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Sail Date: September 2005
The Jewel is the newest ship in NCL's fleet. The ship is beautiful and well run with an experienced friendly crew. For anyone who has sailed on the Dawn the layout of the Jewel is very similar. We sailed the Canada/New England ... Read More
The Jewel is the newest ship in NCL's fleet. The ship is beautiful and well run with an experienced friendly crew. For anyone who has sailed on the Dawn the layout of the Jewel is very similar. We sailed the Canada/New England itinerary for the past 4 autumns on different cruise lines but enjoyed sailing on the Jewel and the 11 day cruise even more than the standard 7 day cruise that does a NYC round trip. EMBARKATION -- Since the Jewel was the only ship in on September 29 (Thursday) embarkation was easy and quick. A pleasant surprise for us was that our room had been upgraded to Penthouse status. We soon found out the advantages of being in a penthouse; butler, plasma screen television and concierge service, chocolate dipped strawberries, doorbell, I think you get the picture. ITINERARY -- Boston, The Canada/New England itinerary is fairly standard for most of the cruise lines. By departing on Thursday we docked in Boston on Friday when everything is open. The last several times we did this itinerary we docked in Boston on Sunday when most stores etc. are closed. There is a lot to do in Boston but you do need to take some form of transport from the pier, it is too far to walk into town. Cabs and transport buses are available at the pier. Bar Harbor You need to tender in from the ship at Bar Harbor. The town is an easy walk with many shops, stores and restaurants to visit. There are beautiful areas to just sit and people watch or visit the park up the hill from where the tender leaves you off to view the ocean, ships and New England scenery. Halifax This Canadian city is a port of call for all cruise ships. You can easily walk into town along the boardwalk for sightseeing or shopping. There is even a casino downtown for anyone who has not lost enough in the ship's casino. If you are interested in renting a taxi for some sight seeing there are plenty on the pier. One word of warning, be sure you negotiate price in Canadian or US $, how long you wish to engage the service and is the price for the cab or per person. One group we knew had a bad experience with one driver who rents a stretch white limo (the only one at the pier). He scammed them into paying several hundred dollars more than agreed to for an afternoon's rental because of what he said was their misunderstanding of his price quote. Quebec City Depending where you dock you may have to use the bus shuttle to drop you off in Old Quebec and bring you back to the ship. Quebec is a beautiful city with many interesting sights and lots of history. There are many cafes and stores to visit. Read up on the sites before leaving the ship so that you see the things you may want to see, but didn't know were there. Cruising the Saguenay River -- This is part of the trip which I found quite interesting and beautiful. The ship had a person tell us about the river's history, the native peoples and the geology of the area as we sailed up then back down the Saguenay. Sydney This is a port where you can easily walk into the town. On days when the ships are in there are local vendors at the pier and near town who offer their crafts for sail. The town is not large with limited things to see and do, but charming nevertheless. Saint John Saint John is another small Canadian town that is within easy walking distance from the pier. It is bigger than Sydney with more to see and do. There is an interesting cemetery at the top of the hill that also doubles as a beautiful park. THE SHIP -- We experienced excellent food in all the restaurants we ate in, and we ate in them all! I'm amazed that the quality of the food, as well as the variety, is so well maintained and with such consistency. Mama's Italian Kitchen and Teppanyaki (Japanese) were VERY popular so plan to make your reservations well in advanced. The sushi bar was a personal favorite of mine. Who can beat all you eat sushi lunch for $5? There are monitors near the restaurants that show how busy the restaurants are around the ship—great idea. You can be at one and see that others are less crowded. There are no buffet lines on the Jewel. The set up is to place large oval stations that provide for such things as a salad station, entrEe station, dessert station etc. It works very well and there is never a long line to contend with when going to dine at the Garden Cafe. There are launderettes for the passengers (which strangely were not shown or advertised in the original maps). This is an important feature, especially for passengers on longer cruises. The casino is large and full of the newest slot machines. The entertainment was excellent throughout the cruise with one criticism about the singing and music at the shows; louder does not make it better, it makes it louder. FreeStyle Cruising is an NCL trademark and I enjoy it a great deal. You eat when you want in resort casual attire. The crew was absolutely wonderful. Everyone we dealt with was pleasant and helpful. We recognized crew members (and they recognized us) from other NCL ships we sailed on this year. This was a great cruise experience for us on so many levels. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
We enjoyed this trip more because of the itinerary and reason for doing it than anything else. We wanted to see fall foliage and in Quebec we were not disappointed at all. The other ports we were a little early for fall foliage but enjoyed ... Read More
