Sail Date: March 2014
Embarkation was fairly easy, as embarkation goes. We were told we couldn't get into our cabin yet, but could drop our luggage down the corrider. Before we got to that location, an anouncement came over the PA that cabins were ready. ... Read More
Embarkation was fairly easy, as embarkation goes. We were told we couldn't get into our cabin yet, but could drop our luggage down the corrider. Before we got to that location, an anouncement came over the PA that cabins were ready. Our cabin, category IE, was huge, but then we did require wheelchair accessibility! We got unpacked and went after some lunch. Just after the muster drill, we met with several others from the Cruise Critic chat for sail away. That was the beginning of some wonderful new friendships. Our cabin was on a dead end hallway, right by the deck four exits. Even though it is categorized as an inside cabin, we were on the hull of the ship, no window or port hole. At the first port of call we had to wend our way to the elevators for breakfast, but it was quick when we debarked and embarked at ports. We were pleasantly surprised how quiet it was, most of the time. The morning we anchored in Belize, there was a lot of racket from the tender docks being lowered. We did enjoy hearing the ocean waves while we were underway. We've had cabins all over ships: forward, high, low, inside, balcony, and really have no favorites. When we have an inside cabin we turn the TV to the bridge cam, turn the volume off, and there's our window to the world. That sunrise wakes us up every time! The Cruise Critic group met with officers on day 2. That afternoon many of us participated in a cabin crawl/poker run. We had cabins from inside to The Haven to crawl to! The entertainment was great, thanks to cruise director Jaime! Group Coordinator/Access Officer Cherry was right on target with my special needs, even anticipating what was needed next. Our cabin steward, Newman, surprised us with a wonderful zoo, even leaving each towel animal when making new ones. We were able to take a picture of our whole zoo at once! The excursion desk was quite helpful in assessing what excursions we could take with my wheelchair. Food opportunities all week were beyond wonderful! We ate in Cagney's, Teppanyaki, and Le Bistro as well as Tsar's Palace. We will brave the buffet to get ice cream, but prefer not to eat there. All too soon we returned to New Orleans, but we have two Cruise Rewards for future cruises!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a ... Read More
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a little hesitant about cruising. Here's my list of fears: 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. 5. I'll be bored senseless. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. 10. I'll get seasick. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. 14. The food will be bad. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. So, before booking, I did a little homework. I wanted plenty of ports, lots of activity, few kids, but not an uppity, wealthy old-people cruise. Norwegian offers freestyle dining, which really appealed to me. They also offered four ports on a 7-day cruise. BINGO. #3,4,8, and 15 have already been eliminated. #5 is looking better. Next, what to pack? What does a middle aged couple need on a 7 day cruise? I packed everything. Two pairs of boots, two pairs of heels, two pairs of sandals, two pairs of sneakers, and a pair of water shoes. 9 pairs of shoes for 7 days? Who does that? A newbie, that's who. Truly, I needed half that. Eight hair products? I needed one. In short, here's what I learned I didn't need: flat iron, bronzer, big jewelry, more than 3 tank tops, gym clothes, jeans, more than 3 cute tops, huge bottles of shampoo & conditioner. What I needed more of: clean underwear. Seriously, I showered twice daily: once in the morning, then again after getting all gross during excursions. Once you've got sand and salt water in your undies - those are done. Time for a fresh clean pair after your evening shower. NCL doesn't offer DIY laundry service, and I'm not going to spend my vacation hand-washing my underwear in the sink either. I did pack "adventure" clothes for excursions and daytime on board, and also dresses for the nights. I just had too many adventure clothes. Two swimsuits is a must, four is too many. Sweaters for chilly nights and restaurants helped, too. Other stuff I'm glad I packed: a small pharmacy (Tylenol, Naproxen, Meclizine for nausea, antacids, Immodium, and antacid). I didn't need more than a couple Tylenol, but I knew I was covered. Helpful hint: Extra Strength Midol comes in blister-packs that travel super-easy and contains 200 mg Naproxen (great for arthritis pain). Also found a clever canvas jewelry organzier at Wal-Mart and an over-the-door shoe holder that hung on the bathroom door. Magnetic clips stuck to the metal cabin walls and were used for our itineraries and my jewelry (that I wore about 1/3 of). So, onward to the review. Boarding was relatively painless. We did have to wait in line, herded like cattle, but the line did move relatively quickly and people in general weren't rude about it. The staff was helpful in directing people. We arrived at 11:30 for a 12:00 boarding and the actual wait time was maybe 30 minutes. The staff did require a photo ID, then they took pictures of us pre-boarding (like a DMV mug-shot, so be prepared for that) Every time we got on or off the ship, our key cards were scanned through a computer and our pre-boarding pics came up. Once we got our key cards, we were offered the first opportunity to get a picture. Theme park photographers are pushy: cruise photographers are not. They asked if they could take our pic and many people turned them down without a hassle. The photographers didn't harrass or pressure anybody. But, they didn't tell us that it would be a full-body shot, so we had all our cruise documents, a jacket and our carry-on in the shot (it completely ruined our pic). Also, we did have to go through a metal detector. No big deal, except I made the mistake of wearing huge amounts of metal jewelry. Security kept asking what I had that was metal? Uh, my necklace, bracelets, and earrings - all highly visible. She insisted that I leave them on, although I insisted that they were all easily removable. So, yay - I got my very first pat-down. Lesson learned - minimal jewelry through security. We finally boarded and the crew had a little "welcome aboard" party for us, complete balloons, a banner, and DJ Felix spinning the club music. We checked out our room, which wasn't ready yet. But we were able to put our carry-on luggage inside and explore the ship a little. Don't know where I learned this, but the little fishies on the carpet always "swim" to the front of the ship to help you orient yourself. Once we found our room, it was pretty easy to locate again, except for one time when we thought we were headed to the front, but the fishies disagreed and let us know that we were on the Starboard side, not the Port side. Gotta love the fishies! Remember how much stuff I packed? Four big ole suitcases and a carry-on duffel. I put everything away in the cabin with ease. Even had room to spare! Plenty of hangers provided in the closet, they gave us two robes, and the provided hair dryer was more than adequate. In the bathroom, there were dispensers for hand soap, shampoo, and body wash. The body wash even smelled pleasant (not like hotel soap). Little shelves in the bathroom held most all of our toiletries. Little shelves in the shower held all my necessary shower equipment. Provided drawers and shelves all held massive amounts of clothing. Mirrors are everywhere in the room - glad I lost weight pre-cruise! We were able to set the temperature easily to our liking. The bed was two twins pushed together, so there was a big ole hump in the middle. But the pillows were delightfully fluffy, the bed comfortable, and the room was clean. The towels were big and fluffy and plentiful. Although most other rooms were bigger than ours, we found the simple balcony room to be plenty roomy and comfortable. It suited us quite well. The balcony had a sliding door and was more enclosed than I had envisioned. It was really sweet to have a private area to sit and watch the world go by. I didn't think I would use and enjoy the balcony nearly as much as I did. We spent a lot of quiet time drinking wine and watching the waves. We had seen maps and pictures of the ship before and wondered what was with the tacky carpet? It really helps to keep you oriented to where you are and what's down the hall. Directories of what's on each floor are near every stairwell and elevator - makes it super-easy to find your way around. The food: The food was great, a wide variety of everything was always available. My husband is a meat-and-potatoes guy, while I prefer fresh fruits, veggies, and lighter fare. We were both satisfied with the meals. We've also discovered that we are food snobs. On our first sea night, we were served steak and lobster. We were not impressed at all, but everybody else raved about how great the steaks and lobster were. Dessert was warm bread pudding, which was truly heavenly. Other meals were better, nothing spectacular,butt they were plenty edible. Not fine dining always, but much better than your average American chain restaurant. Portions were perfect, considering three courses were always served. The meal portions are smaller than chain restaurants, but if that doesn't fill you up, you can always get additional portions. We chose not to leave the table bloated and miserable, but were always full after dessert. The buffet offered plenty of selection, both for the carnivores, the herbivores, and the pizza-and-pasta lovers. Several small buffet lines meant no waiting in long lines, hence no line-jumping, very little rudeness. Fresh fruit was always available, plenty of selection, and the "usual fare" of comfort food was always available. A kid-sized buffet full of kid-friendly foods was also located next to a family seating area. Tables were smaller, so you weren't forced to eat your meals at a table for 12. Plenty of 2-tops and 4-tops to go around. Larger groups could push tables together pretty easily as well. The washy-washy crew at the buffet was cute. Several people really got into it, singing and dancing their way into the buffet area. Unlike some other cruise lines, it wasn't some lonely guy singing off-key. There were usually two or three people singing, playing the guitar, and generally trying to have fun while keeping everybody's hands sanitary. They did a great job and were always adorable. I have no idea what kind of hand sanitizer they used, but it wasn't the sticky gel stuff and it didn't make your finger foods taste funky either. Paid restaurants: We tried three. Teppenyaki was our first, we ate their on our anniversary. If you want to try it - get a reservation, that place fills up every night. The chefs try to keep things lively, a very party-like atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was our 25th anniversary and I was dressed to the nines with hair done, stilettos, and a nice white dress. I had no idea anybody would be throwing food at me! At other tables, the chefs chose wisely who to select to catch bites of egg in their mouths (the loudest male with the Hawaain or NCAA shirt). Ours didn't. He threw egg in my hair. Twice. Buzzkill. I was not amused. We had received a card earlier to our stateroom that said to bring the card to wherever you choose to celebrate your big day, and we had done that. So, after dessert, the staff came and sang happy anniversary to us. It was cute. Best part was the girl at the next table to loudly announced that we couldn't be married 25 years because I barely looked 25 years old! OK, so that made up for the egg-in-the-hair and egg-on-the-dress incidents (he missed twice). SInce we were too full to eat our complimentary anniversary cake, they offered to bring it to our room. Too bad it arrived at 11:45 p.m. If they offer it to go, you might want to check to see if they'll just box it up and then you could take it with you. We tried Chin Chins on formal night, after discovering a long wait time at both main dining rooms. We were promptly seated in a nearly empty dining room (2 other tables). Our orders were taken after ten minutes. Ten minutes later, some horrible karaoke started in the open atrium area below us. We could hear the cheers being shouted from Teppenyaki. The dining room started to fill up, our tummies started getting hungrier and hungrier. The karaoke got worse, and we were still waiting on appetizers thirty minutes later. We left and went to the buffet - still in our formal attire. Surrounded by those who chose NOT on "dress-up-or-not night", we filled our bellies with delicious buffet food while being stared at by the shorts-and-tank-top crowd. Suited us fine, as the stares in our direction ended as soon as a small parade of toga-clad teenagers came through the buffet, cheering and gleefully waving their arms in the air. Our third paid restaurant was Moderno's Brazilian steakhouse. It's located mid-ship, so the only way to cross the ship is to either cut through Moderno's or the Blue Lagoon or take a flight of stairs up and down. For a paid restaurant, I wasn't impressed with the number of people just cutting through to get from point A to point B. The salad selections were okay. They didn't offer any Italian or balsamic dressings - only ranch, Thousand Island, and French. Most of the salads were high-fat pastas. So, after salad, you have a card that you turn over on your table to greed to indicate that you're ready for the main courses. Servers stop by and offer very small portions of different meats and some cinnamon-grilled pineapple. We were offered the pineapple first, then chicken, beef, lamb, pork, until we were full. We turned the cards back to red to indicate that we were ready for dessert. We were again offered chicken, beef, lamb, pineapple, more chicken, and more pineapple. Our drink glasses were empty and our waiter nowhere in sight. They