13 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Caribbean - Western

My husband and I are avid cruisers. This was our 23rd cruise, our second with NCL. I was very hesitant to go on another NCL cruise because my first experience (2006) was not that great. However, NCL was offering great deals, so my we ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers. This was our 23rd cruise, our second with NCL. I was very hesitant to go on another NCL cruise because my first experience (2006) was not that great. However, NCL was offering great deals, so my we decided to book at the last minute, and I am glad we did. Our incentives included a free Ultimate Beverage Package and $100 shipboard credit. It was too good to pass up! Embarkation: We live very close to the cruise terminal, so we had friends drop us off. We arrived around 11 AM and by noon we had dropped our bags in our cabin and were sitting by the pool. The weather was a little dreary, but still warm/dry enough to hang out. Cabin: Since we booked at the last minute, we didn’t select our cabin. Dining: We only dined in all of the complementary dining rooms (O'Sheehan's, Chin Chin, Asura, Tsar’s Palace, Topsiders, and the Garden Café). We ate breakfast at both the main dining room and O’Sheehans where both were pretty good. We ate lunch at Topsiders and the Garden Café, and alternated dining rooms for dinner. The dinner food was OK, nothing special, but not bad. Our only disappointment was there was no “lobster night”. In order to have lobster you must dine in one of the specialty restaurants which is at an additional cost. Receptions: We attended the Cruise Critic reception which was very nice. The cruise director, Julie, along with the many of the ship officers also attended and it was a nice personal touch. We also attended the Latitudes (Past Guests) cocktail party which we really enjoyed (again the senior staff was in participation.) On formal night, the captain was available for photos, which was nice. (We haven't seen that happen in years on other cruise lines.) Ports of Call: We didn’t do any excursions because we had just visited the exact same itinerary a few months back. However, the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed just walking around the pier. Debarkation: Wasn’t bad at all, we were off the ship and home before 11 AM. It was wonderful cruise, the ship was beautiful, the staff was friendly, and our room was nice. We are already looking into to booking our next NCL cruise when the Jade comes to Houston this fall. (Please forgive any typos as I am typing on a very small screen :-) ) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
my wife and I sailed on the Jewel for the second time this year and found it just as good as the first time we sailed on her. During the entire trip we had no issues with any one or anything on board. the meals were above average to great ... Read More
my wife and I sailed on the Jewel for the second time this year and found it just as good as the first time we sailed on her. During the entire trip we had no issues with any one or anything on board. the meals were above average to great and this covered room service all the way to the paid restaurants. the staff, from room stewards, bar staff and senior staff were the best we have encountered in all of our cruises. I found that anyone who got upset about the washy washy part of eating has never been sick on a ship. once they experience that, they would never be bothered with it again. We would sail on the Jewel again and intend to! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Our trip started as an adventure in booking a timeshare. We couldn't find anything and airfare is so expensive, so we decided to try a cruise again. It's been 3 years since a week cruise on Carnival so we looked for something 2-3 ... Read More
Our trip started as an adventure in booking a timeshare. We couldn't find anything and airfare is so expensive, so we decided to try a cruise again. It's been 3 years since a week cruise on Carnival so we looked for something 2-3 weeks away. We have only cruised Carnival before and enjoyed each one. The thought of going through the chaos in Galveston was not a pleasant thing. So we search for a cruise out of the Houston Baypoint Cruise Terminal. We focused on Norwegian and Princess. We opted for the Freestyle! We booked a mini-suite, bought a romance package and had some credit onboard. This ended up only being a 55 minute drive and very easy parking. Embarkation was easy. My first impression was it seemed to be all "seniors" on the ship. That wasn't the case but since I'm part of that group, it was ok! Overall this was a great trip. The Norwegian staff did a great job. We relaxed and partied. The excursions were plentiful and in all price ranges. Buffet food was perfect for what it was. I would recommend taking water as it's not always available in large quatities. Part of the Romance package included dinner for 2 at Cagney's and Le Bistro. Both meals were very good and service was attentive and not rushed. Food in the main dining rooms Tsar Palace and Azure was okay. The last night was Prime Rib. My only gripe was that the meat was barely a quarter inch thick! It must have been because we ate late. The last 3 nights ended up in the Spinnaker Lounge which had activities from Newlywed Game, White Out Party and Live DJ, Bands and dancing. We only made one show in the Stardust Theater so we can't comment on the talent. The best part of the cruise was meeting people from all over the country and Europe. I could not find anyone from Houston! For all those folks from out of state, I'm sorry you have to see the ugly side of Houston in order to get to the ship. But if you had to go to Galveston you would quickly forget the ugliness and think what a beautiful cruise terminal in Houston! We will cruise with Norwegian again and hopefully a lot sooner than 3 years. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a ... Read More
A little about us: We are new empty-nesters out celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and our first vacation as a couple (a.k.a. no kids). Turns out, we are also snobs - food snobs, vacation snobs, just plain old snobby people. I was a little hesitant about cruising. Here's my list of fears: 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. 5. I'll be bored senseless. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. 10. I'll get seasick. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. 14. The food will be bad. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. So, before booking, I did a little homework. I wanted plenty of ports, lots of activity, few kids, but not an uppity, wealthy old-people cruise. Norwegian offers freestyle dining, which really appealed to me. They also offered four ports on a 7-day cruise. BINGO. #3,4,8, and 15 have already been eliminated. #5 is looking better. Next, what to pack? What does a middle aged couple need on a 7 day cruise? I packed everything. Two pairs of boots, two pairs of heels, two pairs of sandals, two pairs of sneakers, and a pair of water shoes. 9 pairs of shoes for 7 days? Who does that? A newbie, that's who. Truly, I needed half that. Eight hair products? I needed one. In short, here's what I learned I didn't need: flat iron, bronzer, big jewelry, more than 3 tank tops, gym clothes, jeans, more than 3 cute tops, huge bottles of shampoo & conditioner. What I needed more of: clean underwear. Seriously, I showered twice daily: once in the morning, then again after getting all gross during excursions. Once you've got sand and salt water in your undies - those are done. Time for a fresh clean pair after your evening shower. NCL doesn't offer DIY laundry service, and I'm not going to spend my vacation hand-washing my underwear in the sink either. I did pack "adventure" clothes for excursions and daytime on board, and also dresses for the nights. I just had too many adventure clothes. Two swimsuits is a must, four is too many. Sweaters for chilly nights and restaurants helped, too. Other stuff I'm glad I packed: a small pharmacy (Tylenol, Naproxen, Meclizine for nausea, antacids, Immodium, and antacid). I didn't need more than a couple Tylenol, but I knew I was covered. Helpful hint: Extra Strength Midol comes in blister-packs that travel super-easy and contains 200 mg Naproxen (great for arthritis pain). Also found a clever canvas jewelry organzier at Wal-Mart and an over-the-door shoe holder that hung on the bathroom door. Magnetic clips stuck to the metal cabin walls and were used for our itineraries and my jewelry (that I wore about 1/3 of). So, onward to the review. Boarding was relatively painless. We did have to wait in line, herded like cattle, but the line did move relatively quickly and people in general weren't rude about it. The staff was helpful in directing people. We arrived at 11:30 for a 12:00 boarding and the actual wait time was maybe 30 minutes. The staff did require a photo ID, then they took pictures of us pre-boarding (like a DMV mug-shot, so be prepared for that) Every time we got on or off the ship, our key cards were scanned through a computer and our pre-boarding pics came up. Once we got our key cards, we were offered the first opportunity to get a picture. Theme park photographers are pushy: cruise photographers are not. They asked if they could take our pic and many people turned them down without a hassle. The photographers didn't harrass or pressure anybody. But, they didn't tell us that it would be a full-body shot, so we had all our cruise documents, a jacket and our carry-on in the shot (it completely ruined our pic). Also, we did have to go through a metal detector. No big deal, except I made the mistake of wearing huge amounts of metal jewelry. Security kept asking what I had that was metal? Uh, my necklace, bracelets, and earrings - all highly visible. She insisted that I leave them on, although I insisted that they were all easily removable. So, yay - I got my very first pat-down. Lesson learned - minimal jewelry through security. We finally boarded and the crew had a little "welcome aboard" party for us, complete balloons, a banner, and