightly smaller and didn't have the toilet divider and actually felt bigger. Our cabin steward was always available and ready to help with anything. OK - the food. After reading some really bad review we were a little nervous. We ate our breakfasts at the buffet and it was always good and fresh. There was everything you could want including museli( a cruise ship tradition) . Granted, the hollandaise sauce was not what one would get at a nice restaurant, but they are cooking for 3,000! And the ship was full of passengers who seem to develop a feeding frenzy when they hit the buffet. Having sailed NCL before we were familiar with the specialty restaurants and ate six of seven dinners there. We did have one meal in Tsars dining room and I guess our only real let down was the food there was not as good as we hoped. I agree with the previous review that mentioned the canned peas and carrots. I wasn't bad food, it just wasn't the "wow" we wanted it to be. We believe that part of the NCL experience is going to the specialty restaurants. Our review- le Bistro was wonderful. Great food, top drawer service (Budi was our waiter- he doubles as the breakfast "washy washy " guitar player). We ate there twice. The Italian was the most pleasant surprise. Everything was delicious. The osso bucco was outstanding. Again great service. The Churriscaria was a culinary adventure ! Cagneys was a great steak dinner as well. I strongly recommend you plan to spend the extra money and treat yourself to these great restaurants. It will make your cruise so much more memorable. There is very good snack food at the Blue Lagoon. The entertainment was the most pleasant surprise of our cruise. A very funny comedian, a not- to- be missed magician, and production shows that had great dancers. We had a cocktail every night in a different bar and and each one had a unique atmosphere. Prices ranged from $5.25 to $10.00 depending on the drink. The Jewel is not as fancy as some other ships, but has a very relaxed charm. Although a little tired, she is kept clean and tidy by an industrious crew. It was the most stable ship we have ever been on, with very little movement. It was very easy to get around, and even though the ship was full, the layout spread everyone out so we never felt cramped. Our only real negative experience was the staff in the store. They seemed a bit rude and put off if one needed help. In summary we say book your cruise on Jewel. You will be treated wonderfully! Just plan on spending the extra money and enjoy the specialty restaurants. You will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first Norwegian Cruise and we loved it. The boarding was a little chaotic for us. We were staying in a balcony suite and were told that we would be taken to a special room where we would be given food and drink and allowed to ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian Cruise and we loved it. The boarding was a little chaotic for us. We were staying in a balcony suite and were told that we would be taken to a special room where we would be given food and drink and allowed to board first when we arrived at the terminal. No one at the terminal knew where we were supposed to go. After being told by security to stand in the wrong line twice we were told to just sit and wait till our number was called. After an hour we caught up with a Norwegian Cruise supervisor, Nigel Garbut. This guy was wonderful and made sure we were taken care of. We were on board and having lunch in Cagney's restaurant twenty minutes after meeting him. After lunch around 1:00 pm our room was ready. Our butler, concierge , and room attendent all came by and introduced themselves. There were fresh flowers, fruit, and a bottle of Champagne waiting for us. My wife and I were celebrating our 30th. Wedding anniversary. All of the staff on the Norwegian Jewel were fantastic and catered to our every whim. We ate at a few of the specialty restaurants during our trip and the food was delicious as was the casual dining at the buffet, Tsar's Palace, and Azura Restaurant. We were allowed to dine in Cagney's for lunch and dinner since we were in a suite. The eggs Benedict was fabulous! We did the ATV riding in Cozumel, Mexico. Well worth it! We also did the Calypso Trolly tour in Belize, I won't be doing that again anytime soon. We were brought to a small cramped room where it was about 98 degrees. After a twenty minute explanation we were brought out to the trolly where we were bombarded by about fifteen vendors who were trying to sell everything from beads to massages, they would not take no for an answer. I was very disappointed that Calypso did absolutely nothing to get these people away. They tour started out well but got a little scarey when we were brought though the southern part of town. A very heavy police presence, bars on every residence and business and even armed (what looked like military personal carrying AK-47 assault rifles. Never again! OK back to the cruise. The shows on board were great and we always found something to do. My wife visited the shopping area and got some great deals on some jewelry. She even won a blue topaz! There was always plenty of food to eat. Besides free room service there is great tasting pizza, burgers and hot dogs by the pool, and last but not least the buffet. There was also a chocolate night which we missed, we were just too exhausted! We have sailed Royal Caribbean and Carnival but nothing come close to our experience with Norwegian. The Norwegian Jewel was clean, well maintained, and the staff was phenomenal! We can't wait to return!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We have sailed Carnival multiple times in the past. We are a married couple 50 and 46 with gown children that are not allowed to travel with us! We love them but we cruise to enjoy ourself and each other. This was our first try of NCL. We ... Read More
