6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but ... Read More
I had always wanted to do the Alaska cruise and so we decided to go with NCL. This was a 7 night cruise starting from and terminating at Seattle. The embarkation was pretty smooth and the ship was sparkling, it is 10 years old but seemed to be brand new. The cabin was somewhat cramped but that was to be expected. There were more than enough activities to keep all on board occupied 24x7. They have a theater where there were a mix of shows Vegas style, poolside BBQ and parties, a great variety of all kinds of restaurants with eclectic menus. The staff were all extremely courteous and efficient and the service was generally of a high standard. They have a lot of activities for children.We had three shore excursions which were well planned and covered interesting sites. All in all a good trip except for a major billing problem wherein they erroneously charged me upwards of $4200. this was a major inconvenience and as of writing this charge though accepted by them as an oversight has still to be reversed. The entire trip was soured by one accounting clerk's slip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
Left LA round trip Mexico (a cruise that we've done 24 times prior) with stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I enjoy this itinerary because it is relaxing and after traveling there so many times, I know where to Christmas ... Read More
Left LA round trip Mexico (a cruise that we've done 24 times prior) with stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I enjoy this itinerary because it is relaxing and after traveling there so many times, I know where to Christmas shop. I just love Mexico and their culture and people. The Jewel was my first time on the NCL Line. Their embarkation is the BEST by far. We arrived at 9:45am and was on the ship unpacking at 11:00am. Lunch was served and then off to the upper deck to just lounge around and get into the cruise spirit. It was like you had this extra day on the cruise. Off for a nap then ready for dinner. The choices of restaurants was wonderful and each one carried a theme as to the cuisine. Our room 9104 with our room Steward 'I Dewa Putra' was incredible. We explained to him our preferences about 'real sugar versus chemical sugar' and we enjoyed regular coffee instead of decaf. Towelselections, bed arrangements, and other incidentals that make our trip our own. He remembered, and was just a wonderful gentleman who worked around my schedule of sleeping late (10:00am) and continental breakfast by room service. He was the intrigitual part of making our vacation unique and special to us. Our room was the smallest we've been in with the bathroom toilet area even smaller!! I'm 6'4" and 220 lbs. I banged by elbows everywhere in the toilet area. Just how many passengers can you put on a ship? See NCL. Not good. The food from what I was served was poor to fair. My spouse's meals were enjoyed with gusto. One evening I ordered room service for dinner and had the "herb 1/2 chicken with veggies, baked potato, and a side sauce". It was INCREDIBLE!!! Seriously it was one of the BEST meals of the cruise. My other meal was from Chin-Chin Restuarant. Again one of the best meals that was INCREDIBLE!! The support staff who tends to your food orders, does so with such professionalism. Friendly, humorous and just full of life. They are amazing. Now comes the bad part. Effective August 15, 2015, NCL started this "Service Charge" of $13.50 daily for certain staterooms and $14.50 daily for suites. Read the "Ticket Contract" about these fees and its states in Paragraph 3 sections (a) to (d) about how the fees are up to your discretion but these fees are USED, dispersed and dispersed to the staff and crew subject to "JOB PERFORMANCE" reviews. That makes each and every passenger over the age of three (3) becoming a part of the employer/employee relationship. Then try to go to the Pursers Office (front desk) and get these fees removed from your account. After 4 hours of discussions about how you get a refund between 2-4 weeks, I made it very clear that I had spoken to my Credit Card Company and was told by said Credit Card Company that if NCL refused to cooperate I would be able to dispute the entire balance and that my balance due could be tied up for 60-90 days. When you "do the math" there was 2,700 individuals on board my cruise. It was a FULL cruise. 10% was 3 years and under, that leaves 2,430 X $13.50 (average) = $32,805.00 daily X 7 days = $229,635.00 per week of "Service Fees" that NCL purports goes to the entire staff BASED upon compensation packages for each individual's. $229,635.00 X 4 weeks = $918,540.00 in "Service Fees" per month. Do the staff and crew get a "Performance Review" monthly or quarterly, half a year or annually? As a business owner you're paying NCL's payroll. If not then where is the "Service Fees" actually going to? After the signing of the "required documents" where you have to state why your not willing to give your stewards, waitress, bartenders and the like a tip, I made it VERY clear that I was not going to complete any of that as I wasn't, at the time, displeased with any of the service staff. I tip to whom I wish, not what is expected by NCL. The guilt trip that ensues is enough to make you lash out against NCL having their hands in your pockets trying to get every penny, nickle, dime, quarter and dollar. Room Service is $7.95 with 18% gratuity. Any other cruise line does not charge this. I do in fact give room service staff a tip for bringing my meal to me. I give individuals CASH not placed upon my account. I've always done this. AND never had to be charged for "room service"!! These policies of paying for the payroll of the staff and crew on board the ship is really a disgrace. NCL has take the position that although this is not mandatory, the front desk comes across as this is the way things are and does EVERYTHING in their individual powers to discourage you from waiving your RIGHT not to do this. It is despicable and not the way to grab money from your passengers. The ship was very nice and kept clean. All crew and staff when they walked by you would smile and say Good morning/afternoon/evening. They made you feel good with being onboard. The disembarkation was unique as well. NCL has this "easy walk off" and if you have limited luggage, can carry your luggage off with you, you can leave early when the ship has been cleared. Just stand in line and first call your off. This was wonderful. All in all, this cruise was comfortable, relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. The constant penny, nickel and dime attitude of NCL is not. Will I travel on NCL again? Time will tell. Read Less
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Sail Date: November 2015
From the time we checked in to the time we were on the ship the whole time, the experience on NCL this time around has deteriorated for sure. When we first sailed with them, the whole process was great, the customer service as amazing, ... Read More
From the time we checked in to the time we were on the ship the whole time, the experience on NCL this time around has deteriorated for sure. When we first sailed with them, the whole process was great, the customer service as amazing, the room attendant were great and the food tasty and delicious. Check-In - This time around, the check-in took forever because it turns out, all the check-in agents called in sick and they were short staff. Drinks - When we got on the boat, no one offered drinks because why should they when they are offering "Ultimate Beverage Package". Why go around asking if you want more drinks when you can't make money off it. Have the passengers come up if they want another. if you are going to offer such a package, still have your cocktail servers still ask if anyone needs a drink. There's a lot that don't have the package and don't mind paying. Whole cruise, no one ever asked once if I wanted a drink. I always initiated it. Oh well, don't have to drink a lot and charge to my room! Food - The food sucks this time around! Not tasty at all. Very hit and miss! Definitely, they lower down the grade of the food so they can pump up their specialty restaurants. So, you have to pay more to eat better. Olden days, good food in the main dining rooms but also after several days, you would still want to celebrate and spend a little in the specialty restaurants. In this case, they feel it is easier to give mediocre food in hopes of the passengers giving up and going to the specialty restaurants. The serve in the dining hall was unbarely slow and painfully awfully! You spent two hours for dinner and not counting dessert yet! They definitely didn't care about server on this boat. Pictures - the whole time we were there, not one photo! We were in the dining room and the photographers went to everyone