1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
My brother and I chose this cruise because it traveled through French Polynesia to Australia on an itinerary we liked. We always wanted to see Tahiti and Fiji, and this cruise also included Bora Bora, Moorea, and Raitea in French ... Read More
My brother and I chose this cruise because it traveled through French Polynesia to Australia on an itinerary we liked. We always wanted to see Tahiti and Fiji, and this cruise also included Bora Bora, Moorea, and Raitea in French Polynesia, as well as Samoa, Vanuatu, and 2 islands in New Caledonia as well. There was an itinerary glitch. Apia, Samoa was cancelled due to port construction, but an overnight and extra day was added in Bora Bora. This was an excellent trade off. The staff in all hotel and restaurant positions was universally friendly and helpful. It has always been my experience that NCL staff is top notch when it comes to friendliness. The entertainment was varied and generally very good. I rate only 2 days out of 17 as sub par. Burn The Floor dance shows are very good. Public spaces were better than expected. You didn't feel crowded in any venue. Food and accommodations were as expected. Embarkation was outstanding. Overall, the value and amenities exceeded my expectations, and I am platinum plus on NCL. This was a good cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We went to Alaska on the Jewel. I was so impressed with how well the ship was maintained and kept clean. The staff was so nice and friendly. The officers and crew were awesome. We had the pleasure to meet the Captain several times and ... Read More
We went to Alaska on the Jewel. I was so impressed with how well the ship was maintained and kept clean. The staff was so nice and friendly. The officers and crew were awesome. We had the pleasure to meet the Captain several times and it was obvious he cares about his ship. I enjoyed looking at all the plaques from the ports of call that the Jewel has been to, she's been all over the world. I really enjoyed the cruise into the Endicott Arm and Dawes glacier. It was so peaceful and magical and i appreciated the Captain navigating us through the chunks of ice so quietly and slowly. It was truly magical. I was nervous after i booked this cruise because of the bad reviews about the food being barely edible. But i found that to be the complete opposite. They had such a wide selection of fresh and delicious foods to appeal to everyone! I am a picky eater, i mostly eat whole fresh foods , and the Jewel had everything i needed at the buffet to make delicious meals . A fresh salad bar, low cal dressing options, fresh fruit that was chilled and delicious, yogurt, cereals, lots of lean meat options, cheeses, whole grains, fresh breads, etc. They also had the typical casino style buffet dishes which i never find appetizing and are not edible regardless of where i go. I didn't eat any of those dishes so i can't give a review of them. If someone served themselves a gross looking buffet dish and complains its gross, that's on them. My meals were delicious. I wouldn't expect everyone to find every buffet dish to their liking. I was really happy with the selection of foods, there was something for everyone. We also had a meal at Cagneys, it was a nice meal. And we had a meal at Teppanyaki's and it was just ok, the food is too heavy for me, i prefer lighter meals. At the two free dining rooms, i was able to order salads and an appetizer for my meals and they came fresh and tasted just fine. The entertainment was awesome, there are some wonderfully talented people on this ship, from the choreographers to the set designers to the actors to the musicians. I really enjoyed the shows. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We chose this cruise to travel to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta with our niece and her husband as well as our adult daughter. The Le Cirque Bijou show was the BEST show I have seen on ANY cruise. The comedian and magician shows ... Read More
We chose this cruise to travel to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta with our niece and her husband as well as our adult daughter. The Le Cirque Bijou show was the BEST show I have seen on ANY cruise. The comedian and magician shows are not to be missed. Really great magic and funny comedian who doesn't have to be raunchy to be funny, Desserts and buffets were delicious and service in dining rooms was great. One nice thing about the Jewel is that ALL the staff try to make your cruise experience a wonderful one. The gratutities are mandatory so let them do all they do to help insure your pleasant trip. Love that the ship is kept very clean inside and out. Washy Washy. My drink package was excellent as I never had an issue with anything I asked for and my drinks were not watered down as I had read on other reviews. The captain was everywhere on the ship and accessible to all. Cruise director Iain was also very personable and friendly and funny. Wish we had an overnight in Cabo San Lucas as it would be nice to spend the whole day at the beach or doing activities. Last tender is at 2:30 so you need to start your morning very early to enjoy as much time on land as possible. Other than that, I would definitely go again on this cruise and I know I would have loved it just as much. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was ... Read More
