13 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Baltic Sea

This was my 7th cruise (Princess in '02, Celebrity in '04 & '06, NCL in '07, and RCCL twice in 2008). I traveled with my wife and three children (5, 4, and 2). With us were my parents (60s), my sister and her ... Read More
This was my 7th cruise (Princess in '02, Celebrity in '04 & '06, NCL in '07, and RCCL twice in 2008). I traveled with my wife and three children (5, 4, and 2). With us were my parents (60s), my sister and her children (10 & 9), and my aunt. We stayed in London at Le Meridien Piccadilly Circus for 2 nights pre-cruise. We used the underground to get from Heathrow to PC. That was really easy but there are stairs you have to negotiate (about 1 story worth of stairs). In London, we used the Ho-Ho buses but also did a lot of walking since PC is walking distance to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament/Big Ben, London Eye, etc. We watched the changing of the horse guards and found that to be really interesting because you can get really close to the guards on horses. To get to Dover, we took taxies to Victoria Train Station, took the train to Dover, and then taxies to the port. Make sure you get into the right section of the train. After we got situated in the train, it was announced that the train would be split up before Dover and only the back half of the train would continue to Dover. It was a stressful chore to get all 11 of us and our luggage moved! So, ask about that if you take the train. Boarding at Dover was efficient. We got there around 12 and were through in 30 or 40 minutes. The ship - Our group of 11 had 4 balcony staterooms all in a row on deck 10 mid-ship. The 4 rooms were also 2 pairs of connecting rooms. In addition, the balcony dividers are big swinging doors that can be opened up by the room attendant. We had them opened up right away and the kids made use of that throughout the cruise for easy access to their cousins and grand-parents' rooms. With the balconies opened up, the views also opened up tremondously since it's a lot less "tunnel-vision" when viewing from inside the room. I love the flexibility the Jewel offers with their stateroom configuration. Dining - We started the cruise dining at Azura but switched to Tsar's Palace mid-way. The menu is the same but Tsar's service was quicker and better. The venue is also more attractive to most members of our group. For this cruise, Tsar's palace was especially fitting given the St. Petersburg palace inspired dEcor. The buffet (Garden Cafe) felt the most crowded of any ship I've ever been on. Even during off-peak hours (i.e., 3 or 4 PM) it felt close to full so you can imagine how crowded it felt during breakfast. On numerous occasions, passengers shared tables with people they aren't traveling with. Lunch and dinner was also crowded in there so our group ate lunch and dinner in the main dining room as much as possible. By far more people chose to eat buffet on this cruise than I have seen. The main dining rooms were quite empty until at least 7 PM. Note: if you travel with a group of 8 or more, NCL will allow you to make a standing reservation for the same time each night (5:30 at Tsar's or 6:00 at Azura, or much later) once you board. You make the request at the dining room or by calling when you're on the ship. However, this is almost unnecessary since there are so few people when the dining room opens. My wife and I felt the food was OK. Not as good as RCCL or Celebrity. We never tried the specialty restaurants as we prefer to have the entire group dine together in the main dining room every night. Entertainment - Contrary to the food, the production shows were the best I have seen on any cruise. We were all extremely impressed with the talent on this ship. The group did 3 shows: Band on the Run (very good), Country Gold (pretty good) and Cirque Bijou (the best). Service - Overall, the level of service was really good on this ship. Much better than on the Pearl in '07 (even though we had a "butler" on that cruise). Our room attendant Greg and Vikash were always so friendly and accommodating and the wait staff at the rear (near the windows) of Tsar's Palace were awesome! Spa - My wife did one treatment (called Ladies'something). It was promoted on the first day and took place on the second sea day (bet. Germany and Estonia). It was pretty popular and there was a wait list. The whole thing lasted from 4 to 6 PM and she really liked it. My mother and aunt purchased daily spa passes on two separate sea days. The first time was the second sea day (before Estonia) and the second time was the 3rd sea day (after Sweden). She loved it the first time but on the 3rd sea day, she said NCL sold too many passes and they didn't get to lay on the heated tile loungers despite going two separate times. The cruise-long pass was $99 per person (less than the $120 that was reported earlier). Pools - All of the pools were kept nice and warm. Even the kiddie paddle pool was very warm. The water slide was popular and the water for the slide was even warmer. We definitely used the pools much more than we anticipated. It helped that we had amazing weather. Lots of warm sunny days in the 70s. It only rained one afternoon when we were leaving Stockholm. Kids Club - "Lefty" was great. She always tried to tempt our 2 year old to join her older sisters but the little one wasn't buying it. Over all, the program was just OK. The program wasn't as good as that on NCL Pearl in '07. The 2 to 5 year old group seemed more like babysitting than fun activities. For example, the kids didn't do a "talent show" and we never saw the little ones march throughout the ship or sing new fun songs. We miss that. Denmark - We did a walking tour and a canal cruise. I would highly recommend it as this is a really walkable city right from the port. For the canal cruise, we took it from Gammel Strand, after strolling there through the renowned shops on Stroget, instead of taking it at Nyhaven. This way, you get a much less crowded canal boat. There was a line to get on in Nyhaven. Ours canal boat was only about 1/4 full. I preferred the canal cruise here over that in Russia and over the harbor cruise in Stockholm. Germany - It was 80 degrees and sunny so we took it easy and stayed in Warnemunde and hit the beach. Now I can say I swam in the Baltic Sea! The beach was full of Germans (as opposed to cruisers like you see in Caribbean). The number of topless ladies and guys in Speedos reminds you that you're not in the US. The kids loved it especially since they have play-structures and trampolines on the beach (provided by vendors for a small fee). In the afternoon, I had two glasses of Rostocker beer by the pier while my wife shopped. This day turned out to be one of my most enjoyable days because I was so relaxed and unhurried. Estonia - The medieval city was awesome to see. We did our own walking tour again and it was easy to do. All these walking tours really helped us keep the cruise weight gain down. Russia - Getting off the ship took an hour. NCL has their own tours exiting the front of the ship and the independents exiting mid-ship. The two lines this created were the same in length and both got through about the same time. It was fair, so no complaints. We were close to the end of the line so had I arranged to meet the tour guide at 10 AM instead of 9 AM, we could have quickly gone right through immigration. I would recommend you do that. You can avoid standing for 1 hour on the docks and you can enjoy breakfast. The buffet is crazy on these days. The 11 of us did a private tour with Anastasia. Their quote was notably better than the other tour companies and the guide was good and knowledgeable. I have to say the driver was more impressive the way he negotiated the traffic. The Hermitage and Church on Spilled Blood were our favorites. The church is simply amazing. Catherine's Palace and Peterhof were also really impressive. We left St. Petersburg wanting to see more and craving to learn more about its history. Finland - After hearing how most people thought Helsinki was the low-light of the trip, we decided to do a NCL tour: Poovo - Town and Country. This tour takes you on a scenic drive through the city of Helsinki and into the Finland country-side to Porvoo, Finland's second oldest city. The town's old center has cobblestone streets and some cute shops. Then you are taken to a family of horse breeder's ranch where you visit their home, horse stable and venture around its lands. They also display a few horses including a pony which the kids were allowed to take a short ride on. What an awesome photo-op! You also get to enjoy cake and coffe/tea on their patio. Lastly, the tour takes you to a 15th century church. The walls of this church is made of huge stacked stones - the wall was nearly 6 feet thick. We all really enjoyed this excursion. The bus can either take you back to the ship or drop you off in the middle of Helsinki. We did the latter and after shopping, took taxis back to the ship. Sweden - Beautiful city, but so pricy! I really enjoyed sailing in and out of Stockholm through the archipelagos. I think it takes close to 4 hours each way. You can see many homes on these islands. The best spot to view this is not at the Spinnaker Lounge where others have recommended. From there, you only stare out at water since the ship must always point to the water. A much better view is to pick either side of the ship - whether your own balcony or on deck 7. There you feel much closer to the islands, homes, boats, and swans. Ok - I'll fess up. We were guilty of feeding the seagulls as we sailed in and out of Stockholm. I know you're not supposed to (and boy did my wife keep reminding me) but it was so cool to see them come 5 feet from you and then dive from deck 10 to catch pieces of bread headed toward the water. Getting from Dover to Heathrow - we took NCL's transfer at $80 a head. Ouch! The Dover taxi driver (on embarkation day) said they would have taken our group for less than half of that. Too bad no one mentioned that on CC earlier. The NCL transfers were purchased pre-cruise and non-refundable so we stuck with it. Overall, my wife feels this was the best vacation ever. The fact we had temperature in mid-70s and even low 80s certainly helped her enjoy the trip. On the other hand, because of all the research and planning I did from transportation to currency to selecting the sites to see, and just generally feeling responsible for our group of 11, I felt as much like a guide as a tourist and that ended up taking some pleasure away. So, don't overdo the research so you'd be ready to enjoy yourself. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I am 16. I pretty much organised this cruise, mum paid and brother (14) came for the ride Embarkation at Dover was easy. The check in queue moved quickly, and there was a short wait to board, but the process was all very efficient. ... Read More
