9 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were ... Read More
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were quite willing to answer questions from the very basic to the very technical. The food set up at the buffet provided a good flow with multiple food islands. Lines were minimal, even during peak hours due to this setup. The ship was exceptionally clean and the staff, with few exceptions was very attentive to the passengers needs. Our cabin on the 8th deck was quiet and well laid out. The showers were better than other ships I have cruised on. My only complaint with the Jewel was the fitness center. None of the upright exercise bikes worked properly. The seated bikes were Technogym brand, which, in my opinion are not nearly as good as Life-Fitness products. The gym was also to hot during most of the cruise. On the bright side, the weight equipment included dumbells up to 75 lbs., incline benches and older life fitness machines (better than the newer designs in my opinion), all of which was well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise because my brother pics all our cruises and I just trust his choices..lol. I have been traveling with Norwegian for 4 years now and it is amazing. So spoiled by the time i get home,have a hard time adjusting. We had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my brother pics all our cruises and I just trust his choices..lol. I have been traveling with Norwegian for 4 years now and it is amazing. So spoiled by the time i get home,have a hard time adjusting. We had the most wonderful crew, but our waiter was one of the most pleasing people i have ever met. Word of warning...on this ship and a few others. The pull out bed is as hard as a rock, so it would be fine for kids, but not adults. Even though it was so hard our room steward brought extra padding and blankets to make it a softer experience..Thanks to all the crew and we will be back traveling with you next and forever..I know i should quit smoking, but if i choose not to i may have quit going, because i see Norwegian is sending surveys out asking if you would cruise if it was no smoking. Im done if they do..cancel the food for heavy people..they wont be going either then.. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda ... Read More
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda or water on board, company policy. Once on board the room was great. Large bathroom with a tub. If you bring your own coffee be sure to bring basket type filters. They don't sell any on the ship. When are the cruise ships going to start puting more than one electrical plug in? I'm tired of bringing my own power strips. Cabin stewards were great as usual. Food was just average. Lots of Germans on board to cruise through the canal so we had Bavarian food in the buffet. BBQ on the swim deck was good. We had free dinners in the specialty restraints. The Cagney restraunt had the best filet I ever ate. We ate there 3 times. No more free lobster in the main dining room, company policy. No more midnight chocolate party, company policy. The entertainment was average. Seen most of them on other NCL sailings. How bout something new. The shore excursion to the jungle train ride and boat ride was lame. The train traveled next to the road we drove in on. We did happen to see a few monkeys. The rride up a river to see alligators was also lame. We did see a couple of alligators , lots of birds and many rare Michelin black wall tires. Also a few Nike shoes on the bank. Can ya clean up the mess a little Costa Rica. The hop on hop off buss in Cartagena worked for us. We stopped at the beach and went swimming. Why did the maintainace crew close and paint the swimming pool on the ship for a couple days on the hottest part of the trip? Of all the ships we have been on , Ian was the best cruise director . He had magic tricks in the morning and jokes at night after the shows in the main theatre. Gina Welch our personal cruise consultant was very good to us over the years, we will miss you. Come on NCl can ya get your ship together? Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was my first time with Norwegian. Honestly, I was very disappointed with everything, from food to entertainment. For 15 days, we had the same menu in the Garden Café, in specialty dining venues like Chin Chin, Teppanyaki, ... Read More
This was my first time with Norwegian. Honestly, I was very disappointed with everything, from food to entertainment. For 15 days, we had the same menu in the Garden Café, in specialty dining venues like Chin Chin, Teppanyaki, Moderno,... and they were not that good either. On other cruise liners, the waiter/waitress normally came over asking for what we want for our drinks but not here. When I asked, they simply directed me to the station so I could "serve" myself. The entertainment most of the time were one-man shows. Except for the circuit performance near the end of the cruise, all were mediocre. I was disgusted by the way the entertainment staff, if I remember correctly his name was Henry, conducted at the Shout about Movie game. When a lady asked him to stand in the middle of the room in order to be fair to both teams, he responded that she should be actively engaging instead of "complaining". On a positive note, the disembarkation of Cabo San Lucas went smoothly with Norwegian tenders. We bought this cruise due to its interesting itinerary but would not do it again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
One thing that surprised me that is dramatic different from the Royal Caribbean cruise is the ballroom dancing music perform by the bands. Each band only perform an hour so we always had to switch from one band to the next. It's like ... Read More