DJ Felix spinning the club music. We checked out our room, which wasn't ready yet. But we were able to put our carry-on luggage inside and explore the ship a little. Don't know where I learned this, but the little fishies on the carpet always "swim" to the front of the ship to help you orient yourself. Once we found our room, it was pretty easy to locate again, except for one time when we thought we were headed to the front, but the fishies disagreed and let us know that we were on the Starboard side, not the Port side. Gotta love the fishies! Remember how much stuff I packed? Four big ole suitcases and a carry-on duffel. I put everything away in the cabin with ease. Even had room to spare! Plenty of hangers provided in the closet, they gave us two robes, and the provided hair dryer was more than adequate. In the bathroom, there were dispensers for hand soap, shampoo, and body wash. The body wash even smelled pleasant (not like hotel soap). Little shelves in the bathroom held most all of our toiletries. Little shelves in the shower held all my necessary shower equipment. Provided drawers and shelves all held massive amounts of clothing. Mirrors are everywhere in the room - glad I lost weight pre-cruise! We were able to set the temperature easily to our liking. The bed was two twins pushed together, so there was a big ole hump in the middle. But the pillows were delightfully fluffy, the bed comfortable, and the room was clean. The towels were big and fluffy and plentiful. Although most other rooms were bigger than ours, we found the simple balcony room to be plenty roomy and comfortable. It suited us quite well. The balcony had a sliding door and was more enclosed than I had envisioned. It was really sweet to have a private area to sit and watch the world go by. I didn't think I would use and enjoy the balcony nearly as much as I did. We spent a lot of quiet time drinking wine and watching the waves. We had seen maps and pictures of the ship before and wondered what was with the tacky carpet? It really helps to keep you oriented to where you are and what's down the hall. Directories of what's on each floor are near every stairwell and elevator - makes it super-easy to find your way around. The food: The food was great, a wide variety of everything was always available. My husband is a meat-and-potatoes guy, while I prefer fresh fruits, veggies, and lighter fare. We were both satisfied with the meals. We've also discovered that we are food snobs. On our first sea night, we were served steak and lobster. We were not impressed at all, but everybody else raved about how great the steaks and lobster were. Dessert was warm bread pudding, which was truly heavenly. Other meals were better, nothing spectacular,butt they were plenty edible. Not fine dining always, but much better than your average American chain restaurant. Portions were perfect, considering three courses were always served. The meal portions are smaller than chain restaurants, but if that doesn't fill you up, you can always get additional portions. We chose not to leave the table bloated and miserable, but were always full after dessert. The buffet offered plenty of selection, both for the carnivores, the herbivores, and the pizza-and-pasta lovers. Several small buffet lines meant no waiting in long lines, hence no line-jumping, very little rudeness. Fresh fruit was always available, plenty of selection, and the "usual fare" of comfort food was always available. A kid-sized buffet full of kid-friendly foods was also located next to a family seating area. Tables were smaller, so you weren't forced to eat your meals at a table for 12. Plenty of 2-tops and 4-tops to go around. Larger groups could push tables together pretty easily as well. The washy-washy crew at the buffet was cute. Several people really got into it, singing and dancing their way into the buffet area. Unlike some other cruise lines, it wasn't some lonely guy singing off-key. There were usually two or three people singing, playing the guitar, and generally trying to have fun while keeping everybody's hands sanitary. They did a great job and were always adorable. I have no idea what kind of hand sanitizer they used, but it wasn't the sticky gel stuff and it didn't make your finger foods taste funky either. Paid restaurants: We tried three. Teppenyaki was our first, we ate their on our anniversary. If you want to try it - get a reservation, that place fills up every night. The chefs try to keep things lively, a very party-like atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was our 25th anniversary and I was dressed to the nines with hair done, stilettos, and a nice white dress. I had no idea anybody would be throwing food at me! At other tables, the chefs chose wisely who to select to catch bites of egg in their mouths (the loudest male with the Hawaain or NCAA shirt). Ours didn't. He threw egg in my hair. Twice. Buzzkill. I was not amused. We had received a card earlier to our stateroom that said to bring the card to wherever you choose to celebrate your big day, and we had done that. So, after dessert, the staff came and sang happy anniversary to us. It was cute. Best part was the girl at the next table to loudly announced that we couldn't be married 25 years because I barely looked 25 years old! OK, so that made up for the egg-in-the-hair and egg-on-the-dress incidents (he missed twice). SInce we were too full to eat our complimentary anniversary cake, they offered to bring it to our room. Too bad it arrived at 11:45 p.m. If they offer it to go, you might want to check to see if they'll just box it up and then you could take it with you. We tried Chin Chins on formal night, after discovering a long wait time at both main dining rooms. We were promptly seated in a nearly empty dining room (2 other tables). Our orders were taken after ten minutes. Ten minutes later, some horrible karaoke started in the open atrium area below us. We could hear the cheers being shouted from Teppenyaki. The dining room started to fill up, our tummies started getting hungrier and hungrier. The karaoke got worse, and we were still waiting on appetizers thirty minutes later. We left and went to the buffet - still in our formal attire. Surrounded by those who chose NOT on "dress-up-or-not night", we filled our bellies with delicious buffet food while being stared at by the shorts-and-tank-top crowd. Suited us fine, as the stares in our direction ended as soon as a small parade of toga-clad teenagers came through the buffet, cheering and gleefully waving their arms in the air. Our third paid restaurant was Moderno's Brazilian steakhouse. It's located mid-ship, so the only way to cross the ship is to either cut through Moderno's or the Blue Lagoon or take a flight of stairs up and down. For a paid restaurant, I wasn't impressed with the number of people just cutting through to get from point A to point B. The salad selections were okay. They didn't offer any Italian or balsamic dressings - only ranch, Thousand Island, and French. Most of the salads were high-fat pastas. So, after salad, you have a card that you turn over on your table to greed to indicate that you're ready for the main courses. Servers stop by and offer very small portions of different meats and some cinnamon-grilled pineapple. We were offered the pineapple first, then chicken, beef, lamb, pork, until we were full. We turned the cards back to red to indicate that we were ready for dessert. We were again offered chicken, beef, lamb, pineapple, more chicken, and more pineapple. Our drink glasses were empty and our waiter nowhere in sight. They did have some desserts on the menu that we were interested in, but we were seated within an inch of a very large rowdy party table (literally, an inch - we were damn near AT their table, separated only by a small railing) and kept getting offered meat, meat, more meat, and pineapple. Frustrated, we left. Moral of the story regarding paid restaurants: you're not missing anything by sticking to the free offerings. The food quality is not any better than the free MDRs, the service is certainly not better, the atmosphere is not better either. We were perfectly happy with Azura, Tsar's (which is more upscale and we preferred), and the buffet. The money we spent at Teppanyaki and Moderno's was money down the drain. Tsar's Palace does have a dress code that they do enforce. We were very politely turned down for service because DH was wearing shorts. Rather than changing clothes, we went to Azura and the food was just as good, service just as good. Excursions: We booked beginning SCUBA through NCL and the rest of our excursions privately. With a little research ahead of time (which is really fun anyway) you can book your excursions privately, support the local economies, and save a few bucks. For convenience, book online through NCL's website if you're pressed for time and don't want to research. A lot of people booked after they boarded, wasting valuable cruise time looking through pamphlets to book their excursions. NCL has videos of theirs on the website and you'll get more cruise time if you book ahead. Also, your favorite stuff will more likely be available! "Front desk" service: (Not sure what it's called on a ship). These people are super-helpful! On day one, my sandal broke and I wish I could recall her name, but this very nice person got some super-glue and helped glue to back together for me. The glue held until I got home and unpacked, but hey, that's what I get for buying discount sandals, right? She was very helpful and didn't roll her eyes and announce "that's not my job". Activities: Our cruise started with a dance party at the pool. The staff really helped get everybody out of their chair and dancing, from the very young to the very old. It was cuteness overload to watch from Top-Siders bar & grill. They have a pool and hot tubs just for kids/families and another pool and hot tubs marked for adults only. Yay! Our Freestyle Daily was delivered to our stateroom each night with details about events and activities for the following day. Yes, some of the offerings we thought were stupid, but ya know, some of it was kinda fun, too. We were