did have some desserts on the menu that we were interested in, but we were seated within an inch of a very large rowdy party table (literally, an inch - we were damn near AT their table, separated only by a small railing) and kept getting offered meat, meat, more meat, and pineapple. Frustrated, we left. Moral of the story regarding paid restaurants: you're not missing anything by sticking to the free offerings. The food quality is not any better than the free MDRs, the service is certainly not better, the atmosphere is not better either. We were perfectly happy with Azura, Tsar's (which is more upscale and we preferred), and the buffet. The money we spent at Teppanyaki and Moderno's was money down the drain. Tsar's Palace does have a dress code that they do enforce. We were very politely turned down for service because DH was wearing shorts. Rather than changing clothes, we went to Azura and the food was just as good, service just as good. Excursions: We booked beginning SCUBA through NCL and the rest of our excursions privately. With a little research ahead of time (which is really fun anyway) you can book your excursions privately, support the local economies, and save a few bucks. For convenience, book online through NCL's website if you're pressed for time and don't want to research. A lot of people booked after they boarded, wasting valuable cruise time looking through pamphlets to book their excursions. NCL has videos of theirs on the website and you'll get more cruise time if you book ahead. Also, your favorite stuff will more likely be available! "Front desk" service: (Not sure what it's called on a ship). These people are super-helpful! On day one, my sandal broke and I wish I could recall her name, but this very nice person got some super-glue and helped glue to back together for me. The glue held until I got home and unpacked, but hey, that's what I get for buying discount sandals, right? She was very helpful and didn't roll her eyes and announce "that's not my job". Activities: Our cruise started with a dance party at the pool. The staff really helped get everybody out of their chair and dancing, from the very young to the very old. It was cuteness overload to watch from Top-Siders bar & grill. They have a pool and hot tubs just for kids/families and another pool and hot tubs marked for adults only. Yay! Our Freestyle Daily was delivered to our stateroom each night with details about events and activities for the following day. Yes, some of the offerings we thought were stupid, but ya know, some of it was kinda fun, too. We were able to try different things, some we might not have otherwise tried. The best part was that most everything was in an open area, so we could go in, check it out, and make a very graceful exit if we chose. We played Deal or No Deal and won a free 8x10 photo. We played one round of Bingo and realized that Bingo was a big-spenders game. The casino: I don't get it. Why do people sit in front of video monitors in a windowless room on a cruise ship? Oh, so they can smoke! Yeah, I didn't go to the casino except to cash in my $1 winning ticket from some silly game show. We loved the game shows, the staff kept those very entertaining. I loved the free dance lessons, my husband - not so much, but he did give a valiant effort. Not everything was for us, but there were plenty of things we enjoyed, plenty to try, more stuff to do than we could ever do. There really was something for everybody. We enjoyed the hot tubs, the demonstrations, the free concerts (surprisingly, the Neil Diamond impersonator appealed to young and old and really got the crowd moving), the cheesy games, and sitting on our balcony. We were never, ever, ever bored. Our itinerary made four stops for a seven day cruise. We loved it! We got off the ship every chance we could to enjoy the Caribbean sun and surf. Our only NCL excursion was the beginning SCUBA in Cozumel and we LOVED it. There were five in our group - two couples and a single guy. The instruction didn't take too long, just a quickie safety demo. We "dove" right from the beach and our dive master gave each of us a quick safety test in shallow water before diving. One of the people in our group didn't want to SCUBA after the shallow water, so she was allowed to float on the surface along with us (she basically snorkeled while we SCUBA'ed). All four of us who did the activity came up all smiles at the end. The area had showers, lockers, an outdoor bar & grill and a cantina cabana. The food was amazing - fresh mahi-mahi for me and a big ole beefy, beanie burrito for him. We were offered massages at pretty reasonable prices, but turned that down since DH isn't really a massage person. We all were given credit for the dive towards PADI certification if we wanted to do that. Entertainment: It just wasn't for us. I said earlier. there was something for everybody. We aren't into watching big production shows, we aren't into the circus or watching acrobats. If anything provides a forewarning of "sit there and be amazed" - I'm out! The theater seats are cramped, the seating is in long, narrow rows, and it's just not for me. Keep in mind, though, that I don't watch movies either. Disembarkation was a bit of a mess. Nevermind - it was a complete mess. We chose to schlep our own luggage (easy off, right?). Unlike disembarking at the pier (from the fourth floor), we used the seventh floor to disembark and waited in a long line that didn't move for 40 minutes. Once the line stretched from aft to the foreward theater and back through itself, things got really confusing. Nobody could determine where the line ended and nobody could use any of the seventh floor because the lines were so long it blocked the whole floor. Since the line to disembark went through itself, plenty of line-jumping confusing came about. Although the staff did their best, it was nothing short of a complete clusterf*** and the exhausted people who were carrying all of their own luggage literally from stem to stern of the ship and back were a little cranky. Meanwhile, it was time to start disembarkation for those who opted not to carry their own luggage. This was the only time the majority of the staff seemed truly flustered. Needless to say, we did survive getting off the ship and made it home. In short, we had a great time. We felt like the entire staff bent over backwards to ensure everybody had a good time. Let's revisit that list of fears, shall we? 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. I didn't want to get off the ship once we arrived back at port. I seriously considered stowing away in a stairwell or trying to steal a staff uniform. It was the best vacation of my life! 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. I did escape - to the hot tub, to the balcony, to the lounge, to each port. It was delightful. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. Weird and annoying people are everywhere in life. They were never at my table. In fact, we offered some seats of our four-top to a lovely couple for one lunch and had a great time with fascinating conversation! 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. The uppity people stayed in the butlered, super - expensive rooms and I never saw 'em. We hung with the younger crowd, the party crowd, the beer-drinking crowd. 5. I'll be bored senseless. Never a dull moment. We had some tranquil moments that we chose, but there was always something to do. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. The kids were well-behaved and adorable! A couple of toddlers even crashed an adults-only dance party and yes, I even enjoyed their gleeful dancing. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. Meh, one or two out of over 2,0000? I'll take those odds! Everybody seemed very happy. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. I could eat any time I wanted - food was always available (but sometimes I was too busy to eat) 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. I brought everything anyway (except the super-glue) 10. I'll get seasick. The seas were a little rough on the last few days, but no nausea or vomiting, just a touch of vertigo. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. The cabin was plenty spacious, the bed was comfortable if you didn't want to snuggle with your partner, but I did have plenty of hot water and plenty of water pressure. The temperatures were highly variable and the shower was a definite do-not-flush-zone. But I showered twice daily in relative comfort. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). Unlike Golden Corral, the buffet didn't attract those who are out to "get their money's worth" out of a buffet. We did get a giggle at a little boy who brought a plate stacked barely high enough to carry loaded with nothing but bacon. But you know those stereotypical face-stuffing gluttons? Yeah, they weren't there. Just nice people who were having a nice meal with their loved ones. The buffet food wasn't limited to comfort foods, either. Plenty of soups, salads, curries, stir-fries, etc. 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. . . . . who are very young at heart. The geriatric set was out there dancing, singing, playing, shopping, snorkeling. So were their kids . . . and their grandkids. We found plenty of people our age to hang with, and truly enjoyed some time with people much older than we are. 14. The food will be bad. It wasn't five-star dining, but it was good food. We never went hungry. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. Although I did dress up for formal night and I did wear dresses every single day of the cruise, it wasn't mandatory. People wore what they wanted, from shorts & tank tops to evening gowns. And somehow, it worked. I never felt uncomfortable because of what I chose to wear on any given day. One last note: We did all the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle activities. Not only did we get to know some of the people we would travel with, it also gave us a peek into the different rooms, a fun way to get to know each other, and helped us find familiar faces. I highly encourage this! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
I realize that every one has a different opinion as to where or not food is good, entertainment is good, the staff is friendly, the pool area is too crowded or the ship is in poor condition BUT when I read some of the reviews I wonder if ... Read More
I realize that every one has a different opinion as to where or not food is good, entertainment is good, the staff is friendly, the pool area is too crowded or the ship is in poor condition BUT when I read some of the reviews I wonder if we were all on the same NCL Jewell ship. It sure does not sound like it. Now for my opinion: Getting on and off the Jewell in New Orleans was trouble free.(On & Off are not nautical terms) When we boarded we left our carry on luggage with cruise staff and ate in the Zsars restaurant. No problems with food selections in buffet or restaurants. Entertainment was not always my favorite but the effort by the production company was impressive. Comedian and magician were entertaining. Crew show was very entertaining . Interior room was okay and room steward was very accommodating. Cruise gets 5 stars from me. Have reservations on the Dawn in November. Repositioning cruise Boston to New Orleans Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
The wife and I are in our early 50's and reside in the New Orleans metro area. We have taken two previous cruises with HAL to Alaska. This was our first time cruising out of New Orleans, and with NCL. We were dropped off in front of ... Read More
The wife and I are in our early 50's and reside in the New Orleans metro area. We have taken two previous cruises with HAL to Alaska. This was our first time cruising out of New Orleans, and with NCL. We were dropped off in front of the cruise ship terminal at 12:30 PM by a relative and did not have to deal with the parking. Upon entering the terminal we were greeted by a long line of passengers going through the security check point. I must say that the line moved relatively quickly. The check in line was also long, but again moved very quickly. Our accommodations were on deck 11, and we found the layout of the ship easy to navigate. We found the ship to be very clean, and for the entire length of the cruise we constantly observed the crew whipping and cleaning the surfaces that the passengers may come into contact with. We ate our evening meals in the main dinning room (Tsar's), including lunch on the at sea days. To our delight, and contrary to many of the reviews we read on this site, the food in the main dining room was always very fresh and tasty. For you steak lovers, I had the grilled New York strip steak (medium) three times, and each time it was close to 1" thick, and very tender! Same for the many different types of grilled fish that were available: all was seasoned and grilled to near perfection. The only downside to our experience in the main dining room was the service. Sometimes it was very slow, and I attribute that to the NCL policy of moving the waiting room staff each day to a different venue. For breakfast each morning we choose the Garden Room buffet . There was always a very large selection of breakfast items to choose from. There was also four stations provided to make the customary fresh cheese omelets for the egg lovers. We attended the show every evening in the Stardust Theater. The shows were crowded, but seating configuration allowed for a good view from anywhere in the theater. The entertainment was very good to excellent each night, including the entertainer's performing in the smaller lounges and restaurants. The itinerary for this cruise, in our view, was excellent, four port stops with only two full days at sea! We were always well ahead of schedule getting into our ports of call. The crew was always smiling and helpful and the officers would nearly always inquire as to how you were enjoying the cruise. This was the first time at the end of the cruise, that I did not mind paying the mandatory NCL $12 a day tip for both of us! In fact the room steward made out even better. We will definitely will be cruising out on New Orleans again next year on NCL, and will arrange to bring some friends along. Thank you NCL Jewel!!!   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We chose this vacation as a 35th wedding anniversary special celebration. It was just the two of us and we booked a mini suite w/balcony on Deck 11, aft-facing. We loved it. One of the nicest parts of our week was sitting out on the ... Read More