We have sailed Carnival multiple times in the past. We are a married couple 50 and 46 with gown children that are not allowed to travel with us! We love them but we cruise to enjoy ourself and each other. This was our first try of NCL. We were honestly looking to "trade up." We came away with mixed reviews. I would completely recommend that you go on this cruise line along with all the others. I was shocked with my opinion. The good... Most of the crew. I really enjoy the washy washy guy! I had done so much research about this cruise and the ports. I watch hours of YouTube videos of the sweet guy singing! I enjoyed the cruise director and staff. We had so much dancing. The music was good. The drinks were strong enough to be tasteful. My hubby just had knee replacement five months ago. We didn't need or get a handicapped accessible room but the staff is VERY accommodating. They had a military meet and greet which was very interesting. I was the only wife to join them and I truly enjoyed listen to the guys talk about their experiences. The bad.... The food is lack luster at best! I actually think the food is better on Carnival. We always sail with a balcony cabin but their cabins are much smaller on NCL Jewel. I know I read this online but it was very obvious. The ship lay out is odd. You can't walk down both sides of the ship. I know this is SILLY but you are constantly back tracking because you can't get there from here. The photographers for the stage photo lacked a lot! I always buy at least one picture. It's a stupid little treat. I couldn't really find a good one. My very favorite was on the stairs but the photographer didn't seem to realize the entire coffee bar and the waiter was in the picture. A different photographer didn't see that my little hanging hook was showing in another picture. I am an amateur photographer but even I know to watch for undergarments that are peaking out or framing of the subjects. The ugly... Although NOT all but many of the head waiters were awful! We would sit for 10-15 minutes before they would come over, Glasses would go dry, and bread baskets empty. I will complain if need be but I prefer to compliment those who do good.... I was constantly complimenting the assistance waiters to the maître d'. The dinning room is not that beautiful or grand. I missed sitting and nearly before I sat down the waiter already knowing after the first evening that I prefer tea with dinner. I missed the prettiness of the atriums that I find on the carnival ships. Surprises... I enjoyed eating with different people more than I had expected. I thought I would miss dressing up but I didn't. My Philosophy is a bad day at sea is better than any day at work... So it was good! I do think I will be heading back to carnival. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is ... Read More
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is the longest of any ship I’ve sailed on. Other cruise lines I’ve experienced include Princess (5+), Celebrity (5), Royal Caribbean (1) and Carnival (1) with the remainder being on Norwegian ships. Out of all the 27 voyages I’ve taken, 5 have been with Atlantis Events and 1 has been with Pied Piper. My most recent cruise prior to this was the Norwegian Breakaway inaugural Trans-Atlantic in late April 2013. Events are presented and reviewed in chronological order so enjoy! Pre-Cruise Stay NOLA: Comfort Inn & Suites Central Business District A nice hotel appointed with some great amenities like in room refrigerator, microwave and free continental breakfast in the morning. The location wasn’t all too far from the French Quarter and lively Bourbon Street but far enough in the early AM hours to need a cab if you’ve reveled too much. The front desk staff was extremely helpful during our stay. Norwegian Jewel Cruise: 7-Day Western Caribbean DAY 1: Embarkation Embarkation I arrived to the Port of New Orleans just prior to noon with a long check-in line greeting me, even for Platinum Latitudes. The break down for the line was new cruisers or returning cruisers and then a separate line for passengers with disabilities. Unlike Miami where there are different lines for different tiers of Latitudes members, New Orleans mashes all Latitudes levels together. The check-in agent was fast and efficient when we reached her and she got us on our way as fast as she could have. After over a half hour in the terminal we were on the ship. A leisurely embarkation lunch can usually be found in the ship’s main dining room and Tsar’s Palace offered a perfect reprieve from the chaos of the Garden Buffet while waiting for the rooms to be ready. Our lunch was served to us by a nice waitress named Leyda from Colombia who we had the pleasure of having service from in Azura another time later in the cruise. By 1:30PM the staterooms were announced as ready. Stateroom 5570: I’ve been in balcony cabins only on Norwegian Jewel so this was a new experience in an ocean view. Having the beds combined left little space on both sides barely a foot between the bed and wall. The cabin storage was fantastic for two people traveling with several costumes, regular clothing and lots of shoes. The bathroom is a standard layout and all in one compartment with the toilet having a separate door from the sink/mirror area and the shower. The shower head on the Jewel-class ships has two features  rain and steady unlike the new Breakaway class which has rain only. Norwegian Jewel Ship: This was my fifth time on the Jewel and I can say Norwegian Cruise Line does a nice job of keeping the ship in working order. She looks just as good as the first time I set foot on her in 2007 and everything was in working order. Unlike the Dawn class ships which have had their Spinnaker Lounge relocated, the Jewel still has her Spinnakers intact with great panoramic views of where the ship is going on Deck 13 forward. The flow of the ship on Deck 7 and 6 are quite helpful in keeping passengers moving between venues and the passenger to space aspect ratio is nicer on the Jewel so you don’t feel cramped. After going to the room and getting things in order, it was time to meet the people of Aquafest in the meeting rooms on Deck 6 forward by the Stardust Theater. The check-in for the group was quick and painless and I got to meet a lot of the Hosts for our trip while receiving goodies of a free Aquafest sling-pack, a promotional copy of remixes from DJ Michael as well as our wrist bands for the week and our Roatan beach excursion. At the end of the receiving line was Tom Baker who is the President of Aquafest. It was a nice welcome to the group of Aquafest cruises as this was my first experience with them. I sailed with Pied Piper earlier in the year for the first time and so far this experience was much better. It was a quick jaunt back to the room before muster drill held promptly at 3:15PM before going up to the Sky High Bar for a drink and cast-off party. It was here that I saw Katya, Norwegian Jewel’s resident Beverage Manager extraordinaire. This was my third sailing with Katya and when I did a ship visit to the Jewel in October 2012 I had bumped into her again. She’s a great woman who helped me find a substitute vodka when the Jewel ran out of Grey Goose later in the cruise. Katya knows her alcohols and knows how to keep her guests happy. I knew the cruise would be in great hands with her at the helm. She had just returned from her vacation and joined the ship a few hours previous. We watched the Party-Like-A-Norwegian pool side events while waiting for the ship to cast off. When the ship was under way we headed out