The cruise was a blast! I've never gone on a cruise before, so I figured this was a great way to get my feet wet. The Norwegian Jewel had just been renovated earlier this year, and I was looking forward to the cruise. The cruise was from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, CA with stops in Astoria, OR and San Francisco, CA. The entire cruise was marked with excellent weather. I traveled to Vancouver the day before and got a small hotel room within walking distance of the ship at Ballantyne Pier. The hotel was an older one in a part of Vancouver where you did not want to be out at night, but it was okay as a transit room. The day of the cruise was uncommonly sunny for Vancouver, so I walked to the ship. My first view of the ship was incredible. I was one of the first people to queue up to check in at the pier and had to wait about a half an hour, but the check-in started right on schedule. Security wasn't as onerous as I was anticipating, so check-in went smoothly. The crew of the Jewel were still getting setup for embarkation, so there was not much going on. The Garden Buffet was open and I had some time to kill before my interior stateroom was ready so I went up to get some lunch. The amount of food was incredible, and it was good quality. The staff was attentive but went about their duties unless called for. I probably ate more than I had intended, but after walking about exploring the ship my stateroom was ready. The view of cruising under the Lionsgate Bridge leaving Vancouver was incredible. The next day, our luck with the weather held crossing the Columbia River Bar and the sea was calm. Astoria is an interesting port; I took the Historic Astoria and Fort Clatsop tour that went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum (a great stop if you're interested in history), the Astor Column (not for those afraid of heights) and Fort Clatsop (where the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered over in 1805-1806 until leaving that spring to return to Missouri). The departure from Astoria was just as calm. After Astoria was the first full day at sea. The first somewhat noticeable waves started today, but the Jewel easily kept steady. There was plenty to do, even if all you wanted to do was walk about the ship and see what was going on. The ship's schedule was provided to each cabin the previous evening, so it was easy to mark out what you wanted to do. I participated in the trivia challenges and attended a display of the cooks form the main premium restaurants. That evening was the Formal Evening for those who wanted to dress up. I did so and had an excellent roast beef dinner in the main dining room. We pulled in to San Francisco early in the morning, but there was no fog so the view of the Golden Gate Bridge still lit up at night was incredible, as was the San Francisco waterfront early in the morning. On our way in we passed the fishing vessels that provide the fresh seafood San Francisco is known for. I had spent more money than I had allowed for getting to Vancouver, so I spent the day on board ship. Even being in port there was still plenty to do. I had made a reservation for La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on board, and had the best Chicken Parmesan while the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. A moment to remember, always. The fourth day was spent cruising off the coast of Southern California. I attended an art lecture given by the senior auctioneer who was the head of the art auction later that afternoon. I kept my hands in place and admired the art I liked. The auction house, Park West, gave free prints for attending the auction. The Jewel pulled into Los Angeles in the Port of San Pedro early the next morning. We woke up to find ourselves moored right behind the USS Iowa museum. Very cool. I would have toured the old battleship if I didn't have a reservation for the bus from the pier to LAX that morning. Disembarkation was simple; my bags were waiting for me on the pier, and clearing US Customs took only a few moments. I found my bus and was soon on my way home. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is ... Read More
