This was our 4th trip on NCL, but our 1st on the Jewel. We've sailed RC before and primarily sailed the Caribbean. We've departed from NJ before (cape liberty), but this was our first sailing out of NY and having done it, will ... Read More
This was our 4th trip on NCL, but our 1st on the Jewel. We've sailed RC before and primarily sailed the Caribbean. We've departed from NJ before (cape liberty), but this was our first sailing out of NY and having done it, will definatelty look to do so again.
For those in NY or planning to travel from NY, its a breeze. We're out on Long Island, so had someone drop us off at 1pm, there was a 10 minute line, 10 min registration process, and we were on board in about 20 minutes total. Cape Liberty was also easy, but about 30-45 minutes for the entire process. Because we travel with kids (7,5,1), any time spent waiting excesively can turn into an issue with the younger ones. After fdoing the math and figuring out the cost/headache/bag charges/etc of flying to FL vs the extra charge of sailing from NY, we're probably ahead by $100pp (5 of us) and less frustrated.
The boat itself was nicely appointed. Since we've sailed many times, we now opt for inside cabins and the savings that come with those. One point for the inside cabin..our room, and the room of another family we spoke with was laid out a bit differently. We usually have cabins with 2 bunk beds that are attached to the wall; with this room, one was, but the 4th bed was a pull out from Under that came up between the two single beds, making one large giant bed that stretched the width of the cabin. Worked well enough for us as a family, but I kept thinking, what happens if 4 friends are traveing..this forces 3 to sleep in one bed :/
As many have commented, the bath stall is very large on this ship; the rest of the bath is standard size. To make that larger stall, they did tap into some of the cabin space.
Kids Club: We spent most of our time here and out poolside. The club is just inside the pool area, making it close/acessible. They take kids from 3 and up, so we had to keep our 1yr old with us. No separate babysitting options avail.
The kids are grouped from 3-6, and 7 and up. There is no cost for the club when the ship is at sea. You do pay per hour after 10pm, or when docked. It was $10/hr for both kids. Both absolutely loved it, and my oldest preferred that vs the pool area at times. The staff there did make it lots of fun, and they had lots of different activities daily.
Pool area: Large circular slide - goes slow until you pick up your feet and then you whip down. My son got hurt by another child who didn't wait for him to clear the bottom area. I saw many in their teens and 20's whipping down and leaving a bit of skin at the bottom of the slide - just a head's up.
There is a 2nd pool on the other side of the stage and this was where most of adults congregated. The entire area was a bit smaller that other ships we've traveled, and this is becaue of the space given up by the larger suites. They have their own private pool/sunbathing area, and this does take out some of the space alloted to the general area. The first 2 and last 2 days where we were at sea were the days when chairs/tables are at a premium.
Each day, they had BBQ out at the pool area, and the menu considted of bbq chicken, ribs (DELICIOUS), sausages, etc. This was a highlight and lines got a bit long at times. Servers were always around trying to sell the standard bucket of beer, buy 5 get 1 free. They had daily drink specials, some we tried which were just okay.
Club Nick: So while this wasn't a full Nickelodeon cruise, there were a few activities daily that kept the kids busy. Dance with Dora, meet spongebob, take pics with with them, 3 Nick shows in the theatre where families and kids got onstage and did the typical callenges, 2 challenges in the pool area, designing your own picture frame. These were good distractions w/o being too overwhelming.
Entertaimnent: with a 1 yr in tow, we didn't go to all shows, but most of the shows typically play on the cabin TV, so we saw some of that. The commedian (forgot his name) from America's got talent was a HUGE waste of 60 minutes. Nothing special or spectacular. The last show, similar to Circ du solei, was well worth it and very entertainig (acrobats,dancing, hanging from the ceiling, etc). There was a guitar player in one of the bar lobby area, a la John Mayer, but I personally didn't care for him. there was also a paino player who had a Billy Joel tribute, which was enjoyable.
Dining: the two main dining rooms were just okay, nothing special. The menu was a bit disappointing. With the younger kids, we ended up doing the buffet 3 times, and the kids and I enjoyed being able to taste everything vs having 1 entree. I actually preferred these over the dining rooms. We did eat at Cagneys with another couple and that was a very good meal. We also ate at the Japanese restuarant (hibachi style) and that was Exceptional. Kids enjoyed, but the cusine itself was very delicious. These restaurants were either $20 or $25pp, but kids under 12 were 1/2 price. I'd definately recommend taking the kids to the Japanese, and had we done that 1st, we would have gone back for 2nds.
Unlike other ships, the attire on the Jewel was VERY laid back. Mostly shorts, jeans, polos. I rarely saw button downs, I saw perhaps 3 ties, and 2 jackets, and only 1 person in a tux. most of my suits/blazers sat in the closet so if you enjoy dressing up/formal, you'll be one of a few doing so. Most of the staff was hospitable, but not everyone greeted us wiht a warm 'hello', but none were rude either. Announcements are only heard outside the cabin. There's no control knob for an in=room speaker - that's both good and bad - you're not woken by the cruise director talking about bingo, but you also don't hear that the ship has docked/cleared and okay to proceed to 4th floor to get of.
Daily agenda is FULL of stuff to do, so take a highlighter so that you can plan on which things you want to do. I did not use the Spa, but my wife and friend did and she said it was nicely apponted and enjoyable. No hard sell on their prodcuts, but she still came back with a bag full of stuff which were reasonably priced.
Excursions: This was a last minute trip for us since we already have a vacation booked in July. With a 1 yr old, we weren't sure what we would do. When we cruise by ourselves, we alternate between going on our own vs the planned excursions. This time, we played it by ear and ended up booking no excursions. However, we ended up going to a beach at each port (Puerto Rico, St Thomas, St Maarten, Tortola).
In PR, we took the city bus which cost us about $8 for all of us r/t. The beach wasn't the greatest, but we saw some of the city, and the ride was ~20 mins which is the longest the baby could stand. No fee at beach, snacks and coconuts at vendor stand. At the other 3 islands, we found taxis at the ports and the cost was again 1/4 of an excursion. We didn't feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any point (except the hilly areas in tortola when the roads were wet). The taxis cost either $9, $8 or $4 for adults and kids were either 1/2 px or free. Just talking to the drivers gave us a sense of what beaches we wanted (away from tourists). At one point in St. Thomas, the driver stopped at one of the tourist beaches to drop off other passengers, and while pretty, it was crowded and many people hawknig their wares. We opted for the other tranquil beach and it was beautiful, seculded, great lunch, and the driver waited for us the 3 hours we were there (Hidden Cay if I recall the name). In St Maarten, we again took a taxi to a near beach around the first bend. It was in a private resort area, but no entracee fee, nice beach, great restaurant and we also got to enjoy the pool area. Tortola - not much to do there, small island, we went to a local beach and found many of the same people from the Jewl. Theres usually a sense of not having to worry when you book via the cruise line, but we befrended another family that did take excursions, and almost always, our trips were as good as, if not better, than theirs, and cost us Significantly less - If you're adventurous, go it on your own, and spend the $$$ you save at dinner or at the bar :)
Overall, as a last minute trip Read Less