Sail Date: April 2014
We were first time cruisers and we decided to choose NCL. We cruised to the Western Caribbean. Our ports were: - Cozumel, Mexico - Roatan, Honduras - Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico Embarkation was fairly easy although the wait time was ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and we decided to choose NCL. We cruised to the Western Caribbean. Our ports were: - Cozumel, Mexico - Roatan, Honduras - Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico Embarkation was fairly easy although the wait time was over 30 minutes. Once on the ship, it was easy to navigate to our floor/cabin. Our room was an inside cabin and it was small but clean. We never had any issues with the cleaning crew. The bed was always made and the cabin was spotless. The crew members were friendly and always smiling. We never encountered any issues when asking questions or needing guidance. Our biggest 'Port' disappointment was Belize. We did not book an excursion. The port shopping area was small and the locals were not very friendly. We were eager to get back on the ship and forget the visit. Cozumel was very nice and we booked the Dolphin Excursion via NCL. It was a great experience and I would recommend it highly. We chose an excursion outside NCL for Roatan. We booked a 'resort for the day' and spent the day at Club Natale Bay. It was quiet and very relaxing. We had access to the beach and to the resort, itself. We did not book an excursion for Costa Maya, but the shopping area was nice and the locals were friendly. The food was another issue. Tsar's Palace and Azura basically had the same menu. It varied slightly from night to night. Tsar's required that men wear pants whereas Azura had a more relaxed dress code. The buffet had quite a few menu options but the food was not that tasty. We did pay to upgrade to Moderno Churrascaria (brazilian steakhouse) and we were disappointed. It seemed that once the waiters made their first round with the meat selections, they did not return again for some time. After waiting 10 minutes for a dessert menu, we decided to skip it and just pay for our bill. Perhaps, if we had chosen to upgrade all of our meals via their dinner package for $119, we would have had a better overall food experience.   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
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot ... Read More
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot say enough about the staff aboard the Jewel. We will now be taking the Jewel out of Seattle to Alaska because of the staff and ship. I would give the total experience a 4.5! Food 4.0 - New to free style dining, really like it! We stayed with all the included eating venues. Cabin 4.5 we had a balcony (the only was to cruise IMO) Staff 5.0 Entertainment 4.5 Excursions 5.0 Food was good. We ate in the main dining room twice and decided we were more of the buffet upstairs kind of people. If you don't eat early or late there can be a wait for seating in the dining areas. Cabin- very nice. Rod our steward took very good care of us. Love the coffee pot in the room - coffee on the balcony in the morning is awesome. Staff - can't say enough! Entertainment - two things stand out. The group Next Stage was awesome! Cover style with awesome music. Latin Four on deck played nice Caribbean and Latin music.. really good with Coconut rum and Sierra Mist. But our fav was a soloist named Randon. He played acoustic guitar and sang 70's folk and light rock. We looked for him in the evenings to jell out. NCL hold on to him! Excursions awesome. Cozumel we took a Mexican cooking class ( I know.. but I know us, we would need out of the sun for a day after a day at sea with AMAZING weather). Oscar was the chef/instructor. WHAT A BLAST, then beach time at Playa Mia. Belize - cave float and Zip Line great time! Roatan - snorkeling and beach, amazing reef and guides. Costa Maya - segway tour, very cool things, we want one for tooling around our development now. The guides/instructors were amazing. We spent 1/2 hour learning how to ride then 2.5 actually riding. Juan, Christian and Daniel, you guys ROCK! We then went to Blue Bay to hang at the beach. Beautiful spot! Had some drinks, went for a swim, relaxed under the straw cabanas. Life was GOOD! REALLY recommend this cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are ... Read More
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are cruise veterans. I can only tell you we had the time of our lives. All the staff made us feel like we were at home and part of their family. They ALWAYS had a smile on their faces and were going above and beyond to show everyone a great time. I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the ship and how they are so adamant about sanitation. The food and selection of food was great as well. We never went hungry or waited a minute for service. I especially appreciated watching how well everyone worked together and how much they took the time to thank us and their crew for all their hard work. The Cruise Director, Captain and their Executive Staff made their presence known and were eager to assist you. They didn't just hide in their offices and talk over the intercom all day. I highly recommend this ship and cruise line to everyone and anyone. I am so happy with the way the trip turned out and I can be a very picky person. Kudos to Norweigan. Hope to be cruising with you again really soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We ( my mom, boyfriend and I) decided on the Norwegian Jewel because it was the cheapest price for the locations it was going to. We live in Oklahoma and decided that we would drive to New Orleans. The ship went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, ... Read More