back to the Great Outdoors to watch the ship sail off and New Orleans grow smaller behind us. The sun was blocked by clouds so a picturesque sunset over the river wasn’t had this time. Embarkation dinner was actually provided by the Garden Café since we were right there and pressed for time. The assortment of dinner foods was good. The salad bar was well stocked and the main dishes were all tasty. I prefer dining in the main dining room but couldn’t get there with the tight turn around tonight. There was a nice open bar mixer for an hour to meet our fellow Aquafest guests before heading to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. This gave my traveling companion a taste of the entertainment he’d see all week. There was a production cast number, a comedian and a pianist. The comedian was quite funny but the pianist was not exactly entertaining for either of us so we skipped his show later in the week. With a gap between events it was time to head back and unpack before Aquafest variety show which was hosted by the vicious, yet awesome Bianca del Rio. I’ve never met a drag queen as vicious as her but darn can she make you laugh! By the end of the cruise I wished she lived closer to Boston! Also, we got a preview of Tom Goss and David Hernandez talents. The only person we didn’t like was the comedian Jessica Halem who was being shown up by Bianca quite badly during this show. Bianca totally stole the show! Coming off a late night of reveling in the French Quarter and a long day of traveling it was time to turn in for the night. All in all embarkation day was a busy day of meeting new people, unpacking and seeing what the week had in store. DAY 2: Sea Day It was a leisurely morning and after breakfast we did a workout in the ship’s gym. The gym is well appointed with several weight-bearing machines for the arms, abs, shoulders and legs. The cardio deck has been updated with treadmills and elliptical machines with games on them as well as personalized TV channels. It’s a nice addition to the gym and keeps you engaged while doing your cardio workout. Later in the morning there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Star Bar. Thanks to another Cruise Critic member for organizing the event with a gift exchange. Lots of members showed up and so did the senior management of the ship. The Jewel is home to so many familiar faces including the Guest Services Manager Gary Alldredge, Ignacio the Food and Beverage Manager from Spain and Katy the Bar Manager. During this meeting I approached Ignacio about an issue I was having getting through to room service. The line was constantly busy no matter the time you called. I explained my daily request and asked if he could just make sure it was done so I didn’t have to waste time on my vacation calling trying to get through. Ignacio took down my request and it happened like clock-work every single day for the rest of the voyage. It was nice of Ignacio to listen to the problem and take the necessary steps to rectify it right then and there. Next it was time for lunch and Aquafest had a hosted lunch in the Tsar’s Palace main dining room. While standing in line to enter the dining room, Rowena (Hostess) came out and told guests who were doing the group lunch to enter through the other door. I recognized Rowena from the Philippines immediately and said hello to her. Given how busy it was we didn’t have time to talk but would see her later as she was the hostess for the Azura main dining room. Lunch was great and included meeting new people in the group along with lunchtime favorites of the Vietnamese roll and the NY Strip Steak with mushrooms and fries. It was now time to try and get some sun on the breezy private sun deck Aquafest had for the group. We stayed up there for a couple of hours before heading back for to prepare for dinner. During this time Aquafest hosted a singles event in the Star Bar with Bianca del Rio. We stopped in looking for a friend before heading up to the sun deck and it seemed very well attended. Aquafest Entertainment: Kinsey Sicks The Spinnaker’s Lounge was home to performance venues for the whole week for our group. The first entertainers were the Kinsey Sicks who are a vocal quartet and who use their rhythms and some comedy to tell their story. The performers did their best when they were snagged by a technical snafu and recovered nicely to finish the show. Specialty Dining: Mama’s Italian Kitchen As part of the group amenities, there was a compensated dinner in the Jewel’s Italian specialty restaurant. The food was great and so was the service from our waiter. He accommodated a special request to come with the main meal which was the steak. The steak was cooked perfectly and was mouth-watering. We were by the windows at a deuce and had a wonderful dinner together. Norwegian’s Stardust Showtime: BAND ON THE RUN This was the production cast’s first main show. It takes the hits of the 70s and brings them alive on stage with the singers, dancers and acrobats performing. It’s a great way to start off the cruise with catchy numbers that can sometimes get stuck in your head for days. Upon return to the cabin, my travel companion made the mistake of lying down. I went out to check out the Sci-Fi theme night in Spinnakers for a while. I had a drink and retired for the evening myself. It was an early rise the next day. DAY 3: Cozumel, Mexico Norwegian Excursion: Tulum Mayan Ruins Our day started with a transfer to the Ultra Mar ferry at the pier for the transfer to Playa del Carmen on the main land. The sales pitches on the ferry for water were a bit annoying. Once on land in Playa del Carmen we transferred to an air conditioned bus for a drive to the ruins and met our tour guide Angel. There was a brief bathroom, shopping and photo break before continuing to the ruins. In the store Angel explained the Mayan calendar and why it was circular. Once at the ruins Angel did a fantastic job of explaining everything we were seeing and the Mayan culture. He drew in the sand to help us understand principles of mathematics and was just so thorough. I haven’t come across a tour guide in the Caribbean in a number of years as good as him. This was my second visit to these ruins in 12 years and this time was far better than the first. I highly recommend this tour and this tour guide. It’s a full day tour so returning to Cozumel, Mexico meant the ship was departing soon. We did some shopping at the end of the downtown pier in San Miguel and got a drink over a Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. Senor Frogs was dead as most of the revelers had already gone back. Back on the ship we went up on Deck 14 forward to experience the ship leaving Cozumel and to watch the beautiful sunset along