44 Norwegian Jewel Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

The cruise was very good. Food was excellent as was the choice of eating places. Crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Cabin was adequate although it is a long time since I have seen such an old fashioned television! The shore ... Read More
The cruise was very good. Food was excellent as was the choice of eating places. Crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Cabin was adequate although it is a long time since I have seen such an old fashioned television! The shore excursions were excellent; good range to choose from and very well conducted. What then was wrong? In the cabin, there were no instructions on use of the TV (i.e.channel selection) or of the telephone. No tannoy in the cabin so ships announcements were not received there. Also the wide range of eating places was not well advertised in the cabins; sample menus available in the cabin would have made selection of where to eat so much more relaxed and enjoyable. In the public areas there were few, in fact no places to go to quietly relax with a drink or a coffee. Usually there were only two venues open during the day (unless you wanted to be out on deck). These are the Java Cafe and The Spinnaker Lounge. However these were mostly taken over for activities, demonstrations etc and no place for a quiet sit down with refreshment. The Java Cafe also seemed a particularly strange place for entertainment by small groups or singers perched on a stairway balcony and completely blocking the stairs. Health and safety? Despite this use of these venues we found little to do during the days at sea, far less choice and interest than we have found on previous cruises. Some of the entertainment was good. But an item that the entertainment crew called Fountains was appalling. Despite the emphasis on health and hygiene to the extent of discouraging a friendly handshake, the act involved 7 or 8 crew members spitting out water at one another! Hypocrisy! Another so called comedian seemed to think jokes about illness and injury (including 9/11) were amusing. Very bad taste. It is one thing to make light of a situation in which you find yourself but another completely to generally make jokes about these things. An Irish singer/raconteur, a balancing act and a ventriloquist were each very good so it wasn't all bad. Good in parts therefore and could be so much better if there was more attention to detail and to coordination. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Ship: The Jewel holds 2376 passengers and 1089 crew. I like Norwegian's brightly colored decor on their ships. This is the size ship I prefer to cruise on. Activities: Since my sister-in-law and I both scrapbook, we enjoyed the ... Read More
Ship: The Jewel holds 2376 passengers and 1089 crew. I like Norwegian's brightly colored decor on their ships. This is the size ship I prefer to cruise on. Activities: Since my sister-in-law and I both scrapbook, we enjoyed the craft classes that were offered. Service: After a bad experience on the NCL Gem at Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised with the attitude and friendliness of the staff. Stateroom: We had a balcony and its the only way to cruise! Our cabin looked like it could have used some refurbishing, however. The showers on NCL ships are the best. Roomy with lots of hot water. Plenty of storage room, too. On four prior NCL cruises, we found a Mr. Coffee in our cabin. How wonderful to have fresh brewed coffee when you wake up! The Jewel, however, just had a pot to heat hot water. Instant coffee just doesn't make it! You don't automatically get bathrobes anymore. We had to ask for them. No mints on the pillow at night, either. Our cabin steward, Marlon, was just wonderful and took very good care of us. Dining: Well, we only had lobster offered once and on the first night of the cruise which I thought was odd. The food was good with a couple of things outstanding. Be sure to order the crab patty appetizer and the salmon on the alternate menu. Don't look for any shrimp cocktails, they're history. They weren't even offered once. Also, no escargot, either. I think NCL does a good job with their breakfast and lunch buffets and its really nice to have the Blue Lagoon (open 24 hours a day) available. On our dinner menus we told to ask about the regional specialty entree. It was certainly not for the region we were travelling in as it was tacos, burritos, etc. Certainly nothing reflecting Canada or New England. Entertainment: Absolutely the BEST entertainment on any cruise ship I have been on!!! After our first stop in Sydney, a local group, the Cape Breton Trio, was invited on board to perform a local folklore for us. They were very good. Went to see Kenny Byrd's (ventriloquist) show. I didn't expect much, but was really surprised at how funny it was. The absolute best ever shows were Incanto and Le Cirque Bijou. WOW! The shows featured Alesia and Massimo, who were superb. If you don't care about your itinerary, book this ship for the shows! Ports: We both liked our tour to Peggy's Cove from Halifax the best, but our other tours were good, too. The only problem with tours, however, is that you never seem to have enough time to explore the area and take pictures. In Halifax, they have a pink bus that is free for sightseeing right from the port. Disembarkation: We carried off our own bags. I certainly like this better than giving up my luggage the night before. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background Info: My wife and I are fifty and took this cruise out of Manhattan for our Anniversary. We are middle (maybe upper middle) class family and have traveled. We have stayed in motels/hotels/resorts/very nice hotels. We eat out ... Read More
Background Info: My wife and I are fifty and took this cruise out of Manhattan for our Anniversary. We are middle (maybe upper middle) class family and have traveled. We have stayed in motels/hotels/resorts/very nice hotels. We eat out often and have been to some very nice restaurants in the past. This was our third cruise in a twenty year time span. Hotel Info: We stayed in Manhattan prior and post cruise. That I will leave up to you and your needs in accommodations, Manhattan can have very pricey rooms. I like to arrive early and leave late so plane problems do not make me miss the boat (and vice versa). Ship Info: WE took the NCL Jewel Nova Scotia cruise in October to see the fall foliage. We had a balcony room (10040) on the starboard side (the boat left in the afternoon giving us a great view of the Statue of Liberty from our room. On return in the early morning the other side had a night view from their room (But you can always go up on deck). Activities: The Fall foliage tour was a bust. The leaves had not turned and the cruise ports are boring without it. Hint: Next time I will wait and check the internet maps, when I see the leaves have changed we can hop a plane and take a ground tour or drive. Service: I hate to say it but the service on NCL was really really BAD. I can't say the crew was rude, they always say please, thank you, Sir, Madame. But getting them to do it with a smile. it's more of an attitude. I got the impression the crew is not happy with their jobs. About half 50/50, give poor (slow) service or look unhappy. The other half are fine, and occasional bad service can be over looked, but 50/50 does not come close to cutting it. Embarkation/ Disembarkation: Getting on was fine, we waited in line about half an hour but getting off was a mess, I felt like they were throwing us out with the bath water. No they did throw us out. This might be the N.Y. Port Authority area but it still reflects on NCL. Leave extra time (over two hours) to get off the ship, get your own bag (no help), and catch a cab. It was sad to watch the older passengers trying to haul one or two big suit cases three blocks and then have to cross a busy N.Y. intersection with construction going on all over the place. Thanks NCL, the last impressions are the lasting ones. Stateroom: The ship is newer and the room is quite nice, small (O.K. real small) but nice. Not spotless clean (crew again ) but fine. For a Ship designed in the 21st century to have a tube T.V. (not flat panel) and to have 7 channels of programming is beyond poor. You might say people do not go on a cruise to watch T.V. But what if you have children or get ill and have to stay in the room or as we did, have bad weather and miss a port leaving you with an extra day at sea. HINT: Bring your own bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, lotion. The ship either does not provide it or its really cheap quality. The internet is wiifi (75 cents a minute.no.. not a miss print a minute) unless you bring your own Ethernet cable (how many people travel with their own cable!) Dining: I was going to call the food Home Town Buffet with a Waiter, but Home Town Buffet is not that bad and you never see the waiter. Just poor, really sad, a disappointment. Too be fare to the cook (chief um no cook) to feed two thousand people three times a day more or less at the same time is a big order. I would say its more NCLs fault for supplying low quality, low grade food. HINT: All the food comes from the same kitchen, does not matter where you dine. Same quality and same service, I observed the same person as my waiter in the dining room one day, cleaning up on the buffet deck the next. Entertainment: The show and music performances on the ship were great. In fact I was surprised by how good it was. I am also glad I have something good to say as this review is getting to be a downer (waaaaa). HINT: This is where you have to look at the average age of the passengers. The cruise director knows in advance the age and picks the entertainment to match. I'm sure the D.J. did not want to play that music, he was told what to play (I hope). Summary: So anyone going on a cruise looking for an all inclusive trip, dont look at NCL. From before you even get on they try to nickel and dime you to pay extra for everything. It just gets old after seven days (would you like your coffee in the collectors cup only $5.95 extra). One review I read before the trip had the right attitude. She said that her suite was great and they ate every meal in the pay extra restaurant and it was a great cruise and the service was just the best. It's just the person who chooses to stay in a balcony room and does not want to pay extra at every meal have to suck it up. As long as you know before you go..then you can't complain. If you are looking for a moving hotel room that has a great and I mean great view (O.K. it's a small small moving room), ours came out to be $430 a night, in Hawaii you might get that hotel room, in Halifax Nova Scotia you could get the whole hotel floor, then this cruise might be for you. To me the problem is that you need accountants involved i n your business decisions. NCL though is run by accountants and accountants don't make the best PR decisions, so you feel nicked and dimed. I will try another cruise line next time. Hint: Be careful when you are comparing prices between cruise lines, NCL charges a mandatory tip, not only on your stateroom, also on your bar bill, every time you get a beer a tip is included, mandatory. Also when you go to the pay extra restaurant, dont think you can order whatever you want off the menu, the good stuff is another extra/extra charge. So it all adds up and can make the cruise line that seemed to cost more at face value be about the same price. 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Sail Date October 2011
Fodd was good and plentiful. The entertainment was superb. Embarkation was a breeze. Ken the cruise director was fantastic, always directing a fun time for all on the cruise. Scott, his assistant cruise director, was high energy and a ... Read More
Fodd was good and plentiful. The entertainment was superb. Embarkation was a breeze. Ken the cruise director was fantastic, always directing a fun time for all on the cruise. Scott, his assistant cruise director, was high energy and a quick wit. I know that this cruise to Canada and New England would be great as Kevin Sheehan, the CEO for Norwegian, was on the cruise with his wife and daughter on vacation. Where to begin. The entertainment. Rosie, of Fire and Ice, is a tremendous singer, doing reviews of Tina Turner, MoTown, Michael Jackson and Soul Train. What a voice. David Naster, is a veteran comedian, with many laughs and some profound insights. Modal Magic-great singers and music. Incanto-what great acrobats. Manniso and Alessia. The NCL singers and dancers-what great shows and also great acrobats especially at the last night's show, Le Cirque Bijou. Kenny Byrd a great ventroloquist. Harry O'Donoghue a great Irish story teller, comedian and singer. The happy action was on the ship, the ports in Canada and New England were so-so Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Had a terrific time. This was my 2nd time on the Jewel (first was the Dover-NYC t/a in 9/09). And the ship still looks great and has to have the friendliest crew at sea. Forget any negative remarks you've read about service being bad ... Read More
Had a terrific time. This was my 2nd time on the Jewel (first was the Dover-NYC t/a in 9/09). And the ship still looks great and has to have the friendliest crew at sea. Forget any negative remarks you've read about service being bad due to Freestyle cruising. The staff works their tails off and are as friendly as can be. They always made sure that you were happy with your selection and wanted to know if there was anything else they could bring you. I had all of my dinners at the Azura (mid-ship) restaurant where you could wear shorts (it said so in the Freestyle Daily dress code). I had the same wait team every night. I first met them at the boarding day lunch in the Tsar's Palace dining room. Later that evening it turned out they were my wait team at Azura. They were so terrific I made a point of asking for them from then on and did I ever feel spoiled! The new menu was very good and I think I only ordered an entree twice from the Favorite Selections. That was the salmon fillet which was excellent and the rib eye which was okay (I should have asked for it medium instead of rare). I also ordered spaghetti but as a side. I had it done all 3 ways (carbonara, marinara, and bolognese) and they were all excellent. I would have liked to have tried the pork tenderloin medallions. They looked great. From the Signature Specialties I would say my favorites were the Blackened Louisiana Red Snapper with gumbo; Eggplant Parmesan; and the Grilled Pork Chop. I didn't dine in any of the specialty restaurants for dinner. I did book the Best of All luncheon at Le Bistro.The Best of All luncheon at Le Bistro is an introduction to the various specialty restaurants on the Jewel. For $15. per person you order some selections from the menu and the rest are served buffet style. I had a nice meal. All of the hot selections chosen from the menu were excellent. I enjoyed the crab cakes (could have been larger); the escargots (probably the best I've ever had); the beef tenderloin (first one came out overcooked and too salty; the 2nd was perfect). From the buffet I found the chowder excellent (but I would have preferred if that was brought to the table to avoid accidents) as well as the sushi, caesar salad, tomato with mozzarella; and all of the desserts. What I did not think looked appetizing at all were the hot selections on the buffet. I would have preferred if they were cooked to order. However, I had more than my fill from what I did eat so no real complaints. All of the small sizes added up to one pretty large lunch. And I didn't indulge half the way others did.The other dining spot that got my "business" a lot was the Blue Lagoon. I'm gonna miss those chicken wings, I tell you. And that brownie sundae is to die for, although it is only available til 5 pm. It needs to be added to the evening menu. Service there was always friendly. I even had breakfast there when the mdr was already shut for breakfast and I still wanted a hot breakfast served to me. I wish that could be 24/7 like on the Epic but I guess the galley isn't set up for it. Only ate at the Garden Cafe twice (for lunch). Once I had a few Chinese selections which were just okay. But the other lunch was fantastic, consisting of marinated skirt steak sliced at the buffet, lemon pepper rotisserie chicken and caesar salad. I could eat that every day.But enough about food because the feature of the ship that really had me going was the entertainment. There was so much to do and see that sometimes dinner had to be wedged in an that was the beauty of Freestyle cruising. First, there is the team of Fire & Ice from Barbados. Rosie, the vocalist, really has the ship rocking (in a good way). I saw them perform a variety of music styles in the Fyzz Lounge, a Motwon tribute in the Atrium, a show with the ship's orchestra in the Spinnaker Lounge saluting Tina Turner (don't miss this one folks) and another show in the Spinnaker devouted to soul. I skipped the Michael Jackson tribute because I think it conflicted with something else. Then there's a Harmony Duo which is a pianist and violinist who play both pop tunes and classical. They usually played in the Atrium. I noticed on the first evening of the cruise there was some polite applause after each song. By the end of the cruise the applause grew larger and more often and their following grew and people appreciated the music. They were receiving loads of requests. In addition to these 2 steady acts there were others who performed in lounges. Then there were the main shows in the Stardust Theatre. I don't recall the last time I saw so many shows in a ship's theatre but it probably was an NCL cruise, since I am convinced they are tops when it comes to booking shows. I saw the production show "Band on the Run", "Incanto", an adage balancing act consisting of a couple who formerly performed at the Lido de Paris (the bodies on the both of them were not to be believed), a very funny ventriloquist, Kenny Byrd(who was also very friendly and always stopped to have a chat) and Le Cirque Bijou, which is NCL's version of Cirque du Soleil. I had already seen this show 2 years ago but the aerial acts make it worth seeing again, especially since the adage act were featured (woof!). The ship's orchestra treated us one evening to a set of dixieland and jazz in Bar City, which was terrific. I could go on but this give you an idea of the variety and the high level of entertainment. When I took my first cruise, on the Norway, back in 1997 I was riding a bus to the ship and set next to this sweet, elderly lady. I asked her why she chose the NCL and she said it was because she felt it offered the finest entertainment at sea and I have to agree with her.I attended 2 of the Martini tastings. There were 4 altogether, but I only attended the 2 held during the sea days. I'd say you definitely get your $15. worth, although on the Epic you did get 1 extra bonus martini at each tasting. Marcelo, the bartender at Bar City was the host and he is a very funny and charming fellow.The cruise itself turned out to be the least appealing feature. We actually missed the port of Saint John, New Brunswick. This after having missed St. John's, Newfoundland 2 years earlier on the same ship. And I was on a lounger in the spa both times when I noticed the ship stopped heading to port and made a turn. I mean, talk about your deja vu! Having been to Saint John, NB many times, I can say we really didn't miss anything and getting the $12. and change for the port charge credited to my account more than made up for it. Sydney turned out to be my favorite stop. The weather was cloudy in the am and rainy in the pm, but the independent tour I took through Don Blackwood was amazing. The tour last 8 hours and took us along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton and then along Bras d'Or Lake to Baddeck,home of Alexander Graham Bell. The fall foliage was starting so we saw a bit of color. We also spotted about 6 bald eagles which was more than I saw in Alaska. We also spotted a moose but it was already hunted and lying in the back of a pick-up truck. Our guide (Richard Fogarty - a real treasure) explained to us that the moose destroy trees by eating from the tops of them which prevents them from growing. Cape Breton has some breathtaking views, similar to the ones you see on Pacific Coast Highway 1 in California. This tour made it all the more interesting. We also stopped at the Sea Gull for lunch, a family owned and run restaurant which features homemade seafood chowder. A large bowl with a Diet Coke cost a whopping $10. Halifax was nasty and since I've been there many times, I decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the spa. In fact, the weather was so bad during most of the cruise that I figured the cost of the spa pass $119. was a better investment than in a balcony (I had an inside that was more than sufficient). Portland Maine treated us to sunny skies but very chilly temperatures. The sea day back was the one truly outstanding say during the cruise and I was glad to bet back to some nice weather here in NYC.Speaking of my inside cabin, I have to say that the one crew member who could have been a bit better was my cabin steward. He kept forgetting to empty the waste basket. I could live with that except there was a banana peel which should have been removed sooner. Nothing earth shattering but I was surprised even after I reminded him, that it went untouched again.One more note on the entertainment. The Dancing with the Jewel Stars show done up in the Spinnaker was a riot. It's more fun to see it live but you can also catch it on the in-cabin tv for several days. I don't think NCL is the only line featuring this but it's definitely something worth seeing I realized that I didn't mention anything about embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation was a breeze. It took a while to get to the pier because the traffic was a little crowded with the number of ships in port. But once my cab got to the pier, my luggage was taken quickly, I was inside the terminal and there was no line to get thru security and hardly anyone ahead of me at the Latitudes check-in. I was handed a boarding card (#8) but by the time I finished checking in and signing up for the spa pass they already called the # and announced all #'s were permitted to board so I really didn't wait at all. This was at 11:30 am. I just waited around in the Atrium for 30 minutes until the Tsar's Palace opened for lunch.Disembarkation was a bit more difficult. I went for breakfast at the Tsar's Palace and then returned to my cabin. They wanted everyone out of their cabins by 9 am. They had started the express disembarkation around 8 am. My color luggage tag (tan) was called at 8:50. When I got to the Atrium there was a line to leave so I sat and waited. The line moved in few minutes so I left, thinking things were moving. However, once I got off the gangway there was a very long line to get into the terminal building. Plus you need to walk to the far end of the terminal. You then need to take an escalator down one flight to get to the luggage area and then get in line for customs. Lastly, there is quite a long walk to the 12th Avenue exit, which worsens if you have more than 1 piece of luggage, even with wheels.One thing I didn't expect, at first, was to have a bill of over $300. Oh, there were no mistakes, and no, I didn't go out on a tear. But the spa pass was $119. Daily service charge came to $84. So just these 2 charges came to over $200. So my drinks and incidentals were only about $100. which is okay for a 7 day cruise. The average drink price with tip came to $6.50 which is pretty reasonable. On top of this I tipped my wait team an additional $30. since they did a great job.So, as you can see, I really love this ship and after 2 horrible cruises on other NCL cruises I was glad to see that I made the right decision in giving the Jewel another try. It builds my confidence to know this so I can return to the other ships on NCL I also enjoyed, such as the Spirit and the Gem. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was our 9th cruise, 4th on NCL. Cruising out of New York gave some time to sight see prior to the cruise. The Jewel was a very nice ship. Embarkation and debarkation went without any problems. The ship was very clean and our ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise, 4th on NCL. Cruising out of New York gave some time to sight see prior to the cruise. The Jewel was a very nice ship. Embarkation and debarkation went without any problems. The ship was very clean and our stateroom was quite adequate with more storage the we needed. Rommel, our room steward, was the best we have ever had. The entertainment was second only to the Epic. Big Ken kept things moving and light. Big Ken, the CD, also sang very well. Captain Lars was a joy, great sense of humor. We enjoyed exercising and were a little disappointed that so many treadmills were out of order. Hope this is corrected in the future. We had great service throughout the ship, but the Tsars restaurant staff was great. All in all the food was only fair at best, but still we had plenty of choices. We ate at Cagney's and my steak was great. The ports was nice but not very exciting. The fall foliage was all still green. Portland and Halifax were very nice. Sidney had nothing much but a nice pub and Canadian beer. I must say this was a nice ship and I would be glad to sail on it again. Oops my wife eats veg and was disappointed that the meals were mostly pasta and not more creative Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Cruised on the NCL Jewel last week of September 2011. This was our first cruise to Canada/New England, and we had a great time. We love sailing with NCL and this was our first cruise on the Jewel for the Canada New England itinerary. ... Read More
