64 Norwegian Jewel Senior Cruise Reviews

This was my first trip on a Norwegian ship (NJ). Previously, I have cruised on Royal Caribbean ships (RC). So, I will make some comparisons. Contrary to reviews I had seen here previously, the NJ was in good shape, clean, colorful and ... Read More
This was my first trip on a Norwegian ship (NJ). Previously, I have cruised on Royal Caribbean ships (RC). So, I will make some comparisons. Contrary to reviews I had seen here previously, the NJ was in good shape, clean, colorful and refurbished, with a welcoming crew. The NJ passengers are a much broader age group than the RC ships overall and had fewer scooters. Unlike RC in Galveston, departure and return were very smooth from Bayport Terminal and occurred on Deck 7. Shore excursions used Deck 4, easily accessed as compared to RC which often requires the use of interior stairways. Tendering to Trujillo on the lifeboats was exciting, especially the return journey which occurred in heavy tropical rain and rough waves due to the swollen river currents meeting the incoming sea currents. However, the pilots of these tenders did an outstanding job for long hours. I enjoyed the historical tour of Trujillo and the shopping area at the dock. I had been to Belize and Cozumel previously. The overall layout of the NJ was quite different from the RC ships and I prefer the RC layout. NJ hallways in cabin areas were more narrow and the cabins are smaller overall. Dining rooms are all over the ship and the major shopping area is at one end of Deck 7. There are plenty of elevators (3 sets, forward/mid/aft) but some of them only go to certain floors. The very rear area of the buffet facility (the Garden Room) on Deck 12 is outdoors, largely covered, has good seating and a smaller food service area which made it my favorite place on the ship for relaxing, people watching, and reading. Unfortunately, the very windy weather often hindered the use of Deck 7, but you could walk around the entire ship on that deck. There do not seem to be as many deck chairs on the NJ as on RC. I prefer the RC pool deck facilities and the RC miniature golf. The meals on NJ were adequate, better in the dining rooms than in the buffet, but the meals on RC are much superior with a more formal service from the waiters which I enjoy (and can still wear rather casual clothes). My friend and I never had a problem getting a table in the NJ dining room anytime we walked up (and at varying times each night). I think the NJ entertainment was better scheduled and higher quality overall than what I have seen on RC. The magician and the comedian on the NJ were interesting and there was a very good aerial performance, as well as good singers in various club areas. Guest services is on Deck 7 and in a bad location as lines of customers and photography sets and club patrons and people just walking thru all compete for floor area near that desk area. Additionally, beware if you have one name (usually determined by the government) on your passport and a somewhat different name on your credit card (usually determined by you and used by your bank). Although NJ takes your credit card info when you book, giving it plenty of time to check your credit (and names), it may send a letter to your room, once you have sailed, telling you that you must pay in cash. You will have to dispute this and listen to the guest services worker tell you that "booking" and the "financial" departments do not share info about you, which I find absolutely ridiculous. Certainly, I had no intention of having to "stand in a long line" at the guest services desk to clear this up and there should have been no need for it. Good think I did carry a credit card with at least part of my name the same as on the passport. NJ insists your passport name and your banking name must be the same, something I have never heard from two other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My wife and I just returned from the first Norwegian cruise out of Houston. It was a 7 night R/T Western Caribbean cruise visiting Cozumel, Belize and the "Banana Coast" in Honduras. This was our third cruise with Norwegian and ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the first Norwegian cruise out of Houston. It was a 7 night R/T Western Caribbean cruise visiting Cozumel, Belize and the "Banana Coast" in Honduras. This was our third cruise with Norwegian and our 11th cruise overall. The ship was nice but could use some updating in the public areas. Our cabin was very nice and I especially liked the layout of the bathroom with a real shower door and a real private commode area. The crew on this ship, like the other Norwegian cruises we have been on, was outstanding. The only issue we saw was that the dining rooms seemed to be understaffed thus the service was slow. The food was about average for this category of cruise ship. The entertainment was probably the best we have ever seen on a cruise ship. The embarkation and disembarkation were easy and fairly fast. Parking was $80.00 far the week which I consider to be a little steep. The ports of call were Cozumel, my favorite on this itinerary, Belize with crystal clear waters for snorkeling but you have to tender there and the "Banana Coast" in Trujillo Honduras which you also have to tender to get too. This was the first ever visit to this location by a cruise ship and it showed. They simply aren't ready for prime time and probably won't be for years. Very little shopping or anything else to do there. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I have been taking cruise vacations for over twenty years and have come to the conclusion that there is no all-in-one perfect cruise, but you can save money and get more of what you are looking for with some forethought and research. This ... Read More
