Sail Date: November 2013
Bottom line: The dinner dining experience in both of the two main dining rooms was the worst we have had on any cruise. This was our eighth cruise, our second on Norwegian. Our first cruise several years ago on NCLs Dawn was amazing - the ... Read More
Bottom line: The dinner dining experience in both of the two main dining rooms was the worst we have had on any cruise. This was our eighth cruise, our second on Norwegian. Our first cruise several years ago on NCLs Dawn was amazing - the food was absolutely superb and the free-styling everything we expected. I should say that we were with a larger group, our two adult children, their spouses and four very young grandsons (0 to 5), so admittedly we were a larger than normal group. First, when we made dinner reservations, we were told 5:30 or 8:30 are the only times one can make reservations for; it did not matter how far ahead we called. So much for so called Free-Styling. We found it was a lot easier to not make reservations and just walk in; after the initial surge of coure. Generally, service was very slow. On another cruise line one would expect at least two servers for a large table. Normally, we only had one who was often not anywhere around. On our first night, it took more that two hours from sitdown to dessert! Our experience on other nights was better, but still much longer than normal. On the positive side, one night we did put in a written complaint and management responded very quickly and was very nice. Food selection - the dinner menu was pretty much the same every night especially for the entrees - there was some minor variation, but not much. Sometimes when the food arrived it was tepid. On one occasion, our oldest grandson's hotdog arrived 30 minutes before the main entrees were served - we appreciated the speed but one would assume everyone's meal should arrive at roughly the same time. Finally, but importantly, we found the taste of the food generally bland. This was nothing like our first NCL cruise. My spouse was so disappointed with the entire main dining room experience, she said more than once, "NCL - never again". Three points on the positive side -- One night we ate at Chin Chin's (you pay extra to eat there) and absolutely loved it! The food was tasty, fast and hot. The server, chief cook and the dining room manager were top notch - beyond excellent. All of them stopped by to talk and were obviously desiring that our experience be the best. Really a good memory! But that did make us wonder - is the quality of the dinner in the main dining room being notched down on purpose to drive people to the pay dining rooms? We would hope not. Since we had two older grandsons with us (4 and 5) we were able to observe the children's care program. Simply WoW!! Kudos to the young adults (and NCL) for this program. We were extremely impressed by the quality of care and creativity of the program. We give it five stars! The shows in the main theater were probably the best we had ever seen - particularly the Cirque du Soleil (sp?) like show - it was GREAT.   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 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
. . . 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
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
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: April 2014
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more ... Read More
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more relaxing than the usual 7-day cruises, it is a warm weather cruise and there are an almost equal number of port and sea days. This was our 10th Norwegian cruise; we have also cruised once on Crystal. We are unapologetic Norwegian ambassadors! Pre-Cruise Preparations - My husband has emphysema and travels with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), and mom walks with a cane or a rolling walker. That said, traveling can be challenging in this situation. We contacted Norwegian's Access Desk to inform them that we would need 2 wheelchairs at embarkation and disembarkation. We also advised them that mom needs a low/no salt diet. The representative said that once on board we would be contactd to pre-order her meals. More on that under Dining. The airline also requires advance notification with doctor's signature that we are traveling with a POC, as well as the request for wheelchairs for distance. Travel to Embarkation - We flew United to NOLA on Good Friday. We decided to fold, duct tape and check the walker as luggage. It came through with no problem. The wheelchair porters/pushers were prompt and very helpful. The Airport Limosine driver went above and beyond fitting us and our three large, one medium, one carry-on, a POC and the walker in the Town Car (yes, we always manage to overpack!). New Orleans - We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, booked through our travel agent. It did not disappoint. The room included "Continental Breakfast" but we ordered a full breakfast and it was covered. We dined at Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Good food, but getting to the upstairs dining room was difficult for mom to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through a crowded dining room, up the elevator, then back to the front dining room, then back again after dinner. We took a trip to Rouse's market to purchase 8 bottles of wine. Embarkation - We caught a taxi to the port for $7 per person. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal. After we unloaded all our luggage and the porter put it on his cart we found out we would have to walk a long hallway to get to an entrance that would have been closer, and no wheelchairs were available until after we went through security. It would have been better to go to the furthest entrance. We went to the head of the line as mom can not stand for longer than a few minutes without pain. The security agent got us an escort that took us through security quickly. We knew to hand carry our wine, and were directed to the corkage table to pay the $15/bottle corkage, and then to the section to wait for a wheelchair. We waited about 30 minutes for our turn to get 2 wheelchairs. They were very slow in coming. Eventually we got the wheelchairs, got checked in quickly, taken to the VIP lounge and on to the ship. Yay! The Ship - The Jewel was going into dry-dock immediately after our cruise. There was some wear and tear visible that I assume will be upgraded in dry-dock. The ship was clean and the crew was quite visible in cleaning. We had a 2-bedroom Haven Villa and mom was next door in a Haven Penthouse. The living room, bedroom and master bath are exactly the same in both cabins, but the balcony is 1-2 feet deeper in the 2-bedroom. The cabins are luxurious with wood paneling, queen bed in the master bedroom, lots of closet space and storage space in the master bedroom and bath. Minimal storage in the second bedroom. Hot water was slow in coming to the cabin, we had to run the shower to get it more quickly. The butler and steward were fine, though not impressive. We have had some that matched us much better and may have unfair expectations. Dining - We ate at five of the specialty restaurants and in Azura main dining room the rest of the nights. Le Bistro, Cagney's, Chin Chin, Mama's/La Cucina are always our favorites. We also ate at the Teppanyaki, which was better than the last time. Mom needed a low/no salt diet. We were not contacted as promised by the Access Desk rep, but the first night at Azura we asked about it and were introduced to one of our Vacation Heroes, Felicitas J. She was helpful, knowledgeable and a delight. She explained that mom could see the next night's menu and pre-order so sauces and dishes would be prepared with no salt. She also explained which restaurants prepared foods "a la minute" with low/no salt and which needed a pre-order. The result was that it worked extremely well and mom had minimal ankle swelling. We like Azura as it is midship and easy to get to from the Haven. Most of the time the food was varied, good, and well prepared. Ports - Cartagena - we didn't get off this time as we've been there twice before. Huatulco - rglcruise organized a tour with Adelino. He had a late model 13 passenger van and took us through Huatulco to Santa Maria. We walked through a portion of the town, had quesadillas with fresh made tortillas, and watched a carniceria wield his knife. He also told us the history of the area. We drove up into the mountains to a coffee plantation and small town. Adelino was great a communicating his love of his home nation and state. Puerto Vallarta - Just off the ship is a small area with shops to purchase souvenirs and the ever present Diamond International. Walmart is within walking distance from the port for those sundries you've run out of. Cabo San Lucas - This is a tender port. Lots of shopping and restaurants at the dock. Also, there are lots of opportunities to catch an independent operator for a tour of the area by boat. Disembarkation - We arranged with Virginia, the concierge, to have the wheelchairs pick us up. They came a little after the designated time, but then whisked us off very quickly.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent ... Read More
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent bikes-- the exercise room stayed empty most of the time but the tread mills, elliptical machines and bikes stayed very busy. The food was the best. We ate at both the freestyle dining rooms -- Azure and Tsar's for dinner And the Cafe on deck 12 for breakfast and lunch. The choices were amazing and there were plenty of serving stations so there were virtually no lines. We were greeted regularly by the officers as they moved through the dining room. Our excursions were as advertised and went well. They were worth the money. One was cancelled in Puerto Vallarta b/c of lack of participation but there was room on another which turned out to be a lot of fun. We rode the camels in Cabo San Lucas and our guide was a scream. I loved it. The only issue we had was the shuttle to the airport. We had to wait an hour after disembarking for a bus-- there were several which filled up fast. We were told that there weren't enough buses available that day. Don't know if it was NCL or the bus company that messed up but next time we will take a taxi. The shuttle for 2 people was $30. No idea what a taxi would cost but there would be no wait. OVERALL, we had a wonderful trip. The passage thru the Panama Canal was exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We took this Panama Canal repositioning cruise from New Orleans to San Francisco. It was very relaxing and we loved the ports we stopped at. There were only 4 ports on this 15 day cruise--1 day was the Panama Canal. NCL is not a high ... Read More
We took this Panama Canal repositioning cruise from New Orleans to San Francisco. It was very relaxing and we loved the ports we stopped at. There were only 4 ports on this 15 day cruise--1 day was the Panama Canal. NCL is not a high class cruise line--the cruise itself was very casual--only one "formal" night as far as I could tell and that was barely advertised. The food on NCL is at the regular dining rooms is generally fair--the unlimited dining package is a great deal--and the food is excellent at the Cagneys steak house, Brazilian steak house, and French restaurant. As far as "fast food"--their Burgers and Pizza are lousy and there is the same menu daily at sit down breakfast and lunch--I shouldn't complain though--I still managed to gain an unacceptable amount of weight on the cruise. It's not a huge ship--there are 2 swimming pools on the Lido deck--have gotten used to hanging out at the back of the ship's pool on other lines and we missed that. Not a lot of indoor areas where you can sit and watch the view--also some of the indoor areas are designated concierge level areas only during certain hours--so indoor space is very limited. Not sure that I would do a colder weather cruise like Alaska on this ship. Casino was VERY friendly--there wasn't a huge crowd gambling and the pit bosses were very generous with buying drinks even though we weren't technically eligible point wise yet for that. The ship was scheduled to go into dry dock right after our cruise--but all facilities were open, clean and functional. Wouldn't have known that a dry dock was planned except that it was announced. Cruise critic activities were very nicely done on board--the meet and greet was well attended by officers and we had an active cabin crawl--we were even allowed access to the Haven Suite area. Had last taken an NCL cruise 2 years ago and since then they have had a major attitude adjustment. Have never in all my cruising experience of over 20 cruises been asked so many times how the cruise was going?, did I have any suggestions?, and what could they do to make the cruise better? After talking to the staff--they asked for our room number and we received chocolate covered strawberries (on more than one occasion). The staff is 100% committed to giving the guest a "dream vacation".   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager ... Read More
