32 Norwegian Jewel Family Cruise Reviews

We were part of a large party, all of whom had cruised previously on other lines. We chose the Norwegian Jewel because of its Nickelodeon theme, expecting that a ship with such a program would be very kid-friendly. Embarkation should ... Read More
We were part of a large party, all of whom had cruised previously on other lines. We chose the Norwegian Jewel because of its Nickelodeon theme, expecting that a ship with such a program would be very kid-friendly. Embarkation should have been easy - we had pre-registered, had all of our documents, and arrived at the recommended time. We found a very long, slow-moving line and when, after more than 45 minutes, we finally got to the agent, he was confused and inept. He asked for our passports back several times because each time he had forgotten something. So, the actual check-in process took another 15 minutes, by which time we were as miserable as the children. We chose to have lunch at Tsar's where the grilled chicken breasts were overly-salted, tough as shoe leather and completely inedible. We should have seen this as a clue about things to come, but we attributed it to the timing and stress of passengers leaving and boarding.Our balcony cabin was small but adequate. It was kept as clean as possible given the amount of "stuff" we had for 3 people. We found the balcony to be useful for overflow storage. Unlike another poster, our linens were changed daily; our granddaughter was disappointed that our steward (who never even introduced himself to us) did not make towel animals every night as her cousins on another deck received, but that was inconsequential.Dining in either of the 2 dining rooms was difficult: they would only accept our reservation for 5:30 or 8:30, neither of which seemed to work for us. When we tried to walk in at 7:00, they were unable to accommodate our large group so we had to separate. I will say that dining there was a much more palatable and pleasant experience than eating in the Garden Cafe where the kindest thing I can say is that the food was plentiful - usually. Breakfasts were best and, despite the masses, the wait at the omelet stations was never too long. There were numerous beverage stations but at every meal some stations ran out of cups or coffee or glasses or iced tea or lemons, so you had to run to another station. The service staff in the Garden Cafe was, for the most part, inattentive and disinterested; certainly not warm and friendly. They seemed tired, overburdened, burned out - and understandably so. The only cafe service people who seemed at all engaged were the two "Washy-washy" women who sprayed antibacterial solution on our hands as we entered the cafe.We had a lovely dinner at Mama's where the service staff was very helpful and the food was delicious; however, I cannot speak to any of the other dining venues. We attended many of the evening shows and adult daytime programs, all of which were enjoyable. The older children in our group complained that the Kid's Club was boring, but the younger children usually had fun. The Nickelodeon thing was disappointing, with Sponge Bob, Dora and the other characters making appearances for photo ops with very little interaction. Similarly, the children's programs, like pizza-making and cupcake decorating, were too crowded with very long lines at each, in part because they were too disorganized to manage so many children and in part because they ran out of supplies.Our major complaints, though, were about the swimming pool situation: there were a lot of people, it was hot and everyone wanted to be in or near the pools. I get that. I even understand why it was necessary (though forbidden) to reserve a chair early in the morning. There were 2 small swimming pools and a tiny, shallow kiddie pool. The latter was situated in a space with a kids' hot tub that was enclosed, floor to nearly-ceiling level, except for the area where a door would be. Because there was little to no air circulation, it was unbearably hot and humid. The kiddie pool had a slide that ended less than a foot from the wall of the pool. There was a pad, stapled to the pool but coming loose, to protect the children - especially those coming down on their stomachs, head first - from slamming into the wall. There was no supervision by NCL staff and, frequently, by parents either. During the times that I sat there with my charges, I helped several children who slipped on the wet floor as they came down the stairs from the hot tub. One appeared to have injured her ankle pretty badly. I should add that, while this area was apparently designed for the very little ones, children as old as 9 or 10 were running through and using the pool and the hot tub.Of the 2 larger pools, one was designated "Adults Only" while children were permitted in the other. Problem was, at all points, the pool was too deep for the kids who didn't swim well. While I am 5'6", I was unable to stand in the pool, and my nearly 6' husband had