119 New Orleans Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

Although we have done 14 cruises, this was our first with ncl. We found the ship to be the cleanest we have been on. The staff was the friendliest we have ever encountered. The food, however, was far below our expectations. As previously ... Read More
Although we have done 14 cruises, this was our first with ncl. We found the ship to be the cleanest we have been on. The staff was the friendliest we have ever encountered. The food, however, was far below our expectations. As previously mentioned by another cruiser, it appears that they are encouraging their passengers to use the alternate dining options. Very limited menu in the dining rooms. Very disappointed with their 'steak'- it was a tough, thin cut that would normally be found only on a steak sandwich. They had the exact same steak on the night they described it as filet mignon/with shrimp (three tiny overcooked shrimp atop the thin steak). Cabin was satisfactory. Loved the fact that the shower had a glass sliding door and not a curtain! Storage space was great also-lots of shelves and drawers. Getting on and off the ship was easy. Liked that they actually counted passengers on their safety drill, Princess does not do this anymore. Entertainment was good every night. Did not like the tender-we did not use ncl's tender boats but used a private island ferry that did not have life-jackets for all passengers. When we questioned this we were told there were more in a cupboard-but how could you access these if the boat tipped?????? First time to visit New Orleans and we loved the city-safe and very friendly people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We sailed the Jewel the week after our first Carnival cruise on the Elation. Our only other Norwegian experience was an Alaskan cruise at least 10 years ago. We've also been on Royal Caribbean several times in between. We really ... Read More
We sailed the Jewel the week after our first Carnival cruise on the Elation. Our only other Norwegian experience was an Alaskan cruise at least 10 years ago. We've also been on Royal Caribbean several times in between. We really enjoyed the Elation cruise, but since the Jewel is a larger ship in a different class we expected more, and in some areas, we got it. The Jewel has a more contemporary look and feel and we noticed things like the glass was much clearer and the elevators were faster. We had cabin 4554 with a porthole. The room was much smaller than our cabin on the Elation, but quite functional. The bathroom was also much smaller, but again, everything worked well. You needed to slide a credit card to lock the safe. I prefer entering a number and locking my credit cards in the safe. Our cabin steward never introduced himself. He gave us a thinner blanket and beach towels when we requested them. He did a good job of cleaning the room, but not always at the most opportune times for us. He might knock and we'd tell him we were leaving the room in 10 min., then come back a couple of hours later and the room hadn't been cleaned yet. No big deal, but on the Elation, our room was always done when we came back from breakfast and dinner. We thought the food on the ship was good. When we boarded we headed to Tzars for lunch. The salad and sandwich were average, but it was a nice quiet alternative to the buffet. The lobster on the first night was excellent and our waitress brought more when we asked for it. The steak served with it was OK. The lamb shank was very good. The only really disappointing meal was the New Orleans shrimp and steak, which I ordered mostly for the shrimp. There were 3 tiny fried shrimp on top of a mediocre steak. Desserts could've been better. One night we saw a waiter serve what looked like flourless chocolate cake, which was not on the menu, to another table. The next night we asked about it and our waiter said that if we asked for it he had to bring it to us and he did. It was good, but still not the best flourless chocolate cake I've ever had. We also ate in Azure a couple of nights and overall the service was fine in both restaurants. There was a good variety of food in the buffet at breakfast and lunch. The fruit was good - melon, pineapple, grapes, oranges, bananas, apples. The cooked to order omelets were good, but slow. Muffins were OK. Little chocolate croissants were good, but often gone. They had a couple of coffee machines that brewed individual cups, so you had to push the button and wait. They had the best coffee. Entertainment was very good. In addition to the shows in the main theater, there was a lot of live music around the ship. Of the three cruise lines we've experienced, Norwegian is the best for live music. Live music poolside added to the enjoyment of sunshine and a margarita. At night there was always a choice of different live music, always something to dance to, and usually other dancers, too. One night there was a Mardi Gras parade that guests were welcome to join. We all got beads and a few people really got into it with exotic hair colors and a few towel animals. It ended on the pool deck with a band, dancing, and a beautiful carved fruit display and snacks, including beignets (unfortunately they weren't the same as Cafe du Monde's). Our cruise director, Julie, who was very good, taught some line dances, etc., and it was a fun night. We're tennis players and were happy to find out the sports court could sometimes be used for tennis. We used it before getting off in Cozumel. There is a very low overhead net which effectively took away my lobs, but it was still fun to be playing on the ship. It was listed as open for tennis, 3 of the 4 ports days from 8:30 to 10:30. Unfortunately, the 2nd port day I was sick, and the 3rd it was raining. Why it wasn't set up the 4th day, I don't know, because there was nothing else going on at that time, so we set it up ourselves and played before getting off in Costa Maya. We also used the ping pong tables and shuffleboard courts. We liked the itinerary, but all did not go as planned. We had a good time snorkeling at the Money Bar in Cozumel, but that night I was violently ill. I don't know if it was the margarita and guac at the Money Bar or something on the ship. Anyway, we missed Belize the next day because of it. The following day was Roatan and we planned on snorkeling at West Bay beach, where we found great snorkeling once before, but it was pouring rain and the water was all churned up, so that was out. We enjoyed a beach day at the Krazy Lobster at Mahahual in Costa Maya, the last port. We found it strange that we were given no information about disembarking in the newsletter or otherwise. I went to guest services and there was a board on the wall that did explain the options and had luggage tags with different times that you could grab. We decided to carry our luggage off and it couldn't have been quicker. No lines at all at around 8:45. We were parked in the Fulton garage a few blocks away ($8 per night for rooftop parking, reserved online), so we rolled our luggage over there and were off. We thought that overall the crew was friendly and accessible, including the officers. It was a great cruise, and it sure beat shivering in Wisconsin! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
A little background, This is my 3rd cruise and I totally love cruising. I have been on Princess, CCL, and now NCL. We are in our late 30's and mid 40's. Like to think of myself as a very simple guy. Hotel: We got a great deal on ... Read More
A little background, This is my 3rd cruise and I totally love cruising. I have been on Princess, CCL, and now NCL. We are in our late 30's and mid 40's. Like to think of myself as a very simple guy. Hotel: We got a great deal on the Hyatt French Quarter. Great location but overall I was a bit disappointed in the French Quarter, I knew that it was a party area but it was not very clean. Once we got over to the French Market / Jackson Square area it was more what we expected out of New Orleans. Embarkment was super easy. It was a bit of a maze to get to the check in desk but once we got there it was super simple. Overview: When we got on the ship and began to walk around both my wife and I first noticed that there was no real WOW factor to the ship. No grand atrium, The hallways while clean did not shine with brass and bling. It took us back that there was no live music in the atrium and the welcome consist of a few staff members in a line at the end of gangway. This is not a bad thing but it was just something that caught our eye. Cabin: We had Cabin 10098 a mid ship Balcony. Very nice location just off of the elevators (We did not hear noise from the elevators the whole trip.) Had a wonderful room attendant, Wilmer. We asked him once we got to the room to remove the extra chair and table to give us a little more room. He was more than happy to do it. Food: I have read over and over that there are reviews about there being issues with the food onboard. We ate 3 times at Tsars, once in Mama's, once at Moderno, twice in the Buffet and one night we did room service. All except for room service were wonderful. My room service Burger was overcooked and super dry. The bun was a rock. On the flip side. The dinner I had at Mama's was one of the best meals I have ever had on a cruise. Ports: Cozumel - Due to rain our plan shore tour was cancelled. We opted for Chankanaab Belize - We did the cave tubing. This was an amazing tour. We went with Carlos Chan. Roatan - We did the Maya Key private Island. Very nice relaxing day Costa Maya - We did the ruins with Native choice. This was by far the most amazing and wonderful tour of the whole trip. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise and I would be happy to do another cruise with NCL if the itinerary and the price are right. I dont know that NCL won us over so much so that we would only cruise with them but we will certainly give them consideration when booking our next cruise. IF you are looking for a great cruise with plenty to do or nothing to do than this is a good cruise for you. IF you are looking for the WOW factor then the Jewel may come up a little flat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are ... Read More
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are cruise veterans. I can only tell you we had the time of our lives. All the staff made us feel like we were at home and part of their family. They ALWAYS had a smile on their faces and were going above and beyond to show everyone a great time. I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the ship and how they are so adamant about sanitation. The food and selection of food was great as well. We never went hungry or waited a minute for service. I especially appreciated watching how well everyone worked together and how much they took the time to thank us and their crew for all their hard work. The Cruise Director, Captain and their Executive Staff made their presence known and were eager to assist you. They didn't just hide in their offices and talk over the intercom all day. I highly recommend this ship and cruise line to everyone and anyone. I am so happy with the way the trip turned out and I can be a very picky person. Kudos to Norweigan. Hope to be cruising with you again really soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This ship and crew provided us with an OUTSTANDING cruise to the Western Caribbean during late January '14. As a result, we've already started planning our next getaway with NCL! Our aft balcony cabin on deck 10 spoiled us, ... Read More
This ship and crew provided us with an OUTSTANDING cruise to the Western Caribbean during late January '14. As a result, we've already started planning our next getaway with NCL! Our aft balcony cabin on deck 10 spoiled us, offering excellent views, convenience to the elevators and the ships amenities. We absolutely loved the Great Outdoors seating area and bar too! The staff, including the bartenders, dining staff and steward all provided excellent service. The free style dining is priceless and the dining upgrades were of good value. If you plan on staying on the ship and foregoing on shore time, the ultimate beverage package may be of value, but you've got to work pretty hard to break even on the cost. Finally, the diversity of the passenger's ages, origins and interests were evident and enjoyed. "Kids" of all ages seemed to have a great time. However, if you're into mega water slides, it'd be better to ride a bigger boat with the younger, young crowd. Go ahead, travel during Spring Break too if that floats your boat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our sixth cruise but our first on Norwegian. We were excited to try out this cruise line as all of our other experiences had been on Carnival. Boarding the ship was relatively smooth and much like Carnival. My first impression of ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise but our first on Norwegian. We were excited to try out this cruise line as all of our other experiences had been on Carnival. Boarding the ship was relatively smooth and much like Carnival. My first impression of the boat was that the decor was more modern than what I had experienced on previous cruises. We went to the buffet to have lunch and wait for our rooms to be ready. The food at the buffet was okay - nothing to write home about. I sampled two or three deserts but found them to be very disappointing and after a bite of each, I threm them out. There were no bar servers wandering around to purchase a drink from - I am used to them wandering through the dining areas with a tray of the drink of the day. I am not a huge drinker but I do