I have been taking cruise vacations for over twenty years and have come to the conclusion that there is no all-in-one perfect cruise, but you can save money and get more of what you are looking for with some forethought and research. This was our second Alaskan cruise and this time we were taking two of our grandchildren. We had taken a Disney cruise in January, and picked Norwegian because of their contract with Nicholodian thinking there would be more appeal for our 7 and9 year old grandsons. Overall this was a good choice, but don't go expecting Sponge Bob and Patrick to be ever present like the a Disney characters. This is still a cruise that caters to adults. The five star parts of this trip were the entertainers, shows, overall cleanliness of the ship, and easily the most attentive cabin steward that we have ever had. Somewhat disappointing was the age and decor in need of updating, and the food while tasty was not up to the usual gourmet cruise ship standards. The cabins are small partly because the bathroom are larger than on most ships with a tub shower combination instead of the usual micro shower. Beds were comfortable. Although smoking was restricted to the casino and balconies, my wife was upset by the noticeable smoke odors in many areas of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We joined a group of 42 others on this cruise. We travelled to NYC by tour bus, and were directed to a parking space outside the Terminal. Our luggage was removed from under the bus, and we were informed that the charge/tip would be $2 a ... Read More
We joined a group of 42 others on this cruise. We travelled to NYC by tour bus, and were directed to a parking space outside the Terminal. Our luggage was removed from under the bus, and we were informed that the charge/tip would be $2 a person. Not a bad price, and the luggage was next seen in our cabins. As latitudes members, my husband and I were ushered into the "special" line for check-in. There were so many repeat cruisers, that as we shuffled along in the long line,we watched first-timers whiz right past us, through check in, and on board! We had lunch in the buffet, and then went to our cabin. It was always neat and clean, and the stewardess was friendly and helpful. Except, that she was not pleased when we carried glasses from our cabin anywhere else on the ship. In fact, she wouldn't replace them! We ended up bringing glasses from the dining room for our own use! Since they are no longer provided automatically, we requested bar soap, lotion and robes, and got them all. We used several excursions, and they were all what we expected. We also organized a boat excursion in St. Lucia on our own for eight, and decided that was our BEST day of the trip!! Others in our group took tours, and some just picked up taxis, etc. in ports...everyone was happy with their choices. Meals....well, things sure aren't what they used to be! I agree with other reviews in that the buffet food did look like cafeteria fare. My favorites were the pretzel rolls and the ice cream. The food area is quite large, and I find that by the time I make my choices, fill my plate, and get to a table, my food is cold. No beverage service was provided at the tables, and no lemonade was available as on other NCL ships. We ate in the Blue Lagoon many times and preferred it because the choices were good, and the service was quick and efficient. The dining room...we ate mostly in the TSAR...varied. We had a couple wonderful, entertaining, waiters, and then we had one waitress who was just rude and unhelpful. Unfortunately, we had her on the surf and turf night! When additional lobsters were requested, she brought them, plunked them down and ignored us the rest of the meal. No melted butter was served with any of the lobster. We asked for more water (our glasses were all empty), and finally got another waiter to bring it. Same thing with bread. Three of us had ordered dessert before the meal. We got ours, but no one took the others' orders. Two of them eventually ordered dessert, but the third person was skipped. And, regarding the lobster, what is the policy on "seconds". Since we had contact with so many people in our group, we compared stories. Some had several lobsters, some were told they could only have one, some others requested to see the Manager, and he told them only one. There needs to be a set policy!! We had one bad experience for breakfast in the Tsar too, but it might have been because we joined another couple who had already ordered. I think we confused the waiter, and had to wait forever for our order...when the eggs benedict arrived, they were hard-boiled. Since we had waited over 30 minutes for them, I was reluctant to send them back, but the waiter RAN and got another plate...which was perfect!Other observations...the gym was very nice,I would like the casino better if there was no smoking, but don't spend much time there anyway. The ship was neat and clean, except for our balcony which had trash in the "gutter" the entire trip. We also prefer the balcony "no smoking" policy of other cruise lines. The cabin storage is more than adequate, but those TV's have got to go!! The beds are extremely comfortable! One comment heard often was that the ship is noisy...there are very few "quiet" places to go to read, etc. The music in the dining room was so loud, you had to scream at your table mates. We did enjoy the dinner with a staff member...very informative. We also enjoyed the entertainment...some of the best we've seen. The disembarkation. Because we were a large group, NCL provided a staff member to explain things two days before the cruise