able to try different things, some we might not have otherwise tried. The best part was that most everything was in an open area, so we could go in, check it out, and make a very graceful exit if we chose. We played Deal or No Deal and won a free 8x10 photo. We played one round of Bingo and realized that Bingo was a big-spenders game. The casino: I don't get it. Why do people sit in front of video monitors in a windowless room on a cruise ship? Oh, so they can smoke! Yeah, I didn't go to the casino except to cash in my $1 winning ticket from some silly game show. We loved the game shows, the staff kept those very entertaining. I loved the free dance lessons, my husband - not so much, but he did give a valiant effort. Not everything was for us, but there were plenty of things we enjoyed, plenty to try, more stuff to do than we could ever do. There really was something for everybody. We enjoyed the hot tubs, the demonstrations, the free concerts (surprisingly, the Neil Diamond impersonator appealed to young and old and really got the crowd moving), the cheesy games, and sitting on our balcony. We were never, ever, ever bored. Our itinerary made four stops for a seven day cruise. We loved it! We got off the ship every chance we could to enjoy the Caribbean sun and surf. Our only NCL excursion was the beginning SCUBA in Cozumel and we LOVED it. There were five in our group - two couples and a single guy. The instruction didn't take too long, just a quickie safety demo. We "dove" right from the beach and our dive master gave each of us a quick safety test in shallow water before diving. One of the people in our group didn't want to SCUBA after the shallow water, so she was allowed to float on the surface along with us (she basically snorkeled while we SCUBA'ed). All four of us who did the activity came up all smiles at the end. The area had showers, lockers, an outdoor bar & grill and a cantina cabana. The food was amazing - fresh mahi-mahi for me and a big ole beefy, beanie burrito for him. We were offered massages at pretty reasonable prices, but turned that down since DH isn't really a massage person. We all were given credit for the dive towards PADI certification if we wanted to do that. Entertainment: It just wasn't for us. I said earlier. there was something for everybody. We aren't into watching big production shows, we aren't into the circus or watching acrobats. If anything provides a forewarning of "sit there and be amazed" - I'm out! The theater seats are cramped, the seating is in long, narrow rows, and it's just not for me. Keep in mind, though, that I don't watch movies either. Disembarkation was a bit of a mess. Nevermind - it was a complete mess. We chose to schlep our own luggage (easy off, right?). Unlike disembarking at the pier (from the fourth floor), we used the seventh floor to disembark and waited in a long line that didn't move for 40 minutes. Once the line stretched from aft to the foreward theater and back through itself, things got really confusing. Nobody could determine where the line ended and nobody could use any of the seventh floor because the lines were so long it blocked the whole floor. Since the line to disembark went through itself, plenty of line-jumping confusing came about. Although the staff did their best, it was nothing short of a complete clusterf*** and the exhausted people who were carrying all of their own luggage literally from stem to stern of the ship and back were a little cranky. Meanwhile, it was time to start disembarkation for those who opted not to carry their own luggage. This was the only time the majority of the staff seemed truly flustered. Needless to say, we did survive getting off the ship and made it home. In short, we had a great time. We felt like the entire staff bent over backwards to ensure everybody had a good time. Let's revisit that list of fears, shall we? 1. If I don't like a land vacation, I just get in the car and go home. Can't do that on a cruise. I didn't want to get off the ship once we arrived back at port. I seriously considered stowing away in a stairwell or trying to steal a staff uniform. It was the best vacation of my life! 2. I'll be trapped on a boat with no escape. I did escape - to the hot tub, to the balcony, to the lounge, to each port. It was delightful. 3. I'll have to eat every meal with potentially weird or annoying people. Weird and annoying people are everywhere in life. They were never at my table. In fact, we offered some seats of our four-top to a lovely couple for one lunch and had a great time with fascinating conversation! 4. Cruises are for uppity people. I might be a snob, but I am not uppity. There is a difference. The uppity people stayed in the butlered, super - expensive rooms and I never saw 'em. We hung with the younger crowd, the party crowd, the beer-drinking crowd. 5. I'll be bored senseless. Never a dull moment. We had some tranquil moments that we chose, but there was always something to do. 6. I'll have to tolerate everybody else's snot-nosed, poorly behaved kids. The kids were well-behaved and adorable! A couple of toddlers even crashed an adults-only dance party and yes, I even enjoyed their gleeful dancing. 7. I'll have to tolerate rude grown-ups. Meh, one or two out of over 2,0000? I'll take those odds! Everybody seemed very happy. 8.I can't eat when I'm hungry. I could eat any time I wanted - food was always available (but sometimes I was too busy to eat) 9. If I forget something small, I can't make a quick Wal-Mart run. I brought everything anyway (except the super-glue) 10. I'll get seasick. The seas were a little rough on the last few days, but no nausea or vomiting, just a touch of vertigo. 11. The cabin will be tiny, the bed uncomfortable, the shower will suck. The cabin was plenty spacious, the bed was comfortable if you didn't want to snuggle with your partner, but I did have plenty of hot water and plenty of water pressure. The temperatures were highly variable and the shower was a definite do-not-flush-zone. But I showered twice daily in relative comfort. 12. I hate buffet food and buffet people (just the coughing, sneezing, line-cutting gluttons). Unlike Golden Corral, the buffet didn't attract those who are out to "get their money's worth" out of a buffet. We did get a giggle at a little boy who brought a plate stacked barely high enough to carry loaded with nothing but bacon. But you know those stereotypical face-stuffing gluttons? Yeah, they weren't there. Just nice people who were having a nice meal with their loved ones. The buffet food wasn't limited to comfort foods, either. Plenty of soups, salads, curries, stir-fries, etc. 13. Cruising is for old people, really old people. . . . . who are very young at heart. The geriatric set was out there dancing, singing, playing, shopping, snorkeling. So were their kids . . . and their grandkids. We found plenty of people our age to hang with, and truly enjoyed some time with people much older than we are. 14. The food will be bad. It wasn't five-star dining, but it was good food. We never went hungry. 15. I'll have to buy a special gown and shoes for formal night. Although I did dress up for formal night and I did wear dresses every single day of the cruise, it wasn't mandatory. People wore what they wanted, from shorts & tank tops to evening gowns. And somehow, it worked. I never felt uncomfortable because of what I chose to wear on any given day. One last note: We did all the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle activities. Not only did we get to know some of the people we would travel with, it also gave us a peek into the different rooms, a fun way to get to know each other, and helped us find familiar faces. I highly encourage this! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy ... Read More
We sailed on the Jewel the week of 2/23/14. This was our first cruise on Norwegian. Overall, we had a great experience. There is a lot to say but I'm going to organize my feedback by category for simplicity. Embarkation: Easy Breezy. The port of New Orleans was easy to access from all of the touristy areas of New Orleans, so its perfect for travelers who want to spend some time in the city before or after the cruise. Getting on the ship was efficient and easy. The only thing that was kind of confusing is that the boarding groups were a combination of numbers, letters and casino card guests. Since we are new to Norwegian and to this port, we weren't exactly sure what kind of order they were going in. For example, it went something like this... we were boarding group 2 - they called boarding group 1 so we got excited that were would be next... then boarding group A, boarding group B, Casino Group, boarding C... Even if we were the 5th or 6th boarding group, it would have been nice to at least have some idea of how many groups were still in front of us. Small critique, but that is really the only thing that could be changed to reduce confusion. Everything else was great. Room: We stayed in a mid-ship balcony room on deck 10 (10582). This was a great central and quite location, close enough to the elevators but we did not have problems with hearing foot traffic in the halls. The room is a normal sized cruise cabin, small but organized well to maximize space. Storage space was adequate for both of our things without trouble. There is a small flat screen TV with limited channels. Bathroom feels small since its organized into 3 compartments - the sink is in the center with a toilet and shower area on either side. The toilet area has a sliding door with frosted plexiglass and same with the shower. This is designed so two people can utilize the bathroom at once and still have some semblance of privacy. The toilet area was small if you close the sliding door, however, we usually just used the regular bathroom door instead since we didn't need to both use the bathroom at once. The balcony was a nice size with two sitting chairs and small table. Entertainment: We really enjoyed the comedian, Micheal. We went to his regular show as well as his late night adult only show. The regular one was better but the adult only was okay too. We didn't really care for the magician/comedian, Jean