119 New Orleans Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews

Well, I just got home from my Norwegian Jewel cruise yesteday (11-10-13). So, here is my review of our travel! We flew to New Orleans from Kansas City (We are from Nebraska) and stayed in nearby Gretna. Accommodation: We had two rooms, ... Read More
Well, I just got home from my Norwegian Jewel cruise yesteday (11-10-13). So, here is my review of our travel! We flew to New Orleans from Kansas City (We are from Nebraska) and stayed in nearby Gretna. Accommodation: We had two rooms, here is my review of both. Inside Stateroom: Nice, worked well for three people, 4 would be pushing it. Works for three 16-year-olds that were kinda messy:) Balcony: Small, not really suited for four people. Could've been a bit bigger. Shore Excursions: None through the ship... here is what we did though! Montego Bay: Took a van tour around the town... very pretty town! Me and my dad and the boys went and hung out at Margaritaville while my sister, friend, and mom went to the beach. Georgetown: Did the same thing as Montego Bay, took a tour. Went to the turtle farm, tried rum cake (wasn't that good to my taste), and went to hell. Jewel's sister Pearl was there as well as the Carnival Liberty. Cozumel: Went shopping most of the time... nothing really. Mom got a new ring however. Pearl was in port with us here... as well as the Allure of the Seas and Carnival Magic. Entertainment/activities: Not-So-Newlywed gameshow, Karaokie, and Jeff Bradley. Some of the entertainment that we went to on board. Jeff was a comedian and hilarious! Kids Facilities: Well, I didn't hang out at the teens club, but my sister and friend did. They said it was kinda boring... they did have fun though. Boys liked Splash Academy though. Dining: Tsar's Palace was the favorite on this ship. Very beautiful decor and wonderful food. Garden Cafe was a good one... as well as Azura main dining room. Staff/Service: We had a few favorites on this ship... Rowen the Wishy-Washy guy, Christina our Tsar's waitress, and Brian the room steward. All of them were really nice and accomodated our needs. Especially Brian. He was very good about avoiding our messes but still cleaning the room. Disembarking went well, after some small hiccups with the Customs card, we were on our way. All in all, we had fun. My friend and Sister have never been on a cruise before and they had fun. I would defiantly recommend this ship to people. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Where to begin? I have been on several Cruise lines (including previous NCL cruises) and this was the WORST cruise ever! It started off on a disappointing note when we entered the ship. NO music. NO welcome champagne. NO excitement. We ... Read More
Where to begin? I have been on several Cruise lines (including previous NCL cruises) and this was the WORST cruise ever! It started off on a disappointing note when we entered the ship. NO music. NO welcome champagne. NO excitement. We had to walk around and wait for our cabin to be ready. Once Tzar's was ready for lunch, our entire party of 17 went to eat. They refused to push tables together so we could all be at one table. We waited over an hour to get our food. The wait staff was rude and inattentive. The food was tasteless. Bad start that will prove to only get worse. One of my suitcases was delivered to the wrong cabin and I reported it to the Service desk. I was told it should reach me by 8:00pm. Well, by 10:00pm it still had not arrived. All they could say was "we are still looking for it" and I had to spend $39 in the gift shop for a few basic toiletries. My bag showed up 3 days later. I found out later that they have complimentary toiletry items but I was never offered that, even though I had been in contact with the service desk numerous times. We decided to take advantage of a "special" NCL offered prior to our cruise...3 specialty restaurants for $57 (they chose the three...LaCucina, Cagney's and Le Bistro). You HAD to eat at LaCucina's on the 1st night. The food was AWFUL. Then we found out we missed out on the Surf & Turf in the open dining rooms. On our Le Bistro night, there was lobster on the menu, but you had to pay an additional $10 for it! SERIOUSLY??? There is a $20 cover charge already! Everyone else got it for FREE on embarkation night!!! We decided to stick to the buffet because Azura and Tzars had such SLOW service and the wait staff was terrible and rude. They acted like they were doing us a favor by taking our order and bringing out our food. However, for the most part, the food everywhere was not good. The desserts (except for the creme brûlée in Le Bistro) were tasteless. On our last day at sea, we planned out what we wanted to do. There was a magician show at 11:00 and a comedy show at 12:00 in the large theatre. The art auction was at 1:00. Well, the magician set up a table ON THE STAGE to sell his book and some magic items after he completed his act. He continued to sell until 12:15, causing the comedy show to start late. This in turn caused the comedy show to run late. Because we were seated in the 3rd row, we weren't going to be rude and get up and leave before the show was over. So, I missed the art auction. They should not allow anything to be sold on the stage and they should keep things ON TIME. One night we went to listen to a band doing a Bob Marley tribute at Magnum's Lounge. They were fantastic, but we had to leave early because the amount of smoke from the casino and the cigar bar (one on each side the lounge) was overwhelming. They really need a better ventilation system. By far, the RUDEST staff was in the Blue Lagoon. They literally would take your order (after waiting 20 minutes) by asking "what you want?" in a sharp tone. When my sister asked for a refill on her coffee, the waitress said "self serve!" as she pointed to the coffee area. There are so many other things I could say, but I'm sure some of my other family members will write their own bad experiences soon. We all agreed we will NEVER sail on NCL again. People, please think long and hard before going on this ship.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. ... Read More
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. Embarkation: We've never cruised from NOLA, so you need to know that the ship will be mostly comprised of southern conservatives with a sprinkling of liberals and few international travelers. There were a high percentage of senior citizens and "rednecks", but the mix of folks was fine. As a penthouse guest, we were escorted through the entire process, and on the ship in less than ten minutes. John D'Souza the concierge had a staff member escort us to Cagney's Steakhouse for lunch. A very impressive and stress-free embarkation. Cabin: The penthouse suite is roomy and basically the size of your typical hotel room. The shining features include the Lavazza espresso machine and china, glass, and silver arrangement in the china cabinet. The bath includes private water closet and full size tub as well as Elemis bath products. PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING: Avoid deck 8 Aft. In order to reach your stateroom, you must walk through either Blue Lagoon or Moderno each and every time. It is not only uncomfortable for you, but also a distraction for the diners in the restaurants. Pick a suite on decks 9, 10, or 11. Dining: We chose specialty dining most of the time including Le Bistro, Cagney's, China Chin, and La Cucina. All were wonderful and worth the small fee. Our meal at the MDR Tsar's was serviceable but rushed. Hats off to the manager of Chin Chin who delivered our desserts to our suite. Entertainment: Typical song and dance for a cruise. Don't miss the staff talent show....awesome! Also, the live band they had on our cruise was one of the best we have ever heard. They played one evening for the Mardi Gras pool deck party, and they were sensational! Spa: Had four treatments between the two of us and the staff was professional and excellent. Staff: Shout out to Angel in Star Bar on deck 13 by Cagney's where the LGBT happy hour was held. He was lovely and gracious. Our room attendant Caril was efficient, polite, funny, and caring. Sir Walter, our butler went above and beyond everyday of the cruise. Ports: Montego Bay is to be avoided unless you have an excursion-the folks are fairly aggressive. Georgetown is lovely and our trip to Seven Mile Beach was exquisite. Cozumel is one of our favorite ports and we dined at Pancho's Backyard and bought rugs at our favorite shop. Disembarkation: Piece of cake- from the suite to the cab was 10 minutes... Summary: Our time was restful and delightful. The "rednecks" were annoying but mostly respectful. This cruise is a great value that you should consider. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We just returned from a western Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Jewel and can report a super experience. By way of reference, it was our 26th cruise overall and 15th with Norwegian - and 12th in a row on NCL ships - ... Read More
We just returned from a western Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Jewel and can report a super experience. By way of reference, it was our 26th cruise overall and 15th with Norwegian - and 12th in a row on NCL ships - we wouldn't keep coming back if we didn't like NCL's brand of hospitality and ammenities Flew to New Orleans a couple of days early and learned there were 30,000 Optomitrits in convention there - a real zoo, but we managed. Embarkation was a breeze and we were in Cagney's for lunch before noon. Excellent service and food there a usual. Staterooms ready right after lunch - we had an aft facing Penthouse and actually have stayed in the same cabin several time before. The food and service was exactally as we have come to expect - excellent. We ate in Chin Chin Asian, Mama's Italian, Le Bistro French, the Sushi Bar, Blue Lagoon, Great Outdoors, the Garden Cafe and had room service - all very good. Went to 2 shows - the comedian and magican and both were very entertaining and LOL funny. did the glass bottom boat in Grand Cayman and had a good time - only concern in the ports was too many ships and people crowed in small areas. Our room steward, Darius took excellent care of us - room always neat and tidy - and the ship was bright and cheery. Only met a couple of crew members from previous cruises - Ignanitio (sp), food and beverage director and Elvina concierge - however, made many new crew friends to look for on future cruises. The only disapointment, was cruising in and out of New Orleans in the dark. Next cruise is back on the Breakaway out of NYC. Can't wait. spent an extra day in New Orleans because of ice in Dallas and Oklahoma CIty. After 15 cruises with Norwegian, we know what to expect - and that we will be literally spoiled - and you can' beat that - we're hooked. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
After reading months of Jewel reviews, I was prepared to be a little let down based on the comments of so many. Boy was I wrong! My wife and I are experienced cruisers including working for Cunard. I will try to keep my comments about the ... Read More