We enjoyed this trip more because of the itinerary and reason for doing it than anything else. We wanted to see fall foliage and in Quebec we were not disappointed at all. The other ports we were a little early for fall foliage but enjoyed them just the same. We had a trainee at embarkation so it was a little slow but still OK. Our room was great as we had a Verandah to go on. My wife has tendency to get motion sickness but with the sea bands did well but having a verandah always makes the difference for her. If she can get air she does much better. The entertainment was High quality as the Ryan company was very very good but the three shows were duplicative of each other in performance other than the music was different. The Jewel did not have enough different things to do like Princess has but what they had was pretty good. The movie situation is poor as it was held in the spinnaker lounge as well as the Stardust theater where it is more appropriate. The movie selection also not great in fact one movie several people walked out, as not appropriate for clientele on board. Spa and fitness center were great. Library was very good. Did not do the bar scene so can't comment. Cruise director Paul Baya was very good. His staff was also top notch. Hotel Director Klaus was the best ever and is best we have seen. The food was good especially in the specialty restaurants. The Filet Mignon in Cagney's was one of the best I have eaten. The Main dining rooms were beautiful but the waiters and waitresses made three mistakes in our orders during the cruise and the most upsetting thing was they would post a menu and we would make reservations accordingly and then they changed the menu just before opening. The worst was the farewell dinner, in the Tsar's posted filet mignon and when we were given the menu in the restaurant it was replaced with NY strip. It was still good but I was very upset not to get the filet mignon I was anticipating. Mama's Italian rest. was very very good and you do not have to pay extra to go there, but you must make reservations early in the cruise or you will be left out unless you like to eat at 10pm. The buffet was good with plenty of assortment and the lay out is the best I have seen on any of our cruises. Coffee was very strong so went to hot tea often. The Service by the staff was the best we have had especially since the ships went to automatic tipping. The staff was very visible and greeted you every time you went by one. In spite of the mistakes they were still the best. The cabin stewards and stewardesses were also fantastic and you were always greeted no matter where you were on the ship. Our CC group was small (6) (which may have turned out to have been a blessing) but the meeting was good and the ship staff that attended including Klause the Hotel director were fantastic and each one of them gave us there cards and they took our room numbers and from there the gifts kept on coming. Canapes delivered to our cabins each day, VIP tender tickets and disembarkation, VIP captain's cocktail party, special invite to a specialty rest free, and breakfast and lunch in a specialty rest where there were no more than ten people each time we were there, and more!! One final food comment is the menu's tended to repeat themselves on a three day cycle, or so it seemed or it moved to the different rest when we did. In total it was an excellent cruise on a very nice ship with the best staff you could ask for in spite of errors or mistakes or carpet that already needs cleaning or replaced on a ship less than 6 months old. If the staff stays I would highly recommend a trip on this jewel of a ship. This Itinerary is also the best behind Princess Alaska itinerary. Feel free to email for more info as long as you mention the Jewel in the re box. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
I just got back today from the October 10th sailing early this morning. I had an amazing time. I loved Freestyle cruising. It was such a different experience [read mediocre] from my only other NCL cruise on Norwegian Dream in 1998. ... Read More
I just got back today from the October 10th sailing early this morning. I had an amazing time. I loved Freestyle cruising. It was such a different experience [read mediocre] from my only other NCL cruise on Norwegian Dream in 1998. Highlights for me included the specialty restaurants. I felt Cagney's and Chin Chin's Teppanyaki were the best. Le Bistro was a close second and their serving size of seared foie gras was enormous. I don't get that much in Manhattan for only an additional $8! I loved being able to make reservations for all the restaurants and we only ate in the Tsar's Palace twice and never in Azura (the two main dining rooms). I made most reservations on the first day of the cruise and it was easy to get other reservations later on too. Embarkation was a breeze in a cab to the pier with no wait in line (arrived with an hour to spare). The only thing about the cruise which was really aggravating was the lack of advance information given about Bar Harbor. Nowhere on their website did they say we would be tendering. (As another aside, NCL's website is really awful.) Everyone had to clear Immigration and get up at the crack of dawn to do so (at least 6am). We had to scramble as this was the only day we did not book their tour. We had a private car waiting for us on the dock and we were late. NCL could have warned people not to book anything for at least 2-3 hours after docking. They also preferentially let their tours go on the first few tender boats. My dad went on the ship tour and tried to explain to me about their hydraulics for ship stabilization. I