except our tables. First cruise ever where I don't even have one photos to look at! Good for me! Don't have to buy from NCL any photos! Save me some money! Room - Room attendant missed giving us a mat to step onto the floor once we got out the shower. It was there the when we checked in. Once we used it and the room was clean, they feel we didn't need to have another shower mat for our feet. No repore with the room attendant this time. Oh well, her lost. We usually give tips to our room attendant for being there and nice. This one did her job but nothing more. No need to tip for anything extra as nothing was ever done. I would say that if I was to go on NCL again, it will be to try the bigger ships. We did buy the 1 and get another second voucher for free. So, we will sail again. After that, not sure. Definitely Royal by far is the best cruise ship. Their service and accommodation is impeccable. The Oasis that we were on was amazing and all we have come to expect, they met. Hopefully, NCL can step up their game and truly return back to the days when they didn't gouge the passengers and give them the service they come to expect. I will be cruising NCL another couple times to see if maybe it was the JEWEL that sucks. But if it remains the same, Royal or Princess, we will be giving you our business instead of NCL! John Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
I recently sailed to the Mexican Riviera on the NCL Jewel through a charter. I have done previous cruises to the Mexican Riviera with Carnival and Princess, but this was my first time cruising with NCL. I have also done numerous ... Read More
I recently sailed to the Mexican Riviera on the NCL Jewel through a charter. I have done previous cruises to the Mexican Riviera with Carnival and Princess, but this was my first time cruising with NCL. I have also done numerous Caribbean cruises for a total of about 9. I am a 34 year old male and travel with my partner. Check in was a breeze - by far the fastest of any cruise I have been on. From curb to ship was less than 1/2 hour. Once on the ship we went straight to our stateroom which was ready and waiting for us. I instantly noticed that while the ship is aging a little bit, it is extremely well taken care of, no rusty paint on the balconies, no chipped up furniture in the common areas, etc. The stateroom carpeting and upholstery colors are definitely out dated but still in very good repair. I also instantly noticed that all of the staff was very friendly and most went out of their way to smile and say hello in passing. Many would even have a quick light-hearted conversation which I thought was great. The events and performances for this week were specially chosen for the charter, so I can't comment on the "canned" Jewel shows; but I will say that the venues are spectacular for a ship of this size. The main theater is amazing and there's really not a bad seat to be had. The dining options on this ship were mind-blowing and easily the most diverse of any ship that I have been on. We attended both the complementary and some specialty restaurants which I will detail below: -Garden Cafe (buffet): I really don't expect the highest quality at any buffet, but the quality of food here was actually quite good. For lunch and dinner there are always many choices to choose from if you just want a "quick" dinner. The breakfast was fairly typical, not great but not too bad either. I never understand why the bacon is always horrible on a cruise ship.... On sea days there is a "BBQ by the pool" (which you may catch the "washy-washy" guy in the buffet singing about - hilarious.) They serve things such as jerk-chicken and fried-rice here - delicious! -Tsars (Main dining room): On other ships I am used to one main grand-dining room. The Jewel has a couple of dining rooms so they each are significantly smaller, but definitely did the trick. The service was typically very good and the food selection was fantastic. I never had trouble finding something to order. The food quality was fairly good, some meals were hit and miss but all-in-all quite good. O'Sheehans: A really neat little pub idea, but the food here was really blah and tasteless. Specialty Dining (fee): Cagney's Steakhouse: Very nice atmosphere and great service. The food quality was amazing, but you actually get charged if you order more than one entree (in addition to the cover price). This is the first time I have ever had that happen. Moderno Churrascaria: A brazilian steakhouse. I have been to a similar dining concept in Las Vegas and this really doesn't compare. The food quality was OK, and it seemed to take forever for the meats to come around. I would probably skip this one in the future. Teppanyaki: I was really apprehensive about booking this one but figured why not. I am definitely glad that I did! It was an awesome experience and the food was exquisite. The cooks are very interactive and cook the food right in front of you. Definitely recommend this one! All in all was very pleased with this ship and service on this sailing, but a couple of (fairly minor) negatives that I will to mention: -A huge lack of sun loungers on sea-days. There is lots of room for more but there were none around. If you didn't have a lounger by 10am you were out of luck. -The internet on this ship was HORRIBLE. I don't spend all day on the internet, but like to keep in touch with family and friends from time to time. It was incredibly frustrating between the super slow speeds and the quirky log-in process. It ended up being very expensive at 0.90 cents per minute. I understand that on-board internet is typically slower, but RCCL and Celebrity have way better systems in my opinion. Ports: By this cruise, we were all "excursioned out", so we simply decided to wander around and see what we could find on our own at these ports. Cabo San Lucas: I always love this one. The only negative is being berated by peddlers as soon as you get off the ship, but just ignore them and keep walking. Highly recommend going to Medano beach (you can walk there or take a water taxi for about $3.00). Beautiful warm and blue ocean, it is simply spectacular. There I also recommend a little beach side restaurant called Mango Deck. You can get loungers and the service is top-notch and extremely entertaining. Puerto Vallarta: Maybe it is because I've been here a few times but I am quickly tiring of this city. We ended up finding a beach to go to for the day but the water was rough, dirty, and smelly. Mazatlan: This is a charming little place. It was unfortunately raining the whole day, but we did venture into town and took a cab (well, more a modified golf-cart) to the waterfront and enjoyed some local Mexican food and a couple of Coronas. I know Mazatlan has gotten a bad rap for being dangerous in the past, but I never felt anything but safe! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - ... Read More
This is my 4th cruise and 4th cruise line. It was my first time with NCL. We headed out on Aug 29th, 2015 doing the inside passage of Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. The ship was very average in every way. The food was pretty poor - average. The entertainment was average, service was average. If you have never cruised before and don't have anything to compare it too you will probably rate it as good. The two things that really annoyed me about this cruise was: 1) They tried to ram raffle tickets and this quick pick scratch offs things down your throat every single day - multiple times a day. Instead of scratch offs though they were these little door things you open. 2) Smoking! There were so many smokers on there that you would have thought it was a smoking cruise. Why smoking is allowed anywhere these days other than in peoples cars and house in beyond me! Would be sitting down on a quite area of the ship when a smoker or two would either come sit close by or just stand there smoking. Got ran off several times a day due to smokers. Also, was in the casino quite a few times and was doing really good on roulette one night until a few smokers came and joined the table. I had to leave the casino and work up with a sore throat the next day. Trying to think of some positives about the ship but really can't. It was not bad at all and I am not trying to be negative. It was just very average in every way. The ship layout was not good. There is about 2300 passengers on board and it seemed like it. I went on the emerald princess a few years ago and the ships are the same size - The emerald princess had almost 3100 passengers but somehow it seemed the Norwegian Jewell had twice as many passengers as the Emerald Princess. Felt like cattle being led to the eating trough most days. Excursions: We did not book anything through NCL as with any cruise line they add 20% for themselves. We booked everything on our own and had no issues. In Ketchikan we did salmon fishing - Unfortunately, the weather was not good for fishing and they were just getting over major storms and flooding. Still had fun though. Juneau - probably most least favorite place. However, we did the float plane - 5 glaciers and taku lodge with Wings airlines and I thought that was great! they food was great! salmon was amazing! Skagway - This was my favorite of all the stops. We did the Yukon deluxe and had Brian as a driver and guide. Very funny and likable guy. Also, very smart. Was a great excursion! Last stop was Victoria, BC. Is a pretty neat city. Not a ton to do, but worth a visit. I think 5 or 6 hours here and you have done about all there is to offer. All in all - an average cruise with good excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
