5 Norwegian Jewel Cruise Reviews for Spring Break Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

We went on the Jewel leaving out of Miami (4/3/09) to the 9 day southern Caribbean. I'd cruised with NCL twice before and I have always loved it. My family and I went in one cabin and my elderly grandmother and aunt went in another. ... Read More
We went on the Jewel leaving out of Miami (4/3/09) to the 9 day southern Caribbean. I'd cruised with NCL twice before and I have always loved it. My family and I went in one cabin and my elderly grandmother and aunt went in another. Their first time with NCL. Leading up to the cruise many people told us NCL was bad, good luck with the cruise, etc. We couldn't understand why, since my family and I have always had a positive experience with NCL in the past. Another cruise with NCL is something we're definitely not planning anytime soon! Embarkation- Amazing! The process usually takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes and here it took about 20 to get through everything and get to the ship. When we got to the ship the bubbly was waiting and we had to stay in the lobby for about 5 minutes because the cabins weren't ready. When the announcement was made that the cabins were ready, we proceeded to the cabin. Small cabin, but we knew this since we've cruised with NCL. Gorgeous balcony though. The ONLY downside is that there was dust EVERYWHERE (and I don't mean light dust, I mean layers of dust). There were sand and coke stains on the floor of the cabin, the bathroom, and the balcony. We had to clean the toilet from how filthy it was. We went down to the purser's to ask them to send someone to clean the cabin. Did this twice and no one came. We found the head of housekeeping for our floor and he said he'd send someone to clean it after the lifeboat drill. NEVER Happened. I took pictures, forwarded them to my T.A. and to NCL as well. Great selection of food and amazing quality of it as well at the buffet and at Tsar's. Debarkation- The ship got to every port before it was suppose to including Miami. However, the ship took longer than expected to clear and begin debarkation. Long line for debarkation, but once it started, the line moved rather quick. Ports of Call- The actual islands were beautiful. Breathtaking views, great pictures. In Samana, I suggest the hike to the waterfall. It's about 15-20 minutes and you have to cross a small river (there are people there to help) but it's worth it. Also, if you don't get a tour from the excursion desk, don't freak out, there are people by the ship who are selling tours (we got our tours for $20 pp on each island, and we went to the same places as the ship's tours did) Entertainment- The Cat's Pajamas were amazing! They give it their all and it reflects in their performances. I loved their version of "In the Jungle" in which they used the audience to help make the animal noises. The Jean Ann Ryan shows are not to be missed! The best show of all is Cirque Bijou. Amazing show with acrobatics, dancing, singing and lots more. You need to get there early and get your seats. Both shows were packed and the staff closes the theater down for the safety of the performers prior to the show (you'll understand once you see it). The show ends with the crew members gathering on stage singing the "Norwegian Way" song. I went to the hypnotist's show in Spinnaker. Funny show, nice guy. The White Hot party is one that you cannot miss. The Jean Ann Ryan dancers kick it off with a performance, and then the crew and guests hit the dance floor. At times foam sprays everyone on the dance floor. A word about Bingo-it was okay. It starts off somewhere around $16 to play, but at times it can go up to almost $200 (depending on the deal you want to purchase). When you buy a game of bingo, you are automatically entered in their raffle (they give out prizes from Del Sol, the Spa, the Casino, Colombian Emeralds, etc.) The best bingo day was the last day @ sea, in the first of the 2 bingo sessions (the cruise raffle bingo, not the jackpot bingo). For only $25 you get an NCL bingo t-shirt, the NCL tote bag, 5 $5 instant wins, 6 cards for the jackpot bingo round, and 30 tickets for the cruise raffle. The second bingo session was in the afternoon and the prices to play bingo got steeper. Spa/ Casino- The spa is nice, and I found it worth $20 for the daily pass (you are at sea for 3 full days and for me it was worth it to pay $40 to enjoy the spa for 2 full days than to pay $119 and enjoy it partially for 9 days). It is very peaceful and relaxing. In the casino I recommend signing up for the casino rewards @ sea program. In the booklet they give you come all sorts