96 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Western

This Cruise was a celebration of my wife's battle of overcoming Cancer. We left Kansas City the night before and arrived in Houston almost two hours late due to air delays. We stayed at the LaQuinta on NASA Parkway, and basically just ... Read More
This Cruise was a celebration of my wife's battle of overcoming Cancer. We left Kansas City the night before and arrived in Houston almost two hours late due to air delays. We stayed at the LaQuinta on NASA Parkway, and basically just slept, ate breakfast and left. The taxi ride to the hotel and cruise terminal was fine, and the driver was great about telling us bits of information. Upon arrival to the cruise terminal, we gave out bags to the gentlemen outside, and that was the last time that we saw them until they ended up at our stateroom door later on. The Embarkation process was easy, as we were given a boarding group number, and once that was called we proceeded onto the ship where we had lunch at O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill on Deck 8 Mid. I will say that most of the food on board is pretty bland and flavorless, but overall very good- More on that later. We were allowed into our staterooms a little before 1PM, and upon entering the room, the congratulations package that I had ordered for my wife was there with streamers and a large cake. The cake was vanilla with Lemon and Strawberry- WHAT?! What celebration cake is lemon and strawberry? Where is the chocolate?? :) We dropped our bags in the room and explored the ship, including the booking of a couple of shore excursions. 4PM was the departure time, and we headed up to the very front of the ship to see us pull away. (Deck 14 I believe) The ship's horns are right above that deck, so when we did start moving, everyone soiled themselves when the 3 blasts of the horn sounded. The shows on the Jewel were amazing, and the cruise director, Jaime was awesome at keeping us up to date with everything that was going on. The restaurants were all nice, and had quite a few options. It is very easy to overdo it here. The Garden Cafe was the buffet, and the highlight there was Washy Washy man, with his guitar that he would play for hours on end and sing about washy washy to tunes like "London Bridge is falling down"... "Washy Washy Good For you, Good For Me, Good For Us..." The biggest rip-off by far is the pictures on the ship- you spend over $130 for 10 pictures. That piece is highway robbery in my opinion. Also, the tax and duty-free shops were good from some things, and not good for others, so be careful and know what you are buying. The port shopping consultant on board, Dani, was amazing and was honestly probably our hero of the cruise. When we stopped in Roatan, we were in Diamond's International. It was Dani's day off, and she came through in street clothes, but still worked with the salespeople to get us the best deal possible. We did shore excursions in Cozumel and Roatan. In Cozumel, we did the Dune Buggy and Beach Snorkel. This was a great relaxing and fun excursion for people who like adventure and can drive a MANUAL Transmission. It was painful to see all of the people who couldn't and were killing the clutch and transmissions on the buggys. In Roatan we did the South Shore Zip Line Adventure, and that was beyond amazing. It was only about a 20 minute or so bus ride to the location, and once we got geared up, we began the zip line adventure. It was absolutely amazing to zip line over the forest of Roatan, and is something that I will remember for a LONG time. A small note, you CAN bring your cameras with you even though the sign says not to... They are just not responsible if it gets dropped or broken. Overall, for a first cruise, I can't find much to complain about other than the cabin and the rip off that the pictures were. (See Cabin review for more on that) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We decided due to the reviews to sail Norwegian Cruise lines this go around. We decided to ask some friends to cruise with us, and unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment for us. I have cruised 5 times and my wife now 3 times. Our ... Read More
We decided due to the reviews to sail Norwegian Cruise lines this go around. We decided to ask some friends to cruise with us, and unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment for us. I have cruised 5 times and my wife now 3 times. Our guests had cruised a couple of times. The ship was decent, appointed and nice looking. It is cast as a "Freestyle" cruise and we had hoped for more from it. The service was the worst issue that was in need of repair! I'll give one example....we went to one of the complimentary restaurants to eat. It was listed as one that allowed cruise apparel. Meaning shorts and flip-flops acceptable. Several couples ahead of us, were told they could not eat. The sign at the podium even said the other restaurants required pants, etc. It was unbelievable that so many of us were told we could not eat even under their rules. Finally we were allowed to seat. This is where it went sideways for me. I sat down and the waiter handed me the menu. He then reached for my water glass but first knocked (or slapped) my menu out of his way to reach for my water glass! I looked at him he smiled, then slapped it back out of his way to set my water glass down! Most of the time the workers were indifferent to customer service when we interacted with them. It was 8:30 pm and I went to eat something. The buffet was closed, the two restaurants near the pool were closed and we had to go eat at one small restaurant with 5 items only. So they were not lying "you can eat 24/7." One last issue you should know, is the alcohol. Our plan was not to drink much and just pay as we went. By the end of Sunday we added up money. Here is how they operate, every drink requires a receipt to be signed by you. Your name, additional tip on top of the 18% already paid. Does not seem very ease of use to me. Not to mention as an example i tried 12 shots of a whiskey and not even as much as a slight buzz. Which means they are not only cutting, but seriously cutting the alcohol to save money. Once these issues were spoken with about to the management, they decided that some strawberries and a bottle of wine were the answer to assist. I am grateful they tried, but seriously the lack of customer service was the worst issue, lack of food to be had, just because it was evening time. Not late night, evening time. One last issue was we saw our cabin attendant for the first time on Thursday evening. As much as this pains me to say, Carnival was better at customer service than this Norwegian ship. I do not rate all of their ships like this one as I have not sailed on them. But I am not sure that I'll take the time to find out either. It's not terrible but not worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Family of 4, dh (32), ds (11), dd (9) and myself (32) on our second cruise. First was with Carnival...I didn't want to compare the two lines, but in all honesty, it is very hard not to. Embarkation/Disembarkation Fast, easy and ... Read More
Family of 4, dh (32), ds (11), dd (9) and myself (32) on our second cruise. First was with Carnival...I didn't want to compare the two lines, but in all honesty, it is very hard not to. Embarkation/Disembarkation Fast, easy and efficient. No complaints whatsoever. Cabin Yes, this was an inside room, but wow, I guess I just didn't realize how poorly set up it would be. The pullout bed was fine, but I really wish there would have been two. Instead, there was a cot that they would put in between the two full size beds. My feet dangled from the cot, so I had to take one full size bed, hubby took the other full size and dd took the cot in the middle. So that meant I couldn't sleep beside my husband one night on this cruise. Very upsetting. Dining Food was SALTY. There were some meals that I couldn't even eat due to the poor flavor (seafood bisque) even the desserts were just ok. The "volcano" cake they have wasn't even a volcano lol! I guess there just is no comparison to the similar cake served on Carnival, we ate that every single night on Carnival. There just wasn't anything worth writing home about when it came to food on this trip. I'm not sure if it is because Norwegian wants us to fork over the money to eat at the for-fee restaurants, but I honestly never had a bad meal on Carnival. Ports Cozumel Amazing, you cant go wrong in Cozumel. We did some snorkeling and visited a beach club. It is way cheaper just getting someone on the port to take you to a beach club then to go through the ships excursions...half the price or more...had a great time! Belize City I don't know why this is a stop. This city is nerve wracking. If you aren't with a tour, you better just stay at the port. I would not visit here again. Oh...apparently, there is no beach in Belize City, but you wouldn't want to go in that water anyway, very murky. Banana Coast, Honduras Wow! Loved this port! So beautiful and friendly locals! We did the Cascades, the ship charges $39 for kids...if you go on your own (a taxi will take you there, $25 per hour, they will take you on a tour of the city as well if you want) the Cascades don't even charge for children, what a rip off...and its about a 10 minute ride from the port...do they really need to charge $39 for a 10 minute ride for a child? Anyway, the cascades were beautiful, a must see! Entertainment Snore fest! I think all the shows were very cheesy. There was only 1 performer that was entertaining, JP the Comedic Magician. Very cool show. Otherwise, no thanks. There was hardly anything to do during the day that interested us. The band at the pool played the same 10 songs over and over again every single day. We found ourselves at the pool all day, for most of the cruise. On Carnival, we were constantly running around trying to get to all the activities, that just wasn't the case on this ship. Kid's Club I waited in line for over an hour just to sign the kids up for this club, they had one staff member helping a super long line of parents. (Carnival had you sign the kids up online before you even got on the ship, much easier) I probably would not have cared about waiting in that line had I known my kids would not be interested in at least ONE activity. They did not go to any of the activities, they said it wasn't something they were interested in. Now, these are the kids who when on the Carnival ship did not want to be with us parents because they preferred being at the kids club! So they were looking forward to going to the kids club and were honestly disappointed. As was I. Summary Would I travel using Norwegian again? Probably not. We had a great time because we love being with each other, and that is what mattered most. We made the best of it. I would have to say that we prefer Carnival over Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Went on the Easter trip, out of Houston, with 3 stops: Cozumel, Belize and Trujillo Honduras. First freestyle cruise for us. Disappointing to say the least. The nickling and diming was absolutely out of control. The main dining ... Read More
Went on the Easter trip, out of Houston, with 3 stops: Cozumel, Belize and Trujillo Honduras. First freestyle cruise for us. Disappointing to say the least. The nickling and diming was absolutely out of control. The main dining area (Garden) served at best diner quality food. The Washy Washy guys with their spray bottles were in your face, insisting that you disinfect your hands, disregarding the fact that you told them that you just showered. The ONLY place that served semi decent food was unfortunately, the Irish pub, aka O'Sheehen, and even there, the burgers were the size of a children's meal burger with an over sized bun. We tried all their restaurants, including the ones that you had to pay, I would discourage anyone from spending extra for these restaurants. The dishes are dirty, Tsar's Palace sports torn curtains. Azura's table linens are covered in stains and lint from old age. The food is medicare at best, and poorly presented. The menu at the Azzura and Tsar Palace are identical. The chefs have much to learn about proper food preparation and presentation. VERY limited drink menu. The unlimited alcohol cards that we purchased covered drinks up to $11 if you wanted a drink (single malts especially) that was more, you had to pay for the entire drink. The rooms: We had a mini suite. Everything is miniature size. The beds are tiny (Children size single). The mattresses are absolutely old, torn, beat up, and sagging. The linens are OLD, torn and stained yellow. We had our linens changed 4 times, it didn't matter, all were torn, with yellow stains on them. We spoke to the room steward, and he said that most of their linens are like this. The Bathroom: We had a Jacuzzi tub. The toilet itself and the seat are toddler size. The towels are rough and thin. I learned the hard way when I wiped my face for the first time. Bring your own conditioner. Before you assume that we're spoiled, oversized Americans, we're not. We're normal size people, who paid for what we thought was a decent cruise, but didn't get what we usually get from other cruises back. We're frequent cruisers, we experienced, Holland America, Costa, Royal Caribbean and the Burger King of the Seas, aka Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Just came back from our 7 night cruise out of Bayport Houston to the Western Caribbean. We set sail on March 28th 2015. The embarkation process was real smooth. We got there pretty early, around 10:30 and there were lots of people already ... Read More