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager vacationers allowed to board at noon. We need wheelchair assistance, and have found it is better to wait until closer to noon, when attendants and WCs are released to pick up guests. There was a special, shorter line for those using canes, walkers and rollators, which proved a big help. Our first lunch was in Tsar's main dining room, rather than braving the super busy Garden Cafe buffet on deck 12. Daniela proved the excellent service NCL is known for, and we noted a new luncheon menu in the past couple of months. Scallops, Caesar Salad and cheeseburgers proved tasty and filling as we waited for the announcement that cabins were now ready for us. Muster is a short process without need for life vests, and then it was time to be underway. Well, at least that is the information in the ship's Daily newsletter. We had plans to meet with others in our robust Cruise Critic roll call for a Sail Away party, and I was looking forward to getting some great shots from Port side as we slowly cruised past the French Quarter. In one of the Jewel's few 'oops' moments during our 13 night modified Panama Canal repositioning cruise, no one owned the PA to inform us that due to the double length of our cruise, from the Jewel's more typical 7 night Western Caribbean run, and with the addition of a 2 week dry dock now tacked onto the end, lots and lots and lots of provisions and building supplies would be needed to see us through. This delayed Sail Away by 4 or 5 hours beyond that posted...not a major disappointment, but one that could easily have been explained sooner rather than later. Our first of many Sea Days, the Group Event Coordinator had helped to set up our Meet & Greet, with at least 70 CC members in attendance. There was a full compliment of department managers, with Hotel Director Richard Janicki introducing the friendly officers and fielding some spirited Q&A with a bit of extra information about Jewel's planned dry dock. As several CC members in the know had speculated, Blue Lagoon would become transformed into the 24/7 Comfort food and bar, O'Sheehans, also taking over space from the starboard side of deck 8 mid ship Moderno's Brazilian Grill. Moderno's would move up to Deck 13, in the annex portion of Cagney's Steak House near the Star Bar. A well-needed facial recognition system was being installed in the Photo Department, so no more hunting and stooping and surveying thousands of photos for your own special bunch. It would also save on both chemicals, paper and so forth, a win-win situation all around! Besides the usual Dry Dock refurbishments, a special deck 15 penthouse of the Haven type, was being included, and we were all thrilled to be reassured that the Spinnaker Lounge with the great ceiling to floor Forward windows, would be retained. I'd asked for a special room set-up to better the interaction between roll call members and we also enjoyed light refreshments and the feedback that our opinions were valued. Janicki did remark, "We read Cruise Critic, but I must say sometimes reading a particular review I must wonder if we were on the same cruise as someone saying it was dreadful." We divided our meal time between the more opulent Tsar's and the smaller, more frentic Azura main dining rooms. The menus are the same as ones introduced in 2011, with one side being 'always available' standbys such as strip or rib eye steaks, burgers, baked chicken, salmon, lanmb shank, spring rolls, mushroom quesadillas, a variety of pastas and salads. Service continued above average throughout, and it was of interest to note a Surf & Turf night featured real Maine lobsters vs the wimpy rock sort previously offered. The noise level is increased in the more casual Azura, whose hot pink and orange color scheme create a different vibe than the cream, sage green and gold of Tsar's. The lowered ceiling also influences this and of note, the chairs in Azura's are rock hard and not comfortable at all, which should help ensure more rapid turnover of diners. We sometimes selected Garden Cafe buffet for a quick breakfast and tried the poolside Grill a couple times for burgers, very good hot dogs and more. A special Bavarian feast was held toward the end of our cruise, and Messiah Ritzinger's Free State of Bavaria touches could be seen through the variety of sausage, schnitzel, kraut and Bavarian cream pastries...very well done! We enjoyed Blue Lagoon, just a few steps from our cabin, for breakfast and lunch or late evening snacks. Besides the burgers and chicken wings, the fried fish and Chef Salad were good, not to mention the cheese cake and brownie sundae. It was always nice to be able to whisk covered dishes back to our digs, and the small refrigerator helped with any midnight munchies. We did not try room service or the option of the always available anywhere $5 pizza. We dined at several of the specialty/fee restaurants including Moderno's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's/La Cucina. A favorite senior waiter, Sheddy, attended us at Moderno's and Cagney's, while another favorite Assistant MaitreD and also a special senior waiter, (Rizaldi), had us coming back to the Asian Fusion spot a second time for succulent lamb curry, broccoli beef, chow fun noodles, BBQ spareribs, deep fried calamari and the wonderful pancakes with bananas, caramel syrup and coconut ice cream. We used the Card Room and back portion of the buffet between meals for our group's Farkle games and variety of card games and enjoyed musical serenading in the Crystal Atrium and deck 6 lounge area outside Le Bistro. Several of the CD led audience participation game shows could be seen re-played on our 24" LCD TV, as well as a half dozen first run movies including Frozen, The Hobbit Part 2, Desolation of Smaug, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity and so on. Our cabin was located on deck 8 midship, a great location close to so much. Since the ship's tenders are strung up outside the windows here, the category is Oceanview Obstructed. Luckily the tender was strung several feet lower outside rooms 8100 and 8102, so that we had a good view, at least 60% at all times. Perhaps due to approaching dry dock, there were only 2 incidents of crew walking past our window, and no surprises or loud banging or maintenance overall. This accessible cabin has 36" no threshold outer and bathroom doors, with light switches and climiate control about 3 feet from the floor. Both the hanging rod in the closet and oversink mirror in the bathroom have easily grasped cords to lower them to wheelchair or scooter height, a definate plus. The room is about 20% larger than non-accessible sideways cabins, and the hallway on deck 9 actually is partially over these rooms; perhaps the dearth of small ones on the PC itinerary accounts for the fact there was little to no noise of running or stomping feet? We did need to call Guest Services desk several times during the cruise and the interaction was all right. Our immediate needs were attended to and we were able to get questions answered without making the trip down there again and again. We didn't attend any of the large production shows due to (chronic) health issues and decision to grab as much restful sleep as we could. Luckily, on NCL, there is never a need to do anything but exactly what we'd like...in that respect, our vacation was tailor-made to suit our interests and needs. The itinerary was changed as we would no longer be disembarking in Los Angeles, which was a big part of our choice in this cruise; we'd be just a short flight from our West Coast home. We also lost 2 ports, one of them the highly anticipated Costa Rican port, the other of less interest. This gave us more sea days and the choice of disembarking in either San Diego or San Francisco. NCL considered San Diego an additional port-true if you were taking the full 15 days, but not the case if this was your disembark point. We decided to take the shorter version since our nonrefundable plane tickets were at LAX. We now had a 4, rather than 2, day stay in Southern California, totaling 3 weeks in all. I think it would have been best with the original mix of port and sea days and the Los Angeles disembark, but the entire Jewel crew made us forget the small quibbles and feel pampered to the max. It also helped that we were traveling with such a wonderful bunch of CC members as well! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and our third overall....the first two being with Carnival. I have to admit I was skeptical after reading the boards...so many negative comments...I was seriously worried that we'd made a ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian and our third overall....the first two being with Carnival. I have to admit I was skeptical after reading the boards...so many negative comments...I was seriously worried that we'd made a mistake sailing on the Jewel. We were pleasantly surprised and I am glad to report that you should ignore all of the negative remarks about NCL and Jewel. We drove to NOLA from Cincinnati....a very easy 12-13 hour drive. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Superdome the night before our cruise. Found a good rate through stay123.com that included parking for the week. The total for the room and parking was $189 which I thought was fair for a Saturday stay in NOLA during the French Quarter Festival and parking for 7 days. The hotel was very nice no problems at all. I seriously don't understand all of the complaints that I've read. We were on the eleventh floor and the noise from the street could be heard if you were listening for it. We walked to the FQ around 4 PM and did not return to our hotel until about 9 PM. On the way back we didn't realize that Loyola turned into Elk Street once you were on Canal so we got a little lost coming back and I did not feel safe. Nothing happened but I do not recommend walking to the Holiday Inn at night. Take a cab! We (husband and I in late 40's) got a cab about 10:30 Sunday morning...the hotel was very busy and trying to find the bellman was difficult. Finally we hailed our own cab and we got to the Julia Street port in about 10 minutes. There was a lot of traffic and congestion at the port at that time but it was manageable. We got our number and waited for about 40 minutes until they called our number. We then showed our passports, set up our sail cards, had a photo taken and boarded the ship. The line to get on the ship moved slowly but it was not a miserable process. By 1:00 we were eating lunch in Tsar’s dining room. Cabins were ready right around 3 PM and they announced it over the PA system. Sail away took place at 5 PM and it took about 9 hours to get down the Mississippi to the Gulf. We at dinner every night at Tsar’s as we like dressing up for dinner. The first night they told us there would be a 20 minute wait and we were given a voucher for a free glass of champagne or soda. The wait only took about 10 minutes. Sunday was Surf & Turf night and we had no complaints about the food. We chose not to eat at any of the specialty restaurants and did not regret our decision at all. We found the food to be plentiful, delicious and always available. Monday was a sea day. We spent most of our time at the pool. We also did a martini tasting which was a lot of fun and a very good value (we each received 6 mini martinis for $15 per person). My only complaint of the entire cruise is how NCL handled the payment for those who attended the martini tasting. They collected everyone's cards at once ant then laid them out on the bar for us to pick up. There was a mistake made on my card and I was charged for someone else's tasting. Luckily she was honest and had the charges removed from my card. Note....the charge was still on my card at the end of the cruise. We reported the mistake and it was taken care of promptly. Not a complaint, we just feel that the cards should have been handled in a different manner. On