12 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

We cruise on the Norwegian Jewel January 17th - January 24th, visiting Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. We are experienced cruisers; this was our 10th cruise, but our first on Norwegian, in the past we've cruised with Carnival and ... Read More
We cruise on the Norwegian Jewel January 17th - January 24th, visiting Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. We are experienced cruisers; this was our 10th cruise, but our first on Norwegian, in the past we've cruised with Carnival and Princess. This cruise blew our expectations away, probably one of the best cruises we've ever had. The crew was FANTASTIC, so friendly and welcoming, engaging with the passengers, they made us feel like part of the party. The excitement was infectious. The entertainment was also top-notch; especially David Naster the comedian, he was so funny at many times we couldn't breathe we were laughing so hard. The food in the main dining rooms was fantastic, our favorite was Tsar's Palace. We tried the Tepanaki and the Brazilian restaurants and they were also great. There were so many things to do we found ourselves running from one activitiy to another. We cruised with our 10 year old and also our parents. Great for a family trip. Our favorite stops were Cozumel and Roatan - do the monkey encounter there, well worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We recently returned from 12 days on the NCL "Jewel". This was our "Friends and Family Annual Winter Caribbean Cruise". There were 24 of us. I have orchestrated the winter cruise for more than 25 years, now and we ... Read More
We recently returned from 12 days on the NCL "Jewel". This was our "Friends and Family Annual Winter Caribbean Cruise". There were 24 of us. I have orchestrated the winter cruise for more than 25 years, now and we have been anywhere from 14 to 43 of us. Embarkation was a breeze! From getting off of our charter party bus that brought us to the pier to being on the ship, it was maybe 8-10 minutes. We arrived at the pier at 1PM. I think not arriving too early expedites boarding. Everyone who gets there early has to queue up to get on, once the initial boarding starts and they are all on, the rest of the boarding process is a breeze. I had a couple of bottles of wine in my carry one and expected to have to pay a corkerage fee. No one said anything to me and I did not volunteer any information, so.....on I went with my wine. Also, in St Martin I bought a bottle of vodka, put it in my carry on, boarded, put my bag on the security belt, went through ship's security, no one said anything to me, so I said nothing to them and enjoyed a couple of vodka on the rocks in my cabin during the cruise. The ship was maintained spotlessly. The staff and crew were friendly and accommodating. We had an inside cabin. We've been on a LOT of cruises (over 100) and this was one of if not THE smallest cabins we've ever had. The bathroom however, was larger than expected. We enjoyed the "adults only" pool and hot tubs. As we sailed from NY, it was nice to have the pools heated the first and last days of the cruise and thus, usable.Dining: As we were a group of 24, we could only dine as a group at either 5:30 or 9PM. No matter who we talked to, dining as a group at any other time was absolutely positively a "NO!" We opted not to and dined as groups of 4, 6 or 8 "whenever". The joke amongst the group was that "Freestyle" dining meant you didn't dine when YOU wanted to, you dined when they were ready to feed you. Whenever we went to the dining room we got a beeper and they would beep when a table was ready. Service in the MDR is "OK". It was not the staff's fault however. They were VERY understaffed. Usually a cruise ship dining room will have a waiter/waitress assistant and a separate person for bar service. We had a waiter/waitress who did it all, and also had one or two more other tables. The food in the MDR was however, quite good. But we never saw items like shrimp cocktail on the menu. They were on the surcharge restaurant menus, however). The food in the self serve buffet area was I thought outstanding, both in variety and quality. We dined in one surcharge restaurant one evening (Bistro) and the dinner was wonderful. But what's on the menu in the surcharge restaurants is pretty much on the MDR menus on other lines we've sailed. Not so on NCL. Though what we had in the MDR was very, very good, options were rather limited and no "higher end" options...ever! (other than one night surf and turf, a lobster tail and a fillet)Cabin staff was very, very good. We were in an inside lower priced cabin and our steward was very, very attentive and took care of all of our needs promptly. I thought NCL was a little too over the top with the "nickel and diming", especially when it came to dining.There were at least 4 separate surcharge restaurants, there was no tour of the bridge but there was a "behind the scenes" tour that included going to the bridge....for a fee. Spa fees were pricy, drinks were more expensive than on other line we've been on, and there seemed to be many more opportunities of "optional" spending. Shows were very good, live music was very good, but different bands played in different rooms and in many rooms, there was no dance floor!!! Too bad, as we all like to dance and other folks commented on that, as well. My only complaint, and I think this is VERY important.....someone in our group fell on an outside stairway and cut his head. He ultimately was taken away in a wheelchair and required 9 stitches, but it took 8 minutes for appropriate staff to arrive to assist from the time we notified someone of the accident. Time it.... 8 minutes is a LOT longer than you might think! We did not take any of the cruise sponsored tours. They were about double the price that anyone on the pier was offering fro pretty much the same tour. Internet access was 75 cents a minute. I think they need to rethink that and charge say, $15-$20, period, as on all the islands it was very very, easy to find multiple places offering free WIFI. In all ports, we were able to disembark minutes after arrival. Disembarkation in NYC was fairly effortless and quick. Except...once off the ship there was someone monitoring people taking the escalator down to the area in which the luggage was collected. They would only allow a couple at a time on the escalator and would not allow the next couple on until the first couple were 3/4 of the way down. So....after disembarking the ship, we stood on the pier, outside in the cold and wind for at least 15 minutes, because this "escalator guard" would only allow two people at a time on the escalator and the stairway was blocked, so it could not be used as an option. I still don't understand why, but....that's NY! We had a wonderful time!!!!! It was 80 degrees, the sun was out and it was winter. Because we were a large group that wanted to dine together (the cruise is the only time some of us see other members in the group) anytime between 7 and 8:30 and we couldn't...we probably won't sail on NCL and "Freestyle" again as our annual winter group cruise. But if we went alone or with only 2 or 4 other people, we most likely would include it in our options. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We sailed with NCL on Norwegian Jewel Jan 6 2013 to Jan 18 2013, and the following were some of our issues, observations and problems. Food. The food was far too salty, the Chimichuri on the steak on night 1 had to be scraped off it was ... Read More