My partner and I decided in late October to take a last minute cruise from New Orleans in Early mid November ohm the Norwergian Jewel just to get away and relax a bit. This is our third cruise with Norwegian in three years so we are ... Read More
My partner and I decided in late October to take a last minute cruise from New Orleans in Early mid November ohm the Norwergian Jewel just to get away and relax a bit. This is our third cruise with Norwegian in three years so we are obviously Norwegian fans. We are very successful in business and work for ourselves. I would say that though we tend to be somewhat frugal we will splurge and enjoy small luxuries when possible. On our past two trips we chose an Ocean View Stateroom on the Spirit and a Balcony on the Epic. This time I started with an inexpensive Inside guaranty cabin for $299 ea (I was being very frugal). However, we had a big contract come through so I then upgraded one week later to a mini-suite gty cabin for $200 more each. Still a great bargain. The mini Suites on the Jewel are a bit larger and fitted out a little nicer than the standard Balcony Staterooms. However mini-SUITE is a bit of a misnomer as they do not include any of the luxuries included in a real suite such as: Priority Embarkation, seating in the balcony 'boxes' for shows, Captains Cocktail Party, Bridge Tour, Private Suite Only dining every day in Cagney's for Breakfast and Lunch, Butler and Concierge Service, hors d'oeuvres and sweets delivered to the cabin late afternoon and each night before bed, Champagne and fresh flowers upon arrival in the cabin, Priority tinkering to shore, and basically being treated like royalty. All of these little luxuries are included in the penthouse suites. However there is one category even higher which is the Haven Suites on Deck 14 with private access to a sliding glass roofed courtyard with a tiny pool (probably 16' by 8') and deck chairs which are shared by 12 -14 suites in this private area. As we were a guaranty mini-suite category we weren't assigned a cabin until two days before the cruise but were very shocked and pleasantly surprised to be upgrade for free to a 2 Bedroom-2 Bath Penthouse suite with all of the luxuries listed above except the Haven Courtyard access. I started researching the cabin number ( Stateroom 11518 - the Opal Suite ) and found that the one negative is that it is located below the weight room and the treadmill area. Several comments indicated that this was very loud and quite disruptive for relaxation from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm each night. We decided this would be an issue if we were paying the extra $600- 800 each to choose this suite but we could certainly live thorough the noise and not look a "gift horse in the mouth"! This turned out to be the right mind set. The gym was loud as people were constantly dropping weights and it sounded like the ceiling could come don a few time. We honestly did get used to it and even had a good sense of humor about it. The suite itself was incredible! Using our card keys we entered into an entry foyer with two doorways. The first door leads to a small interior bedroom and nicely sized private bath with it's own key card access door. Rubber door stops were provided to keep the doors propped open if you so choose. Also accessed from the foyer was a second card keyed door that lead to the main area of the suite (also with a door stop provided). This triple locked door configuration makes the suite perfect for families or room mate situations. Just be careful through! If one of the doors swings shut they automatically lock. I'll explain why this can be a problem in moment. :-0 The main door to the suite proper is flanked by really cool looking lighted columns creating a some what grand entry. Through this door is a lovely wood paneled living area with a table and four chairs, mini bar and cappuccino maker, sofa, two chairs and entertainment center with one of four flat screen televisions and a dvd player. A fairly small balcony is off the living room with two very nice wicker looking padded deck chairs, a small end table, and a foot stool. They are nicer than the chairs on the neighboring non-suite balconies. The view from the 11th floor bacon is unobstructed and very nice. Through the main sitting room is an opening with a very heavy and substantial glass pocked door leading to an open concept grand master bath. The master bath is breathtaking! Unlike any other stateroom configuration I have ever seen, there is a soaking tub and a walk in luxury shower that extend out past the balcony and give you panoramic views of the ocean! The shower actually has one wall that is a floor to ceiling glass panel with a sheer drop down to the water below. There is a privacy screen that can be lowered but it isn't needed unless you are in port facing a dock. The shower itself has two shower heads (one is a removable hand held sprayer) and two body sprays. All of the fixtures are Hans Grohe slimline modern sprayers. Very elegant and high end. The main pat of the bathos a marble floored are with an eight foot long double vanity, multiple mirrors, glass shelving with elegant glass jars for provided toiletries such as cotton balls and bath salts. There are several different lighting sources such as recessed lighten and wall sconces. There is a separate glass enclosed water closet area with a privet phone and a flat screen tv over the tub. In the are you walk into from the living room there is a carpeted section with a large floor to ceiling clothes closet and a built in cabinet housing two safes, armoire storage, and four drawers. There were also multiple compartments, doors, and drawers in the bath are. Too many to use them all. On the interior wall of the open concept bath is a curtained nook for the VERY COMFORTABLE queen sized master bed. It sits in a wood paneled and mirrored alcove with a chandelier over the bed, room to both sides for end tables with drawers, shelves, plugs, phones, and wall mounted halogen reading lights. You can also control most of the lights in the bed/bath sea of the suite from wall mounted switches to either side of the bed. The alcove contains another flat screen tv, built in media center with dvd player, and more storage. One funny story about the three locking doors from the foyer. My partner decided he was going to sleep on the sofa in the living room. between reading habits, television watching, etc... this is how we live now. The first night of the cruise he got up about 2:00am and went through the door to the foyer and then through the door to the interior guest room to use the secondary bathroom. Somehow he knocked the door closed to the main sitting room which automatically locked! He tried knocking softly so as not to wake the neighbors but I didn't hear him all the way through to the master bed alcove. He ended sleeping in the guest room and remained locked out until I discovered him in there the next morning. Needless to say we made sure the doors remained propped ope the rest of the cruise. :-) I know this is long and detailed. So to sum up: Eric the room steward was fantastic. John De'Souza, the head concierge was incredible. He even went out of his way to make us comfortable as a same sex couple though we aren't obvious in any way. All of the other suite guests were ver friendly and accepting of us as well. We never felt out of place or uncomfortable. This was one of the best vacations we have ever had! My partner and I have been together for 27 years. We are life partners and business partners in a very successful Interior Design Firm in Northern Alabama. Though we are both males we fit in well with any group and have never experienced any real negativity or blatant negativity form anyone. I only mention then because we found that Norwegian Cruise lInes has always been very gay friendly and accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. ... Read More