Monday we ate lunch at the buffet and we were pleased with the selection. Kenny Byrd (the ventriloquist who entertains on Jewel) joined us for lunch and we had a great time chatting with him! We did an excursion at each port that we did not book with NCL. I will review those separately. Getting off at each of the ports was very easy including the tendering process in Belize. Be sure to read your daily news for tips on how to get a ticket to tender etc. They give those to you for a reason and it really helps keep you organized and aware of the activities that take place on the ship. At each port (except Belize), NCL staff are there to greet you with water, cool washcloths and popsicles...they make you feel like royalty and that they are truly happy to see you. My husband and I are not "show" people but we did see Kenny Byrd's show and the finale concert that took place on Saturday. Kenny Byrd was hysterical and the concert was good not great but again....I am not really into that kind of variety show. We did happen to find out by chance that they were showing movies in the Stardust Theatre. We never heard or read a thing about movies so not sure how everyone found out about them. Maybe we just overlooked something and we probably wouldn't have watched a movie anyways but if you are into movies, you should try and find a schedule. We do not play BINGO or gamble so we did not use that Casino other than to change large bills into small. The ATM is also located in the casino. It costs $5.50 to use it so use it sparingly. I was told that the ATM sometimes runs out of money towards the end of the cruise. We used it on Tuesday and didn't have a problem. The onboard gift shop had a little bit of everything...I had to use it because I ran out of dental floss and it was very convenient. I think I can do better at Macy's than what they were selling the perfume for but it appeared that a lot of people were buying. We went to line dancing lessons the first night onboard and it was fun. That was the only time that we made it to the “disco”. We really wanted to go to the White Party but we were exhausted and fell asleep! Next time, we will pace ourselves and save our energy…lying in the sun really tires you out after 5 days! We went to a few of the game shows and again wanted to go to Quest on the last night but fell asleep. Maybe it was the time change, the sun, the alcohol or all three! We got up really early every day so we had a hard time staying awake at night! We did another martini tasting on Saturday; again it was a lot of fun and entertaining. We tasted 6 different martinis (from the previous tasting) so it was again worth the money. Television channels are very limited but who really needs TV on a cruise? There were 2 news channels, 2 movie channels, Nickelodeon channel and a sitcom “on demand” channel. We are already thinking about booking our next cruise…and hope to make it on Norwegian!   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We recently went on a cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We emarked at new Orleans, Went to Cartagena Columbia, Huatulco mexico, Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. And disembarked in San Diego California. The cruise staff were ... Read More
We recently went on a cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We emarked at new Orleans, Went to Cartagena Columbia, Huatulco mexico, Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. And disembarked in San Diego California. The cruise staff were wonderful. They did everything to accommodate your needs. No is not in their vocabulary unless it's impossible. The rooms were spacious. I thought the bathroom was a little cramped. But it's a cruise ship so I got used to it. It was easy to disembark at the ports. Norwegian does a great job making it easy for you yet going through the usual security checks necessary in today's world. The onboard entertainment was exceptional. However I felt they lacked a little in this department. Especially outside around the pool area. I would like to have heard more rock and soft rock music. The crowd's average age probably was 60 or more. So maybe that was the reason. My main complaint was the food. I personally am not into Indian or exotic type spicy foods. Most were Amercians onboard. I think it is wise to bait the hook to suit the fish. I love chocolate cake, but I wouldn't fish with it. You find the bait the fish like. The food needed improvement. Perhaps it was do to who the cook is. Seems they prepare what they like. Also the desserts were not especially good. Chocolate cake, Banana Cream Pie, apple pie, Brownies, creme Brulet and cookies were not there. The best food on the ship was the French Fries, and Vegetable egg rolls. Food needs improvement. I've been on three cruises. RC and Carnival and now Norwegian. and the food on the Norwegian Jewel was the worst. Not a fan of free style cruising. Often we would go to a restaurant and even though we were there first, It made no difference as tables were taken by others making reservations. So if everyone is making reservations you might as well have assigned seating. It kind of nullifies the idea of freestyle cruising come when you want. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We (two adults and our eleven year old son, plus we brought a couple and their son along too) traveled by limo to get to the port which made it all easy and stress free. Checking in and getting ready to board was also an easy process. ... Read More
We (two adults and our eleven year old son, plus we brought a couple and their son along too) traveled by limo to get to the port which made it all easy and stress free. Checking in and getting ready to board was also an easy process. Every one was nice and helpful. From the moment we stepped aboard the ship we were greeted with smiles and a happy welcome aboard. Hand Sanitizer- NCL does its best to keep us healthy and germ free. I appreciated all of the Washy Washy! Anytime that you walked into a dining room, on to the ship or into any public area there was a hand sanitizer waiting for you. Sometimes they would even sing you a song about it. Cabin: We were on the ship and let into our cabin in no time. We were located 10608 balcony, Mid ship. Perfect location for families, Splash Academy and the buffet (where the ice cream is at) was just two floors up. The space and storage in the room was fine for the three of us, we had enough cubbies and closet space for our clothes and shoes. A Balcony on port side is the best to see the ports when arriving and leaving. The balcony was a little hard to get to when the sofa bed is out but the bed easily slid right out of the way. The bathrooms had a nice sliding door in them to separate the toilet from the vanity and shower area. Room Steward- We had the best room steward, always a happy greeting from him. Our room was always clean and straight. He learned our schedule and made sure that he was never "in our way" and that we had everything that we could need and more. And the towel animals are always a favorite of ours too. Kids Club- As soon as we got on board we went to find Splash Academy and to sign up. The crew invited us in and explained how everything worked and introduced themselves to us and our son. It was a hit with our 11 year old son. He enjoyed hanging out with the crew and his new friends. He was always ready to go! Activities- There are always tons of activities to choose from. A few of the ones that we did were, line dancing, wine tasting and bingo. All were fun! Public Areas- They was always somewhere that you could find a nice area to either hang out with friends or to be alone. The Pool area was always crowded, there are plenty enough chairs if the passengers would stop "saving" the chairs with their towels and leaving them like that all day. The bar and grill next to the pool was always ready to please with food and drinks. Dining- Lots of choices! The buffet food is really good and the staff does an outstanding job of keeping the passenger chaos controlled by keeping the food filled, the area clean and the tables ready for the next person. The sit down table service was great and preferred by us. We enjoy a more quiet and controlled dining experience so we chose to eat in the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants and their food was delicious and the service was excellent. We also enjoy some room service which is always a winner. Entertainment- Our cruise director always made sure that there was plenty to do and let us know when and where it was happening. The shows were all very good and a good mixture of different types of entertainment, something for everyone. The comedian and magician were a hit with us. Spa- Ahhhh the spa ;) What a wonderful thing and the service was excellent. I purchased the week long spa pass and I enjoyed every second I spent in there. It was so nice to be able to go to the spa anytime that I wanted to get into the steam room, the Jacuzzi, the sauna or just to sit and relax on the hot stone lounge chairs, especially after port play. I also had a massage that was so relaxing. The entire spa staff was professional and personable. Ports and Excursions-Our Itinerary was Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Costa Maya. In Cozumel we made chocolate and loved it. We went to Altun Ha ruins in Belize, awesome and very educational. In Rotan we did the archeological hike and wildlife tour, it was beautiful! We did not get to port in Coast Maya because the waves were so high that they would of washed us off of the pier. Thanks goodness our Captain keeps us safe! So we had an extra day at sea and the Cruise Director changed the daily schedule so we all had lots of fun activities to choose from. The Staff- We were treated like royalty. We got to meet the top crew men and women of the ship on our first full day which was a treat. Anytime that they saw us they would make an effort to say hello and to make sure that we were having a great time. The entire staff was incredible and made this tip for us! We could not of asked for a better crew. So Happy!! Disembark - We got up on our last morning to have breakfast in Cagney's then headed to our room for our carry off bags then it was time to disembark. Our color was called and we walked right off and headed to customs. No problem, easy as pie. We brought with us a family of three, this was their first cruise and NCL did not let us down. I was so proud for them to be aboard the Jewel with this crew showing them how cruising is suppose to be. This was a great trip with NCL, the ship is awesome and the crew is outstanding, each and every one of them were our vacation hero's! I have already pre-booked our next NCL cruise and ready to start planning.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
I wanted to visit the Western Caribbean and saw where the Jewel sailed from New Orleans. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the "freestyle" cruising as this was my first Norwegian cruise. The Jewel is a very pretty ship, but ... Read More
I wanted to visit the Western Caribbean and saw where the Jewel sailed from New Orleans. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the "freestyle" cruising as this was my first Norwegian cruise. The Jewel is a very pretty ship, but even though it is a smaller ship, it was still hard to locate some places you wanted to visit. Some of the staff were very helpful while others could care less if they helped you. The housekeeping staff was excellent and did everything they could to make your trip enjoyable. You have to pay a cover charge on most of the restaurants on this ship. I enjoyed Tsars Palace where the food was excellent and staff very courteous and helpful. Food was always delivered on time and the atmosphere of the restaurant was great. I tried Azures Restaurant but was not pleased with the service I received. The Garden Cafe buffet was excellent where you could find any type of food you desired. I was impressed with the guys at the entrance sanitizing your hands each time you entered. This was important for me as I came down with the norovirus on another cruise. I enjoyed all the ports we entered. Getting off and on the ship was very easy. As to the freestyle cruising, I, personally, was not happy with it. You go into a restaurant to enjoy dinner with your Sunday clothes on and you could be seated next to someone with shorts, flip flops and tee shirt on. This did not impress me. Because of this, I probably will not cruise with Norwegian again. It is great for people who want to go around in shorts and bathing suits all the time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