Cruised on the NCL Jewel last week of September 2011. This was our first cruise to Canada/New England, and we had a great time. We love sailing with NCL and this was our first cruise on the Jewel for the Canada New England itinerary. We flew in to NYC on September 24th, into JFK airport. Found out after booking that NCL does not offer transportation from JFK - should have booked into La Guardia instead. Our plane was one hour late, so we were a little rushed getting to the ship - should have listened to the advise of flying in the day before the cruise. Luckily traffic was very light and our cab made it into the city with plenty of time ($45 flat fare into Manhattan + tolls and tip = $65) Traffic into Cruise terminal was terrible, it took us about 1/2 hour to reach the ship after we got to terminal. Embarkation was a breeze. We are latitude members having cruised on NCL many times before, so we were escorted to a special line with no waiting! We checked all our luggage at the entrance - should have kept our hand luggage with my husbands medications - so we proceeded to the buffet for a nice lunch while we waited for the staterooms to be ready, which happened at 2:00 pm promptly, EXCEPT of course for the hand luggage that had the meds, which was not delivered to our stateroom until after 5:30 PM!Leaving New York Harbor is a great experience. We went up to the sun deck on the deck 13 and had a great view of the Harbor, The DJ played patriotic songs, including God Bless America, and of course NEW YORK, NY as we passed by the Statue of Liberty. It was quite beautiful. The Jewel is a great ship, it is kept immaculately clean. All the common areas are updated and looking great. We found the entertainment to be very varied and having something for every taste. There is a nice small library, a card room, and many areas where you can relax. The Stardust theater is huge and very comfortable. The Spinnaker lounge is fabulous offering panoramic views. Our cabin was a mini-suite on deck 11 mid ship. The balcony was superb! The cabin was huge, bed was wonderful, and our bathroom even had a full sized tub! We had a fully stocked refrigerator, and a coffee maker. Our room steward was very attentive and made sure our room was made up and turn down service was offered every night. Food on the Jewel is plentiful and available at any time of day or night. The Buffet offers a variety of foods. We chose to sleep in most mornings and hit the breakfast buffet around 10:30 for brunch. They offer hot and cold choices, and we always took advantage of the made to order omelette stations, where they will cook your eggs to order. There are many choices for Dinner, but we dined at the Tsar Palace most days. One side of their menu has pretty standard choices that stay the same everyday, and the other side offers choices that change daily, including a daily Chef's special that is usually very good. On other cruises I have purchased the Soda card since I do not drink alcoholic beverages, but this time I chose the Bottled water special instead, which offered six one-liter bottles of water for $20. Drinks are available throughout the ship, and are paid with your room key depending on what you have, prices range from $5 to $10 depending on what you have, and always include tip. This itinerary has two days at sea, and stops in Sidney, Halifax, St John, and Portland. I will post reviews of these ports separately. Disembarkation was very easy for us as we carried out our own luggage, and were able to leave the ship at our leisure. There was a slight delay with Customs, but it cleared up within 15 minutes. We took a yellow cab to our Hotel in Times Square across the pier. All in all we had a great time on this cruise. We look forward to our next one! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background Information: My wife and I are in our mid 30's. My sister and her husband are in the late 20's and their daughter is almost 4. This is my 6th cruise and my wife's 5th. It was the first sailing for my sister and ... Read More
Background Information: My wife and I are in our mid 30's. My sister and her husband are in the late 20's and their daughter is almost 4. This is my 6th cruise and my wife's 5th. It was the first sailing for my sister and her family. Both families drove in to Queens and left our vehicles at my in laws (we live in Upstate NY and my sister is from RI). This is one of the best reasons to leave from NY for us. Embarkation: We have left from NY before and I have to say this was the easiest embarkation ever. No line as we got there around 11:15. My wife and I are Latitude members and were sent to a different line from our fellow party members. Did not matter since we both were finished at the same time with pre-boarding ritual and got on the boat at were able to walk on together. :) I had done my research before the cruise (almost to a sickening extent) on CC boards to find out all of the helpful hints for this ship. It definitely paid off and the advice of previous cruisers was helpful. Sail Away: We lucked out with weather and had a great sail away right past lady liberty. Activities: I have to say this is one area that I thought the ship was seriously lacking. ON one of the sea days my bro in law took out the daily activity sheet and showed me something quite funny. First the spacing on the sheet was ridiculous to make up room and make the page appear full. Secondly, they actually listed library open as an activity. That is sad . We usually go to the art auctions for the excitement and these were horrible as well. NO giveaways, only brought up expensive works and the speed at which the auction was conducted was horrendously slow. The art auctioneer was very knowledgable but needs to speed things up. They offererd free art to all that attend but not once was anything handed out. Ship could use more activities for sure Service: I found the service adequate. Room steward was awesome & did a great job Stateroom: Our room was fine and served its purpose. We spent hardly any time in the room. Dining: Before we left I read all of the dining reviews. I found the food to be decent. You can not expect 5 star cuisine on a lower priced cruise line. It is ridiculous to even think that going in. The buffet was good, the main dining room was above average and the specialty dining was decent. We only did the best of all brunch for the specialty restaurants. It was ok but nothing spectacular. Best thing about the food was the crepe station everynight right after dinner. Don't forget about the crepes. Kids Club: Our niece was in the Kids club and really liked it. She kep begging her mom to go there so I assumed she was having a good time. Entertainment: All of the shows were good. THE magician was kinda crappy, but that's what happens when you sit too close to the performance. Disembarkation: The crew screwed up a bit letting us off and it was poorly coordinated but all in all not too bad. I have been through worse. Where you get off in NYC is a little hectic but with good planning you will be all right. Summary: Great cruise. Halifax is a beautiful place. Portland is also one of my fave ports for this itinerary. The other 2 ports in Canada could have been there or not, did not make or break the trip. I would def do again, we all had a good time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We stayed in New York a few days before the cruise - what a GREAT city! Loved it. Need to go back! Central Park, Top of the Rock, open top bus tour, Lion King on Broadway, Time Square... Embarkation : Just OK. Reasonably quick. Our ... Read More
We stayed in New York a few days before the cruise - what a GREAT city! Loved it. Need to go back! Central Park, Top of the Rock, open top bus tour, Lion King on Broadway, Time Square... Embarkation : Just OK. Reasonably quick. Our 3rd NCL cruise so we were in the priority line - but so was everyone else! Something like 90% of passengers had sailed with NCL before, so also had priority boarding. Perhaps it would have been quicker in the other line... Sailing out of New York was awesome. Ship : Pretty much as we remembered it 3 years ago. Brightly colored carpets everywhere, nice stateroom and balcony. Food : Only OK. Service not great - we were only offered drinks ONCE in the restaurant! Also the main dining room were able to cope with special dietary requirement (gluten free), but the other restaurants weren't so good. We spent so much time trying to get hold of gluten free food outside the main restaurant we gave up trying. Would have been nice to have eaten somewhere else once in a while... such a shame when the Jewel has so many other eating options available. Entertainment : This has definitely improved. Saw a couple of great productions from the resident team, a good comedian and some acrobats in the main theatre. The pianist in the Champagne Bar area was fantastic with his Elton John, Beatles and request evenings - as was the guitarist. PORTS OF CALL: Sydney, Nova Scotia - Took NCLs Scenic Cabot Trail excursion. $139 for around 8 hrs sat on a coach - which included a 5 min stop for a photo, 15 mins to queue for a toilet, 30 mins in a Bikers Diner for soup and a DIY sandwich (NCLs excursion description very misleading here - thought we were going to be eating in the Keltic Lodge...) and finally 10 mins at the beach near the Keltic Lodge. Overcast weather didn't help here. Halifax, Nova Scotia - Spent the morning walking around the beatiful harbor and citadel in Halifax, then took NCLs afternoon tour to Peggy's Cove & Titanic Cemetery. This tour was half the price of the last one, and one hundred times better! Peggy's was beautiful, the Cemetery was moving, and our tour guide (an ex History Teacher) was fascinating, telling us all about 5 disasters which had impacted Halifax. An excellent day - and beautiful weather too :-) St John, Bay of Fundy - Problems mooring lead to us disembarking late. Had considered booking the Ride the Rapids tour direct with the operator. So glad we didn't, as we would have missed our time slot. Paid twice as much to do it with NCL instead. Overpriced - but we had a blast! And yes, you WILL get wet, no, SOAKED, so wear as little as possible!! Portland, Maine - Oh, how disappointing. It was soooo foggy, we couldn't tell if Portland was pretty or not... so we took a local bus ($10 return) to an out of town shopping mall. Nice, but would have liked to have SEEN something of Portland. Disembarkation : Sailing back into New York, was once again AWESOME! We decided to walk off with our own luggage after enjoying a leisurely breakfast overlooking Concorde located on the Intrepid on the adjacent pier - lovely :-) However, it was a big mistake to delay our departure as it was absolute chaos by the time we left, and probably took the best part of 3 hours to get to the taxi rank! Not a great ending to the cruise... but hey, at least we had another few days in New York. Pier 17, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall St, 9/11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island... A-MA-ZING :-) Summary : Would DEFINITELY go back to New York. But New England? Been there - don't need to go back. Probably won't be back on NCL either - destinations are getting more and more limited... Shame. NCL Jewel in the Baltic 3yrs ago, and NCL Sun in Alaska 4yrs ago were great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Do not stay on the 11th deck. You will be under the kids play area with the noise so bad you will have to talk louder or you will be under the buffet with carts being pushed over the tile floor or you will be under - you get the picture. ... Read More
Do not stay on the 11th deck. You will be under the kids play area with the noise so bad you will have to talk louder or you will be under the buffet with carts being pushed over the tile floor or you will be under - you get the picture. Make sure the only thing on the deck above you is sky or other cabins. If you do have any type of an issue the Ill-informed main desk personnel and their lack of ability/training make them inept in addressing or handling a problem. The Hotel Director, Bryan, on the other hand is the only one you want to deal with - sharp gent Having to push a plunger on a wall mounted dispenser for soap and shampoo is way too cheesy. We expected a bit more than toiletries being dispensed like a public rest room in an airport. We had to purchase facial soap; conditioner and body wash just to be able to bathe. Don't waste your money on the "upscale" restaurants. You will not have any different of a dining experience from the Dining Rooms with the exception of the menu. On other cruise ships when you pay $25/per person for the steak house you receive white table linens, your salad and dessert made at your table, etc., like an upscale restaurant should be. Not on his ship - you sit at a varnished wooden table. If you don't smoke the Casino is basically off limits. The good: Embarkation though the VIP check in, Cleanliness of the ship, Quality of the food, Professional courtesy shown by the staff (except front desk and night time supervisor), Disembarkation One last point and this seems to be on all the non-all inclusive cruise lines. Why does a Bud Light need to be $5.00? Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
About us: Husband and Wife - early 50's taking our 3rd cruise, first on NCL and first time in a suite - we had an SF Penthouse Aft suite on the 10th floor. Previous cruises were on RCL (ocean view stateroom) and CCL (aft balcony ... Read More
About us: Husband and Wife - early 50's taking our 3rd cruise, first on NCL and first time in a suite - we had an SF Penthouse Aft suite on the 10th floor. Previous cruises were on RCL (ocean view stateroom) and CCL (aft balcony cabin). We originally booked this cruise a year ago in a mini suite. In April a Penthouse Suite became available to we decided to upgrade ourselves. It was about $1200 more to do so, and in the grand scheme of things, it was worth it and afterall you only live once! Embarkation: We arrived by car service to the NY pier at about 11:30am. The porters were waiting and our luggage was taken right away and we were able to walk right into the terminal. Once inside, we were shown the line to wait on for VIP check in. This was painless, very quick and absolutely awesome. There were a few hundred people on line already waiting to check in - so this suite perk alone was well worth it!!! We were then brought into the VIP waiting area where there was cold/hot beverages, cookies and small sandwiches to pick on while waiting to board. After about 30 minutes the concierge, Ryan Rabe introduced himself to the group and said that he would be taking us on board to enjoy lunch in Cagney's in about 15 minutes. We were not able to drop off our carry-on luggage in the room prior - so we had to lug it with us. We did not yet meet our butler and that was the last time we saw the concierge except for sitting in Cagney's on his lap top during breakfast hours. Lunch at Cagney's was great and it is available to only Suite guests for both lunch and breakfast thru-out the cruise. We ordered the French dip w/fries (delish) and the Shrimp/Scallop dish (not so delish). By the time we finished our meals, our suite was ready - just about 2:00pm. (On a side note, if it wasn't for Cruise Critic, we would have never known about this daily suite perk). Suite Impression: Although it was great to be a Suite guest, I was a little disappointed with the size of the penthouse cabin. Don't get me wrong as it was very nice for 2 people - I just thought it would be a bit bigger than it was. The bed was more like a king size than a queen size in my opinion and it was comfortable for the most part. There was a nice flat screen TV on the wall in front of the bed, but below it was an area that was not cleaned...yet. We were in our room for about 15 minutes when our Butler; Yuremar, came in to introduce himself. He was there to remove the flower arrangement and the fruit bowl that was left by the previous PAX. He said he would be delivering a fresh arrangement as well as fresh fruit shortly and then told us to let him know if he can do anything for us. Just my 2 cents here...as I think a little time showing people around the suite would have been special (especially if this is your first time in a suite). For example, show us how to operate the coffee/espresso machine - we figured it out eventually though. Also tell us why we have a cordless phone on the vanity area (to use thru out the ship to reach either the butler or the concierge if needed). Yes, small details but again - if I didn't read it on Cruise Critic I wouldn't have known. I am pretty sure he is new - that is the impression he gave us. He did bring up the fact that he is always working and only gets off the ship when he can to call his son. I really don't think we needed to know that info. We work hard too all year long, and save so that we can have a nice vacation. Other than that, he was pleasant. Well back to the small details of the suite........We had a large bottle of water and champagne waiting for us in the ice bucket. We did exchange (thru the butler) the champagne for a bottle of their house red wine (Tisdale). We had a booklet listing all the DVD's that we could request during the week. There were no CD's though - but we did bring a few of our own. There was no pillow menu as stated in the suite perks listing also. There was a small clock on the bedside table, but we brought our own digital clock and am so glad we did (another recommendation from a Cruise Critic Member..thank you!!). The vanity area is equipped with a small chair and there was a blow dryer and a lighted make-up mirror (very dim). There was also Kleenex and a jar filled with cotton balls and Q-tips. The bathroom area is divided into 3 spaces (tub-shower combo/sink/toilet). There are elemis toiletries included; shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap. There was also a loofah mitt and bath salts in the tub area. Plenty of storage thru-out the cabin and nice closet space that opens on both sides as well. Also included were two safes for your valuables; two pairs of slippers and two thick terry cloth robes. Our luggage arrived to our cabin right after sail-away - and was brought into our suite instead of being left outside the door - I liked that! Food: We both enjoyed pretty much every meal we had. We ate in Azura (dinner), Tsars (lunch and dinner) (The Portobello feta/basil stuffed mushroom and the Gnocchi served with a Pumpkin Sage sauce were awesome!), the Grand Buffet (pizza), The Great Outdoors (late breakfast), Mama's, Le Bistro (dinner) and Cagney's (breakfast, lunch and dinner), Blue Lagoon (breakfast). Service in the MDR's was extraordinary as well as most of the fee added restaurants. The only one that didn't thrill us was Mama's. The pizza was the same as the kind offered in the Grand Cafe and the Pasta Carbonara was better in the MDR - go figure. Mama's charges $10 per person also. Ports: • Sydney, NS: A quaint small town with that has a tiny main street area to shop. A few museums along the way too. Had a delicious lunch in the Governor's Pub & Eatery which is right across from the port. Make sure to order one of their daily specials. • Halifax, NS: Lots to do here - on foot or tour wise. We did the Harbor Hopper which was nice. Had lunch at Shayners on the boardwalk - it was okay - nothing special. • St. Johns, NB: is also an old quaint city with lots to see but mostly up steep hills. We had lunch on the boardwalk - again nothing special. • Portland, ME: Lots of things to see and lots of shopping available. Great seafood available too. We ended up in a place called Gritty's - they serve regular pub fare. Entertainment: We didn't really seek out the late night entertainment but I did hear that the Fire and Ice show was excellent. We did however spend time in the casino and made daily donations there. Disembarkation: We chose to wait until 10:00am to leave and found our luggage without any issues. We were through customs in no time and were out by the curb waiting for our ride by 10:10am. Very easy. Summary: Overall we had a wonderful cruise experience. We wished we were hungrier more often so that we could enjoy all the great food offered but we never were!! We were still full from the last meal we had! Our butler did deliver a plate of 5 small appetizers each afternoon - cheese & crackers, small chocolates, canapE's and chocolate covered strawberries. We told him we really enjoyed the strawberries, but never did see them again. I had read that if you shared that kind of information with the butler, that they would make sure you received what you liked again. Oh well. Not a deal breaker. The suite experience was very nice and believe it or not - what stood out most to us was the VIP embarkation. Would we cruise in a suite again? I am pretty sure we would. Would we cruise with NCL again? I am also pretty sure we would. And last but not least - a BIG thank you to all Cruise Critic members for all of your tips, advice, knowledge, etc. If it wasn't for all the threads on those boards, I would never had known what to expect nor obtained answers to all my questions I had pre-cruise. Again, thank you very much!! Happy Sailings Everyone! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Norwegian Jewel Cruise September 17 to 14th, 2011 Traveling with 6 couples was a great experience for all of us combining good friends with great scenery. We left New York City Harbor and had a great time taking in the Empire State ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel Cruise September 17 to 14th, 2011 Traveling with 6 couples was a great experience for all of us combining good friends with great scenery. We left New York City Harbor and had a great time taking in the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline before heading in for dinner. The cruise was on the Norwegian Jewel based on some research, talking to our travel agent and reading reviews on this site. We took a limo early Saturday morning that dropped us off right at the pier that was really nice and then picked us up for the return. Dining we ate breakfasts in the Garden Buffet and most lunches. It was good and you could get all types of food including eating healthy with a lot of fruit up to eggs, bacon, waffles, etc. We ate around 8:00 am and it was never crowed until later. Lunches except on the day we got on the ship when we ate at the Tsar's Palace offered many options as well. Evening meals we preferred the Tsar's palace as they could seat 12 together most of the time. We did eat at Chin Chin one evening and it was good Chinese food, but did not make us change from the Tsar's Palace. Also tried Azura's but it was noisy and the food was the same. Of course you can eat your way through the day. Activities: we went to most of the evening shows in the Stardust theater and liked the 70s dance show, the Incanto show with a man and woman who were tremendous acrobats and Murray the Magician. Murray also gave some magic trick lessons that you should not miss and get there early to get a seat. Also the show on the last night was great. We did take advantage of other performers who were located in the different areas based on the type of music they played. Fitness Center and deck for walking on 7 were all part of our routine and the last day most of our group took advantage of the pool as it warmed up. The early part of the trip was cool and was a nice change from the hotter weather we had been experiencing at home. Sydney, Nova Scotia Here we decided to take the NCL excursion to the Fortress Of Louisbourg that was the morning trip that left at 10:30 and was 3 ½ hours. Our guide was very informative and shared some interesting stories about the site from his boyhood that brought depth to the visit. Once we arrive, he took us on an hour tour and then left us alone for 45 minutes. We saw several homes and buildings all that were reconstructed. A soldier demonstrated the preparing of her rifle to shoot and described her uniform. We bought some bread baked in the bakery and spent time inside several buildings including eth Governor's home in the Fort. We skirted showers because there was an afternoon tour that was hit by showers so we felt lucky to tour the site in the morning. It was a great choice. There is a small building at the cruise terminal where crafts are sold by local craftsperson, but we did not fine much for us Overall a great trip that we would do again and take in some other areas to tour because these ports have a lot to offer for excursions. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have sailed twice on Holland America, about 8 on Royal Caribbean, and this is our second and last Norwegian cruise. We found the food just not quite up to snuff-not a big deal, but for us Mid-Westerner's, too much East Indian food ... Read More
