26 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

We wanted to experience a full transit of the canal and booked this trip with friends. We had a great time and the canal experience was unforgettable in every way. The ship is beautiful and the staff was very good. NCL has some ... Read More
We wanted to experience a full transit of the canal and booked this trip with friends. We had a great time and the canal experience was unforgettable in every way. The ship is beautiful and the staff was very good. NCL has some opportunities available to improve on management of large numbers of people (embarkation and tender days were not the best for managing the flow of people). The shows were very good.We enjoyed all of the ports (we book private tours in ports and have always been satisfied with them!). The weather was good but hot. The food in the buffet and the restaurants was very good (the buffet was not always the hottest food but far from cold and very enjoyable). The one small "hiccup" we had with bar service was handled very professionally and we were very satisfied. All-in-all an excellent two weeks. We have always enjoyed our NCL cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Cruise was chosen because of length and destination. Buffet food was delicious, but ice cream machines were not always functioning. It would have been nice to have an ice cream machine near the pool. Coffee was too strong for our taste. ... Read More
Cruise was chosen because of length and destination. Buffet food was delicious, but ice cream machines were not always functioning. It would have been nice to have an ice cream machine near the pool. Coffee was too strong for our taste. We watered it down. Decor in dining rooms was not as elegant as some larger ships. Personnel were fabulous. Our room stewardess (last name Harris) was very friendly and helpful. A woman who worked in various positions, especially the games played, (Shirley I think) was a true joy. I think she was having as much fun as we were. Shows in main theater were very good. Pool area was crammed with chairs, many of which were saved and no one ever came to sit there. Many times, we could not find a chair. A sign stated that chairs remaining unoccupied for 1 hour would be cleared for other guests. That never happened. Apparently some guests reserved a chair in the sun and another one in the shade. That shouldn't be allowed when so many other guests are looking for a seat. The ship is older but is clean and well maintained. We purchased the soft drink package. Water was not included and should have been. Over all, the trip was a pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda ... Read More
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda or water on board, company policy. Once on board the room was great. Large bathroom with a tub. If you bring your own coffee be sure to bring basket type filters. They don't sell any on the ship. When are the cruise ships going to start puting more than one electrical plug in? I'm tired of bringing my own power strips. Cabin stewards were great as usual. Food was just average. Lots of Germans on board to cruise through the canal so we had Bavarian food in the buffet. BBQ on the swim deck was good. We had free dinners in the specialty restraints. The Cagney restraunt had the best filet I ever ate. We ate there 3 times. No more free lobster in the main dining room, company policy. No more midnight chocolate party, company policy. The entertainment was average. Seen most of them on other NCL sailings. How bout something new. The shore excursion to the jungle train ride and boat ride was lame. The train traveled next to the road we drove in on. We did happen to see a few monkeys. The rride up a river to see alligators was also lame. We did see a couple of alligators , lots of birds and many rare Michelin black wall tires. Also a few Nike shoes on the bank. Can ya clean up the mess a little Costa Rica. The hop on hop off buss in Cartagena worked for us. We stopped at the beach and went swimming. Why did the maintainace crew close and paint the swimming pool on the ship for a couple days on the hottest part of the trip? Of all the ships we have been on , Ian was the best cruise director . He had magic tricks in the morning and jokes at night after the shows in the main theatre. Gina Welch our personal cruise consultant was very good to us over the years, we will miss you. Come on NCl can ya get your ship together? Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Partly because of price but not significance difference. Organization of boarding procedure in Miami - extremely poor - substandard. Service and employees - very good. Excursion vere very poorly organized mainly information to ... Read More
Partly because of price but not significance difference. Organization of boarding procedure in Miami - extremely poor - substandard. Service and employees - very good. Excursion vere very poorly organized mainly information to participants to and how to leave ship. Returning from excursions well organized. Entertainment - shows were one of the lowest quality we experienced.. FOOD VERY POOR based on central Europe standards. Wiener schnitzel served clearly showed, that the chef did not see even picture how the wiener schnitzel looks like. French soup was served eleven times on occasion even twice - lunch and supper and it did not tasted as french onion soup. Pasta was grossly overcooked even when served in Italian Cuisine Restaurant. Great majority of the food served were of East Indian origins using strange spices and combinations. Corn sitting in the sweetened milk, roast beef served but no mashed potatoes just to name few. When I tried to mention this issue to supervisor of servers, she was more concerned about the cabin number where are staying in instead of to listen about the issue of food. I said please accept my apology to bother you. Disembarking in LA did have some shortcomings and direction to transportation using busses to an airport should be streamlined. We experienced much better environment, service and food on MSC and other smaller Greek's company - name I could not recall. Based on our experience we booked next cruise South America using different cruise line. Disappointed, that MSC does not have itinerary we like. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My husband and I along with two other couples booked this Panama Canal cruise. My husband and I have been on a lot of cruises (17 for him and 19 for me). My husband is 63 and I am 58. We were excited about this cruise because every port ... Read More
My husband and I along with two other couples booked this Panama Canal cruise. My husband and I have been on a lot of cruises (17 for him and 19 for me). My husband is 63 and I am 58. We were excited about this cruise because every port was a new port for us. Also, crossing through the Canal was on our bucket list. We normally sail with Carnival. This was only our second Norwegian cruise. We booked the UBP because we didn't want to be nickled and dimed for every little thing. Some days I almost got my money's worth in just sodas. I was initially upset about the new bottled water policy but we both brought on a Brita water bottle that filters your water for you. Even the days we had water straight from the tap, it wasn't bad. We had an inside on the 11th floor. Some mornings there was a little noise above our room. We may have been above the kitchen. It never did wake me up, but if you were awake, you could definitely hear it. The food was very good (probably not as good as Carnival's in my opinion) but definitely a lot of choices. We ate in the main dining room for 12 of our 16 nights on board. We did like the buffet food and thought it was a little better than Carnival's. We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, but we did have sushi at the sushi restaurant a couple of times. There were plenty of activities on board. Some of my friends were participating in 5 or more activities every day. I did go to most of the shows in the evenings but other than that I only went to about 5 other activities the whole 16 days. My husband and I like to just relax and read. We did get off at every port but other than Guatamala, we booked all our excursions on our own. I would have to say (for me) the Mexican ports were my favorite. Overall, I enjoyed my cruise. In fact, we have another 16 day cruise booked for next January on Norwegian from Sydney, Australia. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and ... Read More
