8 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were ... Read More
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were quite willing to answer questions from the very basic to the very technical. The food set up at the buffet provided a good flow with multiple food islands. Lines were minimal, even during peak hours due to this setup. The ship was exceptionally clean and the staff, with few exceptions was very attentive to the passengers needs. Our cabin on the 8th deck was quiet and well laid out. The showers were better than other ships I have cruised on. My only complaint with the Jewel was the fitness center. None of the upright exercise bikes worked properly. The seated bikes were Technogym brand, which, in my opinion are not nearly as good as Life-Fitness products. The gym was also to hot during most of the cruise. On the bright side, the weight equipment included dumbells up to 75 lbs., incline benches and older life fitness machines (better than the newer designs in my opinion), all of which was well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears ... Read More
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears are more concentrated than ever on making money. the prices for photos have been raised, the prices of drinks has been raised and are measured out exactly. NCL had a reputation for giving an outstanding cruise for a reasonable price. however those deals seem to be drying up. the food remains very good, the service by the crew excellent, the entertainment and activities remain good and the shore excursions were outstanding. jewel class ships are so easy to get around on. we were more than lucky with the weather. embarkation went very well, but disembarkation was in a little bit of disarray. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My Husband has always been a Panama Canal Buff. So when I saw this cruise I gave it to him for our 38th wedding anniversary. Actually we spent our 39th for this cruise. Everything was great from our cabin steward Priscilla to the ... Read More
My Husband has always been a Panama Canal Buff. So when I saw this cruise I gave it to him for our 38th wedding anniversary. Actually we spent our 39th for this cruise. Everything was great from our cabin steward Priscilla to the waiters at the restaurants to the entertainment director Ian, The shows were top rate, the food was excellent, there were many open dining restaurants, we at a Tsars (a dressier place), the Azurre same food as Tsar(not as formal) food was great in both places. We ate at Chin Chins Asian cuisine, we had a waitress there named Frenz both times and she made us feel extremely welcomed.O Sheehans was like and English?Irish pub Good food. Frenz was also part of the washy-washy team and made it fun to remember the sanitizer before meals. The shore excursions were fantastic, I am 61 y/o and Ziplined for the first time, the instructors made ir very easy and non scary! The Norwegian Jewel lived up to her name. I will cruise with Norwegian again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We embarked on the 14 night Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Jewel on November 25, 2016. Previously, we have cruised four times - moving from inside to outside cabin and to a mini-suite. For the first time, we chose to stay in a ... Read More
We embarked on the 14 night Panama Canal cruise on the Norwegian Jewel on November 25, 2016. Previously, we have cruised four times - moving from inside to outside cabin and to a mini-suite. For the first time, we chose to stay in a Penthouse Suite. We were met at embarkation and shown to the suite line (with only one couple ahead of us!). We were then taken to meet our concierge, Bruno (more on him later) and shown directly to our suite. The smoothest, easiest embarkation ever. Our cabin was absolutely lovely - clean, plenty of room (with a very large queen bed, a small dining table and a sitting room with a three seater couch) and a lot of storage space for all the "stuff" we brought along on a two week cruise. The front-facing balcony was enormous! There were two loungers and two tables on the balcony; we added two deck chairs and there was still room to walk around. This balcony was amazing for the daylight transit of the Panama Canal - while all the other passengers were standing four deep to get a good view, we were able to sit in comfort on our balcony and watch the entire passage. I could gladly go into a ton of detail on this trip, as it really was our best vacation ever, but I'll try to just provide an overview..... For breakfast and lunch, as a suite perk, we ate at Moderno's. The wait staff was absolutely amazing - remembering our preferences and ensuring that everything was perfect. For dinner, we ate at Cagney's (fabulous), Moderno's (excellent), Teppanyaki (fabulous), Le Bistro (fabulous), La Cucina (excellent) - all specialty restaurants. We also ate at O'Sheehan's (very good), Azura (very good) and Tsar's (very good). We definitely found the specialty restaurants worth the extra cost. There was nothing inherently wrong with the free restaurants - we just didn't find them as spectacular as