Pierre. We thought he came off as bit abrasive and wasn't that funny. We also really enjoyed the newlywed game and perfect couple game. We attended a couple trivia sessions as well, which were fine and pretty much what we expected. Service: The first day, there seemed to be a lot of staff dedicated to high pressure sales of the water, beverage and food packages, which we didn't really like. Staff in the buffet were friendly and quick to clear plates. Staff in the main dining rooms was very slow and unfriendly at lunchtime but the waitstaff was more friendly and attentive at night. The waitstaff in the specialty dining rooms were the best, quick to refill drinks and always asking if they could get you anything more. The biggest area where we found disappointing with regard to service was the hostesses. In La Crucina, the hostess was rude to us when we didn't have a reservation and arrived at 5:45pm. She told us there was no availability until 8:30pm, even though the menu screens showed the restaurant was green (which was supposed to mean immediate seating available) from 6:00-8:30. We asked her why the menu board didn't reflect that they were full and she said they had availability for one guest, so the board won't show full - but not availability for our party of 2. The hostess at Azura was not very friendly either. Our room steward was okay but we did not think he was as good as the room steward we had on our last cruise. He was nice and kept the ice full, no complaints but didn't go above and beyond really either. We did find out half way though the cruise that ours was the last one for most of the staff - they were about to go on a 2-4 month break in the home countries, after having worked 7 months on the ship, so that could explain the few spotty areas we did encounter with regard to service. I would be excited and a little distracted too! Food: 1) Buffet: The buffet always felt sanitary, with the washy washy people standing guard outside, however, we felt the selection was somewhat limited compared to our buffet experience on carnival. There was a salad station, pasta station, pizza station, local (rotating) section, an Indian food section, a crepe station (which was in a separate room) and dessert. The Indian food was really really good and flavorful and the crepes were delicious. Everything else was just okay. Seating was at a premium in here, it was really hard to find a place to sit during peak hours. 2) Tsars & Azura: These are the two main dining rooms. I like that they only enforce a dress code in Tsars, leaving Azura as the more casual option, however, I wish there was more of a difference in the menus to make it feel like they were two distinct restaurant venues. The menus were almost exactly the same. Food ranged from okay to good. 3) Java Cafe: Coffee was okay, nothing special. I would consider the quality to be just slightly below the normal quality one would get at the big name coffee bars in the US. 4) Blue Lagoon: This is a free dining option with bar food type items - hot wings, mozzarella sticks, sandwiches, etc. We had one light lunch here, which was pretty good. 5) La Crucina: The italian restaurant. We really liked this one. The restaurant had a very cute Italian Kitchen decor and was pretty quiet and tucked away near the back of the ship. We ate here two nights and tried the lobster pasta, pizza, lasagna and chicken parm. The pizza was much better than what we had at the buffet. The soup appetizer was really good as well. The lasagna was just "ok" and the other entrees were really good. 6) Cagneys: I'm vegetarian so I probably didn't appreciate this restaurant as much as others would. My husband had steak with au gratin potatoes and broccoli, which he really enjoyed. The steak arrived with a garlic butter slice on top, which added a lot of good flavor and he also said it was cooked perfectly. The waiter asked him to cut into the center when it was first delivered to make sure that the it was cooked to his liking. He really appreciated that they put so much effort into making sure the meat was cooked the way he liked. 7) Le Bistro: We really liked this place but the food is very rich. It was apparent that the food was high quality and the service was top notch at this venue. 8) Chin Chin: This is well worth the $15 cover charge. The food is cooked very well and the appetizers are really tasty. They also have hot pot at certain tables that you have to request ahead of time, we saw others doing this and it looked like they enjoyed it. Ports: 1) Cozumel: We booked the Mayan Ruin tour through the ship. Our guide, Juan, was really nice and informative. He was a Mayan descendant. He kept us entertained both directions and was excited to share his culture. Tulum is very very hot, make sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. The ruins were really beautiful and it was really cool to see iguanas roaming free everywhere throughout the park. They no longer allow anyone to climb on the ruins, so everything was seen at a distance only but still very cool. 2) Belize: We booked the Cave Tubing and Rainforest Hike Tour through the ship. We thought this was the best choice because of the time and distance required for the tour. If you book through the ship, it gives you piece of mind that they won't leave you behind if you tour runs late. Also, Belize is a tender port and having a tour booked through the ship allows you to leave on as early of a tender as you like. If you book independently, you are required to be in line by 7am to try to get an earlier tender ticket number to make it to your tour. We thought this made it well worth it. Lunch was provided before our tour at the cave tubing site, buffet style then we started our journey to the river. We felt very safe, they only allow 8 guests per guide and equipment was in good shape and included hard hats with lights as well as life jackets, which they require you to wear in the water. They suggest water shoes because sandals get lost in the current, they have them for rental for $3 if you don't bring any, but we brought our own. Our guide was very nice and friendly but seemed a little rushed. He mentioned it was his last tour of the day, so maybe that was it. He had us walk through the jungle really quick, we only briefly stopped twice for him to show us termites and a pineapple but then back to the trail. We passed 4 groups along the trail and in the cave, so I know we were going faster than other groups. Although we might have liked to take a slower pace to really enjoy the walk through the beautiful jungle, we still had a wonderful time. We really enjoyed the walk. We arrived at the river and the guide gave us a couple minutes to swim around the water while he linked our tubes together then we were off. The cave was amazing and the lights on our hard hats came in handy. There were a few tiny rapids but it was mostly calm and we felt very safe the whole time. All in all, we loved it. 3) Roatan: We booked with Little French Key. We were not sure what to expect since it was the first time we didn't book through the ship and first time in Roatan, but we found Larry and Dave very easily just outside the port gates. They put us in a van with a few other guests and drove us to Frenchy's 44 which was about a 20 minute drive from the port. We then took a small ferry just across the water to Little French Key. It was absolutely beautiful and ended up being our favorite excursion of the entire trip. The water was clam and clear and the staff were extremely friendly. Drinks were delish, especially the monkey la la. They also had a small zoo with rescue animals which was very cool. There were a couple jaguars that were in an enclosure that we thought looked a little small but otherwise all the animals looked very happy and well taken care of. They will let you hold the monkeys, we went into the pen in the large spider monkey enclosure which was cool but their most shining star is undoubtedly "Lisa" the monkey. She is the sweetest most cuddly animal I've ever seen, I was ready to smuggle her back to the US! Everyone should ask to hold her, it will make your trip! We also went snorkeling which we really enjoyed. There was a good variety of fish and the reef was amazing. Little French Key is definitely a place not to be missed during your visit to Roatan! 4) Costa Maya: We reserved Maya Chan Beach and had a great time. It is an all inclusive, funky beach resort. They only allow a small number of guests so it provides a really nice experience. It never felt crowded and the staff treated us like family. Everything was included - alcoholic drinks, food, water toys and the snorkel and kayaking tour. The food was incredible. The beach did have some trash floating in the water, but we did research in advance and know that this is an issue in the entire Costa Maya area because of their location, all beach resorts in this area have similar problems. It was not too much but the only thing that could be improved in a perfect world, but again, it wasn't Maya Chan's fault either. We would definitely go back here! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot ... Read More