with grabbing a quick bite to eat from the grill poolside. Specialty Dining: Moderno Churriscaria For a cover charge of $20, you get an incredibly filling meal. You start with a salad bar which has lots to offer. The salad bar on the Jewel class ships is not as large as that on the Epic or Breakaway but the offerings still healthy and plentiful. Once you flip your card from red to green on your table the parade of meats begin. You get to sample all of the meats offered and then when you’re finished the wait staff bring back your favorites. I love the garlic beef in this restaurant! The dinner was leisurely and as a result we missed the early evening’s entertainment from Aquafest comedian Jessica Halem. Our mistake was laying down to wait for Tom Goss’ performance which resulted in missing the entire rest of the evening. A great day but early day at Tulum and in the hot sun will put anyone to sleep! DAY 4: Belize City, Belize Norwegian Excursion: Lamanai Ruins The tour starts early and it’s a full day long tour which consists of a tender ride to shore, a bus ride to another speed boat which zips you down the river to the ruins. It seems like a lot but in the end it’s worth the wait. It has rained earlier in the day when the ship first arrived to Belize and these ruins are really in the jungle. The paths were muddy and puddle ridden. If you didn’t mind getting a little dirty then you could experience everything including climbing to the tops of the ruins to catch a glimpse into a neighboring country. After having such a great tour guide in Tulum, I couldn’t have been more disappointed with our tour guide for Belize. She explained nothing to our group and only told us what time to climb down from the ruins by. During this tour I bumped into a photographer friend of mine who’s been on quite a few of the ships I’ve traveled with Norwegian recently Liga N. from Latvia. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in a remote part of the jungle! The highlight of the tour was a local lunch served at the speed boat dock and the friendly service of the locals. I got to have a Beliken Beer which has become a tradition each time I stop in this country! Now a note about Cruise Critic folks booking independent tours trying to save a few bucks. During our tour we had to stop three times to offer assistance to a tour boat done by Cruise Critic members which kept breaking down. Had we not come along I don’t know what the outcome would have been for the people or if they would have made it back to the ship. This was an inconvenience to our tour and delayed our arrival to the ruins and also cut the time short for our excursion. It was nice of our guy to stop but this should serve as a lesson about doing things on your own. This was a full day tour and back on the ship we decided to eat at Azura restaurant before heading up to our spa appointment. Rowena, the hostess from the Philippines, greeted us warmly and seated us in Edgardo’s section. Edgardo is a waiter from the Philippines who started his shift in the Azura restaurant for dinner service and worked until the wee hours in the Blue Lagoon. We’d end up running into him a lot by the end of the cruise. It was a great dinner service and we got a picture with Rowena before sneaking off to the show briefly and to the Aquafest spa night. Norwegian Stardust Showtime: Comedian-Illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent I’ve sailed with Jean-Pierre many times and his show always entertains. It was my fourth time seeing his show which he changed a bit and my friend’s first time. It’s always a good time but we couldn’t stay for the full time because of our spa appointment. I highly recommend Jean-Pierre’s show! I didn’t know at the time the spa night would coincide with Jean-Pierre’s performance. Norwegian Experience: Mandara Spa This is the first time in my cruising life to visit a spa for something outside of using their gym facilities. I was nervous about the whole experience and the massage therapist could tell as the 50 minute spa package included a back, neck, scalp and foot massage along with a facial cleansing. I misplaced the receipt with the spa attendant’s name but she did an excellent job of calming me down and making my first cruise spa experience extremely enjoyable. I don’t know why it’s taken me 27 cruises to try this out. The spa package I purchased cost $120 including tip. It was well worth it and then I got to use the hot tub, sauna and steam room until 11PM. Aquafest Entertainment: Ancient Epics & Superheroes Theme Dance I didn’t bring a costume but wanted to finally get up there and check out the party going on. People put a lot of effort into bringing costumes from the simple Batman & Robin to a Burger King costume! It was a fun night out but a lot of people seemed to drift off early as they were tired from full day excursions including me! The night ended with a trip to the Blue Lagoon and service from Edgardo which included the customary late night chicken tenders!! DAY 5: Roatan Island, Honduras Halloween!! Aquafest Private Excursion: The Beach Club San Simon We met at our designated time pier-side and were split into smaller busses to be taken to the West End of the island and a private beach resort. The beach was pristine, clean and locals peddling goods were kept at bay after a disagreement with police. The water was so clean and beautiful and the resort had a nice pool which we also had access to. The bar staff were friendly and the same waiter we had on the beach set us up with a sheltered table to eat our lunch. It was well worth the investment to do this beach break and I got to meet a lot more of the Aquafest team including getting an invite to a private event later. This beach club is definitely something I’ll keep in mind on any return trips to the island. By 2:30PM it was time to return to the ship, watch her cast off from Deck 14 forward and then return to the cabin to get ready for the evening’s affairs. It was very nice to experience the Garden Villas for a reception before dining in Azura. It was at this event I happened to meet another incredibly friendly Norwegian shore-side staff member named Jason K. who was helping out since our Hotel Director had flown to Miami for a conference. The reception ended and it was off to dinner in Azura where the food was made to order and the service great. Rowena was able to accommodate our ever growing group and put us in Leyda’s (waitress from Colombia) section. It was nice to have dinner with new found friends who we would interact with for the rest of the cruise. Norwegian’s Signature Chocoholic Buffet Once a cruise usually in the Garden Café there’s a chocolate lover’s event that cannot be missed. The signature Chocoholic buffet