Sail Date: November 2014
The ship rocked and shook continuously. If the constant rocking and chugging does not make you sick, then the constant singing in the inferior buffet dining about "washy, washy, washy" will make most definitely nauseate you. ... Read More
The ship rocked and shook continuously. If the constant rocking and chugging does not make you sick, then the constant singing in the inferior buffet dining about "washy, washy, washy" will make most definitely nauseate you. This was my 10th cruise; second on NCL. The first time was 20 years ago on a different ship which at the time was probably new and simply re-christened as the Jewel. We had a balcony room which was exactly the same size as any other ship I have been on - only this one was completely outdated. The food was awful. Usually I try to lose 10 pounds before going on a cruise so I can eat away and not feel guilty about gaining. I probably lost 15 pounds on this cruise. The choices that were repeated nightly were slim. The "specials" of the night were especially disgusting. Our steward kept the room clean but didn't seem overly excited to clean or replenish towels and toilet paper as needed. I am a neat-freak so I do not let the room get messy. There were three of us in the room - and cruise lovers know you are not in the room that much. But when we would go out for the day and come back at 2ish and the room still had not been cleaned and the hallways smelled like dirty socks - well it was not pleasant. The weather played a factor in docking in Belize so it took longer than normal to get on the tender to take us to the island. There were so many people trying to get off at the same time and it was so unorganized, but those who had excursions planned were given first priority. So since we were one of those with priority, we were re-routed through a section of the ship that I am quite certain whoever has shares in NCL would have flipped out that we were even privy to this area. It showed their survey scores. Guess what? They were ALL terrible - every section was 80 or below. It is not a kid-friendly ship. The entertainment was mediocre. The dining staff made new rules every night. One night men could where shorts; the next my 18 year old son came in with shorts and was told he could not enter the half-full dining room. Seconds later four older gentlemen all in separate parties entered the dining room wearing shorts. After speaking with all 4 men I found out the hostess had told them the same, but they told her there had been no dress code regarding shorts the previous nights, so she let them enter. I went from person to person until I got to the 6th person who finally was a true angel; he cared. None of the 5 before him cared to listen to my complaint; passing it off to the next person. This 6th man, who was the ONLY person on the ship who seemed to really truly care about the passengers calmed my down, called the kitchen and had a pizza sent to my son's room. The next night he arranged for champagne and a fresh full size chocolate cake to be delivered to our table. That was the ONLY positive part of this entire debacle. Other than that one truly wonderful experience with the head of the dining area who had to be called in after arguing continuously with the 5th person, I would never, ever, ever - even if it was free, go on this ship or this cruise line again. Read Less
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: April 2014
This was out 6th cruise with NCL... We enjoyed the cruise and like cruising with NCL but had two bad experiences this time that will keep us from cruising with NCL until we have cruised with RCL a couple of times... Overall we have been on ... Read More
This was out 6th cruise with NCL... We enjoyed the cruise and like cruising with NCL but had two bad experiences this time that will keep us from cruising with NCL until we have cruised with RCL a couple of times... Overall we have been on 11 cruises and the main reason we have cruised with NCL and Carnival is that we can drive to New Orleans in 5 hours.... Overall the cruise was good but our first and only meal in the MDR was on the first night aboard... We had the lobster and filet beef... Not very good at all... the lobster was so small and very chewy and the filet was not good at all in any way... It was not a filet but a thin strip steak with many tough bites that could not be swallowed.... Because of that and because we found the buffet to be great we chose not to eat any other times in the MDR... We chose to leave the ship in New Orleans on Sunday Morning and carried our two small carry on's off the ship as advertised by NCL.... WOW! what a mistake.... we had been told we could leave the ship at 7:45 a.m. so we arrived on deck 6 with our two small luggage's at 8:00 a.m. To our great surprise there were approximately 1000 passengers ( per the front desk) waiting in line on deck 6... The line went down the length of the ship in one hallway and back up the other hallway...