3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Unless you pay for the more extravagant excursions, most coastal Mexican towns/ports are very similar with a lot of souvenir shops and pushy junk vendors. In Puerta Vallarta, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a must see. In ... Read More
Unless you pay for the more extravagant excursions, most coastal Mexican towns/ports are very similar with a lot of souvenir shops and pushy junk vendors. In Puerta Vallarta, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a must see. In Mazatlan, the open air buses were down, so there was no affordable way to see the city. In Cabo San Lucas, the Harbor is beautiful and the best view of it is from the ship. A quick trip (1 hour) to shore to see some seals, pelicans and other wildlife was all you needed. On-board, the crew and staff were friendly and helpful, our stateroom steward was great. The entertainment was good (some of the musical acts were very loud and garbled), The food was fair, except for La Cucina was excellent and Chin Chin was terrible. The New Year's Eve Party was very fun with our traveling friends. The Game Shows were cute and funny, Trivia was a great place to meet other passengers, although several of the MCs had very thick accents and were very hard to understand. In some cases, it turned into a game that the first team to decipher the question in English deserved an extra point. We will take more cruises, and would not rule NCL, but this cruise did not instill any significant loyalty beyond the value (Free Ultimate Drink Package, Tips included, $100 on-board credit plus a great price from our travel agent). A great All-inculsive vacation to be remembered. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview ... Read More
We went on the Norwegian Jewel for the New Years Eve cruise. Was it crowded? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. All in all everything was just fine. The Ship itself is in good condition. No failures or issues to report. Our cabin was an Oceanview on deck 5 and was OK. No problems there either. The entertainment was actually very good, which I've noticed is common across the Norwegian line. Highlights were the Magician Greg Gleason and the Russian Acrobat couple. Service was very good, Everyone we encountered were friendly and had smiles. (some we talked to were on their last cruise before vacation). Since we are Silver Latitude members and guests of the Casino, we were invited to a couple private events plus drinks on the house, which is always appreciated! We took one shore excursion which was the Las Caletas Beach Hideaway in Puerto Vallarta. This place is fantastic with a wide variety water sports, free drinks and the best Mexican buffet lunch I've ever had. I actually can't wait to go back to this place. Well worth the money. Mazatlan was a little more laid back, we ate at Poncho's Restaurant in the Golden Zone, which has a very nice view of the beach and great food. Our favorite was Cabo San Lucas. The local cuisine in this city is simply awesome. The only draw back on this cruise was the overall dining experience. The Chin Chin Asian Restaurant was awful. Not even closely resembling anything Chinese or Asian. My wife and I got up and walked out with food still on the table. Yes, it was that bad. Another bad experience was Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse, Maybe i'm spoiled by the memories of eating at a real Brazilian Steakhouse on land. This place was just not good. Le Bistro and La Cucina were much better food options if your are going to spend the extra money to eat on board. The Tsar main dining room was average at best. Very small portions. The Garden Cafe buffet was good as we had all of our breakfasts and lunches there. Food was hot and you can expect the same selections everyday. Despite the food experience I would take this ship again and this itinerary. Next time I'll try Cagney's Steakhouse and the Teppanyaki. I'll keep my fingers crossed on those. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old ... Read More
Our group of 12 was on the NORWEGIAN JEWEL from December 23 -30, 2016. The group was my wife and I (4 other cruises) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 29 year old son and his girlfriend (first cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my 24 year old daughter and her boyfriend (3rd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents (2nd cruise) in an Oceanview stateroom, our son’s girlfriend’s aunt and the girlfriend’s 10 year old son (1st cruise) in a balcony stateroom and the aunt’s sister and husband (2nd cruise) in an Interior stateroom. Whew! Confusing group, I know. Main point is that we had a variety of ages and experience. The aunt and her sister were both renting scooters and had some mobility issues. But EVERYONE had a great time. Different takes from everyone, but I’ll focus as best I can on the overall experience, but understand that not everyone did everything I talk about here. EMBARKATION: This was a disappointing mess. My wife and I plus a few others in the group arrived in LA that morning. It was pretty fast (30 minutes) to get from LA to the port, and we used a VERY nice van service. There are lots in a city that size…our group of 8 was big enough (with all the suitcases) to get our very own van, but at no extra charge. We arrived at the port and it took forever for the porter to take our bags. Yes, we had a lot, but it took longer than it should have. Then a port representative met us to help with our family member who needed a wheelchair. One family member was allowed to go with her, but that meant having her niece leave her little boy with us…and as we aren’t his family members, we couldn’t bring him on the ship. What a mess! Finally, our son, the boy, the niece and the aunt all went off and my wife and I fended for ourselves. We were glad to see a line for “repeat” customers (we’re bronze…lowest level) but it saved no time. We all ended up at the same check-in counters. The wait was 45 minutes. In the end, we were the last folks on the ship from our whole group. Normally we are on by noon or 1. It was after two, and cabins were already available, so the ship was a madhouse. RESTAURANTS: I’ll start with THE GREAT OUTDOORS. This was where we met up with most of our group as we waited for muster drill. As always, this is a great spot to look around at the views, grab a drink, get some food and NOT have significant crowds. You have to walk all the way through the very long cafeteria to get to it, and I guess a lot of folks just won’t bother. The buffet doesn’t have as many choices as the main buffet, but it still has PLENTY to choose from. The atmosphere is just so much more relaxing. We spent time in the late evenings as well (once we were in Mexican temps…it was a little chilly in SoCal!). Buffet is open late, the bar is pouring and the sound of the ship moving through the ocean is relaxing. You can have a party atmosphere here or a calm one. Our first couple of dinners, we did as a group of 12. With the Christmas holidays, I had to reserve seats for Christmas Eve (formal night) as well as Christmas brunch and then Christmas night dinner. Our first night (the 23rd) we tried out Tsar’s, the more “formal” or “traditional” of the two MDRs. We were seated quickly and the food and service was very nice. The following night was good as well. Folks were seldom truly formal (saw a small smattering of tuxes), but there were plenty of suits. I don’t know if Christmas Eve just brought out a larger selection of dressier folks. Not every meal everyone had was a homerun, and there were a few uneaten appetizers or entrees…but I liked everything I had for the most part. On the first night, I had the prime rib and it was very tasty. (I had prime rib on EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 3 months prior, and that was quite tasteless.) Anyway, when Christmas brunch came around, things fell apart a bit from a service perspective. So much so, they gave me a free bottle of wine. Very slow. Wrong items arriving. Half the table receiving their entrees and the other half waiting forever. It was not good, so after that, our party never had dinner at Tsar’s again. We made the move to Azura that night and while, to be honest, I like the formal Tsar’s a bit better…everyone seemed to feel more at ease, so I was happy. The service was good too. Food is the same as at Tsar’s…but the more contemporary atmosphere is quite different. I recommend you try both. They each have something nice to offer. (By the way, Tsar’s is open for breakfast, and I highly recommend it. You can often get a table by a window and have a lovely view of the ocean while you gorge yourself!). We had lunch on the 24th at CHIN-CHIN, the included Chinese place. For lunch, it is a noodle house…and it was quite tasty!! A couple of the older members of our group were not so enchanted by the unorthodox food…but most of us loved it. (If you wanted an alcoholic beverage, though, you had to run down a level and get it from one of the bars. We had no bar service there, as for some reason, the bar at the sushi joint was closed at lunch time.) We only tried the main buffet one for breakfast and once for lunch. It is fine. Crowded but fine. We ended up having several breakfast’s at O’SHEEHAN’S, the delightful “open almost all the time” sit down place with a large, Irish-themed bar adjacent. The have a limited menu of things like burgers, fries, tuna sandwich, etc…but for breakfast, they have essentially the same choices as Tsar’s and it’s a bit more casual. (A great place for a pre or post-hangover dose of protein, too.) Service, to be honest, was always a bit indifferent, but it was efficient, so I was happy enough. The only specialty restaurant we did was TEPPANYAKI, as a group of 12 on the 28th. We had a blast, and the food was terrific. Fresh and tasty and plentiful. There is an extra charge, which I think is a bit high (about $30, I think)…but if you can do a splurge, this is a fun time. Only gripe was that they were 15 minutes late seating us, so we were a bit pressed for time to catch the show in the theater. We did not try other specialty places this time, as we enjoyed having dinner with our kids and their SOs. The older folks in the group did try some other spots and gave glowing reports about Cagney’s and less-than-enthused about the Italian spot. BARS Many of us had selected the drink package as one of our ad-ons (part of the special), and we sure got our money’s worth. It was the holidays, and for most of the trip, the weather was warm and sunny. So we indulged a fair amount. The limit was $15, and we seldom exceeded it. And not everything needed to be well drinks, either. Jack Daniels, Johnny Black, etc. were all covered. I saw no real “generic” names. Strangely, Dark and Stormy’s were more than $15??!! I was able to order a Moscow Mule with dark instead of white rum…so that was just a little odd. I can’t speak much about the wine…we had very little of that, but my kids often got a glass at dinner and seemed satisfied. They are not very knowledgeable, though! Beer was the usual disappointing array. A couple of places had Heineken on draft, but overall the selection was poor. I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a Pale Ale from Lagunita’s though. That seemed like a random (but nice) choice to pop up in a sea of Budweiser, Coors & Sam Adams lager. The bars themselves all had various things to offer, but most really had the same stuff as anyone else. The notable exception was the Mojito Bar (connected to Cagney’s Steakhouse) which poured some really unusual and tasty mojitos you couldn’t get anywhere else. They have more limited hours, so make plans to drop by. It is a bit more “elegant” than many of the bars and they actually serve a chex-mix type of thing to encourage lingering. So you might feel out of place stopping by in your swim trunks and flip-flops. Otherwise, it’s a standard selection of pool-side bars, bars in the two clubs and a smattering throughout the ship. Each bar was nice and the service was generally good. I was always able to order two drinks with just one card. And ordering doubles was never an issue. Frankly, some of these guys poured with a very heavy hand. I ordered a double Cape Cod for my wife, and they basically filled the glass with vodka and then splashed a smidgen of cranberry juice on top. Watch out! ENTERTAINMENT As with all other cruises we’ve done, this was a bit hit and miss. The Norwegian Jewel cast was actually pretty good and we enjoyed BAND OF THE RUN, essentially a collection of songs from the 70s / 80s. High energy, fast moving and the live band was great. In fact, most of the shows featured the live band, and they were always a pretty tight ensemble. Yes, they stared hard at their cheat sheets and weren’t terribly charismatic…but they sounded really great. We enjoyed ourselves overall at these shows. We didn’t spend much time with the other entertainment on the ship, except occasionally a song or two in Spinnaker’s, the bigger of the clubs, with a dance floor and lots of seating. Spinnaker’s is the site of many daytime “games” as well. This place gets a lot of use, but when it is not in use, there is no better spot for some quiet time reading or looking at the sea. MISC: We spent some time playing board games in the game room. It’s so nice that they have that. It’s a simple little feature (right next to the library) but on this family oriented cruise…it was packed! Speaking of family oriented…THE QUEST game show, which is usually for adults only, was REALLY for adults only. It is held in the Spinnaker, which makes it possible for more people to get involved (compared to, say, the Ice Arena on a Royal Caribbean ship, where you can just watch and laugh if you want). The challenges got quite racy at the end, and as my son said once “I definitely saw some nudity.” So be warned. We laughed our butts off, but I was a little surprised as well. Spinnaker also hosted White Hot night, because the weather had gotten very blustery. Being indoors dampened this event, and it was a bit of a flop, I would say. We had looked forward to it, but somehow, being inside just wasn’t as fun as spreading out over the two levels around the pool, tropical drink in hand, dancing like fool. The 10 year old with us spent LOTS of time on the sports court. Soccer tournaments, basketball, etc. He enjoyed the Kids Club (can’t remember the name) and was immediately ready to do another cruise! CABIN: We had an oceanview room on deck 5, so this featured a picture window, rather than a porthole. It was a perfectly serviceable cabin…just like any other. If you’ve cruised before, you know what I mean. If not…just expect something that looks like an inexpensive hotel room, but much smaller. Store your suitcases under the bed. Bring handing cosmetic bags as there is essentially no counter space. (I will say, though, that the room had perhaps a little bit more storage space than we’ve had before. We actually had an unused drawer! Our steward was fine…nothing special, but our room was always clean and towels always stocked and ice always provided. We didn’t see him much, but didn’t really need to. DISEMBARKATION This was essentially a breeze, although we had to wait extra for the two wheelchairs we needed. This made us amongst the last to debark, but everything was smooth. You can still get a lovely breakfast in Tsar’s and I recommend that. One last shot of really nice, tablecloth service! (One tip…we had rented a couple of vehicles from the Enterprise dealership in San Pedro. Their shuttle took us there and then my son and I had to wait for over an hour to get cars. It was SO terribly jam-packed. The staff was overwhelmed. It’s a tiny office and you actually have to wait outside. Find another solution!! Take an uber to a neighboring town for a rental car. (We had to spend about 8 hours in LA before our flight, so we wanted a bit of freedom to move around.) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