is where chocolate and ice sculptures are put on display. This cruise was extra special since the theme in the buffet was Halloween with pumpkins, chocolate and ice sculptures carved in mystical and scary creatures. It was a nice touch although the chocolate selection seemed to be easily repeated at each of the action stations. All in all it was still good! Aquafest Entertainment: Toga and White Party Theme Dance Tonight Norwegian Cruise Line was celebrating their Halloween with a costume contest in the Spinnakers Lounge so our group moved to Fyzz. A curtain was placed up for our group’s privacy unfortunately trapping all the fake fog they were using to smoke up the room. It was unbearable to be in there for any length of time and this is the one night where bar service was a problem. The bar in Fyzz is too small to accommodate a group of our size. The fog also gave me a scratchy throat and started me towards laryngitis. Aquafest Charity Entertainment: Boylesque at Sea Three of the hot Norwegian Cruise Line production cast dancers performed a striptease number for our private group all to benefit charity during the toga party. It was a nice addition to the evening and the boys definitely put on a show. The highlight of the evening was seeing a good Norwegian entertainer in a new way! Great work Jean-Pierre for your part of this performance (and I’ll leave it at that)!! Twice we visited the Halloween ship party in Spinnakers to get some air and to get drinks. The first time Spinnakers had a decent turn out with fellow cruisers really getting decked out for the party. The second time we visited the ship party just before 1AM the place was a ghost town while the toga party was still going on pretty strong. We also visited the Blue Lagoon afterward for some chicken tenders and service from Edgardo before retiring. DAY 6: Costa Maya, Mexico Norwegian and Aquafest Private Excursion: Beach Getaway at Jungle Beach Club There were two departure times from the Costa Maya pier to the all-inclusive beach club. Before we knew it we were at the beach club and found chairs shaded by a tree. A friendly waitress took care of us during our entire stay there. I got to sample some of their quesadillas and Dos Equis beer. We ventured out on a raft to a concrete structure off-shore as something to do. The water was not clear like Roatan and was littered with rocks and seaweed. We took the 1PM transfer back to the port so we could do some shopping and meander back to the ship. The ship put on a nice welcome back from our last port of call with music and partying going on alongside the pier. The Mexican military members were kind enough to pose for a picture as well. Aquafest Entertainment: 70’s Disco Tea Dance We sailed from Costa Maya watching land fade into the sunset before heading to the tea dance. Music was great and the party was lively. Some folks including the Aquafest team donned bell bottoms and platform shoes. Tonight we dined in Tsar’s Palace with some of the folks from the tea dance! Except for us everyone else was in costume for a prime rib dinner and the service was great. Some confusion about the changing of Norwegian’s production of Cirque Bijoux to Cirque Expressions due to mechanical problems led me to miss the second production show completely. I thought it was the adagio night from the aerialists which this ship has been known to have in the past. Aquafest Entertainment: Neewollah Ball and Costume Party This is Aquafest’s signature Halloween event. Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards. With a $1,000 prize for the best costumes split between three categories, everyone was dressed up in their best. I chose to go as a "cool vampire” and it was funny that someone else who lives the next town over did the same thing! Such a small world. Bianca del Rio was fierce in her emcee of the event and let people have it where it was deserved with her witty comments. The winners ended up being people who were impersonating her in a few years! Congrats to them and then the disco night started where everyone was out late since there was a sea day the next day. During the night we also returned to Cozumel for about an hour to offload a passenger who suffered a medical emergency. Earlier in the evening a stretcher team was paged over the PA system. I hope the person managed to get home from Mexico ok. After a night of partying it was time to go to Blue Lagoon and have some chicken tenders with service by Edgardo before retiring for the evening. DAY 7: Sea Day The weather outside was cold, cloudy and sprinkling. It wasn’t great weather to sun yourself on the ship so it was time to go photo diving. We were very photogenic for everyone this trip so trying to amass all the pictures from our trip was just crazy. The lady from the United States, bless her heart, helped us out with a photo order from the Boylesque night. All in all the photo gallery cleaned up nicely off of us and it was well-deserved because the staff took some great photos. We bumped into an Aquafest group host who invited us to lunch. Even though we’d just ate two hours before we decided it was time to eat again in Tsar’s Palace for a very light lunch of the Vietnamese roll and the chicken noodle soup to help coax my voice back. Norwegian Entertainment: Crew Talent Show The crew are always working so hard for us and the talented ones get to take an hour or two out of their day to share other talents with us. The performances included vocal performances by the Washy, Washy guy, a dramatic performance by Sinful Sin (Assistant Cruise Director), the traditional Filipino Tinikling dance and finally the beloved Fountains. Fountains is always a hoot and this time proved no different. If you’ve never seen Fountains before then I suggest you go to the talent show but go anyway to support the amazing and hard-working crew for their other talents. After watching the last sunset of the cruise up on deck at the Sky High Bar it was time to get ready for the last evening’s entertainment on the ship. Aquafest Entertainment: The Kinsey Sicks Back to perform a different show, the girls didn’t disappoint. A new theme with some funny punch lines and their barber shop quartet made the hour pass by easily. This was followed by the farewell bar mixer. We rushed down to Azura to say goodbye to Rowena but she’d already left to pack up for her early sign off for and much deserved vacation. We asked for service from Leyda but she too had been re-assigned to another restaurant but we still dined in Azura and had excellent service. We stayed up later to say our farewells, stopping by the portrait gallery on Deck 12 to say bye Liga and to share a drink with her later on. The night would end with some quick final packing and