We chose this vacation as a 35th wedding anniversary special celebration. It was just the two of us and we booked a mini suite w/balcony on Deck 11, aft-facing. We loved it. One of the nicest parts of our week was sitting out on the balcony together every morning, sail away from each port an often times late at night. Couldn't have been more beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and stayed at the Sheraton New Orleans. We had dinner that evening at a restaurant called Jacques Imo's. I highly recommend it. Get there early (5:00pm) if you don't want to wait and be sure to try the Alligator Cheese Cake! Great authentic Nawlins' food. We went to the French Market and stopped at Café du Monde, walked up and down Bourbon Street and listened to some great blues music. Sunday morning went smoothly. We left the hotel at noon and were on the ship by 1:30 exploring and heading to our stateroom. The crew and officers were very friendly and helpful and were a visible presence throughout the week. We'd see them in the dining rooms, on the decks. They came to our meet & greet and introduced themselves and made it clear that we should contact them with concerns or requests. Our room was spacious with plenty of closet and drawer space. Large bathroom with tub and shower, vanity area and a toilet that could be sectioned off for privacy. We were given beach towels that would be exchanged each day as needed. The bed was comfortable and there was a safe and a mini frig in the room. And that balcony! It was so nice to be able to step outside, sit with a coffee or a cold drink and just take it all in. We only ate in specialty restaurants two evenings. Once at Moderno and once at Cagney's. Both were excellent. Otherwise, we enjoyed breakfast at the buffet where the food was clean and fresh and dinners at Tsar's where we enjoyed full service and entree's nicely presented. We had excursions booked at every port (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya) so the days were filled with exciting adventures. We did Atlantis Sub, Barrier Reef Snorkel & Beach Day, Club Natale in Roatan (amazing), and in Costa Maya we got crazy and rented a golf cart for the day and just ran around Costa Maya. We stopped at a cute beach cabana place and had a lobster lunch, listened to music, and did some shopping. Just laid back and fun. We saw a couple of the shows in the Starlight Theater (great shows), spent some time in the casino (just for fun) and enjoyed spending some time in the Martini Bar,the Beer Bar, the Java Café, Spinnaker's Lounge, Fyzz and others. The week included a big SuperBowl party on the big screen and we also saw the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on the ship. Too much fun, could go on and on. We had dream week. Thank you Norwegian...we will definitely be back! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy ... Read More
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy Breezy. The port of New Orleans was easy to access from all of the touristy areas of New Orleans, so its perfect for travelers who want to spend some time in the city before or after the cruise. Getting on the ship was efficient and easy. The only thing that was kind of confusing is that the boarding groups were a combination of numbers, letters and casino card guests. Since we are new to Norwegian and to this port, we weren't exactly sure what kind of order they were going in. For example, it went something like this... we were boarding group 2 - they called boarding group 1 so we got excited that were would be next... then boarding group A, boarding group B, Casino Group, boarding C... Even if we were the 5th or 6th boarding group, it would have been nice to at least have some idea of how many groups were still in front of us. Small critique, but that is really the only thing that could be changed to reduce confusion. Everything else was great. Room: We stayed in a mid-ship balcony room on deck 10 (10582). This was a great central and quite location, close enough to the elevators but we did not have problems with hearing foot traffic in the halls. The room is a normal sized cruise cabin, small but organized well to maximize space. Storage space was adequate for both of our things without trouble. There is a small flat screen TV with limited channels. Bathroom feels small since its organized into 3 compartments - the sink is in the center with a toilet and shower area on either side. The toilet area has a sliding door with frosted plexiglass and same with the shower. This is designed so two people can utilize the bathroom at once and still have some semblance of privacy. The toilet area was small if you close the sliding door, however, we usually just used the regular bathroom door instead since we didn't need to both use the bathroom at once. The balcony was a nice size with two sitting chairs and small table. Entertainment: We really enjoyed the comedian, Micheal. We went to his regular show as well as his late night adult only show. The regular one was better but the adult only was okay too. We didn't really care for the magician/comedian, Jean Pierre. We thought he came off as bit abrasive and wasn't that funny. We also really enjoyed the newlywed game and perfect couple game. We attended a couple trivia sessions as well, which were fine and pretty much what we expected. Service: The first day, there seemed to be a lot of staff dedicated to high pressure sales of the water, beverage and food packages, which we didn't really like. Staff in the buffet were friendly and quick to clear plates. Staff in the main dining rooms was very slow and unfriendly at lunchtime but the waitstaff was more friendly and attentive at night. The waitstaff in the specialty dining rooms were the best, quick to refill drinks and always asking if they could get you anything more. The biggest area where we found disappointing with regard to service was the hostesses. In La Crucina, the hostess was rude to us when we didn't have a reservation and arrived at 5:45pm. She told us there was no availability until 8:30pm, even though the menu screens showed the restaurant was green (which was supposed to mean immediate seating available) from 6:00-8:30. We asked her why the menu board didn't reflect that they were full and she said they had availability for one guest, so the board won't show full - but not availability for our party of 2. The hostess at Azura was not very friendly either. Our room steward was okay but we did not think he was as good as the room steward we had on our last cruise. He was nice and kept the ice full, no complaints but didn't go above and beyond really either. We did find out half way though the cruise that ours was the last one for most of the staff - they were about to go on a 2-4 month break in the home countries, after having worked 7 months on the ship, so that could explain the few spotty areas we did encounter with regard to service. I would be excited and a little distracted too! Food: 1) Buffet: The buffet always felt sanitary, with the washy washy people standing guard outside, however, we felt the selection was somewhat limited compared to our buffet experience on carnival. There was a salad station, pasta station, pizza station, local (rotating) section, an Indian food section, a crepe station (which was in a separate room) and dessert. The Indian food was really really good and flavorful and the crepes were delicious. Everything else was just okay. Seating was at a premium in here, it was really hard to find a place to sit during peak hours. 2) Tsars & Azura: These are the two main dining rooms. I like that they only enforce a dress code in Tsars, leaving Azura as the more casual option, however, I wish there was more of a difference in the menus to make it feel like they were two distinct restaurant venues. The menus were almost exactly the same. Food ranged from okay to good. 3) Java Cafe: Coffee was okay, nothing special. I would consider the quality to be just slightly below the normal quality one would get at the big name coffee bars in the US. 4) Blue Lagoon: This is a free dining option with bar food type items - hot wings, mozzarella sticks, sandwiches, etc. We had one light lunch here, which was pretty good. 5) La Crucina: The italian restaurant. We really liked this one. The restaurant had a very cute Italian Kitchen decor and was pretty quiet and tucked away near the back of the ship. We ate here two nights and tried the lobster pasta, pizza, lasagna and chicken parm. The pizza was much better than what we had at the buffet. The soup appetizer was really good as well. The lasagna was just "ok" and the other entrees were really good. 6) Cagneys: I'm vegetarian so I probably didn't appreciate this restaurant as much as others would. My husband had steak with au gratin potatoes and broccoli, which he really enjoyed. The steak arrived with a garlic butter slice on top, which added a lot of good flavor and he also said it was cooked perfectly. The waiter asked him to cut into the center when it was first delivered to make sure that the it was cooked to his liking. He really appreciated that they put so much effort into making sure the meat was cooked the way he liked. 7) Le Bistro: We really liked this place but the food is very rich. It was apparent that the food was high quality and the service was top notch at this venue. 8) Chin Chin: This is well worth the $15 cover charge. The food is cooked very well and the appetizers are really tasty. They also have hot pot at certain tables that you have to request ahead of time, we saw others doing this and it looked like they enjoyed it. Ports: 1) Cozumel: We booked the Mayan Ruin tour through the ship. Our guide, Juan, was really nice and informative. He was a Mayan descendant. He kept us entertained both directions and was excited to share his culture. Tulum is very very hot, make sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. The ruins were really beautiful and it was really cool to see iguanas roaming free everywhere throughout the park. They no longer allow anyone to climb on the ruins, so everything was seen at a distance only but still very cool. 2) Belize: We booked the Cave Tubing and Rainforest Hike Tour through the ship. We thought this was the best choice because of the time and distance required for the tour. If you book through the ship, it gives you piece of mind that they won't leave you behind if you tour runs late. Also, Belize is a tender port and having a tour booked through the ship allows you to leave on as early of a tender as you like. If you book independently, you are required to be in line by 7am to try to get an earlier tender ticket number to make it to your tour. We thought this made it well worth it. Lunch was provided before our tour at the cave tubing site, buffet style then we started our journey to the river. We felt very safe, they only allow 8 guests per guide and equipment was in good shape and included hard hats with lights as well as life jackets, which they require you to wear in the water. They suggest water shoes because sandals get lost in the current, they have them for rental for $3 if you don't bring any, but we brought our own. Our guide was very nice and friendly but seemed a little rushed. He mentioned it was his last tour of the day, so maybe that was it. He had us walk through the jungle really quick, we only briefly stopped twice for him to show us termites and a pineapple but then back to the trail. We passed 4 groups along the trail and in the cave, so I know we were going faster than other groups. Although we might have liked to take a slower pace to really enjoy the walk through the beautiful jungle, we still had a wonderful time. We really enjoyed the walk. We arrived at the river and the guide gave us a couple minutes to swim around the water while he linked our tubes together then we were off. The cave was amazing and the lights on our hard hats came in handy. There were a few tiny rapids but it was mostly calm and we felt very safe the whole time. All in all, we loved it. 3) Roatan: We booked with Little French Key. We were not sure what to expect since it was the first time we didn't book through the ship and first time in Roatan, but we found Larry and Dave very easily just outside the port gates. They put us in a van with a few other guests and drove us to Frenchy's 44 which was about a 20 minute drive from the port. We then took a small ferry just across the water to Little French Key. It was absolutely beautiful and ended up being our favorite excursion of the entire trip. The water was clam and clear and the staff were extremely friendly. Drinks were delish, especially the monkey la la. They also had a small zoo with rescue animals which was very cool. There were a couple jaguars that were in an enclosure that we thought looked a little small but otherwise all the animals looked very happy and well taken care of. They will let you hold the monkeys, we went into the pen in the large spider monkey enclosure which was cool but their most shining star is undoubtedly "Lisa" the monkey. She is the sweetest most cuddly animal I've ever seen, I was ready to smuggle her back to the US! Everyone should ask to hold her, it will make your trip! We also went snorkeling which we really enjoyed. There was a good variety of fish and the reef was amazing. Little French Key is definitely a place not to be missed during your visit to Roatan! 4) Costa Maya: We reserved Maya Chan Beach and had a great time. It is an all inclusive, funky beach resort. They only allow a small number of guests so it provides a really nice experience. It never felt crowded and the staff treated us like family. Everything was included - alcoholic drinks, food, water toys and the snorkel and kayaking tour. The food was incredible. The beach did have some trash floating in the water, but we did research in advance and know that this is an issue in the entire Costa Maya area because of their location, all beach resorts in this area have similar problems. It was not too much but the only thing that could be improved in a perfect world, but again, it wasn't Maya Chan's fault either. We would definitely go back here! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Having cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past, we thought we would give Norwegian a try. We booked a seven night cruise out of New Orleans in a "mini suite". They should put the word "mini" in capital ... Read More