like to start my cruise off with a fruity cocktail. As promised our rooms were ready at about 1:30pm. The oceanview room had a nice large window with a window sill large enough for me to sit in the window and look out. I knew from information online that the room was going to be about 20 sq.ft. smaller than the rooms we usually have on Carnival. I was pleased with the storage in the room-in fact this is one area where Norwegian has outdone the competition. It was also extremely nice to have the mini fridge in the room. We did not purchase any of the drinks from the fridge but we had carried on a case of water and we were able to place a few bottles in the fridge to keep them cold. Then I went to the bathroom and boy was that a surprise! It was soooo small! I am a plus sized lady but this was ridiculous. I had to squeeze through the opening to get to the toilet and then squeeze back out to the areas where the sink was - same story with the shower. I will say the shower size was fine once you were actually in there and it was nice to not have a curtain clinging to you while trying to wash. The toilet area was ridiculous - you could lean your head on the wall in front of you (where your knees basicallay touch the wall) while sitting on the toilet. We ate dinner with some others we were cruising with (42 in our group) in the Azura dining room. We were impressed to see Steak and Lobster on the menu the first night but it was short lived the steak was a thin tough piece of meat that was not appealing. I later found out that they do not grill their steaks instead they pan sear them and finish them in the oven. We did not eat at any of the restaurants that you have to pay for but some of our friends did. Their opinion is that the cruise line skimps on the included food and serves better food in the specialty restaurants so you will spend more money. My husband and father ordered fish in Tsars Palace and were served half cooked fish that smelled spoiled. When we complained they apologized took our cabin number and later sent chocolate covered strawberries to our room. The only thing I can say was consistently excellent on the boat was the Salmon at dinner in Azura dining room and the omelets in Tsars Palace. Carnivals included food is by far better quality than what we were served on Norwegian. We received excellent service from a few people on board but mostly it was hit and miss. The first night at dinner our server raised her voice to me when I moved my tea glass closer to the edge of the table in an effort to make it easier for her to reach to refill. She insisted I move it back before she would fill it. She had little to no personality and was rude. This was not a good way to start a trip. The next morning we received excellent service from Charmaine in the Tsars Palace and she restored our confidence that we would be treated right. Our ship stopped in Cozumel, Belize, Honduras and Costa Maya. Honduras was my favorite stop - we booked a private island tour through island marketing prior to leaving home. This was not through Norwegian but was a wonderful experience - we will definitely do it again. In Belize we did the Calypso train tour and it was interesting but it was a bit disappointing that the tour did not include touristy areas. Next time I would try to book an excursion to a beach area because the tour presented Belize as a very poor and shabby area. In Costa Maya my husband scuba dived and enjoyed it . I looked around the overpriced shops at the end of the pier. They have a beautiful pool right there in the middle but after seeing that a rum and coke at the pool/senor frogs was $16.50, I decided to head back to the ship and enjoy the pool/hot tub there which we had practically to ourselves. Shows on the boat were better quality than Carnival. The store seemed to have a nice selection on board as well. There did not seem to be as many activities, games and shows going on during the day as what I am used to unless you wanted to do aerobics or fitness stuff. Debarkation was easy breezy as we picked 9:20 as our time. We ate at the buffet before debarking and walked right off the ship and through customs. The porter took our luggage all the way to the parking lot and it was so nice. Norwegian would definitley not be my first choice in the future. Overall I was disapointed considering that this trip was a couple hundred dollars more per person than we normally pay with carnival - I just expected better food and service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Background: This is our 4th NCL cruise, 2x Epic and POA. We traveled with our 20 something kids and had a balcony and 2 inside rooms. We precruise we stayed at Drury Inn, which I would highly recommend. The rooms were large, included a ... Read More
Background: This is our 4th NCL cruise, 2x Epic and POA. We traveled with our 20 something kids and had a balcony and 2 inside rooms. We precruise we stayed at Drury Inn, which I would highly recommend. The rooms were large, included a decent breakfast, and snack and drink from 5:30-7 PM. It was conveniently located near the french quarter. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel which was $74 before tip for 5 passengers. To the port from the hotel it was $35.00 (for a 5 minute ride!) Embarkation: arrived at terminal before 11 am and was on the ship by 11:30. Ship: We went straight to the spa, to sign for the week package ($150) It was nothing compared to the spa on the Epic, but was a great sanctuary, to be in a quiet area, especially since it was a little on the cold side during the cruise. We went to eat lunch at The Tzar palace, which was a beautiful dining room, and good. Since we weren't able to sign up for the excursion in Rhoatan on line because it was filled, we went to the excursion desk and were able to get on the Maya Key excursion, just at a later time and for $10.00 more than if we were able to sign up on line. We went to our room about 1:00 and it was very well layed out. there were plenty of room for our things. There is some wear and tear on the ship. There was a rip in the bed skirt and the mirrors had fingermarks on them and the room was very dusty. Gym area was good, and was always able to find a treadmill, etc. Staff: We had a great experience, all were courteous, friendly and loved the Washy people in the dining room. Entertainment: For a small size ship, entertainment was pretty good. Our favorites were Band on the run. Dancers and singers were top notch. We also liked the ventriloquist. Disembarkation: did walk off and it was very easy   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our fifth cruise on NCL. We have enjoyed our previous NCL cruises. Our last two cruises were with family on other cruise lines. Last year we did a 10 day Alaskan cruise, which -- truth be told, if it had been our first, we would ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise on NCL. We have enjoyed our previous NCL cruises. Our last two cruises were with family on other cruise lines. Last year we did a 10 day Alaskan cruise, which -- truth be told, if it had been our first, we would not have likely went on another cruise again. But our recent 7 day Western Caribbean out of New Orleans has definitely brought back the cruising bug as we have already purchased a Cruise Reward for our next one. The Good Pre-cruise/Embarkation: Cruising in and out of New Orleans was a breeze. The staff that run NCL check in are friendly and organized. The ship crew was great. Always genuinely friendly and helpful. Very good dining experiences in all of the specialty restaurants. We did the ultimate dining package and ate in different specialty venues every night. Service was excellent. We also had great experiences in the Blue Lagoon and the main dining room too. One thing I really favored about the NCL Jewel is the bathroom layout. We were in a balcony stateroom and the the shower felt larger than the ones we have had on balcony cabins of our last 2 non-NCL cruises. Finding and enjoying time in the bridge viewing room on Deck 11 Forward. We would visit during the day to watch the officers on the bridge and at night to check out the instruments to see where the ship was and how fast it was going. The Bad Just a minor nit. Our stateroom steward was not at the level of service we have experienced on ANY of our previous cruises. We don't require much interaction, but we literally saw him 3 times over the course of 7 days. Once because we sought him out for items he did not leave in the room. No information about the programming on the stateroom TV. We understand watching tv isn't a big cruise ship past time, but it was very limited compared to previous sailings [ on NCL or other ships ] Felt like there were fewer activities and/or presentations available. Could just be a destination/itinerary issue, but on previous cruises there would sometimes be talks about the culture or country information about ports on a sea day [ outside of shopping and excursion sales talks ]. Last sea day was good with the Q+A with ship officers and the crew talent show though. The Ugly Honestly, nothing really.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We had a wonderful time. NCL keeps getting better and better in our opinion. This was our first Jewel (class) cruise. If I were 'forced' to complain, complaints would be minor. We are pretty 'normal', ... Read More
We had a wonderful time. NCL keeps getting better and better in our opinion. This was our first Jewel (class) cruise. If I were 'forced' to complain, complaints would be minor. We are pretty 'normal', 'average' folks and - to us - the food, crew, entertainment were all excellent. This is our second cruise as platinum and I think NCL has us 'for life'.lol We used our both our platinum dinner 'vouchers' at LeBistro. Very nice. My one and only complaint (suggestion) is that they do away with their French Press coffee system until they get it down-pat! It was close to weak tea both evenings...or like dishwater according to my Italian-born DH. This was on both nights and, so, not just a one night fluke! DH kiddingly said that if this is Frances answer to Italy's Espresso, Italy wins!!! The only reason I mention this is that - as afterdinner coffee lovers - it was a poor way to end an otherwise excellent dining experience!! We are 'ship' cruisers and so our shore experiences are limited. No tours, just a stroll through port shops for gifts for family/grand kids. I always have to find 'Shut up and fish' teeshirts for a certain grandson who wears them out between cruises! The slot machines were kind. I only came out $60 ahead after deducting my slotplaycoupon purchase and a small cash donation on top of that from my winning, but, I am more than happy with that. I want to talk about our cabin but I see that is another section and so I'll wait. In closing, it was truly a wonderful experience and if you are reading this prior to your own Jewel cruise, I can only say that I'm sure you'll look back on your experience as fondly as I am! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Just returned home from my 2nd Western Caribbean cruise on an NCL ship in 9 months. Four of us sailed on the NCL Star last April and loved everything. This time it was my Mom & I, our first mother/daughter trip. Embarkation was ... Read More
Just returned home from my 2nd Western Caribbean cruise on an NCL ship in 9 months. Four of us sailed on the NCL Star last April and loved everything. This time it was my Mom & I, our first mother/daughter trip. Embarkation was smooth, the folks in New Orleans have got it mastered. We were dropped off at curb and having lunch in Tzar's about 30 minutes later. Room was ready, and luggage was all there. Balcony room #9650, was perfect, right by the aft elevators. So far, so good. We purchased the Ultimate Dining package ($117) a few days earlier. They affixed a little seal on our cards so we never had to bother with anything, could eat in any speciality restaurant for the duration of the trip. I've sailed 60 days on NCL during the past two years and cannot abide the buffet. The free dining rooms are fine, but the waits can be quite lengthy. In the past, the specialty restaurants have been superb ... great food and exceptional service. Not on the Jewel. Except for the Italian restaurant, the service was sub-par. One night we went to the Chinese restaurant "Chin Chin" at 7:30. Only a half dozen tables were occupied. I told the waiter that we wanted to be finished in time to go to the 9:15 show. Naturally we were not. My Mother was quite disappointed as that was the only show she wanted to see for the entire cruise. To be fair, the manager, Carena, was very apologetic and brought us complimentary Bailey's on ice. I found all of the speciality restaurant servers to be quite rude and surly. On the other NCL ships I've gone on it was quite the opposite. Management does not even make an appearance. Not sure if it was because we had pre-purchased the ultimate dining package so they wouldn't receive the automatic 15% gratuity NCL tacks on, but I always leave a cash tip - $10-20. The ship was fairly clean. The bathroom in the casino was filthy. The port stops are not too inspiring. Loved our room, housekeeper was awesome. Can't pinpoint exactly where it missed but it did. We're going on a 9 day Baltic cruise in May on the Star, have a 2 bedroom suite. I hope its a good as the previous Star cruise, which was perfect... Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My wife and I, along with her sister, sailed out of New Orleans the second week of January. Embarkation was very smooth and orderly. We visited the ports of Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya. There are two ports on the Honduran ... Read More
