The jewel isn't the newest, fanciest ship, but I don't care... I love it :) I felt like it was the perfect size- not too big, not too small. It was older, but it was extremely clean and well-maintained. We cruise once or twice a ... Read More
The jewel isn't the newest, fanciest ship, but I don't care... I love it :) I felt like it was the perfect size- not too big, not too small. It was older, but it was extremely clean and well-maintained. We cruise once or twice a year but this was our first time on NCL (previously we've been on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean). We quickly became huge fans, and I even put down a deposit on a future cruise. These are the pros we found:
The service was excellent. I only found one person (a room steward, thankfully not ours) the entire time that wasn't friendly and helpful. That being said, my mom spent quite a bit of time in the casino, and she assured me the attendants there were not attentive or friendly at all unless you were a high roller.
There was never a time we had nothing to do... the biggest problem was deciding between options. The on-board activities were plentiful and fun, and far exceeded our experiences on any other cruise line. My daughter participated in the kids program, and she begged to go back every time it was open (unlike other cruise lines). Sometimes I even pleaded with her, "Don't you want to stay with us and do a family activity?" She didn't :)
We loved freestyle cruising (especially no formal nights!). We travel from the midwest to cruise and packing a lot of extra dressy outfits just isn't practical. In advance of the cruise I was afraid that the atmosphere would be too casual and ok, I'll admit, trashy. But, we found just the opposite. Although not dressed to the nines, it was inherently more formal than our experience in the dining rooms on Carnival. We also liked the flexibility to dine with companions or not- sometimes I like to meet new folks and sometimes I want to unwind with my travel companions... the hubby despises dining with others.
The food was exceptional. HUGE CAVEAT- the dining rooms were terrible. We tried Azura and Tsars Palace a couple times and YUCK. I jest that the main chef was previously at a nursing home cafeteria because the food was bland, low quality, and lacking taste and presentation. Fortunately for us we had the Ultimate Dining Package, and I will not travel NCL ever without it. We loved, loved, loved Cagneys, Tepanyaki, Moderno. La Cucina was pretty good. I could leave LeBistro next time- too much duck. I wasn't a huge fan of the complimentary Irish pub and grill. Also, I'm generally not caught dead in a buffet, but this ship was the exception- the best buffet we've ever experienced. We dined there daily for breakfast and a couple lunches. Seriously, it was fresher and tastier than either dining room on the Jewel and rivaled the dining room meals on some of the other cruise lines.
We really liked the entertainment, for the most part- our favs were the comedian and the comedian/magician. All the game-style shows were pretty funny too. Generally, singing/dancing shows are by far my favorite activity (I will even choose a cruise itinerary to see a specific show) but these on-board shows made me uncomfortable they were so lewd and suggestive. The choreography could rival some gentleman's clubs- definitely not family-friendly. The cast was talented, and I would have preferred to see them in something classier.
Those were the best things we noted about the ship. We also loved this itinerary which traveled to Belize, Honduras, and Cozumel. I would go back to any of those ports in an instant. Read Less