did get mildly seasick the first night but amazingly did really well overall - only needing to prophylactically use those accupressure wrist bands and take some Meclizine occasionally even when we were in a gale and the captain slowed the ship's speed down. Usually, I would be comatose in my cabin and miss dinner completely. I loved the bright, fun decor of the ship. The staff were very professional and friendly. The buffet was pretty meager for lunch and dinner. They repeated themselves in the stations. Their bread puddings were excellent though. The Chocoholic Buffet was excellent but it seemed to have less choices than I recall on the previous NCL cruise I took. They could also put out their dinner menus earlier in the day for the main restaurants. I went to more shows than usual. I loved the comedian, David Naster and also thought the Le Cirque Bijou was the best show I have ever seen on a cruise. Their Iron Chef competition was also fun but a little different from the show. Better get there early. I did my obligatory bingo but those handheld computers for some users slowed the game down as people kept entering in the wrong numbers. They also need to hold it in a bigger venue as often they ran out of room and people were standing in the back. Another highlight for me was the Bora Bora Spa. I recommend everyone get the Cruise Spa Pass for $65. You can use the facilities for the entire cruise. I loved going from the steam room, to ice drench shower, to sauna, to the cold dip pool, to the whirlpool. They also had fruit and drink available. There is also a coed room with heated tiled lounge chairs and another kind of pool where you can lie on steel bars with air jets to relax more. You also have great views from the front of the ship. The ports were very good. Quebec was my highlight. You can just walk to the Old City and do everything on your own. There is nothing to see in Sydney so sign up for a tour. The Ride the Rapids in Saint John was really fun but do take their recommendation of bringing a spare set of clothes as we all got totally drenched. Bar Harbor was so special because of Acadia National Park. We hired a car service which was wonderful as we could go at our own pace and make more stops than when you are trapped on a bus. Halifax - we did the Peggy's Cove Route which was really great too. Boston - it was disappointing that they charged $12 for a shuttle bus from the pier to Quincy Market. I have never been on a boat when they charged for that! Overall, I had a fantastic, relaxing time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this ship and hopefully can take it again next year from Athens to Istanbul! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
This was our 6th cruise on NCL and having enjoyed the Norwegian Dawn,we had to to sample her new sister ship Norwegian Jewel. We were not disappointed. She is a beautiful ship for which her builders in Germany can be very proud. Upon ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise on NCL and having enjoyed the Norwegian Dawn,we had to to sample her new sister ship Norwegian Jewel. We were not disappointed. She is a beautiful ship for which her builders in Germany can be very proud. Upon boarding, we were happy to see many familiar faces from the Dawn including the talented cruise director Paul Baya. After arriving in our cabin, we had an excellent lunch in the opulent Tsar's Palace, which does for Russia what the similar Venetian Restaurant did for Italy on the Dawn. We began each day there having breakfast at table #8 to fine food and service. ACCOMMODATIONS: Since this was the only time Norwegian Jewel would be sailing out of New York, we felt we had to experience her innovative courtyard villa cabins. To say we were delighted would be a gross understatement. By far, the best accommodations we have had on over 30 cruises. The cabin is huge and could easily handle two adults and three children in the second bedroom. There were four TV sets including one above the tub, two showers, two bathrooms and two safes. The private courtyard was bright, with a glass retractable roof. It had numerous lounges including one under a canopy which will be ideal in the Caribbean. At first sight, the pool appears small but it has controllable jets at one end where you can set the speed of the current to swim in place. A great place to swim on the rainiest day. There was also a whirlpool and gym with treadmill and another exercise machine. Private gender steam rooms and showers on each side of the gym. At the opposite end of the courtyard is a huge service bar which butler stocks throughout the day with juice, soft drinks, pastries, sandwiches and other goodies. If you want to celebrate a special occasion on a cruise, try a courtyard villa. You won't be disappointed. DINING: We enjoyed breakfast every morning in the Tsar's Palace with their delightful selection of dark breads, especially the walnut bread, cheese blintzes and eggs sardou. Familiar faces there were a familiar trio from the Dawn Romanians Florina, Nicolina and Christina. Best place to start the day. We would have liked to have had lunch there more often but the luncheon menu was rather limited so we usually had lunch in the Garden Cafe buffet which offered great variety. It tended to get crowded but if you don't mind walking a bit from the buffet, the tables aft in Mama's Italian Kitchen are a wonderful place to enjoy lunch or breakfast. For dinner, we really enjoyed Cagney's ably hosted by aptly named Maitre D' Joe Cagney and excellent service by one of our "Romanian All-Stars" from the Dawn- Elena. We also enjoyed dinner in Mama's Italian Kitchen, pizza to order and a large