I took my family on a cruise for Christmas this year. We all live in Texas, so leaving out of the Houston port was very convenient. There were 23 of us, ranging in age from 2 to 79. We had a good time, but there were some issues with the ... Read More
I took my family on a cruise for Christmas this year. We all live in Texas, so leaving out of the Houston port was very convenient. There were 23 of us, ranging in age from 2 to 79. We had a good time, but there were some issues with the cruise that I'd like to share for future cruisers. First of all, the positives. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly. The new cruise terminal in Houston was very nice and seemed organized. Parking out in front was very easy, but cost $80/week. The NCL staff was very attentive for the most part. Our room steward was very sweet. And the wait staff in most of the dining rooms were friendly and helpful. We also found that the front desk staff was exceptionally helpful. We all enjoyed the entertainment. My favorites were the Russian Duo Dance team and the comedian, David Naster. I didn't go to any of the other shows, but heard from family that they enjoyed them. The cruise ship had plenty of options for the family... some went to the shows, some went to the kid's activities, some lounged around the pools and hit the hot tubs, some went to the casino and others to the disco/bars... I liked that there was something to keep everyone happy. Then we all met together every evening in the Tsar's Dining room for dinner. I enjoyed Breakfast in the Garden Café, lots of choices, eggs, meats, fruit, etc. It was sometimes crowded, but we usually tried to find a group of tables in the same area for the family and we made it work. Also enjoyed several lunches at O'Sheehans' Pub and Grill, part of the complimentary restaurants on the ship... our favorite was their chicken wings. I also used the Sauna/Steam room on the Jewel every day and really enjoyed it. The area was roomy and comfortable and very tastefully appointed. I was disappointed that it cost $149 for the week, but my kids bought the package for me and I did enjoy it. We stopped in 3 ports of call and overall, the tendering and getting on/off the ship went smoothly. Now for the negatives... I have traveled on almost all the other cruise lines, and was very surprised at how Very Small the Balcony cabins were on the NCL Jewel. I bunked with 2 of my grandsons, so there were 3 of us in our cabin. When all the beds were pulled out for the evening I couldn't get to the Balcony or to the Desk and Coffee Pot in the morning. It was definitely not what I was expecting. We also had several days of plugged toilets. The maintenance staff was quick to respond, but they had trouble finding the problem and it took several days and several calls before they fixed the problem. On one occasion the maintenance man had to ask me to help him by flushing toilet, etc... again, definitely not what I was expecting. I said above that I enjoyed Breakfast in the Garden Café Buffet, but that's were the good review on the food ends. The lunch and dinner at the buffet was not very appetizing to me and often was not very fresh. Several times I tried the Hamburgers and found them to be dried out, also tried to get ice cream one afternoon and found that the Buffet only serves it for several hours each day. The complimentary room service menu was very limited and although I didn't order from it, I heard from other family members that the wait time often exceeded 30-45 minutes. The meals in the Tsar's Dining Room weren't much better. Our evening meal often drug out over 2 hours, even when the restaurant was half empty. And there weren't very many choices that seemed appealing to me... the chicken alfredo was made with rice and red sauce, the escargot was served in a brown gravy... again, just my opinion, but I found the meals served in the Tsar's restaurant to be lacking. We did eat one night in The Steakhouse (specialty restaurant) and the food was better, and the service was definitely 5-star. But even with the surcharge ($30/pp) you were only allowed one entrée... each additional entrée was $10... I find that to be very disappointing. In O'Sheehan's Pub and Grill I tried to order a milk-shake that was advertised on their digital menu but was told they didn't serve milkshakes. Again, definitely not the service that I was expecting. I was very glad to be able to take the whole family on this cruise, but I would not sail with NCL again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just ... Read More
We just returned from the Dec. 20-27 cruise on the Jewel: my wife and I (both 53), and our 20 year old college sophomore daughter and 18 year old high school senior son. These longish, idiosyncratic reviews helped us, so here goes. Just to put us in perspective: fairly well travelled (couple of weeks in Europe every other year, a week in the Caymans most years, and a few weeks on Kiawah most summers). We have never cruised or done package tours; even out of the way Greece, Turkey, or Italy we plan ourselves, albeit at mostly higher end places. My wife is concerned that as the kids' schedules get more hectic, family trips will be harder. (I suspect the lure of free vacations will take care of that.) Anyway, we decided to try a cruise (and to not host Christmas for the first time in many years). Worked with a great TA, researched on Cruise Critic, and decided on NCL Jewel as a good balance of ship, itinerary, etc. We live outside D.C., but it is an easy direct flight to Houston. We had an aft suite (I could never figure out if it was a penthouse or not, but it had the butler and concierge, so not sure it mattered). We had the kids share a balcony room next to us; they haven't shared rooms when we travel for many years, but we were--needlessly, in hindsight---concerned about security (not really concerned, but never having cruised....) that we put them together near us. They were good sports about it, and the steward made some tweaks to give them more privacy. Bottom line, had a great time. Different than what we were used to, but a lot of fun. Bunch of comments and observations below: 1. Food: we ate in the specialty restaurants every night. Just our preference, but food quality is important to us, and the supplement seemed reasonable (did the package). LOVED Moderno for breakfast and lunch; much better than the couple of times we ate in the Garden Café for those meals. Best meals: Cagneys (ate there twice, once much better than other time): not up there with Palm or high end steakhouse ashore, but good. Also really enjoyed La Cucina--limited menu but well prepared. Enjoyed all of the others, but food was nothing really special (I enjoy almost anything with my family on vacation) 2. Other food observations: found service slow at specialty restaurants, even when not that full; my sense was that the servers were stretched a little thin. Felt that there could have been a higher high end on the wine list; it topped out at about $65 (except for the Champagne). Not much of a mark up, which was nice, but even a small "reserve" list would have been nice. Had the butler serve breakfast in the suite a couple of days: very nice, and he was happy to get off menu items. 3. Steward, Butler, and Concierge (Florentia) were outstanding. Helpful, always there but not obtrusive, friendly. Could not have been nicer, and a major part of the trip being great. 4. From what we saw, the priority boarding and disembarkation made a real difference. We breezed on and off in just a few minutes, and missed the customs lines when we returned. 5. The bars were nice, well staffed, and I thought well priced. They could all make a "real" drink (martini, Manhattan, etc.) as well as the various specials. 6. We really enjoyed the various "small" musical acts, generally at Magnums (one of the bars). Fun hearing Italian piano players and Brazilian guitarists playing and singing classic rock, folk rock, etc. Not being sarcastic--really enjoyed it, and we wished they stayed open past midnight. 7. We found the back of the boat suite very quiet, with no foot traffic past our rooms. Folks we talked to in the other suites, including Haven, said it was often "noisy." No personal experience, just repeating a couple of comments. 8. We all enjoyed the spa. My wife and daughter both had facials and massage(s), and said they compared favorably to higher end day spas in and around D.C. I had a shave--full hot towel, face massage, etc. like in the old time (and new!) barber shops, and it was great. We got the week passes to the steam, whirlpools, sauna, complex (with great views!), and found them both very nice, and usually pretty empty. Gym was ok, a little crowded for my taste but pretty nice. 9. Wifi was confusing and slow, but usable if you need to stay connected. 10. All of our excursions were through the ship. We did the Mayan ruin trip in Cozumel (ok, a little too commercial but Angel was a great guide). Son and I did the already-certified scuba dives in Belize and Roatan (outstanding in both places; professional, well run, good equipment, great reefs and wall dives). Wife and daughter went to animal preserve/beach day in Roatan and had a great time. Daughter (budding classics/archeology teacher) did another Mayan ruin in Belize and found it great, much "better" than Cozumel in scope and depth. All well run; no standing around waiting (except for a short weather delay in Belize). 11. I didn't see many (ok, any) of the "big" shows, but wife and daughter enjoyed them. The "risqué" ship-run programs (think PG-13 truth or dare) were fun, and good natured, and the cruise director said several times before they started that they were really for those over 18. Nothing explicit, all double-entendre stuff. Fun, and funny. 12. I thought the dance bands and/or DJ in Spinnaker at night were good, but hampered by the age rang from 18-65 all together. Motown followed by hip hop followed by 80's hair bands: hard to please everyone, but they did their best, and most people were able to dance most of the time. 13. Bars were a great place to people watch, particularly the row of bars in "bar city." 14. Kids, as kids do, found groups of other 18-21 year olds, and had fun by themselves, which was fine with us. We signed the beer and wine waiver for them (they have the occasional glass of wine with dinner at home, and we let them follow local laws when we travel), and they were reasonably responsible. 15. Initial thoughts: we would cruise again, although not necessarily right away, and would probably go NCL again for a family cruise (but kids could have their own cabins next time). If it is just my wife and I, we would probably try to go a little more "luxury," although I get a little confused about all of the labels. But if it is just us, not sure I would do a week cruise vs. a week in Tuscany or France. But will probably try it at least once more. I am sure I will revise those opinions a few more times as the experience percolates. Hope folks find this useful. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not ... Read More