going to Spinnakers to say bye to friends made over the course of the week. DAY 8: New Orleans Norwegian Shore Excursion: Past, Present & Perfect Disembarking the Jewel was relatively painless since we had black color luggage tags and had a pre-determined meeting time in the Stardust Theater to get off the ship. The tour bus was on the furthest end of the pier from the luggage pickup so schlepping the luggage the whole length of the terminal was a bit tiring but the whole process was pretty quick. The tour was driving around the city and seeing the sights via the bus and then getting off the bus at a cemetery to view how they bury their dead. It’s usually done above-ground and other items were explained. After driving around the city some more we were dropped at a park for a chance to get a beignet and coffee. From there we drove around the city some more seeing some sights before heading to the airport. We were at the airport by 1PM. The shore excursion recommends you not go if you have a flight before 2PM so keep this in mind! Conclusion: Aquafest and the Norwegian Jewel make a perfect pair. The ship is the right size ship for me and the layout is perfect for accommodating the Aquafest group. The Aquafest brand goes above and beyond to elicit guest feedback through their friendly group hosts and their President Tom Baker who was seemingly everywhere! The Norwegian Jewel didn’t disappoint and remains a ship I can call my home at sea. The friendly crew faces I knew always provided the same excellent service which made me remember them to begin with and now there’s some new faces to add to the mix. The Norwegian Jewel is the best ship at sea with the best crew talent and Aquafest is a great addition to an already outstanding ship. I always conclude my reviews by thanking the people who made my vacation memorable and they start with Katya Plyakova, Beverage Manager for her outstanding ability to handle a large volume of guests and manage to keep everyone happy! If it wasn’t for her extraordinary knowledge of vodkas I would have been stuck when the ship ran out of regular Grey Goose. Her recommended substitution (Russian Standard) was spot on and why I’ve come to trust her over the years as the best Beverage Manager at sea for Norwegian. I’d like to thank Ignacio Alvarez, Food and Beverage Manager for addressing my concerns with the room service issue and taking care of my request for the duration of the cruise. The service from Rowena Owen - hostess from the Philippines, Noellen - our cabin steward from the Philippines, Liga Neilande photographer from Latvia, Natalie Hammond future cruise consultant from Australia, Boyd Chen shore excursion manager from Jamaica, Jean-Pierre Parent comedian/illusionist from Canada, Leyda waitress in Azura from Colombia, Edgardo waiter in Azura and Blue Lagoon from the Philippines and the countless other staff members who I didn’t get a chance to catch their names offered such excellent service the Jewel has been come to be known for. A special shout out to the bar staff who worked tirelessly during our voyage, especially those night after night in the Spinnaker’s Lounge for the Aquafest group! As I write this I see a news story on TV of the devastation in the Philippines, please consider donating to whatever charity you wish to help out the country where so many of the crew on cruise ships come from. Without the hard working crew, fantastic vacations like this wouldn’t be so enjoyable. My thoughts are with the people of the Philippines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). ... Read More
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). Embarkation from N.O. was same as always; actually much quicker this time, as we were later(ish) in getting to the port. We usually arrive at 11:00 and wait in line, however this time we didn't arrive until 2:30; walked right through w/ no lines, awesome! Only issue I had was going through the scanners, the port security guy confiscated a pocket knife out of my wife's purse that I had given her some years ago. He stared at it and said "yep, longer than 4 inches". I looked at him and sarcastically said something to the effect of "Yeah you keep telling yourself that". He told me they'd "mail it back to us". I laughed and said "whatever". They never took our address. I then looked at my wife and LOUDLY said "You'll never see it again". I've taken that knife on 3 previous cruises w/ no problem...it is legal length. I am also a police officer and really wanted to just snap on those $6 an hour nose picking security guards, but decided against it...it was time to get on the ship and have fun. Anyway we boarded the ship and went straight to our room. Deck 4, room with a porthole window. Nice room, although considerably smaller than rooms on Carnival (didn't care). They knew it was our honeymoon and said we'd get some kind of gift. So we enter the room, and sure enough there is a bottle of wine, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries (that were INCREDIBLE!), and a card to take to the dining room for a free cake. Very nice indeed! Funny thing is, we also had TWO seperate single beds! We just laughed. I mean, we've been together for 16 years and just now got married, so no biggie, still though... :-) I was very impressed with the bathroom. Much more elegant than Carnival's pepto bismol pink bathrooms. LAYOUT: Ok so we tour the ship to get to know the layout. Very different from Carnival, but we found it VERY easy to navigate. Basically, everything you need is on decks 7 and 12. Easy enough. Ship was very nice and well thought out (layout wise). We frequented the shop daily and nightly (after lunch and dinner, kind of our routine). The gift shop, "Trade Winds" I believe it is called, is HUGE! Just before entering the shop, you'll walk through the hallway where they put all the pictures they take on display (starboard side). DINING: We ate lunch in the main buffet (I'm awful with names, I think it was called the Garden something). VERY good food for cruise ship buffets...much better than Carnival. It was also a MUCH better layout. Carnival's is a single file line, where as this is more of an open room with multiple buffet tables. So much easier to navigate, w/ little to no lines. And who doesn't love WASHY WASHY and the songs!? Fine dining we jumped back and forth between the Azura and the T'czar (again, names?). The Azura is a bit cramped and more contemporary, where as the T'czar was very, very nice. On a side note, if you're an ice cream lover like myself, the T'czar serves it in larger glasses :-) Unlike the buffet, food quality in the fine dining was......ok. Presentation was nice, but the selection and quality were mediocre. We dressed up every night, and went there