9 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Fitness Cruises to Alaska

NCL surely had the best entertainment on board. Thats the best part of the cruise other than of course the shore excursions which we have to book at additional cost (so not really part of cruise experience). However there were a few ... Read More
NCL surely had the best entertainment on board. Thats the best part of the cruise other than of course the shore excursions which we have to book at additional cost (so not really part of cruise experience). However there were a few negatives. Sports facilities are not good. There were just broken tennis rackets, no tennis balls available to play other than some rain drenched old balls that were left on the court and there was no one to help even when they advertise open play hours. For other Indian vegetarians out there planning a cruise this is probably not the right food option. Rice used is jasmine rice and other sticky rice instead of basmati which is non sticky and goes well with indian palate. Also in general the veg options were not the best dishes of the chefs on board. Desserts section however was excellent. Also none of the other restaurants (other than garden cafe) had an selection of veg options which was really disappointing as we could not visit any onboard restaurant like azura or tsars palace even though we tried booking a table. This was disappointing as we travelled with parents who are a bit aged. The other cruise line we did before had much better food selection for Indian vegetarians. Lastly, one of the other things we observed was that none of the ships crew other than some specific location we had to go to had any idea as to where any place on the ship was. Simple questions like where is "tradewinds" which is the shopping store would get blank stares when that crew member was literally a few feet away from the tradewinds location. That was really funny and i think they can do a better job of training all crew members of every available facility on board. This tradewinds was not an isolated incident, crew members regularly failed to point out where things were when asked although tradewinds was very funny because of how close this crew member was to the actual location we were looking for. I won the ping pong competition on board but did not have any option to select my prize. Only available option was an XXL T shirt which i cant use. Could have been better managed. However it is also nice to point out some nice things. We enjoyed the dance classes they offered, the movie shows, the music (fire and ice, onboard musician crew and on and on) and MOST SPECIAL was the daily Broadway type shows they did in star dust theatre which were beyond fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We went to Alaska on the Jewel. I was so impressed with how well the ship was maintained and kept clean. The staff was so nice and friendly. The officers and crew were awesome. We had the pleasure to meet the Captain several times and ... Read More
We went to Alaska on the Jewel. I was so impressed with how well the ship was maintained and kept clean. The staff was so nice and friendly. The officers and crew were awesome. We had the pleasure to meet the Captain several times and it was obvious he cares about his ship. I enjoyed looking at all the plaques from the ports of call that the Jewel has been to, she's been all over the world. I really enjoyed the cruise into the Endicott Arm and Dawes glacier. It was so peaceful and magical and i appreciated the Captain navigating us through the chunks of ice so quietly and slowly. It was truly magical. I was nervous after i booked this cruise because of the bad reviews about the food being barely edible. But i found that to be the complete opposite. They had such a wide selection of fresh and delicious foods to appeal to everyone! I am a picky eater, i mostly eat whole fresh foods , and the Jewel had everything i needed at the buffet to make delicious meals . A fresh salad bar, low cal dressing options, fresh fruit that was chilled and delicious, yogurt, cereals, lots of lean meat options, cheeses, whole grains, fresh breads, etc. They also had the typical casino style buffet dishes which i never find appetizing and are not edible regardless of where i go. I didn't eat any of those dishes so i can't give a review of them. If someone served themselves a gross looking buffet dish and complains its gross, that's on them. My meals were delicious. I wouldn't expect everyone to find every buffet dish to their liking. I was really happy with the selection of foods, there was something for everyone. We also had a meal at Cagneys, it was a nice meal. And we had a meal at Teppanyaki's and it was just ok, the food is too heavy for me, i prefer lighter meals. At the two free dining rooms, i was able to order salads and an appetizer for my meals and they came fresh and tasted just fine. The entertainment was awesome, there are some wonderfully talented people on this ship, from the choreographers to the set designers to the actors to the musicians. I really enjoyed the shows. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We choose this cruise for all the family members to get together which there were all ages. We all had a great time. The Crew was amazing. I was amazed on how helpful they were in addition to the Crew who was in the buffet area. They ... Read More
We choose this cruise for all the family members to get together which there were all ages. We all had a great time. The Crew was amazing. I was amazed on how helpful they were in addition to the Crew who was in the buffet area. They were friendly. We appreciated a crew member who was always nice and kind to us every time we ate. He was professional, always smiling and would say hi to us every time we saw him while we were eating. I was amazed on how many people worked on the cruise and how they all work really hard to make our vacation special for my family. We were lucky to be able to have this opportunity to do this. The excursions were a lot of fun which there were many excursions to meet all of our families wants and need. It was fabulous Thank you to the Crew - The Norwegian Jewel for the trip to Alaska on June 10th 2017 Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but ... Read More
