7 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

We've taken five cruises on NCL, all in the Haven going back about six years. We had certain expectations based on that past experience, and we were disappointed with a number of them. Let's start with the embarkation. My ... Read More
We've taken five cruises on NCL, all in the Haven going back about six years. We had certain expectations based on that past experience, and we were disappointed with a number of them. Let's start with the embarkation. My wife needs a wheelchair to get from the curb to the cabin. We had to wait 45 minutes sitting outside in Los Angeles before a wheelchair came and this was after I nagged half a dozen employees to get their attention. In the past, there was a "Haven" lounge area before we got onto the ship where we had a snack, got our ID cards, had a chance to meet with the Concierge and had a nice welcome. And then we were personally escorted to our cabin. Not so this time. No lounge, no welcome. We did get escorted to our cabin, but I think that was because of the wheelchair. The cabin, a two bedroom suite, was as we expected. Very clean, very well appointed. The decor has been updated and is much better. Everything worked as it should. But. In the past, Haven passengers were given a couple of bottles of liquor/wine of their choice. This time not. We had snacks/treats delivered every afternoon as part of the Haven butler service, but there was very little variety. On a fourteen day cruise it got very repetitive. The cabin service, butler, steward and concierge was without fault and is, of course, one of the big attractions of the Haven service. We especially love the unpacking and packing of luggage. In the private pool area, there were a lot of gaps during the day, when there was no service. As for the dining, we knew what we were getting into and so there were no surprises. NCL has some nice variety in restaurants, but we find that the flavoring of dishes in the specialty restaurants is just too timid. We were disappointed that Cagney's, which used to be open for breakfast and lunch for Haven passengers, is now only for dinner. The Moderno space is where Haven passengers can get lunch and breakfast. Speaking of Cagney's, this is our favorite NCL restaurant and we ate there about every other day. But what happened to the menu? The number of choices is much less than the original and we missed the variety. Perhaps our biggest disappointment was the cancellation of the Chef's Table special dinner. We had done that on every one of our prior cruises. It was a great opportunity to meet like minded dining companions. So, I think this will be our last "Haven" trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and ... Read More
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and supplying a paper elevation plan on-board was not much help when trying to find best wheelchair routes on an asymmetric ship! Also scant information was provided on ports of call unless it was for franchised shopping. Even beforehand, their UK helpline couldn't even tell us whether there were one or more showtimes each evening, nor when, in order to plan mealtime bookings in advance (since my wife is disabled, we didn't want to be so casual as to have to hang around waiting for a table). Maybe this is only a first timers problem. Boarding and disembarkation always seem to be chaotic and though we checked-in quite quickly, we were then held for over an hour and a half because staff said that the port lift (Miami) was not working, and promptly forgot about us (we missed the ship intro tour). Again, even with timed departures in LA, this took more than an hour in the accelerated wheelchair lane, and for many it must have been over two hours shuffling in endless queues along elevated walkways alongside the ship (Should an emergency occur during this time, like a fire in the port hall or on the ship, one dreads to think what might happen as thousands of people have nowhere to go quickly.). That said, once on board ship, staff were incredibly helpful and patient when necessary, almost always with a welcoming smile. Disabled facilities were generally good and though we booked too late to get a disabled room, our inside cabin on Deck 8 was adequate (save the struggle to get into the loo through a 17" wide doorway(could easily have been 19-20" wide entry with no need for another door inside the small bathroom). Our other minor gripe was that some of the floor strips at ship bulkheads across public corridors were raised above the level of the floors maybe 1/2 ", which would bring a wheelchair to a jarring halt if not anticipated - but only some and it was not always apparent which! So NCL, please can you feather all your floors at bulkhead joints to provide a smooth passage for wheels? On the up side, from people we met, it appeared that singles are well catered for by NCL too. We thought that for mass catering the food was generally good, though there could have been a little more variety in the casual restaurants' evening menus. We used the Garden Cafe for very good breakfasts and sometimes lunch, after one disastrous attempt to have a served breakfast in O'Sheehans, which took forever and the eggs still came very undercooked. In the evenings we sampled Tsar and Azura almost equally, finding Tsar to have the best service (especially if you requested something slightly different), though with one exception of one excellent waitress in Azura. One downside of the casual dining was that you had to remember to ask every time if you wanted to share a table and meet with other passengers, and also that you generally had different waiting