Just came back from our 7 night cruise out of Bayport Houston to the Western Caribbean. We set sail on March 28th 2015. The embarkation process was real smooth. We got there pretty early, around 10:30 and there were lots of people already there. The lines move fast and before you know it, you are aboard the ship. We happened to bring a case of water, which the porters will not bring onto the ship. You do have to bring it yourself, so if the room isn't ready when you get on, you will be lugging this around the ship. It was worth the hassle because everything on the ship is an upcharge. We opted for the $200 room credit instead of the other options, but had we thought about it, we would have picked the speciality dining. We've cruise before, on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas, so we were used to a gigantic ship. The Jewel is pretty small. We had the aft part of the boat with cabins on the 8th deck. This proved to be fairly inconvenient since everything seemed to be at the front of the ship. Elevators were slow, so we took to using the stairs quite a bit. We had three ocean view rooms, two adjoining and one a few doors down. The rooms were actually pretty nice. The kids loved the bunk beds and the bathrooms were quite large considering we were on a ship. The ship had been renovated in 2014 and it seemed like they spent money on the rooms and some common areas. The boat is small and it definitely feels like it. The corridors do not go through the decks completely. Many times, you have to walk through a store, a restaurant, or up another floor to get to the other side of the deck you really want to. There aren't many stores, so hopefully, you like the general store/jewelry/and snacks one. The prices weren't bad, just wanted to be more options. The central coffee place was great, the cake boss has a case of goods that were delicious. It was however very slow for prepared drinks. Expect to wait 5 minutes for a two drink order. Right above it was the O'Sheehan's Irish pub. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner 24-7. The service is pretty good, the food is a little hit or miss though. We tried almost all the restaurants. Here's the quick rundown. Tsar and Azure main dining rooms were just okay. Some of the food was overcooked. I ordered fish and it was pretty well done. Some people in the party had much better meals, I probably picked poorly. Cagney's steakhouse was the best of the bunch. The Teriyaki option was popular and good, so make your reservations because it'll be filled before you get on the ship. La Cucina was good as well. We tried the sushi restaurant on the second night, the fish was fresh and great. We tried the restaurant again on the fifth day and the fish seemed less fresh. We also tried the Chinese restaurant and found the food to be poor. On every cruise we go to, we always book the Chef's table. For those that don't know, its a special dinner with food from the head chef. It is a long meal with many courses and wine. Well worth it and definitely a great experience. It also comes with a tour of the ship's kitchen, which was a great way to see how things get done. The kitchen was very clean and smaller than you think. Entertainment options: Shows nightly at 7:15 and 9:15. The shows are the same with plenty of seats. The shows are okay. The band on the run was kinda boring. The Russian duo was impressive. The comedian was funny for adults and kids did not get his material. The best show was the Cirque-type show. All the entertainers pitch in and help out in all the shows so it's kind of a cool family vibe thing. My two kids (6 and 8) found the splash kids' club to be boring, though each time we picked them up they would say they had a good time. We used it sparingly, so I'm sure others would have a better time than us. The ports were fine. We had Cozumel, Belize City, and Roatan, Honduras. We never book excursions through the ship, instead we book at resorts themselves for a day-use pass. In Cozumel, we stayed at the Presidente. The kids loved it and it had plenty of things to do, plus a nice room for a day and 45 dollars in food credit. Great way to spend the day. The resort had a nice beach, tide pools for the kids, and a huge pool. Would go back for sure. Belize, we tendered which took 30 minutes to get off the ship and ended up in the Belize port. The shopping was okay, and like everyone else says, do not go to the city. There is really no point in getting off the ship in Belize, and quite frankly I do not know why they even go there. The last port was Roatan. We booked the number one option from trip advisor. Little French Key. This place had it all. Animals, food, beach...so much to do and such a great highlight for the trip. Trust me, book it and enjoy. Of course, the Jewel also spends the least amount of time here. That was annoying. Overall, it was a cheap, nice, and relaxing trip. I don't think we will be going on NCL again, it just wasn't the right mix for us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
EMBARKATION My wife and I took this cruise the last week of March 2015 out of Houston with my brother and his wife. We drove in early Saturday morning from East of New Orleans and arriving around 9:15am were one of the first one's ... Read More
EMBARKATION My wife and I took this cruise the last week of March 2015 out of Houston with my brother and his wife. We drove in early Saturday morning from East of New Orleans and arriving around 9:15am were one of the first one's there at the terminal. Currently only two ships use this terminal, it was very nice and easy to navigate. I parked literally in the first row next to drop-off, there was plenty of parking available at $80 for the entire week. Getting on and off the boat was fast and easy, there were very friendly associates working at the terminal, nothing rude like my encounters in New Orleans or Ft. Lauderdale. THE SHIP I have read that the Jewel is old and out-dated, but generally did not find this to be the case. Norwegian's décor is funky and chic, I found the bold color combinations kinda cool and eclectic. Most activities occur topside on the pool deck. BOOKING I booked Norwegian out of Houston for the value, and the ability to go to a couple of ports we had not experienced. I was neither over-impressed nor disappointed. Their options to choose among free unlimited beverage, unlimited restaurants, no tips or cabin credit is an excellent value. My wife and I stayed in 8118 while my brother and his wife had cabin 5502. Was able to book for around $2500 for four of us plus tips. At least one of us in the party probably consumed $1000 in free drinks. FOOD The Garden Café is the main buffet-area for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a good assortment, would have preferred the staff to serve coffee/tea, rather than just walking around picking up empty plates and wiping tables, which they did perform pretty frequently. The omelet station is okay, remember to plus-up your omelet by finding items like sausage outside the cooking area or whatever you want on yours to present to the chef who would gladly oblige you. My favorite seating area was along the open-air back of the ship which provided a fabulous breeze and excellent view versus eating inside. In the seating area open tables were hard-to-find, very close together, and even at the food stations everyone was constantly running into each other. I did not like this at all, Norwegian should close La Cucina restaurant on the other side and open it up the Garden Café!!! There are two dining rooms on board, Azura and Tzar's. Shorts are allowed in Tzar's on the first night only, after that slacks are required. The wait times as part of 'freestyling cruising' are annoying. Make reservations in advance if you chose to eat at either dining room or the specialty restaurants. My brother had the sirloin steak at Azura and said it was the worst steak he had ever eaten - mine was very tough but flavorful and free, so be cautious depending on your expectations. O'Sheehans Irish pub was visited about four times. There is a limited venue, of marginal offerings. Don't miss the Chicken pot pie however, it was excellent! We only selected one specialty restaurant onboard - Teppanyaki for hibachi grill. There are less options than my neighborhood hibachi restaurant, and at $90 for 3 of us was under-impressed so we opted to eat our other meals at the "free" venues. The best surprise was the daily grilling at the pool decks around lunchtime. The brisket was excellent, this was definitely my favorite eating area on board, I should have eaten there more often. ACTIVITIES / ENTERTAINMENT Hands-down my favorite venue on the ship included performances by NEXT STAGE. The Fab Five Filipinos were top-notch and ultra approachable. I am accustomed to good music while cruising - but these guys rocked the house! Lanie the lead singer needs to be discovered as she is big time, but the whole group is talented musically and vocally. Jerome on lead guitar was fun and crazy good. I know this is a cruise review, but it would not be complete without noting the talent of these guys. JP the Magician was also excellent. He is a comedian and singer as well. The Russian acrobats should not be missed. Avoid the casino. Shopping in the ship's stores is off the beaten path and I am certain impulse buying is negatively impacted by it. The ships photo gallery on deck 7 is very user-friendly and organized. I preferred this much to RCL. EXCURSIONS This was our third time to Cozumel - and best so far. Went to Chakanaab Park. It was $21pp to get in, $15pp for snorkel gear, and $13/4 taxi fare one-way. This was a great choice! The snorkeling was fantastic, as was the free sea lion show when we got there. I highly recommend this activity if you are still trying to figure out what you want to do in Cozumel, the park is beautiful. 20 oz cokes were only $1, and the underwater camera for sale there was less than I paid for mine at Walgreen's back in the states. I booked ButtsUp! cave tubing through cave-tubing.com at $50pp before the trip. Another great choice! Our guide Avito was wonderful. He took care of anything we asked. You should not go to Belize and miss this. Finally, I booked in advance through Island Marketing an Island tour with Karen Jones. She was superb, and showed us the entire island. My favorite area was the West End. SUMMARY Our first cruise with Norwegian. Will probably try them again, but on a larger ship. Navigating this one at 93,000 tons I found the pathways chopped up - having to walk through a shop to get from point A to B. It was a fun cruise, the staff is about 70% Filipino and the whole crew is outstanding. Norwegian has done a good job maintaining the ship. I think it was an outstanding cruise for the money! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We took this cruise during our Spring break in Manitoba Canada. We had a group of 12 total (3 families), split up into 4 Balcony rooms on Deck 9. My wife, daughter an I were on the Jewel in July of last year for an Alaskan cruise. We ... Read More