ended. She gave out the colored luggage slips so that we'd all be together. She explained that those needing assistance would meet in another area and we would all be re-joined in the customs area. Sounds good; didn't work! Because of the storm "Sandy" damage, some things are not working as usual in the Terminal. Our departure was over an hour late, we had to stand outside in the freezing cold, and the luggage claim area was a zoo! Because the Gem was also disembarking, it was very crowded and everyone was told to "keep moving". We tried to keep our people together, but some were outside the terminal, some were at the bus bay, and others were inside!! Eventually everyone was located, but only because someone in our group knew a Terminal Employee and asked her to help out. All in all, it was nice to get away from the cold, and we enjoyed the group of people we were with. NCL is not our first choice of cruise lines, but it is handy in NYC. We plan to try the Breakaway when it's available, and have put a deposit down on it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My wife and I just returned from the Norwegian Jewel's May 26-June 2 Alaska trip. While we were not bowled over by excellence, we thought the ship, crew, entertainment and food were all at least pretty good. THE SHIP was somewhere ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the Norwegian Jewel's May 26-June 2 Alaska trip. While we were not bowled over by excellence, we thought the ship, crew, entertainment and food were all at least pretty good. THE SHIP was somewhere in between the gaudiness of some Carnivals and the opulence that (I assume) the high-priced lines offer. All in all, an enjoyable place to spend a week. It's laid out in easy-to-follow fashion and seems to have about the right amount of space for everything. The casino's smokiness was noticable, but well contained. One complaint I had was the seating in the main theater, which I found awfully tight. Kind of like flying coach. I also thought it was unfortunate the giant windows in the up-front Spinnaker Lounge were difficult to see through because of trapped moisture and/or insufficient cleaning. A real missed opportunity for a dynamite view. THE CREW was quite good, as it seems they usually are on cruises. They're human, so there's always a couple who seem preoccupied or who forget something, but nobody's perfect -- even me, my wife says. THE ENTERTAINMENT was something we really enjoyed. We live in a rural area and don't have a lot of chances to see live entertainment, so this is one of the things we especially enjoy when we go on cruises. The showy song-and-dance nights were fun, and we also enjoyed Jean Pierre, the magician, and Brenda Kaye, the hypnotist. They both did demos and Q and A's around ship during the day as well as nighttime shows. But the big hit, especially for my wife, was Fire and Ice, a duo that played soul-Motown stuff almost every night somewhere. The female singer, with male instrumentalist, did tributes to Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Tina Turner. The singer is all energy and really into her music. THE FOOD was mostly good, but there were a few flaws here. We never felt like spending extra money for the specialty restaurants, so I'll limit my discussion to the complementary chow. We thought the buffet was pretty decent for what it is. Perfectly good breakfast or lunch with lots of choices when you don't want to take time for a dining room meal. We never ate there at dinner, though. We ate more meals in the main dining rooms than anywhere else: several breakfasts and lunches and all our dinners. They were slow on a couple of occasions, but we had generally good service there. A couple of dishes missed the mark (a lukewarm soup, biscuits and gravy with hard biscuits and tasteless gravy). Most of the offerings were quite good though, especially the fish dishes. Had good salmon several times. Our only real disappointment on the food front was the Blue Lagoon, the supposed "comfort food" stop that's open 24 hours. They messed up my wife's order both times we ate there, and some of the servers seemed like they were there because they hadn't earned their trip to the big leagues or had been demoted for more seasoning. DRINKS are priced so high, I actually think they'd make more money if they reduced the prices. Maybe some people don't mind paying $9 for a glass of pretty ordinary wine, but I think about how I could buy a whole bottle of the same wine for that back home. They want more than $8 (with the auto-gratuity) for one of those microscopic gin bottles in the mini-fridge? They can keep it. GETTING ON AND OFF could hardly have been faster or easier. About 35 minutes from getting off the shuttle to standing on the ship. About 10 minutes from our cabin to the streets of Seattle at the end. All in all, a great week (despite dreary weather). But next cruise we're taking Carnival to see if the food still as good as we remember it from a couple years ago. While most of the Jewel's food was good, there wasn't much that knocked our socks off as Carnival's did last time. And while we enjoyed seeing Alaska, I think we'll go back to what cruising has meant to us in the past: lazing in the sun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We enjoyed the ship, which was large and comfortable. The staff was very friendly and helpful. It may have helped that the ship was only 2/3 full during our cruise, so the staff was not overwhelmed with work. On the last day at sea, I ... Read More