We have sailed twice on Holland America, about 8 on Royal Caribbean, and this is our second and last Norwegian cruise. We found the food just not quite up to snuff-not a big deal, but for us Mid-Westerner's, too much East Indian food on the buffet. Steaks were tough and lacked taste. Soft serve ice cream was a gritty ice cream. Never a cookie to be found, one of our friend's asked for some with coffee, and they suddenly appeared-the same three every day. The desserts tended to be molded or cubed Jello-every day, or a bread pudding with sauce. Perhaps that's where ships are cutting costs, and also their breads. More variety of rolls and breads at the Buffet, but the same two breads in the dining room every evening. We had a wonderful tour for Cruise critic's with Captain, and it was superb! The waiter's and the room attendants were a 10, we couldn't find employees of the ship more polite. The good thing about this cruise are the ports of call,Newport, Halifax, Quebec City, Corner Brook, NL,Canada, Sydney NS. Each one has great history, and tours to help you enjoy something in each city, or quaint town. Leaving out of New York was a plus, as we had never been there, and three couples took two bus tours and walked all over-so much to see, safe, well lit, and very friendly, helpful people-it was a wonderful 24 hours there. Next time we will stay an extra day or two. We still love cruising, easy to unpack, and return to your ship each evening, with good entertainment, relaxation, Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Our background: First cruised in 1992 on Carnival in the earlier years of the cruise industry rise obviously while they were still learning how to do it correctly and with excellence. We came away extremely dissatisfied as we had many ... Read More
Our background: First cruised in 1992 on Carnival in the earlier years of the cruise industry rise obviously while they were still learning how to do it correctly and with excellence. We came away extremely dissatisfied as we had many issues w/inaccurate information regarding shore excursions, dinner seating time not as requested, 24 hour coffee machine broken on Day 1 and never fixed/replaced for the entire 7 day cruise AND a majority of crew members who did not speak enough English to properly communicate w/passengers, just to name a few! Bottom line...it took me 15 years to get my husband to agree to try cruising again! In 2007, while living for a period of time in Germany, I convinced him to try again and we took a 12 Day Mediterranean cruise, also aboard the NCL Jewel, to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It was wonderful and we were hooked on Freestyle Cruising! We have been one of NCL's biggest fans ever since, raving to many friends about NCL. We cruised the Mexican Riviera out of San Francisco aboard the Sun in Oct. 2009 as well as a short RCCL Bahamas trip in April 2010 and we were really excited to be cruising on the Jewel once again in Oct. 2010 to New England/Canada. Ship Overall: The Jewel is a magnificent ship! The pool area w/its palm tree topped lights surrounding it is a sight to behold on a moonlit night. The Spinnaker Lounge affords wonderful views from the bow when it is simply too cold or windy to enjoy being out on deck. The Great Outdoors in the ship's aft is a wonderful place to enjoy breakfast on a sunny morning and one of our favorite places when weather cooperated. Color choices of carpeting in the staterooms is a bit over the top in some regards and seating a bit uncomfortable in several of the lounge areas, but still beautiful and fun to enjoy. Everything is kept immaculately clean and appears to be in good repair, although this ship IS only 5 years old so that would be pretty much expected. Embarkation: NCL seems to have the initial procedure down to a fairly workable science. We always arrive early and that helps. What small lines there were seemed to flow seamlessly and quickly. We were on-board in probably no more than about a half hour from the time we arrived at the port. We did, however, notice a disabled passenger who appeared to be waiting for assistance for quite some time. They eventually gave up and decided to embark along with all the other mobile passengers rather than to keep waiting for someone who did not seem to be coming in any reasonable time frame. Don't really know all the details of that situation. Disembarking and embarking at the port areas was, however, an entirely different situation!! There appeared to be numerous issues of poor communication both between crew themselves and between crew and passengers. Once an announcement was made over the public address system directing passengers to a certain area and when the huge crowd of people rushed to that spot, they were informed that we could not disembark at that point which was being used for shore excursion passengers only...even though NO ONE at all was using the area at the time. This was extremely frustrating and passengers were not happy! The lines every day in port were long both getting on and off the ship and extremely disorganized causing tempers to flare. We stood in huge disorganized groups in parking lots waiting to board buses in the hot sun...don't know what they would have done it it had been raining. Lines for ship tenders returning to the ship in Newport, R.I. were completely and ridiculously unacceptable! There appear to be way too many ships in port in almost every port. The ships and the port areas do not seem to be able to acceptably handle the huge amount of passnegers pouring into these areas at the same time and ship, as well as port, resources are stretched WAY TOO THIN!! Itinerary: One of the first criterions I look for when researching a cruise possibility is itinerary. Ports, amount of time allowed in those ports, time of ship's arrival (don't want to be up at the crack of dawn every day of my vacation!), and especially the spacing of sea days in order to provide much needed recuperation time in between busy/active days of walking in port. This was the FIRST disappointment w/this cruise aboard the Jewel. Because of a ship mechanical issue, itinerary was changed to lessen the times in port for several of our stops and both sea days were moved to the end of the cruise, leaving us with an extremely intensive 6 days of ports ALL IN A ROW! This was done w/o any consideration of compensation from NCL to make up for our inconvenience/disappointment. No additional shipboard credit, no cover-free meal in one of the Specialty restaurants, no room upgrade, or free photo, NO NOTHING! I believe this should have been the least that NCL could do to appease their many customers who had, in good faith, agreed to something other than what they ended up getting! Add to the already diminished times in port, the lengthy lines and disorganization with disembarking at almost every stop, and our time to enjoy these beautiful places was severely compromised! The port offerings were acceptable, not anything exceptional though. Dining: We found the food choices this time on the Jewel to be noticeably less inviting in both variety and presentation. In general, we found most meals to be majorly lacking in the vegetable department. Two or three bites is NOT what anyone would consider a serving. Also, one of the biggest disappointments was the removal of Mama's and Tango's as two of the free dining options. This left the free options so limited that, coupled with the cooler weather which kept most people looking for indoor seating, dining rooms were almost always incredibly crowded and very noisy. This is a huge negative to the overall dining experience for these cruisers, and could be easily anticipated by the cruise line during colder seasons & destinations. NCL needs to do something to alleviate this problem during cold weather itineraries! I shouldn't have to feel forced to spend extra $$ on Specialty restaurants in order to get a quiet, enjoyable dining experience. Even in Tsar's, unless you chose to dine very late, it was usually noisy with clanging plates and silver at the many server stations throughout and the chattering of people. The only night we really enjoyed peace and quiet in Tsar's was the night we were seated in the smaller wing on the starboard side of the ship. Something needs to be done with the decor to enhance noise absorption, if possible. Azure's felt cramped and noisy as well, something we did not experience at all during our 2007 trip on the Jewel because crowds were more scattered with the addition of outdoor seating areas more in use, as well as two additional offerings in the free options. Our experiences in the Blue Lagoon were varied. The food was indeed very tasty, especially the tomato bisque. However, we visited there several times for dessert and coffee at late night (11-12pm) following the late show or other entertainment. Service was severely lacking on most of those occasions as the staff, despite having very few tables at this time, seemed to be distracted with cleaning and other chores. Every time we had to ASK for our coffee to be refilled, which is an absolute Faux Pas for us when dining out! One night the server even took the napkin and silverware away when learning that we were only ordering dessert. He did bring me a spoon with the dessert but I was left w/no napkin and had to ask to be given one! Little details that make a BIG impression, and not a good one. Service: In general, we observed a definite decline in the overall level of service being offered throughout the ship. Wait staff in the free restaurants appeared more rushed in order to keep up with the demands of the crowd and the need to quickly move diners in and out to accommodate those waiting. Few took time to really be personable and give that extra touch of friendliness. One server worth mentioning was Horace (Tsar's). We made a special point of taking him an extra gratuity on the last night of the trip. He served us several times and was the ONE exceptional server we experienced on the entire 9 day cruise, including our Specialty restaurant experience! I find this a bit of a shame and one of the criticisms I have heard from others regarding the Freestyle cruising experience! As has been mentioned by other reviewers, it appears that there is an overall lacking of crew who are truly excited about what they are doing, or maybe they are just overworked and stretched too thin. As also noted by others, the extra amenities that have always made cruising special, like cute towel creations, chocolates at turn-down, exceptional service on all fronts, all inclusive dining, soft drinks, etc. are slowly eroding. The one exception to this general downturn in service was with the bar staff. They were ANNOYINGLY persistent in all areas of the ship! We are non-drinkers (alcoholic, that is) and were continually bombarded at all times of the day with one server after another asking if we needed something from the bar. If there were 6 different staffers working in any one venue, and we did not have a drink glass on our table, it seemed they ALL approached us numerous times. There needs to be some way of indicating to the bar staff when someone has made it clear that they do not wish to order drinks from the bar and to let them know that you have already been approached numerous times. Once when we were approached during a game time in the Spinnaker Lounge, the server placed a cocktail napkin upside down on the table in front of us and we seemed to be left alone after that. If that is all it takes, that would be an easy fix to keep passengers who choose not to imbibe from feeling badgered. Even the security personnel aboard this vessel seemed to be less friendly and more businesslike than I've ever noticed before. Maybe it was just the issues at every port getting passengers on and off the ship that had them frustrated...and it showed! Shore excursions: This was our first NCL cruise where we did not purchase even one ship sponsored shore excursion. This is because we have learned from previous sailings that the prices are just way too high! The convenience of NCL making the arrangements and having the ship wait on you should any time issues arise is certainly a plus and worth paying something extra for...but NOT double the cost of doing the same thing on your own. NCL needs to realize that with the use of the internet and the need to shop more wisely in a struggling economy, options are too numerous and tempting to be stuck paying double the price for something. If they would lower their prices some, I believe more people would take advantage of the convenience factor. Otherwise, it just isn't financially sensible. Sharing cabs, utilizing public transportation, and local tour groups/HO-HO buses are simply too easy and accessible in most ports. Housekeeping: This was probably the area where we had the fewest problems on this cruise. The cabin stewards and their helpers were friendly and ready to serve at a moments' notice. Twice we requested an iron...it was delivered in a timely manner and retrieved just as quickly when we were done. We missed the nightly towel creations (only had about 4 during the entire 9 nights) but we assume this is a new NCL policy to save on towels and laundering costs. Not a big deal but disappointing, none the less. After moving to our second room, we noticed that the sheets did not seem to fit the bed properly. They were never tucked tightly in around the sides and often came lose and got tangled around us as we slept...annoying, for sure. Also, our ice bucket was not filled on most days, a minor infraction. Entertainment: In the past we have been highly pleased with the entertainment offerings on NCL, not only the choices but also the quality. Much of this was the same. The ship's band and dancers were excellent as usual, as were their two main shows, "Band on the Run" and "Cirque...". The adage couple was certainly incredibly talented showing strength and flexibility that was at times almost uncomfortable to watch :). What was also uncomfortable, however, was the extremely immodest costumes they donned. This was true of the skin- toned outfits displayed by the ship's dancers in the first show as well. I just don't think the skin toned, nearly see-through leotards/costumes are really necessary for us to appreciate their talents. Toned and muscular bodies are beautiful, but when costumes come so close as to practically, and I believe purposefully, almost show unnecessary private areas, and clearly convey an air of near nudity, that is too far and not what I would consider family programming! We have avoided other cruise lines who offer these and Vegas style entertainment in order to avoid this type of fare and frankly, were very disappointed that NCL has slipped to lower their standards in this area. On the positive side...the Clachan Brothers were enjoyable, as was the pianist in the piano bar. The Modal Magic band was VERY good, with great range both in voice quality and music selections. We also liked the Irish guitarist/drummer/comedian and enjoyed both of his shows, but like other reviewers have noted, it didn't seem like the type of thing really suited for the main stage evening entertainment. Same goes for the juggler...he was OK and good enough, but nothing special and certainly not as good as some we have seen on other trips. The hypnotist was the exact same person we saw on the Sun the previous fall and unfortunately, with the exception of different audience participants, the show was basically the exact same thing...but funny and interesting. We could have done w/o the Second City group...some of their comedy was good, but some escaped my sense of humor. I know what they do is not easy, but I guess it's just not my cup of tea. We obviously did not attend the late night show as we do not call offensive language funny or entertaining. They need to take a lesson from the likes of Bill Cosby, Chevy Chase, Jim Carey, and Jerry Lewis...you don't need to be crude to be funny or to become famous! We did not attend the night the singer performed and if I'm forgetting anything else, they obviously did not make a big impression on us :). For all nights other than the two main shows, there could have been a lot more done with staging decor to make the stage area more appealing. For the most part there was no backdrop, only black floor and background...very boring and non-memorable! Activities: With a cold weather cruise this is expectedly more limited than usual. Pool areas are uncovered and temps are not, in my opinion, warm enough to warrant use during colder weather. The hot tubs, as well, were NEVER heated to the point of comfort or what is normally expected for a hot tub spa. I would venture to guess they were never above 100 degrees F, which is simply not comfortable hot tub temperature on days/nights when outside air temps are cooler. This was especially disappointing on the two consecutive sea days! The fitness area is very nice aboard the Jewel as we knew from our previous trip; however we did not make use of it this trip due to such a port intensive itinerary. Games and bingo were the usual fare...nothing special to speak of. Although, the Asst. Cruise Director (Senon, sp?) was engaging, albeit cheesy. At least he appeared to enjoy his job! Can't say so much for Shona, the Cruise Director, as she was pretty much invisible except for at the start of each show in the evenings when she got to model whatever gorgeous fashion she was sporting that night. A loosely organized ping pong tournament was held on both sea days but they were scheduled for too late in the afternoon, actually early evening (like 5/5:30pm). Participation was difficult when wanting to be ready for dinner at a sensible time. Also, we had looked forward to using the tennis court during the sea days, only to find out that free play was only available until something like 10:30 AM. This was ridiculous since most people like to sleep in and eat breakfast late on sea days. What else was this area being used for during other parts of the day? Too much of the mid-day hours are filled with activities directed at selling something and generating more revenue. Emeralds, art auction, bingo, shopping info pushing the NCL recommended stores...all a ploy to get more $$ out of passengers. We did participate in several game/team type things but didn't find out about the participation card thing until the next to the last day of the cruise! I personally think this is a stinky way of doing things. Most people play just for the fun and challenge, but if NCL wants to encourage greater participation, they could fork out for a little in the prizes category. Why not offer coupons for free drinks, or a free/reduced cover charge in one of the Specialty venues, or even just NCL trinkets like T-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc...I mean, TRULY, how much would this really cost NCL in the long run? They need to stop nickel and diming us and get back to what the essence of cruising used to be about...lots of little things that make a BIG difference, luxury and service! Oh, yeah, and for those of us who have cruised on NCL multiple times...the Fountains skit is still funny and entertaining, but the cheesy jokes leading up to it are just LAME! Disembarking in NYC: Once again this was a major fiasco! This port was completely unable to handle the number of passengers disembarking from 3 major cruise ships all at the same time. We sat in the Garden Cafe waiting for our luggage tag color to be called until the cleaning crew had cleaned every table around us and placed all the chairs upside down atop the tables. At that point we braved the common areas where all the other thousands were herded together also waiting. Customs seemed to be getting blamed for the hold up but when we finally got to the customs area, we breezed through w/o incident. Retrieving of luggage was also a mad house...simply too many passengers pouring out all at once from too many ships. Traffic was a nightmare, transport vans had no place to pull over and look for their pick-ups, tempers were flaring, and people were frustrated and worried about missing flights and connections. We got off the ship just in time to meet our scheduled pick-up (which thankfully we had scheduled late b/c we didn't have a flight to catch). However, we waited in the van for close to an hour w/another couple who had been waiting an hour longer than us, while the van driver tried to figure out how to find his other customers. While our transport van, with passengers inside and port authorities outside angrily demanding that it be moved, waited in an illegal parking area, a tour bus cut too close while making a turn, clipping the van's mirror and destroying it and continuing on w/o even stopping! Crazy place!! To wrap it up, our experience with NCL on this trip did not do anything to keep us as loyal customers coming back for more. In fact, after trying a short RCCL cruise in the Spring, it gave us something more for comparison, and even though our RCCL ship was one of the oldest and smallest in their fleet, they still provided service with excellence in most areas. The issues with too many boats in the ports at the same time seem to be an industry-wide problem, but otherwise it is our opinion that NCL does not appear to be improving in customer satisfaction. Oh, yes, at one point during the cruise, we did receive a free one game bingo card...free, yes, but with hopes of encouraging us to spend more $ on more cards once you were able to hopefully get us into the room, I'm sure. Typical marketing ploys, but after a while these tactics begin to make a person feel as though they're being thought of as a pushover. At one point during the cruise we each also received a "free drink" coupon, which we understand was given to every passenger. We tried to use them for Carmel Machiattos at the coffee bar in the Crystal Atrium and were told this choice was not included, even though the cost of the house special drinks (which was included) was less than the price of the machiatto! What is wrong with this picture? Once again, not an ounce of bending to provide customer satisfaction, even in the small things. Time will tell what our future holds in the area of cruising, but I can say with certainty that if and when we are ready to cruise again, we will definitely be open and willing to give other cruise lines a closer look. Unless of course NCL does something in the meantime to convince us otherwise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our main reason for this cruise was sailing into Maritime Canada and seeing Prince Edward Island for the first time. Many years ago, I was a stewardess with T.C.A. (Air Canada) and never did see the downtown areas of Halifax, Sydney and ... Read More
Our main reason for this cruise was sailing into Maritime Canada and seeing Prince Edward Island for the first time. Many years ago, I was a stewardess with T.C.A. (Air Canada) and never did see the downtown areas of Halifax, Sydney and St. John, so this was of particular interest to me and did not disappoint. The countryside all around those ports is worth exploring as much as you can, and we did it mostly with the ship's excursions. After boarding, we had lunch in Tsars before getting into our cabin. Soups were particularly good on this cruise. In fact, the food was really quite good, as was the service. Fish was served moist and tasty, never dry. We did Mama Mia's one night and enjoyed the setting and food. Our cabin was promptly made up each day by Ronald and Leonard. Pity any fat person trying to rise from the potty as the space was tight. Our cabin was badly in need of better lighting, especially the tiny reading light by the bed. I noticed that the inside cabins had lovely big lights by the bed. I had to use my little mag-lite to find the numbers on the phone. The beds were quite comfortable however. First port was Newport which we did enjoy, and found a tour on our own at the visitors center. When you get off the ship, turn left down the first street and you will find this informative place. We went around the town and saw many of the mansions without touring inside, and saw everything we needed for $25.00 each, by mini van. Boston: We were quite familiar with this town, so just wandered around the Quincy Market. St.John: Again, we just wandered aroung this cute little town and enjoyed walking through the indoor market. Halifax: We took the ship's excursion to Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. This was quite lovely, with rolling countryside and colourful houses. We had lobster sandwiches for lunch. Mahone Bay had a pumpkin festival where there was a competition for gayly decorated scarecrows. The town had those really fun characters displayed all over the town. Sydney: We took the Heart of the Island tour which gave us a good taste of the pretty countryside and Scottish heritage. The Iona village was most enjoyable with tea and oatcakes after viewing the early settler's dwellings and farms. Prince Edward: Unfortunately, the morning was a bit wet, but not cold as we drove to the north shore and saw the red cliffs at the National Park. There was a stop at the Anne of Green Gables House which was most enjoyable. The sun came out for our lunch at the P.E.I. Preserves Company which overlooked the Clyde River in the area known as New Glasgow. Our host Bruce Macaughton greeted us in his kilt and served up a great lunch of lobster and the best raspberry cream pie I have ever tasted. The weather got a bit blustry sailing out the harbour and the ship was rocking a bit that night. One of the passengers had to be lifted by helicopter to Halifax, but we heard later that he was doing well. We found the staff and service very good on the cruise. John O'Hara is the Hotel Director and is a delightful and approachable man should you have a problem. The entertainment was quite enjoyable and highlighted by those amazing gymnists. I wish NCL would go back to the mini broadway musicals which were really the best. The NCL Jewell is a lovely ship altogether and we enjoyed the cruise, especially the sail out of New York, past the Statue of Liberty in the clearing weather. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I. Background Information -- We are a couple in our late 30s that travelled with her brother & her sister-in-law on this NCL Jewel cruise ship that took a 9-Night Canada / New England cruise on October 1, 2010. We've got 12 ... Read More