One thing that surprised me that is dramatic different from the Royal Caribbean cruise is the ballroom dancing music perform by the bands. Each band only perform an hour so we always had to switch from one band to the next. It's like we always had to search around for the availability which is a torture. Also, the restaurant Chin Chin was not even up to standard Chinese food. they got to change standards, soon. When we book the cruise, the agent tells us that only "Casual dress" is for this freestyle cruising and no need to bring formal clothes. But, that isn't the case as a handful of passengers in suits or cocktail dresses on the ship's one (very optional) formal night. Shorts are allowed in all dining venues except the Tsar's Palace main dining room and Le Bistro French restaurant. Overall, it is a very good trip and I enjoyed the hospitality that I received from the crews members. I definitely will take it again in the future! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in ... Read More
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in the garden buffet. Cagney's steakhouse was the best of all and Moderno's was second best. We tried all of the pay extra restaurants and most of the included restaurants. None were what I would call bad, most was pleasant and enjoyable. We were not impressed with O'Sheehan's. The poolside BBQ, was not really a BBQ. The food was prepared int he kitchen and then kind of finished off-kept warm over hot coals. Our favorite drink discovery was the BBC - you have got to try one of these! Since the room came with a bunch of free booze and drinks as well as the drink package, we really did not try many of the bars. The main thing was the room on this cruise. I know many people say you don;t cruise for the cabin - but we had a hard time leaving our cabin! it was seriously amazing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more ... Read More
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more relaxing than the usual 7-day cruises, it is a warm weather cruise and there are an almost equal number of port and sea days. This was our 10th Norwegian cruise; we have also cruised once on Crystal. We are unapologetic Norwegian ambassadors! Pre-Cruise Preparations - My husband has emphysema and travels with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), and mom walks with a cane or a rolling walker. That said, traveling can be challenging in this situation. We contacted Norwegian's Access Desk to inform them that we would need 2 wheelchairs at embarkation and disembarkation. We also advised them that mom needs a low/no salt diet. The representative said that once on board we would be contactd to pre-order her meals. More on that under Dining. The airline also requires advance notification with doctor's signature that we are traveling with a POC, as well as the request for wheelchairs for distance. Travel to Embarkation - We flew United to NOLA on Good Friday. We decided to fold, duct tape and check the walker as luggage. It came through with no problem. The wheelchair porters/pushers were prompt and very helpful. The Airport Limosine driver went above and beyond fitting us and our three large, one medium, one carry-on, a POC and the walker in the Town Car (yes, we always manage to overpack!). New Orleans - We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, booked through our travel agent. It did not disappoint. The room included "Continental Breakfast" but we ordered a full breakfast and it was covered. We dined at Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Good food, but getting to the upstairs dining room was difficult for mom to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through a crowded dining room, up the elevator, then back to the front dining room, then back again after dinner. We took a trip to Rouse's market to purchase 8 bottles of wine. Embarkation - We caught a taxi to the port for $7 per person. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal. After we unloaded all our luggage and the porter put it on his cart we found out we would have to walk a long hallway to get to an entrance that would have been closer, and no wheelchairs were available until after we went through security. It would have been better to go to the furthest entrance. We went to the head of the line as mom can not stand for longer than a few minutes without pain. The security agent got us an escort that took us through security quickly. We knew to hand carry our wine, and were directed to the corkage table to pay the $15/bottle corkage, and then to the section to wait for a wheelchair. We waited about 30 minutes for our turn to get 2 wheelchairs. They were very slow in coming. Eventually we got the wheelchairs, got checked in quickly, taken to the VIP lounge and on to the ship. Yay! The Ship - The Jewel was going into dry-dock immediately after our cruise. There was some wear and tear visible that I assume will be upgraded in dry-dock. The ship was clean and the crew was quite visible in cleaning. We had a 2-bedroom Haven Villa and mom was next door in a Haven Penthouse. The living room, bedroom and master bath are exactly the same in both cabins, but the balcony is 1-2 feet deeper in the 2-bedroom. The cabins are luxurious with wood paneling, queen bed in the master bedroom, lots of closet space and storage space in the master bedroom and bath. Minimal storage in the second bedroom. Hot water was slow in coming to the cabin, we had to run the shower to get it more quickly. The butler and steward were fine, though not impressive. We have had some that matched us much better and may have unfair expectations. Dining - We ate at five of the specialty restaurants and in Azura main dining room the rest of the nights. Le Bistro, Cagney's, Chin