First time with NCL, and its more casual style, which generally worked well. One criticism though is the reluctance of NCL to give you any information about the ship! Deck plans are strictly for the website, and almost unprintable, and supplying a paper elevation plan on-board was not much help when trying to find best wheelchair routes on an asymmetric ship! Also scant information was provided on ports of call unless it was for franchised shopping. Even beforehand, their UK helpline couldn't even tell us whether there were one or more showtimes each evening, nor when, in order to plan mealtime bookings in advance (since my wife is disabled, we didn't want to be so casual as to have to hang around waiting for a table). Maybe this is only a first timers problem. Boarding and disembarkation always seem to be chaotic and though we checked-in quite quickly, we were then held for over an hour and a half because staff said that the port lift (Miami) was not working, and promptly forgot about us (we missed the ship intro tour). Again, even with timed departures in LA, this took more than an hour in the accelerated wheelchair lane, and for many it must have been over two hours shuffling in endless queues along elevated walkways alongside the ship (Should an emergency occur during this time, like a fire in the port hall or on the ship, one dreads to think what might happen as thousands of people have nowhere to go quickly.). That said, once on board ship, staff were incredibly helpful and patient when necessary, almost always with a welcoming smile. Disabled facilities were generally good and though we booked too late to get a disabled room, our inside cabin on Deck 8 was adequate (save the struggle to get into the loo through a 17" wide doorway(could easily have been 19-20" wide entry with no need for another door inside the small bathroom). Our other minor gripe was that some of the floor strips at ship bulkheads across public corridors were raised above the level of the floors maybe 1/2 ", which would bring a wheelchair to a jarring halt if not anticipated - but only some and it was not always apparent which! So NCL, please can you feather all your floors at bulkhead joints to provide a smooth passage for wheels? On the up side, from people we met, it appeared that singles are well catered for by NCL too. We thought that for mass catering the food was generally good, though there could have been a little more variety in the casual restaurants' evening menus. We used the Garden Cafe for very good breakfasts and sometimes lunch, after one disastrous attempt to have a served breakfast in O'Sheehans, which took forever and the eggs still came very undercooked. In the evenings we sampled Tsar and Azura almost equally, finding Tsar to have the best service (especially if you requested something slightly different), though with one exception of one excellent waitress in Azura. One downside of the casual dining was that you had to remember to ask every time if you wanted to share a table and meet with other passengers, and also that you generally had different waiting staff every time, with less chance to build a relationship which might encourage one into additional tipping. Sometimes we did think that the food descriptions on the menus might have been written by the Entertainments Director rather than the Chef, but so long as you didn't have fixed expectations of what would turn-up, labelled as a classic dish, all was well. If you want to go for more than one experience of a speciality restaurant, it makes much sense to purchase a fixed-price multiple dining pack. We chose the baseline of three, selecting Cagney's steakhouse, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The food was excellent (best probably filet mignon in Cagneys and lamb rack in Le Bistro), though rather too noisy a display in Teppanyaki and also too rushed to attend to supporting service (drinks etc.) - but if you were there just for the show -fine maybe ....!! (thankfully there were no Japanese guests to be appalled). Sadly, the ultimate drinks package (UDP) wasn't, as many common spirits attracted a premium payment, and normal lattes and cappuccinos were not included, unless you had some alcohol in them! Outside the restaurants you had to buy bottled water at an extortionate price too, and are not allowed to bring any back to the ship from excursions. Ship-booked tours were a plenty, but pricey, and generally OK, having the advantage that it was their responsibility to get you back to the ship before it departed (but forget the"scenic Pacific" train ride in Costa Rica and just go for the Tarcoles river trip, unless you want a diesel shunter to pull you through the garbage back-yards of a no-where village, when they can get it working!). We went independent with Julio tours to Leon (Nicaragua) which was excellent on all counts. The daytime sail through the Panama Canal was fascinating, even for those not technically-inclined, and it was worth watching the film about its construction beforehand (just a pity they didn't show the more recent tv film about the new cut, too). Having a historical interest, the old colonial cities of Cartagena, Leon and Antigua are all worth a visit, though the latter two are a bumpy and sometimes challenging ride for wheelchairs! (OK with Nike attitude!). Though there are always a fair number of different activities on ship, we didn't overall rate the main evening shows that highly, with a few exceptions, like Cirque Bijou and a member of the galley crew whose singing got a standing ovation - he was definitely employed in the wrong department! Also sound quality was very muffled in several parts of the main theatre, especially on the upper deck (7), and sound-levels were often set so-high that parts of singers' voices appeared to have been clipped-off in the equipment. Otherwise, the variety of musicians on board were generally good and often appeared at their best in the numerous smaller venues and events around the ship. In all, a memorable and generally very satisfying cruise, with a good balance of on and off ship activities and itinerary, and a canal trip which truly shows it as a wonder of the world. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We flew in from London and stayed that night at an airport hotel before being transferred to the ship. My wife and I chose this cruise be cause it gave us the opportunity to do some whale watching, travel the Panama Canal and get some ... Read More
We flew in from London and stayed that night at an airport hotel before being transferred to the ship. My wife and I chose this cruise be cause it gave us the opportunity to do some whale watching, travel the Panama Canal and get some warm sunshine. Embarkation was pretty quick compared to some we have experienced. Disembarkation was slow due to congestion at the port of Miami. We were 30 minutes late in getting off. Previous comments claimed that the ship was looking tired. We did not think so although the colour scheme was a bit too garish for our taste. All the public areas seemed well cared for. Our cabin (10566) was clean but at first seemed to have a slightly funny smell. This went with time. Our main complaint was that the bathroom was miniscule again compared to others we have experienced. It was impossible to sit on the toilet and close the door due to the position of the toilet. There was no room for a bedside table on one side as the couch was up against the bed. The balcony was adequate . Dining was OK ish with bog standard offerings on the complementary menu. More interesting dishes were charged extra. This is something we have not experienced before. One American guest with a lot of Norwegian cruise experience claimed that this is a trend that has been going on for some time. Even the Italian speciality restaurant for which a charge was made really did not have more than average food on offer. As we had an all inclusive beverage package we were not forced to pay the high prices for drinks. Interestingly this package did not include the mini bar or bottled water in the cabin!! It also had a strange limitation on the value of any individual drink but allowed you to order any amount of the drink in smaller quantities! There was a good range of entertainments on offer during the night with a very energetic song and dance team and some good comedians. We were sad that there were no interesting speakers on offer so cruise days could drag. With one exception all the crew were attentive, helpful and polite. Our cabin steward was there if you wanted him but did not intrude if you did not. The excursions were well managed except on one tour when it was impossible to hear the guide due to a poor sound reproduction system on the bus. The ports had the usual tourist traps that meant that you hade to walk past lots of stalls offering local stuff getting on and off the ship. Would we use Norwegian again? Only if the locations visited were of interest. We much prefer Cunard and Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Booked this Panama Canal cruise from L.A. to Miami to cross off my bucket list. Got a great price inclusive of air and transfers. Embarkation at San Pedro went relatively smoothly. Food at Garden Cafe was average at best. Breakfast was ... Read More
Booked this Panama Canal cruise from L.A. to Miami to cross off my bucket list. Got a great price inclusive of air and transfers. Embarkation at San Pedro went relatively smoothly. Food at Garden Cafe was average at best. Breakfast was the same each day, ;lunches and dinners had a bit more variety. Nice that they had Congee for breakfast every morning. Coffee was horrible, with no flavour at all. Juices were overly sweet. Pasta Station was quite good, Had dinner most nights in Azura Dining Room. Our Special Diet Server, Melody, was awesome looking after our no sodium requests. Communication was extremely poor, as even though we preordered the night before, hostess and waiters always gave us the regular menu when being seated and looked confused when we informed them that we had already ordered off the special diet menu the night before. This info need to be filtered down to the staff a lot more efficiently. Cabin was made way too late in afternoon, sometimes not till 1:00pm or later. Poorly designed room, as there were no electrical outlets close to our beds. They were located far away, and had to borrow two extension cords from Guest Services to plug in medical equipment. Absolutely hate that NCL adds on a mandatory $189 USD service charge onto account, and had to plead with Guest Services to remove them, as we wished to tip in cash an amount we felt was consistent with service provided. The customer should determine amount, not the Cruise Line. Entertainment onboard was superb, went to every 7pm show at Stardust Theatre. Cruise Director, Iain Bagshaw was the best I've ever seen. Absolutely hilarious, personable, and a Magician to boot. Enjoyed Raegar, Dan Bennett, David Naster, Chris Pendleton, George Solomon, and Elegy (Rinat and Elena). All shows were throughly entertaining. Ports of Call were just ok, stayed mostly close to port and did our own walking tours. Keep in mind that these are not cosmopolitan cities, so overall not too bad. Constantly pestered in Acapulco by taxi drivers and guys wanting to set us up for massages with young senoritas. Was asked eight times during two block walk from terminal to restaurant. Ship is outdated, but knew this being going onboard. Overall , a very geriatric crowd as we felt like kids onboard compared to other passengers. Would I repeat, probably not, unless it was a smoking great deal presented to me... Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise as it was calling at ports we had not visited before and wanted to transit the Panama Canal from the other direction (Pacific to Caribbean) as we had been through the canal in the past from Caribbean to Pacific Ocean. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was calling at ports we had not visited before and wanted to transit the Panama Canal from the other direction (Pacific to Caribbean) as we had been through the canal in the past from Caribbean to Pacific Ocean. We have also sailed on the Jewel before in September 2009 as well as other NCL ships, so were well acquainted with life on board. Embarkation at San Pedro, California was seamless (we did have a penthouse suite!) Far easier than progress through arrivals at LAX!!! We stayed two nights in San Pedro at the Double Tree Hotel prior to this cruise; not the best of areas as not much to see or do there. Hotel was quite good with complimentary transfer to the port. The hotel does offer a free shuttle bus to local areas too. Our aft penthouse suite (10166) was a little disappointing in size with a small bathroom leading off a very narrow short corridor separating it from the wardrobe. The wardrobe was accessible from both sides though. The bathroom itself, though small in area, was well equipped with lots of towels. The tap (faucet) over the hand basin was too long and did not swivel, so you could possibly hit your face on it whilst washing. There was a large, comfortable bed with curtains to surround it if required. Although the wardrobe was a good size, drawer spaces were a bit small. There were two safes in the suite plus a flat panel TV and coffee machine that would supply a variety of hot drinks. The balcony was provided with two sun loungers and a small table. Occasionally we experienced smut landing on the area. Service from our Concierge (Bruno) was impeccable and the Butler (Rofino) and room maid (Mary Ann) did a great job of looking after us. We like the freestyle dining offered by NCL and there are other specialty venues available. Generally we were not very impressed with the overall dining during this cruise. We used the French "Le Bistro" restaurant twice, that was quite good. We did not enjoy the "Teppanyaki" at all, nor the Brazilian "Moderno" (awful!) "Cagney's" was fine. Then there are the two main dining rooms, "Azura" and "Tsar's Palace", we ate in "Azura" a few times and that was quite good. Other options include the "Garden Cafe" (the general, self-service buffet) which is pretty good in most areas. Then there is "O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill" (I did enjoy my hot-dog there!), "Chin Chin" (did not use), "La Cucina" (Italian that we did not venture into) and finally "Sushi Bar" again, not experienced. I would certainly be reluctant to pay the cover charges for some of these venues, but we had four complimentary options to use included in our package along with the "Ultimate Beverage Package" (that does not allow you to obtain a can of soft drink, nor a bottle of water or specialty coffees & teas). Also included was 250 minutes of Wi-Fi use plus some on board spending credit. Entertainment was very good indeed, never disappointed with NCL in that respect. Lots of activities to choose from, but we took a relaxed approach to those. We took two shore excursions with NCL (Cabo San Lucas, up close whale watching by Zodiac boat, great!) and a coach trip to the town of Antigua in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Also, we booked independent excursions in Acapulco (apart from watching the cliff divers we do not recommend Acapulco at all), Puntarenas (very disappointed with the excursion we chose to visit Turubari Eco Park (saw some animals, but only in pens, and the aerial tram ride lasted just a few minutes in each direction. No wonder there were very few other tourists about!) and Cartagena (we had a car with driver and guide who showed us around the city, stopping for photo opportunities and wandering about. Very good indeed, a lovely place that we enjoyed thoroughly.) The area from the ship's dock to the outside of the port was incredibly with lots of birds, monkeys and other wildlife roaming free where my wife was hand feeding parrots, toucans and small monkeys with fresh mango pieces. So much better that the expensive visit to the eco park!!! There is a large souvenir area there, too, where you can buy and post your cards along with food and drink outlets; very pleasant indeed! Disembarkation at the Port of Miami took an interminable time, we were directed to the slow lane, it seemed! Then spent one night at the Hilton Hotel, Miami Beach, where the included buffet breakfast was appalling! We will not be returning there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was an item on our bucket list. We had heard so much about cruising the Panama Canal that we decided that would be our next trip. What a great decision. Our room was at the very back of the ship, and we enjoyed many an hour sitting ... Read More
This was an item on our bucket list. We had heard so much about cruising the Panama Canal that we decided that would be our next trip. What a great decision. Our room was at the very back of the ship, and we enjoyed many an hour sitting on the balcony enjoying the view. Norbie, our room steward was so good, I asked him if he would like to come home with us! LOL Mary Jane, our butler took very good care of us.When she found out that my husband loves chocolate chip cookies, she brought him some every afternoon.And when she learned that we were ice tea drinkers, there was always a pitcher of tea in our mini fridge. The shows were very good, especially the Russian couple. Food in each of the restaurants we ate in was good to very good. We had a great time at Tapanyaki restaurant. Our suite was 9672 on level 9 in the very back. Very roomy, lots of storage, and suitcases could fit under the bed to get them out of the way. Overall, we would recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Overall, it was a great cruise. Embarkation went smoothly and crew greeted us with smiles and were helpful in guiding us around the ship. First, I might say that we are not picky cruisers. This was our 18th cruise on various cruise ... Read More
Overall, it was a great cruise. Embarkation went smoothly and crew greeted us with smiles and were helpful in guiding us around the ship. First, I might say that we are not picky cruisers. This was our 18th cruise on various cruise lines and we enjoy many aspects of cruising. We travel extensively and understand and appreciate that other cultures are not like ours. With that said, I am giving my honest opinion of our experience on this cruise. Our balcony cabin was a bit outdated and the carpet was stained with spills from previous guests, especially around the coffee pot area. The sofa smelled stale and unclean. I understand that there is a short turn around between guests, but I think Norwegian could do better in providing a clean cabin for guests. The food was nicely presented and a nice variety was provided. We especially enjoyed O'Shann's. Entertainment was just ok. The trip through the Panama Canal was the main reason we chose this cruise, so we were not expecting much in the ports along the way. Some had interesting things to see and do, but some were not worth going outside of the port area. We had been to many of those areas before and knew what to expect so that was ok. We had really great service at the Atrium Bar. All of the servers and bar tenders went out of their way to be friendly and courteous no matter how busy they were. Gusti was our favorite! He was efficient and provided excellent service to us as well as other guests. His humor kept us coming back to that bar. We met Lance Harlow on the first day of our cruise and he was great to provide information throughout the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in ... Read More
We stayed in the Garden Villa, 5 people. Very comfortable and definitely a trip to remember. over 4000 sq foot villa. has every thing you could ask for. My wife had a small motorized scooter it worked very well. Meals were OK in the garden buffet. Cagney's steakhouse was the best of all and Moderno's was second best. We tried all of the pay extra restaurants and most of the included restaurants. None were what I would call bad, most was pleasant and enjoyable. We were not impressed with O'Sheehan's. The poolside BBQ, was not really a BBQ. The food was prepared int he kitchen and then kind of finished off-kept warm over hot coals. Our favorite drink discovery was the BBC - you have got to try one of these! Since the room came with a bunch of free booze and drinks as well as the drink package, we really did not try many of the bars. The main thing was the room on this cruise. I know many people say you don;t cruise for the cabin - but we had a hard time leaving our cabin! it was seriously amazing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