I. Background Information -- We are a couple in our late 30s that travelled with her brother & her sister-in-law on this NCL Jewel cruise ship that took a 9-Night Canada / New England cruise on October 1, 2010. We've got 12 cruises under our belt, so have a goodly number of other cruises to compare this one with. We've sailed on 5 NCL ships, 3 RCCL ships, 2 Carnival ships, 1 Princess ship, & 1 Holland America ship. Even though I'm about to rate this the LOWEST 2-Star rated ranking of all of my 12 cruises, I was still determined to make the best of it by participating in varied game shows, theatre shows, and dance parties. All my other cruise ship experiences I have rated either 3 star or 4 star ratings. This is MY FIRST rating I have given a 2 star (lowest rating).....just for the reader's comparison. Reasons are all listed down below. II. Hotel Information It's no secret that hotel prices in New York City are astronomical, but being the probing shopper I am, was able to clinch a $79 rate at the LaGuardia Airport Hotel, which was within walking distance of the American, U.S. Airways, & Delta Airlines terminals. They also have a courtesy shuttle bus, too. The motel is adequate; nothing extravagant, but enough to spend one night's rest. It's a 3-star motel -- just average. I always ask for a quiet room as half the rooms face the busy, noisy highway on Ditmars Blvd. III. Travel to Port of Embarkation If you're taking this cruise from New York City, I recommend you to find a shuttle or shared transportation with others to cut-down on the ground transportation costs from your motel to where the cruise ship's pier terminal is on Manhattan's West side. Otherwise, if you don't want to do business this way & are looking for private transporatation, & you're feeling the need for a cabbie, then always go with the YELLOW cab, which has better rates. You'll generally pay between $30 to $40 WITH the inclusion of tolls & tips, total, and it generally takes between 40 minutes to 50 minutes to get there from near the LaGuardia airport. Tack-on additional time if you're coming from the JFK airport, and it will cost you more. Generally the costs from LGA airport with a yellow taxi are metered rates from LGA airport & not a flat rate. You'll find that traffic will come to a complete stop & stand-still at times when in the streets of Manhattan. IV. Ship Information The NCL "Jewel" cruise ship's inaugural year was a 2005 build, making it a little over 5 years old at the time of my sailing on October 1, 2010. It has a passenger capacity of 2,376 based upon a double occupancy of cabins. The length of the ship is 965 feet, has a gross tonnage of 93,502, a crew of 1,081 & diesel electric engines. The maximum beam is 105 ft, and draft is 28 ft. Now....at the time of my sailing on the NCL "Jewel", the ship was limping at reduced speeds, so much so, that it altered our itinerary resulting in approximately 6 hours LESS of TOTAL time in all ports combined. This was due to excessive wear in the thruster bearings of the ship's azipod propulsion system. This problem is due to be fixed in late November 2010, when it will be dry-docked for repair. However my cruise was greatly disrupted because of reduced time in ports, meaning we didn't get to do the tour excursions we planned. This attribute, along with other considerations, results in a lowered rating of my overall cruising experience because of this mishap in travelling at reduced speeds & partially ruining our itinerary & limited shore excursions due to lessened times in port. V. Stateroom. We were eventually booked in to a Oceanview cabin on deck 5 of this October 1, 2010, 9-Night Canada / New England sailing. I'll go in to detail on why I've rated this sectional lower than my previous cruises. A.) The GOOD -- #1.) GREAT air-conditioning and climate control meant we were always comfortable, temperature-wise, while in the stateroom. #2.) GREAT shower space in the Oceanviews & Balcony staterooms of the NCL Jewel ship; however, watch for the lip above the floor getting in & out, or you could stub your toe badly! #3.) Big picture window on Deck 5; as compared with obstructed views on Deck 8 (lifeboats) and some smaller porthole windows on Deck 4 & some on Deck 5 #4.) Water pressure in the shower head was good. B.) The BAD & the UGLY -- #1.) Very cramped-space design in the toilet area of cabin meant wall was right up to my nose, with an unjustified wall between bathroom sink & toilet which consumed even more room. This has to be the POOREST designed and most cramped toilet space I'd ever been in with regards to the toilet configuration. I'm 6' 2" and even people who are obese are going to have problems getting in and out of this toilet area due to very restricted space. #2.) Water pressure in the sink was very weak -- only a trickle. #3.) Sink was plugged a good deal resulting in slow drainage. When I dispatched maintenance to clear the slow-draining sink, they had the NERVE to deposit all this GOOPY-GOO in to our toilet which STUCK to the toilet bowl and would not flush down!! What NERVE!!! This was disgusting!!! It only became dislodged after the stateroom steward handled the mess! #4.) Shower drain also exhibited slow drainage & had to dispatch maintenance again to rectify this problem. #5.) On our final day of cruising, the toilet stopped flushing. Now we've seen this before on other cruise ships, so these kinds of toilet flushing systems are apt to occasionally not working, BUT....the maintenance man who came out was NOT friendly, and his work flooded the edge of the toilet's floor and this flooded water bleeded in to the carpet of our entrance door for the first 1 1/2 ft of carpet next to the door. Fortunately they cleaned it up right away and were on top of it, but these 5 problems noted above are what I consider to be excessive problems with the stateroom's maintenance & designed combined together, so I've reduced points in this category to only a 2-star rating out of 5 overall in this area of my evaluation. Did I mention one of our lights in our stateroom hadn't been replaced for several days?? Maintenance was ONLY dispatched when I TOLD them to come out. It should have been the stateroom stewards' responsibility to dispatch maintenance without me HAVING to ASK them to come out. So, the service was far from stellar, since I had to keep placing work orders myself, for which it should have been the stateroom stewards job. VI. Dining Okay, historically, I've always enjoyed a goodly number of meals on previous NCL ships in years gone by. However, NCL's crown *IS* slipping!! In particular, I've noticed a few changes in the menu selections. There were at least 2 or 3 times when I reviewed the dinner menu in the main formal dining rooms and shook my head, and saying the menu option choices do NOT look good on this go-around on at least 3 different days for dinner. So that's when I ordered the steak, or other items from the "Always Available" menu. A.) The GOOD ~ #1.) In particular, I enjoyed the many BREAKFAST selections in the Garden Cafe'. This is the restaurant in which I refer to as the "Mad House Buffet Line" -- The Garden Cafe, because it is a mad house and easy to run in to others. Choices here were abundant and well-tended to in the morning. However, as usual on every ship, finding a place to sit was next to impossible, especially on this crowded ship. Every ship I've been on has this problem. The ship designers NEVER---NEVER design these places with enough sitting areas in the buffet. It is what it is, gang! #2.) I really enjoyed the steaks & prime rib selections in the main formal dining rooms, (Tsar's Palace Dining Room & Azura), on the NCL Jewel cruise ship. Steaks were consistently GOOD, and some of the most tender steaks I've ever had on the NCL ship's fleet in my past 5 NCL cruises. Only wished they'd douse the steaks with more gravy as that peppercorn gravy is always a delicious gravy! So this is where NCL excelled! #3.) We did audition the Tango's Tex-Mex specialty restaurant. I really enjoyed the beef fajitas, and asked for extra salsa & sour cream to go with it all. The mexican rice & refried beans were really fresh & the Southwestern Egg Rolls were really great too! On the last couple days of the cruise this was 1 of 2 restaurants that was given away at 2-for-1 pricing. Mama's Italian was the other, which we didn't go to. We sampled the lobster tacos. It was a bit too creamy & rich for me, but others may find a liking to it. So, overall, I give a GREAT thumbs-up to the Tango's Tex-Mex specialty restaurant. Glad we did it! #4.) The Blue Lagoon restaurant -- This was a GREAT choice for any time of the afternoon, evening or late night. I really enjoyed the food here, thorougly, and menu selections were excellent serving comfort food -- Chicken Wings, real beef burgers, chicken fingers, fish n' chips (french fries), hot dogs, and I ordered every one of these selections and scarfed it all down but good! The service was really fast at 9 PM, and the food always fresh. This place was much better managed on the Jewel than it was on the NCL Sun. Overall, I'd rate the food quality in the main formal dining restaurants as Above-Average for the "always available" items, and right around average for other changing menu items, and would rate the menu OPTIONS or SELECTIONS in the main formal dining room as BELOW-average; hence the 3-star rating right at about average. You will definitely find LOTS of fish selections available on this NCL Jewel ship as it seems like there's fish available everywhere on the menus in the main formal dining rooms! B.) The BAD ~ #1.) As I mentioned at the start of this sectional, MENU selections in the main formal dining room were UN-appealing and not what I considered attractive. There were some menu item selections that I needed translations for, as I didn't even know what it was on the menu??? Sure wish they'd start speaking English on the menus, and start serving normal food. #2.) Let me explain to you the FreeStyle Dining experience: It only works well when you come to dinner at the NON-peak dining times in the main formal dining rooms. During PEAK, busy dining times of between 630 PM & 730 PM, the whole FreeStyle dining experience collapses & breaks down. (How so??) I'll tell you--->> The first thing NCL tests you on is your patience! Don't come between 630 PM & 730 PM, or else you'll be WAITING a long time, and won't get to be seated right away! On our 1st night, we arrived at the main formal dining room at 7 PM. Get this--->> We first had to wait in ONE line just to get a beeper/flasher device. That took about 5 - 10 minutes. Then, once we got the beeper/flasher notifying device, we had to wait another additional 20 - 30 minutes JUST to be seated! This is just unacceptable! So Free Style does NOT work... repeating.... does NOT work during the PEAK, busy eating period times in the main formal dining rooms roughly between 630 PM & 730 PM, give or take 30 minutes on either side of those times. Now you know why traditional dining still does exist today on several of the cruise lines. Good thing for me, I usually eat at opening times around 5 PM, so I can get to go to all the shows the rest of the evening has to offer. #3.) We also auditioned the specialty restaurant "Chin Chin" or Asian Fusion. Being that we are well-versed with how Chinese food is supposed to taste and my partner and her people are Asian, we know what to compare with. My girl has always said, "When the cruise line sticks with something simple such as meat & potatoes, it turns out well. As soon as they try to cook complicated, international food selections, it becomes a fiasco!" Let me first apprise the reader that the menu lists that Jasmine rice is served. This is WRONG & FALSE!! I know how Jasmine rice is supposed to taste & what its texture is supposed to be. It has a wonderfully fragrant smell and is sticky white rice. The rice that was served, instead, was low-grade, low-quality American white rice, like Uncle Ben's. My partner & her Asian friends just laughed at it, knowing it was not authentic. What a BIG disappointment -- HUGE. However, to most Americans not well-versed with how this food is supposed to be, it may just very well pass you by, going unnoticed by many of you, but we know better! Also, there was a lack of authenticity to the Kung Pao Chicken and Szechuan Braised Beef menu selections. When we did more probing, we found out that the chef in Chin Chin was actually a Filipino chef and NOT a Chinese chef. It showed, as all the food we ordered was not authentic and as her people put it -->> The taste is "JUST NOT RIGHT -- NOT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE". I whole-heartedly agree. I was very much disappointed with this Asian Fusion, Chin Chin restaurant, as it just wasn't right -- the whole taste and the lack of jasmine rice. The only good I can report was that the ambience was bright and cheery, and there was a nearby atrium down below that's decorated beautifully on the descending stair case from above. #4.) On a final note, this has been a problem not only on this ship, but in other recent cruises as well. What happened to water glass refilling in the main formal dining rooms & crumb scraping??? Years ago when I first started cruising, water glasses were always refilled timely, (without the need to ask), and crumbs were always scraped from the tables. What happened??? Nowadays, I always have to tell them to refill water glasses, and ONLY once did I see crumbs scraped from our table. It seems that NCL is getting out of the customer service business.... no more chocolates on pillows & no more towel animals either!! I don't need and don't require these last 2 features, but it'd be a nice touch for NEWBY cruisers to see & experience, what I once experienced a long time ago. Sheesh!! I think we're beginning to see a revolutionary change in the cruise line industry whereby instead of it being special as it was many years ago, that it's becoming usual and commonplace. And when that happens, it's not special anymore; the service becomes like the airlines -- only the most rudimentary basic services offered. As a side note, this is also the MOST dressed-down cruise line of all of them, too, so if you like casual wear and NOT formal wear, then you'll actually be pleasantly pleased with NCL's philosophy on dress code standards, as they're the most lenient of all the cruise lines, though I still don't think you can get away with shorts in the main formal dining room during dinner time. Lunch & breakfast is fair game though for shorts. I, for one, actually like the relaxed dress-down standards, but I trust many women would like to dress-up. Women, this ain't goona happen much on this cruise line! VII. Activities This is an area difficult to comment, as this was a very port-intensive cruise, having no sea days until the end of the cruise, so we were off the ship during all the port days which was 6 out of 8 days. However, I do have one BIG bone to pick with the Cruise Director Shona: DON'T TAKE AWAY THE QUEST GAME SHOW from your cruise activities!! The cruise director told me the reason she took it out was because it was not the right demographic of audience of people. Let me suggest that in my own personal experiences, I have found many people from all walks of life, & ALL AGES that DO ENJOY this game show! After all, they enjoyed the hypnotist shows, with a full house, even at the 1015 PM late night show. Quest game show is right along the same alley! So....don't take the wind out of our sails! KEEP the Quest Game Show in the portfolio of activities!! Also, I'd have liked to see more game shows, as we had with Cruise Director Pedro on our NCL Sun cruise in April/May 2010. Take your cues from him, as he has a LOT more action-packed set of games incorporated within the activities section. VIII. Children's Clubs This is another area I cannot comment that much on, as our party had a 1-year-old baby, which was NOT eligible for the children's clubs. NCL will not baby-sit children UNTIL they become at least 2 years old, and then they will take responsibility for entertaining children & youths all the way up to teen-agers, free of charge in most instances, unless you want NCL -- the cruise line -- to take care of the children "after hours" or while in port, and then you must pay for those 2 times; otherwise it is free for most other times. IX. Service. A.) The BAD #1.) Here is yet another area in which I feel that NCL's crown is slipping, overall, with some notable exceptions listed down below in "The Good" sectional write-up. I have to say that this is one of the fewest cruises in which I can actually say that the NCL crew & staff onboard the NCL "Jewel" was not really the friendliest bunch on the whole, big picture. Smiles were only offered when I smiled first. Otherwise staff behaved as though they did NOT want to be there on the ship. As I said, earlier, when we had a plumber come out to service our toilet, on the last sea day, not only did he not smile, but he actually frowned, like I murdered his family member, and didn't even offer to say "Hello" or "Sorry about the problem you're having". How cold & insensitive, I thought. #2.) In other areas, I got a reaction when I asked our stateroom steward to bring us soaps for the rest of the cruise, instead of using the bath gel, and he offered resistance in doing so. I'm old school, and I use bar soap instead of bath gel. I got a grief-stricken face from him, (Jesus Garcia), when I asked for bar soap in the future instead of bath gel, like it was such an inconvenience. Where's the customer service?? It has died. Jeez! #3.) NCL just doesn't seem to be training or insisting that their staff maintain a polished customer-service focused personality. This has become an obvious oversight on NCL Jewel. A.) The GOOD There are some GREAT stories though, that I can offer, and special recognition is due for which I will mention where credit is most due and deserving. #1.) The Group Event Coordinator on NCL Jewel -- I think her name was Elwynn OCampo -- was most outstanding! She is the 1st and ONLY one I've seen organize a tour of the bridge & of the galley for our cruise critic community. Never, have I seen BOTH the bridge tour & galley tour offered on any of my previous 11 cruises, so a big kudos goes out to her! I hope I got her name correct. I wrote it down on paper but lost the slip. Anyways, she's a great group event coordinator. #2.) Carlton or Carlson Kennedy from Jamaica was the FASTEST restaurant server in the Azura dining room. I had asked him to expedite our dinner so's we could make it to the evening shows, and not only was he fast with us, but he was lightning-speed fast with other tables as well. I've personally never seen anyone move as fast as he does in the dining room. Came to find out he's been doing this work for 8 years, and I name-dropped him to the Maitre' D's, complementing his fine, outstanding work! #3.) Also Genevieve Baylon from Philippines was outstanding in the Tsar's Main formal dining room, always offering outstanding service in a timely fashion as well. I learned she has many friends on the ship, too! #4.) Service in the Blue Lagoon restaurant was speedy-quick & accurate when I was there 2 nights in a row around 9 PM. The Maitre' D there ran a tight ship there, as I caught her reprimanding one of her servants over some sort of issue, (surprisingly in public presence), but it does prove the system does work, as the orders were accurate, speedy, and the food was fresh & very tasty. X. Entertainment I have mixed feelings here in this sectional, resulting in just an average rating. When the evening shows were good, then they were really good to GREAT, but when the shows were bad, they were also really bad, too. Let me hash this out down below in the shows featured. A.) The GOOD Of course, the best cream-of-the-crop, goes to the hands of Massimo & Alesia in the show entitled "INCANTO" & again in the show entitled "Le Cirque Bijou". I personally greeted and complemented these two athletic gymnasts. The fact that these 2 are a married couple adds a nice finishing touch as well! These 2 shows were, without a doubt, the best 2 shows on the ship, and it showed in the crowd's pleasing standing ovations, applause and attendance. I was always up there in the front 2 rows for all the shows so I could see everything. Other good, decent shows included the production show entitled, "Band on the Run", 2 hypnotist shows by Brenda Kaye, & Ross Bennett's FIRST show ONLY in the big Stardust Theatre; (not the 2nd one in the Spinnaker Lounge). I'm not going in to the details of each show; you can just watch them on your own, should any of these shows appear on your sailing, which you won't get all of these shows, as the contracted performers jump from ship to ship and sailing to sailing at various dates in time. B.) The BAD Okay, the good news to report in the Bad news sectional of the entertainment column is that there were MORE good shows than there were bad shows. The worst show was the vocalist show in the Stardust Theatre. I've heard a lot of vocalists come on stage in the big theatre shows on lots of cruise ships in the past, and the vocalist on this ship, I think needs to be retired, as she's past her prime. She didn't even dress well either. It's a bit embarrassing to say this, but I was actually a part of this show on stage, and I'm still calling it the worst show of the bunch! I got to participate in 5 shows total; 2 in the big Stardust Theatre & 3 in the Spinnaker lounge, so even though I'm rating this cruise as the lowest rating, I was still determined to make the BEST out of it, and enjoy it to the best of my ability, even in spite of the many flaws. I also did not care for the guitar & drum player from Ireland, either. It was just run-of-the-mill general musician playing, similar to what you'd get in any one of the bars or lounges throughout the ship; nothing great; nothing out of the ordinary; just a different genre of music. I didn't even bother with his 2nd show in Spinnaker lounge. Second City cast: Well, what can I say about this cast?? They're trying. It's like the little engine that could! They're trying to make a show hoping it will stick to anything and entertain folks and please them, so I credit them for trying. After all, it's not easy to get up there and do un-scripted, un-rehearsed shows off the top of your head, and the creativity required to do a script-less show probably requires more talent than both you, (the reader), and I think together! I didn't see all of their shows. I think they had 3 shows in total. I saw the first one on-stage in the big Stardust Theatre and 1 of them in the Spinnaker Lounge, Deck 13, Forward. The one in the Stardust Theatre I felt was better. As for the 2nd-to-last show, the Juggler, I was actually disappointed. I've seen far better juggling scenes than I saw with this juggler. Most everything he juggled was just 3 items, until the end when he juggled the numerous rings. He did jump out in the audience to enhance his show which I think caught a number of folks by surprise, and tried to crack some jokes, but it just didn't come together in my opinion. I've seen better jugglers on other ships and other cruise lines. XI. Port & Shore Excursions This is the one area that actually got me most upset, because of the inept handling of the Shore Excursion Department who bungled our tours in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada & again in New York City. The axe really needs to be dropped hard on this inept shore excursion staff!!! We signed-up for 2 tours in Sydney at 1 PM and 330 PM, and when we got our tour tickets, they mishandled our tour times and assigned us 1 PM meeting times for BOTH tours. How does that happen?? I even showed them my confirmed times. All they could offer was that the tour operator CHANGED the time of the tours at the last moment and no longer offered tours at the time we signed-up for. So, as usual, none of it is on NCL; they're just going to wash their hands clean of it all, and so it all has to be the fault of the tour operator, huh?? This really angered