choice of pasta and sauces expertly served by Jana from Slovakia Alena and Alga from Romania. Of the main restaurants, we preferred Azura for dinner as it was less crowded than Tsar's Palace and outstanding service by Efrem from the Philippines and Patricia from Poland had us returning to their tables many nights. Finally, we arranged a dinner for our Cruise Critic group at Tango's and even though 40 of us showed up, the staff handled our individual orders with aplomb by their efficient staff. Everybody seemed to enjoy the Tex-Mex offerings and the Hotel and Food and Beverage Directors, Klaus and Sean stopped by to assure everything was in order. We thought the food and service throughout the ship were universally excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: The Jewel showband provided great dance music in Spinnakers almost every night. Pianist Vladimir and violinist Jacob were popular nightly in the Star Bar. They could have used a larger, less smoky room. We felt sorry for the pianist in Bar Central who had to play next to the open cigar room, the smoke of which was evident throughout the area and even the deck above. It should be an enclosed room. We had looked forward to some of our favorite musicians from the Dawn, Pamala Stanley and Anna Y Los Vientos who were scheduled to be on the Jewel. Unfortunately, they left before we boarded due to medical reasons. However, the Big Time Quartet which replaced them in the atrium were very good and played to a large appreciative audience nightly. The outstanding performer in the Stardust Theatre was pianist Juan Pablo Subirana whose piano virtuosity evoked memories of Carmen Cavallarro, to whom he paid tribute during his brilliant performance. The three production shows by the Jean Ann Ryan company were very good but we felt the material selected was not up to the talent and energy of the performers. The first show "Band On The Run" featured the music of the Seventies. Other than a Village People medley and "American Pie," the musical selections were little known to the older audience who would have appreciated music from the Carpenters, Barry Manilow and Saturday Night Fever, music that was more representative of the seventies. The second show "Country Gold" managed to showcase songs little known to any but the most fervent country music fans. The familiar music of Dolly Parton, Patsy Kline and Loretta Lynn would have been more appreciated. The final production "Cirque Bijou" was so spectacular in its superb athleticism that you could easily forgive the unrecognizable musical score. The excellent cast was never mentioned in the Freestyle Daily program so it is hard to identify performers who deserve recognition. There was a dance couple from Beloruss who were show stoppers. Her contortions were unbelievable. Several members of the cast performed in Spinnakers on the final evening but again I felt their considerable talent was too often wasted on songs few in the audience had ever heard of. The exceptions were Cruise Director Paul Baya combining with a member of the cast in a familiar selection from "Phantom of the Opera" and a rendition of "If I Loved You" which made all the other selections pale in comparison. Overall, the entertainment was very good. ACTIVITIES- I thought CD Paul Baya did a fine job providing lots of varied activities throughout the cruise. We especially enjoyed the numerous trivia contests, as many as three a day, where host Fernando Alexis a.k.a. Antonio Banderas, stood out with his hilarious, convoluted presentation of the questions and answers. "Name That Tune" was also very popular and well attended. Country dancing by Amy and the ballroom dance lessons of Igor and Natalia were very well attended. There were not enough no charge fitness classes but the few there were were well done by Lori from the UK. PORTS OF CALL: Weather influenced many proposed shore excursions. Rain in Boston caused us to cancel the Duck tour and rain in Quebec prevented our biking excursion to Montmoncy Falls. Weather was delightful in Halifax and we enjoyed walking through the beautiful Public Garden, the Citadel and along the waterfront. The best day ashore was in Bar Harbor where we rented bikes and rode along the carriage trails, surrounded by the fall foliage in beautiful Acadia National Park. SUMMARY- Comparisons to the Dawn are inevitable. I preferred the soaring glass elevators in the Dawn atrium, the indoor lap pool and the separate cinema on the Dawn. However, the Jewel has two large outdoor pools, one with a slide that doesn't end among the swimmers in the pool. Finally, the courtyard villas provide accommodations not available on any other cruise ship yet, though I suspect other cruise lines will soon follow in NCL's innovative wake. The only fault I could find with this ship was that poorly located and inadequately enclosed cigar room. Hopefully, that shortcoming will soon be corrected. Finally, I cannot say enough good things about the friendly and efficient staff of this ship. They are obviously well trained and for this Hotel Director Klaus from Austria, NCL's best, should take a bow. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
We left New York on 10/21 on the 11-day cruise to New England and Canada. This was our 4th NCL cruise. We anticipated that the weather might not be too good and basically that's how it turned out. Half the trip was very cold and ... Read More