more for the experience than the food. We didn't do any of the "pay" dining; we've paid a lot already, and find it ridiculous to pay additionally. SHOWS: We went to a few, and loved them all. The Band on The Run was the best (imo). I found myself drooling over on of their dancers, Kate Barrett. I'm not gonna lie, she is gorgeous, and can dance like no other. My wife didn't mind, she just occasionally rolled her eyes and would say something to the extent of "you're a dork" :-) PORTS: Cozumel, this was our 3rd time there. We love it, but decide to wing it (did that at all the ports). We each rented a scooter for 30 bucks each and took off. A couple of hours later, my wife wrecks hers. Long story short, we had to go to an ATM and get $400 to pay for the damages. Ugh, but, it is what it is I guess. Cozumel is beautiful, and we ate at Margaritaville. Belize, we shopped. I bought a very nice Bulova watch for a ridiculous low price! Roatan, BEAUTIFUL. We rented a "cab" and toured the island. Technically it was a 1992 Corolla w/ a driver, a guide, and us. Long narrow windy roads full of potholes. But we loved it! Tipped the driver and guide and they cried (!?). Reason is, the $ exchange rate is 20:1! Costa Maya: BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL! The port there is wonderful...dolphins, a small beach, a long windy pool, shopping, and of course Senior Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Here's a tip, don't eat at Senior Frogs...they are smoking crack when it comes to their food prices ($15.50 for a burger). Debarkation was 10 minutes from ship to car! I am NOT lying about that! Could not believe it. We chose Norwegian this time to try a change. It was nice, no doubt. Most notably is the clientele, which is obviously due to the price. There was, however, a LARGE group that was on the ship, "Auqafest". It is a gay group. Supposedly they made up %25 of the passengers...we found it to be more like %50. Neither of us could care less, but I have to admit, by the end of the cruise I had had enough of the overweight, hairy men in speedo's making out. The (adult) pool was over run with them day and night. Luckily there weren't many children on board, as it was not exactly family friendly. Also, for you first time cruisers, the sales pitch you get EVERYWHERE, both on the ship as well as ports, does tend to get old. Just thought I'd throw that in there. In conclusion, we had a wonderful time. Was the price difference worth leaving Carnival to change to Norwegian? No. I think we'll go back to Carnival, but if given the opportunity would jump right back on board Norwegian again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was my 10th cruise, the first with Norwegian. It was a very good trip in my opinion. The cabin was 9626 and we had a great steward but she was about to go home on vacation and returning to a different ship. The main dining room I felt ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise, the first with Norwegian. It was a very good trip in my opinion. The cabin was 9626 and we had a great steward but she was about to go home on vacation and returning to a different ship. The main dining room I felt was fair at best and we never got out of there in under 2 hours. We arrived@ 5:30 each night. The strip steak was about 1 /4" thick. Not what I think of as a strip steak. From what I heard from other cruise lines from fellow fliers on the flight home this is what is to be the norm now from all lines. I had some friends in my group that ate at Tepinyaki's which they each paid $25 extra for and said it was worth every penny to spend the extra$$. In Cozumel I parasailed with a couple of friends which we bartered the price down to$55 each, which we could have gone one or two at a time. The choice was ours. In Belize we had a ship planned excursion planned to go snorkeling which was cancelled due to rough waters. I booked a trip in the terminal at Belize to see the Howler monkeys. It was a great excursion. In Roatan I did a ship planned excursion which was kayaking and snorkeling on the west end. The excursion was amazing but didn't get any pics due to having our bags and possessions locked in a locker when we were in the ocean. We had lunch provided at the Cannibal cafe which consisted of quesadillas, chips and salsa and fresh fruit. In Costa Maya the weather was supposed to be 85 degrees and was about 60 instead so everyone was chilled even the locals which was good for making deals. I got a bus ride to town about 4 or 5 miles away which was a beach lined with bars and stalls with ppl selling their wares. It was a wonderful trip overall. I would probably eat at the buffet for dinner the next time. I liked the food there ok. It had a pretty good variety of good. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we ... Read More
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we sailed on the Pearl a couple of years ago. While it was not exactly the same as a Christmas cruise, it was a cruise with a holiday spirit, especially compared to a New Year's cruise we did a couple of years ago where we left on Christmas Day and everyone seemed a bit cranky until New Year's Eve - the last night of the cruise. Sailing on another ship in the same class was great because we almost instantly knew where everything was onboard - it was like coming home. That saved us a lot of time the first couple of days on just getting around the ship. The Jewel is a nice ship and I can easily find my way around her layout, but as our last two cruises were on the Epic and the Breakaway, she almost seemed a step down - which I think may be an unfair comparison, but that was first impressions. The Jewel felt older (because she is) and smaller (also because she is), so I think the comparison was accurate, but it doesn't mean that we didn't like her - it is just a different experience. This was an interesting cruise for us because all of the ports were places we had been before, so we had different excursions booked than previously. We didn't book anything in Cozumel since we were meeting friends who were also in port that day (on the Dawn.) We flew into New Orleans the night before departure and stayed at the Hyatt French Quarter - we booked our own flights and hotel. Coming from Dallas, we could probably fly in the day of departure, but I don't have that much stomach lining to spare. Plus, a night in New Orleans is always interesting. We did a little wandering around on Bourbon Street, so we got some of the Nawlins tourist experience. We arrived at the port just after 11am and got through the paperwork phase quickly. After a short wait, we were allowed to board, and had coffee in the Atrium. This caused a moment of panic, since the computers weren't