We enjoyed the ship, which was large and comfortable. The staff was very friendly and helpful. It may have helped that the ship was only 2/3 full during our cruise, so the staff was not overwhelmed with work. On the last day at sea, I needed a wheel chair to get from location to location. While the rental of a wheel chair was excessive for one day (the week's charge of about $ 230.00), a staff member appeared promptly when summoned to transport me for free. The food was generally well prepared, with the exception of lobster tail and fish on the first night in the Azure Dining Room. The staff also seemed busier there than in the other restaurants. We liked the Tsar's Palace, which was quieter and nicer with attentive service. However, the menu changed very little from night to night. A highlight was the Big Band Brunch at Le Bistro, where we also had a very nice evening meal of Bouillabaisse. The food was really exceptional in this restaurant. There was a great variety of good food at the Garden Cafe, but this venue was very busy and noisy. However, there were no lines. Whenever a staff member noticed that I had a cane, he/she would offer to help by carrying the food. The barbecue on the pool deck on day 4 yielded some very good ribs. Our room had an obstructed view and was well located near the mid-ship elevators. It seemed roomy with adequate storage space and it was quiet despite the closeness of the elevators. The room was kept neat and clean by our room steward, who also made amusing towel sculptures. Ice packs were provided upon request within a reasonable time. Problems such as a stuck toilet and a flood in the bathroom were attended to quickly. The entertainment in the Stardust Theatre was highly variable. The acrobats and gymnasts were quite good, but the comedian was not all that funny. Announcements and music were much too loud. We did like the piano music and vocals in Bar City and the music during the Big Band Brunch was also pleasant and not overly loud. The Big Band music and accompanying vocals at the Tsar's Palace were too loud. The pool area was pleasant, but there too the music was overly loud. During day 2 and 3 the adult pool was overheated to a temperature of between 82 and 84 F, which made swimming difficult. I also had occasion to sample the services at the Medical Center. There was no wait and the physicians seemed friendly and capable, but the bill for medications did hurt. It was disappointing that we did not get to go on the private island at Great Stirrup Cay on day 4, because of rough seas. Instead we spent much of the day at the pool side. The water in the adult pool was somewhat cooler than on days 2 and 3, which made it better suited for swimming. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We boarded The Jewel, in NYC, Saturday, September 11TH. This was our fourthcruise on NCL. Once on The Norway, twice on the Dawn, and this one, on The Jewel. This was the longest time for us to board the ship. Perhaps due to all the ... Read More
We boarded The Jewel, in NYC, Saturday, September 11TH. This was our fourthcruise on NCL. Once on The Norway, twice on the Dawn, and this one, on The Jewel. This was the longest time for us to board the ship. Perhaps due to all the security for 9/11. We usually are greeted with a small glass of Champagne, and staff members to smile and say hello. Not the case on this cruise. We boarded, walked around, and went to deck 12, to see the pool. The barbecue was not opened yet, but we were able to get some food in the cafeteria. It was OK.Waited for our luggage, until 2:30, then proceeded to out cabin. We had a mini suite with balcony, starboard side mid ship. Just what we wanted. Nice, but small cabin, very narrow. And it was far ffrom clean. Dusty, and full of fingerprints on each wooden piece. We were very surprised to find a lack of ammeneties. Just to prepare you, we had shampoo, shower wash, and that was it! No body lotion, no haircream rinse, nothing! The bath was very cramped, and of course, there was the usual toilet odor. Another cut back to be prepared for----while there is still room service, do not expect much on the list. Snacks for the children, and very little for adults. We always paid a service charge for room deliveries, however, there was a long list of available meals, snacks and drinks. Not any more. We called for cheese and crackers for two, and were told it would cost $35! And drinks are no longer delivered to your cabin. When we complained about the change in room service. there was an apology, and we were told we would receive, daily, cheese and crackers to make up for our inconvenience. We did receive one slice of cheddar cheese, sliced in half, two small chunks of Brie, and two small pieces of Blue cheese, with 5 crackers, and 6 grapes. Each of us were sent this "enormous" gift daily. Lucky us.The included restaurants served mediocre warm, food. We finally went to Le Bistro, which charges an additional $20 per person. With a glass of wine each, the bill was $75! Not acceptable with the amount of money we paid to eat at the restaurants which were included. We just wanted one good meal, and it truly was good!I did complain to the girl who cleaned our room about the dust and fingerprints, but that was never taken care of. I finally cleaned the room myself, along with mirrors, TV screen, etc.We were asked, when we made reservations, if we were celebrating any special occasion. We told NCL we were going to celebrate our Anniversary, There was to be a cake on Wednesday, 9/14, at any restaurant we had booked. We went to Azura that night, no cake. Long short, no cake any night. No big deal, yet it was, after we had been promised the small celebtration.One last thing. This ship always has lot of children (Sponge Bob is there) and we were surprised to find the most shallow pool at a depth of 5' 9". I cannot swim, and there were many children who had to fore go the pool. Not good..We enjoyed the ports where we stopped. That is always handled well by NCL, The cruise was comfortable, and it was a pretty smooth trip. the staff was not overly friendly, but they did smile at times.The shows were wonderful. Hope you get Big Ken as the cruise entertainment director. He was wonderful. See each show, and you will be happy.Will we go back on NCL? Yes. We wish we had been aware of the fact that things have changed, and you get less for the same price you paid on your last cruise. Hope you enjoy your time with NCL. Just ask more questions than we did, and bring your own crackers and cheese. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We arrived at the pier about 11am, got through security and check-in quickly, and, since we had a suite for the first time, were escorted to the VIP lounge to wait for boarding to begin. About 45 minutes later we were escorted by our ... Read More
We arrived at the pier about 11am, got through security and check-in quickly, and, since we had a suite for the first time, were escorted to the VIP lounge to wait for boarding to begin. About 45 minutes later we were escorted by our butler, Juremar, to Cagney's for lunch. Nice start to our vacation and we're already thinking that booking a suite was a good idea. After lunch we went to the shore excursion desk to book a clam shell for Great Stirrup Cay and soon after, they announced the cabins were ready. We had an aft Penthouse on deck 10, plenty of room for the 2 of us with lots of storage. The balcony was quite large and the view was amazing. We enjoyed listening to the sound of the wake, kind of like hearing a waterfall. Very relaxing. We had breakfast most days at Cagney's and every one was delicious. We skipped lunch most days, just not hungry. I did stop by the buffet a couple of times to sample the chilled soups and pretzel rolls though. We only ate in the MDR for dinner 3 nights and the food was good. Not gourmet but good. We had dinner in Chin Chin one night and Le Bistro another night. Both were excellent. We cruise during this time every year to celebrate our anniversary. We hadn't mentioned it to anyone this year though, so imagine our surprise when a cake was delivered to our table after dinner at LeBistro. We also went to the Best of All lunch at Le Bistro, which was held on the 1st sea day. For $15 you get to try the signature dishes from all the specialty restaurants. It was very good and, we felt, worth the price. Of the ports we visited we probably enjoyed the day at Great Stirrup Cay most. We had reserved a clam shell and it wasn't clear where to go when we got off the tender since the information on the ticket for the clam shell wasn't correct. Once we found the location and got settled we really enjoyed the day. There's still construction going on but there have been many improvements since the last time we were there. NCL usually has great entertainment. My only complaint is that the sound in the Stardust is so loud you almost need earplugs. I don't remember it being as bad in previous years. My husband actually had to leave the performance of Cirque Bijou because it was so loud. We loved our first suite experience. The special touches and perks really added to the enjoyment of our vacation and we've booked another aft penthouse for next year. One of the main reasons we keep returning to NCL is the wonderful crew. This was our 6th cruise on NCL and we've always had very positive experiences with all the crew members we've encountered. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
After a cruise we took on the Norwegian Dawn last July (2010), with our two kids, we decided on this cruise with my in-laws and brother-in-law and family. Overall the cruise was a success - great weather, fun excursions, smooth ... Read More
After a cruise we took on the Norwegian Dawn last July (2010), with our two kids, we decided on this cruise with my in-laws and brother-in-law and family. Overall the cruise was a success - great weather, fun excursions, smooth sailing, pretty good shows, good food and great service - with some exceptions noted below. After snorkeling with sharks off Nassau and seeing a few dolphins off the starboard side on the way back to New York, there are only a few things one can complain about. Big disappointments: 1) A colleague who'd been on the Jewel before told me they have a tour of the bridge and upper-class accommodation - free. I was expecting the tour on Sunday after the Cruise Critic meet-and-greet. Instead we were told that there would be a tour on Thursday, but there was a charge to keep the numbers down. Fine, except the charge turned out to be $55 per person. Sounds like they've made the tour a profit center! 2) At Port Canaveral, we had signed up for the Airboat Adventure, which was billed as an opportunity to see alligators and birds. Unfortunately, an airboat is so noisy that it drives the few alligators around underwater and scares birds off. To be fair, you still see a lot of birds - as they fly away. Food: The Garden Cafe serves a great breakfast and a decent lunch. But dinner (when we ate there) seemed to have limited fare and the same dishes over and over. I guess they are steering you to their specialty restaurants, some of which are really good. Except when we attended the Murder Mystery lunch on the last day - the Le Bistro food was below par - no healthy selection, really bad lasagna as a substitute. Other: As returning customers, we were told that our key cards would show our Latitudes numbers and (presumably) would be good for some kind of "benefits" (like a free tour?). When I asked about it, I was told to talk to the cruise consultant, who was actively selling future cruises! Well, needless to say I didn't find out any more about that. Compared to the Dawn, the Jewel had less eating and relaxing space and more profit-making ventures (art and photograph sales). The gym in the Dawn faced forward and could be used promptly from 6 am on - on the Jewel it's been relocated portside over the Deck 11 cabins, so the treadmills can't be used that early. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We left on 1/22 out of N.Y. - getting into and on the ship went smooth. Baggage took an extremely long time arriving at our room. Room was so small - smallest I've ever experienced. By time you cram 4 bags in to the room, you had no ... Read More