Introduction and Background: I’m a 31 year old gay male cruiser who booked my first voyage with AquaFest group cruises on the Norwegian Jewel. This sailing was my fifth sailing on the Norwegian Jewel with 43 days at sea on her which is the longest of any ship I’ve sailed on. Other cruise lines I’ve experienced include Princess (5+), Celebrity (5), Royal Caribbean (1) and Carnival (1) with the remainder being on Norwegian ships. Out of all the 27 voyages I’ve taken, 5 have been with Atlantis Events and 1 has been with Pied Piper. My most recent cruise prior to this was the Norwegian Breakaway inaugural Trans-Atlantic in late April 2013. Events are presented and reviewed in chronological order so enjoy! Pre-Cruise Stay NOLA: Comfort Inn & Suites Central Business District A nice hotel appointed with some great amenities like in room refrigerator, microwave and free continental breakfast in the morning. The location wasn’t all too far from the French Quarter and lively Bourbon Street but far enough in the early AM hours to need a cab if you’ve reveled too much. The front desk staff was extremely helpful during our stay. Norwegian Jewel Cruise: 7-Day Western Caribbean DAY 1: Embarkation Embarkation I arrived to the Port of New Orleans just prior to noon with a long check-in line greeting me, even for Platinum Latitudes. The break down for the line was new cruisers or returning cruisers and then a separate line for passengers with disabilities. Unlike Miami where there are different lines for different tiers of Latitudes members, New Orleans mashes all Latitudes levels together. The check-in agent was fast and efficient when we reached her and she got us on our way as fast as she could have. After over a half hour in the terminal we were on the ship. A leisurely embarkation lunch can usually be found in the ship’s main dining room and Tsar’s Palace offered a perfect reprieve from the chaos of the Garden Buffet while waiting for the rooms to be ready. Our lunch was served to us by a nice waitress named Leyda from Colombia who we had the pleasure of having service from in Azura another time later in the cruise. By 1:30PM the staterooms were announced as ready. Stateroom 5570: I’ve been in balcony cabins only on Norwegian Jewel so this was a new experience in an ocean view. Having the beds combined left little space on both sides barely a foot between the bed and wall. The cabin storage was fantastic for two people traveling with several costumes, regular clothing and lots of shoes. The bathroom is a standard layout and all in one compartment with the toilet having a separate door from the sink/mirror area and the shower. The shower head on the Jewel-class ships has two features  rain and steady unlike the new Breakaway class which has rain only. Norwegian Jewel Ship: This was my fifth time on the Jewel and I can say Norwegian Cruise Line does a nice job of keeping the ship in working order. She looks just as good as the first time I set foot on her in 2007 and everything was in working order. Unlike the Dawn class ships which have had their Spinnaker Lounge relocated, the Jewel still has her Spinnakers intact with great panoramic views of where the ship is going on Deck 13 forward. The flow of the ship on Deck 7 and 6 are quite helpful in keeping passengers moving between venues and the passenger to space aspect ratio is nicer on the Jewel so you don’t feel cramped. After going to the room and getting things in order, it was time to meet the people of Aquafest in the meeting rooms on Deck 6 forward by the Stardust Theater. The check-in for the group was quick and painless and I got to meet a lot of the Hosts for our trip while receiving goodies of a free Aquafest sling-pack, a promotional copy of remixes from DJ Michael as well as our wrist bands for the week and our Roatan beach excursion. At the end of the receiving line was Tom Baker who is the President of Aquafest. It was a nice welcome to the group of Aquafest cruises as this was my first experience with them. I sailed with Pied Piper earlier in the year for the first time and so far this experience was much better. It was a quick jaunt back to the room before muster drill held promptly at 3:15PM before going up to the Sky High Bar for a drink and cast-off party. It was here that I saw Katya, Norwegian Jewel’s resident Beverage Manager extraordinaire. This was my third sailing with Katya and when I did a ship visit to the Jewel in October 2012 I had bumped into her again. She’s a great woman who helped me find a substitute vodka when the Jewel ran out of Grey Goose later in the cruise. Katya knows her alcohols and knows how to keep her guests happy. I knew the cruise would be in great hands with her at the helm. She had just returned from her vacation and joined the ship a few hours previous. We watched the Party-Like-A-Norwegian pool side events while waiting for the ship to cast off. When the ship was under way we headed out back to the Great Outdoors to watch the ship sail off and New Orleans grow smaller behind us. The sun was blocked by clouds so a picturesque sunset over the river wasn’t had this time. Embarkation dinner was actually provided by the Garden Café since we were right there and pressed for time. The assortment of dinner foods was good. The salad bar was well stocked and the main dishes were all tasty. I prefer dining in the main dining room but couldn’t get there with the tight turn around tonight. There was a nice open bar mixer for an hour to meet our fellow Aquafest guests before heading to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. This gave my traveling companion a taste of the entertainment he’d see