We left New York on 10/21 on the 11-day cruise to New England and Canada. This was our 4th NCL cruise. We anticipated that the weather might not be too good and basically that's how it turned out. Half the trip was very cold and rainy, the last half became much better. The Jewel is a "Jewel". We sailed on the Dawn 2 years ago and were so impressed by the freestyle program and the ship that we didn't want to go any other way. We weren't disappointed. The Jewel handled rough seas like a hot knife through butter. Hardly felt a thing. That's important for anyone who has a weak stomach. We arrived at the ship around 3PM with sailing time at 4PM. We did this because we have learned not to arrive at 1PM when boarding first starts because everyone else is there at the same time. It took us all of 5 minutes to get on the ship. We had an inside cabin since I believed that we wouldn't spend much time in the cabin anyway, so why spend the extra money. There's plenty to spend on in the casino, the specialty restaurants, the photos, extra tips for excellent service, excursions, etc., etc. Also, no light shines through in the mornings and one could sleep all day! That brings up another point, the ship is incredibly quiet. We never heard a door slam or any noise from a next door cabin. Not even the toilets flushing. Hmmm...maybe everyone waited till we were out of the room later in the morning? The ship, like the Dawn, is absolutely beautiful. And pretty much laid out the same way. The food was excellent especially in the specialty restaurants. The buffets were different every day and had excellent food. We were stuffed from morning till night. Service was excellent from the waiters to the room staff. One thing though, if you eat in the big dining rooms, the service can be slow. So be prepared and relax. It's not the end of the world. Entertainment was once again outstanding. From Dave Naster the comedian to all of the Jean Ryan dancers and singers. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Paul Baya, the cruise director and his staff do an excellent job. We love the freestyle program because we eat when we want, where we want, what we want. Not everyone likes it this way because they like set times, at a set table, with the same people. Then this is not the cruise line for you. If you want flexibility, great food and service, a beautiful ship, lots of activities, the Jewel can't be beat. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
We arrived at the pier around 1 pm. Since this was an 11 day sailing we purchased the 1 month parking pass for $180.00. We checked in our luggage and headed inside the terminal. We were greeted with extremely long lines which were at a ... Read More
We arrived at the pier around 1 pm. Since this was an 11 day sailing we purchased the 1 month parking pass for $180.00. We checked in our luggage and headed inside the terminal. We were greeted with extremely long lines which were at a complete standstill. We felt the entire process was a mess and needs major improvement. Our entire time on line was over an hour. We boarded the ship and of course we amazed by how beautiful and colorful everything was. Not the drab colors we had always been use to. You cannot get a full appreciation of the colors from pictures but really have to see for yourself on board the ship. We took many pictures around the ship but the true richness of the different colors could not be captured as with the human eye. Even as we walked around during the entire cruise we noticed everything being scrubbed down and cleaned day and night inside and out. Amazing. We were VERY impressed by the hand sanitizers at the entrance of every restaurant. Never saw that before. We even were served by employees wearing gloves in the buffet which is also a great idea to prevent germs from being transferred. NCL gets an A+ for cleanliness and hygienic practices. The Mini-Suite cabin was more than roomy enough for the both of us. It was the nicest cabin we had sailed in by far. Comfortable sized balcony. I could even stretch my legs out with no problem (I'm 6'3"). Perfect size for two people. We were concerned that the service provided would be below par compared to what we had come to expect from other lines, since the tips are automatically charged to your account. NOT. We found the service to be wonderful with very few errors made by the servers. The thing that we noticed was the employees demeanor seemed much more pleasant all around the ship. It's obvious that they enjoy working for NCL and enjoy the "Free Style" system. Much less stressful working conditions compared to other cruise lines. We felt the Concierge service is really only valuable if you are in a Penthouse cabin or above. I compared the Mini Suite category to the ugly stepchild of the suite family. Always watching the other suite categories getting perks we can't get. The only thing we used Concierge for was making all our reservations when we boarded the ship. We could have done this ourselves. That was it. We ate in Le Bistro and Cagney's exclusively for the entire 11 days. The food, service and ambience were superior. A special mention goes to Elena in Cagney's and Melvin Lobo, the Assistant Maitre D' in Le Bistro. Melvin deserves a promotion. He was wonderful and extremely friendly and became a FRIEND to us. Special mention goes to the entertainment on board. Paul Baya was great and always entertaining. The shows were far superior compared to anything we have witnesses on any other cruise line. The Jean Ann Ryan Company were fabulous. We found ourselves watching both shows when they were performing. They are NOT to be missed. In closing I want to say a special thank you to Hotel Director Klaus Lugmaier. We had a small issue which came to his attention during the cruise. He went out of his way to listen to our concerns and genuinely cared about our opinions. He honestly turned a great cruise into the most enjoyable cruise we have ever taken. We had never met anyone who cared so much about his guests. We certainly intend to sail with NCL again and again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