difficulty trying to stand and support a small child in the water. And, again, there was no supervision. The only staff person in sight was a fully clothed man who sat by the slide and told people when they could go down. Not only was there no safety supervision, but children in diapers were permitted in the adult pool as well. We saw a child, sitting in the adult hot tub, vomiting; we reported it and noted that it took more than a half hour for someone to come (in white coveralls with a mask and gloves) to clean the area. There were so many extra lounge chairs around the pools, crammed in whichever way they would fit, it was like an obstacle course to negotiate the area, and added to all this was the tumult of poolside grilling and entertainment.The swimming pool situation posed significant health and safety risks to everyone, and no one seemed concerned. Again, I understand that it was a summer vacation cruise with lots of kids and hot weather. What I don't understand is why NCL would, through their Nickelodeon program, encourage families to cruise on a ship that clearly was not designed to manage their needs, and why they did not provide appropriate safety measures to ensure their passengers' wellbeing.As I said at the outset, all members of our party had previously cruised on other lines, megaships to small vessels. Some of us had cruised extensively, but none of us had ever cruised on NCL. And none of us will ever cruise on NCL again. Shame on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
From the time we boarded to the time we departed, my vacation experience was characterized by waiting on lines with inconsiderate fellow passengers and inept staff. Here's a very telling observation I made on our second day at sea: I ... Read More
From the time we boarded to the time we departed, my vacation experience was characterized by waiting on lines with inconsiderate fellow passengers and inept staff. Here's a very telling observation I made on our second day at sea: I commented to my husband at 10:00am that every machine in the gym was occupied, every table in the Garden Cafe was occupied, and every lounge chair by the pool was occupied. How could the Jewel not have enough space to accommodate all the passengers they booked?! This overcrowding detracted from everyone's experience and really ruined the vacation for me. We were part of a large group so we ate most meals in the Garden Cafe. It was like eating in a cafeteria -- the food was plentiful but nothing special. I liked that they had Indian food every day but the food signage at the buffet stations didn't match what was offered. For example, they kept an 'Omelet Station' sign up all day but when I asked for an omelet at lunch, they said they're only available at breakfast. And on more than one occasion I was unhappy to find ham in what was labeled 'Eggs & cheese'. They could do a better job with the lines if they organized the layout better. For example, syrup and toppings were placed before the pancakes and waffles in the buffet line so people had to go through the line twice or just cut the line (which is what most people did). Same thing with the soft serve ice cream. There were never fewer than 15 people in line for soft serve ice cream and part of the problem is that the toppings were placed before people got to the ice cream machine. Other general complaints about the Garden Cafe: they often ran out of drinking cups and the staff was always underfoot pushing carts through the dining room and making us get out of their way instead of them watching out for us. I could go on about the other restaurants but I'd rather focus on my other chief disappointment - - the pools. There was simply not enough space in the pool area or in the pools themselves to accommodate everyone who wanted to use them. People hoarded chairs early in the morning and absolutely none were available by 8:00am. Walking the deck was an obstacle course through lounge chairs and discarded food - - some on plates and some spilled. The Kiddie pool was ridiculously small (capacity of 7, I'm guessing) and had a slide that ended about a foot before the wall which seemed poorly planned and dangerous. It was stuck back in a stuffy corner that got as hot as a steamroom with little ventilation. I never saw any staff supervising the area though I witnessed several young kids slipping down the steps from the kiddie hottub. There were two main pools, one for adults only. Both pools were relatively small and given the family orientation of this cruise, the one pool that was open-to-all was constantly overcrowded. Both pools had a uniform depth of nearly 6 feet which meant most people couldn't stand and therefore had to hang off the sides, which also got very overcrowded. It was ridiculous. And making matters worse was the total lack of consideration the passengers displayed and the inaction by staff to do anything about it. I saw a child vomiting over the side of a hottub and not only did their family not remove the