We took this cruise during our Spring break in Manitoba Canada. We had a group of 12 total (3 families), split up into 4 Balcony rooms on Deck 9. My wife, daughter an I were on the Jewel in July of last year for an Alaskan cruise. We flew into Houston the night before the cruise, and stayed at the Best Western Plus in Seabrook. This hotel specializes in pre and post-cruise stays, and provides a free shuttle ride to and from the cruise terminal. The hotel was adequate. We used the free shuttle to go to the Kemah boardwalk area the night before the cruise and had a good time. We also stayed post cruise and used the shuttle to visit the Johnson Space Center. The staff were friendly, and the rooms clean and adequate. There are not many things around the hotel (A Subway and a Gas Station with a large convenience store), so if you are staying here, use the shuttle to get some entertainment time. Embarkation was quick and well handled. Due to it being Spring Break there were over 700 under 18 on board. This lead to very crowded kids activities and areas. Overall I feel the staff did an appropriate job in provided for all the kids, and still trying to have the rest of us have a good time. For entertainment we found the live music in the bars and lounges to be our favorite, we particularly liked Next Stage especially their acoustic set, and White Hot Party set. We also enjoyed Paulo's guitar and vocals. We only made it to a couple of shows in Stardust (David Nastor (the comedian), and the Cirque Bijou). Both of these shows were excellent as well (but expectations are a little higher when you're watching the main stage). In Cozumel we spent our time walking along the shore line and shopping. We picked up most of our souvenirs for people here as we expected it to have the best port shopping (and I feel we were right about this). The color of the water in Cozumel was absolutely amazing! We arranged a cave tubing excursion in Belize. I had originally planned to book through NCL, but our party chose to save some money and book privately. This led to some frayed nerves in navigating the tender process. I then also wen the wrong way in the cruise terminal and we ended up outside the safe area, and walking around trying to find our tour operator. We did find them eventually, and the tubing was good, although rushed (due to our lateness). I feel it was a good experience for our group to see the countryside of Belize and the effect of poverty in a 3rd world country. For stress free excursions book through the cruise line for tender ports. Our final port was Roatan Honduras, and here my wife and daughter had a Dolphin encounter at Anthony's Key Resort. They absolutely loved the experience and the beautiful setting of Anthony's key. I spent my time nursing a rum punch hangover with some more drinks, and chatting with other cruisers. We ate our breakfasts by the large rear windows in Tsar's Palace. There were not many who chose to come to the main dining room for breakfast, so service was great, and the views also. We all felt that the omelets were the best choice at breakfast. For our dinners we tended to eat at Azuras. We had a couple children with us, so we wanted to eat early, which worked well as we never had to wait in line at all. We did have all 12 in our group eat together one night. We chose to eat in Tsar's and it seemed that this dining room was far more empty than Azuras. My wife, daughter and I also ate in Le Bistro one night. I was a nice small room, and had more attentive service. The french press coffee here was far, far better than the coffee in the main dining rooms. The food was all served at correct temperatures, and the plating was beautiful. We had a few meals and snacks in the Garden Cafe (Buffet area) but we found sticky tables and spills were not cleaned up and left the area feeling dirty and not as appetizing. The European/American style food was a little bland, but the Asian style foods had great flavors and I enjoyed them. The two kids that we had with us enjoyed their time at Splash Academy, and I overheard other parents saying that once in their kids didn't want to come out either. It was nice to be able to leave our iConcierge number with Splash Academy rather tan predicting where we would be and constantly phoning to update them as to our location. We made use of the iConcierge app on the ship. We tried using it on an iPhone 4, and HTC one (android) and couple of blackberrys (Z10 and Z30). Installing on the blackberry's involved side loading the app, but it still worked. We found the best performance on the iPhone, this was an old iPhone with no SIM card, and it still worked just fine as only WiFi is needed. The blackberry's needed to have the app closed and relaunched occasionally to keep it working. On the Android device we had problems with it dropping off the ships wifi, so the app really did not work effectively on this device. We didn't spend a lot of time troubleshooting, and just spread out the other's to cover. We liked having the ability to send messages, but I don't find a use in the phone as it was too loud in most areas to try to have a phone conversation, so I think they should look at dropping the phone portion and maybe expanding the app to support tablets. The disembarkation took longer than we expected. The line up was longer than they had even set up barricades for, and I could hear comments from others that there were worried that the long lines might cause them to be late for flights. If you are flying out the same say, give yourself as much time as possible to get through. We were staying in Houston that night, so we just had a long delay, but were not affected in any other way. Overall, we enjoyed this trip, and we are planning on another cruise with NCL. We enjoyed our previous cruise to Alaska more than the Western Caribbean, so it will most likely be in Alaska again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I got a cruise bug last summer and booked us on the Jewel. I had been on the S/S Norway in 1996, and again for our honeymoon in 2002, right before it went out of service. Of course, by late July, the biggest room we could get was a ... Read More
I got a cruise bug last summer and booked us on the Jewel. I had been on the S/S Norway in 1996, and again for our honeymoon in 2002, right before it went out of service. Of course, by late July, the biggest room we could get was a minisuite. It slept 4, so that seemed reasonable. (our kids are 3 and 6) We drove to Houston, stayed at a hotel near the terminal, then boarded fairly early the next day. The staterooms weren't ready until about 2 pm, so we had about 3 hours to kill. We had lunch at the Garden Cafe (which was always quite good) and checked out the ship (and bought thermal spa passes....amazing). I also had to stop by guest services/the cruise concierge because they had me listed as a first time passenger, which I am not. THey fixed it for the voyage, and said I had to get it resolved after getting home. Ive been working on it since I got back, and hopefully the techies will merge the accounts soon. I had a great experince with the latitudes customer service lady - she found both accounts, but one was under my maiden name, and the other was "in the archives", whatever that means, so she couldnt merge them. But she told me exactly what to write in the email and where to send it to get results. It says 4-6 week wait for a reply due to the transition for Latitudes to Latitudes Rewards. We were in 115566, which was just down the hall from the elevators, 1 floor down from the Garden Cafe, and right below the kids club. When we got into the room, it was nice and seemed spacious. Our luggage arrived, and we went to dinner at Cagneys (we had the UDP), then dropped the kids off at the kids club. After turndown service, the suite got REALLY cramped. No place to even stand, except right by the bathroom/entrance. It was fine, but keeping the laundry contained was an issue, since all our luggage was stacked inside itself. I have no idea how 4 adults can share a smaller stateroom than that, honestly. The 2 days at sea were fantastic. We would have breakfast in the garden cafe, then drop the kids off at Splash Academy, and go sit in the spa or have some alone time, meet up again for lunch, then take a nap, then dinner (will cover restaurants in a bit), then splash academy and shows. Cozumel, I had prebooked the Playa Mia Deluxe Day Pass. It was obviously a tourist trap, but it was nice. A waterpark area for kids, a playground, another non-kid pool, a big slide/bouncy house thing in the ocean, and a big open buffet. One wierd thing is that the package included open bar, so we assumed that meant any bar there. Nope. They were labelled "Open Bar" and "Cash bar". The Open Bar had things like rum punch and beer, the cash bar had the expensive liquor. However, the rum punch was plenty alcoholic anyway. The buffet was good. Mostly we watched the kids play on the playground and swam with them until it was time to leave. Everybody had a good time, and was EXHAUSTED. Belize City the next day, my 3 yo and I stayed on the ship (she was tired and a bit sunburned). My husband and 6yo got off to go explore and spent maybe 2-3 hours onshore. The day after Belize, we went to Trujillo, Honduras. It was... obviously a very new port. The area where the tenders docked was nice, but the rest of the town was very underdeveloped. Dirt roads (ok, some were paved with ballast stones from Colombian era voyages, but...), stick and mud houses with thatched roofs, corrugated metal houses, people washing clothing, dishes, and bathing in the streams/rivers, etc. We took a tour to the beach, where they had a little setup with 2 small pools, a bar, and a buffet. The beach itself was nice, but VERY steep, with very sinkable sand. We had to go off to a little area off to the side where my kids wouldnt go from sticking a toe in to 6 foot deep water in less than 2 feet. It was still pretty rough, though. Eventually we gave up and went to the pools. The buffet wasnt anything great. The food was traditional Honduran, which was neat, but they kept running out of plates and silverware. I think I may have caught something at this port. (more on that later). The last day at sea was great. Disembarkation was handled really smoothly, also. the line was long at customs, but we didnt do walk off disembarkation and deliberately chose one of the last times, so that's really our fault. Restaurants: Cagneys - we went here twice, it was delicious. Couldnt go wrong. Chin Chin - whatever "asian fusion" food is, it was disgusting. Chicken fried rice was akin to Panda Express, but tasted worse, my moo goo gai pan was kind of OK. My husband's orange chicken was good (it wasnt on the menu, orange beef was but he asked and they accomodated). We had to go to the Garden Cafe to get the kids some edible food. Yuck. Moderno - not as good as Tejas de Brazil, but it was good brazillian food. We liked it. La Cucina - service was super slow, even though we booked/ate early (like 5:30) and were one of 2 tables. The food wasnt very good there, either. Le Bistro - the dining area was amazing, the food was delicious, and my 6 yo even tried escargot :). We also ate in Tsar's Palace one night to give the kids an MDR experience. It was OK. Nothing spectacular, but OK. (it was chocolate night, so all the desserts were chocolate) Kids club: My son didnt have a lot of fun. He was in the 6-9 yo age group, and I guess the counsellors didnt split them up by age or size, so when they played games like Dodgeball, one team was all younger, smaller kids, and the other was all the older, bigger kids. Yeah. That didnt go so well. He did have fun doing the pirate treasure hunt and the circus show. My daughter (3) LOVED the kids club, especially Ariel, who was the check in/lead counselor. We could hardly pry her out of there with a crowbar. We did have a couple of incidents due to their taking the "no help with bathroom" to the extreme - they wouldnt even lead her to the door - so in the end, after 2 accidents, we were told that she either wears a pullup or would be dismissed from the program. I totally understand that POV, so we sent her in pullups. She had a BLAST in the princess parade, the pirate hunt, and the circus show (she had to wag her tiger tail LOL). She is still asking when we can go back on the boat so she can see Ariel. I took 1 fitness class, but found it more useful to use the aerobics room to practice tae kwon do on my own. They were charging $12-15 per class for the non-6 am yoga stuff like aerobics, noweigan fight klub, etc. It was too cold to use the pools the first day and the last day of the cruise, but the other days, my kids had a blast on the slide, and in the kid pool and kid hottubs (such a fantastic idea to separate it!) . I didnt like that they didnt enforce the "no reserving for more than an hour" rule on lounge chairs, but oh well. The shows that we went to were great - one was a comedian, one was a magician, 1 was a pair of russian acrobats - a husband wife pair. He had been in the army and was an MMA fighter, she was trained in the Russian school of rhythmic gymnastics. It involved silk, hoops, and flying out over the crowd, along with amazing contortions. We also went to Le Cirque Bijou, which was pretty much the same thing, just with more people, special lighting effects, and a guy bungee cording down from the ceiling. The kids loved it. The Latitudes party was nice - especially the complimentary drinks, (we didnt buy the UBP). As for the GI bug, the last night of the cruise, both my son and I started having lots of grumbly tummy issues and some... protracted stays in the restroom. It took a few days to clear up, also. Not my ideal post-cruise diet, but oh well. Overall, we had a great time. So great, in fact, that we are booked on the Jade for NEXT spring break, out of Houston, on the cozumel-Harvest Caye- Roatan itenerary. However, this time, I booked us in a 2 bedroom family villa in the Haven. I think it will be much more our style than the minisuite. And as a bonus, we're getting the UBP, UDP, free gratuities AND $300 OBC for booking before 4/6. Im trying to convince my parents to come with us, too. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We went on one of the busy Spring Break cruise weeks while our kids were on Spring Break. It was my husband and myself on our 7th NCL cruise and 7th cruise, and our sons 9 and 6, one on his 2nd NCL cruise and one on his first cruise. My ... Read More