My wife and I, along with her sister, sailed out of New Orleans the second week of January. Embarkation was very smooth and orderly. We visited the ports of Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya. There are two ports on the Honduran island of Roatan(Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole). Our ship docked at the Coxen Hole port. The port is secured by a high privacy wall within which there is a very limited number of shops for the ship's passengers to visit...... furthermore, item selection in those few shops is very limited and scattered. My suggestion (to Norwegian) would be to secure rights to dock at Mahogany Bay or else visit some other Caribbean port or island. As far as the other ports that we visited, they were all very interesting, entertaining and worthwhile. Cozumel has it all....shopping, excursions, beaches, rentals, etc. Service on the ship was good(I'm not a fan of mandatory tipping as Norwegian requires---they put it on your account at the first of the cruise and you pay it whether or not someone deserved it! That, my friend, is NOT a tip[gratuity]....that is a service charge!) The nightly entertainment was very good.....comedians were good, magician was fantastic, singers were extremely talented and the production shows were great......the cruise director(Jamiee) was one of the best that I've ever cruised with......she kept us informed of things that we needed to be informed about....and she did not get on the PA system and ramble about this and that....she was to the point and then "out of sight"! If I was given the opportunity to change ONE thing and one thing only about this ship and its management, it would be this: When you're showing sports activity on a TV screen, show sports that are popular with Americans seeing as the overwhelming majority of your guests are Americans! We do not play soccer, nor do we want to watch it ! We like football, baseball, and basketball......go with the majority....show football, especially during football season! If there's not a "live" game on, then show last Sunday's reruns.....anything but SOCCER ! No evidence of that old NoroVirus monster.....there were hand cleanser dispensers everywhere as well as workers at the entrances of all dining areas with their little hand sprayer bottles. Debarkation was great....."self assist" debarkation is a breeze if you're able to carry all your luggage off the ship! New Orleans is working hard to make the Julia Street Ship Terminal very "guest friendly". In summary, the Jewel is a great ship with comfortable surroundings and accommodations. I look forward to a return visit. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We were offered an upgrade to the Haven shortly before our cruise and we jumped on it. The Haven experience is the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. The only down side was we were offered a two bedroom villa, but on arrival found ... Read More
We were offered an upgrade to the Haven shortly before our cruise and we jumped on it. The Haven experience is the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. The only down side was we were offered a two bedroom villa, but on arrival found the second bedroom to be the size of a closet with no window. This may work for children, but not for two adult friends who do not share a bed. The master bedroom had a queen size bed which could not be separated and a magnificent bathroom. There was also a second full bath. We had a bathtub with a picture window so that you could watch the ocean go by as you bathed. The shower also had a floor to ceiling window for ocean viewing as you showered. The cabin was bright and colorfully decorated. We had a roomy balcony with two chairs and two small tables. There was a table which seated four and a coffee, espresso, capucchino machine. We had a cordless phone to use anywhere on the ship to contact our butler or concierge. Our butler's name was Walter and he was great. We had a wonderful selection for room service and Walter placed a cloth tablecloth down before setting our table and serving our meal. We had the option of eating breakfast and lunch in Cagney's which was only open to Haven guests. I had a large shrimp cocktail every day at lunch. Just a few steps from our cabin, was our own private swimming pool, hot tub, and lounge chairs reserved just for Haven guests. There were always snacks out here and coffee, tea, and ice water. The area had a sliding sun roof so it could be enjoyed rain or shine. On deck 15, Haven guests have a private sun deck with plenty of loungers. Food: As guests in the Haven, we could dine at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. Meals there were quite good and I especially liked my shrimp cocktail daily with lunch. There is a breakfast buffet as well as menu offerings. We had dinner one night at Cagney's and Mama's. Both were very good. Dinners in the main dining room were very good, too. Service: The crew on this ship were delightful! Always smiling. Our butler, Walter was a gem. He made our cruise so special. There was no request that Walter couldn't carry out. Entertainment: There were the usual cruise ship shows with a magician, comedian, and musical revues. The best show by far was Le Cirque Bijou. This show is like a smaller version of a Cirque du Soleil show seen in Las Vegas. The performers were just awesome as they were flying over the audience. The balancing acts were amazing considering that it was a little bumpy the night they performed. Summary: Our experience in the Haven was over the top! The service and amenities were awesome. It was just so peaceful and relaxing. If there is any way you can do it, book a suite in the Haven. This was the best cruise experience I've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was my first NCL cruise and I have to say over all I was very impressed with NCL and the Jewel and my expectations were exceeded. We were part of a group of 28 guys and gals who all met online through a Prostate Cancer support group ... Read More
This was my first NCL cruise and I have to say over all I was very impressed with NCL and the Jewel and my expectations were exceeded. We were part of a group of 28 guys and gals who all met online through a Prostate Cancer support group and every one of us had the time of our lives thanks to our zest for living and NCL’s spectacular service on this cruise. We ended up getting upgraded from a BA Balcony After reading for several months some of the very negative reviews on CC about NCL and the Jewel I can only ask, did those people ever really cruise on the Jewel? I have read reports of inedible food, poor service and bad attitudes from the Jewel’s crew, which after our experience is just too hard to believe. We have sailed in the past on HAL, Celebrity and RCCL and I would have to rate this cruise with the NCL Jewel over all equal or a little better than any past cruise experience. I will break down my review in several parts for easier reading. Embarkation from New Orleans: This was so easy and couldn’t have been any smoother. We checked in at about 11:00 am and were on the ship by 11:30 and eating lunch in Tsars by noon. Our stateroom was ready by 1:00pm and our entire luggage was delivered by 3:00pm. Our Cabin and room steward: We originally booked a BA cabin on the 10th deck but a week before departure we received a free upgrade to a MA Mini suite stateroom #11044. It was spacious and comfortable with a large balcony and more storage space than we could fill. Within minutes of getting into our room our Steward, Joseph, introduced himself and greeted us by our names, something he did every time we saw him on the cruise. He was fantastic and one of the best room stewards on any cruise of ours. Our stateroom was spotless the whole week thanks to Joseph. The food and dining service: We had dinners in Tsars, (2 times), Azura (3 times), Le Bistro, (once) and Chin Chin (once). I found the food in the 2 MDR’s to be very good with nice selections. The food was always hot and served promptly. Presentation was always good and over all the quality was on par with our last couple of HAL cruises. The Prime rib one night was thick cut, delicious, tender and well seasoned. The Lambs shanks were exceptional good and the large lobster tail served with a nice steak the first night was the best on any cruise so far. In the 3 nights we ate in Azura we had the same server, Daniela, and she was spectacular, and she got several nominations for our cruise hero for the week. She even made us a special desert one night and was a lot of fun to talk too. She gave us all the wow factor. I did find the service in the 2 nights in Tsars to be spotty and lacking but we got what we ordered and on time. The biggest problem was trying to get drinks ordered as the servers had to take the orders and bring us drinks, something that could be more efficient if separate servers are used for all bar and drink orders. We had room service for breakfast 6 mornings and it was on time every day and exactly what we ordered. On one morning we did breakfast in Tsars for the eggs Benedict, but had to send them back to get yokes that were not hard and the hollandaise sauce was tasteless. This was a disappointment. Our one meal in Le Bistro was awesome and one of the best specialty restaurant experiences on any cruise. MY wife had the filet and it was thick and cooked perfectly and almost fork tender. I had the rack of lamb and it was fantastic. We also ordered the steamed muscles and they are served in a delicious cream broth that was very good, something I did not expect to have on a cruise. This was the best $20 spent on this cruise and the service was as great as the food. Now for the one very big disappointment, the dinner in Chin Chin. We had wanted to go back to Le Bistro but there was a long wait so we decided to give Chin Chin a try as it was almost empty and as we found out for a good reason. The food was way below par and not as good as our neighborhood Chinese restaurant here at home. I ordered the scallops and they were tough, chewy and tasteless. The lettuce wraps appetizer was also tasteless and bland. We also order some Sushi that was very good and fresh before our dinner and when we complained about the Chin Chin food quality the $25 of sushi was given to us at no charge. Most of our lunches were in the Topsider Grill and/or the buffets and I found all of the food to be very good and well worth eating. One lunch was in the Blue Lagoon and I found the fish and chips to be excellent as was the service. Entertainment: We attended 3 shows in the Stardust Theater and they all were very good. The biggest standout was the Comedian named Noodles Levenstein who was hilarious and fellow passengers talked about him for days after he performed. This had to be one of the funniest comedy routines I have ever seen and it was even appropriate for all audiences. The next night we saw a Michael James who does a balancing and juggling act which was just good. The last show we saw was Le Cirque Bijou which was fantastic and on an evening when the seas were rough and the ship was rolling pretty good. Crew and Officers: I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with both the crew members and the officers of the Jewel. I never saw anything but smiles on their faces and they were always asking if they could do anything to help make our cruise any better. The first day at our CC Meet & Greet I told the Hotel Director, Richard how impressed I was with the Lobster dinner the first night and how so far NCL had met my expectations. The next day a plate of chocolate covered strawberries showed up in our cabin with a thank you note for him. I saw him at almost every dinner asking passengers how their experiences so far on the cruise. On Friday night at our dinner in Azura he found me and remembered our conversation from the M&G and asked if the Jewel was still exceeding my expectations, I told most definitely it had. I responded about how could there be so many negative reviews about NCL and the Jewel and had those people really been on the Jewel, he told me he reads all reviews online about the Jewel and that often wonders the same thing. Well on Saturday we got another plate of chocolate covered strawberries thanking me for my kind comments. Disembarkation at New Orleans: Since we drove to New Orleans we chose to walk off with our luggage to get a head start from home. We got in line at 7:45am and the line was very long but moved very well. We were through customs and off the ship by 8:30am Negatives: Not too many but I think the TV channels selections could be better, specially for sporting events. Saturday Dec 7th was the NCAA Football conference championship games and not one of them was available anywhere on the ship. The only ESPN we got was ESPN Caribbean and it had non stop soccer on Saturday, it didn’t even offer score updates for the college games. I think MCL needs to take a long look at Chin Chin as a lot of improvement is needed and it takes up a lot of space for the few people who use it. Our best specialty meal on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam 2 years ago was in the Tamarind Asian Fusion restaurant and NCL should take some lessons from HAL. Finally: This was a great cruise and we were impressed and would most definitely cruise with NCL again. I would also never hesitate to recommend NCL to anyone. There was not one complaint from our group and most agreed with me about cruising with NCL in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our second cruise on NCL and we have cruised many times out of New Orleans (our home port) on CCL and RCL. We (wife and I) have been on over twenty cruises and have never had a bad time. Getting on the Jewel was very fast, get ... Read More