My husband and I left out of New Orleans aboard the Jewel for Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Costa Maya (Mahahual Mex.). We almost didn't make it thanks to the never ending snow storms this year. It was an absolute BLAST. I cannot say enough about the staff aboard the Jewel. We will now be taking the Jewel out of Seattle to Alaska because of the staff and ship. I would give the total experience a 4.5! Food 4.0 - New to free style dining, really like it! We stayed with all the included eating venues. Cabin 4.5 we had a balcony (the only was to cruise IMO) Staff 5.0 Entertainment 4.5 Excursions 5.0 Food was good. We ate in the main dining room twice and decided we were more of the buffet upstairs kind of people. If you don't eat early or late there can be a wait for seating in the dining areas. Cabin- very nice. Rod our steward took very good care of us. Love the coffee pot in the room - coffee on the balcony in the morning is awesome. Staff - can't say enough! Entertainment - two things stand out. The group Next Stage was awesome! Cover style with awesome music. Latin Four on deck played nice Caribbean and Latin music.. really good with Coconut rum and Sierra Mist. But our fav was a soloist named Randon. He played acoustic guitar and sang 70's folk and light rock. We looked for him in the evenings to jell out. NCL hold on to him! Excursions awesome. Cozumel we took a Mexican cooking class ( I know.. but I know us, we would need out of the sun for a day after a day at sea with AMAZING weather). Oscar was the chef/instructor. WHAT A BLAST, then beach time at Playa Mia. Belize - cave float and Zip Line great time! Roatan - snorkeling and beach, amazing reef and guides. Costa Maya - segway tour, very cool things, we want one for tooling around our development now. The guides/instructors were amazing. We spent 1/2 hour learning how to ride then 2.5 actually riding. Juan, Christian and Daniel, you guys ROCK! We then went to Blue Bay to hang at the beach. Beautiful spot! Had some drinks, went for a swim, relaxed under the straw cabanas. Life was GOOD! REALLY recommend this cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My husband and I took our fist trip alone with out our son (who is nearly 3) in February. We went for the 2 bedroom penthouse suite and were glad we did just because it was nice to have 2 bathrooms, the more comfortable chairs on the ... Read More
My husband and I took our fist trip alone with out our son (who is nearly 3) in February. We went for the 2 bedroom penthouse suite and were glad we did just because it was nice to have 2 bathrooms, the more comfortable chairs on the balcony and some space to spread out. Since we were in a suite, we had priority embarkation (awesome), a butler (imperative), and breakfast/lunch at Cagney's (the best perk of all). We arrived in NOLA and it was rainy, so we skipped the french quarter and just boarded the boat. We had lunch at Cagneys (seriously, have I told you it was the best perk) and explored the ship a bit. Our room was awesome. I slept in every bed in the room during our 7 night stay, but preferred the lounge chairs on the balcony or the floor to any of the beds. I kid you not, I slept on the floor 3 of the 7 nights and on the patio 2x. The bed was hard as a rock, as was the pull down bunk and the pull out couch. I have a bad back, so it was easier to sleep on the floor and know what I would wake up with. MDR food was pretty crappy as was the buffet, but again, I am on a special diet and cant have fried food, dairy, or sugar, so most of the options for me were removed before we got started. The ports of call were great and I will re-state again that the suites have the priority stuff and we were on the first tender off the boat in Belize which meant we got to our excursions earlier than anyone else. We booked all the excursions through external sources and were very happy with all of them. Coral Breeze Tours (Belize), Argel and Adiel King (cozumel), and Subway Watersports (Roatan) were all excellent and I will do them again. The boat was clean, there were no lines for food (ever) and the shows were fine. Don't spend the money on the hibachi restaurant (it sucked) but go ahead and pop for cagneys if you aren't in a suite. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are ... Read More
This was the best vacation/cruise I have ever experienced. I was very nervous at first having never cruised before. Didn't know what to expect or if I would even enjoy it for that matter. We traveled with 6 other couples that are cruise veterans. I can only tell you we had the time of our lives. All the staff made us feel like we were at home and part of their family. They ALWAYS had a smile on their faces and were going above and beyond to show everyone a great time. I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the ship and how they are so adamant about sanitation. The food and selection of food was great as well. We never went hungry or waited a minute for service. I especially appreciated watching how well everyone worked together and how much they took the time to thank us and their crew for all their hard work. The Cruise Director, Captain and their Executive Staff made their presence known and were eager to assist you. They didn't just hide in their offices and talk over the intercom all day. I highly recommend this ship and cruise line to everyone and anyone. I am so happy with the way the trip turned out and I can be a very picky person. Kudos to Norweigan. Hope to be cruising with you again really soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). ... Read More
My wife and I took this cruise out of New Orleans as our honeymoon. It was a 7 night with 4 port stops. This was our 4th cruise, but first with Norwegian. The priors being Carnival (twice on the Triumph and once on the Conquest). Embarkation from N.O. was same as always; actually much quicker this time, as we were later(ish) in getting to the port. We usually arrive at 11:00 and wait in line, however this time we didn't arrive until 2:30; walked right through w/ no lines, awesome! Only issue I had was going through the scanners, the port security guy confiscated a pocket knife out of my wife's purse that I had given her some years ago. He stared at it and said "yep, longer than 4 inches". I looked at him and sarcastically said something to the effect of "Yeah you keep telling yourself that". He told me they'd "mail it back to us". I laughed and said "whatever". They never took our address. I then looked at my wife and LOUDLY said "You'll never see it again". I've taken that knife on 3 previous cruises w/ no problem...it is legal length. I am also a police officer and really wanted to just snap on those $6 an hour nose picking security guards, but decided against it...it was time to get on the ship and have fun. Anyway we boarded the ship and went straight to our room. Deck 4, room with a porthole window. Nice room, although considerably smaller than rooms on Carnival (didn't care). They knew it was our honeymoon and said we'd get some kind of gift. So we enter the room, and sure enough there is a bottle of wine, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries (that were INCREDIBLE!), and a card to take to the dining room for a free cake. Very nice indeed! Funny thing is, we also had TWO seperate single beds! We just laughed. I mean, we've been together for 16 years and just now got married, so no biggie, still though... :-) I was very impressed with the bathroom. Much more elegant than Carnival's pepto bismol pink bathrooms. LAYOUT: Ok so we tour the ship to get to know the layout. Very different from Carnival, but we found it VERY easy to navigate. Basically, everything you need is on decks 7 and 12. Easy enough. Ship was very nice and well thought out (layout wise). We frequented the shop daily and nightly (after lunch and dinner, kind of our routine). The gift shop, "Trade Winds" I believe it is called, is HUGE! Just before entering the shop, you'll walk through the hallway where they put all the pictures they take on display (starboard side). DINING: We ate lunch in the main buffet (I'm awful with names, I think it was called the Garden something). VERY good food for cruise ship buffets...much better than Carnival. It was also a MUCH better layout. Carnival's is a single file line, where as this is more of an open room with multiple buffet tables. So much easier to navigate, w/ little to no lines. And who doesn't love WASHY WASHY and the songs!? Fine dining we jumped back and forth between the Azura and the T'czar (again, names?). The Azura is a bit cramped and more contemporary, where as the T'czar was very, very nice. On a side note, if you're an ice cream lover like myself, the T'czar serves it in larger glasses :-) Unlike the buffet, food quality in the fine dining was......ok. Presentation was nice, but the selection and quality were mediocre. We dressed up every night, and went there more for the experience than the food. We didn't do any of the "pay" dining; we've paid a lot already, and find it ridiculous to pay additionally. SHOWS: We went to a few, and loved them all. The Band on The Run was the best (imo). I found myself drooling over on of their dancers, Kate Barrett. I'm not gonna lie, she is gorgeous, and can dance like no other. My wife didn't mind, she just occasionally rolled her eyes and would say something to the extent of "you're a dork" :-) PORTS: Cozumel, this was our 3rd time there. We love it, but decide to wing it (did that at all the ports). We each rented a scooter for 30 bucks each and took off. A couple of hours later, my wife wrecks hers. Long story short, we had to go to an ATM and get $400 to pay for the damages. Ugh, but, it is what it is I guess. Cozumel is beautiful, and we ate at Margaritaville. Belize, we shopped. I bought a very nice Bulova watch for a ridiculous low price! Roatan, BEAUTIFUL. We rented a "cab" and toured the island. Technically it was a 1992 Corolla w/ a driver, a guide, and us. Long narrow windy roads full of potholes. But we loved it! Tipped the driver and guide and they cried (!?). Reason is, the $ exchange rate is 20:1! Costa Maya: BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL! The port there is wonderful...dolphins, a small beach, a long windy pool, shopping, and of course Senior Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Here's a tip, don't eat at Senior Frogs...they are smoking crack when it comes to their food prices ($15.50 for a burger). Debarkation was 10 minutes from ship to car! I am NOT lying about that! Could not believe it. We chose Norwegian this time to try a change. It was nice, no doubt. Most notably is the clientele, which is obviously due to the price. There was, however, a LARGE group that was on the ship, "Auqafest". It is a gay group. Supposedly they made up %25 of the passengers...we found it to be more like %50. Neither of us could care less, but I have to admit, by the end of the cruise I had had enough of the overweight, hairy men in speedo's making out. The (adult) pool was over run with them day and night. Luckily there weren't many children on board, as it was not exactly family friendly. Also, for you first time cruisers, the sales pitch you get EVERYWHERE, both on the ship as well as ports, does tend to get old. Just thought I'd throw that in there. In conclusion, we had a wonderful time. Was the price difference worth leaving Carnival to change to Norwegian? No. I think we'll go back to Carnival, but if given the opportunity would jump right back on board Norwegian again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We have always booked cruises leaving the NYC area since we are not fond of flying. However, this cruise looked very interesting and we couldn't pass it up..So we flew down to Miami the same day as the cruise. It wasn't as bad as ... Read More