My husband and I decided to surprise our kids with a family vacation a few days before Spring Break. My kids are 13 & 14. Due to our crazy schedules, we felt we needed some quality family time. We have been on 4 cruises as a family and ... Read More
My husband and I decided to surprise our kids with a family vacation a few days before Spring Break. My kids are 13 & 14. Due to our crazy schedules, we felt we needed some quality family time. We have been on 4 cruises as a family and 3 have been on NCL. Our first was on Disney when the kids were young. Freestyle dining works out great for my family. We took Amtrak from IL to New Orleans. Once we arrived to the station, the line for taxis was very long. The train was late, so perhaps that is why. We (actually my husband) decided we could walk to the hotel.( 5 suitcases, 4 backpacks, 1 cooler, 3 small string backpacks and my big purse. Yep – we must have been quite a site!) But it was probably for the best because I do not think we would have got a taxi for at least an hour. Once I switched suitcases with my husband, the walk wasn’t that bad. It took us maybe 15-20 minutes to get to the Marriott Convention Center. This hotel is across from the port. Great location! The next day we just walked across the street and down a small block and we were there. After arriving at the hotel, we showered up and changed and had a nice night. We have been to New Orleans before so we knew our way around. We went to Grand Isle for dinner and Café Du Monde for dessert. On Sunday my husband and daughter ran 4 - 5 miles around the city and took some great photos too. We left the hotel around 12:30 and walked across the street to the terminal. As soon as we got there, someone took our luggage and then we entered the building. Embarking took about an hour from when we arrived to when we got on the ship. A worker there said it is normally much quicker. We went straight to the buffet for lunch. I was glad we went there first because it was closing when we left. We went to the Spa to get passes. For $150 each (adults only), you get to use the Spa the full week. Saunas, Hot Tubs, Steam Rooms – it is very relaxing. There is a section for co-ed too. I would meet my husband in there most days. They have these heated tile lounge chairs that were so comfortable I feel asleep each time. CABIN: Our cabin was 8568. It was an obstructed window room. It had two small port holes that we really could not see out of. The windows were fogged up. If you put your face right next to the window you could see a little, but we just liked it for the light that came through and it is also bigger than the inside rooms. The bed was VERY comfortable. Better than most hotel rooms. My son slept on the bunk that pulled out from the wall, which was not very comfortable. My daughter had the pop up bed next to ours and that was only slightly better. The closet is large but only had about 10-15 hangers. I had brought 20 extra hangers, knowing that we would need much more. Between the closet, the drawers, and the shelves, there was plenty of space for our clothes and things. Most of our luggage fit under the bed and one went into the closet. CREW: The crew on this ship was the best! Everyone was so friendly, especially all the cabin stewards we would pass on the way to our cabin. Jamie the Entertainment Director was also the best we have had. I saw her so many times walking from place to place and she always greeting me. All of the waiters and waitresses that we had were also very friendly. I cannot say enough about this crew. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was great! We missed Band on the Run, but my daughter and I saw all the other shows. The 4 of us all loved the comedian Dave Naster. His show was so funny! He also put on a session about Bullying and about how laughter can help during a crisis. He seems like a great guy to know. The magician/comedian show was very funny. Two shows that you do not want to miss! We have played the Deal or No Deal before, so we only played once this time. That was fun, but of course we did not win. We stayed away from Bingo. They also had three movies in the theater that we watched: Frozen, Catching Fire, and Gravity. The movies were also shown on the TV but it is more fun to watch it in the theater. We went with our daughter to the family white hot party. We just watched but she had a great time dancing with a friend she had made. We also listened to music in a few of the bars a couple of nights and really enjoyed it. However, most nights we were pretty tired after port days and after the shows. We probably went to bed around 11 each night. PORTS: We have been to these ports before, so we didn’t really feel like we had to do much. (Plus we were on a budget due to another vacation planned for June) In Cozumel we took a taxi to Chankannab National Park. The taxi ride was $12 and it cost $21 ($19 with a coupon I found) each. We had been there before and we had swam with the dolphins and had a great experience, so we decided to go back. It has a beautiful beach with nice lounge chairs, and nice walking paths. My husband and daughter snorkeled too. I was hoping to see the sea lion show but we missed it. There is a pool there too in case you don’t want to go into the ocean. The next Port was Belize. I decided to get my hair cut and highlighted that morning in the salon since I didn’t get a chance before we left. It cost me a fortune, but that is to be expected on a ship. Then my daughter and I took a late tender and went and did some shopping at the port. We stopped at the Wet Lizard for cokes and salsa. We stopped there b/c of the wifi but we were not able to get on. Then we found a frozen yogurt place and she said it was really good. We had a nice time shopping together. The 3rd port was Roatan. The four of our shopped at the port and then went to the straw market, which is really just a building that you go to the second floor to see some ladies all selling the same thing. However, there was a place called the Crusty Crab that had wifi so we bought something to drink and sat there on our phones checking email and posting pics to FB. It is a very small place and almost everyone there was a crew member. We saw a couple of people video chatting, probably with family back home. Our last port was Costa Maya. This was to be the highlight of our trip because we booked an awesome beach resort. However, after trying to dock, the port authority told the ship they should not. The water was really rough! This was SOOOO disappointing to my family. Never again will I have our best excursion on the last day. I will make sure it is earlier so that if this happens again, we can book something else for the next port. Instead we found a spot by the pool but in the shade and had a pool day. The kids pool is right next to the adult pool. I think this works out really well. There is a slide but all the kids going down (no matter the size) seemed to get stuck in the same spot and would have to push themselves down. Not much fun, according to my daughter. FOOD: My daughter always wanted to eat at the MDR and my son always wanted the buffet. So we compromised. As a family we ate at both MDRs and then one night went to La Cucina and had a great meal. On the other nights, the boys went to the buffet and the girls went to the MDRs. We did have to wait a few times, but each time that happened it was for about 20 minutes and they would give us a slip for a free coke or champagne at the bar. I have read reviews that said the service was slow. We never experienced that. In fact it was quite the opposite on the days my daughter and I ate alone. The servers were always very polite. Once night when the four of us were eating, the waitress brought us two extra appetizers to try. Then for dessert she brought us what we ordered and also surprised us with a banana split as a bonus. That was a nice surprise! The only two things that we thought were missing on this ship was a diner and an irish pub. On the Spirit and the Dawn, the Blue Lagoon is set up more like a Diner. On the Jewel it was a normal restaurant and you had to wait to be sat. We prefer the diner feel. We also missed the Irish Pub that is on the Sprit and the Dawn. Leaving the ship was very easy. We chose to get off at 10 since our train did not depart until 1:30. It was easy to find out luggage and customs only took about 5 minutes. We did have to wait about 15 min for a taxi, but that wasn’t long. We had enough time to drop off our luggage with Amtrak and walk to Hard Rock Café and then for Frozen Yogurt near Bourbon. It was a great vacation and awesome family time.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Just completed the Jewel Cruise and have read many reviews of the cruise and ship. The bottom line is to each their own. Things that people complain about are a matter of personal taste. For instance.. dining freestyle, my wife and I love ... Read More
Just completed the Jewel Cruise and have read many reviews of the cruise and ship. The bottom line is to each their own. Things that people complain about are a matter of personal taste. For instance.. dining freestyle, my wife and I love the freestyle since we like to eat when WE want to eat and not be tied to a time. I agree that the dining food is not the best but we enjoyed the buffet and the specialiy restaurants, Once again it is a matter of taste. I have sailed NCL 7 times over the last 2 years and would not go on any other line. I love the ships, the staff and all that the ship has to offer. One person commented on the cost to park prior to the cruise stating 35.00 a day. Again they did not do their homework., We parked for 8.00 a day at a Fulton lot which I booked online and they shuttled us to and from the ship without a problem. Embarkation was great and port stops were smooth. As far as noting the bad for this particular cruise and other NCL cruises I have one major complaint. The excursions on the ship are a complete ripoff. For example, in Belize, we did the zipline and the river float through the caves. It was 95.00 per person with a company that I booked online prior to the cruise... the excursion desk was 149.00 a person, The exact same itinerary..... On a similar note we did an Alaskan cruise and booked a helicopter trip from the excursion desk to the Mendenhall Glacier (due to my laziness to investigate) and they charged 800.00 for two. Once we got off the ship it was 500.00 for same trip. I complained to the excursion desk and they gave me lame excuses but I felt better with my venting. All in All I would highly recommend NCL for any cruise... Like I said each person has their own needs Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
My girlfriend and I sailed on the Norwegian Jewel from New Orleans for our 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise. We embarked March 23rd and disembarked March 30th. Our Ports of Calls were Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras and ... Read More