This was our second cruise on NCL and we have cruised many times out of New Orleans (our home port) on CCL and RCL. We (wife and I) have been on over twenty cruises and have never had a bad time. Getting on the Jewel was very fast, get to the pier around 10:45 or 11 and you will be on board around 11:30. Don't forget if you are a latitudes member there is a special quicker line for you. Parking is $112 in the outside lot called the whale lot. Food on this ship in all areas is very good and some of the best I've had on a cruise ship. However, the service in the main dining rooms for either lunch or dinner is some of the worst and slowest service ever. I believe because they already have their tips and the staff does not really work for them anymore as they did back in the day of tip envelopes. Many cruise lines are going with the prepaid tips and service is really suffering because of this. Dress on this ship anywhere is VERY casual and the majority simply wear slacks, nice shorts, polo style shirts or simple sun dresses. Leave your formal items at home. Multiple times we waited in MDR for either lunch or dinner for over 30 minutes before we were served ANYTHING, and several times we were the first ones into the MDR. Our main problem with NCL is the Anytime Dining which is anything but "anytime." We had a group of 11 and the only time we could ever get a reservation was either 5:00 or 9:00. Then when we showed up for our time we were given a pager and told they would beep us when the table was ready. usually this wait would be from 15 to 30 minutes. This also seemed to be happening for others with groups for two or more. Multiple times in the MDR's it was just my wife and I for breakfast or lunch and we experience waits of nearly 30 minutes just to receive our drink order. The two specialty restaurants we ate in were outstanding, The Brazilian restaurant where they served all the carved meat is not to be missed and the fry table is outstanding. Overall the food is excellent, but repeats items often, but the service is some of the worst ever. The ship is very clean and the staterooms (we had a balcony and my kids had an inside cabin) are your average cruise line type in decent condition. The shower is larger than most other lines and the hairdryer is the best hairdryer I have ever used. The TV is horrible with no ability to access your account online and the channels come and go for no reason. Our room steward was excellent and most of the other cruise staff are friendly. We did not like the lay out of the ship and found it flowed poorly with us always having to go up or down and front or back, it seemed like a boxy old house and not planned very well. Had a great time, but due to the anytime dining we won't cruise NCL again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just completed Dec 8 cruise. A better ship and crew than in February. Which was the worst. This ship has been spruced up, but still shows its age. Yet it does present itself well. Cabin steward was not up to the usual. We had trouble ... Read More
Just completed Dec 8 cruise. A better ship and crew than in February. Which was the worst. This ship has been spruced up, but still shows its age. Yet it does present itself well. Cabin steward was not up to the usual. We had trouble communicating in English, and I never knew his nationality. Later in week when we needed something. I would find him in the hall, and show him what we needed. Dining is where this NCL cruise beat the pants off the last. The MDR Czar's Palace for evening usually had a decent menu. The food was mostly good. Maybe not knockout, but at least edible without complaints. Service friendly but not the same as assigned dining. Noisy at times with tables being cleared for next diners. The one time we ate lunch in MDR service was slow. We did not do much buffet dining. However there was usually something there to eat. The last night my wife got sick about 4 PM. So I dragged out going to MDR. Around 8 PM it was clear she was going nowhere. Just by chance I went to buffet. It was Deutscher Nacht. This was great. A lot of German dishes including deserts. Sauerbraten, blaukraut, knack and bratwurst, dumplings, a fine apple strudel, on and on. The entertainers were good. Lots of bands and music groups aboard. The stage shows were.... what to expect on ship. I can't fault the performers, but live music at all the productions would have been nice. We had an outside room with window. Bathroom was super small, usually small. I have photos if you need them. The biggest bummer ! We can't sit or move in that bathroom ! Public rooms seemed a bit neglected at times. Not kept spic and span as on other ships. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
NCL vs. DCL vs. RCCL There's a big difference between the D and the N! For comparisons sake we'll toss in the comparison the RCCL too! We are die hard DCL fans having sailed DCL five times including a 14-night transatlantic all ... Read More
NCL vs. DCL vs. RCCL There's a big difference between the D and the N! For comparisons sake we'll toss in the comparison the RCCL too! We are die hard DCL fans having sailed DCL five times including a 14-night transatlantic all on the classic ships. We've done RCCL twice and decided to give the NCL Jewel a try. We have two girls (ages11 and 8) and we are your typical 40-something, mid-western family. Why NCL? The timing was perfect for our kid's school break and it left from NOLA-- a city we love and where we thought the kids might have fun doing a swamp tour, eating beignets, etc It was a Nickelodeon cruise, so we thought that might signal family friendly. Indeed there were over 800 kids on board--just shy of 30% of the cruising guest population... Add their parents and a big demographic on this cruise was families with kids. Our initial impression of NCL Jewel was that it is a ship that was built for a time when NCL's focus was primarily adults and a shift in focus on families has been retrofitted into an older model. The intent is there, but it's like going into a building that's been repurposed-- some things work better than others. Also, our second impression of NCL facilities is that it has the feel of a "starter home" from a cheap contractor. It looks pretty when you move in, but you start to notice cheap fixtures, nail pops that go unfixed, thin walls, poor insulation, etc. That's how the NCL Jewel feels--- it's bright and cheery, but for a ship only built in 2005, the maintenance is slow. We noticed rusty rails, chipped tables, fading teak, soiled carpet, lots of indents from chairs on the deck flooring, broken theater seats, etc Each in of itself is a minor issue not worth thinking about, but they add up to a "cheaper feeling" environment. Embarkation: While we love the "introduction" on DCL, the NCL process moved quickly and was unique. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and there was a short, quick moving line. Porters took our bags (with the stapled bag tags, which I thought was odd, but we received all of our bags--- so it must not be an issue). The port staff were pleasant. It lacked the unique flavor if DCL (Mickey hands, etc)... But fine. We boarded immediately and landed on an outside deck where they ran our cards. There as a big colorful balloon arch ( just like your early 90's prom) and a few dancers. A large speaker was blaring festive music--- so it was a fun entrance. We ended up entering the actual ship near guest services and were kind of lost. There wasn't anyone really directing guests and lots of people were sort of sitting and milling around. Eventually we ask a staff member about lunch options and she directed us to elevators. Having never been on the ship, it was hard to navigate and not much guidance. Our initial impression of NCL was that it was bright and colorful, mixed with typical cruise ship glitz of mirrors, faux flowers and shiny, neon lit surfaces. Some of the lounges had cool furniture which was kind of fun (Fyzz Lounge, Spinnaker’s). For comparison, we find DCL to be a bit "classier" in style. RCCL has much of the same feel as NCL, but not as bright. I also don't recall much of any pomp upon embarkation at all with RCCL. I also recall RCCL and DCL requiring a bit longer of a wait to board, but that just may be port differences. Both DCL and RCCL had staff ready to move people along....we felt less lost even on new to us ships. First impression of Meals: On NCL, we found our way to the "garden buffet" which was in the back of the ship. It's equivalent to any of the other buffets. It's set up like RCCL in "stations" which are easy to navigate as opposed to DCL's cafeteria style on a Magic and Wonder… Lots of variety including Indian and Asian options. The table areas are much larger than both RCCL and DCL, so big that we missed the fact that we could have found a table outside. The food itself was pretty mediocre. We could certainly find things to choose from, but nothing stellar. We are not food snobs, although we like variety--- so if we thought it was mediocre, the true "foodies" of the world would be dismayed. We definitely thought DCL and RCCL had better food quality. There was a BBQ at the pool later on...again, food was just ok—hot dogs, burgers, etc. Like RCCL, NCL doesn't offer soda as an option without buying a soda package. There were flavored waters, lemonade, and tea available. One flavored water was sugar free and there was unsweetened ice tea. We did buy one soda package for my husband eventually. It was about 50 bucks, but he is diabetic...so worth it to give him more drink options. We had our first dinner at Azura. It's freestyle dining, so we just showed up like a regular restaurant and we were seated pretty quickly. It was nice that we could just go in whatever we were wearing rather than running back to change for the dining room. On DCL and RCCL, we like eating in the main dining room (or assigned restaurant on DCL), but dressing up for dinner isn't always practical. To be fair, I doubt either would have denied us service in casual capris and t-shirts, but still....we try to follow the expected norms. So were seated in a fun velvet booth that the kids thought was awesome. The service was friendly, but no effort to personalize the experience or get to know what we liked since we would likely not have them as servers again. It was formal service and the typical course line-up. The food varied from good to just ok to downright bad. For example, I had the ribeye that tasted like it was frozen and right off the Cisco truck...but it was accompanied by spinach that was cooked perfectly and clearly started as fresh that day. My husband ordered the mahi mahi that was well seasoned. The desserts were quite good, which is usually where I find things more pretty than tasty. However, my daughter really enjoyed the lemon sorbet and I thought the chocolate raspberry truffle cake was excellent. I'm not a huge sweet eater, but chocolate truffle is one of my favorites. However, I ended up with this almost every-night as the dessert menus didn't change. It was tiring by the end... On other nights we tried the other main dining room with similar quality results. The steak was tough, the salads flooded with salty dressing, the soups sort of tasteless.....we did find a little restaurant called Blue Lagoon that had cheese sticks and wings....good for snacks. Again, these were likely just frozen, deep fried fare.... But ok for snacks. The wings were good! We did discover the downfall of "freestyle" though as we didn't time things right and realized we were going to be incredibly rushed to make the main show. Both DCL and RCCL, by the nature of the scheduled dining times, assure that everyone makes it to the main events. Also, while the staff was pleasant we never found them willing to go the extra mile....so drinks were refilled slowly, coffee arrived after we finished dessert, it was difficult to find a steak knife, etc. There was no need to really please the customer since service isn't tied to tips in any way. For example, DH asked if there was any other sugar free option besides SF tiramisu one night (not a coffee fan, but also diabetic). Waitress simple said she didn't think so, but would ask. She never came back with an answer, even when the rest of us were served dessert. On DCL, I'm betting they would have found an alternative SF option from another venue and RCCL always has a SF ice cream option listed. We found out later that there was indeed SF ice cream available, but she just didn't bother to find out. This level of food and service was a running theme to the point that the food quality was laughable by the end. I've had better food in school cafeterias. Steak so full of gristle I had to saw through it...one night they served a black bean soup that was clearly reconstituted from a dried mix--- but not even thoroughly cooked so the beans were CRUNCHY! Really? Couldn't even break out canned black beans? We push it aside and they eventually took it away, but never asked why we didn't eat it or if they could replace it with something else. We adopted a strategy of ordering multiple items in hopes of finding something edible among them.... On both DCL and RCCL the food was much better. Hit or miss items on both for sure, but the "misses" were only occasional and quickly replaced with alternatives. We didn't try the specialty restaurants because I couldn't imagine how the food could suddenly be worth 30.00 per person if the base line was so, so bad. We were so glad we didn't encourage friends