I am 16. I pretty much organised this cruise, mum paid and brother (14) came for the ride Embarkation at Dover was easy. The check in queue moved quickly, and there was a short wait to board, but the process was all very efficient. During the day, the pool had quite loud music playing, whether it was live or not. The music was usually played over and over again. The pools were good, as was the slide. The lounges were spacious. In my opinion, Spinnaker was the best, as it provided quite a variety of seating, and a number of activities. The teen club wasn't fantastic and a lot of the activities didn't materialise. I would recommend going on the first couple of nights, just to make friends. I had no issues with any of the public rooms, and had no bad experiences. Our room was set up just to a double bed when we arrived, and this was quickly rectified to a twin bed. When the third bed was pulled down, there wasn't much room to move around. The bathroom was functional, nothing flashy, but it did the job. The balcony was a great investment. I have read horrors of dining, but there was no issue. We mainly ate at the Garden Cafe, which had a new selection of food every day. The food was tasty. Blue Lagoon offered a 24h service, but had a small menu and was the same every day. Azura and Tsar's Palace have the same menus, which changed every day. The food was of good quality and the service was excellent. We only went to two cover charge restaurants. Teppanyaki for $25 was by far the best eating experience I have had. It was well worth the cover charge. I recommend chicken. The other was Chin Chin ($15). The food here was fantastic, and very filling. The shows were of mixed quality. Cirque Bijou was fantastic. The Jean Ann Ryan company shows were probably the best (they did Cirque Bijou). The two comedians didn't have much of an act, and mainly picked on the audience. Word of warning. Sit at the back, and don't come in late, or leave early. You will be picked on. The crew show was ok. It was interesting to see some of the faces you had picked up on the cruise. The Fountains production was hilarious. The service throughout the ship was excellent. We didn't do any NCL shore excursions. They seemed quite expensive. I would highly recommend a private tour for St. Petersburg and would highly recommend Guide Guru. Drinks were generally expensive. The cheapest bottle of wine (for my mum) was $28. This turned out to be a lot cheaper than buying it by the glass. Tea, Coffee and water was available at the Garden Cafe for free all day. We could have had a similar cruise with another company at the same price, but it would have been an inside room. We liked the freestyle aspect of NCL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Hi, I just came back from the Baltic cruise on the NCL Jewel. It was just perfect, we had a lovely time and already miss it. Embarkation was fast were on the ship in less then 1 hour. Days at sea were great lots of things to do ... Read More
Hi, I just came back from the Baltic cruise on the NCL Jewel. It was just perfect, we had a lovely time and already miss it. Embarkation was fast were on the ship in less then 1 hour. Days at sea were great lots of things to do if you want to or just relax as we did. Ports were all nice, the only thing that I think should be changed is the 2 days in St' Perersburg. One day in enough and instead the itenary should include Oslo. Food was always good, we ate at the Tsar, Azura and Garden. Staff just perfect, all very friendly especially Melissa and Flora from the Philippines who work in the Garden and all the staff at the Galleria Shopping. Nothing else to say except the fact that we had a FANTASTIC holiday and are already thinking of a next one soon. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
In three words - Book this cruise Ok in more words, We drove to Dover, 2 adults and a 16 year old and dropped the bags and family at the terminal and parked the car, an entire 40 steps away. Check in took 10 minutes. We arrived at the ... Read More
In three words - Book this cruise Ok in more words, We drove to Dover, 2 adults and a 16 year old and dropped the bags and family at the terminal and parked the car, an entire 40 steps away. Check in took 10 minutes. We arrived at the terminal at 11.40am and was on the ship at 12.10. perfect embarkation. We were greeted with Champagne, teen club reps for our son and the opportunity to but the soda cards. First of course of many opportunities to spend money onboard. We had a BA balcony cabin, midships 10th deck and it was an ideal location, although even on the 12th night we still walked the wrong way out of the elevator into the wrong corridor. The cabin was a little cramped for 3 with the sofa bed pulled out, especially wardrobe space and with the bed out we couldn't get onto the balcony. It would have been ideal for two people. However we managed just fine and with the sofa bed away during the day we had more room to move around. Although we were too busy to spend time in the cabin as there is so much to do when on board. The ship was very clean and the cabin was well looked after, although not once in 12 nights did we ever meet the Steward - we had this miracle worker coming in and making beds and replacing towels without a chance to say hello. The towel animals left every other night were fantastic and we were sad when the Monkey was finally removed from the ceiling, so much so we wanted to ring reception and ask them to bring it back. Dining - there are 2 freestyle sit down restaurants and the food was good compared with other ships we had been on, with 5 courses available and good service however the queues to develop after 7.30pm. The garden cafe buffet had lots of action stations with freshly prepared food and a great mixture of choice for all diets. The Great Outdoors, at the back has lovely wicker chairs and tables and a small buffet all of its own. In addition there are many cover charge restaurants, Le Bistro, Mama's Italian, Chin Chin Chinese, Cagney Steak House, Tepanyaki to name a few. Some have half price cover charge before 6.30 and it was well worth it. We ate at Mama's 3 times, Cagneys twice and Le Bistro three times and the food was fantastic, especially Le Bistro and I didn't fancy anything on the menu and loved everything I had. Price of drinks could be lower, they were expensive compared to bar prices but did match 4 star hotel prices with $5.95 for a pint of beer and some cocktails upto $12 a go. We recommend the marguerita madness when for an hour they are served at $4.95 and also go for a helmet of beer, pay for 5 and get 6. It certainly didn't stop us enjoying ourselves. Children's clubs - there are clubs for all ages. Our son went to the Teen Club consistently and at one point we wondered whether he had actually come with us on this holiday, however he was in bed every night and came on shore and ate most meals with us but he had a fantastic time. They have their own murder mystery, pre show dinners, late night dodgeball, disco's, scavenger hunts etc. Entertainment - we had 3 good production shows and fully recommend them all - Cirque Bijou is fantastic, don't miss it. We weren't amused by the comedian but there was so much more to do on board. We did a Meet and Greet with Cruise Critic and all the Officers came along (which we didn't expect) and invited us to the bridge for a free tour and we got to know many of the Officers and they are very visible on the ship, visiting every restaurant and saying hello to passengers each evening. And the Captain - well we have never seen so much of a Captain - he comes and talks to passengers every day and is very approachable and spent over an hour explaining everything on the Bridge to us. We had the need to ask Julian, the Hotel Manager to help with a suit that had not made it back from the cleaners in time for dinner and not only did we get it cleaned for free, we were sent an apology bottle of Chardonnay. Mike the Food and Beverage Director is open to feedback, as is Victor the Maitre D' and they rectify and amend anything. Although there wasn't anything to really make any complaint about. Friends - where to start, having been in touch with some on the roll call we ate every evening with a great family from New Orleans and did a private trip with 6 from Canada and America. We have made excellent new friends and will be cruising with them again. Honestly we cannot put in words to describe how fantastic this was and a lot of this was the people and the company. We never read any of the books we took and our son didn't get his game boy out. On the other hand if you want to sit in a quiet place and read, there are lots of places to do this. Getting off the ship - we had no problems in St Petersburg - from announcement to getting through immigration took 15 minutes and we were on an independent tour and not on the ship one. We waited on the stairs at 7.25am and by 8am our tour guide was flabbergasted we were there. Our tip is ensure all your private party meets together and gets off together and it worked a treat - we even got off before the ships tours. We used Anastasia, well organised, others used SPB which had a good review too and we saved 2/3 of the cost of the ships tours. Currency - we took £100 in Rubbles, £50 in Swedish and £50 in Denmark and the rest was Euro's. We paid in Russia with Dollars to the tour company. Most places took Euros and in Estonia a currency exchange company got on board and sold Estonian and rubbles and exchanged back for the same rate with no charge - excellent service. See separate ports for info on them - we did not use any of the ships trips, they are expensive and you can do them much cheaper yourself - however they may be great value but we don't know and they were certainly popular. And our friends had a cabin on 14 - courtyard villa - amazing - the brochure does not do it justice - they get a special seating section in the theatre, get off the ship before anyone else, a butler, concierge - speciality restaurants for breakfast and lunch - real 5 star treatment, if you can afford it or get a deal that makes it un-missable - do it - private lounge, private sun deck, own pool and hot tub too. Then again the pools on deck were not crowded, they were 31degrees and lovely. The casino was good and we are not gamblers - Gareth the manager is a good laugh and takes care of his guests. Our only disappointment - the photography - NCl are aware and are taking over the franchise to fix it so it may be sorted by the time you get on - 1000s of poor quality pictures taken and they never check the picture - you are grabbed on the gangplank every day unless you run past them and we never did work out why we needed to be photographed with a whale in Finland Getting off - pick yout time, take your luggage labels and walk off the ship - no queue and the guys are there to carry your luggage - the 40 steps to the car What can we say - amazing, fantastic - we would have stayed on if there had been a free cabin and stuff the consequences with the job. But they were full until 26th August. oh well back to the real world and the laundry. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We arranged our trip and did airfare and transfers through NCL. We are headed to Hawaii later this summer and did NOT book air and transfers. Dover is a long way from Heathrow and we were flying in same day. NCL put our connection at less ... Read More
