Norwegian Jewel Canada/New England Cruise, 10/21/2005- 11/1/2005
Background: This was our 6th cruise, dating back to April, 2002, all have been with NCL. We are great fans of NCL FreeStyle, their service, food, ships, and entertainment, ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel Canada/New England Cruise, 10/21/2005- 11/1/2005
Background: This was our 6th cruise, dating back to April, 2002, all have been with NCL. We are great fans of NCL FreeStyle, their service, food, ships, and entertainment, and we were disappointed by the Jewel.
Arrival/Return: We made the 1 ½ hour drive from our home in Connecticut, parked at the pier, where we took advantage of the new elevators in the garage, paid the monthly fee of $180, and set foot in the terminal at 11:30 a.m. We were directed to a Latitudes waiting area where we spent no more than 10 minutes, before we began the "Embarkation" process. Only the VIPs were ahead of, along with some travel agents who went onboard for a presentation. By noon we were in our cabin, took a quick tour of Decks 7 and 12, and headed for a nice lunch at Tsar's.
Upon our return home, Disembarkation was smooth to say the least, beginning at 8:30 am, and we were on the Henry Hudson Parkway by 9 am. One of the longshoremen took our bags on his cart, took us up to the pier level where our car was parked. I retrieved the car, loaded it up away from the hustle and bustle of passengers leaving, taxis arriving, etc., and we headed home.
Ship: Of course it is a beauty, sparkling clean and bright, in show room condition. They are constantly maintaining it in mint shape, as I saw them replacing a patch of carpeting that led to a kitchen area, probably soiled from heavy use or spillage. Outside, crew was spotted regularly power washing the hull while we were ashore, right up to sail away time.
Staff: Jewel staff is certainly consistent with the high quality service we have come to expect with NCL. Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier heads up a team of top notch managers and associates. We met Klaus in 2003 on the Dawn, and have sailed his former ship, the Dawn three times. Accordingly we were excited to have the opportunity to cruise with him on the Jewel, and enjoyed every minute of it. Our experience has been that all staff have been trained to go above and beyond our expectations, as they constantly do exceed our "rising" expectations. Some fear that non traditional dining eliminates the motivation to excel, but we've never sensed it. From cabin stewards to wait staff to senior staff, right up to the Captain and Hotel Director, NCL service has always been terrific for us.
Restaurants: S.T.Y.L.E. is the way to go for us, as we love the options available so we can match our daily plans with dining preferences, allowing us the freedom to pick our restaurants each day in line with our schedule. It also allows us to modify dining plans as needed. For instance, on this trip we met a couple late in the cruise who had not eaten in any of the Specialty restaurants, because they did not get their reservations in early enough. As big fans of NCL, we wanted them to experience Cagney's with us, so we were able to change our reservation from two to four, and they fully appreciated and enjoyed the evening. Our preference for food and service is the Specialties, so as soon as we boarded, we made our reservations for two nights each at LeBistro, Cagney's and Mama's, 6 pm each day. As FreeStyle Dailies were delivered, we occasionally modified our schedule. We also managed to sneak in a nice unscheduled dinner at Tango's. Being our 6th cruise, we have developed some favorite menu items we look forward to at each restaurant, including Cream of Forest Mushroom Soup, Escargot, and Chocolate Fondue at LeBistro, Filet Mignon and the daily FlambE at Cagney's, and Lasagna and Tiramisu at Mamma's. Cagney's also offered a 1 ½ lb. Maine Lobster, as good as I've ever had. The new station arrangement at the Garden Cafe enticed us to eat there more often than usual, mainly some breakfasts and a couple of dinners. No longer self-service, we never found much of a wait. As noted often on the board, we enjoyed taking our meals into Mama's for a quiet dining experience. We also appreciate the hand sanitizers at each entrance.