We sailed with NCL on Norwegian Jewel Jan 6 2013 to Jan 18 2013, and the following were some of our issues, observations and problems. Food. The food was far too salty, the Chimichuri on the steak on night 1 had to be scraped off it was that salty and would have rendered the steak inedible. Dessert was our only refuge from the salt. The Chinese restaurant also served its' food too salty, as did the Churasco Restaurant (the Chinese and Churasco were the only specialty restaurants we tried). The types of meals served in the main dining rooms and their quality reminded to of "hotel banquet food". Dinner each night was not something we looked forward to. It was not an occasion or an event, it was just "dinner" we could have been in a diner sometimes. The toaster in the Garden Cafe deck 12 restaurant was badly designed and would spill its slices on to the floor, even with an attendant trying to catch it. Kids Club. Seemed a pretty amateur set up, with dis-interested and dis-engaged staff. I stopped putting our daughter in the club when she was the only child there, as invariably she would end up being put in front of a TV. Also on 3 occasions we were called in our cabin with the message "Your daughter is ready to be picked up", is it not the job of the kids club to engage and occupy the children?? I was told that there were not many children on this cruise, and that is why it was operating the way it was (ie badly). This was a major deciding factor in us choosing NCL, and was a big disappointment. Freestyle News. I thought the layout and design of this daily read was poor, some desk top publishing skills would help here, it was very hard to wade through, I do not remember this being the case with the Princess Patter. Menu. The quality of the menu layout and design also was something that a 1st year hospitality student could knock up, it just did not look that impressive. There were also only 3 courses, We were expecting 5 courses after cruising with Celebrity and Princess. There are too many specialty restaurants. I think that NCL is trying to be all things to all people, and ends up not satisfying as they strive for this goal. Key Cards. The key cards on day 1 did not open our cabin, these actually were discarded by reception with new ones made up. Ship, decor and layout. The ship public areas seemed pokey, you always were having to dodge someone on coming, also I was surprised the learn that the ship was building 2005 and refurbed in 2011, it appears much more dated, not helped by some of the soft furnishing and decor choices, looked a bit tacky and casino like rather than classy. Port information. This was restricted to shopping only, there was no other useful information on the ports, like how to get around (if you were not going on an NCL tour), taxis, that kind of thing, only shopping. Nickelodeon. Ch 34 was suspended when there was a football game on, this was disappointing especially the way that the Nick relationship is played up so much in advertising collateral. I think more could have been done with the Nick characters (Dora et al). There was a live read of a story one day, this was great, but I could not work out how something so simple could not be done every day, Our daughter really enjoyed it, and it was SO simple for the staff to do. ATM. In port the ATM does not work. It only works when the casino operates, we were getting off at Barbados and wanted some cash to do our own tour and buy some presents. I then went to the desk and asked for a "paid out" (a simple thing in any hotel, when the bill is guaranteed with a credit card), only to be told that this cannot be done, so I had no way of getting any cash, and was told I had to get local money from an ATM on land, and I would be stuck with the change of Barbados money. Not an ideal solution. Bars. The table service was non existent sometimes around the level 6 bar areas at aprox 5.30 (pre dinner), often times I would order at the bar, and walk back to my seat. I once ordered 2 of the blue martinis to be told "they are not part of the 2 for 1 deal", to which I replied "I don't care, that is what I want". There is huge inconsistency of wine pouring. We had an 8 bottle wine package, but on the last night ordered by the glass in the bar for a pre dinner drink. My glass of Wolf Blass Shiraz was oxidised or heat affected (I am Australian and know my Shiraz), this was replaced. Our wine was poured from a small jug (I assume 187ml or 6 oz) which is what I would have expected, however I saw some glasses leaving the bar that would have been half a bottle or more (white wine in a red glass). Perhaps the customer tipped the server??. This is NCL profits down the drain though, and I would think that the beverage potentials would be way out. I think you have missed the mark with the beer price of $4.95. I think $3.95 would see an overall increase in revenue. $10.00 plus 15% for 2 beers is too much, not everyone wants the 6 for 5 deal (and some deposit on the container too??) Disembarkation. This was a debacle, it is never good, but this was particularly bad. Hurricane Sandy was blamed several times (it happened 10 weeks ago!), and there were 2 other ships in, surely they did not just drop in, and their existence would have been known about. We had to pay 2 hours wait time for a car that we had booked to take us back to Montclair, a sour taste at the end of a holiday. Overall I was expecting much more from NCL, maybe we have been spoilt by the high quality of our previous Princess and Celebrity cruises. All of our previous cruises required a long flight from Australia (Mediterranean, Panama, Western Caribbean), but we now live in Northern New Jersey. I would have felt very cheated if we flew 20 hours for this cruise!). 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Sail Date January 2013
This was my 13th cruise but my first time on NCL. I found the Jewel to be gaudy and not up to the aesthetics of other ships I had sailed. I also found it to be crowded. I attribute this to Norwegian's free style cruising. It seems ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise but my first time on NCL. I found the Jewel to be gaudy and not up to the aesthetics of other ships I had sailed. I also found it to be crowded. I attribute this to Norwegian's free style cruising. It seems everyone on ship tries to do the same thing at the same place at the same time. In traditional early/late seating only half the passengers do the same thing at the same time. The breakfast buffet was especially annoying with the crowds and the fact that there are no waiters to serve you coffee and juice. Also no trays to carry your food. By the time you get your food and then the coffee and juice and find a table everything is cold. Every other cruise line I have been on served you coffee, etc. Adding to the crowding is the fact that there are 7 specialty restaurants. These had to take up space that was formerly occupied by other facilities, such as lounges. There were too few lounges resulting in overcrowding. Also the quality of the main lounge group "Next Stage" was below par. Fabrizio in the piano lounge was also below par and there was no intimacy in the piano lounge nor a dance area. 3 bars are squeezed into an area called bar city. At best it seats maybe 150 people in this entire area. To accommodate the entire ship this is ridiculous. To Norwegians credit the food was above average. Not great but always decent. The specialty restaurants were hit and miss. I could not even chew my T bone steak in "Cagney's" the steak house specialty restaurant. Yet "Modernero" was excellent. The noise level in the Tsar's Palace MD was upsetting and the service was bad. They were definitely understaffed as the staff was busting their butts, but failing. Yet in the other MD, with the same menu, the service was better, but not good. Also the Stardust theater had some of the best acts I've ever seen on a cruise ship. The bottom line is I've never experienced a bad cruise and this was not bad either. But I would rate the ship below most for spaciousness and decor. The crowding caused stress, not relaxation. However for the price we paid it was an excellent value and we did enjoy ourselves. If you keep your expectations low, you will enjoy yourself too. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Since all reviews are subjective, let me hell you about our party. We are a family of four, we are in our mid-forties and our kids are 19 and 17. I'm also french canadian so please be merciful when I make some big grammar ... Read More