me, big time! It was bad enough that we missed doing our original tour because they stripped 2.5 hours of time away from us at Sydney from a limping ship travelling at reduced speeds, then we get double-bungled again in Sydney by throwing us 2 tours at the same time which is impossible to do, & didn't get our tour times correct, even when I showed them proof of documentation of the times we signed-up for! Then, the tour in New York City got cut short into HALF the time we should have been given because of incompetent staffers getting us off the ship so terribly late in disembarkation in New York City that we only got half a tour instead of a FULL tour. Again, NOT happy with that result, and NEITHER WOULD YOU BE, if you were in my shoes in these 2 botched ports of call! I'll give you a run-down on the tours we did on this 9-Night Canada/New England cruise. #1.) Newport, Rhode Island ~ Chose the Vanderbilt's tour which took us to the Breakers & Marble House. I think I enjoyed this tour the best out of the entire crop of 7 tours we did on this cruise. Opulence is well-established in viewing the Newport mansions. Only downside is that you're not permitted to take pictures inside the mansions. #2.) Boston, Massachusetts ~ Chose Scenic Boston & Harbor cruise. The harbor cruise basically takes you to see panoramic views of the CBD of downtown buildings of Boston, to where you can capture some pictures out on the open decks of the boat, and if creative enough, you can get pics of you and your partner with the backdrop of the city. The scenic motor coach of the tour takes you for ONE stop at Trinity Church; otherwise you're on the bus the whole rest of the time. Fortunately we were dropped at Quincy Market with enough time for me to walk around on foot to visit the Freedom Trail and the burying grounds, Old North Church, Paul Revere's house and one or 2 other places. Good thing I went on foot on my own at the end of the tour in Quincy Market, because I was able to get far more pictures that way than I would at the mercy of being "stuck" on a motorcoach, with reflective glass all over the place ruining any would-be pictures. #3.) St. John, New Brunswick, Canada ~ Here I went with Bay of Fundy Up Close. There was a short walk to the museum and although they spent some time explaining the Bay of Fundy Tides which approach 50 ft, in the upper-most part of the Bay, they also spent too much time talking about other parts of the musuem such as the whales and marine life. I'd have liked them to show a video on the tides and videography on the tidal extremes, which didn't happen. The boat portion of the tour did live up to its name. We did get very close to where the St. John river meets with the Bay of Fundy and got to see the Jet Boat tour in action. The portion of the Bay we saw has a rate of tidal change of 5 feet per hour, either up or down & an intermittent slack tide, too which lasts for about 45 minutes! This was pretty neat and interesting to see this outside our Oceanview stateroom, too, watching our window go below the cement pier, and then rise above the cement pier late in the day! Since we came in at near low tide, I did take pictures of the water line marks at the pier showing the differences. #4.) Halifax, Nova Scotia ~ The only really big-hit highlight I found here was the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which displays the Titanic 1912 Exhibit and the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Extraordinary real-time artifacts are placed on display with the Titanic exhibit, and it has been noted that famed film-maker James Cameron visited this museum prior to making his film on the Titanic as he had the sincere desire to "get it right" on the facts of Titanic's ship design, colors, and appearance, by taking notes & cues from this museum! You are permitted to take pictures of the Titanic exhibit along with viewing a real deck chair recovered from the ill-fated ship's maiden voyage in April 1912. There are other interesting artifacts recovered from the wreckage of the Titanic including children's shoes, life vest pieces, gloves, and kitchen artifacts, shortly after the Titanic sank way back in 1912. They're not replicas, but instead real-time pieces of recovery. In addition to the real deck chair, they've even created a replica chair for you to sit in! This is an excellent museum & I highly recommend visiting this Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, if you have a desire in learning about maritime incidents at sea, as there's much more than just the Titanic & Halifax explosion exhibits. The fee was nearly $9 American dollars at the time of October 2010. The rest of Halifax, we visited with the HO/HO bus. The public gardens were a complete joke & waste of time -- nothing special there. There was also a Museum of Natural History that may interest the reader for which we visited on the HO/HO bus. I found some interesting displays & tidbits. Then, there's the brewery you can visit for about $16 U.S. It's the Alexander Keith's beer brewery. I auditioned 5 samples of their different ales including an ale that had a coffee / chocolate flavor. It was interesting to say the least! It was only $8 US dollars to sample all 5 ales, at 4 oz. each. So I passed a good time there! If you do use the Gray Line HO/HO bus, be mindful that it's not well-managed at the initial bus stop, especially when you're competing with 2 or 3 other cruise ships in port & the lines get long -- NCL long, that is!! Your wait for a bus may become excessive like 30 minutes or longer as the line gets really long for all 3 routes. Consider boarding your HO/HO bus by walking to another destination where the line is much shorter. #5.) Sydney, Nova Scotia ~ We got screwed by NCL on this port of call as they bungled our 2 tour excursions & had to cancel one of the tours because of their inept handling of our tour times which conflicted with one another which were originally NOT supposed to. Shame on you, NCL!!! Shame on you!!! We were stuck with our 4th choice, Sydney Highlights. Don't even waste your time with this particular tour called, "Sydney Highlights". Just a complete waste. You only get off the bus at an Indian museum, which was uneventful and totally missable. Thanks for screwin' us over, NCL!! Our original tour we wanted was Taste of the Cabot Trail --OR-- Grand Tour of the Bras D'or Lakes, Baddeck, & Alexander Graham Bell, but both tours cancelled because of a limping ship that cut our time in port by a full 2 1/2 hours short, voiding-out the possibility of those tours! #6.) Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island ~ Here we chose Island's Finest, Anne of Green Gables, and Lobster Lunch. This tour was a let-down. Unless you're an avid reader & a disciple of L.M. Montgomery's books, then this won't be such a memorable tour. The highlight for us was the lobster lunch. We enjoyed it so much that we actually paid to order another round of lobsters for all of us, at a great bargain price of only $15 each!! And yes....this is a FULL-sized lobster of about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, with claws -- and the whole bit! The restaurant is in a beautiful setting overlooking a river with picturesque landscape! We did go inside the Green Gables house, but nothing really moved me about it. I suppose you'd have to read the book in order to appreciate the house & its setting. She was an internationally renowned author having her book published in like 17 different langages as I remember, so maybe historians and older folks who have an appreciation for historic, memorable books by L.M. Montgomery would be best happy with a tour like this one. Aside from L.M. Montgomery's works & Green Gables house, there's really NOTHING of any interest to see in Prince Edward Island, as this port is pretty much totally missable, too, as well. We were taken to the red cliffs for a quick photo stop, but after seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as I have, this seems like nothing at all! #7.) New York City ~ Again, because of terribly TARDY disembarkation, once again by NCL, our tour got cut short here in New York City. It was supposed to be a 5 hour tour; instead it was a 2 1/2 hour tour -- half the time for which we paid for. I'm working on getting a refund for this tour at present time, October 11, 2010, for NCL's incompetence in handling disembarkation & embarkation, which was a continued problem throughout the cruise. In this tour, our first stop was at Top of the Rock in Rockefeller's Center, 70 stories high for a bird's eye view of the city of New York. It was crowded up there, but still manageable. We were afforded a short time there and also again in Rockefeller Plaza, but then that was the end of the free time. The rest of the other time was spent on the motorcoach going over a limited area of streets, and even repeating streets we'd already seen. The bus did not stop for a picture stop at the United Nations & a cathedral as it promised to, because our tour was cut short to only 2 1/2 hours and should have been 5 hours instead, because of the awfully slow & unacceptable tardy disembarkation time, getting off in New York City. XII. Disembarkation This was a REAL hardship on all involved: The crew & the thousands of guest passengers aboard the NCL "Jewel". Alright let me tell you something here: I've cruised with NCL 5 times, (& other cruise lines 7 times). Here's the ONE attribute I can tell you about NCL. NCL can handle the crowds of their smaller ships pretty well. This is the NEWEST & BIGGEST NCL ship I've been on, and what I can tell you is that NCL has EXTREME difficulty in handling the LARGER crowds. They're totally incompetent in managing large crowds. Time and time again, they ineptly handled the larger crowds on this NCL Jewel ship, with super LONG wait times. It wasn't just once. Once would be forgiveable. But it was time and time again. At our first port in Newport, Rhode Island, the line to get back on to the ship was ferocious!! We waited 45 minutes to get back on to the ship when re-boarding. Some complained it took a long time to get off the ship, but we were okay there, and didn't have that problem. Then, next port of call in Boston, Massachusetts, a SECURITY BREACH was violated!! When we boarded the ship near the end of the day, NCL was NOT EVEN screening baggage or personal effects people brought back on board the ship. My girl pointed that out to me! This is a MAJOR SECURITY BREACH!! (And why did they do that, you ask??) They were LATE, super-late, with getting people back on-board the ship again here in this 2nd port of call for the 2nd time! It took us 30 minutes in line to get back on the ship again. Good thing for me, I make the best of it by chatting with people in line to make the time move by faster. So I say again, the first thing NCL tests you on is your patience....! I didn't so much pay attention to the other ports of call afterwards, but these 2 ports really stood out. Then, for a 3rd time they bungled the dis-embarkation process, again, in New York City. We were between 1 to 2 hours LATE in getting off the ship, because of the incompetent disembarkation staff & their inept handling of the entire New York City disembarkation process, causing our 5-hour tour to only run 2 1/2 hours long. There must have been a number of people complaining about the long lines and long wait time, because about 2-3 days before the end of the cruise, everyone was given a FREE drink coupon, good for any espresso, alcholic drink, or specialty drink to be used at any of the bars, restaurants, or at the coffee cafe. So you know they admitted their mistakes. Bottom line--->> NCL Jewel is completely inept at managing large crowds and I even saw where they were using only one gangway to manage these couple thousands of guests, when there should have been at least 2 gangways in operation. So for these reasons, I've docked the embarkation/disembarkation category down to the lowly 1-star rating. XIII. Summary. Although I've ascribed the NCL Jewel the lowest cruise ship experience rating, of only 2 stars, I can tell you, the reader, that it *IS* the prettiest NCL ship that I've been on, and that compares with the Wind (retired), the Spirit, the Sun, & the Star, so the ship's beauty is a wonderful, astonishing feature that you will enjoy in the event you decide upon NCL Jewel. However, this is the first ship I've seen charging for use of the sauna, indoor jacuzzis, & steam room, although there is a free-of-charge steam room available for use too, but NO sauna for free, and NO indoor jacuzzi for free either. Surprisingly, I don't believe there's an indoor pool either. NCL needs to get with the program and improve the managing of large crowds for disembarking/embarking, needs to manage the busiest crowds in the main formal dining room where there's too much wait time during peak periods of dining, insist on better customer service with better attitudes meant for people who want to be on the ship, & get a competent shore excursion staff that adheres to the appointment times originally promised, in original reservations! Also, revert back to the attractive menu selections in the main formal dining room we had on the Sun cruise ship in May 2010. At least we didn't need translations, and the food was identifiable & appealing back then. You're heading in to the wrong direction with these unappealing menu selections in the main formal dining rooms. Some may view this writing as a negative, but I believe it's a positive. It's because of writings like these that will help aid the cruise line in getting back on-par in the right direction, and point-out their mistakes rather than me sugar-coating my cruise experience like so many others do. I refuse to do that. I tell it like it is. When it's good I mention it above; when it's bad, I point that out too. In this particular case the bad outweighed the good, even though I made the best of my cruise. After all, what would this world be like if we all sugar-coated and said everything was great all the time?? The cruise lines would only slip-up, fall in to a rut, & not improve. Author: weatherguy Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Pre-cruise We came up to New York a day early, on Amtrak from Fredericksburg, VA to New York Penn Station. We stayed the night at the Hilton Times Square (236 W. 42nd), using some our Hilton points for the room. It's a very nice ... Read More
Pre-cruise We came up to New York a day early, on Amtrak from Fredericksburg, VA to New York Penn Station. We stayed the night at the Hilton Times Square (236 W. 42nd), using some our Hilton points for the room. It's a very nice hotel in a great location. For dinner that night we went to Victor's Cafe, a Cuban restaurant located at 234 W. 52nd. Several friends had recommended the place and it had great on-line reviews. We were not disappointed, either. It's a bit pricey, but what isn't in New York? From their prix-fixe dinner menu, I highly recommend their homemade chicken soup with corn and diced avocado, and the Ropa Vieja—Victor's House Specialty (Shredded Black Angus skirt steak simmered in garlic, tomatoes, onions, and peppers nestled in a plantain basket.) They are both terrific. I also highly recommend Victor's watermelon Mojitos, but be warned, they pack a punch—a very nice punch. After dinner we caught a show (Mary Poppins) at the Amsterdam Theater, which is only a couple of hundred feet down 42nd Street from the Hilton. Embarkation We used the 777 car service to take us from the Hilton to Manhattan's cruise terminal, only a little over a mile away from the hotel. The driver was waiting for us when we exited the hotel at 11:30 and we were at the pier about 15 minutes later. The cost of the service was $16, plus tip. I suppose a taxi would have been cheaper, but at least we had a car waiting for us (a Lincoln Town Car, incidentally). (Note: on a later cruise we did take a taxi from Penn Station. We waited about ten minutes in the taxi queue, but the fare was only $6.70 from Penn Station to the cruise terminal.) Pier 90 appeared to be a mob scene when we got there. There were a lot of people standing in line. We were booked into the Emerald Penthouse for this cruise (category AB two-room family suite on deck 11) and were directed to a check point for those with suites. There we had to show our cruise tickets and passports. Then we were directed to another woman who asked to see our ticket. She then told us to get into the long check-in line. I told her we had a suite and she said we didn't. Mind you, she wasn't an NCL employee but worked for the terminal authority. Fortunately, friends we'd made on the Cruise Critic roll call checked with the people working the check-in for the suites, and they pulled us over there. From then on, the check-in went quickly. John D'Souza, the Jewel's concierge, came over to get us and take us to the VIP waiting area. There we were given our keycards and a young woman from the ship's wait staff escorted us to our stateroom. She asked us if we were hungry and told us Cagney's was open. Of course I'm hungry. I'm on a cruise. So she escorted us to Cagney's, where we had a great lunch, the first of many. I should note here that this was our fourth cruise with NCL. We've made two European cruises with them and two Western Hemisphere. Embarkation (and Debarkation) from the European ports (Barcelona and Dover) were far smoother and far less chaotic than the ones in the U.S. I'd booked this cruise a year earlier and had reserved 11656, an AF stern mini-suite—our favorite location. But just about a week before the sailing I checked with our PCC to see if any good deals had popped up. I knew there had been a lot of cancellations because of a late itinerary change, and several people in our roll call had mentioned getting nice deals on upgrades. As we were talking, an AB suite suddenly popped up. I was reluctant at first to make the change, because I really liked our stern mini-suite, but our PCC convinced me that I wouldn't regret making the move . . . and she was so right. Our suite was fabulous, much more impressive in person than when viewed on NCL's website. It featured a bar (with espresso machine), dining area, sitting area, balcony, large master bath with dual sinks, master bedroom with a queen size bed, and a second bedroom with two fold down beds and separate bathroom. The large bath tub sits beneath a large picture window. It's one-way glass (at least I surely hope so, or we're going to be on Youtube.) The separate shower has its own floor to ceiling window overlooking the ocean. It features three fixed nozzles (one overhead and two at hip level), plus removable wand. We loved that shower! I wish I could have brought it home with me. There were three flat-screen televisions in the suite—master bedroom, master bath, and living room. I could watch TV while I shaved. There was also a small stone-age technology television in the second bedroom. Also waiting for us in the suite were flowers, chocolate covered strawberries, and two bottles of champagne. One bottle was a standard perk for the suite and the other came with the deluxe romance/honeymoon/anniversary package I'd ordered. The suite was paneled throughout and it took us about a nanosecond to realize that we'd definitely made the right move to take this upgrade. Even though there were just two of us, the second bedroom came in handy for extra drawer and closet space, plus having a second bathroom was quite useful, too. One of the great perks of having a suite was that we could have breakfast and lunch at Cagney's Steak House, one of the specialty restaurants aboard the ship. That was a very nice benefit. Additionally, we had an upgraded room service menu and could order from any of the restaurants aboard the ship. If you do order dinner from one of the specialty restaurants, you will be charged the same surcharge that you would if you ate at that restaurant. The bed was extremely comfortable and the bed linens and pillows were first rate. Also included in the room were two heavy duty bathrobes and two pairs of slippers. The shampoo, conditioner, and lotion for the stateroom were provided in small bottles, as opposed to a wall dispenser found in most staterooms. We also were provided with large bars of soap. The Cruise The original itinerary of this cruise was New York-Newport-at sea-Halifax-at sea-Quebec-at sea-Cornerbrook, Newfoundland-Sydney, Nova Scotia-at sea-New York. However, because of a bearing problem with Jewel's starboard Azipod engine that limited the ship's top speed, there was an itinerary change. I received an email from NCL marked urgent on August 26, detailing the problem and outlining the change of itinerary. The itinerary had to be changed because the ship could not adhere to the original schedule with its top speed reduced by about five knots. The email was followed up two days later with a phone call from the NCL. The revised itinerary dropped Newfoundland from the cruise and added another at-sea day. Additionally, we'd be arriving at Quebec a day later and would have our time in Sydney reduced from eight to five hours. We'd get two extra hours in Halifax and the same amount of time in Quebec, but instead of arriving at 10:00 a.m and departing twelve hours later, we'd be getting in at 7:00 a.m. Incorporating the latest design in propulsion technology, the Jewel has two electrically driven propellers (about 20 feet in diameter each) mounted on steerable pods. Azipod is an acronym for this technology (azimuth and pod). These pods receive its power from the ship's diesel-electric engines and can be steered in any direction. This gives the ship incredible maneuverability and eliminates the need for rudders. It is also highly fuel efficient. The ship also has three flush mounted propellers along each side of the hull forward (bow thrusters) for additional maneuverability entering and leaving port. It's why modern cruise ships don't require the assistance of tug boats. As I already noted, the Jewel's starboard Azipod's performance was limited because of worn bearings. The necessary repairs have to be performed in dry dock and the ship is scheduled to enter the yard in Boston in November to get this done. (Note--completed) I was surprised once we got onboard Jewel to find people who did not know about the itinerary change. Many of them were quite irate, stating that the only reason they'd booked this cruise was for the stop in Cornerbrook. Everyone I spoke to who didn't know about the change had made their booking through an online travel service and did not use a travel agent, NCL, or a cruise consultant. I can't say this was the case for everyone who wasn't notified—just those I spoke to. Obviously, all of the members of our Cruise Critic roll call knew about the change, either from NCL, their travel agent, or from the other members of the roll call. NCL did offer everyone the option of cancelling their booking without penalty, though the cancellation had to be made by August 31st. We lost about eight members of our roll call because of this, but later gained about ten more, because all of the cancellations generated some pretty good bargains. If ever there was an example of why it's a great idea to use a travel agent or consultant, this was it. Ports and Excursions First of all, let me highlight that we were blessed with almost perfect weather for this cruise, managing to shoehorn it in and around Hurricanes Earl and Igor. Most days one would have thought we were in the tropics instead of the Canadian Maritimes. I've been in the Maritimes in the summer and not seen weather as we had. We really lucked out. Newport, Rhode Island, home to the New York Yacht Club, the U.S. Naval War College, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and numerous mansions from the Gilded Age was our first port of call. It was also the only port that required us to anchor and tender in. The ship offered a variety of excursions, most of which centered around visiting some of the mansions, which are the most popular attraction in Newport. Having been tipped off by a fellow roll call member, we booked a tour through the Preservation Society of Newport County (newportmansions.org). The Preservation Society offers a host of different mansion tours for a very reasonable price. All of the bookings are done online. The tour we chose gave us entry into three mansions, a "behind the scenes" tour of the servants' quarters and working areas of the Elms mansion, and lunch at either the Elms or Marble House, all for $49 per person. Close to where the tender drops you off is the Newport tourist bureau (which doesn't open until 9:00 a.m.), where you can get maps and a great deal of information about the local area. Next to it is the bus/trolley stop. An all-day ticket on the trolley is six dollars. It runs on a twenty-minute schedule. If you're in reasonable condition, it's not that hard to walk to the mansions. Just make sure you have very good walking shoes, because you'll be standing most of the day, and those marble floors in the mansions can take their toll on your legs. We rode the bus to the Breakers, the Vanderbilt's summer home in Newport. Your ticket includes a self-guided tour via headsets that are given to you when you enter the house. No photography is allowed inside any of the mansions. The Breakers is well worth the visit and I'd highly