We left on 1/22 out of N.Y. - getting into and on the ship went smooth. Baggage took an extremely long time arriving at our room. Room was so small - smallest I've ever experienced. By time you cram 4 bags in to the room, you had no room to turn around. Bed was comfortable, enough pillows. Cabin Steward was friendly but did not go out of their way to please you. On Princess and Royal Car. they seem to go into your room and tidy up every time you leave. Guess we were spoiled. Food in the cafe was ok, if you like eating the same thing day after day and after the 9 day we were ready to go. Dinner in the dining rooms were nice but we surely miss having the same table staff waiting on you, knowing what you like by the end of your cruise. This freestyle cruising for us if for the BIRDS! We did get to sit with different people each nite and enjoyed meeting new people but did not like the fact that the waitstaff do not go out of their way to please you. Hard to find them to get a coffee after dinner! We did splurge and bought the spa package offered, so we could go use it everyday, which we did. The staff there were terrific. I don't feel in order to get a good meal, we should have to pay more to go into one of their speciality restaurants. We did go into the Tequila rest. one evening and it was fantastic, but again expensive. Going out of NY in Jan. was a mistake since it took 2.5 days to get to warm climate to enjoy the pool. The ports were great but our favorite was Tortola and hope to go back for a week. Overall, I would rate this cruise a 6 on a scale of 1-10. I do think with prepaid gratuities, the staff does not go the extra mile to please you in hopes of getting a good tip! Norweigen Wake up!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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 December 2010
This the first time we cruised with NCL and freestyle dining. The experience was mostly positive with only a few exceptions. We were booked on a Nickleodian theme week cruise and there were over 700 children on the ship. We knew going in ... Read More
This the first time we cruised with NCL and freestyle dining. The experience was mostly positive with only a few exceptions. We were booked on a Nickleodian theme week cruise and there were over 700 children on the ship. We knew going in that it was that way but unfortunately many people we spoke to didn't and they were unhappy with the amount of children running wild through the buffet area and pool deck. For the most part the children were well supervised by their parents, as in every situation there were those exceptions who ruined it for the others. The service was exceptional. Every staff member we came in contact with went out of their way to be pleasant. The food was good and the selections varied. We went to a specialty restuarant, Le Bistro, and it was outstanding. There was a $20.00 added on fee per person for the restaurant but it was so worth it. If you aren't fond of crowds and children, stay away from the Garden Buffet and go to the main dining room, Tsars. We had a balcony stateroom and we loved it! This is the first time we had a balcony and it made the cruising experience so much better (for us) than an inside cabin. In the past we didn't want to spend much time in our cabin because it was so small. This time we had wine out on the balcony...very romantic! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our second cruise overall and with NCL. We sailed to Alaska last year in July with a group of 20 others and nearly all of us came back for this cruise. We flew to Miami the day before cruise departure and were among the first to ... Read More
This was our second cruise overall and with NCL. We sailed to Alaska last year in July with a group of 20 others and nearly all of us came back for this cruise. We flew to Miami the day before cruise departure and were among the first to board the ship on the morning of departure. All was handled very efficiently by NCL and we were soon on-board for lunch, though that was confined to the Market Place buffet as all the other restaurants on board were not yet open. A little more waiting till 2pm when our cabins became available. Then at 4pm we cast off. Shipboard, everything went very well throughout the cruise. The staff were pleasant and catered to every need. We ate dinner almost every evening in the Tsar's Palace, served by a great staff matching the behavior of our cabin staff. With a soda pop pass, I found out that the waiter if asked, would bring a Pepsi to the table. Also I occasionally ordered and was served a baked potato in lieu of the main course even when it wasn't on the menu. If you like appetizers on the menu, you can order several instead of the usual dinner courses. I'd like to see availability of soda in the Market Place. The Market Place buffet was better stocked with more variety than on our Alaskan cruise on the Star the previous year. If you want to steal cookies, get them at lunch. Hardly a paper napkin on the ship except at the ice cream dispensor. We stayed