Our family had a great cruise on the Jewel. We were traveling in a group of fifteen, so we were a large group. Embarkation was fairly easy. Once we got on the ship, our staterooms were already open which was a nice surprise as that was not the case on our previous NCL cruise. Dining: First off, the buffet area exceeded expectations. It lacks any ambiance, but it was a staple of ours for breakfast and lunch. There is really an amazing variety of food (Grill, pasta, pizza, stir-fry, Indian, bread, fruit). At breakfast there's all kinds of eggs and breakfast meats, and omelette stations. I was pleasantly shocked that there was always seating available in the buffet (I expected it to be a popular choice and swamped). It always seemed to be close to full, with always a few tables empty. The staff was amazingly attentive, clearing plates within seconds of you finishing your food. For dinner, we ate in the main dining rooms most nights of our cruise. The two dining rooms have the same menu, however it is a large menu and changes from night to night. The service was impeccable, probably because each waiter only takes care of 2-3 tables at a time. On a typical night it's a three course meal (soups/salads, main course, dessert). We liked that it was not a fixed menu, and we could each choose our own entree from a good list of options. The food never took to long to come. A small but important detail: the coffee is very good on the Jewel. We were slightly bothered by the fact that soda was not included in your cruise fare; you could pay $2.10 per glass or buy an expensive package. I just steered clear (water, iced tea, and all juices were included). Complimentary room service was a nice touch, but the menu was limited and there wasn't really any eating space in stateroom. Stateroom: We had a balcony stateroom. The bed was extremely comfortable. The balcony was well worth the extra cost-- It was nice to sit out there in the late afternoons and early evenings (the period of time between sun-bathing and dinner) and watch as the ship sailed out of port or in the open water. The bathroom was tight, but perfectly functional. Our steward was outstanding. Not only did he do a room make-up each morning, and turn down each evening, but he always did it when it worked for us. It seemed like he tailored his busy work schedule around when we felt like being in our stateroom. Our daughter required the pullout couch-- He stowed it for us each morning and made it up again each evening. Great touch. Amenities-- We were overall satisfied with the pool deck experience. The pools were a bit small, but we didn't wish to go for long swims, just quick ones to cool off. Usually the deck chairs right down by the pool are all taken. Up on the upper deck, however, there were usually some chairs open. That was actually nicer because the loud music of the pool deck wasn't right on you. For a quieter time, try the upper sun deck at the front of the ship (only accessible by stairs). Entertainment-- I'd give it a 6/10. We hardly ever found the options extremely appealing, but we gave them a bit of a pass because it is impossible to please everybody on a cruise. the productions were occasionally impressive and sometimes purely mediocre. Ports: Cozumel-- Cozumel was the only port we docked at, making going ashore very easy-- you could just walk off. We did the three reef snorkel by boat. The boat crew was very friendly. I felt that the tour group was a bit big and the water was a big crowded. Overall it was a cool experience. The excursion ended in time to venture into town for lunch. Belize City-- Book an excursion or don't get off the ship. Belize city was a depressed area and maybe dangerous. We did the Altun Ha Mayan ruins tour. The tour began with a bus drive through tour of Belize City, which was a very depressed city. The bus ride to Altun Ha was bumpy, and excruciatingly slow (it took over an hour one way). Can't fault the tour company for that though. The tour guide in charge of the Altun Ha part of the tour was weird and very hard to understand, so we got virtually no supplemental info on the ruins. The sheer wonder of the ruins was enough to make it a cool experience, though. Banana Coast-- This was obviously a makeshift port of call. The cruise was originally scheduled for Roatan, and changed the port of call after we booked. What's more, The Jewel was the first ship to ever call in Banana Coast. What's more, the cruise port was still under construction. They had to use the ship's lifeboats to tender us to shore. We didn't book a tour, rather we walked into town and explored. Good if you like seeing new places, bad if you like adventure. Beautiful scenery and mountains. Overall the Jewel was comfortable, we were well fed, and I can't say enough about the crew. They were attentive, eager to help, and ALWAYS smiling and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
My wife, 2 kids, and myself cruised with Norwegian for the first time Thanksgiving week. There were 2 choices for this week, Norwegian and Princess. We opted for Norwegian because of a low-deposit special. Parking: The port was the ... Read More
My wife, 2 kids, and myself cruised with Norwegian for the first time Thanksgiving week. There were 2 choices for this week, Norwegian and Princess. We opted for Norwegian because of a low-deposit special. Parking: The port was the Bayport cruise terminal near Houston. I paid for parking ahead of time online and saved $5 but didn't really save any time. We arrived shortly before 10am and dropped the bags and family at the curb. I had to circle the lot a few times before they opened for parking. This was a painless and efficient process. Embarkation: Embarkation was smooth and nothing unexpected. We were on the ship around 11am and greeted by the Cruise Director, Ben. The whole staff was great. They tried very hard to be available and mingle more than any staff I have experienced before. My youngest was quite taken with Matt and he was more than willing to oblige photos. Cabin: A word(s) of warning; the most detrimental part of our cruise was related to our cabin. We purchased rooms side-by-side with my daughters (14 and 12). We were in rooms 9103 and 9105 directly above the Atrium. The Atrium has a jumbo-tron sized monitor and sound system directly below our rooms. The bass emanating through the floor kept us awake the first night. The sound was strong enough to vibrate the floor. I went to the front desk (in the Atrium) the next morning to complain about it. They apologized and said they would have the sound turned down by Midnight so we could sleep. Night 2 we had the same problem. I went down to the desk after midnight and complained. They were able to get the sound turned down. Night 3 same thing. A supervisor came to our room talked to me and observed the problem. Night 4 no problem, Night 5 no problem, Night 6 and 7 problem came back again. This being said; DO NOT BOOK ROOMS ON THE 9th floor anywhere near the ATRIUM if you want to sleep peacefully and if you like a mid day nap, forget about it. As an apology they were going to send Chocolate covered strawberries to our room; that didn't happen either. Food: Food was a little below par. We mainly ate at Tsar's and Azura. I love escargot, major disappointment. My wife loves steak, dissapointing as well. Pay an extra $30 for Cagney's steak house; was a decent steak. We didn't eat at any other pay places. O' Sheehans was good pub food. My daughter enjoyed the Carlos' bakery in the atrium. She raved about the cupcakes and canoli's. The buffet on 12 was probably at par or maybe slightly above. Kids were irritated the 2 ice cream dispensers were controlled about half the time by staff. Breakfast was best at Tsars; much more quiet and peaceful than the buffet. If you do decide to do the buffetfor breakfast; find a table in La Cucina (quiet and low traffic). Staff: Overall the staff was great. Very pleasant and attentive servers. We had a couple nights that was a little iffy in Azura but overall good. Cruise Director staff was great, I couldn't compliment them enough. Shows: Comedians were good. David Naster was a really neat and funny guy. JP is a magic/comedian who also was very entertaining. Don't miss their shows. If they say it is PG-13 for smaller late shows in the spinnaker, take it seriously. Singers/dancers were good; I wouldn't say can't miss. The gymnasts were very very good. Cirque Bijou was very good. House bands were being swapped out after our cruise. Excursions: Cozumel: Paradise Beach was fun and pretty. Swam and snorkeled. Saw some sting rays. Belize: Goff Cay was a fun beautiful snorkel. The grilled lobster tails afterwards were great. Roatan: We didn't book an excursion here. Just shopped right at the port. Probably best to book a snorkel or dive if you want to get off the boat here. Disembarkation: This took forever. Easily an hour in line after locating our luggage. I am very disappointed with the way our rooms were handled. They just didn't follow through with anything. I seriously doubt I will cruise with this line again. I would choose Holland America or Royal over them or try Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We have been doing Thanksgiving trips with our family for the last few years and decided that a cruise might be the best way to avoid many of the hassles associated with coordinating 12 people ranging in age from 11 to 75. I believe that ... Read More
We have been doing Thanksgiving trips with our family for the last few years and decided that a cruise might be the best way to avoid many of the hassles associated with coordinating 12 people ranging in age from 11 to 75. I believe that this cruise accomplished these objectives. There is literally something for all ages at all times. It was great to know everyone could find something that appealed to them. There is probably not a class of activity that our group did not use at one time or another on this ship: art, bingo, karaoke, lounge singers, rock bands, game shows, cirque style performances, camera lectures, alcohol tasting, card room, cigar lounge, and deck lounging. We tried nearly all of the specialty restaurants on board. My favorites in order: Teppanake, Cagneys, Bistro, La Cucina, Chin Chin. As it was Thanksgiving we had dinner in the Tsars palace which was good but noisy. We ate breakfast most days in an area called the Great Outdoors which was not as crazy busy as the main Garden Café. The Garden Café was a zoo. If we had to eat here more, I would have gone crazy. Way too many people. A first big plus for the NCL Jewel is that it sails out of the Port of Houston meaning that 9 of our 12 family members only needed to drive less than one hour to get to the port. Once at the port, the boarding process was efficient. This cruise was packed. Kids everywhere in all ages. They literally overflowed the areas the ship set up for entertaining the youngsters. I am not sure I would have liked this cruise as much if we had not had a suite which enabled us to have expedited boarding and disembarkation. We also had a great concierge (Florentina) who also helped handle dinner reservations for our party of 12 at nearly all of the specialty restaurants. We had some reasonably rough weather and high seas. I felt the ship handled it well. A couple of people in our party did not weather the rocking of the ship as well as others. The excursions offered by the ship were good and suited our tastes. We liked the itinerary with stops in Cozumel, Belize City and Roatan. Overall, a good experience for our diverse party. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
Our 3rd consecutive Christmas cruise, we thought we would be kicking it up a notch going from our previous cruises on the Carnival Conquest to a more $$$ trip on the the NCL Jewel. We were disappointed in finding both the cabin and bath ... Read More
Our 3rd consecutive Christmas cruise, we thought we would be kicking it up a notch going from our previous cruises on the Carnival Conquest to a more $$$ trip on the the NCL Jewel. We were disappointed in finding both the cabin and bath much smaller than on our similar class Carnival cruises. The service and interaction with our cabin steward was also lacking. I don't ever recall being called by name. The carpet in the cabin was worn, dirty and in need of replacement. The hallways were narrower then on any ship we have ever sailed on, and the one to our room was frequently cluttered with ice chests, totes of cleaning supplies and carts of towels making passage difficult. The menu choices in the dining room as well as the service (downright rude at times) was also less than what was offered by Carnival. One of the biggest failings was the dessert offering both in the dining room as well as the buffet line. No chocolate melting cake here! What was mostly offered was what we referred to as, jiggly gelatin-like desserts. Only after we had turned in our comment cards on the last day of the cruise did the assistant maitre d' visit our table in the room and offer us dessert choices one would expect to be served in the main dining room, selections they had sent to us from the ships' specialty restaurants. I'm sure those dining around us wondered where the heck the creme brûlée and Tiramisu came from! Vegetarian options were also limited. My daughter requested a simple garden salad and was told by the server that wasn't possible. We later found out the rule was "if it's on the ship, a guest can have it." We appreciated the thought that went into making sure everyone sanitized their hands before entering the buffet and restaurants. However, standing guard at entrances with a squirt bottle and saying "Washy Washy" for seven days was a bit overkill. There were some positives, however. We greatly enjoyed the extra touches throughout the trip. NCL did a great job bringing the Christmas spirit aboard. They offered a holiday show, Christmas candies, Christmas dinner, caroling, and broadcasted church services. They also offered flavored water and cold towels when returning from excursions. The entertainment was also excellent as was the embarkation and debarkation process. We also had no problem getting off the ship for excursions and had funk at all of our ports. We had a great time, but probably won't sail with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a ... Read More