The Norwegian Jewel is a wonderful ship. Lots of great meeting places including the Martini bar, the Fizz lounge and the Atrium Java bar. The entertainment was excellent especially loved the show band and Randon. I did not enjoy the Garden ... Read More
The Norwegian Jewel is a wonderful ship. Lots of great meeting places including the Martini bar, the Fizz lounge and the Atrium Java bar. The entertainment was excellent especially loved the show band and Randon. I did not enjoy the Garden Cafe. It was very busy and noisy and you could not find a seat at peak times. We enjoyed the Tsars restaurant for breakfast and dinner. I don't enjoy anytime dinning but we did manage to find a wonderful waiter named David from Jamaica who waited on us every night. He definitely made our dining experience something special. Our group tried La Cucina as well as Modernos and to be honest it wasn't worth the extra money. All of the staff went out of their way to be friendly and helpful throughout our trip. I loved that the senior staff all attended our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. It really made the experience special. The store on the ship was disappointing. There were some sales on the pool deck during the day but really limited selectio if you were looking for gifts to take home. There are daily BBQs poolside over the lunch hour that are very good. We had the drink package which I enjoyed. It does include most drinks but I was disappointed that it did not include bottled water or the specialty coffees. You can order an Irish coffe thou which I enjoyed. Saving of lounge chairs was also a major issue. There are limited loungers and many guests reserved some in the sun and another set in the shade. I know this is a problem on almost every ship but it just seemed to be worse here as there weren't that many areas with loungers. The spinnaker lounge was great and I enjoyed the entertainment here. Don't miss the bridge viewing area on deck 11 forward port side lots of great memorabilia and a chance to watch the Captain in action. Overall a nice ship and a great itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My wife and I just recently returned from a Panama cruise that started in Miami and ended in LA on the Jewel. We where both pleasantly surprised at how well the ship has been maintained. The exterior white surfaces show little signs of ... Read More
My wife and I just recently returned from a Panama cruise that started in Miami and ended in LA on the Jewel. We where both pleasantly surprised at how well the ship has been maintained. The exterior white surfaces show little signs of rust, the rails are all varnished and look like new. When in a port there was always someone cleaning the salt spray from the exterior windows and painting. The interior common areas of the ship are in very good condition with little signs of wear. Our room was also in good over all condition. We both where very happy with the food in both the dining rooms and the pay restaurants. The buffet had a excellent variety of food choices for all three meals. Breakfast was busy so be prepared. The entertainment in the theatre which was good with several different acts throughout cruise. The seats in the theatre are well used, small and some are broken and uncomfortable. The entertainment in the bars was also very good with a nice variety of music. The crew was exceptional. We have cruised many times and never had so many ships officers, ask us about our day to day enjoyment while on board. It was a nice touch. Over all we had a wonderful cruise and hope are travels will give us another opportunity to sail on the Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The food and the entertainment were the best! The Norwegian in house band was the best we have seen. Even the lunch BBQ around the pool was very good. On the negative, people were saving chairs and sun beds with towels, so there was no ... Read More
The food and the entertainment were the best! The Norwegian in house band was the best we have seen. Even the lunch BBQ around the pool was very good. On the negative, people were saving chairs and sun beds with towels, so there was no where to sit. If you did not play the game, you did not have a chair. In the dining rooms and the buffet the food was excellent. The ship is very clean. Be aware that if you win a spa treatment, you will pay a 18% service fee. I won the BIG $150 spa credit, choose a port day $132 service but still payed $18% on $150. Not much of a free gift. In Miami you can walk off the ship. There is a free people mover at freedom tower. We bought the $49 Miami 2hr. Tour. Because of a delay getting off the ship, the tour lasted just over an hour ending at the airport. Not good value. This was our 21st cruise. We started in Los Angles and went from the airport to cruise ship port with Super Shuttle $17 per person. The room was an inside cabin 10051. We were able to board early, have lunch, and the rooms were ready at 1:00pm. There was a service room beside us, but there was just a small amount of bumping noise at about 9:30 pm. We never heard anyone in the room beside us. We did not take the excursions as we had been to all of the ports before, except for two. You can walk to the beach in Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua. There is shopping only off the cruise ship in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. When we got to Miami we stayed the night in the La Quinta hotel, close to the Airport in Doral. The hotel shuttle picked us up, at the airport after our ship purchased Miami tour. We had an early morning flight so we took a Taxi back to the airport the next day. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Nice stay in the LA airport Hotel, shuttle from Hotel back to airport should of had better info we searched until a security guard took us to our pick up point for the ship, from port to ship smooth. Our internal cabin was laid out in ... Read More
Nice stay in the LA airport Hotel, shuttle from Hotel back to airport should of had better info we searched until a security guard took us to our pick up point for the ship, from port to ship smooth. Our internal cabin was laid out in such a way that it was difficult to get around the bed the guest relations desk soon sorted it. Our first two evening meals was not to expectations no wine waiter came to our table the service was so slow we had to ask for our desserts to be brought to us, we arrived shortly after seven wanted to see the show at 9.15 didn't have time for coffee. Third night we had a wine waiter we asked if it was that we were on a drinks package that we we could not have the service the paying customers were entitled to glad to know it wasn't the case. We ordered sword fish for the third evening meal, it came on a bed of lettuce and very little else we both found that something was wrong with the fish that we expected to be white was pink, we complained we were told that we should of asked it to be well done medium or rare this is fish not steak, they brought us more just as bad a number of people sent it back. We ended up at a snack bar and had a burger much better. Next day we went to guest relations for some info and told the lady at the desk about our disappointing meal and poor service she sent for Charlotte Asst.Maitre D much better service after that thanks to her. We found the menu in the Tsar's Palace very poor the descriptions we found difficult to understand. We went to O'Sheehan's and had fish and chips which we enjoyed, two days later we went back the wife had fish and chips the chips came cold they brought a plate of chips after she had eaten the fish, I had soup they brought my main at the same time. The shows were generally very good. There was ten dollar sale on board, I took a watch to the till asked for it to be activated and told the battery wasn't working I picked another one the girl on the till activated it for me went back to the cabin tried to set the time the winder came away, I got my money back, so be very wary what you buy. The shore tours were very expensive we went ashore and used local transport in Cabo and Costa Rica and Cartagena much better and cheaper. The flights home were late and rough due to bad weather. I would recommend this cruise to anyone get your problems sorted early and enjoy we made many new friends, the best cruise out of 17 thank you NCL Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We left New Zealand a fortnight before the cruise as we have family in Vancouver and had a week there before we did some touring on Vancouver Island (highly recommend the West Coast; Tofino & Ucleulet) In Vancouver, the family ... Read More