child from the situation, it took the staff 15 minutes to do anything about cleaning it up. I also saw a man in the open-to-all pool spit chewing tobacco in the water and swish it away with his hand, hoping no one had noticed. I am still completely incredulous that anyone would do such a thing! I could on to complain about the children's activities featuring lines over 40 minutes to decorate a cupcake or make-your-own pizza, both of which ran out of supplies in the middle of the event. But I think what I've written already speaks volumes and helps explain why I will never again consider an NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I'm sure glad this wasn't my first cruise or I'd never go on another. Room service was horrendous; room steward whom I never met didn't know how to make up a bed, hardly vacuumed, poor, poor, poor or nonexistent ... Read More
I'm sure glad this wasn't my first cruise or I'd never go on another. Room service was horrendous; room steward whom I never met didn't know how to make up a bed, hardly vacuumed, poor, poor, poor or nonexistent service. We were told to call "00" if we needed anything and couldn't locate a steward. On the three occasions we needed something no one answered the phone. Spoke to other passengers with the same experience. Service in the main dining rooms was extremely slow. Food was never hot, and was mediocre at best. In the Garden Buffet, once again food was never hot, cold food was never cold. Several staff members in this area were rude. Public restrooms were not kept clean. I guess forced tipping does not give any one the incentive to work too hard, or be courteous. On a positive note there was a wonderful waitress who worked in the Martini bar. Her name is Evelyn. She was just great. Lastly, the smoke in the casino is unbearable. NCL either needs to designate a separate area for smoking or get better ventilation. Rest assured, I will never, never, never go on an NCL cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I just completed my first cruise with NCL on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with two teenage girls and 2 ½ year old twin boys. We departed on Halloween, and some of the Cruise Critic people organized a cabin trick or treat which we ... Read More
I just completed my first cruise with NCL on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with two teenage girls and 2 ½ year old twin boys. We departed on Halloween, and some of the Cruise Critic people organized a cabin trick or treat which we conducted right after the Mustering drill. This was great. My boys loved it. Embarkation at NY was not really that bad. We arrived around 11:00 and we were on the ship in less than an hour. We were told that the cabins weren't ready so we dropped our luggage off at Fyzz's lounge and went to lunch. You can either go to the buffet on 12 or Tsar's Palace dining room. We opted for the dining room. I guess this is where the whole dining experience began. The staff was very confused, every time we went to eat, about needing two high chairs. They were constantly trying to sit us at table for 4 and the high chairs could be off to side with the attached trays instead of using tables for 6. This only happened every (and yes, I mean every) time we eat in either dining room. Even though Tsar's was less than half full, we had a very hard getting a waiter to take our order. We eventually ate, but I can tell you it was less than satisfying. Next, off to the cabin. We had adjoining mini-suites. The cabins were large. We had more than enough room, two queen size beds and a full bathtub. No complaints here. Our cabin stewards were very good. Because my boys didn't like going to the kids club, I was unable to really enjoy the nightlife on the ship. My wife did go to the 70's show the first night and was unimpressed. I watch some of the comedian on the cabin tv and didn't find him that funny, so we made no effort to see him the second night they had him. We did see the Wally and Will show. They themselves had the line that described their act(and I am paraphrase) Hey if were good, do you really think we'd be performing on a cruise ship. I would have liked to see the Second City shows, but I didn't get a chance to see them. I have sailed on Celebrity, RCCL, and Carnival. Carnival gets a bad rap for having low quality food and I guess in a sense it does, but at least it was edible. Sadly it's about 2 steps up from Norwegian. I can honestly say that I lost weight on this cruise. Most of the food in the main dining rooms - the same in both - was basically bland. Every sirloin steak I ordered, since it was the only one all week, came well done. All of the fish I ordered was overcooked. The one night there was lobster, they were overcooked. Some of the choices were just downright scary, Turkey Scaloppini??? Unfortunately, this was a step up from the buffet. The so called Hot Selections in the buffet were always luke-warm. They are so concerned with Purell and the Norwalk virus