We arranged our trip and did airfare and transfers through NCL. We are headed to Hawaii later this summer and did NOT book air and transfers. Dover is a long way from Heathrow and we were flying in same day. NCL put our connection at less than 45 minutes and due to a short delay on the outbound flight, we were quickly rerouted to another airline in order to make the transatlantic flight. Of course our 4 suitcases did not make the change. We received our bags in Copenhagen. NCL was most gracious, offering toiletries (we had these), T shirts to sleep in/wear and free laudry service. They also handled all of the luggage communication with United.Ship/Cabins: we had two adjoining balcony cabins, 9610 and 9612. The cabins were very nice, very comfortable beds and everything was efficiently organized.  Ryan and Randy were our two cabin stewards and were super!  Both were personable and seemed to enjoy interacting with the guests.  If we asked, they delivered. These two are terrific NCL ambassadors.Entertainment: Attended almost all shows and enjoyed them. The ship dancer/singer/acrobats were better than any from other ships and the Cirque show is not to be missed. Even the Country show was good (and I expected Broadway country which would have been awful).  Dont miss the comedian or the juggler...Activities: I communicated my disappointment in the activities group early on. They do lots of trivia, bingo and karaoke but not much else during the morning or afternoon. After my comments, the Director called me. He noted that the weather on previous Baltic trips had been terrible and that as a result, they hadnt planned much for the pool. On the last two of the 4 sea days, Rich did add more activities during the day. In comparison to Holland and Celebrity, activities are pretty lame.  There is tons to do in the evening but less in the later morning early afternoon. The pool is heated but air temps were unpredictable and the activities staff tended to stay indoors doing trivia lists.  Only one of the team appeared to love what they do...Vaughn.  The others wanted to please but just seemed to be going through the motions.Food:  Get ready for spray sanitizer as you enter any eating area. (and this is a GOOD thing, folks). Complaints about the NCL food had us worried. Unless you are a real foody, it is good. Main dining room food was good to ,in a couple of cases, very good. Fish dishes were spotty. Many passengers noted that it seemed that the pay extra dining was more like standard fare on RCL, Celebrity, Princess and Holland. I am not sure how easy it is to make such a determination. I will say that the dining room service was efficient but never friendly. Personal service is what you miss with "As you wish" dining. We ate at Le Bistro twice, loved the food, but were not thrilled with the service. The restaurant manager seated us then came to bring water (due to some delays with the server) and was actually on his cell phone while he handled our table. I have never seen this before...anywhere. He was also what I call 'fake nice' to the guests but very rude to the staff.We also ate at Mamas. I liked it but the other 10 folks at our table thought it wasnt worth paying extra for. We very much recommend lunch at Tzar's palace. For some reason, these lunches offered our best meals of the trip.My son tried Chin Chin with some friends and raved about it.Seats are very limited at the Garden cafe at breakfast and lunch...we always agreed to meet outside at the bow or in Mamas kitchen with our plates and didnt try to fight for the few seats near the buffet.Bar Service:  Our family and new friends met at the end of each port day to sail away in Spinnaker lounge. We enjoyed the views and companionship there.  Service was sketchy there with one terrific exception. We very much enjoyed Vladko. He was very nice, adjusted blinds for us without being asked, helped us get to the top deck for sail the 'under the bridge' on the last at sea evening. Dont miss seeing this or the sail away out of Stockholm.Ports: I will make this short as many reviews cover the ports well.Copenhagen: took the hop on hop off bus at the pier. Do NOT go to Tivoli as nothing there really opens until 4pm. They open the park at 11am but most rides, 90% of restaurants and all shows are not open. It was an expensive lesson for us.Warndemunde: Took the Gerstrow excursion through NCL and then wandered around the sea side port and beach. Very nice day since we had beautiful weather.Talinn, Estonia:  Follow the walking tour (Rick Steves), eat lunch at HellHunt (kitchen is open 12-2) and make sure to catch the views at Toompea. Wonderful port!St. Petersburg: Most amazing city visited. Booked active tour through SPB-Viktoria. Our guide was Elena. She was a perfect ambassador and hostess/guide for our whirlwind two days.  My Dad's pedometer showed us walking 28,000 steps on Day 1 (that is about 12 miles). Debarkation was very smooth. Just eat breakfast early, have your documents (NCL pre prints the landing card for you now) and be at the independent gangway by 6:45. As soon as the ship clears you will sail out before the NCL tours make their way down. Day 2 is very easy. Almost everyone accepts credit cards or Euros here. Do Peterhof Fountains, Catherines Palace, The Hermitage, Church of Spilled Blood, Peter and Paul's Cathedral. We did a very quick and cheap lunch stop.Helsinki, Finland. Our friends did the bus and had a little trouble because they got lost. We did Sommolina Fortress and then were dropped back at the market for shopping. GREAT shopping with beautiful handmade finnish goods. Later we met our friends at the Ice Bar at La Bodega. It opened at 4 and they called a taxi for us to make a speedy return to the ship. $10 euro per adult, $5 euro per child and great fun!Stockholm: We did the Vasa and City Hall (dont miss either of these folks). You can do a hop on hop off boat or a ship tour. We also caught the changing of the guard at 12:15. Get there early and be at the Royal Palace ticket office for best view.  This is an EXPENSIVE port. Lunch (sandwiches and drinks) came out to be $80 for 4 people. We walked back to the ship from Old Town...dont believe the 20 minute walk but it isnt too bad.  This is the shortest port time so dont miss being on board at 330pm.Overall: The itinerary is wonderful and the ship is a great value for price paid. The ships staff is efficient and makes a strong effort at resolving any issues. While it rained heavily on all prior departures, we had perfect days with no rain. NCL has some opportunities for sure but we are booked on the Pride of America to Hawaii and have no concerns anout the trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We are family of 4 with 2 daughters aged 4 and 6. Last year we cruised Alaska with Carnival Spirit and had an amazing time. The girls loved kids club, we couldn't get them off the boat at ports and found that kids club was ... Read More
We are family of 4 with 2 daughters aged 4 and 6. Last year we cruised Alaska with Carnival Spirit and had an amazing time. The girls loved kids club, we couldn't get them off the boat at ports and found that kids club was educational, teaching them about the animals of the region. We also found the food in the dining room to be great and struggled to choose each night between a range of delicious meals. We had a balcony room on the Spirit which meant that we had a queen sized bed while the girls had bunks nearby - this was a fairly good sleeping arrangement for us. This year we sailed the Baltics with NCL as we got a really good deal. We found that there were positives and negatives with the kids club. Positive - NCL kids club are open all evening, Carnival shut between 6pm and 7:30pm most nights. This meant that with Carnival we ate with the kids, while on NCL we picked them up, fed them in the kids cafe (a wonderful thing, the seating for just families), and dropped them back to kids club while we had dinner in peace. Negative - there was no educational content on NCL. They had a pirate night, but really I thought something like a viking night may have been more appropriate given we were in the viking area of the world. We were in places with so much history, but NCL was mainly focused on commercial activities such as Blues Clues and Dora. Negative - my kids often didn't want to go to kids club, it definitely didn't hold them like the Carnival one did (where they'd cry all the way up the hall because we'd pulled them out). Negative - NCL charge for kids on Port days while on Carnival it was free. The food in the NCL main dining room was also average. Most nights I struggled to find something I wanted to eat and then it was pretty bland. Carnival did much better there. We tried Mamas and found it to be not worth the cover charge. We tried Le Bistro and found it to be quite nice, but our favorite restaurant was Chin Chin - the asian was great. It's a pity we didn't discover this early in the cruise as there was a lot on the menu that appealed. The pools were better on NCL in that they were heated to around 31 degrees which is what you need in the Baltics as it was generally quite cool on deck. The pools were much cooler and less tempting on the Carnival Spirit. The oceanview room on the NCL had great storage, I was able to fit all our clothes into the spaces provided, while really struggled on the Spirit. However the beds were 2 singles with a trundle popped up in between and a bunk above one of the singles - a bit squishy. That said, it wasn't a balcony room like we had on the Spirit. I don't think we'd try to squeeze the 4 of us into an oceanview room again.The bathroom on NCL was better with sliding doors to turn it into a separate toilet, vanity and shower. On Carnival it was just one room. The separation was much better for our family. We loved the ports and enjoyed our seadays. The cruise was great, and we met lots of nice people.     Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Norwegian Jewel, June 15, 2009 - A Review Cast of Characters:  Me, my husband (both in our mid-40's) and my teenaged daughters (ages 19 & 16), traveling with a larger group of 24 family and friends, including my parents ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel, June 15, 2009 - A Review Cast of Characters:  Me, my husband (both in our mid-40's) and my teenaged daughters (ages 19 & 16), traveling with a larger group of 24 family and friends, including my parents (in their mid-60's). In this post, I will review my impressions of the Norwegian Jewel and her crew.  I will post a detailed review of the ports of call soon on the Northern Europe board here at Cruise Critic. My family did not book any shore excursions through NCL.  We used Alla Tours in St. Petersburg. (WOW!!! I can not say enough wonderful things about Alla Tours, our guide Angie and our driver Alexander!  Truly spectacular!!) All other ports were navigated with the assistance of Rick Steves' guide book and the excellent advice received from fellow posters here on Cruise Critic.  Pre-Cruise:  We had a 3-day pre-cruise package booked through NCL at the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum.  The hotel has a great location less than a block from the Gloucester Road Tube Station, which gives you immediate access to the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines.  The hotel was clean, well-kept and suited our needs perfectly.  The included continental breakfast was generous and filling.  My one complaint would be that the elevators at this hotel are horribly slow and, many times, you would find large crowds of people waiting in the lobby for a ride up to their rooms. Weather:  We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout this cruise, with the exception of our last two days at sea, which were overcast and dreary. The Ship:  The 5 year-old Norwegian Jewel is a beautiful, immaculately maintained cruise ship.  I did not notice any type of maintenance issues whatsoever.  At any time of the day or night, you would find the crew hard at work polishing and scrubbing to make sure that the ship was clean and presentable.  This was my first time on the Jewel, though I had sailed twice before on the Pearl.  The ships are almost identical, except for the set-up of the gift shops and the location of Fyzz/Bliss, and a few other minor details.  Also, the Pearl has the bowling alleys in Bliss and the rock-climbing wall.  The Jewel has the karaoke rooms in Fyzz.  Since I don't use the bowling alleys, rock-climbing wall or the karaoke rooms, those differences don't amount to much for me.  I will say that I prefer the set-up and location of Bliss on the Pearl to Fyzz on the Jewel.  The ship's crew seems happy and eager to deliver good service.  