Background Info: We are Gold Latitude on NCL. Hotel Info: We stayed at The St. James Hotel, an Ascend Collection Hotel by Choice Hotels on Magazine Street in NOLA the night before. Hotel was lovely. We would recommend to anyone. Embarkation: We've never cruised from NOLA, so you need to know that the ship will be mostly comprised of southern conservatives with a sprinkling of liberals and few international travelers. There were a high percentage of senior citizens and "rednecks", but the mix of folks was fine. As a penthouse guest, we were escorted through the entire process, and on the ship in less than ten minutes. John D'Souza the concierge had a staff member escort us to Cagney's Steakhouse for lunch. A very impressive and stress-free embarkation. Cabin: The penthouse suite is roomy and basically the size of your typical hotel room. The shining features include the Lavazza espresso machine and china, glass, and silver arrangement in the china cabinet. The bath includes private water closet and full size tub as well as Elemis bath products. PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING: Avoid deck 8 Aft. In order to reach your stateroom, you must walk through either Blue Lagoon or Moderno each and every time. It is not only uncomfortable for you, but also a distraction for the diners in the restaurants. Pick a suite on decks 9, 10, or 11. Dining: We chose specialty dining most of the time including Le Bistro, Cagney's, China Chin, and La Cucina. All were wonderful and worth the small fee. Our meal at the MDR Tsar's was serviceable but rushed. Hats off to the manager of Chin Chin who delivered our desserts to our suite. Entertainment: Typical song and dance for a cruise. Don't miss the staff talent show....awesome! Also, the live band they had on our cruise was one of the best we have ever heard. They played one evening for the Mardi Gras pool deck party, and they were sensational! Spa: Had four treatments between the two of us and the staff was professional and excellent. Staff: Shout out to Angel in Star Bar on deck 13 by Cagney's where the LGBT happy hour was held. He was lovely and gracious. Our room attendant Caril was efficient, polite, funny, and caring. Sir Walter, our butler went above and beyond everyday of the cruise. Ports: Montego Bay is to be avoided unless you have an excursion-the folks are fairly aggressive. Georgetown is lovely and our trip to Seven Mile Beach was exquisite. Cozumel is one of our favorite ports and we dined at Pancho's Backyard and bought rugs at our favorite shop. Disembarkation: Piece of cake- from the suite to the cab was 10 minutes... Summary: Our time was restful and delightful. The "rednecks" were annoying but mostly respectful. This cruise is a great value that you should consider. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
I enjoyed the cruise and am very glad I went. However, my biggest disappointment in the cruise was the activities and entertainment. Except for the shore excursions, the on board offerings were somewhat simple and mindless. ... Read More
I enjoyed the cruise and am very glad I went. However, my biggest disappointment in the cruise was the activities and entertainment. Except for the shore excursions, the on board offerings were somewhat simple and mindless. 70's-80's Pop culture, mindless TV game shows etc. and low-level (though well executed) Las Vegas stage shows are fine, even fun, but when they are the only options, it seems like they are being aimed at the lowest common denominator of the population. I did not hear one note of classical music during the entire cruise. (Couldn't there be an audio channel on the TV?) There were no lectures and really no activities that required any thought or intellect--and this is a shame because, for example, people (especially children and teens!) came back from seeing wonderful Mayan ruins, indigenous populations and local economy and history and had no clue what they had seen. So much more could have been done to enrich the experience of the cruisers with a little education and preparation. And how about a couple of rudimentary Spanish lessons--or conversation groups to revive people's knowledge of Spanish? Instead we had big prep sessions and relentless print ads in our daily bulletins to alert people to shopping opportunities! All of this tended to lower the level of conversation on the boat to the catatonic level of a week long visit to a mall. Of course most people come aboard with friends and family, with whom they tend to stick to the exclusion of other passengers, so I don't expect too much in the way of scintillating company. But the most interesting conversation I had during the entire cruise was with a 13 year old boy whose family went off to a specialty restaurant. He was a musician and also interested in child psychology. My other conversations, though pleasant, were mostly stories about casino gambling, how drunk people got the night before, how much they paid for jewelry and how they missed seeing football during the week. The ship is using the internet for its operations. Why does it have to be so expensive for the passengers? Also, even if external internet access is not provided, the "intRAnet" (on-board internet) could be used so much more effectively. There is a "community" section on the internet that is free. This could be used to post restaurant menus, event schedules, television schedules (movies) and many other bits of information that passengers would like to have available. It is already up and running but has only ship embarcation schedules. Regarding food, generally it was OK, but by no means did it ever rise to the level of fine dining and the two extra-charge specialty restaurants were just not that much better than the complementary dining options. I did not try Cagney's steak house, but to my surprise The Brazilian churrascaria, Moderno, had nearly flavorless grilled meats, some of which were actually too tough to eat. La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, was better, but only one cut above the Olive Garden. The outdoor grill barbecue offerings were also dry, tough and flavorless. The Tsar's palace and Azura had dishes that looked good, but were only occasionally really well prepared. I had to do something I never do--namely send food back because it simply was not worth eating. I found the Garden Grill buffet had the best chance to provide edible food, some of which was quite good--the small Indian offerings being reliably tasty. And why should we have to pay extra for espresso? The Garden Grill already has coffee machines that grind and fresh-brew quite decent Americano coffee. Machines that do this and also provide espresso are everywhere. It would be so easy to install them, and it would add a lot to the experience of the cruise. Small matters: The chairs in the library are extremely uncomfortable and narrow. The library was rather heavily used, and more space with comfortable chairs for reading would be welcome. I had plug adapters for European electric plugs, so I could use the library or card room with my own computer for a more pleasant place to do some writing, but others who only had US plugs were frustrated. For folks like me who like to spend recreational time not only reading but writing, a room with tables and universal electric outlets for our own computers would be most welcome. It would be good to have adapters available, or dual wall plugs. Although a service charge of 12% was added to the bill, I felt continually pressured to offer additional tips--even for coffee. I would so much prefer a service charge of 15-18% and a no-tipping policy throughout the ship. This is exacerbated by the fact that the ship is full of concessionaires who work on commission. These are likeable folks, but their income depends on hard selling (and up-selling) and this became obsessive and egregious at times. The shore excursions were the high point of the trip for me. There was a large variety of excursions for different tastes, and the guides and activities were informative and fun. All this said, I want to commend the ship on the superb quality of the crew who were consistently helpful, happy and competent. They made the cruise a pleasure at all times. I also want to commend the ship on its excellent environmental policies. I would cruise with NCL again if only to support this effort. It made me feel that I was not harming the earth quite so much when indulging in a cruise experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
. . . on a ship, that is! First off, I think a cruise is always the most relaxing of vacations, and have to have one every year. This was the one and only for us in 2013. However, we picked NCL only because we were part of the Aquafest ... Read More