I guess they forgot that hot buffet food needs to be kept at a minimum temperature. This was everyday at every meal I was there. Breakfast, usually a highlight on vacation, was a 7 day disappointment. The based on the taste of the omelets, they were using powered eggs. If you ordered egg whites, as my daughter did, they used a tablespoon of oil instead of spray, which defeats the whole purpose. The pancakes had absolutely no taste, if there were any available. Making them apparently was much harder at sea than on land. They were constantly running out of cereal bowls. And you better arrive early because even though breakfast ended at 10:30, they would close the kids breakfast section a little before 10:00 and start packing up the cereal boxes, milk cartons and yogurts at 10:00. The coffee machines were always empty at about 10:00, but that didn't really matter since they usually would run out of cups anyway. Lunch was more of the same. Not even close to enough tables, always running out of plates and cups. Cold 'hot' selections. The salad bar was nice, but could they put a little salad dressing in the watery mix they like to call dressing. We always sat in the designated kids section. This was a nice concept, lower tables and small stools. Unfortunately, when you could get a table, it was never clean. There could be 4 or 5 empty tables with dirty plates on them at any given time. Eventually a worker would remove the empty plates, but in an entire week, I never saw anyone wipe the table with some sort of damp towel. Silverware was always scarce in this section. They would leave some rolled silverware on each table. There were numerous times when none of the tables had silverware. This was my first freestyle cruise. In my opinion it really means free of care - for the crew. Every hello or good morning you received as you strolled around the ship felt forced. Many times crew members didn't even acknowledge you when you passed them. The service at the restaurants, both Azura and Tsar's was awful. It seemed to me that since the waiters might not see you again, and their tip was guaranteed, there was no reason for them to do anything, let alone anything special. It seemed like it was a chore for the servers to wait on you. On the last two nights, we didn't even receive refills of our ice tea the entire dinner. Even the bar servers took exceptionally long times to bring drinks that you were paying for. While the ship was a nicely decorated, I felt that there were many design flaws which contributed to the ship feeling even more crowded that it was. There was only one entrance to pool deck from the main elevators on the starboard side which was also the same spot as the entrance to the buffet. This was made even more crowded by NCL always having someone vacuum the floor during the peak meal times. Another example of poor design is the entrance/exit from the Stardust Theatre. When the afternoon Slime Time live show let out, we all had to walk through the art auction with painting blocking the lone pathway from the theatre to the mid ship elevators. We booked this cruise expecting the ports of call to be somewhat boring and knowing that we might lose some days to bad weather leaving and returning to NYC, but we were trying to avoid flying with the twins. We were pleasantly surprised with the good weather that we had on Monday, the first full day. We were able to get some sun and swim in the pool. The next day, Tuesday, we used the free shuttle to Cocoa Beach. Stopped at McDonalds for some happy meals for the kids. The surf was a little rough, but he beach was very nice. We had a great day in Florida. Wednesday, we arrived at Great Stirrup Cay. We expected this to be fun beach day of sun and relaxation. Unfortunately, NCL does not know how to run tenders. I have tendered at Coco Cay, RCCL's private island, Grand Cayman and St. Martin (before the completion of the pier). I have never seen such incompetence. Since we didn't plan on being the first off the ship, we didn't rush to get tender tickets. We ended up getting tickets for tender #11. These tickets are available for anyone who needs them since nobody from NCL collect or checks them anyway. Board was apparently done by the order of who could push the hardest. We anchored at 11:00. Tender 11 didn't arrive on GSC until 2:00. By the time we arrived there were no lounge chairs available. In fact, there was barely any open sand available. We were able to set ourselves up in a small patch of sand near the very limited part of the beach that was actually sand and not rock. At about 2:45 we decided to get something to eat. As we should have expected, we were told that they stopped serving food on GSC, which it turns out is supposed to stop at 3:00 for some reason. It was at this point that we decided we would return to ship so we don't get stuck in a return tender nightmare. This is where the security officer attempted to stop my wife, who was holding my 2 year son, from boarding the tender. When