11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I was on a private charter of the Jewel from Hong Kong to Tokyo for a 10 night adventure. I had a balcony room to myself for the holiday. Boarding went smoothly but when it was announced that all the staterooms were ready, mine was still ... Read More
I was on a private charter of the Jewel from Hong Kong to Tokyo for a 10 night adventure. I had a balcony room to myself for the holiday. Boarding went smoothly but when it was announced that all the staterooms were ready, mine was still not. Even after I was allowed in, I had to call back the room attendant there was still dirt on the glass shelves in the bathroom. Not having a clean bathroom from the start was only the begining of a poorly run ship. I gave 3 stars because my state room was great and the entertainment was very good. One of our biggest complaints was the overt and racist "Washy, washy, happy, happy" in a mocking Asian accent, that were were greeted with when entering the cafeteria at every meal. How insensitive! Our Asian friends, and this cruise originated in Hong Kong so many were on board. Were horrified as we were to find out that this is a NCL saying and the crew are required to say it. I reached out to NCL on Facebook messenger and I could see they read my concerns but never responded! After a 12 million dollar restoration you expect things to work. There were so many things broken and not fixed it became was a joke. We asked every day for the lockers in the spa to work. Were told that no one had complained and they all worked, but the attendant who came to help us could not use them either because they were broken. We were told every day that no one had complained even though they took my room number every day when I said something. In the cafeteria the coffee and expresso machines were out of order most every day and when we said something were were told to go to the end of the ship for the one working machine(it did not work either). Mexican food day, there was no tortillas and asking for guacamole was like pulling teeth.. Seriously, Mexican group was very angry.. as were we..They were so stingy with tortillas we were only allowed 2 each and one teaspoon of guacamole. I made the girl angry by demanding more.. I wanted some for my tortilla chips and salsa.. which had no spice or heat. We tried the main dining rooms, but the service was so bad and the food either over cooked or just cold(cold french fries with a cold not edible steak) That was after the fish I ordered was so dry it was not edible. We had a table of 8 one night and the food came out so slow for some of us that many of our friends had finished dinner and desert by the time we were getting our main meal. It was inexcusable. We finally had a good meal at Le Bistro after the Restaurant's manager personally took us there and paid for our meal and wine as he was so embarrassed! The Brazilian restaurant was also very good, But you had to pay for that. We ate at Tapanyaki the first night and it was a joke! The "chef" did a song and dance and tapped spatulas, many of which he dropped! The rice was not edible as it was so salty and the meat was tasteless. We had to ask for salt for that! We were rushed through the meal that should have been a show. I wasn't even able to finish my food as they wanted to move on.. The entertainment was good but the drinks were a joke. They upcharged and seemed to forget what the price was inconsistent from each server and each bar. They poured premium even if you asked not and still charged your room. You asked for well drinks and they poured premium! The shore excursions were poorly run and often the guides level of English was not understandable. Mostly a waste. My bed was comfortable and the water pressure in my shower was impressive, but you could not pay me to get on another NCL ship. My whole group lost weight as often the food was terrible. We would head to get chocolate ice cream soft serve 4 times a day to keep the weight on. But even those machines didn't always work and it was not easy getting anyone to pay attention to take care of simple things. We thought the ship was a floating Denny's. Even that food would have been preferable. I paid over $5000 for my own balcony on a 10 night cruise. That works out to $500 a day, for that money we should have had good food! Read Less
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
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
Sail Date: October 2013
This was my 23rd cruise overall, and my eighth cruise on Norwegian. I booked with the Aquafest LGBT group’s annual Halloween sailing, and our group made up almost 500 of the Jewel’s 2100 passengers. I’ve sailed on the Norwegian Pearl ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise overall, and my eighth cruise on Norwegian. I booked with the Aquafest LGBT group’s annual Halloween sailing, and our group made up almost 500 of the Jewel’s 2100 passengers. I’ve sailed on the Norwegian Pearl twice, a sister ship of the Jewel, as well as the Norwegian Dawn twice. Both ships are similar to the Jewel in design and capacity, so I had high expectations for the Jewel. I received the first indication that those expectations would not be met when I checked in. In the past, passengers received a pocket-sized brochure and map of the ship along with their key card. But on this day, I was handed a poor-quality black-and-white photocopy of that map. Norwegian’s continued cost-cutting has become evident even before stepping aboard. Strike one. On my other seven Norwegian cruises, I’ve always admired the friendliness and efficiency of the staff and crew. So I was surprised when after I boarded, I went to the Guest Relations desk and asked where the check-in area was for the Aquafest group. The agent behind the desk stared at me blankly. Then she asked her colleague if she knew what the “Aqua Fresh” group was. I corrected her twice. The colleague didn’t know either. Could it be that the Jewel’s staff was not prepared for a group that was occupying one-quarter of the ship this week? Luckily, another Aquafest passenger was nearby and overheard the conversation, and informed me where to go. Strike two. After checking in with Aquafest and meeting their staff, my friend and I headed up to the Garden Café for lunch. At some point, I heard the news that a surprise CDC health inspection was taking place – this is done approximately every six months on every cruise ship that operates out of the U.S. And when I saw the incredible disarray of the lunch service in the Garden Café – empty food trays not being replaced in a timely manner, lack of fresh plates, many items mislabeled or not labeled at all, etc. – I assumed it was due to the crew’s attention on the health inspection. But as the week progressed, I learned that the inspection was not the reason. These problems persisted throughout the week. Over eight Norwegian cruises, I had never seen the buffet restaurant so poorly managed as it was on the Jewel. Strike three. The Norwegian Jewel struck out in the first inning without a single hit – and I’ve only been on board for an hour. Throughout the week, there was nothing in particular that the staff or crew did to sway my disappointment from the first day. Even the service at dinner that first night in the Tsar Palace was quite slow. Other dinners that week were in specialty restaurants or in the Azure dining room, which had pleasantly prompt service. Our other dinners were in La Cucina, Moderno Churrascaria and Cagney’s Steakhouse – all were as enjoyable as I’ve experienced them previously on other ships. One exception to the lackluster staff was the beverage manager, Katya. She was very friendly and sociable. Because the Aquafest group provided its own entertainment for the guests, I didn’t get to see much of the Jewel’s entertainment. I did see Band on the Run and Jean-Pierre’s magic show – both were very entertaining and enjoyable. But the best aspect of this cruise was the itinerary. New Orleans is a great embarkation port, and my friend and I enjoyed spending two nights here, plus one more night after the cruise ended. The cruise had four ports of call: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya. During my previous calls to Cozumel, I went to a nearby resort and bought a day pass. But because Norwegian uses the downtown pier, it was very convenient to walk around the town and explore the shops. Aquafest had also invited its guests to visit Senor Frogs, where we enjoyed a raucous daytime party atmosphere before heading back to the ship. In Belize City, we took a ship excursion to Altun Ha, a very impressive Mayan historic site. Our tour guide, who had a Mayan background, was excellent in explaining some of the history and architecture relevant to the pyramids. We had the ability to climb to the top of the largest pyramid, which was quite the treat. In Roatan, we joined some other Cruise Critic members for a catamaran sailboat charter, provided by Radical Adventures. This was the highlight of the cruise! Captain Ed and his wife Julie, along with a crew of three locals, sailed us to a secluded cove for a couple hours of snorkeling and a delicious lunch. And in Costa Maya, Aquafest had arranged an excursion for the entire group at a beach club about 30 minutes away. If I had to rank my eight Norwegian cruises solely based on the onboard experience, I would have to rank this cruise as the lowest one. I’m worried that Norwegian’s cost-cutting, as well as all the focus they are putting on Epic, Breakaway and Getaway, is having a detrimental effect on the rest of the fleet. Norwegian needs to do more to ensure that its passengers looking for a mid-sized ship experience are not being ignored. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2012
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived to the Pier 66 cruise terminal via taxi at around 11:15. After a very speedy and friendly boarding process, I was on the ship before noon. Customer service at the check in counter was very welcoming. Why must all cruise ships slow down the boarding process by having everyone pose for a photo BEFORE boarding? Not sure, but it's one of this cruiser's frequent complaints. I was told rooms would not be available until after 1:30 so had a glass of wine and some hummus poolside. Seattle weather was incredibly cooperative: sunny and warm. My room became available at 1:15. All in all, I could not ask for a better embarkation. My suggestion to all is to come early to avoid lines. And being a Lattitudes member certainly speeds up the process and you do not have to wait in the "main" line. This was the best embarkation I've ever had on a cruise. It was also the earliest I have ever arrived to the pier. My big advice: get there early and avoid the lines! Stateroom: I stayed in the cheapest possible room. Lowest level inside cabin room 4583. My previous time on the Jewel I had a balcony stateroom although I found that I didn't use it enough to justify the extra expense. The stateroom was clean (if I were going to be picky I could highlight that one of the bathroom shelves had dust). Unlike in other staterooms on different ships, I was pleased that the room had three functioning electrical outlets. I'm a gadget junkie with phones and cameras and tablets to charge so I made very good use of the electrical outlets. Storage is efficient and plentiful for me. I pack and travel light so many of the shelves I did not even need. But to be fair, the room is small. It's a tight fit for two people. I would not stay in this room with someone unless we were on an intimate basis. It's JUST that small. Given that I don't spend much time in the room, it met my needs and I could spend all the money I saved on a balcony on items that are more important to me: food and wine be chief among those. The bathroom is also very small but there's plenty of storage for most. Although a person with tons of cosmetics and skin care might want to bring along one of those organizers that hangs on a doorknob. Don't expect luxury and you'll be fine. But this is NOT a two person bathroom. It's barely a one person. The room attendant was friendly and available. I made sure to leave a tip upon disembarkation. Overall Ship Impressions: The ship is clean although the cleaning rarely gets in the way of the flow of traffic. Certain times the elevators can be incredibly full especially at midship. The ship design does not always flow logically with some elevators only going down to deck 7 and forcing those who want to go below deck 7 to use other sets of elevators. Once you get use to the illogic, it's not that bad but I wonder if there was a more customer friendly design. Several times during the cruise, one elevator was out of service. Taking the stairs from deck 4 to the pool can be a good way to burn some extra calories but at the end of a long day, having plentiful and working elevators can be a big deal. Public spaces are very plentiful and the push to sale drinks is much less than on other ships I've been on. A simple smile and a "No thank you" was enough that bar staff knew I was only enjoying the public space and not looking to drink. The card room and library offer great views and a respite from the noise. Even on a crowded ship, one does not have to look very hard to find some alone time and tranquility. The atrium can get crowded but is relaxing early morning. The gift shops can be a zoo. Go at off times or not at all. The sales pitch on the Jewel was toned down on this trip. The shopping consultant rarely made announcements. Of course some may be bothered by the art auctions and bingo announcements but seasoned cruisers will have no trouble tuning out what they are not interested in. The smoke filled casino has less open hours on this itinerary. A smoking/cigar lounge would be nice to allow smokers to go some place besides the casino. Restaurants: Mama's: I've eaten here several times on my previous cruise on the Jewel and at nearly identical restaurants on other NCL ships. The $10 surcharge is reasonable. The food is good but don't expect it to conjure up Tuscany or even an Italian-American grandmother's cooking. It's a few steps above Olive Garden. The menu remains nearly unchanged over the years. A few more changes could help NCL frequent cruisers to stay more interested. I dined here twice on the 7 day cruise. The calamari had a burned taste to it (old frying oil?) but the salad with figs and pancetta was excellent. Unlike on previous trips to NCL's Italian Restaurants, the meal did NOT start off with the chef's antipasto. It was not offered (only a selection of unimpressive breads). I enjoyed the vegetable lasagna which was loaded with summer squash and had a very fresh tasting and light tomato sauce. The seafood linguine was watery and lacked a big flavor punch. The shrimp and mushroom risotto was very good if not quite as creamy as a home cooked and properly stirred risotto. As always on NCL, I had the superb cheesecake for dessert. Service was very friendly although the waiter seemed ill-informed about the menu. Was the salmon wild? He had to check with several people before getting the answer: no. Did the tomato sauce have meat? After a few minutes, he was able to find out that the answer was no. For only a $10 surcharge, it's hard to complain. The $10 is worth it just to get away from the crowds. Mama's location near the buffet is not a plus but they do their best to give it a distinct character and flavor. If you don't have high expectations, try it. Cagney's: I had dinner here twice and had eaten at Cagney's previously on the Spirit and the Dawn. NCL's signature steakhouse continues to offer freshly prepared (you can watch the cooks prepare many of the selections at an open kitchen) cuisine in an atmosphere that harkens back to the roaring twenties. The menu is strictly traditional, and that is this restaurant's strength. Nouvelle cuisine lovers beware, Cagney's dishes up crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, oysters rockefeller (all excellent---feel free to try as many of the small sized appetizers as you like), chopped salads with blue cheese (very good), onion rings (good), Parmesan truffle fries (piping hot and so addictive and delicious on this cruise that I think they should be classified as a controlled substance), large cuts of beef, a kosher chicken, lamb chops (very good) and salmon stuffed with crab (a good dish but the pale and flavorless farmed salmon was overpowered by the crab). Side dishes of note are the garlicky potato gratin and the creamed spinach. The lobster bisque topped with lobster custard was outstanding. Service was particularly good with the waiter very patient as my dinner party slowly sampled and savored nearly 2/3 of the menu. Obviously, this is not a restaurant for dieting or anyone