the specialty restaurants. There was so much to do entertainment and activity wise, that you could truly be busy every minute of the day. One of the greatest things about Norwegian is the Freestyle Cruising, where you can choose to be busy or not! We often chose not - and loved relaxing on our balcony or just wandering the ship. We did go to the nightly entertainment in the theatre and found it excellent. Our favourite show was definitely Jean Pierre - he had us laughing so hard, we lost our breath - and what breath we had left was taken away by his magic! One other thing we splurged on was the thermal spa suite - daily access to steam bath, sauna, whirlpool, therapy pool and heated loungers in a quiet atmosphere was a lovely way to escape. From a service perspective, I can't imagine Norwegian being beat. The Captain and all the Senior Officers were regularly wandering the decks, talking with guests and interacting. This is not something you see all the time on cruise ships. Their friendliness and level of interaction with guests set the tone for the rest of the crew, all of whom were friendly and went out of their way to make the cruise extra special. A special shout out to our concierge, Bruno. As a suite guest, we had access to Bruno to help smooth out any rough patches. He was an absolute dream - helping everyone and always with a smile. Our only regret was that we couldn't take him home with us!!! Our room steward, Renelito, our butler, Putu, and our regular server, Jonas, all went above and beyond to make this cruise so special. We did shore excursions in every port except Corinto. All the excursions were wonderful. Our favourite was the Original Zipline in Costa Rica - totally awesome!! The only hiccup was our tour in Colombia - where an extremely rude guest ruined the tour for many. She was rude and aggressive with the poor tour guide - and she left all her garbage on the bus when she left. All I can say is: if you're going to act like that, pay for a private tour so you don't ruin it for others. All in all, this is the best cruise ever. Yes, the ship is a little older, but the amazing service, great food, fabulous crew and wonderful ports make it easy to overlook the age of the ship. We will remember this cruise fondly for a long time!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I read with interest the reviews about the 'old Jewel' but you would never know it was old as the signs were interactive and the colors were bright. Yes, our cabin showed wear, but it is bound to show wear after all the many ... Read More
I read with interest the reviews about the 'old Jewel' but you would never know it was old as the signs were interactive and the colors were bright. Yes, our cabin showed wear, but it is bound to show wear after all the many cruisers. We had a super soft pillow top mattress, and flat screen tv, and the shower with a door instead of a curtain was a bonus. Putting the water closet in it's own 'closet' was not great as it made it even more cramped, but that is the way of things now so one must "go with the flow." Having been on many cruise ships on many lines, we, as an older retired couple, feel lucky to be able to visit all the corners of the world and as we have gained in years, the cruise ship has become the best way to visit small countries. Our cruise critic roll call had a lovely meet and greet in Le Bistro, where several top officers attended - we felt honored to have so many show up! And after the first week we also had a nice lunch in the Tsar's Palace and the service there for our large group was superb! The group coordinator did a super job of offering to get our small groups off at the tender port of Cabo, and it made it super easy to gather together. The one thing I found different from our other cruises was the entertainment. We were surprised that there were not many shows featuring the dancers and musicians, but we were also pleasantly surprised at the quality of the dancers and gymnasts that the ship had instead. Their presentations were superb - and it was a real treat for us! The comedians were good; after awhile they all do the same jokes, but we still find them entertaining. And if you get a chance to hear the violinist, don't miss it! Not like any symphony you have attended - this was toe tapping entertainment at its best! Getting on and off the ship seemed to be one long endless line. In Miami they kept you inside instead of out in the sun, but still was a long wait. Leaving in LA, I thought the line would never end, but then it passed so quickly - because each turn brought you next to another passenger that you had eaten with or met in an activity. Before we knew it, we were loaded onto a bus to go to the airport - our first time using a ship shuttle, and I must say, it was the smoothest flowing option I could have chosen! Activities were a bit different from what we were used to, also. I have played trivia in many ships, but this ship had them at 9:15 or so and late in the afternoon, where we were getting ready for dinner. Therefore, I only did one - which people (and I) attended because it said Abba - did not even mention trivia. We thought it was going to be music. And there were no prizes. Granted we have too many luggage tags and flashlights, but still... I sewed while they did one bingo, but other than that, none of the activities interested me. There does not seem to be many aimed at those who have cruised often. Napkin folding, towel folding, etc - all are for the new cruiser. I did see lots of table of dominoes and bridge. I summary, this was a great cruise and the staff did an excellent job of entertaining and feeding us - which is why we cruise, isn't it? And who can't love going through the Panama Canal!?! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Destination(s): Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Acapulco, Mexico Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Corinto, Nicaragua Puntarenas, Costa Rica Panama Canal, Panama Cartagena, Colombia Miami, Florida Embarkation: Quite ... Read More
Destination(s): Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Acapulco, Mexico Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Corinto, Nicaragua Puntarenas, Costa Rica Panama Canal, Panama Cartagena, Colombia Miami, Florida Embarkation: Quite wonderful, it was smooth, accurate and fast. No registration issues whatsoever. Getting around the ship: This cruise was completely booked up with over 2,500 passengers aboard, making it crowded. I did observe that some passengers lacked “western world” manners / protocols, which was rather annoying to me at times. All decks lack sufficient signage (i.e.: bow, aft, port and starboard). I did not receive any deck plans upon arrival. The ship was built in 2005 and recently updated, but needs much additional updating/cleanup or overhaul. Sloppy maintenance noted everywhere. The main pool deck surfaces become too hot for bare feet. Crew of the Ship: The Crew (about 950) was EXCELLENT. They couldn’t be better. All were most helpful, considerate, accommodating. Simply put ….just wonderful. Entertainment/Activities: There is so much available that it would take another page to describe. There is something for everybody. Simply put, it’s all good and WELL DONE. Buffet Dining: This main dining room does not have 24/7 food availability and has unusual hours. All the windows are always somewhat dirty, even after washing. It was well arranged, but somewhat crowded at times. So much so, that it was nearly impossible to find adequate seating therein. An additional restaurant was opened for breakfast and lunch to accommodate the overflow. There was a wide selection of foods, but overall it was somewhat bland in taste. Only coffee, tea, ice tea and fruit juices are complimentary. All other beverages are chargeable and very expensive. Maintenance in the dining area, i.e.: the touch-up painting was very sloppily done. Waited Dining Two major dining rooms, one is very casual and the other requires dress requirements, but not the formal type. The service was excellent. Numerous specialty restaurants are available throughout the ship and some have added charges. Of those we ate at, we found there was a wide selection of foods on the menu to meet everyone’s tastes, but overall it was somewhat bland. Port/Country issues: There was no accurate/complete port maps/information available from the cruise line. You are expected to only take their shore excursions/tours and not travel around by yourself. Port/Country Recommendations: I highly recommend prior to any cruise, that you obtain detailed accurate map(s) of each port you are travelling to (try Open Street Maps, it is free); the U.S. State Department guides/info for the various issues/notices for each country and/or ports; Detailed tour(s), taxi, bus and transportation issues; Specific climate/weather information for your travel dates at each location. In addition, obtain a world-wide GSM cellular phone(s) for each couple in your party which will allow you to commutate with each other and if need be, the ship. Verizon users have the availability to rent these cellular phones for 3 weeks or more for $19 or so. Check with your provider. It’s cheap insurance when in port/country! But skip the usage while on the ship, it’s terribly expensive. That includes the Internet aboard. Use Wi-Fi sources while in port which may have a small fee or are just free. Careful: You can be hacked! Specific Port details: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico It is a very pretty port area with lots to see and do. No desirable shore excursions were found. A well setup/equipped tourist shopping port. Very easy to navigate around the port. There was some “hawking/annoyance” from the local vendors. No interesting shore excursions were noted. A very educational experience of how people live in other countries. Acapulco, Mexico A very pretty port, but beyond the façade, it’s a big dump. No interesting shore excursions were found. No immediate tourist shopping at the port. A 1-2 km taxi ride is needed to reach a flea /tourist market. No “hawking/annoyance” beyond the immediate port is encountered. Ugly brown sand beaches about 2-3 km away from the port in front of the various hotels. The biggest attraction here is a bus excursion to see the famous cliff divers. There is an old Spanish fort at the port that may be interesting. A very educational experience of how people live in other countries. This was at least our 8th visit to Mexico. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala An unattractive port. There are massive mountains (volcanoes) to the east of the port. We originally planned to take an “On you own” tour in which a bus would drop off/pick up, but it was overfilled. Instead, we took a round trip bus tour to Antigua Ciudad with a couple of stops. The bus ride was about 50 miles (1:35) each way. A somewhat boring trip on occasionally very bumpy roads made the journey annoying. During the journey, a strong presence of openly armed Police and Military personnel was noted everywhere. A stop was made to a Jade Museum and store. While at another stop was made at the town plaza. There we were assaulted by hundreds of pushy and annoying hawkers selling various tourist items. In addition, there were numerous crippled street beggars in the area. The topography in this area is littered with volcanoes, several of which are quite active. There were numerous shops and stores just adjacent to the ships dock, but the prices were slightly higher. One member of our party decided to take a hike up a volcano and it was well liked. A very educational experience of how people live in other countries. Corinto, Nicaragua An unattractive port, a bit dirty. There are massive mountains (volcanoes) to the east of the port. No interesting shore excursions were found. The cruise dock was located in a freight/cargo “non-tourist” dock area. There were no shops adjacent to the dock, but instead a 2,000-3,000 foot hike to the town/village center. The 90°+ temperatures made the walk annoying. Numerous vendors of tourist items were located around the town square. Almost no hawking by vendors. A very educational experience of how people live in other countries. Puntarenas, Costa Rica An unattractive port, a bit dirty. There are massive mountains (volcanoes) to the east of the port. No interesting shore excursions were found. Instead a 2,000 foot walk on the pier to a big shopping/vendor area to the west of the pier behind a long brown sand (HOT) beach. The 90°+ temperatures and windy conditions made the walk annoying. Almost no hawking vendors. All were friendly, courteous and spoke English. So far, it’s the best Central American country we visited. A very educational experience of how people live in other countries.This was our second visit to Costa Rica. Panama Canal, Panama This was an interesting journey through the canal and locks that took about 9 hours. There was no stopping at any port for this passage, only viewing. It was difficult to get a decent viewing location to see the passage since a mass of people “camped out” in the best locations before sunrise in lounge chairs. This was our second visit to Panama. FYI: The cost of passage through the canal is at a rate of $4.39 a ton plus numerous fees and scheduling charges. So it cost NCL about $450,000 (+/-) extra for the trip, so that is why the cruise costs more. Cartagena, Columbia This was our second visit to this port; therefore a previous Cruise Review covers this port in detail. Numerous excursions are available to take you through a very interesting city. As previously noted, this is an unattractive port with the cruise dock located in a freight/cargo “non-tourist” dock area. But a short shuttle bus ride took us to a few shops adjacent to the dock area. There we hired a taxi to take us to/from the splendid shops at Las Bóvedas (Vaults / Dungeons) in the walled city. The driver gave us a personal tour on this drive which made it a very educational experience of how people live in other countries. Well done. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We left New Zealand a fortnight before the cruise as we have family in Vancouver and had a week there before we did some touring on Vancouver Island (highly recommend the West Coast; Tofino & Ucleulet) In Vancouver, the family ... Read More
We left New Zealand a fortnight before the cruise as we have family in Vancouver and had a week there before we did some touring on Vancouver Island (highly recommend the West Coast; Tofino & Ucleulet) In Vancouver, the family don't have room for us so we use la Quinta and Best Western. We were horrified to find that the Jewel was berthed at Ballantyne, we have been told since that is no longer in use. It meant a far more difficult and costly journey from our hotel. The actual embarking wasn't the best either, ask those who were "In Transit" about that!! When we got on the ship everything went 'swimmingly' till we got to Miami. We enjoyed the service especially in the MDRs as we got to know a number of the crew very well and were treated exceptionally. The food was great, except for half a meal!! Two pieces of veal, one beautiful, the other inedible. We also had great service from the Shorex staff and the Latitudes staff on board so we really enjoyed everything, even the Inside stateroom was just as we expected. We took a shore excursion at every port and enjoyed most of them; not were bad just not up to some of higher standards. We didn't do a lot of activities really just picked and chose, we did enjoy the get togethers and my wife did a few more than me, she found the ones she did to be generally good. We did enjoy the passage through the Panama but the saving of seats in the lounge was a little annoying. She enjoyed the evening entertainment, and I did a lot of walking and swimming so we were both busy in our own way. All in all we really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the first 18 days and would recommend that cruise to anyone. Being "old and set in our ways" we didn't enjoy the three night cruise to the Bahamas and back. The clientele had changed and the atmosphere was totally different!