After reading months of Jewel reviews, I was prepared to be a little let down based on the comments of so many. Boy was I wrong! My wife and I are experienced cruisers including working for Cunard. I will try to keep my comments about the ship and crew and not the ports of call. Embarkation was relatively painless, although the construction around the terminal made for a huge traffic jam. Arriving on the ship we were greeted by music and a very welcoming cruise staff, and there was never a let down in the enthusiasm and courtesy for the rest of the cruise. The entire cruise staff had such a positive helpful attitude! Being a cc member I attended a meet and greet and the entire hotel management team showed up. We were given their personal phone extensions and asked that we call with any issues. I don't think they got a call all week! After meeting them I was amazed how often I saw them all week mingling with passengers or overseeing their people to ensure everything ran smoothly. We were a party of seven from 15, 19 and 22 to 50's to 80's so this is a "consensus" review. We had two balcony cabins and one inside cabin. The balcony cabins we big enough for two comfortably, but the third person made for cramped quarters when the sofa bed was out. We will try to get a cabin that has a fold down bunk the next time. There is literally no way to get to the balcony without walking on the bed! Storage was just enough for three. The baths were big, but we felt the glass door for the toilet wasn't needed. In fact the inside cabin was slightly smaller and didn't have the toilet divider and actually felt bigger. Our cabin steward was always available and ready to help with anything. OK - the food. After reading some really bad review we were a little nervous. We ate our breakfasts at the buffet and it was always good and fresh. There was everything you could want including museli( a cruise ship tradition) . Granted, the hollandaise sauce was not what one would get at a nice restaurant, but they are cooking for 3,000! And the ship was full of passengers who seem to develop a feeding frenzy when they hit the buffet. Having sailed NCL before we were familiar with the specialty restaurants and ate six of seven dinners there. We did have one meal in Tsars dining room and I guess our only real let down was the food there was not as good as we hoped. I agree with the previous review that mentioned the canned peas and carrots. I wasn't bad food, it just wasn't the "wow" we wanted it to be. We believe that part of the NCL experience is going to the specialty restaurants. Our review- le Bistro was wonderful. Great food, top drawer service (Budi was our waiter- he doubles as the breakfast "washy washy " guitar player). We ate there twice. The Italian was the most pleasant surprise. Everything was delicious. The osso bucco was outstanding. Again great service. The Churriscaria was a culinary adventure ! Cagneys was a great steak dinner as well. I strongly recommend you plan to spend the extra money and treat yourself to these great restaurants. It will make your cruise so much more memorable. There is very good snack food at the Blue Lagoon. The entertainment was the most pleasant surprise of our cruise. A very funny comedian, a not- to- be missed magician, and production shows that had great dancers. We had a cocktail every night in a different bar and and each one had a unique atmosphere. Prices ranged from $5.25 to $10.00 depending on the drink. The Jewel is not as fancy as some other ships, but has a very relaxed charm. Although a little tired, she is kept clean and tidy by an industrious crew. It was the most stable ship we have ever been on, with very little movement. It was very easy to get around, and even though the ship was full, the layout spread everyone out so we never felt cramped. Our only real negative experience was the staff in the store. They seemed a bit rude and put off if one needed help. In summary we say book your cruise on Jewel. You will be treated wonderfully! Just plan on spending the extra money and enjoy the specialty restaurants. You will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My wife and I took the Jewel on the seven night cruise out of the port of New Orleans. It has been about 22 years since we had been on NCL and we selected this cruise because of the ports of call – beaches and not a lot to do, just a ... Read More
My wife and I took the Jewel on the seven night cruise out of the port of New Orleans. It has been about 22 years since we had been on NCL and we selected this cruise because of the ports of call – beaches and not a lot to do, just a relaxing get-away for the two of us. For perspective, we’ve cruised around a dozen time on Carnival to RCL to Oceania and Regent. Most of our cruises have been with our children. Embarkation was as expected - a bit long as we didn’t get to the port until noon. Our overnight hotel prior was the Hyatt right down by the port. We should have walked down Julia Street to get there but we opted for a taxi ($17 for two for less than a mile – ouch!). NCL could probably come up with a better organizational system for embarkation but I’m not sure how that would be (love Oceania’s – just walk on and go to a certain location – very friendly). We had booked cabin 9050 which is a balcony. Nothing unique or special here - pretty much your basic cabin. Refrigerator up high was nice as it took up less room. I Putu was our cabin steward and he certainly stood out as one of the best we’ve ever had on a cruise (even better service than our previous butler/steward combination on Oceania). Bed was fine, two deck chairs on our balcony were nice, bathroom configuration was efficient. A ledge behind the bed would have been nice as only one side of the bed had a table next to it for books, water, etc. Wifi worked fine for being on a cruise ship (better than most). When we got on we went to Tsar’s Palace for a nice lunch instead of battling the crowds and sail-away drink offers at the Garden Café/Topsider’s Grill. We ate at Tsar’s three times – breakfast, lunch, dinner. Pretty much the standard fair but the quality was certainly a step above RCL and Carnival. We had our first night meal at Azura, thinking that the smaller environment would be nice for the lobster night. I didn’t care for this restaurant – low ceilings, busy atmosphere, just trying to bust out the food. The Garden Café environment reminded us of a hospital cafeteria – just not a good experience. Food was fine and the salad bar hit the spot for something healthy. As for the specialty restaurants: We very much enjoyed one dinner at Cagney’s. I’m from the Midwest and have an opinion about my steak. The New York (KC Strip) I had was the best steak I’ve had on a cruise line. The ribeye was very nice as well. Salad, soup, sides were all straightforward and well prepared. La Cucina (Moma’s) was certainly not worth the $15. Service was confused as we ordered one of their pizzas for our bread/first course and it didn’t show up until the entrée course. It wasn’t like they needed to turn the table as there was only about ten people there. The risotto was under-cooked, mozz & “beefsteak” (oh, come-on that’s a beefsteak!) tomato (under-ripe as well) was sad. Entrées were the highlight – salmon and lamb. As for the ports, those can be reviewed elsewhere. The tendering was quite painful as they didn’t seem to have the system down in Belize. We docked at our other ports and on-off was a breeze. It was very nice at each port to have the staff and crew reception line as you get back on. Seemed like they cared. And, the cold towels on the dock was a nice amenity. In general the entire ship was very well maintained and staff was very courteous and helpful. I’m sure it will need to see drydock within a couple of years but really wasn’t too bad. Debarkation was fairly simply. We did get the last departure group and that might have been a mistake as you have to be out of your cabin by 9am and didn’t get off the ship until 10:30am. We should have known better. But we were off to a Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace (great idea after a New Orleans cruise). Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first Norwegian Cruise and we loved it. The boarding was a little chaotic for us. We were staying in a balcony suite and were told that we would be taken to a special room where we would be given food and drink and allowed to ... Read More
This was our first Norwegian Cruise and we loved it. The boarding was a little chaotic for us. We were staying in a balcony suite and were told that we would be taken to a special room where we would be given food and drink and allowed to board first when we arrived at the terminal. No one at the terminal knew where we were supposed to go. After being told by security to stand in the wrong line twice we were told to just sit and wait till our number was called. After an hour we caught up with a Norwegian Cruise supervisor, Nigel Garbut. This guy was wonderful and made sure we were taken care of. We were on board and having lunch in Cagney's restaurant twenty minutes after meeting him. After lunch around 1:00 pm our room was ready. Our butler, concierge , and room attendent all came by and introduced themselves. There were fresh flowers, fruit, and a bottle of Champagne waiting for us. My wife and I were celebrating our 30th. Wedding anniversary. All of the staff on the Norwegian Jewel were fantastic and catered to our every whim. We ate at a few of the specialty restaurants during our trip and the food was delicious as was the casual dining at the buffet, Tsar's Palace, and Azura Restaurant. We were allowed to dine in Cagney's for lunch and dinner since we were in a suite. The eggs Benedict was fabulous! We did the ATV riding in Cozumel, Mexico. Well worth it! We also did the Calypso Trolly tour in Belize, I won't be doing that again anytime soon. We were brought to a small cramped room where it was about 98 degrees. After a twenty minute explanation we were brought out to the trolly where we were bombarded by about fifteen vendors who were trying to sell everything from beads to massages, they would not take no for an answer. I was very disappointed that Calypso did absolutely nothing to get these people away. They tour started out well but got a little scarey when we were brought though the southern part of town. A very heavy police presence, bars on every residence and business and even armed (what looked like military personal carrying AK-47 assault rifles. Never again! OK back to the cruise. The shows on board were great and we always found something to do. My wife visited the shopping area and got some great deals on some jewelry. She even won a blue topaz! There was always plenty of food to eat. Besides free room service there is great tasting pizza, burgers and hot dogs by the pool, and last but not least the buffet. There was also a chocolate night which we missed, we were just too exhausted! We have sailed Royal Caribbean and Carnival but nothing come close to our experience with Norwegian. The Norwegian Jewel was clean, well maintained, and the staff was phenomenal! We can't wait to return!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was my 23rd cruise overall, and my eighth cruise on Norwegian. I booked with the Aquafest LGBT group’s annual Halloween sailing, and our group made up almost 500 of the Jewel’s 2100 passengers. I’ve sailed on the Norwegian Pearl ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise overall, and my eighth cruise on Norwegian. I booked with the Aquafest LGBT group’s annual Halloween sailing, and our group made up almost 500 of the Jewel’s 2100 passengers. I’ve sailed on the Norwegian Pearl twice, a sister ship of the Jewel, as well as the Norwegian Dawn twice. Both ships are similar to the Jewel in design and capacity, so I had high expectations for the Jewel. I received the first indication that those expectations would not be met when I checked in. In the past, passengers received a pocket-sized brochure and map of the ship along with their key card. But on this day, I was handed a poor-quality black-and-white photocopy of that map. Norwegian’s continued cost-cutting has become evident even before stepping aboard. Strike one. On my other seven Norwegian cruises, I’ve always admired the friendliness and efficiency of the staff and crew. So I was surprised when after I boarded, I went to the Guest Relations desk and asked where the check-in area was for the Aquafest group. The agent behind the desk stared at me blankly. Then she asked her colleague if she knew what the “Aqua Fresh” group was. I corrected her twice. The colleague didn’t know either. Could it be that the Jewel’s staff was not prepared for a group that was occupying one-quarter of the ship this week? Luckily, another Aquafest passenger was nearby and overheard the conversation, and informed me where to go. Strike two. After checking in with Aquafest and meeting their staff, my friend and I headed up to the Garden Café for lunch. At some point, I heard the news that a surprise CDC health inspection was taking place – this is done approximately every six months on every cruise ship that operates out of the U.S. And when I saw the incredible disarray of the lunch service in the Garden Café – empty food trays not being replaced in a timely manner, lack of fresh plates, many items mislabeled or not labeled at all, etc. – I assumed it was due to the crew’s attention on the health inspection. But as the week progressed, I learned that the inspection was not the reason. These problems persisted throughout the week. Over eight Norwegian cruises, I had never seen the buffet restaurant so poorly managed as it was on the Jewel. Strike three. The