Having cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past, we thought we would give Norwegian a try. We booked a seven night cruise out of New Orleans in a "mini suite". They should put the word "mini" in capital letters. It was nothing more than a balcony room. The only difference was in the bathroom, you had a sliding door that closed the toilet area off from the rest of the bathroom. We paid extra for that?? When we spoke with the guest services they were less than helpful and were not concerned in the least about us. The buffet was as expected ... normal buffet food, but decent. We went to the main dining room one night and were so disappointed in both the service and the food. We both ordered steaks that had no taste and were very fatty. The service which we have come to expect on other cruise lines was not at all evident on Norwegian. We decided to try the other main dining room, and found the same issues. The menu was basically the same as it had been in the other dining room and unfortunately, the food and service were also the same. We decided to pay the extra surcharge and try the Brazilian steak house and Cagney's Steakhouse also. We found both to be very good food and exceptional service. It is sad that with the cost of the cruise, you must pay extra to get a good meal. The venues on the ship were activities were held were small and crowded. Overall we were very disappointed with Norwegian and will never cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
My husband and I were just on the Norwegian Jewel for a 7-day cruise. Having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival before, I highly recommend choosing one of those companies instead! We did have a few good experiences, but overall it ... Read More
My husband and I were just on the Norwegian Jewel for a 7-day cruise. Having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival before, I highly recommend choosing one of those companies instead! We did have a few good experiences, but overall it was a very frustrating experience and we regret sailing with Norwegian and giving them any money! Good: - The embarkation process was smooth. We didn't have to wait in long lines and the staff were friendly. They also did a good job with our luggage. - The entertainment was awesome - they really had great shows with a lot of good talent. We loved that the comedian was able to be clean while being hilarious! Also, the singing, acrobatic, and magic performers were also worthy of note as they were all wonderful. - Getting tender tickets and all port access was very smoothly handled. - We were in an interior cabin and thought the rooms were great - there was plenty of storage, lots of hangers and places to put your things. In addition, the showers were quite large even though the bathroom was small. Well laid out, for sure. The beds and pillows were comfortable. Bad: - We HATED the free-style dining. Don't get me wrong - it was great to go when you want. However...the staff was not interested in you and your experience at all. Since you don't have the same crew member serving your table each night, there is no incentive for good service....which is why you get BAD BAD service. The service is slow and the staff was not eager to please. In fact, most of them were quite miserable. - We were never able to get seats down by the pool (and the pools are very small and get crowded)...people throw a book or a towel on the chair and "save" them all day for themselves to have whenever they want. - The whole ship was kind of dingy...yucky carpeting and awful style. There was a huge lack of things to do on the ship, especially during the day. Awful: - THE FOOD IS HORRIFIC!! I had a steak one night that I literally had to spit out because it tasted so rancid. UGH....That was the start...we tried 3 different places that night and everything was terrible - bland, bad food. Worse than the cheapest buffets you can get at home. How hard is it to make a good tasting dessert? I tried a bite of a bunch of things throughout the week and only once found something that was worth the calories to eat. My husband and I lived off of bread, fruit, and cheese for most of the trip since the food was so horrible. Much of the food lacked in flavor and was downright bland. This was the talk of the ship - most people didn't want to speak up and say anything, but this is what you hear. Even the crew says that the food is crap (when you can get them to speak with you candidly). Speaking of the food...we had heard that better food was at the restaurants. However - we paid $400 a person already for the cruise. Who wants to pay more?! That's ridiculous...we vowed not to give Norwegian a single extra dime after the first two days since we were so displeased. Hopefully this review helps you to make a more educated decision about your cruise line choice. My hubby and I wrote this one off as a 'lesson's learned' and figured it was at least good to experience the ports that we visited. Oh, one more thing - don't be afraid to use the off-board shore excursions as long as you do your homework. We tried this and saved a lot of money by just doing some good research beforehand - we had great experiences each time. The cruise ship will try to scare you away from them, but we found everything to be top-notch. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
First things first, this was our first ncl cruise and the first time in new orleans. Also, there were 4 in our group all over 50 years of age. We have been loyal to royal in the past so we were a bit nervous of what to expect from ncl. We ... Read More
First things first, this was our first ncl cruise and the first time in new orleans. Also, there were 4 in our group all over 50 years of age. We have been loyal to royal in the past so we were a bit nervous of what to expect from ncl. We arrived NOLA around 6 pm and stayed at the intercontinental, it is under renovation but all was well. As a matter of fact our room wasnt ready so they gave us a suite. Not much time to see or do anything as it was a long day flying down from Canada. We showed up at embarkation around 11:00 am and found it one of the easiest procedure yet, however the taxi drop off location was a bit of a mess. Our rooms were ready around 1:00 so we had a couple of hours to explore and have some lunch. The garden buffet was well stocked and there was lots of tables available. Once in our cabin ( balcony) we did notice some areas that needed some attention so we pointed them out to our cabin attendant and they were immediately taken care of. Our ports of call were Cosumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. We went cave tubing in Belize ( I highly recommend it) and we explored the Myan Ruins in Costa Maya ( it was awesome as well). Cosumel is Cosumel as this was our third time there and we found Roatan a bit sketchy outside the port area. During the cruise we went to a specialty restaurant for dinner 5 times. All were great with Cagneys being our favorite ( we went there twice). Also we had the Blue Lagoon twice, once I brought it back to our cabin and once we sat down at a table. Their wings are fantastic!!! All in all we enjoyed this cruise and even took advantage to their future booking special and placed 250.00 down on a future cruise and enjoyed a 100 obc on this cruise. We have 4 yrs to decide on a cruise but it wont take us that long to decide I am sure. Disembarkation was just a easy as embarkation. We stayed one night at the Hilton Riverside (very nice) which is an easy walk from the pier. I timed it and it took us less than 8 minutes. We walked outside and found out after that you can do it inside which would have been easier I am sure. Our day in New Orleans was great. The weather was nice and my wife and I grabbed a map and got a daypass on the trolley system ( 3 dollars for the day ). We explored the sights and sounds and truly enjoyed New Orleans so much so that we would like to return and spend more time there. All I can say is NCL we will be back and New Orleans hope to see you soon.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We left New Orleans on Feb 2nd 2014 in the total fog. We did enjoy the city as it gave it a mysterious ambiance especially when you think about the cemetaries and legends that are vehiculed about it. Embarkation was not the easiest we had ... Read More
We left New Orleans on Feb 2nd 2014 in the total fog. We did enjoy the city as it gave it a mysterious ambiance especially when you think about the cemetaries and legends that are vehiculed about it. Embarkation was not the easiest we had in the past cruise we did. It was our second cruise with NCL (the other being on the Spirit to Bermudas a few years ago). So we knew it was not the standard we had with Celebrity or Princess, but we were aware there would be some difference. New Orleans port is, for what we saw, going under renovation. I hope it will be easier for people to be going through traffic as you have to wait many minutes just to be dropped with your luggages by the taxi: buses, cars, taxis all converge in a small area and it is chaos. We were litteraly 3 to 4 blocks away in a hotel but not close enough with our luggage to walk it. So the taxi was $7 per person ($14 for two) for a ride that should have lasted 3 minutes, but they charge per person as they know they will be stuck at the drop off zone. Once on the ship, we were able to get to our cabin quite rapidly, but that was after we were like a herd of tourist waiting in line for something like 45 minutes. Room: (inside cabin just under the casino). We were concerned a bit that the room that had been assigned to us would be noisy, but really, we heard nothing the whole week. The size of the room as OK and as expected. It was clean and our room stewart was always smiling and pleasant. He did an excellent job. One thing though: the matress on the side of my husband was really showing years of abuse, being shaped almost as a banana. We did not tell anybody, but maybe we should have mentioned it. Food: At first, we could not understand why some people had been complaining about the food. It was good and there was a good variety. But as the week progressed, we found it to be repetitive and very standard. The Garden Cafe Buffet presented many stations, but when you think about it, a whole section was for Indian food and stir fry. Personnally, we love exotic food, but it was always the same thing. For the pasta bar, it was pasta and your choice of sauce. Nothing else: no vegetable, no chicken, not shrimp. Pasta and sauce. I was told I would have to book at the paying restaurant if I wanted shrimp in my pasta! I had to laugh about it. They did offer a package at $119 per person to go and eat in any of the a la carte restaurant, but we relied on our past experience and left it open as we thought the main dining room would offer a better experience. Really, that is not what happened. On one of the evening, I really was disappointed with their "new Orleans combo of shrimp and beef". My idea of New Orleans style shrimps is not 3 breaded shrimps beside a small steak. I would have thought it would have been more creative. As for dessert, we were not the only one finding that there was way too many dessert made of gelatin. In the end, everything tasted the same. They did have the chocolate fountain at night at the Garden Cafe, but their main thing was the Bread Pudding. Yes it was very nice, but all by itsef in its category. I remember some sorbet (coconut once and pineaple another night) that were very good. We did eat at the Bistro (French cuisine). It was very good. We had the duck magret and confit and as for the started, the 4 cornets. Nicely presented and refined as well. we did attempt to eat at Moderno. We had heard that the food was really excellent. Oooops. Major problem there. Three of the restaurant a la carte gives on the Atrium: Chin Chin, Moderno, and the Sushi Bar. We had a reservation for the Moderno at 8.30 PM (they are not opened on lunch time except on sea days). We sat down and when our waiter came to take our order, we could not hear him. He almost had to scream so we could hear him. The inconceivable thing is that since there are no walls seperating the restaurant from the atrium, the shows scheduled (that night was a tribute to Neil Diamond) are so loud that you cannot hold a conversation! And it was until 9.30 PM. When the manager of the restaurant came to see us because we wanted to leave, he was very gracious and understanding. He also said that he has that kind of problem every week!!!! I sure hope that the refurbishing due in May will take cake of this problem. Already that the ship atrium is far from being impressive... this is really a major problem. No wonder there was always room in the restaurant. We did sample the sushis at the Sushi Bar before a late dinner and it was good. Shows: They were all excellent. Very impressive that show called Le Cirque Bijou. The performers were really on the ball and gave it all they had.Jaimie the cruise director is far from acting like on of these Diva we had seen on an European ship one day: she did a very good job, was funny without being vulgar, and we felt she really enjoyed people and her job too. Good for you Jaimie! She was accessible and always smiling. A good asset for NCL. As for all of the personnel, we can honestly say that they are very pleasant and work so hard to please their guests. Even the captain seems to be a good sport and seems close to his passengers. He also seems to show appreciation for his team (from the people in the laundry room to his officers). See below for our port reviews. In all, we enjoyed the destinations. We knew we did not want to spend too much, so we figured we had what we paid for. Was it a good deal? It was a honest deal. Knowing what we know, we would have paid a little bit more as we missed the dining experience this time. For us, it is part of the fun of cruising. We really look forward to these wonderful dinners. We hope that this will have been helpful.. And we take this opportunity to thank the family who was part of the cruise critics community and invited us, after the roll calls, to visit the Villa they had rented. It is rare that people will share this privilege. The mother (Christmas Carole) was a lovely lady. I will remember them for a long time.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot ... Read More