We went on one of the busy Spring Break cruise weeks while our kids were on Spring Break. It was my husband and myself on our 7th NCL cruise and 7th cruise, and our sons 9 and 6, one on his 2nd NCL cruise and one on his first cruise. My husband and I like to cruise when it is less crowded and a better deal, but we also wanted to take our kids on a cruise that they would be old enough to remember. It is hard to find a time when they are out of school. We were worried it would be super crowded. I’m happy to report the ship did not feel overly crowded or overrun with kids – however, on overrun with kids, I had an expectation of their being kids. They also handled kids club well. There was some time lines to check in/out, but we were never turned away and it did not look over crowded peeking in. It looked like they planned well for the capacity. Now that I covered my crowded concern, back to the cruise. We left after school on Friday, March 6th and drove from DFW to Houston. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express at Airtex Dr. It was north Houston, to break up the drive some, and just off the Hwy 45. It worked well and included breakfast for an easy start the next day. We left the hotel about 10am for the 1 hour drive to the port. Like others have mentioned, you drive through to drop off luggage and then drive around to get your parking ticket (pre-pay) or pay for parking. We were gold for the first time, so we got priority check-in and did not wait any time. However, they did not give us a number to broad the ship; be sure to get this when they give you the health questionnaire after security. When I asked at check-in how we know when to get on the ship, they sent us back to the front – squirreling out the in… priority check-in, but not priority boarding… We got on the ship about noon, so about 1 hour in all. On the ship, we had lunch at the MDR and got to try out the new menus. During the cruise, our 9 year liked the adult menu, while our 6 year liked the kids menu. After lunch, we explored the ship and then went to the room to see if ready (we always seem to miss the announcement when they are ready). We had connecting rooms that came locked. We call the room steward number, and our room steward, Putu, came to unlock them. He also said he saw our luggage and would bring it soon. He was great at making the kids feel special. Our room was prepared with the gold package – tender tickets, disembarkation tickets, laundry discount, ship pin, and party invite, which was nice because we could figure out how it all worked – and the welcome gift. Our kids like Kid’s Club, and we found plenty to entertain them. It was even a challenge some trying to get all activities because they had things going on at Kid’s Club as well as separate from Kid’s Club including the Double Dare game show, learning balloon animal making, learning magic tricks, Dora dance party, and family cupcake making. We went to all but family cupcake making. The kids felt they were too old for the dance party with character photo shots. The Kid’s Club is closed for 2 hours for lunch and dinner now, which is a change, on sea days. It was a little more challenging, but we made it work with electronics at dinner to entertain the kids. Kid’s Club was open during more hours on port days and just charged port play fees during the lunch and dinner times. We did not get to attend the prior guest parties or as many shows with the kids along. Of those that we saw, the acrobats were the best. The magician comedian and Cirque were also very good. We attended the M&G and had a gift exchange; it was fun. Cozumel: We caught a taxi to Chankanaab. It was about $13 for 4; set rate. Note your pier name for return later. We had the coupon for Chankanaab from their web site. We explored the ruins; there was someone make tortillas that we got to sample them. Then checked out the lagoon and crocodiles. We brought our own snorkel gear and borrowed the free life jacket. You have to provide one id to borrow one or more. We just brought our passports on shore; for this, I wished we had brought our driver’s licenses instead. Regardless, it worked well. My husband and oldest son snorkeled and enjoyed it. Our youngest enjoyed the pool; an adult has to go in with them – cannot just supervise from the side. We also had a snack from pool side food stand where we could watch the dolphins while eating. We also watched the Sea Lion show. It was in Spanish and English but still challenging to understand. The person speaking did not seem too concerned about being understood. Though just watching the Sea Lions was nice. When we were ready to go, there were taxis available and was called over for us. Belize: We pre-booked the Stingray and shark ray alley snorkel tour from Coral Breezes. Since we were carrying snorkel equipment, people wanted to sell us a tour, but when told we were already booked, they pointed us in the right direction and recommended we check in first then walk around. We easily found the Coral Breezes rep; she recommended a restroom break and then meeting back. We were in a tour with one other family (8 people total on our tour). They collected payment and lunch orders; then boarded us on the boat. Some people mentioned boat trouble; our boat did not have any trouble. The waters were a little rough. We had two tour guides that did a great job. They talked after the water calmed bit; we pass several interesting islands – one that was someone’s home that was worth $30M because it had a retaining wall all around and one built over 30 years by the owner bring in buckets of sand. On Caye Caulker, we had restroom break time and got snorkeling equipment for those that needed it. Back on the boat, the sharks and rays came for food. The sharks moved to another boat that pulled up before we got in the water. While snorkeling, there were rays swimming around too! We then swim over to the coral; it was pretty. The current was strong, so it did get tiring. The boat came to pick us up. My oldest son swim the full time; our youngest got back on the boat early with one of the tour guides. I was afraid he would be crying (he does not have the happiest personality normally), but we got back on he was happy talking about to drink the water in a bag. They did very well with the kids and keeping up with all the guests. Back on Caye Caulker, we had lunch with real sugar Coca-Cola and walked around. After returning to Belize City, we did a chocolate tour at Moho Chocolate factory. It is not a big tour, but nice and included samples of a milk shake and different chocolates for $2/pp. Banana Coast: We did not plan anything for Banana Coast. The mountains in the background were beautiful. We took the tender. They have shopping and a beach right by the tender drop off. There was a big pile of sand, so it looked like they re-sanded often. It was a nice beach with a view of the cruise ships, shells, sea glass, and pelicans diving for food. We all enjoyed the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Just returned and wanted to give some feedback on the Jewel. She is still a Jewel. We sailed her back in 2005, transatlantic repositioning, Barcelona to Miami. I thought she was so different then and still is today. The colors are bright ... Read More
Just returned and wanted to give some feedback on the Jewel. She is still a Jewel. We sailed her back in 2005, transatlantic repositioning, Barcelona to Miami. I thought she was so different then and still is today. The colors are bright and airy. Very Caribbean. Not the usual cruise ship. Very clean ship with lots of "washy - washy" being promoted. This cruise we had the family suite # 11024. Very roomy for just the two of us. We could have fit two or three grandkids in the spare room with no problem, but would have been tight for teens or adults. Not a lot of closet or drawer space in the room, but we were able to utilize both rooms and had an extraordinary amount of storage. A very pretty flower arrangement was in the suite, three bottles of champagne (which I was happy to give to others celebrating on this cruise) were delivered on day two with a bowl of fresh fruit and Godiva chocolates, ( (we hoarded the chocolates). Canapés were delivered every afternoon. DH loved the chocolate chip cookies. Also delivered were chocolate covered strawberries (twice), finger sandwiches, assortment of chocolate confections, cheese and crackers, cake, and canapés. We really didn't need to go out to eat with all the food the butler brought us. We didn't use the butler Teodore, but he was always there just in case. Anthony, room steward kept the room tidy. We had the ultimate dining, ultimate drink packages. The dining was great, we ate in all restraunts except Le Bistro (heard it was real good). Cagney's was so good we ate there twice..... The Italian food was just average. Moderno should not be missed, we ate at Chin Chin's twice also, but the best was Tapanyaki, a must also. Unless you want to get plastered every night the drink package is not a good deal. We received the drink and dining packages as incentives for getting a suite so we did not purchase them. I do not understand why you cannot get bottled water or coffee bar items on the drink plan instead of alcoholic beverages. We received a bottle of wine for being platinum members and several other perks which we were able to give to another couple traveling with us. NCL was very accommodating in letting us include them in on our perks such as embarking and disembarking early, a meet the crew get together in The Haven, using my drink card to get them soft drinks, special seating in the theater, free dining coupons, etc. We did purchase the thermal spa passes and found this very relaxing. We did the dune buggy/snorkel in Cozumel. Highly recommend but not good snorkeling. The old Belize River /Altun Ha in Belize, nice but long and the catamaran/snorkel in Honduras, very very good. The entertainment was good for the most part. Really enjoyed the "de je vous" couple. Our cabin was located under the pool area. Quiet most of the time. Did hear the band some nights, but only till mid night or so. Really not a problem. A few chairs being moved around, but again not a big deal. A curtain between the master bath area and the bedroom provided little privacy. Toilet flushing resonated through the sleeping area. We decided to use the 2nd toilet in the other bedroom to not disturb one another at night or naps. Glad to have the second bathroom. All in all it was a very enjoyable cruise. Everyone working the Jewel was very friendly for the most part. I would recommend NCL.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My family went on our very first cruise for spring break. I chose the Norwegian Jewel because they were the cheapest at the time I booked the cruise and my husband refused to go on a Carnival, which also ruled out Princess since they are ... Read More
My family went on our very first cruise for spring break. I chose the Norwegian Jewel because they were the cheapest at the time I booked the cruise and my husband refused to go on a Carnival, which also ruled out Princess since they are owned by Carnival. Check in was not a problem and was faster than what I expected from reading older reviews, we left from Houston. The parking was little high at $75 prepaid. We brought 2 cases of water and 2 cases of diet Dr Pepper (we don't like Pepsi products). Anyway, our cabins (we booked 2 because it was cheaper than booking one with all four of us in it) were very clean and the staff was wonderful. The rooms were very quite and we slept better on the ship than at home. We really enjoyed the freestyle cruising because with 2 kids we didn't have to plan around eating. I didn't see that many drunk people except on the first day and everyone seemed very friendly. My 8 year old loved the kids program and my 12 year old thought she was too cool for it (she thinks she is too cool for everything). It didn't take long to navigate around the ship. The workout facilities were ok and I went onto one of the sunning decks to do some exercises (squats, situps etc it was one of the less used ones and no one was there in the mornings). The jogging track was ok and not too crowed. They said the ship was full, however there were many times it didn't fill full at all and certain places on the ship during depending on the time of day were empty. Destinations: We enjoyed Cozumel, we went on the 3 reef snorkeling. However, it was a bit too much for my 8 year old. We all LOVED Belize, actually enough that we are considering a trip just to Belize. Trujillo, Honduras - we nicknamed horrible Honduras. Although we enjoyed the starfish snorkel, afterwards we went to the beach. In front of an abandoned looking hotel, and there was a trench running from another building (the one with a bathroom) to the sea. The trench was was brown and gross. i don't want to know exactly why or what was going on there. YUCK! Anyway, afterwards we were taken back to the port by a bus that was from the 1940's. When we were going through town it just didn't feel safe and it was crowded and dirty. Anyway, not a fan of Honduras. I looked to see what the itinerary is for future cruises and they have Roatan, Honduras instead of Trujillo so maybe Roatan is better. Entertainment We enjoyed the entertainment on board the ship. I loved the acrobatic couple. They were amazing. Overall the crew were very friendly. Cleanliness The ship was in pristine condition. Our rooms were super clean and constantly being cleaned also. When they used the life boats to tender us to Honduras, the life boats looks much cleaner than the lifeboats used by Holland America that was anchored near us. Overall, I feel like the trip was well worth the money and the whole family enjoyed it. I would definitely book another trip on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My family chose this year to take a cruise .... and ended up with the Norwegian Jewel. We traveled with my 2 daughters ... age 11 and 14. And we had a BLAST!!!! We loved every minute of our time on the Jewel and at each of the ports. ... Read More