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
Sail Date: August 2006
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 15th. We have sailed on several cruise lines, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL. We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary and the fact that it left ... Read More
This was my 18th cruise and my husband's 15th. We have sailed on several cruise lines, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America, and NCL. We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary and the fact that it left from New York. We had never seen this part of the country before and were excited about seeing it. We also wanted to extend our stay in New York. This we did on our own -- not through the cruise line. We made our own air arrangements and purchased NCL's transfer to the Pier. This went as expected. An NCL Representative was in the baggage area at the airport and directed us to our bus which we took to the pier. Because we were NCL Latitude Members we were directed to the front of the line. We were on the ship within an hour and a half after arriving at the airport. This was great. We were on the ship by 12:30 p.m. Our room was not ready and would not be until 2:00 p.m. so we headed for the buffet along with the other passengers. The downfall of not having our room ready was that we had to carry around our carry-on luggage with us until the room was ready. At 2:00 p.m. though the doors opened and we were allowed to our room. We immediately met our room stewards and within minutes they had our luggage to us. We had a balcony room and it was typical of most ships. It was really nice to have the separate shower and toilet areas. If you have not experienced this, there are glass doors that close off the shower and the toilet from the sink area. We did find the room to lack cupboard and shelf space though. Especially near the vanity area and in the bathroom. Since there were only the two of us we managed. Having more than two would have been a problem though. The closet space was sufficient as well. The ship was decorated with bright colors. More so than we had experienced on other ships. Our Cruise Director was great. On the first day he told us that there were 3 banks of elevators. You could tell where you were at on the ship by the pictures hanging near the elevators. If there was a picture of flowers you were near the front of the ship. Pictures of Marilyn Monroe indicated you were mid-ship, and pictures of a sunset let you know you were at the stern. We found this to be very helpful throughout the week. We were disappointed that you had to pay a surcharge to use the indoor pool. It was in the SPA Area. I saw it the day I had a massage --it was small, but nonetheless, I shouldn't have to pay extra to use it. The ship was very clean. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. The entertainment was quite good. More variety then we have had on other ships and the on-board singers and dancers were very good. We have pros and cons on the Freestyle dining. We liked being able to go to dinner whenever we wanted, but we missed being seated with others. Every night we would ask to be seated with others and only about half of the time were we. This made it difficult to meet others on-board and develop any friendships. The service in the dining rooms was a little slower than we had experienced on other ships but we related it to the Freestyle Dining. When everyone comes in at one time and sits at assigned tables all the appetizer, soup, etc. gets served to all tables at the same time. With Freestyle one table may be eating appetizers and the other is eating their main entree. This means the server has to be jumping all over to keep up with everything. There was no time to personalize with the servers. This we missed. We found the food to be only fair and not much variety. We talked to others that had paid for the speciality restaurants and they were pleased. We, however, feel that we have already paid for top quality food and service and should not have to pay additional to receive it. On Royal Caribbean they have speciality restaurants, but the quality of their food in the main dining rooms is so good there is no reason, other than to maybe celebrate a special occasion, to even want to go into or pay the surcharge for the speciality restaurant. This was our biggest complaint. The menu needs more variety and food quality improved. As for having to wait to get into the dining room, this was never a problem for us as we are early eaters. We would usually arrive about 15 minutes after the doors opened and we could get right in. If you wait until 7:00 p.m. or so though you may have to wait. We enjoyed all the ports. Since we are seasoned cruisers, we are comfortable booking shore excursions on-line outside the cruise line. For the ones we did book with the cruise line though everything went well. Commendations for NCL on their on-board booking program. Before leaving we already had a Hawaii cruise booked on NCL for January. While on-board we met with their Cruise Consultant and she wound up saving us another $600 by canceling the first reservation and booking with her. We also got an upgrade in our cabin. Even though we were not happy with the Freestyle Dining and the food quality on the Dawn we figured we could use the additional money we saved to visit the speciality restaurants on the Hawaii cruise if need be and decided we would give the Freestyle Cruising another chance before we write if off entirely. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Lets us begin: When we got to NY everything was fine with the organization of checking in to the ship. The only positive thing about this cruise was knowing that we would be back home in 7 days. Once myself, my wife, and child (2 yrs ... Read More