who finds buttery sauces and other fatty foods objectionable. There's enough hollandaise sauce and bacon and blue cheese on the menu that this restaurant serves as a throw back to days before food became our enemy, before every bite of something flavorful had to come with a measurable amount of guilt. Don't forget the cheese course: real Gorgonzola, Saint Andre and Gruyere with fig preserves and fresh fruit (this was the only restaurant on the ship that offered cheese that wasn't of the mass produced factory American type). And if you can hold it, I'd highly recommend you try the warm chocolate espresso brownie (or have it sent back to your stateroom so, after a long walk or an evening of dancing, you can enjoy it more). The cheesecake was shockingly light in texture and very flavorful. Some may complain about the $25 surcharge but I dare anyone to find a comparable meal in any U.S. city for less than three times that price. Chin Chin: Think you can't find good Chinese (well perhaps more appropriately called Chinese-American) on a cruise? NCL seeks to change those perceptions with their fleet's Asian inspired restaurants. I've eaten at many of NCL's Asian restaurants including on a previous trip on the Jewel. I've never been disappointed and this meal was no exception. My advice: don't skimp on the appetizers as these offer small portions of some very flavorful food. Start your meal off with as many as you can stomach and you won't be disappointed. The steamed vegetable dumplings, crab wontons (yes REAL crab), spring rolls and shrimp with spicy slaw are stand outs. Sadly, my favorite fried fish dish has been discontinued so I tried its replacement, the gingered mushroom mahi mahi. The fish was slightly overcooked but the flavorful and surprisingly light sauce made up for the shortcomings. The spicy lamb chops were shockingly tender despite being cooked more than I would have liked. The curried noodles were too spicy to be paired with other milder foods and the Cantonese Vegetable Chow Fun was a gloppy mess of stuck together noodles that appeared to have been cooked ahead of time. The banana pancakes and trio of creme brulee shouldn't be missed. Service was very friendly and attentive. The $15 surcharge is reasonable. Sushi is available al la cart. Unfortunately, NCL no longer offers the $15 flat feet sushi bar experience. And that's a shame for sushi lovers. Tsar's Palace Main dining room: I ate here for lunch and dinner several times. Service was always friendly if inefficient at times. Food runs the better side of average although the sheer amount of food they must produce on a daily basis prevents the food from every being called great. Selections are mostly traditional fare. Lunch is the same menu the entire cruise but the dinner menu has permanent selections as well as changing nightly selections. It's hard to imagine that even the pickiest eater couldn't find something to enjoy on the menu but it's equally hard to imagine that anyone will have a wonderfully memorable experience in the main dining room. Cooking for a thousand on a daily basis limits what can be done with the food. The friendly wait staff is the stand out of the main dining room. They, despite being very busy, seek to please. Don't be afraid to ask for something else if your first dish is not to your liking. The menu at Azura, the other main dining room, is identical although the atmosphere is more casual. Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro: This brunch is a mixture of a buffet and a la carte selections. The buffet included a Caesar Salad station (add grilled shrimp, chicken or anchovies if you like), a selection of very boring pastries (save your calories and skip these standard items), pale colored smoked salmon (as ubiquitous on the Jewel as it is flavorless---it's all salt and no depth to the factory tasting fish), several standard cheeses and a large selection of desserts (very good cheesecake and pretty standard creme brulee are the best selections). The a la carte menu included several beef dishes, a salmon with saffron risotto (salmon was flavorless but the risotto was great) and a vegetarian pasta dish (standard tomato based sauce with olives, good but unspectacular). The service was good but not quite as attentive as I'm used to at NCL's specialty restaurants. The popularity of the Jazz brunch makes it hard for the wait staff to keep up with demands. I requested French press coffee (it's standard at Le Bistro in the evenings) and my waitress was kind enough to ask the manager if she could serve it even though it is not a standard part of the brunch menu. It's little touches of nice service that make me wish many on shore restaurants could have comparable service. The $15 surcharge seems reasonable. Garden Cafe Buffet: Quantity rules out quality here although the salads are good. It's incredibly popular for reasons that escape me. It's crowded from early breakfast until late dinner. It's too noisy, too packed with people piling plates miles high for me to enjoy eating here. It's just not my cup of tea but judging by the crowds, I'm in the minority. Blue Lagoon: They call this comfort food. It's fast service sit down diner like setting. The fish and chips were greasy but pleasant. The tomato soup was surprisingly good. It's open 24 hours. I had a less than pleasant encounter with a wait staff member during one of my early morning visits for coffee. Upon arriving, she barked at me that the buffet was on the "other side" and waved her hand in the direction of Moderno restaurant. I replied that I just wanted coffee. I started to sit next to the window and she barked again that the buffet was on the other side. I then asked if it was OK for me to sit where I was sitting. She then barked that I should help myself to the coffee and pointed at the coffee machine she was standing next to. I helped myself to the coffee then asked her where the orange juice was. Her tone of voice got louder as she barked again that "everything" was on the other side. This kind of service is very unlike NCL. I assumed she was overworked and tired of customer questions. If they didn't want anyone to sit on the cafe side, just block it off. But several like me wanted to enjoy the view (it is a cruise after all) and it didn't seem to me that asking for coffee and juice at a 24 hour cafe was an unreasonable request. This was my 4th NCL cruise and I've never had any interaction with any crew member who was anything near this unpleasant. Le Bistro: NCL's signature French restaurant might not be all that French but the food is very good and perhaps more palatable to the American consumer. Provencal style scallops, garlicky escargot and Asparagus with orange hollandaise are just a few of the stand out appetizers. The lamb chops were very flavorful. The duck was overcooked but still remained moist. The duck skin should have been much more crisp and flavorful. Le Bistro needs to work on its side dishes. Compared to Cagney's they are subpar. Unfortunately, 2/3rds through my meal, the service changed from friendly and excellent to almost non-existent. It was nearly 9pm and two parties of six came in. This arrival seemed to stall the kitchen and rattle the wait staff. My table and several tables around me waited over a half hour for continued service. Two tables asked to see the manager and complained. Waiters didn't even come by to accept more wine orders, a sure sign that service had stalled. (When you can't order alcohol on a cruise, you know something is wrong!) 45 minutes after finishing the main course, we received the cheese course (cheap American cheeses) then our desserts (a passable chocolate fondue: the chocolate tasted cheap and very good creme brulee). We had to ask specifically for coffee service which came slowly. When we received the bill, they had mis-charged for the wine, a mistake the rushed looking manager needed to correct. Tables around us were still waiting for service. One of the tables of six seem particularly bothered by the poor service. When the service is worse than the main dining room, it's difficult to be happy about the $20 surcharge. Le Bistro needs some menu changes. French cheeses, some classic French sauce choices and a better French wine list would help. I've always enjoyed Le Bistro but not sure I'll be rushing back on my next cruise. Entertainment: I'm a poor judge of cruise entertainment as I don't like family comedy shows or Broadway style singers who over-sing to the point of migraine. So, I skip any shows with those themes so that means most evenings, I'm enjoying dinner, wine and perhaps a jazz piano player instead of the main shows in Stardust. I did enjoy the husband and wife acrobat team. Don't miss it! The second seating for most shows is much less crowded. Like the buffet, I don't go on cruises for the entertainment but clearly both are very popular with cruisers. Spa and Gym: I signed up for the spa pass ($119) that gives access to the men's changing room with wet and dry sauna, showers, relaxation rooms, hot tub and cold plunge. It also gives access to a co-ed relaxation area with small pool (not big enough to do laps). While the area is not quite as grand as on the Dawn, which has an indoor lap pool, the spa pass was definitely worth the price especially on an Alaskan cruise where outdoor pool time is limited. The men's changing area was rarely crowded; the spa staff was always friendly. As usual on NCL, there's not heavy sales pitch to buy products or services even though I encountered many spa staff each day of my cruise. The gym is standard cruise ship gym where there seemed to always be gym staff ready to sign cruisers up for classes. The locker room next to the gym has a steam sauna (this is available for NO charge). The lockers aren't accessible unless you walk all the way over the spa to get a key, making the men's locker room pretty useless to gym goers. Why not keep the keys in the gym? Ports of Call: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Victoria all offer enough for the nature lover and adventurist. Sun lovers beware. It is Alaska and the Pacific Northwest so don't expect to get a tan. The lumberjack show in Ketchikan and the railroad in Skagway should be enjoyable for all age groups. The tour of the Mendenhall Glacier was a bit of a let down. I'm not sure it's worth the expense and time spent there. But it was very beautiful I toured Victoria on my own, and it's very walkable. The Empress Hotel is overpriced but worth a visit. Check out Chinatown for lunch in Victoria. Four stops in a cruise can be too much for some seasoned cruisers who enjoy their sea days but I found it to be a perfect number. It was also nice that to see ports that have (yet) to be completely overtaken by the usual cruise industry traps (although Diamonds International and Caribbean themed retailers like Del Sol are threatening to make Ketchikan look like a stop in Nassau or Cozumel). The Alaska itinerary is definitely for anyone who's tired of the same old Caribbean ports. Disembarkation: The room staff knocked on my door twice before 830am to see if I was ready to leave the room. I left the room for breakfast and returned to find the bed already stripped. By then it was 9am. Although I felt rushed to leave the room, disembarkation was smooth if not as efficient as embarkation. There was a line to get off the ship. Customs officials ranged from rude to friendly, although this is completely not under NCL's control. Final thoughts: While not a perfect experience (what is?), I can say I enjoyed my second time on the Jewel at least as much as the first and possibly more. NCL's freestyle cruising truly does allow cruisers to make the day what they want it to be. I always recommend NCL to first time cruisers because NCL seems to be better suited for those who might be put off by more traditional cruising. A special applause should be given to how the Jewel gets the kids programs out of the way of cruisers who aren't interested in them. It was a Nick at Sea cruise but other than the occasional person dressed as a favorite Nick character, I wouldn't have known. Kudos to NCL for giving the kids what they want without getting the adults annoyed. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow ... Read More
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow - very slow. We arrived at 12PM and our agent used almost 45 minutes to check us in. She should not have been working at the suite check in. We were directed to the lounge where we were taken on board by the butler to the Tsars Palace (not Cagneys were we could have eaten). The food was cold and bad - a bad beginning of the cruise. After lunch the cabins was ready - the luggage arrived after a short while and we unpacked. We found baby bottles, baby toys, q tips (the ones which you clean your ears with), hand sanitizer, garbage on the Verandah and so on in the cabin. it was not a good start. The second morning we would like to place an order for breakfast at 9AM (2 BLT and 2 cheese sandwiches). It took the butler 1 hour to get this - on other cruises it has never taken more than 45 minutes - normally about 30 minutes. We tried again 2 days later to order a bootle of wine - still 1 hour. The kids club is nothing for Europeans at least. The only thing they seem to care about here is their own rules. No bumping (we were travelling 2 families with 2 kids that not see each other that often - and just 6 months apart - no they are not allowed together), not able to sign in before the opening time - even though all employees were there and it was 2 minutes before opening time. On our Celebrity Cruise in April they did everything so that the kids and parents could be happy - on NCL it seemed like the kids was a burden for them and that the customers was not there for them at all. We hade great expectations with Concierge, Butler, Nick Cruise and Kids club - but was disappointed. We are Norwegian ourselves - and this is not the Norwegian way to treat customers. On the good side - the cabin was great (except from dirty) and the food was better than expected. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was my 3rd cruise, and my partners 2nd. Our previous had been on Princess, so we will do some comparing here. Also this cruise had ALOT of children on board, so we'll give some tips on how to avoid them :)We live in CT and ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise, and my partners 2nd. Our previous had been on Princess, so we will do some comparing here. Also this cruise had ALOT of children on board, so we'll give some tips on how to avoid them :)We live in CT and sailed out of NYC. We took the metro north line to grand central and then walked from there. It was a little bit of a hike, as we each had just a backpack (with 2 bottles of wine in each) and a small suitcase, but we managed just fine. We walked back afterwards as well. It's about a 30 min walk.Embarkation was quick and easy. About 30 mins. They did charge us for each of our bottles of wine-$15 each, but still a good deal. We bought cheap wine, and paid the fee and it was still cheaper than paying for a bottle on the ship. And we're not picky! We were on the boat in no time, and headed straight to Tsar's for lunch!We had an inside room. The beds were separated when we arrived, but we left a note for the room steward and they quickly fixed it. We also asked for the fridge/mini bar to be cleared so that we could put in some wine, which they also did. There were plenty of drawers, shelves, and hooks everywhere to keep all of our belongings. We didn't plan on spending much time in there, so the size was not a problem at all for us.The ship itself was nice. clean. Had basically 4 main floors: 6-for food; 7-for bars and theater; 12-for pool and spa; 13-more bars.Dining-We ate mostly in Tsar's. Although we liked the decor better in Azura, the views are much better from Tsar's as there are large windows on each side and off the back. Because of 'freestyle' seating, we were never asked to share a table, and were always given a table for 2, usually right by a window, with very little wait, if any. That was GREAT. The food however, wasn't always the best. The mahi mahi the first night was rather dry and that set us off on the wrong foot. We are vegetarian/pescatarians and found that there weren't very many options for us on the menu. The "Vegetarian Special" was often something that we didn't understand and weren't willing to try. The fish was sometimes accompanied with a meat like sausage, and the pasta often with meat. The scallop appetizers were always great, but other than that, nothing really wow-ed us. Lobster was not on formal night, which was a little odd. The breakfast and lunch menus were always the same, there were no daily specials, and you could get many of the same things in the garden cafe (their buffet). But--in order to stay away from the kids and the crowds we often choose Tsar's. Overall-it was okay, but we were unimpressed.As far as activities on the ship. The nightly entertainment in the Stardust Theater was great! Jean Pierre, the comedian/magician was awesome, and did a 'close-up' show during the last sea day, which was nice. Le Cirque Bijou, as we had heard, was fantastic! The production cast plus the Duoartmotion dancers made a great combo. The typical newlywed and couples games were funny, as on any ship. The 'Idol' night was rather poor. Most of the cruise staff organized activities during the day were filled with kids. However, we did do (and win) the digital scavenger hunt....we got two decks of cards, which we gave to some kids. Dance classes were good, but usually only about 30 mins. We had 3 sea days total, and there was always plenty to do.There were kid's clubs and teens clubs. From the reaction during the crew show, the kids really loved their youth staff. If the kids weren't in there they were mostly at the pool-which we did NOT visit! We did sit out on deck 13 one morning for a few hours. There were also kids wandering around everyone, many eating or hanging out in the bar/lounge areas. Many unattended tweens and teens.Because there were over 1,000 kids on board, plus, knowing that our first and last sea days would probably not be beautiful weather b/c of our proximity to to nyc, we decided to get a pass for the thermal suites or the 'chill out lounge' as they call it. This was a GREAT idea. Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and our favorite... the thermal chairs. It was $120 for the week, but well worth it to get away from the crowds (aka, kids). It was hardly ever busy and we made use of it almost every day.The service overall was okay. Everyone did what they needed to do and were nice about it. But we didn't notice anyone really going out of their way. Towel animals were very fun.For the ports/excursions... In port canaveral, we have family that picked us up and we spent the day at epcot. It was crowded, but great. Dinner at Grill's Seafood in Port Canaveral---a GREAT meal!Great Stirrup Cay was nice. We waited until open tendering, which was fine, we were in no rush... there's only so long a person can sit at the beach out in the sun. So, if you don't mind waiting it's great. we went from about 12-5 and by 4ish the island was cleared out and there was plenty of room. In the Bahamas we did the Seahorse Sail and Snorkel. It was nice. We met some nice people on the boat and did some cruise comparing! You could see Atlantis in the distance. It was not too scenic otherwise. The snorkeling was in the middle of a cove/reef. Tons of fish, which people were feeding. Some nice corals. If you're a first time snorkeler, it was nice. However, we've done some snorkeling in Aruba/ Bonaire, and this just didn't compare!Disembarkation, we had the same theory as the tendering... wait it out, and go whenever we wanted! We carried off our own luggage so we could leave whenever and not have to wait for our color to be called. We left our room at 9am and were out on the street by 9:20. So easy.Now to compare-last year we had been on Princess and we had a much better time overall. Clearly-our ports on Princess were much better, but putting that aside.... The dining on Princess was MUCH better. There were nights when we just didn't know what to pick because there were so many options, and every meal was great. This trip, there were too many times when we didn't know what to pick because there wasn't anything that looked good at all. The activities on Princess were longer, for example, the dance classes were usually about an hour, and these ranged from 20-40 mins. Also on Princess, they usually plan so that after 2 country line dancing classes, they have a country line dancing night, where you could try out your new skills. Nothing like this happened on Norwegian. The spa on Norwegian was nice, however the services were too expensive for us. Princess seemed slightly more reasonable, and had some daily specials.In the future, if given a choice between Princess and Norwegian, we would go with Princess. However, the convenience of NYC is really nice for us. We've been advised to try Royal, and most likely will soon. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
About the reviewer: I'm a 29 year old male who sailed with his 61 year old mother onboard the 10-day January 2, 2011 sailing of the Norwegian Jewel roundtrip New York City to San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten ... Read More
About the reviewer: I'm a 29 year old male who sailed with his 61 year old mother onboard the 10-day January 2, 2011 sailing of the Norwegian Jewel roundtrip New York City to San Juan (Puerto Rico), St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten & Tortola (BVI). This was my 9th NCL (8th for Latitudes Program as one was a charter) and my mother's 7th NCL cruise. I've sailed on other cruise lines including Celebrity (3x), Royal Caribbean (1x), Princess (5x) and Carnival (1x). In the last two years I have found myself sailing exclusively with NCL for several reasons including their continuous innovation in the cruise industry. Transportation Services: Super Shuttle Each time we cruise in the winter months we always leave a day early and book a hotel in the embarkation city for insurance purposes. We transferred from JFK to the hotel via Super Shuttle service. I would not recommend them as they overfilled the van with people and left no room for excess luggage and so I held a lot of my own luggage for the uncomfortable stuffy ride to the hotel. Pre-Cruise Stay: City Club Hotel - Midtown East, New York City, New York City Club Hotel is a very well appointed four star boutique hotel with rooms that are small like you'd find in Barcelona or any major European city. Marble in the bathroom and feather bedding which were all very nice and very elegant. I am happy to report that as of my January 1st stay at this hotel there were no signs of bed bugs in the hotel room. The front desk staff was very helpful in getting us around on foot to sights in NYC as I had never been before. I highly recommend a stay at this hotel. Embarkation: In NYC I have read horror stories about the embarkation process and disembarkation process. I encountered no problems with either. After clearing security in a brief wait (less than 10 minutes) we were waited on at the check-in counter and were escorted off to the ship where mom and I were greeted by a friendly face. Vivian from the restaurant staff was in the line greeting us and instantly recognized me! What a nice way to start the cruise! The Ship: After having a dry dock in early December 2010 to repair her azipod bearing, a sprucing up of the ship's interiors occurred as well. Lots of new carpeting could be found in several public venues and still looked as good as new on the inside. This was my fourth time on this ship in less than 4 years and she's always looked really good inside. The Cabin: Our cabin for this cruise was 11026, our first-ever mini-suite. This is the highest accommodation where you can split the primary bed into a twin configuration without someone sleeping on the uncomfortable pull out. Since I was cruising with my mom I thought I'd point this out for people looking for this info. The cabin itself was in fairly good shape and the bathroom was much larger than the balcony cabin with a tub. The tub has a high threshold which can give a person with an arthritic knee some trouble getting into. The room itself was in good condition although somewhat dusty in places. Food: This cruise brought some new menus into the lineup that mom and I have grown accustomed to. Dinner 1-7 were split up amongst the new menus for the other three nights. This kept us on our toes but the hostess at guest reception helped us figure out which night Dinner 5 menus (turkey as the entrEe) was being served and we booked accordingly for Cagney's Steakhouse. The lunch menu for the main dining room also changed to a fixed menu which after 10 days became boring. I can understand the streamlining of the process expense wise but I do miss the daily change in NCL's cold soups during the lunch service. That's where most of them were. You could find them up in the Garden Cafe but that was hit or miss. The only specialty restaurant we tried was Cagney's Steakhouse. Food was excellent as always and the meat served to order with good cuts of meat used. Cagney's fries were great too! I usually order the Porterhouse Steak for the extra $10 cover charge because I love steaks. I was astonished when the waiter told me that I would have to pay $20 extra because it is served for two people. When did that change? I have always paid the $10 additional and not liked it very much but $20 additional for a steak I can get a similar size of at home for $25 (the cover to Cagney's alone)? This particular menu item should be put separately or have some sort of fine print stating it's for two people (which it always has) BUT if a single person orders it then its $20 additional. The menu does not say it and I have never been asked to pay it before. I was very irritated by this because I probably would not have booked Cagney's otherwise. The Porterhouse steak is always a highlight of my cruise with Princess and NCL but I will not be paying $45 for it on NCL. Fitness: Since the cruise had so many sea days built into it I did use the fitness center twice during the voyage. During the sea days the gym was always packed, no matter the time you went. I would do the cardio out on the Promenade Deck and go up to Deck 12. There is standard weight bearing machines and a row of treadmills along the windows with a dozen bikes. Midway through the cruise the entire setup of the weight bearing machines was changed and I'm dumbfounded as to why because the new setup had them all on top of each other and no room for anyone to use some of them. The original design worked fine and it had been that way for the past three cruises from 2007 to midway through this cruise. I don't know if it was to accommodate more equipment or what but suddenly two more bikes popped up in the free weight area. It was already cramped in that space before the addition of those bikes. If people want more cardio then use the running track on Deck 13 or walk on the Promenade Deck. Enrichment: NCL U had several tastings throughout the cruise but mom loved the guest lecturer series which featured lectures on "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the "Bermuda Triangle." Mom specifically wanted me to mention them because it gave a great alternative to other afternoon activities (such as trivia or poolside games) and it was informative. She said she has not seen any such lectures before on NCL and would hope that NCL continues them, especially on voyages with a lot of sea days. Service: There was excellent service provided by familiar faces I had met on my previous Jewel cruises in 2010 but when you deviated from those that knew me and had already received STYLE cards for their exceptional service, the rest of the service was spotty at best. Room service on this cruise was a point of aggravation. Even after talking with Brian, Jewel's Hotel Director, about the service issues (ie: constant busy signals during non-peak times, connecting to room service using the front desk, room service not bringing requested ice water timely or one night not even at all), these problems persisted. For a string of three days we received the requested ice water in a timely fashion every morning at the same time. It stopped thereafter and we had to try and get through to order it when it was needed. It was a very simple request that became an annoyance on this sailing and something I have not encountered previously onboard the Jewel. With trying to keep this as brief as possible, here is a day by day account of my 10 Caribbean Adventure onboard the Norwegian Jewel: Day 1 - New York City, NY: Embarkation went very smoothly. We opted to dine in Tsar's Palace which was open for lunch. We were waited on by a very nice lady named Ruby Jean whose excellent service made our embarkation luncheon special and earned her a STYLE card. Afterward, we spent some time getting settled into the cabin before the boat drill. After the SOLAS required drill when going back to our cabin I spotted another familiar face onboard - Cherryl Senadrin (Bar Waitress in Spinnakers this cruise). After a brief talk and a huge hug to welcome me back onboard it was time to watch the Jewel sail. We watched the Jewel go down the river past the Statue of Liberty at dusk and under the Verrazano Bridge. What an incredible sight and this alone made sailing out of chilly NYC worth it in my opinion! I thought we'd crash under the bridge for sure but realized we had plenty of clearance or else they wouldn't sail from there! This night we dined again in Tsar's Palace and with unimpressive service. Unfortunately I didn't grab the waiter's name this night because I was in a rush to get to the 7PM engagement in the Star Bar. Tonight's prime show was a variety welcome aboard featuring the Comedy & Magic of Jean Pierre Parent. Having sailed with illusionist Jean-Pierre before on Spring Break 2010 on the Jewel, it was great to see him perform once again. It was the first of many times this cruise that Jean-Pierre was around. I think after Tim Kaminski signed off the Jewel, Jean-Pierre has stepped up as being the most hands on entertainer onboard the Jewel with fellow guests and being everywhere. Tonight was the welcome aboard Toga Party in Spinnakers Lounge. Pre-party music was spun by NCL Jewel's own resident DJ Jean. I gave her a CD with a December update of current house (vocal) songs. DJ Jean is the most incredibly talented resident DJ in the NCL fleet for resident DJs. She turned over the party to so-called "Celebrity DJ" Ty Adams who was late for his first night. I would have been honored if Kevin on the Cruise Staff had let me spin since he thought I was the Guest DJ! DJ Jean came back (thankfully) at the end of the night from 12:30AM to close and the cruise was off to a great start in the disco! Day 2 - Sea Day: Started the day off with breakfast in the cabin overlooking the ocean through the balcony door. Still too cold to use the balcony today but it didn't matter as there was a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet setup for 11AM. I got to meet Jean-Pierre personally after the gathering and got caught up. I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Silas, the Cruise Director, about the White Hot Party and ensuring it would stay true to its theme. I addressed my concerns over the lack of Grey Goose at the Star Bar during the first evening's FOD. He forwarded the information to Gianna, the Bar Manager and the issue was resolved by the night. I spoke briefly with Brian Walters, the Hotel Director, about the memories from Spring Break and how I'd like to have a cruise very much like that again. I told him the DJ is what counts the most for me in Spinnakers and he said he'd confer with Silas about the matter. The afternoon brought the Latitudes Party for Gold level on up. At this meeting I met Lucianna who pointed out my "I am EPIC" t-shirt that NCL gave me for winning an essay contest in late April 2010. She loved it and made sure she stopped by to talk to me after the Latitudes presentation. We stayed in Spinnakers for some afternoon activities while mom got to know two friends I made the previous evening. Small world that one of the couple actually was in the same graduating class as her! After talking the rest of the afternoon away it was time for Tsar's Palace and tonight we had Durgisa as our waiter. The service was spotty at best and very inattentive. This was the second night this happened. A special request for chopped fresh garlic with the main course for my mom brought her a jalapeno pepper minced. My mom is sensitive to spicy foods and her mouth and GI tract burnt for quite a few hours after ingesting a mouth full. It made me lose hope for a good dinner service in Tsar's Palace. At FOD, Gianna (Bar Manager) stopped by and greeted the entire group which was very kind of her. She introduced me by name to Big Al, the bartender there who always greeted me by name whenever I was in the Star Bar for the rest of the cruise. Gianna also recommended seeking out the band "Twist of 8". Her recommendation proved to be a good one because this band was phenomenal all cruise long! Featured spotlight performance in Stardust tonight was the Cat's Pajama's vocal group. I had also sailed with this performing group in January 2010 and knew what to expect. They had changed the songs performed and the lead singer (Graham) left. It was nice to see Skinner