she refused to listen to him, he raised his hand to her. I sat on the ramp of the tender holding my other son, making sure it could not leave. Eventually she boarded the tender. At soon as we returned to the ship, we contacted security and spoke with Stephen O'Toole, Chief of Security, and filed a formal complaint. On Thursday we met some family members who were staying at Atlantis and had a great day there. We hung out at the main kids' pool, did the lazy river, water slides, leap of faith, saw the aquarium. It was a great day. The next two days, Friday and Saturday were in the 40's with 25 mph winds, so we had to stay inside both days. Debarkation was a disaster. The hallways and stairwells were packed with people and they continued to call for the next color to disembark. They blamed customs for the backup, but we waited inside like sardines for about 20 minutes and then outside for about another 20 minutes. We disembarked at the rear of the ship. The crew told us that customs had told them to stop letting people into the terminal while we could easily see that they people disembarking from the front of the ship were walking into the terminal. Just poor communication all around. Based on comments all over the boards, this is very common in NYC. You would think that NCL would know this since they do it every week and some adjustments. Quick tip - grab a porter. They go through a much shorter customs line. It took us about a three minute wait to get through while most of the people carrying their own bags were in lines hundreds of people long. Through it all, my daughter and her friend had a good time. My boys enjoyed themselves and learned what a vacation is. They got to take pictures with Sponge Bob and Dora & Diego. My wife and I were reminded how much we love land vacations. I will cruise again, but it will never be with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
I just came back form a cruise out of NY on the Jewel and had a horrific experience! Not one seemed to care on the boat or would give me the time of day to actually hear what i had to see or look at pictures I took to prove how bad things ... Read More
I just came back form a cruise out of NY on the Jewel and had a horrific experience! Not one seemed to care on the boat or would give me the time of day to actually hear what i had to see or look at pictures I took to prove how bad things were. I was 23 weeks pregnant with 3 boys 17, 10 and 5 on board expecting the same experience I got form Carnival, Royal, and Disney and nice relaxing vacation but got the worst vacation ever. Room service-- The first 2 nights my room was never turned down which meant the first night I had 3 boys and myself and 3 beds( we had no clue there was a bed underneath one of beds). The next night I found bed myself and dust that had been there for months along with dirty cups and old candy, my son has bad allergies and I asked for it to be cleaned which it never was(I even asked for vacuum to do myself). Sheet had blood or some stains splattered on them ever day and every day I would say something and everyday I would get them again. Then I had dirty gloves form when the actually cleaned left on my toothbrushes(how gross). Room service took over an hour to even get. We never had towels ever bath towels nor pool towel I had to send my son every day. Restaurant- Took 2 hours to have dinner the first night because apparently after we ordered waiter left and no one came to our table to bring our food till i flagged someone down who said oh wait and left and 20 min later came back and retook orders( no apology or anything). We had silverware with so much left over food on them it was disgusting and there were bugs in the food that we showed waiter who laughed it off only to have my son sick an hour later in his room, when i called again all they did was send me chocolate covered strawberries no apology or anything. The buffets were set up so badly that my child was actually afraid to go in line but my older son was afraid to get sick again in a restaurant. The extra restataurants I was charged for something i never went to and alcohol I never bought( mind you I am pregnant so the sushi place/alcohol is not for me). They would not remove till i asked for my signature which after waiting an over a hour at desk wasting my vacation on this they could not produce and removed with a nasty comment about how some pregnant women do not care and do drink smoke and east sushi I was mortified! Kids Club/NIck This was a joke as well the activities listed never were done my 5 yr old went 2x and both times i came back they were in a corner being read to an d shushed to sit down he said he was told not to tell me that he did not play. He actually cried about the thought of going back to this place. Nick characters were no were to be found on this boat except to wait in line for pictures 2x on cruise or to pay over 50 for breakfast for a family of 4 how ridiculous. I went Disney in Oct and never ever had to