in a balcony cabin this time around, having learned how nice they are, and I'd do it again unless price differences between inside and balcony cabins were great. A slight discomfort was in being downwind from smokers in the balcony next to us. The cabin, larger than an inside cabin was well suited to unpack our suitcases and live out of the cabin closet rather than from bags on the floor. The bathroom shower was also just fine. We didn't see very much of the entertainment, but some of the group did and said that it was quite good, especially the ventriloquist. We did go to some of the presentations about ports and shopping which were ok, but I wonder if art, jewelry and diamonds aren't a business plan throwback to the days when only the very rich went on cruises. How could I possibly verify the value of a painting, way out at sea? Also the Dali-Disney art presentation on the Jewel was the same one that was on the Star last year. I guess they still haven't sold those pieces. Bingo cards were in each cabin and we took ours to the bingo presentation that seemed to get way out of hand. Only $80 for this electronic gizmo that contained 97 cards - that's $20 per game, and if there was more than one bingo winner in a game, a little calculation would prove that you couldn't break even very easily. But there was a line up for those bingo machines - poor uneducated folk. In the evening just before bedtime, we went up to the hot pools. They should be open till midnight and open again at 6am; they were closed at 10pm, and didn't open till 8am. One of the group who likes to do this arranged for port tours. We took some shipboard-arranged tours and some arranged separately from NCL. All of them turned out pretty well, including a shipboard arranged Lamanai ruins tour from Belize, and a privately arranged tour from Costa Maya to Kohunlich ruins the next day. The best shopping bargains are at Roatan, though selection is meager. Costa Maya wares were, well Mexican, with sellers always on top of you. You should bargain there. Things for sale in the Bahamas except for shells seemed to be quite flimsy, so we didn't buy much there. Oh, the nicety of a thick tee-shirt. If you want to buy t-shirts on board, wait till the last cruise day when they put them on sale. Since we had a day to burn in Miami before we flew home the next day, we bought a shipboard tour to the Everglades. Good idea. Baggage was handled from the get-go, the tour was excellent, and our bags were put off the tour bus when we got to the Miami airport. Overall, I rate this cruise as very satisfying. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Trip notes:   Landed at Heathrow. Toured airport several times. Once by Hertz bus and several passes in rented car. Rented Ford Mondeo, diesel with manual shift. The usual initial discovery of instrumentation and controls was enhanced ... Read More
Trip notes:   Landed at Heathrow. Toured airport several times. Once by Hertz bus and several passes in rented car. Rented Ford Mondeo, diesel with manual shift. The usual initial discovery of instrumentation and controls was enhanced by being on wrong side of car. Had to have Hertz tell me trick to get into reverse. Drove to Maidstone in mild rain. Barb provided guidance via screams.   Surprisingly we arrived at hotel, but had to wait till noon for room. First room was nice, but not available till 3. Room they gave us was not up to par, noisy end of hall, not updated. I requested that we get first room and kept luggage in 2nd room till 3pm. Rain had stopped but day remained cloudy.   Went to downtown Maidstone. Traffic is a maze. Thank God for roundabouts. Found several sites but did not tour. Returned to hotel to check in. Got recommendations for eating and parking downtown. Returned to town for fish and chips.   Toured Maidstone. It had small core section of "old town" Tried to get into bishops house it is closed to public and now used only for wedding receptions. Toured carriage house, price was right free. Second day was sunny but cool. We went to Cantabury cathedral in AM and Leeds castle In the PM.   Drove to Dover saw ship dock, dropped off luggage dropped off car walked to ship   Embarkation: This was our first NCL experience on the Jewel. waited in queue, was quite crowded. NCL passed out information regarding the prior cruise having a norovirus outbreak so they were busy cleaning the ship. Ship was spic and span when we finally got to our rooms around 1:00 PM. Cabin was nicely appointed bed quite comfy with duvet coverlet. Mini bar in room but you need to pay for everything. Tv included Fox news and EsPN and the BBC, they also had an assortment of movies available. Didn't meet any of the cabin stewards immediately. All the help is very friendly. Liked the idea of the toilet being separated by the sink so two could use the bathroom at once. Actually had a shower door instead of a curtain and that was nice. Room also had hairdryer that actually worked quite well and vanity. Lots of mirrors to check yourself out and room for clothing. Dining: Liked the idea of freestyle dining Tsars Palace (sit down ) was usually average or above on most items. Didn't care much for the garden cafe buffet as it was always crowded and there was no law and order to anything. You always find guests who push and shove and cut in the lines. The first five days of the cruise they had to plate the food because they were afraid of the norovirus or the swine flu scare. The specialty restaurants we didn't try as my husband preferred not to pay for the service charges in the restaurants. There was a good cafe called Blue Lagoon which had comfort foods of home and had the best hot wings. It was a pleasure having lunch there or even breakfast