up yet, and the staff was running paper receipts. I was asked what my room number was, and I had to admit that I had no idea. This is what happens when my wife is in charge of the reservations. Luckily, she had left all the paperwork while she was wandering, so I found my room number. I would have hated to see my first drink repossessed. We pre-booked our dinners and excursions online as they became available, which meant we didn't have any lines to stand in, so we just relaxed with a drink until we decided to go eat lunch in the Tsar's Palace MDR. I had my usual steak lunch to start the cruise. It was very good. We were allowed up to the rooms just after 1pm, which seemed early to me, but I was happy to get clearance to go see our home for the next week. We were in an aft-facing handicap-accessible mini-suite. It is a nice cabin, but a mini-suite is not a suite (no extra services), and aft-facing was not the nirvana we expected. You are looking out the back of the ship, but it's not really much different (to me) to a balcony anywhere else, and if you are sailing west or north most evenings, you will never see a sunset, which was my goal. So, it was worth the expense to see it once, but I'm not really sure I would pay for it again. We had pre-booked the dinner package with Cagney's, Le Bistro and Mama's for a fixed price, plus a bottle of wine. The first night, we were asked what type of wine (red or white), served, and at the end of the evening, we were given a receipt for the glasses we had not consumed. Since we're not really wine drinkers, the bottle of wine was a nice touch, but saving a bit of money over the individual dinners was more important - since these were the three restaurants we would have visited, anyway. Mama's was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Sometimes, it was "Mama's" and sometimes it was "La Cucina" (which is what the Italian restaurant is called on other ships.) Hopefully, the name will be standardized. All of the dining was very good and the service was good, as well - we had two dinners in Le Bistro, one in Mama's, one in Cagney's and the rest in Azura so I didn't have to change out of shorts. We did eat at Azura one evening and I felt under-dressed, which was a first. There were less sloppy people on this cruise than usual. We ordered room service for a snack one evening and it was very slow. However, it was just after all the shows finished, so they may have been slammed. It there had been anything open, I would have just walked down and gotten food myself. It would have saved time. (On the newer ships, we would have just gone to O'Sheehan's.) The staff were great - the Captain was very funny, and I believe staff attitude and actions start at the top. We had no issues with any of the staff. The cruise director and her assistants were not as visible as some have been, but we weren't wandering around as much as on some cruises, so we may not have been in the right places. The evening entertainment (Newlywed, Not So Newlywed, Dancing with the Jewel Stars and other assorted games) were very funny and paced well. We skipped the planned entertainment. Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica and we were docked, but at the commercial dock next to the passenger dock, so all the excursion buses met us there and brought us back. We were on a Norwegian-sponsored excursion, so we just got off the ship and into line. Coming back to the commercial port was an issue if people wanted to shop - but in our case, the excursion went long, so there wasn't much time left, anyway. Our next stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman and we tendered. The seas must have been up that day, because we had an excursion canceled (Stingray City) for the first time. We did manage to switch to an alternate excursion - a beach break, but there was only one person at the excursion desk, so it took some time. This was a bit irritating, since the desk knew anyone going to Stingray City (either as an only destination or as a part of a longer excursion) might be changing to something else, so wouldn't it make sense to have extra people around? The beach excursion was fun and the cost differential was handled easily, so it worked out. This was actually our second stop in Grand Cayman - we had diverted there on the way to Jamaica for a medical emergency, and had a passenger disembark for care. All we know about it was what we heard from other passengers - since we were aft-facing, we didn't really see anything going on. Our final port was Cozumel on a day that seven ships were in port. We tendered and it was a rough procedure - the currents were up, so we could tender off only one side of the ship, so it took quite a while. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to make our noon appointment! I am glad we didn't have a planned excursion, since we were not in port late and it took so long to get off the ship. Going back was bumpy as well. In all, this was a very good cruise. I do enjoy the Jewel class ships (I miss the Spinnaker lounge when we are on the newer ships.) The staff was very helpful, as always. I did expect more Christmas events - even though it was the week before. The ship was decorated but the Christmas music that is usually playing on the TV was missing, and it seemed more like a prelude to Christmas (which is was.) Someone asked about it in the Officer's Q&A, and the cruise director said "Christmas is next week." This is true, but I think for many people, it was a Christmas cruise. Still, it was not a major issue for me - I just had been told by other cruisers that it would be Christmas onboard, and it was, but it wasn't. The navigation channel on the TV was out. This is a minor issue unless you actually enjoy navigation and trying to determine where you are (and like having something to double-check your GPS readings.) Someone else asked about it in the Q&A session and the Captain said the software was being upgraded, but it wasn't ready, so it was off - since that was better than showing incorrect values. A minor disappointment, but I was glad to know I wasn't the only navigation nerd onboard. Disembarkation was reasonable - I think they were actually ahead of schedule when our color was called. We got through customs and security fairly quickly and our porter helped us find a cab for the ride back to the airport. I did enjoy the itinerary - even though we had been to the ports before, they were places I would visit again, and there were three sea days to just relax onboard. The Jewel seemed like home, since we had been on the Pearl, so it was a good week. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

Find a Norwegian Jewel Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click