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a re-positioning cruise and we were told that because of the Jones Act (Law) we couldn't cruise past LA if it wasn't a re-positioning cruise. Then, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between NCL and the travel agent, we were told that because the ship was going to a foreign port (namely Cartegena) we could sail to San Francisco. You can imagine my anger when we got on board to have the cruise advertised as a re-positioning one There were three of us travelling, so we chose a mini-suite with balcony on deck 11, being told it was a bigger cabin. The three of us have travelled together before and have had no issues with the third bed. Embarkation was quite simple but we were dismayed when we saw the size of the cabin. The interior one we'd had on deck 5 with Holland America on the last trip was just as big. Of greater concern was the third bed. It was the lounge which was as hard as a board. It took 4 days of asking for more padding before the bed was comfortable enough. The one layer of well-used foam that was put on the first night was insulting. If you are going to sell a cabin as being suitable for 3, make sure the bedding is suitable. Even if a child is the third passeger, they deserve better than what we got. Of great concern also was the state of the cabin. It was very dusty, and we found evidence of a previous occupant with trash left in the wardrobe and one drawer, and also a very dry remnant of a coffee bag in the coffee maker. We waited for three days before we asked for it to be removed. The first night we went to the Azure Dining Room, waited for a long time for a meal which was a bit hit and miss. We subsequently found out that we had a substantial number of new wait staff on board, none of whom are given any pre-training re serving, just given a manual or two. Then we tried the Tzar Dining Room and faced the same issue. I don't expect silver service in a dining room unless I've paid for it but I do object to servers reaching across my face to deliver a meal or remove a plate. We took advantage of having our bottles of wine stored each night, and on the third night, one party member was told her wine was finished. This wasn't the case, it had at least one glass left. We really had to insist, speaking to a senior staff member before the bottle was replaced. The next night, another bottle was obviously off. It had a screw cap which was faulty and didn't close properly so the wine had gone off. We were told that wine should be drunk on the same night, and what could we expect with a screw cap. Once again we insisted and had the bottle replaced. Unfortunately, this sort of experience didn't end there. We had cold food served, had to send several dishes back when meat was stringy or tough or had a very strange taste. We had chocolate dipped strawberries delivered to our cabin on two occasions as an apology and were given a free bottle of wine because of problems with food. Two nights it took 90 minutes before we left the dining room, with waits of up to 20 mins for the entree to be served. Some problem had occurred in the kitchen. The final night I had duck salad which tasted delicious, only problem was it contained only one piece of duck measuring about 1 inch by 1/4 inch square. The Lamb Shank dish the same night tasted very nice also, but it was a pity that whoever served it had slopped the sauce all over the side of the dish and then wiped it with a very greasy rag. I should have sent that back but by that stage was over it. We ate a number of times in the Garden Buffet and were satisfied with the offerings, but it would be nice if the fruit provided was ripe. Couldn't help wondering why staff weren't rostered on earlier on shore days. We had to wait for cups, plates etc to be replenished. Staff seemed to be astonished that all these passegers were milling about - what are they doing here? And could someone mentioned to all serving staff that a soup spoon is for soup and a dessert spoon, used for cereal, dessert etc. We complained about the lack of entertainment during the day which is available on other ships. We were told by the entertainment director that budget cuts meant that information talks were't offered any more. We turned up in the Showroom for a talk on the shore excursions to be told they weren't being held as only one staff member had done the Panama trip before. Then we were told that they would do one only after passengers boarded in Miama. Yes, it was held, but not all the printed information on each of the ports was available and we were given information on a lot (but not all) of the excursions which was too much to take in. Yes, they ran in on the TV but we got the whole talk even up to the last day of the cruise. We figured out that things like deck games, beanbag throw and talking to entertainment staff cost no extra for the cruise line, so that is what we got. Thing is, not everyone can do or is interested in the activities that were available. The movies that were available on the big screen were for the larger part not late release, with offerings like Pretty Woman. Was it just coincidence that half way through the cruise suddenly we were offered Les Miserables, Jack Reacher and Lincoln? Or did we all complain. I question the wisdom of showing a kids movie, Wreck-it Ralph, when only 17 children were on board. Another reviewer mentioned the poor offerings on the room tv and I must agree with them. Re-runs of the movies shown in the theatre, and re-runs of the same tv shows shown over and over. Plus of course the remote that didn't work unless it was held right in front of the on/off light. We did do excursion off the ship, and mostly they were quite good. I do object however, to be taken as an almost captive group to jewellery stores with enormous pressure brought to bear to buy. The offerings in the shops on board were quite good but as others have mentioned, over-priced. And I can never understand why people will pay thousands of dollars for jewellery that had no valuation offered with it. We did go to the Art Auctions but by the last one were more than a little jaded by the same old information. I've never heard of a ship tour that cost money (don't think we were ever told how much). We though we had pretty much seen it all but on the last day the organisers (????) excelled themselves. We were all told what bag tags we needed and where to be at a certain time. We turned up where we were supposed to be to be asked if we had been through Immigration? No, we didn't know we needed to. Though it must be on shore. So round we turned, walked from the front of the ship, all round the deck to the other side of the ship to join the queue for Immigration. Then when we got back to the front of the ship where we were before, got our amusement from all those who came after.and who didn't know either. Felt sorry for the staff who had to bear the brunt of passengers anger. Comments from other passengers who have cruised before with NCL but not on the Jewel, said there was no comparison between it and the other liners and they would not cruise on the Jewel again. Came to the conclusion that Freestyle cruising is just another term for sub-standard offering. If passengers don't want formal nights, why do so many make the effort to get dressed up night after night. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Hello future cruisers who plan on taking a cruise on the Jewel :) I know that a lot of people check out the reviews to give them reasons on to why they SHOULDN'T go on this ship, or is this ship horrible, or to tell them about the ... Read More
Hello future cruisers who plan on taking a cruise on the Jewel :) I know that a lot of people check out the reviews to give them reasons on to why they SHOULDN'T go on this ship, or is this ship horrible, or to tell them about the HORRIBLE service. But this isn't going to be one of those. Just so you know. . . all cruise ships have poor reviews, its impossible to please every single person on board, so of course you will have that one person that will complain. Was this ship in perfect condition, no but it sure looked great. So here I go. . . How to start things off, join cruise critic. Why? you can join the roll call, find out what you should bring, and meet fellow cruisers that will be traveling with you. *another thing, the bf and I are 25 and 26. Just so you can read our review from that stand point. (the day before our cruise is snowed 4 inches, we were ready to leave) day 1. leaving NYC. My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise in early summer. So we put out deposit down, and made payments on this cruise until October 1st. Which is awesome, not many cruise lines allow you to make payments. But we left the Lehigh Valley at 9:30am, hit a little bit of traffic into NYC (its New York, you will hit traffic, get over it) and got dropped off at Pier 88 around noon. It was not packed at all. Since we cruised before, we are Latitude members and walked straight through security and got our room keys right away. While your waiting on your room key, they make you fill out a form asking if your sick or not. All the Pier Employee's were happy and pleasant. As your walking, you walk in front of a green screen to take a photo that you will see in the photo gallery on board. They did have coffee for you to drink but the bf and I decided to just get on the ship. This is where "Washy-Washy" starts. When you get on the ship, they spray your hands with anti bacterial liquid, which is great, because norovirus STINKS. When you walk on board, they scan your room key card to make sure its you, and off you go. Your on vacation. The first thing we did was schedule our reservation for the Chefs table. They only do one of these so book yours fast. Its amazing. As soon as we did that we went to Tsar's and got lunch. The cheese steak taste just as good as Pat's! If your from the Philly area you know what Pat's cheese steaks taste like. During lunch we heard the announcement that the rooms were ready by 12:45!!! Which is great if you on a cruise. Our room was great. It was a bit odd for us because on our last cruise we got the Owners Suite and went down to the Aft Facing Cabin. But we are ALWAYS doing the aft facing cabin from here on out. The view is amazing, and you smell the bread from the bakery all the time. Its great. The bathroom is a little small, but it was a wonderful room. We ate dinner at the Moderno and almost had to be rolled back to our room. The view leaving NYC out of an aft facing balcony is beautiful, you won't regret it. day 2 day at sea and New Years Eve. This vacation was all about relaxation for me. All I wanted to do was read my nook, catch a few shows and eat great food. Which is what I did. This was the day we met up with fellow cruise critic members and did the meet and greet with a few of the crew and the slot pull. That was awesome, met some really cool folks. New Years Eve was "dress up or not" night, which the bf and I did decide to get dressed up. A lot of people were in ball gowns, tuxedos etc. Bands played in every bar. We partied in Spinnaker Lounge and had a blast. The band on stage was Next Stage, they had confetti when the ball dropped, noise makers, hats etc. It was jammed packed and a very good time. Everyone was happy! DAY 3 This it the day we were in Florida. Everyone still seemed happy from the night before, I ran into a few miserable people who were hung over, but you just ignore them. Sitting on our balcony (aft) seeing all the boats and seagulls was neat. And going into Port was interesting, I enjoyed seeing Port Canaveral and the NASA sign. This was the day we visited family and had pork and sauerkraut. We got back on the boat on time, and left Port on time. It was another great day. The food all over the ship is amazing. Day 4... Great Stirrup Cay. This place ROCKS! I mean that. You can rent a huge blue float, take your drinks, your book (in my case) and a camera, and just float, for hours. Doing nothing. Tons of people had the same idea. Plenty of lawn chairs. Just bring your own towel. If you lose your room towel, you have to pay $25 for yours. Just an FYI. The food was decent, and you get to take a tender to the island. The island right next to it was Royal Caribbeans private island. So they had two ships anchored off shore. It was neat to see. Also the people watching is incredible. You can walk around, there is a mini straw market, and also mini bars everywhere. Loved this place. This was also the night we did the Chefs dinner. Which I had no complaints, some of the food wasn't for me, but I had a bite of everything. 9 course meal, why wouldn't I? Day 5 . . . Nassau, I've been to Nassau numerous times now. Nothing great. The straw market is cool, negotiate all your prices. But Senor Frogs is where ALL the fun is. We drank a lot, and enjoyed looking out at the 5 cruise ships that were docked. (yes 5!) beautiful at night, totally different world down there. I can't remember where we ate at that night, but I do recall saying that the bread was amazing. Day 6. . sea day -_- This was the day I wished I didn't drink so much. I was sick most of the morning because I was a moron and drank to much the day before. All my fault. By noon I was walking around feeling normal. That night we ate at Chin Chin. Incredible food. It was amazing. Jean Pierre sat next to us, and he talked to us a bit, he was funny. (See his show! You will laugh your butt off and think to yourself, "did he just say that?") This was also the night of the variety show, they do this beautiful masterpiece at the end called "Fountains". Its great. Sit in the front or as close to the front as you can get. I loved it, I sat right in the center. Day 7... Sea Day I walked around a lot, and ate a lot. I didn't want the food to go to waste, so I made sure I had a bit of everything. This was the night of the chocolate buffet, just try it out or walk through it in the garden cafe. Did a lot of packing, and we tipped our room steward, who always read my little post it notes, made great towel animals and was very sweet. Things I missed, which were a lot. We also seen the show Cirque Bijou. This show was amazing, The strength and creativity that these performers have is out of this world. I couldn't imagine doing this on land, let alone on a moving ship. The Variety show you get to see a bit of everything, its like a sampling, see that show on the first night, read your Freestyle Daily. Tells you everything you need to know. Did our stateroom show wear and tear? Yes it does, but it isn't anything horrible. The first time I showered, my shower drain was clogged, and I was standing in 4 inches of water. I called the front desk, and someone was there right away to fix it. We always had clean towels, beds made and hot food. Dan the Man was a really funny cruise ship director! Always smiling. Captain Lars was very funny as well to hear over the loud speaker. I know this was really lengthy, but I wanted people to know what a great time this was. Oh and we had one night of poor service in the mdr but we didn't let that ruin our night or our cruise. It was packed. I didn't blame anyone... Getting off the ship was a breeze, the bf and I decided to just walk off at 8am, we had our own luggage, and we waited in a small line. Walked off, it was that simple. There are a ton of taxi's waiting at the end of the pier, we took our bags, jumped in a cab took it up to the Staten Island Ferry. Which is free! (not the cab, the ferry) Went on the ferry, dropped off our bags. Went on the ferry again. Got our tickets for the WTC tour, seen that. Then we went to Crumbs bake shop. A great end to our trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2012
The Travelers: Two 30-something single ladies. It was my first real cruise (other than a budget, 4-day deal in high school) and her second (previously cruised on RCCL). The cruise was booked through my friend's timeshare company -- ... Read More