. . . on a ship, that is! First off, I think a cruise is always the most relaxing of vacations, and have to have one every year. This was the one and only for us in 2013. However, we picked NCL only because we were part of the Aquafest group on board - an association of GLBT folk who each year at Hallowe'en partially charter a ship for a great party. NCL works well for these events, with its "Freestyle Cruising". The party was fun, the ship was fun, the crew was fun, but outside of an Aquafest function we would be sailing on another line. Embarkation was great. We're from New Orleans, so, of course, it's a fantastic place to start your trip! We were on the ship quickly and smoothly. In time for the lunch we always enjoy on sailing day in the main dining room - here, Tsar's Palace. This is a good idea. You avoid the push and shove of the buffet, and are seated for a refined, civilized experience. The ship is decently laid out and easy to get around. I have never seen such clear markings of where the venues are on any ship in the past. Also, the elevators have guides, telling you what is on each deck. This was my first cruise I did not walk the ship deck to deck before sailing to familiarize myself with it. We were able to join the group party at the Sky Bar instead! That said, there is a massive bottleneck between the pool deck and the buffet, as it skirts the pool grill and goes past the pool's restrooms. Two columns in the middle of this path were padded, gridiron style - a reminder of past boo-boos. It appears the pool deck at one time had paths on both the port and starboard sides, allowing for better flow. The port side is closed at both ends - aft by a hot tub that is an obvious addition. A pleasant consequence is there is a nice secluded place by the pool and two hot tubs in the forward port corner of the pool deck. The pool deck on the Jewel is quite large, accommodating two large pools and four hot tubs, plus the one that was an afterthought. The itinerary includes the usual Western Caribbean suspects: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and The Magic Mayan Kingdom (a/k/a Costa Maya). I understand there's a different set of itineraries too, including Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Again - we were on board for the party, and not the ports. At Cozumel we had a booked excursion through Cozumelwatersports.com. A catamaran/snorkel excursion that was absolutely fabulous. Not too large. A real catamaran. The cast and crew very attentive to safety and comfort. Will do again. NCL quite often, for more money, places you on a cattle boat with 80 people for a "snorkel/sail". Yes, Belize is third world. But not everyone gets to live in the USA. Explore the city. Stay on the main street that goes over the pivot bridge. Absorb it. Watch your wallet, especially when someone "bumps" into you. Ignore the men trying to sell you their sisters. We walked down this street to St. John's Anglican Cathedral, and enjoyed a delightful treat of early 19th Century Caribbean architecture. You could absorb the history from the plaques on the walls. Across from the back of the church is the Government House, open as a museum. Some fine displays of Belize in the past, and a great specimen of old colonial days. I thought I was in a W. Somerset Maugham story! Wondering around the grounds of Government House the staff pointed out to us two iguanas in the trees. What a treat. Walking back the children were being let out of two schools on our route, and it was great to see them in their starched white uniforms. (Much more presentable than the typical American kid, I might say.) Back in the tourist village we went to our favorite shop, The Loom Ltd., which sells pillow covers, runners, etc., to find them in the midst of a liquidation sale. Budging them out of their space? Diamonds International. As if they need more room! At Roatan we did a beach party with our Aquafest group, and it was a blast. A great beach club. Great Honduran beers. Great fun! Not too much at the Coxen Hole port, it appears. Consider an excursion here. Costa Maya was another beach party, one that NCL gave to Aquafest for free. Thank goodness we did not pay for it, as it was a poor cousin to the Roatan experience. 45 minute bus ride each way - but in a comfortable bus. Not much in the way of shaded areas, and no umbrellas. However, a very special young lady pointed out an open thatched hut with recliners and chairs - even a table and a counter - and we enjoyed the day there. Great food and beverage service. But, we might not have been so happy if we had to pay for it. Costa Maya is a huge disappointment, and we are glad that next year, when the Jewel sails from Houston for the Aquafest cruise, it will be off the list. As for restaurants: We are used to dining well - both at home and when traveling (we're from New Orleans!). The only restaurant on board worthy of the upcharge, we concluded, is Le Bistro. The food there is excellent. The staff is the most coordinated and pleasant of any of the dining rooms on board. We ate there four times - twice as scheduled dinner - once as part of the "Chef's Table" event - and a fourth time for the Jazz Brunch the final day at sea. I would recommend all of it. Especially Chef's Table. A multi-course meal with champagne and three different (and good) wines - for about $80.00 per person. A couple photos, too! And, after dinner drinks. The food and service were memorable. Look for this - especially the day you board. We found out about it from a pleasant lady bringing specialty restaurant menus around the main dining room on the day we sailed. Or, ask about it at a specialty restaurant desk in the lobby the day you board. On future cruises we will likely eat in the main dining room for dinner on the other nights, as we did our first night - when we had a pleasant meal. Cagney's is just a steakhouse, and while the food was good, it was rushed and the service was poor. We were ignored after our entrees were served. Moderno, a churrascaria, is a meat lover's orgy - maybe too much. We did not like some of the flavors. The salad bar there is wonderful, though. At Chin-Chin's (Asian flavas) we really enjoyed the appetizers, but our entrees were like the Chinese take out we can get back home. We have yet to have done the hibachi tables they have, though - that might be fun. Finally, we cancelled the Italian restaurant in favor of another Le Bistro dinner after hearing a few bad things, and recalling some less than stellar meals in the Italian restaurants on other NCL ships in the past - moreover, the ship was giving it away to the Aquafest group, another sign . . . On sea days - wait for the cookout on the pool deck. Much better than the buffet, and they stir up a wonderful paella! It is kind of hard to get a drink on this ship. On the pool deck I would observe more crew clearing tables than I would beverage servers. Not the fault of the crew, for sure. A staffing matter. We did not do any ship entertainment because the Aquafest demimonde took up our evenings. There is a great guy who sings and plays piano in the Martini bar on deck six. This bar, and the adjacent Maltings, are among the more civilized venues on board. Overall - a great time! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is ... Read More
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is the longest of any ship I’ve sailed on. Other cruise lines I’ve experienced include Princess (5+), Celebrity (5), Royal Caribbean (1) and Carnival (1) with the remainder being on Norwegian ships. Out of all the 27 voyages I’ve taken, 5 have been with Atlantis Events and 1 has been with Pied Piper. My most recent cruise prior to this was the Norwegian Breakaway inaugural Trans-Atlantic in late April 2013. Events are presented and reviewed in chronological order so enjoy! Pre-Cruise Stay NOLA: Comfort Inn & Suites Central Business District A nice hotel appointed with some great amenities like in room refrigerator, microwave and free continental breakfast in the morning. The location wasn’t all too far from the French Quarter and lively Bourbon Street but far enough in the early AM hours to need a cab if you’ve reveled too much. The front desk staff was extremely helpful during our stay. Norwegian Jewel Cruise: 7-Day Western Caribbean DAY 1: Embarkation Embarkation I arrived to the Port of New Orleans just prior to noon with a long check-in line greeting me, even for Platinum Latitudes. The break down for the line was new cruisers or returning cruisers and then a separate line for passengers with disabilities. Unlike Miami where there are different lines for different tiers of Latitudes members, New Orleans mashes all Latitudes levels together. The check-in agent was fast and efficient when we reached her and she got us on our way as fast as she could have. After over a half hour in the terminal we were on the ship. A leisurely embarkation lunch can usually be found in the ship’s main dining room and Tsar’s Palace offered a perfect reprieve from the chaos of the Garden Buffet while waiting for the rooms to be ready. Our lunch was served to us by a nice waitress named Leyda from Colombia who we had the pleasure of having service from in Azura