all week. There was a production cast number, a comedian and a pianist. The comedian was quite funny but the pianist was not exactly entertaining for either of us so we skipped his show later in the week. With a gap between events it was time to head back and unpack before Aquafest variety show which was hosted by the vicious, yet awesome Bianca del Rio. I’ve never met a drag queen as vicious as her but darn can she make you laugh! By the end of the cruise I wished she lived closer to Boston! Also, we got a preview of Tom Goss and David Hernandez talents. The only person we didn’t like was the comedian Jessica Halem who was being shown up by Bianca quite badly during this show. Bianca totally stole the show! Coming off a late night of reveling in the French Quarter and a long day of traveling it was time to turn in for the night. All in all embarkation day was a busy day of meeting new people, unpacking and seeing what the week had in store. DAY 2: Sea Day It was a leisurely morning and after breakfast we did a workout in the ship’s gym. The gym is well appointed with several weight-bearing machines for the arms, abs, shoulders and legs. The cardio deck has been updated with treadmills and elliptical machines with games on them as well as personalized TV channels. It’s a nice addition to the gym and keeps you engaged while doing your cardio workout. Later in the morning there was the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in the Star Bar. Thanks to another Cruise Critic member for organizing the event with a gift exchange. Lots of members showed up and so did the senior management of the ship. The Jewel is home to so many familiar faces including the Guest Services Manager Gary Alldredge, Ignacio the Food and Beverage Manager from Spain and Katy the Bar Manager. During this meeting I approached Ignacio about an issue I was having getting through to room service. The line was constantly busy no matter the time you called. I explained my daily request and asked if he could just make sure it was done so I didn’t have to waste time on my vacation calling trying to get through. Ignacio took down my request and it happened like clock-work every single day for the rest of the voyage. It was nice of Ignacio to listen to the problem and take the necessary steps to rectify it right then and there. Next it was time for lunch and Aquafest had a hosted lunch in the Tsar’s Palace main dining room. While standing in line to enter the dining room, Rowena (Hostess) came out and told guests who were doing the group lunch to enter through the other door. I recognized Rowena from the Philippines immediately and said hello to her. Given how busy it was we didn’t have time to talk but would see her later as she was the hostess for the Azura main dining room. Lunch was great and included meeting new people in the group along with lunchtime favorites of the Vietnamese roll and the NY Strip Steak with mushrooms and fries. It was now time to try and get some sun on the breezy private sun deck Aquafest had for the group. We stayed up there for a couple of hours before heading back for to prepare for dinner. During this time Aquafest hosted a singles event in the Star Bar with Bianca del Rio. We stopped in looking for a friend before heading up to the sun deck and it seemed very well attended. Aquafest Entertainment: Kinsey Sicks The Spinnaker’s Lounge was home to performance venues for the whole week for our group. The first entertainers were the Kinsey Sicks who are a vocal quartet and who use their rhythms and some comedy to tell their story. The performers did their best when they were snagged by a technical snafu and recovered nicely to finish the show. Specialty Dining: Mama’s Italian Kitchen As part of the group amenities, there was a compensated dinner in the Jewel’s Italian specialty restaurant. The food was great and so was the service from our waiter. He accommodated a special request to come with the main meal which was the steak. The steak was cooked perfectly and was mouth-watering. We were by the windows at a deuce and had a wonderful dinner together. Norwegian’s Stardust Showtime: BAND ON THE RUN This was the production cast’s first main show. It takes the hits of the 70s and brings them alive on stage with the singers, dancers and acrobats performing. It’s a great way to start off the cruise with catchy numbers that can sometimes get stuck in your head for days. Upon return to the cabin, my travel companion made the mistake of lying down. I went out to check out the Sci-Fi theme night in Spinnakers for a while. I had a drink and retired for the evening myself. It was an early rise the next day. DAY 3: Cozumel, Mexico Norwegian Excursion: Tulum Mayan Ruins Our day started with a transfer to the Ultra Mar ferry at the pier for the transfer to Playa del Carmen on the main land. The sales pitches on the ferry for water were a bit annoying. Once on land in Playa del Carmen we transferred to an air conditioned bus for a drive to the ruins and met our tour guide Angel. There was a brief bathroom, shopping and photo break