We ( my mom, boyfriend and I) decided on the Norwegian Jewel because it was the cheapest price for the locations it was going to. We live in Oklahoma and decided that we would drive to New Orleans. The ship went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Getting on the boat was simple enough and our room was not ready until about 1pm and that was fine because we went and ate at Tzars Palace. Food Our first thought on the food was that it was pretty good. The desserts on the other hand were weird and it seemed like every single dessert item was made with gelatin. The first dessert we tried was chocolate mouse( the best of the three), some sort of berry cheesecake( did not taste anything like cheesecake), and Panna Cotta (very rubbery and tasteless). I love dessert and I love to try new desserts, but the ones on this boat were just plain strange. Even the chocolate cake we had contained weird jelly balls throughout the slice. The only good dessert we had was in a pay restaurant( we tried the hot pot) and it was a green tea cake with green tea ice cream and it actually tasted like what it was supposed to. The food was pretty good and we actually had our room a floor below the buffet which was nice because that was out favorite place to eat on the boat. Each day in the buffet they would have a different theme and the food would change to be a part of the theme such as when we were in Mexico there was mexican food or when we were in the Caribbean they served Caribbean food. We decided to try the pizza delivery for $5 and it was the most disgusting pizza we have ever eaten. It did not taste like real cheese and the "cheese" was about an inch thick. So if your thinking of trying the pizza delivery, think again and just go to the buffet and get a slice or two there. The pizza at the buffet was actually good. They also served food by the pool, but be careful because we saw them making what looked like stir fry noodles with vegetables so we went over and each got a plate. My mom and I do not eat seafood and my boyfriend is allergic to shellfish. This dish was filled with shrimp and clams and all sorts of seafood. I'm glad we saw it because that could have been bad. There was no sign letting people know what it was. Room Our room was great. We had the mini suite which we paid about $900 per person. We had a giant balcony and it was nice to be able to relax on the balcony. The couch in our suite folded out to a big bed which my mom slept on and our steward Orlando pulled out and put up each day. He was such an amazing steward! The bathroom was not as small as I thought it would be. Our room was nice and quiet and we were not around any of the clubs or anything so it was a good spot. Entertainment I'm not sure why everyone seems to like the entertainment on this boat. I'm actually kind of baffled by what they call "entertainment". We tried several times to go to shows but the shows were so dumb that we left. I was really excited about the Cirque Bijou or whatever it was called. We got to the show early and got some great balcony seats. The show started and my boyfriend and I were looking at each other and laughing because it was so childish and they were not even doing anything that was interesting or fun to watch. The first act was a girl that stood on the shoulders of a man and all she did was hold two hula hoops and twirl them around her arms. The audience sure loved that for some reason because there were cheers and applause ? I was expecting something similar to cirque du soleil. Boy were we disappointed! We decided to give it another chance to impress us. The next act was a few people on stage dancing? it seemed like they were trying to do some sort of Indian dance with their arms or something but it just looked like something that a kid could come up with. We tried to stay for another act before we left but as soon as we saw adults doing cartwheels and a few flips we about died of laughter and had to leave. Don't expect anything professional if you attend these shows. We were really disappointed with the entertainment onboard and I feel like the only entertainment we liked was going to the art auctions on board to watch people get suckered into buying "art". I won't lie the auctions were very engaging and were pretty fun and you get free art just for going. We went to the newlywed not so newlywed game show which was pretty entertaining to watch. Pool The pool was pretty small and was cold almost the whole time so we did not really get to swim unless we wanted to be freezing while doing it. We did get in the hot tub twice, but it was not really as hot as other hot tubs I've been in. They were not bad though, but they were always crowded. Fitness Center