another time later in the cruise. By 1:30PM the staterooms were announced as ready. Stateroom 5570: I’ve been in balcony cabins only on Norwegian Jewel so this was a new experience in an ocean view. Having the beds combined left little space on both sides barely a foot between the bed and wall. The cabin storage was fantastic for two people traveling with several costumes, regular clothing and lots of shoes. The bathroom is a standard layout and all in one compartment with the toilet having a separate door from the sink/mirror area and the shower. The shower head on the Jewel-class ships has two features  rain and steady unlike the new Breakaway class which has rain only. Norwegian Jewel Ship: This was my fifth time on the Jewel and I can say Norwegian Cruise Line does a nice job of keeping the ship in working order. She looks just as good as the first time I set foot on her in 2007 and everything was in working order. Unlike the Dawn class ships which have had their Spinnaker Lounge relocated, the Jewel still has her Spinnakers intact with great panoramic views of where the ship is going on Deck 13 forward. The flow of the ship on Deck 7 and 6 are quite helpful in keeping passengers moving between venues and the passenger to space aspect ratio is nicer on the Jewel so you don’t feel cramped. After going to the room and getting things in order, it was time to meet the people of Aquafest in the meeting rooms on Deck 6 forward by the Stardust Theater. The check-in for the group was quick and painless and I got to meet a lot of the Hosts for our trip while receiving goodies of a free Aquafest sling-pack, a promotional copy of remixes from DJ Michael as well as our wrist bands for the week and our Roatan beach excursion. At the end of the receiving line was Tom Baker who is the President of Aquafest. It was a nice welcome to the group of Aquafest cruises as this was my first experience with them. I sailed with Pied Piper earlier in the year for the first time and so far this experience was much better. It was a quick jaunt back to the room before muster drill held promptly at 3:15PM before going up to the Sky High Bar for a drink and cast-off party. It was here that I saw Katya, Norwegian Jewel’s resident Beverage Manager extraordinaire. This was my third sailing with Katya and when I did a ship visit to the Jewel in October 2012 I had bumped into her again. She’s a great woman who helped me find a substitute vodka when the Jewel ran out of Grey Goose later in the cruise. Katya knows her alcohols and knows how to keep her guests happy. I knew the cruise would be in great hands with her at the helm. She had just returned from her vacation and joined the ship a few hours previous. We watched the Party-Like-A-Norwegian pool side events while waiting for the ship to cast off. When the ship was under way we headed out back to the Great Outdoors to watch the ship sail off and New Orleans grow smaller behind us. The sun was blocked by clouds so a picturesque sunset over the river wasn’t had this time. Embarkation dinner was actually provided by the Garden Café since we were right there and pressed for time. The assortment of dinner foods was good. The salad bar was well stocked and the main dishes were all tasty. I prefer dining in the main dining room but couldn’t get there with the tight turn around tonight. There was a nice open bar mixer for an hour to meet our fellow Aquafest guests before heading to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. This gave my traveling companion a taste of the entertainment he’d see all week. There was a production cast number, a comedian and a pianist. The comedian was quite funny but the pianist was not exactly entertaining for either of us so we skipped his show later in the week. With a gap between events it was time to head back and unpack before Aquafest variety show which was hosted by the vicious, yet awesome Bianca del Rio. I’ve never met a drag queen as vicious as her but darn can she make you laugh! By the end of the cruise I wished she lived closer to Boston! Also, we got a preview of Tom Goss and David Hernandez talents. The only person we didn’t like was the comedian Jessica Halem who was being shown up by Bianca quite badly during this show. Bianca totally stole the show! Coming off a late night of reveling in the French Quarter and a long day of traveling it was time to turn in for the night. All in all embarkation day was a busy day of meeting new people, unpacking and seeing what the week had in store. DAY 2: Sea Day It was a leisurely morning and after breakfast we did a workout in the ship’s gym. The gym is well appointed with several weight-bearing machines for the arms, abs, shoulders and legs. The cardio deck has been updated with treadmills and elliptical machines with games on them as well as personalized TV channels. It’s a nice addition to the gym and keeps you engaged while doing your cardio workout. Later in the morning there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Star Bar. Thanks to another Cruise Critic member for organizing the event with a gift exchange. Lots of members showed up and so did the senior management of the ship. The Jewel is home to so many familiar faces including the Guest Services Manager Gary Alldredge, Ignacio the Food and Beverage Manager from Spain and Katy the Bar Manager. During this meeting I approached Ignacio about an issue I was having getting through to room service. The line was constantly busy no matter the time you called. I explained my daily request and asked if he could just make sure it was done so I didn’t have to waste time on my vacation calling trying to get through. Ignacio took down my request and it happened like clock-work every single day for the rest of the voyage. It was nice of Ignacio to listen to the problem and take the necessary steps to rectify it right then and there. Next it was time for lunch and Aquafest had a hosted lunch in the Tsar’s Palace main dining room. While standing in line to enter the dining room, Rowena (Hostess) came out and told guests who were doing the group lunch to enter through the other door. I recognized Rowena from the Philippines immediately and said hello to her. Given how busy it was we didn’t have time to talk but would see her later as she was the hostess for the Azura main dining room. Lunch was great and included meeting new people in the group along with lunchtime favorites of the Vietnamese roll and the NY Strip Steak with mushrooms and fries. It was now time to try and get some sun on the breezy private sun deck Aquafest had for the group. We stayed up there for a couple of hours before heading back for to prepare for dinner. During this time Aquafest hosted a singles event in the Star Bar with Bianca del Rio. We stopped in looking for a friend before heading up to the sun deck and it seemed very well attended. Aquafest Entertainment: Kinsey Sicks The Spinnaker’s Lounge was home to performance venues for the whole week for our group. The first entertainers were the Kinsey Sicks who are a vocal quartet and who use their rhythms and some comedy to tell their story. The performers did their best when they were snagged by a technical snafu and recovered nicely to finish the show. Specialty Dining: Mama’s Italian Kitchen As part of the group amenities, there was a compensated dinner in the Jewel’s Italian specialty restaurant. The food was great and so was the service from our waiter. He accommodated a special request to come with the main meal which was the steak. The steak was cooked perfectly and was mouth-watering. We were by the windows at a deuce and had a wonderful dinner together. Norwegian’s Stardust Showtime: BAND ON THE RUN This was the production cast’s first main show. It takes the hits of the 70s and brings them alive on stage with the singers, dancers and acrobats performing. It’s a great way to start off the cruise with catchy numbers that can sometimes get stuck in your head for days. Upon return to the cabin, my travel companion made the mistake of lying down. I went out to check out the Sci-Fi theme night in Spinnakers for a while. I had a drink and retired for the evening myself. It was an early rise the next day. DAY 3: Cozumel, Mexico Norwegian Excursion: Tulum Mayan Ruins Our day started with a transfer to the Ultra Mar ferry at the pier for the transfer to Playa del Carmen on the main land. The sales pitches on the ferry for water were a bit annoying. Once on land in Playa del Carmen we transferred to an air conditioned bus for a drive to the ruins and met our tour guide Angel. There was a brief bathroom, shopping and photo break before continuing to the ruins. In the store Angel explained the Mayan calendar and why it was circular. Once at the ruins Angel did a fantastic job of explaining everything we were seeing and the Mayan culture. He drew in the sand to help us understand principles of