pay extra for characters or character breakfasts and I paid same amount for their cruise as yours. Fyzz Lounge- there is a 20 a hour drink requirement I am pregnant again and can not drink so I asked for an exception for an hour to let them sing because they enjoy and was told I had to order 10 sodas then or I could not stay, talk about rude. These are some of my horrendous vacation experiences that we waited for a year to go on and were so excited about only to wish we never went and now have to wait another year to enjoy a vacation because i cruise once a year with them to enjoy and I am so miserably unhappy about my experience and lack of vacation. One other note while i was honest and told you of my pregnancy and that I had to move cruise up a week and paid an extra 100. to do so there were women on that boat over 30 weeks that I spoke to who just never said anything to you. I sent over paperwork which no one seemed to have on file and never asked for even though I was told they would. I even had my file copied to be safe and your crew lost it aboard the ship somewhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I cannot overstate how disappointing this cruise was, in comparison to others we've taken (especially RC)! We had a truly awful time - had we not been at sea, we would have left early. The Norwegian Jewel is too overcrowded for the ... Read More
I cannot overstate how disappointing this cruise was, in comparison to others we've taken (especially RC)! We had a truly awful time - had we not been at sea, we would have left early. The Norwegian Jewel is too overcrowded for the amenities on board. There are not enough pools, hot tubs, deck lounge chairs, elevators, or even seating at the buffet for the number of passengers this ship takes on board. Everywhere we went it was impossible to get near anything and there was no order to anything. We did not go in the pools or hot tubs once the whole time - we couldn't get near them. We were never able to get a table at the buffet that accommodated the 5 of us who were traveling together. And trying to get an elevator was frustrating (we were traveling with a baby in a stroller so couldn't use the stairs). The wait for an elevator was excruciatingly long and often when the door opened it would be so overcrowded there was no room to get on so we had to wait for another. This overcrowding held true on the private island as well - not enough lounge chairs or cabanas to accommodate the number of passengers. The buffet is mayhem - very confusing with no natural order or "flow" and very little seating near it. The food is mediocre at best and seemed to be the same thing every single day. And, curiously, there are no trays in the cafeteria which made it extremely difficult to travel with a child. I had to make my daughter's plate, then go back up to get her milk, then go back up for my own plate, etc. The drink stations were - more often than not - out of coffee, or out of milk, or out of something. The staff were not anxious to please. They were "OK" but definitely NOT the over-accommodating types I've encountered on other cruises. If you're used to being a bit "pampered" when you cruise, this ship is definitely not for you! The Tsar's main dining room was the best choice for dinner, though with the "freestyle cruising" style there are often long lines and long waits. The food is just "OK" and often our orders were mixed up, or incorrect altogether. As far as the specialty restaurants, we really enjoyed Cagney's Steak House. We had an excellent meal, which in my opinion was well worth the $25 per person cover charge! Conversely, the hibachi dinner was really not worth the cover - way too much garlic for my taste, and it takes over an hour from start to finish . . Finally, the disembarkation process was utter mayhem! They offered a "walk-off" option for folks who wanted to just carry their own bags off the ship, rather than putting them out the night before. We decided to do this, thinking it would make the disembarkation process quicker and easier. WRONG!!! Once again, there was no order to the process - just 2,800 people racing to get off the ship. The elevators were absolutely jammed and there was no way to get one. There was not one NCL employee in sight - just hundreds upon hundreds of people pushing and shoving - it was absolutely unbelievable! My baby was in a stroller, and was hit in the head TWICE by people's baggage hanging off their shoulder as they push and shove their way through the line. I cannot underscore enough what a miserable experience this cruise was due to the overcrowding.If you are considering the Norwegian Jewel, I highly recommend that you look for a comparable cruise itinerary on RC or another more upscale line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Norwegian Jewel 11/29/2009 - 12/06/2009 Embarkation: Since we drove in the night before we arrived at the Port of Miami at around 10:00 am. We were about the 10th passengers on the line for check-in and