before continuing to the ruins. In the store Angel explained the Mayan calendar and why it was circular. Once at the ruins Angel did a fantastic job of explaining everything we were seeing and the Mayan culture. He drew in the sand to help us understand principles of mathematics and was just so thorough. I haven’t come across a tour guide in the Caribbean in a number of years as good as him. This was my second visit to these ruins in 12 years and this time was far better than the first. I highly recommend this tour and this tour guide. It’s a full day tour so returning to Cozumel, Mexico meant the ship was departing soon. We did some shopping at the end of the downtown pier in San Miguel and got a drink over a Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. Senor Frogs was dead as most of the revelers had already gone back. Back on the ship we went up on Deck 14 forward to experience the ship leaving Cozumel and to watch the beautiful sunset along with grabbing a quick bite to eat from the grill poolside. Specialty Dining: Moderno Churriscaria For a cover charge of $20, you get an incredibly filling meal. You start with a salad bar which has lots to offer. The salad bar on the Jewel class ships is not as large as that on the Epic or Breakaway but the offerings still healthy and plentiful. Once you flip your card from red to green on your table the parade of meats begin. You get to sample all of the meats offered and then when you’re finished the wait staff bring back your favorites. I love the garlic beef in this restaurant! The dinner was leisurely and as a result we missed the early evening’s entertainment from Aquafest comedian Jessica Halem. Our mistake was laying down to wait for Tom Goss’ performance which resulted in missing the entire rest of the evening. A great day but early day at Tulum and in the hot sun will put anyone to sleep! DAY 4: Belize City, Belize Norwegian Excursion: Lamanai Ruins The tour starts early and it’s a full day long tour which consists of a tender ride to shore, a bus ride to another speed boat which zips you down the river to the ruins. It seems like a lot but in the end it’s worth the wait. It has rained earlier in the day when the ship first arrived to Belize and these ruins are really in the jungle. The paths were muddy and puddle ridden. If you didn’t mind getting a little dirty then you could experience everything including climbing to the tops of the ruins to catch a glimpse into a neighboring country. After having such a great tour guide in Tulum, I couldn’t have been more disappointed with our tour guide for Belize. She explained nothing to our group and only told us what time to climb down from the ruins by. During this tour I bumped into a photographer friend of mine who’s been on quite a few of the ships I’ve traveled with Norwegian recently Liga N. from Latvia. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in a remote part of the jungle! The highlight of the tour was a local lunch served at the speed boat dock and the friendly service of the locals. I got to have a Beliken Beer which has become a tradition each time I stop in this country! Now a note about Cruise Critic folks booking independent tours trying to save a few bucks. During our tour we had to stop three times to offer assistance to a tour boat done by Cruise Critic members which kept breaking down. Had we not come along I don’t know what the outcome would have been for the people or if they would have made it back to the ship. This was an inconvenience to our tour and delayed our arrival to the ruins and also cut the time short for our excursion. It was nice of our guy to stop but this should serve as a lesson about doing things on your own. This was a full day tour and back on the ship we decided to eat at Azura restaurant before heading up to our spa appointment. Rowena, the hostess from the Philippines, greeted us warmly and seated us in Edgardo’s section. Edgardo is a waiter from the Philippines who started his shift in the Azura restaurant for dinner service and worked until the wee hours in the Blue Lagoon. We’d end up running into him a lot by the end of the cruise. It was a great dinner service and we got a picture with Rowena before sneaking off to the show briefly and to the Aquafest spa night. Norwegian Stardust Showtime: Comedian-Illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent I’ve sailed with Jean-Pierre many times and his show always entertains. It was my fourth time seeing his show which he changed a bit and my friend’s first time. It’s always a good time but we couldn’t stay for the full time because of our spa appointment. I highly recommend Jean-Pierre’s show! I didn’t know at the time the spa night would coincide with Jean-Pierre’s performance. Norwegian Experience: Mandara Spa This is the first time in my cruising life to visit a spa for something outside of using their gym facilities. I was nervous about the whole experience and the massage therapist could tell as the 50 minute spa package included a back, neck, scalp and foot massage along with a facial cleansing. I