Since all reviews are subjective, let me hell you about our party. We are a family of four, we are in our mid-forties and our kids are 19 and 17. I'm also french canadian so please be merciful when I make some big grammar ''no-nos'' ! We are not really fancy or stuffy folks. We travelled a bit when we where first married but mostly went camping when our kids were youger. Nonetheless, we like well- cooked meals , clean rooms, good service and good entertainement. We feel all of the above were delivered to us in our NCL cruise. This was our first cruise since our honeymoon, some 24 years ago (abord NCL m/s Southward) so I do not have anything else to compare our cruise with. This was then also our first time participating in a CC group. Being not really gregarious people , we were a bit apprehensive about participating in the M&G. Told my concerns to the group and they all reassured me, so we went. We were very glad we did, met wonderful folks and everybody respected each others ' privacy. We chatted whenever we saw each other on the ship, danced together when we saw each other on the dance floor, had supper once at teppanyaki when we realized we made separate reservations at the same time, etc. It was a mix of privacy and friendliness and they all enriched our cruising experience immensely and we are very glad we participated. Even our kids who are generally reserved made friends to party with and had a blast ! So thanks to Andrea for making this all possible and to Jake for being the FB administrator. We also appreciated meeting some senior staff and management and being invited to a tour bridge. That was a very classy touch from NCL. So now, it's embarkation time !!! It was the fastest thing I had ever seen ! Half an hour and we were onbord. Dropped our carry-ons at the Fyzz lounge and off we went to the Tsar for a great meal. Right after, we were called by staterooms floor to allow us in ours. The ships is in Tip Top shape, being well cared for by the crew. The Decor is fun and joyful without being ''cheezy'' looking. We had booked two inside staterooms on the 9th floor, wich were very clean and the lay-out was perfect to my taste. The bathroom was a nice surprise. We appreciated our stewart, kept the room clean and made towel animal every night but the first one. Overall, food was very good. We ate at the tsar and azura on sea days. The food was good. My husband took steak and it was cooked to his liking. We had lunch twice at the tsar and that was enough for us since the menu is always the same. That was a disappointement, I was not expecting that. I would have appreciated let's say, a three day menu rotation. More over, this was the only time my husband' steak was way overcooked. So off we went to discover the Garden Cafe. That was a nice surprise ! We felt the variety of food was really good. We also reallly enjoy the made-to-order stations : Crêpes, Pasta, Omelette and my husband ate his meat at the carving station every time we went. The little berrie sauce to put in your granolas or waffles were very good ! The bacon was out of this world, cooked to perfection ! We also enjoyed the fruits and fruit salad. Had a fruity soup once and was very good (peach and pistachio, I think). It was way to noisy to enjoy all this good food so we always brought our plates and ate in the Great Outdoors. OMG , that was paradise to me ! Eating at the aft of the ship is magical ! Even for supper we went there, since to my surprise, it was warm enough to enjoy our meal in the evenings. We went to two specialty restaurants : Tango and Teppanyaki. At Tango I would advise anyone to stay away from the ribs. They were the worst we ever saw. Full of fat and not grilled, just boiled with some bbq sauce slap on them. Should have taken the lobster taco, heard they are good. On the other hand, the ''Il Popo'' entree was very very good. I loved those hot Jalapenos ! At Teppanyaki the shrimps and steak were cooked to perfection, with a melt in your mouth feeling. I was a bit disapointed at the chocolate buffet. The presentation was really good but half of the cakes were a bit dry, and I did not see any chocolate covered strawberries, just chocolate fondue wich was not that good. My husband and I surely took a good 8 to 10 pds, so that would be difficult to say that we did not enjoy the food aboard !!! As for the novovirus on board , I had it and for 24hrs the bucket was my best friends ! When I got better (after 24 hrs) we went to eat and the washy-washy lady made her entrance into our lives !!! She stayed there all cruise long with a smile on her face to sanitize our hands whenever anyone entered any restaurant. So a big kudo to her ! I did not mind all the sanitary precaution they took at the garden and everywhere. Better this than a full stomach flu outbreak onboard. No one else in my family got sick so I was grateful for all the precaution taken. The entertainement was surprisingly good. I did not expect much out of it but everyone in our family enjoyed them ! And you know how 17 and 19 years old are not that easy to please ! My son though did not enjoy the band on the run show but my daughter did. I can't comment since I was near my bucket !!! My personal favorite was Incanto. Cirque Bijou not to be miss also. Very good were the.Magician/comedian Jean-Pierre and the a capella group ''Cats' pyjamas''. Did not attend the singer show, heard she was really good. Stevens Scott stand up show was the least favorite in our family. Maybe it's a cultural thing but did not find him to be funny. Then again, If you like funny faces , funny sounds à la Jim Carey you will like him. Just not our cup of tea. Now, let's talk about our FABULOUS itinairy ! Leaving from NYC was so much fun and truly beautiful at dusk. Going under the brige was thrilling ! We arrived in NYC with our car from Pallisade Parkway and then the Henry Hudson highway ( not sure it's called an highway but you get the point) and up to our hotel because we arrive a day early to enjoy the city. Our hotel was The Affinia Manhattan and it was great. Our suite (it's an all suite hotel) was larger than expected and we had a full kitchen. The bathroom was a bit small but I did not mind. The location is fabulous, right in front of Madison Square Garden, near Macy's and the Empire state building. I am certain I saw Wll.I.Am, going up the stairs of the side entrance. It's when he smiled at me that I realized that