My girlfriend and I sailed on the Norwegian Jewel from New Orleans for our 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise. We embarked March 23rd and disembarked March 30th. Our Ports of Calls were Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico. This was my second cruise with NCL and my girlfriends first ever cruise. We loved it, The ship was clean and our balcony cabin was clean and well taken care of. Our Cabin Steward was great as well. I don't think we had one complaint. The food was good. Great selections, both the Speciality Restaurants and the Garden Café and other "free" dining experiences. We had an awesome time at the Sushi Bar where Christopher made us great sushi rolls. We loved it so much we dined there more than once. We recommend the French Restaurant onboard (Le Bistro) where we had a great dinner one evening. In fact, we had great experiences at every restaurant we ate at onboard the Jewel. We loved the "washy, washy" guitar playing crew members who made keeping the norovirus free of the ship fun. The entertainment was simply amazing with several magic shows, comedian shows, Cirque Bijour and musical entertainment. Jamie, the Cruise Director and her staff did a fantastic job keeping us entertained. The Jewel is a Nickelodeon Ship and the staff and crew kept all the children occupied at all times. With over 600 children onboard we feared screaming kids all over the ship. Not the case. We saw Square Bob Sponge Pants and Dora entertaining the kids every day. Every crewmember and staff onboard were very courteous and friendly. We had the chance to meet several of the officers of the Jewel, including the Master and were even selected to join the ships safety officer for dinner one night; which was a great experience. We took a "Behind the Scenes Tour" which ended with a tour of the bridge while underway. This was another great experience. Our excursions were well organized and the tendering in Belize was coordinated well and done with great care. The only disappointment, which was not the fault of the crew was that our port stop at Costa Maya was cancelled due to 6-8 foot swells and 40 knot winds which prohibited the docking of the ship. But then again, the professionalism of the Master and her crew in keeping our safety in mind was important. Instead we spent another day at sea and Jamie and her staff broke into high gear and kept us entertained. Simply put.......Norwegian Cruise Lines is an amazing cruise line and we will continue to use them for our cruise vacations. Two recommendations for this ship which would make it more convenient for the passengers would be to have (1)restaurant menus in each cabin so we could better decide where to dine and (2) have food trays in the Garden Café so passengers wouldn't have to make several trips to the buffet to get all their food. That would be very nice. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. What a great experience! First let me say that we have sailed on Carnival and Royal many times, but this was our first experience with Norwegian. I will begin by saying that ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. What a great experience! First let me say that we have sailed on Carnival and Royal many times, but this was our first experience with Norwegian. I will begin by saying that unlike some who post, I have never been on a cruise I hated. In my mind even a not so great trip is still better than a week at work. With that said, I will outline some of the differences I noticed. First of all the ship appears to accommodate fewer passengers for its size than some other ships we have been on. That gave us the feeling of a bit more space in the public areas. As with most ships the rooms are a bit on the small side. The bathrooms however are designed with one feature that should be standard on all ships. It has a sliding glass door. That may seem like a small thing but on other ships we have been on they have a small curtain. It almost always allows water all over the floor. We booked at the last possible minute. Literally 7 days prior to sailing. Because of this we didn't have much choice on room selection. We were assigned to deck 8 mid ship. We were concerned because the public spaces were directly below. After looking on a map of the ship we determined we were directly above the Karaoke room. We had absolutely no issue with noise. The bonus of deck 8 was that the 24 hour restaurant was located on that floor. This made it super convenient to slip over and get a cup of coffee or snack without schlepping all over the ship. This is something to consider if you like to keep late hours. By the way, the 24 hour restaurant is the the best kept secret on the ship. I think most passengers don't even realize its there. There is almost never a wait to be seated. I also have to say that we found the staff to be more attentive than other lines we have been on. This is not to say the others had problems because they did not. Its just that we noticed more personal attention from the ships officers. Many times we were approached by them and they would ask about our experience. Afterward they would record our room numbers. Much to our surprise we would find a small gift awaiting us in our stateroom along with a note from them thanking us for sailing with them. I thought this was a very nice personal touch. Norwegian also offers something called the Ultimate Dining Experience. For about $120/person you get unlimited dining in any of the specialty restaurants on the ship. Since my wife and I had been to many of our port calls many times, we decided to skip most of the excursions. Instead, we opted for the dining experience. What a treat. This has to be the best value of any offering I have seen on a cruise line. The food was really a step up. If you like fine dining, this is something to experience. Overall I say kudos to Norwegian for a great trip and a tremendous value.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Embarkation was fairly easy, as embarkation goes. We were told we couldn't get into our cabin yet, but could drop our luggage down the corrider. Before we got to that location, an anouncement came over the PA that cabins were ready. ... Read More
Embarkation was fairly easy, as embarkation goes. We were told we couldn't get into our cabin yet, but could drop our luggage down the corrider. Before we got to that location, an anouncement came over the PA that cabins were ready. Our cabin, category IE, was huge, but then we did require wheelchair accessibility! We got unpacked and went after some lunch. Just after the muster drill, we met with several others from the Cruise Critic chat for sail away. That was the beginning of some wonderful new friendships. Our cabin was on a dead end hallway, right by the deck four exits. Even though it is categorized as an inside cabin, we were on the hull of the ship, no window or port hole. At the first port of call we had to wend our way to the elevators for breakfast, but it was quick when we debarked and embarked at ports. We were pleasantly surprised how quiet it was, most of the time. The morning we anchored in Belize, there was a lot of racket from the tender docks being lowered. We did enjoy hearing the ocean waves while we were underway. We've had cabins all over ships: forward, high, low, inside, balcony, and really have no favorites. When we have an inside cabin we turn the TV to the bridge cam, turn the volume off, and there's our window to the world. That sunrise wakes us up every time! The Cruise Critic group met with officers on day 2. That afternoon many of us participated in a cabin crawl/poker run. We had cabins from inside to The Haven to crawl to! The entertainment was great, thanks to cruise director Jaime! Group Coordinator/Access Officer Cherry was right on target with my special needs, even anticipating what was needed next. Our cabin steward, Newman, surprised us with a wonderful zoo, even leaving each towel animal when making new ones. We were able to take a picture of our whole zoo at once! The excursion desk was quite helpful in assessing what excursions we could take with my wheelchair. Food opportunities all week were beyond wonderful! We ate in Cagney's, Teppanyaki, and Le Bistro as well as Tsar's Palace. We will brave the buffet to get ice cream, but prefer not to eat there. All too soon we returned to New Orleans, but we have two Cruise Rewards for future cruises!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a ... Read More
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a little hesitant about cruising. Here's my list of fears: 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. 5. I'll be bored senseless. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. 10. I'll get seasick. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. 14. The food will be bad. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. So, before booking, I did a little homework. I wanted plenty of ports, lots of activity, few kids, but not an uppity, wealthy old-people cruise. Norwegian offers freestyle dining, which really appealed to me. They also offered four ports on a 7-day cruise. BINGO. #3,4,8, and 15 have already been eliminated. #5 is looking better. Next, what to pack? What does a middle aged couple need on a 7 day cruise? I packed everything. Two pairs of boots, two pairs of heels, two pairs of sandals, two pairs of sneakers, and a pair of water shoes. 9 pairs of shoes for 7 days? Who does that? A newbie, that's who. Truly, I needed half that. Eight hair products? I needed one. In short, here's what I learned I didn't need: flat iron, bronzer, big jewelry, more than 3 tank tops, gym clothes, jeans, more than 3 cute tops, huge bottles of shampoo & conditioner. What I needed more of: clean underwear. Seriously, I showered twice daily: once in the morning, then again after getting all gross during excursions. Once you've got sand and salt water in your undies - those are done. Time for a fresh clean pair after your evening shower. NCL doesn't offer DIY laundry service, and I'm not going to spend my vacation hand-washing my underwear in the sink either. I did pack "adventure" clothes for excursions and daytime on board, and also dresses for the nights. I just had too many adventure clothes. Two swimsuits is a must, four is too many. Sweaters for chilly nights and restaurants helped, too. Other stuff I'm glad I packed: a small pharmacy (Tylenol, Naproxen, Meclizine for nausea, antacids, Immodium, and antacid). I didn't need more than a couple Tylenol, but I knew I was covered. Helpful hint: Extra Strength Midol comes in blister-packs that travel super-easy and contains 200 mg Naproxen (great for arthritis pain). Also found a clever canvas jewelry organzier at Wal-Mart and an over-the-door shoe holder that hung on the bathroom door. Magnetic clips stuck to the metal cabin walls and were used for our itineraries and my jewelry (that I wore about 1/3 of). So, onward to the review. Boarding was relatively painless. We did have to wait in line, herded like cattle, but the line did move relatively quickly and people in general weren't rude about it. The staff was helpful in directing people. We arrived at 11:30 for a 12:00 boarding and the actual wait time was maybe 30 minutes. The staff did require a photo ID, then they took pictures of us pre-boarding (like a DMV mug-shot, so be prepared for that) Every time we got on or off the ship, our key cards were scanned through a computer and our pre-boarding pics came up. Once we got our key cards, we were offered the first opportunity to get a picture. Theme park photographers are pushy: cruise photographers are not. They asked if they could take our pic and many people turned them down without a hassle. The photographers didn't harrass or pressure anybody. But, they didn't tell us that it would be a full-body shot, so we had all our cruise documents, a jacket and our carry-on in the shot (it completely ruined our pic). Also, we did have to go through a metal detector. No big deal, except I made the mistake of wearing huge amounts of metal jewelry. Security kept asking what I had that was metal? Uh, my necklace, bracelets, and earrings - all highly visible. She insisted that I leave them on, although I insisted that they were all easily removable. So, yay - I got my very first pat-down. Lesson learned - minimal jewelry through security. We finally boarded and the crew had a little "welcome aboard" party for us, complete balloons, a banner, and DJ Felix spinning the club music. We checked out our room, which wasn't ready yet. But we were able to put our carry-on luggage inside and explore the ship a little. Don't know where I learned this, but the little fishies on the carpet always "swim" to the front of the ship to help you orient yourself. Once we found our room, it was pretty easy to locate again, except for one time when we thought we were headed to the front, but the fishies disagreed and let us know that we were on the Starboard side, not the Port side. Gotta love the fishies! Remember how much stuff I packed? Four big ole suitcases and a carry-on duffel. I put everything away in the cabin with ease. Even had room to spare! Plenty of hangers provided in the closet, they gave us two robes, and the provided hair dryer was more than adequate. In the bathroom, there were dispensers for hand soap, shampoo, and body wash. The body wash even smelled pleasant (not like hotel soap). Little shelves in the bathroom held most all of our toiletries. Little shelves in the shower held all my necessary shower equipment. Provided drawers and shelves all held massive amounts of clothing. Mirrors are everywhere in the room - glad I lost weight pre-cruise! We were able to set the temperature easily to our liking. The bed was two twins pushed together, so there was a big ole hump in the middle. But the pillows were delightfully fluffy, the bed comfortable, and the room was clean. The towels were big and fluffy and plentiful. Although most other rooms were bigger than ours, we found the simple balcony room