back onboard though and the performance was just as good as it was before. This is a great group and I do recommend any cruiser who is blessed to have them on their sailing to see this acapella band. Since the NCL resident DJ wasn't spinning tonight in Spinnakers I stayed and listened to the "Celebrity DJ" Ty Adams before retiring for the evening. Day 3 - Sea Day: In the morning I took my time to get on the move and then went outside to the Promenade Deck and then up to the gym to do a workout. In the afternoon after eating lunch in Tsar's Palace again I went to the Mr. Sexy Legs contest. The Cruise Staff were hard pressed to find participants. Had I known that there were different categories I would have entered!! Every entrant was crowned this cruise! Stopped by the library to talk with my DJ friend Jean before heading down to get ready for dinner and take a disco nap. Up for dinner at Tsar's Palace again and we were sat in Marisol Lamorena's section. Marisol waited on mom and me once during the January 2010 sailing in Le Bistro and she remembered us. At first I gave her a funny look because usually I'm the one walking up to crew and going it's so nice to see you again. When she did it I knew we FINALLY had our waitress team for the rest of the cruise!! What a blessing it was to have her again! She handled mom's special nightly request with ease and also remembered that I liked larger portions of the meats that I ordered. We enjoyed her service this evening immensely and were so happy she'd found us and we'd found her!! Spotlight Showtime: Band on the Run with NCL Productions. I had seen this production 7 times prior on the Norwegian Jewel but I do enjoy my disco music so I took in the sights to see what changes were made since Jean Ann Ryan is no longer onboard. The set had changed quite a bit and so did the costumes and some of the dance moves. The order of the songs was also re-arranged. The changes kept me intrigued and it was a good performance. Tonight was a Spinnakers night even though the resident NCL Jewel DJ Jean was stuck doing family disco earlier in the evening. "Celebrity DJ" Ty Adams spun the post 70s party. If it were not for friends made already onboard and through other means I probably would not have stayed as long. Hip hop music gets old quickly. It was a 2 drink night and then it was off to bed. Day 4 - Sea Day & San Juan, Puerto Rico (3PM arrival): After a relaxing morning and some walking around the Promenade Deck after the bridge tour (thanks to Elwyn Ocampo, Group Service Coordinator for getting it organized for the Cruise Critic group), it was time for lunch and from which I happened upon the Nick Live! Poolside. What a cool little concept which looks fun for all to get involved regardless of your age and it's equally fun to watch (which is what I did). The winner gets slimed and the loser gets a pie in the face!! Finally at 2PM the local pilot for San Juan was brought onboard and we began our approach. We watched the ship pull in from the comfort of the balcony on our mini-suite. We disembarked the ship for a brief time in search of some shopping in Old San Juan. The items were unique that we sought and it was a nice quest to go through the town in search of them. It gave us something to do outside of me taking a dozen or so pictures of the Jewel's exterior. It was back to the ship for dinner with Marisol in Tsar's Palace before mom and I split up for the evening. Spotlight Showtime: Bill Hildebrandt. Mom caught this show on her own and she said this guy was amazing but since most people were ashore in San Juan it was poorly attended. Mom also said he was the best comedian out of all of them on the cruise. I missed this performance as I was ashore in San Juan with new friends exploring the FOD side of San Juan. Spotlight: San Juan Nightlife for me! Off to Candado to Krash Klub on Ponce de Leon Avenue for some nightlife. Problem was the bar didn't open until 10PM and so we were left walking around the area without a cab ride and wound up in a nice Asian restaurant where there were 5 shots for $10. A local promoter pointed us in the direction of a new bar and dance club called Eagle Bar San Juan which was also on Ponce de Leon just a block down from the Krash Klub. This club opened at 9PM but of course was dead given the early hour. When the seven of us showed up, we were the party. Eagle Bar was a blessing as they were playing true vocal house music. Our group had a great time at this bar and I highly recommend it to other Friends of Dorothy who want to venture out in San Juan. Our taxi van came back to pick us up at 10:45PM as we had designated. Be sure to arrange this with the driver when he drops you off. This area wasn't frequented by too many taxis. Back onboard for sail away, the Island Nights Deck Party was underway with so-called "Celebrity DJ" Ty Adams. It was poorly attended until the all aboard and once the ship was under way I headed back into Spinnakers to enjoy the party with DJ Jean who was spinning the alternate party. The party didn't pick up until after the deck party ended but it was great to have good music to dance to onboard for a change. Eagle Bar set the pace for the night and I was happy I could continue it back onboard until the wee hours of the morning!! Day 5 - St. Thomas: After breakfast we headed out to the K-Mart just outside the port area and then into town. We had no set agenda as all the items needed for the White Hot Party were now in place. In downtown Charlotte Amalie we ate lunch at Cafe Amici and looked around for souvenirs and just took in the sights of the downtown before heading back to the ship. The fort is still under construction which mom and I was hoping to check out. Back onboard it was dinner in Cagney's restaurant as we set sail. Off in the distance the Queen Mary 2 was leaving as well and our waiter, Mr. Gomes, was very excited about seeing the QM2 so it made us inquisitive on watching her movements as well. Minus the sticker shock of the Porterhouse Steak (see above), the whole dinner service at Cagney's Steakhouse was excellent. Mr. Gomes did a nice job. Spotlight Showtime: Magician & Illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent. I had seen this show previously in March 2010 but it was still fun. It's only as good as how the audience who participates makes it. It was a nice show. Good job Jean-Pierre! After the show it was listening to some good dance tunes with Twist of 8 in Fyzz before retiring for the evening. St. John's awaits and this was a new port call. Day 6 - St. John's, Antigua: We arranged an afternoon tour so we got off the ship in the morning and explored the downtown part of St. John's. We were in port with another larger Costa ship and the town shopping area was quite small. As a result it was a little crowded until the ship left at 2PM. We looked around in some shops before heading back to the ship for lunch. NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Antigua Island Highlights: Since this was our first time in Antigua, mom and I wanted to see what the island had to offer. This tour brought us to a cultural center which surprisingly had a wonderful presentation of the history of Antigua using an around the room video display and intelligent lighting. I was quite impressed with this presentation/production. Next it was off to Shirley's Point for an overlook of Falmouth Harbor and the Royal Naval Dockyard before heading to the Dockyard for the last stop of the tour. We were given a brief guided tour and then left to explore the grounds on our own for about 45 minutes. This tour was very nice and the people of Antigua were very nice and welcoming. They really do appreciate the tourists at all the spots visited on this tour. I would highly recommend this tour for those who are not beach people. Back onboard and after dinner in Tsar's Palace with the phenomenal service of Marisol it was a quick stop at FOD before heading into the 7:30PM show. Spotlight Showtime: INCANTO featuring Massimo & Alesia. Having sailed on the Jewel so frequently I had come to know this duo and both are incredibly talented. Alesia competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games representing her home country. This show featured the two of them together in a very inspiring way. I'm happy they got their own show separate from the work they were doing in the other productions including Cirque Bijou. Spotlight: NCL's White Hot Party (Poolside): This was the first time the White Hot Party was moved under the stars on the Jewel. Due to the high humidity the pool deck was too slippery for the NCL production dancers to do their dance number. I was decked out in my full attire including the glitter. After the expected big party line dances, the DJ failed to inspire me to dance. He played a set of three vocal house songs before playing the same hip hop music he always played the entire cruise! I was NOT pleased with this at all. If he likes hip hop that's one thing but I know he was told by the Cruise Director to play more house music this night and he still refused to. This dampened my enjoyment of the party and made my elaborate attire far too overdone for the party. Luckily resident DJ Jean was doing the alternative party in Spinnakers and she was spinning the house music that you had to beg Ty to play. After some convincing I got a large crowd to move from the deck party to Spinnakers and the party continued well into the night and the early hours of the morning. I closed the party that night in Spinnakers as it is my favorite night of any NCL cruise. Too bad DJ Jean just couldn't have spun the whole night because she knew what she was doing for that night a lot better than the so-called "Celebrity DJ". Day 7 - St. Maarten: Off to a late start after taking a shower and hoping that most of the glitter came off from the prior evening. I felt bad for the stateroom steward who really didn't do a thorough job cleaning prior on this cruise to deal with the small trail of glitter in the cabin that wasn't contained in the bathroom. We walked into Philipsburg from the ship and this was a first for us. We'd never been to this city before and it was hustling. We just walked around and had lunch at one of the beach side restaurants called Bare Foot. Very nice cuisine and authentic jerk rubbed chicken. Delicious!! Back onboard it was dinner in Tsar's Palace with Marisol again with Donato Ching becoming our fantastic Tsar's Palace Wine Server and thereafter stopping by FOD before… Spotlight Showtime: Comedy Talents of Steven Scott. Mom and I enjoyed this comedian. He was pretty funny with clean jokes and really didn't offend or pick on anyone's race, gender or sexual orientation. A comedian who can still be funny without picking on any of those is a good comedian! After staying up late the previous night I was beat. Off to bed early so I could be ready for our last port call… Day 8 – Tortola, British Virgin Islands: Afraid I would over sleep and after turning in quite early the previous evening compared to the rest of the cruise, I was up to watch the ship pull in at 6AM. After getting up to the buffet and then getting back to the cabin it was time for… NCL SHORE EXCURSION: Tortola Highlights: Since mom and I had called in Tortola once before in 2005 due to Hurricane Wilma re-routing our ship and most of the island being unprepared for tourists, we wanted to see if things hand changed since our last visit. This tour showed us the entire overview of the island while driving and stopping at scenic look outs. The tour continued on to Cane Garden Bay where we spent an hour at the beach. This long of a stay at the beach was unexpected as the form said it was a short stay there. In the end we spent 1/3 of the tour time at the beach which was not what mom and I were looking for. If the beach is your thing and you want to see a little of the island as well then I would recommend this tour. Also, keep in mind it’s an open air bus that you’re on so if you have any arthritis problems in your lower extremities then ask to sit in the cab or have someone place a step stool for you at each stop. Back onboard I utilized the early sail away to get my final workout of the cruise in the gym while everyone else was out on deck getting sun. It was this day that I discovered the reconfigured gym and thought it was incredibly cramped with a light usage. When I stepped into the abdominal machine it was on top of the chest press machine. In order to get to the water fountain you had to go through people using equipment without getting hit. Very strange setup indeed and the Staff Captain talked to the Fitness Director to have it changed even more. I hope it was for the better but that’s uncertain. Either way, the free weight area is going to be a lot smaller for future Jewel cruisers. Dinner in Tsar’s Palace tonight with Marisol again and then it was off to FOD for a quick hello to the attendees before going to… SPOTLIGHT SHOWTME: Singer Lumiri Tubo: After performing at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City she graced the Stardust theater stage. Her renditions of Nat King Cole favorites and Whitney Houston gave me goose bumps. Lumiri is a fantastic guest entertainer onboard and I truly enjoyed her vocal sensation throughout the rest of the cruise. She joined the ship in St. Thomas. If you have the opportunity to see her I would highly recommend her if you’re a fan of Nat King Cole or even if you’re not! Up to the disco for a night with “Celebrity DJ” Ty Adams spinning. It was a one drink night and then it was off to bed. The DJ was very uninspiring and very stale at this point. Any DJ would know not to play the same song twice in one night – be they a so-called celebrity or an amateur. Day 9 – Sea Day Heading for NYC: In the morning mom attended the seminar in the aerobics studio called “Eat More to Weigh Less” which she found very interesting. She also went afterward for a Body Composition Analysis with the person who gave the seminar to learn the make up of her body. There was a nominal fee for this service but she gained some insights as to how to help herself lose some of the few extra pounds she has. Mom and I met up for lunch and then we decided to check out the Destination Talk Lecture on “The Bermuda Triangle” which mom stayed for the entire lecture. I ventured down to the Stardust Theater for the Matinee SLIME TIME LIVE! It was very largely an audience participatory show and it was fun to watch. It was poorly attended as it was still warm enough topside for people to be sunbathing. If you have the opportunity to catch it, I would recommend it – even for adults because it’s comical watching people get all sorts of fluids on them and it’s all in the name of fun! It was time for a small disco nap before heading to the dining room and the fabulous dinner service provided by Marisol and the wine taken care of by Donato before… Spotlight Showtime: Variety act of Jean-Pierre Parent & Steven Scott: It was a great show and both are equally talented in their own right. Adults Only Entertainment: “THE QUEST” in Spinnakers. Usually held on the last evening of the cruise because this outrageously hilarious game show can get somewhat racy by the end of it and well people do things they’d much rather not be known for the next day, it was held earlier this trip! As always QUEST never disappoints and this is my favorite of all the late night game shows. I stayed in Spinnakers later into the night to the Celebrity DJ’s hip hop music because at this point it was a losing battle and I was not going to give up. After an hour and a half from the time of the request, the song “Dirty Talk” was finally played. What a major disappointment this DJ was the entire cruise. Day 10 – Sea Day Heading to NYC: After a leisurely morning onboard and walking around the pool deck and then a quick lunch in the Garden Café I went to bed for a brief nap and mom attended the Destination Talk: “Pirates of the Caribbean” lecture. She enjoyed this lecture as well. SPOTLIGHT SHOWTIME: International Crew Talent Show (3PM): As always it’s nice to watch the talented crew members perform for us. Highlights of this included the island dancer from the Republic of Kirabati and Tinikling Dance, a featured dance of the Philippine crew. At the end of the crew talent show is the featured “FOUNTAINS.” This is always a fun event to watch and either you’ll really love it or think it’s completely gross but either way – it’s a good show! I will not say more as I don’t want to spoil it for future cruisers!! It was time to go to dinner and again it was the final night onboard so we anticipated seeing and rewarding Marisol Lamorenca for her excellent dinner service throughout the entire cruise. When we arrived at Tsar’s Palace we were told by Rachelle Joy Amoronio, Hostess and Marisol’s