The Travelers: Two 30-something single ladies. It was my first real cruise (other than a budget, 4-day deal in high school) and her second (previously cruised on RCCL). The cruise was booked through my friend's timeshare company -- we wanted to cruise out of NY or Baltimore, and had to cruise Thanksgiving week, so there were only a couple options. The main objective of our trip was rest and relaxation! The Room: We were in Balcony Stateroom #10086. It was a great location...near the mid-ship elevators and stairs, and either up or down just a couple decks to almost everything important to us (food, alcohol, spa and gym, pool deck, theater, etc.) Unfortunately we had smokers in the cabin next door, and also somewhere else around us, and rarely found it enjoyable to spend any amount of time on the balcony. The cabin was a little tight, but there was a ton of storage and it was more than adequate for a week. Our cabin steward was okay, but not great -- we stopped getting towel animals on the third day, we never got ice, and didn't even get turn down service a couple nights. The Itinerary: Let's just say we didn't choose this cruise for the ports of call. The weather all week was incredibly windy -- Captain Lars remarked on it several times. Even in the warmer locales (Florida and the Bahamas), it was WINDY. We didn't get off the ship at Port Canaveral, instead taking advantage of spa specials and a less-crowded pool and hot tub. Our visit to Great Stirrup Cay was cancelled because of the choppy seas, and we ended up pulling into Nassau the night before we were due to arrive. That was the only port we had booked an excursion -- the sea lion experience at Blue Lagoon. We really enjoyed it, although there was a little bit of confusion about when and where exactly we needed to be for our swim. I would go back to Blue Lagoon again. By the last sea day of our cruise it was very cold, very windy and very rainy. The Spa: Even before we boarded we had kind of decided to purchase the week-long spa pass, and it was totally worth the $149 cost. The women-only side (and I'm assuming the men-only as well), had a large hot tub, steam room, dry sauna, fancy showers, plunge pool and comfy Adirondack-type chairs. The co-ed Relaxation Room had the larger "therapy pool" and the much-discussed heated ceramic loungers. Heaven! We went to the spa every day and sometimes twice a day. We often showered in the spa rather than in the cabins. I do think the spa pass should give you a discount on spa services (say, 15%) for a little added value. We took advantage of a port-day special for a massage/facial combo, which was great. My friend even went for acupuncture on the next to the last day, in hopes that it would help her seasickness. The Food and Drink: This was definitely an area that I had some concerns about before we sailed. My friend is a vegetarian and is allergic to onions, so finding food for her can sometimes be a challenge. And I am a bit of a foodie, and had heard mixed reviews about NCL cuisine. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised on all accounts! I would rate the food as good to very good. There were some outstanding selections in the MDR, as well as the Blue Lagoon. We usually did breakfast, and occasionally lunch, at the buffet. It was generally kind of a madness but there was a lot of variety, and we loved eating in the Great Outdoors section. We ate at both Le Bistro and Cagneys, and of the two, I would definitely recommend Le Bistro....I still think back on that Coq Au Vin! My friend didn't make any advanced arrangements for her special diet, but on the first night we were introduced to one of the "Special Diets" servers in the MDR. The two women she worked with throughout the cruise -- Nancy and Rebecca -- made it possible for her to order ANY food on the menu to meet her dietary restrictions, with advanced notice (usually 24 hours). The only downside is that we couldn't be totally flexible in our dining plans (although we could eat whenever we wanted, in either MDR), and that sometimes our meals weren't timed to come out exactly in synch -- so maybe I would still be on my app while she had her main course. No biggie. I didn't find the alcoholic drinks much more expensive than I would pay in any big city or upscale bar, and there were Happy Hour and other specials advertised in the Freestyle Daily. I loved the champagne cocktails at Magnums, Margarita Madness at Moderno bar and the fact that they also had hard cider on board, as well as beer. The Entertainment and Shipboard Activities: We took advantage of a lot of the fun activities on board, like trivia, game shows, dance and exercise classes and interactive events. We saw a couple live productions, which I thought were well-done and there was always live music in one or more of the venues. The Cruise Director (Dan the Man) and his staff were GREAT. We found so many things to do that they often overlapped and we missed out on something. The pool deck was usually very crowded (unless we were in port or getting ready to dock) and we didn't spend that much time up there. Lots and lots of kids (700+) on board that week! OVERALL, I loved my week on the NCL Jewel. The service was great, the amenities were great and I found it to be good value for my vacation dollars. I will definitely cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
I was told not to put this in letter form but just an FYI a letter was written to two people at NCL and sent on 07/23 and neither saw fit to respond as of this date (now that was really disappointing to say the least. What upset me most ... Read More
I was told not to put this in letter form but just an FYI a letter was written to two people at NCL and sent on 07/23 and neither saw fit to respond as of this date (now that was really disappointing to say the least. What upset me most was the fact that we were WALKED in ot TWICE. It is in a paragraph almost at the bottom....the rest of the incidents were bad enough but that was totally not good or right. Sorry to those that love this cruise line and I see some had similar experiences with food, etc. but I just found this site. I HATE starting out sour grapes but some of these issues are IMHO important enough that others should at least know in an effort to help them make an informed decision My wife and I recently took a cruise on the "Norwegian Jewel." It was our anniversary cruise after over 40 years of marriage. The body more or less went as below. A couple of weeks have passed and I have now "settled down" some and got caught up from the trip. I feel I need to make you aware of a number of issues we encountered on this cruise and why I hope this was all just an aberration and hope this is not indicative of the cruise industry of today. I was not a "happy camper (or cruiser)." First off please note that we totally enjoyed the trip to Alaska and would go back given the chance. We had a great time on all the shore excursions and each port and we even enjoyed the ship we were on. We also enjoyed the bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries sent our cabin and thank you. However, it was a lot of little things that made this NOT a customer-friendly trip. First off this cruise served as my wife and my anniversary gift to each other after over 40 years. I will save the worst for last. I really had hoped things would go differently. Day one started out with a disastrous attempt at getting signed in. 1. We stood in line for hours, in a SINGLE line. After the first hour and a piece as it neared around 2:30 p.m. or so it came over the intercom that your company was having computer issues and "sorry for the delay, etc." It was not so much as standing in line that really upset me, it was the fact as I learned from having own my own business that when there is a problem the true worth of a company shines. In this case, not. It was apparent there was absolutely NO WAY everyone was going to get boarded to sail on time and everyone sort of figured it out as time dragged on. I based this on the time we stood in line before the announcement and how many folks were behind us that were in the building. It was obvious some were going to be boarded w/o going through the boarding process or left behind if we were to leave on time and was borne out by the fact that the next day over the intercom it was indicated where such people should go to complete their boarding process. I even had to go to the Purser's desk to "link" a credit card to our account. NCL apparently chose to do things the way they had always done when there were no issues except for the single line which in itself made NO sense. When we finally entered the terminal a kind gentleman asked if we had sailed on NCL before and showed us the "short, reserved line" for previous NCL cruisers. Although we had previously been on at least six cruises over the years, we simply could not remember so we opted to say, "No." We were then shuttled into the single long line. As time went by we saw a few thirtysomethings enter the other line as they apparently said, "Yes" when they were asked if they cruise with NCL before. In the same line as we were in were a number of older folks, even older than we are (67 and 62), who were having a very difficult time standing on their feet for so long in the heat generated by so many people in such close proximity to one another. Some of them were using canes. Some of them were verbally and physically agitated. At the very least the "older" folks should have been shown the respect due them at their station in life and (in view of security) could have been "patted down" and should have been allowed to board and complete the process at a later time. Or, NCL should have directed these folks to the line the thirtysomethings were in. Or, they should have been allowed to sit down and NCL could have sent one or two of the 20 or so folks behind the counter out to personally take care of them. Any of those alternatives would have at least shown a bit of class and would have shown that NCL really cared for ALL of their passengers. My father was a vet and served in WWII and was shot down, I am a vet from the Nam era, my son and daughter in law are currently serving and both have served overseas. Everyone including Cruise lines now shows concern and caring for our vets by way of special fares, etc. and this is a good thing.however, who takes care of the "old folk? They are just as valuable a resource and is even more valuable in my opinion. 2. After we did get onboard and into our room and waited for our luggage to arrive we found we could hear nothing broadcasted over the room speaker with messages. Even after reporting it, the speaker was never fixed throughout the whole cruise. We were however directed to the channel on TV by our very pleasant and courteous room steward and was told the information also was conveyed this way. Thing is we didn't want and nor did we have the TV on 24/7 and a lot of messages went unheard no matter how important. 3. Once the luggage arrived my wife started unpacking and as she was putting things in the closet she said, "John!" I asked her what was wrong and as I turned to look at her I saw she was holding some women's underwear. Thing is, it wasn't hers. She found it in the bottom of the closet on the floor. I tried to make a joke out of it telling her how lucky I was this was our first day and we never left each other's sight but by this time her mood was almost like mine.hoping things would go better. Well, you take it from there. 4. Now with all that and done unpacking we decided to relax on our very lovely and quite adequate balcony and just relax for a while and have a drink from the minibar. I wanted a scotch and she wanted water. I looked at the price list for the minibar and was totally amazed. To be quite frank I found the prices to be airport prices or high end restaurant prices. Seven dollars for an ounce and a half of scotch? To me that is restaurant prices but the thing is we go out to eat a couple of times a month so that is not so bad, but this was a week straight on a cruise ship. Well to me the prices were sadly high to outrageous. To charge $5.25 for a liter of water is again way beyond not customer friendly almost to the point of gouging for the almighty buck. I truly understand profit having owned a full service gas station but we never charged book prices for labor and we always treated the customers fairly. You could have still doubled your money charging half that. To boot I never saw a liter of water in the room much less in the minibar and I doubt a liter would even fit in the minibar. That was just our first day.on the second day we had NO heat in our room that evening. Unlike the speaker issue however, it did get fixed. Other issues I would like for you to know about that sort of agitated me (and a few of my fellow passengers) were the facts that: 5. The buffet was FAR from convenient or customer friendly. It was a sad attempt versus other cruises we have been on. What is more if anyone took any of the longer shore trips and came back and wanted lunch at the buffet, forget it. The hours were terrible. I can full well understand shutting down a table or two at a time during changeover but to shut them all down and leave a small, very small one open in another room with little options was not so good. Any other cruise had a real 24-hour buffet. Heck, even when the outside buffets were supposed to be open, they were not. At least one side was always closed and the lines were long and the other side opened "late." To top everything else off we were told to go to the Blue Lagoon if we wanted. Thing about that was.no one was there???? I later found out when they were there you had to order from a menu???? In addition, one night they completely closed the whole buffet for "chocolate night???????!!!!" I am a diabetic. Why would close the main buffet? Why not close one of your boutique restaurants for one night or the Tzar's restaurant and set up there for those that like that sort of thing. The buffet should have remained a place to eat dinner. To boot, I think it even opened at 7 p.m.? 6. The whole washy-washy, happy-happy thing was an affront and if it is meant to keep the germs away, well let us say there is definitely no issue with the stationary hand cleaner there for folks who wish to take advantage of it but to have someone stand there (when they were there) and spray the back of your hand or miss and spray your pants leg or arm or whatever they could hit.when I get out of the shower in the morning I am supposedly clean. I do not need nor want to be sprayed. I am adult fare-paying customer, not a child that needs washy-washy. If I wanted to "sanitize" again I could have used the one placed there on a stand. Again, sometimes they were there, sometimes not. 7. It is very interesting that the room steward keeping banker's hours only on a split shift. We would come to our room after shopping or whatever and would want to get a drink or some ice. Most times what little ice was left in the bucket before she left was already melted and when we went to get some no steward was found anywhere. At least if you are not going to have a steward available please consider putting an ice machine somewhere on each level where a passenger could get ice. Out of curiosity what do they do the other 16 hours? NOTE: I am saying anything bad about our steward. She was wonderful, polite, and attentive when she was there. No complaints re her job, just the inaccessibility and again not very customer friendly. We had to call room service for ice. Almost done. 8. Why is it necessary to send folks to the purser's desk to get a copy of their room charges when even hotel rooms (and from past cruises) have a channel on the TV you can go to and get those charges displayed. Never mind. I probably already know the answer. Linking a credit card to a room is one thing and understandable due to the problems onshore but I should have had easy access to what charges were put on my card and to make sure mistakes were fixed and there were indeed mistakes. 