We have always booked cruises leaving the NYC area since we are not fond of flying. However, this cruise looked very interesting and we couldn't pass it up..So we flew down to Miami the same day as the cruise. It wasn't as bad as we thought it would be but we still don't like flying.Anyway,embarkation was all right especially since we were Latitudes members with a balcony so our line was a lot shorter.Since we knew that our cabin would not be ready we headed to Tsars for lunch and met some of our CC buddies... The balcony was roomy enough for us.We usually unpack my luggage and keep DH's on the sofa..Our room was kept very clean by Jill and her partner, which I forgot his name. Both of them were very friendly and would stop to talk to us and see how our day was. We always give an extra tip to the cabin stewards because they deserve the most.They even had towel creatures to meet us every night CC MEET AND GREET- the M&G was wonderful since we had about 150 people. We met Captain Costas, Hotel Director, John O'Hara (Yes Mrs.O'Hara, he was wonderful and couldn't do enough for us...EXT 8888!!!) Cruise Director, Iain, the Comedian, Tim and others...I must say that for 13 days you always saw all of them around the ship. If you said hi, they would stop to talk to you...I even saw the Captain shopping in the Duty Free shop...I love when the staff is visible to the passengers. it make good Customer relations DINNERS:: I am not going to get into detail since we thought all the dinners were very good. We did eat at Cagneys, Mama's Chin Chin, Blue Lagoon Garden Buffet and both dining rooms. the only problem we had was the second time we ate at Mama's. We were with other CC members and told the waiter that we had to be out by 9 but we were still eating at that time.Even though it tasted good, my pork saltimboca did not have a piece of prosciutto on it. DH seafood pasta didn't have any taste to it either. With that in mind, the next day we got a call from the Restaurant manager, who apologized for the service and the food. She then gave us a bottle of wine and a free meal in any speciality restaurant we would like. I though that was very generous. We have to say that our favorite was Chin Chin for a specialty restaurant. SHOWS: I am surprised that there weren't any more Jean Ryan shows on this cruise, especially since it was for 13 days. We did like the comedian Tim, Matilda, and Cirque Bijiou..Of course the crew's talent show was great and so was the "FOUNTAINS"...but all the other's were only ok...nothing special... POOL AREA: Now this is where I have a lot to say...like on so many other ships there are those deck chair hogs that spread their towels on the chair..but I never seen it as bad as it was on this ship...there was a group of passengers from Russia that would be up at 6 am to commandeer deck chairs on 2 sides of the pool. I even saw a man who saved a chair just for his bag...no one ever sat in it but his bag..I witnessed an elderly woman go to one side of the pool pick up her cover up from a chair and then come back to the other side and sit in another chair, leaving the other chair with just a towel on it. I truly believe that crew members should be able to clock the time that the chairs are vacant. I was told one day that I can let the crew member know when an hour was up on this particular chair and he would remove the towel. I did not feel it was up to me to do that but for them to keep an eye out PASSENGERS: The majority of the passengers on the ship were pleasant and friendly.I met many wonderful people on this cruise. However, the Europeans and the French Canadians were very rude and nasty.Just because they THINK they can wear a speedo or a bikini doesn't make them special..I had a few comments made about me that weren't very nice and upset me very much. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Just arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was ... Read More
Just arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable. Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth. Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one. Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!! Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc. I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!! We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior! Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax! There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so. We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical! Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner! Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon! In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!! In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked thJust arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable. Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth. Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one. Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!! Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc. I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!! We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior! Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax! There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so. We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical! Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner! Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon! In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!! In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked that David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological at David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological find! David also told us of a new dig that may be even more important than this - where we will also visit in the future! Our ship was able to tender us in to GSC, and we spent about 3 hours snorkeling there. You are forced to wear a small life vest, and that was a little frustrating, because then it is very difficult to do any diving for a closer look! However, lots of things to see if you took your time, and let the fish come out, rather than hiding in the rocks, etc. Other passengers: This ship had a great mix of ages. I love seeing children enjoying themselves, and most of the time the kids we saw were very well-behaved. This was a spring break cruise for college kids, and that was good to see. Of course, Kev and I fit in with the approaching seniors - but most that we saw were still very active and willing to try. I have to say one thing. At the first port and also the last before GSC, we saw people escorted off the ship. I don't know what the woman who was escorted off in Costa Maya did - but a couple a few doors down from our cabin was escorted off in Roatan for smoking pot in their cabin. People - just don't be stupid!! Keep your illegal substances and activities at home, and just have a great vacation!! Overall experience/evaluation: Will we cruise with NCL in the future?? You betcha!! This cruise made it hard to come home to work! But hey - we work, so that we can save for the next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
12/6: We Woke at 3AM to shower, dress & drive to train station where we park for free to ride to the airport. Then Delta flies us CLE-CVG in a mini jet that we are told is 35 min flight but take 1.5 hours. Then to wait for the plane ... Read More
12/6: We Woke at 3AM to shower, dress & drive to train station where we park for free to ride to the airport. Then Delta flies us CLE-CVG in a mini jet that we are told is 35 min flight but take 1.5 hours. Then to wait for the plane to MIA which is FC as we bought for the whole trip. So 3 Bloody Marys apiece & great taxi ride to the ship & instant Latitudes line for Silver tho our cards state bronze. Up to 7 to go to Tsars for lunch & we were first there. Great lunch of roast pork, side of shrimp & salad with a cup of cappuccino. Then up to our 10 deck BA stateroom. Seemed small when we alway got minis at least, but OK for $500 each. The luggage showed very fast (2:15) so we unpacked. I got my supplies for Meet & Greet tomorrow, the name tags Jerry printed for the FAMILY JEWELS, as we called ourselves. Had my gift ready too. Then we walked around the ship seeing everything all over again. At the Atrium I was stopped by a man & 3 gals who remembered me from Oct 2008 in Canada. So instant 4 friends. They knew it was our 30th anniversary, so our PCC did her job. Trevor who had my husband's large print daily delivered 7PM nightly for the next day had those 2 best friends. Then Mick, as I called Michelina who is now promoted to Restaurant Mgr. She comes to hug both of us for our great review of her work to Bob Becker, VP. She tells us we are truly family. After Muster Drill we head to Sky Bar for the Sail away & met a good 20 folks. Sprinkles were starting with lightening & top floor isn't desirable for that so we went it for dinner. Back to Tsars at 5:30PM to dinner and we both had more shrimp cocktail, apple soup, the beef tenderloin with double stuffed potatoes and lima beans which neither of us liked. The rolls were wheat & very good. Cappuccino was repeated refilled all dinner & desert. Service was close to 70% Philippines with a few Romanians who were head waiters & they each have a Jr Waiter. We both hit the hot shower, and out on the balcony to leave Miami to for Gulf. Lovely evening & to bed we went by 9PM. 12/7 Up at 7AM, Showered & I washed my hair but the dryer seemed strong