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but seemed to be brand new. The cabin was somewhat cramped but that was to be expected. There were more than enough activities to keep all on board occupied 24x7. They have a theater where there were a mix of shows Vegas style, poolside BBQ and parties, a great variety of all kinds of restaurants with eclectic menus. The staff were all extremely courteous and efficient and the service was generally of a high standard. They have a lot of activities for children.We had three shore excursions which were well planned and covered interesting sites. All in all a good trip except for a major billing problem wherein they erroneously charged me upwards of $4200. this was a major inconvenience and as of writing this charge though accepted by them as an oversight has still to be reversed. The entire trip was soured by one accounting clerk's slip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - ... Read More
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - average. The entertainment was average, service was average. If you have never cruised before and don't have anything to compare it too you will probably rate it as good. The two things that really annoyed me about this cruise was: 1) They tried to ram raffle tickets and this quick pick scratch offs things down your throat every single day - multiple times a day. Instead of scratch offs though they were these little door things you open. 2) Smoking! There were so many smokers on there that you would have thought it was a smoking cruise. Why smoking is allowed anywhere these days other than in peoples cars and house in beyond me! Would be sitting down on a quite area of the ship when a smoker or two would either come sit close by or just stand there smoking. Got ran off several times a day due to smokers. Also, was in the casino quite a few times and was doing really good on roulette one night until a few smokers came and joined the table. I had to leave the casino and work up with a sore throat the next day. Trying to think of some positives about the ship but really can't. It was not bad at all and I am not trying to be negative. It was just very average in every way. The ship layout was not good. There is about 2300 passengers on board and it seemed like it. I went on the emerald princess a few years ago and the ships are the same size - The emerald princess had almost 3100 passengers but somehow it seemed the Norwegian Jewell had twice as many passengers as the Emerald Princess. Felt like cattle being led to the eating trough most days. Excursions: We did not book anything through NCL as with any cruise line they add 20% for themselves. We booked everything on our own and had no issues. In Ketchikan we did salmon fishing - Unfortunately, the weather was not good for fishing and they were just getting over major storms and flooding. Still had fun though. Juneau - probably most least favorite place. However, we did the float plane - 5 glaciers and taku lodge with Wings airlines and I thought that was great! they food was great! salmon was amazing! Skagway - This was my favorite of all the stops. We did the Yukon deluxe and had Brian as a driver and guide. Very funny and likable guy. Also, very smart. Was a great excursion! Last stop was Victoria, BC. Is a pretty neat city. Not a ton to do, but worth a visit. I think 5 or 6 hours here and you have done about all there is to offer. All in all - an average cruise with good excursions. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
If you like food, even a little bit, I advise against travelling on the Norwegian Jewel (and by extension, the entire Norewegian line). The food is terrible (buffet and complimentary restaurants). Many people are happy with the food. Good ... Read More
If you like food, even a little bit, I advise against travelling on the Norwegian Jewel (and by extension, the entire Norewegian line). The food is terrible (buffet and complimentary restaurants). Many people are happy with the food. Good for them. I am happy for them. But if you actually like food, you will not be happy with NCL. I'll not even discuss the buffet, other to say that A. it's elementary school cafeteria quality food, and B. that buffet food also shows up in the restaurants. So, the complimentary restaurant food: American cheese in the omelettes? (Maybe it was velveeta, but it was still inedible.) Thin baked bacon, the cheapest possible on the international market. I didn't care/dare to even try the sausage. They serve the same cuts of meat and call them different things. As in, the same thin processed cut of meat is served as 'rib eye steak', 'sirloin steak', and 'new york strip'. The same sausage is served as 'bratwurst' and 'kielbasa' (of which it is neither). And the same strip of meat served as 'short ribs' and 'baby back ribs'. The shrimp was fine. It's shrimp, seemingly tough to ruin. Mashed potatoes were fine. Asparagus was ok. Chicken dishes were ok but low quality. Salmon was run of the low end mill. My gal had some fish one night she took one bite of and left the rest. I had fish and chips one night...square fish blocks...terrible. They seemed to only have one gravy the entire trip, for all the dishes. The lamb shank was all right, but pretty gamey. It was not even close to 'fine dining' There was not a single sucessful desert, in the buffet or otherwise. The cheesecake was not actually cheesecake (you need cream cheese as an ingredient for that). The apple pie thing was so solid and gelatinous that you could bounce it off the floor. By day two every ounce of excitement at what desert might offer was drowned deep in the dark depths of a cold, cold ocean. Granted, I'm comparing the food to my one experience on Royal Caribbean. Where I was EXCITED to go to lunches and dinners. 9 out of every 10 dishes was GOOD on that boat. 10 out of 10 dishes on the Norwegian Jewel were not only not good, they were disappointingly not good. There was no reason to complain to the servers. There was no reason for them to look at our 90% unfinished meals and ask if they could take it back or make it better or bring something else (only one waitress out of the 15 or so that served us over the week actually asked).....because there was nothing to fix, and nothign better to bring out as a replacement. They didn't 'miss the mark'. They had no mark to hit, and they suceeded at their goals, which are to make cheap buffet quality dinners. My gal and I laughed...there -really- was nothing to complain about, because they were serving exactly what they were aspiring to serve. Unfortunately, what they were serving was crap. It's a good thing I got food poisoning and didn't have to eat anything for two days, because that's two days I didn't have to go to meals and look at the lowest of low quality meals and decide which were the least insulting to put down my gullet. I don't actually blame the boat for the food poisoning (because who knows what that was from), but I do blame the cruise line for not giving a damn about my dining experience, and for having such low standards and subjecting me to them. The boat itself was fine, always on time, well run, etc. No complaints there. Getting on/off the boat was easy for ports of call and embarkation/arrival, etc. The room cleaner guy was just fine, the restaurant service was ok (but without the high standards I experienced on Royal Caribbean...they were just doing their job/just walking around with 'food' as opposed to delivering 'great food because that's important to us'. Alaska is BEAUTIFUL. NCL food is TERRIBLE. Royal Caribbean sells a cook book of the food you had on your vacation. NCL does not. For good reason.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