9. There were a few other incidents like trying to talk us out of a bottle of sake after we had agreed on their price and the room service menu not showing prices on "everything" that would be charged for like water, etc. and little things like that. Since this is already long, I am going to stop with the final, most egregious two incidents. TWO times we were walked in on, TWICE. The first time was our room steward.my wife was in the room alone napping. She heard a tap-tap on the door, the door opened, and she heard a "hello, hello" and turned and there she was. The second time we were sitting on the balcony watching time and sea pass. , again, when my wife heard, "hello, hello." I turned around and there in the room by the bathroom stood a man. I asked him what he wanted and he told me he was from maintenance. I was shocked he came in like that. After the initially shock wore off I asked if he was going to fix the speaker (he knew nothing about it) and he said "no" he was there to look at the toilet seat that was broken and was turned in. Neither my wife nor I knew what he was talking about. Anyway he said he would replace it "as soon as we get one in supply." Thing is, our seat was not broken to both our visual inspection and to our knowledge it too was never fixed. If there was no seat in stock, why even come at all? This is so very not good. Unless the "make up room" sign is out a room should NOT be entered unless you can be certain the room is vacant. Use your imagination and think if it was a young honeymoon couple!!!.again, on past cruised the stewards knew when we left as there was ALWAYS a steward close by. It was like a genie whether the room was already made up or not, they did something to freshen it up. At the very least a phone call should have been made. When someone is sitting on the balcony they most assuredly cannot hear a tap, tap on the door and can barely hear a hello, hello. To boot, I am deaf in one ear and most seniors do lack hearing to some degree. I know this because my wife is in the healthcare industry and sees it on a day-to-day basis. I am sorry for the length. I truly did not mean for it to be a b..ch session and apologize because it most certainly is but I feel somewhat better now and it is off my chest. Will we cruise Norwegian again? I will not say never because I do believe in second chances (turn the other cheek). I just hope the whole industry (including NCL) has not adopted the "show me the money" doctrine and the "attitude" towards the general population that we felt on this cruise when we were on board. I truly hope this was an aberration. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Three friends and I have just returned from the Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Bahamas from December 31st 2011 to January 6th, 2012. First off, the good news: 1. The Norwegian Jewel is a very comfortable, easy ship to navigate ... Read More
Three friends and I have just returned from the Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Bahamas from December 31st 2011 to January 6th, 2012. First off, the good news: 1. The Norwegian Jewel is a very comfortable, easy ship to navigate around in. It didn't take long to find your way around and the deck levels are situated nicely. There are plenty of places to find food, comfort and excitement. But watch out that the Mongolian Hot Pot and Bar City do not have any signs on the ship to let you know where they are actually located. 2. The staff is incredibly friendly (especially the bar staff) and the food is quite good. The famous "washy-washy, happy-happy" girls always brighten up even the dreariest of days. And that's good, because the weather was terrible for this trip. But, I don't hold the cruise ship accountable for that. There was plenty to do on-board since the sun decided not to shine and we did not get to dock at Great Stirrup Cay, since the waters were so rough. But, the staff made it nice to be on the ship. The best servers were at Bar City and the Star Bar. And Spinnaker Lounge had great entertainment BEHIND the bar! 3. The food was excellent. I have read some reviews here that the food was bad, but I just don't agree. The food was better than on Carnival. So what if you have to pay an extra ten dollars to eat Chinese at the Chin Chin? It's well worth the "all you can eat" that is included. The free buffet had an excellent diversity of good quality, hot and fresh offerings, which changed daily. Breakfast was pretty much the same every day, but still very good and diverse. 4. The entertainment was outstanding at the Stardust theater. The Jewel dancers were quite good and the singers had possibly the best vocal talents of any cruise ships I have been on. Duo Elegia was OUTSTANDING!!! They are an acrobatic act that just blew us all away! They should be performing in Vegas! And although the cruise director "Dan the Man" was very annoying, we have to give him credit for booking such great talent. We loved "The Fountain" show. Very funny. 5. The staterooms are great. The beds are the most comfortable beds we've slept on in a cruise ship. The stewards take great care of you. Now the bad: 1. Beware of roving gangs of drunken, under-age teens once the sun goes down. I have no idea where security was, but we saw the same group of six under-age teenagers totally wasted throughout the entire cruise. They were obnoxious, rude and downright hostile. They were bribing other (naive) guest with cash to buy them drinks, putting the bill on the (naive) stranger's stateroom card! They would get discovered in one bar and then they would just go to another and do the same thing. They mostly went up to young girls and told them that they had "lost their card." We thought that by the end of the cruise they would be caught, but on the final night, they were in the Spinnaker Lounge already drunk and yelling out obscenities at everyone. Nothing was ever done about it, even though we had mentioned it to the staff. 2. Everything seemed to be about getting more money out of you. We all went to Bingo one day and during the entire game, all the "caller" did was market to us about how to spend more money. We just wanted to play a nice, relaxing game of Bingo, but we just kept being inundated with "Buy these game tickets!" and "Make sure you go and buy things in our duty-free shop!" and "Remember the artwork auction downstairs!" Everything was being marketed ALL THE TIME. It was annoying! In addition, watch out for false advertisements. They lure you in with statements like "Play Bingo for only ten dollars and get a chance to win our jackpot of over $7,000!" But, when you get there, you only get one card for ten dollars and they try to sell you additional cards for a lot more money. 3. Beware of the Bahama excursions. We booked the "Sea and See" excursion and it was pretty bad. The boat they put us on was an old, rickety, oily thing. We were told that we could not sit on the back seat (it was falling apart!). The tour guide had no microphone, so he screamed at us through the entire tour. The people in the front got spat upon and the people in the back couldn't hear a thing. We met a couple that had rented scooters and toured the entire island by themselves and they said they had a great time (although Norwegian specifically discourages this, since they make no money from that). 4. If you want to enjoy the buffet at the Garden Cafe, make sure to get there very early or very late. Any time in-between and you will not be able to find a seat to eat. There are just not enough tables to accommodate all of guests. All in all, the cruise was enjoyable, but I am not sure that I would travel with them again. I'll have to try out some more cruise lines to see how they compare. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My ... Read More
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My family and I just came off a 7 day cruise aboard the NCL Jewel. We were apprehensive to try the freestyle cruising because we traditional enjoy the same servers at dinner, but tried this one because we heard mixed reviews and the price was right. After taking this cruise, I do not know how NCL is still in business. The crews from the front desk staff to the servers throughout the ship were extremely rude and had the "I do not care" attitude. This is attributed to the fact that $12 per person per day is automatically charged to your account and there is no accountability for their service because they will not serve you every night. The ship is narrow and does not handle well in 4-7 foot swells. The ship rocked from the Verrazano's Bridge and kept rocking for 7 days. The constant rocking was so bad, people were throwing up and the pools were closed on the warmest days. If you choose this ship, bring your wallets. The price may be less for the cruise, but you will spend money on specialty restaurants because the food in the dining room and buffet are horrible. NCL nickel and dimes you for everything from meeting SpongeBob for breakfast, to sushi, to cake in the main atrium, to eating decent food. In addition, be prepared for only 2 ports of call because the private island is typically canceled due to weather and the ship generates revenue as people fight for deck chairs, purchase high prices drinks and play $50 bingo. Lastly, since we ate in the specialty restaurants every night, paid extra and tipped those servers so we removed the tips from our account (we did tip the cabin steward cash). When we made this request to the front desk, we were given much resistance as they asked us why... said it was not possible... said it was for everyone on the ship... etc; however, please know gratuity is for services well performed and are NOT Mandatory. If you wish to have your tips removed... stand strong and you can have the tips removes. The total for tips for a family of 4 was $336 in addition to the specialty restaurant fees. In short, go on Carnivals newer ships, Princess or RCCL.... It will be worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else ... Read More
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else considering the low price for a holiday sailing was a bonus. The ports of call are not the most exciting option available in the cruise industry but it sure is if you want to ride space mountain at Disney, see the NASA space shuttles, or just go to Nassau, Bahamas! Both of us have sailed NCL in the past and both have sailed other cruise lines as well. The last time we were on the Jewel together was Thanksgiving 2006. If you are new to NCL, or have sailed on other cruise lines in the past, be sure to understand the freestyle concept. Plenty of information exists on NCL's website that includes information about the ship booked, how to sign up for excursions, how the freestyle dining and how the freestyle dress code works, the spa offerings while onboard, activities for the children, links to pre boarding information, the 12 dollar service charge per person per day, and how to print documents and cruise ticket online. We knew all this but I often read reviews where others do not and then get frustrated about it. Our balcony guarantee, booked five weeks prior to sailing, landed us cabin 10162 located at the far aft starboard side of deck 10. Cecilio, our steward, was efficient, friendly, and always took a few moments to say hello and to ask how we are doing. Since we were on the end, our balcony appeared to be about 1 to 2 feet longer than the standard. The extra space had a protected enclosed area and the rest open. A very quiet area onboard, we hardly heard any noise out in the hallway. I was thankful to not hear the stern wake in the back of ship since I knew it was so close. Many evenings we had the balcony open and only heard the gentle light swish of the starboard wake. Overall, our seas were surprisingly smooth most days and nights. The Jewel class ships have great stabilizers for the times when the ocean waves are more active. Temperatures on this sailing averaged in the 60's to 70's heading down to Florida and the Bahamas and back. Once there, we had weather around 80 degrees. For this particular itinerary and time of year, we had a mixture of dress/casual and a mixture of light/heavy clothing. Thank goodness for freestyle...I sure appreciated the ability to wear yoga pants or jeans and a sweatshirt from morning until bedtime. We did dress up on other nights too. The dress up or not nights on the Jewel are Sunday and Thursday. There are some dining rooms that Do have a dress code so be sure to read your Freestyle Daily to ensure you are not showing up in shorts or jeans to Tsar's Restaurant or Le Bistro French Restaurant. Although there are many dining options that have a fee, we selected the options that did not and were very satisfied. This included the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the main restaurants for dinners. I enjoyed the fresh fruit, the freshly prepared omelets, the chocolate pastries, the eggs benedict, the soups, the salads, the marinated chicken, the fried cod, and the beef ribs. Be sure to check out each food station because they also had Indian food, Asian, pizza, sandwiches/paninis, freshly prepared