but my long hair was soaked after 15 minutes running it on it. SO I walked the ship outside for instant hairdryer with the heat getting warmer to hot by 10AM. Then to Azura dining room for Meet & Greet. The staff there had tables with tablecloths all lined nicely for 60 people. Mayra was replaced with a new Group Event Coordinator Roxanne Brown. Instant friends & very alike. She had 60 spaces for names, stateroom numbers with email addresses for Homeland Security for the Bridge Tour. She stated Captain Kostas (Konstatinos Fafalios) is a friend of mine & I pulled out my portrait taken Oct 2008 with Jonas, the Staff Captain in place of Captain Kostas since he left for vacation halfway thru the cruise. Amazing that the 6 men only Jonas & Kostas are still there. No definate locations for them but Epic was staffing itself. So in walks our Family Jewels to get a name tag & fill out the form for all 60 folks, which everyone did. Tho 10 people didn't make it since TA's with the PHD for NCL U where they learn to be NCL all week. In walked Captain Kostas with Jonas & 9 more Officers. Steve replaced Julian as Hotel Director in October & he leaves Jewel with us to walk across the terminal to Pearl where he will work & Joe replaces him. Mick was there; Eric Cousin, Exec Chef; Mustafa, Food & Bev Dir; Carolyn, Guests Services Manager; Que, Cruise Director; Concierge Avar and 2 others that I did not get name cards for. Great get together for Cruise Critic members with the Captain to ask questions, get to know them all as well as each other. The Gift Exchange was very cute with me having the Captain & his Officers drawing the numbers. The one Officer who speaks very little english draws "M" which turned sideways is "3" the number we needed. Everyone loved it. Jeff even yelled it is "W" also so the Officer felt like one of us. He was cute though out the cruise to everyone.After lunch we did a walk of the ship & a cute couple playing shuffleboard and very good at it decided to teach us the game. So they left to rest & we took over with folks jumping over what we had fired across the floor. Some though we were going overboard but NCL has that blocked. Great to learn a game that goes back a century. The show that night was "Bank on the Run" which is excellent. Songs from the 70's and a great show from Jean Ann Ryan. 12/8 Up at 8AM to shower & dress for a very hot (92) & humid (100%). We are so hot in the room and the mirror behind the bed is like a hot shower was running. So balcony door closes. So to breakfast we go & then to go visit Routan. We did their stores, I got a sea shell charm at Diamond Int'l. For my 30th anniversary present he was going to upgrade my 1 KT diamond tennis bracelet to 2 Kt. $975 we were told. NOPE! So back to the ship where we meet up with Jonas to meet some more new folks with the restaurants, entertainment for that night with Pat Murray and his dummies that he works with. That night will be Matilda his hot Jamaican babe who has been around. What we saw had us going to it that night. Another Capella group "Cat's Pajamas", are 4 guys that know how to entertain, similar to the "Jersey Boys". Again we get them tomorrow. Then they have the art auction with free champagne but just one glass when you walk in, no refills. Pretty boring so we left. Went to the show after dinner and had a great laugh with a very smart dummie. Murray told me it is ie not y since she is a lady. But then his wife comes our with a large Ant named Antonio and we left since it got bad. We get back to our room & as the key goes in the door I see balloons, then walk in to HAPPY ANNIVERSARY across the wall atop the balcony door. Silver bells on the Mirror, cut paper bells that was pulled across the ceiling in 3 directions. A floral arrangement is sitting on the table. But no card. Who sent this? So down to the Atrium I go to find out & they tell me it is BLOCKED. Jerry was in the bathroom & comes out to Eric leaving a cake & I walk in & he has us sit & enjoy a chocolate mouse cake. Then I am handed an envelope that has a note that we are having dinner Saturday night at Le Bistro with bubbly included. I am to call the Concierge to make the reservation, signed by Steve. So that answered that question, The Captain & Officers did this. So up to the bridge with some cake but it is dark one officer on the side. So we ate that too. 12/9 We are seeing tender ships going to HAL across from us in the Gulf o Belize. Again it is so humid & hot at 8AM, I am ready to wear as little as possible. So we board a nice large tender that rode waves very well. Over 100 folks onboard and easy to get off at the shopping area. The people are not pushy, very nice folks. We learn they get 1 cruise ship a week, so they love Pearl & Jewel & wish they come twice a week. Many of us told them we would let NCL know. But they trade off East & West. So we did all the stores, heard all the stories of their families and bought a ceramic gecko that is climbing and look over his shoulder at you & everyone in the room. Different artist did it and for $15 I had to have it. Then to Diamond Int'l for my charm which is binoculars. They had no 2 kt & pushed us to buy a 4 KT for $1400, I told them "Maybe for my 40th". Back to the ship for a cool shower, then I sat outside to dry my hair in 15 mins. Then to dinner which was lobster served on linguine with snapper, shrimp & mussels. Mick stopped us as we walked in and gave us a quick pantry tour. I do not like Snapper but would like 3 lobster tails with 9 mussels in the shells. And she brought it to the table. Forget the butter this is heaven! Not rubbery, melted in your mouth and she brought the Chef out for my applause. He is the boss of all cooks on the ship at every restaurant. So he did this for me that night and folks were staring as they had linguine & all the rest. My husband loved the whole meal that was served to just about everyone. Show is country, which we do not care for. 12/10 Cat's Pajamas night in the showroom and we both loved their style. Costa Maya awaits us and we are sideways at the dock so everyone gets a better view. What was the old place is to the right with skeletons of the old stores and pool that is out of the ground on its side. The other pool is there on the left with the new stores and they have a swimming pool that runs the length of it. So to DI for my charm, which I got 3! A snorkel mask, a beach chair with canopy & as I am presented with a 2Kt diamond tennis bracelet that husband got for $500 with trade of old bracelet, then put a cruise ship on my bracelet that no one else gets one. I am their voice on Jewel & Kiwi, NCL shopping expert from New Zealand got us the deal we wanted. 65% off! Hugs galore for those in the store. Kiwi tells me it was his gift for our 30th. Then back for Tango's with free margarita for dinner. We love the IL POPO, large hotel steel structure with meat, peppers, onions, hanging for you to eat. I also had 3 lobster tacos that were HUGE! What a deal for $10 a person. $5 for full margarita but we passed. Then to the show and can those guys sing. I urge everyone to look for them on cruises with NCL as they are under contract for 3 years. Back to the room to watch CLE Browns vs Pittburgh Steelers & we killed them since they were cold. 12/11 Sea day - So after breakfast we hit the shuffleboard for an hour & gave it to another couple. We are headed to Bahamas. At 11AM we have the Bridge Tour with the Captain and the Family Jewels he met. What a great time he gave all of us. Answered questions, posed for photos, and then the Concierge comes in tell him he has his 2nd group (at 12:30PM) so we left. Went to another art auction for the free champagne. Then back out to enjoy the waves from the sides as we walk and the wake from the back which I missed but we are in front this cruise. Show is the greatest show NCL has on any ship: Cirque Bijou. Be sure to sit underneath the black walkway in the ceiling with ropes coming out of it. The guys fall on us with bungee cords, even high fiving us but I almost got my head kicked if I didn't put it on Jerry's shoulder. The acrobats are amazing, the special effects too. This is THE SHOW! 12/12 is to be Bahamas & NCL's Great Stirrup Cay but we are still racing to it at 9AM. So our for a walk to dry my hair in the wind, then comb it normal & have breakfast. Then we hear Kostas announcing that all ships are detouring from the Bahamas due to large waves that the lifeboats will have trouble with. High winds & waves as he stated. so another sea day. A day to make sure we forgot no one thanking for our surprise. Trevor at the Atrium for the large print daily, Ann from Germany for remembering us from Oct '08. We bought our deposit and got $100 off our bill. Show tonight is the CREW who are International. Great show with the Asst Hotel Director singing, an Indian waiter dancing in Bollywood style, and the greatest show they do FOUNTAINS. 5 guys & a gal with water pitchers that they drink from, hold it in their mouths to become the fountain, down each others back, up their nose, into the audience. They were a laugh & artistic when they got circular in the revolving stage area & all squirting water into the air. Then the skinny guy loses his toga & runs to fix it which had the place in hysterics. A Hawaiian waitress danced. Then the March of 300 employees to say thank you to us for sailing with them and w tell them thank you for making our vacation. Jonas & Kostas are waiting in the back for my hugs of thanks for the surprises. We are family and we will remember it. Back to the room to pack up to go home in the morning. We both agreed how fast the week went by and that is us having a great time. So we both have outfit to wear back to freezing CLE. 12/13 We got breakfast at 7:30AM at Tsars. I had Eggs Benedict with the Raisin Cinnamon French Toast, 4 cappuccinos and a big hug & kiss from Steve who was off to Pearl and going back West. Jerry told him good luck & he tells us to come sail with him. I told him to get us a free room or a good sale & email either of us. He knows we are on Epic next year. But he got Pearl. Then Jonas is with a new hire and as we are taking our carry ons off the ship he is at the terminal to say bye. He has new hires & their paperwork to be completed & get on the ship. As he tells us people come & go on vacations so he is busy in Miami or NYC. Here comes Mick who is headed home to Romania for 2 months. She works 4 gets 2 off. So we grab a cab for all of us but she has a totally different area to go to at the airport. So until next time. Fly back to CLE and 20 degree days but today was 40 with the blizzard eat of us. We got .4" which is fine with me. We are sleeping plenty after our party week and back to reality as we call it. So til Epic next December (12/11/10) or a cheap cruise in April (on Jewel maybe). Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