staff every time, with less chance to build a relationship which might encourage one into additional tipping. Sometimes we did think that the food descriptions on the menus might have been written by the Entertainments Director rather than the Chef, but so long as you didn't have fixed expectations of what would turn-up, labelled as a classic dish, all was well. If you want to go for more than one experience of a speciality restaurant, it makes much sense to purchase a fixed-price multiple dining pack. We chose the baseline of three, selecting Cagney's steakhouse, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The food was excellent (best probably filet mignon in Cagneys and lamb rack in Le Bistro), though rather too noisy a display in Teppanyaki and also too rushed to attend to supporting service (drinks etc.) - but if you were there just for the show -fine maybe ....!! (thankfully there were no Japanese guests to be appalled). Sadly, the ultimate drinks package (UDP) wasn't, as many common spirits attracted a premium payment, and normal lattes and cappuccinos were not included, unless you had some alcohol in them! Outside the restaurants you had to buy bottled water at an extortionate price too, and are not allowed to bring any back to the ship from excursions. Ship-booked tours were a plenty, but pricey, and generally OK, having the advantage that it was their responsibility to get you back to the ship before it departed (but forget the"scenic Pacific" train ride in Costa Rica and just go for the Tarcoles river trip, unless you want a diesel shunter to pull you through the garbage back-yards of a no-where village, when they can get it working!). We went independent with Julio tours to Leon (Nicaragua) which was excellent on all counts. The daytime sail through the Panama Canal was fascinating, even for those not technically-inclined, and it was worth watching the film about its construction beforehand (just a pity they didn't show the more recent tv film about the new cut, too). Having a historical interest, the old colonial cities of Cartagena, Leon and Antigua are all worth a visit, though the latter two are a bumpy and sometimes challenging ride for wheelchairs! (OK with Nike attitude!). Though there are always a fair number of different activities on ship, we didn't overall rate the main evening shows that highly, with a few exceptions, like Cirque Bijou and a member of the galley crew whose singing got a standing ovation - he was definitely employed in the wrong department! Also sound quality was very muffled in several parts of the main theatre, especially on the upper deck (7), and sound-levels were often set so-high that parts of singers' voices appeared to have been clipped-off in the equipment. Otherwise, the variety of musicians on board were generally good and often appeared at their best in the numerous smaller venues and events around the ship. In all, a memorable and generally very satisfying cruise, with a good balance of on and off ship activities and itinerary, and a canal trip which truly shows it as a wonder of the world. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in ... Read More
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in the garden buffet. Cagney's steakhouse was the best of all and Moderno's was second best. We tried all of the pay extra restaurants and most of the included restaurants. None were what I would call bad, most was pleasant and enjoyable. We were not impressed with O'Sheehan's. The poolside BBQ, was not really a BBQ. The food was prepared int he kitchen and then kind of finished off-kept warm over hot coals. Our favorite drink discovery was the BBC - you have got to try one of these! Since the room came with a bunch of free booze and drinks as well as the drink package, we really did not try many of the bars. The main thing was the room on this cruise. I know many people say you don;t cruise for the cabin - but we had a hard time leaving our cabin! it was seriously amazing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
The Norwegian Jewel is a wonderful ship. Lots of great meeting places including the Martini bar, the Fizz lounge and the Atrium Java bar. The entertainment was excellent especially loved the show band and Randon. I did not enjoy the Garden ... Read More
The Norwegian Jewel is a wonderful ship. Lots of great meeting places including the Martini bar, the Fizz lounge and the Atrium Java bar. The entertainment was excellent especially loved the show band and Randon. I did not enjoy the Garden Cafe. It was very busy and noisy and you could not find a seat at peak times. We enjoyed the Tsars restaurant for breakfast and dinner. I don't enjoy anytime dinning but we did manage to find a wonderful waiter named David from Jamaica who waited on us every night. He definitely made our dining experience something special. Our group tried La Cucina as well as Modernos and to be honest it wasn't worth the extra money. All of the staff went out of their way to be friendly and helpful throughout our trip. I loved that the senior staff all attended our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. It really made the experience special. The store on the ship was disappointing. There were some sales on the pool deck during the day but really limited selectio if you were looking for gifts to take home. There are daily BBQs poolside over the lunch hour that are very good. We had the drink package which I enjoyed. It does include most drinks but I was disappointed that it did not include bottled water or the specialty coffees. You can order an Irish coffe thou which I enjoyed. Saving of lounge chairs was also a major issue. There are limited loungers and many guests reserved some in the sun and another set in the shade. I know this is a problem on almost every ship but it just seemed to be worse here as there weren't that many areas with loungers. The spinnaker lounge was great and I enjoyed the entertainment here. Don't miss the bridge viewing area on deck 11 forward port side lots of great memorabilia and a chance to watch the Captain in action. Overall a nice ship and a great itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We are a late 60's couple married 46 years with at least 14 prior cruises to our credit, 5 long cruises across the Atlantic with lots of sea days. This was a much anticipated cruise with lots of research including the McCullough book ... Read More