Norwegian Jewel struck out in the first inning without a single hit – and I’ve only been on board for an hour. Throughout the week, there was nothing in particular that the staff or crew did to sway my disappointment from the first day. Even the service at dinner that first night in the Tsar Palace was quite slow. Other dinners that week were in specialty restaurants or in the Azure dining room, which had pleasantly prompt service. Our other dinners were in La Cucina, Moderno Churrascaria and Cagney’s Steakhouse – all were as enjoyable as I’ve experienced them previously on other ships. One exception to the lackluster staff was the beverage manager, Katya. She was very friendly and sociable. Because the Aquafest group provided its own entertainment for the guests, I didn’t get to see much of the Jewel’s entertainment. I did see Band on the Run and Jean-Pierre’s magic show – both were very entertaining and enjoyable. But the best aspect of this cruise was the itinerary. New Orleans is a great embarkation port, and my friend and I enjoyed spending two nights here, plus one more night after the cruise ended. The cruise had four ports of call: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. During my previous calls to Cozumel, I went to a nearby resort and bought a day pass. But because Norwegian uses the downtown pier, it was very convenient to walk around the town and explore the shops. Aquafest had also invited its guests to visit Senor Frogs, where we enjoyed a raucous daytime party atmosphere before heading back to the ship. In Belize City, we took a ship excursion to Altun Ha, a very impressive Mayan historic site. Our tour guide, who had a Mayan background, was excellent in explaining some of the history and architecture relevant to the pyramids. We had the ability to climb to the top of the largest pyramid, which was quite the treat. In Roatan, we joined some other Cruise Critic members for a catamaran sailboat charter, provided by Radical Adventures. This was the highlight of the cruise! Captain Ed and his wife Julie, along with a crew of three locals, sailed us to a secluded cove for a couple hours of snorkeling and a delicious lunch. And in Costa Maya, Aquafest had arranged an excursion for the entire group at a beach club about 30 minutes away. If I had to rank my eight Norwegian cruises solely based on the onboard experience, I would have to rank this cruise as the lowest one. I’m worried that Norwegian’s cost-cutting, as well as all the focus they are putting on Epic, Breakaway and Getaway, is having a detrimental effect on the rest of the fleet. Norwegian needs to do more to ensure that its passengers looking for a mid-sized ship experience are not being ignored. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We have sailed Carnival multiple times in the past. We are a married couple 50 and 46 with gown children that are not allowed to travel with us! We love them but we cruise to enjoy ourself and each other. This was our first try of NCL. We ... Read More
We have sailed Carnival multiple times in the past. We are a married couple 50 and 46 with gown children that are not allowed to travel with us! We love them but we cruise to enjoy ourself and each other. This was our first try of NCL. We were honestly looking to "trade up." We came away with mixed reviews. I would completely recommend that you go on this cruise line along with all the others. I was shocked with my opinion. The good... Most of the crew. I really enjoy the washy washy guy! I had done so much research about this cruise and the ports. I watch hours of YouTube videos of the sweet guy singing! I enjoyed the cruise director and staff. We had so much dancing. The music was good. The drinks were strong enough to be tasteful. My hubby just had knee replacement five months ago. We didn't need or get a handicapped accessible room but the staff is VERY accommodating. They had a military meet and greet which was very interesting. I was the only wife to join them and I truly enjoyed listen to the guys talk about their experiences. The bad.... The food is lack luster at best! I actually think the food is better on Carnival. We always sail with a balcony cabin but their cabins are much smaller on NCL Jewel. I know I read this online but it was very obvious. The ship lay out is odd. You can't walk down both sides of the ship. I know this is SILLY but you are constantly back tracking because you can't get there from here. The photographers for the stage photo lacked a lot! I always buy at least one picture. It's a stupid little treat. I couldn't really find a good one. My very favorite was on the stairs but the photographer didn't seem to realize the entire coffee bar and the waiter was in the picture. A different photographer didn't see that my little hanging hook was showing in another picture. I am an amateur photographer but even I know to watch for undergarments that are peaking out or framing of the subjects. The ugly... Although NOT all but many of the head waiters were awful! We would sit for 10-15 minutes before they would come over, Glasses would go dry, and bread baskets empty. I will complain if need be but I prefer to compliment those who do good.... I was constantly complimenting the assistance waiters to the maître d'. The dinning room is not that beautiful or grand. I missed sitting and nearly before I sat down the waiter already knowing after the first evening that I prefer tea with dinner. I missed the prettiness of the atriums that I find on the carnival ships. Surprises... I enjoyed eating with different people more than I had expected. I thought I would miss dressing up but I didn't. My Philosophy is a bad day at sea is better than any day at work... So it was good! I do think I will be heading back to carnival. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
. . . on a ship, that is! First off, I think a cruise is always the most relaxing of vacations, and have to have one every year. This was the one and only for us in 2013. However, we picked NCL only because we were part of the Aquafest ... Read More
. . . on a ship, that is! First off, I think a cruise is always the most relaxing of vacations, and have to have one every year. This was the one and only for us in 2013. However, we picked NCL only because we were part of the Aquafest group on board - an association of GLBT folk who each year at Hallowe'en partially charter a ship for a great party. NCL works well for these events, with its "Freestyle Cruising". The party was fun, the ship was fun, the crew was fun, but outside of an Aquafest function we would be sailing on another line. Embarkation was great. We're from New Orleans, so, of course, it's a fantastic place to start your trip! We were on the ship quickly and smoothly. In time for the lunch we always enjoy on sailing day in the main dining room - here, Tsar's Palace. This is a good idea. You avoid the push and shove of the buffet, and are seated for a refined, civilized experience. The ship is decently laid out and easy to get around. I have never seen such clear markings of where the venues are on any ship in the past. Also, the elevators have guides, telling you what is on each deck. This was my first cruise I did not walk the ship deck to deck before sailing to familiarize myself with it. We were able to join the group party at the Sky Bar instead! That said, there is a massive bottleneck between the pool deck and the buffet, as it skirts the pool grill and goes past the pool's restrooms. Two columns in the middle of this path were padded, gridiron style - a reminder of past boo-boos. It appears the pool deck at one time had paths on both the port and starboard sides, allowing for better flow. The port side is closed at both ends - aft by a hot tub that is an obvious addition. A pleasant consequence is there is a nice secluded place by the pool and two hot tubs in the forward port corner of the pool deck. The pool deck on the Jewel is quite large, accommodating two large pools and four hot tubs, plus the one that was an afterthought. The itinerary includes the usual Western Caribbean suspects: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and The Magic Mayan Kingdom (a/k/a Costa Maya). I understand there's a different set of itineraries too, including Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Again - we were on board for the party, and not the ports. At Cozumel we had a booked excursion through Cozumelwatersports.com. A catamaran/snorkel excursion that was absolutely fabulous. Not too large. A real catamaran. The cast and crew very attentive to safety and comfort. Will do again. NCL quite often, for more money, places you on a cattle boat with 80 people for a "snorkel/sail". Yes, Belize is third world. But not everyone gets to live in the USA. Explore the city. Stay on the main street that goes over the pivot bridge. Absorb it. Watch your wallet, especially when someone "bumps" into you. Ignore the men trying to sell you their sisters. We walked down this street to St. John's Anglican Cathedral, and enjoyed a delightful treat of early 19th Century Caribbean architecture. You could absorb the history from the plaques on the walls. Across from the back of the church is the Government House, open as a museum. Some fine displays of Belize in the past, and a great specimen of old colonial days. I thought I was in a W. Somerset Maugham story! Wondering around the grounds of Government House the staff pointed out to us two iguanas in the trees. What a treat. Walking back the children were being let out of two schools on our route, and it was great to see them in their starched white uniforms. (Much more presentable than the typical American kid, I might say.) Back in the tourist village we went to our favorite shop, The Loom Ltd., which sells pillow covers, runners, etc., to find them in the midst of a liquidation sale. Budging them out of their space? Diamonds International. As if they need more room! At Roatan we did a beach party with our Aquafest group, and it was a blast. A great beach club. Great Honduran beers. Great fun! Not too much at the Coxen Hole port, it appears. Consider an excursion here. Costa Maya was another beach party, one that NCL gave to Aquafest for free. Thank goodness we did not pay for it, as it was a poor cousin to the Roatan experience. 45 minute bus ride each way - but in a comfortable bus. Not much in the way of shaded areas, and no umbrellas. However, a very special young lady pointed out an open thatched hut with recliners and chairs - even a table and a counter - and we enjoyed the day there. Great food and beverage service. But, we might not have been so happy if we had to pay for it. Costa Maya is a huge disappointment, and we are glad that next year, when the Jewel sails from Houston for the Aquafest cruise, it will be off the list. As for restaurants: We are used to dining well - both at home and when traveling (we're from New Orleans!). The only restaurant on board worthy of the upcharge, we concluded, is Le Bistro. The food there is excellent. The staff is the most coordinated and pleasant of any of the dining rooms on board. We ate there four times - twice as scheduled dinner - once as part of the "Chef's Table" event - and a fourth time for the Jazz Brunch the final day at sea. I would recommend all of it. Especially Chef's Table. A multi-course meal with champagne and three different (and good) wines - for about $80.00 per person. A couple photos, too! And, after dinner drinks. The food and service were memorable. Look for this - especially the day you board. We found out about it from a pleasant lady bringing specialty restaurant menus around the main dining room on the day we sailed. Or, ask about it at a specialty restaurant desk in the lobby the day you board. On future cruises we will likely eat in the main dining room for dinner on the other nights, as we did our first night - when we had a pleasant meal. Cagney's is just a steakhouse, and while the food was good, it was rushed and the service was poor. We were ignored after our entrees were served. Moderno, a churrascaria, is a meat lover's orgy - maybe too much. We did not like some of the flavors. The salad bar there is wonderful, though. At Chin-Chin's (Asian flavas) we really enjoyed the appetizers, but our entrees were like the Chinese take out we can get back home. We have yet to have done the hibachi tables they have, though - that might be fun. Finally, we cancelled the Italian restaurant in favor of another Le Bistro dinner after hearing a few bad things, and recalling some less than stellar meals in the Italian restaurants on other NCL ships in the past - moreover, the ship was giving it away to the Aquafest group, another sign . . . On sea days - wait for the cookout on the pool deck. Much better than the buffet, and they stir up a wonderful paella! It is kind of hard to get a drink on this ship. On the pool deck I would observe more crew clearing tables than I would beverage servers. Not the fault of the crew, for sure. A staffing matter. We did not do any ship entertainment because the Aquafest demimonde took up our evenings. There is a great guy who sings and plays piano in the Martini bar on deck six. This bar, and the adjacent Maltings, are among the more civilized venues on board. Overall - a great time! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is ... Read More
