NCL Jewel Repositioning cruise Oct 29 - Nov 13, 2009
Wow! What a great cruise.
I have been on 6 NCL, 5 Carnival, 6 Princess and 1 HAL cruise. I am in my 40's and took my 72 year old mom on this cruise.
We flew to New York LGA on ... Read More
NCL Jewel Repositioning cruise Oct 29 - Nov 13, 2009
Wow! What a great cruise.
I have been on 6 NCL, 5 Carnival, 6 Princess and 1 HAL cruise. I am in my 40's and took my 72 year old mom on this cruise.
We flew to New York LGA on October 29 at 6am on Delta. An uneventful flight. We arrived in NYC at around 10:30am. We took a taxi to the cruise pier in Manhattan. We arrived at around 11:30am. We were on the ship by around 12:30pm. We were offered either a glass of Champagne or orange juice upon arrival.
I asked the asst cruise director, who was standing right as we walked on board, if a dining room was open for lunch. He said yes to my surprise. We went to Tsars dining room and enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch. The cabins were still not ready so we just explored the ship for a few hours.
At around 3pm it was announced that our cabins were now ready. We were in an obstructed view cabin on deck 8. Our cabin was filthy upon arrival. There was trash on the floor, the carpet was stained and was not vacuumed from the previous guests. The table had jam or jelly on it and was all sticky. The shelves looked like they had not been cleaned or dusted in months. The window sill was filthy with dirt everywhere. I think all that the room steward did in my room was make the beds and put fresh towels in the bathroom. I filled up the sink with warm water and was going to get to work on cleaning the cabin when I thought to myself.......What in the world am I doing? I shouldn't need to clean my cabin myself. So I went down to the pursers desk and very nicely asked if I could please have my cabin cleaned and told her the condition of my room. She told me to stay away from my cabin for the rest of the afternoon so it could be cleaned. I returned too early at one point and saw a man in white standing outside my cabin and writing things down on paper. Probably the room stewards supervisor. I left again. I felt bad as my room steward may have gotten in trouble but what else could I have done? NCL was true to their word. Upon arrival in my cabin at around 5pm it was clean. They had not only vacuumed but also shampooed the carpet. All the wood work shined. The table was clean, the window sill was clean, all the shelves were clean. The cabin now sparkled. It smelled a lot better too. They even put new drapes on the window. We were so happy. That evening I went down to the pursers desk and thanked them so much. The next day I received a card asking if my cabin was okay. I returned the card to the pursers desk and again thanked them for cleaning my cabin. The purser was so surprised and said to me "No one ever says thank you." I regret if I got the room steward in trouble but the condition of the room was just plain awful. If he leaves it like this often his supervisor needs to know. Two other cruise critic members also said their cabins were also dirty. So I was not alone.
By the way, the view from our window was about 80% obstructed by a life boat. You could see a piece of sky but that is all. There were often crew members that walked outside our window. This didn't bother us. We would just wave at them.......When we were clothed that is. If I was undressed I would hit the deck and fast. Also, at night the whole life boat area is lighted with bright lights. The drapes didn't really block the window all that well so light would flood in. These things did not bother us but I am reporting these as they may bother others that may want to book these obstructed view cabins.
We dined mostly in Tsars and only a few times in Azurs dining room most every night for dinner. We never had to wait over a few minutes for a table. We enjoyed the food very much. We are not picky eaters so enjoyed most everything. Sometimes we shared a table with others sometimes we sat alone. Sometimes we were offered coffee after dinner sometimes we weren't and we had to ask but it was no big deal. We sure didn't enjoy such long dinners. It took at least 1½ - 2 hours. I know it is the custom on cruises that dinners take awhile but it seemed worse on this cruise. The time in between courses was far too long in my opinion. After 1 and ½ weeks of this we got tired of it and went to the buffet for dinner instead , where we could eat in a reasonable amount of time. The buffet was hit and miss but we always found something to eat. My biggest disappointment was the Au-gratin potatoes which the buffet served one night. I usually love them, however, the potatoes were practically raw. It was way under done. My mom and I loved the soft self serve ice cream. It was a great anytime snack.
We enjoyed the food in Blue Lagoon and ate there 3 or 4 times, however, we found the service to be very lacking. Sometimes we asked for coffee and would never get it. Other times we would wait and wait for dessert to be served. Sometimes after a particularly long wait for desert we just left. We didn't need the extra calories anyway. The cheesecake here was to die for.
We had room service breakfast in our room each morning. We would fill out our breakfast card and place it outside our cabin the night before. It was a continental breakfast that included danish, bagels, toast, fruit, cereal, coffee, juice etc. It was quick, good and we got to eat in our pajamas. Breakfast was always right on time and room service would call the room right before coming to make sure we were up and awake..