We are a late 60's couple married 46 years with at least 14 prior cruises to our credit, 5 long cruises across the Atlantic with lots of sea days. This was a much anticipated cruise with lots of research including the McCullough book "Path between the Seas". Of course the cruise was much more than the day we spent going through the canal. We like lazy at sea days with lots of time to read and relax. If one watches carefully, even the open ocean can have visual rewards. First the misses. The tours and travels were not really capable of dealing with a handicap scooter and coordination with tour operators was marginal. We had to cancel several tours because we were informed the tour operator could not accommodate a small 3 wheel, take-apart scooter , only to find when we walked out on the dock there were lots of huge buses which would have accommodated us easily. We even asked a bus driver if the scooter could be loaded and he assured it could easily be done. The lack of meaningful lectures was sorely missed. The selection of movies available was interesting to say the least, but playing "The Hobbit" 8 times a day was annoying. I could go on, but why bother. The Azura dining room was dark and noisy, Tzar's was much better and open almost every day for all meals. Some nice bits. Osheehan's and ChinChin were greatly appreciated. Food everywhere and no need for a coke package if you can do with fruit juice, coffee and water at all times. The Jewel rides VERY smoothly and was extremely well handled. Our Steward Paul was a wonderful part of our cruise. look up "Quiet efficiency" and his picture will be there. The library on board was one of the largest I have seen on any boat and even had a few Atlas's available to peruse. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager ... Read More
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager vacationers allowed to board at noon. We need wheelchair assistance, and have found it is better to wait until closer to noon, when attendants and WCs are released to pick up guests. There was a special, shorter line for those using canes, walkers and rollators, which proved a big help. Our first lunch was in Tsar's main dining room, rather than braving the super busy Garden Cafe buffet on deck 12. Daniela proved the excellent service NCL is known for, and we noted a new luncheon menu in the past couple of months. Scallops, Caesar Salad and cheeseburgers proved tasty and filling as we waited for the announcement that cabins were now ready for us. Muster is a short process without need for life vests, and then it was time to be underway. Well, at least that is the information in the ship's Daily newsletter. We had plans to meet with others in our robust Cruise Critic roll call for a Sail Away party, and I was looking forward to getting some great shots from Port side as we slowly cruised past the French Quarter. In one of the Jewel's few 'oops' moments during our 13 night modified Panama Canal repositioning cruise, no one owned the PA to inform us that due to the double length of our cruise, from the Jewel's more typical 7 night Western Caribbean run, and with the addition of a 2 week dry dock now tacked onto the end, lots and lots and lots of provisions and building supplies would be needed to see us through. This delayed Sail Away by 4 or 5 hours beyond that posted...not a major disappointment, but one that could easily have been explained sooner rather than later. Our first of many Sea Days, the Group Event Coordinator had helped to set up our Meet & Greet, with at least 70 CC members in attendance. There was a full compliment of department managers, with Hotel Director Richard Janicki introducing the friendly officers and fielding some spirited Q&A with a bit of extra information about Jewel's planned dry dock. As several CC members in the know had speculated, Blue Lagoon would become transformed into the 24/7 Comfort food and bar, O'Sheehans, also taking over space from the starboard side of deck 8 mid ship Moderno's Brazilian Grill. Moderno's would move up to Deck 13, in the annex portion of Cagney's Steak House near the Star Bar. A well-needed facial recognition system was being installed in the Photo Department, so no more hunting and stooping and surveying thousands of photos for your own special bunch. It would also save on both chemicals, paper and so forth, a win-win situation all around! Besides the usual Dry Dock refurbishments, a special deck 15 penthouse of the Haven type, was being included, and we were all thrilled to be reassured that the Spinnaker Lounge with the great ceiling to floor Forward windows, would be retained. I'd asked for a special room set-up to better the interaction between roll call members and we also enjoyed light refreshments and the feedback that our opinions were valued. Janicki did remark, "We read Cruise Critic, but I must say sometimes reading a