roommate that she was in medical and was not feeling well. We were so disappointed by the news. Furthermore, we were sat in another section where the service was lousy. It took 15 minutes to have our order taken and in the interim Donato came by and had already gotten our wine that was held in the back from the previous night. No one in this section was pleased with the service as it was incredibly slow. In an effort to get back to the stateroom I knew someone who may help me get in contact with Marisol, it was the extraordinaire Elwyn “El” Ocampo who I reached out to. She managed to get Marisol in touch with me and I found out that our favorite waitress was under 24 hour quarantine. Mom and I were devastated but didn’t know what else to do so Marisol, I hope this review gets you a much deserved afternoon off at least! You deserve every award because you are an excellent server! Spotlight Showtime: Cirque Bijou: This was the first time seeing the modified NCL production after Jean Ann Ryan’s contract ended. The changes to the show stood out more than the earlier Band on the Run production. There was a lot more acrobatics and adagio display and less of the dancers doing things. Quite a few numbers in the show were cut out as well. Actually it seemed like NCL productions is using less people overall to do the show then when Jean Ann Ryan was onboard. The quality of this production was off, especially on the people who were doing the silks in the audience. While watching them I thought for sure they were going to fall off them. I was truly terrified for these performers safety. More practice is definitely needed by these individuals on this apparatus. The ship was not swaying so there was no need to struggle as much as they were. Immediately following the Cirque Bijou show, the “Norwegian Way” was performed. It is always nice to thank the hard working crew onboard for their hard work. After some quick last minute packing of items it was off to Spinnakers to say goodbye to all my new found cruise friends and to my wonderful bar staff friends before retiring shortly before 1AM. Disco is over at 2AM on turnaround nights (usually crew curfew anyway but on turnaround days it’s also the passengers). This night we passed through a storm that would later dump nearly 2 feet of snow in my hometown in MA on Wednesday during the day. The ship was listing to starboard due to the strength of the wind hitting the port side of the ship but it was a minor constant list and no one went flying or anything of the sorts but you could definitely feel like you were walking uphill to go across Spinnakers. I thought it was neat! Day 11 – New York City – Disembarkation: We sailed up the river as the sun rose and past the Statue of Liberty. We docked shortly after 8AM and the disembarkation process began just after 9AM. We had arranged a transfer through NCL to get to JFK airport for our flight to Boston. We were waiting for what we thought was a bus for over an hour and a half in the terminal and finally at 11:30AM we were brought outside to meet a town car for the transfer to the airport. It was a private town car for mom and I so it was well worth the $40 per person transfer fee. The guy from Intercruises seemed baffled and almost gave our sedan to another couple who was going somewhere else. I thought Miami transfers were the only disorganized ones but I guess New York City needs some polishing by the ground crew as well. The other two couples left behind didn’t have transport to the airport. Surprisingly our flight was still on-time as Jet Blue was the only airline not to cancel flights to Boston during the height of the storm. It was a turbulent flight home but at least we got home and didn’t have to spend the night in NYC. Thanks to those two special cruise guests who offered up their couch and living room floor for us in case it did happen. Your generosity was so kind. Conclusion: Those talented crew members left over from when John O’Hara was the Hotel Director onboard continued to provide excellent service while others seemed to be either not motivated to do their job or lackluster. Room service on this trip was such a pain, even after a complaint to the Hotel Director. I know the crew was being worked to the bone because we were on a prolonged norovirus precaution and that means longer hours for them but still service overall should never suffer and it never had before. It is also time for the “Celebrity DJ” series to go or time for NCL to find real celebrity DJs from the DJ circuit who know how to spin and to do so for all in attendance. If a DJ doesn’t know what a White Party is then NCL really shouldn’t be hiring them as a “celebrity” and letting them have the main event of the cruise. Ty Adams was such a disappointment and for me NCL nightlife is one of the reasons why I book. If I wanted a hip hop only cruise then I would have stayed at home or booked a Carnival cruise. Minus the above-mentioned issues, the cruise was great. There were several positives including re-uniting with old crew friends and experiencing the comedic wonders of Jean-Pierre and the singing sensation Cat’s Pajamas and Lumiri Tubo. Mom and I also enjoyed the band “Twist of 8” with their vocal and musical abilities to cross several generations of music. Now I always save the best for last but if it were not for these people, the cruise would not have been nearly as good as it was starting with: DJ Jean Perez (best NCL resident DJ in the fleet), Cherryl Sendarin (Bar Waitress – Spinnakers Lounge) and Quimson “Q” Aquino (Bar Waiter – Spinnaker’s Lounge) for making Spinnakers a great place to hang out when all three were present. A special thank you and deepest gratitude for the wonderful dinner service provided by Marisol Lamorenca (Tsar’s Main Dining Room) and to Donato Ching (Tsar’s Palace Bar Waiter). Each of you has become like family members to me and I will forever cherish the time we’ve spent together over these last three Jewel cruises. An incredible thank you to Elwyn “El” Ocampo (Group Service Coordinator) for helping me out with some special requests this cruise. Even though she wasn’t assigned to help me on this cruise, she was much more helpful than any other staff member onboard who could have and for that I’m forever thankful to her as well! Two wonderful hostesses also deserve special recognition and those are Rachelle Amoronio (Tsar’s Palace Hostess) and Karen Duffis (Cagney’s Restaurant Hostess). I encourage people who sail on the Jewel up through June 2011 to seek out these people and when you do, expect talented service that earned each of them a STYLE card in their own right. I look forward to my next Norwegian Cruise Line cruise in the not too distant future. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Greetings! Okay, so here's my review of the 2 week NCL Jewel Repositioning Cruise, departing April 11th from Miami and returning April 24th in NYC. Please note - in regards to my review: 1) I am 30 years old 2) I was traveling ... Read More
Greetings! Okay, so here's my review of the 2 week NCL Jewel Repositioning Cruise, departing April 11th from Miami and returning April 24th in NYC. Please note - in regards to my review: 1) I am 30 years old 2) I was traveling with my partner, and my parents (sep rooms) 3) I am always gracious to have "a hot meal", regardless of culinary expertise 4) I stay out late (past midnight) Here's the quick 411 Overall - I had a blast - amazingly good time. Loved every minute. The ports were great, the weather was great, and the excursions booked thru NCL were awesome. No complaints there! As for the clientele - it was basically a floating nursing home. More on that later. There were a couple "Families" on the ship - but I must admit - I rarely saw (or heard) children - which is a good thing. Aside from 95% of the people on this ship - I was part of an elite few who actually stayed up past 10pm. In fact, after dancing and partying, I found myself having wings and beer at 3am, at blue lagoon. (Granted, there were only 4-10 people in the restaurant) The only bar/dance place that was open was Spinnakers, which was fairly decent. Also, 20% off all cocktails after 6pm was a nice bonus. Getting on the boat - very quick , very efficient - no concerns. Just do yourself a favor - don't wear a green shirt on the first day, or your embarkation photo will be of a floating head. Getting off the boat - Do yourself a favor - avoid the lines at 8:30 am for "Express walkoff" - and wait until 9:30. My partner and I went from our stateroom, to customs, to a sidewalk in NYC - in 17 minutes. No lines, no waiting. Food - can't complain at all. Buffets were decent, Tsars was good, Blue lagoon was good. Room service was good. The variety of foods was good too. Heard fabulous things about Cagney's. Overall, I can't complain. Drinks - expensive. Very, very expensive. $9-$10 martinis. $7 fosters. Add 15% gratuity, and it's even more. Best deal is beer buckets during the day, or cocktails after 6pm, when on discount. My complaints: Shorts and flip flops were allowed in the dining rooms at dinnertime. This irked me, b/c I specifically came back to my room to shower and put on "dinner attire" to have a nice meal with my family - and yet, I sat next to some people who looked like they just left the pool area. Talk about trashy. "Adults only" shows should be enforced - there were 3 drunk teenagers (14, 16, and 17) at one of the comedian shows, and they were clearly intoxicated and swearing constantly. They should have been escorted out. Plates and silverware were hard to find in the buffet at peak hours. Some wear/tear on the ship (carpets ripped in hallways, etc) While I didn't take this cruise to sit in my cabin to watch t.v., I have to admit, the t.v. station lineup was a little poor. Oh well. "Ami" at the customer service desk is the rudest person I've ever met in my entire life. We can all do WITHOUT her. FYI's If you're on a boat with a bunch of old people - expect to use the staircase a lot. These old people can't do 1 flight of stairs(up or down), so the elevators are constantly in use. If you're on a boat with a bunch of old people - expect to walk at a pace that is half of what you typically walk at. I'm 6'4", and found myself frustrated with the blue hairs moving at a snail's pace. If you're on an excursion with a bunch of old people - expect to be embarrassed by their horrible right wing/left wing/clueless questions. I was mortified by some of the comments these old people made in 3rd world countries. Yes, we all know, America has its strengths and weaknesses - but when you're a guest in a foreign country, you act gracious and understanding. Period. If you're on a boat with a bunch of old people - avoid breakfast *exactly* at 8am, lunch at *exactly* 12noon - and dinner at *exactly* 5pm. These old folks are on a strict schedule when it comes to food, and generally clog up the dining rooms and buffets at these times. If you're on a boat with a bunch of old people - expect (some) of them to lack basic understanding of decency and respect in the buffet lines. I fought some old broad for the last plain croissant, and she cussed me out. Whatever lady, I won, you lose. If you're on a boat with a bunch of old people - expect to see lots of walkers and motor scooters. (Frankly, there was 1 nice person on the boat who truly needed the scooter.. the other 10 people were just morbidly obese and too lazy to walk. How do I know this? Because we ALL saw these fat "handicapped" people physically running to the dessert buffet) Be sure to check out the chocolate buffet - and when I mean "check out" - I mean, check out the PEOPLE. The only thing bigger than the piles of desserts on people's plates - were the people themselves. Gluttony at it's best. Finally - if you need a reprieve from the old folks - book a "level 3 activity" excursion - like cave tubing, zip lining, snorkeling, etc. I found myself on active excursions with only 10-12 people, all were younger, which was great. Staff The entertainment staff (singers, dancers, etc) were always out and about after 9pm, hanging out with us young people. It was fun to converse with them, hear about life on the ship, and their careers. Really good information. Laly Domiguez up in the star bar was the best waitress ever. She ran into us at port in Aruba, with a warm smile and a big hug. Very awesome. While the cruise director was fun and very entertaining - would it kill him to gain a few pounds? I felt like he was the Karen Carpenter of the ship.... There was a good percentage of Gay/Lesbian folks on the boat - met a lot of cool people from around the country - very fortunate to have made these friends, for they made late-night partying and dancing so much better. Overall, I loved every minute on that boat. Aside from the old people - it was a great time, and I got what I truly needed - Peace, Quiet, Relaxation, time away from my job, and time with my partner. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
About the Reviewer: It helps to gauge where the experiences you're about to read come from and to put them in perspective. I'm a 28 year old male non-traditional college student who traveled solo for the first time on a ... Read More
About the Reviewer: It helps to gauge where the experiences you're about to read come from and to put them in perspective. I'm a 28 year old male non-traditional college student who traveled solo for the first time on a non-Atlantis charter for spring break. As a side note I did have to pay the dreaded single supplement which is 200% of per person fare. I have sailed on the Norwegian Jewel twice with the most recent being January 3, 2010 (read the review here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=61953 ) and in 2007 for a 12-day Egypt, Greece & Turkey itinerary. The Norwegian Jewel is the ship I've spent the most time on (25 days) and there's good reason for it! This was my 7th Latitudes Norwegian cruise and 8th overall with NCL on March 14, 2010. I've sailed on other lines to make comparisons including Princess (5x) and Carnival (1x) and have sailed on Atlantis charters on Celebrity (3x) and Royal Caribbean (1x). This was my 18th cruise and it was an experiment for traveling solo on a non-Atlantis cruise. Would it work? Pre-Cruise Stay: Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport - Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As insurance on New England weather I flew down the day prior and I'm happy I did as New England experienced a Nor'easter which caused flight delays. By the time I arrived at the hotel it was after midnight on Sunday morning. The room was very well cleaned and appointed and provided a comfortable environment to crash in for 6 hours. Hotel staff was very accommodating for the late arrival and very helpful. I would recommend this hotel to anyone. It's not centrally located to any stores though so if you forgot something you're going to spend a lot at the hotel's store. Transportation to Port of Miami: SAS Transportation shines through once again. It's a hidden gem here on Cruise Critic and their service was incredible. I was picked up on time and after a brief stop at the Fort Lauderdale airport we were on our way to Port of Miami. Embarkation: This was the smoothest EVER! I can't say enough about how well John O'Hara the Hotel Director is. The process literally flowed smoothly with no stopping. Got the keycard for my room on Deck 8 forward (Cabin 8008) to be precise and was whisked right onto the ship where John O'Hara greeted me back to the ship right after stepping off the gangway. Incredible how he never forgets a face! The Ship: Since I had sailed on the Norwegian Jewel twice before she still looks like she's brand new. The Jewel crew does a fantastic job of keeping her clean and looking like new. She was put to sea in 2005 and easily looks like she was just christened yesterday. Major venues used during this sailing include: Star Bar & Cagney's Steakhouse (Deck 13 midship), Spinnaker's Lounge (Deck 13 forward), Garden Cafe (Deck 12 mid-to-aft), Fitness Center (Deck 12 forward), Stardust Theater (Deck 7 forward), Azura Main Dining Room (Deck 6 mid) and Tsar's Palace (Deck 6 Aft). Tsar's Palace is my favorite room onboard. The dEcor makes me feel like I'm dining with royalty. Don't know if it's the pictures on the wall or just the overall feel to the room but it's by far the best dining venue onboard. The Stateroom: I booked this trip as an interior originally and was assigned to Deck 10. One week prior to departure I got an upsell to Deck 8 forward, cabin number 8008. Sadly a fellow Cruise Critic person had to cancel who was in a balcony and offered it to me. I didn't catch this until the manifest closed but brought it up to John O'Hara prior to boarding. I didn't unpack after the ship sailed but