My family chose this year to take a cruise .... and ended up with the Norwegian Jewel. We traveled with my 2 daughters ... age 11 and 14. And we had a BLAST!!!! We loved every minute of our time on the Jewel and at each of the ports. Starting with the embarkation process ... it was super easy and well organized. We decided to do 2 rooms that were connected, and this was perfect for our family. In one room, the 4 of us would have been bumping into each other. With the 2 rooms, we just kept the door between the rooms open and were very grateful for the 2 bathrooms :) The food on board was fantastic. We chose to do only a handful of reservations at the nicer restaurants ... and just supplemented with the Garden Cafe' (buffet) on nights that we had other things we wanted to do (ie. the show or kids club activities). Speaking of the shows, the comedian and the magician were fantastic!! I think we caught some form of the show each night, but those 2 stood out. I wanted to address the kids clubs (Splash Academy). Not many reviews talk about them and I know that as a mother of teens / pre-teens ... that activities for them matter!!! I loved the way that they broke the age groups up. One daughter was in the Dolphin group (10-12 year olds). She had a blast!!! She loved the games, the crafts, the activites ... all very age friendly. She was worried that they would be "too baby" ... but they were great!! My 14-year old is hard to please ... but loved having the freedom to check herself in / out of the teen club. The activities for the older kids were very fun and "teen approved". After getting over the initial "I don't know anyone" ... we hardly saw her!! She was constantly going to / from the teen club and enjoying herself. Can't thank Norwegian enough for that!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Embarkation – quick, easy, priority embarkation for Haven guests Haven Experience – as background, we booked a two-bedroom suite last July for five of us girls. The prices dropped SIGNIFICANTLY and included all the great perks within ... Read More
Embarkation – quick, easy, priority embarkation for Haven guests Haven Experience – as background, we booked a two-bedroom suite last July for five of us girls. The prices dropped SIGNIFICANTLY and included all the great perks within a few weeks of sailing. Oh well! We all know how that works. For anyone who has the flexibility to wait – you cannot beat the current fares for the Haven right now. • Room Steward – OK, not great. Our second time in a suite and both times we had “lack-luster” room stewards. Kind of strange. • Butler “Erlindo” – good • Concierge “Florentina” – good • Haven Attendant “Jon” – outstanding. Took care of the Haven from sun up to late afternoon. Always had a smile on his face and the five of us loved his “copy that” and “happy” responses to all requests. He’s a keeper! • Mini gym – recumbent bicycle and treadmill. Great for me, since I cycle each morning. Deck 15 (only accessible from the Haven I think) provided the perfect spot for my stretching and core building exercises so I never had to fight the gym crowds. Food – Specialty restaurants • Teppanyaki – excellent, great quality and huge quantity. Chef was very entertaining • La Cuchina – excellent salmon, pasta carbonara – friendly service • Moderno – very good food, but extremely slow service. After 1.5 hours – decided to quit Complimentary dining • Azura – nice casual atmosphere. Fair service and fair food • Tzar’s – beautiful atmosphere. Fair service and fair food • O’Sheehans – nice casual atmosphere – good for people watching. Fair service and fair food. • Buffet – nicely laid out with a great selection that should meet anyone’s needs. Only ate there for lunch. Entertainment • “Band on the Run” – good, not great • Comedian - OK • Russian Couple – AWESOME! • Cirque – AWESOME! Splash Academy - one of us girls was my 8-yr old granddaughter - she loved Splash Academy. They put on a Circus that last sea day. It was great. Excursions • Cozumel – Fury Snorkel & Beach tour – GREAT!!! Snorkeling was good and the beach time with all the large water toys was great for all ages. • Banana Coast – Tranquility Bay was awesome. Quiet, serene, excellent massage ($45 for an hour). The name fits – enjoyed a beautiful day there. Overall – a very nice cruise. I’m a freestyle fan and really enjoyed the relaxation.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Having cruised a few times before, we were very happy with the NCL JEWEL. An older ship, but has been remodeled/updated recently. The ship holds around 2500 guests and about 1000 crew, I think. There are 14 decks.. But most of the ... Read More
Having cruised a few times before, we were very happy with the NCL JEWEL. An older ship, but has been remodeled/updated recently. The ship holds around 2500 guests and about 1000 crew, I think. There are 14 decks.. But most of the activities is on 6-7,12-13. Embarkation was fine..standard security ,etc.. No real problems in Houston. Our room was fine..see below.. Food was good..and Plentiful! The Garden Cafe buffet had decent food..not fantastic..but they did vary the menu with themed nights. Tsars palace and Azura ..main dining rooms were fine also.. Freestyle cruising..eat anytime..never really had any long wait times to find a table. o'sheehans pub was also a nice change of pace diner..all those are included in price.. their Premium restaurants are nice! We only ate at Cagneys Steakhouse, on our anniversary.. Food there was Great! Highly recommend. The ship has a lot of options in eating. The lounges/bars were nice too. spinnaker lounge had great views of the water..and was spacious ! Some great game shows,etc.are held there! Dont miss the white hot party..tons of fun..and wear white! But the highlight of our trip was the Amazing shows in the Stardust Theater.. Don't miss one, if you go, because they are high production events. The Cruise Director, Jamie walker, is fantastic! She is very personable, helpful,funny, and amazingly she seemed to be at most events during the day! Great asset to the Ship! The pool area was nice, although I'm surprised it's not larger, as a lot of people congregate there during the day.. Ports were fun, especially the NCL Party atmosphere when boarding the ship! All in all, we had a Fantastic Vacation! Highly recommended for first timers, families, and those wanting to get away from the stress.. the. Jewel is Not a ship for those looking for lavish living, although I heard the Haven Suites are amazing! We will cruise again on NCL, for sure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Background to review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. However, this cruise was our first family cruise since my daughter Emily was married. We booked the ... Read More
Background to review: With our children grown and no longer cruising with us, we began booking suites for the extra amenities offered. However, this cruise was our first family cruise since my daughter Emily was married. We booked the Garden Villa for 7 of us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event and it could not have been more fabulous. No ship or cruise can be the best at everything, but on the NCL Jewel the combination of the ship, the crew, the entertainment (outstanding), the excursions, the food, the friends we met, made for an outstanding week. Overall Evaluation: (more detail comments appear below) • The Garden Villa experience can’t adequately be expressed in words. It was the BEST. • Food quality was superb everywhere. We had the Ultimate Dining Package and ate in Teppanyaki, Le Bistro (2), Cagney’s (2), La Cucina, and Moderno. • Entertainment was excellent. Probably the best dance group I have seen on any cruise line. Do NOT miss Le Cirque Bijou…..OUTSTANDING. • The staff was friendly and helpful and our Concierge, Florentina Popa, was outstanding as well as our Butler, Erlindo Doca, and our room steward, Alexandro Legarda. • We hosted the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party in the Garden Villa with over 70 attendees. Garden Villa: When I booked the Garden Villa over a year ago, Wendy, my wife, thought I was foolish to spend that amount of money on a week cruise. After the week was over, she told me the experience of this past week was worth way more in memories than the money we spent. On Sunday, we hosted the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party in the Villa with more than 70 attendees. NCL did a great job in organizing and setting up the event with several officers in attendance. Our group did a gift exchange organized by SimplySuzy. After the gift exchange, 30 of us headed to the Casino for the slot pull organized by Cocruzlvrs. The casino gave us a couple of bottles of champagne and tee shirts for the highest winners. We lost 55 cents per person but almost hit the jackpot twice playing the Wheel of Fortune. A great time was had by all. On Wednesday, we celebrated the birthday for two members of our group. Florentina, Erlindo, and Alexandro decorated the living room with balloons and had a large cake waiting for us when we returned from our excursion in Belize. A couple of us, especially me, took advantage of the Jacuzzi and Steam Room that was on our patio between the master bedroom and the living room. On deck 15, above our living area was a private sun deck with chairs, a hammock, and tables. The sun worshipers in our group used this area extensively. DINING: Some people criticize anytime dining but I prefer it. It allows me to control when and where I eat based upon the day’s activities. Other people may prefer traditional dining because they are able to meet other cruisers and develop a relationship with them. Besides breakfast and lunch in Moderno’s, we ate at the buffet in Garden Café, Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, La Cucina, and O’sheehans. I have absolutely NO complaints about the food at any venue. I could have eaten at the buffet every night and been happy; it was that good. Le Bistro was outstanding. It was NOT crowded and provided a great dining atmosphere with great food. Only complaint I might have at Le Bistro’s was the amount of time it took us to dine. However, with 9 of us at our table each night it could have been a factor. This was our first time at Teppanyaki’s on any cruise. I highly recommend this to everyone. The experience provides a fun time for all but the food is outstanding. I can’t wait to book this on our next cruise. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows in the Stardust theater were OUTSTANDING. Two shows are definitely labeled as “DO NOT MISS”: Band on the Run and Le Cirque Bijou. Do not miss the final Farewell Variety Showtime on Day 7. It provides a great emotional high and a fitting tribute to a great cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We had a wonderful time on this cruise! The cruise director, Leslie, was very good - humorous without being "cheesy" like the directors on many cruises I have been on. The evening entertainment was excellent, with something for ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise! The cruise director, Leslie, was very good - humorous without being "cheesy" like the directors on many cruises I have been on. The evening entertainment was excellent, with something for everyone (comedy, magic, acrobatics, big productions.) We found a singing group, Great Ideas, that we really liked and made it a point to drop in on their performances. There was a good variety of activities (deck parties, trivia games, dancing, sports, etc.) The service was generally good, except for the dining room staff, which was slow and inattentive at times. Our cabin steward, Roberto, was great! He went to a lot of trouble to decorate my cabin for my Birthday, complete with a towel cake "sculpture." Having visited all but one of the ports several times, we toured on our own instead of booking excursions through the ship. As a relatively frequent cruiser (this is my 15th), this cruise compared favorably with others I have been on, especially in light of the very reasonable cost. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We sailed with a group of 10 ranging from age 3 to mid-60's with varying experience from first time to 9th cruise. Each person had a very different opinion of this trip. This was my third cruise and I enjoyed every second of it. Let ... Read More