particular review I must wonder if we were on the same cruise as someone saying it was dreadful." We divided our meal time between the more opulent Tsar's and the smaller, more frentic Azura main dining rooms. The menus are the same as ones introduced in 2011, with one side being 'always available' standbys such as strip or rib eye steaks, burgers, baked chicken, salmon, lanmb shank, spring rolls, mushroom quesadillas, a variety of pastas and salads. Service continued above average throughout, and it was of interest to note a Surf & Turf night featured real Maine lobsters vs the wimpy rock sort previously offered. The noise level is increased in the more casual Azura, whose hot pink and orange color scheme create a different vibe than the cream, sage green and gold of Tsar's. The lowered ceiling also influences this and of note, the chairs in Azura's are rock hard and not comfortable at all, which should help ensure more rapid turnover of diners. We sometimes selected Garden Cafe buffet for a quick breakfast and tried the poolside Grill a couple times for burgers, very good hot dogs and more. A special Bavarian feast was held toward the end of our cruise, and Messiah Ritzinger's Free State of Bavaria touches could be seen through the variety of sausage, schnitzel, kraut and Bavarian cream pastries...very well done! We enjoyed Blue Lagoon, just a few steps from our cabin, for breakfast and lunch or late evening snacks. Besides the burgers and chicken wings, the fried fish and Chef Salad were good, not to mention the cheese cake and brownie sundae. It was always nice to be able to whisk covered dishes back to our digs, and the small refrigerator helped with any midnight munchies. We did not try room service or the option of the always available anywhere $5 pizza. We dined at several of the specialty/fee restaurants including Moderno's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's/La Cucina. A favorite senior waiter, Sheddy, attended us at Moderno's and Cagney's, while another favorite Assistant MaitreD and also a special senior waiter, (Rizaldi), had us coming back to the Asian Fusion spot a second time for succulent lamb curry, broccoli beef, chow fun noodles, BBQ spareribs, deep fried calamari and the wonderful pancakes with bananas, caramel syrup and coconut ice cream. We used the Card Room and back portion of the buffet between meals for our group's Farkle games and variety of card games and enjoyed musical serenading in the Crystal Atrium and deck 6 lounge area outside Le Bistro. Several of the CD led audience participation game shows could be seen re-played on our 24" LCD TV, as well as a half dozen first run movies including Frozen, The Hobbit Part 2, Desolation of Smaug, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity and so on. Our cabin was located on deck 8 midship, a great location close to so much. Since the ship's tenders are strung up outside the windows here, the category is Oceanview Obstructed. Luckily the tender was strung several feet lower outside rooms 8100 and 8102, so that we had a good view, at least 60% at all times. Perhaps due to approaching dry dock, there were only 2 incidents of crew walking past our window, and no surprises or loud banging or maintenance overall. This accessible cabin has 36" no threshold outer and bathroom doors, with light switches and climiate control about 3 feet from the floor. Both the hanging rod in the closet and oversink mirror in the bathroom have easily grasped cords to lower them to wheelchair or scooter height, a definate plus. The room is about 20% larger than non-accessible sideways cabins, and the hallway on deck 9 actually is partially over these rooms; perhaps the dearth of small ones on the PC itinerary accounts for the fact there was little to no noise of running or stomping feet? We did need to call Guest Services desk several times during the cruise and the interaction was all right. Our immediate needs were attended to and we were able to get questions answered without making the trip down there again and again. We didn't attend any of the large production shows due to (chronic) health issues and decision to grab as much restful sleep as we could. Luckily, on NCL, there is never a need to do anything but exactly what we'd like...in that respect, our vacation was tailor-made to suit our interests and needs. The itinerary was changed as we would no longer be disembarking in Los Angeles, which was a big part of our choice in this cruise; we'd be just a short flight from our West Coast home. We also lost 2 ports, one of them the highly anticipated Costa Rican port, the other of less interest. This gave us more sea days and the choice of disembarking in either San Diego or San Francisco. NCL considered San Diego an additional port-true if you were taking the full 15 days, but not the case if this was your disembark point. We decided to take the shorter version since our nonrefundable plane tickets were at LAX. We now had a 4, rather than 2, day stay in Southern California, totaling 3 weeks in all. I think it would have been best with the original mix of port and sea days and the Los Angeles disembark, but the entire Jewel crew made us forget the small quibbles and feel pampered to the max. It also helped that we were traveling with such a wonderful bunch of CC members as well! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more ... Read More