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is the longest of any ship I’ve sailed on. Other cruise lines I’ve experienced include Princess (5+), Celebrity (5), Royal Caribbean (1) and Carnival (1) with the remainder being on Norwegian ships. Out of all the 27 voyages I’ve taken, 5 have been with Atlantis Events and 1 has been with Pied Piper. My most recent cruise prior to this was the Norwegian Breakaway inaugural Trans-Atlantic in late April 2013. Events are presented and reviewed in chronological order so enjoy! Pre-Cruise Stay NOLA: Comfort Inn & Suites Central Business District A nice hotel appointed with some great amenities like in room refrigerator, microwave and free continental breakfast in the morning. The location wasn’t all too far from the French Quarter and lively Bourbon Street but far enough in the early AM hours to need a cab if you’ve reveled too much. The front desk staff was extremely helpful during our stay. Norwegian Jewel Cruise: 7-Day Western Caribbean DAY 1: Embarkation Embarkation I arrived to the Port of New Orleans just prior to noon with a long check-in line greeting me, even for Platinum Latitudes. The break down for the line was new cruisers or returning cruisers and then a separate line for passengers with disabilities. Unlike Miami where there are different lines for different tiers of Latitudes members, New Orleans mashes all Latitudes levels together. The check-in agent was fast and efficient when we reached her and she got us on our way as fast as she could have. After over a half hour in the terminal we were on the ship. A leisurely embarkation lunch can usually be found in the ship’s main dining room and Tsar’s Palace offered a perfect reprieve from the chaos of the Garden Buffet while waiting for the rooms to be ready. Our lunch was served to us by a nice waitress named Leyda from Colombia who we had the pleasure of having service from in Azura another time later in the cruise. By 1:30PM the staterooms were announced as ready. Stateroom 5570: I’ve been in balcony cabins only on Norwegian Jewel so this was a new experience in an ocean view. Having the beds combined left little space on both sides barely a foot between the bed and wall. The cabin storage was fantastic for two people traveling with several costumes, regular clothing and lots of shoes. The bathroom is a standard layout and all in one compartment with the toilet having a separate door from the sink/mirror area and the shower. The shower head on the Jewel-class ships has two features  rain and steady unlike the new Breakaway class which has rain only. Norwegian Jewel Ship: This was my fifth time on the Jewel and I can say Norwegian Cruise Line does a nice job of keeping the ship in working order. She looks just as good as the first time I set foot on her in 2007 and everything was in working order. Unlike the Dawn class ships which have had their Spinnaker Lounge relocated, the Jewel still has her Spinnakers intact with great panoramic views of where the ship is going on Deck 13 forward. The flow of the ship on Deck 7 and 6 are quite helpful in keeping passengers moving between venues and the passenger to space aspect ratio is nicer on the Jewel so you don’t feel cramped. After going to the room and getting things in order, it was time to meet the people of Aquafest in the meeting rooms on Deck 6 forward by the Stardust Theater. The check-in for the group was quick and painless and I got to meet a lot of the Hosts for our trip while receiving goodies of a free Aquafest sling-pack, a promotional copy of remixes from DJ Michael as well as our wrist bands for the week and our Roatan beach excursion. At the end of the receiving line was Tom Baker who is the President of Aquafest. It was a nice welcome to the group of Aquafest cruises as this was my first experience with them. I sailed with Pied Piper earlier in the year for the first time and so far this experience was much better. It was a quick jaunt back to the room before muster drill held promptly at 3:15PM before going up to the Sky High Bar for a drink and cast-off party. It was here that I saw Katya, Norwegian Jewel’s resident Beverage Manager extraordinaire. This was my third sailing with Katya and when I did a ship visit to the Jewel in October 2012 I had bumped into her again. She’s a great woman who helped me find a substitute vodka when the Jewel ran out of Grey Goose later in the cruise. Katya knows her alcohols and knows how to keep her guests happy. I knew the cruise would be in great hands with her at the helm. She had just returned from her vacation and joined the ship a few hours previous. We watched the Party-Like-A-Norwegian pool side events while waiting for the ship to cast off. When the ship was under way we headed out back to the Great Outdoors to watch the ship sail off and New Orleans grow smaller behind us. The sun was blocked by clouds so a picturesque sunset over the river wasn’t had this time. Embarkation dinner was actually provided by the Garden Café since we were right there and pressed for time. The assortment of dinner foods was good. The salad bar was well stocked and the main dishes were all tasty. I prefer dining in the main dining room but couldn’t get there with the tight turn around tonight. There was a nice open bar mixer for an hour to meet our fellow Aquafest guests before heading to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. This gave my traveling companion a taste of the entertainment he’d see all week. There was a production cast number, a comedian and a pianist. The comedian was quite funny but the pianist was not exactly entertaining for either of us so we skipped his show later in the week. With a gap between events it was time to head back and unpack before Aquafest variety show which was hosted by the vicious, yet awesome Bianca del Rio. I’ve never met a drag queen as vicious as her but darn can she make you laugh! By the end of the cruise I wished she lived closer to Boston! Also, we got a preview of Tom Goss and David Hernandez talents. The only person we didn’t like was the comedian Jessica Halem who was being shown up by Bianca quite badly during this show. Bianca totally stole the show! Coming off a late night of reveling in the French Quarter and a long day of traveling it was time to turn in for the night. All in all embarkation day was a busy day of meeting new people, unpacking and seeing what the week had in store. DAY 2: Sea Day It was a leisurely morning and after breakfast we did a workout in the ship’s gym. The gym is well appointed with several weight-bearing machines for the arms, abs, shoulders and legs. The cardio deck has been updated with treadmills and elliptical machines with games on them as well as personalized TV channels. It’s a nice addition to the gym and keeps you engaged while doing your cardio workout. Later in the morning there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Star Bar. Thanks to another Cruise Critic member for organizing the event with a gift exchange. Lots of members showed up and so did the senior management of the ship. The Jewel is home to so many familiar faces including the Guest Services Manager Gary Alldredge, Ignacio the Food and Beverage Manager from Spain and Katy the Bar Manager. During this meeting I approached Ignacio about an issue I was having getting through to room service. The line was constantly busy no matter the time you called. I explained my daily request and asked if he could just make sure it was done so I didn’t have to waste time on my vacation calling trying to get through. Ignacio took down my request and it happened like clock-work every single day for the rest of the voyage. It was nice of Ignacio to listen to the problem and take the necessary steps to rectify it right then and there. Next it was time for lunch and Aquafest had a hosted lunch in the Tsar’s Palace main dining room. While standing in line to enter the dining room, Rowena (Hostess) came out and told guests who were doing the group lunch to enter through the other door. I recognized Rowena from the Philippines immediately and said hello to her. Given how busy it was we didn’t have time to talk but would see her later as she was the hostess for the Azura main dining room. Lunch was great and included meeting new people in the group along with lunchtime favorites of the Vietnamese roll and the NY Strip Steak with mushrooms and fries. It was now time to try and get some sun on the breezy private sun deck Aquafest had for the group. We stayed up there for a couple of hours before heading back for to prepare for dinner. During this time Aquafest hosted a singles event in the Star Bar with Bianca del Rio. We stopped in looking for a friend before heading up to the sun deck and it seemed very well attended. Aquafest Entertainment: Kinsey Sicks The Spinnaker’s Lounge was home to performance venues for the whole week for our group. The first entertainers were the Kinsey Sicks who are a vocal quartet and who use their rhythms and some comedy to tell their story. The performers did their best when they were snagged by a technical snafu and recovered nicely to finish the show. Specialty Dining: Mama’s Italian Kitchen As part of the group amenities, there was a compensated dinner in the Jewel’s Italian specialty restaurant. The food was great and so was the service from our waiter. He accommodated a special request to come with the main meal which was the steak. The steak was cooked perfectly and was mouth-watering. We were by the windows at a deuce and had a wonderful dinner together. Norwegian’s Stardust Showtime: BAND ON THE RUN This was the production cast’s first main show. It takes the hits of the 70s and brings them alive on stage with the singers, dancers and acrobats performing. It’s a great way to start off the cruise with catchy numbers that can sometimes get stuck in your head for days. Upon return to the cabin, my travel companion made the mistake of lying down. I went out to check out the Sci-Fi theme night in Spinnakers for a while. I had a drink and retired for the evening myself. It was an early rise the next day. DAY 3: Cozumel, Mexico Norwegian Excursion: Tulum Mayan Ruins Our day started with a transfer to the Ultra Mar ferry at the pier for the transfer to Playa del Carmen on the main land. The sales pitches on the ferry for water were a bit annoying. Once on land in Playa del Carmen we transferred to an air conditioned bus for a drive to the ruins and met our tour guide Angel. There was a brief bathroom, shopping and photo break before continuing to the ruins. In the store Angel explained the Mayan calendar and why it was circular. Once at the ruins Angel did a fantastic job of explaining everything we were seeing and the Mayan culture. He drew in the sand to help us understand principles of mathematics and was just so thorough. I haven’t come across a tour guide in the Caribbean in a number of years as good as him. This was my second visit to these ruins in 12 years and this time was far better than the first. I highly recommend this tour and this tour guide. It’s a full day tour so returning to Cozumel, Mexico meant the ship was departing soon. We did some shopping at the end of the downtown pier in San Miguel and got a drink over a Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. Senor Frogs was dead as most of the revelers had already gone back. Back on the ship we went up on Deck 14 forward to experience the ship leaving Cozumel and to watch the beautiful sunset along with grabbing a quick bite to eat from the grill poolside. Specialty Dining: Moderno Churriscaria For a cover charge of $20, you get an incredibly filling meal. You start with a salad bar which has lots to offer. The salad bar on the Jewel class ships is not as large as that on the Epic or Breakaway but the offerings still healthy and plentiful. Once you flip your card from red to green on your table the parade of meats begin. You get to sample all of the meats offered and then when you’re finished the wait staff bring back your favorites. I love the garlic beef in this restaurant! The dinner was leisurely and as a result we missed the early evening’s entertainment from Aquafest comedian Jessica Halem. Our mistake was laying down to wait for Tom Goss’ performance which resulted in missing the entire rest of the evening. A great day but early day at Tulum and in the hot sun will put anyone to sleep! DAY 4: Belize City, Belize Norwegian Excursion: Lamanai Ruins The tour starts early and it’s a full day long tour which consists of a tender ride to shore, a bus ride to another speed boat which zips you down the river to the ruins. It seems like a lot but in the end it’s worth the wait. It has rained earlier in the day when the ship first arrived to Belize and these ruins are really in the jungle. The paths were muddy and puddle ridden. If you didn’t mind getting a little dirty then you could experience everything including climbing to the tops of the ruins to catch a glimpse into a neighboring country. After having such a great tour guide in Tulum, I couldn’t have been more disappointed with our tour guide for Belize. She explained nothing to our group and only told us what time to climb down from the ruins by. During this tour I bumped into a photographer friend of mine who’s been on quite a few of the ships I’ve traveled with Norwegian recently Liga N. from Latvia. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in a remote part of the jungle! The highlight of the tour was a local lunch served at the speed boat dock and the friendly service of the locals. I got to have a Beliken Beer which has become a tradition each time I stop in this country! Now a note about Cruise Critic folks booking independent tours trying to save a few bucks. During our tour we had to stop three times to offer assistance to a tour boat done by Cruise Critic members which kept breaking down. Had we not come along I don’t know what the outcome would have been for the people or if they would have made it back to the ship. This was an inconvenience to our tour and delayed our arrival to the ruins and also cut the time short for our excursion. It was nice of our guy to stop but this should serve as a lesson about doing things on your own. This was a full day tour and back on the ship we decided to eat at Azura restaurant before heading up to our spa appointment. Rowena, the hostess from the Philippines, greeted us warmly and seated us in Edgardo’s section. Edgardo is a waiter from the Philippines who started his shift in the Azura restaurant for dinner service and worked until the wee hours in the Blue Lagoon. We’d end up running into him a lot by the end of the cruise. It was a great dinner service and we got a picture with Rowena before sneaking off to the show briefly and to the Aquafest spa night. Norwegian Stardust Showtime: Comedian-Illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent I’ve sailed with Jean-Pierre many times and his show always entertains. It was my fourth time seeing his show which he changed a bit and my friend’s first time. It’s always a good time but we couldn’t stay for the full time because of our spa appointment. I highly recommend Jean-Pierre’s show! I didn’t know at the time the spa night would coincide with Jean-Pierre’s performance. Norwegian Experience: Mandara Spa This is the first time in my cruising life to visit a spa for something outside of using their gym facilities. I was nervous about the whole experience and the massage therapist could tell as the 50 minute spa package included a back, neck, scalp and foot massage along with a facial cleansing. I misplaced the receipt with the spa attendant’s name but she did an excellent job of calming me down and making my first cruise spa experience extremely enjoyable. I don’t know why it’s taken me 27 cruises to try this out. The spa package I purchased cost $120 including tip. It was well worth it and then I got to use the hot tub, sauna and steam room until 11PM. Aquafest Entertainment: Ancient Epics & Superheroes Theme Dance I didn’t bring a costume but wanted to finally get up there and check out the party going on. People put a lot of effort into bringing costumes from the simple Batman & Robin to a Burger King costume! It was a fun night out but a lot of people seemed to drift off early as they were tired from full day excursions including me! The night ended with a trip to the Blue Lagoon and service from Edgardo which included the customary late night chicken tenders!! DAY 5: Roatan Island, Honduras Halloween!! Aquafest Private Excursion: The Beach Club San Simon We met at our designated time pier-side and were split into smaller busses to be taken to the West End of the island and a private beach resort. The beach was pristine, clean and locals peddling goods were kept at bay after a disagreement with police. The water was so clean and beautiful and the resort had a nice pool which we also had access to. The bar staff were friendly and the same waiter we had on the beach set us up with a sheltered table to eat our lunch. It was well worth the investment to do this beach break and I got to meet a lot more of the Aquafest team including getting an invite to a private event later. This beach club is definitely something I’ll keep in mind on any return trips to the island. By 2:30PM it was time to return to the ship, watch her cast off from Deck 14 forward and then return to the cabin to get ready for the evening’s affairs. It was very nice to experience the Garden Villas for a reception before dining in Azura. It was at this event I happened to meet another incredibly friendly Norwegian shore-side staff member named Jason K. who was helping out since our Hotel Director had flown to Miami for a conference. The reception ended and it was off to dinner in Azura where the food was made to order and the service great. Rowena was able to accommodate our ever growing group and put us in Leyda’s (waitress from Colombia) section. It was nice to have dinner with new found friends who we would interact with for the rest of the cruise. Norwegian’s Signature Chocoholic Buffet Once a cruise usually in the Garden Café there’s a chocolate lover’s event that cannot be missed. The signature Chocoholic buffet is where chocolate and ice sculptures are put on display. This cruise was extra special since the theme in the buffet was Halloween with pumpkins, chocolate and ice sculptures carved in mystical and scary creatures. It was a nice touch although the chocolate selection seemed to be easily repeated at each of the action stations. All in all it was still good! Aquafest Entertainment: Toga and White Party Theme Dance Tonight Norwegian Cruise Line was celebrating their Halloween with a costume contest in the Spinnakers Lounge so our group moved to Fyzz. A curtain was placed up for our group’s privacy unfortunately trapping all the fake fog they were using to smoke up the room. It was unbearable to be in there for any length of time and this is the one night where bar service was a problem. The bar in Fyzz is too small to accommodate a group of our size. The fog also gave me a scratchy throat and started me towards laryngitis. Aquafest Charity Entertainment: Boylesque at Sea Three of the hot Norwegian Cruise Line production cast dancers performed a striptease number for our private group all to benefit charity during the toga party. It was a nice addition to the evening and the boys definitely put on a show. The highlight of the evening was seeing a good Norwegian entertainer in a new way! Great work Jean-Pierre for your part of this performance (and I’ll leave it at that)!! Twice we visited the Halloween ship party in Spinnakers to get some air and to get drinks. The first time Spinnakers had a decent turn out with fellow cruisers really getting decked out for the party. The second time we visited the ship party just before 1AM the place was a ghost town while the toga party was still going on pretty strong. We also visited the Blue Lagoon afterward for some chicken tenders and service from Edgardo before retiring. DAY 6: Costa Maya, Mexico Norwegian and Aquafest Private Excursion: Beach Getaway at Jungle Beach Club There were two departure times from the Costa Maya pier to the all-inclusive beach club. Before we knew it we were at the beach club and found chairs shaded by a tree. A friendly waitress took care of us during our entire stay there. I got to sample some of their quesadillas and Dos Equis beer. We ventured out on a raft to a concrete structure off-shore as something to do. The water was not clear like Roatan and was littered with rocks and seaweed. We took the 1PM transfer back to the port so we could do some shopping and meander back to the ship. The ship put on a nice welcome back from our last port of call with music and partying going on alongside the pier. The Mexican military members were kind enough to pose for a picture as well. Aquafest Entertainment: 70’s Disco Tea Dance We sailed from Costa Maya watching land fade into the sunset before heading to the tea dance. Music was great and the party was lively. Some folks including the Aquafest team donned bell bottoms and platform shoes. Tonight we dined in Tsar’s Palace with some of the folks from the tea dance! Except for us everyone else was in costume for a prime rib dinner and the service was great. Some confusion about the changing of Norwegian’s production of Cirque Bijoux to Cirque Expressions due to mechanical problems led me to miss the second production show completely. I thought it was the adagio night from the aerialists which this ship has been known to have in the past. Aquafest Entertainment: Neewollah Ball and Costume Party This is Aquafest’s signature Halloween event. Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards. With a $1,000 prize for the best costumes split between three categories, everyone was dressed up in their best. I chose to go as a "cool vampire” and it was funny that someone else who lives the next town over did the same thing! Such a small world. Bianca del Rio was fierce in her emcee of the event and let people have it where it was deserved with her witty comments. The winners ended up being people who were impersonating her in a few years! Congrats to them and then the disco night started where everyone was out late since there was a sea day the next day. During the night we also returned to Cozumel for about an hour to offload a passenger who suffered a medical emergency. Earlier in the evening a stretcher team was paged over the PA system. I hope the person managed to get home from Mexico ok. After a night of partying it was time to go to Blue Lagoon and have some chicken tenders with service by Edgardo before retiring for the evening. DAY 7: Sea Day The weather outside was cold, cloudy and sprinkling. It wasn’t great weather to sun yourself on the ship so it was time to go photo diving. We were very photogenic for everyone this trip so trying to amass all the pictures from our trip was just crazy. The lady from the United States, bless her heart, helped us out with a photo order from the Boylesque night. All in all the photo gallery cleaned up nicely off of us and it was well-deserved because the staff took some great photos. We bumped into an Aquafest group host who invited us to lunch. Even though we’d just ate two hours before we decided it was time to eat again in Tsar’s Palace for a very light lunch of the Vietnamese roll and the chicken noodle soup to help coax my voice back. Norwegian Entertainment: Crew Talent Show The crew are always working so hard for us and the talented ones get to take an hour or two out of their day to share other talents with us. The performances included vocal performances by the Washy, Washy guy, a dramatic performance by Sinful Sin (Assistant Cruise Director), the traditional Filipino Tinikling dance and finally the beloved Fountains. Fountains is always a hoot and this time proved no different. If you’ve never seen Fountains before then I suggest you go to the talent show but go anyway to support the