of coupons where you buy a certain amount of slot credits or chips and the casino matches or doubles it. Tendering Services- Tendering process is chaotic! My elderly grandmother needed to take the service elevator since she cannot be going down the stairs because of her legs. They called the elevator but she had to stand for 25 minutes waiting for the elevator. When the elevator came the lady inside told her that she had other priorities before us (in a very rude tone). When we got to the 4th floor, our tender had already left and another crew member told us we would have to wait until they could find us a tender (we waited about 15 minutes there before anyone could get us a tender. We asked for a wheelchair or at least a chair for my grandmother and a crew member told us that she could not help us and pointed to another crew member that would help us. The gentleman suggested we sit her on the steps or lean her on the railing. We told him that was not an option since she could sit, but getting up was the issue. One of the CD staff members, Peter, was kind enough to get her a chair, and he helped get us a tender to go ashore. Cleanliness- Not good @ all! Other guests in the spa were speaking about this happening to them as well. They found their cabins filthy and the majority of the crew members were unhappy. For us, it took 4 days for the cleaning issue to get resolved, and it only got resolved when we asked to see the head of housekeeping for the ship (she sent one of her assistants to see the room). It was unbelievable and I hope no one has to ever go through that again. Overall- The itinerary for the cruise is wonderful, the ship is beautiful, great shows, but when it comes to cleanliness, friendly crew, and tendering all I can say is improvement is needed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We went on a spring break cruise on 4/3 out of Miami. This is my first time to the Caribbean. That part of the cruise I really enjoyed. My last NCL cruise was out of Los Angeles to Mexico on the Star. I liked that cruise better overall. ... Read More
We went on a spring break cruise on 4/3 out of Miami. This is my first time to the Caribbean. That part of the cruise I really enjoyed. My last NCL cruise was out of Los Angeles to Mexico on the Star. I liked that cruise better overall. First of all on that cruise I had a Balcony Cabin. You really need that on NCL. There cabins are so small. There were 3 of us in the cabin. We were tripping over each other. I opted for category CC, and outside cabin instead of a balcony. I think it is around 146 square feet. Ok for 2 not for more. My daughter was across the hall in category J. They had 4 in their cabin. What a joke. I know they would never cruise with NCL again because of that reason alone. The food was not up to par. They had a poor selection in the dining room and it was not very good. What's with the shrimp cocktail? That has to be a joke. We did eat one meal in Mama's Kitchen. I think Olive Garden is better. The buffet was not bad for breakfast and lunch. They didn't change things around too much but it was good. I liked the bbq outside they had one day. The entertainment was ok. We really liked Cat's Pajamas. My husband purchased their DVD. The rest was just ok. The main problem is there isn't anything to do on Sea Days. We had 2 sea days at the end of our nine day cruise. Bingo was expensive and they only had 3 or 4 games. I am not that jazzed the lay in the sun all day by the pool. I would like some activities on board. People really hogged the chairs by the pool. If you weren't out there by 9 or 10 forget it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Embarkation in Miami was a breeze. We arrived, sat down in the lounge, and were finally escorted to the atrium onboard to meet our concierge. Total time, ten minutes. Very nice and a definite thumbs up. Iris the asst. concierge was in the ... Read More
Embarkation in Miami was a breeze. We arrived, sat down in the lounge, and were finally escorted to the atrium onboard to meet our concierge. Total time, ten minutes. Very nice and a definite thumbs up. Iris the asst. concierge was in the atrium and once again escorted us to our cabin. Shortly after our butler, Amit, arrived to explain how everything in the room worked. Our experience with the concierge Carlos and our butler was excellent all week. Very nice people and I look forward to seeing them again in the future. The room stewards were very nice but I still cannot understand the logic they use when cleaning. The room is dust free and yet there is a half full glass on the table for two or three days? The courtyard itself is a true joy. It was well attended