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more relaxing than the usual 7-day cruises, it is a warm weather cruise and there are an almost equal number of port and sea days. This was our 10th Norwegian cruise; we have also cruised once on Crystal. We are unapologetic Norwegian ambassadors! Pre-Cruise Preparations - My husband has emphysema and travels with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), and mom walks with a cane or a rolling walker. That said, traveling can be challenging in this situation. We contacted Norwegian's Access Desk to inform them that we would need 2 wheelchairs at embarkation and disembarkation. We also advised them that mom needs a low/no salt diet. The representative said that once on board we would be contactd to pre-order her meals. More on that under Dining. The airline also requires advance notification with doctor's signature that we are traveling with a POC, as well as the request for wheelchairs for distance. Travel to Embarkation - We flew United to NOLA on Good Friday. We decided to fold, duct tape and check the walker as luggage. It came through with no problem. The wheelchair porters/pushers were prompt and very helpful. The Airport Limosine driver went above and beyond fitting us and our three large, one medium, one carry-on, a POC and the walker in the Town Car (yes, we always manage to overpack!). New Orleans - We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, booked through our travel agent. It did not disappoint. The room included "Continental Breakfast" but we ordered a full breakfast and it was covered. We dined at Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Good food, but getting to the upstairs dining room was difficult for mom to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through a crowded dining room, up the elevator, then back to the front dining room, then back again after dinner. We took a trip to Rouse's market to purchase 8 bottles of wine. Embarkation - We caught a taxi to the port for $7 per person. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal. After we unloaded all our luggage and the porter put it on his cart we found out we would have to walk a long hallway to get to an entrance that would have been closer, and no wheelchairs were available until after we went through security. It would have been better to go to the furthest entrance. We went to the head of the line as mom can not stand for longer than a few minutes without pain. The security agent got us an escort that took us through security quickly. We knew to hand carry our wine, and were directed to the corkage table to pay the $15/bottle corkage, and then to the section to wait for a wheelchair. We waited about 30 minutes for our turn to get 2 wheelchairs. They were very slow in coming. Eventually we got the wheelchairs, got checked in quickly, taken to the VIP lounge and on to the ship. Yay! The Ship - The Jewel was going into dry-dock immediately after our cruise. There was some wear and tear visible that I assume will be upgraded in dry-dock. The ship was clean and the crew was quite visible in cleaning. We had a 2-bedroom Haven Villa and mom was next door in a Haven Penthouse. The living room, bedroom and master bath are exactly the same in both cabins, but the balcony is 1-2 feet deeper in the 2-bedroom. The cabins are luxurious with wood paneling, queen bed in the master bedroom, lots of closet space and storage space in the master bedroom and bath. Minimal storage in the second bedroom. Hot water was slow in coming to the cabin, we had to run the shower to get it more quickly. The butler and steward were fine, though not impressive. We have had some that matched us much better and may have unfair expectations. Dining - We ate at five of the specialty restaurants and in Azura main dining room the rest of the nights. Le Bistro, Cagney's, Chin Chin, Mama's/La Cucina are always our favorites. We also ate at the Teppanyaki, which was better than the last time. Mom needed a low/no salt diet. We were not contacted as promised by the Access Desk rep, but the first night at Azura we asked about it and were introduced to one of our Vacation Heroes, Felicitas J. She was helpful, knowledgeable and a delight. She explained that mom could see the next night's menu and pre-order so sauces and dishes would be prepared with no salt. She also explained which restaurants prepared foods "a la minute" with low/no salt and which needed a pre-order. The result was that it worked extremely well and mom had minimal ankle swelling. We like Azura as it is midship and easy to get to from the Haven. Most of the time the food was varied, good, and well prepared. Ports - Cartagena - we didn't get off this time as we've been there twice before. Huatulco - rglcruise organized a tour with Adelino. He had a late model 13 passenger van and took us through Huatulco to Santa Maria. We walked through a portion of the town, had quesadillas with fresh made tortillas, and watched a carniceria wield his knife. He also told us the history of the area. We drove up into the mountains to a coffee plantation and small town. Adelino was great a communicating his love of his home nation and state. Puerto Vallarta - Just off the ship is a small area with shops to purchase souvenirs and the ever present Diamond International. Walmart is within walking distance from the port for those sundries you've run out of. Cabo San Lucas - This is a tender port. Lots of shopping and restaurants at the dock. Also, there are lots of opportunities to catch an independent operator for a tour of the area by boat. Disembarkation - We arranged with Virginia, the concierge, to have the wheelchairs pick us up. They came a little after the designated time, but then whisked us off very quickly.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
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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