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
My wife and I looked forward to cruising the Panama Canal. We chose the NCL Jewel because my wife had never been to New Orleans and we figured we could kill two birds by sailing from there. We also wanted to try Freestyle Cruising since ... Read More
My wife and I looked forward to cruising the Panama Canal. We chose the NCL Jewel because my wife had never been to New Orleans and we figured we could kill two birds by sailing from there. We also wanted to try Freestyle Cruising since our previous cruises had on the more traditional RCCL line ships. Although the food in the premium restaurants we tried was very good, the main restaurants and buffet we re just mediocre. But it was about what we expected from a mid - grade cruise line. The mini suite was a little smaller than RCCL's but the balcony was just a bit larger so the room was very comparable. On board activities were about as expected and the shows were well done. One caveat - NCL nickel and dimes just about everything so be prepared to pay extra for nearly everything. The huge problem came about on the fourth day and it basically ruined the rest of the cruise for us. We were on the pool deck that morning and when we went back to our room there were crewmen in the next stateroom dressed in hazmat gear, including suits, head covers and respirators working on something in the room. I could see the cover from the side of the bathtub leaning against the wall in the hallway outside the room and also saw a crewman spraying something in the room. That process was partially repeated the following week - we saw more crewmen with respirators spraying something in that room. The night after the first incident, my wife and I had trouble sleeping because we were coughing almost constantly. These symptoms continued for the duration of the cruise. In fact we are still sick 3 days after disembarkation. After the second incident, I questioned someone at the Customer Service desk about what the crewmen were doing and why it appeared to affect our health. The woman called our room later with a story about them installing something. In full hasmat gear? I had the opportunity to talk to the room's occupants on the last day of the cruise. They were unaware of the crew's work in their room and the woman said she was suffering from the same ailment starting around the same time. Caveat Emptor! 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
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
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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