it was him !!! I'm sure of that ,even though nobody in my family beleives me !!! BTW no bed bugs in sight ! I got a really good price($179) on the hotel website. I had booked back in april. To go to the terminal was a breeze but be sure to go park the car and then get your luggages and your family out. There is a stairwell to the pier. My husband, drop us plus the luggages at the pier and had to go back on Henry Hudson to go park the car. By noon, on the second day ,it was warm enough to be in summer gear and we enjoyed our 2 days at sea to party and unwind before all those wonderfull ports of call. Puerto Rico : Really enjoyed walking the Paseo La Princessa trought the Gate into the city to Fort El Morro. Visited the Fort ( It closes at 6 in winter) and then stroll trought Old san Juan. Back to the ship by 8, had supper and then my husband and I went back in town for a romantic walk along The Paseo and again into the city right on to Plaza Colon, sit there for a while and felt like a local. The Plaza the Armas and Plaza Colon were beautifully illuminated in blue. That was gorgeous , we felt like we were in the ''Avatar'' movie !!! We stayed on busy streets and felt save all evening long. Old San Juan is so beautiful, I feel like it is the Spanish version of Quebec City ( wich is a French walled city in Quebec). The grounds around the Fort reminded us of '' Les Plaines d'Abraham'' in Quebec. In St-Thomas, I had booked independently a Sea Trekking session in Coral World. We wanted to make a day of this highlight and felt the 3 and a half hour NCL tour was not long enough to also enjoy the beach beside (Coki beach). So we took an open air cab and shared it with some people who wanted to go to Magens beach so the driver stopped at Drake Seat for some pictures then stopped at Magens Beach to debark them so at least we got to see it ! Then off to Coki Beach. Very nice beach but a lot of people asseling us to offer us food , drink, cookies for fishes etc... Anyhoo, we spent a nice 2 hrs there and then off to the Sea Trekking. I was a bit scared but did it anyway, and I am really glad I did ! So much fun ! We bought the pictures and videos of us under water for $60 bucks. It is very worth it to relive our adventure over and over. Then visited Coral World. Nice but small. Took a taxi back to the ship and asked the driver to go and stop for pictures on the Mountain Top. Great View of the bay and of OUR JEWEL ! When we got to the ship, really appreciated the frozen towel they gave us to cool down. Nice touch ! In Antigua, We booked an NCL tour. The swim with stingrays tour. OMG So much FUN ! It is really impressive. My daughter was a bit scared but did it anyway and we had a blast. Our bus driver was nice and talked to us about Antigua along the way. Had lunch aboard the ship then it was off to Dickenson Beach. Very Nice ! Right after we got off our Stingray tour, my daughter started to itch and by the time we got back onboard after the beach she had rashes on her feet , hands ant tights. The next morning it was worse so we went to the medical center aboard and they took good care of her. They said i twas an alergic reaction to the ''oil'' on the rays and prescribed her some cream and medecine that soothed her almost right away. We were all greatful for their service. In St-Marteen, we did a morning walk into Philipsburg and walked the great bay beach in it's full lenght. Since it was early in the morning, we had the beach to ourselves. On our way back to the ship pass through the city streets for a bit of shopping. Back to the ship for lunch, and then we went to the NCL tour I had booked. 4X4 Jeep tour of the whole island. Was fun but a bit frustrating for me who likes to take picture. I did not realized we would not stop here and there for some shots. We did not stopped also in Marigot, just drove throught it. Then we spent an hour in Orient beach. So beautiful !! (No No, not talking about the nude part, surely not THAT beautiful !) I realize now that is was a big convoy and there is not much place to pull over so many jeep. Our guide BJ, was good at keeping the convoy togheter and talking trought the walkie-talkie they landed us telling us about what we were seeing and some the islands particularities. Then back to the ship and the frozen towels!!! In Tortola we did the NCL tour ''Virgin Gorda Highlights'' What a Great tour !!! First we took what they called a ferry. It is not the ferry I'm used to !!! Much Better ! More like a giant speed boat ! Very nice ride ! Then we were driven in an open air bus to The Bath. So gorgeous ! Lots of cactus ! We choose ( as I was advice in tour reviews I had read) to do the path in reverse starting with Devil's Beach stay there for a bit (almost by ourselve) and then when people started to arrive, off we went to work our way to the Bath. So much fun. Those boulder are truly impressive. A must see ! Not too much people since they now were all at Devil's Beach ! You should absolutely wear those Wet Suit Shoes if you book this tour. We had them and were able to be more carefree and enjoy the walk and were able to climb some boulder. Sandals just won't cut it. All in all a very impressive and beautiful sight. All the reserch for the NCL tour we pre-booked was done on their website and I called my NCL consultant (Bridget Carter) for the booking. I truly appreciated her. I felt in good hands and she was always returning my calls : To rebook our cruise for a lower price, to prepay the gratuities and to buy the 2 soda packages and a $100 gift certificate I did buy for myself to use in the teppanyaki. I was sorry to be told she was no longer working there when we wanted to book our next cruise on the Dawn. So now it's Alexis ext.4253. We see how it goes but so far so good ! The big surprise was disembarkation ! What a let down from the breezing embarkation we had. I guess half the ship decided to do the NOT-SO-EASY Walk off. We were in line with our luggages (way too much of them !), our coats, and our good spirits but we were off the ship at only 10:30! Next time will do the easy walk off really early or sit on our buns in any lounge and wait until 10 :30 ! This is the only thing that did not go smootly in all of our cruise and we feel needs improvement. We are very satisfied with our cruising experience and feel we received our money's worth and beyond ! We would go back on the Jewel (and probably will) and even redoing the same itinary since it was so great ! But for now, the countdown to our next cruise abord the Dawn next january (for another fabulous 11 days itinary) has already started and we can't hardly wait !!! Thank you to everyone , in all departements , for making our vacation a memorable one !!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was my first time cruising with NCL; have only cruised with Royal Carribean in the past and was hesitant about trying a new one since Royal was top of the line experience. Pros: Stateroom: We had 2 inside rooms since I am a single mom ... Read More