Entertainment is where NCL excels. We are often disappointed on other cruise lines because NCL has spoiled us. Entertainment was mostly great. You can't please everyone, however, so some shows didn't appeal to us. We had two different comedians. Bill Hildebrandt and Don Friesen.
They were both good but I found Bill Hidebrandt to be funnier. I loved the production shows with the Jean Anne Ryan company. There were three of them. The last Cirque Bijou being the best. The juggler Romano Frediani was boring for the first half of his show. He's a talented juggler don't get me wrong but the first half was so slow. Then the show changed to an audience participation show and it was so funny. It was so good that I also went to the second show and laughed again.
The best comedian was the ventriloquist, Patrick Murray and Matilda. He was hilarious. I went to all of his shows and it was always new material. He was fantastic. I went to the liar, liar game show and he happened to be a judge. He was so quick witted. He was even hilarious in the game show. There was a Vocalist named Jane Powell with a low voice who I did not care for. I would have thought a man was singing if I didn't see her. There was a hypnotist Dr. Scott Lewis. I have seen much better Hypnotist shows on other cruises so I was disappointed. One of my favorites was an A Capella vocal group called the Cats Pajamas. It consisted of four men. They were great. We had a banjo player who was very talented but after one song on the banjo I am pretty much done. The same with the Violinist. Again very talented but after one song on the violin and I have had enough. I hated the mentalist Jon Stetson but it wasn't his fault. It was a good show it is just that I cant stand not knowing how he was doing the stuff he was doing. The crew had a show and it was also very entertaining.
They had the normal parties, deck games, pool games and different game shows. One thing I loved was the Q and A session with the cruise director Que and the Asst cruise director, Ken and two dancers. I just loved hearing about their cabins, their jobs and life on the ship. It was so informative. I loved their idea of dancing with the stars. What a great show. It was so funny. I really liked Que the cruise director. What a hard working guy. His work days are 16 hours long. He was at every single show, party or event. I also liked Ken the asst cruise director. He is funny and acts so gay it is hilarious. He had a great sense of humor. He is also very approachable. I loved them both.
We had a huge meet and greet with cruise critic. It was almost too big. I don't think I got to meet everyone. The captain and many senior officers from the ship were there to greet us. Our cruise critic group also got a private tour of the bridge later in the cruise. The captain was great and took an hour to explain all about the bridge and it's different equipment. He seemed happy to do it. All the cruise critic group friends we met were all fantastic and really made the cruise more enjoyable. A small group of us also had the most amazing poker/cabin crawl. We got to see so many different cabins. From an inside to a garden villa. We then had lunch together. This was a fantastic event and really got a smaller group of us to form some great friendships.
I went to the latitudes party and after 6 cruises finally won something. I won 10 tickets to the raffle for a free cruise and a game of bingo cards. I didn't win the free cruise or at bingo but I was still thrilled I won something. They served free canapes and drinks at the party also..
I don't go on a cruise to watch TV but it was okay. We got a few channels but sometimes it depended where we were and if we got a signal. We got CNN to keep up on current events. We really enjoyed the 2 movie channels. They showed movies like, Star Trek, The Holiday, The Proposal and PS. I love you. In two weeks we got to watch only 2 movies in there entirety. We saw bits and pieces of others as we were always coming and going. Of course, the majority of the channels were NCL commercials for shore excursions, in port shopping etc. Of course there was the bridge cam and the navigation channel. Those are always nice to have.
This ship had two pools. One was adults only. There was also a pool slide. This pool/deck area was just too small for the amount of people we had on the ship. The whole area was so crowded especially on sea days.. There are not very many loungers because there is not enough room for many. This didn't bother me much as I'm not a pool or lounger person. My mom is however. She really liked the pool area on port days when most people were off the ship. On sea days it was just a mass of wall to wall people.
Our ports of call were fantastic and they were separated so well. We would hit two ports and have a day at sea. Then hit and few more ports and have another day at sea to rest up. It was prefect.