to be plenty roomy and comfortable. It suited us quite well. The balcony had a sliding door and was more enclosed than I had envisioned. It was really sweet to have a private area to sit and watch the world go by. I didn't think I would use and enjoy the balcony nearly as much as I did. We spent a lot of quiet time drinking wine and watching the waves. We had seen maps and pictures of the ship before and wondered what was with the tacky carpet? It really helps to keep you oriented to where you are and what's down the hall. Directories of what's on each floor are near every stairwell and elevator - makes it super-easy to find your way around. The food: The food was great, a wide variety of everything was always available. My husband is a meat-and-potatoes guy, while I prefer fresh fruits, veggies, and lighter fare. We were both satisfied with the meals. We've also discovered that we are food snobs. On our first sea night, we were served steak and lobster. We were not impressed at all, but everybody else raved about how great the steaks and lobster were. Dessert was warm bread pudding, which was truly heavenly. Other meals were better, nothing spectacular,butt they were plenty edible. Not fine dining always, but much better than your average American chain restaurant. Portions were perfect, considering three courses were always served. The meal portions are smaller than chain restaurants, but if that doesn't fill you up, you can always get additional portions. We chose not to leave the table bloated and miserable, but were always full after dessert. The buffet offered plenty of selection, both for the carnivores, the herbivores, and the pizza-and-pasta lovers. Several small buffet lines meant no waiting in long lines, hence no line-jumping, very little rudeness. Fresh fruit was always available, plenty of selection, and the "usual fare" of comfort food was always available. A kid-sized buffet full of kid-friendly foods was also located next to a family seating area. Tables were smaller, so you weren't forced to eat your meals at a table for 12. Plenty of 2-tops and 4-tops to go around. Larger groups could push tables together pretty easily as well. The washy-washy crew at the buffet was cute. Several people really got into it, singing and dancing their way into the buffet area. Unlike some other cruise lines, it wasn't some lonely guy singing off-key. There were usually two or three people singing, playing the guitar, and generally trying to have fun while keeping everybody's hands sanitary. They did a great job and were always adorable. I have no idea what kind of hand sanitizer they used, but it wasn't the sticky gel stuff and it didn't make your finger foods taste funky either. Paid restaurants: We tried three. Teppenyaki was our first, we ate their on our anniversary. If you want to try it - get a reservation, that place fills up every night. The chefs try to keep things lively, a very party-like atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was our 25th anniversary and I was dressed to the nines with hair done, stilettos, and a nice white dress. I had no idea anybody would be throwing food at me! At other tables, the chefs chose wisely who to select to catch bites of egg in their mouths (the loudest male with the Hawaain or NCAA shirt). Ours didn't. He threw egg in my hair. Twice. Buzzkill. I was not amused. We had received a card earlier to our stateroom that said to bring the card to wherever you choose to celebrate your big day, and we had done that. So, after dessert, the staff came and sang happy anniversary to us. It was cute. Best part was the girl at the next table to loudly announced that we couldn't be married 25 years because I barely looked 25 years old! OK, so that made up for the egg-in-the-hair and egg-on-the-dress incidents (he missed twice). SInce we were too full to eat our complimentary anniversary cake, they offered to bring it to our room. Too bad it arrived at 11:45 p.m. If they offer it to go, you might want to check to see if they'll just box it up and then you could take it with you. We tried Chin Chins on formal night, after discovering a long wait time at both main dining rooms. We were promptly seated in a nearly empty dining room (2 other tables). Our orders were taken after ten minutes. Ten minutes later, some horrible karaoke started in the open atrium area below us. We could hear the cheers being shouted from Teppenyaki. The dining room started to fill up, our tummies started getting hungrier and hungrier. The karaoke got worse, and we were still waiting on appetizers thirty minutes later. We left and went to the buffet - still in our formal attire. Surrounded by those who chose NOT on "dress-up-or-not night", we filled our bellies with delicious buffet food while being stared at by the shorts-and-tank-top crowd. Suited us fine, as the stares in our direction ended as soon as a small parade of toga-clad teenagers came through the buffet, cheering and gleefully waving their arms in the air. Our third paid restaurant was Moderno's Brazilian steakhouse. It's located mid-ship, so the only way to cross the ship is to either cut through Moderno's or the Blue Lagoon or take a flight of stairs up and down. For a paid restaurant, I wasn't impressed with the number of people just cutting through to get from point A to point B. The salad selections were okay. They didn't offer any Italian or balsamic dressings - only ranch, Thousand Island, and French. Most of the salads were high-fat pastas. So, after salad, you have a card that you turn over on your table to greed to indicate that you're ready for the main courses. Servers stop by and offer very small portions of different meats and some cinnamon-grilled pineapple. We were offered the pineapple first, then chicken, beef, lamb, pork, until we were full. We turned the cards back to red to indicate that we were ready for dessert. We were again offered chicken, beef, lamb, pineapple, more chicken, and more pineapple. Our drink glasses were empty and our waiter nowhere in sight. They did have some desserts on the menu that we were interested in, but we were seated within an inch of a very large rowdy party table (literally, an inch - we were damn near AT their table, separated only by a small railing) and kept getting offered meat, meat, more meat, and pineapple. Frustrated, we left. Moral of the story regarding paid restaurants: you're not missing anything by sticking to the free offerings. The food quality is not any better than the free MDRs, the service is certainly not better, the atmosphere is not better either. We were perfectly happy with Azura, Tsar's (which is more upscale and we preferred), and the buffet. The money we spent at Teppanyaki and Moderno's was money down the drain. Tsar's Palace does have a dress code that they do enforce. We were very politely turned down for service because DH was wearing shorts. Rather than changing clothes, we went to Azura and the food was just as good, service just as good. Excursions: We booked beginning SCUBA through NCL and the rest of our excursions privately. With a little research ahead of time (which is really fun anyway) you can book your excursions privately, support the local economies, and save a few bucks. For convenience, book online through NCL's website if you're pressed for time and don't want to research. A lot of people booked after they boarded, wasting valuable cruise time looking through pamphlets to book their excursions. NCL has videos of theirs on the website and you'll get more cruise time if you book ahead. Also, your favorite stuff will more likely be available! "Front desk" service: (Not sure what it's called on a ship). These people are super-helpful! On day one, my sandal broke and I wish I could recall her name, but this very nice person got some super-glue and helped glue to back together for me. The glue held until I got home and unpacked, but hey, that's what I get for buying discount sandals, right? She was very helpful and didn't roll her eyes and announce "that's not my job". Activities: Our cruise started with a dance party at the pool. The staff really helped get everybody out of their chair and dancing, from the very young to the very old. It was cuteness overload to watch from Top-Siders bar & grill. They have a pool and hot tubs just for kids/families and another pool and hot tubs marked for adults only. Yay! Our Freestyle Daily was delivered to our stateroom each night with details about events and activities for the following day. Yes, some of the offerings we thought were stupid, but ya know, some of it was kinda fun, too. We were able to try different things, some we might not have otherwise tried. The best part was that most everything was in an open area, so we could go in, check it out, and make a very graceful exit if we chose. We played Deal or No Deal and won a free 8x10 photo. We played one round of Bingo and realized that Bingo was a big-spenders game. The casino: I don't get it. Why do people sit in front of video monitors in a windowless room on a cruise ship? Oh, so they can smoke! Yeah, I didn't go to the casino except to cash in my $1 winning ticket from some silly game show. We loved the game shows, the staff kept those very entertaining. I loved the free dance lessons, my husband - not so much, but he did give a valiant effort. Not everything was for us, but there were plenty of things we enjoyed, plenty to try, more stuff to do than we could ever do. There really was something for everybody. We enjoyed the hot tubs, the demonstrations, the free concerts (surprisingly, the Neil Diamond impersonator appealed to young and old and really got the crowd moving), the cheesy games, and sitting on our balcony. We were never, ever, ever bored. Our itinerary made four stops for a seven day cruise. We loved it! We got off the ship every chance we could to enjoy the Caribbean sun and surf. Our only NCL excursion was the beginning SCUBA in Cozumel and we LOVED it. There were five in our group - two couples and a single guy. The instruction didn't take too long, just a quickie safety demo. We "dove" right from the beach and our dive master gave each of us a quick safety test in shallow water before diving. One of the people in our group didn't want to SCUBA after the shallow water, so she was allowed to float on the surface along with us (she basically snorkeled while we SCUBA'ed). All four of us who did the activity came up all smiles at the end. The area had showers, lockers, an outdoor bar & grill and a cantina cabana. The food was amazing - fresh mahi-mahi for me and a big ole beefy, beanie burrito for him. We were offered massages at pretty reasonable prices, but turned that down since DH isn't really a massage person. We all were given credit for the dive towards PADI certification if we wanted to do that. Entertainment: It just wasn't for us. I said earlier. there was something for everybody. We aren't into watching big production shows, we aren't into the circus or watching acrobats. If anything provides a forewarning of "sit there and be amazed" - I'm out! The theater seats are cramped, the seating is in long, narrow rows, and it's just not for me. Keep in mind, though, that I don't watch movies either. Disembarkation was a bit of a mess. Nevermind - it was a complete mess. We chose to schlep our own luggage (easy off, right?). Unlike disembarking at the pier (from the fourth floor), we used the seventh floor to disembark and waited in a long line that didn't move for 40 minutes. Once the line stretched from aft to the foreward theater and back through itself, things got really confusing. Nobody could determine where the line ended and nobody could use any of the seventh floor because the lines were so long it blocked the whole floor. Since the line to disembark went through itself, plenty of line-jumping confusing came about. Although the staff did their best, it was nothing short of a complete clusterf*** and the exhausted people who were carrying all of their own luggage literally from stem to stern of the ship and back were a little cranky. Meanwhile, it was time to start disembarkation for those who opted not to carry their own luggage. This was the only time the majority of the staff seemed truly flustered. Needless to say, we did survive getting off the ship and made it home. In short, we had a great time. We felt like the entire staff bent over backwards to ensure everybody had a good time. Let's revisit that list of fears, shall we? 