We sailed with a group of 10 ranging from age 3 to mid-60's with varying experience from first time to 9th cruise. Each person had a very different opinion of this trip. This was my third cruise and I enjoyed every second of it. Let me start by saying I had zero expectations. Even after reading several years of reviews (THANK YOU CRUISE CRITIC), I didn't have a level of fun that I expected. It seems like most negative reviews are when something doesn't meet their expectations. Several people in my group were guilty of this also. For example, Trujillo was a favorite stop for some and the least favorite for others. First, get to the Port of Houston early. If you can get through customs early then you can eat lunch on the ship and start your vacation before most get on board. If you wait, then everything shuts down for the safety drill. Good news is that the safety drill itself only lasts about 5 minutes although it takes about 45 minutes to get everyone ready. It is mandatory and if you miss it then you must attend a make-up drill. Second, be prepared for how small the rooms are. Get organized and THANK YOU to everyone that suggested the over-the-door organizers. The rooms do have great use of space with lots of storage, however this one tip was GREAT! We had instant access to all necessary items. SHIP: The JEWEL was great. I found it to be very clean....however just like when staying at hotels, I try not to look around too much. It is great that they have hand sanitizer available everywhere! FOOD: It was excellent! We all found something different we liked in the Garden Café most days, however by the end of the cruise, we were eating most lunch and dinner meals in the Main Dining room to avoid the chaos. You can order as many entrees as you want and same with dessert! The Garden Café is very loud, so we spent most breakfasts at the back of the ship (go through the garden café) and there is another buffet and tables outside. NIGHTLIFE: What nightlife? Aside from a crazy pub crawl and white hot party, it is really calm after about 8pm. We used the hot tub around 8:30pm and all the outside bars are closed. We do have small children so this wasn't really a negative for us. KIDS: My 8 year old absolutely loved it! She begged us all day to check her in to the kids club. They do lots of activities with them including a pirate night, survivor challenge and pajama party. ENTERTAINMENT: Worth watching every night. The only one we missed was the comedian. Ok, so for our trip review. We made it on the ship just in time to grab a bite to eat and then make our way to the Spinnaker Lounge (top/front of the ship) for a welcome party with all the dancers and Nickelodeon characters (We hoped to go swimming just as soon as we boarded, but it was cold and windy in Houston so no water sports until the third day). This was my third cruise and the only one I have ever noticed the boat moving. It moved all week and moved a lot. It was actually funny watching people snake their way down hallways. I get major car sickness if I'm not driving, however the rocking on this ship never seemed to bother me. Two in our group had the flu for a couple of days so the constant moving was making it worse. One of these sicklings in our group will never go on another cruise..EVER! The rooms were always clean and were always getting made up or turned down. My children got towel animals every night. We tipped in cash and candy which I'm sure didn't hurt. Since we were eating 24/7, we decided that we would use the stairs all week instead of the elevators. The Jewel is a very large ship and very spread out, so by mid-week we utilized the hot tubs nightly. There are two adult-only hot tubs which are hotter than the other two. The jets are actually fairly strong compared which was a blessing. A few in our group played Bingo but the complained that the entry fee is steep with a very small payout. My wife and I had good luck in the casino early in the cruise, but put most of our winnings back the last few days. The kids always enjoyed the water slide and the kids hot tub (separate from the other four). We didn't use the two pools on the ship very often because they are too deep for the kids and filled with salt-water. The deck fourteen sun deck was our favorite place to lounge, however it was only open for a couple of days due to high winds. Overall it was a great trip. We got to visit three very different countries, ate lots of really good food, and spent several days in 70+ degree weather in January at one great price.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We sailed with 16 of our closest friends. A fantastic time was had by all. The casual atmosphere allowed for some much needed R and R. OSheehan's was a great venue for lunch. Most of us ate at Tsar's for dinner together and were ... Read More
We sailed with 16 of our closest friends. A fantastic time was had by all. The casual atmosphere allowed for some much needed R and R. OSheehan's was a great venue for lunch. Most of us ate at Tsar's for dinner together and were taken care of by a fantastic wait staff. They seemed to anticipate our every want and need. Trujillo was especially refreshing. We didn't book an excursion but decided to walk to town. Once there we encountered "Dennis" that took us all over. It was clear he was very proud of his environment and was very knowledgeable. We have cruised many times before and I will say the Port of Houston is by far superior over Galveston or Gulfport, MS. We were able to get on the ship very quickly and the terminal was new, clean and fresh. We took advantage of the self-service disembarkation and was pleasantly surprised by how smooth and efficient it was. We were off the boat and in our car headed home within 30 minutes. We all decided we are ready to book our next trip, kind of regretting not taking advantage of the program they offer for your next cruise vacation. That will be something we take advantage of the next time we travel on Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I took my family on a cruise for Christmas this year. We all live in Texas, so leaving out of the Houston port was very convenient. There were 23 of us, ranging in age from 2 to 79. We had a good time, but there were some issues with the ... Read More
I took my family on a cruise for Christmas this year. We all live in Texas, so leaving out of the Houston port was very convenient. There were 23 of us, ranging in age from 2 to 79. We had a good time, but there were some issues with the cruise that I'd like to share for future cruisers. First of all, the positives. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly. The new cruise terminal in Houston was very nice and seemed organized. Parking out in front was very easy, but cost $80/week. The NCL staff was very attentive for the most part. Our room steward was very sweet. And the wait staff in most of the dining rooms were friendly and helpful. We also found that the front desk staff was exceptionally helpful. We all enjoyed the entertainment. My favorites were the Russian Duo Dance team and the comedian, David Naster. I didn't go to any of the other shows, but heard from family that they enjoyed them. The cruise ship had plenty of options for the family... some went to the shows, some went to the kid's activities, some lounged around the pools and hit the hot tubs, some went to the casino and others to the disco/bars... I liked that there was something to keep everyone happy. Then we all met together every evening in the Tsar's Dining room for dinner. I enjoyed Breakfast in the Garden Café, lots of choices, eggs, meats, fruit, etc. It was sometimes crowded, but we usually tried to find a group of tables in the same area for the family and we made it work. Also enjoyed several lunches at O'Sheehans' Pub and Grill, part of the complimentary restaurants on the ship... our favorite was their chicken wings. I also used the Sauna/Steam room on the Jewel every day and really enjoyed it. The area was roomy and comfortable and very tastefully appointed. I was disappointed that it cost $149 for the week, but my kids bought the package for me and I did enjoy it. We stopped in 3 ports of call and overall, the tendering and getting on/off the ship went smoothly. Now for the negatives... I have traveled on almost all the other cruise lines, and was very surprised at how Very Small the Balcony cabins were on the NCL Jewel. I bunked with 2 of my grandsons, so there were 3 of us in our cabin. When all the beds were pulled out for the evening I couldn't get to the Balcony or to the Desk and Coffee Pot in the morning. It was definitely not what I was expecting. We also had several days of plugged toilets. The maintenance staff was quick to respond, but they had trouble finding the problem and it took several days and several calls before they fixed the problem. On one occasion the maintenance man had to ask me to help him by flushing toilet, etc... again, definitely not what I was expecting. I said above that I enjoyed Breakfast in the Garden Café Buffet, but that's were the good review on the food ends. The lunch and dinner at the buffet was not very appetizing to me and often was not very fresh. Several times I tried the Hamburgers and found them to be dried out, also tried to get ice cream one afternoon and found that the Buffet only serves it for several hours each day. The complimentary room service menu was very limited and although I didn't order from it, I heard from other family members that the wait time often exceeded 30-45 minutes. The meals in the Tsar's Dining Room weren't much better. Our evening meal often drug out over 2 hours, even when the restaurant was half empty. And there weren't very many choices that seemed appealing to me... the chicken alfredo was made with rice and red sauce, the escargot was served in a brown gravy... again, just my opinion, but I found the meals served in the Tsar's restaurant to be lacking. We did eat one night in The Steakhouse (specialty restaurant) and the food was better, and the service was definitely 5-star. But even with the surcharge ($30/pp) you were only allowed one entrée... each additional entrée was $10... I find that to be very disappointing. In O'Sheehan's Pub and Grill I tried to order a milk-shake that was advertised on their digital menu but was told they didn't serve milkshakes. Again, definitely not the service that I was expecting. I was very glad to be able to take the whole family on this cruise, but I would not sail with NCL again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just ... Read More
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just to put us in perspective: fairly well travelled (couple of weeks in Europe every other year, a week in the Caymans most years, and a few weeks on Kiawah most summers). We have never cruised or done package tours; even out of the way Greece, Turkey, or Italy we plan ourselves, albeit at mostly higher end places. My wife is concerned that as the kids' schedules get more hectic, family trips will be harder. (I suspect the lure of free vacations will take care of that.) Anyway, we decided to try a cruise (and to not host Christmas for the first time in many years). Worked with a great TA, researched on Cruise Critic, and decided on NCL Jewel as a good balance of ship, itinerary, etc. We live outside D.C., but it is an easy direct flight to Houston. We had an aft suite (I could never figure out if it was a penthouse or not, but it had the butler and concierge, so not sure it mattered). We had the kids share a balcony room next to us; they haven't shared rooms when we travel for many years, but we were--needlessly, in hindsight---concerned about security (not really concerned, but never having cruised....) that we put them together near us. They were good sports about it, and the steward made some tweaks to give them more privacy. Bottom line, had a great time. Different than what we were used to, but a lot of fun. Bunch of comments and observations below: 1. Food: we ate in the specialty restaurants every night. Just our preference, but food quality is important to us, and the supplement seemed reasonable (did the package). LOVED Moderno for breakfast and lunch; much better than the couple of times we ate in the Garden Café for those meals. Best meals: Cagneys (ate there twice, once much better than other time): not up there with Palm or high end steakhouse ashore, but good. Also really enjoyed La Cucina--limited menu but well prepared. Enjoyed all of the others, but food was nothing really special (I enjoy almost anything with my family on vacation) 2. Other food observations: found service slow at specialty restaurants, even when not that full; my sense was that the servers were stretched a little thin. Felt that there could have been a higher high end on the wine list; it topped out at about $65 (except for the Champagne). Not much of a mark up, which was nice, but even a small "reserve" list would have been nice. Had the butler serve breakfast in the suite a couple of days: very nice, and he was happy to get off menu items. 