although the menu was limited. The service was usually good in all restaurants. All wait staff were courteous. Shopping: shopping onboard there was always something to occupy my time ...the bijou boutique sold everything for 10.00 and was next to the library...was only open at night. There are some good perfume and liquor duty free buys but other than that you are probably better off shopping in ports. Port of call and excursions: I have to say they saved the best for last as Stockholm was a very pleasant surprise. Although the prices are high the excursion to the Vasa Museum is well worth it. The port does have a hop on hop off bus but this is one port we decided to do with the ship. The sail in and out of the port is the most beautiful with islands of wildlife, small fishing villages and sailboats, quite idyllic and peaceful. Stockholm is a clean and well laid out city. I only wish NCL had stayed a little longer.   WARNING: Russia requires a visa unless you are with a sanctioned tour group meeting certain requirements, i.e., in-country less than 48 hrs. etc. Visa costs $130 plus S&H, so canned tours end up less expensive then doing it on your own. In addition to NCL, there are private tour companies that are sanctioned, but you need to booking advance. St. Petersburg: Since we had been to this city before we knew what we would see again. The ship's tours are quite expensive so we opted to do a private tour on our own after reading cruise critic members recommendations and I am so happy we did that. We booked with Alla Tours and they were wonderful, a small group of 14 together in a Mercedes minibus with an English speaking guide named Valya, (who knew her history). The tour was 300 Dollars per person for two days of full touring and included everything even two lunches one a sitdown and the other a box lunch - a two and one half hour tour of the Hermitage, the St. Catherines Palace, Peter and Paul fortress, the Church of the Spilled Blood, Peterhof gardens and hydrofoil ride back to the city, Yusopav's Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral, of course a shopping stop. Note: vip...book this tour before leaving home. they will send you the required forms for a visa (necessary in Russia), your tour tickets and confirmation. When arriving in Russia, the customs officers will require a passport, copy of passport, your tour documents, landing card (given by ship) and your Russian visa (supplied by Alla or other tour company)...you can print these on your home computer..once you see how much money you save you will be very happy. The guides use a headset system and she has a microphone so you can hear all in the museums and palaces, vip, as they are very crowded especially the Hermitage Museum. A nice touch also was the gift they gave us at the end of the tour. Warnemunde (Berlin port)...we didn't take the Berlin tours, too far away and too much time on trains..Instead we took a train right from the port to Rostock about a 20 minute pleasant train ride. You then get on a tram and it takes you into the middle of the city. Nice outdoor farmers market along with a very helpful Tourist Information office with bathrooms. Nice cobblestoned streets with a lovely Lutheran church (St. Mary's)...try one of the hotdogs or sausages from one of the many vendors..or a nice pretzel. There is an internet cafe on one of the main streets, its in a building with an arcade. Copenhagen: Beautiful city, again we took a bus into the city from the port. About a 20 minute walk I would guess. Very expensive city if you are planning on eating or purchasing souvenirs. We opted for a nice canal ride which lasted about 40 minutes. Watch out for bicycle lanes in the city, don't get in their way or they will call you stupid, as I found out. Tallin, Estonia. What a nice old city very easily walkable from the port, lots of cobblestoned streets, this is where I bought a lot of souvenirs although the prices could have been better. Still cheaper than the other ports. Old town is very accessible, but the Upper town you would be wise to take a bus or taxi as its quite far away. Helsinki, Finland: This is one other port we took a tour. Based on some other comments from cruise critic we decided that we wanted to go to Porvoo, the 2nd oldest city in Finland to see the wooden houses..the second part of the trip was to a horse farm (they raise horses for racing) and the owners let you into their home for homemade cake and coffee. Very laid back and pleasant experience. Unfortunately the drive out there was 40 minutes each way so it took a chunk of time out of the excursion. Helsinki, again you can get the Hop on hop off bus ...if you go downtown the Rock church is a must see, along with the open air market. I visited here about 7 years ago and remember the prices were better then. Entertainment on Board: some of the shows were very good, among the ones I would rate the highest are the comedy show, the Russian violinist and the Cirque De Soleil type of show. We didn't think the magic show was very good but kids do like it. The tricks were not very imaginative. All in all, the entertainment is above average. Bars/Lounges: We didn't utilize these so I cannot comment on them.  Conclusion: My main comments would be that all in all the Norwegian Jewel lived up to my expectations. While lines like Cunard and Princess are probably a step above, Norwegian is a good value for the money spent. I would have no qualms taking another Norwegian cruise line tour...My only big complaint are the four sea days but the itinerary worked well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
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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