misplaced the receipt with the spa attendant’s name but she did an excellent job of calming me down and making my first cruise spa experience extremely enjoyable. I don’t know why it’s taken me 27 cruises to try this out. The spa package I purchased cost $120 including tip. It was well worth it and then I got to use the hot tub, sauna and steam room until 11PM. Aquafest Entertainment: Ancient Epics & Superheroes Theme Dance I didn’t bring a costume but wanted to finally get up there and check out the party going on. People put a lot of effort into bringing costumes from the simple Batman & Robin to a Burger King costume! It was a fun night out but a lot of people seemed to drift off early as they were tired from full day excursions including me! The night ended with a trip to the Blue Lagoon and service from Edgardo which included the customary late night chicken tenders!! DAY 5: Roatan Island, Honduras Halloween!! Aquafest Private Excursion: The Beach Club San Simon We met at our designated time pier-side and were split into smaller busses to be taken to the West End of the island and a private beach resort. The beach was pristine, clean and locals peddling goods were kept at bay after a disagreement with police. The water was so clean and beautiful and the resort had a nice pool which we also had access to. The bar staff were friendly and the same waiter we had on the beach set us up with a sheltered table to eat our lunch. It was well worth the investment to do this beach break and I got to meet a lot more of the Aquafest team including getting an invite to a private event later. This beach club is definitely something I’ll keep in mind on any return trips to the island. By 2:30PM it was time to return to the ship, watch her cast off from Deck 14 forward and then return to the cabin to get ready for the evening’s affairs. It was very nice to experience the Garden Villas for a reception before dining in Azura. It was at this event I happened to meet another incredibly friendly Norwegian shore-side staff member named Jason K. who was helping out since our Hotel Director had flown to Miami for a conference. The reception ended and it was off to dinner in Azura where the food was made to order and the service great. Rowena was able to accommodate our ever growing group and put us in Leyda’s (waitress from Colombia) section. It was nice to have dinner with new found friends who we would interact with for the rest of the cruise. Norwegian’s Signature Chocoholic Buffet Once a cruise usually in the Garden Café there’s a chocolate lover’s event that cannot be missed. The signature Chocoholic buffet is where chocolate and ice sculptures are put on display. This cruise was extra special since the theme in the buffet was Halloween with pumpkins, chocolate and ice sculptures carved in mystical and scary creatures. It was a nice touch although the chocolate selection seemed to be easily repeated at each of the action stations. All in all it was still good! Aquafest Entertainment: Toga and White Party Theme Dance Tonight Norwegian Cruise Line was celebrating their Halloween with a costume contest in the Spinnakers Lounge so our group moved to Fyzz. A curtain was placed up for our group’s privacy unfortunately trapping all the fake fog they were using to smoke up the room. It was unbearable to be in there for any length of time and this is the one night where bar service was a problem. The bar in Fyzz is too small to accommodate a group of our size. The fog also gave me a scratchy throat and started me towards laryngitis. Aquafest Charity Entertainment: Boylesque at Sea Three of the hot Norwegian Cruise Line production cast dancers performed a striptease number for our private group all to benefit charity during the toga party. It was a nice addition to the evening and the boys definitely put on a show. The highlight of the evening was seeing a good Norwegian entertainer in a new way! Great work Jean-Pierre for your part of this performance (and I’ll leave it at that)!! Twice we visited the Halloween ship party in Spinnakers to get some air and to get drinks. The first time Spinnakers had a decent turn out with fellow cruisers really getting decked out for the party. The second time we visited the ship party just before 1AM the place was a ghost town while the toga party was still going on pretty strong. We also visited the Blue Lagoon afterward for some chicken tenders and service from Edgardo before retiring. DAY 6: Costa Maya, Mexico Norwegian and Aquafest Private Excursion: Beach Getaway at Jungle Beach Club There were two departure times from the Costa Maya pier to the all-inclusive beach club. Before we knew it we were at the beach club and found chairs shaded by a tree. A friendly waitress took care of us during our entire stay there. I got to sample some of their quesadillas and Dos Equis beer. We ventured out on a raft to a concrete structure off-shore as something to do. The water was not clear like Roatan and was littered with rocks and seaweed. We took the 1PM transfer back to the port so we could do some shopping and meander