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot say enough about the staff aboard the Jewel. We will now be taking the Jewel out of Seattle to Alaska because of the staff and ship. I would give the total experience a 4.5! Food 4.0 - New to free style dining, really like it! We stayed with all the included eating venues. Cabin 4.5 we had a balcony (the only was to cruise IMO) Staff 5.0 Entertainment 4.5 Excursions 5.0 Food was good. We ate in the main dining room twice and decided we were more of the buffet upstairs kind of people. If you don't eat early or late there can be a wait for seating in the dining areas. Cabin- very nice. Rod our steward took very good care of us. Love the coffee pot in the room - coffee on the balcony in the morning is awesome. Staff - can't say enough! Entertainment - two things stand out. The group Next Stage was awesome! Cover style with awesome music. Latin Four on deck played nice Caribbean and Latin music.. really good with Coconut rum and Sierra Mist. But our fav was a soloist named Randon. He played acoustic guitar and sang 70's folk and light rock. We looked for him in the evenings to jell out. NCL hold on to him! Excursions awesome. Cozumel we took a Mexican cooking class ( I know.. but I know us, we would need out of the sun for a day after a day at sea with AMAZING weather). Oscar was the chef/instructor. WHAT A BLAST, then beach time at Playa Mia. Belize - cave float and Zip Line great time! Roatan - snorkeling and beach, amazing reef and guides. Costa Maya - segway tour, very cool things, we want one for tooling around our development now. The guides/instructors were amazing. We spent 1/2 hour learning how to ride then 2.5 actually riding. Juan, Christian and Daniel, you guys ROCK! We then went to Blue Bay to hang at the beach. Beautiful spot! Had some drinks, went for a swim, relaxed under the straw cabanas. Life was GOOD! REALLY recommend this cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Our cruise vacation started off at the Marriott in the french quarters, great location but a bit pricey for the accommodations. Parking is valet only and will cost 35.00 plus tax per day. The rooms are small and the decor is more like a ... Read More
Our cruise vacation started off at the Marriott in the french quarters, great location but a bit pricey for the accommodations. Parking is valet only and will cost 35.00 plus tax per day. The rooms are small and the decor is more like a 2-star but the beds are very comfortable. They had a Starbucks and we enjoyed having that option at the hotel. First off me and my husband are in our late 30's and have no children. We like to vacation and don't mind spending extra money to get better service and accommodations. This is why we book suites when we cruise. We booked the 2 bedroom family suite with balcony. We've stayed in this suite before and enjoyed having the two bathrooms and really love the layout of the suite. Although we didn't use the second bedroom it was nice to have a place to store our luggage. The good- --The Unlimited Beverage Package was good. We enjoyed trying different drinks each day and our favorite two was the Bloody Mary and Bushwacker. --The breads were great. They give many options in your bread basket each night at dinner and I really was glad to sample each. --The Roasted Chicken at lunch in Cagney's and the Cagney fries. --The shows were great and we really enjoyed the ones that we watched. --Had many really nice staff members through out the ship. --Our fellow cruise passengers were friendly and everyone seemed to mingle well. --The coffee in the suites was nice and I enjoyed many cups. --I lost a 200.00 casino ticket and it was turned in by a staff member! How great was that. kudos for keeping honesty alive. --Easy on and easy off ship. The Bad- --Number one would be the POOR quality of food. This was a major disappointment. I was shocked at how bad the quality of food was. We are in no way hard to please. The bacon was so thin it was like eating bacon flavored tissue paper. The food was cheap tasting even the burgers and fries. Cold soggy wings at blue lagoon. I really am put off on how bad the food was. I really felt ripped off because I paid a lot of money for this cruise and would have been fine eating decent fries and burgers and couldn't even get that! The steaks were thin and not as described. Soup was blah. Pork was small over cooked and tasteless. Salt shakers were either not working or broken. Ncl really has pushed the limit with the quality of food. Buffet at Golden Corral is better than the food they served us on our cruise. --The hip hop music at the pool was strange. Most of the people enjoying the pool area was 50 and above. I think the music was more suited for the staff? --The sewer smell throughout the ship, and the mold smell from our shower...(gross)! --Multiple public restrooms were foul smelling and needed cleaning. --Casino was to small and over crowded. Reeked of smoke...many smokers on our cruise. Smoking doesn't bother me but if you are bothered by it you will want to stay clear of the casino because it's bad, and you will definitely smell like a smoker when you leave. Had the food been up to par this vacation would have been great. When I book my next cruise I will search out other cruise lines to find one that most meets our needs. Food isn't everything on vacation but we like enjoy ourselves and splurge on foods we wouldn't normally eat, but NCL made this impossible. Next time I will read more reviews and search other cruise lines.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
1. Background: we are late-fifties, with 30 cruises on many cruise lines and 11 cruises on NCL. 2. Review: Overall a good value based on low price, great itinerary, decent service, decent food, decent entertainment. This ship and this ... Read More
1. Background: we are late-fifties, with 30 cruises on many cruise lines and 11 cruises on NCL. 2. Review: Overall a good value based on low price, great itinerary, decent service, decent food, decent entertainment. This ship and this cruise line lacks the "Wow" factor of other lines; but the low price makes it a good value. a. Embarkation. Smooth and fairly efficient. If you get there early (before noon) plan to wait in lines (security and check-in) for about an hour before boarding. b. Itinerary: excellent. 4 Stops in Belize, Cozumel, Roatan, and Costa Maya. All stops were good or great scuba diving locations. Plenty of time to enjoy shore excursions or just enjoy a beach day. c. Ship: OK. Older, smaller ship, fairly clean and public areas were decently maintained. Easy to find your way around. d. Cabin: Good. Inside cabin was small but adequate. Cabin service was good. e. Food: OK. (No need to spend money on pay-as-you-go restaurants.) - Main dining rooms were too slow. Plan on 2-2.5 hours to eat dinner. Decent variety. Most dishes were pretty good. But the time factor means food sometimes comes cold. Orders were sometimes wrong. - Buffet was good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes a bit crowded but could always find 2 seats. Most food was tasty, and there was a pretty good variety of hot and cold dishes. - Blue Lagoon was a great place to get a snack 24/7 especially wings. - "Room Service" was a joke. Tried to call them twice; it took 15-20 calls to get through. When I did get through the food that came was terrible. IMHO not worth your time. f. Entertainment: pretty good; worth going to for the most part. Comedians were funny and production shows were pretty good. Pianists and bands around the ship were pretty good. g. Value. Low prices: inside cabins were going for around $300 plus tax. At this price this was a great deal.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We headed out in February for a beautiful cruise on the Jewel for 7 relaxing days. Beyond a shadow of a doubt we were treated with some of the BEST service from the staff on this cruise. The food was outstanding! KUDOS to the dining staff ... Read More
We headed out in February for a beautiful cruise on the Jewel for 7 relaxing days. Beyond a shadow of a doubt we were treated with some of the BEST service from the staff on this cruise. The food was outstanding! KUDOS to the dining staff and their Executive Sous Chef and Double KUDOS to Mr. Messiah for having such a fantastic staff in the Food division. Our cabin Stewart was top notch with a smile and willingness to take care of anything you might need! Everywhere we went on this ship we encountered smiling friendly workers. The down side of this cruise........ Lack of entertainment for adults over 30 and under 80. Come 10 Pm the ship shut down. There were no interesting shows or entertainment for the guests after 10 pm.When we say the ship shuts down at 10 PM we mean it shuts down. They close the adult Jacuzzi, the pools and most all Bars at 10 Pm Even the ONE bar open was a dud.With mainly workers present. The shows provided were good but there was no variety of choice each day. We are not bingo players and found that at times after dinner that there was nothing for us to do, If the show of the day was not to our liking. It appeared to us that the line catered more to the elderly and the super young and forgot about us in the middle. All in all this was a great cruise and will cruise this line again if for nothing else than the great service! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This was our second time cruising with NCL and our third cruise and so far this was the best. From the service to the entertainment - we enjoyed every aspect of this cruise. The food in the main dining rooms and the buffet was great and ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with NCL and our third cruise and so far this was the best. From the service to the entertainment - we enjoyed every aspect of this cruise. The food in the main dining rooms and the buffet was great and always a nice variety - something for everyone. But the thing that made this a terrific experience was the Entertainment. The Cruise Director (Jamie) and the Assistant Cruise Director (Jasper), as well as the entire Entertainment Staff out did themselves. They were totally engaging. The evening shows in the main theatre were always something to look forward to. There was something different every night (not just the same type of entertainment regurgitated to different music). I don't think we missed one night at Spinnackers for the game shows and we always participated in them or for the DJ afterwards. Again, the Entertainment Crew was always on hand to get everyone out of their seats and on to the dance floor. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This was our first Norwegian cruise and I must say it was great! From the beginning to the end it was nothing short of wonderful! We have been celebrating our 25th Anniv. all year long since April of 2013. We have been on 6 cruises during ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian cruise and I must say it was great! From the beginning to the end it was nothing short of wonderful! We have been celebrating our 25th Anniv. all year long since April of 2013. We have been on 6 cruises during this time......two Disney and 4 Carnival.....and we agree that our cruise on the Norwegian Jewel was by far in a category of its own.....which in our opinion is Great! The food was sooooo delicious! Mr. Messiah and his crew do a fantastic job! The service was very good and the wait time was just like any other restaurant that you order food from with table service. The buffets were the best ....no complaints here! The crew members there were all willing to please you in anyway to make you satisfied. The captain would walk around and talk with the guests and take pictures it made us feel special. That's probably why the crew members were always so friendly and helpful because their boss was always being the example. Everyone was so helpful in so many ways it would take a long list to describe. Thank you Romeo for making us feel special on our first cruise with Norwegian. And inviting us to the captains party!!!!! He is the guy to see if you are wanting to get $100.00 on board credit if you are planning to take a 6 or more night cruise within the next four years, you can put $250.00 down and receive the $100.00 on board credit to spent on your present cruise. I thought this was fantastic because we plan on taking another Norwegian Cruise before the four years is up. Another great incentive from Norwegian....Thank You ...Thank you!!! The room steward was great! He always made sure I had an extra towel and ice in the bucket and our room was always so clean. The whole ship was clean, we didn't see a rust stain of any kind anywhere on the ship. The whole place is spotless!!!! The port of calls were amazing .....and the excursion prices where reasonable...we even got to the ports earlier then the time we were supposed to and we got to disembark early and easy...that was wonderful!!!! In Cozumel we went to Passion Island all inclusive for $70.00 each includes boat ride to and from port, loved it beautiful beach great food and drinks!!!! In Belize.we went to Bacab Jungle Park Pool and lunch....$54.99 each .....it was a wonderful fun day there in the sun !! Roatan was great......we booked our beach excursion through Island Marketing Ltd....West Bay Beach...Banarama Beach....$66.00 for two of us, includes transportation to and from port, a lounge chair , a drink and entrance fee, ask for Ms. Karen she is a great tour guide and will help you get set up on beach.....this beach is sooooooo beautiful!!!!!! crystal clear water and the sand is so smooth under your feet in water....No Rocks or Shells!!!! In Costa Maya......they have a beautiful huge swimming pool to use free with swim up bar to buy drinks .......but we had booked an excursion to Tequila Beach, $64.00 for two of us, includes all drinks and food and lounge chair, umbrella but the cab was $3.00 a piece for each way.......the water was clear but there was rocks and shells at bottom........Not my favorite! Next time we will stay at port and enjoy the pool for Free! I would recommend this cruise to anyone who needs a break from the real world and take a trip into paradise for the best vacation you need to have! Try this cruise and you will not regret it and if you do you are probably hard to please to begin with!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