passing through security was ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel 11/29/2009 - 12/06/2009 Embarkation: Since we drove in the night before we arrived at the Port of Miami at around 10:00 am. We were about the 10th passengers on the line for check-in and passing through security was very easy and smooth. Once through security, it was on to the check-in counter to receive our keys and then to the "staging area" where you wait to board. One thing I found annoying about the way NCL boards their passengers is that even though you may have arrived at 10:00am, a passenger who arrives at 11:30 but is booked in a suite will be boarded before you. An announcement was made by Q the cruise director at 11:30am that boarding would now begin, and to feel free to visit the buffet, or Tsars Palace for lunch while we wait until 2pm for our rooms to be ready. On other cruise lines we have been able to go straight to our cabin to see if it was ready however this was not the case on the Jewel as they set up ropes so that you will not enter the passageways. We didn't mind anyway as we had very few carry-on items and were hungry for lunch. Our first impression of the overall appearance of the ship was that it was beautiful. We also noted that even though it was a few years old it was exceptionally maintained. After receiving our complimentary champagne (OJ for the kids), we opted for Tsar's Palace for lunch since we usually find the buffet way too busy on embarkation day and we really wanted wind down and relax for a little while after our long drive. Lunch in Tsar's that day was lovely, and we assumed all our meals to follow would be served with the same impeccable service we had received then. Wrong assumption on our part, more to follow... Off to the Splashdown Kids Club to sign the kids up. Our kids have always enjoyed this part of cruising! Sign-up took only a minute and we were able to meet some of the staff and get a schedule for the week's planned activities. Our Cabin: Traveling as a family of four, including myself, my husband, our daughter who is 9 and our son who is 6, we figured that we would book a mini-suite for our voyage so that we would have a tad more space as well as a tub if we needed it for the kids. At 2pm an announcement was made that we could now go to our cabins so, we headed down to our mini-suite #11548. The mini-suite in reality is little more that a glorified balcony but, it was immaculate and nicely acquainted. I will say that I found it strange that our cabin steward, Rezaldo did not have it prepared for 4 occupants (extra towels and such) as the stewards are always aware in advance of how many people will be in a cabin. I will also say that throughout our cruise, we noticed continual little things that Rezaldo missed. Small things like providing ice daily, an empty tissue dispenser and leaving dirty glasses after he'd serviced our cabin left us feeling that Rezaldo was not measuring up. The Cruise: Sea days were very pleasant and you could choose to be as busy or not busy as you wanted to be. We spent most of our sea days by the pool. I've often heard many complaints about lounge hogs but I really did not encounter many of them. There seemed to be plenty of lounges but they could use more little tables for holding drinks. The music by the pool was also festive and pleasant. My one poolside gripe would be that the bar staff is a little pushy and annoying at times. Our ports of call were Roatan, Belize City, Costa Maya and Great Stirrup Cay. All of the ports were enjoyable to us, but since we booked our excursions privately, there's not too much to review pertaining to NCL. In both Roatan and Belize City the tendering process could really use improvement. You must go to an assigned location to stand in line to wait for tender tickets. For our cruise on the Jewel this was the Photo Center. I would not mind the requirement of a ticket at all, if NCL actually required the tickets to board a tender. However, our tender tickets were never requested (nor were anyone else's) and in fact, many people who did not have tickets boarded the tenders anyway. Great Stirrup Cay has probably seen better days. We've visited the private islands of Costa, Carnival and Royal Caribbean and all of them could run circles around NCL's private island. As we viewed the island aboard the first tender, we saw what seemed to be a large amount of lounge chairs, but once the island was full of passengers, it became quite clear that there were not enough. Beach umbrellas were an extremely rare commodity; I would say that there was maybe 1 umbrella per 40 lounges. After 6 days of Caribbean sun, there were many red vacationers scavenging for beach umbrellas. We found that some of the buildings such as the buffet and some of the bars were looking fairly run down. We were also disappointed with amount of trash in the sand. We saw straws, forks, and many, many rusty bottles caps. One other thing that may not have affected my family personally