pastas and sauces, and casseroles all in different areas of the buffet. I have had better desserts on other cruise lines yet I somehow always managed to find the bread pudding and vanilla sauce every day...! If the buffet table sections are too noisy or crowded, you can bring your plate into Mama's restaurant during breakfast and lunch. If the crowd in the Garden Cafe scares you, then another smaller buffet area is set up in the Great Outdoors Aft from which you can enjoy your meal alfresco. The dining room for breakfast and lunch is always an option too but we only ate there at night. For six dinners, we ate in either Tzars or Azura, the two main restaurants. We found a variety of choices and it took a while to notice the menus are not the same for both. Both restaurants have the left side of menu that changes every night. Although the right side of the menu remains the same each night, they are not the same for both restaurants. This was a pleasant discovery. Since we were not eating meats or pastas for dinners most nights, we enjoyed perch, salmon, mahi mahi, and Caribbean lobster tail. Ask your server what the Chef's regional specialty is each evening. Try at least one specialty restaurant. We ate at Le Bistro the last evening and enjoyed the French onion soup, escargot and the beef tenderloin. On any NCL ship, always attend the cruise critic meet and greet if one is set up on your roll call. They make the most effort out of all the cruise lines I have sailed (Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America) to have as many officers available to meet you and to answer your questions. At our cruise critic meet and greet a question asked of the officers was whether or not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be served on this sailing. Hugo Vanosmael, the Hotel Director, answered a special delivery of turkeys had been ordered and a special menu created in the dining rooms for that particular evening. The Thanksgiving dinner was better than I expected. Kudos go out to the executive chef and the to all the chefs who helped prepare it. As two middle aged females traveling without our hubbies and without children, we certainly enjoyed the entertainment available for all age groups! The entertainment on board varied. We often danced off our caloric intake from the early portions of our days into the hours after midnight in Spinnaker's Lounge. During the earlier evenings, we were fortunate not to miss Cirque Bijoux, Fire and Ice's performance in the atrium, Dancing With the Jewel Stars, and the White Hot Party. Even earlier hours than that, we were fortunate to not miss Magician Jean Pierre's presentation to the kids onboard, the 10 dollar Bingo session, the crew talent show, Nickleodeon's Slime Time Live, and the Captain/Chief Engineer/Hotel Director's question and answer session. The Jewel's ports of call occurred on three consecutive days. The only "shuttle" we selected in Port Canaveral was a round trip bus ride to Cocoa Beach. We walked the beach about a mile to a pier and then walked back. Ron Jon Surf Shop is nearby and the bus shuttle runs every ½ hour up until a certain time. Check out Florida weather before you go as sometimes it can be cooler than you think during the winter months. A short tender ride to the private island, Great Stirrup Cay, one can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, a giant inflatable water slide, walking trails, parasailing, kayaks, wave runners, and what appeared to be a future zip line set up. A beach barbecue is prepared and the ship's band plays nearby. The cruise staff hosts volleyball and dance activities but if you want more solitude, a short walk further down the beach area can provide more quiet. Plenty of beach chairs are now available, hammocks, new bar areas, a restaurant building, and more outdoor picnic areas are also more convenient to the passenger experience. Bathroom are also conveniently nearby. Do not go barefoot if you plan to explore the island beyond the beach area. Construction is still going on and we were glad to have sturdy flip flops and sneakers on our feet as we walked to the other side of island. Most activity on the island occurs in the late morning to early afternoon. The more quiet time (hence less crowded) is from 2pm until the last tender back to the ship. In Nassau, we got off the ship to walk around on land for an hour. The straw market is getting upgraded and lots of interesting souvenirs are available for purchase. Do not be overwhelmed by the offers of tours and people approaching you at the pier. A simple no thank you and keep walking will suffice if you are not interested. We returned in order to enjoy a quiet day at the Jewel pool area in the sun. Some passengers went to Atlantis, to public beaches, or to hotels that offered day rentals to use the pool/ocean/restaurant areas. Other excursions are available for purchase but if you do some research, you might save more money on your own. Just remember though, the ship leaves without you in case something happens while out on your own and you are not able to get back. All aboard is at 5:30pm and a few solo passengers were very lucky on this sailing to be walking on the gangway by 5:50pm. We spent all other moments onboard relaxing. My friend had a bamboo massage during the first day at sea and reported she enjoyed it very much. On embarkation day go to the spa and they will perform samples of what they offer on you. We joined the spa raffle for the prize giveaways but we forgot to attend the session in the afternoon. I enjoyed the salon onboard and had my hair colored, cut, and styled. My final price was still a better deal than what I pay to have it done in Montreal. Shhhhh, do not tell NCL this! The price was even better when I purchased a future NCL cruise deposit that enabled me to receive an extra 100 dollar onboard credit. David Ward, the onboard Cruise Consultant Manager promotes this very well. He also runs the onboard latitudes desk and gives the talks about cruising NCL. He is extremely knowledgeable about the business, is very friendly, and fun to talk to. At the silver/gold/platinum party he took time to visit with each guest in attendance as did HD Hugo and the Group services coordinator. Anytime we saw Hugo or David or other officers/staff/crew throughout the week they all were very gracious, very professional, and ensuring a great vacation experience for the passengers. A passenger comment made on day 2 at the cruise critic gathering was regarding the entire staff and how the Jewel seemed to be such a happy ship overall. Even the front desk staff in the atrium appeared happy by the end of the week and some of know what they have to put up with sometimes. Any time I asked for a printout of my charges, they were always very accommodating. I do this a few times a week and it is very easy to do when walking by. Know however it can get busy on the last day or evening as everyone else has the same idea! I appreciated the employee who assisted passengers as they waited in line by asking their need ahead of time so he could help direct them. All I needed was to drop off a few thank you letters and he said he would take them and deliver to the appropriate mail box. This saved me time to enjoy the remaining hours of vacation and I was impressed with the overall service. I am very fortunate and very thankful at this point in my life to be able to cruise. A day will come when it will not be this easy. During any holiday week make sure to take time to count your blessings and to appreciate those who help make a vacation special. I am grateful to NCL for consistently providing me with vacations to share with family, friends, with cruise critic members, or to enjoy all by myself. After sailing the Jewel during a busy holiday week, I came home relaxed, rested, rejuvenated, and recuperated. My husband is extremely thankful for that too! 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: October 2011
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my ... Read More
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my teenage son was so small that his legs from the knees down would have been out of bed. Our balcony was surrounded by a wind shield, which reduced the view dramatically. After complaining (as I had checked that we had a proper balcony before we left!) they eventually moved us to an alternative cabin which was much better and was very nice. Generally the staff were very friendly and the food in the Garden Cafe was good, but sadly in the Tsars Palace and Azure restaurants, the menu was the same every night, with just a change to the Chefs Recommended dish. The dishes sometimes had different names, but were exactly the same as on previous nights. The entertainment in the theatre and the dj was poor, with the exception of Crazee Horse, but in the bars the entertainment was much better, with particular praise to Fire and Ice who were excellent, as was Nathaniel and the on board band, ie the Caibbean band and Mondial Magic. They were constantly trying to make money, apparent by the many speciality restaurants (all with a cover charge) We felt it would have been better to have had less specialist restaurants and therefore have more staff in the standard restaurants to improve on the service. Also, the ship overall was clean, with the exception of the toilets, which were always wet and untidy. Have cruised with other companies previously and have to say that the competition is better on the whole. However, for a cheap holiday if you are in the States, its worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
The cruise was very good. Food was excellent as was the choice of eating places. Crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Cabin was adequate although it is a long time since I have seen such an old fashioned television! The shore ... Read More
The cruise was very good. Food was excellent as was the choice of eating places. Crew were extremely friendly and helpful. Cabin was adequate although it is a long time since I have seen such an old fashioned television! The shore excursions were excellent; good range to choose from and very well conducted. What then was wrong? In the cabin, there were no instructions on use of the TV (i.e.channel selection) or of the telephone. No tannoy in the cabin so ships announcements were not received there. Also the wide range of eating places was not well advertised in the cabins; sample menus available in the cabin would have made selection of where to eat so much more relaxed and enjoyable. In the public areas there were few, in fact no places to go to quietly relax with a drink or a coffee. Usually there were only two venues open during the day (unless you wanted to be out on deck). These are the Java Cafe and The Spinnaker Lounge. However these were mostly taken over for activities, demonstrations etc and no place for a quiet sit down with refreshment. The Java Cafe also seemed a particularly strange place for entertainment by small groups or singers perched on a stairway balcony and completely blocking the stairs. Health and safety? Despite this use of these venues we found little to do during the days at sea, far less choice and interest than we have found on previous cruises. Some of the entertainment was good. But an item that the entertainment crew called Fountains was appalling. Despite the emphasis on health and hygiene to the extent of discouraging a friendly handshake, the act involved 7 or 8 crew members spitting out water at one another! Hypocrisy! Another so called comedian seemed to think jokes about illness and injury (including 9/11) were amusing. Very bad taste. It is one thing to make light of a situation in which you find yourself but another completely to generally make jokes about these things. An Irish singer/raconteur, a balancing act and a ventriloquist were each very good so it wasn't all bad. Good in parts therefore and could be so much better if there was more attention to detail and to coordination. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Being my first review I'm a little intimidated. It seems that those who respond to negative reviews often do so by criticizing the author's grammar, sentence structure and overall literacy. I don't claim to be Ernest ... Read More
Being my first review I'm a little intimidated. It seems that those who respond to negative reviews often do so by criticizing the author's grammar, sentence structure and overall literacy. I don't claim to be Ernest Hemmingway, but I think this is supposed to be about the cruise isn't it? We were not expecting a high-end cruise experience, just something similar to what we got on our first cruise with Carnival. Similar price, similar quality, right? Not even close. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate our Carnival experience as an 8.5 and our Norwegian experience as a "zero" at best. I can't think of anything I liked about the NCL experience. It's important to note that I am not considering destinations or any factor that may have been outside NCL's control such as weather etc. The only thing comparable about the two cruises/cruise lines were the cabins. Both were similar in size and layout but dramatically different in cleanliness. The Cabin... When we got our cabin at around 3 PM we noticed that the sheets and pillow cases had (wet) yellow stains on them. We called housekeeping and were told that they would try and replace them today. Strike 1.On the 2nd or 3rd night of the cruise we got an incredibly foul odour coming from the toilet which permeated the entire room and forced us to go out onto the balcony and shut the door. We could also have left altogether but this was just as good an option. When we called the purser/maintenance for assistance they asked if we could just give it a few hours to see if it would go away because it was apparently quite a hassle to get a plumber (or whatever a shipboard equivalent of a plumber is called) to come to the room during the evening. Strike 2. About an hour later the "plumber" showed up but didn't do anything other than confirm that the smell was awful. We went to the evening show and when we returned several hours later the smell was gone. The Crew... I can honestly say that not one of the crew that I can recall was friendly, helpful, or anything more than barely civil. This was the polar opposite of what we experienced on our Carnival cruise where the staff bent over backward to accomodate you at every turn. Apart from our above-listed cabin experiences which didn't result in so much as a "gee, we're sorry your sheets are wet with yellow stains and your cabin smells like an outhouse." I had a purser call me a liar. Not a subtle "maybe you are mistaken" but an outright statememt that what I was telling her was a lie. I won't bore you with all the details behind the conversation but it was a fairly minor thing; however, her calling me a liar made me so angry I actually walked the full length of the ship, twice, to get written proof that what I said was true. Even after I provided her with written proof on NCL letterhead she refused to apologize. The Food I have eaten far better food from a construction site lunch wagon than we got in the dining room on the Jewel. The food was so bad that after the third night we quit going to the dining room and just ate at the buffet. It was equally as bad but at least you didn't have to wait for it. Overall... Our last day was supposed to be a beach day at a private island. It was too windy to anchor and there was nowhere else to go. We sailed back and forth off the Florida coast within sight of Miami most of the time. I almost cried. Not because of the missed beach day but because we were so close to being able to get off and yet had to spend another day onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Being that this was our 23 cruise and 2nd on the Jewel ,we should have known better than to book a 7 day christmas/newyears cruise. We've been on 3 holiday cruises before ,but they were 14 day cruises. What we also didn't know ... Read More