Chin, Mama's/La Cucina are always our favorites. We also ate at the Teppanyaki, which was better than the last time. Mom needed a low/no salt diet. We were not contacted as promised by the Access Desk rep, but the first night at Azura we asked about it and were introduced to one of our Vacation Heroes, Felicitas J. She was helpful, knowledgeable and a delight. She explained that mom could see the next night's menu and pre-order so sauces and dishes would be prepared with no salt. She also explained which restaurants prepared foods "a la minute" with low/no salt and which needed a pre-order. The result was that it worked extremely well and mom had minimal ankle swelling. We like Azura as it is midship and easy to get to from the Haven. Most of the time the food was varied, good, and well prepared. Ports - Cartagena - we didn't get off this time as we've been there twice before. Huatulco - rglcruise organized a tour with Adelino. He had a late model 13 passenger van and took us through Huatulco to Santa Maria. We walked through a portion of the town, had quesadillas with fresh made tortillas, and watched a carniceria wield his knife. He also told us the history of the area. We drove up into the mountains to a coffee plantation and small town. Adelino was great a communicating his love of his home nation and state. Puerto Vallarta - Just off the ship is a small area with shops to purchase souvenirs and the ever present Diamond International. Walmart is within walking distance from the port for those sundries you've run out of. Cabo San Lucas - This is a tender port. Lots of shopping and restaurants at the dock. Also, there are lots of opportunities to catch an independent operator for a tour of the area by boat. Disembarkation - We arranged with Virginia, the concierge, to have the wheelchairs pick us up. They came a little after the designated time, but then whisked us off very quickly.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We arrived at our hotel in San Pedro the night before our cruise departed. The Crowne Plaza was very nice and conveniently located near some very good seafood restaurants near the harbor. The next morning, the hotel shuttle transported us ... Read More
We arrived at our hotel in San Pedro the night before our cruise departed. The Crowne Plaza was very nice and conveniently located near some very good seafood restaurants near the harbor. The next morning, the hotel shuttle transported us to the cruise terminal about a mile or two away. Embarkation was as expected, a long delay followed by a rush to line up for boarding. Several groups of "Special Event" cruisers were allowed to board ahead of everyone else who had been waiting a long time to board. I think NCL should not allow this. Board by your boarding number and don't give special treatment to large groups. Boarding went okay and we were finally in our balcony cabin on Deck 9. We went to the buffet for some lunch and then went topside for the sailaway. Leaving San Pedro harbor was beautiful with the gorgeous sunset. The next day was a sea day so we spent most of the day exploring the ship. We had just cruised on her sister ship Norwegian Pearl in June to Alaska, so we were already familiar with the deck plans. The names of some of the dining rooms were different from the Pearl, but the locations were the same. We dined at Tzar Palace on our first night and really enjoyed the lobster dinner. The dining room was almost empty when we were there, but picked up as we were leaving. The staff were very attentive to your needs and were very friendly. During our cruise, we dined at the other main dining room, Azura, and the specialty restaurant, Cagney's Steakhouse. The steaks were excellent and our waiter was always asking us about how we enjoyed our meal. Anyone who cruises should experience a specialty restaurant at least once during a cruise, even though there is an additional charge for eating there. Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. This was the only port that required us to tender. The tender process did not go very well. It took several hours for some people to get off the boat. We were using the life boats from our ship, but later some local vessels were called in to assist with the tendering process. We did not have any shore excursions planned thankfully, so we spent a short time on shore trying out some local food. We were approached all along the pier to the restaurants by peddlers offering boat trips or taxi rides to town, or locals trying to sell their wares. Some of these vendors were very persistent and would not go away. It didn't matter if we were going into town, or returning to the ship, they would harrass you all along the route. This is why I hate traveling to Mexico. Our next port was Puerto Vallarta. Again, we did not schedule a shore excursion and just walked around the area near the pier. A large group of cruisers walked over to the Walmart store near the port. Yes, I said Walmart. There's a high end shopping mall next to the Walmart, but catered to the more wealthy people of the area. After another sea day, we arrived at our next port city of Huatulco, Mexico. The area near the port was filled with shops and restaurants. To get to the city center required a taxi ride. We opted to stay near the port and use the free wifi areas to catch up on my emails. There are really nice shops near the port, so we didn't see a need to go into town. Our next port was Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. This is a small port know mostly for it's coffee and chocolate. There is a large hut next to the pier that has several shops inside. Otherwise, a long walk or taxi ride would get you to the nearest town. Also next to the pier is a large restaurant with