(this is a 8:10 a.m.) over half of these passengers had large suitcases and the hallways were almost blocked and unpassable....No one was allowed to leave the ship... We went back to our room for 30 minutes then I called the front desk where a NCL employee told we that no one could leave until the ship was cleared by customs... That is not the problem... The problem is that no one in authority every got on the speakers to announced the problem ... this allowed more people to crowd in the stairwells and other decks trying to get to deck 6.... It was dangerous and unsafe but still the Captain nor anyone tried to announce or explain the problem... We went to the buffet for awhile and came down to deck 6 at 9 a.m. when the cruise director finally announce that we could now start leaving the ship... After leaving the ship we had walk the length of the NCL ship and the length of the Carnival berth to that building to go through customs... We then walked the same distance to leave the building and go to the parking lot... This bad taste would ruin cruising with NCL for many first time passengers but this was out first bad experience leaving a NCL ship... 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
My Mother & I took this identical cruise in January of this year and were very disappointed. So when the opportunity presented itself to take it again (with my husband) decided to try again. For the most part I was pleased. The staff ... Read More
My Mother & I took this identical cruise in January of this year and were very disappointed. So when the opportunity presented itself to take it again (with my husband) decided to try again. For the most part I was pleased. The staff was way friendlier then in January. We purchased the Ultimate Dining Package again and were not disappointed. We ate in Cagney's, Teppanyaki (2), Le Bistro (2) & La Cucina (2). All were excellent and well worth the additional money. We steer away from the buffet as a rule. The few times we had breakfast there the workers were very surl, it was overcrowded, and the quality was poor. We went to two Latitudes parties. The rum punches are great (and free). The Captain, Kenneth has a great personality and seems quite nice. The rest of the senior officers do not mingle, nor do they seem very friendly. I'm used to Hotel Director, Armando Da Silva (Jade & Spirit), he is very charming, he and his staff get out daily, remember your names, send you wines and cheese/fruit trays. Make you feel special. The Cruise Director, Jaime, is good. Not phony like many of the others. Romeo, the Cruise Consultant, is the best by far. I've been on this exact cruise 3 times over the past year (although one was on the Star- much better then the Jewel) so the destinations are pretty blah for me. This time w opted for the Tulum ruins in Cozumel, and the zip-ining in Roatan. Ruins - bad, too hot, boring guide. Zip-lining - great, nice short scenic drive Belize is fun, great shopping, good food. Costa Maya, nothing special. Shows were poor. They must be in the midst of changing staff. There were three female dancers, all horrible. Bad singers. Broken seats scattered throughout showroom. The Russian aerialists were good, but the male should stick to aerialism, he is not a very good singer, although as good as what was on stage. All in all a relaxing cruise, but nothing special. We are going on a 9 day Baltic cruise on the NCL Star next month, hope it's better. I might have to think about changing cruise lines. Such a shame, I have loved NCL so much.   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
Sail Date: March 2014
This was our first cruise ever and we had a great time! I understand from seasoned travelers that the dreadful lines at embarkation were unusual, due to the Mardi Gras traffic/parades/crowds, so I'll not comment further on that ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and we had a great time! I understand from seasoned travelers that the dreadful lines at embarkation were unusual, due to the Mardi Gras traffic/parades/crowds, so I'll not comment further on that aspect. We missed lunch entirely, but there was a nice bowl of fruit in our room (8630 Aft, reviewed elsewhere), and BAGUS, our butler, arrived soon after with a plate of snacks to hold us over until dinner. We explored the ship and left him to unpack our bags - what a treat that was! We also had a lovely flower arrangement of roses, daisies, and mums on the table and a bottle of champagne on ice. Bagus brought sandwiches and sweets every afternoon, as well as an invite to early-view the chocolate buffet (which was WOW to see), an invite to meet the officers for cocktails in The Haven, priority tendering instructions, etc. CONNIE, our steward, was truly outstanding - a real gem. She kept the room continuously spotless and supplied with plenty of clean towels, Elemis toiletries, and the cutest towel animals. My fav was the little mouse peaking out from under the pillow on our last night. We had a concierge assigned to us but we never utilized her services, although when we chanced to see her here and there she was quite friendly. We'd already made dinner reservations and show reservations were completely