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. I didn't want to get off the ship once we arrived back at port. I seriously considered stowing away in a stairwell or trying to steal a staff uniform. It was the best vacation of my life! 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. I did escape - to the hot tub, to the balcony, to the lounge, to each port. It was delightful. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. Weird and annoying people are everywhere in life. They were never at my table. In fact, we offered some seats of our four-top to a lovely couple for one lunch and had a great time with fascinating conversation! 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. The uppity people stayed in the butlered, super - expensive rooms and I never saw 'em. We hung with the younger crowd, the party crowd, the beer-drinking crowd. 5. I'll be bored senseless. Never a dull moment. We had some tranquil moments that we chose, but there was always something to do. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. The kids were well-behaved and adorable! A couple of toddlers even crashed an adults-only dance party and yes, I even enjoyed their gleeful dancing. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. Meh, one or two out of over 2,0000? I'll take those odds! Everybody seemed very happy. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. I could eat any time I wanted - food was always available (but sometimes I was too busy to eat) 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. I brought everything anyway (except the super-glue) 10. I'll get seasick. The seas were a little rough on the last few days, but no nausea or vomiting, just a touch of vertigo. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. The cabin was plenty spacious, the bed was comfortable if you didn't want to snuggle with your partner, but I did have plenty of hot water and plenty of water pressure. The temperatures were highly variable and the shower was a definite do-not-flush-zone. But I showered twice daily in relative comfort. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). Unlike Golden Corral, the buffet didn't attract those who are out to "get their money's worth" out of a buffet. We did get a giggle at a little boy who brought a plate stacked barely high enough to carry loaded with nothing but bacon. But you know those stereotypical face-stuffing gluttons? Yeah, they weren't there. Just nice people who were having a nice meal with their loved ones. The buffet food wasn't limited to comfort foods, either. Plenty of soups, salads, curries, stir-fries, etc. 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. . . . . who are very young at heart. The geriatric set was out there dancing, singing, playing, shopping, snorkeling. So were their kids . . . and their grandkids. We found plenty of people our age to hang with, and truly enjoyed some time with people much older than we are. 14. The food will be bad. It wasn't five-star dining, but it was good food. We never went hungry. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. Although I did dress up for formal night and I did wear dresses every single day of the cruise, it wasn't mandatory. People wore what they wanted, from shorts & tank tops to evening gowns. And somehow, it worked. I never felt uncomfortable because of what I chose to wear on any given day. One last note: We did all the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle activities. Not only did we get to know some of the people we would travel with, it also gave us a peek into the different rooms, a fun way to get to know each other, and helped us find familiar faces. I highly encourage this! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
I realize that every one has a different opinion as to where or not food is good, entertainment is good, the staff is friendly, the pool area is too crowded or the ship is in poor condition BUT when I read some of the reviews I wonder if ... Read More
I realize that every one has a different opinion as to where or not food is good, entertainment is good, the staff is friendly, the pool area is too crowded or the ship is in poor condition BUT when I read some of the reviews I wonder if we were all on the same NCL Jewell ship. It sure does not sound like it. Now for my opinion: Getting on and off the Jewell in New Orleans was trouble free.(On & Off are not nautical terms) When we boarded we left our carry on luggage with cruise staff and ate in the Zsars restaurant. No problems with food selections in buffet or restaurants. Entertainment was not always my favorite but the effort by the production company was impressive. Comedian and magician were entertaining. Crew show was very entertaining . Interior room was okay and room steward was very accommodating. Cruise gets 5 stars from me. Have reservations on the Dawn in November. Repositioning cruise Boston to New Orleans Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
The wife and I are in our early 50's and reside in the New Orleans metro area. We have taken two previous cruises with HAL to Alaska. This was our first time cruising out of New Orleans, and with NCL. We were dropped off in front of ... Read More
The wife and I are in our early 50's and reside in the New Orleans metro area. We have taken two previous cruises with HAL to Alaska. This was our first time cruising out of New Orleans, and with NCL. We were dropped off in front of the cruise ship terminal at 12:30 PM by a relative and did not have to deal with the parking. Upon entering the terminal we were greeted by a long line of passengers going through the security check point. I must say that the line moved relatively quickly. The check in line was also long, but again moved very quickly. Our accommodations were on deck 11, and we found the layout of the ship easy to navigate. We found the ship to be very clean, and for the entire length of the cruise we constantly observed the crew whipping and cleaning the surfaces that the passengers may come into contact with. We ate our evening meals in the main dinning room (Tsar's), including lunch on the at sea days. To our delight, and contrary to many of the reviews we read on this site, the food in the main dining room was always very fresh and tasty. For you steak lovers, I had the grilled New York strip steak (medium) three times, and each time it was close to 1" thick, and very tender! Same for the many different types of grilled fish that were available: all was seasoned and grilled to near perfection. The only downside to our experience in the main dining room was the service. Sometimes it was very slow, and I attribute that to the NCL policy of moving the waiting room staff each day to a different venue. For breakfast each morning we choose the Garden Room buffet . There was always a very large selection of breakfast items to choose from. There was also four stations provided to make the customary fresh cheese omelets for the egg lovers. We attended the show every evening in the Stardust Theater. The shows were crowded, but seating configuration allowed for a good view from anywhere in the theater. The entertainment was very good to excellent each night, including the entertainer's performing in the smaller lounges and restaurants. The itinerary for this cruise, in our view, was excellent, four port stops with only two full days at sea! We were always well ahead of schedule getting into our ports of call. The crew was always smiling and helpful and the officers would nearly always inquire as to how you were enjoying the cruise. This was the first time at the end of the cruise, that I did not mind paying the mandatory NCL $12 a day tip for both of us! In fact the room steward made out even better. We will definitely will be cruising out on New Orleans again next year on NCL, and will arrange to bring some friends along. Thank you NCL Jewel!!!   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We chose this vacation as a 35th wedding anniversary special celebration. It was just the two of us and we booked a mini suite w/balcony on Deck 11, aft-facing. We loved it. One of the nicest parts of our week was sitting out on the ... Read More
We chose this vacation as a 35th wedding anniversary special celebration. It was just the two of us and we booked a mini suite w/balcony on Deck 11, aft-facing. We loved it. One of the nicest parts of our week was sitting out on the balcony together every morning, sail away from each port an often times late at night. Couldn't have been more beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday and stayed at the Sheraton New Orleans. We had dinner that evening at a restaurant called Jacques Imo's. I highly recommend it. Get there early (5:00pm) if you don't want to wait and be sure to try the Alligator Cheese Cake! Great authentic Nawlins' food. We went to the French Market and stopped at Café du Monde, walked up and down Bourbon Street and listened to some great blues music. Sunday morning went smoothly. We left the hotel at noon and were on the ship by 1:30 exploring and heading to our stateroom. The crew and officers were very friendly and helpful and were a visible presence throughout the week. We'd see them in the dining rooms, on the decks. They came to our meet & greet and introduced themselves and made it clear that we should contact them with concerns or requests. Our room was spacious with plenty of closet and drawer space. Large bathroom with tub and shower, vanity area and a toilet that could be sectioned off for privacy. We were given beach towels that would be exchanged each day as needed. The bed was comfortable and there was a safe and a mini frig in the room. And that balcony! It was so nice to be able to step outside, sit with a coffee or a cold drink and just take it all in. We only ate in specialty restaurants two evenings. Once at Moderno and once at Cagney's. Both were excellent. Otherwise, we enjoyed breakfast at the buffet where the food was clean and fresh and dinners at Tsar's where we enjoyed full service and entree's nicely presented. We had excursions booked at every port (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya) so the days were filled with exciting adventures. We did Atlantis Sub, Barrier Reef Snorkel & Beach Day, Club Natale in Roatan (amazing), and in Costa Maya we got crazy and rented a golf cart for the day and just ran around Costa Maya. We stopped at a cute beach cabana place and had a lobster lunch, listened to music, and did some shopping. Just laid back and fun. We saw a couple of the shows in the Starlight Theater (great shows), spent some time in the casino (just for fun) and enjoyed spending some time in the Martini Bar,the Beer Bar, the Java Café, Spinnaker's Lounge, Fyzz and others. The week included a big SuperBowl party on the big screen and we also saw the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on the ship. Too much fun, could go on and on. We had dream week. Thank you Norwegian...we will definitely be back! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy ... Read More