recommend it. It's probably the most well-known of the Newport Mansions. From the Breakers we just walked to Edward Berwind's mansion, the Elms. Berwind, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1869, was a coal magnate and the first millionaire to build a mansion in Newport. Once again, the self-guided tour was fascinating and immediately upon completing it we had a live guide for the behind-the-scenes tour, which was a highlight for me. Mr. Berwind had a fascination with technology and gadgets, and seeing the first air conditioners, ice makers, electric elevators, electric clothes irons and so forth was a real kick. Be warned—from the basement to the top floor servants' quarters there are eighty steps. We also had lunch at the Elms and then decided we'd seen enough mansions. We walked back to town, stopping at the Tennis Hall of Fame to poke around, and passing by St. Mary's, the church where JFK married Jacqueline Bouvier. We wandered a bit around the port area, where there are lots of touristy shops and restaurants. By this time the line for the return tender was quite long, though we didn't have to wait too long to board one. Halifax, Nova Scotia was our next port of call. We docked bright and early on the morning of Tuesday, September 14. We tied up at one of the industrial piers of the city, which meant that we had to ride a shuttle bus to the passenger terminal, a short distance away. A Princess Lines ship and the Norwegian Dawn occupied the rock star parking. However, this was just a minor inconvenience, as there were plenty of shuttle buses and no wait. My wife has business associates in Halifax and they'd given us great suggestions for things to do in town. Our plan was to explore on our own, once again. The passenger terminal was full of the usual tourist shops. This area was Canada's Ellis Island, where many immigrants first entered the country. While browsing through the terminal, we did decide to buy tickets on the Hop On, Hop Off (HOHO) bus. It turned out the price was no different than if we'd bought them at the ship's excursion desk. In fact, the ticket booth in the terminal charged the tickets to our shipboard account. They didn't accept cash or credit cards. We decided to get tickets ($59 each), which in hindsight was a complete waste of money. The guides on the bus were great and provided some interesting info, but Halifax is so compact, we just didn't spend that much time on the bus. And then we discovered that the city of Halifax provides a FREE tourist bus service from Pier 21. It's called the Fred Bus (Free Everywhere Downtown) and shuttles visitors throughout downtown, seven days a week from 10:30 to 5:00 p.m., on a 40-minute loop. It includes a guide who provides commentary on the sights and Halifax history. Among the bus' stops are the Alexander Keith Brewery, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the Citadel. So if you're contemplating the HOHO, save the money and ride Fred. Halifax is a midsize city with a small town feel. It's easy to walk around and see for yourself. If you want to see some of the surrounding sights, such as Peggy's Cove and Fairhaven Cemetery (where Titanic victims are buried) you'll need to be on an excursion or rent a car. Among the main attractions in town are the public gardens, the Citadel, the Clock Tower, the Keith Brewery, and the Maritime Museum. Argyle Street is home to an eclectic collection of pubs and restaurants. To enter the Citadel cost is approximately twelve dollars. The Keith Brewery charges $15 for a tour. This tour lasts approximately an hour and includes two pints of beer. The Keith tours don't start until noon. Several friends of ours took the tour to Peggy's Cove and really enjoyed it. Others rented a car to drive around and highly recommended we try that next time. The town of Lunenburg received rave reviews, as did Chester. If you're a fan of the Syfy TV network's Haven, it's filmed in Chester and Lunenburg. We had lunch at the Five Fishermen restaurant, on Argyle Street, just down the hill from the Clock Tower. Their lunch time menu prices are reasonable, their bread is delicious, and the clam chowder is quite good. The place has an interesting history, too. Built as a school in 1816, it was later purchased by Anna Leonowens, who'd just come from Siam, where'd she'd been the governess for the King of Siam's children. She later wrote her memoirs. You may have seen the play or movie based upon those memoirs, "The King and I." The building then became a funeral home, and it was here that the recovered bodies of Titanic passengers were brought. It became a restaurant in 1974 and is noted not only for its chowder, but also for the numerous ghost sightings in the establishment. As I've mentioned, Halifax is an easy city to walk around, so if you're just interested in the city, you'll do quite well with a good guide book and the free Fred bus. The highlight of the cruise for us, and probably for most of the passengers, was our visit to Quebec. It's hard to believe that a city with such a European style and feel is so close to the United States. We pulled into port just as the sun was coming up, docking at the pier located right at the foot of Vieux Quebec (old Quebec). The view of the city was breathtaking, as we were right beneath the heights of the old citadel and fortress walls. Quebec is the only walled city in North America, north of Mexico City. My only regret about this visit is that because of the schedule change, we arrived and departed in the dark. At least with the original itinerary, we would have had about three hours of morning daylight to see the approaches to the city. We were doing a ship's excursion today, the "Grand Exploration of Quebec." It was scheduled for seven and a half hours and would include lunch. Unlike other NCL excursions we've taken, where we met in the theater and were assigned to a numbered tour group, in Quebec we just met pierside and got in line for a bus. When a bus filled up, the line moved to the next bus. It was a bit chaotic, as passengers decided not to wait in line and started jumping from bus to bus. Our tour was obviously the one that most passengers were taking today, as several buses were filled. Fortunately, the guides were conducting the scheduled itinerary in varying order, so all of the buses weren't at the same place at the same time. Consequently, we never had more than one other NCL tour group at any of our stops. I should mention that there was one other ship in port, HAL's Eurodam. None of the places we stopped were particularly crowded, though. Our first stop on the itinerary was just a short distance from the ship, where Samuel de Champlain landed in 1608 to establish the first French settlement. It was Champlain who named the city, using an Indian word that means "place where the river narrows." The area of our first visit is known as the Place Royale, where our guide provided an informative architecture and history lesson. We then drove up through the old city to the Plains of Abraham, the heights that dominate Quebec. The name came from a ship pilot named Abraham, who used to graze his livestock on the heights. It was here in 1759 that Highland troops of Fraser's regiment, under the overall command of General James Wolfe, scaled the heights to surprise the French army under Montcalm. Both Wolfe and Montcalm died as a result of the ensuing battle. Wolfe's body was returned to England in a cask of rum but Montcalm remained in Quebec. Possession of Canada passed to the English, but Quebec still remains undeniably French. Incidentally, legend has it that Wolfe's cask was empty when his ship reached England, perhaps giving rise to the expression "dead drunk." After a photo stop on the heights, we proceeded to the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec's most prominent architectural feature. Though chateau means castle in French, the imposing building is actually a hotel built by the Canadian Pacific railroad late in the 19th century. The boardwalk in front of the hotel offers a sweeping vista of the St. Lawrence and old Quebec below it. There is also a funicular railcar that allows you to ride up and down the heights from Place Royale to the chateau, though the walk isn't really that bad. We had about forty minutes free here, giving us time to take pictures and wander inside Frontenac. We then drove about twenty minutes north to the town of Beaupre, to tour the Romanesque style basilica dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Mary. It's a beautiful church, but to be quite honest, I'd rather have spent the time touring more of old Quebec. After about an hour at Beaupre, we drove across the St. Lawrence to the Ile d'Orleans (Orleans Island), where we stopped for lunch at Les Ancetres (The Ancestors), an old farmhouse that was converted into a restaurant. We sat outdoors on the back veranda, with a great view of the St. Lawrence and Montmorency Falls. There were three options for lunch—beef, chicken, or vegetarian. I had the beef bourguignon, which was excellent, while my wife had the chicken, which she said was also quite good. Water or soft drinks were also included. Beer or wine was an additional six dollars. The meal was terrific and the view from the patio was spectacular. Following lunch we had a drive tour of the island, which is quite beautiful. A significant amount of Canada's produce is grown on Ile D'Orleans. Our final stop of the tour was the top of Montmorency Falls, about seven miles north of the city. The falls are 275 feet high and 150 feet wide, making it 98 feet higher than Niagara Falls (though much narrower than Niagara). There are stairs that offer numerous spots to view the falls and a suspension bridge above the crest. There are also stairs from the basin of the falls to the crest, as well as an aerial tram. Our tour bus parked at the Manoir Montmorency, a restaurant built in the style of an elegant country manor. The current building actually replaced the original Manoir, which burned down in 1993. Inside the building are restrooms, or as our Canadian friends call them, washrooms; and a gift shop. From the parking lot, it's a short walk to the falls, either by a level dirt path behind the Manior, or by the more scenic boardwalk, which involves some steps. We took the boardwalk and it wasn't difficult, plus it offered some spectacular viewpoints of the falls. We were at Montmorency for about an hour, giving us plenty of time to see the falls and browse through the Manior. Our bus returned us to the ship at 4:30, eight hours after we'd departed in the morning. Our guide, a former school teacher, was excellent and quite knowledgeable about the history of Quebec. Some of her translations from French into English were unintentionally hilarious. It was certainly a worthwhile tour but as I mentioned earlier, I would eliminate the stop at Beaupre and spend more time in the old city. We now had two hours before we had to be back aboard and we immediately walked back into town to explore more on our own. As it was Friday, the area of the old city was beginning to come alive with folks out enjoying the beautiful weather and the start of the weekend. We walked back up the heights to the Chateau Frontenac to take some more photos and then worked our way back down to Place Royale, with its dozens of bistros and shops. A special offered by the Bistro Sous le Fort caught our eye—two beers and two bowls of French onion soup for $15—and we took a table outside with a great view of the Chateau. The beer was quite good and the soup was the best French onion I've ever had, no kidding. I'd be willing to go back to Quebec just for that soup. Alas, all too soon we had to hustle back to the ship. It would have been nice to spend about four or five more hours there. Friday night in old Quebec seems to be a great time. Our next . . . and final . . . stop was the town of Sydney, Nova Scotia. We were originally booked on the Taste of the Cabot Trail excursion, but that was canceled after the itinerary change, because it's a seven and a half hour tour. Any excursion had to be four hours or less, because we'd only be in port for five hours. Five hours is hardly enough time to do the area justice. Sydney, an old mining and steel town, is trying to reinvent itself as a tourist destination, hence a huge infrastructure investment in the port area to attract cruise ships. The signature feature of the port is the world's largest fiddle, a moment to the rich Celtic heritage of the region. As an interesting side note, this area is home to Gaelic College, dedicated to the preservation and teaching of the Gaelic language, custom, and culture. Students come from around the world, including Scotland, to study traditional Scottish disciplines, including the Gaelic language and song, music, and crafts. It is the largest program in the world dedicated to teaching Gaelic. The key attractions of the area require that you get out of town—Cape Breton Island, Bras d'Or (Arms of Gold) Lake, the Cabot Trail, Fortress Louisbourg, and the Bell Museum at Baddeck. It truly is a beautiful area and it's easy to see why Alexander Graham Bell fell in love with it. We did the ship's excursion to Baddeck, about forty-five minutes away. This included one stop at a scenic overlook for photos. At Baddeck, we had around an hour to tour the Bell Museum. From the front of the museum, across the Bras D'Or Lake, one can see the point of land where Bell had his summer home. It's still owned by the Bell family and not open to the public. The town of Baddeck is just around the corner from the museum and we had about twenty minutes in town to shop. We had about ten minutes left to shop for souvenirs at the pier shopping center once we returned to the port. It was an excellent tour but rather hurried because of the time constraints. It was just enough to whet one's appetite to return to this part of Canada. Crew The ship's staff and crew was the usual mix of nationalities one finds throughout the cruise ship industry. Over sixty nations were represented, with the Philippines representing the majority. There were also a sizeable number of workers from Indonesia and India. The Captain, Konstantino Fafalios, is Greek; Richard Svardmark, Staff Captain, is Swedish; Slavko Mirkovic, Chief Engineer, is from Croatia; John O'Hara, Hotel Director, is from the U.S.; and Shona Blair, the Cruise Director, is also American. Incidentally, the Staff Captain is second-in-command of the ship, the equivalent of the Executive Officer on a U.S. Navy ship. Without exception, every member of the crew we came in contact with cheerful and friendly, be it housekeeping, restaurant, bar, entertainment, security, or deck. John O'Hara is very approachable and actually announced his phone number to everyone on the cruise. If anyone had any concerns, he wanted them to contact him personally. I had contact with him nearly every day, and he always wanted to know how the cruise was going and if there was anything that could be done better. Shona Blair was the most energetic, outgoing, and entertaining cruise director I've come across at NCL. Don't get me wrong, our three previous NCL cruise directors were excellent, but Ms. Blair was the best so far. I also appreciated the way she would talk with passengers during the day, soliciting their opinion about the cruise and the entertainment. She was very open to feedback. Ship's Condition We found the ship's overall condition to be excellent. It was clean and well maintained. Our steward kept our stateroom tidy, but the carpeting underneath our sofa hadn't been cleaned in quite some time. I discovered this when I dropped something behind the sofa. It was quite dirty and not what I've come to expect from NCL. Some parts of the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 12, particularly toward the front of the lounge on the port side had a funky smell, almost as if the seat cushions were mildewed. But apart from this and under our sofa, the parts of the ship I saw on a daily basis were spotless. As is customary on all well-maintained ships, there were working parties turning-to every day to keep the ship shining. CC Roll Call Meet and Greet We had 36 members show for our Meet and Greet, which was held in the Star Bar on the morning of our first At-Sea day, on September 13th. The entire senior staff was present, including the Captain, Staff Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Director, and Cruise Director and several members of the Second City cast. The ship arranged name tags for everyone and also provided coffee, tea, juice and a large assortment of pastries. The Jewel crew treated our Roll Call group with utmost respect and Captain Fafalios emphasized that NCL pays close attention to Cruise Critic and values our presence on their ships. The Captain spoke at length about the cruise and his ship, and then fielded questions for about twenty minutes. He also invited us to be his personal guests for a tour of the bridge and said that invitations would be sent to our staterooms. The Captain, Staff Captain, and Engineer then excused themselves to return to ship's business, but John O'Hara and Shona Blair, as well as the Second City cast, remained behind to talk to us further. The meeting lasted for well over an hour and was informative and enlightening, as well as a lot of fun. Food Ah, what stirs passions more than the topic of food aboard a cruise liner? I'll say that our impression of the food and food service during the entirety of the cruise was quite good, with a couple of minor exceptions. One must bear in mind that the ship is preparing 17,000 meals a day, so if you're expecting Pellegrino Top 50 type cuisine, you'll be disappointed. If that's want you want, be prepared to spend about ten to fifteen times more for your cruise. However, overall, the Jewel kitchen staff does an excellent job and turns out very good meals. We dined at almost every venue on the ship, including Cagney's (steakhouse), Mama's (Italian), Tango's (Tex Mex), Chin Chin (Asian Fusion), Le Bistro (French), Tsar's and Azura (main dining rooms), and the Garden Cafe (buffet). Additionally, we had room service breakfast twice. In my own unscientific system, only based upon my own experience, I ranked them as follows: 1. Cagney's: There is a $25 pp cover charge but the restaurant provides the best food and atmosphere on the ship. Its T-bone and New York strip steaks are excellent, and it does provide alternative entrees for those who aren't steak eaters. The staff is very attentive. 2. Tango's: Ten dollar pp cover charge. Food was great, as were the margaritas. Huge appetizers. Excellent and helpful wait staff. (My wife would reverse 1 and 2, but she's not a steak eater.) 3. Chin Chin: Ten dollar pp cover charge. Menu you'd find at your typical Thai/Chinese restaurant. It was quite good and the portions were enormous. Again, the wait staff was excellent. 4. Azura: No cover. One of the great resources here is the maitre 'd, Harold Plunkett, who has been with NCL for 34 years. We first met him aboard the NCL Dream. If you need anything at all, just ask for Mr. P. He's the sort of person who makes things happen. The food here was quite good. The major drawback was that it can get quite noisy at times. There was also a person in the restaurant going from table to table selling roses. This was a bit cheesy, to say the least. It's a bad idea that NCL should drop immediately. 5. Tsar's: No cover. Great view of the wake if you can get one of the aft tables. The food and menu here are identical to Azura. We just preferred the cozier atmosphere of Azura, but the food and service were just as good as the former. Again, the noise can be a distraction at times. 6. Garden Cafe: No cover buffet. Plenty of food with a wide variety of cuisines to select. If you like salads, it's the best place on the ship. An excellent place to dine if you're pressed for time. 7. Mamas: Ten dollars pp. The food here was okay but nothing was particularly outstanding. The menu reminded me of what passes for Italian food at pseudo-Italian restaurants in the States. The service was great. 8. Le Bistro: Our service charge was included as part of the Deluxe Anniversary package. I believe it's usually $25 pp. Le Bistro has been one of our favorites on other NCL ships but on Jewel it was our biggest disappointment, primarily because of the inordinately slow service. An hour after we'd ordered, we still hadn't received our entrEe. I had their lobster specialty, and to be quite honest, it wasn't worth the wait. It was tough and overdone. We didn't have time for the dessert because we were trying to get to a show. Our server had it sent to our stateroom instead. Their chocolate Napoleon is excellent. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention room service. As I previously mentioned, we used it twice for breakfast and both times it was excellent. Because we were staying in a penthouse, we had a slightly upgraded room service menu, which included hot items for breakfast. The food was hot, plentiful and quite good, and was delivered spot on time. Entertainment The cruise offered a variety of entertainment, from the usual Asian rock bands in the lounges to blockbuster extravaganzas in the main theater. Overall the entertainment was quite good, and some of the performers were superb. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows we attended. Among the best performances in the Stardust Theater were Harry O'Donoghue, an Irish solo act; Ross Bennett, an American comedian; Jean Paul, a Canadian magician/comedian; Band on the Run—a song and dance tribute to the music of the Seventies; and Cirque de Bijou, a Cirque du Soleil-type act that was absolutely terrific. The performers in Band on the Run were the same for the Cirque de Bijou and are a very talented group. Second City also performed in the Stardust and were quite funny, especially their sketches centered on cruise ship life. For those of you unfamiliar with Second City, it's a comedy organization that originated in Chicago and boasts numerous famous alumni, including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Alan Alda, Bonnie Hunt, Tina Fey, and Bill Murray. They primarily focus on improvisational comedy and the young performers on Jewel are hoping to follow in the footsteps of their famous predecessors. Ross Bennett is a feature on SiriusXM satellite radio's "Blue Collar Comedy" channel and is a great talent. He was hilarious, never more so then when he was deftly putting down a drunken idiot heckler. Jean Paul, a native of Montreal, was also a laugh riot. I mean, he was heart-attack inducing funny. Unfortunately, he was leaving the ship at the end of the cruise to headline at the Riviera in Las Vegas. (Note: He's back aboard Jewel after a very successful stint in Las Vegas.) What was most remarkable about his comedy is the fact that he admitted that when he first got started in the entertainment business at age 20, he couldn't even speak English. Harry O'Donoghue, Ross Bennett, Jean Paul, and Second City also had other performances during the cruise in the Spinnaker Lounge. The Second City performers also did a clinic on improvisation that was a lot of fun. There were other performers in the Stardust that we didn't see: a hypnotist, a solo female singer, and a ventriloquist. The variety show that the ship's crew performs on the final day of the cruise was a lot of fun. There are some very talented folks on the ship. The final act, performed by the Cruise Director and her staff, is not to be missed. Other events that we enjoyed was the "70s Disco Inferno Night" in Spinnakers, complete with the Jewel's very own version of the Village People. The assistant cruise director, a Turkish gentleman who's name I unfortunately have lost, was hilarious, especially when he was teaching us John Travolta's dance steps from Saturday Night Fever. The White Hot party was also a lot of fun. Be sure to wear white. Now you finally have another use for that wedding dress you've been storing all these years. Our absolutely most favorite entertainment on the ship was the Clachan Boys, a duo that performed primarily in the Fyzz Lounge, though they deserved to be performing in the Stardust Theater. They are a Celtic group from San Diego, featuring Scotsman Brian Caldwell and American Paul Castellanos. Brian is the lead singer and plays the guitar and the Bodhran (Celtic drum), while Paul plays guitar, mandolin, and fiddle (he forgot his banjo). If it has strings, Paul can play it. His rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" would make Charlie Daniels jealous. Shona Blair told us that the Clachan Boys were a last second replacement for another act that had to cancel because of illness, and she couldn't believe the ship's good fortune. For those of you who like great Celtic and contemporary music, I suggest you check out their web site to see if they might be performing near you. Spa We purchased two spa passes, which cost $119 each for the ten days. This gave us access to all of the Jewel's spa facilities: sauna, steam room, plunge pool, and hot tub, segregated for men and women. There is also a unisex area with therapy bath and heated chairs. The spa is located on deck 12, forward. The heated chairs in the unisex area look out over the bow of the ship. We made use of the spa facilities every day. One thing the Jewel lacks