This was my first time cruising with NCL; have only cruised with Royal Carribean in the past and was hesitant about trying a new one since Royal was top of the line experience. Pros: Stateroom: We had 2 inside rooms since I am a single mom with 3 children and this was more cost effective than a suite. The cabin was very clean. Food: There was a decent variety. Overall the food was mediocre to good. Entertainment: The shows were average; Circ de Bijou, comedian and magician were great. There were a variety of venues at night. Ship: It was very clean. The decor was tasteful and not overdone. The sailing was comfortable; we lucked out with beautiful seas and weather. There were nice areas to lay out and great walking/jogging tracks. Excursions: As with Royal, the excursions are extremely costly. We decided to go to a park and beach in Honduras (kids loved it); in Belize we hired a driver and had the most awesome ride with frequent stops to explain the culture; he took us to the Altuna Ha ruins and for 40.00 had the most amazing day. In Costa Maya, we did the zip line which was breathtaking and the last day in the Bahamas was quite costly but enjoyable; we did parasailing which was rather short for our 180.00 and the boat driver made no qualms about requesting a tip. Food on the island was the same as the pool area - blah and boring. Cons: Stateroom: The shower area was adequate yet the water was burning hot; in fact we had no cold water in the bathroom sink. OUr entire floor reeked of sewage from the moment we stepped aboard; they kept putting in requests to fix the problem, yet it never was fixed. Cabin steward never did our towels at night for our room, but did for our other room. The whole staff aboard the Norwegian was cool at best; anytime you requested something (we are not a needy family at all) it always seemed as if you were bothering them. Royal's staff was the most wonderful staff I have ever encountered. As usual on any of these cruises they are out to get you in anyway possible on board. Drinks very costly, extra charges wherever they can, excursions costly as well. There wasn't much for the kids to do when at sea; not enough pool space for the ship; not much for kids to do; video game room 2.00 for every game. The excursions were not well planned, sold out with hundreds of people left to fend on there own. Long waits to tender and unorganized. Food: The restaurants were expensive and a waste of time. For example, Chin Chin cost $60 extra for the four of us and the food was marginal. The best food was in the Tzars Dining Room (no extra charge)- I wish we knew that before wasting so much money on the "specialty dining". Since the tips are automatic, the dining staff did not go out of their way. There were no trays in the buffet area so we needed to juggle out food and drinks. No-one came around with coffee/tea or to ask if we needed anything. I have been on other cruises where service was the norm. Entertainment: There was very little to do during the day. Bingo was very expensive ( the most that I have ever paid). Many activities revolved around selling. Some example of this included the art show and the jewelry shows. There were no ice carving or food carving shows. The Chocolate buffet was like a hoard of people waiting to get into the Golden Corral..lots of kids and unsupervised and disrespectful. Ship: The lobby was nothing special . The ship was confusing to maneuver. The pools and hot tubs were completely inadequate. There was an adult only area that was adjacent to the kids area ( not private and quiet like other ships). There was no set age for the adult hot tubs ( 2 small) or pool so that there were always young teens crowding them. There were 4 tiny hot tubs only-extremely inadequate. Overall we had a great time but, this will be our last Norwegian Cruise. For about the same price, once you take into consideration the "extra costs" for NCL, we can sail on Royal Caribbean which is a much classier line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Though I had a great time, this is the most disappointing cruise I have been on. Positive random thought: The cabin was very nice. The shower was the largest I have seen on a cruise line. The Circus Bijou show was the nicest show I have ... Read More
Though I had a great time, this is the most disappointing cruise I have been on. Positive random thought: The cabin was very nice. The shower was the largest I have seen on a cruise line. The Circus Bijou show was the nicest show I have seen on a cruise ship Dinning: The first six nights of this cruise it seemed the dining and cooking staff was swamped. We waited twenty minutes for them to take our order, another twenty to get out appetizers, then another 10 to 15 to get the main entree. After the sixth night we started going to dinner after 7:30 and the service was much quicker. The food was from average to disappointing. They seemed to be using cheaper cuts of meat in their meals and it showed. The appetizers seemed incredibly small (single shrimp in shrimp cocktail). The staff was very good but you needed to get their attention. Shore Excursions: The shore excursion department was horrible. I booked this cruise for SCUBA diving, but they canceled 3 out of 4 of my diving excursions because of lack of people. A courteous thing to do would to notify you before the cruise so you can plan accordingly. When I asked them who they would use in port they said they could not tell me or they would loose their job. When I asked them who I definitely should not use, they said they could loose their job if they tell me this as well. Nice to know my safety is not as important as their profits. My wife went on 5 island tours. Two of them were miserable. Belize - Altuan Ruins operated by Cruise Solutions Belize LTD, the bus air conditioning was broken and the road extremely rough roads. Not the best situation to bring a two year old on. Tortola- Tortola highlights operated by Romney, was an open air bus with people packed in so we were hip to hip. My wife and I were unable to sit together. They told my wife to hand my daughter over to some one on the inside for safety. Luckily another passenger was willing to change spot. This tour was rated for all ages. It was 20 minutes late and the guide was also the driver who sat in the front cab. There was no way to ask him any questions during the tour. Walking around Tortola before the tour we found out we could have gotten the same tour in air conditioning for $15 instead of the $40 we paid. *Note when you book online before your tour NCL will say air conditioned bus but on the boat their is a disclaimer that they will use the best transportation locally available. There was plenty of air conditioning vans available outside the gate of Tortola; they chose the cheapest not the best in Tortola. On a positive note, my wife and I had a GREAT tour in Roatan by Fun and Sun tours with Loretta as the guide. Child services- The under two zoo is just an interior room with some well worn toys on the floor, nothing special at all. Summary- Until this cruise I did not care which cruise line I went on, but from now on I will see the brand of NCL as a negative. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our eleventh cruise on various cruise lines but our first repositioning cruise. We had taken two previous NCL cruises and liked the "Freestyle" concept. The Jewel left Miami and after six ports and 13 nights was ending ... Read More