back to the ship. The ship put on a nice welcome back from our last port of call with music and partying going on alongside the pier. The Mexican military members were kind enough to pose for a picture as well. Aquafest Entertainment: 70’s Disco Tea Dance We sailed from Costa Maya watching land fade into the sunset before heading to the tea dance. Music was great and the party was lively. Some folks including the Aquafest team donned bell bottoms and platform shoes. Tonight we dined in Tsar’s Palace with some of the folks from the tea dance! Except for us everyone else was in costume for a prime rib dinner and the service was great. Some confusion about the changing of Norwegian’s production of Cirque Bijoux to Cirque Expressions due to mechanical problems led me to miss the second production show completely. I thought it was the adagio night from the aerialists which this ship has been known to have in the past. Aquafest Entertainment: Neewollah Ball and Costume Party This is Aquafest’s signature Halloween event. Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards. With a $1,000 prize for the best costumes split between three categories, everyone was dressed up in their best. I chose to go as a "cool vampire” and it was funny that someone else who lives the next town over did the same thing! Such a small world. Bianca del Rio was fierce in her emcee of the event and let people have it where it was deserved with her witty comments. The winners ended up being people who were impersonating her in a few years! Congrats to them and then the disco night started where everyone was out late since there was a sea day the next day. During the night we also returned to Cozumel for about an hour to offload a passenger who suffered a medical emergency. Earlier in the evening a stretcher team was paged over the PA system. I hope the person managed to get home from Mexico ok. After a night of partying it was time to go to Blue Lagoon and have some chicken tenders with service by Edgardo before retiring for the evening. DAY 7: Sea Day The weather outside was cold, cloudy and sprinkling. It wasn’t great weather to sun yourself on the ship so it was time to go photo diving. We were very photogenic for everyone this trip so trying to amass all the pictures from our trip was just crazy. The lady from the United States, bless her heart, helped us out with a photo order from the Boylesque night. All in all the photo gallery cleaned up nicely off of us and it was well-deserved because the staff took some great photos. We bumped into an Aquafest group host who invited us to lunch. Even though we’d just ate two hours before we decided it was time to eat again in Tsar’s Palace for a very light lunch of the Vietnamese roll and the chicken noodle soup to help coax my voice back. Norwegian Entertainment: Crew Talent Show The crew are always working so hard for us and the talented ones get to take an hour or two out of their day to share other talents with us. The performances included vocal performances by the Washy, Washy guy, a dramatic performance by Sinful Sin (Assistant Cruise Director), the traditional Filipino Tinikling dance and finally the beloved Fountains. Fountains is always a hoot and this time proved no different. If you’ve never seen Fountains before then I suggest you go to the talent show but go anyway to support the amazing and hard-working crew for their other talents. After watching the last sunset of the cruise up on deck at the Sky High Bar it was time to get ready for the last evening’s entertainment on the ship. Aquafest Entertainment: The Kinsey Sicks Back to perform a different show, the girls didn’t disappoint. A new theme with some funny punch lines and their barber shop quartet made the hour pass by easily. This was followed by the farewell bar mixer. We rushed down to Azura to say goodbye to Rowena but she’d already left to pack up for her early sign off for and much deserved vacation. We asked for service from Leyda but she too had been re-assigned to another restaurant but we still dined in Azura and had excellent service. We stayed up later to say our farewells, stopping by the portrait gallery on Deck 12 to say bye Liga and to share a drink with her later on. The night would end with some quick final packing and going to Spinnakers to say bye to friends made over the course of the week. DAY 8: New Orleans Norwegian Shore Excursion: Past, Present & Perfect Disembarking the Jewel was relatively painless since we had black color luggage tags and had a pre-determined meeting time in the Stardust Theater to get off the ship. The tour bus was on the furthest end of the pier from the luggage pickup so schlepping the luggage the whole length of the terminal was a bit tiring but the whole process was pretty quick. The tour was driving around the city and seeing the sights via the bus and then getting off the bus at a cemetery to view how they bury their dead. It’s usually done above-ground and other items were explained. After driving around the city some more we were dropped at a park for a chance to get a beignet