NORWEGIAN JEWEL  ALASKA CRUISE  July 20-27, 2013 Just returned from a 7 day Sawyer Glacier cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with 2 friends. This was one of the best cruises I have taken, and I am so glad we did ... Read More
NORWEGIAN JEWEL  ALASKA CRUISE  July 20-27, 2013 Just returned from a 7 day Sawyer Glacier cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with 2 friends. This was one of the best cruises I have taken, and I am so glad we did an Alaska cruise. We originally booked an interior stateroom, which did raise some concerns about being cramped. Two days before the cruise, NCL called to offer an upgrade to a balcony cabin for a very reasonable price. We were extremely glad we took advantage of the upgrade. We made extensive use of the balcony. I would now say having a balcony on an Alaska cruise really makes a major difference in your experience. We were still a little crowded in the 205 sq ft balcony stateroom, so I can just imagine how cramped the original 143 sq ft interior stateroom would have been. PRE & POST-CRUISE HOTELS & TRANSFERS We purchased one night pre and post-cruise hotel packages from NCL in Seattle. We arrived rather late (from three different cities) the night before the cruise, so we did not really get to enjoy the Renaissance Hotel in Seattle. It was a very nice hotel, but I actually liked the Crowne Plaza where we stayed the night after the cruise better. The room at the Crowne Plaza was much more spacious. Both hotels are conveniently located in downtown Seattle with easy access to all attractions. Transfer to and from the ship and hotels was included in the hotel packages. They transfer you on a large coach. I am not sure this was really a convenience, however. Our transfer from the Renaissance Hotel to the ship went pretty smoothly, but the transfer from the ship to the Crowne Plaza took a long time because they had problems opening and closing a door on the bus to load a passenger in a wheelchair. I would think these things would be regularly inspected to comply with safety regulations, but it seemed this door had not been used or tested in a very long time. All in all, I think we would have had a quicker and smoother transfer from hotel to ship and vice versa if we had taken a taxi on our own. EMBARKATION Embarkation went fairly smoothly. The Seattle cruise terminal used by NCL is a bit cramped. There is only one security screening area, and the line was long and winding, but it moved fast. Once we got through security, the check-in desk was very cramped with makeshift stations set up on tables to add additional check-in stations. You were shoulder-to-shoulder with the people checking in at the stations next to you. Check-in went pretty quickly and we walked right on the ship. They announced staterooms were ready while we were having lunch right after boarding. We left Seattle right on time at 4 pm. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE JEWEL I have sailed on the Norwegian Star and Dawn, so the layout of the Norwegian Jewel was very familiar. Although its a newer ship than the Star, Dawn or Sun, which I have also sailed on, I found the Jewel to be more worn than any of these other ships. There were no serious issues, but the furniture was more worn than I have seen on other NCL ships. This was especially true of the chairs in the Tsars Palace dining room. They were nicked, scraped and chipped. Perhaps the Jewel has not yet gone into dry dock for refurbishment. I dont want to make too much of these relatively minor issues, as they really did not impact our enjoyment of the cruise at all. One of the things that really makes me cringe when reading reviews on Cruise Critic is the phrase: Its showing its age. Usually people who say this are the ones inspecting every inch of the ship with a microscope. STATEROOM As previously mentioned, we were upgraded to a balcony. I cant imagine having done this cruise now without the balcony. I like the general decor of NCL cabins. I like the wood (laminate?) walls and the colorful but tasteful design. I also like NCL showers such as they have on the Jewel, Star and Dawn the best of all cruise lines I have been on, The rectangular showers are quite roomy, and I like the glass doors instead of a shower curtain. Id prefer they did not have the wall separating the sink area and toilet. I think that makes the bathroom a little cramped, but its not a big deal. Because there were 3 of us in the cabin, the sofa turned into a 3rd bed. I find the beds on NCL ships to be very comfortable. I've read complaints about the beds being hard, but I prefer a firm bed. I slept on the sofa sleeper bed. It did not feel like a sofa sleeper at all. It felt like a regular bed. I would have liked a thicker pillow though. When the stateroom attendant opened the sofa sleeper in the evening, it did block easy access to the balcony, but we were able to squeeze through to the balcony without much difficulty. Storage space in the stateroom was very good. Some of the furniture in the cabin looks like it had been a while since it was dusted. DINING We ate in both main dining rooms, at the buffet, the poolside BBQ, Cagneys, La Cucina and Moderno. I thought the food was good at all locations. Selection was good. We ordered the delivery pizza ($5 charge for a large pizza) to eat on our balcony while we were sailing through the Tracy Arm. The pizza was hot, fresh and very tasty. It was much better than the free pizza at the buffet. Seating at the buffet was often a challenge, more so than I experienced on the 3 other NCL ships on which I have sailed. The Jewel has a Great Outdoors seating area as an extension of the buffet at the back of the ship. Im not sure this is very practical for an Alaska cruise, however, since it was often too cold to sit out there to eat while at sea or at night. Food got cold pretty quickly when seated in the Great Outdoors