the room wasn't freed by NCL corporate but there was another balcony room that was open and for another small fee I upgraded to a Category BC stateroom number 9144. Thanks John for finding the open balcony and working with NCL shore-side to get me the upgrade. I love balcony staterooms. Cabin 9144 was in great shape. Everything worked properly and the room was pristine. Thanks to Wayan Pelom and Jill Yen for keeping the room extra clean even after some glitter got loose again! The towel animals nightly were incredible and I had a collection on the shelves by the balcony door by the end of the cruise. These two cabin stewards were so efficient I hardly ever saw them but they did a great job! Food: This is such a subjective area and I always say that. Too many times people complain about the food onboard and I can't ever figure out why. The food is fantastic. I've had this menu several times in the past few years with NCL in the main dining rooms and it never gets old. This cruise I tried new things like the Beef Stroganoff and loved it. The night of the prime rib when I asked for extra portions the waitstaff happily obliged and gave me three slices. I liked every piece of food I was served and attribute the liking to the hard work of the chefs behind the scenes. Fellow Passengers: This was a spring break cruise so the average age was considerably lower. Plenty of college co-eds sleeping four in a cabin and as a result the energy level was considerably high. The security team onboard the Jewel did a great job of keeping the rowdy folks in check and did a great job confiscating booze these folks tried to bring into the disco at night - especially White Hot Party night. Ages were checked at the door each night in Spinnaker's Lounge. I felt like I was at a real club but it kept the crowd under control. Nice work security team! I felt bad for the Blue Lagoon folks, especially Lorena who put up with a lot of non-sense in the early hours of the morning when the lounges closed. She kept her composure and gave me great service but you could clearly see that she was frazzled with the way all the college kids were acting. Nice work Lorena! Now for a run down of what I did day-to-day so you can gauge how I spent my cruise and who I interacted with and who made lasting memories for me: Day 1: Miami, FL - Embarkation - Smooth embarkation. Dropped the carry-on in Cabin 8008 when the rooms were ready and went topside to catch the Bon Voyage festivities hosted by Paul Baya, Cruise Director and his staff which included Jane who was onboard in January. I've sailed with Paul twice before and he didn't disappoint. He promptly jumped into the pool with all his clothes on when enough people crammed onto the stage! What a way to get a cruise going! The party was high energy and started the cruise off great. We got underway on-time and I met up with some fellow cruisers who returned from the 1/3 sailing. After the upgrade and getting settled into the new cabin there was no time for dinner and it was off to the Friends of Dorothy gathering in the Star Bar. After Friends of Dorothy it was off to Tim Kaminski's one show only in the Stardust Theater. You really don't want to miss Tim's show. He does a fantastic job and uses audience members to make his show work. He's a great comedian and an asset to the Norwegian Jewel. Throughout the week you will find Tim out and about checking on how passengers are doing and how their experience is going. He's an incredible guy and loves broccoli sent to his cabin at 3AM. Once Tim's show finished it was off to dine somewhere but the show ran long and it was after 10PM. Where would I eat? I went to Azura's Dining Room which was still open and had a quick, yet very lonely dinner service. I dined alone this night and this felt very awkward. Service by the dining room staff was very hurried this night. Not what I was accustomed to from January and I had dined in Azura the first night back then too. This was different waitstaff. No biggie as I would make it a point to get to Tsar's Palace the remainder of the cruise. Back to change for the disco up in Spinnaker's Lounge. I missed the 70's Groove party but did catch the Celebrity DJ Ivan G. He spun all hip-hop music most of the early part of the night until 1AM with a video screen going. DJ Jean Perez took over after 1AM and the party really took off. She spins a lot of vocal house music mixed with hip hop and this serves everyone in attendance. She really knows how to play to both crowds this Spring Break. I had sailed with her before on the Norwegian Sky and she's the best in the NCL fleet so I was ecstatic to have her on the Jewel! Off to bed at 2:30AM... Day 2: Sea Day: Woke up and had breakfast on the balcony courtesy of room service and running up to the Garden Buffet for a hot plate. Relaxed for a few minutes and headed down to the Walk-A-Mile with Jane, Cruise Director's Staff. Met another lady who was cruising alone and we walked and talked the three laps around the ship. Afterward it was back up to the room to freshen up and get ready for the Cruise Critic gathering. Thanks to Rochelle Brown, Event Coordinator, for giving us the space for the CC Meet and Greet in Azura and to the Norwegian Jewel pantry for providing complimentary juice, coffee and a tray of cookies. Senior staff members attended including John O'Hara (Hotel Director), Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminksi (Comedian), Katya Plyakova (Bar Manager) and the rest of the department heads. Captain Konstantino Fafalios stopped by to answer some questions as well and gave us some general knowledge of the ship throughout the week. This Captain is unlike any other I've seen anywhere on any cruise ship. He is very visible to the passengers and is always making sure we have a good time. You know you're in good shape when the top authority onboard is checking out things to make sure they're right. Thanks to the fellow Cruise Critic folks for showing up. We had great weather this day and peeling yourself away from your deck chair to attend must have been hard but as the organizer I appreciated it. Next it was off to the Latitudes party for past passengers bronze and higher at 1PM. I stayed at this until it was over chatting with a fellow CCer and then went back and lounged the afternoon away sunning out on the balcony and napping. Off to dinner at Tsar's Palace. If there was anyone I knew to ask for there it was Alexandra Golubyatnikova. In January she was fantastic and we only had her once but she knew I had written a comment card and STYLE card for her so when I had asked for her she instantly recognized me and gave me a warm welcome back onboard. I dined in her section nearly every night for the remainder of the cruise. She is truly a fantastic waitress and she made dining alone a lot less lonely. Her assistant Vanessa Mabale was also very attentive and engaging. Congrats to Alexandra for her transfer to the maiden crew of the Norwegian Epic, a new ship needs a phenomenal crew and she's perfect for it. Vanessa could easily be promoted to a waitress because she's that good too! Off to Friends of Dorothy for a short while before heading to Jean Ann Ryan's Band on the Run. The Jean Ann Ryan Company is just fantastic. I love their shows and seeing Band on the Run twice was excellent. Between the shows I ran back and changed into my White Hot Party attire which was up in Spinnaker's Lounge at 10:15AM for the pre-party. Thanks to Richard Oaxaca (acrobat) for the extra help with the costume for the White Party. This night was incredible and it got even better when DJ Jean took over at 1AM to finish out the night in style! It was also nice to celebrate crew birthdays in Spinnaker's with Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminski (Comedian) & Adrian Bica (Concierge). Day 3: Roatan, Honduras: Nice warm cloudy day in Roatan as we pulled up and dropped anchor. Celebrity Equinox took the Coxen Hole pier but the tender was a short ride and moved very quickly. The whole process took 20 minutes total. Shore side I met up with some friends made on the ship and a crew member and headed off to Sundowners Bar on the West End of Roatan Island. It's a quaint beach bar complex that serves food and cheap drinks. It has beach chairs available and the bar staff are incredibly nice. On this day we were treated to a fire-eating performance by a member of the Norwegian Jewel's production company. It was a great day to hang out at the beach and jump off the pier in to the water. It's a hidden gem on the backside of the island far from the cruise ships. On the tender ride back to the ship I spotted Nona, an incredible stateroom steward I had on the Norwegian Spirit in May 2009. It is such a small world and when I met her we knew each other and recognized each other immediately. It was a nice reunion and then I realize that the Norwegian Jewel really has the best staff in the Norwegian fleet on her! When I got back onboard I bumped into Willie, Deck 9 forward stateroom steward, who was my cabin steward in January. He remembered me as well and gave me a warm welcome back onboard and greeted me every night he saw me in the corridor. Great customer service ethic by these two! After a brief cocktail party visit, it was off to Cagney's Steakhouse for dinner to celebrate a crew member's birthday onboard. Thank you to Richard's parents for allowing me to join in on this special occasion. The service in Cagney's was impeccable and the birthday celebration was a memorable occasion for all involved. The 10 ounce Filet Mignon was cooked to order and was done just right. Spotlight showtime tonight was Troubled Annie featuring singer-songwriters Meg Allison and Joshua Stevens. They have a very unique musical style that even for a person who can't stand country music can get into. Meg & Joshua were always out and about on the cruise as well just like Tim Kaminski so not only are they great performers I can say these two are genuinely great people. Here's hoping NCL brings them back again soon! Off to Dancing with the Jewel Stars where three celebrity judges consisted of Tim Kaminski (Comedian), Betsy (Principal Singer) and Richard (Acrobat). Tonight's show featured six couples. This entertainment truly varies depending on the passengers who get involved in the show and tonight's show was great. Losers lounge is always a fun place to get into. Quick change of clothing and it was back up to the disco until the early hours of the morning with DJ Jean once again bringing down the house with her incredible mixing style! Day 4: Belize City, Belize: Is this a vacation? What am I doing up at 6:30AM? Oh right… SHORE EXCURSION: Cave Tubing & Jungle Trek Since I was sailing solo I was able to do something more rugged and this tour was perfect. You take a walk through the jungle to the spot up the river where you put your tube in and float down stream. I've never done cave tubing before and read of the dangers of doing it but rest assured you are given a life jacket, hard hat with light and a sturdy inner tube. We were allowed to go along unattached to each other and just float down the stream through the cave with the guide pointing things out. It was the best tour and the only organized tour of my vacation. It was a goal I had and something I always wanted to do and doing it with NCL made it guarantee that I would be back to the ship on-time and safe. Back to the ship to freshen up and dine in Tsar's Palace with Alexandra and Vanessa who again gave me excellent service and made the dining alone experience so much less awkward! Then it was off to the Jean Ann Ryan Production of "Country Gold." As I write this I am saddened to say that Country Gold is no longer a part of the Norwegian Jewel's line up as of the 3/28/10 sailing. I'm not sure what it's being replaced with but Country Gold is gone. I caught both shows and again excellent performances by all. Next it was off to the Caribbean Deck Party that was outside by the Sapphire pool on Deck 12 mid. The party featured ice carvings and music being spun by the Celebrity DJ Ivan G and later by DJ Jean. Thanks to the Jewel crew who came out by the Topsider's Bar and had some festive St. Patrick's Day drinks and posed for photos. Thanks to Katya, Bar Manager, for even making my Grey Goose and Sprite festively green! This night was truly one to remember for so many reasons. It was also another major birthday night onboard for a crew member and friend - Richard. Finished out the night with DJ Jean poolside and closed down the celebration. After sitting out at Sky High Bar for a while we dined at Blue Lagoon in the wee early hours of Thursday morning. Thanks to Lorena for excellent service in Blue Lagoon. It was nice to get caught up and also learn that she too was celebrating a birthday that week. It was one huge cruise of celebrations! Day 5: Costa Maya, Mexico: Didn’t set the alarm and I goofed on the time to meet up with friends and next thing I know it’s just before noon and I’m heading off to Pez Quadro just about five miles from the port. It’s a nice beach area where they serve you booze and food from the hotel and you lay on the beach. It was a great day at the beach and met up with the rest of the friends I missed when I overslept. You can rent a golf cart for three hours to take to get there or for $5 you can take a bus to get there. It’s a very short ride and well worth the trip. Cheap booze and great local Mexican food cooked in the authentic Mexican way. Great place to go. Back onboard I watched the ship leave Costa Maya from the balcony while readying for dinner. Dined again in Tsar’s Palace and had Alexandra and Vanessa again this evening. Very good service and the food superb! I caught the early show of illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent who was phenomenal. Not only can he do illusion tricks he’s also got a pretty good humor bone in him with zinging jokes out. I went back to the room to change and laid down for a second which ended the night very early for me. Tonight was the Chocoholic Buffet, NCL’s Signature Buffet, and I was sad that I missed it but I’ve been to them before and can tell you it’s truly something you do NOT want to miss. Tim Kaminski also had a late night adult comedy show in Spinnaker’s Lounge which I missed. Lack of sleep does catch up with you eventually. Lesson learned - schedule disco naps better. Day 6: Sea Day: Wow, sunrise – even with the time change! I haven’t done that in so long on a cruise I can’t remember. After having breakfast it was time for Walk-A-Mile. I guess a lot of guests didn’t keep up with the time change since I was the only one who showed up. I did the mile and then hit the gym. The gym was still pretty dead and all of the equipment was wide open for using. This is the best maintained gym I’ve ever used on any ship so props to the crew for keeping it tidy. Caught up with some friends and went and did some sunning up in the Villa complex and took yet another nap before starting out on a busy evening. Dined in Tsar’s again with DJ Jean and celebrated her birthday there. Thank you to Mr. Plunkett, Maitre D in Tsar’s Palace for getting DJ Jean’s birthday celebration put together in record time by reserving a table for two at the aft windows and for having a birthday cake at the ready. All this was done in under a half hour! After dinner I headed to Cirque Bijoux. This show is not to be missed. The acrobats take the show to you in the audience so you want to make sure you are 10 rows back from the front at least to catch the full view. This show takes a lot of energy from the performers because it’s intense in movements. The dancers, acrobats and gymnasts did a fantastic job. I caught both shows because it’s really THAT good. Off to Liar’s Club with Tim (comedian), Jean-Pierre (illusionist) and Paul Baya (Cruise Director). You had to guess which person was lying and the whole thing just had tons of jokes and jabs being spun between them. It was comical to watch the whole thing unfold and this is definitely worth attending. It’s adults only though! Time to disco with DJ Ivan early on and then DJ Jean took over and the party got started! DJ Jean can rock the house with her style and tonight was especially hot for everyone. What an incredible night in the disco. Thanks birthday girl DJ Jean! Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas: Finally! I made it ashore at Great Stirrup Cay after two cruises that called there and I missed it both times. Once was my fault on the Sky and the other time Mother Nature acted up and the Jewel left before I could get to the island. It was a nice day at the beach. The beach was a little crowded but NCL announced this week when we were onboard that they were expanding the island and renovations to the island are already under way. Pretty soon the beach area will be bigger and better with more things to do on the island. It was a good day at the beach and the BBQ was nice. DJ Jean came ashore and spun for a few hours at the tail end of the day turning a beach day into an afternoon t-dance. It was great to have good music while in line waiting for the tender after hanging out for a while by Jerk’s bar. After getting back onboard I dined in Tsar’s Palace one last time and said goodbye to Alexandra and Vanessa. Off to the Friends of Dorothy gathering to say goodbye to the friends I made there and then it was off to Bar City to meet up with some other friends and say goodbye. I managed to sneak into the crew talent show and caught “Fountains” which is always hilarious and this cruise didn’t disappoint. You have to catch this show. The crew onboard is truly talented that participates but this show is NOT to be missed! Thanks to Katya for her personalized bar service attention at Shaker’s Martini Bar to send me on my way packing in style! Got back and finished packing and had enough time to get out to Quest, the adult game show. It’s always saved for the last night onboard and there’s good reason. What happens at Quest stays at Quest! Its adults only and you have to catch it. While it’s not something you have to participate in, it’s definitely worth a look. Sorry to poor Cherryl, Bar Waitress, who I chased to the back when I needed a bar staff person for our group. LOL! Even Paul Baya was impressed by the speed that I moved to get her! Oh the memories on that night are always good ones! After Quest concluded the disco took over and it was time to say goodbye to the disco group that had been pretty much the same group the entire cruise. Doing the exchange of emails, taking pictures and the like makes the end of cruise experience that much closer. Thanks to Cherryl that feeling quickly went away! The night continued on with DJ Jean spinning her tunes until 2AM when the crew and the passengers pretty much have their curfews. Day 8: Miami, FL: Disembarkation: I had the purple color bag tags to get off the ship. After dining on the balcony one last time I waited eagerly for the luggage tag color to be called and it was off the ship at 9:15AM. I cleared customs and was on a bus by 9:30AM. Very quick through customs this time and I was thankful. I was an idiot and booked a flight at 11:25AM on Jet Blue which is the second stop of the transfer bus. The bus was nearly full and did fill up very quickly after I boarded but the driver and the person outside the bus who was taking the tickets took FOREVER to get the bus to leave. I was in the back of the bus having the makings of a panic attack. By the time I got to the airport it was 10:40AM at the first stop. It was 11AM when I got to the terminal for Jet Blue. I ran inside and couldn’t check in. Luckily the person checked me in at the ticket counter and over-rode the computer. I was late and I was lucky to have such service. I made it through security in RECORD time and made it to the gate while the plane was still boarding passengers. I was winded, panic stricken but I was on my way home. Lesson learned here: Don’t book your flight that close out of Fort Lauderdale airport EVER again or arrange your own ground transportation back to the airport from the ship. Conclusion: Did the experiment work of solo cruising on a regular non-charter cruise work? This is a resounding YES. The Captain, Senior Staff and the Norwegian Jewel crew rolled out the red carpet for me again and treated me like a VIP the entire week. The only awkward moment was dining alone which by the second night was resolved. I’m living proof that you can be a solo cruiser and still have a fantastic time onboard the Norwegian Jewel! Without the help of these wonderful people Spring Break wouldn’t have been simply PERFECT: John O’Hara (Cruise Director & Customer Service Extraordinaire), Captain Kostantinos Fafalios (for being so accessible and hospitable everywhere I saw him), Katya Plyakova (Bar Manager for fixing a problem early on in the cruise and becoming a great friend by the end of the cruise), DJ Jean Perez (for being the best late night Jewel DJ and best DJ in the NCL fleet), Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminski (Comedian), Alexandra Golubyatnikova (Best Tsar’s Palace Waitress), Vanessa Mabale (Best Tsar’s Palace Assistant Waitress), Raluca (Senior Waitress – Cagney’s Steakhouse), Wayan Pelom (Stateroom Steward – Deck 9 Aft Starboard), Jill Yen (Junior Stateroom Stewardess – Deck 9 Aft Starboard), Nona (Deck 8 Stewardess), Jean-Pierre Parent (Illusionist), Meg & Joshua (Troubled Annie) and Betsy Padamonsky (Principal Singer – JAR for the dancing memory). A very special thank you to Richard Oaxaca, Acrobat from the Jean Ann Ryan Company, for making the White Hot Party that much hotter and to his family for making me feel welcomed whenever I was with them during this voyage. I left the Norwegian Jewel with a feeling like I was leaving my extended family behind. Like the Norwegian Way says… “You’re a part of the family” and I truly became a part of the Norwegian Jewel’s family. I’ll miss you all and thanks again for making my spring break a cruise to never forget. It was PERFECT and I look forward to coming back onto the Norwegian Jewel again soon! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
About the Reviewer: I'm a 28 year old male who sailed with his 60 year old mother onboard the Norwegian Jewel on January 3, 2009 out of Miami with port calls in Roatan (Honduras), Belize City (Belize) and Costa Maya (Mexico). This was ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I'm a 28 year old male who sailed with his 60 year old mother onboard the Norwegian Jewel on January 3, 2009 out of Miami with port calls in Roatan (Honduras), Belize City (Belize) and Costa Maya (Mexico). This was my 6th NCL cruise and my mom's 5th NCL cruise. We've both sailed on other lines including Princess (5x) and Carnival (1x). I've sailed on other lines including Royal Caribbean and three times with Celebrity. Pre-Cruise Stay: Red Carpet Inn - Fort Lauderdale, Florida For our own insurance on the cruise we flew down on January 2, 2010 and we're thankful we did as a snowstorm struck New England. We arrived at the airport slightly delayed but called for the hotel shuttle which was quick and convenient. When we were on our way back to the hotel two other groups had called to be picked up so we turned around and headed back to the airport. We circled the airport for a while and found one of the couples and then finally checked in. I didn't book this hotel and I wouldn't stay there EVER again. The hotel was in the middle of no where and didn't make me feel safe at all. The rooms looked like they might have been hastily renovated and everything had a cheap feel to it with the floor being warped and the beds being hard as rocks! Friends who we met up with in Fort Lauderdale said there room looked completely different and they got it for much less than we did. Lesson learned, look elsewhere for deals or better yet, stay at the post cruise hotel we did at the Double Tree in Miami! Transportation to Miami Cruise Port: SAS Transportation Thanks to other Cruise Critters I learned of this little jewel for transport between the hotel and the cruise port in Miami. For $15 per person we were there in no time, arriving around 11:15AM to the pier. Embarkation: Since we arrived early to the pier the other Jewel passengers were still clearing out of customs and the ship was not ready. There was a small line for checking in which grew throughout the day. We were in the waiting area for approximately 10 minutes before they started boarding the vessel with numbers. Our friends who were sailing with us arrived later in the afternoon and were part of a very long line of passengers. Later we learned this was because a Royal Caribbean ship which shares the berth on occasion with NCL had taken the Ethernet cables with them that are used for computer terminals at check-in. NCL had to scramble to find replacements and as a result there were less than the usual number of people available for checking in. We had a great embarkation that flowed fairly smoothly though because we arrived early. Sadly when we boarded the champagne welcome aboard bubbly was gone. I had later learned this stopped when the Jewel had repositioned in November. It was a nice way to kick off the vacation and I do hope NCL re-instates it. Upon boarding the vessel friendly staff and crew greeted us and made us feel at home immediately. The Ship: The Norwegian Jewel was built in 2005 and is not showing her age anywhere onboard. Mom and I sailed on the Jewel in May 2007 doing the Greek, Turkey and Egypt itinerary and spent 12 days aboard her so we knew our way around very easily. The public rooms had great carpeting, excellent upholstered soft comfortable chairs and elegant ambience. While we toured the ship with a couple we cruised with before onboard a Princess cruise, the major public venues used by mom and I this sailing were Tsar's Palace (main dining room deck 6 aft), Azura (deck 6 midship dining room), Le Bistro (NCL's signature French Bistro - Deck 6), Stardust Theater (Deck 6 & 7 forward), Atrium, Garden Cafe, Great Outdoors, Body Waves Fitness Center (Deck 12), Cagney's Steakhouse (Deck 13 midship) and Spinnaker's Lounge (Deck 13 forward). These specific venues will be looked at much more in-depth following. All the public areas onboard the Jewel look like the ship was just put to sea which means there is a good maintenance team onboard! The Stateroom: Our cabin was 9038 and our friends had the neighboring 9036. Both were category BC balconies and the price was an incredible steal for the accommodations. Both of the rooms were in excellent condition. Willie was our room steward and he did an excellent job of keeping the room immaculate all week long, including when some glitter got loose. His impeccable cleaning abilities got him a STYLE card and a nice tip. Food: This is a subjective area and there is always much debate about it. The menus onboard the Jewel were the exact same menus we dined with before on the Spirit 7-day in May 2009 and were also the same from the previous year. We knew which days we'd be hitting the dining room and which days we could venture to other restaurants. NCL's cold soups are so great that I wouldn't want to miss any of my favorites which include chilled melon, strawberry, blueberry, banana and peach soups. If you haven't tried NCL's cold soups then you must on your next vacation! Our food was always cooked to order where necessary, hot and served promptly. Special requests were usually granted including requesting larger portion sizes of some favorites like prime rib and mom's nightly special side order request. The crew were always happy to oblige with any request and they were rewarded for their going out of their way appropriately. Prime Rib and Beef Wellington are two dishes not to be missed in the main dining rooms. Cagney's Steakhouse offers phenomenal cooked to order steaks as well as jumbo sized shrimp cocktails. Mom loved the seafood options available in Cagney's and thoroughly enjoyed the salmon dishes offered in the main dining room as well. Service onboard the Norwegian Jewel was exceptional as it was on my previous cruise onboard the Norwegian Spirit but to go through the exceptional service where it was encountered here's a day by day break down of what we did, who we encountered and sometimes what we ate: Day 1: Miami, FL - Embarkation: In about 45 minutes from being dropped off to the pier we were on the ship. This occurred just after boarding started at noon. Since staterooms are not available until 2PM we dined in Azura main dining room for lunch. We started out with excellent service offered by Elvis, who was also onboard in 2007 when we sailed. It was nice to see a familiar face and he also remembered Nalan, our primary waitress in Tsar's Palace on that sailing. Elvis did a wonderful job serving us and attending to our every need. We wasted some time floating around the ship hoping to find the couple we were traveling with and with visiting and passing through each public space it brought back fond memories of our previous cruise. Due to an embarkation snafu we ended up sailing an hour later than usual because of the US security requirements requiring the manifest be handed over one hour prior to sailing for inspection. Irregardless the sail away party continued on a cold, cloudy Miami Sunday. When we were finally under way our luggage had finally arrived to our stateroom. Since we were one of the earliest people at the pier we couldn't figure out why there was such a delay and as a result we opted to dine in Azura. Service was exceptional by the wait staff. After the dinner it was off to a quick Friends of Dorothy gathering before running to the early show. Entertainment this evening was an opening show by comedian Tim Kaminski in the Stardust Theater. Tim was hilarious with his comedy. The Wizard of Oz skit he did with audience members was just too funny. Everything was clean comedy though and while he did poke fun at different areas nothing was offensive to anyone (in my opinion). Tim would be around the rest of the cruise doing performances and out and about on the ship. I got to interact with him on several occasions and thought he was not only a good comedian but a great individual. It's not often guest entertainers mingle like he did. It reminded me of Jane Powell, the Chocolate Goddess of Love and her very friendly personality. Tim is a great entertainer and not to be missed! This night I was too exhausted to keep up for the late night disco so it was off to bed after the show. Day 2: Sea Day: Breakfast room service was actually a half hour early but it helped get me up in time and up to the Garden Cafe to get my own breakfast so mom and I could meet up with Jane, cruise staff, for the organized staff activity of Walk-A-Mile around the Promenade Deck. Jane is very friendly and made the three laps fly by and it is a great way to meet your fellow passengers! Thankfully the time on this ship was at 9:30AM for walking. Next it was back inside to freshen up after walking about another four miles and time to get ready for the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet which was at Malting's Beer & Whisky Bar on Deck 6 mid-ship at 11AM. Rochelle Brown touched base to confirm the event while I was doing the Walk-A-Mile but she greeted me promptly upon arrival. Thanks to another CC member (trish1c) for the name tags! All major department heads were present at the meet and greet and did a nice informal introduction. John O'Hara, Jewel's Hotel Director, did a nice speech for the group and then introduced each department head. Sadly the Captain and the Cruise Director were both ill and unable to attend the gathering but John did a nice job of giving us all a warm welcome aboard and handed out his card to everyone in the group with his number so that if there were any problems they could be dealt with as quickly as he could - and he really meant it! It was nice to see such a strong showing of Cruise Critic members as well! Thanks to everyone for showing up! It was a real nice time with catering from NCL's food and beverage department. After a quick break for lunch it was time for the poker cabin crawl organized by another Cruise Critter. We started off by visiting a standard balcony cabin and then worked our way up to mini-suites, suites and finally a courtyard villa cabin (all were CC roll call members). This was a nice way to explore the ship's accommodations and a place I didn't see in 2007 while onboard (the Villa complex). This was nice way to get to know the fellow CCer's and to make new friends for the rest of the week! Off to dinner tonight in Tsar's Palace which is the aft main dining room. I always feel like royalty when dining in this, the most elegantly decorated restaurant on the ship. The waitstaff treated us like royalty as well and this evening we were graced with the excellent service offered by Alexandra. Dinner food and service were excellent. There was a bit of a hang up between the appetizer and the main course but that was because there were so many people sat at the same time (not her fault, the kitchen was overwhelmed). Tonight's show was Band on the Run featuring the singers and dancers of the Jean Ann Ryan Company. This show is a tribute to the 70's and features the live show band performing. Overall it was a great show and a definite one to catch! The disco opened incredibly late the whole cruise up in Spinnaker's Lounge. There was always a Latin hour before the actual club opened. I've never seen a 12:30AM disco start before. This was much too late and made the evening drag for me. I was finally able to get a CD to DJ Watson containing some vocal house music for the upcoming White Hot Party. After listening to the first few songs of the night (hip hop) I gave up and called it a night. The disco was off to a very disappointing start. Day 3: Roatan, Honduras: Land ho! Finally warmer weather prevailed even though it was cloudy and I was just thankful I could wear shorts for a change! We didn't have any organized excursion and just decided to explore the new mall area that had been built since our last visit. Thanks to Willie our impeccable stateroom steward we knew that the best time to get off the ship was by 10AM because they were doing mandatory lifeboat drills after that including the sounding of the ship's alarm system! Thanks for the head's up Willie. We bumped into fellow CCer's ashore before returning to the ship. I did a power walk around the Promenade Deck for two miles before going up to the Body Waves Fitness Center. The fitness center has tons of cardio equipment and some free weights available. Definitely the most well stocked fitness center I've seen in a while. After completing the workout it was off to the Garden Cafe for lunch. Blueberry soup, vegetable curry and cooked to order Asian noodles were just a few of the things that made it to my plate. Yummy selection there! Tonight we dined in Le Bistro which is NCL's signature French Bistro. This is the first time we have ever tried this dining venue on any NCL ship and while we've seen the dEcor, dining there is something one must truly experience. The menu has escargot available, succulent lamb and tenderloin. It was a nice dinner and the service by Marisol Lamorena was just exceptional. She was so friendly and because of the smaller dining venue she was able to converse with us and could really offer friendly service. She brought us samples of some dishes and recommended we try them irregardless of what we ordered. If you dine in Le Bistro, definitely ask for her as your server. She was the first to receive a STYLE card this cruise from us for her exceptional service. Tonight's spotlight show time was a 22 year old singer named Chantz Powell. This was the worst entertainment of the whole cruise for both mom and I and usually we sit it out to the end but this performance we actually got up and left. Chantz is a soul meets Michael Jackson moon-walking performer. I am not sure what target audience he was supposed to be hitting but he didn't hit it with mom or I. This night was the night of the pub crawl. While I didn't partake in it, I did bump into the crawlers every where. Since the crawl was supposed to terminate at the Caribbean Deck Party it was fun watching everyone pour into Spinnaker's Lounge where the party was moved to because it was raining up on deck and very cold and windy. The party seemed a bit more subdued because of the venue change. The disco picked up later and some fellow young CCers and I began to dance the night away. It was a pleasure to meet John O'Hara, Hotel Director, up in the disco and ask him some questions about changes NCL has made. The first of which was where was what happened to the champagne bubbly when boarding? NCL discontinued it in November fleet wide. What happened to Monte Carlo night? This was also eliminated effective two week's prior to our sailing. A question from the couple we were traveling with made me wonder where the bathroom amenities basket went. The answer was that NCL didn't see people using them so they have now just placed what people used most which are the lotion and the washing gel. Thanks for the information John and once again thank you for the hospitality you showed during this cruise to both mom and I. Day 4: Belize City, Belize: SHORE EXCURSION: Lamani & New Jungle River. This is a full day long excursion but well worth the price. You are taken on an incredibly fast high speed boat tour down a river while looking for wildlife. Upon arrival at the ruins you'll need to lather up the bug spray which we forgot (whoops)! Get ready for a real jungle trek after having a native lunch. Going around the old ruins which are still largely covered by the jungle made me feel like a real world explorer. This was a great NCL offered tour and I highly recommend anyone who likes to go off the beaten path to take it! A small note about the terrain though, it's a bit uneven and this tour wouldn't be recommended for people with any difficulties in walking. Mom had a bummed knee and this prevented her from traversing one path but they did have a more suitable longer path around it which another tour guide took us down. We were the second to last tender back to the ship and mom had very minimal time to shop shore side before we returned back onboard. It was off for a quick dinner in Tsar's Palace before going to another fantastic performance by the Jean Ann Ryan Company called Country Gold. This is another performance not to be missed. After the main performance of the evening it was time to run back and change for the most anticipated nightclub event of the entire cruise: NCL's WHITE HOT PARTY. I was up there for the pre-party and all the cruise staff was on hand as well as John O'Hara, Hotel Director. At 10:30PM Kenosis started performing live before the dancers of Jean Ann Ryan did a quick number and the dance floor opened up to what was supposed to be a night of house music. DJ Watson did play some house music including the new Lady Gaga Bad Romance remix. I just couldn't figure out why on a night that was geared to a faster bass beat that DJ Watson would continuously play hip hop music. It drove me NUTS! Luckily I made a bunch of new friends on this night because I wasn't out on the dance floor and it made the rest of the nights in the disco more tolerable! This was one of the later disco nights of the cruise. Day 5: Costa Maya, Mexico: With a noon tour departure it allowed for sleeping in and what an idea that was! I felt bad for Willie because he'd already knocked once to turn it down and so I cleared out and got something quickly to eat and went back to brush my teeth when he tried for a second time to clean the cabin and I was there. Mom went ashore and I just took my jacket and went up on deck and slept. =) The winds were fierce up there and it was again chilly so the windbreaker came in handy. SHORE EXCURSION: Off to the Chacchoben ruins for the afternoon NCL excursion. The tour guide was informative and you could hear him very well all over the bus. This short tour gives you the historical significance of the ruins and offers you a tour of sacred Mayan ruins. This was my second time to these ruins which were more excavated then when I last saw them in 2003. I would recommend this afternoon tour to anyone who wants to see something exciting and sleep in a bit! After a quick freshening up it was off to Cagney's Steakhouse for a 5:45PM dinner reservation. Viviana was our server for this incredible meal that brought back memories of the sunset dinner we had there in Mykonos, Greece in 2007. The shrimp cocktail was succulent and the rib-eye steak was phenomenal. Mom's filet mignon was also very tender but cooked to her liking. Viviana's service earned her a STYLE write up as well because it stood out. If you go to Cagney's make sure you ask for her, especially for special occasions as a table behind us celebrated a birthday and she did such a great job handling it for them. After enjoying a quick trip to the Friends of Dorothy it was off to spotlight show time of Cat's Pajamas. This is an a cappella group consisting of four guys who I'd seen throughout the week at several events and in the disco. Tonight was their primary show and while I would have missed it otherwise I'm happy that a few of their groupies who were onboard (Kate, Kelly and Kathleen) talked me into going. It was a great performance that I enjoyed. These guys are very talented performers who are onboard for only the next few weeks. Next it was up to Dancing with the Jewel Stars in the Spinnaker Lounge. This was not to be missed. Your fellow cruise passengers get up and dance with different members of the crew who are experts at different styles of dancing. Chris from the production company rallied hard to win but ultimately another couple won. The losing couples are interviewed and the whole thing is just hilarious. Don't miss this and be sure to cheer on your fellow cruise guests and the hard working crew members who participate! After the show the disco opened and I stayed and had a nice time with the people in attendance. Day 6: At Sea: Room service was prompt as usual for sea days and after grabbing a hot plate of food from the Garden Buffet it was time to dine out on the balcony! Jane hosted the Walk-A-Mile again and we conversed more about our travels around the globe. This walk flew by! This lazy day at sea provided more time for a work out after which we went up for lunch at the Great Outdoors. It was a nice relaxing day and then it was time for a disco nap. That evening we had dinner in Tsar's Palace and because of the show tonight was hyped all over the ship everyone flooded the dining room. The service was great but the time between courses was a bit lengthy. The kitchen simply was swamped as the dining room was sat all at once. Luckily Cherryl, my favorite bar waitress onboard, was covering our side of the dining room and she kept stopping by while checking on her section and we'd continue the conversation. If you want a good bar waitress then find Cherryl! She'll take good care of you and always is smiling and she's so very pleasant with personality. Next it was off to Cirque Bijoux in the Stardust Theater. Seating went VERY fast, faster than any other performance this cruise and as a result mom and I couldn't get a seat together. Thanks to Carlos Zarate, the concierge, for getting us seats in the suites and villa section just before it opened to the rest of the people who were crammed into the theater. Cirque Bijoux is an incredible show! You do not want to miss this Cirque style show with hints of Irish step dancing and aerial acrobatics. From our vantage point we were able to see everything. It was a great theatrical experience put on by the Jean Ann Ryan performers. Excellent work guys and gals! I had missed this performance on the Jewel in 2007 and I can't believe what I missed!! This is a MUST SEE! After a brief stop in the cabin to get changed for the disco it was off to the Chocoholic Buffet in the Garden Cafe. This is another signature NCL event. I LOVE chocolate! Cruising with orthodontics means that you have to cut back on the amount of sweets. I took this one night off to splurge and splurge I did! Each action station had the same chocolates available and the displays were different from the last time we sailed on the Jewel which was an added treat! Went to the disco afterward to dance off the sugar rush and stayed until the disco closed. I had a blast with fellow passengers and members of the crew who were in attendance. The club closed around 4:30AM. Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas / Sea Day: Mom woke me up fairly early as she was getting ready to leave the cabin after sneaking out for her breakfast earlier. We'd pulled up to the island and dropped the anchor. Royal Caribbean's island is next door and either the Majesty of the Seas or a sister to her pulled up and then turned around and left. We stayed though and some tendering occurred before the weather got really rainy and windy. I didn't get off the ship and finally the decision was made around 11:30AM to make it a sea day. A hastily put together FreeStyle Daily was issued out and suddenly there was a lot to do again onboard! Nice work by the cruise staff for getting the Daily out so quickly and for trying to fill in the blanks for sunbathers with no where to go. I caught the matinee show of the Cat's Pajamas just in time after waking up from yet another disco nap. Met up with a bunch of friends there and the performance was with different songs than before. These guys are really talented and have a large repertoire to pick from. After the Cat's Pajamas performance it was up to the $5,000 Bingo where Jane was in attendance. She tried to convince me to play but I'm not a gambling man. I went along with the friends I made but had to leave early to get ready for another exciting dinner at Cagney's Steakhouse. The couple we were sailing with chose Cagney's and it was a great dinner had by all. This time I had a cooked-to-order succulent T-bone steak, shrimp cocktail and the clam chowder. All of them were mighty tasty and I definitely recommend Cagney's for a special dinner. The wait-staff and food there are both exceptional. Sadly we couldn't have Viviana as she was the designated floater that evening to help out in other areas as required. After a quick stop at the Friends of Dorothy it was off to the Crew Talent Show for one show only at 8PM. I think the Jewel has the MOST talented crew I've ever heard at sea. They have some exceptionally good singers amongst their crew and this show is not to be missed. Show up and support your fellow crew members because they work hard and even if they don't sound up to par they've already broken their backs for you all week and the least we as passengers can do is cheer them on! This was not the case this cruise, all of the performers were GREAT and standing ovations were definitely warranted! The show culminates with FOUNTAINS which was being performed for the 527th time. LOL It's hard to describe it other than it's a must-see and the comedian Tim Kaminski was in it as opposed to Que (Cruise Director). He did a really great job and the goggles were just hilarious! Back to the room for it was time to pack and get ready to bid adieu to the Jewel and get ready for the disco. I missed Tim's farewell variety show completely but managed to get up to the Adult Quest Game Show upstairs in Spinnaker's. This was a fun way to end the cruise by hanging out with newly made friends and doing all sorts of things. Thanks to John O'Hara (Hotel Director) and the security officer for giving our team a few props for the show! This is an adult's only game show and very much a must attend and get involved event! What happens in the Spinnaker STAYS in the Spinnaker Lounge!! The last night in the disco is always a sad one because you run around saying goodbye to all your new found friends and exchanging emails and not to mention busting a few moves out on the dance floor. I hope the friendships made onboard continue on and that I can sail with all of these great people again! Day 8: Miami, FL - Disembarkation: Luckily with staying out so late at the disco the previous night I was able to snag the Aqua colored bag tags to be the last ones off the ship (or the last group off). Since we had a post-cruise hotel stay at the Double Tree in Miami we couldn't check in right away and needed to stay onboard the Jewel as long as we could. John O'Hara wanted to know how the cruise went and gave mom and I a call to pass along some information to us as well about an upcoming Norwegian Spirit cruise. It was a nice way to be sent off from the Jewel and when our color was called we made our way down to the gangway. It was an easy end to an incredible week of active, yet relaxing experiences onboard the Norwegian Jewel. Conclusion: This cruise was an absolute steal for the price paid and will be a lasting memory! Forget Celebrity Cruise Line's trying to treat people famously - NCL treated mom and I famously. The hard work of so many require specific acknowledgement again starting with John O'Hara (Hotel Director) for rolling out the red carpet and giving us VIP treatment onboard. He went out of his way to make sure that every cruiser onboard had a good time and we were no different! Thanks John!! Other people who onboard who created lasting memories due to their impeccable service were Willie (our incredible stateroom steward), Jane (cruise staff), Cherryl (Bar Waitress), Marisol Lamorena (Le Bistro Waitress), Alexandra (Best Tsar's Palace Waitress), Vivianna (Best Cagney's Waitress), Carlos Zarate (Concierge) and Que (Cruise Director). Special mention to the folks of the Jean Ann Ryan Production Company for their phenomenal work with the production shows and for being great people to hang out with onboard including Richard Oaxaca (Dancer), Erik Hall (Dancer), Samee Nann (Dancer), Chris "Chrissy" McQuade (Dancer), Jessica Quarles (Principal Singer), Betsy Padmonsky (Principal Singer), Jodie Gibson (Dancer) and Joanne Donn (Wardrobe Supervisor). Without all of these people the Norwegian Jewel wouldn't glisten in the Caribbean. If you see any of them onboard a future sailing say hello to them for me and know that you're in for one GREAT cruise! Read Less
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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