that the Jade had is doors directly to the unisex area from the men's and women's spas. The spa staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Also, as part of our anniversary package, we had a 25-minute couples massage that was fantastic. The ship usually offers spa tours on embarkation day, which I'd recommend if you're the least bit interested. Internet Access We are the constantly wired generation and many can't go ten minutes, let alone ten days, without internet access. The ship offers connectivity via satellite. Every cabin has an Ethernet connection but wireless connectivity is only available in the public areas, such as the lounges. There are also a number of desktop PCs in the Internet Cafe on Deck 6 and one was always available every time I stopped by. Mind you, none of this free. You can pay a per minute charge of seventy-five cents, or buy a plan. Two hundred fifty minutes will cost you $100, plus Latitudes Members will get a few extra minutes. The connection is very slow. If you plan to write something lengthy, the best thing is to compose it off line and then connect to send it. I found the wireless connection with my IPad to be unreliable—I kept getting disconnected, usually right in the middle of something important. Laundry The ship offered a few laundry specials during the cruise. On the first day a "pressing only" special was offered for a reduced price. There were two laundry specials. Each time it was $25 for all you could fit into a laundry bag (which the ship provides). You can fit a lot of laundry into that bag. Your clothes will be washed and folded, not pressed. Also, if you need an iron, you can call housekeeping and they will provide one for you. Television Yes, the ship does have television with several channels available. It's satellite television, obviously, and subject to outages depending upon the ship's location. There are a number of ship's channels, covering everything from excursions, duty free shopping, and entertainment to safety. And course there is the ever-popular "bow of the ship" channel, so if you have an inside cabin, you can tune to that and pretend you're in an owner's suite. There are three movie channels. Other channels were MSNBC, Bloomberg, BBC news, ESPN, and finally, the comedy channel (Fox News). The ESPN channel offered a variety of sports that Americans never watch but not to worry, NFL football was also televised on Sundays. Cruise Rewards This program enables one to purchase a deposit on a future cruise for $250, in return for an immediate $100 on-board credit. If you intend to cruise again on NCL, this is a great deal. The program has gone through several iterations through the years. At the moment you are required to book your next cruise within four years of purchase of the certificate, and it's good for any cruise that is six days or longer in length. Each passenger can buy up to four of these certificates, and they are transferrable, so you can give them as gifts. You'll be bombarded with information on this program while onboard. It's not something you'll forget to do. Arrival and Disembarkation Our original itinerary called for us to pull into New York at eight in the morning but the revised schedule called for a ten a.m. arrival. Many passengers, us included, made changes to our getaway travel plans because of the later scheduled arrival. Imagine our surprise when we pulled into Pier 88 at eight, the original time. We had a leisurely breakfast at Cagney's and then hung around in our stateroom. Getting off the ship was easy and collecting the luggage was easy. It was after that that things got a bit more complicated. Once you had your luggage, you had to get into a long line to clear customs and immigration. However, if you give your bags to a porter, you'll be taken to a much shorter line. Keep that in mind if you're in a rush. The area outside the terminal was chaotic. Three ships had pulled in at the same time and the area was jammed with buses, cars, and taxis. If you'd used a porter, your bags were dropped right at the exit. However, if you were dragging your own bags, you were forced to drag your bags down to the next terminal, trying to wend your way through hundreds of people crowding the sidewalk. Of course, the car from the car service was at the other pier and our driver had to work his way back to us, which took almost twenty minutes. Fortunately, our train wasn't leaving until much later in the day, so in the end it was a minor inconvenience. Again, the cost of the car service was $16. Summary The worst part of going on a cruise is that it has to end. Just as our previous NCL cruises, we had a wonderful time and can't wait to go again. We loved the ship, the ports were fun, and our Penthouse was incredible. Thanks to the last second upgrade bargain, we were able to get this Penthouse for several thousand less than it normally goes for. The day before we sailed we were called by NCL and offered an upsell to the Owner's Suite for an additional $900 but we declined, liking the layout of the Emerald Penthouse better. The itinerary was great, though I'd like to see more time in Quebec. I see that NCL does now have a Canada cruise that features an overnight in that beautiful city. I'd highly recommend the Jewel and the Canada cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Comments regarding our 9/11 cruise to New England and Canada: Embarkation was long (as it was for us in May). Organized Cruise Critic meet and greet where we met the Captain and other high ranking personnel. John (Hotel ... Read More
Comments regarding our 9/11 cruise to New England and Canada: Embarkation was long (as it was for us in May). Organized Cruise Critic meet and greet where we met the Captain and other high ranking personnel. John (Hotel Director) does read his Dear John letters. We were also invited to see the bridge later that week - very impressive and I was surprised that we were allowed to go to the bridge. Activities - OSA (Organized Staff Activities - trivia, napkin folding, sports, etc...), attend and participate, get signatures, redeem for mugs or cards or shirts or pens. We enjoy participating and meeting others. My husband purchased one of the spa passes to be able to use the sauna, jacuzzi, etc... There are a limited number of these passes sold on the first day. Huge large screen in Atrium showed football games (and the bar there distributed free popcorn). Older clientele - since we are in our 50's, we felt like young'uns! There were less than 15 kids on board, we were told. 2 weeks earlier, there were hundreds of kids. We had sailed on the Jewel in May and there were tons of kids at that time. We hardly ever saw our room steward, but the room was always cleaned early in the day (usually while we were eating breakfast). Loved those towel animals (elephant, monkey, dog, etc...). Enjoyed having a balcony - we were the furthest balcony towards the stern on Deck 10. Meals in main dining room - many evenings, there was a line so we had to get buzzers and wait 15-20 minutes or so. This was a little aggravating. We shared a table once or twice (and met interesting people), but then just requested a table for the 2 of us. After awhile, the hostess at Tsar's recognized us and knew about our seating preference. Chin Chin was wonderful although I don't see us doing it again if the kids were with us due to its extra cost. Entertainment - had previously seen some of the acts when we sailed in late May so we skipped the entertainment some nights, but overall we do enjoy the acts. Just get to the theatre 30 minutes ahead so that you can get good seats. We had great weather throughout the cruise (temps in the 60's and 70's), slight whitecaps in the Strait of St Lawrence. The last day at sea, Igor raised some more waves. I was surprised (and slightly disappointed) that no leaves had changed. We did play some of the cheap slots at the Casino. Newport - got a 1 day bus pass at visitor's center. Got off at far end of Cliff Walk and did about 2/3rds of the walk. Caught a bus and rode back to the Tennis Hall of Fame and stopped to grab a bowl of chowder at a nearby restaurant. We caught the bus back to downtown and the tender. (This was the only place that we had to tender.) Halifax - as there were 2 other cruise ships docked the same day, the Jewel docked in a restricted area which meant that we had to take a bus out of the restricted area to the public area. The ride was a few minutes. There are some shops nearby and then we walked along the water to downtown (about 15-20 minutes or so). Since we had already been in Halifax 2 other times, the person at the visitor's center suggested that we take the ferry across the harbor to Dartmouth. It's a 10-15 minute ride and if you come back within 90 minutes the return trip is free! Just make sure you ask for a transfer when you get your ticket. So a round trip for the 2 of us was less than $5. An indie movie was being filmed near where the ferry docked so we watched that for awhile. We walked around and then caught a ferry back. Walking along the water in Halifax was relaxing and we popped in some shops here and there. Quebec - what a beautiful place! I was there in March (along with lots of snow), so I was anxious to see what the city looked like at this time of year. The narrow streets and old buildings were lovely. We took the funicular up the hill ($2/person). It certainly was a nice easy way to get up to the "new" city. At the top of the hill, there was a free archaeology exhibit showing a dig and since I am married to an archeologist, we wandered through it. Lots of street performers - singers, mimes, animated silver woman, etc... Sydney - not too much to do in this city. It was a Sunday and most of the shops weren't open. We had been here once before, so just walking around was okay. Corner Brook - was cancelled. This was the only place that we had booked a shore excursion and we were disappointed when the port was cancelled. Oh well - another time, I guess. One of the highlights of this 10 day cruise was seeing whales spouting while sailing in the St Lawrence Seaway. We would definitely do this itinerary again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Our cruise to Canada and New England aboard Norwegian Jewel was below our expectations. We had cruised on Norwegian previously to Mexico and had a good experience once we adjusted to "free-styling". We are experienced ... Read More
Our cruise to Canada and New England aboard Norwegian Jewel was below our expectations. We had cruised on Norwegian previously to Mexico and had a good experience once we adjusted to "free-styling". We are experienced cruisers, 5 different lines over 13 cruises now. So here's the list in categories THE SHIP ITSELF1. Never, on any of our cruises, have I ever NOT been able to sit on the toilet in my stateroom. I'm 6'2" and physically could not fit (no knee room) on the toilet. Its designed at a 45 degree angle for some reason and would have been just fine mounted straight on. Otherwise, the bathroom and specifically the shower was quite spacious as stateroom bathrooms go. 2. Because of the Freestyle cruising emphasis on specialty restaurants, a high percentage of public area on the ship is dedicated to dining. When the weather got bad and the outside decks had to be avoided, the congestion in the public areas was remarkable. Don't think I ever saw a ship's library totally full before. 3. The ship allegedly, has issues with the thrust bearings on one of its azipods(propulsion system). So NCL cancelled the stop at Corner Brook Newfoundland, very disappointing, but to make it up those already booked, every stateroom got $100 on-board credit. So hey, stuff happens. Here's the funny thing though... we kept an eye on the ship's speed for the entire cruise... our speed over the ground (SOG in nautical terms) never exceeded 15 knots. That was it, 15 knots TOPS to Newport, Halifax, Quebec City and Sydney. After we were done with Sydney, NS and on our way to NYC... miraculously the Jewel became capable of making 22 Knots which is very close to her fastest possible top speed. So tell me again why NCL cancelled Newfoundland if she was able to haul that fast even in rough sea conditions? I have a theory, below. DINING 1. If you've never cruised on NCL before understand what "freestyle cruising" means... -Every day, when dinner time comes(you choose when that is, fair enough) you have to make a decision on where to eat, it becomes a topic of discussion every day, so if you like to keep busy with stuff like this you might like it. -Choose the wrong time to go to a restaurant and you will wait in line. They have TV monitors around the ship to help you see which restaurants are busiest and how long the wait might be. Maybe that dining strategy you and the family have been discussing all afternoon now has to be changed. -You never get to be known to a particular waiter/waitress so if you like feel like you're something special in the dining room, you'll just have to settle for using your imagination. 2. In all fairness, the food on-board the Jewel was quite good. Specialty restaurants we used on this trip were the Sushi Bar, The French and Tex-Mex restaurants. Not sure that there was any difference between the quality of the food at the buffet and the main dining rooms. ACTIVITIES and CRUISE STAFF Here's where I had the most problem with this cruise. 1. Every day you get a "Freestyle Daily" which tells you all about upcoming events for the next day. After a couple days on this cruise I started to categorize and keep track of the items on the schedule that were involved in raising more money from the passengers. "NCL U" NCL University is evidently all about educating people about alcohol. $$ programs at the gym, $$$ at the spa, $$$ at the shops, $$$$ at the poker tournament or bingo. You get the picture. I've never seen it so blatant and in-your-face on any other line OR on the NCL Sun(my only other NCL experience). 2. Back to the events again... there was a very high percentage of NON-events listed to make the list look fuller... I'm sorry, "Bridge with your fellow passengers" is not an event. Enjoy ping pong pool deck. 3. TRIVIA LOVERS.... don't bother with the Jewel. No one really cares about it. Poorly prepared trivia quizzes, repeated questions, staff that didn't know anything about the subject matter. They had a new system of people getting initials on a card for participating in an organized activity and an extra one for winning a quiz and then accumulating those signatures throughout the cruise. Evidently those with the most signatures at the end of the cruise got to choose better prizes than those with fewer signatures. So after every organized activity you had to stand in line(an NCL tradition) to get the cruise staff person to sign your card. Many of us just didn't bother with it and hey, that's just fine with NCL, have to give away less stuff. 4. CONSPIRACY THEORY Here it is... After being sucked up to for for more money for 7 days, and then seeing that the Jewel was able to cruise at a full 22 knots, I concluded, as did many others aboard, that NCL cancelled Newfoundland because doing so would generate more revenue. All those people stuck indoors with plenty of ways to spend money, beats letting them go ashore and missing out on the revenue. BOTTOM LINE OR NCL____If you've never cruised on NCL before, do not look forward to excellence in any aspect of the cruise. Its pretty run of the mill service, food is good but not outstanding (unless you spring extra bucks for it). BOTTOM LINE ON THE JEWEL_____ Specifically on the Jewel, I think the cruise staff is lazy, inattentive and unmotivated by anything but raising revenue. Lets face it, all the cruise lines are hurting to some extent, but for me, NCL really rubbed it in my face. It will be a long time before I'll try NCL again. If you know your way around cruising, you know that "Freestyle Cruising" is just a marketing trick designed to attract those that have never cruised before. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our 1st NCL cruise and we went on board with an atitude that if it wasn't what we enjoyed , we wouldn't do it ever again. This is what we found... We flew into NYC a day early , had free shuttle to Comfort Inn at ... Read More
This was our 1st NCL cruise and we went on board with an atitude that if it wasn't what we enjoyed , we wouldn't do it ever again. This is what we found... We flew into NYC a day early , had free shuttle to Comfort Inn at Laguardia airport. Not a great neighborhood but it was a place to sleep and it was clean. We made previous arrangements for car service (Dial 7) to pick us up at 11:00 A.M. They were prompt. Took us to peir 88 in Manhatten. Chech in was very smooth , no more than 20 minutes. Went to Tsar's Diningroom for lunch and had bbq ribs as well as peach cobbler. Very well prepared. No crowd in sight in the diningroom. Maybe 25-30 people . Afterwards we started exploring our new world. Home away from work! The ship is so very clean, colorful and comfortable. NCL has done a great job in maintaining this ship and all their crew do a excellent job throught out the ship. Never saw anything that was not up to pare, anywhere at anytime. The lifeboat drill went same as all other lines . Our area was Tsar's so it wasn't hard to find. Sat there for about 15 minutes and when dismissed we went to our room and unpacked. We had a oceanview on deck 8 at the back of the ship. Room was a little larger that we expected , all kinds of space to put everything away. The ship left on time and we sailed out of New York In full view of Ladt Liberty and Ellis Island. Sun was glaring a bit but the photos came out excellent. Our two room stewards were dedicated to making us comfortable. Both men were talkative and freindly each time we saw them. The beds were pillow top and Hubby loved them but I sleep better on a firm mattress so the pillow top was a killer. Well the pillow top can be removed which I realized on the third day out. Ask if they would seperate the beds and leave the top on hubby's bed. These guys kept apoligizing for having to seperate the beds. One was 4-6 inches taller afterwards. The food was very good throughout the ship. Did not have a bad meal, some were a little too dressed up for us plain southern folks but we managed to gain weight anyway! We ate at the main dining rooms mostly as well as the buffet. Tried Tango's which was Tex-Mex . Good but did not think it was better than the others, so back to the main dining room we went. The buffet was very plentiful with different menu each day except breakfast . There you were stuck. Every kind of cooked eggs including made to order omelettes free. Bacon, sausage links, baked city ham, 3 kinds of fried potatoes , gravy, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pecan crusted rolls, waffles, pancakes, french toast with warm fruits and syrup to top them off. Bagels, English muffins, rolls also add oatmeal, grits and a fresh fruit bar. There are 20 items or more I'm forgetting, sorry. You can graze there from 6:30A.M.-10:30A.M. then it closes and reopens in an hour for lunch. American fast food bar, Asian, India Bar, Pizza bar, Salad bar, Sandwich bar, Hot food bar, Ice Cream & desert bar. You get the idea. If you go away hungry you should have stayed home. You are too picky! We sailed straight to Newport , Rhode Island for 1st full day of our cruise. Walked along the Cliff walk. After we did a one hour harbour tour to see the mansions. Yep we picked out a few but couldn't decide so we just kept what we got. No prearranging tour needed. It's right there on the pier for $15.00. Next day was sea day , We did the Meet & Greet. Got to meet the powers that be on ship. Very accommodating group of professionals. They spoke to our group and served refreshments. Captain invited everyone to tour the bridge. He had the invitations sent to our rooms. Halifax was next port. Spent the day on a taxi tour with four other CC members. Rained part of the day but never while we were out in it , always while we were traveling down the road. Visited Titanic Victims graveyard, Ma hone Bay , Lunenburg and Peggy's Cove. Two days at sea then we sailed into Quebec City through the St. Lawrence River. Walked around old town, did the Funicular ( $ 2 canadian) . Also did a tour through Viator of Mortmorency Falls, as well as the Shrine of Ste Anne Beaupre . Last stop was Sydney after another day at sea. It was not really worth the bother. Only 4 hours and a half on shore on a Sunday morning. Most all shops were closed. Last day at sea had to hold on to the rails a few times. Hurricane Igor was slamming Burmuda and chopping up the water somewhat. 7-12 foot waves. Loved it, hoped it would get worse but it calmed down about 10:00 that night. They barred the outer doors to keep people from going out. Safety. Watched most of the shows through out the trip including the "Nick "ones Even had our picture taken for Grandchild back home. Very few kids on board. If adults didn't go to show they would have been canceled!! Very long line of grandparents to get their photos made . We did dress casual for dinner each night for dining room instead of buffet. Most all that we saw were in dress slacks and nice shirt or blouse. This was an older crowd since school has started everywhere so very few people wearing bluejeans or tee shirts in the dining rooms. Pool was open and there were some brave souls using it . Not a problem getting deck chairs when it's barely 60 degrees. Lot of people had to try it though. They were wrapped in towels and jackets huddles in their deck chairs! Floated back by our Lady Liberty coming back to where we began. We were some of the last to get off the Jewel as we signed up for a 2 hour NYC tour through the ship. Took us to Time Square right where the ball drops every New Year's Eve to welcome the new year. Did you know there was a police station right smack dab under that thing? Went to SoHo district, China town , Fashion District, by Macy's, Time Warner (CNN), Empire State building, Central Park and one street over from ground Zero and the Wall Street Bull . Tour ended at Laguardia Airport. All good thing must come to and end. The jewel really is a Gem. Would love to sail with her and her staff again , just wish it was somewhere warmer and wish the homeport wasn't so far north. Will go again , did get the onboard credit to sail again. Please give NCL a try. It is well worth what you pay. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My wife and I had an enjoyable cruise on the Jewel. A week or so before the cruise we were notified that due to a bearing problem the ship would have to travel more slowly and could not make the Corner Brook stop. We were offered the ... Read More