area. They seemed to be pumping heat into the area from somewhere, but it was not adequate in countering the cold winds. During lunch and breakfast, they do open La Cucina for overflow seating for the buffet. It was easier to get a table there on most days. My biggest complaint with the buffet was the lack of utensils. Most tables in the Great Outdoors area lacked baskets with the pre-wrapped utensils, salt and pepper shakers and condiments. Tables that had the baskets often were empty or only had one or two set in the basket. On previous NCL cruises these baskets were always filled with sets of utensils and staff were always walking around with trays to refill the baskets with new sets. I never once saw staff carrying trays to refill the utensil sets in the baskets. By the time you found a table and then searched for a set of utensils, your food would often be cold. I liked that the buffet had several islands rather than a cafeteria line setup, but all the food islands were all at one end of the buffet. If you were seated in the Great Outdoors it was a long walk back to the food stations to get dessert or seconds. It would have been better to position the food stations in the center. The layout and management of the buffet on the Jewel were definitely inferior to the buffets on the 3 other NCL ships I have sailed on. I ate in the buffet on the Jewel less frequently than on other NCL ships due to these problems. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment on the Jewel was fantastic. We really enjoyed the shows in the Stardust Theatre. Band on the Run was on the second night, and the acrobat couple from Ukraine called Soul Duo who performed on night 4 were incredible. Their show is not to be missed. The Soul Duo team also performed in the Le Cirque Bijou show on night 6. This is another must see show. PORTS Ketchikan Ketchikan is more of a working fishing port than a tourist destination. I think Ketchikan works best as a starting point for excursions in the area. The ship docks right in the center of town, so everything in town is an easy walk. The Creek St area was cute, and the waterfront area in town was nice. They have a visitor center with clean restrooms right on the waterfront. We visited the Totem Heritage Center, which was interesting. It costs $5 to enter. It was fun watching the floatplanes take off and land right alongside the ship. They sure have a lot of floatplanes in Ketchikan. Theres the Lumberjack show right in town, which I wish we had done instead of the Duck tour. The Duck tour was very disappointing, and it cost $42 a person. I have done the Duck tour in Boston and thought it was fantastic. Of course, Boston is a large city with countless cultural and historic attractions. The Ketchikan Duck tour included a short drive through the center of town, followed by a short sail in the harbor. You can see everything in town much better on foot. The highlight of the water portion of the Duck tour was the closed Burger King and the story of why it failed in Ketchikan. The failure of the Burger King had to do with the position of the drive-up window and fierce winds in winter. Fascinating! ? Also, the Duck tour vehicle was enclosed in plexiglass with only small portholes for ventilation. The roof was clear plexiglass, which allowed the sun to beat down on the passengers. This created a greenhouse-type environment that was stifling I wanted to do the catamaran cruise to the Misty Fjords, but it was very pricey. Another alternative I liked was the canoe and rainforest hike excursion. My friends and I dithered about what to do in Ketchikan, and we opted for the Duck tour only upon arrival in Ketchikan. Juneau Juneau is a nice, clean town. We did the rafting trip on the river at the Mendenhall Glacier booked through Viator ($135/per person). Views of the glacier and mountains were beautiful on this trip. The rapids were fun but not too rough, making the excursion appropriate for all ages. I was surprised a bit that the river passed through a suburban area towards the end of the trip. We looked at more backyards than wilderness during this portion of the trip. The provided snacks of salmon spread, crackers, reindeer sausage and veggies at the end of the rafting trip. We saw a couple of bald eagles, but no other wildlife on the river. The free shuttle takes you from the ship to the visitor center at the base of the Mt Roberts Tramway. Here all the tour companies have booths where you can easily arrange any type of excursion in the Juneau area. The price for the shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier was $8. Im not sure if that was roundtrip or not, as we had transportation included in our excursion to the river rafting at Mendenhall Lake. Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier We departed Juneau at 1:30 pm and arrived at the entrance to the Tracy Arm around 4:00 pm. The weather was beautiful when we left Juneau, but it got misty and overcast when we reached the Tracy Arm. This did not really impact our enjoyment of the Tracy Arm, however, as we could still see everything pretty well. The ice flow increased the deeper we got into the fjord. We had a good view of the Sawyer Glacier, but we could not close enough to see it calfing due to the heavy ice flow. Seeing the Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier was quite an experience. Skagway Skagway is a real frontier, Gold Rush town. It is very clean and well-preserved. We booked an excursion to British Columbia and Yukon, which lasted 6 hours, so we didnt have much time to explore Skagway. Its a small town which consists of one street in its commercial district, so we did manage a quick tour of the town when we got back from our excursion. Its a short walk to the ship from town, but it started raining pretty hard while we were walking back so we were pretty wet and cold when we boarded the ship. British Columbia & Yukon Excursion We booked this excursion through Viator. The tour was run by Frontier Excursions & Adventures. Our guide Ian was excellent. They picked us up at the dock and we drove up the Klondike Highway into British Columbia and then up to Carcross, Yukon. The snow-capped mountains and glacial lakes were spectacular. Lunch was provided at the Caribou Crossing stop in Yukon. It consisted of tasty BBQ chicken, half a baked potato, coleslaw and donuts for dessert. Drinks are available for purchase. They have a small museum and gift shop as well as a petting zoo for children. They also have sled dogs there that you can play with and take pictures with for free. You can also travel up to Carcross, Yukon on the White Pass Railroad from