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy Breezy. The port of New Orleans was easy to access from all of the touristy areas of New Orleans, so its perfect for travelers who want to spend some time in the city before or after the cruise. Getting on the ship was efficient and easy. The only thing that was kind of confusing is that the boarding groups were a combination of numbers, letters and casino card guests. Since we are new to Norwegian and to this port, we weren't exactly sure what kind of order they were going in. For example, it went something like this... we were boarding group 2 - they called boarding group 1 so we got excited that were would be next... then boarding group A, boarding group B, Casino Group, boarding C... Even if we were the 5th or 6th boarding group, it would have been nice to at least have some idea of how many groups were still in front of us. Small critique, but that is really the only thing that could be changed to reduce confusion. Everything else was great. Room: We stayed in a mid-ship balcony room on deck 10 (10582). This was a great central and quite location, close enough to the elevators but we did not have problems with hearing foot traffic in the halls. The room is a normal sized cruise cabin, small but organized well to maximize space. Storage space was adequate for both of our things without trouble. There is a small flat screen TV with limited channels. Bathroom feels small since its organized into 3 compartments - the sink is in the center with a toilet and shower area on either side. The toilet area has a sliding door with frosted plexiglass and same with the shower. This is designed so two people can utilize the bathroom at once and still have some semblance of privacy. The toilet area was small if you close the sliding door, however, we usually just used the regular bathroom door instead since we didn't need to both use the bathroom at once. The balcony was a nice size with two sitting chairs and small table. Entertainment: We really enjoyed the comedian, Micheal. We went to his regular show as well as his late night adult only show. The regular one was better but the adult only was okay too. We didn't really care for the magician/comedian, Jean Pierre. We thought he came off as bit abrasive and wasn't that funny. We also really enjoyed the newlywed game and perfect couple game. We attended a couple trivia sessions as well, which were fine and pretty much what we expected. Service: The first day, there seemed to be a lot of staff dedicated to high pressure sales of the water, beverage and food packages, which we didn't really like. Staff in the buffet were friendly and quick to clear plates. Staff in the main dining rooms was very slow and unfriendly at lunchtime but the waitstaff was more friendly and attentive at night. The waitstaff in the specialty dining rooms were the best, quick to refill drinks and always asking if they could get you anything more. The biggest area where we found disappointing with regard to service was the hostesses. In La Crucina, the hostess was rude to us when we didn't have a reservation and arrived at 5:45pm. She told us there was no availability until 8:30pm, even though the menu screens showed the restaurant was green (which was supposed to mean immediate seating available) from 6:00-8:30. We asked her why the menu board didn't reflect that they were full and she said they had availability for one guest, so the board won't show full - but not availability for our party of 2. The hostess at Azura was not very friendly either. Our room steward was okay but we did not think he was as good as the room steward we had on our last cruise. He was nice and kept the ice full, no complaints but didn't go above and beyond really either. We did find out half way though the cruise that ours was the last one for most of the staff - they were about to go on a 2-4 month break in the home countries, after having worked 7 months on the ship, so that could explain the few spotty areas we did encounter with regard to service. I would be excited and a little distracted too! Food: 1) Buffet: The buffet always felt sanitary, with the washy washy people standing guard outside, however, we felt the selection was somewhat limited compared to our buffet experience on carnival. There was a salad station, pasta station, pizza station, local (rotating) section, an Indian food section, a crepe station (which was in a separate room) and dessert. The Indian food was really really good and flavorful and the crepes were delicious. Everything else was just okay. Seating was at a premium in here, it was really hard to find a place to sit during peak hours. 2) Tsars & Azura: These are the two main dining rooms. I like that they only enforce a dress code in Tsars, leaving Azura as the more casual option, however, I wish there was more of a difference in the menus to make it feel like they were two distinct restaurant venues. The menus were almost exactly the same. Food ranged from okay to good. 3) Java Cafe: Coffee was okay, nothing special. I would consider the quality to be just slightly below the normal quality one would get at the big name coffee bars in the US. 4) Blue Lagoon: This is a free dining option with bar food type items - hot wings, mozzarella sticks, sandwiches, etc. We had one light lunch here, which was pretty good. 5) La Crucina: The italian restaurant. We really liked this one. The restaurant had a very cute Italian Kitchen decor and was pretty quiet and tucked away near the back of the ship. We ate here two nights and tried the lobster pasta, pizza, lasagna and chicken parm. The pizza was much better than what we had at the buffet. The soup appetizer was really good as well. The lasagna was just "ok" and the other entrees were really good. 6) Cagneys: I'm vegetarian so I probably didn't appreciate this restaurant as much as others would. My husband had steak with au gratin potatoes and broccoli, which he really enjoyed. The steak arrived with a garlic butter slice on top, which added a lot of good flavor and he also said it was cooked perfectly. The waiter asked him to cut into the center when it was first delivered to make sure that the it was cooked to his liking. He really appreciated that they put so much effort into making sure the meat was cooked the way he liked. 7) Le Bistro: We really liked this place but the food is very rich. It was apparent that the food was high quality and the service was top notch at this venue. 8) Chin Chin: This is well worth the $15 cover charge. The food is cooked very well and the appetizers are really tasty. They also have hot pot at certain tables that you have to request ahead of time, we saw others doing this and it looked like they enjoyed it. Ports: 1) Cozumel: We booked the Mayan Ruin tour through the ship. Our guide, Juan, was really nice and informative. He was a Mayan descendant. He kept us entertained both directions and was excited to share his culture. Tulum is very very hot, make sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. The ruins were really beautiful and it was really cool to see iguanas roaming free everywhere throughout the park. They no longer allow anyone to climb on the ruins, so everything was seen at a distance only but still very cool. 2) Belize: We booked the Cave Tubing and Rainforest Hike Tour through the ship. We thought this was the best choice because of the time and distance required for the tour. If you book through the ship, it gives you piece of mind that they won't leave you behind if you tour runs late. Also, Belize is a tender port and having a tour booked through the ship allows you to leave on as early of a tender as you like. If you book independently, you are required to be in line by 7am to try to get an earlier tender ticket number to make it to your tour. We thought this made it well worth it. Lunch was provided before our tour at the cave tubing site, buffet style then we started our journey to the river. We felt very safe, they only allow 8 guests per guide and equipment was in good shape and included hard hats with lights as well as life jackets, which they require you to wear in the water. They suggest water shoes because sandals get lost in the current, they have them for rental for $3 if you don't bring any, but we brought our own. Our guide was very nice and friendly but seemed a little rushed. He mentioned it was his last tour of the day, so maybe that was it. He had us walk through the jungle really quick, we only briefly stopped twice for him to show us termites and a pineapple but then back to the trail. We passed 4 groups along the trail and in the cave, so I know we were going faster than other groups. Although we might have liked to take a slower pace to really enjoy the walk through the beautiful jungle, we still had a wonderful time. We really enjoyed the walk. We arrived at the river and the guide gave us a couple minutes to swim around the water while he linked our tubes together then we were off. The cave was amazing and the lights on our hard hats came in handy. There were a few tiny rapids but it was mostly calm and we felt very safe the whole time. All in all, we loved it. 3) Roatan: We booked with Little French Key. We were not sure what to expect since it was the first time we didn't book through the ship and first time in Roatan, but we found Larry and Dave very easily just outside the port gates. They put us in a van with a few other guests and drove us to Frenchy's 44 which was about a 20 minute drive from the port. We then took a small ferry just across the water to Little French Key. It was absolutely beautiful and ended up being our favorite excursion of the entire trip. The water was clam and clear and the staff were extremely friendly. Drinks were delish, especially the monkey la la. They also had a small zoo with rescue animals which was very cool. There were a couple jaguars that were in an enclosure that we thought looked a little small but otherwise all the animals looked very happy and well taken care of. They will let you hold the monkeys, we went into the pen in the large spider monkey enclosure which was cool but their most shining star is undoubtedly "Lisa" the monkey. She is the sweetest most cuddly animal I've ever seen, I was ready to smuggle her back to the US! Everyone should ask to hold her, it will make your trip! We also went snorkeling which we really enjoyed. There was a good variety of fish and the reef was amazing. Little French Key is definitely a place not to be missed during your visit to Roatan! 4) Costa Maya: We reserved Maya Chan Beach and had a great time. It is an all inclusive, funky beach resort. They only allow a small number of guests so it provides a really nice experience. It never felt crowded and the staff treated us like family. Everything was included - alcoholic drinks, food, water toys and the snorkel and kayaking tour. The food was incredible. The beach did have some trash floating in the water, but we did research in advance and know that this is an issue in the entire Costa Maya area because of their location, all beach resorts in this area have similar problems. It was not too much but the only thing that could be improved in a perfect world, but again, it wasn't Maya Chan's fault either. We would definitely go back here! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
First things first, this was our first ncl cruise and the first time in new orleans. Also, there were 4 in our group all over 50 years of age. We have been loyal to royal in the past so we were a bit nervous of what to expect from ncl. We ... Read More
First things first, this was our first ncl cruise and the first time in new orleans. Also, there were 4 in our group all over 50 years of age. We have been loyal to royal in the past so we were a bit nervous of what to expect from ncl. We arrived NOLA around 6 pm and stayed at the intercontinental, it is under renovation but all was well. As a matter of fact our room wasnt ready so they gave us a suite. Not much time to see or do anything as it was a long day flying down from Canada. We showed up at embarkation around 11:00 am and found it one of the easiest procedure yet, however the taxi drop off location was a bit of a mess. Our rooms were ready around 1:00 so we had a couple of hours to explore and have some lunch. The garden buffet was well stocked and there was lots of tables available. Once in our cabin ( balcony) we did notice some areas that needed some attention so we pointed them out to our cabin attendant and they were immediately taken care of. Our ports of call were Cosumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. We went cave tubing in Belize ( I highly recommend it) and we explored the Myan Ruins in Costa Maya ( it was awesome as well). Cosumel is Cosumel as this was our third time there and we found Roatan a bit sketchy outside the port area. During the cruise we went to a specialty restaurant for dinner 5 times. All were great with Cagneys being our favorite ( we went there twice). Also we had the Blue Lagoon twice, once I brought it back to our cabin and once we sat down at a table. Their wings are fantastic!!! All in all we enjoyed this cruise and even took advantage to their future booking special and placed 250.00 down on a future cruise and enjoyed a 100 obc on this cruise. We have 4 yrs to decide on a cruise but it wont take us that long to decide I am sure. Disembarkation was just a easy as embarkation. We stayed one night at the Hilton Riverside (very nice) which is an easy walk from the pier. I timed it and it took us less than 8 minutes. We walked outside and found out after that you can do it inside which would have been easier I am sure. Our day in New Orleans was great. The weather was nice and my wife and I grabbed a map and got a daypass on the trolley system ( 3 dollars for the day ). We explored the sights and sounds and truly enjoyed New Orleans so much so that we would like to return and spend more time there. All I can say is NCL we will be back and New Orleans hope to see you soon.   Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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