a swimming pool. Most of the crew took advantage of the pool and the special discount they had for beer. After another sea day, our next stop was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. This is another small port with what appeared to be a flea market atmosphere. The tiny stalls lined a sidewalk along the beach. Everyone appeared to be selling basically the same stuff, so it was easy to get a good deal if you found something you liked. The beach looked like mud, but was just a dirty sand. The water was dirty, but there were many local swimming in the water. If you like rain forests, this is the place to book a shore excusion. There are jungles as far as you could see. The area has several coffee plantations along the mountain slopes. Another sea day, and finally we reached the entrance to the Panama Canal. I was blown away at the sight of Panama City. It's tall white buildings along the coast were not what I expected. Going under the Bridge of the Americas rivaled going under the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we entered our first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks. This is a set of two locks that lift the ship approximatelhy 55 feet. It takes quite a while to attach the ship to the "mules" that will guide the ship through the locks. Although the ship uses its own power going through the locks, it appears that the trains are pulling it along. This is not the case. Our ship is what is called a Panamac ship, meaning it's the largest ship that can fit in the locks. There was barely room on each side of the ship. It was strange watching the ship being lifted in each lock. It was so slow that you don't notice being lifted as you would in an elevator. However, you could tell you were being lifted. The process takes a while while the water fills the locks. Then the gates are opened and you enter the next set of locks to start the procedure all over again. After the Miraflores Locks, the next set is the Pedro Miquel Locks. This lifts the ship to the level of Gatun Lake, 85 feet above sea level. After leaving Pedro Miquel Locks, we sailed under the beautiful Centennial Bridge and into the Culebra Cut. Most of this area is jungle, a we could here monkeys in the trees along the bank. We couldn't see them, but we could certainly hear them. Finally, we reached the last set of locks, Gatun Locks. This is a series of three locks that lower the ship 85 feet back to sea level. It was in these locks where we encountered a very heavy rain storm. The whole trip through the canal took all day. We exited the last set of locks at dusk. The cruise director and photographers took pictures as the ship went through the canal. The DVD they produced was less than I had expected. It wasn't even high definition. I've seen better videos on You Tube. For th $30 they charged for the DVD, I expected a lot more footage of the ship . Our last foreign port was Cozumel. Having been here before, we checked out the shops along the strip. As in most Mexican ports, we were followed by vendors trying to get your business. That is especially true at the big stores like Diamonds International, Colombia Emeralds, and all the other stores you are told to shop at during the shopping seminar given on board. We did find some nice T-shirts. Day 17 and we arrived in New Orleans, my favorite city. Being from Louisiana, it was great eating good southern food again and listening to good Cajun music. While in New Orleans, we visited the WWII museum. This is a must see for anyone visiting New Orleans. It's a very large museum and the movies are a must see as well. The weather for the entire cruise was hot and humid, with the exception of Los Angeles. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and chapstick are a must. We didn't experience the swarms of mosquitoes everyone told us about, even in the Panama Canal. A Panama Canal cruise has been a bucket list trip for me for many years. Now that I've done it, I don't think I will ever need to make that trip again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Our Cruise was like a dream come true. Our family of 4 had cruised to Hawaii in 2007 and wanted this cruise to Alaska to be as good as the one to Hawaii. We were not disappointed and had a great time. We were in Suite 14500 and our ... Read More
Our Cruise was like a dream come true. Our family of 4 had cruised to Hawaii in 2007 and wanted this cruise to Alaska to be as good as the one to Hawaii. We were not disappointed and had a great time. We were in Suite 14500 and our Concierge and Butler took very good care of us. We ate at all the special restaurants and the food was delicious at all of them. We only had one bad experience on our first evening. Our waiter seemed to disappear and when we waited an hour for our food it was cold. It was all taken care of as we were not charged for that meal. We did not have to wait in line when we got to the ship. We were taken to our suite in a very short time.Our luggage was by our door as we entered our beautiful suite. We had the same suite in the Villa as we had on our cruise to Hawaii. There was a lot of good entertainment on the ship so we were kept busy. We went on some Alaska excursions and enjoyed all of them. The whale watching and the Glacier were the best. I had a relaxing spa treatment when the guys went fishing. We did some shopping in Skagway, Alaska and Victoria, Canada. I really hated to get off the ship as it was such a relaxing and fun time for us all. Thanks to The Captain and all the crew, they did a great job. Keep up the Good Work, NCL. Thanks, Dianem24 Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
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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