unnecessary. Our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet was held Saturday morning in the Star Bar. We met the several of the ship's officers and were treated to cookies and lemonade. It was nice to meet the people we'd been chatting with on the Roll Call. We visited each of the bar locations at some point and our favorite was The Great Outdoors, Deck 12, Aft. The Spinnaker Lounge was lots of fun - late night parties especially. The Fyzz Lounge was another favorite and we tried to catch Duo Luna wherever they played. We paid for a "Beer Tasting" which was fun but the beers were a joke - a beer tasting that includes Miller Lite? That still cracks us up. We'd purchased the Ultimate Dining Package (a great value @ $120 each) and made dinner reservations prior to boarding for a specialty restaurant each night. We went to the Restaurant Reservations desk in the Crystal Atrium on Deck 7 to get UDP stickers put on our cards and change a few reservation times. We never got around to eating in either of the main dining rooms, but we did eat a few times at the Garden Café, which is the gi-normous buffet - nice omelets to order. We passed through the Blue Lagoon dining room where people seemed to be eating nothing but chicken wings and enjoying them enormously. :) Breakfast and lunch at Cagney's was included with our suite, so we ate many meals there. The breakfasts were especially wonderful, the service attentive, the coffee quite good, and the atmosphere was blissfully peaceful. Towards the end of the cruise we just kind of got tired of eating 3 squares a day (!) and skipped a few. Le Bistro on Sunday night was a WONDERFUL way to kick off our first cruise. We had salads, mushroom soup, escargot, duck, steak, chocolate Napoleon and crème brulee. The crème brulee is NOT to be missed. The steak and duck were as good as we've had at many nice restaurants in New Orleans and the service was excellent. In fact, the service was excellent at ALL of the specialty restaurants. Monday night was at Chin Chin, the Chinese restaurant (or Asian fusion as they call it). It was practically empty the entire cruise - they should probably be re-thinking this one. The food was just okay, honestly - not really even as good as our fav local Chinese restaurant. Excellent service, but ho-hum food. Tuesday night was at Teppanyaki, the hibachi-style restaurant. What fun! I'd never been to one before and was just delighted with our chef and his routine. The seating is limited to 32 at a time (divided into 4 tables of 8), so make your reservations early. The food was very good and the only thing I wasn't wild about was the green tea cake and ice cream dessert. That must be an acquired taste, however I'm glad I tried it. Wednesday night was at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant. The brochure pics make it seem like it's just a pizza/pasta, family-style place. In reality, it's fine Italian dining, and plenty of romantic tables for two. We had ossobuco and pork (not veal) marsala. Everything we tried was yummy. Thursday night was at Cagney's, the steak house. We had salads, steaks, baked potatoes - a great meal! Dessert was raspberry crème brulee. Not my cup of tea at all - too much raspberry crème by half. We prefer traditional crème brulee, but you have to try new things, right? The upcharge for Cagney's is $30, but we think Le Bistro ($25) is really the best of the specialty restaurants. Friday night was at Moderno, the Brazilian churrascaria. You start with a trip to the excellent soup and salad bar, followed by the parade of meats, accompanied by 4 side dishes, including garlic mashed potatoes. There were 3 desserts to choose from, including cocoanut flan, but we opted for grilled pineapple topped with cinnamon - delish! Saturday night we were back at Le Bistro with a special bottle of wine we'd brought on board for the occasion ($15 corkage fee). Salads, the most exquisite scallops we've had in a long time, escargot again, onion soup, and steak again. A delicious apple tartine and surprisingly just okay profiteroles for dessert. A lovely meal to mark the end of our vacation. We went to the "big show" every night (7:15 or 9:15) and agreed that The Comedy & Magic of Jean-Pierre was hands-down the best show of the cruise. We also attended a smaller Saturday morning show he did with mostly card tricks and several children from the audience. Great fun! Other shows were Band On The Run, Le Cirque Bijou, a comedian, and a musical review where each entertainer did a song or two. We didn't go to Deal or No Deal, Bingo, or the casino, etc. I would have enjoyed a few trips to the casino if not for the smoke, UGH. One thing to note is at least some (perhaps all) of the previous night's entertainment was shown throughout the day on TV. Jamie de Souza, the cruise director, is hilarious! We didn't indulge, but the pools were well attended, and the poolside barbecue looked scrumptious from our upper deck perch. Looks like lots of fun for the kiddos with Sponge Bob and company and a decent enough water slide. The Carnival water slide on the ship next door