This was our eleventh cruise on various cruise lines but our first repositioning cruise. We had taken two previous NCL cruises and liked the "Freestyle" concept. The Jewel left Miami and after six ports and 13 nights was ending up in NYC which appealed to us greatly as my husband had never seen the NYC and this way we could kill two birds with one stone.We were travelling with another couple. We left Toronto the same day as the cruise (April 11) at 6:30 am and were in Miami by 9:30. We took a van taxi and were at the port by 11:00 and our embarkation was so quick we were on board by noon.We missed the "bubbly" welcome of past NCL cruises, but it was still a faster embarkation than we have experienced with any other cruise line. We had packed sandals and shorts in our carry-on so we were out enjoying the sun immediately, being true Canadians! Our cabin was ready by 1:30 and it was a small inside one. Initially, we thought how are we ever going to put all our stuff away but it was amazing how we did get everything quickly organized with room to spare.Our previous cabins have either been mini suites or balconies and I can honestly say I rarely missed the space they offer as we don't spend much time in our cabins. The Jewel is very much like the Pearl which we had been on the year before. It is a beautiful ship which is very well taken care of. It was spotless and very proud of its consistent 100 ratings from the Health Dept.There was a huge amount of cleaning that occurred in the midst of the night. Kudos go to Cesar Happa who is the Executive Housekeeper. His staff did an excellent job and I don't think I have been on a cleaner ship. We decided that we would eat most of our meals at the main restaurants (Tsars and Azure)which we stuck to with the exception of two evenings where we had meals at Tangos and Le Bistro, the specialty restaurants.We never had to wait for a table in these restaurants and the service was always very quick and friendly. The food was excellent. Initially, we would have breakfast in the aft area of the ship ( The Great Outdoors) as we usually just wanted something light and it wasn't too crowded. Then we discovered the breakfast at Tsars which was wonderful. Service was quick,the area quiet and food exceptional. I still miss the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.Many lunches we were in ports however we loved the Blue Lagoon where they serve "comfort food" 24 hours a day. Great chicken wings and a brownie ice cream dessert which was worth the calories. A lot of people didn't seem to find this until later on the cruise which was great for us as it was a nice quiet area on deck 8.We never felt like we "needed" to go to a specialty restaurant but were taken to Le Bistro one night by a friend. It was nice but I had no desire to go again. We also enjoyed the Mexican food at Tangos, especially the free Margarita We attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet the first sea day and there were 150 people registered. The Cruise Director Iain Bagshaw, the Hotel Director John O'Hara, the comedian Tim, and the Captain all attended and spoke to us about the ship and their jobs. They were truly welcoming. John O'Hara gave everyone his personal phone number and encouraged them to call if there was a problem. Subsequent to this meeting, the ship organized a Murder Mystery dinner and Bridge tours for the Cruise Critic group. They really treated the Cruise Critic group extremely well. Iain, John and the Captain seemed to be everywhere during the cruise and they were certainly the friendliest and most visible senior staff I have ever encountered on a ship.The staff in general were extremely nice and friendly and went out of their way to help. I really got the feeling that everyone loved to work on the ship. The entertainment was first class. We particularly liked the hypnotist Dr. Scott Lewis. We had gone to his first show of the evening and it was so funny we went to the second show as well. My husband volunteered and ended up on stage with 20 others.It was all good fun and family friendly. Dr.Lewis had another show and then three workshops on Stress and Weight reduction which were very educational. We also enjoyed the dance and Cirque productions. Spectacular! We didn't do a lot of activities on board although there was plenty to do if we were so inclined. The Cruise Director Iain and his staff seemed to be everywhere and all worked very hard to give people a great time.Iain even had a "coffee chat" time in the main reception on sea days where you could just go and talk with him. We only went on one shore excursion that was organized by the Ship and that was the Shark and Ray Alley Snorkeling expedition in Belize. More on that later. We did, however,take the "Behind the Scenes" ship tour which was worth every penny. It was led by Elwynn, the Group Services Coordinator, and we spent three hours in the Kitchens, stores, laundry, environmental services, bridge and theatre.In each area, the person responsible spoke to us about what was going on and answered our questions. We spoke with the Captain, the Executive Chef, a dancer, a costumer, a stores Manager etc. This was a fascinating tour which gives you a real appreciation for how everything works on the ship. I really think it is invaluable if you love to cruise. Elwynn did an outstanding job in organizing everything and all the speakers. The only thing I could complain about is how fellow cruisers would "reserve" lounge chairs for hours on end by dropping their towels everywhere and then leaving indefinitely. We were very inclined to go around and grab up all the towels and hand them in so that they would have to pay $25.00 to retrieve them. It is unfortunate that there are so many selfish people and no way for the cruise line to police this. Our disembarkation was the best we have ever experienced. We took our own bags and walked off the ship at 8:30 a.m. We zipped through Customs and were checked in at our hotel on Wall St. by 9:30. We had a great time on this cruise and would go again in a minute. The staff were wonderful, the ship spotless and the itinerary outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We went on the Jewel leaving out of Miami (4/3/09) to the 9 day southern Caribbean. I'd cruised with NCL twice before and I have always loved it. My family and I went in one cabin and my elderly grandmother and aunt went in another. ... Read More
We went on the Jewel leaving out of Miami (4/3/09) to the 9 day southern Caribbean. I'd cruised with NCL twice before and I have always loved it. My family and I went in one cabin and my elderly grandmother and aunt went in another. Their first time with NCL. Leading up to the cruise many people told us NCL was bad, good luck with the cruise, etc. We couldn't understand why, since my family and I have always had a positive experience with NCL in the past. Another cruise with NCL is something we're definitely not planning anytime soon! Embarkation- Amazing! The process usually takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes and here it took about 20 to get through everything and get to the ship. When we got to the ship the bubbly was waiting and we had to stay in the lobby for about 5 minutes because the cabins weren't ready. When the announcement was made that the cabins were ready, we proceeded to the cabin. Small cabin, but we knew this since we've cruised with NCL. Gorgeous balcony though. The ONLY downside is that there was dust EVERYWHERE (and I don't mean light dust, I mean layers of dust). There were sand and coke stains on the floor of the cabin, the bathroom, and the balcony. We had to clean the toilet from how filthy it was. We went down to the purser's to ask them to send someone to clean the cabin. Did this twice and no one came. We found the head of housekeeping for our floor and he said he'd send someone to clean it after the lifeboat drill. NEVER Happened. I took pictures, forwarded them to my T.A. and to NCL as well. Great selection of food and amazing quality of it as well at the buffet and at