BACKGROUND ABOUT US: This was our (husband and I) first cruise. After months of research (by me) and looking on this website and other member reviews, we decided to go on the Norwegian Jewel 5-day cruise from Miami to Grand Cayman and ... Read More
BACKGROUND ABOUT US: This was our (husband and I) first cruise. After months of research (by me) and looking on this website and other member reviews, we decided to go on the Norwegian Jewel 5-day cruise from Miami to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We live in Upstate NY, I am 27 and my husband is 30. This was our delayed honeymoon/vacation. We do very little traveling. PRE-CRUISE: We decided to fly down a day earlier. I would definitely recommend doing this as it eliminates any stress about getting to the port on time, etc. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel at Miami Airport. I got the pre-cruise package for $220, which included transportation from airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the port of Miami on day of cruise. This also included the breakfast. I would definitely recommend this hotel. We had a lovely time there (although it was very short since we arrived around 8pm Saturday night and left at noon on Sunday). The hotel staff was very nice. They upgraded our room to a mini-suite with a king-size bed. Although the room and hotel was nice, there was hair in the tub/shower, which was disappointing. The food at the hotel was good. We did not get to use the pool but there were a lot of people using it and it looked nice. If we had more time, we would have used the pool. DAY OF CRUISE: After being dropped off at the port of Miami, there was a porter there to take our bags. We weren't sure what to do then, but we figured it out. We arrived at the port by 1pm and were able to check in. The line was not long and we were able to check in upon getting to the port. There were plenty of staff directing us to where we needed to check-in and they were friendly. Checking in was a breeze. Within a 1/2 hour, we were checked in and were on board the ship. As this was our first cruise, we asked a few questions at the check-in (i.e., how the card works, when we could go to the room, when our bags would get to our room, etc). The man who checked us in was very forthcoming and friendly. They give you a card which you use to get into your room and to purchase anything and everything on the ship (except the casino). We did not have any problems with our card until we came back on the ship after our second port of call. My card did not work for some reason and had to go to the reception desk to get new cards (my husband also had to get one since they were giving me one). Although this was an inconvenience, we had new cards within 5 minutes. SERVICE: The service on the ship was OUTSTANDING! Everyone was friendly, greeted you when you passed, asked how things were going, etc. All of the staff wear ID tags which lists their name and where they are from which we found interesting because there was hardly anyone from USA! POOLS/HOT TUB: We did not use the pool and hot tubs that much as we didn't find them available to us for most of the time. We both are fair skinned so we tended to stay out of the sun the majority of the time. We did find that the pool area was less crowded during port of call days. On our first sea day, we decided to pay $40 ($20 each) to use the Thermal Suite (Spa) for the day. This included use of a female/male separate hot tub, sauna, steam room, showers. They also had a unisex room with a bigger hot tub (thermal pool) and heated lounge chairs. This was well-worth the $20 as the view was INCREDIBLE and there were less people here. They had a reduced amount for the full trip, which we will definitely do next time! One thing we did notice was that the 4 hot tubs in the pool area had signs that they were "adult only" however kids were in them the majority of the time we were in the area. They did have a kids-only pool and hot tub but we rarely saw it being used. ENTERTAINMENT: Comedian Joe Yannetty was funny! The juggler Barry John was very funny and amazing! Another couple we met on the ship recommended going to see his second show (as we had not gone to his first show). It was definitely worth it! We also went to the Cirque Bijou show which was also recommended to us. It was very good also! We did not go into the casino as we are not big gamblers but we did see it being used. We did not use the Library but if you like to read and forget a book, they have books you can use. They also have a card room, which has games like Scrabble, Yahtzee, Rummikub, Mah-Jong, and Chess. If you like to play board games or cards, check this out! FOOD: All of it was OUTSTANDING! Service was amazing also! We ate at Tango's, Mama's Italian, Azura, and Cagney's Steakhouse. We ate at the Garden Cafe (buffet) for all of our breakfast and lunches. The two main restaurants (no cover charge) were Tsar's and Azura. We ate at Azura once and it was really delicious. We would have eaten there again but wanted to try out the other restaurants. Tango's ($10 cover charge) was a Mexican restaurant and was ok. If we went on this ship again, we probably wouldn't eat here as there are other restaurants we enjoyed more. Mama's Italian ($10 cover charge) was also very nice. It was quiet when we were there (around 8:30pm) which made it even more enjoyable. My husband's favorite restaurant (and I enjoyed it very much also) was Cagney's Steakhouse. We had 8:30pm reservations and it was packed! We only had to wait less than 5 minutes for a table. The food was excellent, as well as the service! It was well-worth the $20 cover charge! We definitely recommend this restaurant if you are on traveling on this ship! PRESENTATIONS: We attended the Port Shopping Talk with Joanna, the Shopping Consultant. Although we had pre-booked our excursions (see below), we wanted to hear what she said about the ports. If you are going on your first cruise, I would definitely recommend attending this and seeing what the shopping consultant has to say. She will give you tips on where to go, what to watch out for, etc. DISEMBARKMENT: This was a very easy process as well! The day before, you have to go and get your own colored luggage tags. Depending on when you want to leave, you pick the color tag that corresponds to the time you want to get off the ship. You pick when you want to leave!! They also have an easy walk-off program where you take your own luggage with you on the day of disembarkment. We chose to leave our luggage out the night before (before midnight) with our luggage tags that corresponded to 9:15 disembarkment. Our flight from Miami was at 1:15pm. We waited on Deck 7 for our color (light blue) to be called and then we left the ship. Going through customs was very easy and we did not have any problems! Finding our luggage was also...very EASY!! Once you reach the ground floor, there are different sections clearly signed and we had no problems finding our luggage. We then crossed the street and within 10 seconds had a taxi-cab and left the port for the airport. Within 45 minutes, we were at Miami airport waiting for our flight. The cab cost $24 with a $2 fee, so the total was $26. Also, when we got up on disembarkment day, our bill was waiting for us. We are very anal, and since this was our first cruise, we wanted to keep track of our money and see how much we spent. We had kept track of our spending in a notebook. Everything you purchase on the ship is charged to your on-board account. Our numbers matched with theirs so we did not have any problems. There was a line at the reception desk Friday morning for those who had discrepancies or were paying with cash/traveler's checks. EXCHANGING MONEY: We had brought traveler's checks with us because we weren't sure how it was going to work in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We were able to cash those in at the reception desk on board. At both ports, every place we went to, they accepted US dollars. We used only cash for anything purchased off the ship. We did not have any problems at all. INTERNET CAFE: This was a little expensive. There is an activation fee of $3.95 to set up your account and to use the internet. We paid as we went, so it was 75 cents per minute. However, they do run specials a couple of the days. For example, since we couldn't leave the ship until 10am for Cozumel, they had a 1/2 off special if you used the internet from 8am to 10am on this day. On the second sea day, they also had reduced fees. Printing was 10 cents per page. Since we had e-tickets for our flight out of Miami, we went on on Thursday (sea day) and printed off our tickets. The internet is really slow. At the end of your session, they do show you how much you used, etc. I know this was a lot of information but if you have never been on a cruise before, I hope our information was helpful to you! I used these boards to check out the reviews/advice prior to our trip and wasn't really sure what to expect on board. OVERALL: We would definitely recommend Norwegian Jewel. It was a very safe and nice ship. The staff were friendly and the food was outstanding. There was a lot to do but don't be stressed about fitting everything in as you probably won't be able to! If you are interested in doing a shore excursion, definitely pre-book ahead of time so you don't have to do it on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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