kind of put ours to shame though, hahaha. There were lots of opportunities to do stuff throughout the day and night - something for everyone really. Does a pastry or sushi demo float your boat? How about towel animals and napkin folding? Learn to cha-cha or the choreography to "Thriller", participate in the karaoke, contests, and raffles - there's entertainment everywhere. We went on excursions (reviewed elsewhere) at each port, so "relaxing" was done on our balcony, with the exception of the Costa Maya port where we spent the day at MAYA CHAN. That was the BEST day of the cruise as far as we're concerned. Definitely look them up. Disembarking was easy. We packed our bags and placed them in the hall before going to bed Saturday night. Sunday morning we had a nice breakfast, walked off the ship with our hand-carry, met up with our bags outside of Customs, spent about 3 minutes in line at Customs, and rolled our bags out of the building and onto a shuttle to the Fulton Street parking garage (covered, $12/day in advance). Easy peasy! One side note - we thought we'd bring bottled water and Coke Zero but changed our minds at the last minute - and it turns out we didn't need it anyway. The water on board was fine and there was bottled water included on several excursions so we rarely had to buy a bottle. And I pretty much cured my Coke Zero habit by not drinking it for a week, which is not really a bad thing! We really loved our cruise vacation and can't wait to go again.   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
Our experience on the Norwegian Jewel was fantastic. I am raving about freestyle cruising and absolutely love the concept. We did spend an extra 20 bucks each one night for the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was well worth it. The service on ... Read More
Our experience on the Norwegian Jewel was fantastic. I am raving about freestyle cruising and absolutely love the concept. We did spend an extra 20 bucks each one night for the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was well worth it. The service on the ship was the best I've experienced in the industry thus far after 10 cruises on four different cruise lines. The NCL officers, staff, and crew were warm, welcoming, helpful, fun, and made customer service a top priority. Very impressive. I would love to go on another NCL cruise someday. While the ship is not really new (built in 2005 I think), it is well maintained and still sparkles in most areas throughout the interior. As an engineer, I must say in my humble opinion that the German built ships such as the Jewel have noticeably better quality, finish, materials, and workmanship than their Italian and French built counterparts. I must admit that this is the geek in me coming out, so others may not care as much or pay attention to the engineering quality, etc. Overall, we had a wonderful experience and enjoyed New Orleans too. It was fun to be on the Mississippi River for several hours departing and returning. The only downside that I will mention is that the Captain, for reasons he explained as weather related, decided to not dock at Costa Maya. So, we only got three of our four stops. I am still baffled by the decision as the wind and waves were not bad at all, and it was 80 degrees and sunny. The other three stops were just great though! 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
I usually cruise on Carnival but we decided to try Norwegian. There are pros and cons but I think overall I enjoyed Carnival the best. Room: Very clean and comfortable beds Staff: Very friendly and go out of their way to help you. Always ... Read More
I usually cruise on Carnival but we decided to try Norwegian. There are pros and cons but I think overall I enjoyed Carnival the best. Room: Very clean and comfortable beds Staff: Very friendly and go out of their way to help you. Always a smiling face to help you. Dining: Freestyle dining...liked and did not like. I enjoyed having our same waiter everyday on Carnival so I missed that. We went early to dinner in the Tsars most nights and for breakfast. The service was excellent and we did not have to wait in line. The food was average...limited menu. The Eggs Benedict was delicious. The buffet was very crowded and seating outside was limited. I am not a big fan of buffets but we did try it once. You have to pay extra for all the specialty restaurants form $15 -$30 per person. Even pizza was an extra $5. Home service was free except for certain ports. (See the small print) Fees: There were many hidden fees-food, activities, gym, spa. Beware!! Alcohol: Very expensive!! The drink of the day was $7.25 plus gratuity and tax or a whopping $9!! You cannot bring any alcohol on board. Any alcohol that you buy in port must be checked in. I would suggest buying a bottle of wine or bucket of beer. Entertainment: Excellent at night. Do not miss any of the shows. They are at 7:15 and 9:15. We always went to the 7:15 show and did not have any trouble finding a seat. After the show try a dance class. We went to the thriller and line dance class and had lots of fun. Daily Activities: Boring and not much of a variety unless you love trivial and bingo. On deck: Never had a problem finding a lounge chair. There is a deck on level 14 or 15 that gets you away from all the music if you want a quiet place to read a book while you lay in the sun. A Waiter services that deck also. Ports: Loved everyone of them!!! (See reviews for each port) One thing about Norwegian they were very organized and got you on and out in the ship very smoothly. The over all experience was good. I would take this cruise again just to go to the same ports!!! 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