Tsar's. Debarkation- The ship got to every port before it was suppose to including Miami. However, the ship took longer than expected to clear and begin debarkation. Long line for debarkation, but once it started, the line moved rather quick. Ports of Call- The actual islands were beautiful. Breathtaking views, great pictures. In Samana, I suggest the hike to the waterfall. It's about 15-20 minutes and you have to cross a small river (there are people there to help) but it's worth it. Also, if you don't get a tour from the excursion desk, don't freak out, there are people by the ship who are selling tours (we got our tours for $20 pp on each island, and we went to the same places as the ship's tours did) Entertainment- The Cat's Pajamas were amazing! They give it their all and it reflects in their performances. I loved their version of "In the Jungle" in which they used the audience to help make the animal noises. The Jean Ann Ryan shows are not to be missed! The best show of all is Cirque Bijou. Amazing show with acrobatics, dancing, singing and lots more. You need to get there early and get your seats. Both shows were packed and the staff closes the theater down for the safety of the performers prior to the show (you'll understand once you see it). The show ends with the crew members gathering on stage singing the "Norwegian Way" song. I went to the hypnotist's show in Spinnaker. Funny show, nice guy. The White Hot party is one that you cannot miss. The Jean Ann Ryan dancers kick it off with a performance, and then the crew and guests hit the dance floor. At times foam sprays everyone on the dance floor. A word about Bingo-it was okay. It starts off somewhere around $16 to play, but at times it can go up to almost $200 (depending on the deal you want to purchase). When you buy a game of bingo, you are automatically entered in their raffle (they give out prizes from Del Sol, the Spa, the Casino, Colombian Emeralds, etc.) The best bingo day was the last day @ sea, in the first of the 2 bingo sessions (the cruise raffle bingo, not the jackpot bingo). For only $25 you get an NCL bingo t-shirt, the NCL tote bag, 5 $5 instant wins, 6 cards for the jackpot bingo round, and 30 tickets for the cruise raffle. The second bingo session was in the afternoon and the prices to play bingo got steeper. Spa/ Casino- The spa is nice, and I found it worth $20 for the daily pass (you are at sea for 3 full days and for me it was worth it to pay $40 to enjoy the spa for 2 full days than to pay $119 and enjoy it partially for 9 days). It is very peaceful and relaxing. In the casino I recommend signing up for the casino rewards @ sea program. In the booklet they give you come all sorts of coupons where you buy a certain amount of slot credits or chips and the casino matches or doubles it. Tendering Services- Tendering process is chaotic! My elderly grandmother needed to take the service elevator since she cannot be going down the stairs because of her legs. They called the elevator but she had to stand for 25 minutes waiting for the elevator. When the elevator came the lady inside told her that she had other priorities before us (in a very rude tone). When we got to the 4th floor, our tender had already left and another crew member told us we would have to wait until they could find us a tender (we waited about 15 minutes there before anyone could get us a tender. We asked for a wheelchair or at least a chair for my grandmother and a crew member told us that she could not help us and pointed to another crew member that would help us. The gentleman suggested we sit her on the steps or lean her on the railing. We told him that was not an option since she could sit, but getting up was the issue. One of the CD staff members, Peter, was kind enough to get her a chair, and he helped get us a tender to go ashore. Cleanliness- Not good @ all! Other guests in the spa were speaking about this happening to them as well. They found their cabins filthy and the majority of the crew members were unhappy. For us, it took 4 days for the cleaning issue to get resolved, and it only got resolved when we asked to see the head of housekeeping for the ship (she sent one of her assistants to see the room). It was unbelievable and I hope no one has to ever go through that again. Overall- The itinerary for the cruise is wonderful, the ship is beautiful, great shows, but when it comes to cleanliness, friendly crew, and tendering all I can say is improvement is needed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We left Ga on March 4, 2009 for our 9 day NCL cruise from Miami Fla. We stayed at the Fortune House Condo in downtown Miami. Miami is not an easy city, the Fortune House was not as bad as the reviews, however, it had a lot of modern ... Read More
We left Ga on March 4, 2009 for our 9 day NCL cruise from Miami Fla. We stayed at the Fortune House Condo in downtown Miami. Miami is not an easy city, the Fortune House was not as bad as the reviews, however, it had a lot of modern doors, lighting, closet space and a beautiful view of the bay. Beware they only offer $20.00 per day valet parking, there are not trolleys to take your bags up to your room, as we were driving an SUV we had to take all of our cruise luggage up by ourselves. There was not coffee pot, We had 4 people, all adults, and the sofa did not make into a bed, as we had thought. Breakfast was only for 2 and you had to pay for the other guests with you, staff very business like but not friendly, they were all foreigners and acted like they did not understand most of what we said. It was in downtown but off a side street with other hotels and a very beautiful part of Miami on the bay. They said we could see the cruise ships but that did not happen, beware when the website or hotel tells you that in Miami. You could see them way in the distance as they came in at night, just a lot of lights, but not the actual ships in port, it is blocked by other buildings. Embarkation was very easy with NCL, they sit you down and take you in groups on board so there was not the usual long lines Once on the ship, they serve champagne and orange juice, I must have misunderstood I thought it said champagne and mimosa's. We had a balcony and my sons had an inside across the hall from us. I had read they escort you to your cabin if you are in a balcony or higher and the last night you get chocolate chip cookies, none of this happened, which was no big deal. The ship is beautifully decorated, not gaudy at all and very festive with the palm tree lights up by the pool. The cabins are really small, which was a disappointment. There was barely room to walk between the wall and bed with no vanity space, only a small tray under the tv and a small tray under a mirror. The sofa was a small pull out bed for a 3rd guest with no room between the bed or the doors on the other side. The balcony was small also, small TV. Speaking of the TV, there were 2 movie channels, 1 sports, TNT, cartoon network and that was all, TNT and cartoon and sports did not work a lot of the times. Our room steward was very friendly but was lacking in service, a lot of days we had no bath mat, never an extra towel, only 2 and 1 washcloth a lot. Beware there are no entertainment at the pool area like on some other lines, no hairiest chest or anything fun like that, hardly ever any music at the pool area either. Not a lot going on around the ship with the cruise director and crew like other ships. The common areas such as showrooms, bars, restaurants were very