Lets us begin: When we got to NY everything was fine with the organization of checking in to the ship. The only positive thing about this cruise was knowing that we would be back home in 7 days. Once myself, my wife, and child (2 yrs old) were allowed into the stateroom we had noticed that the fridge was loaded up with beverages (soda, and liquor) which we wouldn't use. Please note that on our cruise with Celebrity, a fridge was placed in our room upon our request, completely empty, allowing us to utilize it as we wished. I asked the room steward if he could remove the items, so I can use this for our son's food and milk and also some of our own beverages and he said, sure I will do this, but my shift doesn't begin until 6pm. I was like are you kidding me?? This was the week that the old Hurricane Ernesto was leaving the area. The Captain, genius that he was, thought we still can go to Martha's Vineyard and use tender boats. We went there on Sunday morning and the waves were 20 feet high with winds above 50 mph. He didn't know that would be like this when we got there with all of the GPS information? So an announcement came over the loud speaker to say we would not be able to see the city and we will continue to Halifax, NS. So now we have two sea days instead of reversing the itinerary or staying two days in another city for the problems we have had so far. We arrived in Halifax, NS and took a tour and that was a non-event. On Wednesday, before we could arrive in Bar Harbor, ME we had to go thru US Immigration, which we arrived around 8am and couldn't get off the ship for about 2 1/2 hrs because from what we heard Immigration got to the ship late and there was one person that caused us to be backed up on the ship waiting for a stamp to get off. The line was from the lounge all the day down the whole length of the ship. The tender boats also were running late so we didn't get ashore until around 10am. On Thursday we were in Boston and since there was no tender boats we walked off the ship and took a bus ride booked with NCL to Quincy Market. The cost was $12.00 a person, but we had to wait until the majority of the bus was full and there was no A/C on in the bus, and the bus driver was too busy giving us a history lesson instead of trying to make us feel comfortable. The rest of the day was great as we were far away from the ship as possible. On Friday we were supposed to be in Newport, RI and we arrived there right on time at 9am but we didn't get clearance until around 1130am so we only had from noon-5 to look around due to problems with the tender boat again and local clearance. I spoke to a customer care person on deck 7 and they said since it's the first time that the Dawn has done this route there would be problems. I said to my wife that is not my problem and we were paying the same rate no matter when we go. I then spoke to and filed a complaint with Carolina C. on Sept 8th, 2006 who is the front office manager and she took all of my situations and suggestion down, but what was the outcome? Also here are some other items that were wrong or went wrong on this horrible cruise considering RCCL and Celebrity wer excellent compared to this cruise: *Golf on the top level wasn't open to the public and there were no golf clubs around to have fun with. *No ping pong or basketball ball around. *In order to play Trivia or Bingo they were always held in a smoking lounge and I don't want to bring my toddler son in to a smoking lounge let alone my family when they could have used a non smoking one. * No activities on the sea day and the sea day we had due to skipping Martha's Vineyard. * You have to reserve your specialty restaurant early in the cruise otherwise you will never get a reservation or seat until 830pm. * We took this for freestyling but even when my family wanted to eat at 7pm there was lines up to 40 minutes long. When we were on RCCL yes we had to eat at either 630pm or 830pm but at least you knew you would eat at that time and not have to wait. * The service in the room was horrible and the signs outside the door was useless as they only make up your room once and remember there shift doesn't start until 6pm for turning down your room. * The kids program is excellent and Erin was the greatest with our son. * Leaving the ship we took advantage of express checkout but it wasn't express as everyone was getting off before us anyways and taking the elevator down to level 4 even though there was no announcement. * No priorities for children. What I mean in this statement is this cruise had alot of people older than 55 and people in wheel chairs had priority on the tender boats and skipping to the front of lines, but we had a child who as people know doesn't like to sit for more than 5 minutes but we paid the same as other people and they are like you will have to wait as you're not a VIP member? This was crazy. * My wife requested extra hand towels from the room attendant but he said they don't have any more? * I asked for Bananas on Wednesday for my son but on level 12 (Garden Cafe) they said they were out. How can they be out if they were never on display and you had to ask for them? When I went to get a drink on Deck 12 poolside there were plenty of bananas for mixed drinks though. * On Friday I asked for chocolate ice cream and they ran out of that as well? Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Lets us begin: When we got to NY everything was fine with the organization of checking in to the ship. The only positive thing about this cruise was knowing that we would be back home in 7 days. Once myself my wife and child(2 yrs old)were ... Read More