In almost every instance, I was greeted with a smile and a friendly hello each time I crossed paths with a member of the crew. Our Staterooms:  For the first time in our family's extensive cruising history, we went with two cabins for the four of us instead of one cabin that would accommodate four.  We had connecting BA balconies, 10054 and 10056.  The additional space was awesome!  Having two bathrooms helped to cut down our "get ready" time by quite a lot.  The location of our cabins was very convenient.  We were about halfway between the forward and mid-ship elevators.  We used our balconies a lot, especially during our early-morning approach to Stockholm through the Swedish archipelago and for quiet drinks and snacks in the late afternoons as we prepared for dinner. Our staterooms were very clean.  Our stewards always managed to make-up and turn down the cabins quickly and efficiently at the perfect times. The beds were extremely comfortable.  The linens were very nice indeed.  Between the two rooms, we had more than enough storage space for all of our clothes, even taking into account that we all packed way too much ... will we never learn? Dining:  Let me begin by saying that I LOVE Freestyle Dining.  I always have.  On the Jewel, we found the reservation process much easier and less stressful than on our previous Pearl cruises.  On our last Pearl cruise (Thanksgiving 2007), we felt it necessary to wake up each day at the crack of dawn in order to secure our next night's dining reservation.  Not so on the Jewel.  It was easy to secure a reservation at any of the restaurants, sometimes even a few hours before on the same day.  Our sailing was sold out, but I'm not sure where all of the other passengers were eating, because at no time did we experience crowds or lines in order to be seated for dinner. As I said before, our traveling group consisted of a total of 24 people.  On most nights, we ate in groups varying in size between 8 and 13.  Many times, we made reservations for dinner, but there were a couple of occasions when we just walked up to Azura during the "peak" hours of 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM and were quickly seated at one large table or two adjacent tables.  (Thanks to Ana, the hostess at Azura, who always greeted us with a welcoming smile and "give me just a couple of minutes".)  We ate once at Tsar's Palace, four times at Azura, twice in the Garden Cafe, once at Cagneys, once at Teppanyaki, once at Mama's, once at Tango's and once at Le Bistro.  We also had the Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro on the 3rd At Sea day. The food in the main dining rooms I would classify between good and very good.  The rack of lamb that I had in Tsar's on the first lobster night was the best rack of lamb I have ever had anywhere.  I had nothing in the main dining rooms that I would classify below good.  Service tended to be a tad slow.  The pacing of the meal between courses varied widely.  Sometimes you would receive your next course quickly, other times you would wait for an inordinately long time to receive your next course. I would rate the food in the Garden Cafe as ranging between adequate and good.  We ate here on two nights when we were just too tired to change for dinner in the dining rooms. The food in the specialty restaurants ranged from very good to spectacular.  The service that we received in the specialty restaurants was stellar.  Our meal at Cagney's was delicious and plentiful.  This was the one night where I can honestly say that I could have been rolled out of that dining room because I ate so much.  Our server, Jason, was amazing.  Our entire group ate at the same time at two adjacent tables.  If I had to pick one meal as the best of the cruise, Cagney's would be the one. Le Bistro was scrumptious.  Our dinner here comes in as a very close second to our meal in Cagney's.  The service was very good.  The food was excellent, although I will forever miss the no longer available chocolate soufflE.  Our Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro was very nice and definitely well worth the surcharge. Mama's was wonderful.  I wish we had gone back for a second dinner there.  Our servers, "Fettucine" Alfredo and his assistant, Jenny, were the warmest and most engaging crew members we came across during the entire cruise.  After dinner, Alfredo put on a wonderful and hilarious napkin folding show for our table that will remain as one of our favorite memories of this cruise. Tango's was very good.  The portions in this restaurant are huge.  I could have made an entire meal of the Nacho appetizer. It was here that we met Elena, the very warm and sincere maitre d'.  She was definitely the best maitre d' that we encountered during the cruise. My daughters love the Teppanyaki experience, so we made sure to schedule one dinner there.  The food was perfect and our chef was great. We didn't go to Chin Chin or the Blue Lagoon during this cruise.  Too many restaurants, too little time ... maybe next time. Entertainment:  The Jean Ann Ryan productions on the Jewel are fabulous.  Band on the Run and Country Gold are excellent.  Cirque Bijou stands in a class by itself.  In almost 30 years of cruising on many cruise lines, I have seen many, many shows reaching all the way back to Jean Ann's original Sea Legs Revue aboard the S/S Norway.  Cirque Bijou is far and away THE VERY BEST SHOW I have ever seen at sea.  If you ever have a chance to see Cirque Bijou, do not miss it. Lenny Windsor, the comedian, was pretty funny.  The magicians were entertaining.  The juggler was good and very funny in his interactions with the audience.  I didn't see the two female singers' shows.  The crew talent show was heart warming.  Fountains was hysterical. Debarkation in St. Petersburg:  This was my biggest area of concern when coming in to this cruise.  As the organizer of my motley crew's private tour in St. Petersburg, I was sweating bullets as I read of the horrible experiences cruisers on earlier sailings were reporting about going through immigration in St. Petersburg.  Julian, the Hotel Director, addressed this issue at length with us at the Cruise Critic get together.  I sincerely believe that the ship's management is trying their very best to make this not ideal situation the best that it can be for all passengers, whether they are on NCL tours or not.  Here's what our experience was like:  The ship docked in St. Petersburg more than an hour ahead of schedule at about 6:40 AM.  This early arrival, which I believe is part of NCL's effort to improve the wait time through immigration, was not announced ahead of time.  The ship was cleared by Russian authorities very quickly thereafter.  Both the forward and midship gangways were opened simultaneously and passengers were allowed to exit immediately upon clearance.  The forward gangway was used by the NCL tours, the midship gangway was used by those passengers booked on private tours and those passenger with Russian visas.  I had arranged for my group to gather aboard the ship at 7:30 AM.  Once we were all together, we made our way to the midship gangway and were all standing on the pier in line for immigration by 7:40 AM.  Had I set the meeting time for my group before 7:30, we would have been off that much faster.  The line in front of us was probably about 100 to 150 people deep.  Our entire group was through Russian immigration and sitting on Alla Tours' vans by 8:20 AM, ten minutes ahead of our scheduled 8:30 AM departure.  The whole process was relatively quick and painless ... much better than what I had dared to hope for.  It was a very cool morning and NCL's staff was doing everything they could to make the experience pleasant.  They were serving hot chocolate and chatting with all the passengers.  Senior staff, including the Hotel Director and the Cruise Director, were on hand to observe the goings on and interact with those of us in line. I did glance back at the line at around 8:05 AM and notice that the line was longer at that time.  I think that perhaps those passengers that waited to get in line until the scheduled 8:00 AM arrival time did, in fact, end up having a longer wait than the "early birds". Bottom line is this, whether the set up for immigration is NCL's doing or Russia's, it is what it is.  From my personal observation last week, it seems that the process has gotten much better than what it was just a few short weeks ago.  I can't help but think that things will get better with each subsequent visit as the process is streamlined further.  As NCL suggests in all of it's onboard correspondence relating to this disembarkation, make sure to have all your paperwork in order and approach the whole thing with patience and good humor.  You'll be through immigration before you know it and will be off to visit the amazing city of St. Petersburg.  Don't try to buck the system.  It will only serve to frustrate you and everyone around you. And, kudos to NCL for working hard to improve the passenger's experience in this situation. Overall Impressions:  The Norwegian Jewel is a fabulous ship with a great crew and the Baltic Capitals cruise is an amazing itinerary.  This cruise was as close to perfect for my family as it could get.  I would not hesitate to sail aboard the Jewel again or to recommend the Baltic cruise to future cruisers. One final note ... thank you to the Captain and his staff for graciously hosting and attending the Cruise Critic get together in Le Bistro on our first sea day.  It was impressive indeed, to see the gathering of senior staff assembled before us and to have them address our questions and concerns. Now, I'm off to start dreaming of my next cruise ... where to go, where to go?  ;) Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
NCL's Baltic Jewel - Could this be Paradise?   Having read many reviews about this cruise I felt a little unsure of what to expect. However, working on the basis that it is human nature to complain rather than praise I was ... Read More