mathematics and was just so thorough. I haven’t come across a tour guide in the Caribbean in a number of years as good as him. This was my second visit to these ruins in 12 years and this time was far better than the first. I highly recommend this tour and this tour guide. It’s a full day tour so returning to Cozumel, Mexico meant the ship was departing soon. We did some shopping at the end of the downtown pier in San Miguel and got a drink over a Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. Senor Frogs was dead as most of the revelers had already gone back. Back on the ship we went up on Deck 14 forward to experience the ship leaving Cozumel and to watch the beautiful sunset along with grabbing a quick bite to eat from the grill poolside. Specialty Dining: Moderno Churriscaria For a cover charge of $20, you get an incredibly filling meal. You start with a salad bar which has lots to offer. The salad bar on the Jewel class ships is not as large as that on the Epic or Breakaway but the offerings still healthy and plentiful. Once you flip your card from red to green on your table the parade of meats begin. You get to sample all of the meats offered and then when you’re finished the wait staff bring back your favorites. I love the garlic beef in this restaurant! The dinner was leisurely and as a result we missed the early evening’s entertainment from Aquafest comedian Jessica Halem. Our mistake was laying down to wait for Tom Goss’ performance which resulted in missing the entire rest of the evening. A great day but early day at Tulum and in the hot sun will put anyone to sleep! DAY 4: Belize City, Belize Norwegian Excursion: Lamanai Ruins The tour starts early and it’s a full day long tour which consists of a tender ride to shore, a bus ride to another speed boat which zips you down the river to the ruins. It seems like a lot but in the end it’s worth the wait. It has rained earlier in the day when the ship first arrived to Belize and these ruins are really in the jungle. The paths were muddy and puddle ridden. If you didn’t mind getting a little dirty then you could experience everything including climbing to the tops of the ruins to catch a glimpse into a neighboring country. After having such a great tour guide in Tulum, I couldn’t have been more disappointed with our tour guide for Belize. She explained nothing to our group and only told us what time to climb down from the ruins by. During this tour I bumped into a photographer friend of mine who’s been on quite a few of the ships I’ve traveled with Norwegian recently Liga N. from Latvia. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in a remote part of the jungle! The highlight of the tour was a local lunch served at the speed boat dock and the friendly service of the locals. I got to have a Beliken Beer which has become a tradition each time I stop in this country! Now a note about Cruise Critic folks booking independent tours trying to save a few bucks. During our tour we had to stop three times to offer assistance to a tour boat done by Cruise Critic members which kept breaking down. Had we not come along I don’t know what the outcome would have been for the people or if they would have made it back to the ship. This was an inconvenience to our tour and delayed our arrival to the ruins and also cut the time short for our excursion. It was nice of our guy to stop but this should serve as a lesson about doing things on your own. This was a full day tour and back on the ship we decided to eat at Azura restaurant before heading up to our spa appointment. Rowena, the hostess from the Philippines, greeted us warmly and seated us in Edgardo’s section. Edgardo is a waiter from the Philippines who started his shift in the Azura restaurant for dinner service and worked until the wee hours in the Blue Lagoon. We’d end up running into him a lot by the end of the cruise. It was a great dinner service and we got a picture with Rowena before sneaking off to the show briefly and to the Aquafest spa night. Norwegian Stardust Showtime: Comedian-Illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent I’ve sailed with Jean-Pierre many times and his show always entertains. It was my fourth time seeing his show which he changed a bit and my friend’s first time. It’s always a good time but we couldn’t stay for the full time because of our spa appointment. I highly recommend Jean-Pierre’s show! I didn’t know at the time the spa night would coincide with Jean-Pierre’s performance. Norwegian Experience: Mandara Spa This is the first time in my cruising life to visit a spa for something outside of using their gym facilities. I was nervous about the whole experience and the massage therapist could tell as the 50 minute spa package included a back, neck, scalp and foot massage along with a facial cleansing. I misplaced the receipt with the spa attendant’s name but she did an excellent job of calming me down and making my first cruise spa experience extremely enjoyable. I don’t know why it’s taken me 27 cruises to try this out. The spa package I purchased cost $120 including tip. It was well worth it and then I got to use the hot tub, sauna and steam room until 11PM. Aquafest Entertainment: Ancient Epics & Superheroes Theme Dance I didn’t bring a costume but wanted to finally get up there and check out the party going on. People put a lot of effort into bringing costumes from the simple Batman & Robin to a Burger King costume! It was a fun night out but a lot of people seemed to drift off early as they were tired from full day excursions including me! The night ended with a trip to the Blue Lagoon and service from Edgardo which included the customary late night chicken tenders!! DAY 5: Roatan Island, Honduras Halloween!! Aquafest Private Excursion: The Beach Club San Simon We met at our designated time pier-side and were split into smaller busses to be taken to the West End of the island and a private beach resort. The beach was pristine, clean and locals peddling goods were kept at bay after a disagreement with police. The water was so clean and beautiful and the resort had a nice pool which we also had access to. The bar staff were friendly and the same waiter we had on the beach set us up with a sheltered table to eat our lunch. It was well worth the investment to do this beach break and I got to meet a lot more of the Aquafest team including getting an invite to a private event later. This beach club is definitely something I’ll keep in mind on any return trips to the island. By 2:30PM it was time to return to the ship, watch her cast off from Deck 14 forward and then return to the cabin to get ready for the evening’s affairs. It was very nice to experience the Garden Villas for a reception before dining in Azura. It was at this event I happened to meet another incredibly friendly Norwegian shore-side staff member named Jason K. who was helping out since our Hotel Director had flown to Miami for a conference. The reception ended and it was off to dinner in Azura where the food was made to order and the service great. Rowena was able to accommodate our ever growing group and put us in Leyda’s (waitress from Colombia) section. It was nice to have dinner with new found friends who we would interact with for the rest of the cruise. Norwegian’s Signature Chocoholic Buffet Once a cruise usually in the Garden Café there’s a chocolate lover’s event that cannot be missed. The signature Chocoholic buffet is where chocolate and ice sculptures are put on display. This cruise was extra special since the theme in the buffet was Halloween with pumpkins, chocolate and ice sculptures carved in mystical and scary creatures. It was a nice touch although the chocolate selection seemed to be easily repeated at each of the action stations. All in all it was still good! Aquafest Entertainment: Toga and White Party Theme Dance Tonight Norwegian Cruise Line was celebrating their Halloween with a costume contest in the Spinnakers Lounge so our group moved to Fyzz. A curtain was placed up for our group’s privacy unfortunately trapping all the fake fog they were using to smoke up the room. It was unbearable to be in there for any length of time and this is the one night where bar service was a problem. The bar in Fyzz is too small to accommodate a group of our size. The fog also gave me a scratchy throat and started me towards laryngitis. Aquafest Charity Entertainment: Boylesque at Sea Three of the hot Norwegian Cruise Line production cast dancers performed a striptease number for our private group all to benefit charity during the toga party. It was a nice addition to the evening and the boys definitely put on a show. The highlight of the evening was seeing a good Norwegian entertainer in a new way! Great work Jean-Pierre for your part of this performance (and I’ll leave it at that)!! Twice we visited the Halloween ship party in Spinnakers to get some air and