amazing and hard-working crew for their other talents. After watching the last sunset of the cruise up on deck at the Sky High Bar it was time to get ready for the last evening’s entertainment on the ship. Aquafest Entertainment: The Kinsey Sicks Back to perform a different show, the girls didn’t disappoint. A new theme with some funny punch lines and their barber shop quartet made the hour pass by easily. This was followed by the farewell bar mixer. We rushed down to Azura to say goodbye to Rowena but she’d already left to pack up for her early sign off for and much deserved vacation. We asked for service from Leyda but she too had been re-assigned to another restaurant but we still dined in Azura and had excellent service. We stayed up later to say our farewells, stopping by the portrait gallery on Deck 12 to say bye Liga and to share a drink with her later on. The night would end with some quick final packing and going to Spinnakers to say bye to friends made over the course of the week. DAY 8: New Orleans Norwegian Shore Excursion: Past, Present & Perfect Disembarking the Jewel was relatively painless since we had black color luggage tags and had a pre-determined meeting time in the Stardust Theater to get off the ship. The tour bus was on the furthest end of the pier from the luggage pickup so schlepping the luggage the whole length of the terminal was a bit tiring but the whole process was pretty quick. The tour was driving around the city and seeing the sights via the bus and then getting off the bus at a cemetery to view how they bury their dead. It’s usually done above-ground and other items were explained. After driving around the city some more we were dropped at a park for a chance to get a beignet and coffee. From there we drove around the city some more seeing some sights before heading to the airport. We were at the airport by 1PM. The shore excursion recommends you not go if you have a flight before 2PM so keep this in mind! Conclusion: Aquafest and the Norwegian Jewel make a perfect pair. The ship is the right size ship for me and the layout is perfect for accommodating the Aquafest group. The Aquafest brand goes above and beyond to elicit guest feedback through their friendly group hosts and their President Tom Baker who was seemingly everywhere! The Norwegian Jewel didn’t disappoint and remains a ship I can call my home at sea. The friendly crew faces I knew always provided the same excellent service which made me remember them to begin with and now there’s some new faces to add to the mix. The Norwegian Jewel is the best ship at sea with the best crew talent and Aquafest is a great addition to an already outstanding ship. I always conclude my reviews by thanking the people who made my vacation memorable and they start with Katya Plyakova, Beverage Manager for her outstanding ability to handle a large volume of guests and manage to keep everyone happy! If it wasn’t for her extraordinary knowledge of vodkas I would have been stuck when the ship ran out of regular Grey Goose. Her recommended substitution (Russian Standard) was spot on and why I’ve come to trust her over the years as the best Beverage Manager at sea for Norwegian. I’d like to thank Ignacio Alvarez, Food and Beverage Manager for addressing my concerns with the room service issue and taking care of my request for the duration of the cruise. The service from Rowena Owen - hostess from the Philippines, Noellen - our cabin steward from the Philippines, Liga Neilande photographer from Latvia, Natalie Hammond future cruise consultant from Australia, Boyd Chen shore excursion manager from Jamaica, Jean-Pierre Parent comedian/illusionist from Canada, Leyda waitress in Azura from Colombia, Edgardo waiter in Azura and Blue Lagoon from the Philippines and the countless other staff members who I didn’t get a chance to catch their names offered such excellent service the Jewel has been come to be known for. A special shout out to the bar staff who worked tirelessly during our voyage, especially those night after night in the Spinnaker’s Lounge for the Aquafest group! As I write this I see a news story on TV of the devastation in the Philippines, please consider donating to whatever charity you wish to help out the country where so many of the crew on cruise ships come from. Without the hard working crew, fantastic vacations like this wouldn’t be so enjoyable. My thoughts are with the people of the Philippines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). ... Read More
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). Embarkation from N.O. was same as always; actually much quicker this time, as we were later(ish) in getting to the port. We usually arrive at 11:00 and wait in line, however this time we didn't arrive until 2:30; walked right through w/ no lines, awesome! Only issue I had was going through the scanners, the port security guy confiscated a pocket knife out of my wife's purse that I had given her some years ago. He stared at it and said "yep, longer than 4 inches". I looked at him and sarcastically said something to the effect of "Yeah you keep telling yourself that". He told me they'd "mail it back to us". I laughed and said "whatever". They never took our address. I then looked at my wife and LOUDLY said "You'll never see it again". I've taken that knife on 3 previous cruises w/ no problem...it is legal length. I am also a police officer and really wanted to just snap on those $6 an hour nose picking security guards, but decided against it...it was time to get on the ship and have fun. Anyway we boarded the ship and went straight to our room. Deck 4, room with a porthole window. Nice room, although considerably smaller than rooms on Carnival (didn't care). They knew it was our honeymoon and said we'd get some kind of gift. So we enter the room, and sure enough there is a bottle of wine, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries (that were INCREDIBLE!), and a card to take to the dining room for a free cake. Very nice indeed! Funny thing is, we also had TWO seperate single beds! We just laughed. I mean, we've been together for 16 years and just now got married, so no biggie, still though... :-) I was very impressed with the bathroom. Much more elegant than Carnival's pepto bismol pink bathrooms. LAYOUT: Ok so we tour the ship to get to know the layout. Very different from Carnival, but we found it VERY easy to navigate. Basically, everything you need is on decks 7 and 12. Easy enough. Ship was very nice and well thought out (layout wise). We frequented the shop daily and nightly (after lunch and dinner, kind of our routine). The gift shop, "Trade Winds" I believe it is called, is HUGE! Just before entering the shop, you'll walk through the hallway where they put all the pictures they take on display (starboard side). DINING: We ate lunch in the main buffet (I'm awful with names, I think it was called the Garden something). VERY good food for cruise ship buffets...much better than Carnival. It was also a MUCH better layout. Carnival's is a single file line, where as this is more of an open room with multiple buffet tables. So much easier to navigate, w/ little to no lines. And who doesn't love WASHY WASHY and the songs!? Fine dining we jumped back and forth between the Azura and the T'czar (again, names?). The Azura is a bit cramped and more contemporary, where as the T'czar was very, very nice. On a side note, if you're an ice cream lover like myself, the T'czar serves it in larger glasses :-) Unlike the buffet, food quality in the fine dining was......ok. Presentation was nice, but the selection and quality were mediocre. We dressed up every night, and went there more for the experience than the food. We didn't do any of the "pay" dining; we've paid a lot already, and find it ridiculous to pay additionally. SHOWS: We went to a few, and loved them all. The Band on The Run was the best (imo). I found myself drooling over on of their dancers, Kate Barrett. I'm not gonna lie, she is gorgeous, and can dance like no other. My wife didn't mind, she just occasionally rolled her eyes and would say something to the extent of "you're a dork" :-) PORTS: Cozumel, this was our 3rd time there. We love it, but decide to wing it (did that at all the ports). We each rented a scooter for 30 bucks each and took off. A couple of hours later, my wife wrecks hers. Long story short, we had to go to an ATM and get $400 to pay for the damages. Ugh, but, it is what it is I guess. Cozumel is beautiful, and we ate at Margaritaville. Belize, we shopped. I bought a very nice Bulova watch for a ridiculous low price! Roatan, BEAUTIFUL. We rented a "cab" and toured the island. Technically it was a 1992 Corolla w/ a driver, a guide, and us. Long narrow windy roads full of potholes. But we loved it! Tipped the driver and guide and they cried (!?). Reason is, the $ exchange rate is 20:1! Costa Maya: BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL! The port there is wonderful...dolphins, a small beach, a long windy pool, shopping, and of course Senior Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Here's a tip, don't eat at Senior Frogs...they are smoking crack when it comes to their food prices ($15.50 for a burger). Debarkation was 10 minutes from ship to car! I am NOT lying about that! Could not believe it. We chose Norwegian this time to try a change. It was nice, no doubt. Most notably is the clientele, which is obviously due to the price. There was, however, a LARGE group that was on the ship, "Auqafest". It is a gay group. Supposedly they made up %25 of the passengers...we found it to be more like %50. Neither of us could care less, but I have to admit, by the end of the cruise I had had enough of the overweight, hairy men in speedo's making out. The (adult) pool was over run with them day and night. Luckily there weren't many children on board, as it was not exactly family friendly. Also, for you first time cruisers, the sales pitch you get EVERYWHERE, both on the ship as well as ports, does tend to get old. Just thought I'd throw that in there. In conclusion, we had a wonderful time. Was the price difference worth leaving Carnival to change to Norwegian? No. I think we'll go back to Carnival, but if given the opportunity would jump right back on board Norwegian again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We took the Jewel to Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya, mainly as I wanted to snorkel in Belize. I was disapointed as I was told they had cream rinse in the cabins, NOT!! So I finally found some onshore in Belize (I need it for my hair). ... Read More
We took the Jewel to Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya, mainly as I wanted to snorkel in Belize. I was disapointed as I was told they had cream rinse in the cabins, NOT!! So I finally found some onshore in Belize (I need it for my hair). We were disappointed with the cabin stewart, it took 2 days to get a Sierra Mist replaced in our refrigerator. When we called Room Service it took 3 tries to get thru and finally the cabin stewart that showed up, never returned with the pop. I do like that they have a tiny refrig as we were able to get our bottled water cold for the next day. We enjoyed the talent shows. The casino was way too smokey! hard to breath! The service desk was just OK, some didn't give us adequate answers to our questions, others were helpful. We do not like the automatic gratuitee as seems you do not get that great service as before and this is our 8th cruise. desserts had no flavor! Embakation was terrible, long lines, Embarkation was even worse! I will go back to RCL and try the Princess line.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I enjoyed the cruise and am very glad I went. However, my biggest disappointment in the cruise was the activities and entertainment. Except for the shore excursions, the on board offerings were somewhat simple and mindless. ... Read More