NCL's Baltic Jewel - Could this be Paradise?   Having read many reviews about this cruise I felt a little unsure of what to expect. However, working on the basis that it is human nature to complain rather than praise I was determined to enjoy this experience. I was not disappointed and now it is over I really find it hard to comprehend some of the adverse comments.   Long delays at embarkation in Dover? - we arrived at 11.10am and were onboard at 12.10pm. Very efficient and pleasant process.   Loud upbeat music blaring out all day in all public areas? - yes there was music but, unless I am going very deaf suddenly, it was not loud and it was possible to block it out completely if you did not want to hear it and were getting on with the business of having a great holiday!   Excessive bar pricing? - agreed the price of a bottle of wine, even the cheapest, was enough to deter many from drinking anthing other than iced water, but the cocktails were reasonably priced (ask for it in a regular glass), and beers, spirits etc seemed little different to a good pub/restaurant on shore. Prices generally appeared similar to those encountered on other cruise ships that I have experienced.   Excessive leaflets, sales promotions under the cabin door ?- again no different to other experiences.We read every last one to see what might enhance our experience of Jewel, and then binned the ones that were not of interest. I don't know of a better way to communicate everything that is available, to every guest onboard.   NCL wants to take all your money? - surprisingly we found very little of the direct hard sell technique and we believe in the words "no thank you" which worked without even a raised eyebrow in disappointment. Sure they want to sell their shore excursions etc. it is part of their business and should be part of our cruising experience.     I will give brief reports on the individual ports later.   Cabin - inside, with ample space for storage and a bathroom which included a very good sized shower cubicle. Well maintained by two very amenable stewards.   Restaurants - Tsars main dining room: mainly better than good fare but lacked vegetables. Once we realised that if we asked for extra vegetables we would receive an ample plate of freshly steamed veg the rather bland plate of meat or fish became more acceptable.                    - Cagneys and Le Bistro: upgraded menu, service and ambience (although not convinced $25 each cover charge truly reflected the upgrade, in Cagneys.)                    - Blue Lagoon (open all time): okay if you want a taste of home experience, but nothing to rave about.                    - Garden Cafe & Great Outdoors: except for the first morning breakfast when everyone seemed to rise at 9am, we found was not the bun fight other reviews report. On that first morning we went to Mama's (as the Freestyle Daily advised every day was an option) which was almost empty. We felt that many cruisers may not even have found the Great Outdoors, or that Garden Cafe extends from midships elevators to stern with loads of seating.   Bars - Numerous, some busy, busy; others quiet, and comfortable. We preferred, or rather virtually lived in, The Great Outdoors. This for us was the place to be on the ship - fresh air and sun, comfortable seating, friendly and efficient bar crew and food and snacks near to hand most of the time. Mention of bar staff - we quickly became a regular for John Loyd, who after Day 1 always greeted us by name as soon as he saw us, and remained chatty and upbeat even when we felt we had to decline just one more cocktail!   Entertainment - We do not cruise for the entertainment per se and only attended one performance Chantz Powell. He was a young song/dance/musical entertainer. His act was high energy, efficient and extremely good. A future star we feel sure!   Spa/ gym etc - We did look in the gym and then quickly realised the fresh air and cocktails at Great Outdoors held a stronger draw.   Disembarkation in St Petersburg - A topic of major adverse comment from previous cruises! We attended a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet on the first sea day, which was attended by the captain, hotel director and (I believe) all the department heads. We had several questions answered and the St Petersburg scenario was explained, including the measures NCL have taken to improve a situation that had occured, not of their making, in conjunction wih the Russian authorities. When we arrived at St Petersburg the delays appear to have been reasonable. We took NCL excursions but so far as I could see both our line and the private tour line seemed to be moving along nicely. We were off the Jewel through customs and on the coach in 35 minutes, similar experiences were reported to me from private tour guests. I even managed to get a thank you and a smile from two different immigration officers - not the Russian ogres expected. (Or maybe I enjoy a challenge!) I believe that if you adopt the stance suggested by NCL, with a little patience, the whole episode will pass pleasantly, and it really should be forgotten anyway once you get to see the bits of St Petersburg that you have selected - quite outstanding.   In conclusion. the itinerary is fantastic, the ports amazing, the Jewel sparkles, the crew are friendly, ever helpful and seem happy in their respective roles. It was nice to see the captain and other senior officers eating in the Garden Cafe amongst their guests. Every crew member that caught my eye had a smile and pleasant greeting for me. All fellow cruisers, with the exception of one couple who simply had to moan about everything, were pleasant company to be with.   Be prepared for the necessary evil that is hand sanitization on entry and exit from every restaurant, and other places around the ship, but do spare a thought for the crew members who stand for hours with the seemingly thankless task of spraying guests hands - and always with a cheerful, friendly demeanor.   If you are taking this cruise and have not organised a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet, via your cruise RollCall, I suggest it is worth doing.   By now you will have noticed that we really enjoyed this cruise. However, not everything was perfect and I have a couple of suggestions for NCL, which we felt would enhance the cruise.   1. Consider reducing wine prices in the restaurants, thus encouraging more guests to drink with their meals. The wines we tried really were very nice but simply too expensive to consume every day. We noticed many, many fellow cruisers preferring to have only iced water, which seems a shame!   2. Include more vegetables, as standard, with entree course meals. We are in an age where the promotion of fruit and veg consumption is high, but this did not seem to be NCL policy. A tasty portion of meat or fish is fine, but will surely be finer with better serving of vegetables.   I have no hesitation in recommending this cruise, the whole Freestyle atmosphere won't suit everyone, but we found it to be ideal.   I hope you have found my review helpful. Please ask any questions which I will answer honestly, from my experience on Norwegian Jewel.   Finally, a huge thank you to Julian. You have a wonderful, attentive, hard working crew and we hope you will convey our views to them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
NORWEGIAN JEWEL BALTIC CRUISE We just returned from a 12-night Baltic Cruise aboard Norwegian Jewel. This was our family's 9th cruise (4 on Norwegian, 3 on Royal Caribbean, and 1 each on Celebrity and Carnival). In our group ... Read More
NORWEGIAN JEWEL BALTIC CRUISE We just returned from a 12-night Baltic Cruise aboard Norwegian Jewel. This was our family's 9th cruise (4 on Norwegian, 3 on Royal Caribbean, and 1 each on Celebrity and Carnival). In our group we had 20 people traveling, 18 of whom "did the cruise together," and a mother and daughter who preferred to spend time alone outside the group. Of the 18 who hung out together, we had 2 grandparents in their early 80's, 7 seasoned adults (late 40's to early 60's traveling with their kids), 4 young adults in their early 20's (all single), and 5 teenagers between 14 and 17. PRE-CRUISE: While it's possible to fly transatlantic overnight and make your way to Dover to board the ship in one Herculean effort, this didn't appeal to our group as we'd be starting the cruise exhausted. Instead, one family flew to London several days ahead to do some sightseeing, and the rest of us flew to London two days before the cruise. This gave us an overnight in London to collect our wits and start recovering from jet lag, and then we took the train to Dover and spent a night there before boarding the ship. TIP: We selected a hotel near Victoria Station in London to help reduce the friction factor of travel. Victoria Station is the collective melting pot for the Gatwick Express Train, the Heathrow Airport Coach, and the train to Dover. By staying at a hotel within easy walking distance of Victoria Station, we never had to worry about finding enough taxis to move a large group and their bags about town, nor did we have to haul our cruise luggage up and down stairs between platforms in the London Underground. The Tube is enormously convenient if you are traveling light, but it would be a nightmare to negotiate with large suitcases. Keep that in mind when you make your travel arrangements. There are several reasonably priced small hotels and guest houses near Victoria Station; contact me if you would like more information. In Dover we stayed at the Churchill Hotel (managed by Best Western) which has the perfect location right down on the waterfront and which offered us a good price for a comfortable night's rest (beware of the sea gulls; our friends left their bedroom window open and went out to eat, then returned to discover a wily gull had apparently popped in and enjoyed unwrapping and eating their tea biscuits, leaving crumbs all over the bed!). STATEROOMS: Norwegian Jewel is a beautiful ship; this was our second cruise on Jewel. We also sailed a 12-night Mediterranean Cruise on this ship in 2007. Our group was divided between interior and oceanview staterooms. The balcony cabins are a little larger, but we all managed in the smaller rooms which are cramped, but well designed with good storage space if you follow a couple simple rules. #1) Don't try to live out of your suitcase. Unpack as soon as your bags are delivered; put things away in the closet and drawers, then stash your suitcases under the bed. #2) Repack dirty clothes that you do not plan to wear again as you go instead of allowing them to pile up around your cabin. This will also make your packing at the end of the cruise a breeze because most of it will already be done. TIP: I bring Downy dewrinkler spray in travel sized bottles (available at Wal-Mart) to keep our clothes wrinkle-free, but on this cruise NCL was offering some very good discount prices to press clothes, so a couple of the guys got some of their shirts pressed - $2 per shirt I believe it was. While the interior and oceanview rooms are on the cozy side, the bathroom design on NCL is better than most other ships in this class. The showers have a glass door (no icky shower curtain that sticks to you while allowing water all over the bathroom floor), and there is decent counter space for toiletries. A hairdryer is provided, and the electricity is wired for 110 small appliances. I believe there was a plug for 220 as well (please check on that to be sure). FREESTYLE DINING: There are two main dining rooms with open seating for dinner (NCL's signature "Freestyle" Dining). Tsar's Palace is the larger and dressier of the two, while Azura is smaller and more informal, although guests are requested to not wear jeans or shorts at night (especially Tsar's Palace and the specialty restaurants). We found to our disappointment, however, that despite posting the dress code in the Freestyle Daily, the rules were not well enforced on this cruise (two years ago the dress code was enforced on Jewel, which made the dinners onboard more pleasant). Both main dining rooms serve the same menu on any given day. We made reservations for the first formal night (Tsar's Palace) and also for a surprise birthday party for my husband (Azura), but otherwise never had reservations in the main dining rooms, and never had to wait to be seated despite that we regularly had a sizable group eating together. If I had one criticism of the main dining rooms, and I offer this reluctantly, it was that the service was slower and uneven on this cruise by comparison to two years ago. The exception was my husband's birthday party where the staff in Azura could not possibly have knocked themselves out more to make it a success. Otherwise it seemed as if the main dining rooms were a bit short staffed, and my hunch is that this is a cost savings measure on the part of the cruise line as they tough out the recession like the rest of us. We paid a little less for this cruise than we did for our 12-night cruise on the same ship exactly two years ago, and I don't know about you, but I am paying more these days for just about everything from gas to food at home compared to a couple of years back. The travel industry is trying very hard to weather the storm, and in the process they surely must be forced to cut a few corners here and there to stay afloat while offering folks like you and