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! The Jewel is a bit older, and seems geared to an older crowd. We chose a cruise that was after school spring breaks and of a length that most working adults could not get away: hence, it was nearly all retired people. While we are younger, that pace was ideal for us. We don't drink or gamble or need spectacular shows to keep us entertained: spending the day reading, talking together, meeting a few interesting people and having a menu of possible but not pressing events was just ideal. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but having a cabin steward make up our cabin every morning and return to tidy it before bed was heavenly! We had cute towel animals whenever we got out of the cabin for turn down. Some people have complained about the food on Jewel, and I will admit that one of the meals we had at Chin Chin during lunch time was cold: the tea was cold, the entree's were cold, it was like some piece of equipment had failed. However, everything--even the too cold food--was prepared artfully, creatively with fresh and appropriate ingredients, inventive recipes with influence from multiple cultural traditions. While I will grant that there were repeat dishes on the menus and buffet, there were many choices and specials to keep it interesting. It was also easy to eat a delicious and healthy diet--many fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar free desserts, multiple protein choices. While there were tempting desserts and breads, if you wanted to avoid them, there is no need to feel deprived. A few days into the cruise, we discovered that the Italian Restaurant next to the Garden Cafe is open for overflow seating during breakfast and lunch! So we took our buffet plates in there, where the tables are charming wood, the walls real brick arches, and the viewing of the ocean is ideal. We enjoyed long brunch conversations while watching sea turtles, porpoise, and flying fish go by. I enjoyed dragging my husband to the dance lessons offered most days. There were several kinds of linedancing, swing dance, waltz, square dancing salsa and merangue. The one thing I did wish was that the instruction was more geared to just dancing with a partner to music rather than doing a routine. Those teaching are show dancers and seemed to relate more to teaching a dance to perform rather than teaching how to lead/follow and a vocabulary of moves. I had heard that there would be sales at the store just before the last day but that did not happen. Rather, there were specials on various items throughout the cruise and not everything went on sale at any given time. I was also surprised that the number of things like games offered at the store was limited. However, if you wanted any toiletry, candy, t-shirt, underwear, clothes, luggage, etc it is a good (if expensive) option. I liked shopping there. We booked ship excursions in all but one port, where we had a private guide. You do lose a little time when the ship first docks when you choose to do this--you have to wait until the tour operators are ready for you, and wait your turn to disembark. This means an extra two hours on board sometimes. In Cabo San Lucas, we were able to grab an early tender and meet up with our tour at the pier instead of waiting to be dismissed from the ship with our group. This allowed us to do some shopping that we would not have had time to do. I loved that you just don't hear "no" on board. No one tells you when to eat or sleep or where to be or what to do, it is completely relaxing. The staff is laid back and friendly and really good at making you feel welcome. They have also apparently toned down some of the selling that perhaps has happened on other ships or in other times, because we did not feel pressed to buy drinks or anything. Yes, you can definitely spend a lot of extra money: but no one is going to make you feel bad if you choose something else instead. We stayed at the Best Western Suites in Seabrook before we boarded. It has a free shuttle to the cruise port and is a terrific place to be the night before a cruise. I wish there had been more educational opportunities on board, lecture series or the like. Don't miss the Spinnaker Lounge, even if you don't drink! It has the best views and the most unusual furniture. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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