to join us because we would have been embarrassed to have brought them there with such bad food! On a good note....the lobster was small, but tasty though. Entertainment: The entrainment in the NCL Stardust Theater seems to fall somewhere between DCL and RCCL. The cruise director, Jamie, appears to be sharp and witty without being crass. It's a different approach than DCL as the CD doesn't wear an officer's uniform? On DCL, we've always found the CD's to be class-acts. However, we've always been very put off by the RCCL CD's who seem to major in jokes appropriate for adolescent boys and find mocking children and senior citizens appropriate humor. On this NCL trip, Jamie opened the first show by recognizing the couple married the longest, greeting the children, etc. There seemed to be something for everyone! DCL is, of course, very family friendly. Unless specifically noted, one can safely assume all events are rated G or a light PG. There are some versions of acts that have an adult version later in the evening in an adult-only venue...but that's fine. We've gone to these without our kids...and they are still pretty tame. The main shows in DCL are true stage productions and are top notch. However, they almost all are Disney themed, so one has to embrace that going into their vacation--it's a Disney cruise! We found much of the RCCL entertainment to be less then family friendly and this was similar for elements of NCL. The comedian, Noodles, at the first showing in the main theater was completely inappropriate for the 800+ kids on the ship. Many of his jokes were in poor taste because they were racist/ethnically derogatory (I didn't know people still told "pollock" jokes), but whatever. It was the jokes about four-hour erections and climaxing that really were the ones he might have better saved for a later show. I noticed several families get up and leave. I just hoped it would go over my kid's heads. It would have been just as easy to leave these jokes out and still do an entertaining set. I wondered how he could look out at his audience with kids sitting right near the front and be comfortable delivering such content. He's a regular, so NCL must approve of it and it's similar on RCCL. There was a show band night of 70's music that I found boring, but DH thought it was ok. The magician was funny and my girls liked him. The Cirque Bijoux was a big hit with my kids, but it was standing room crowds so I could only see pieces of it and the story line was hard to follow. The folks on the silks were pretty cool though. We skipped the final "concert " which I gather many do since there was only one show. In other entertainment, there were lots of trivia quizzes and mock game shows (which we liked as adults) and I know there was a casino, bingo, etc as they announced events from time to time. However, they weren't hyped like on RCCL. Both NCL and DCL seem to make an effort to try to make an "event" of various activities. Theme music, costumes....big intros with enthusiastic staff. In my opinion, I think Disney's execution is a bit more polished-- better costumes, more thematic sets, themed music, etc--- but I appreciate NCL's effort. Karaoke was a hit as usual and NCL made an effort to include kids (as does DCL). On RCCL, we often felt like staff was just going through the motions and couldn't wait to finish to move on to whatever their next responsibility was. Events weren't always well attended either and folks would show up and leave frequently. Outside the theater, the RCCL big events were the Quest (an adults only scavenger hunt) and a late night 70's party. Not bad things to have to appeal to the masses, but these were the BIG events that were hyped all week and neither had any appeal for kids. The message that kids were to the afterthought was a theme. NCL also had a Quest, but it wasn’t quite as hyped. NCL’s big event was the “White Hot Party”---and they hosted two versions, one for 18+ and one for kids/families. We attended the family one and it was pretty well-attended for the first ½ hour or so…then the teens sort of wandered off. They dressed them all in togas and decorated for the party---there was effort made to make it as unique as the adult version. There is no casino on DCL, so that wasn't even part of the cruise. We aren't gamblers typically and they always seem smoky, so we didn't spend much time in the casinos on NCL or RCCL. Just from a walk thru, RCCL's seemed bigger and more active though. Family-Friendliness; This is the Big One for us! We travel as a family, pay for a family and want a family friendly environment. As noted above, DCL really shines in this area. There are plenty of events for families to do together from games shoes, dance parties, games, crafts, etc. We often travel with grandparents in tow too making it multigenerational and they really do have events for all ages. RCCL is not this! On both cruises, we have felt that RCCL mocks children and only accommodates their needs out of pure necessity, not as an embraced business philosophy. There were very few "family" events on the RCCL cruises---some events for kids (mostly within the kids club programming) and lots for adults--- but not many organized events for both. Even the acts at the earlier time slot often contained language and sexual content not appropriate for kids. The attitude we felt was that the assumed goal is to escape your kids by sticking them in kids club so you can get to the real fun. NCL fell in between again. There were plenty of events for families to do together. Slime Time live was fun to watch. There were circus clinics that included teaching both kids and adults to spin plates, juggle, etc. This was more fun than I thought it would be. They had karaoke that included kids for the first hour and then switched to an adults only venue. They made a point of fitting in as many kids as possible. Again, it was sort of a retrofit where they were trying to fit kids activities into adult spaces (as opposed to DCL which has designated family spaces where events wouldn't need to be cut-off for one group or another), but the effort to include kids is appreciated. There was a Wii bowling challenge--- and I usually think of things like video games as sort off a half-effort at programming, but we saw it in action and it was well attended by mostly middle school boys. Kids Clubs: Our girls have always enjoyed the kids clubs on DCL. We feel they are given lots of personal attention and there are lots of age -appropriate activities. We also like the fact that there is a "tween" club that goes to age 13 in a separate facility. We do find that the activities are a bit redundant in the kids clubs, if one cruises more than once every few years. We did find that it's important to go to the opening events on the first night, especially if you are traveling in a small party (so you haven't brought along cousins, for example, as built in companions) and especially the Tweens seem to "group up" during the first few events making it harder to make cruise friends if you come in later. We also liked that parents can give ages 8 and up permission to self-check in/out (or maybe it was that our 11 year old could check the 8 year old in & out). Either way, this made it convenient to just send them off to the clubs after dinner, etc. Dd 11 would take the wave phone, so we knew we could contact her and she could let us know if she checked out. They seemed to really enjoy the NCL clubs as well, especially our 8 year old. Our 11 year old regularly checked herself in and out and asked to go and participated in activities. They separate the groups as 3-5, 6-9, 10-12. The oldest group-tweens met in the teen facility when the teens were elsewhere. My dd11 preferred this. Dd11 could check in and out on her own with our permission, but dd8 could not. It wasn't a big deal, but with no paging system or wave phones, we were forever checking in to see if she wanted to leave. Dd11 made a group of friends and with no wave phone, it was a bit of an issue in keeping up with her whereabouts. Not because she was irresponsible, but because there was no means of easy contact. She would checkout to go have lunch or a snack and would have to run back to the stateroom to leave a note, but we wouldn't always go back to get it..or if we did, it was inconvenient. We liked the fact that if they check themselves in, they have to stay for two hours. She found this frustrating and I'm not really sure what the reasoning was behind this rule, but I liked knowing where she was for a given amount if time since there was no other means of communication. Also, NCL didn't use wrist-bands outside of the kids club. They put them on when they entered and left them when they checked out. This was more comfortable than the clunky bands on DCL. The clubs themselves appeared to have enthusiastic counselors and a variety of activities. The closing over the meal hour wasn't so much of an issue as I thought it would be because my kids usually swim then anyway. I did hear other parents grumbling a bit though. The fact that they charge after 10:30 was annoying since it meant adults couldn't really participate in late night activities. There was a fee on port days until 5pm too. This was a bit annoying since we came back early on a rainy day and they were looking for something to keep them busy. However, my younger daughter read a book and my older daughter found some other girls in her “group” to go to the Blue Lagoon with—so she was set. The culminating kid’s "show" on NCL was a circus for which they had learned tricks all week. There seemed to be a lot of participation and the circus was in the theater. This was similar to DCL's "Friendship Rocks". Each has its own flavor and DCL gives them all t-shirts and features a video....but NCL featured smaller groups of kids actively engaged in showing of a new "skill" ( ex--dd8 did plate spinning). If I recall, RCCL did a small talent show, but it was in an out of the way lounge and featured a small audience and not a lot of careful prep. So overall, DCL's kids clubs had more "polish" and seemed to go farther with professional facilities for each age group...and, of course, the Disney characters are a central feature. NCL had the Nick characters, but they were more of an add-on and maybe it felt this way because we aren't that into Nick. My girls watched Dora when they were in preschool, but not recently. They aren't into Sponge Bob so that was lost on us. Others may be more into it. We did go to a few Nick family events including Slime Time Live and a few dance parties and they were fun, the "Nick team" was definitely energetic....but I spent most of my time cringing that my kids would end up covered in slime or with a head if hair full of whipped cream. This was definitely MY issue though—others probably didn’t care. On a ship without self-laundry, this was a concern. My dd was ask to mash a whipped cream pie in her face right after having her hair "braided" in Jamaica. Luckily she mashed it herself and kept it to her face....I'm not sure how I would have gotten smeared whipped cream out of a head full braids. Again, for other parents this may have been less of an issue---so I’m not faulting NCL for my hang-up. I would rank the kids clubs with DCL ahead, but NCL had a fine program and we were happy with it. We would return for the kids program. RCCL, for a comparison, was by far (based on our experience) lagging behind. On the two RCCL cruises we've taken, my kids were downright bored. The facilities were plain, counselors pleasant enough most of the time, but not overly engaging with the kids....and the activities weren't timed out to know when to go....and many repeated and were simple things that didn't involve a great deal of creativity...that said, there were a few highlights here and there that they liked--- but the didn't ask to go and wanted to be picked up quickly. At one point, I found my younger daughter (then 6) wandering in a hallway having been separated from the group as they moved around the ship. I alerted the staff to the fact that I had found her and was going to just go ahead and take her with me for the evening and they didn’t really seem at all concerned. Staterooms: This was the odd thing. We booked an ocean view room for four and were assigned a room for three. When we inquired, it seems that all of the standard staterooms are only equipped for three. There indeed were two twin beds (which could be pushed into a double) and one bunk directly over one of the twins. Hmm...we figured perhaps the other bunked pulled down from the ceiling like on DCL? Nope-- when we returned we found a cot propped in the middle of the two twins! The real odd thing? There was an 8 inch metal handle protruding from the side of it upwards right smack in between two mattresses with the desk blocking the end of one. So essentially we had a giant bed for three that filled the entire 1/2 of the room wall to wall....with an 8 inch handle to fall over in the dark smack in the middle and a ladder on one side and the desk on the other side. There was no way for the person under the bunk to safely get out off bed without climbing on top of the person in the middle. And the person on the other side against the wall had to do the same, plus straddle the 8 inch handle in the dark. I can't figure out how any engineer could have conceptualized this idea as a safe one! I can only figure that NCL is trying to retrofit for families as it changes its corporate focus. Needless to say, we had Guest Services and the Hotel Manager come look and they agreed it was odd, but said that's how they do it. In the end, we had them at least shift the cot to the far right so the handle was