me a swell vacation, and doing it at a price cut. All in all the meals in the main dining rooms were delicious and the staff was both cordial and attentive. Jewel also has a cafeteria style buffet, alfresco dining at the Great Outdoors, Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours a day for burgers, chicken fingers and fish and chips fare (the teenagers and twenty-somethings regularly went there for a "second supper" in the wee hours of the morning after dancing the night away at the disco), and a tapas bar that serves light fare if you are not especially hungry. These are all included in the price of your cruise. Additionally there are a number of specialty restaurants onboard, each with a modest cover charge: Mama's Kitchen Italian, Tango's TexMex, Chin Chin Asian with an adjacent Sushi Bar, Teppanyaki Japanese (like Benihana or Kanpai of Tokyo), Le Bistro French and Cagney's Steak House. We ate at both Le Bistro and Cagney's on this cruise and both were excellent. The doting service was measurably better than the main dining rooms, but of course, for a cover charge one expects better. On our 2007 cruise on Jewel we tried Tango's (immense burritos) and Mama's, the latter not being as splendid in our opinion as Impressions Italian restaurant on Norwegian Dawn. There are electronic boards throughout the ship that offer updates on seating availability so that in a pinch you can check to see which dining room or restaurants are full and which have room for your party. Two families in our group were able to make last minute reservations at Teppanyaki (one family even went twice!), which is often the hardest specialty restaurant to nab because of its small size and the "show" that goes along with dinner. Breakfast and lunch are offered in a dining room (Tsar's Palace I believe?) but we preferred to eat at the Great Outdoors. There was always a substantial selection of tasty dishes available plus fresh fruits, made to order omelets at breakfast, and salads at lunch. We enjoyed The Great Outdoors, even if it was just for a cup of coffee or tea, taking in the fresh air and the passing sights. Freestyle Dining worked like a charm on this cruise. TRAVELING WITH KIDS: Although we still have teenagers in our group, none of them used the teen center on this cruise as they are all "veteran cruisers" and have no trouble meeting others their age onboard. Having offered that caveat, Norwegian ships offer a marvelous staffed program for kids from toddlers through teens divided by age group. My own kids claim that they have enjoyed the best counselors on NCL ships. Note also that while most cruise lines start their little kids' program at 3 years old and potty trained, NCL has organized programs for 2-year olds where parents are given a beeper to be paged when needed for a diaper change (no staff on any cruise line can change diapers due to health regulations). All cruise lines end their teen program at age 17, which can often leave the 18-20 year old crowd in limbo ... they cannot participate in the teen activities, but they are also not allowed in the adult venues either. On most NCL ships (I believe the exceptions are Alaska and Hawaii where the ships remain in US waters) your 18-20 year olds are allowed to hang out in the adult disco and bars and if you sign a consent form, they are permitted to have beer and wine onboard (no hard alcohol). Perhaps we are lucky, but our kids in this age bracket have not abused this privilege and they have a terrific time joining in with the early 20's crowd dancing and going to the clubs at night. NCL initiated a change in their booking policy on this cruise which caused considerable last minute heartburn for our group. In the past we have been able to book our kids in the cabins next door to the parents. We have sailed NCL for years and never had any trouble reserving 3 and 4 staterooms for a large family; in fact, this is one of the reasons we liked NCL. When I set up this group last November, that booking policy was still in place. When I went to pay all the final bills in April, however, I discovered the policy had changed, and now NCL is requiring all staterooms to have someone over 21 booked in each cabin (I was told that this has always been the policy, but I know for a fact that this is not the case as we are not newcomers to NCL). This new policy is a nightmare for large families because we need more than 2 staterooms for a family with only 2 parents over 21. In the end we had enough people in the group to shuffle folks around on paper, sometimes placing people who had never even met in the same cabin in order to show somebody over 21 in with each under 21 passenger (all involved were people we knew ahead of the cruise who agreed to this of course), but what if we had not had a surplus of older people in our group? Would we have had to cancel our cruise at the last minute? As it was, once onboard, it was like an episode from a Pink Panther spoof with people swapping rooms the first afternoon - crazy! I am hoping NCL will come to their senses and change back to their former policy (and change the online check-in which they have also monkeyed with, to the detriment of family travel). NCL is in every other way so well suited to families; it would be a shame to have to cross them off my list, giving all our business to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (among others) who remain family-friendly in their booking policies. ENTERTAINMENT: Norwegian has the best entertainment at sea, and Jewel was excellent both this year and back in 2007 too. We have seen superb magicians, jugglers, comedians, and singers in the main theater, plus they always have a quiet piano bar or guitarist (our cruise had both) playing in one bar or another throughout the evening. The pianist, Michael Chio, in particular was wonderful - nobody whispered a word over drinks when he played Phantom of the Opera. In addition to their main shows, often the entertainers put on a cabaret on another night in a smaller venue, such as a magician act doing a big, glitzy show one night in the theater, and then a more intimate sleight of hand cabaret for a smaller audience in a lounge another night. The Jean Ann Ryan Company put on performances like you will see nowhere else at sea. Most cruise ships have competent Broadway / Las Vegas style reviews, but in my experience, not up to what you will see from the Jean Ann Ryan Company. On the 12-night cruise they put on two high energy shows with singing, dancing, and some gymnastics. But where they really shine is their cirques; on Jewel it's the Cirque Bijou. Gymnasts fly overhead, East European aerialists are exquisitely agile and graceful, and the singing and dancing are spectacular - everything from Latin to Bollywood to Irish Riverdance. Bravo! Norwegian Jewel also has its own show band onboard (no canned music for theater shows like on some ships). On our cruise we were delighted to discover the band was Rama 111 from Poland. We had seen them before (Norwegian Majesty, Christmas Cruise 2006), and we were so impressed then that we bought their CD. They are apparently quite well known in Eastern Europe as they play all the jazz festivals there. As a show band they can play anything from country to Broadway and pack a wallop, but we were especially glad that they had occasions on our cruise to play a few sets in Spinnakers - big band one day, jazz or bossa nova another - a welcome change for many of us from the rock and roll band (Crossroads) that played more often than not at night in that club. There was also a string quartet on the cruise which played classical selections (unfortunately often in the Atrium Lounge which is too noisy with people passing through - a pity because the quartet was quite good), and a Latino guitar trio that offered a wide range of music in their sets. On Norwegian Jewel there is a wide variety of entertainment to carry you through until about 1am daily, and after that usually the only people still going strong are the younger generation tearing it up dancing in Spinnakers at the late night disco. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: We enjoy participating in the trivia competitions, which usually got a good turn out on this cruise. Bingo also attracted a crowd, although that isn't our scene, nor is the casino. In fact one of the things that I appreciate about the design of Norwegian Jewel is that the casino is completely self-contained, and you are not obliged to walk through it to get places like on most ships. Norwegian doesn't go in for cultural or naturalist talks onboard like some cruise lines (Celebrity comes to mind) and we would go if talks of this type were offered. They did have assorted seminars on wine / beer / and martini tasting. We did the martini class and it was fun, not to mention getting a bit loopy sampling the drinks. Two of the most accomplished Jean Ann Ryan dancers, Svetlana and Roman, offered dance lessons. We attended one session and they did a first class job. There was lots of humor to keep it fun, and they didn't skimp on offering detailed instruction with personal attention. I have remembered the steps (now if my husband will join me on the dance floor we may have accomplished something!). I could do without all the overhead loud speaker announcements, but given that sometimes people even in our own group hadn't read their Freestyle Daily, I guess half the ship would never know anything that was going on if they didn't make announcements. We also found that the ship seemed to always have muzak playing ... I don't remember that from our cruise on Jewel in 2007, and we preferred the quiet over hearing recorded background music all the time. Here's some information on the ports of call: COPENHAGEN: On European itineraries we tend to wing it rather than book cruise line shore excursions. In Copenhagen we walked over to Tivoli; the adults enjoyed a light lunch while the kids did some rides. Then we went to Nyhavn and did a canal cruise. It was enjoyable, but Copenhagen is a large city and we discovered we spent a fair amount of time just getting from here to there, hobbling over cobblestones past lots of buildings that we often could not identify. The grandparents did the HoHo (Hop On Hop Off double-decker bus) and I think they got the better deal in Copenhagen. In addition to being taken round to see the narrated highlights of the city, they had a convenient stop at Nyhavn for everyone who wanted to take the canal cruise or enjoy a canal side pub, then hop back on the bus to the port. For $25 (US) the HoHo here is a good deal - take it. WARNEMUNDE: We loved this port of call! Hundreds of people opted for pilgrimages into Berlin, and I use the word pilgrimage advisedly because the trip is long and arduous (that night onboard it was dead as a doornail. If the Berlin folks were not penitents setting out for the journey, they perhaps wished they'd done something else in port as they collapsed from exhaustion after). About half our group got up and out early enough to catch the ferry to Rostock and we had fun there. The kids played at a city park (teenagers and 20-somethings having a hoot - helped to offset that none of them had a decent night's sleep the night before), we walked the city walls and ate lunch outdoors in the beautiful old Hanseatic town square, then paid a visit to the maritime museum. Warning - they don't speak English at the museum. Fortunately my husband speaks German and one of the staff was delighted to give us a private tour. We returned to Warnemunde mid-afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful little seaside resort village; the other half of our group spent the entire day there. We swilled a couple