Skagway. I believe the rail excursion costs quite a bit more (approx $170/per person) than we paid ($103/per person) for the van tour. Going by van we saw the same scenery as the rail trip and had more flexibility to make stops at scenic spots. Also, I dont know if they transport the rail passengers to the Caribou Crossing stop outside Carcross. Sailing the Inside Passage One of my friends said the scenery sailing the Inside Passage made him feel like he was in the Lord of the Rings movies. Sailing the Inside Passage is a stunning voyage that everyone should have a chance to experience. Snow-capped mountains, glaciers, deep green forests, the sea, the sky all contributed to an amazing experience. Sunsets (around 10 pm) were a blaze of color. We didnt see as much wildlife as we hoped, but the animals are not adhering to a schedule for our benefit. We saw some dolphins, a brief glimpse of an orca, a couple of bald eagles. We did not see any bears or moose. Victoria, BC We arrived in Victoria at 2:30 pm on our last day. We opted to sightsee independently. We walked around town and took a short harbor cruise. Victoria is clean and cute. I liked it more than I expected. FELLOW PASSENGERS The demographics of our cruise were very diverse. There were young, old, middle aged, all races, multi-generations families, singles, couples, groups of friends, all types of relationships represented. There were a lot of children on the cruise, and they were all very well behaved. The group on this cruise was a fun group, which was evident from day one by the number of people participating in the sailaway dance party. The Spinnaker Lounge was always crowded at night, and the vibe during all activities was upbeat and fun. WEATHER Weather was variable throughout the cruise. I personally did not mind times when it was cold or rainy. It seemed appropriate for the Alaska experience. We had nice weather in Ketchikan and Juneau during our port calls. As mentioned, it started to rain hard at the end of our stay in Skagway, but it was clear and sunny for our excursion up the Klondike Highway to Yukon. It is important to be prepared for any and all types of weather though n an Alaska cruise. Sweatshirts or hoodies, a light raincoat, a warm jacket and gloves and definitely welcome, especially when it gets cold . When it was sunny, temps were spring-like, but it could be very cold and windy at night on deck or sitting on the balcony of our stateroom. DISEMBARKATION We were among the last to disembark (at 9:30 am) since we had a pre-arranged transfer from the ship to the post-cruise hotel booked through NCL. The disembarkation process went very smoothly. Luggage was easy to find when we got off the ship. As previously mentioned, the transfer to the hotel was delayed due to problems getting the door to load a wheelchair passenger onto the bus opened and then closed again. Thankfully our trip on this bus was a short one. Not sure what this says about the overall maintenance of the bus.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We wanted to cruise Alaska. Shopped all sorts of options and decided to try Norwegian. Loved every single step of the way. Arrived in Seattle a day ahead. Didn't want to chance an airline gaffe. Morning of the cruise, walked from ... Read More
We wanted to cruise Alaska. Shopped all sorts of options and decided to try Norwegian. Loved every single step of the way. Arrived in Seattle a day ahead. Didn't want to chance an airline gaffe. Morning of the cruise, walked from our hotel to Pike Place and had time to shop. Around noon we headed to the Pier. Embarkation was EASY. The lines were a little long to drop off baggage but it moved at a good pace. We were greeted repeatedly along the process by land and sea staff. Once onboard, we checked out our room. Was terrific! Just below and down 4 windows from the bridge. Headed to Garden Cafe to have a bite to eat. Watched the Navy families on the shore visiting their enlisted members while we had lunch. We also bought spa memberships the first day. This allowed us to go to the spa each day for the co-ed area to sit in the thermal pool and then lounge on the heated chairs while viewing the scenery from a bank of windows along the front of the ship. No kids allowed - and quiet rules. Also there is a poolside cookout the night the ships leaves Seattle. Burgers, steaks, chicken on large open grills. All the trimmings. We never ate at a specialty restaurant. Didn't need to. Plenty of choices without them. We had laundry done 2x but waited for the cruise special. It was $24.99 for all we could cram into the bag. The magician is a great entertainer though his jokes might not resonate with younger viewers. But they were good and not offensive. The hypnotist was hysterical - you MUST go to the adult show. We also went to her session on weight loss for kicks. Managed to both be hypnotized with others in the audience. We took in a workshop on detoxing the body as well. The ship was clean and in good repair. The staff NOTHING BUT HELPFUL. We loved our room steward "Maria" and our favorite waitress "Jenele" who works in Azura. We found both dining rooms to be nice. The view at Tzar's are better but Azura had a more comfy feel. Be sure to have your camera with you in the dining rooms because you might see something you want to photograph. One night a pod (?) of humpback whales passed us. It was just .. well.. incredible. As is typical, drinks can add up. We aren't soda drinks just libations or tea or water. Water from the tap is fine to drink. Rooms are tight but that's how it goes on a cruise. We had plenty of space for the 2 of us (closet, drawers, shelfs) but I don't think any more than 2 could be comfortable in the balcony room we had. I said before that I'd never use an inside cabin again. Well now I don't think I can ever go without a balcony again. Very nice to be able to stand or sit outside and feel the air. We did this frequently in our flannel pj's. The absolutely only downer was our neighbors smoking on their balcony. Going through Glacier Bay it dampened our ability to sit outside and watch the scenery. Smoking is only allowed on balconies and I think on deck 7 outside midship. So NCL does about all it can to keep both smokers and non-smokers appeased. Getting off the ship was easy. Figure out the time you want off the ship and then get the tags to go on your luggage. Then when its your time to leave, you get off the ship, grab your bags and get a cab. We chose the 8:30 slot since we had flights at 12:45. We didn't go with a group bus trip back to the airport. We just grabbed a taxi. Worked fine and was easy. We arrived at