but we still find rather awful was that NCL actually ran out of potable drinking water for about 2 hours on the island. I'm not talking about bottled water which you could buy; I'm talking about free potable water. Talk about terrible customer service, I find it hard to believe that with as many stops as NCL has made over the years to their own island they wouldn't know how much drinking water needed to be brought ashore. This is just an assumption of course but perhaps beverage sales were down and they needed to make some up? Regarding the Garden Cafe (buffet) and restaurants on the ship, we found most of the food quite enjoyable. However the service left much to be desired. In the buffet, often there were empty tables but good luck waiting for them to be cleared. Aside from the buffet we dined in Tsar's Palace (main dining), Azura (main dining) and Mama's Italian Kitchen. In both of the main dining rooms the food was very enjoyable but it was always about halfway though the main course before our drinks would arrive. And once the main courses were served never did anyone stop by the table to see how things were going. Most nights we waited very long times before having to wave someone down to order dessert. I guess the caring attentive service is lost in the freestyle. We definitely enjoyed our dinner at Mama's Italian Kitchen and we did notice a big improvement in service there. But then, that was the one restaurant we had to pay to eat in. Splashdown Kids Club: Our kids really enjoyed the activities. The staff handed out a schedule of planned activities which helps you with choosing if and when your kids will go. Our kids usually choose for themselves and I will say more often than not when we went to pick them up at the planned time, they wanted to stay longer! But there were instances when the scheduled activity never happened - our kids mentioned this because they were looking forward to them. We did mention this at the front desk at which point we were told "that the schedule is strictly followed" and that "our children must have been mistaken". I am one hundred percent sure that my kids would remember if an ice cream party had taken place or not and personally I believe these comments could only be taken as an insinuation that our kids had lied. Honestly, this was just the first instance of bad customer service at the front desk. I'm not sure if this is an NCL issue or just a Jewel issue but it would appear that they make a lot of mistakes in regards to charges to On Board Credit accounts. While I heard several stories from fellow passengers regarding this, we had 2 significant instances of this but I'll just share the first. The first day on board we decided to by the kids' soda cards (bracelets for kids). The charge was $4.00 per day + 17% gratuities which should have resulted in a charge of just over $64.00. When we checked our account a few days later we saw that we had been charged over $100 by the Sky Bar! We explained the error to the front desk clerk (with receipt in hand) and were sent to see the gentleman at the Java Cafe. He had no idea why we had been sent to see him and in turn sent us back to the front desk. Once back at the front desk, the clerk then wanted us to go to the Sky Bar to clear this up. At this point I became a bit annoyed. What kind of customer service makes the customer chase down the right employee to fix a mistake that's not even their fault? I pointed this out and asked to speak with a supervisor but was told that that would not be possible as they were all in a meeting (I'm thinking you keep at least one supervisor available) but that she would forward the information and have it corrected. The second issue with our on board credit was also an overcharge issue (again we had the receipts) for which we received the same type of run-a-round to get it corrected. While many people will say that I should be satisfied that the issues were corrected, I find these mistake and lack of customer service something you would expect from amateurs not a company that has been in business as long as NCL has. I also wonder, for all the mistakes that are caught, how many are not. Overall, we did enjoy our cruise but then, we would enjoy any vacation together. NCL (or any other cruise line for that matter) could never stop us from having a great family vacation. That being said, NCL could have made a great vacation more relaxing and comfortable. Poor customer service and lack of quality in certain areas would never detract from us having a good time but great customer service and better quality certainly could have enhanced it! Disembarkation: We chose to disembark on our own. This process went extremely smooth and we were off the ship and in our car by 8:30am. As we drove out of the Port of Miami, we waved so-long to the NCL Jewel, and goodbye to NCL forever. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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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