My wife and I had an enjoyable cruise on the Jewel. A week or so before the cruise we were notified that due to a bearing problem the ship would have to travel more slowly and could not make the Corner Brook stop. We were offered the opportunity to cancel but did not. We did, however, complain and managed to get a somewhat better cabin out of it. There was a long line at embarkation in New York, but it moved fairly quickly and we were onboard in an hour or so. We made a reservation for Mama's Kitchen that evening. We had a beautiful day sailing out of New York. Mama's Kitchen was quite disappointing. They don't seem to have much of a clue about Italian food!. After that we stuck to the cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the main dining rooms for dinner. On the whole these were surprisingly good. One big plus is that Norwegian seems to have the best coffee of any cruise line we've been on. Some of the coffee machines in the Cafe even brew it in a minute or so from beans. On our previous experience with Norwegian in Hawaii they even had freshly brewed cappucino in the cafe, but, alas, now you have to pay for cappucino. Free style dining is a mixed bag. We like the flexibility but missed the chance to dine with fellow passengers. We always had a late dinner, after the early show, and never had to wait significantly at either of the main dining rooms. We were lucky and had good weather at all the stops. We didn't do any of the Jewel's excursions. In Newport, R.I. we took the bus from the Information Center to Marble House, then walked to Rosecliff and the Breakers. Then we took the bus back to the ship. We didn't do the Cliff Walk per se, but you get a good idea of it from the "backyard" of the Marble House where it actually tunnels under the Marble House property. In Halifax we rented a car from Enterprise, which is about 2 blocks from the pier. We took it to Peggy's Cove, then back to the Citadel in Halifax, and finally back to the pier. All the Canadians we encountered were extremely friendly and helpful. Car rentals were very reasonable. On the way in to Quebec city, we could see Montmorency Falls from the ship. The ship docks right in the lower city. We took the Ecolobus from near the dock up to the Parliament area. The stop is a little hard to find; we had to ask a passing Canadian where to find it. We were going to walk down the Governor's Promenade stairs, but it was closed for reconstruction. We went to the Citadel, then walked around it and down to the Dufferin Terrace. Again, most of that was also under constuction. We wandered around the Frontenac and Place d'Armes. Then we looked for the Ursuline Museum, which again turned out to be closed for renovations. We wandered around the upper city for a while, then took the funicular down to the lower city. Our stop in Sydney was shortened due to the bearing problem so we had to be back to the ship by 12:30. There's nothing much in Sydney. Fortunately we had arranged a car rental, so we took a cab to the agency right away and drove to Louisbourg. We arrived there just before they opened at 9:30. We were able to see it pretty well in a couple of hours. We got back to the agency right before they closed at noon (on Sunday afternoon), and they drove us back to the dock. They do have a nice hall with many vendors of jewelry and handicrafts at the pier, along with the famous giant fiddle. The entertainment on the ship was generally good but not great. The ship does seem to have an unusually large number of staff and they are mostly friendly and competent. With the free style dining you never get to know any of them. Even the cabin attendants never introduced themselves, but they do a fine job. The ship does charge $12/day per guest for service; this seems higher than other ships. Drinks seemed to be unusually expensive. The specialty restaurants are probably not worth the extra charge. There are essentially no cultural activities on sea days. All the presentations are essentially infomercials selling the spa, casino, excursions, bingo, etc. There were ballroom dance lessons but the instructor usually had no partner and seemed to be teaching the steps backwards. On the whole we were quite happy with the ship and the cruise in general. The ship is well run, the staff is very friendly and attentive.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the NYC ship terminal at 11:30 and there was already a huge crowd. We waited about 1 hour before boarding. They used a number system and it worked well. BOARDING: The Jewel is a beautiful and very clean ship. ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We arrived at the NYC ship terminal at 11:30 and there was already a huge crowd. We waited about 1 hour before boarding. They used a number system and it worked well. BOARDING: The Jewel is a beautiful and very clean ship. We were greeted warmly and proceeded to lunch. We opted to go to the restaurant Tsar's instead of the Garden Cafe (buffet) for lunch. I would recommend this instead of the mad rush at the buffet. FIRST IMPRESSION: Our waitress was friendly but appeared to be uninformed. When we inquired about the drink of the day, she didn't know what it was and said she thought it was around $9.00. It actually was $5.95. OK no big deal, hey it's the first day. Lunch was good and our rooms were ready about 1:15pm. MAIN RESTAURANTS: The 2 main restaurants were Tsar's and Azura. We ate at both but preferred Azura's space. The food was good and service was steady. We had a group of 13 and using the Freestyle Dining was easy. There was never a long wait. The few times we all ate together we made reservations. In the main dining rooms you can make reservations for the early or late dining only. We found that when we just showed up, with parties of 5 to 9, we were seated with no longer than a 15 minute wait. We also lunched a few times at The Blue Lagoon a fast food restaurant open 24/7. BUFFET: At the Garden Cafe you are greeted daily by the "Washee, Washee, Happy, Happy" team at the entrance where you will receive a sprayee, sprayee of hand sanitizer. There are automatic sanitizers throughout the ship and this definitely helps keep the buggy, buggies away. ENOUGH! The food was good but I found it to be repetitive. Not a varying bread selection and the desserts left alot to be desired. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS:(Cover Charges Apply) We ate at MAMA'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT on Deck 12($10 cover)and had the usual Italian food. The Fried Calamari was delicious. They also have good old spag & meatballs if you so desire. This also doubles as an extra dining room, off Garden Cafe, during breakfast and lunch. Then onto LE BISTRO($20 cover) the French Restaurant. A beautiful place but somewhat disorganized. I expected the staff to be on their best but our first courses were delivered out of order and one of us was served their main course 10 mins after the rest. Yes, I timed it. Then it was CAGNEY'S STEAK HOUSE'($25 cover). What a breath of fresh air. We were greeted by our waiter and head waiter, who could not do enough for us. The food was delivered in a casual pace so as not to rush you and it was cooked to perfection. We had a table of 9 and sat directly across from the open kitchen. Anyway - DO GO to Cagney's you won't be disappointed. By far the best food on the ship. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were really great. A wide variety of acts from comedians to acrobats, dancers, singers, jugglers and even a hypnotist, some very funny stuff here. The lounge entertainment was also varied but our favorite was Nathaniel Reed, pianist and singer in The Martini & Wine Bar Deck 6. And while you're there, have Jonas prepare a "Fresh Bacardi Daiquiri" for you. Fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and Bacardi Superior Rum. Oh, and The NCL Orchestra was fantastic too. DISEMBARKATION: NCL's Freestyle cruising comes through here too. No rush at all leave at your leisure. We waited until 10:30am, no lines and easily retrieved our luggage back at the terminal. PET PEEVE: One thing that really annoyed us was a female staff member who went around to the restaurants selling roses. I don't want someone coming up to me and saying " wouldn't you like to buy your wife a nice rose" I found it offensive and sent a "Dear John" letter to the hotel manager, John Harris, who encourages it and also gives you his personal cellphone number for any problems or suggestions. And guess what? I didn't see her for the rest of the cruise. ALL IN ALL: I really liked my 10 day cruise and would definitely go on NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Short review - we found the staff to be wonderful if we had any problems they did their best to solve them they were very warm and friendly. We found the food to be great. We didn't have any problem getting substitutions during ... Read More
Short review - we found the staff to be wonderful if we had any problems they did their best to solve them they were very warm and friendly. We found the food to be great. We didn't have any problem getting substitutions during dinner, my husband doesn't eat vegetables and would always ask for a substition. The beef Wellington and Prime Rib were fabulous. The entertainment was fabulous and well worth the price of the trip. All the entertainment in the bars and lounges were great also. If you are not entertained on this trip you would have a hard time finding anything to entertain you! As usual we heard people complain about things but that is normal, you can't make everyone happy all the time. I think some customers expectations are beyond reasonable and are too hard to please. We did not use the gym, we walked on the walking track on decks 7 or 12 if we wanted exercise. We wanted to be outside as much as possible. We also did not use the spa. Embarkation - my parents drove us to NYC on 9/11. I thought we would have a lot of traffic, but we had no problems getting into the city. We had a very slight delay going thru the Lincoln Tunnel. We arrived around 11:30 and we were on the ship by 12:15. Very simple process and we waited maybe 15 minutes. We stopped to take pictures and took our time getting on. We went up to the garden cafe to eat and went to the very back of the ship and sat in the New York sunshine as it was a very beautiful day in the 70's. Around 1:30 the announcement came that we could go to our staterooms. We waited until 2 o'clock until the stampede to the rooms was over and we had no trouble. Went to the room and unpacked the carryon and sat on our balcony, our luggage came to the room at 3:30. Unpacked the rest of the luggage and by then we were ready to leave. We primarily picked this cruise for our 20th anniversary and because we would not have to fly since we live in PA. I was really excited about leaving from New York and going by the New York skyline. We were on port side so we initially could not see the Statue of Liberty but as we were past all the buildings the ships back end swung out and we could see her. It was very beautiful exciting leaving New York City. We had dinner at Azura, we both had Salmon which was very good. Saturday's entertainment was the comedian Ross Bennett very good show he was very funny. Sunday - we had a very beautiful day in Newport, RI. We had slept in a little and did not get a tender ticket. By the time we were done with breakfast we could get right on the tender after a 5 minute wait. We went to the visitors center and got the #67 bus, the back parking lot there is a set of yellow poles you stand at and wait the bus goes every 20 minutes. We paid the $6.00 each so we could hop on and off whenever we wanted. We took the bus to the beginning of the Cliff Walk, at Ruggles Ave. we exited and toured The Breakers, this is a very beautiful home. We walked down to the tea house and decided not to go any further the walking was getting treacherous so we back tracked to Ruggles Ave. and jumped back on the #67 bus and went back to the visitors Center we walked around the shops for a while and got on one of the last tenders back to the ship. Sunday night we had dinner in Tsars dining room sat with another nice couple from Virginia had a very enjoyable evening. Entertainment was hypnotist Brenda Kaye is was a good show and funny. Monday - was a sea day. Had a Cruise Critic roll call meeting at 11 o'clock with the Captain and his staff. We had a very informative meeting and got to ask any questions we had. Relaxed most of the day and walked around on deck 7 on the walking track. Had dinner at Tsars again. Entertainment was Harry O'Donoghue singer/songwriter/storyteller from Ireland. Very entertaining. Tuesday - docked in Halifax at 7am. Because I ran out of time planning our ports before we left I didn't have anything prescheduled. I did have the phone numbers for the 3 car rental agencies. I called Avis and got a Jeep Cherokee. We walked there which was a good hike up hill, he told us the shuttle wasn't running because no other ships had scheduled cars. Lesson learned, make sure to call ahead! We drove down the coast to Peggy's Cove and on further to Lunenburg. We took the scenic Lighthouse route on the way down and took route 103 back we were running out of time and needed the fastest way back. Having the car and being on our own was great then we could stay as long as we wanted we would do this again. Although we did get back too late to drive around Halifax. Had dinner at Azure and the entertainment was The Second City comedy group, very hilarious show. If we had been to the early show we would have gone back and seen the second show. Wednesday - was a sea day and also our anniversary. We slept in and relaxed by the pool reading and sleeping. We made reservations for Cagney's Steakhouse. We both had strip steaks and they were fabulous, very tender and juicy. We would pay the extra $25 pp to go there again. They gave us a small coconut cake and sang to us. Entertainment was the NCL band and singers in Band on the Run. They sang and danced to songs from the 70's, very good show. Thursday - was also a sea day since they had cancelled our stop in Cornerbrook. We had a cruise critic meeting to tour the bridge with the captain. He explained the process of docking and we got to ask any questions. We had a pretty good turnout so at times it was hard to hear everything the Captain was saying. We walked around on the bridge and took pictures with the Captain. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and napping! Had dinner at Tsars, entertainment was Jean Pierre Parent comedian and magician from Montreal this was also a very funny and entertaining show. Friday - we were dock from 7am to 7pm in Quebec City, what a beautiful city! We had a 3 hour tour outside of the city with Taxi Coop. He took us to a local vineyard and orchard on the island of Ile d'Orleans. On the way back to Quebec we stopped at St Anne's Bacillica and the Montermacy Waterfall. We would highly recommend this company. We ask him anything about Quebec he was very open. Got back to the ship at lunch time had a quick lunch and spent the rest of the day walking around Quebec City. This is a very clean beautiful city, I wish we had been there for more than a day. We did not see the entertainment Friday night, we were in the city until 7pm and then sat on our balcony to sail out it was a very beautiful day. We did see the entertainment in the Spinnaker that evening, Liar's Club. The liars were Daniel from Second City, Magician Jean Pierre, Cruise Director Shona and Assistant Cruise Director Sinan. This was very entertaining, they had very obtuse words and the audience had to guess who was telling the truth about the meaning of the word. Saturday - was a sea day and we spent the day relaxing and napping again! NCL had a murder mystery dinner which was an extra $20pp, this included dinner at Azura. This was the first murder mystery we joined in on and while I found it fun there were too many people participating. There were almost 150 and we were split up into groups of 8 and the tables were sitting right beside each other. We had 2 people in our group that could not speak loud enough and tables aside of us that were yelling. One table finished about 15 minutes before us and when the leader read the answer to the murder she actually yelled as she was talking so you could not help but hear her. I took notice as she was talking later that she was talking normally, not sure why she found it necessary to yell the answer. I didn't say anything so I don't know if anyone else in our group heard. So before I do this again I would inquire as to how many people were participating. Entertainment was ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger she was very funny and entertaining. Sunday - was in Sydney Nova Scotia. We took the NCL excursion to the Fortress of Louisbourg for $84.99pp. Since our time in Sydney was cut back to 4 ½ hours we thought we would let NCL drive us then if we were late it would be ok. This included about a 1 hour drive to the fort. You do not have enough time at the fort to see everything so while we found the whole trip very cool they should extend the time at the fort for another 2 hours to enable the visitors to see more. This was an actual village from the 1700's that was destroyed by the English in 1760. Canada reconstructed all the buildings starting in 1960's. It is the largest reconstructed 18th century town in North America. There are costumed interpreters all thru the village you can talk to and you can see the process of the reconstruction from the architecture, the costumes, the dig, everthing you can imagine. We would go there on our own if we get up there again. It was a good trip but $85pp is too expensive for the amount of time you are there. The website for the fort is www.pc.gc.ca/louisbourg. The entertainment for Saturday was Le Cirque Bijou which was fabulous. We actually saw this twice because the first time was packed and we had to sit up in the balcony to the side so there were things we missed. This was also the night they had some of the staff from the ship up on the stage and you could take pictures after the show. Monday - our last day at sea. The ocean started getting 7 - 15 foot swells because of Hurricane Igor. The pool was closed and it was pretty windy on the outside decks. They had a smaller show with Second City in the Spinnaker Lounge and we mostly relaxed the rest of the day. The entertainment for the evening was a Farewell Variety Show, Lynn Trefzger the ventriloquist and singer Jane Powell performed. It was a good close to the cruise. Tuesday - I got up at 5am so I would be ready when we sailed into NYC, and I was so happy I got up early. We were sailing up the Hudson as the sun was rising. We sat on the balcony as we were sailing by the Statue of Liberty, it was so great. Disembarkation was easy, since my parents were picking us up we took our time eating breakfast and waited for last call to get off the ship. It was pretty busy getting off and we took our own luggage. We walked thru the line and were directed right to customs. There were about 8 lines for United States citizens and 5 lines for citizens outside the United States. Passengers getting picked up by private cars or Limousines are to get picked up on Level 2, cabs and excursions are picked up on Level 1. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our first NCL cruise and we were a bit apprehensive at first because we had heard some negative things about NCL. Let me say that nothing we heard was true and, in fact, this was one of the best cruises we have taken. We flew ... Read More
This was our first NCL cruise and we were a bit apprehensive at first because we had heard some negative things about NCL. Let me say that nothing we heard was true and, in fact, this was one of the best cruises we have taken. We flew into LGA on Friday and used Dial7 car service to pick us up. (http://www.dial7.com) I found an internet coupon and the cost of a private car was the same as a taxi. We stayed at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central (141 East 44th Street, New York City, NY 10017.) This is a quaint, quiet hotel. We took cab to the pier on Saturday morning and completed the check-in process in less than 30 minutes. The cabins were not available until 2 p.m. so we walked around the ship and sat on one of the upper decks and watch the boats and activity on the water. We were docked at Pier 88 (next to the Intrepid). The rooms were done early so we found our room (10022). The room was small but efficient. The balcony does help make the room seem larger and not so cramped. Our luggage arrived by 5 p.m. No kidding!! We originally had not booked a balcony cabin, but with the itinerary changes, we moved to a balcony. We signed up for the Thermal Spa pass for the week. This gave us access to the spa facilities (sauna, steam room, hot tub, and heated ceramic chairs). Best money we spent all week. The relaxation room was quiet and is the right up front of the ship with a wonderful view. I needed this cruise for the downtime to rest and relax from a busy and chaotic year. The extra sea days allowed me to take time for myself and relax. Type A people will not like all the sea days in this itinerary. Having the balcony to sit and watch the sea was wonderful. The food was good -- both in the general dining rooms and in the specialty restaurants. The two speciality restaurants we visited were Chin Chin (Asian) twice and Tapas (Tex-Mex) once. I had a seafood dish at each dinner. The entertainment was great. Cirque Bijou was phenomenal. Lynn Trefzger, ventriloquist, had great audience participation. The Second City shows were funny and the cast showed up at other ship-sponsored events which allowed them to showcase their talents. The entire crew was friendly -- even the guys doing maintenance. Our cabin stewards (Umberto and Myrna) were fantastic. We asked for an extra pillow and it arrived in seconds (I kid you not!). Because of the itinerary and length of cruise, this tended to draw an older crowd. There were few children on board (at one time, I heard a count of 6). We never had to wait for an elevator (unless it was after a show). The passengers were pleasant and friendly. The highlight of the cruise was having the captain invite the Cruise Critic members to visit the bridge during a sea day. I encourage you to sign up for your cruise's roll call on Cruise Critic and go to the meet and greet. We met the captain and his officers and this is where the bridge invitation came from. Overall, the captain was really involved with the ship's activities. Shona (cruise director) and Sinan (assistant cruise director) were fantastic. We lucked out and had excellent weather for the entire cruise. Sun, 60s, and smooth sailing was the norm. The last day was windy and rocky but it was a sea day and there was packing to do! Things to know before taking this cruise: 1. This is not a large ship so there are not a lot of activities taking place. We heard several people complaining that they did not have enough to do as they were used to being on the larger cruise ships. We went for rest and relaxation and this ship was perfect for this. 2. Plan to pack clothes that can worn in layers. The weather would be cool in the mornings (high 50s) and warmer in the afternoons (middle 60s). It can also be windy. 3. If you're looking to see the leaves changing, take this cruise on a later date. The leaves were just beginning to turn colors when we were there. 4. If you use a wheelchair, take the handicapped accessible tours. Both Halifax and Quebec City are on steep hills and it would be difficult for companions to push the chair. Also Quebec City, in the areas we were, were full of steps and I saw few ramps. 5. The ship offered two laundry specials which meant we didn't need to pack as many clothes since we could send them out. There are no public laundry facilities on board. We were disappointed by the itinerary changes but would take this cruise again in hopes of getting to the other ports. We arrived at 8 a.m. in NYC. We elected to carry off our own luggage and sailed through customs. We walked across the street for a taxi and there was a large line waiting for taxis. An event at the United Nations had forced a lot of street closings so there was a lot of chaos at the taxi stand. At one point, a private car driver asked if we needed a ride and jumped at this opportunity to get out of the taxi line. We found two other ladies to ride with us to LGA and we arrived at the airport way before some people found a cab. Next time, I would arrange for transportation to pick us up. To sum it up, we enjoyed our first NCL cruise and this will not be our last. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our 5th cruise with NCL and our 2nd on the Jewel. We traveled by bus from NE Pennsylvania to NYC, took a cab (about $10 including tip) to the pier. We checked in and, after a short wait, were on the ship by 11:45. We had lunch at ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise with NCL and our 2nd on the Jewel. We traveled by bus from NE Pennsylvania to NYC, took a cab (about $10 including tip) to the pier. We checked in and, after a short wait, were on the ship by 11:45. We had lunch at Tsars when it opened at noon. Cabins were ready by 2PM and our bags were delivered soon after. We had a partially enclosed balcony cabin on deck 8 forward. This type balcony was a plus on this itinerary as we enjoyed it with very little wind. The cabin was fine with plenty of storage and our cabin steward, who took very good care of us, introduced himself immediately. The Jewel is very clean and well maintained. True, there's no grand atrium that you may find on other ships but the Jewel is very attractive and its easy to find your way around. Just the right size. The food and service in the main restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner was very good. The chilled soups are wonderful along with the variety of breads freshly baked on board. We only had to wait for a table once, and then only about 10 minutes. We had dinner in 2 specialty restaurants, Chin Chin (well worth the surcharge) and LeBistro (service exceptional, food maybe worth the surcharge). We ordered room service for breakfast a couple of times. It arrived at the time we requested on the order form and we even got a phone call that breakfast was on the way. We had a couple of lunches at the buffet. We did the "Behind the Scenes" tour. At $55 per person its expensive but we really enjoyed it. The tour lasted almost 4 hours. For those who think that all the food comes from the same galley, not true. The specialty restaurants each have their own. Our Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was on the first sea day. The Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director, and other senior staff members were all there to welcome us and answer questions. Join the roll call for your cruise and participate. You'll be glad you did. The music in the lounges was very good. We especially enjoyed the Alambre Trio, who we had seen last year. The shows were very good too, especially the magician JP and Cirque Bijou. We did walk-off disembarkation with our luggage and were off the ship 30 minutes after it was cleared. I've read reviews with complaints of poor service and unfriendly crew members. Our experience is totally opposite. We've had great service and find the crew on board delightful. It's true that NCL may charge for some things that other lines include in the fare but I'd rather pay a lower fare than pay for things I don't want. Someone said they never had to pay for yoga classes before. I thought "You paid for it, and so did everyone else." We took advantage of the Cruise Rewards again and plan to return to Bermuda next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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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