3. Steward, Butler, and Concierge (Florentia) were outstanding. Helpful, always there but not obtrusive, friendly. Could not have been nicer, and a major part of the trip being great. 4. From what we saw, the priority boarding and disembarkation made a real difference. We breezed on and off in just a few minutes, and missed the customs lines when we returned. 5. The bars were nice, well staffed, and I thought well priced. They could all make a "real" drink (martini, Manhattan, etc.) as well as the various specials. 6. We really enjoyed the various "small" musical acts, generally at Magnums (one of the bars). Fun hearing Italian piano players and Brazilian guitarists playing and singing classic rock, folk rock, etc. Not being sarcastic--really enjoyed it, and we wished they stayed open past midnight. 7. We found the back of the boat suite very quiet, with no foot traffic past our rooms. Folks we talked to in the other suites, including Haven, said it was often "noisy." No personal experience, just repeating a couple of comments. 8. We all enjoyed the spa. My wife and daughter both had facials and massage(s), and said they compared favorably to higher end day spas in and around D.C. I had a shave--full hot towel, face massage, etc. like in the old time (and new!) barber shops, and it was great. We got the week passes to the steam, whirlpools, sauna, complex (with great views!), and found them both very nice, and usually pretty empty. Gym was ok, a little crowded for my taste but pretty nice. 9. Wifi was confusing and slow, but usable if you need to stay connected. 10. All of our excursions were through the ship. We did the Mayan ruin trip in Cozumel (ok, a little too commercial but Angel was a great guide). Son and I did the already-certified scuba dives in Belize and Roatan (outstanding in both places; professional, well run, good equipment, great reefs and wall dives). Wife and daughter went to animal preserve/beach day in Roatan and had a great time. Daughter (budding classics/archeology teacher) did another Mayan ruin in Belize and found it great, much "better" than Cozumel in scope and depth. All well run; no standing around waiting (except for a short weather delay in Belize). 11. I didn't see many (ok, any) of the "big" shows, but wife and daughter enjoyed them. The "risqué" ship-run programs (think PG-13 truth or dare) were fun, and good natured, and the cruise director said several times before they started that they were really for those over 18. Nothing explicit, all double-entendre stuff. Fun, and funny. 12. I thought the dance bands and/or DJ in Spinnaker at night were good, but hampered by the age rang from 18-65 all together. Motown followed by hip hop followed by 80's hair bands: hard to please everyone, but they did their best, and most people were able to dance most of the time. 13. Bars were a great place to people watch, particularly the row of bars in "bar city." 14. Kids, as kids do, found groups of other 18-21 year olds, and had fun by themselves, which was fine with us. We signed the beer and wine waiver for them (they have the occasional glass of wine with dinner at home, and we let them follow local laws when we travel), and they were reasonably responsible. 15. Initial thoughts: we would cruise again, although not necessarily right away, and would probably go NCL again for a family cruise (but kids could have their own cabins next time). If it is just my wife and I, we would probably try to go a little more "luxury," although I get a little confused about all of the labels. But if it is just us, not sure I would do a week cruise vs. a week in Tuscany or France. But will probably try it at least once more. I am sure I will revise those opinions a few more times as the experience percolates. Hope folks find this useful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This past December our family went on a Christmas cruise with the NCL Jewel leaving out of the port of Houston. There were 23 family members plus 2 close friends and we booked a total of 10 cabins. All in all we had a wonderful time! We ... Read More
This past December our family went on a Christmas cruise with the NCL Jewel leaving out of the port of Houston. There were 23 family members plus 2 close friends and we booked a total of 10 cabins. All in all we had a wonderful time! We enjoyed the ship, the service and time to spend together having fun and reconnecting. We also compiled a list of pros and cons we'd like to share with other potential travelers. It always helps us to read the reviews and we hope our experiences might prepare future travelers for what they might expect on the NCL Jewel. * Embarkation and Disembarkation in Houston went smoothly, very organized, nice new cruise terminal hub, parking was easy. * Overall the Staff was great! Very friendly and helpful. We loved our room steward, Mia! However, there were days that rooms weren't made up until noon or later (maybe too many rooms for 1 steward?) * Speaking of rooms...they are TINY. When sharing a Balcony with 3 or 4 (even when the 3rd and 4th are children) the room is "all bed" !! When prepared for the evening, you can't get to the balcony doors... definitely a negative... * We loved the coffeepot in the room! Only cruise we've ever traveled that had coffee in the room... Big Thumbs Up! * We didn't love the plumbing issues that 4 of our balcony cabins encountered... maintenance was quick to respond, but several days of plumbing issues got old. Guest services was very apologetic and offered us an evening at The Steakhouse (specialty restaurant) to make up for the inconvenience. * Dining... Breakfast in the Garden Cafe Buffet was perhaps our favorite. Loved the variety and it was very good. Also loved the Crepe station in the evening (Chocolate Crepes with WhipCream and Powdered Sugar is now my fav!) Lunch and Dinner in the Garden cafe was average. Loved that staff was at all doors with hand sanitizer... "Washy, washy, Happy, happy!" * Evening Dinner in the Tsar's Palace was fair. We were traveling with a large family group and made reservations every evening for 8pm. Our tables were always ready, but the meal usually drug out for 2 hours or better. Not sure why our service was so slow. Often the wait staff got our orders mixed up and the food was just average. We wonder if the cruise line is trying to push guests to the specialty restaurants (extra surcharge). There were moments they got everything right. The chocolate dessert night was one (except they ran out of my dessert and had to substitute another, which was just as scrumptious to be honest). And a Big Shout-out to Chester, the assistant waiter who went out of his way to make things right (as much as possible). Note: Read all menu descriptions... we had several dishes that we were not at all what we were expecting, escargo and chicken alfredo to name two... made for humorous memories but not tasty eating! * The Specialty Restaurants... Some of us ate at the Steakhouse, La Cucina and Teppenyaki. Meals here were excellent and the wait staff was very attentive. Not sure if the food was worth the extra charge, but the ambience was nice. * Room Service... Menu was very limited and the 2 occasions we used it, the wait was over 45 minutes. It might have been easier to go up to the Garden Cafe, get our meal and bring it back to our room. Also the pizza was an additional cost for Room Service, $5 per pizza (but free up in the Garden Cafe, go figure) * One of our family members is on a Gluten-Free Diet and here NCL did everything right! Kelli was given a personal Dietary Assistant for the cruise and almost without fail, every meal in the restaurant was great. However it was almost impossible to eat in the Garden Café Buffet, nothing is marked. The dietary assistant told her to call her directly before eating in any of the sit-down restaurants and she would bring the menu to her. Also she arranged for Kelli to look at the next day’s menu for our evening meal and pre-order it the night before. Very nice. One other nice perk is that the gluten-free pizzas on the room service menu are free of charge (rather than the $5 for everyone else!) Note: you must notify NCL of your dietary restrictions at least 30 days prior to sailing. * Entertainment was enjoyable for all ages... Loved the Russian Duo "Deja Vu" and also the comedian David Naster. The comedic juggler, Scotty Cavanaugh was very good too. The children in our group also enjoyed the activities with Dora and all the Nickolodean characters. * The "Kids-Only" Hot tub was a great idea and we liked that staff did "police" the other hot tubs to encourage children to give the adults their space :-) * There is no free Sauna or Steam room on the NCL Jewel. It is $149 for the week. That being said, the Sauna/Steam room is extremely nice and was enjoyed very much by our dad. * The professional photographers on the ship as a whole did a great job. We all have some great pics of us individually and as couples... However, when we all got together on formal night (23 of us!) for family pics, we were pretty disappointed in the photographer. He did a very poor job of arranging our family on the grand-staircase and seemed almost bored with his job. Granted, we were a big family, but this is their bread-and-butter! We bought a lot of pics, would have been so much happier if that particular photographer would have taken a little bit more time working with us. It's not often we can get the whole family together and this cruise was about making memories... * Note for anyone traveling with a wheelchair...Hallways are narrow. Everyday when the room stewards were cleaning rooms, their cleaning carts, dirty laundry bags and other items lined the hallways, making wheelchair travel an adventure to say the least... * We stopped in 3 ports of call... Cozumel, Belize City and Trujillo. Had a great time in each port, but chose to do independent excursions, so we don't have any reviews for NCL's excursions. Leaving and re-boarding the ship was well-organized, but prepare for lines to re-board if you wait too long in the afternoon. We docked at the pier in Cozumel, but had to tender in at Belize and Trujillo. The tender service was excellent, very smooth and well run. Our family loved the week together. It was wonderful to just relax and not worry about the meals, cleaning, etc. We have traveled on other cruise lines and feel that NCL is just about average. Their service was excellent, the ship décor very pleasing and the entertainment enjoyable. However, service in the main dining rooms, along with menu options/taste, and the cabin issues, i.e. plumbing problems and the cabin's tiny size, as well having to pay for the steam/sauna room really did have an impact on our experience with the NCL Jewel. Overall, it was a great Christmas cruise and the memories we have will keep us smiling for a long time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I booked a very last minute cruise on the Jewel and I couldn't have been happier with the trip. I live in the Houston Metro and have now been on eight cruise's, five on Carnival, one on Royal Caribbean, and two on Norwegian. The ... Read More
I booked a very last minute cruise on the Jewel and I couldn't have been happier with the trip. I live in the Houston Metro and have now been on eight cruise's, five on Carnival, one on Royal Caribbean, and two on Norwegian. The Jewel sails out of the Port of Houston which is in the industrial part of the metro and surrounded by refineries. It is not the most attractive place to begin your vacation. Embarkation was not as smooth as Carnivals process but I got on board ship with little trouble. The Jewel is a very nice ship but a bit dated compared to the Carnival Magic. Since I was traveling alone, I didn't eat in the formal Dining room nor pay extra to eat in the other upscale restaurants. I found that the buffet food and choices were outstanding. The food was the best buffet food I have eaten on any cruise. I also ate in the sports bar and that food also was very good. There is an omelet station on the stern that got very little attention so if you like omelets for breakfast then eat there. It is also a very nice spot to watch the world cruise by. There was a lot going on on this ship and I would say I saw more fun planned activities on the Jewel then any other one I've sailed on. Every day there was a huge BBQ hosted on the pool deck with some great food. The entertainment was outstanding, the best I've seen at sea. The crew actually looked like they were having fun. Every crew member I interacted with was friendly. This cruise stopped at Cozumel, Belize and the Banana Coast. I've been to Cozumel a lot of times and its a nice place to visit. Since I was not traveling with my wife I decided not to get off in Belize as I wanted to save that experience with her. The Banana Coast stop is not worth getting off of the ship in my opinion other then to say you visited Honduras. The stop is not developed, the beach is rough but if you want the experience of visiting a small Central American town then go right ahead. The passengers on this trip were mostly low energy, low keyed passengers. It may be because of the time of year but this was not a party ship. It was made up of a lot of senior cruisers some young couples and some young families. I found it a very relaxing trip, the ship was not crowded even though the crew said it was full. I will cruise again next year on Norwegian out of the Port of Houston. Next fall the Jade is scheduled to sail from the port. The ship was on par with most of the ships sailing out of Gulf of Mexico ports, the crew was great, the food and service was great and the entertainment was great. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not ... Read More