to get drinks. The first time Spinnakers had a decent turn out with fellow cruisers really getting decked out for the party. The second time we visited the ship party just before 1AM the place was a ghost town while the toga party was still going on pretty strong. We also visited the Blue Lagoon afterward for some chicken tenders and service from Edgardo before retiring. DAY 6: Costa Maya, Mexico Norwegian and Aquafest Private Excursion: Beach Getaway at Jungle Beach Club There were two departure times from the Costa Maya pier to the all-inclusive beach club. Before we knew it we were at the beach club and found chairs shaded by a tree. A friendly waitress took care of us during our entire stay there. I got to sample some of their quesadillas and Dos Equis beer. We ventured out on a raft to a concrete structure off-shore as something to do. The water was not clear like Roatan and was littered with rocks and seaweed. We took the 1PM transfer back to the port so we could do some shopping and meander back to the ship. The ship put on a nice welcome back from our last port of call with music and partying going on alongside the pier. The Mexican military members were kind enough to pose for a picture as well. Aquafest Entertainment: 70’s Disco Tea Dance We sailed from Costa Maya watching land fade into the sunset before heading to the tea dance. Music was great and the party was lively. Some folks including the Aquafest team donned bell bottoms and platform shoes. Tonight we dined in Tsar’s Palace with some of the folks from the tea dance! Except for us everyone else was in costume for a prime rib dinner and the service was great. Some confusion about the changing of Norwegian’s production of Cirque Bijoux to Cirque Expressions due to mechanical problems led me to miss the second production show completely. I thought it was the adagio night from the aerialists which this ship has been known to have in the past. Aquafest Entertainment: Neewollah Ball and Costume Party This is Aquafest’s signature Halloween event. Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards. With a $1,000 prize for the best costumes split between three categories, everyone was dressed up in their best. I chose to go as a "cool vampire” and it was funny that someone else who lives the next town over did the same thing! Such a small world. Bianca del Rio was fierce in her emcee of the event and let people have it where it was deserved with her witty comments. The winners ended up being people who were impersonating her in a few years! Congrats to them and then the disco night started where everyone was out late since there was a sea day the next day. During the night we also returned to Cozumel for about an hour to offload a passenger who suffered a medical emergency. Earlier in the evening a stretcher team was paged over the PA system. I hope the person managed to get home from Mexico ok. After a night of partying it was time to go to Blue Lagoon and have some chicken tenders with service by Edgardo before retiring for the evening. DAY 7: Sea Day The weather outside was cold, cloudy and sprinkling. It wasn’t great weather to sun yourself on the ship so it was time to go photo diving. We were very photogenic for everyone this trip so trying to amass all the pictures from our trip was just crazy. The lady from the United States, bless her heart, helped us out with a photo order from the Boylesque night. All in all the photo gallery cleaned up nicely off of us and it was well-deserved because the staff took some great photos. We bumped into an Aquafest group host who invited us to lunch. Even though we’d just ate two hours before we decided it was time to eat again in Tsar’s Palace for a very light lunch of the Vietnamese roll and the chicken noodle soup to help coax my voice back. Norwegian Entertainment: Crew Talent Show The crew are always working so hard for us and the talented ones get to take an hour or two out of their day to share other talents with us. The performances included vocal performances by the Washy, Washy guy, a dramatic performance by Sinful Sin (Assistant Cruise Director), the traditional Filipino Tinikling dance and finally the beloved Fountains. Fountains is always a hoot and this time proved no different. If you’ve never seen Fountains before then I suggest you go to the talent show but go anyway to support the amazing and hard-working crew for their other talents. After watching the last sunset of the cruise up on deck at the Sky High Bar it was time to get ready for the last evening’s entertainment on the ship. Aquafest Entertainment: The Kinsey Sicks Back to perform a different show, the girls didn’t disappoint. A new theme with some funny punch lines and their barber shop quartet made the hour pass by easily. This was followed by the farewell bar mixer. We rushed down to Azura to say goodbye to Rowena but she’d already left to pack up for her early sign off for and much deserved vacation. We asked for service from Leyda but she too had been re-assigned to another restaurant but we still dined in Azura and had excellent service. We stayed up later to say our farewells, stopping by the portrait gallery on Deck 12 to say bye Liga and to share a drink with her later on. The night would end with some quick final packing and going to Spinnakers to say bye to friends made over the course of the week. DAY 8: New Orleans Norwegian Shore Excursion: Past, Present & Perfect Disembarking the Jewel was relatively painless since we had black color luggage tags and had a pre-determined meeting time in the Stardust Theater to get off the ship. The tour bus was on the furthest end of the pier from the luggage pickup so schlepping the luggage the whole length of the terminal was a bit tiring but the whole process was pretty quick. The tour was driving around the city and seeing the sights via the bus and then getting off the bus at a cemetery to view how they bury their dead. It’s usually done above-ground and other items were explained. After driving around the city some more we were dropped at a park for a chance to get a beignet and coffee. From there we drove around the city some more seeing some sights before heading to the airport. We were at the airport by 1PM. The shore excursion recommends you not go if you have a flight before 2PM so keep this in mind! Conclusion: Aquafest and the Norwegian Jewel make a perfect pair. The ship is the right size ship for me and the layout is perfect for accommodating the Aquafest group. The Aquafest brand goes above and beyond to elicit guest feedback through their friendly group hosts and their President Tom Baker who was seemingly everywhere! The Norwegian Jewel didn’t disappoint and remains a ship I can call my home at sea. The friendly crew faces I knew always provided the same excellent service which made me remember them to begin with and now there’s some new faces to add to the mix. The Norwegian Jewel is the best ship at sea with the best crew talent and Aquafest is a great addition to an already outstanding ship. I always conclude my reviews by thanking the people who made my vacation memorable and they start with Katya Plyakova, Beverage Manager for her outstanding ability to handle a large volume of guests and manage to keep everyone happy! If it wasn’t for her extraordinary knowledge of vodkas I would have been stuck when the ship ran out of regular Grey Goose. Her recommended substitution (Russian Standard) was spot on and why I’ve come to trust her over the years as the best Beverage Manager at sea for Norwegian. I’d like to thank Ignacio Alvarez, Food and Beverage Manager for addressing my concerns with the room service issue and taking care of my request for the duration of the cruise. The service from Rowena Owen - hostess from the Philippines, Noellen - our cabin steward from the Philippines, Liga Neilande photographer from Latvia, Natalie Hammond future cruise consultant from Australia, Boyd Chen shore excursion manager from Jamaica, Jean-Pierre Parent comedian/illusionist from Canada, Leyda waitress in Azura from Colombia, Edgardo waiter in Azura and Blue Lagoon from the Philippines and the countless other staff members who I didn’t get a chance to catch their names offered such excellent service the Jewel has been come to be known for. A special shout out to the bar staff who worked tirelessly during our voyage, especially those night after night in the Spinnaker’s Lounge for the Aquafest group! As I write this I see a news story on TV of the devastation in the Philippines, please consider donating to whatever charity you wish to help out the country where so many of the crew on cruise ships come from. Without the hard working crew, fantastic vacations like this wouldn’t be so enjoyable. My thoughts are with the people of the Philippines. Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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