I enjoyed the cruise and am very glad I went. However, my biggest disappointment in the cruise was the activities and entertainment. Except for the shore excursions, the on board offerings were somewhat simple and mindless. 70's-80's Pop culture, mindless TV game shows etc. and low-level (though well executed) Las Vegas stage shows are fine, even fun, but when they are the only options, it seems like they are being aimed at the lowest common denominator of the population. I did not hear one note of classical music during the entire cruise. (Couldn't there be an audio channel on the TV?) There were no lectures and really no activities that required any thought or intellect--and this is a shame because, for example, people (especially children and teens!) came back from seeing wonderful Mayan ruins, indigenous populations and local economy and history and had no clue what they had seen. So much more could have been done to enrich the experience of the cruisers with a little education and preparation. And how about a couple of rudimentary Spanish lessons--or conversation groups to revive people's knowledge of Spanish? Instead we had big prep sessions and relentless print ads in our daily bulletins to alert people to shopping opportunities! All of this tended to lower the level of conversation on the boat to the catatonic level of a week long visit to a mall. Of course most people come aboard with friends and family, with whom they tend to stick to the exclusion of other passengers, so I don't expect too much in the way of scintillating company. But the most interesting conversation I had during the entire cruise was with a 13 year old boy whose family went off to a specialty restaurant. He was a musician and also interested in child psychology. My other conversations, though pleasant, were mostly stories about casino gambling, how drunk people got the night before, how much they paid for jewelry and how they missed seeing football during the week. The ship is using the internet for its operations. Why does it have to be so expensive for the passengers? Also, even if external internet access is not provided, the "intRAnet" (on-board internet) could be used so much more effectively. There is a "community" section on the internet that is free. This could be used to post restaurant menus, event schedules, television schedules (movies) and many other bits of information that passengers would like to have available. It is already up and running but has only ship embarcation schedules. Regarding food, generally it was OK, but by no means did it ever rise to the level of fine dining and the two extra-charge specialty restaurants were just not that much better than the complementary dining options. I did not try Cagney's steak house, but to my surprise The Brazilian churrascaria, Moderno, had nearly flavorless grilled meats, some of which were actually too tough to eat. La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, was better, but only one cut above the Olive Garden. The outdoor grill barbecue offerings were also dry, tough and flavorless. The Tsar's palace and Azura had dishes that looked good, but were only occasionally really well prepared. I had to do something I never do--namely send food back because it simply was not worth eating. I found the Garden Grill buffet had the best chance to provide edible food, some of which was quite good--the small Indian offerings being reliably tasty. And why should we have to pay extra for espresso? The Garden Grill already has coffee machines that grind and fresh-brew quite decent Americano coffee. Machines that do this and also provide espresso are everywhere. It would be so easy to install them, and it would add a lot to the experience of the cruise. Small matters: The chairs in the library are extremely uncomfortable and narrow. The library was rather heavily used, and more space with comfortable chairs for reading would be welcome. I had plug adapters for European electric plugs, so I could use the library or card room with my own computer for a more pleasant place to do some writing, but others who only had US plugs were frustrated. For folks like me who like to spend recreational time not only reading but writing, a room with tables and universal electric outlets for our own computers would be most welcome. It would be good to have adapters available, or dual wall plugs. Although a service charge of 12% was added to the bill, I felt continually pressured to offer additional tips--even for coffee. I would so much prefer a service charge of 15-18% and a no-tipping policy throughout the ship. This is exacerbated by the fact that the ship is full of concessionaires who work on commission. These are likeable folks, but their income depends on hard selling (and up-selling) and this became obsessive and egregious at times. The shore excursions were the high point of the trip for me. There was a large variety of excursions for different tastes, and the guides and activities were informative and fun. All this said, I want to commend the ship on the superb quality of the crew who were consistently helpful, happy and competent. They made the cruise a pleasure at all times. I also want to commend the ship on its excellent environmental policies. I would cruise with NCL again if only to support this effort. It made me feel that I was not harming the earth quite so much when indulging in a cruise experience.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We've sailed on Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity before so we were looking forward to our first NCL cruise aboard the Jewel. The New Orleans Cruise Port is adjacent to the old Riverwalk and Convention Center and was somewhat ... Read More
We've sailed on Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity before so we were looking forward to our first NCL cruise aboard the Jewel. The New Orleans Cruise Port is adjacent to the old Riverwalk and Convention Center and was somewhat a pain to get to. It may of been newly refurbished as there weren't signs directing people anywhere. After almost boarding the ship without checking in (Port staff had no clue) - and after 30 minutes in line, we finally checked in and boarded the ship. Our first objective was to sign up for the "Ultimate Beverage Package" which ends up being $400 a person, both people in a room MUST purchase so there goes $800 right out the door. What they don't really make obvious - is that the package doesn't cover all your drinks. Bottled water and specialty coffees ARE NOT included. We were hit with a $6 charge for a bottle of water! Dinner in the "Tsars" dining room was a bit stuffy, because you have to wear pants. We wanted to use our beverage package, but there were no Beverage / Wine Stewards to be found. We discovered most people don't change for dinner, and eat at the "Azure" dining room - which was always busier than the other. After a few days in, we began to notice that a good portion of the staff, maybe 50%, were somewhat new to working on a cruise ship. According to other cruisers, half of the trained staff on the Jewel went to go work on the new Norweigan Epic. Learning this let us switch our patience modes, but our patience only goes so far. I doubt we'll return to NCL anytime soon. They aim to upcharge you for EVERYTHING - so much that it got annoying. Don't buy the beverage package unless you can drink 8 drinks a day MINIMUM. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Oh, what high hopes we had for Norwegian. We perceived it as a luxury liner, a step above the rest. Boy, were we wrong. First, the things we liked - embarkation/debarkation was very fast and efficient. This was our sixth cruise total, ... Read More
Oh, what high hopes we had for Norwegian. We perceived it as a luxury liner, a step above the rest. Boy, were we wrong. First, the things we liked - embarkation/debarkation was very fast and efficient. This was our sixth cruise total, third cruise line, and it was by far the fastest. Bueno. The mini suite on 11 was very nice - bigger than the balcony rooms we have been on, but not a true "suite". It had a tub - gasp! And a nice big balcony. We LOVED the shore excursions - we went to Cozumel for a nice relaxing beach party, Belize for snorkeling over a great reef, Roatan for outstanding snorkeling - amazing!! Last was Costa Maya, for Mayan Ruins - very informative, very nice tour. The washy washy guy and antiseptic dispensers all over the place was very nice - and wise. We appreciated that. So that was the good stuff. We have cruised Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We had our experience with service on those lines - which was good - so we expected more from NCL. Instead, we got much, much less. FIrst we had to park on a surface lot - $112! And got a nice scratch on my door as a bonus. Carnival, right next door, is a covered deck, and cost less. The use of space is not great - it feels very small and closed in. No large open awe inspiring spaces. The pools on 12 were average, but the waterslide was worse that you would find at the kids splash park downtown. The fitness area is a joke - treadmills, like 4 of them, with an equal number of ellipticals, are nose to the window - NO circulation, and a 30 minute limit, due to the scores of people wanting to use them. The ceiling is inches above your head. Very inadequate. The shows with the magician/comedian were okay. But there was really nothing else to do on board! We kept looking and the Breakaway flier to find something - yawn fest. We went to the Fizz lounge every night - that was fun, but it was small, and night after night that was it? Bummer. And the food - the two main dining room food was mediocre at best. Nothing stood out as being good. No signature dishes. Which left you with the option to go to one of the restaurants - and pay more. Was that really just an option though? If the food was blah in the main dining rooms, so you have to eat where it costs $15 - $40 a head more. Really? After paying more than the average cruise? The nickle and diming begins. Then there is the 18% gratuity tacked on to every food or drink you purchase, whethere you wait for the waitress to walk two feet to the bar, and take 20 minutes to return - or just belly up to the bar yourself. Welcome to the gratuity. "Service". Norwegian has a systemic problem here. The wait staff - except for one waiter - was dismissive, condescending, or worse. Want a refill on your water? Forget about it! Iced tea to drink? Good luck. And extra appetizer? We were actually told no!! Seriously??? We had purchased a 3 restaurant deal through the NCL website - we were excited about that. Well, they had no record of our purchase. After hours at the customer "service" desk, I finally went online and showed them my bank statement where NCL took my money in September!! They never conceeded this one. They fought to the bitter end - they did give us the package days into the cruise, but continued to repeat the mantra "we haven't heard back from coorporate yet." I guess the carrier pigeon died. Chocolate fantasy night - yes yes yes! Beautiful! Ooh, ahhh....tasted meh. Disappointed yet again. That was our first and last cruise. NCL wanted us to pony up $12 per day, per person for "service". We removed those bogus charges and palmed cash generously to our steward, and the one waiter who gave a crap. We do a week long cruise annually - we are RUNNING back to Carnival. Good food, great service, fun - yes, and it costs less. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first back to back cruise and our first Western Carib cruise but our 5th and 6th NCL cruise. We had a balcony cabin. We arrived one day early in New Orleans and stayed at Staybridge about 4 blocks from cruise pier. Loved the ... Read More