during the cruise but I could always find a plush couch or chair. A 3 ft pool with a current and hot tub let you enjoy a dip whenever and the treadmill/bike/sauna room adjacent relieve you of the need to go to the gym. Our cabin was very nicely appointed as well. A sitting area, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The second bedroom is capable of two adults and a child but it's smaller than an inside cabin. When the couch folds out there is no room at all! This is of course balanced out by the excellent sitting room and access to the courtyard, but I wouldn't recommend it. This was a 9 day cruise, I enjoyed the Itinerary. The first day at sea was great to meet everyone onboard. Samana is very beautiful, we went over to Cayo Levantado., a little island in the bay with a nice beach and bar. Since I got a little sunburned the day before I mostly stayed aboard the ship in Virgin Gorda. Thanks to my father we had chartered a helicopter flight with Caribbean Helicopters in Antigua to fly over to Montserrat and check out an active volcano. It was a nice smooth flight despite the high winds that day. It was a lesson in the power of mother nature, the volcano had literally shoved a mountain sideways with it's eruptions. We saw it smoldering and flew over the ex-capital that was covered in ash, think Pompeii. It rained in Barbados but we were snorkeling with the turtles so the rain didn't bother us (a brief hint, stay close to the guide, he has food, turtles like food). St Lucia is drop dead gorgeous, it reminded me of Hawaii. The staff was great and the ship fantastic. Somone was always cleaning and the buttons in the elevator that got broken by roving teenagers were fixed in a timely fashion. The decor was typical cruise ship, very bright colors. Sydney from St Lucia was a standout amongst the staff, I predict he will do well in the future. Rich, the cruise director was funny, nice, and personable. The bar staff in spinnakers got to know my drink orders and were very efficient keeping me well lubricated. The spa personnel were very nice. I got a port special "head to toe" package and fell asleep almost immediately to waken refreshed and raring to go. I also tried acupuncture for the first time ever. It removed my hangover from the night before. Only one needle hurt going in and she fixed it as soon as I made any noise at all. The procedure was very relaxing in fact. The staff in the gym were all very professional but I want to give a special recommendation for Wendy, she is very motivated and skilled in her profession. All the shows were better than I have come to expect on a cruise ship and I actually found myself looking forward to them every night. My favorite show was "Band on the Run", which featured rock and roll songs. The comedian Joe Yannety and the hypnotist Dr Rick's act were both hilarious. Being a VIP we had exclusive access to the box seats on the left side of the theater. On the busy nights Carlos was there going the extra mile and making sure we had seats. The only negatives I have are about the cover charges and the kids club. In my opinion NCl got it right with freestyle. I love eating what I want, when I want. I just hate paying extra money for something that I believe was already paid for, and when you pay the amount we did for the level of accommodations we did it's almost insulting. The food itself was good not great. Cagney's had the best food, but not better than the best of my local steakhouses. The kids club needs to be massively upgraded before we try it again. The 3-5 program room was to small for the amount of kids and the workers felt harried and stressed out to me. There were activities but the majority of time it seemed like free play on the padded jungle gym or watching tv every time I went by to check in. The teenagers mentioned earlier were not to bad but they did clog up the stairwells and generally get in the way, just like teenagers everywhere. I can only assume the had the same opinions of the kids program as myself since they never used it. Overall I would highly recommend this ship and crew. On all levels the courtyard experience was worth it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Flights from Glasgow to London and then London to Miami were with British Airways. Can't praise them highly enough. The luggage was sent off in Glasgow and we did not see it again until Miami. Husband is disabled and assistance was ... Read More