We only went in there a few times but the machines are really nice and have touchscreen monitors. You can play games on the monitors while exercising or even watch the ocean through the widow or from a camera on deck. When we first booked I thought that they were going to have free zumba sessions, but you have to pay for those and the only free stuff in the fitness center were not very good, mostly seminars about fitness. Random In the daily newspaper thing we noticed that the actives with a star are pay activities. So when we saw a martini tasting with no star we got excited to finally see and try something you don't have to pay for. When we got there they told us it was $15 per person. What a crock. For the price we paid there should be more free things to do on the boat. We went to a pastry making seminar, but when we got there it was retarded. There was already a cake made and they just got a random person from the audience and had them put icing on it and some berries... I'm sorry but this is not a pastry making seminar. I did not pay to come on this cruise to watch some woman try her hand at decorating a cake. My mom got sick with food poisoning the day before our last port. The nurses in the infirmary were very nice and kind to her. If you go down there for food poisoning you don't have to pay, which was nice. Originally my boyfriend and I went to the shop to see if they has any medicine for sale, but they didn't, so we went o ask if they had any in the doctors and when we asked they said we should bring her down and there would be no charge. It's a good thing we brought her down because my mom ended up having to be taken down there again to get an IV for dehydration. They were very professional and treated us like family. They gave my mom Gatorade packets and medicine and even called to check up on her for the rest of the trip. Overall It was not bad, but I feel like all the seminars on the ship were there only to get you to buy something. The entertainment was lacking in professionalism and uniqueness. There are more pay restaurants than free ones. I feel like everywhere you go on the ship they are trying to get more money out of you. WE are never going to book on a Norwegian again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
This was my and my college aged sons first cruise. After reading many reviews I was somewhat nervous as what to expect and experience. Let me say we had a wonderful week and will be returning on another Norwegian cruise. Sailaway day: ... Read More
This was my and my college aged sons first cruise. After reading many reviews I was somewhat nervous as what to expect and experience. Let me say we had a wonderful week and will be returning on another Norwegian cruise. Sailaway day: Lines were long however we got to the Port of New Orleans and was on the ship within an hour. I did bring 5 bottles of wine on board and got the corkage stickers without any issues. This did save me on purchasing any wine on board but you do have to take your wine with you to dinner or the bar. The server who opens your wine gets the tip from the corkage fee. We did check our luggage and once on board our cabins were not ready so we took our items with us and got something to eat in the garden cafe which everyone else did too so we had to sit outside. Our cabin was ready around 1:30 pm and luggahge arrived around 3:30 pm. The weather in NOLA was chilly so we quickly ate and went to explore the ship with all items in tow. (the wine got heavy) We toured the spa and after reading many reviews chose to get the spa package for each of us for the week. You must be over 18 to go to the spa. The spa is a great place to get away from the crowds. Included in the spa is steam bath, sauna and whirlpools and heated chairs...I really loved the chairs. Both sons ages 18 & 21 loved the spa too. It was $149 for the week so it isnt cheap but really enhanced our experience. Sea Days: We went to the spa, I used the gym on all sea days and went to 2 wine tasting events on these days. The kids went to the casino, arcade, and hung out at the pool bar. Kids over 18 but not 21 can have beer and wine with parenta permission but can only get one at a time which I did sign for my 18 yo. We did go to the comedian show which was really funny. Dining: Our main place to eat was Tsar's Palace in the evening men do need pants or jeans not shorts and close toe shoes. We did one pay restaurant the Teppanyaki and it was good but not as good as our local Shoguns. Not sure I would go again. We also ate at Azura's which is cramped and service not as good as Tsar's. Blue Lagoon was our go to place for different eating times which was good but not exceptional. I consider myself a foodie so the overall the food was average and we quickly learned the beef is low quality so we stuck with fish and chicken and starters. You can get as many of these as you like and one evening I had 3 starters for my meal. Best desert was the Chocolate decadence on the next to last night. Getting off the ship was so easy.. We did not check our bags we carried them off and were off thru customs and to the car in less than hour.   Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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