against the wall and not in the middle. Now it was just my immediate family and my girls are fine with sharing a bed with the parents....but some kids (including teens) and non-family immediate family units might object more to being quite that cozy. In the end, we slept DH on the left, me in the middle, and dd11 next to me leaving dd8 and all her stuffed animals in the bunk as she tosses and turns the most. It was like camping in a tent all in a row in one bed. Weird! Sure enough, anytime anyone needed to use the restroom, they would have to climb over me.... We think DCL has the best bunk set up as they don't come down over the main bed so there is no head bumping. Instead a couch flips into a bed and a bunk pulls down from the ceiling. On RCCL they flip down over our bed on each side making sitting up on bed inconvenient, but at least everyone has his or her own sleeping space. NCL, however, had the best storage for a standard stateroom. There were 6 drawers (plus a desk drawer) and then lots of recessed shelves deep enough for clothing, shoes, etc---and the closet. We always seem to be stumbling over our things in DCL and RCCL and DCL usually has a coffee table to trip over or have removed. NCL managed to fit a desk, a small table and two night stands in without taking up much space. We couldn't use the nightstands due to our mega-bed situation, but we stacked them against the wall without a problem. There was a small refrigerator that we didn't use with a mini bar in it, but it was out of the way. DCL had cool boxes that never seem to cool much and no minibar at all-- which we like! We don't ever use that stuff and it takes up space. RCCL has a messy minibar of junk that takes up space on the desk and, when asked, the stateroom attendant just moves it to a shelf thus using up shelf space. They did finally remove it when we pressed the issue, but it was a bit of a hassle that wasn't necessary. The shower on NCL was hands down the best...it was pretty roomy for a cruise ship. You could actually pick up the soap when it dropped. DCL's is ok and some might prefer the tub, but NCL was better. RCCL was the smallest and hardest to use-- like showering in a tiny cylinder! The toilet on NCL was in it’s own “closet” though---some might like the privacy of it since others could be in the bathroom at the sink. However, the wall and “closet door” took up valuable space thus making using the restroom a tight, uncomfortable experience and we just had one person in the bathroom at a time anyway. NCL had a nice, normal hair dryer---which was really helpful. I always have to bring my own on other cruise lines which takes up luggage space. Overall: So, all in all, I would say that we would definitely pick DCL over NCL and RCCL if all things were equal (price, timing, ports, etc). The food is better, the entertainment is better, the Kid’s Clubs are top notch and the facilities kept up. It’s just a better quality experience overall for us. However, it does come at a cost…so sometimes the trade-offs might be worth it. I would do NCL again if the price was right, but I would go into it eyes-wide-open about the food expectations and maybe take some granola bars with me! We actually have another RCCL trip planned in the future….the price and timing were right and it is a very port heavy itinerary, so we won’t really be experiencing much of the entertainment or kid’s clubs---so it seemed like an ok option since or priorities for that trip will be meals and sleeping. So that’s my impression of the three lines. I’m sure others have different takes depending on their preferences and priorities. I’m sure I’m definitely a bit DCL biased since we’ve cruised them more often…..but read the review with a grain of salt from your perspective and hopefully some of it was helpful to your planning. Let me know if you have questions!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
December 22-29,. 2013 We arrived in New Orleans one day early and stayed at the Riverside Hilton right on the Mississippi. We had a lovely river front room. Loved this hotel and it's location.. By the way the taxi fare from the ... Read More
December 22-29,. 2013 We arrived in New Orleans one day early and stayed at the Riverside Hilton right on the Mississippi. We had a lovely river front room. Loved this hotel and it's location.. By the way the taxi fare from the airport to New Orleans is $30. I was surprised by the number of people that walked from their hotels to the ship, bags and all. We did this also. I was glad to save the taxi fare to the cruise port. We didn't get to the pier until 1pm. It was the usual mad house of people but it didn't take long to get on the ship. By the time we got on board the staterooms were ready. We found our cabin, dropped our carry ons and went to lunch in the buffet. We really liked the buffet and ate all our meals here except two. The service and food in the dining room was the poorest of any ship I have been on and I have been on lots of cruises and cruise lines. We went to the dining room on the first night thinking that was lobster night, however, they changed the menus around because of Christmas. The service was awful. We were virtually ignored. I could not get my water refilled so I had to drink my husbands water. I don't know what the problem was because the dining room was deserted. I had the Mahimahi which was tasteless and dry. My husband had prime rib which he really enjoyed. We didn't stay for desert as we couldn't get desert menus. We finally got up and walked out. We also went to the dining room on Christmas eve as that was lobster night. The lobster was small but tasty. The steak on the other hand was terrible. It was ¼ thick and I am sure it must have been pork as it was so greasy. Being from Kansas I know my beef. Service was better this night but again we left early as the food was so bad. We went straight from the dining room to the buffet where the food was better. We never went back to the dining room and are glad we didn't. We had a lovely balcony cabin on deck 10. We had an excellent room steward. When we didn't get service because we had our do not disturb sign out he was so upset. As if it was his fault. I think this had to be the best room steward we ever had. Friendly but not intrusive. Our trouble was our balcony neighbors ahead of us. They smoked. It made our balcony unusable as they smoked non stop. Not only did they smoke cigarettes but cigars also and if that isn't bad enough they also smoked weed. Not only did they smoke but when they were out on their balcony they talked loudly. Whenever me and my husband were on our balcony we whispered as to not disturb anyone. Unfortunate to pay all that money for a balcony and not be able to use it, however, we had no recourse. I was sure I was not going to like the cruise director Jamie. At first she really got on my nerves but I must admit she grew on me. Now the assistant cruise director (Sin) was the annoying one. He continually acted like a ADHD 6 year old that needed medication. If he thinks this is funny, he needs to grow up. The shows on this ship were quite good. I am usually really tough on the singers being a singer myself, however, the male lead singer on this ship was exceptional. The other two lady singers were also quite good. The production show I really liked as I like watching all the dancing. We had a magician one night. I personally don't like magicians as I can't figure out how they do the things they do. However, he was quite entertaining as he integrated comedy into his show. We did have one comedian who was funny. At least he made us laugh. The singers and dancers put on a show especially for Christmas. It was lovely. Some Christmas carols and also secular Christmas songs. They did a great job. The ship had caroling in the atrium. It was very crowded. Perhaps they should have had it in the theater where more people could have come. Only problem was the piano player. He played all the carols so fast we could hardly spit the words out. It was like he couldn't wait to be done so he did all the carols in triple time. I went to all the game shows like newly wed game, quest and dancing with the stars. They were fun as usual with a lot of laughs to be had. I am sorry to say my fellow passengers on this ship were not into following rules of any kind. The no kids in the front row of the show room rule was a joke as every night the front row had kids in it. One night two parents had their child sitting with them in the front row when the announcer stated no children in the front row. The child heard this and said to her mother. “Mom we have to move” To which her mother replied. “They don't mean you, dear”. Unbelievable!!! Why have the rule if you are not going to enforce it. Also the no seat saving fell on mute ears. There was the usual seat saving. Then not all the people in their group would come and there would be empty seats in a full theater. I can understand saving a seat for your spouse but this saving 6 seats for family and just sending the kids early is ridiculous. I must say they did have lots of reserved disabled seating in the buffet and in the show room. As this was a Christmas cruise there were a lot families. There were 800 kids on this cruise, however, we really didn't have a problem with them. I think the Children's program must of taken care of them. There were quite a few times kids would run full speed down our hallway like a heard of wild elephants but we endured it. There is really nothing you can do. We never went to the pool or hot tubs. They were just too crowded. The entire pool area was too crowded. The ports of call on this itinerary were exceptional. Cozumel, Belize city, Roatan and Costa Maya. In Cozumel we took at taxi to the Money bar for $10 each way. The beach is wonderful here and the snorkeling is very good. In Belize we went cave tubing with Island marketing. This was a poor excursion. The tubing was very good but I would go with a different company for sure. In Roatan we purchased a beach/transfer package thru Bananarama resort to Tabyana Beach. This was also very poor. The beach was so crowded you could hardly move. You couldn't snorkel because of all the dive boats parked in shore. It was too dangerous to snorkel in among those boats as they can't see you. We had been to this beach previously last year and thought it was beautiful, however, it has now been ruined by overcrowding of people and boats. In Costa Maya we went to Maya Chan beach. This was an fully inclusive beach day and it was fantastic. Food, drinks, beach, kayaking, snorkeling and personalized service. I can't recommend them high enough. We had a good cruise despite the bad dining room food, bad dining room service and horrible balcony neighbors. We paid quite a bit for this cruise and for the money I think I will book Celebrity next time or just do an all inclusive resort. I think we are getting to the age where we prefer being with adults with mature adult behavior.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I really liked this ship from the moment we came aboard. The staff were very friendly and seemed to really be interested in assisting you. I would say that the Jewel needs more elevators, I've been on several ships, and this was the ... Read More
I really liked this ship from the moment we came aboard. The staff were very friendly and seemed to really be interested in assisting you. I would say that the Jewel needs more elevators, I've been on several ships, and this was the first one where the elevators were always packed. As for the food, we tried once to go the dining room for dinner and were told we could make a resrvation for 2 hours later, we just stuck with the buffet. The food on the buffet was very good, my only issue with the buffet is that it closed several times a day, while it was closed, there weren't many eating options. However I noticed during the closures, that the buffet was cleaned top to bottom, this was nice to see. We went a few times to the cappuccino bar, the staff there were super nice. We had dinner one night at one of the specialty restaurants (the steak house) I was surprised that the service was not very good at all, the food wasn't great either (my girlfriend ordered her steak medium well, and it was still bloody) the server never asked why half of it was uneaten. I was sad, because when we had gone to specialty restaurants on other ships, we were really wowed, but we were really let down, the buffet was much better. Our cabin was small, no big deal except for the bathroom, the toilet had a door that separated it from the rest of the bathroom. This would be fine if you think airliner bathrooms are big, I am a large guy, and every time I used the bathroom, I would have to smash into the opening to get into the toilet area, were the door removed, there wouldn't be a problem. There was lots to do onboard, there were several pools and hot tubs, if you wanted to spend some money, there was a very nice looking spa. The theater had very good acts. We watched a few movies in our cabin, it'd be good if they would list what and when they were playing those, but we happened on a few. I'd gladly cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
4th NCL cruise out of N.O.....getting on an off the ship was super easy. Easy check in and easy off. The ships crew is absolutely fantastic! Excellent service all around from everyone! Great cabin stewards, restaurant/bar staff and ... Read More