We left New Zealand a fortnight before the cruise as we have family in Vancouver and had a week there before we did some touring on Vancouver Island (highly recommend the West Coast; Tofino & Ucleulet) In Vancouver, the family don't have room for us so we use la Quinta and Best Western. We were horrified to find that the Jewel was berthed at Ballantyne, we have been told since that is no longer in use. It meant a far more difficult and costly journey from our hotel. The actual embarking wasn't the best either, ask those who were "In Transit" about that!! When we got on the ship everything went 'swimmingly' till we got to Miami. We enjoyed the service especially in the MDRs as we got to know a number of the crew very well and were treated exceptionally. The food was great, except for half a meal!! Two pieces of veal, one beautiful, the other inedible. We also had great service from the Shorex staff and the Latitudes staff on board so we really enjoyed everything, even the Inside stateroom was just as we expected. We took a shore excursion at every port and enjoyed most of them; not were bad just not up to some of higher standards. We didn't do a lot of activities really just picked and chose, we did enjoy the get togethers and my wife did a few more than me, she found the ones she did to be generally good. We did enjoy the passage through the Panama but the saving of seats in the lounge was a little annoying. She enjoyed the evening entertainment, and I did a lot of walking and swimming so we were both busy in our own way. All in all we really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the first 18 days and would recommend that cruise to anyone. Being "old and set in our ways" we didn't enjoy the three night cruise to the Bahamas and back. The clientele had changed and the atmosphere was totally different!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We never really considered cruising before--it seemed so focused on food, and impossible to connect with local culture. While those might be legitimate criticisms, we nonetheless found it an ideal vacation! The Jewel is a bit older, and seems geared to an older crowd. We chose a cruise that was after school spring breaks and of a length that most working adults could not get away: hence, it was nearly all retired people. While we are younger, that pace was ideal for us. We don't drink or gamble or need spectacular shows to keep us entertained: spending the day reading, talking together, meeting a few interesting people and having a menu of possible but not pressing events was just ideal. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but having a cabin steward make up our cabin every morning and return to tidy it before bed was heavenly! We had cute towel animals whenever we got out of the cabin for turn down. Some people have complained about the food on Jewel, and I will admit that one of the meals we had at Chin Chin during lunch time was cold: the tea was cold, the entree's were cold, it was like some piece of equipment had failed. However, everything--even the too cold food--was prepared artfully, creatively with fresh and appropriate ingredients, inventive recipes with influence from multiple cultural traditions. While I will grant that there were repeat dishes on the menus and buffet, there were many choices and specials to keep it interesting. It was also easy to eat a delicious and healthy diet--many fresh fruits and vegetables, sugar free desserts, multiple protein choices. While there were tempting desserts and breads, if you wanted to avoid them, there is no need to feel deprived. A few days into the cruise, we discovered that the Italian Restaurant next to the Garden Cafe is open for overflow seating during breakfast and lunch! So we took our buffet plates in there, where the tables are charming wood, the walls real brick arches, and the viewing of the ocean is ideal. We enjoyed long brunch conversations while watching sea turtles, porpoise, and flying fish go by. I enjoyed dragging my husband to the dance lessons offered most days. There were several kinds of linedancing, swing dance, waltz, square dancing salsa and merangue. The one thing I did wish was that the instruction was more geared to just dancing with a partner to music rather than doing a routine. Those teaching are show dancers and seemed to relate more to teaching a dance to perform rather than teaching how to lead/follow and a vocabulary of moves. I had heard that there would be sales at the store just before the last day but that did not happen. Rather, there were specials on various items throughout the cruise and not everything went on sale at any given time. I was also surprised that the number of things like games offered at the store was limited. However, if you wanted any toiletry, candy, t-shirt, underwear, clothes, luggage, etc it is a good (if expensive) option. I liked shopping there. We booked ship excursions in all but one port, where we had a private guide. You do lose a little time when the ship first docks when you choose to do this--you have to wait until the tour operators are ready for you, and wait your turn to disembark. This means an extra two hours on board sometimes. In Cabo San Lucas, we were able to grab an early tender and meet up with our tour at the pier instead of waiting to be dismissed from the ship with our group. This allowed us to do some shopping that we would not have had time to do. I loved that you just don't hear "no" on board. No one tells you when to eat or sleep or where to be or what to do, it is completely relaxing. The staff is laid back and friendly and really good at making you feel welcome. They have also apparently toned down some of the selling that perhaps has happened on other ships or in other times, because we did not feel pressed to buy drinks or anything. Yes, you can definitely spend a lot of extra money: but no one is going to make you feel bad if you choose something else instead. We stayed at the Best Western Suites in Seabrook before we boarded. It has a free shuttle to the cruise port and is a terrific place to be the night before a cruise. I wish there had been more educational opportunities on board, lecture series or the like. Don't miss the Spinnaker Lounge, even if you don't drink! It has the best views and the most unusual furniture. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
As we live not far from the port of Houston, taking all our needs for 29 days worked fine in 4 large suitcases. Everything from swimsuits, shorts & tee's to heavy coats and earmuffs was packed along with needs for our whole ... Read More
As we live not far from the port of Houston, taking all our needs for 29 days worked fine in 4 large suitcases. Everything from swimsuits, shorts & tee's to heavy coats and earmuffs was packed along with needs for our whole cruise. Embarkation was fine, as we arrived just after noon, had lunch in the main dining room and found our cabin to be ready after lunch, with bags arriving within an hour or so - muster drill was a breeze, then on to Sail Away party by the pool. Great fun and we even won a free drink The whole crew was made to be high quality by the staff and crew - activities we attended were fun - sailing through Panama Canal interesting. We had a really great private tour in Costa Rica, going to see POAS volcano, oxcart factory and lunch at a local restaurant suggested by our guide. A great day for our group of 8. The cabin was small, with no room to walk on either side of bed, but bed was fine and there was enough storage areas in this inside cabin we used just to sleep and occasional nap. All directors attended our Meet & Mingle party on day 2 - they gave us their phone numbers and told us they aim to please, which they did. We saw directors everywhere, every day. The shows were good, just had some duplicated during the last 9 days. Dining was not over the top, but quite good on most days, with so many ways to fix chicken, it was amazing. Got cake on my birthday, chocolate covered strawberries and wine without asking, just because we were there. Mints on the pillow each night & towel animals continued throughout the cruise. Our private tours in Cabo, Victoria and Seattle went really good too, not missing a beat and even a nice private airport transfer. Great people made our longest cruise to date enjoyable for us - We should have signed up for another cruise, but waited until we got home to book with our discount broker for 2016 Grand Med Cruise - come along and join us on May 7, 2016 from Barcelona - NCL included the Ultimate Dining Package at no added cost expect the 18% gratuity added in advance. Not sure why they don't share the $12.95 per day that we will pay when cruising, but guess others have those funds earmarked - shame on you for not sharing. At least NCL does not claim to give all of the service charges to the crew, but I guess they can hash that out and hope to have other good crew members, even though the cruise line pays too little and many work around the clock to keep everyone satisfied. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Food was outstanding. We prefer the main dining room but we're often lured to the buffet with its themed nights, salad bar, fresh wok, etc. Edwin and Artemio were outstanding servers. Laundry service provided washed and ironed shirts ... Read More
Food was outstanding. We prefer the main dining room but we're often lured to the buffet with its themed nights, salad bar, fresh wok, etc. Edwin and Artemio were outstanding servers. Laundry service provided washed and ironed shirts on hangars and folded everything else wrapped in tissue in a basket - really great at a full bag rate. Ben Kitchen was an outstanding cruise director. He took could care of the bridge players. He hired a superb educator to teach us about Panama each day sea. Ben provided an interesting interview with staff around the ship for his morning tv show. We hired taxis at the ports for about $20 per person for four hours - four of us. We took the taxi driver out to lunch with us and tipped. The non-air conditioned cabs in Mexico were fine when we opened the windows. Burger King has free wifi so stopping there lets us download current email and our local new spare - both to be read later on the ship. We loved walking on the promenade deck in the evening. Many folks spent sea days on deck chairs on the promenade deck reading and resting. Orlando kept our quiet, little inside cabin immaculate and he was always cheerful. Thank you Orlando. Great cruise!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This is a lengthy review, and I will try to break it down into stages, we were travelling in our favourite Suite, 10500 at the very front so we would have a grandstand view of all the activities. We are Platinum Latitudes and had ... Read More