the airport well in advance of our flight. When we do this trip again, we'll probably book a flight that leaves late morning instead. As I said, we want a do over. But it's not because we didn't enjoy it. It was the best time ever. We met a number of other couples on this cruise who had taken the same cruise a number of times. We get it now. It's so terrific, the ports have so much to offer, and the scenery changes from one area to another. Beats the Carib cruises where you see the same type of islands over and over... and drink rum that's a tad different but yet the same. Favorite port? ALL. Probably it was bear watching at Ketchikan or Taku Lodge in Juneau. But that's only if we're forced to make a choice. Pick this cruise... I can't imagine not being happy with it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all cruise ships slow down the boarding process by having everyone pose for a photo BEFORE boarding? Not sure, but it's one of this cruiser's frequent complaints. I was told rooms would not be available until after 1:30 so had a glass of wine and some hummus poolside. Seattle weather was incredibly cooperative: sunny and warm. My room became available at 1:15. All in all, I could not ask for a better embarkation. My suggestion to all is to come early to avoid lines. And being a Lattitudes member certainly speeds up the process and you do not have to wait in the "main" line. This was the best embarkation I've ever had on a cruise. It was also the earliest I have ever arrived to the pier. My big advice: get there early and avoid the lines! Stateroom: I stayed in the cheapest possible room. Lowest level inside cabin room 4583. My previous time on the Jewel I had a balcony stateroom although I found that I didn't use it enough to justify the extra expense. The stateroom was clean (if I were going to be picky I could highlight that one of the bathroom shelves had dust). Unlike in other staterooms on different ships, I was pleased that the room had three functioning electrical outlets. I'm a gadget junkie with phones and cameras and tablets to charge so I made very good use of the electrical outlets. Storage is efficient and plentiful for me. I pack and travel light so many of the shelves I did not even need. But to be fair, the room is small. It's a tight fit for two people. I would not stay in this room with someone unless we were on an intimate basis. It's JUST that small. Given that I don't spend much time in the room, it met my needs and I could spend all the money I saved on a balcony on items that are more important to me: food and wine be chief among those. The bathroom is also very small but there's plenty of storage for most. Although a person with tons of cosmetics and skin care might want to bring along one of those organizers that hangs on a doorknob. Don't expect luxury and you'll be fine. But this is NOT a two person bathroom. It's barely a one person. The room attendant was friendly and available. I made sure to leave a tip upon disembarkation. Overall Ship Impressions: The ship is clean although the cleaning rarely gets in the way of the flow of traffic. Certain times the elevators can be incredibly full especially at midship. The ship design does not always flow logically with some elevators only going down to deck 7 and forcing those who want to go below deck 7 to use other sets of elevators. Once you get use to the illogic, it's not that bad but I wonder if there was a more customer friendly design. Several times during the cruise, one elevator was out of service. Taking the stairs from deck 4 to the pool can be a good way to burn some extra calories but at the end of a long day, having plentiful and working elevators can be a big deal. Public spaces are very plentiful and the push to sale drinks is much less than on other ships I've been on. A simple smile and a "No thank you" was enough that bar staff knew I was only enjoying the public space and not looking to drink. The card room and library offer great views and a respite from the noise. Even on a crowded ship, one does not have to look very hard to find some alone time and tranquility. The atrium can get crowded but is relaxing early morning. The gift shops can be a zoo. Go at off times or not at all. The sales pitch on the Jewel was toned down on this trip. The shopping consultant rarely made announcements. Of course some may be bothered by the art auctions and bingo announcements but seasoned cruisers will have no trouble tuning out what they are not interested in. The smoke filled casino has less open hours on this itinerary. A smoking/cigar lounge would be nice to allow smokers to go some place besides the casino. Restaurants: Mama's: I've eaten here several times on my previous cruise on the Jewel and at nearly identical restaurants on other NCL ships. The $10 surcharge is reasonable. The food is good but don't expect it to conjure up Tuscany or even an Italian-American grandmother's cooking. It's a few steps above Olive Garden. The menu remains nearly unchanged over the years. A few more changes could help NCL frequent cruisers to stay more interested. I dined here twice on the 7 day cruise. The calamari had a burned taste to it (old frying oil?) but the salad with figs and pancetta was excellent. Unlike on previous trips to NCL's Italian Restaurants, the meal did NOT start off with the chef's antipasto. It was not offered (only a selection of unimpressive breads). I enjoyed the vegetable lasagna which was loaded with summer squash and had a very fresh tasting and light tomato sauce. The seafood linguine was watery and lacked a big flavor punch. The shrimp and mushroom risotto was very good if not quite as creamy as a home cooked and properly stirred risotto. As always on NCL, I had the superb cheesecake for dessert. Service was very friendly although the waiter seemed ill-informed about the menu. Was the salmon wild? He had to check with several people before getting the answer: no. Did the tomato sauce have meat? After a few minutes, he was able to find out that the answer was no. For only a $10 surcharge, it's hard to complain. The $10 is worth it just to get away from the crowds. Mama's location near the buffet is not a plus but they do their best to give it a distinct character and flavor. If you don't have high expectations, try it. Cagney's: I had dinner here twice and had eaten at Cagney's previously on the Spirit and the Dawn. NCL's signature steakhouse continues to offer freshly prepared (you can watch the cooks prepare many of the selections at an open kitchen) cuisine in an atmosphere that harkens back to the roaring twenties. The menu is strictly traditional, and