4th NCL cruise out of N.O.....getting on an off the ship was super easy. Easy check in and easy off. The ships crew is absolutely fantastic! Excellent service all around from everyone! Great cabin stewards, restaurant/bar staff and entertainers. The shows in the theatre were great, JP the magician does and excellent show and is very funny, Band on the Run was great, and the Cirque show was awesome! The food though was about as blah as can be though. Plentiful, but just plain and very, very boring. Repeat cruisers with NCL will be disappointed to find the exact same foods as last years cruise. (NCL changes the menus every TWO years!!) Food is definitely uninspired, under seasoned, plain, boring. (this was repeated over and over by a majority of other guests we spoke with). There was a time when all food was the caliber of the cover charge restaurants. It would be nice to have some more variety, with all the Phillippine chefs onboard, it was disappointing to not have one single dish from their country ever, not even in the Asian cover restaurant!! Why not take advantage of their true talents?? On our cruise, we had to tender in both Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Major issues with their tender process, it took over two hours to get off the ship in Cozumel (and we were group 4!!), and over an hour to get back on. With very limited time in port - usually 9am - 3:3 pm there wasn't nearly enough time. The line to get back on the ship in Cayman was about 4 blocks long, no other ships in any of the ports had such issues. The dock in Jamaica was in the working cargo area, and very undesirable. It seems everywhere we were the Carnival and RCL ships had the premium docking areas, The cabins were very clean, nicely furnished, but had some issues. No clocks at all in cabins, no way to set an alarm or see the time. TV had very limited channel selection, yet had 5 NCL only channels for them to sell everything under the sun. Granted no one goes on a cruise to watch TV, but in inclement weather, or for late night it shouldn't be that hard to provide more channels. If it can be done in a plane at 40,000 feet it shouldn't be that hard to provide at least a dozen choices on a ship. On deck 11 midship there was always an overwhelming smell of sewerage, not very nice, and apparently nothing can be done about this. Internet charges are pretty outrageous also. You can expect to be nickel and dimed everywhere on board. In cover charge restaurants, many of the specialty entrees had a fee in addition to the cover charge. The photo gallery charges are sheer outrageous! $12.95 for each and every 6x8 photograph, and most of them were thrown away, such a complete waste of paper, chemicals and time. One would think that they would rethink their pricing strategy here! Another disappointment is that when booking a spa massage, you actually have to pay an additional charge to use such things as the sauna, or even take a shower. Another sad example of the nickel and diming! The ship itself is very well maintained, and there seemed to be enough elevators. Big complaint on the pool deck, which crams too many things in one area. the kids pool should be completely separate from the adult area, but they are all in one area. Our cruise had over 500 kids, and you could definitely notice it everywhere! Parents should control their kids better, but of course they don't. Suggestion to NCL, get rid of the water slide. Its crappy and just makes things worse! Huge complaint was on port days, when getting on the ship in late afternoons, the only food available were the horrible hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries on deck, and there was a mad rush for this with not nearly enough workers to handle the crowds. perhaps they should keep the deck bbq open longer, or open the buffet earlier on these days. Note to NCL...if you are going to attempt a chocolate buffet, please get some better recipes for the items you offer, overall they were just awful. Overall we had a pleasant time, however not sure if we would choose NCL again. We did enjoy New Orleans, and had a great pre cruise stay at the St. Philip French Quarter Apt. hotel, which we would highly recommend. It would be nice to see NCL put a real first rate modern ship in the New Orleans market though. It seems Carnival offers a far superior product with the Sunshine. It looks fabulous, and we ran into many guests from this ship and they were all very positive about it. As far as the itinerary, perhaps it would be better if the ship docked rather than tendered, and they could totally replace Jamaica, as most people we talked to thought this was the least favorite stop. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
First some background (for perspective): We are late-50's, semi-retired, frequent cruisers. We have cruise on many different cruise lines and this was our 8th and 9th cruises on NCL.Here is the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Bottom ... Read More
First some background (for perspective): We are late-50's, semi-retired, frequent cruisers. We have cruise on many different cruise lines and this was our 8th and 9th cruises on NCL.Here is the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Bottom Line:Good:- Overall value for the money. A great vacation for a relatively low price.- The itinerary for the 8 Dec cruise: stops in Belize, Roatan, Cozumel, and Costa Maya. A fantastic itinerary for divers like us.- Food. Decent food in dining rooms and the buffet. Don't have to shell out a single penny for paid restaurants and you can still eat very, very well.- Serice in dining rooms and buffets: excellent.- Entertainment. Mostly fun and worth your time.- Disembarkation: went very smoothly and efficiently when we finally departed.Bad:- Cabin service. Ours was slow, spotty and inefficient. (Good effort, but I think they're undermanned.)- Service desk: undermanned and not knowledgeable.- bar service: slow and drinks are pricey; not a good combination.Ugly:- the 1 Dec itinerary. The stops at Montego Bay and Grand Caymen are IMHO a waste of time.- the casino. For those of you who know anything about blackjack; stay clear of the ship's $5 tables. 6-5 payout on a natural and dealer can hit on soft 17. That means a BIG house advantage. The only way to get "Vegas" odds is to bet the $50 tables. - back to back cruise support; no good information or help from anyone. Hey all I wanted was info on how to do this; everyone was clueless- overall attitude of ship's officers: don't even think about bothering these guys who think they are too good to talk to customers. Bottom Line:- this cruise line has become the industry discounter. Service may fall short of their competitors, but you can get a great price for a week where they feed you, clean your cabin, take you to a few nice ports of call, entertain you and treat you well (for the most part). So basically it's a good deal! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, and it is certain to be our last. One of the main reasons we selected this particular ship and itinerary was because of the Nickolodeon tie-in for the kids. While our seven year old enjoyed the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, and it is certain to be our last. One of the main reasons we selected this particular ship and itinerary was because of the Nickolodeon tie-in for the kids. While our seven year old enjoyed the kids club, the actual Nickolodeon activities were few and far between, as well as very brief when they did take place. The crew and cast members were great fun, and the kid's club staff were great, just a big let down as far as the Nick stuff. The crew was super nice, always smiling and greeting everyone like an old friend. However, some of the bar staff were lacking in proper bar tending skills, making it a crap shoot when ordering drinks ( if you didn't already know the bar tender). We were not affected too much by this since we had purchased the Ultimate Beverage package, but if you were paying for each drink, I would have been very upset several timesaver the week. Along the same lines several of the waiters were, to put it politely, slow. Inattentive is probably more correct, but I was trying to be nice. These waiters were the exception and not the rule. Perhaps my largest complaint was with the food. When looking for the right words to describe it, my wife made the comparison to airplane food. This is the best description that either of us has come up with that can be used in public forums. The "steaks" were thin and full of gristle, the vegetables were tasteless, unseasoned, and often served cold, and the menu was the same every night. In their defense, the buffet occasionally had some good bits, but again it was far and few between and eating the buffet every night sort ruins the entire ambience that we were looking forward to. In comparison to other cruise lines I have traveled with, NCL seemed to have fewer activities, or at least did not publicize them as well and it also felt as if every other activity had a fee associated with it. We made several comments in regard to the food quality, our candid comments were rewarded with a plate of four chocolate covered strawberries, but unfortunately no improvement in the food which would have been far better. One last complaint would be with the on board entertainment....quite frankly I've seen better choreography and execution at dance class recitals. It was very, very poor quality. The comedian and magician were both entertaining and the crew/passenger driven activities were fun as well, but the "extravagant" productions were very nearly laughable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We just got back from a week on the Norwegian Jewel. Basically we were spoiled by Princess. NCL charges Princess prices for slightly above Carnival experiences. The food was average at best in both the restaurants and buffet. The steaks ... Read More
We just got back from a week on the Norwegian Jewel. Basically we were spoiled by Princess. NCL charges Princess prices for slightly above Carnival experiences. The food was average at best in both the restaurants and buffet. The steaks were embarrassing. I had one good dish in the restaurant - it was the braised lamb shank. The highlight of the buffet day in and day out was the Asian/Indian bar. That was good. The service in the restaurants was terrible. We were invisible most times. I know it is a cruise, but you nickel and dime the cruiser to death. The drink prices are too expensive. There 8 restaurants that you have to pay extra for. BOOOOO Two would be good 8 is too much, but people are paying for it and they won't say no to more money. I am already paying top dollar to go on the cruise and you want me to pay for better food? Princess had two pay places and there were more and better food options - and desert options throughout the ship. The "do it yourself" disembarkation process was super easy. That was the best in our four cruises. The spa was nice and the unlimited use was a highlight, but that cost us $300 ($149pp). It was free on Princess. The entertainment was good. The show band was outstanding. We also enjoyed the dance lessons. Daniko was a great teacher. We also needed more time in each port. By the time you got off the boat you had to worry about getting back on in time. This was the bumpiest ride of our four cruises. My wife and I both lost a night each to sickness. Bottom line we will probably not cruise with NCL again in favor of Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland, and Celebrity. Especially if the prices are similar. Kevin Pick Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We ( my mom, boyfriend and I) decided on the Norwegian Jewel because it was the cheapest price for the locations it was going to. We live in Oklahoma and decided that we would drive to New Orleans. The ship went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, ... Read More