Norwegian Jewel wasn't the best, and especially was not what I expected. The nicest thing about it in my opinion, was the Embarkation, which didn't even take long at all! Other than that, the rest of the experience wasn't ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel wasn't the best, and especially was not what I expected. The nicest thing about it in my opinion, was the Embarkation, which didn't even take long at all! Other than that, the rest of the experience wasn't that great.. Most of the times, I would spend the whole day just doing nothing but walking around the ship because it was the only thing I could do! Basically, it was complete BOREDOM. Even my whole family was bored! There was nothing to do but bingo and trivia, bla bla bla.. but the only thing that was worth waiting for were the concerts and comedy shows. And by 'worth waiting', I mean that I would count the minutes until they would start! 'Surprisingly', the minutes felt more like HOURS because of how much I was dying. Jewel needs to add more fun activities in schedules than just boring, adult ones. There's families joining aboard! No, I'm not talking about the nickelodeon slime activity, because there's also such things as families with older children who won't be as entertained. By older kids being entertained, yes, I know there's a kids club, but to the kid's opinion, they didn't enjoy it.. They sometimes didn't even want to go because of how boring it was. Freestyle cruising in the Norwegian Jewel wasn't fun when it comes to dining.. We didn't get to meet many people, which also lead to more boredom, of course. (like I'm going to count how many times I said 'bored', past, present,etc...) This also made us miss the opportunities to eat some of the really good food from one dining room from another.. I really wanted to eat this meal at this one dining room, but the food I wanted at another seemed equally as good, but I really wanted to try out this main course at another dining room! Jeez, got these problems all the time before dinner. Freestyle cruising when dining also didn't make us get close to our waiters. In normal cruises where there isn't freestyling, the kids would be very close to them as they got to make crazy napkin folds with them, too. Dining would usually come out as fun, but not in the Jewel... Jewel is a great ship, but I'm guessing what I'm targeted by more is Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
This is our second time on the Jewel. First time cruising for my family was from New York in 2011. This one went from New Orleans. We arrived in New Orleans and had a blast touring the city. My wife is Filipino and had never been to NOLA. ... Read More
This is our second time on the Jewel. First time cruising for my family was from New York in 2011. This one went from New Orleans. We arrived in New Orleans and had a blast touring the city. My wife is Filipino and had never been to NOLA. She was in awe of the food there. Unfortunately this kind of spoiled the dining on ship! I have to say having cruised on the Jewel before we knew what to expect for dining, but I also feel the quality and variety has diminished since our inaugural cruise 3 years ago. Same restaurants but food was not as impressive. I won't go so far as to say it was awful or we hated it but it was a bit unimaginative and boring compared to what we remembered. Oddly enough this time around I found the buffet to be more interesting and the two dining rooms less so. We usually ate at Azura both cruises and found this time it was quite ordinary. We did try Moderno one night and it was a nice change, though not phenomenal. This trip we opted for a balcony room and I was very happy we did so. Much nicer than any of the inside or window rooms to have both the extra open feeling and the fresh air. From now on I will always book a balcony! The room size was very adequate. There were three of us sharing the space and it worked out ok. Steward was terrific as usual, and all the Filipinos on ship were great. I found this trip that the non-Filipino staff were less friendly than what we were used to but still NCL seems to focus on service. We booked one shore excursion (Altun HA in Belize) and it was a complete waste of time and money. Never again. Alternatively in Roatan we booked an independent tour guide from Roby's Tours nd it was the best experience we ever had. They provided us with a private can and guide and they were at out disposal all day for $125. It was great and the highlight of the trip. We unfortunately had our stop at Costa Maya cancelled due to weather and safety and that not only kept us from one more shore opportunity but cause an extra sea day which tend to get a bit boring. In addition the seas were a bit rough and my family started to feel the consequences. We opted for the walk off disembarkation and found it to be the right decision although the majority of the ship did also so it was a bit time consuming. All in all it went pretty smoothly however. We were off the ship and through customs in less than an hour. I would like to try a little higher quality cruise line like Oceana or Regency or Celebrity for a future cruise, but for now we are booked in November on the NCL Spirit in Europe so I will give NCL one more chance to impress! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
I have been on the NCL Jewel 2 years ago to Alaska and that trip was great, this trip was just so~so. First, embarkation was slow~ the slowest ever on the 8 NCL cruises that I have been on. Once on board every thing seemed to run smoothly ... Read More
I have been on the NCL Jewel 2 years ago to Alaska and that trip was great, this trip was just so~so. First, embarkation was slow~ the slowest ever on the 8 NCL cruises that I have been on. Once on board every thing seemed to run smoothly with the muster drill and getting signed in for Kids Club ( 8 year old), making a few dinner reservations and getting all of our luggage. Just for the record, I hate not having preprinted luggage tags ( they stopped 2 years ago)~ that is a changed that I do NOT like and will never like. You can either print them yourself with flimsy copy paper that can easily come off, or get them from the porter at the dock who seems ticked that you don't have your bag tagged already. This was the first time cruising as Platinum Latitudes and we did receive a few nice perks~dinner for 2 at a specialty restaurant no more than $20 ( just not Cagney's) . One for each my husband and I and the Casino gave us 2 nights at Cagney's. We were able to eat at Le Bistro ( wonderful, one of the best meals of the trip), Moderno also very good my favorite thing at the all meat place is the pineapple . The 2 nights at Cagneys was also very good, the wagu sliders were very good. Other food on the ship just so~so. I love the oatmeal cookies but could never find them out so i just ordered them from Room Service~ problem solved. The staff is awesome, always accommodating. I saw several times that staff was getting in trouble by supervisors( maybe that would be better done not in front of guests) , this happened several times. JP the magician was awesome again and by far the best entertainment on the ship. Music just OK, the Le Cir Que Bijou was just OK, but remember I have seen it already and first timer would have loved it. Shore Excursions, we did our own thing in Cozumel, the dolphins swim booked by the company myself saved us about $200 for the day,taxis are so available not an issue to go it alone. Belize we did a ship tour to Water Caye for a beach day and it was fine, wouldn't do it again but ok for the day. Roatan was on our own again we went to the Iguana Farm, so much fun, we loved it and the rest of the day at Parrot Tree Resort, beautiful, not crowed and it is a lagoon of the most beautiful turquoise water. I was glad I chose that place because the wind was very strong that day and waves were rough and since this was a lagoon it was very calm for our 8 year old. The trip in Roatan was booked through Excursions Roatan and had a very good guide who stayed with us the whole time and spoke very good english, thank you Sandy for a great day. No stop in Costa Maya, too rough to dock. We were disappointed we didn't get the last beach day but took much needed naps in the cabin that day. The ships tour that we got for being a Platinum was a joke~ didn't get to see much of the ship , only a teaser to get you to pay big$$$$ for the other tour that showed the stuff you really want to see,should have taken a nap instead of going on that one~ Biggest disappointment of the trip. Kids Club did not WOW my little guy as in the past, and Team Nick on the cruise 2 years ago was much better, maybe we just need some new stuff to do, not the same every cruise. All in all we like NCL and paid the money for down payment for a cruise in the next 4 years just not next year, I think I need a break from cruising for a year and I will see you in 2 years. 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
Having cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past, we thought we would give Norwegian a try. We booked a seven night cruise out of New Orleans in a "mini suite". They should put the word "mini" in capital ... Read More