My husband and I decided to take a cruise after 20 years and do I feel stupid. I saw the add for free balcony upgrades and thought GREAT. well that didn't happen. We got one of the poorest rooms on the ship. We did an excursion every ... Read More
My husband and I decided to take a cruise after 20 years and do I feel stupid. I saw the add for free balcony upgrades and thought GREAT. well that didn't happen. We got one of the poorest rooms on the ship. We did an excursion every day and in all was very disappointed. We went to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Costa Maya. In Cozumel we did the zip line, not what we expected at all it was fun but we just went from tower to tower. Not worth the money. Don't plan on walking down the street of Cozumel because you are accosted by people wanting you to go in there shops and buy, and spend. Belize was very dirty. We did the air boat ride hoping to see some wild life and didn't see much of anything. On the pier we waited for the tended to return to the boat (about 80 % of the passengers were over 55) there was a tent with chairs. It was about 90 out and we wanted to sit for a minute. We were treated like trash because it was a VIP area and security almost got physical with us and would not let us sit; even though no other passengers were there. Roatan was nice and we did the nature and archeology tour. We did see spider monkeys which was fun but all the ruins were reproductions which was disappointing. Costa Maya we did the snuba which sounded fun, but save your money. We just walked off the beach and say trash and garbage with a few fish in the water. Be prepared that with every excursion even though you pay for them they also expect a tip, even the bus driver. The food on the ship was very good but be prepared to wait to get into the two main dinning rooms. All in all I wished I had saved my money. I feel like an idiot thinking this would be fun. NEVER AGAIN Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
My husband and I took our fist trip alone with out our son (who is nearly 3) in February. We went for the 2 bedroom penthouse suite and were glad we did just because it was nice to have 2 bathrooms, the more comfortable chairs on the ... Read More
My husband and I took our fist trip alone with out our son (who is nearly 3) in February. We went for the 2 bedroom penthouse suite and were glad we did just because it was nice to have 2 bathrooms, the more comfortable chairs on the balcony and some space to spread out. Since we were in a suite, we had priority embarkation (awesome), a butler (imperative), and breakfast/lunch at Cagney's (the best perk of all). We arrived in NOLA and it was rainy, so we skipped the french quarter and just boarded the boat. We had lunch at Cagneys (seriously, have I told you it was the best perk) and explored the ship a bit. Our room was awesome. I slept in every bed in the room during our 7 night stay, but preferred the lounge chairs on the balcony or the floor to any of the beds. I kid you not, I slept on the floor 3 of the 7 nights and on the patio 2x. The bed was hard as a rock, as was the pull down bunk and the pull out couch. I have a bad back, so it was easier to sleep on the floor and know what I would wake up with. MDR food was pretty crappy as was the buffet, but again, I am on a special diet and cant have fried food, dairy, or sugar, so most of the options for me were removed before we got started. The ports of call were great and I will re-state again that the suites have the priority stuff and we were on the first tender off the boat in Belize which meant we got to our excursions earlier than anyone else. We booked all the excursions through external sources and were very happy with all of them. Coral Breeze Tours (Belize), Argel and Adiel King (cozumel), and Subway Watersports (Roatan) were all excellent and I will do them again. The boat was clean, there were no lines for food (ever) and the shows were fine. Don't spend the money on the hibachi restaurant (it sucked) but go ahead and pop for cagneys if you aren't in a suite. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We where in suite 5074 with a large window, but no balcony. It was a nice room with plenty of room. We did a 12 day cruise last year on Carnival with a balcony that had a lot more room, but we felt there wasn't a big need for all that ... Read More
We where in suite 5074 with a large window, but no balcony. It was a nice room with plenty of room. We did a 12 day cruise last year on Carnival with a balcony that had a lot more room, but we felt there wasn't a big need for all that extra space this time. We have been on two cruises with Carnival and this was our first one with NCL. Our reasoning for choosing NCL was that it had four ports instead of three for the same cost. The drive to get there is two hours longer each way, but worth it for that extra port. All our excursions where fantastic and we enjoyed everywhere we went. Getting off and on the ship was easy, and everyone we met on the excursions where fantastic!!! We where very disappointed in the ship. It started with the freestyle dinner. The line was half an hour long and once we got in there, they couldn't find a table for us, so we stood in front of people eating, waiting for them to finish, then moved to another table that was a mess and waited for it to get cleaned up, when another table opened up and we went to that one and waited for it to get cleaned up. Total chaos. Our food came quickly, but it was bland and overcooked. We went to the other restaurant the next night, but had a reservation. This time we only had to wait ten minutes for a table, but the food was just as disappointing. We ate at the buffet for every meal after that. There are all places to pay extra to eat that we where told has better food, but it goes against our grain to pay extra for food on a cruise. We also felt that the design of the ship is based on making the restaurant's included in the price of the cruise so packed and of poor quality that it forces some people to pay for a decent meal. We heard the same from other guests on the ship. There is just one buffet area and it's on the right hand side of the ship. It has three eating areas, but sometimes they where all full and you had to eat outside or in one of the pay to eat areas. They ran out of glasses several times and one time during dinner there where not forks anywhere. We had to walk to another eating area to get them. All the staff where friendly, but totally clueless about how to help us out find glasses or forks when that happened. The food was decent and we didn't starve, but we came back from the cruise weighing what we did when we left. That never happened on Carnival!!! The onboard entertainment is what you expect from a cruise line. Poor singing and dancing. They had a Showtime show every night with the same people who did pretty much the same thing every night with different outfits and different songs, but after three shows, it kind of became obvious it was just the same thing over and over again. Comedy was fair and the magician was hilarious. The seats where the worse ever. Very uncomfortable and nowhere for the servers to get you drinks. They packed us in and it became painful after 45 minutes of sitting, so the last part of the show was always in discomfort. Overall the ship had the feel of a poor design with too much of it used for pay for restaurants and not enough space for entertainment or the buffet. I give the ship a C rating at best. Everything about it was just average or fair. We don't feel where ripped off or anything negative like that, we are just disappointed at how far behind they are in service, entertainment and quality of food compared to Carnival. It is very unlikely that we would ever book another cruse with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Just completed a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. Had a mixed experience---some good , some bad, some ugly. Let's start with the good: - Emarking was very smooth and no issues. - Breakfast in the buffet food was very good. - Stage shows ... Read More
Just completed a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. Had a mixed experience---some good , some bad, some ugly. Let's start with the good: - Emarking was very smooth and no issues. - Breakfast in the buffet food was very good. - Stage shows were generally good. - Getting off and on the ship at ports was smooth process. Ok--now the bad: - Had a handicapped room assigned. The shower curtain was installed outside the water collection pans on the floor. Was impossible to take a shower without flooding the bathroom floor. -Did not like the dining seating process where you do not get same table . I suppose you could but not clear how to do. I like to sit with same people to develop friendships. -Many of the lounge singers were lacking talent. Lounges were very crowed for those that could really perform. -Ship was often loud in some of the public areas. -Buffet staff was great at picking up your plate. Rarely offerred to fill your beverage.. Drink glasses were small 8oz juice size so lots of trips to beverage bar. -Found out late in cruise that Norwegian has two type of on-board credits. The type I had they called non-refundable and could not be used to pay the gratuities. Was unaware of this until next to last night of cruise -Crew's English was not as good as most of other cruises I have been on. Now the ugly: -First night tried the dinning room walk up process. Very slow and really not managed well. Eventually left the line and made a reservation for later. -Dining room food looked nice but taste/quality was moderate to poor. This was a discussion topic on the cruise among passengers. Many conversations on this topic not initiated by me. Worst cruise ship food I have encountered. -Cruise staff either gave you "sing-song" happy talk when you had an issue or were downright rude. When I complained about dining room was told to try one of the upcharge restaurants. I did but found out to be nothing special. Not any effort to comp the fee. Front desk staff very blunt when I challenged the use of onbaord credits for gratuities. Believe as I walked away was told not to come back. They will probably get their wish. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We are a family of four from Saskatchewan Canada. Kids ages are 2 weeks shy of 3 years old (we'll get into this issue later) and 5 1/2. We sailed on the January 5th sailing of the Norwegian Jewel. -Embarkation was great. Bags were ... Read More
We are a family of four from Saskatchewan Canada. Kids ages are 2 weeks shy of 3 years old (we'll get into this issue later) and 5 1/2. We sailed on the January 5th sailing of the Norwegian Jewel. -Embarkation was great. Bags were taken out of our hands by cruise staff outside the port entrance. Very easy, either print tags at home or they provide you some. Big lineup inside only took maybe 20 minutes. It was well organized at the port and staff were friendly. -The staff on this ship are TOP NOTCH. Every single staff member that we encountered went out of their way to make our stay great, in particular with our kids. The kids club people are SO great my son cried and didn't want to leave, in particular one lady named Popsy. The Nickelodeon staff are also wonderful and all the Nick events were great and the kids LOVED them. Erik went out of his way and knew my kids names and everything. There is one thing that was not exceptional and that was the fact that my daughter was two weeks shy of 3 years old. She was not permitted in the kids club at all (it is a parent-free zone) and she was so sad and jealous that her brother got to go. The under 3 room is more geared towards 18 month olds and there is no leadership there just free play baby toys for parents and babies. There was one under three activity a port day and they were ALWAYS at 5:30... could you pick a more inconvenient time?!? Anyway, that's my only beef about this whole cruise. I would not recommend sailing with a "grown up" two year old that is close to three. -The weather was pretty bad, it was actually sweater weather in Cozumel. Obviously this is not the cruise ship's fault. -There is TONS to do for all ages on this cruise. There's deal or no deal and bingo daily, lots of fun evening games and parties for the adults (that we did not attend as there is no baby sitting for a two year old ... GRUMBLE*** ) -We went to one show, Cirque Bijou, an acrobat performance... so great, LOVED it. -Watched some of the couples and cruise people games on t.v. and they were hilarious. They had dancing with the stars and a couple game, really great. -We stayed in a very basic stateroom, it was clean and our steward was great. Not