We ( my mom, boyfriend and I) decided on the Norwegian Jewel because it was the cheapest price for the locations it was going to. We live in Oklahoma and decided that we would drive to New Orleans. The ship went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Getting on the boat was simple enough and our room was not ready until about 1pm and that was fine because we went and ate at Tzars Palace. Food Our first thought on the food was that it was pretty good. The desserts on the other hand were weird and it seemed like every single dessert item was made with gelatin. The first dessert we tried was chocolate mouse( the best of the three), some sort of berry cheesecake( did not taste anything like cheesecake), and Panna Cotta (very rubbery and tasteless). I love dessert and I love to try new desserts, but the ones on this boat were just plain strange. Even the chocolate cake we had contained weird jelly balls throughout the slice. The only good dessert we had was in a pay restaurant( we tried the hot pot) and it was a green tea cake with green tea ice cream and it actually tasted like what it was supposed to. The food was pretty good and we actually had our room a floor below the buffet which was nice because that was out favorite place to eat on the boat. Each day in the buffet they would have a different theme and the food would change to be a part of the theme such as when we were in Mexico there was mexican food or when we were in the Caribbean they served Caribbean food. We decided to try the pizza delivery for $5 and it was the most disgusting pizza we have ever eaten. It did not taste like real cheese and the "cheese" was about an inch thick. So if your thinking of trying the pizza delivery, think again and just go to the buffet and get a slice or two there. The pizza at the buffet was actually good. They also served food by the pool, but be careful because we saw them making what looked like stir fry noodles with vegetables so we went over and each got a plate. My mom and I do not eat seafood and my boyfriend is allergic to shellfish. This dish was filled with shrimp and clams and all sorts of seafood. I'm glad we saw it because that could have been bad. There was no sign letting people know what it was. Room Our room was great. We had the mini suite which we paid about $900 per person. We had a giant balcony and it was nice to be able to relax on the balcony. The couch in our suite folded out to a big bed which my mom slept on and our steward Orlando pulled out and put up each day. He was such an amazing steward! The bathroom was not as small as I thought it would be. Our room was nice and quiet and we were not around any of the clubs or anything so it was a good spot. Entertainment I'm not sure why everyone seems to like the entertainment on this boat. I'm actually kind of baffled by what they call "entertainment". We tried several times to go to shows but the shows were so dumb that we left. I was really excited about the Cirque Bijou or whatever it was called. We got to the show early and got some great balcony seats. The show started and my boyfriend and I were looking at each other and laughing because it was so childish and they were not even doing anything that was interesting or fun to watch. The first act was a girl that stood on the shoulders of a man and all she did was hold two hula hoops and twirl them around her arms. The audience sure loved that for some reason because there were cheers and applause ? I was expecting something similar to cirque du soleil. Boy were we disappointed! We decided to give it another chance to impress us. The next act was a few people on stage dancing? it seemed like they were trying to do some sort of Indian dance with their arms or something but it just looked like something that a kid could come up with. We tried to stay for another act before we left but as soon as we saw adults doing cartwheels and a few flips we about died of laughter and had to leave. Don't expect anything professional if you attend these shows. We were really disappointed with the entertainment onboard and I feel like the only entertainment we liked was going to the art auctions on board to watch people get suckered into buying "art". I won't lie the auctions were very engaging and were pretty fun and you get free art just for going. We went to the newlywed not so newlywed game show which was pretty entertaining to watch. Pool The pool was pretty small and was cold almost the whole time so we did not really get to swim unless we wanted to be freezing while doing it. We did get in the hot tub twice, but it was not really as hot as other hot tubs I've been in. They were not bad though, but they were always crowded. Fitness Center We only went in there a few times but the machines are really nice and have touchscreen monitors. You can play games on the monitors while exercising or even watch the ocean through the widow or from a camera on deck. When we first booked I thought that they were going to have free zumba sessions, but you have to pay for those and the only free stuff in the fitness center were not very good, mostly seminars about fitness. Random In the daily newspaper thing we noticed that the actives with a star are pay activities. So when we saw a martini tasting with no star we got excited to finally see and try something you don't have to pay for. When we got there they told us it was $15 per person. What a crock. For the price we paid there should be more free things to do on the boat. We went to a pastry making seminar, but when we got there it was retarded. There was already a cake made and they just got a random person from the audience and had them put icing on it and some berries... I'm sorry but this is not a pastry making seminar. I did not pay to come on this cruise to watch some woman try her hand at decorating a cake. My mom got sick with food poisoning the day before our last port. The nurses in the infirmary were very nice and kind to her. If you go down there for food poisoning you don't have to pay, which was nice. Originally my boyfriend and I went to the shop to see if they has any medicine for sale, but they didn't, so we went o ask if they had any in the doctors and when we asked they said we should bring her down and there would be no charge. It's a good thing we brought her down because my mom ended up having to be taken down there again to get an IV for dehydration. They were very professional and treated us like family. They gave my mom Gatorade packets and medicine and even called to check up on her for the rest of the trip. Overall It was not bad, but I feel like all the seminars on the ship were there only to get you to buy something. The entertainment was lacking in professionalism and uniqueness. There are more pay restaurants than free ones. I feel like everywhere you go on the ship they are trying to get more money out of you. WE are never going to book on a Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We are in our 60's and this was our 6th NCL cruise and 1st time on Jewel. We drove to NOLA from Louisville on the 13th, which is 11 hours, but good roads and stayed at the Clarion Inn on Canal for $80./night. It was excellent for the ... Read More
We are in our 60's and this was our 6th NCL cruise and 1st time on Jewel. We drove to NOLA from Louisville on the 13th, which is 11 hours, but good roads and stayed at the Clarion Inn on Canal for $80./night. It was excellent for the price with a helpful porter and free breakfast. Our room on the 15th fl. faced Canal looking towards the river and was clean and bigger than expected, although the sink in the bathroom was the smallest ever. It had a small kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator. Had dinner at Felix's and my 1st char-grilled oysters, which I really loved. Crawfish etoufee was good and seafood gumbo was excellent. Waitress Adrianna was excellent and we got in after a 5 minute wait with no reserv. Sat. a.m. took the free Fr. Qtr. walking tour with Melissa which was 2 hrs. of interesting info and about 1 mile, ending at the French Mkt. Walked down to Crescent City Brewhouse for lunch and used the BOGO coupon for shrimp & grits, redfish and Red Stallion beer. All were as good as we remembered from last yr. Then it was streetcar to hotel for nap and some college basketball. Used the 10% off coupon at Oceana for dinner(no reserv. and about a 10 min. wait). Had my first Sazerac, some wonderful crab cakes, tuna and red fish. It was" wacky Santa bar hop night" and some folks went all out with costumes. The cold front was moving in on the walk back to the hotel. We used the Fulton St. roof top garage parking for $8./night which worked out great, as I got a spot next to the stair. (One short flight down to elevator. Had a good, chatty shuttle driver to the port about 11:00 and were on board at 11:40. Had a quiet lunch at Tsar's and a 5 min. boat drill in the theatre. After all the negative comments about the MDR surf and turf I've read in the past, I still had to try it after seeing one recent good review and it was very good. We skipped the Welcome Aboard show and enjoyed our first "mini-suite". Cabin and balcony are about 1 1/2 times the size of balcony cabins. We had a good bed, but there was a slight sewage smell in the bath that came and went a few times thru the wk.. Met our steward, Tirso, who took good care of us all wk. I love doing my early morning stretch routine in the Spinnaker watching the sea and sun rise, but a few times I had to ask the cleaning guy to raise the shades which had been down overnight. They always had mellow tunes on the PA. We had Blue Lagoon omelets for breakfast, were in the slot tourn. (losers) and an excellent buffet lunch after the Meet and Greet in LeBistro. The Band on the Run show was excellent and there was a 10 min. wait at Tsar's for dinner. The lemon chicken was excellent and the shrimp/chicken was very good. I think somebody screwed up and we got 2 coupons for a free anniversary cake, so used 1 Mon. night and it was creamy-dreamy. We had calm seas all wk. Tues. had Bl. Lag. breakfast, walked on deck 7 and lunch at Bl. Lagoon. Made an unscheduled 1 hr. stop at Grand Cayman for a medevac. Had our "anniv. dinner" at Le Bistro, which was busy, so service was slow until it cleared out and Cinderella, our server, went overboard with the food, as I couldn't decide between the duck and the seafood bouillabasse, so she brought me both! Had the escargot and 4 cornets for appet., ordered the choc. fondue and since there was a 10 min. wait for that, Cinderella brought us a creme brulee in the meantime. Obviously I left there quite stuffed, as I hate to see food get thrown away. Wed. - Docked at the cargo pier in MoBay and shuttled to the terminal. The "cabs" are really minivans and we got off at the Dr's Cave beach stop, which is next door to Bigg's BBQ, which is where we had a good jerk chicken salad, Red Stripe Bold and FREE small beach. Taxi to pier was $5./pp. Won $29. on a nickel slot (gave it back later) and had a good dinner in Azura of eggplant parm., crab cake and bread pudding. Heard some of Twosome Awesome, Cuarteto Tropicale and the show band, all very good. Thur.( Gr. Cayman) enjoyed break. at Great Outdoors, had a problem with cabin safe which Security quickly fixed. Short tender ride and minivan taxi ($4/pp) to Royal Palms. Had excellent food and service from Mike, but was not crazy about Caybrew beer. Went to Lattitudes party in Spinnaker with plenty of champagne, wine, beer and cheese. Dinner of very good tilapia and 2nd Anniv. cake in Tsar's. Went to chocoholic buffet, but turned around when I saw the crowd waiting to get in. Comedian Darrell Joyce had cliche material, but did it very well. Fri - Cozumel- Was once again amazed that I was alone in the Spinnaker to stretch and that other early-risers hadn't found it or cared. With 7 ships in port (although Allure should count as 2) we would have had to tender into the International Pier, so we stayed on board. It was interesting to watch the tendering process from our balcony and the crew's life boat drills. They had problems returning the life boats though, which delayed the last tender, which delayed our departure. Had a wonderful prime rib at Tsar's and enjoyed the Cirque Bijou show. Saturday - Stretched alone again, had buffet break. and watched the pastry demo in the atrium followed by samples of the black forest cherry cake, lunch at Tsar's and the lame magic show in the theatre. Had a good Indian/German buffet dinner, but the crepes are overrated. Signed up for Cruise Rewards. Cuarteto Trop. rocked in Fizz and the all-star concert in the theatre was mixed vocally, but the 9-piece band rocked. Sunday - awoke at 5 am to an intense thunder storm, which was down to a drizzle by the time we disembarked. We used the EZ walk-off, as did a lot of other folks. Overall we had a great experience and the only negatives were the fact that there were 2800 pass. on board including 400 children. ( Oh well, nothing to be done about that) and the fact that too many fat white men insist on going shirtless. I too am an old, fat white guy and, trust me fellas, nobody wants to see it.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Overall we had a good time. The ship looked in pretty good shape, clean. The staff, for the most part, were pleasant and in good spirit. Plenty of smiles and greetings. Heard housekeeping staff singing while they cleaned. Our mid-ship ... Read More
Overall we had a good time. The ship looked in pretty good shape, clean. The staff, for the most part, were pleasant and in good spirit. Plenty of smiles and greetings. Heard housekeeping staff singing while they cleaned. Our mid-ship balcony seemed a little tight but was clean and had plenty of room for our clothing, bags fit easily under the bed. The food was just OK. The extra price for the steak house was too high. $60 for two? Should have been more like $30. The prices on the ship were higher than what we have experienced on previous cruises. For instance, a 950ml bottle of Kahlua was $19.99 on board while a 750ml bottle was $14.99 at my local supermarket. The watches and jewelry were also a little too high to be considered a good deal. The show "Band on the Run" was good. The best place to be seemed to be Spinnaker Lounge. The best band was Groove International (reggae, R&B). The worst was Twosome Awesome (yes, they also had the worst name). Tsar's Palace was great one night, great food, great service. Then another night it was the complete opposite. Terrible food and terrible service. Must be a management issue. Azura was great the first night we ate there. There was a terrific waitress from Croatia named Danjella (J is silent) She was all smiles and seemed to inspire the other waiters who were also smiling and humming. The next time we at there we got a real grouch. No smiles. His service was efficient but the experience was not so enjoyable. We certainly did not feel welcome. We had excursions at Cozumel (Nachi Cocom), Roatan (West Bay), and Costa Maya, which is really Mahahual, Mexico(Nohoch Kay). We didn't plan on anything at Belize. Good thing since it rained the entire day. Can recommend all but the majority of us seemed to like Nohoch Kay the best. Super friendly staff and excellent food. Overall OK. But we will probably go back to Carnival or Royal. Embarkation in New Orleans was pretty easy. Disembarkation was pretty simple. The border folks just looked at our declaration form and said move along. Out in no time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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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