Having cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past, we thought we would give Norwegian a try. We booked a seven night cruise out of New Orleans in a "mini suite". They should put the word "mini" in capital letters. It was nothing more than a balcony room. The only difference was in the bathroom, you had a sliding door that closed the toilet area off from the rest of the bathroom. We paid extra for that?? When we spoke with the guest services they were less than helpful and were not concerned in the least about us. The buffet was as expected ... normal buffet food, but decent. We went to the main dining room one night and were so disappointed in both the service and the food. We both ordered steaks that had no taste and were very fatty. The service which we have come to expect on other cruise lines was not at all evident on Norwegian. We decided to try the other main dining room, and found the same issues. The menu was basically the same as it had been in the other dining room and unfortunately, the food and service were also the same. We decided to pay the extra surcharge and try the Brazilian steak house and Cagney's Steakhouse also. We found both to be very good food and exceptional service. It is sad that with the cost of the cruise, you must pay extra to get a good meal. The venues on the ship were activities were held were small and crowded. Overall we were very disappointed with Norwegian and will never cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
My husband and I were just on the Norwegian Jewel for a 7-day cruise. Having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival before, I highly recommend choosing one of those companies instead! We did have a few good experiences, but overall it ... Read More
My husband and I were just on the Norwegian Jewel for a 7-day cruise. Having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival before, I highly recommend choosing one of those companies instead! We did have a few good experiences, but overall it was a very frustrating experience and we regret sailing with Norwegian and giving them any money! Good: - The embarkation process was smooth. We didn't have to wait in long lines and the staff were friendly. They also did a good job with our luggage. - The entertainment was awesome - they really had great shows with a lot of good talent. We loved that the comedian was able to be clean while being hilarious! Also, the singing, acrobatic, and magic performers were also worthy of note as they were all wonderful. - Getting tender tickets and all port access was very smoothly handled. - We were in an interior cabin and thought the rooms were great - there was plenty of storage, lots of hangers and places to put your things. In addition, the showers were quite large even though the bathroom was small. Well laid out, for sure. The beds and pillows were comfortable. Bad: - We HATED the free-style dining. Don't get me wrong - it was great to go when you want. However...the staff was not interested in you and your experience at all. Since you don't have the same crew member serving your table each night, there is no incentive for good service....which is why you get BAD BAD service. The service is slow and the staff was not eager to please. In fact, most of them were quite miserable. - We were never able to get seats down by the pool (and the pools are very small and get crowded)...people throw a book or a towel on the chair and "save" them all day for themselves to have whenever they want. - The whole ship was kind of dingy...yucky carpeting and awful style. There was a huge lack of things to do on the ship, especially during the day. Awful: - THE FOOD IS HORRIFIC!! I had a steak one night that I literally had to spit out because it tasted so rancid. UGH....That was the start...we tried 3 different places that night and everything was terrible - bland, bad food. Worse than the cheapest buffets you can get at home. How hard is it to make a good tasting dessert? I tried a bite of a bunch of things throughout the week and only once found something that was worth the calories to eat. My husband and I lived off of bread, fruit, and cheese for most of the trip since the food was so horrible. Much of the food lacked in flavor and was downright bland. This was the talk of the ship - most people didn't want to speak up and say anything, but this is what you hear. Even the crew says that the food is crap (when you can get them to speak with you candidly). Speaking of the food...we had heard that better food was at the restaurants. However - we paid $400 a person already for the cruise. Who wants to pay more?! That's ridiculous...we vowed not to give Norwegian a single extra dime after the first two days since we were so displeased. Hopefully this review helps you to make a more educated decision about your cruise line choice. My hubby and I wrote this one off as a 'lesson's learned' and figured it was at least good to experience the ports that we visited. Oh, one more thing - don't be afraid to use the off-board shore excursions as long as you do your homework. We tried this and saved a lot of money by just doing some good research beforehand - we had great experiences each time. The cruise ship will try to scare you away from them, but we found everything to be top-notch. 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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