small. We never had to wait to eat anywhere even though it is freestyle. The food in the restaurants was not always a good choice, a couple of nights there was nothing my family would eat except the steak so we opted for the buffet. This was a really big disappointment as NCL says they just upgraded the food. That is one thing we look for to is the dining experience. We did eat at Cagney's Steak House and Teppanyaki, they were both excellent. The food at the buffet was good for breakfast except it was usually cold. Lunch was ok usually had hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches as well as salads and hot food. Dinner they had pizza, burgers, hot dogs, pasta bar, asian food, and other food. It was very hard to make a full meal of anything.There was usually potatoes with herbs, no other kind, not much flavor to most food. The biggest disappointment was the desserts. Most had gelatin in it for the texture and some cookies, no cakes and pies, banana bread and pound cake, cookies for lunch. The store on board was the largest I have ever seen and had a lot of stuff it was really great. The bars were very small and the show room was small. The bands were great and the disco was great. The pool was closed several times due to rough seas. the shows were so so, the dancers and the last nights show was EXCELLENT. Don't care much for comedians and jugglers. For a 9 day cruise there should have been more from the dance shows. Destinations were great with the exception of St Lucia. We had a catamaran tour booked and they did not tell us until we were on land that it had been canceled so we did not have a chance to book another tour. The worst part was we had to tender at 2 islands and they tendered us on the life boats, the sea was rough and the boats were excessively HOT and packed like sardines, a little scary. Disembarkation was easier than ever. You get to pick your time to get off by the color code of the luggage tag you pick up that day. Very quick and easy. All in all it was a good cruise and I would go again on NCL but it would not be my first choice line unless it was going someplace I had not been yet and nobody else was going there. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We arrived in Miami the night before embarkation and stayed in a downtown motel. Grabbed a cab to the port, which we could see from the hotel. It was a good thing that embarkation was fast because it was a zoo, crowded, and stressful. ... Read More
We arrived in Miami the night before embarkation and stayed in a downtown motel. Grabbed a cab to the port, which we could see from the hotel. It was a good thing that embarkation was fast because it was a zoo, crowded, and stressful. Embarkation was my least favorite part of the trip. Once aboard, bubbly or OJ for everyone, though folks seemed a bit tentative. We started with the Garden Cafe buffet (of course) while awaiting cabin availability. Hand sanitizers were very much in evidence. This always strikes me as funny because they are anti-bacterial. They aren't anti-viral. You can figure out the rest. Anyway we got into our ocean view cabin and it was fine. The bathroom with glass door on the shower was spacious in comparison to others we have seen or heard about. A quick word about food. The buffet on the Jewel was the best ever with many choices regardless of your dining preferences. We ate many of our meals there. The "free" dining rooms were a bit noisy and the portion sizes were small (but of course you could order as many appetizers, entrees or deserts as you wished). The Blue Lagoon, another "free" venue was also very good (wings, burgers, etc.). The Great Outdoors on the aft part of the ship, was an extension of the buffet and served during times when the buffet was closes. Other "free" venues included the Sky High Grill and Topsider grill. It would be difficult to go hungry. Though we are not great supporters of the restaurants with cover charges, we did eat in Le Bistro (part of the romance/anniversary package deal which we highly recommend), Cagney's and Chin Chin (Chinese fare). We weren't overly impressed with Le Bistro though the food was good. Cagney's and Chin Chin's were both real treats and we liked them alot. However, be aware that the menus are tiered and have the advertised cover price per person, plus an additional cover price for the "best" meals. This seemed a bit much to us. I did get the soda card for me, but I'm not sure it paid for itself. I did drink many canned sodas as well. When we drink alcohol, my wife drinks domestic beer and I drink Scotch. The prices were typical of resorts and we didn't feel like they were over-priced at all. The beers were 16 oz in an aluminum can that looked like a bottle or in tall 20 oz glasses for those that liked draft. I never had a weak poor on my Scotch. There was lots of entertainment available for any musical taste. We particularly liked the small venue guitar, piano and string quartet, though we did have fun at the Fizz Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge as well. The shows in the theater were particularly good as far as ship entertainment goes. It would be good to arrive early and get comfortable if you want a decent seat. On the minor irritant side, we found that we had to order multiple times to get drinks at dinner in the "free" dining rooms. In the buffet the beverage selection is poor (coffee, tea, milk, water, and at breakfast juice). Our steward and assistant kept the room very clean and were pleasant even though they alluded to a contract dispute that would be putting them out of work favoring less experienced and lower-paid folks. There was also some weakness in following through with requests. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Last year I took 12/13 of my family to Disney World and then a S. Caribbean cruise. I have decided I would rather spend my and their inheritance while I am alive. What at time we had....Youngest was just 6 months..so she just made the ... Read More
Last year I took 12/13 of my family to Disney World and then a S. Caribbean cruise. I have decided I would rather spend my and their inheritance while I am alive. What at time we had....Youngest was just 6 months..so she just made the age requirement. Five of the travellers were first time cruisers... I upgraded our two rooms to Penthouses and oh my...could I get used to THAT life. Our butler Madel was so kind and treated us with such TLC...Our room stewards Dom and Elizabeth displayed the servants heart that is needed in this industry and our whole family loved to see them everyday. Our family is just about "hanging out" together so that is what we did. Our excursions usually were about beach days...although one son-in-law enjoyed a fishing expedition and the one daughter took some of the kids old enough on the Pirate ship. Thankfully my family consist of EMS people and because of that one man is still alive but unfortunately in the other case the gentleman could not be revived. Death is not exempt even on a cruise holiday. This was our second NCL cruise and we especially like it because of the numerous connecting rooms and the dine anytime feature. This year we are going to do a Royal Caribbean cruise and escape the cold ALBERTA wintertime. Sure happy that our youngest daughter introduced us to this fun fun fun way of spending a holiday. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
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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