that is this restaurant's strength. Nouvelle cuisine lovers beware, Cagney's dishes up crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, oysters rockefeller (all excellent---feel free to try as many of the small sized appetizers as you like), chopped salads with blue cheese (very good), onion rings (good), Parmesan truffle fries (piping hot and so addictive and delicious on this cruise that I think they should be classified as a controlled substance), large cuts of beef, a kosher chicken, lamb chops (very good) and salmon stuffed with crab (a good dish but the pale and flavorless farmed salmon was overpowered by the crab). Side dishes of note are the garlicky potato gratin and the creamed spinach. The lobster bisque topped with lobster custard was outstanding. Service was particularly good with the waiter very patient as my dinner party slowly sampled and savored nearly 2/3 of the menu. Obviously, this is not a restaurant for dieting or anyone who finds buttery sauces and other fatty foods objectionable. There's enough hollandaise sauce and bacon and blue cheese on the menu that this restaurant serves as a throw back to days before food became our enemy, before every bite of something flavorful had to come with a measurable amount of guilt. Don't forget the cheese course: real Gorgonzola, Saint Andre and Gruyere with fig preserves and fresh fruit (this was the only restaurant on the ship that offered cheese that wasn't of the mass produced factory American type). And if you can hold it, I'd highly recommend you try the warm chocolate espresso brownie (or have it sent back to your stateroom so, after a long walk or an evening of dancing, you can enjoy it more). The cheesecake was shockingly light in texture and very flavorful. Some may complain about the $25 surcharge but I dare anyone to find a comparable meal in any U.S. city for less than three times that price. Chin Chin: Think you can't find good Chinese (well perhaps more appropriately called Chinese-American) on a cruise? NCL seeks to change those perceptions with their fleet's Asian inspired restaurants. I've eaten at many of NCL's Asian restaurants including on a previous trip on the Jewel. I've never been disappointed and this meal was no exception. My advice: don't skimp on the appetizers as these offer small portions of some very flavorful food. Start your meal off with as many as you can stomach and you won't be disappointed. The steamed vegetable dumplings, crab wontons (yes REAL crab), spring rolls and shrimp with spicy slaw are stand outs. Sadly, my favorite fried fish dish has been discontinued so I tried its replacement, the gingered mushroom mahi mahi. The fish was slightly overcooked but the flavorful and surprisingly light sauce made up for the shortcomings. The spicy lamb chops were shockingly tender despite being cooked more than I would have liked. The curried noodles were too spicy to be paired with other milder foods and the Cantonese Vegetable Chow Fun was a gloppy mess of stuck together noodles that appeared to have been cooked ahead of time. The banana pancakes and trio of creme brulee shouldn't be missed. Service was very friendly and attentive. The $15 surcharge is reasonable. Sushi is available al la cart. Unfortunately, NCL no longer offers the $15 flat feet sushi bar experience. And that's a shame for sushi lovers. Tsar's Palace Main dining room: I ate here for lunch and dinner several times. Service was always friendly if inefficient at times. Food runs the better side of average although the sheer amount of food they must produce on a daily basis prevents the food from every being called great. Selections are mostly traditional fare. Lunch is the same menu the entire cruise but the dinner menu has permanent selections as well as changing nightly selections. It's hard to imagine that even the pickiest eater couldn't find something to enjoy on the menu but it's equally hard to imagine that anyone will have a wonderfully memorable experience in the main dining room. Cooking for a thousand on a daily basis limits what can be done with the food. The friendly wait staff is the stand out of the main dining room. They, despite being very busy, seek to please. Don't be afraid to ask for something else if your first dish is not to your liking. The menu at Azura, the other main dining room, is identical although the atmosphere is more casual. Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro: This brunch is a mixture of a buffet and a la carte selections. The buffet included a Caesar Salad station (add grilled shrimp, chicken or anchovies if you like), a selection of very boring pastries (save your calories and skip these standard items), pale colored smoked salmon (as ubiquitous on the Jewel as it is flavorless---it's all salt and no depth to the factory tasting fish), several standard cheeses and a large selection of desserts (very good cheesecake and pretty standard creme brulee are the best selections). The a la carte menu included several beef dishes, a salmon with saffron risotto (salmon was flavorless but the risotto was great) and a vegetarian pasta dish (standard tomato based sauce with olives, good but unspectacular). The service was good but not quite as attentive as I'm used to at NCL's specialty restaurants. The popularity of the Jazz brunch makes it hard for the wait staff to keep up with demands. I requested French press coffee (it's standard at Le Bistro in the evenings) and my waitress was kind enough to ask the manager if she could serve it even though it is not a standard part of the brunch menu. It's little touches of nice service that make me wish many on shore restaurants could have comparable service. The $15 surcharge seems reasonable. Garden Cafe Buffet: Quantity rules out quality here although the salads are good. It's incredibly popular for reasons that escape me. It's crowded from early breakfast until late dinner. It's too noisy, too packed with people piling plates miles high for me to enjoy eating here. It's just not my cup of tea but judging by the crowds, I'm in the minority. Blue Lagoon: They call this comfort food. It's fast service sit down diner like setting. The fish and chips were greasy but pleasant. The tomato soup was surprisingly good. It's open 24 hours. I had a less than pleasant encounter with a wait staff member during one of my early morning visits for coffee. Upon arriving, she barked at me that the buffet was on the "other side" and waved her hand in the direction of Moderno restaurant. I replied that I just wanted coffee. I started to sit next to the window and she barked again that the buffet was on the other side. I then