Our first stop was Samana, Dominican Republic. Wow, what a poor country and poor people. On the way to the beach we saw most local men sitting in front of their houses/shacks. They have no jobs to go to. I saw a pig that was just about to be slaughtered, right on the side of the road. The roads in Samana just consist of a series of pot holes. I took a independent excursion with my cruise critic group to Playa Rincon. The taxi ride was long. The group in my taxi was lucky as our taxi completed the trip. The other taxis were not so lucky. One broke down and another had a flat tire. Our taxi driver would be able to drive perhaps 3 or 4 feet then would have to slow down to almost a complete stop to navigate a pot hole. This went on for 30 or more minutes. I'm sure he did this for our comfort. I did enjoy seeing the sights and people along the way though. Finally we arrived at a beach and we boarded a boat for a 10 minute boat ride to the actual beach. It was such a fun ride. The waves were huge and the boat would smack down into them. It felt like an amusement park ride. Loved it. The beach was remote. The water was rough that day and the waves were large but I enjoyed swimming. The water was so warm it felt like bath water. Only problem with this beach is there wasn't enough shade and being a red head I have to have shade. I sat in the sand right next to a man who was selling drinks. He had a tarp up and didn't seem to mind me sitting in a tiny piece of the shade it provided. I took a sandwich and chips from the ship and had a nice picnic lunch. There was a restaurant there but I heard from other people that it was pretty dirty and that insects were a problem. This port was such an eye opener for me. I have been to poor countries before but not like this. It made me so thankful,
Our next stop was Tortola. I absolutely loved this port. It is so clean and modern. I booked an independent snorkeling catamaran excursion with Patouche tours. It was an all day tour that included lunch. We had three different snorkel stops and they really gave us a lot of time to snorkel at each stop. The crew of Clive and Branson were fantastic and took such good care of us.. They knew the name of every fish, stingray and critter we saw. We loved to have no noisy motor and sailed with only the sound of the wind and water. If you love to snorkel this is the tour for you. Also the sights of all the other islands around were great.. At the second snorkeling site we anchored and had lunch. We had fruit salad, three bean salad and a turnover type thing filled with spicy meat. The snorkeling in Tortola was fantastic. I have always hoped to retire to Hawaii. Now that I have seen Tortola I am having second thoughts. :-)
We had been to St. Kitts several times before so we slept late and just walked around the port area. We didn't even find anything to buy.
In Curacao I went to Sea Aquarium beach to snorkel. It was very murky closer to shore but once you got beyond the rocks it was fantastic. Very clear and a great number of fish to be seen. I just made sure to stay close to the rocks as some boats went by there to get out to sea. It was a wonderful way to spend half a day. The portion of beach I was on had hard wooden chairs to sit on and wanted $12. The attendant came when I was almost ready to leave so I choose to sit in the sand for the next 20 minutes.. She was very unhappy with this and told me I had to sit on the rocks. I sat in the sand. She may own the beach chairs but not the beach or sand. This is a large beach with many resorts so if you want a lounger I suggest going down the beach a little farther and getting a nice padded one.
In Aruba I decided to be adventurous and took the bus by myself to Boca Catalina, a beach that was said to have good snorkeling. The bus station was across the street from the ship. Very easy to get to. Everyone was very nice telling me where it was. I just asked the bus drivers if they were going to this beach. Again they were all very helpful and nice. I paid $2.30 for a round trip bus ticket. I heard from a couple that took a taxi to the same beach that it was $20 per way. I found that quite a few friends from the ship were there. I found the snorkeling to be okay but not as good as other islands. I caught a bus back to the ship pretty early and went shopping in town. Sail away was fun this day. We went to a friends balcony and watched two jet skiers racing beside our ship as we left port. The captain wasn't too happy with them. He honked the horn at them three times. After this we also saw a pod of dolphins jumping beside the ship. I had never seen that before and it was a highlight.
In Roatan I went to Bay islands beach resort. This was a resort in Roatan standards but not normal standards. I went snorkeling on a boat with a bunch of very nice scuba divers. I was the only snorkeler. First mistake.
Hurricane Ida really had stirred up the seas and the waves were around 5 feet. The scuba divers went in and submerged. The captain was really only concerned with the divers and stayed with them. He said he would find me and pick me up after the divers came up. It was a drift snorkel. It was around 30 feet deep and the snorkeling was gorgeous. I immediately began to drift. That was fine, I am a good swimmer and a good snorkeler. However the seas were huge and I'm sure the captain of the boat couldn't see me as I was so far away. You always have to look up and around when you snorkel. I heard something and looked up and here is a motor boat speeding past only around 20 feet from me. I'm sure he couldn't have seen me in the waves. He could have easily hit me. I'm sure he wasn't expecting a lone snorkeler in the middle of nowhere. I was all alone in the open ocean with 5 foot waves and my boat was way far away. I thought the boat was so big when I was on it but when it is so far away it looked so small. I thought to myself...This is totally stupid, I shouldn't be out here alone in the middle of the ocean in these waves with the boat way in the distance. I swam as fast as I could back to the boat. It took a long time as I had to swim against the current but was so glad when I got back to the boat. I looked down on the swim back to the boat and couldn't see a thing as the bottom was so far down. Really freaked me out. Then getting back in the boat was so hard. As the boat was pitching up and down so quickly and 5 feet at a time. I was never so glad to get on a boat. One girl got sick on the way back since it was so rough. At least I don't get sea sick. When we got back to shore the resort made us a delicious lunch of Cole slaw, rice and beans and barbequed pork sandwiches. It was a fantastic lunch. My mom loves coconut milk and asked if she could have some. Right away a server went and opened a coconut and served it in the shell with a straw.