This was our first back to back cruise and our first Western Carib cruise but our 5th and 6th NCL cruise. We had a balcony cabin. We arrived one day early in New Orleans and stayed at Staybridge about 4 blocks from cruise pier. Loved the Staybridge and would recommend it. Right on the route for the Halloween parade and in walking distance of everything. Very good breakfast buffet, too. Boarding was a breeze as usual and went right to the spa to book the Thermal Package. Well worth it. Then went to lunch in the dining room. We do not care for buffets. Our room was ready and our luggage had been delivered. We were unpacked and settled by 2. We enjoyed the trip out the river passage. We enjoyed all of the ports, but particularly Roatan and Jamaica. Belize was a disappointment - no good beaches unless you go to Ambergis Cay which we did not know about at the time. We loved the Jewel. We mostly ate at the main dining room - sometimes at Blue Lagoon, and also at Le Bistro and the Asian restaurant. Blue Lagoon is fast and has a great dessert at lunch - a brownie sundae. I thought overall the food was better on the Jewel over our previous NCL cruises. Pretty much the same menu but prepared and served better. One negative of the back to back is that the menu is repetitive but there are still a lot of choices. Entertainment was not as good as previous cruises - particularly the lounge acts. One bright spot was the Twosome Awesome. Really liked them. Dawn had better acts. Loved our cabin - glad to have a balcony. Stewards good but not intrusive. Better pool area than the Sun or the Dawn. Better casinos. One thing we did not like on the first week of our cruise...there was a large group of 500 that had been booked and some areas of the ship would be closed off for them which I found to be unfair. We booked early (over 10 months pre-cruise) and probably would not choose to cruise with this particular group of people but we had no knowledge and no choice. Also, sometimes certain lounges would be closed because they were using them and our favorite sundeck was reserved for this group. According to some members of this group, they booked late and got really great rates. Doesn't seem right when we booked early and then do not have the use of the whole ship. I know the cruise lines want to fill the ship but makes me want to wait to the last minute to book - might get a better rate and maybe find out if there is a group I don't want to be around. My husband said to be sure I mentioned that the Jewel had really cold beer. That was his complaint on our previous NCL cruises. They did not keep the beer cold enough. Anyway, we all in all we loved our cruise and have booked another one for next November. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was my 10th cruise, the first with Norwegian. It was a very good trip in my opinion. The cabin was 9626 and we had a great steward but she was about to go home on vacation and returning to a different ship. The main dining room I felt ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise, the first with Norwegian. It was a very good trip in my opinion. The cabin was 9626 and we had a great steward but she was about to go home on vacation and returning to a different ship. The main dining room I felt was fair at best and we never got out of there in under 2 hours. We arrived@ 5:30 each night. The strip steak was about 1 /4" thick. Not what I think of as a strip steak. From what I heard from other cruise lines from fellow fliers on the flight home this is what is to be the norm now from all lines. I had some friends in my group that ate at Tepinyaki's which they each paid $25 extra for and said it was worth every penny to spend the extra$$. In Cozumel I parasailed with a couple of friends which we bartered the price down to$55 each, which we could have gone one or two at a time. The choice was ours. In Belize we had a ship planned excursion planned to go snorkeling which was cancelled due to rough waters. I booked a trip in the terminal at Belize to see the Howler monkeys. It was a great excursion. In Roatan I did a ship planned excursion which was kayaking and snorkeling on the west end. The excursion was amazing but didn't get any pics due to having our bags and possessions locked in a locker when we were in the ocean. We had lunch provided at the Cannibal cafe which consisted of quesadillas, chips and salsa and fresh fruit. In Costa Maya the weather was supposed to be 85 degrees and was about 60 instead so everyone was chilled even the locals which was good for making deals. I got a bus ride to town about 4 or 5 miles away which was a beach lined with bars and stalls with ppl selling their wares. It was a wonderful trip overall. I would probably eat at the buffet for dinner the next time. I liked the food there ok. It had a pretty good variety of good. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we ... Read More
My wife and I are usually cruising over Christmas, but my Mom asked us to be home this year, so we moved our cruise up a week. This was our fifth holiday cruise and sixth cruise on Norwegian. The Jewel was our second Jewel-class ship - we sailed on the Pearl a couple of years ago. While it was not exactly the same as a Christmas cruise, it was a cruise with a holiday spirit, especially compared to a New Year's cruise we did a couple of years ago where we left on Christmas Day and everyone seemed a bit cranky until New Year's Eve - the last night of the cruise. Sailing on another ship in the same class was great because we almost instantly knew where everything was onboard - it was like coming home. That saved us a lot of time the first couple of days on just getting around the ship. The Jewel is a nice ship and I can easily find my way around her layout, but as our last two cruises were on the Epic and the Breakaway, she almost seemed a step down - which I think may be an unfair comparison, but that was first impressions. The Jewel felt older (because she is) and smaller (also because she is), so I think the comparison was accurate, but it doesn't mean that we didn't like her - it is just a different experience. This was an interesting cruise for us because all of the ports were places we had been before, so we had different excursions booked than previously. We didn't book anything in Cozumel since we were meeting friends who were also in port that day (on the Dawn.) We flew into New Orleans the night before departure and stayed at the Hyatt French Quarter - we booked our own flights and hotel. Coming from Dallas, we could probably fly in the day of departure, but I don't have that much stomach lining to spare. Plus, a night in New Orleans is always interesting. We did a little wandering around on Bourbon Street, so we got some of the Nawlins tourist experience. We arrived at the port just after 11am and got through the paperwork phase quickly. After a short wait, we were allowed to board, and had coffee in the Atrium. This caused a moment of panic, since the computers weren't up yet, and the staff was running paper receipts. I was asked what my room number was, and I had to admit that I had no idea. This is what happens when my wife is in charge of the reservations. Luckily, she had left all the paperwork while she was wandering, so I found my room number. I would have hated to see my first drink repossessed. We pre-booked our dinners and excursions online as they became available, which meant we didn't have any lines to stand in, so we just relaxed with a drink until we decided to go eat lunch in the Tsar's Palace MDR. I had my usual steak lunch to start the cruise. It was very good. We were allowed up to the rooms just after 1pm, which seemed early to me, but I was happy to get clearance to go see our home for the next week. We were in an aft-facing handicap-accessible mini-suite. It is a nice cabin, but a mini-suite is not a suite (no extra services), and aft-facing was not the nirvana we expected. You are looking out the back of the ship, but it's not really much different (to me) to a balcony anywhere else, and if you are sailing west or north most evenings, you will never see a sunset, which was my goal. So, it was worth the expense to see it once, but I'm not really sure I would pay for it again. We had pre-booked the dinner package with Cagney's, Le Bistro and Mama's for a fixed price, plus a bottle of wine. The first night, we were asked what type of wine (red or white), served, and at the end of the evening, we were given a receipt for the glasses we had not consumed. Since we're not really wine drinkers, the bottle of wine was a nice touch, but saving a bit of money over the individual dinners was more important - since these were the three restaurants we would have visited, anyway. Mama's was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Sometimes, it was "Mama's" and sometimes it was "La Cucina" (which is what the Italian restaurant is called on other ships.) Hopefully, the name will be standardized. All of the dining was very good and the service was good, as well - we had two dinners in Le Bistro, one in Mama's, one in Cagney's and the rest in Azura so I didn't have to change out of shorts. We did eat at Azura one evening and I felt under-dressed, which was a first. There were less sloppy people on this cruise than usual. We ordered room service for a snack one evening and it was very slow. However, it was just after all the shows finished, so they may have been slammed. It there had been anything open, I would have just walked down and gotten food myself. It would have saved time. (On the newer ships, we would have just gone to O'Sheehan's.) The staff were great - the Captain was very funny, and I believe staff attitude and actions start at the top. We had no issues with any of the staff. The cruise director and her assistants were not as visible as some have been, but we weren't wandering around as much as on some cruises, so we may not have been in the right places. The evening entertainment (Newlywed, Not So Newlywed, Dancing with the Jewel Stars and other assorted games) were very funny and paced well. We skipped the planned entertainment. Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica and we were docked, but at the commercial dock next to the passenger dock, so all the excursion buses met us there and brought us back. We were on a Norwegian-sponsored excursion, so we just got off the ship and into line. Coming back to the commercial port was an issue if people wanted to shop - but in our case, the excursion went long, so there wasn't much time left, anyway. Our next stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman and we tendered. The seas must have been up that day, because we had an excursion canceled (Stingray City) for the first time. We did manage to switch to an alternate excursion - a beach break, but there was only one person at the excursion desk, so it took some time. This was a bit irritating, since the desk knew anyone going to Stingray City (either as an only destination or as a part of a longer excursion) might be changing to something else, so wouldn't it make sense to have extra people around? The beach excursion was fun and the cost differential was handled easily, so it worked out. This was actually our second stop in Grand Cayman - we had diverted there on the way to Jamaica for a medical emergency, and had a passenger disembark for care. All we know about it was what we heard from other passengers - since we were aft-facing, we didn't really see anything going on. Our final port was Cozumel on a day that seven ships were in port. We tendered and it was a rough procedure - the currents were up, so we could tender off only one side of the ship, so it took quite a while. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to make our noon appointment! I am glad we didn't have a planned excursion, since we were not in port late and it took so long to get off the ship. Going back was bumpy as well. In all, this was a very good cruise. I do enjoy the Jewel class ships (I miss the Spinnaker lounge when we are on the newer ships.) The staff was very helpful, as always. I did expect more Christmas events - even though it was the week before. The ship was decorated but the Christmas music that is usually playing on the TV was missing, and it seemed more like a prelude to Christmas (which is was.) Someone asked about it in the Officer's Q&A, and the cruise director said "Christmas is next week." This is true, but I think for many people, it was a Christmas cruise. Still, it was not a major issue for me - I just had been told by other cruisers that it would be Christmas onboard, and it was, but it wasn't. The navigation channel on the TV was out. This is a minor issue unless you actually enjoy navigation and trying to determine where you are (and like having something to double-check your GPS readings.) Someone else asked about it in the Q&A session and the Captain said the software was being upgraded, but it wasn't ready, so it was off - since that was better than showing incorrect values. A minor disappointment, but I was glad to know I wasn't the only navigation nerd onboard. Disembarkation was reasonable - I think they were actually ahead of schedule when our color was called. We got through customs and security fairly quickly and our porter helped us find a cab for the ride back to the airport. I did enjoy the itinerary - even though we had been to the ports before, they were places I would visit again, and there were three sea days to just relax onboard. The Jewel seemed like home, since we had been on the Pearl, so it was a good week. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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