asked if it was OK for me to sit where I was sitting. She then barked that I should help myself to the coffee and pointed at the coffee machine she was standing next to. I helped myself to the coffee then asked her where the orange juice was. Her tone of voice got louder as she barked again that "everything" was on the other side. This kind of service is very unlike NCL. I assumed she was overworked and tired of customer questions. If they didn't want anyone to sit on the cafe side, just block it off. But several like me wanted to enjoy the view (it is a cruise after all) and it didn't seem to me that asking for coffee and juice at a 24 hour cafe was an unreasonable request. This was my 4th NCL cruise and I've never had any interaction with any crew member who was anything near this unpleasant. Le Bistro: NCL's signature French restaurant might not be all that French but the food is very good and perhaps more palatable to the American consumer. Provencal style scallops, garlicky escargot and Asparagus with orange hollandaise are just a few of the stand out appetizers. The lamb chops were very flavorful. The duck was overcooked but still remained moist. The duck skin should have been much more crisp and flavorful. Le Bistro needs to work on its side dishes. Compared to Cagney's they are subpar. Unfortunately, 2/3rds through my meal, the service changed from friendly and excellent to almost non-existent. It was nearly 9pm and two parties of six came in. This arrival seemed to stall the kitchen and rattle the wait staff. My table and several tables around me waited over a half hour for continued service. Two tables asked to see the manager and complained. Waiters didn't even come by to accept more wine orders, a sure sign that service had stalled. (When you can't order alcohol on a cruise, you know something is wrong!) 45 minutes after finishing the main course, we received the cheese course (cheap American cheeses) then our desserts (a passable chocolate fondue: the chocolate tasted cheap and very good creme brulee). We had to ask specifically for coffee service which came slowly. When we received the bill, they had mis-charged for the wine, a mistake the rushed looking manager needed to correct. Tables around us were still waiting for service. One of the tables of six seem particularly bothered by the poor service. When the service is worse than the main dining room, it's difficult to be happy about the $20 surcharge. Le Bistro needs some menu changes. French cheeses, some classic French sauce choices and a better French wine list would help. I've always enjoyed Le Bistro but not sure I'll be rushing back on my next cruise. Entertainment: I'm a poor judge of cruise entertainment as I don't like family comedy shows or Broadway style singers who over-sing to the point of migraine. So, I skip any shows with those themes so that means most evenings, I'm enjoying dinner, wine and perhaps a jazz piano player instead of the main shows in Stardust. I did enjoy the husband and wife acrobat team. Don't miss it! The second seating for most shows is much less crowded. Like the buffet, I don't go on cruises for the entertainment but clearly both are very popular with cruisers. Spa and Gym: I signed up for the spa pass ($119) that gives access to the men's changing room with wet and dry sauna, showers, relaxation rooms, hot tub and cold plunge. It also gives access to a co-ed relaxation area with small pool (not big enough to do laps). While the area is not quite as grand as on the Dawn, which has an indoor lap pool, the spa pass was definitely worth the price especially on an Alaskan cruise where outdoor pool time is limited. The men's changing area was rarely crowded; the spa staff was always friendly. As usual on NCL, there's not heavy sales pitch to buy products or services even though I encountered many spa staff each day of my cruise. The gym is standard cruise ship gym where there seemed to always be gym staff ready to sign cruisers up for classes. The locker room next to the gym has a steam sauna (this is available for NO charge). The lockers aren't accessible unless you walk all the way over the spa to get a key, making the men's locker room pretty useless to gym goers. Why not keep the keys in the gym? Ports of Call: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Victoria all offer enough for the nature lover and adventurist. Sun lovers beware. It is Alaska and the Pacific Northwest so don't expect to get a tan. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan and the railroad in Skagway should be enjoyable for all age groups. The tour of the Mendenhall Glacier was a bit of a let down. I'm not sure it's worth the expense and time spent there. But it was very beautiful I toured Victoria on my own, and it's very walkable. The Empress Hotel is overpriced but worth a visit. Check out Chinatown for lunch in Victoria. Four stops in a cruise can be too much for some seasoned cruisers who enjoy their sea days but I found it to be a perfect number. It was also nice that to see ports that have (yet) to be completely overtaken by the usual cruise industry traps (although Diamonds International and Caribbean themed retailers like Del Sol are threatening to make Ketchikan look like a stop in Nassau or Cozumel). The Alaska itinerary is definitely for anyone who's tired of the same old Caribbean ports. Disembarkation: The room staff knocked on my door twice before 830am to see if I was ready to leave the room. I left the room for breakfast and returned to find the bed already stripped. By then it was 9am. Although I felt rushed to leave the room, disembarkation was smooth if not as efficient as embarkation. There was a line to get off the ship. Customs officials ranged from rude to friendly, although this is completely not under NCL's control. Final thoughts: While not a perfect experience (what is?), I can say I enjoyed my second time on the Jewel at least as much as the first and possibly more. NCL's freestyle cruising truly does allow cruisers to make the day what they want it to be. I always recommend NCL to first time cruisers because NCL seems to be better suited for those who might be put off by more traditional cruising. A special applause should be given to how the Jewel gets the kids programs out of the way of cruisers who aren't interested in them. It was a Nick at Sea cruise but other than the occasional person dressed as a favorite Nick character, I wouldn't have known. Kudos to NCL for giving the kids what they want without getting the adults annoyed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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