After I got back to the ship, I still had time in port so went shopping. The minute I got off the ship some man comes up and walks beside me. He is complementing me up and down. I was nice and didn't tell him to get lost. Another mistake. He followed me everywhere and into every shop. I kept thinking to myself....I wish he would go away and just let me shop in peace. Finally, I had enough and headed back to the ship to the secure area where I know he couldn't go. There were lots of people out shopping from the ship but they were not alone. I got back to the ship and he says I owe him $5 for being my escort and protector. Good grief, I never expected that. I am sad to say I paid him and got back on the ship. I now think back and wonder why I paid him. I think I was just so anxious to be rid of him. After this I heard that many men do this there and women who are alone are their target.
I had been to Belize before and we had to tender however it was such a longer tender ride than I remember years prior. It took at least 30 minutes if not more. Upon arrival in Belize City we went to the water taxi and took it to Caye Caulker. The water taxi was long at around 45 minutes. Caye Caulker is different than I had ever seen. There are no cars on this island. Taxis on this island consist of golf carts and most people ride bikes. We took a boat out to snorkel. The snorkeling was wonderful. On our second snorkeling stop we got to snorkel with the stingrays. I got to pet and hold stingrays. It was such fun. The water taxi back to Belize city was a long 45 minutes on the return. I shopped around in the secured port area but couldn't find anything I needed. So I boarded the tender back to the ship. This tender trip seemed to go quicker this time.
Our last day at sea back to Miami was uneventful for me. A lot of people thought that it was rough and some people got sick. I didn't think it was rough at all and enjoyed being rocked to sleep that night.
The last morning of the cruise is when all the trouble started. We disembarked the ship, went thru immigration and we went to find our luggage. It was nowhere to be found. I searched everywhere. Every carousel, every piece of luggage. I searched for 2 hours until we were about to miss our flight home. Our luggage is bright Hawaiian pink flowers, like no one else's. I can spot them from a mile away. They were no where to be seen. NCL was no help at all. One very overworked woman was trying to help 5 people at once. She filled out a missing luggage report and told me to call the phone number on the back of my cruise card. This number is just reservations and they couldn't help me on Saturday morning when I was finally able to call. NCL customer service is only open M-F. So I couldn't contact anyone till Monday. I found it odd that both my bag and my mom's bag both went missing. On Monday I called NCL customer service and they did have my luggage. Thank goodness! I don't know what happened to them. NCL said they were left unclaimed at the pier. I was just so glad they found them. They sent them to us 2 day express and we got them Wednesday. My mom was very unhappy being without clothes for 5 days but was also very thankful it was found. When we got our suitcases we found our light blue luggage tags that we filled out and attached the night before our cruise ended were gone. Upon unpacking we found the luggage tags crumpled up in a small pocket of both our suitcases. I have no idea of knowing but someone ripped the tags off and I think that is why our bags went missing. I believe the room steward tore off the tags off and got rid of them in our luggage as a way of getting his revenge for us reporting the condition of our cabin. I will never know, however, I forgive whoever did it.
After resigning to the fact that our luggage was no where to be found we took a taxi to the airport and got ripped off by the taxi driver. I heard afterward that most everyone else was paying $24 plus tip. I was charged way over that plus tip. I did notice he did not take the first exit to the airport he just kept going. So he may have taken us on a side trip. I am not familiar with Miami so have no idea. He also wanted to charge double fare (which I flat out refused) because my mom had a small scooter (40lbs) and a walker. Remember we had no luggage. I put the walker in the taxi. Then I helped him put the scooter in his trunk. I took one end and he took the other. Afterward he rolled his eyes, huffed and puffed and acted like he had just bench pressed 200 lbs. Good grief what an actor. We made it to the airport in time, paid his outrageous fare and told him if he overcharged us it was between him and God. Turns out he did overcharge us and bad. Beware of a taxi driver in Miami by the name of Octavias.
After this we encountered a horrendous day of delayed and canceled flights and a broken down plane. This was Delta. The good news is we did finally get home very late that night. Tired, stressed and without any luggage.
I have learned from this experience. I have been on many cruises and they have never lost my luggage before. Someone remarked that its like luggage roulette and sometimes your number comes up. At least it was at the end of my cruise and not the beginning. I think I will do express from now on and take my own luggage off the ship. :-)
The end of our cruise was extremely stressful but it didn't ruin my cruise in the least. It was a fantastic cruise with a fantastic itinerary and a fantastic price. Thanks NCL. Read Less