Entertainment: NCL entertainment has built a reputation for great shows and high quality entertainers, and the Jewel does not disappoint. Starting with the Jean Ann Ryan Shows, they are "Don't Miss" productions. Three great shows of continuous singing and dancing are held in a spectacular setting at the Stardust Theater. Lead singer Eric Reid is a favorite of ours. Other shows included a terrific comedian, David Naster, a highly skilled and entertaining juggler, Romano Frediani, and other fine artists each evening. We also enjoy the passenger talent show, as well as the crew version. Our favorite band aboard NCL ships is a 7 piece band called the Ironics. Hailing from the Philippines, three young ladies sing the majority of their songs as a trio, but often performed solos and duets in their nightly location in Spinnakers. The cold weather limited their poolside shows to the sail away. Their music spans recent decades, and were focused on an audience who head to Spinnakers for their listening and dancing pleasure. The Ironics basically sing everything, and will take requests and dedications, and are a very personable group. Other quality music can be found throughout the ship in the Atrium, Fyzz (recorded), and piano locations. Fyzz is the place for Karaoke, including three sound booths for small groups to reserve and have their own private venue. Cruise Director Paul Baya is the best we've experienced, though all of them have been terrific. This was our 2nd time with Paul, and he is a classy guy, very professional, very entertaining, and is an excellentis also very energetic, and seems to be everywhere.
Excursions: Though we did not take advantage of many ship sponsored excursions, there was a wide variety of offerings which allowed passengers to experience the highlights of the six port cities we visited. Since we booked this cruise at the last minute, we pretty much waited until we arrived in port to finalize our plans for the day, also taking any cold or inclement weather into account. Since this was the last of four New England/Canada cruises for the Jewel, I'll skip the details, but we enjoyed our visits to each city, and were grateful for the terrific welcomes and farewells we experienced throughout the journey. Sydney stands out as one where a local singer performed a lengthy welcome concert upon arrival, and a sizeable band did the same upon our departure. The "finale" included a moving tribute from a female soloist, singing "The Star Spangled Banner," "Oh, Canada," and "God Bless America" as we watched from above while the Jewel prepared to sail. It was also common to be warmly greeted by bagpipers.
Dawn vs. Jewel Notes: - Though cold weather negated the regular use of the hot tubs, we would much prefer at least one hot tub in a location similar to the Dawn's facility located in the bow. - The large water slide was very inviting on the warmest of days, but never did try it. - The permanent nature of Mama's is much nicer than LaTrattoria, though we enjoy both. - Not pleased about the Cigar Bar not being enclosed on the Jewel. - Having enjoyed a number of late night grilled snacks and pizza on the Majesty's outdoor grill, I was a little disappointed the Great Outdoor Grill did not have a similar offering. - We did not miss the Cinema, as when tried to go to the theater on the Dawn, too many others were thinking the same thing, and it was always filled. We did enjoy two recent release movies in Stardust. On a related issue, we did miss the fresh pop corn machine from the Dawn. - Speaking of the popcorn machine, located in the Pearly King's Pub, we really missed that bar and atmosphere. We preferred the separate bar locations to the Jewel's multi themed approach. No big deal, but just our preference. - The new Blue Lagoon setup has its pros and cons. It has a more formal look to it, and no longer has any "walk up" features. I liked going by there in the morning or evening for a quick coffee, and maybe a cookie or two. On the Jewel, it is now a nice place to stop for breakfast, a new alternative. The menu is limited, but there appears to be something for everyone. Some items were not readily available, but our waitress offered to get them for us, but we chose to order what was available. At night, the Blue Lagoon area serves as an extension to Tango's. We also noticed that Tango's was a popular spot during the day for passengers to play cards and other table games. - The Specialty restaurants had half price dinners from 5:30 - 6:30 each evening.
Other: - As a "Frequent Flyer" at NCL Martini Clinics, I preferred the Dawn and Star venue at Star Bar. I'm assuming they were moved to the Martini Bar on the Jewel to showcase the new area, but would suggest the clinic themselves would be more entertaining, enjoyable, and yes, educational, at the more "secluded" and "captive" area. - The Jewel sent a strong contingent to our Cruise Critic gathering prior to arriving in Boston. Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier led his group with a great welcoming talk, and invited everyone to call the appropriate staff if they needed with anything. The best part of such an offering from Klaus and his NCL counterparts is that they mean it. They do not want you to feel unsatisfied with any particular issue or problem, rather you give them a chance to fix it. - Ruth Haggar was the Concierge on board, and now has an able assistant, Haley. One of them is always available to those passengers they serve. I'm assuming the new courtyard villas necessitated the added staffing.
Summary: The Jewel is a beautiful ship, and her staff is a credit to the industry and NCL. We don't know what are future holds for cruising, but we will certainly look favorably upon another voyage on the Jewel. Read Less