huge obviously but plenty big enough for our family of four. -Embarkation at port literally could not have been better in any way. We NEVER waiting in a single line-up. And there was a tender port they assign you a number and you get on that boat or any one later than that. SO easy. Really great job. -We basically only dined in the "free" restaurants and the food was excellent. Azura served up lobster and steak for me and a chicken dish for the hubby. Kids had kid food. It was wonderful. LOVED getting to choose when we wanted to eat and not have assigned seating. The Buffet was really good too. They had a Mexican theme night among other things. Lots of choices. We really liked it. We had Sushi once and it was really great too. The Japanese Steakhouse looked really good too. -There seemed to be some good shopping on the ship, we didn't shop much - The weather wasn't great so we didn't swim on the ship. My son liked the waterslide and it's cool they have a kids only hot tub. -SERVICE WAS EXCEPTIONAL, seriously top notch. PORTS: All the ports had pushy pushy sales people at every turn, but I expected this. Just have to say no and try not to make eye contact. In Honduras people will follow you whether you want them to or not and give you a little bit of history and expect a tip. Just saying. COZUMEL: Windy, rainy and cool. But Playa Mia on a nice day would be GREAT. Awesome kids waterpark, little park for them to play on, a store that sells beach toys and merchandise, a large buffet (which to be honest really wasn't very good) and they have water sports and water trampolines, a swim up bar. I would recommend on a nice sunny day for sure. BELIZE CITY: We took a horse and buggy ride which was quaint though the sights and history are, to be truthful, not that exciting. Anyway, we still enjoyed it. I also enjoyed a curb-side coconut with the local rum added ;) I don't think the snorkeling or scuba happened due to water conditions, but this is the second largest barrier reef in the world and the largest natural one. I'm sure it was out of this world. HONDURAS: We went to Gumbalimba Animal Preserve. We had SO MUCH FUN. The foliage is lovely. The pirate stuff is a little contrived (not many artifacts and the cave is man made) and the insectarium is all preserved specimens, but interesting. The rope bridge was really fun. There were lots of pretty humming birds at the feeders. The animals are all imported but that didn't concern me. We got to hold a parrot and take our own pictures, the parrot ate the top of my son's hat off, he couldn't stop laughing. The money's are the stars of the show. They were on and off of us for at least 20 minutes. They stole my daughters kid camera (we got it back) and she thought that was so funny. They also stole this lady's water bottle, took the lid off and drank it! It was just special if you love animals like I do. COSTA MAYA: The port has a pool and shops and places to drink so you don't actually have to leave. But we took the cheap bus ride into the town and payed to have pop at the Senior Frogs. Really nice beach, but the water is really shallow due to a natural reed break a short distance out. You can snorkel here, we didn't. As it was the only hot day, my husband and I were lobsters. But we had a wonderful time. So did the kids.I didn't eat there so I don't know what the food is like. We did the walk off disembarkation and just walked off at our leisure. If you can't carry all your luggage or don't wish to you are assigned a color I think and you leave at the time assigned. Really, really easy and friendly port officials. OVERALL we LOVED this Ship and our time here. Sea days were fun and I almost wish this ship only did three ports to add that extra sea day to relax. Very much worth the money we paid !! Be aware though there is some nickle and diming with the extra restaurants and pop which was not terribly affordable. If you drink it can get pretty expensive as well, since we only have a little it was fine for us. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
I really enjoyed this relaxing cruise that had some fun stops. Itinerary, which was New Orleans, at sea, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya, at sea, New Orleans. Just the right mix of sea days for relaxing and ports to explore and stay ... Read More
I really enjoyed this relaxing cruise that had some fun stops. Itinerary, which was New Orleans, at sea, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya, at sea, New Orleans. Just the right mix of sea days for relaxing and ports to explore and stay busy. This was our first time cruising on Norwegian, but we had cruised multiple times with Carnival in the past, so many of my observations are sort of what was different. Overall I had a very nice time, and would certainly cruise with Norwegian again. I realize in my review, I am sort of picking at the nits of what could have been better, but it was still a very nice time, and I thought we got our money and entertainment value from this cruise. Other Guests on the cruise: I thought the average age on this cruise was older than my previous carnival cruises, but it wasn't so old that the ship was filled with 02 and electric scooters either. I thought that the average guests were a bit more upscale than past carnival cruises, but for the most part weren't overly aloof. Basically a decent mix of people that we enjoyed cruising with and chatting with when you got a chance. I think that there weren't many children on board due to our selection of dates, but the children that were on board seem occupied by the ship kids programs and weren't running around all over the ship. I found that the cruise critic meet and greet plus cabin crawl a fun way to meet some of the fellow cruisers, and an opportunity to meet a big chunk of the senior ship officers. The crew: I thought that Norwegian does an excellent job in training of the crew to be welcoming and engaging. I thought in particular that we saw more of the ships officers in the dining rooms, buffets, entertainment, etc. You felt like they were there to be helpful, and to ensure that everyone was getting quality service. In particular, I thought the crew/ship/cruise line really prioritized sanitation. The "Washy Washy" stations were a new twist for us, but I was told that is standard on Norwegian. In the past, we were on ships that had lots of hand sanitizer stations, but you couldn't count on your fellow passengers to use them before they started handling all the buffet serving utensils right before you handled them. In particular during the busy times, they would even put a crew member manning the soft serve ice cream, which I realized was so that they had a decent chance of keeping it sanitary. Overall we were very impressed at how good the crew was about following the sanitation rules on what they touched/didn't touch while wearing their gloves and serving food. The ship: I thought that the ship was well maintained, all though I wouldn't normally comment about decor, we were originally thinking that the fish carpet in the cabin hallways was a bit cheesy, till we realized that the fish always point towards the bow, which was a clever little reinforcement of where you are going. I thought that they did a few small things that really helped getting around the ship, for instance the clear guide in the elevators on what floor things were on, also that usually you could see a diagram of that deck as you leave the elevator and many were oriented correctly to eliminate confusion. I think if they added some vertical lines to the elevator guides to tell you whether things were forward, midship, or aft would be helpful, along with a sign in the elevator telling you that you are on the midship elevator for instance. I think they have a lot of space dedicated to the specialty restaurants and there is a big push to get you into them and spending more money. I thought that they weren't very oriented to electronic self help for the guests as there were no automated kiosks or in cabin interface to do shore excursions, account balance, dinner reservation, etc, so all of those things require that you stand in line at the appropriate desk and have a crew member help you with it. I think a simple time/temp/forecast plus maybe a position map/speed/heading on the cabin TV would have been very helpful as well. They have a bridge observation area, which was a neat treat, and we also participated in a behind the scenes tour on our last at sea day which was very interesting. Ship board entertainment: I thought that they filled the main auditorium with alternative entertainment like a comedian, and a ventriloquist a bit more than other lines, where you would expect that in some of the bigger small venues. The Cirque De Bijou show was an excellent gymnast/acrobatic type performance, very impressive, I suggest you don't miss that one. I thought some of the various small music performances on the ship were more annoying than entertaining, sometimes you would think "Hey they are doing a good job, and then the next song you begin to wonder if they hit any of the right notes along the way". Cabin: I am a cheap skate, the room is for changing clothes, crashing at the end of the night, and an occasional nap in between. So we don't splurge on rooms. We kind of like ocean view since we appreciate the light, and when waking up there is more of an indication of what time it is and a peak to see what the weather is like. So we opted for deck 8 ocean view obstructed, no room preference, and they "upgraded" us to deck 5 porthole at the very front of the ship. I'm not sure that is actually much of an upgrade. Being that far forward, we did hear some mechanical noises, such as the bow thrusters, and possibly the stabilizers deploying. I did hear some sound that was like a massive air compressor or maybe a big dryer starting up several times, not sure what it was, but i think if you were on deck 4 it would have been loud. After having sailed on the ship, not sure I would want a deck 4 cabin as everyone ends up filing past your room for shore excursions and I think it would be ugly for getting around if they ever closed the water tight doors. Food in general: Well I know this one ranges all over the place based on peoples expectation. Also a side note, that we spent several days in New Orleans before the cruise and had some fabulous food, so by comparison the cruise food wasn't that impressive. In general on past cruises, I believe that food quality has gone down over the years as all the cruise lines all try to cut back where they can. Norwegian really pushes the specialty restaurants, but we only at the Cagney Steak house once. Cagneys Steak house: I thought that the Steak house had sort of a limited menu if you weren't interested in steak, so hopefully everyone in your party is looking for a steak . I must say they did prepare a very good steak, and it may have even been the best meal I have had on a cruise ship. Did it compare to the one I had in New Orleans just before we left, no not really. Was it slightly better than prime rib night in the main dining room, yes a little bit. Was it worth $60 + $10 tip for the two of us (plus the cost of the main dining room meal we gave up to go to the steakhouse) no not really, I think at that price point (more if you add wine, etc) that you can eat much better at a good restaurant on shore. The steak house was very empty when we went there, but there was one big group in there who got their order in front of us, so the meal took forever for us to get served, but even discounting that, we spent alot of time at the table waiting for the waitress to come over and get our drinks, our order, our apps, our dessert order, etc, and we weren't sharing a waitress with the large group either. At that price point I expect very good service, which wasn't really up to the level that I think you should have considering the premium to be there. Main Dining room: The wait for the main dining room was almost always 30+ minutes, and we tried early, we tried late, and it was almost always 30 minutes plus. When they did have that long of a wait they gave us coupons to go get a glass of champane, which was very classy of them. Service was slow once you got into the main dining room, so along with the wait to get in, if you had any hope of making it to the show you were planning on, forget it, you aren't going to make it. The food was for the most part well presented, but the quality was at the high end of buffet food as far as quality in my opinion. On the night they do surf and turf, since I'm not a huge lobster fan, I ordered the other steak on the menu which I assumed was basically the steak from the surf and turf. Wrong, I also found out that strip steak means sliced beef. If I was making a steak sandwich, that would have been a good choice, but left me disappointed when everyone else got a decent, but small steak with their surf and turf and I am eating a low quality sandwich steak cut. You could certainly tell your waiter to get you something else, but it wouldn't have been worth the huge wait at that point. The prime rib night was good, but only an adequate portion if you got a decent app and desert. I tried an Empanada app and burrito entry one night, and I was disappointed in both, not sure what they were using for Tortilla, but seemed more like a dough than a tortilla and was what was also used on the empanada. It was also the tiniest burrito I have had in a while. The food overall was good, but unimpressive. Desserts were good, but nothing you would rant and rave about later. We ate at the blue lagoon which is there 'comfort food' main dining option once for lunch once, and once for a late night snack. I was kind of surprised, how difficult is cheese sticks or chicken wings, but both were subpar, I've had much better wings at dive bars than this. Also we ordered a hot prosciutto and cheese sandwich, which sounded mouth watering, but it was basically a lot of bread, some melted cheese and a hint of prosciutto. While certainly edible, it was overall disappointing, especially since I liked the quieter cafe style of the blue lagoon. Buffet: we ate at the buffet for breakfast, and occasional a lunch/snack. Food quality looked pretty good for a buffet, but the buffet seemed closed more often and longer when we walked through as they were doing meal change over. The sign would tell you an alternate place if you wanted to eat, but not necessarily where it was. Buffet layout seemed good, as it didn't seem to get bogged down as badly as other buffets we have seen. Shore excursions: Like all cruise ships, most of the excursions are overpriced. Depending on what you are doing, you can probably book it yourself for much cheaper, but anything that takes you far from the ship, or a long tour, you are vulnerable to not making it back to the ship on time. Waiting for you in cabin was a list that had excursion name and number, and not much else as many of the excursions sound alike so you need to determine which one you want. There was a black and white short summary of excursions available at the shore excursion desk, but you are better off looking at the website before you leave, and picking which ones you want and writing down the 'exact' name and number. It appeared that the online list was inclusive of all the options that were onboard (not true on some past carnival cruises). Cozumel: I have been to Cozumel multiple times for dive trips and cruise ship stops. This time we did a catamaran trip to passion Island (private island). I'd been there before, so I knew what to expect, and it is a lovely time at a very nice beach with a buffet and an open bar. The catamaran was a motor cat, not a sail cat, but it was probably a good thing since Passion island is all the way to the north end of Cozumel. We docked at the older International pier, which is very nice in my opinion since its within easy walking distance of downtown and the square. And when we got back, we still had time to have a leisurely stroll down to the square, people watch and have a drink before heading back to the dock. Like the newer cruise ship dock, the international pier now has that same sort of a gauntlet of shops that you HAVE to go by in order to get out of the pier area, I find that a bit annoying, but what can you do, its the same from both piers. Belize: While tendering to a port isn't exactly a fun time, especially as far out as the ships have to anchor here, it wasn't a bad tender ride other than length of time. Our favorite excursion of the cruise was the Lamanai Mayan ruins via a boat (I think they called it mayan ruins and river safari). Basically after a long bus ride, they drop you on some boats. The boats held quit a few people, but had twin 200hp outboards on back, and once you got out of the no wake zone those boats were flying down the river, it was sort of an adventure in itself. The ruins were fun, and we must have hit the timing right, as many times, we would walk up to a set of ruins and there were no people around, and you could quickly capture some photos before there were tons of other tourists in them. We were also allowed to scale the high temple, which was a lot of fun and felt like a major accomplishment, although we had a couple of sore muscles the next day from it. Roatan: We had booked with Little French Key for Roatan on our own and not with the cruise line. You have to go outside of the pier area to get picked up by them, where you will get crushed with offers of people willing to drive you somewhere or take you on a tour etc. I would probably use the more reputable people that are inside the pier area offering the same sort of thing rather than some guy who happens to own a car. We missed meeting up with the Little french key people, as we weren't going to stand out in that crush of hawkers outside the gate for long, but it was seriously raining at the time, so we didn't feel to bad about missing it. When the rain let up later in the day, we walked the 10 minute walk down to Coxen Hole. Alot of aggressive vendors, and Coxen hole looked like a very poor area and not a very pleasant touristy area. While not as frightening as Jamacia is when you get off the beaten path, I certainly wouldn't be in that area at night if we had a late departure time. My advise when walking outside the pier area is to keep walking, if you stop moving the more aggressive ones really come on strong. We bought a few nice trinkets from the non-aggressive vendors, and then wondered back to the ship. A few people we talked with later said they just negotiated a taxi for a couple of people to do a tour of the island since it was raining and they really enjoyed it and it wasn't much money (like $15-20 a person I think). Costa Maya: Costa Maya is basically an effort to create a cruise line stop where nothing much existed before. There is a small fishing village near by, but I have to assume that they are more touristy than fishing these days. As you drive through the town near the pier, you can see streets laid out that are completely unoccupied, I think they hope that they will be the next Playa de Carmen eventually, but right now, not much there. We did another mayan ruins tour plus lunch/beach break. Alot of time in the bus to get us to the ruins and back. Good tour guide along the way and at the ruins. But I think we enjoyed the ruins in Belize more. With all the time on the bus, not a huge amount of time left for the beach. Beach area included a buffet lunch and an open bar. Beach area was okay, not as clean and pristine as Passion Island was in Cozumel. Also the beach area has not a hotel and there is nothing nearby, its basically just a beach area set up for visiting cruise ships. But it also wasn't exceptionally close to the pier area, so I think it was like another 30 minutes on the bus to bet back to the pier. We got back with basically no time to spare, so we headed back on the boat as soon as we got off the bus. I heard several people say that just taking a cheap taxi to the fishing village grabbing a cheap lunch, having a few drinks, and maybe getting an affordable massage was an inexpensive and wonderful way to spend the afternoon in Costa Maya. New Orleans: a great place to eat, drink, and listen to music, I hope that you take advantage of a few days either before or after your cruise to spend some time here. Anyway, I have listed alot of small complaints, and maybe I am not as good at highlighting the good things, but it was a fun cruise, and If I had to do it all over again, I certainly would, although I might change some of my dining choices, and possibly some excursion choices based on what I know now but even as we did it, we had a lot of fun and are looking forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
This was our first cruise on a Norwegian ship. The cruise was a good time for us both overall. Here is the good and the bad. The Jewel has "Freestyle Dining" . This is not true. On Princess we had a set dining time about 6:00 ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a Norwegian ship. The cruise was a good time for us both overall. Here is the good and the bad. The Jewel has "Freestyle Dining" . This is not true. On Princess we had a set dining time about 6:00 P.M. We always ate in the dining room and we knew where our table was. We went to the dining room on the Jewel the first night about six and were seated. I had to decline the table because it was on a main isle one table away from the kitchen door. This happened twice. The rolls were always served cold, not hot, the way I think they should be served. The main dishes , that were the same every night, also were near cold and about average in quality. If you showed up any time other than 5:30 -9:00 . they said they were in the process of closing, or the doors were shut. We had do eat about four dinners in the buffet. The Blue lagoon was the 24 Hr restaurant. But anything other than a hamburger or sandwich was not to be found. The severs all appeared to barely comprehend English . and never smiled in all dining rooms. The best food was in the buffett "German night" was very good. And "chocolate night"for dessert one evening was fabulous. My husband enjoys a late night snack . On the Jewel it has to be before 11:00 PM. or the buffett was closed. The coffee bar on deck 6 is top notch . The staff is friendly and helpful. Lavazza coffee is excellent. Did not eat in any specialty restaurants . The ship did not have Tea Time . We enjoyed afternoon tea on Princess. Being able to wear my designer jeans in the dining rooms was a big plus. Entertainment was overall standard cruise ship fare. The shows in the theater were far below Broadway quality. But the comedians were far above average and accomplished that without using foul language. The best entertainment was programmed during the same time slots. So it was difficult to decide what to do. I enjoyed the piano player Fabrizio . He is an excellent arranger of many of my favorite songs.. The italian accent adds a little something extra to the vocals. He should be on the new ship Epic, not on the Jewel. We are country music fans and could not find any on the ship. I also did not appreciate Filipinos attempting to sing Neil Diamond tributes. The shore excursions were as promised. We had a dynamite time at the Costa Maya Ruins . We also enjoyed the Chocolate demonstration. Very entertaining and we learned a lot . Oceanview cabin was livable . Bathroom exceptional. Bed not good ,no top mattress just two 1 inch foam toppers with a caved in box spring. Would not advise a Norweigian Cruise for first timers. It is fine for seasoned cruisers.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
I went with a group of 130 ppl. The food has definitely changed with most of the cruise lines from what others said in the ports from the other ships. This was my 10th cruise but my first on Norwegian. The food was good in the buffet. I ... Read More
I went with a group of 130 ppl. The food has definitely changed with most of the cruise lines from what others said in the ports from the other ships. This was my 10th cruise but my first on Norwegian. The food was good in the buffet. I was disappointed with the food in the main dining rooms. It seems like they are trying to push the cruisers to the specialty (for an extra fee) dining rooms. I never went to a specialty dining room. The people I know that did go to the Japanese Steak House said that it was good and worth the extra $25 that they paid each for their meal. I wish that I would have just stuck with the buffet. The ship was clean and they were squirting our hands with sanitizer every time we entered the ship and buffet. There were self serve sanitizer balls at every dining room and many other places on the ship. We had a great room steward, but some friends complained that they couldn't get extra water delivered to their room fridge. ( they were on another deck with another steward). Overall the destinations were what made the trip special. The room and balcony did seem smaller compared to the ones I've been on with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Not going to dwell on the common stuff. We have sailed out of New Orleans many times on different lines, as well as NCL. This cruise they seemed to have it together. Embarkation and disembarkation was a snap. Another couple cruised with ... Read More
Not going to dwell on the common stuff. We have sailed out of New Orleans many times on different lines, as well as NCL. This cruise they seemed to have it together. Embarkation and disembarkation was a snap. Another couple cruised with us, their first time on NCL, so we were a bit concerned that they may not have a good time. We worried for not. They loved it. Boarding the ship, officers and Dora characters, and balloons, and music welcomed us aboard. Our friends were wooed, they said this is the first time they've ever had such a welcoming. We opted for an inside cabin this trip, although a bit small, we found it ample. Beds were comfy, bathroom good size, and nicely laid out. Our cabin stewardess JoAnn was the best. The ship was very clean and staff very visible and personable. Our ports of call were, Cozumel, Belize, Cost Maya, and Roataan. We did the Salsa & Salsa at Cozumel, out third time, our friends enjoyed it and had a blast. Did not get off in Belize, been there done that. Costa Maya brought us to the Maya Chan resort. Although we didn't have the best day weather wise, it was still a pretty good choice. Except for the drive to and from, the roads were weather worn and a bit rough. The food was good, and the booze unlimited. What a surprise getting off and on the ship, officers and crew were lined up cheering us off and cheering us back. Our friends thought that was a hoot. Last port Roataan, nothing new here, we got off and shopped the little store area at the pier. All in all the ports were great, no complaints. Food; only restaurant we did not eat at was the Azura. Tip, upon embarkation, go to Tsars for lunch, less crowded. Moderno, was very good, especially if you like meat!!!! Unlimited service, it was great. Blue Lagoon, good for mid-day and late night snack. Mama's or La Curcina (sp,) very very good, we lucked out and got free wine the night we dined. Cagney's, it was steak, it was nice, good service, but nothing really special. Garden Cafe' and The Great Outdoors, I'm putting these together because they are located in the same area. The Great Outdoors has different hours. The food in both was ample and anyone that says the food was inedible or not enough choices must live the life. We found both these venues to offer a great selection and everything was well prepared. Le Bistro, by far the best meal we had aboard. Great ambience, great food, great service. Did not do any of the other restaurants. Casino was nice, other than I left some dollars there! Entertainment was good and we loved the music offered in multiple lounges. Our favorite lounge was the Java Cafe, Marcia and Viviana were the best. Took very very good care of us. I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift, we had a blast and yes, we will sail her again. Read Less
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

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