This is a lengthy review, and I will try to break it down into stages, we were travelling in our favourite Suite, 10500 at the very front so we would have a grandstand view of all the activities. We are Platinum Latitudes and had pre-purchased all our tours and the Ultimate Dining Package (UDP) of which more later. We flew London to LA with Air New Zealand on the Hobbit Special and had a fantastic flight in Premium Economy, stayed two nights in LA then moved to the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro where we met up with some of the Roll Call members. We moved to the ship around 1130 and following check-in were met by the Concierge, John D’Souza and were soon eating lunch in Moderno. Our cabin was ready and we were settled in with a great view of the USS Iowa moored ahead of us. I had written to NCL Corporate and offered to give six talks on a diverse range of subjects at no charge and soon met the Cruise Director, Ben Kitchen, who had lived near us and knew our town, most unusual. Ben said that he would give me a day’s notice, and then shook me a bit by telling me I would be performing in the Stardust Theatre, what an honour. I had expected one of the smaller venues and put on three presentations during the cruise, Genealogy, Interviewing Dogs, and Reading Body language. Destinations MAZATLAN We were due to stop at Cabo St Lucas, but this was changed to Mazatlan and we changed our tour to the Shrimpfest which was held at a beautiful house, with magnificent views, a four person xylophone band and excellent food and a ready supply of drinks. The owner Leonique Vanderveerdonk had just returned from Edinburgh, our home town, and it was great to chat about her adventures, a very hospitable woman. This was a great tour and we really enjoyed. Puerto Vallarta We booked the City sights which were classed as a Level 1 tour, but it did not start well with great difficulty getting off the bus at the first stop, we also seemed to miss out some of the sights as the main interest of the guide was for us to buy jewellery and food. Whilst he was very knowledgeable, some of the sights were better seen through a telescope! Huatulco Sadly the weather had turned and we got off the ship in a very heavy downpour, our nominated tour guide, the only one with an umbrella, ordered us to stand out in the rain, so by the time we boarded the coach for our Old Huatulco and Mexico traditions tour we were thoroughly soaked. The rain had stopped by our first venue where we had turned right up a small road and we noticed a large group of people standing at the junction. We assumed that they were waiting for a bus and they were, ours, as after we had passed they dragged trees across the road to prevent us leaving. The students had an issue over getting their diplomas and as we were the first cruise ship of the season they decided to hold us to ransom. We sat on the coach for nearly two hours before walking nearly a mile through the torrential rain and through what was now a major traffic jam involving nearly 200 vehicles to coaches that had been sent to rescue us and the tour was abandoned. Argovia Coffee trail and flower plantation We nearly cancelled this trip after the previous day but were so glad we didn’t. Although expensive it was worth every penny, a great guide and driver and with only nine of us, it was perfect. We were met with fresh coffee and a stunning location and thoroughly enjoyed a seven hour tour, including some excellent food. If you ever go to Puerto Chiapas, visit Argovia, you will enjoy the experience. Scenic Costa Rica An excellent guide and an interesting tour with a driver who kept stopping the bus and gathering flowers, fruit and fauna for us to examine. We started the tour with the obligatory shopping but it was a pleasant location with good facilities and good coffee. We stopped in a square where the local children danced traditional dances for us which was very enjoyable, and free banana’s to boot. Panama Canal transit (this was a free tour!!!) With a start time of 5:30 am, the transit was a terrific experience and is best viewed by looking at the photos I have uploaded on flickr. Go to flickr.com/photos/magickpyggie/sets and click on the Jewel to see all our pictures from the trip. It is amazing that they can fit a ship through those locks with only 2 feet either side, great navigating. As our Suite is just under the bridge, we had a stunning view of the whole thing. Cartagena Hop on Hop off This tour was advertised as a 90 minute tour and turned out to be the tour from hell. For whatever reason it took us two hours to get to the beginning of the tour and then a further 90 minutes to complete it, we just seemed to be passing the same places over and over again. The people on the bus knew that everyone on the bus was angry and suddenly they could not speak English, and we all had to get off one Hop on Hop off bus at the end of the tour to get on another identical bus to get back to the ship. We do hop on, hop off everywhere and this was the worst ever, be warned if you go to Cartagena. Every time we had an issue with Shore Excursions it was sorted out with great cheerfulness and professionalism by Liliana Oana, Shore Excursions Manager and her team who settled everything to our satisfaction. Such a nice lady. The Ultimate Dining Package (UDP) We decided to have the UDP and were given a discounted price as Platinum Latitudes members to cover the two free dinners with wine. We only pre-booked one meal at Teppanayaki to join a group of twelve other Roll Call members before we joined the ship, and used iConcierge on a daily basis to book our restaurants of choice. We usually dine around 7 pm and never had a problem except for the last day when we used the Concierge, John D’Souza to work his magic and get us into Cagney’s. We were curious that all the restaurants appeared very quiet and so we got superb service and a quiet ambience to enjoy our food. Being on the UDP package allowed us to try things we would not have paid extra for, such as the Mongolian Hot Pot at Chin Chin, a very nice meal, with some good theatre. At every meal we were visited by the Executive Sous Chef, Ravindra Dulipalla, from Bangalore who is a delightful man and we always had a chat about the meal we had chosen. The wait and hostess staff were all excellent and it would be wrong to select any one for extra praise as they all worked hard to make our meals special. Breakfast and lunch was always taken in Moderno, where the modernisation of the Star Bar looks very good. Strangely, and because we booked the furthest Suite from the food and I experimented with fish and chicken dishes, I managed to lose 8 lbs during the cruise! The Cruise We always sail in the Jewel class ships as we like the size and the facilities, the only exception being the Norwegian Star on a Baltic cruise, and it was good to compare the three ships we had sailed on and overall the Jewel, whilst being the oldest, also became our favourite. This might have been due to the outstanding crew on board and we made a lot of new friends amongst the crew and made new friends amongst the passengers and just enjoyed the ambience of a great experience. We only went to the Stardust Theatre twice, once to see the Four Seasons Tribute quartet and to see You just have to laugh with David Naster. Our Butler, Lazaro and our Room Steward Johnson looked after us very well, Lazaro filling a Thermos flask for me every night for an early morning cup of English tea, and Johnson with a ready supply of towel animals! They did a great job of looking after us. The Roll Call was expertly managed by DorothyB who did a magnificent job, plotting, planning and organising everything from the Meet and Greet for over 120 people which took the crew by surprise with its size, to the Cabin Crawl, Poker draw, Slot pull, Scavenger hunt and culminated in lunch for over 70 of us in Tsars Palace on the last sea day. Great effort and everyone enjoyed the cruise all the more due to Dorothy’s efforts. We disembarked at Houston and were soon off the ship and with the help of Alfie Barrete, Guest Relations Manager we managed to secure a porter that got us through Customs in rapid time. A limo into Houston, and two days later we flew home, exhausted, but what a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first cruise longer than the usual 7 nights. Have decided it will be our one and only 16 night cruise! This cruise thru the Panama Canal was on our bucket list, though. There were 4 couples (family) and booked it 18 months ... Read More
