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
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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
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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