Lets us begin: When we got to NY everything was fine with the organization of checking in to the ship. The only positive thing about this cruise was knowing that we would be back home in 7 days. Once myself my wife and child(2 yrs old)were allowed into the state we had noticed that the fridge was loaded up with beverages (soda, and liquor)which we wouldn't use. Please note that on our cruise with Celebrity a fridge was placed in our room upon our request completely empty, allowing us to utilize it as we wished. I asked the room steward if he could remove the items, so I can use this for our son's food and milk and also some of our own beverages and he said sure I will do this but my shift doesn't begin until 6pm. I was like are you kidding me?? This was the week that the old hurricane Ernesto was leaving the area. The captain genius that he was thought we still can go to Martha's Vineyard and use tender boats. We went there on Sunday morning and the waves were 20 feet high with winds above 50 mph. He didn't know that would be like this when we got there with all of the GPS information? So an announcement came over the loud speaker to say we would not be able to see the city and we will continue to Halifax, NS. So now we have two sea days instead of reversing the itinerary or staying two days in another city for the problems we have had so far. We arrived in Halifax, NS and took a tour and that was a non event. On Wednesday before we could arrive in Bar Harbor, ME we had to go through US Immigration, which we arrived around 8am and couldn't get off the ship for about 2 1/2 hrs because from what we heard Immigration got to the ship late and there was one person that caused us to be backed up on the ship waiting for a stamp to get off. The line was from the lounge all the day down the whole length of the ship. The tender boats also were running late so we didn't get ashore until around 10am. On Thursday we were in Boston and since there was no tender boats we walked off the ship and took a bus ride booked with NCL to Quincy Market. The cost was $12.00 a person but we had to wait until the majority of the bus was full and there was no A/C on in the bus and the bus driver was too busy giving us a history lesson instead of trying to make us feel comfortable. The rest of the day was great as we were far away from the ship as possible. On Friday we were supposed to be in Newport, RI and we arrived there right on time at 9am but we didn't get clearance until around 1130am so we only had from noon-5 to look around due to problems with the tender boat again and local clearance. I spoke to a customer care person on deck 7 and they said since its the first time that the Dawn has done this route there would be problems. I said to my wife that is not my problem and we were paying the same rate no matter when we go. I than spoke to and filed a complaint with Carolina Clavijo on Sept 8th, 2006 who is the front office manager and she took all of my situations and suggestion down but what was the outcome? Also here are some other items that were wrong or went wrong on this horrible cruise considering RCCL and Celebrity was excellent compared to this cruise: *Golf on the top level wasn't open to the public and there were no golf clubs around to have fun with. *No ping pong or basketball ball around *In order to play trivia or Bingo they were always held in a smoking lounge and I don't want to bring my toddler son in to a smoking lounge let alone my family when they could have used a non smoking one. * No activities on the sea day and the sea day we had due to skipping Martha's Vineyard * You have to reserve your specialty restaurant early in the cruise otherwise you will never get a reservation or seat until 830pm. * We took this for freestyling but even when my family wanted to eat at 7pm there was lines up to 40 minutes long. When we were on RCCL yes we had to eat at either 630pm or 830pm but at least you knew you would eat at that time and not have to wait. * The service in the room was horrible and the signs outside the door was useless as they only make up your room once and remember there shift doesn't start until 6pm for turning down your room. * The kids program is excellent and Erin was the greatest with our son. * Leaving the ship we took advantage of express checkout but it wasn't express as everyone was getting off before us anyway and taking the elevator down to level 4 even though there was no announcement. * No priorities for children. What I mean in this statement is this cruise had alot of people older than 55 and people in wheel chairs had priority on the tender boats and skipping to the front of lines but we had a child who as people know doesn't like to sit for more than 5 minutes but we paid the same as other people and they are like you will have to wait as your not a VIP member? This was crazy. * My wife requested extra hand towels from the room attendant but he said they don't have any more? * I asked for Bananas on Wednesday for my son but on level 12 (Garden Cafe) they said they were out. How can they be out if they were never on display and you had to ask for them? When I went to get a drink on Deck 12 poolside there were plenty of bananas for mixed drinks though. * On Friday I asked for chocolate ice cream and they ran out of that as well? Read Less
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