This was our first cruise longer than the usual 7 nights. Have decided it will be our one and only 16 night cruise! This cruise thru the Panama Canal was on our bucket list, though. There were 4 couples (family) and booked it 18 months early, to get a lower price. We all met up on the Jewel, since we flew in to San Diego and Los Angeles on different days. My wife and I stayed at the Crown Plaza in San Pedro the night before, and they took us to the cruise terminal the next morning. The embarkation was fast and easy. The disembarkation in Bayport (Houston) was very slow and disorganized! That may have been because it was the Jewel's first trip in there and the large amount of cruisers getting off. They even made those continuing on to the Western Caribbean to get off and board again. Never heard of that before! Welcome to Texas. Also, Texas now has a state tax for liquor and cigarettes brought in, plus the usual federal tax. The customs officials were waiting for one couple to claim their luggage and took them aside. They had packed silverware from the ship in their luggage. I guess they didn't know their luggage would be x-rayed when coming back into the U.S. All the Jewel employees on this cruise were so friendly and helpful! This was our 10th cruise, and have never seen another crew like that. From the washy-washy guy at the buffet - all the way up to Steven Jacobsen, Hotel Director. Steven greeted us when we got off at the ports, and he was always there when we got back. They gave out cold most towels, drinks, and cookies on our return. That was nice! Never experienced that on any previous cruise. We ran into Steven all over the ship - he was always smiling and asking how our cruise was going. Messiah Ritzinger, the Food and Beverage Director, was also always around the ship visiting and checking the food and drinks being served, too. Very friendly man from Bavaria in West Germany - and even had an Octoberfest at the pool on our last sea day. Ben Kitchen was a great Cruise Director who seemed to be everywhere, too. Kind of hard to understand the Aussie sometimes, but won't hold that against him. All the shows in the theatre were great. We had a mid ship family balcony room. The sink/mirror was in the middle of the bathroom. The shower on the left side, with a sliding door separating them. And the toilet was on the left side with a sliding door, too. That area seemed a little tight. The room was nothing to brag about. Our 2 large suitcases (max allowed on airplane) wouldn't fit under our bed. The safe was deep and had a lot of room to lock up everything. We did accidently leave the safe open twice and nothing ($$$) was taken. My Aunt next door dropped an envelope with $700 on the floor in their cabin, and they rushed back when she noticed it missing from her purse. The room steward had put it on their bed, when cleaning up their room. I DEWA PUTU MARGUNA (or as we called him "D" was our room steward. A very honest man! He took very good care of all of us. We only took one shore excursion booked thru the Jewel, and that was Las Caletas in Puerto Vallarta. Not really impressed with it - even though they rated it very high. The other ports we went right off the ship and got the same thing they offered or more, for less than 1/2 their price. We very disappointed in Cartagena Columbia, though. The traffic there was terrible, the people not friendly, and nothing worth buying there. It had really changed since we were last there 14 years ago - and it was supposed to be a dangerous place back then. The beaches on the Pacific side of Mexico are not the same as those on the Caribbean side of Mexico. The food on this cruise wasn't the best we have experienced on our cruises. With the 16 nights, you saw a lot of the same things on the rotating evening menus at Tsar's and Azula. Ate breakfast and lunch at Tsar's most of the time. Marcella was our usual hostess when we showed at Tsar's for breakfast or lunch, and at Azula for the evening meal. She greeted us by our name and was always smiling, when we showed up.. Marcella was a great hostess! The buffets were always crowded and your food on the tray got cold looking for an empty table. We ate our evening meals mostly at Azula, because you could wear shorts there. Tsar's had the same menu, but shorts were not allowed for the evening meal. Mostly everyone ate early on our cruise. If you had to wait for a table, they gave you a pager and coupons for a free glass on champagne at the bar nearby, while you waited. Our group of 8 only had to wait 2 nights, but we usually ate around 8:00 pm. Never did use the room service, or order the $5 pizza.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent ... Read More
Originally I was worried about the number of sea days debut b/c we were with friends we spent the afternoon playing cards on those days. The steward we had was excellent in taking care of our cabin. The gym could use a few more recumbent bikes-- the exercise room stayed empty most of the time but the tread mills, elliptical machines and bikes stayed very busy. The food was the best. We ate at both the freestyle dining rooms -- Azure and Tsar's for dinner And the Cafe on deck 12 for breakfast and lunch. The choices were amazing and there were plenty of serving stations so there were virtually no lines. We were greeted regularly by the officers as they moved through the dining room. Our excursions were as advertised and went well. They were worth the money. One was cancelled in Puerto Vallarta b/c of lack of participation but there was room on another which turned out to be a lot of fun. We rode the camels in Cabo San Lucas and our guide was a scream. I loved it. The only issue we had was the shuttle to the airport. We had to wait an hour after disembarking for a bus-- there were several which filled up fast. We were told that there weren't enough buses available that day. Don't know if it was NCL or the bus company that messed up but next time we will take a taxi. The shuttle for 2 people was $30. No idea what a taxi would cost but there would be no wait. OVERALL, we had a wonderful trip. The passage thru the Panama Canal was exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager ... Read More
This is my 6th cruise and 4th with NCL. We have sailed the beautiful Jewel-class Jewel before, and like the mid-sized ships with about 2,200 pax. Embarkation was easy, the lines moving smoothly beginning about 11 a.m. with eager vacationers allowed to board at noon. We need wheelchair assistance, and have found it is better to wait until closer to noon, when attendants and WCs are released to pick up guests. There was a special, shorter line for those using canes, walkers and rollators, which proved a big help. Our first lunch was in Tsar's main dining room, rather than braving the super busy Garden Cafe buffet on deck 12. Daniela proved the excellent service NCL is known for, and we noted a new luncheon menu in the past couple of months. Scallops, Caesar Salad and cheeseburgers proved tasty and filling as we waited for the announcement that cabins were now ready for us. Muster is a short process without need for life vests, and then it was time to be underway. Well, at least that is the information in the ship's Daily newsletter. We had plans to meet with others in our robust Cruise Critic roll call for a Sail Away party, and I was looking forward to getting some great shots from Port side as we slowly cruised past the French Quarter. In one of the Jewel's few 'oops' moments during our 13 night modified Panama Canal repositioning cruise, no one owned the PA to inform us that due to the double length of our cruise, from the Jewel's more typical 7 night Western Caribbean run, and with the addition of a 2 week dry dock now tacked onto the end, lots and lots and lots of provisions and building supplies would be needed to see us through. This delayed Sail Away by 4 or 5 hours beyond that posted...not a major disappointment, but one that could easily have been explained sooner rather than later. Our first of many Sea Days, the Group Event Coordinator had helped to set up our Meet & Greet, with at least 70 CC members in attendance. There was a full compliment of department managers, with Hotel Director Richard Janicki introducing the friendly officers and fielding some spirited Q&A with a bit of extra information about Jewel's planned dry dock. As several CC members in the know had speculated, Blue Lagoon would become transformed into the 24/7 Comfort food and bar, O'Sheehans, also taking over space from the starboard side of deck 8 mid ship Moderno's Brazilian Grill. Moderno's would move up to Deck 13, in the annex portion of Cagney's Steak House near the Star Bar. A well-needed facial recognition system was being installed in the Photo Department, so no more hunting and stooping and surveying thousands of photos for your own special bunch. It would also save on both chemicals, paper and so forth, a win-win situation all around! Besides the usual Dry Dock refurbishments, a special deck 15 penthouse of the Haven type, was being included, and we were all thrilled to be reassured that the Spinnaker Lounge with the great ceiling to floor Forward windows, would be retained. I'd asked for a special room set-up to better the interaction between roll call members and we also enjoyed light refreshments and the feedback that our opinions were valued. Janicki did remark, "We read Cruise Critic, but I must say sometimes reading a particular review I must wonder if we were on the same cruise as someone saying it was dreadful." We divided our meal time between the more opulent Tsar's and the smaller, more frentic Azura main dining rooms. The menus are the same as ones introduced in 2011, with one side being 'always available' standbys such as strip or rib eye steaks, burgers, baked chicken, salmon, lanmb shank, spring rolls, mushroom quesadillas, a variety of pastas and salads. Service continued above average throughout, and it was of interest to note a Surf & Turf night featured real Maine lobsters vs the wimpy rock sort previously offered. The noise level is increased in the more casual Azura, whose hot pink and orange color scheme create a different vibe than the cream, sage green and gold of Tsar's. The lowered ceiling also influences this and of note, the chairs in Azura's are rock hard and not comfortable at all, which should help ensure more rapid turnover of diners. We sometimes selected Garden Cafe buffet for a quick breakfast and tried the poolside Grill a couple times for burgers, very good hot dogs and more. A special Bavarian feast was held toward the end of our cruise, and Messiah Ritzinger's Free State of Bavaria touches could be seen through the variety of sausage, schnitzel, kraut and Bavarian cream pastries...very well done! We enjoyed Blue Lagoon, just a few steps from our cabin, for breakfast and lunch or late evening snacks. Besides the burgers and chicken wings, the fried fish and Chef Salad were good, not to mention the cheese cake and brownie sundae. It was always nice to be able to whisk covered dishes back to our digs, and the small