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not the case on our previous NCL cruise. Dining: First off, the buffet area exceeded expectations. It lacks any ambiance, but it was a staple of ours for breakfast and lunch. There is really an amazing variety of food (Grill, pasta, pizza, stir-fry, Indian, bread, fruit). At breakfast there's all kinds of eggs and breakfast meats, and omelette stations. I was pleasantly shocked that there was always seating available in the buffet (I expected it to be a popular choice and swamped). It always seemed to be close to full, with always a few tables empty. The staff was amazingly attentive, clearing plates within seconds of you finishing your food. For dinner, we ate in the main dining rooms most nights of our cruise. The two dining rooms have the same menu, however it is a large menu and changes from night to night. The service was impeccable, probably because each waiter only takes care of 2-3 tables at a time. On a typical night it's a three course meal (soups/salads, main course, dessert). We liked that it was not a fixed menu, and we could each choose our own entree from a good list of options. The food never took to long to come. A small but important detail: the coffee is very good on the Jewel. We were slightly bothered by the fact that soda was not included in your cruise fare; you could pay $2.10 per glass or buy an expensive package. I just steered clear (water, iced tea, and all juices were included). Complimentary room service was a nice touch, but the menu was limited and there wasn't really any eating space in stateroom. Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom. The bed was extremely comfortable. The balcony was well worth the extra cost-- It was nice to sit out there in the late afternoons and early evenings (the period of time between sun-bathing and dinner) and watch as the ship sailed out of port or in the open water. The bathroom was tight, but perfectly functional. Our steward was outstanding. Not only did he do a room make-up each morning, and turn down each evening, but he always did it when it worked for us. It seemed like he tailored his busy work schedule around when we felt like being in our stateroom. Our daughter required the pullout couch-- He stowed it for us each morning and made it up again each evening. Great touch. Amenities-- We were overall satisfied with the pool deck experience. The pools were a bit small, but we didn't wish to go for long swims, just quick ones to cool off. Usually the deck chairs right down by the pool are all taken. Up on the upper deck, however, there were usually some chairs open. That was actually nicer because the loud music of the pool deck wasn't right on you. For a quieter time, try the upper sun deck at the front of the ship (only accessible by stairs). Entertainment-- I'd give it a 6/10. We hardly ever found the options extremely appealing, but we gave them a bit of a pass because it is impossible to please everybody on a cruise. the productions were occasionally impressive and sometimes purely mediocre. Ports: Cozumel-- Cozumel was the only port we docked at, making going ashore very easy-- you could just walk off. We did the three reef snorkel by boat. The boat crew was very friendly. I felt that the tour group was a bit big and the water was a big crowded. Overall it was a cool experience. The excursion ended in time to venture into town for lunch. Belize City-- Book an excursion or don't get off the ship. Belize city was a depressed area and maybe dangerous. We did the Altun Ha Mayan ruins tour. The tour began with a bus drive through tour of Belize City, which was a very depressed city. The bus ride to Altun Ha was bumpy, and excruciatingly slow (it took over an hour one way). Can't fault the tour company for that though. The tour guide in charge of the Altun Ha part of the tour was weird and very hard to understand, so we got virtually no supplemental info on the ruins. The sheer wonder of the ruins was enough to make it a cool experience, though. Banana Coast-- This was obviously a makeshift port of call. The cruise was originally scheduled for Roatan, and changed the port of call after we booked. What's more, The Jewel was the first ship to ever call in Banana Coast. What's more, the cruise port was still under construction. They had to use the ship's lifeboats to tender us to shore. We didn't book a tour, rather we walked into town and explored. Good if you like seeing new places, bad if you like adventure. Beautiful scenery and mountains. Overall the Jewel was comfortable, we were well fed, and I can't say enough about the crew. They were attentive, eager to help, and ALWAYS smiling and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As I said, this was my very first cruise and I knew nothing about the ins and outs of cruising, but I quickly learned and enjoyed myself very much. I traveled with my 75 year old mother and my brother, so sharing the balcony cabin was ... Read More
As I said, this was my very first cruise and I knew nothing about the ins and outs of cruising, but I quickly learned and enjoyed myself very much. I traveled with my 75 year old mother and my brother, so sharing the balcony cabin was tight, not only because of the small space, but also because traveling with family--especially three of us in one tiny space--can be suffocating after the first couple of days. (Am I right? C'mon people, I can't be the only one with difficult family members! So you know what I mean!) The Jewel was a lovely ship with plenty of excellent food choices. The only complaints I have about the Jewel was that there wasn't anything interesting to do on-board when the ship was at port, and I was unhappy about their recent decision not to allow smoking on the balconies. Going too far if you ask me. Also, the casino was a total ripoff. After I lost $65 in three nights, I decided that it would be pure insanity to spend any more on a losing proposition. So I saved my money. The excursions were the best part of the trip. I went snuba diving in Cozumel and loved every minute of it! I realized as soon as I saw Belize City that I should have booked an excursion at that port since it was nothing but a tourist trap; not very authentic at all, and everything was overpriced. Honduras, however, was my idea of the perfect port to shop, eat and have a few drinks. I met many friendly co-cruisers, so never felt alone even though I went into two ports by myself. NCL did a fabulous job of tendering everyone in and out, and a boat was waiting to take us back to the ship whenever needed. I was very impressed. I had read complaints about NCL employees heckling people to buy their products, but that did not happen. I used the spa and was happy with the service. We bought bottles of wine because it was more affordable, and although it was pricey, they also had drink specials--try the martini sampler for $15. My brother and I shared it three nights! Although embarking the ship took some time, disembarkation was relatively fast and easy. I loved the cruise and am hoping to take the same cruise again some day. I will certainly cruise with NCL again in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
First time cruisers with another family who previously cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Children were ages 4, 6, 14, and 16 so given that this was our Thanksgiving holiday we were really psyched but quickly disappointed. ... Read More
First time cruisers with another family who previously cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Children were ages 4, 6, 14, and 16 so given that this was our Thanksgiving holiday we were really psyched but quickly disappointed. Embarkation was a breeze. Arrived to the terminal, dropped off the luggage, parked and all checked in relatively fast. No more than 45 minutes from lining up in customs to getting on the boat and then the issues began. Drink packages - I am pregnant and cleared for travel however because my husband and our children all must purchase a drink package because he will be drinking there is not an online option to change my drink package to an all-inclusive soda package. Doing this online supposedly saves you $5 a day however when I called before we left I was told it was too late to do this and to explain to them my issue on the boat and there should be no problem. Wrong again. We left on a Saturday, purchased the all-inclusive drink package for $54/day and were told to call the offices on Monday to dispute the charges because there was nothing that could be done - and this was the beverage manager we were talking to. Food - Garden Cafe (buffet) has the same food for breakfast, some changes in lunch and dinner but nothing to brag about. As for the "CHOCOHOLIC" night that they raved about in the daily - it was a misprint on Thursday and not available in Tsar's and when we asked our server she found out from her manager it was not available. So it was again listed in the daily for Friday and nothing more than what the Garden Cafe already had available for desserts on any other day. Desserts were disappointing as were the specialty desserts from Carlo's Bake Shop. As for O'Sheehans - great bar food if you don't mind waiting for it or if they don't forget to put your ticket in as this happened to me. This was where we went to dinner the first night thinking we'd try it out since the menu seemed appealing (wings, cheese sticks, chicken pot pie, fish & chips and burgers). Wait time was 40 minutes and we were seated. Once we ordered we just ordered in bulk and then our server disappeared. The next day I decided I'd go for lunch and get a burger. An hour later my husband and I are still waiting on my lone burger however everyone who was seated before and after me have eaten and left and still no food. Tsar's was interesting on Thanksgiving night as we had reservations and some ordered the Thanksgiving meal however they didn't bring the first course out (soup) until reminded and then decided that they wouldn't bring yams with one of the meals and instead put carrots thinking it would go unnoticed, perhaps? Azura was better but the food choice was only for that day. Our only good food was the last night at Teppanayaki's but with a 10p reservation we were unable to order sushi because the restaurant closed at 8p. Really? Room service menu was limited so don't plan on ordering a continental breakfast - not an option. Pizza is available 24/7 at a $5 charge and any room service orders after midnight cost you and additional $4. Room - we had a balcony on Deck 10 and right next to the elevators. Convenient and at times noisy but standard for a vacation. Saw our steward many times but had to ask if they did towel animals and by the third night was the first time we saw one on our bed. Children's activities - sparse. You could sign up for the NICKELODEON PAJAMA JAM that was only advertised on the restaurant placards and nothing more for $20 per person. This was the price of admission and breakfast but keep in mind, breakfast is free but not for this. Just like buying a ticket to movie if you are going with your child you pay full price. There were maybe 15 children in ages from infant to 12 or 13 but you do get a 1-on-1 photo opportunity with Dora, Diego, Sponge Bob, Sandy, The Last Airbender and 2 other characters I can't recall. Crafts consisted of coloring t-shirts or handkerchiefs with fabric markers, there is the arcade and the kids camp available too but not as much character sighting as I was hoping for given the Nickelodeon themed notion for the kids. Disembarkation - fast as when we got on. Only hold up was Customs but that is to be expected. Off the boat by 9:30a and home by 10:30a so this process was fast. Overall service - disappointing. Seemed to have some trouble communicating with guest services at time due to a language barrier and we spoke English but not sure they understood what we were asking. Can't say we felt welcomed by anyone. One bartender - Amalia - was the only one who seemed to make a point to want our business and ask how things were. Hubby had made friends with dealers in the casino but that was the extent of getting to know anyone. Never again for the amount of money spent would we go on another NCL cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
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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