Flights from Glasgow to London and then London to Miami were with British Airways. Can't praise them highly enough. The luggage was sent off in Glasgow and we did not see it again until Miami. Husband is disabled and assistance was provided at Heathrow which was most welcome. Flights were good with attentive cabin crew and good food and drinks. On arrival in Miami we were transferred by bus to Sofitel Miami (nr airport). Very nice hotel and extremely comfortable beds. Unfortunately there was no tea/coffee making facilities in room but coffee and drinks were available in main lobby of hotel. The next morning, before transfer to the ship we walked (about 10 mins) to a retail outlet which had a Publix store and stocked up on some wine, soft drinks and snacks for the ship. EMBARKATION: Slightly disorganized bussing from hotel to ship but we eventually arrived and stood in queue which moved quite swiftly inside the NCL terminal. Once in terminal I paid corkage for my wine and we were then directed to balcony queue which only took a few minutes. A few minutes later, after receiving keycards we were on the ship and getting hands sanitized. A welcome glass of champagne and oj for daughter and then we set out to explore the ship. The Jewel certainly impressed us and was clean and sparkling. Had been advised by Cruise Critic members to go to main restaurant for lunch but we ended up at the Garden Cafe and had something there instead. Sail away was fun with other CC members at the Great Outdoors. STATEROOM: We had a balcony cabin on Deck 10 and it was relatively spacious but a bit cramped with 3. Lots of storage space and balcony was bigger than I expected. Met our cabin stewards Bob and Mohan who attended to our requests to empty fridge and keep ice bucket filled. They did a great job and kept our cabin clean and always stopped for a quick word whenever they saw us. It was great having a kettle to make a cup of tea or coffee. Used the $25 special for the laundry service - what a boon that was! SERVICE: Without exception, everyone we met was unfailingly polite and helpful. The staff in the restaurants do a great job as well as the bar staff, the reception and shore excursion desk. DINING: Food is always subjective but this is how we found it. We ate in Tzars Palace twice and Azura twice - these are the non paying dining rooms. On two occasions the steak my husband ordered was inedible and I mean inedible. I tried a piece and was unable to swallow it. Very poor quality meat although the rest of our meals were fine. We ate in the following speciality restaurants: Teppanyaki (fantastic experience), Mama's Italian Kitchen (very good especially the antipasti trolley), Le Bistro (excellent - part of the romance package), Tango's (very good), Cagney's (excellent), Chin Chin (excellent) - ate there twice. We also found the other free restaurant Blue Lagoon to be excellent and ate there 3 times. However we found the Garden Cafe to be the worst place to eat on the ship. The food variety and quality were very good, however I really like my food to be hot or at least warm and it was always cold or lukewarm. It was also very noisy and busy and not the best place to be for someone who was disabled. On a positive note I liked the omelette station very much but my husband would not venture back into the Garden Cafe after the first couple of times. Surely NCL should be able to keep food hot in this day and age? ENTERTAINMENT: Cirque Bijou was really impressive. We also enjoyed Band on the Run, Country Gold and Joe Yannetty the comedian. Saw the end of the hypnotist show and it looked like fun too. Good eye lines in theatre. Did not participate in bingo due to high cost. Would have participated in martini tasting but it was in the middle of a sea day when sun loungers were at a premium!!! Special mention to Caribbean Wave - they were great and I could have listened to them all day. Also 60280 were very good with a wide range of songs. TEEN CREW: My daughter went to this programme and enjoyed it. She made new friends which helped to make her holiday more enjoyable. EXCURSIONS: Went to Playa Rincon in Samana with Casa Dorada - beautiful beach, not many people and excellent Pina Colada!. In Tortola went to the Baths with Speedy's ferry - beautiful beach but beware of the path down to the beach if you are disabled - it was quite tortuous for my husband. The Xtreme Circumnav tour with Eli in Antigua was the highlight of our trip. Fast powerboat round the island stopping off to see the local attractions including the stingrays (not crowded) and snorkeling, lunch etc included - worth every penny! St Lucia was the tour with Cosol - very good tour and great value for money - the trip to Jalousie beach was lovely and the snorkeling was great there too. We went snorkeling with the turtles in Barbados with Outdoor Barbados - we had rain and it was a bit miserable but we still had fun. We were doing a back to back tour, so when the ship returned to Miami we spent the day at South Beach before setting sail for Grand Cayman were we did some shopping before getting a bus to 7 mile beach $2.5 dollars pp each way. In Cozumel we took the ship excursion for my daughter to do the Dolphin Trainer programme - we paid $30 each to be observers. It was a fantastic day. Alejandro showed us around and looked after us so well. My daughter had a great time and one-to-one time with the dolphins. Highly recommended tour. DISEMBARKATION: Had leisurely breakfast as we were going to depart last as we had no imminent flights to catch. Waited in room until our color of luggage tag was called and we strolled off ship for bus transfer back to Sofitel. Had the use of a room there until our flight back to UK. Dumped our luggage and took a taxi to Dolphin Mall for a spot of retail therapy before returning to hotel to collect luggage and transfer to airport. Flights back were again with BA and were good with no problems. SUMMARY: Fantastic first time cruise and we would definitely go again with NCL (purchased cruise reward). However I hope they will address the keeping food warm issue in the Garden Cafe as that was the only blip in an otherwise wonderful 2 weeks. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale and drove to the Port of Miami the day of the cruise. Embarkation was smooth for the most part. We've been on the Jewel before so we already knew the layout of the ship. They greeted us as we got on the ship ... Read More
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale and drove to the Port of Miami the day of the cruise. Embarkation was smooth for the most part. We've been on the Jewel before so we already knew the layout of the ship. They greeted us as we got on the ship with orange juice and champagne but the champagne had a funny taste so I didn't enjoy it.We headed straight for our stateroom, which was ready but the beds were double and needed to be a queen, so we went to the customer desk center and reported it. We had an inside cabin on the 11th floor on the aft part of the vessel. We had lunch in Tzar's palace and it was pretty good. After the boat drill we went to the pool party and had BBQ chicken and got a bucket of Coronas. That night we had dinner in Cagney's Steakhouse and that was very good. Overall the trip was great. The boat did have a bad pitch and roll to the point that I was taking Dramamine and Aleve to get rid of the nauseating feeling and headaches everyday. Breakfast was always good. Blue Lagoon was good. Some of the dinners needed a little more flavor. Entertainment was alright. TV was alright: Had World-Wide CNN, Fox News, TNT - didn't always show clearly, Cartoon Network, ESPN, and 2 movie channels. We did all of our own excursions and saved a bundle of money. Sorry NCL, they were just too overpriced for us this time. Our first port was Samana, Dominican Republic. I will probably not be back there anytime soon. Enough said! Second Port: Tortola, BVI - We loved it. We took Speedy's ferry boat to Virgin Gorda, BVI and spent the day at the "Baths". We ate lunch at the restaurant at the entrance to the Baths. Drinks there were reasonably priced but the food was a little overpriced. The excursion to the Baths on the cruise was about $90 per person. We took Speedy's for $78 for the both of us, and that included the taxi transfer to the Baths. Entrance to the Baths was $3 per person. Definitely cheaper to do your own excursion. Third Port: St. John's, Antigua - We've been here before on a previous NCL cruise and last time we did the island tour. This time we took a taxi to Dickenson Bay and went horseback riding. After horseback riding we spent the rest of the day on the beach relaxing. The whole chair and umbrella rental is out of control there, so be careful. Fourth Port: Bridgetown, Barbados - We loved Bridgetown and will return for another vacation. We took a tour of the island for $40 and ended up at the beach were had flying fish and mixed drinks for lunch. Food and items there are equally priced as they are in the US. We bought rum punch (very cheap) and the local rum back with us. Fifth Port: St. Lucia - Love St. Lucia. We bought our own excursion. We paid $100 and got on a 30 foot boat and sailed around the island making stops at various places. We stop in Soufriere and got off the boat and took a taxi transfer to see the pitons, the sulfur springs and a huge waterfall. After that we were returned to the boat and boated back to Marigot Bay were we relaxed on the beach. Read Less
Sail Date March 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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