Being that this was our 23 cruise and 2nd on the Jewel ,we should have known better than to book a 7 day christmas/newyears cruise. We've been on 3 holiday cruises before ,but they were 14 day cruises. What we also didn't know was that the Jewel added a Nickelodeon program for kids. My wife and I have nothing against kids ,we have one of our own ,grown.But there was just too many under 18 kids on this ship . Plus the normal passenger load is something like 2300 as advertised in brochure ,their was over 2840,passengers on this cruise, 1200 of them being under age 18. Teenagers hanging out in the halls and elevators to the early morning hours ,not that they were misbehaving or causing trouble ,just to many of them . The cruise ship personnel did there best to please everyone. But it was difficult because of the amount of under 18 year olds. The ship was nice the service was good ,being that we are platinum members we had some nice perks ,we eat mostly in the additional cost restaurants ,which were quite good . Don't think that I'm some old fart that has nothing better to do than complain,that's not the case .I;m a 55 year old biker that knows how to party and have a good time and so does my wife. Overall this was a decent cruise,[just getting away from the N.Y. weather was great] But we prefer longer cruises with less kids. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
First time NLC Cruise, New Years from New York My wife and I have cruised a number of times both on smaller ships ( Windward and Nautica and larger ships Princess and Costa Atlantica). On an impulse we booked on NLC on their ... Read More
First time NLC Cruise, New Years from New York My wife and I have cruised a number of times both on smaller ships ( Windward and Nautica and larger ships Princess and Costa Atlantica). On an impulse we booked on NLC on their New Year's cruise out of New York on the NLC Jewel. The sheer luxury of going from home to a ship without first flying somewhere is a major pro. The boarding process was flawless. Bravo NLC. They surely show other lines how to do it! All around there is a sense of great thought in the decor of the rooms and restaurants. IMHO without much inspiration. A few touches would have made a big difference. The Staff is extremely pleasant, helpful, and truly sweet. We had the pleasure of the service of a butler whose services we appreciated more and more as the week went on. Once I got past feeling I was being a jack-ass ( butler? Ha!) and asked politely for what I needed he was always helpful and delighted to make our stay as luxurious as we could imagine. The specialty restaurants were generally vey good. Cagney's a "prohibition" style steak house , was quite adequate . Chin- Chin, Asian fusion, in my wife and my opinion the best of the lot, food wise. Tappanyaki , a Asian fare we cooks that perform for the kids, quite good. The buffet seemed ample, though crowded and had a sense of a cafeteria at high school. Too much going on, so we avoided it, the food though, looked adequate. We saw only one "big" show with a comedian and a Magician/comic. The comedian was not very funny. The Magician was very good. The rooms very tiny. We had a penthouse suite, which was OK but not a suite, just a large room. I peeked into our neighbors rooms and they were really bearly adequate. If you put more than 3 people in a room , it is really tight. As this cruise was during vacation time for the kids there were many on the ship. Much of the time it was no problem at all , and rather charming. To hear a child have a temper tantrum at the next table through dinner is no geat pleasure , and some of the charm of their presence surely is lost. If you are contemplating bringing the kids, they seem to be having a ball! by and large and there were activities for them, throughout the day. We were very grateful to have a place to retreat too. It certainly would have been more difficult for us , if we had not had the privilege of having breakfast and lunch at Cagney's which , from our perspective was worth the added expense. Leaving the ship was not quite as flawless , not NLC's fault security and immigration has to cooperate and they do, but only a little. One has the sense on boarding that one is there to be pitched. beer, drinks, raffles, art, diamonds, precious jewels , specialty restaurants, expensive shore excursions, future cruises , massages, spa packages , they are all paraded before you. Though the passenger is never pressured to buy , I found the constant pitching off putting. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Our main reason for this cruise was sailing into Maritime Canada and seeing Prince Edward Island for the first time. Many years ago, I was a stewardess with T.C.A. (Air Canada) and never did see the downtown areas of Halifax, Sydney and ... Read More
Our main reason for this cruise was sailing into Maritime Canada and seeing Prince Edward Island for the first time. Many years ago, I was a stewardess with T.C.A. (Air Canada) and never did see the downtown areas of Halifax, Sydney and St. John, so this was of particular interest to me and did not disappoint. The countryside all around those ports is worth exploring as much as you can, and we did it mostly with the ship's excursions. After boarding, we had lunch in Tsars before getting into our cabin. Soups were particularly good on this cruise. In fact, the food was really quite good, as was the service. Fish was served moist and tasty, never dry. We did Mama Mia's one night and enjoyed the setting and food. Our cabin was promptly made up each day by Ronald and Leonard. Pity any fat person trying to rise from the potty as the space was tight. Our cabin was badly in need of better lighting, especially the tiny reading light by the bed. I noticed that the inside cabins had lovely big lights by the bed. I had to use my little mag-lite to find the numbers on the phone. The beds were quite comfortable however. First port was Newport which we did enjoy, and found a tour on our own at the visitors center. When you get off the ship, turn left down the first street and you will find this informative place. We went around the town and saw many of the mansions without touring inside, and saw everything we needed for $25.00 each, by mini van. Boston: We were quite familiar with this town, so just wandered around the Quincy Market. St.John: Again, we just wandered aroung this cute little town and enjoyed walking through the indoor market. Halifax: We took the ship's excursion to Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. This was quite lovely, with rolling countryside and colourful houses. We had lobster sandwiches for lunch. Mahone Bay had a pumpkin festival where there was a competition for gayly decorated scarecrows. The town had those really fun characters displayed all over the town. Sydney: We took the Heart of the Island tour which gave us a good taste of the pretty countryside and Scottish heritage. The Iona village was most enjoyable with tea and oatcakes after viewing the early settler's dwellings and farms. Prince Edward: Unfortunately, the morning was a bit wet, but not cold as we drove to the north shore and saw the red cliffs at the National Park. There was a stop at the Anne of Green Gables House which was most enjoyable. The sun came out for our lunch at the P.E.I. Preserves Company which overlooked the Clyde River in the area known as New Glasgow. Our host Bruce Macaughton greeted us in his kilt and served up a great lunch of lobster and the best raspberry cream pie I have ever tasted. The weather got a bit blustry sailing out the harbour and the ship was rocking a bit that night. One of the passengers had to be lifted by helicopter to Halifax, but we heard later that he was doing well. We found the staff and service very good on the cruise. John O'Hara is the Hotel Director and is a delightful and approachable man should you have a problem. The entertainment was quite enjoyable and highlighted by those amazing gymnists. I wish NCL would go back to the mini broadway musicals which were really the best. The NCL Jewell is a lovely ship altogether and we enjoyed the cruise, especially the sail out of New York, past the Statue of Liberty in the clearing weather. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Not a 1st time cruise, but as we'd only cruised the Maldive Atolls before, it was 1st time on a ship this scale/size.This cruise was picked due to embarkation port & duration. We flew UK to Newark the day before we were due to ... Read More
Not a 1st time cruise, but as we'd only cruised the Maldive Atolls before, it was 1st time on a ship this scale/size.This cruise was picked due to embarkation port & duration. We flew UK to Newark the day before we were due to sail (unfortunately storms in NYC prevented us landing in the city till 4+ hours later than scheduled so couldn't do planned sight seeing that day). Sunday had a few hours of sight seeing then headed to pier. Dumped cases at port and joined the queues to collected key card etc. All very organised & straightforward process. Boarded ship & found it a bit chaotic as many people (like ourselves) seemed to congregate in the same area on board. After a drink ventured around to try to get our bearings. Had 1st meal in the Garden Cafe. Buffet style and lovely. Fail to see how anyone couldn't find something to suit as the choice was so vast. Then went to see stateroom. We weren't disappointed as we'd expected it to be tiny and although very compact - we did have enough storage space for everything. Not sure I'd have been too keen to have a room without a balcony right enough.Sailing out of New York was enjoyable. Great seeing the Manhatton skyline, Statue of Liberty etc.Then got unpacked and explored a bit more. After dinner it was off to bed for us as the 26+ hours spent up the previous day, caught up on us!1st full day sailing was cold & windy but from the Tues onwards - weather was great. Right up till the last day (which was an unexpected pleasure as we'd expected another cold day at the end)!At Florida we did the Cocoa Beach trip. Bit of a disappointment to be honest - it was just a beach same as any other! Not sure what I expected.Great Stirrup Cay was gorgeous. Didn't know to take cash tho so couldn't make any purchases from the Straw Market. Fortunately all the drinks are chargeable to your room and they have a buffet on the island to cater for lunch I'd recommend getting there early to get a sunbed etc.Nassau was fun - well for me anyway cos I like shopping - not sure my husband would agree! ;-) Spent a few hours doing that then back to the ship.Food in general was really good. No need, in my opinion to eat anywhere that charges as the food was good enough elsewhere. However, we did eat at Le Bistro as part of the anniversary package and I can't fault it - the food was excellent. Best steak we'd had! Loved it.Didn't do all the shows or activities as our aim was to have a laid back relaxing time. But from what we did see, recommend the comedian (Rod Long, I think was the name), JP the magician/comedian and Le Cirque Bijou.As we'd left the kids behind we were concerned that we'd be overrun by them - but this wasn't the case. We didn't lie around the pool deck & yes they were in the restaurants etc. but can't say we were bothered by them.Disembarkation was an easy process too. Would recommend, if you're able, doing the walk off with your cases. We didn't do this but probably could have. That said we were still of quicker than anticipated.All in all we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. Can't compare to any of the other cruise lines but would definitely consider NCL for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We were treated royally from the first moment we arrived at the dock onward. Embarkation was seamless and easy. Our suite was absolutely wonderful, and our steward & butler were fantastic. The food was terrific for the most part ... Read More
We were treated royally from the first moment we arrived at the dock onward. Embarkation was seamless and easy. Our suite was absolutely wonderful, and our steward & butler were fantastic. The food was terrific for the most part -- we ate at the French and Italian speciality restaurants, which were excellent. The only negative was the weather, which NCL had no control over. I wasn't overly impressed with the private island, but just came back on board early. NCL is absolutely my favorite cruise line -- I love the Freestyle Cruising -- I can decide from night to night if I want to eat early and see a show, or take more time on shore and eat later. This was my 4th cruise with NCL, and am planning my 5th next month. The staff is wonderful, as is the spa & fitness programs. 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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