pints at the sidewalk cafes and met some German couples who were either there on holiday, or were catching an Aida cruise from Warnemunde the following day. This is a charming, relaxing port. Unless you just have to get to Berlin right now for some reason, skip it on the cruise, and take your trip to Berlin another time. It's a LONG way from Warnemunde. TALLINN: Another absolutely delightful town. We were fortunate to arrive on a sunny, warm day with a marvelous youth orchestra playing in the town square. We pulled up chairs at a sidewalk cafe and stayed awhile over refreshments to enjoy the performance, which was outstanding (mostly violins and accordions - hundreds of them). Tallinn's old town is a magical fairy tale place full of turrets and pointy roofed skinny buildings along narrow, twisty cobblestone streets. It's small so you can't get lost, and each turn offers more eye candy to those of us whose countries (US and Canada) only date back a few centuries. Tallinn was a Hanseatic town, like Rostock, but more of the original medieval city remains intact here (it helps that it wasn't bombed to smithereens during World War II). Make the most of your visit by having lunch at Olde Hansa. The restaurant has no (apparent) electricity - it's dark inside with candles and the menu is about as medieval as the atmosphere - we loved it: http://www.oldehansa.com/oldemail/OldeHansa_short.mpeg SAINT PETERSBURG: This is the one port of call where I would NOT recommend you try to wing it. First of all, you would have to obtain a visa to do so, and then what? You are docked in an industrial port many miles from anything you want to see, and at each attraction you will stand in line for hours while those of us on tours zip right in ahead of the throngs of independent visitors. My recommendation is that you do as we did and book a private tour. It cost us about half what the cruise line shore excursions charge (we paid $260 for 2 full days; $234 for those with student IDs and also for our octogenarian grandparents), plus we had a comfortable midi-van for 20 people with a private guide rather than a big bus with at least twice that many people being herded about. We used Natalia at Guide Guru and I would recommend her highly (feel free to mention my name): http://www.guide-guru.com/ I was able to work with Natalia to customize our tour (impossible with a cruise line shorex) so we got to see exactly what we wanted to see for the amount of time at each place that suited us. The first day we spent the morning at Catherine's Palace, and the afternoon seeing the gardens and fountains at Peterhof plus the inside of Montplaisir, and ended the day with a stop at Saint Isaac's Cathedral before heading back to the ship. An evening program was available but we passed on it because we knew the older members of our party would be tired, and the teens and 20-somethings would want to enjoy the social activities onboard the ship in the evening. The second day we did a bus tour of the Nevsky Prospekt, took in a long visit at the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, then visited the Hermitage for a few hours and topped off the day with a relaxing canal cruise. There has been much discussion about cruise ships making life difficult for passengers who book private tours, so heads up on this matter! Natalia warned us about it, and true enough hundreds of people on OTHER cruise lines have been hassled if they did not book shore excursions with the ship. I am pleased to say that Norwegian is one of the very few cruise lines which did NOT interfere with us trying to disembark and join our tour as soon as we docked. Evidently most other cruise lines have been telling their passengers that the Russian authorities insist that they clear all the cruise line shore excursions through immigration before allowing any private tours or independent travelers to disembark. This is baloney! It's a perk the ship is offering to passengers who bought their tour from the cruise line at the expense of others; it has nothing to do with Russian immigration policy (they could not care less whether you are on one tour or another so long as your documents are in order). On Norwegian Jewel those who had private tours were asked to use one gangway and NCL tours use another, but as far as I could tell this was mostly to help them keep their own tours organized as groups. Immigration the first day was slow for everyone, but we were being processed just the same as everyone else. On other cruises I have read that passengers were delayed by as much as 2-3 hours before being allowed to disembark. I would be livid! HELSINKI: I am sure Helsinki is on the itinerary due to its convenient location, but in my opinion there isn't enough here to warrant a full day of sightseeing. Since there wasn't a priest on our cruise (disappointing, as in the past we have had priests on our NCL cruises), we spent our Sunday morning seeking out and attending Mass. Fortunately the church was located along the HoHo bus route so that's what we did, although in 20/20 hindsight the HoHo here is expensive (25 euros or $35 and change at today's exchange rate) and frankly not worth it because there is so little to see, and the docks are not that far out for most folks (not the elderly) to just walk into town. After Mass we wandered through town and saw the humungous Lutheran Cathedral (very plain - not worth the hike up all those stairs unless you are into huge, plain white buildings). From there we walked over to the lovely conservatory-styled Kappeli Cafe near the gardens. It's charming, but OUCH, I paid about $100 bucks for four of us to have a snack / light lunch (ie a croissant filled with tuna salad or a slice of pie) with coffee or cokes. We then strolled over to Uspenski Cathedral (Russian Orthodox) which was beautiful, though small after the spectacular churches we visited in Russia. We took the HoHo out to the rock-cut church (Temppeliaukio) but it was closed so we didn't get to go inside. All in all we exhausted Helsinki in a couple of hours. It was very clean, which was nice, and everything was in tip top repair (given how expensive everything was, small wonder they have the resources to keep the place tidy and maintained), but I could enjoy similar countryside vistas visiting Wisconsin, and find livelier pubs there at a better price. If I had my druthers we would have skipped Helsinki and gone straight to Stockholm, spending the extra day (or even just an extra half day) with an overnight there instead. STOCKHOLM: I was worried that with a 4pm sailing time we would be cut short here as we could have easily spent two days at this port. In the end, how much you will have time to see depends on where you are docked, and if you are planning a Baltic Cruise, this is one of the questions you need to ask. We were docked at Stadsgarden which is right in the center of town. It could not possibly have been a better location. Many cruise ships however, including Norwegian Jewel in 2010 I believe, dock at Nynashamn which is way the heck outside of Stockholm (it really shouldn't be called Stockholm at all it's that far away). Check them out on Google Earth and you will see what I mean. In our case, we were in the heart of the city, and the HoHo ferry (a real bargain at something like $12 or $13 per person) docked literally about 30 feet from the bow of our ship. The HoHo circuit runs continually at half hour intervals with stops at most of the places anyone would want to visit. We spent half a day at the Vasa Museum (the actual 1628 galleon raised from the sea - it's a magnificent ship to behold and the accompanying museum exhibits are superb) and then had to choose whether to do the Nordic Museum next door, or Skansen, or Gamla Stan, and opted for the latter. It was a very low-stress fun day. Once back onboard we understood why we set sail at 4pm rather than crowding the dinner hour. The sail away through the Stockholm Archipelago was magnificent, and it goes on for hours before the ship reaches open water. We nabbed prime seats up in Spinnakers, and the views were awesome. Sometimes the shipping channel cut in so close to wee little islands that it seemed like we were cruising through people's front yards; on one occasion a couple of pugs came out to bark at the passing ship, the way dogs do at cars back home. Awhile later we spotted a deer swimming between islands. Immense ferries passed by us like any two vehicles on a thoroughfare, sounding as the ships slipped past each other. It was a splendid finale as we departed our last port of call heading back to Dover. Please feel free to contact me directly (JBFLeBlanc@aol.com) if you have any questions about Norwegian Jewel, or about Baltic Cruises. Janet LeBlanc Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
It's been months since I've returned, and I've needed the extra time to temper my comments. Pre-cruising was unpleasant. I had several instances to have to contact the cruise line before departure. Each time, NCL ... Read More
It's been months since I've returned, and I've needed the extra time to temper my comments. Pre-cruising was unpleasant. I had several instances to have to contact the cruise line before departure. Each time, NCL refused to deal with me directly because I hadn't booked directly with NCL, my travel agent had booked my reservation. I'm a Latitudes member and this cruise was my 4th with NCL. So when I had issues and questions regarding Latitudes, I was really upset that they refused to talk to me because I'd booked with a travel agent. I assume they'll only offer you customer service if you've booked directly with NCL (online?) Irrespective of how I book my cruise, a Latitude member should be able to have a Latitude issue dealt with. Embarkation was a circus. The staff at Dover was entirely out of control. There was no direction to Latitudes checkin. There was insufficient seating to accommodate passengers in the waiting area. The air was stifling. Everybody was waiting and waiting for embarkation to commence and when they finally started calling categories to board, they did so without the use of microphones, so it was a "state secret" which category they called. People were getting agressive second guessing what was going on and they were pushing their way to the front of the line. I've never seen such a chaotic, unnecessarily disorganized embarkation. I had booked a minisuite, category AF. We were on deck 11, aft, port side. The cabin was beautiful, but to be honest, it was identical to the balcony stateroom I had been in on NCL Sun. Not at all any more spacious than a balcony stateroom, much to our disappointment. We could have saved ourselves hundreds of dollars had we known this. Our cabin attendants were magnificent. The Tsar's dining room was lovely, but the food was very average. We started looking for alternatives because we disliked the Tsar's food very soon. The buffet upstairs aft was not very good either. And worst of all, the hours of operation were VERY limited. On past cruises, I always remembered the buffet being the one place that was open 24/7. Not on NCL Jewel. So we had to stand in line and wait morning, noon and evening. And late at night, sometimes you were out of luck. I found it to be a major chore to manage knowing the schedule of the dining rooms. And due to Norovirus concerns, for the duration of our cruise, the buffet area was roped off for selfservice...we had to wait in line for drinks to be dispensed for us and for food to be plated for us. This was on our last bleeding nerve after about one day. More staff needs to be out stacking the drinks and food so passengers aren't standing 20 deep to get any thing at the buffet. The Jean Ann Ryan entertainment is phenomenol. Russia is an issue relative to shore excursions. Unless you book your tour to St. Petersburg with NCL, expect to be treated like a 2nd class citizen by NCL staff. We had booked our tour directly with an agency in St. Petersburg and had been warned about this. They advised that we may have to "insist" on being let ashore. We couldn't feature ourselves insisting to be let ashore when the NCL staff is standing there in our way. Upon arrival at St. Petersburg, we had noticed (from our balcony) people disembarking. Yet, when we went down to disembark, we were turned back and advised that the ship wasn't cleared by Russian Port Authorities yet. I filmed the chaos of trying to get disembarked. Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpezkbQbb-8. Basically NCL allowed their tour participants ashore ahead of all of us who had booked our shore excursions privately. What's the diff? Well, we lost hours of tour time by having to wait, penned up in the hallways and gangway area until NCL lets you go ashore. My suggestion to NCL was to have their regulatory affairs management deal with Russian port authorities to ensure that there is sufficient staff at the St. Petersburg port to handle an entire shipload of passengers. Money talks, and with the potential financial impact of thousands of passengers being withdrawn by the cruise lines for lack of sufficient port staff to handle them efficiently, I would think that the cruise lines have a significant bargaining position to force the issue. This situation was highly upsetting for us, but my primary concern in hindsight is to ensure that NCL has every opportunity to do service recovery, to provide their passengers (all passengers, whether they booked their tours by NCL or privately) with a wonderful experience in Russia. Other topic - the pool/spa areas were lovely. The pay restaurants were okay, not great. We tried Bistro and Chin because they had the shortest lines. If you play your cards right, you can visit all the specialty restaurants for half the normal cover charge. The daily schedule includes a little announcement every day about which restaurant is the deal of the day. Look for it! In the end, I believe all cruise lines are fighting for each bit of revenue they can squeeze in this economy. With tempered expectations, you can have a wonderful cruise on NCL Jewel. It is truly a beautiful ship and the staff is very hard working to provide a safe and clean environment and a very nice cruise experience. Go forth and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Others have covered many of my thoughts about this cruise so I'll try not to repeat those items A little backgrounder: We sailed on the NCL Pearl last fall (which is the "sister" ship to the Jewel) so we were very ... Read More
Others have covered many of my thoughts about this cruise so I'll try not to repeat those items A little backgrounder: We sailed on the NCL Pearl last fall (which is the "sister" ship to the Jewel) so we were very familiar with the ship layout and facilities.  Except for the lack of bowling and rock climbing, the two ships are accentually identical, so many of our impressions were based on a comparison of the two ships. The good stuff: - NCL deserves kudos for their ship, staterooms and ship operations. The cabins were first class and the cabin stewards were efficient, friendly and attentive.  The ship is well maintained, clean, and has a pleasant appearance. The not so good stuff: - Food ...not nearly as good as the Pearl and the food staff were not nearly as friendly or well trained as on the Pearl.  This applies to the Specialty restaurants as well as the Buffet.  The manager in charge of this function should take a short cruise on the Pearl and make some notes ... or even better, go to Vegas where they know how to serve lunch to hundreds of people and do it quite well.  The food was bland, often not hot, and lacked variety, so the problem started in the kitchen and flowed directly to the serving line. - Training ... leaves something to be desired.  For instance, can someone tell the restroom cleaning staff that they shouldn't service the Men's & Women's facilities next to the Main Showroom right before the start of the show.  (that's when most people want to use them.  duh)  Service them about 10-minutes after the show starts and then they won't have a line of people yelling at them to hurry up. - Clearing Customs in St. Petersburg ... was a horrible mess.  I know, I know, NCL claims they can't be held responsible of the Russian Customs.  Others have said that, NCL has said that.  Here's what happened on this cruise.  My wife & I were booked with an independent tour group (i.e. not NCL). The Russian customs building was set up with 2-doors and 2-inside stations to service each door.  NCL had their tour passengers feed into one door to be processed by 2-inside stations while the independent tour passengers fed into the other door and were processed by the other 2-inside stations.  Sounds "fair" right?  Well, not quite.  After about an hour, I noticed that the NCL line was moving *much* faster than the independent line. Now why would that be?   When we got inside, it became immediately clear.  The NCL cruise personnel (possibly responding to complaints by "their" people about the long wait) had taken 3 of the 4 inside customs stations for the *NCL* tour line leaving only 1 inside station to process the *independent* tour people.  That's NOT a Russian Customs problem ... that's an NCL problem.  Shame on you NCL. Will I ever sail on NCL again ... probably, but darned sure not to the Baltic I know NCL needs to make a profit to remain in business.  However, they are not the only game in town, the cruise business is very competitive, and we're kinda in a recession.  Producing unhappy customers is seldom a successful business model in the long run. At the Cruise Critics Meet & Greet gathering on day 2, the NCL Operations Officer for the Jewel stated that they have NCL personnel reading these forums.  Feel free to forward my comments and suggestions to the appropriate NCL Operations VP.  No charge (and no 15% adder) . Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Reasonable price for the cruise £600 but once CAPTIVE on board they fleeced every penny (cent) they could from you.NO BAR PRICE LIST'S available, they are at the printers, so we were told, yet they can print a daily events paper !1 ... Read More
Reasonable price for the cruise £600 but once CAPTIVE on board they fleeced every penny (cent) they could from you.NO BAR PRICE LIST'S available, they are at the printers, so we were told, yet they can print a daily events paper !1 x 250ml bottle of Heineken     = $4.95 = £3.00 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £3.451 pint draught Heineken           = $5.95 = £3.60 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £4.141 x 25ml J Walker Black Label    = $6.75 = £4.10 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £4.721 x can diet Pepsi                   = $1.95 = £1.20 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £1.361 x Evian 500ml bottle of water = $2.50 = £1.52 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £1.751 x 25ml Smirnoff Vodka,          = $5.75 = £3.50 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £4.031 x 125ml Merlot wine              = $7.50 = £4.56 + 15% autogratuity (compulsory) = £5.25From the examples above you can get the picture ... cider the same as lager, brandy the same as whiskey etc. .... VERY EXPENSIVE !O.K. being a thrifty Scotsman we went to the bar ourselves by-passing the waiter service but, guess what ?,  the 15% autogratuity was STILL applied.BINGO was nothing more than a total Rip-Off ... no evidence of the monies taken in from ticket sales but after a few visits we estimated prize money to be in the region of 10% to 15% of the gross takings ... the remainder goes to NCL !POKER .. No Limit Hold'em ..  60$ entrance fee but they do not inform you that re-buys are allowed, ALSO 25% of the takings goes to (you've guessed it ) NCL !As for the SHORE EXCURSIONS ....  DO NOT ... I REPEAT .. DO NOT BOOK WITH NCL IN ADVANCE OR ON BOARD THE SHIP. Check on the internet before you sail, you will save a fortune.When it comes to St Petersburg, get your local Travel Agent to arrange for the Visas and again book on the internet ... again you save a fortune.The ship itself ... very nice, excellent food, good entertainment but all let down by the 'RIP-OFF'Would I go again ... NEVER WITH NCL ... ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY. Neil Moffat. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
The Norwegian Jewel was like a jewelry box beautiful on the surface but rubbish in the inside by the attitude of SOME of its staff.  Only used the 'free' restaurants and the standard of service was not good, also I never saw our ... Read More
The Norwegian Jewel was like a jewelry box beautiful on the surface but rubbish in the inside by the attitude of SOME of its staff.  Only used the 'free' restaurants and the standard of service was not good, also I never saw our cabin person all cruise- was it a man or a woman.  The cabin was not cleaned properly before we came into it as it had a pair of womens pants left on the shelf.  Yuk.  No milk left at any time for our coffee/tea when we got back at night.  The cabin was inside and very dingy and I would hate to see it in full sunshine.  Our first cabin 5605 was so noisy that we requested a move which took 4 days for them to agree saying the ship was full.  They lied, the cabin we eventually moved to had not been used since we boarded.  All the staff seemed to be working very long hours and doing several jobs as well.  Because the ship had on board the Noro-virus which spread very quickly, it was no suprise that the staff couldn't cope. I was told the virus came on board at Dover but an american lady told me it was already onboard by then.Now for some good feedback, in all the public rooms the standard of decor and cleanness was excellent, but the best was in the Blue lagoon, best place to eat although limited menu, lovely friendly staff who couldn't do enough to make you happy.For the British cruiser it was all very Americanized, sell, sell, sell.  No prices for drinks were displayed and they were expensive with a 15% cover charge on everything.  The $12 dollars a day service charge is the real shocker, as we booked the week before the travel agent never informed us that there was an additional cost on top of the price we paid.  How can you pay a service charge before you have received the service, its just the american way I know but I didn't pay it as our service was none existent.  You go down to reception on the last day and they get you to fill in a form to exclude it from you final bill.The best bit of the ship was by far the entertainment it was fabulous the best we have seen and do they do it well.The ship went to Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden.We did our own thing at all the ports except St Pertersburgh because of we all needed a visa to enter Russia so going on a tour was what we did.  We went to the Ballet to see Swan Lake and it was wonderful, we also did a trip to see the sights around St Petersburg the next day but we spent the 3 hours trying to move in traffic, still we saw some of it.Overall I won't be going on an NCL cruise again as it is rip off time, they are even selling DVD's of how to make an animal from a towel, if you go expect to be in mini america even the trivia quizzes were only understandable by the americans.  Buyer Beware. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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