refrigerator helped with any midnight munchies. We did not try room service or the option of the always available anywhere $5 pizza. We dined at several of the specialty/fee restaurants including Moderno's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's/La Cucina. A favorite senior waiter, Sheddy, attended us at Moderno's and Cagney's, while another favorite Assistant MaitreD and also a special senior waiter, (Rizaldi), had us coming back to the Asian Fusion spot a second time for succulent lamb curry, broccoli beef, chow fun noodles, BBQ spareribs, deep fried calamari and the wonderful pancakes with bananas, caramel syrup and coconut ice cream. We used the Card Room and back portion of the buffet between meals for our group's Farkle games and variety of card games and enjoyed musical serenading in the Crystal Atrium and deck 6 lounge area outside Le Bistro. Several of the CD led audience participation game shows could be seen re-played on our 24" LCD TV, as well as a half dozen first run movies including Frozen, The Hobbit Part 2, Desolation of Smaug, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity and so on. Our cabin was located on deck 8 midship, a great location close to so much. Since the ship's tenders are strung up outside the windows here, the category is Oceanview Obstructed. Luckily the tender was strung several feet lower outside rooms 8100 and 8102, so that we had a good view, at least 60% at all times. Perhaps due to approaching dry dock, there were only 2 incidents of crew walking past our window, and no surprises or loud banging or maintenance overall. This accessible cabin has 36" no threshold outer and bathroom doors, with light switches and climiate control about 3 feet from the floor. Both the hanging rod in the closet and oversink mirror in the bathroom have easily grasped cords to lower them to wheelchair or scooter height, a definate plus. The room is about 20% larger than non-accessible sideways cabins, and the hallway on deck 9 actually is partially over these rooms; perhaps the dearth of small ones on the PC itinerary accounts for the fact there was little to no noise of running or stomping feet? We did need to call Guest Services desk several times during the cruise and the interaction was all right. Our immediate needs were attended to and we were able to get questions answered without making the trip down there again and again. We didn't attend any of the large production shows due to (chronic) health issues and decision to grab as much restful sleep as we could. Luckily, on NCL, there is never a need to do anything but exactly what we'd like...in that respect, our vacation was tailor-made to suit our interests and needs. The itinerary was changed as we would no longer be disembarking in Los Angeles, which was a big part of our choice in this cruise; we'd be just a short flight from our West Coast home. We also lost 2 ports, one of them the highly anticipated Costa Rican port, the other of less interest. This gave us more sea days and the choice of disembarking in either San Diego or San Francisco. NCL considered San Diego an additional port-true if you were taking the full 15 days, but not the case if this was your disembark point. We decided to take the shorter version since our nonrefundable plane tickets were at LAX. We now had a 4, rather than 2, day stay in Southern California, totaling 3 weeks in all. I think it would have been best with the original mix of port and sea days and the Los Angeles disembark, but the entire Jewel crew made us forget the small quibbles and feel pampered to the max. It also helped that we were traveling with such a wonderful bunch of CC members as well! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more ... Read More
We are a early 60's couple who booked the Panama Canal cruise for the third time. This time my mother, who just turned 90, came with us, wanting to see the new locks on the Canal. We love this itinerary because the 13 days is more relaxing than the usual 7-day cruises, it is a warm weather cruise and there are an almost equal number of port and sea days. This was our 10th Norwegian cruise; we have also cruised once on Crystal. We are unapologetic Norwegian ambassadors! Pre-Cruise Preparations - My husband has emphysema and travels with a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), and mom walks with a cane or a rolling walker. That said, traveling can be challenging in this situation. We contacted Norwegian's Access Desk to inform them that we would need 2 wheelchairs at embarkation and disembarkation. We also advised them that mom needs a low/no salt diet. The representative said that once on board we would be contactd to pre-order her meals. More on that under Dining. The airline also requires advance notification with doctor's signature that we are traveling with a POC, as well as the request for wheelchairs for distance. Travel to Embarkation - We flew United to NOLA on Good Friday. We decided to fold, duct tape and check the walker as luggage. It came through with no problem. The wheelchair porters/pushers were prompt and very helpful. The Airport Limosine driver went above and beyond fitting us and our three large, one medium, one carry-on, a POC and the walker in the Town Car (yes, we always manage to overpack!). New Orleans - We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, booked through our travel agent. It did not disappoint. The room included "Continental Breakfast" but we ordered a full breakfast and it was covered. We dined at Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Good food, but getting to the upstairs dining room was difficult for mom to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through a crowded dining room, up the elevator, then back to the front dining room, then back again after dinner. We took a trip to Rouse's market to purchase 8 bottles of wine. Embarkation - We caught a taxi to the port for $7 per person. The taxi dropped us off at the terminal. After we unloaded all our luggage and the porter put it on his cart we found out we would have to walk a long hallway to get to an entrance that would have been closer, and no wheelchairs were available until after we went through security. It would have been better to go to the furthest entrance. We went to the head of the line as mom can not stand for longer than a few minutes without pain. The security agent got us an escort that took us through security quickly. We knew to hand carry our wine, and were directed to the corkage table to pay the $15/bottle corkage, and then to the section to wait for a wheelchair. We waited about 30 minutes for our turn to get 2 wheelchairs. They were very slow in coming. Eventually we got the wheelchairs, got checked in quickly, taken to the VIP lounge and on to the ship. Yay! The Ship - The Jewel was going into dry-dock immediately after our cruise. There was some wear and tear visible that I assume will be upgraded in dry-dock. The ship was clean and the crew was quite visible in cleaning. We had a 2-bedroom Haven Villa and mom was next door in a Haven Penthouse. The living room, bedroom and master bath are exactly the same in both cabins, but the balcony is 1-2 feet deeper in the 2-bedroom. The cabins are luxurious with wood paneling, queen bed in the master bedroom, lots of closet space and storage space in the master bedroom and bath. Minimal storage in the second bedroom. Hot water was slow in coming to the cabin, we had to run the shower to get it more quickly. The butler and steward were fine, though not impressive. We have had some that matched us much better and may have unfair expectations. Dining - We ate at five of the specialty restaurants and in Azura main dining room the rest of the nights. Le Bistro, Cagney's, Chin Chin, Mama's/La Cucina are always our favorites. We also ate at the Teppanyaki, which was better than the last time. Mom needed a low/no salt diet. We were not contacted as promised by the Access Desk rep, but the first night at Azura we asked about it and were introduced to one of our Vacation Heroes, Felicitas J. She was helpful, knowledgeable and a delight. She explained that mom could see the next night's menu and pre-order so sauces and dishes would be prepared with no salt. She also explained which restaurants prepared foods "a la minute" with low/no salt and which needed a pre-order. The result was that it worked extremely well and mom had minimal ankle swelling. We like Azura as it is midship and easy to get to from the Haven. Most of the time the food was varied, good, and well prepared. Ports - Cartagena - we didn't get off this time as we've been there twice before. Huatulco - rglcruise organized a tour with Adelino. He had a late model 13 passenger van and took us through Huatulco to Santa Maria. We walked through a portion of the town, had quesadillas with fresh made tortillas, and watched a carniceria wield his knife. He also told us the history of the area. We drove up into the mountains to a coffee plantation and small town. Adelino was great a communicating his love of his home nation and state. Puerto Vallarta - Just off the ship is a small area with shops to purchase souvenirs and the ever present Diamond International. Walmart is within walking distance from the port for those sundries you've run out of. Cabo San Lucas - This is a tender port. Lots of shopping and restaurants at the dock. Also, there are lots of opportunities to catch an independent operator for a tour of the area by boat. Disembarkation - We arranged with Virginia, the concierge, to have the wheelchairs pick us up. They came a little after the designated time, but then whisked us off very quickly.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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