and coffee. From there we drove around the city some more seeing some sights before heading to the airport. We were at the airport by 1PM. The shore excursion recommends you not go if you have a flight before 2PM so keep this in mind! Conclusion: Aquafest and the Norwegian Jewel make a perfect pair. The ship is the right size ship for me and the layout is perfect for accommodating the Aquafest group. The Aquafest brand goes above and beyond to elicit guest feedback through their friendly group hosts and their President Tom Baker who was seemingly everywhere! The Norwegian Jewel didn’t disappoint and remains a ship I can call my home at sea. The friendly crew faces I knew always provided the same excellent service which made me remember them to begin with and now there’s some new faces to add to the mix. The Norwegian Jewel is the best ship at sea with the best crew talent and Aquafest is a great addition to an already outstanding ship. I always conclude my reviews by thanking the people who made my vacation memorable and they start with Katya Plyakova, Beverage Manager for her outstanding ability to handle a large volume of guests and manage to keep everyone happy! If it wasn’t for her extraordinary knowledge of vodkas I would have been stuck when the ship ran out of regular Grey Goose. Her recommended substitution (Russian Standard) was spot on and why I’ve come to trust her over the years as the best Beverage Manager at sea for Norwegian. I’d like to thank Ignacio Alvarez, Food and Beverage Manager for addressing my concerns with the room service issue and taking care of my request for the duration of the cruise. The service from Rowena Owen - hostess from the Philippines, Noellen - our cabin steward from the Philippines, Liga Neilande photographer from Latvia, Natalie Hammond future cruise consultant from Australia, Boyd Chen shore excursion manager from Jamaica, Jean-Pierre Parent comedian/illusionist from Canada, Leyda waitress in Azura from Colombia, Edgardo waiter in Azura and Blue Lagoon from the Philippines and the countless other staff members who I didn’t get a chance to catch their names offered such excellent service the Jewel has been come to be known for. A special shout out to the bar staff who worked tirelessly during our voyage, especially those night after night in the Spinnaker’s Lounge for the Aquafest group! As I write this I see a news story on TV of the devastation in the Philippines, please consider donating to whatever charity you wish to help out the country where so many of the crew on cruise ships come from. Without the hard working crew, fantastic vacations like this wouldn’t be so enjoyable. My thoughts are with the people of the Philippines. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
NORWEGIAN JEWEL  ALASKA CRUISE  July 20-27, 2013 Just returned from a 7 day Sawyer Glacier cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with 2 friends. This was one of the best cruises I have taken, and I am so glad we did ... Read More
NORWEGIAN JEWEL  ALASKA CRUISE  July 20-27, 2013 Just returned from a 7 day Sawyer Glacier cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Jewel. I was traveling with 2 friends. This was one of the best cruises I have taken, and I am so glad we did an Alaska cruise. We originally booked an interior stateroom, which did raise some concerns about being cramped. Two days before the cruise, NCL called to offer an upgrade to a balcony cabin for a very reasonable price. We were extremely glad we took advantage of the upgrade. We made extensive use of the balcony. I would now say having a balcony on an Alaska cruise really makes a major difference in your experience. We were still a little crowded in the 205 sq ft balcony stateroom, so I can just imagine how cramped the original 143 sq ft interior stateroom would have been. PRE & POST-CRUISE HOTELS & TRANSFERS We purchased one night pre and post-cruise hotel packages from NCL in Seattle. We arrived rather late (from three different cities) the night before the cruise, so we did not really get to enjoy the Renaissance Hotel in Seattle. It was a very nice hotel, but I actually liked the Crowne Plaza where we stayed the night after the cruise better. The room at the Crowne Plaza was much more spacious. Both hotels are conveniently located in downtown Seattle with easy access to all attractions. Transfer to and from the ship and hotels was included in the hotel packages. They transfer you on a large coach. I am not sure this was really a convenience, however. Our transfer from the Renaissance Hotel to the ship went pretty smoothly, but the transfer from the ship to the Crowne Plaza took a long time because they had problems opening and closing a door on the bus to load a passenger in a wheelchair. I would think these things would be regularly inspected to comply with safety regulations, but it seemed this door had not been used or tested in a very long time. All in all, I think we would have had a quicker and smoother transfer from hotel to ship and vice versa if we had taken a taxi on our own. EMBARKATION Embarkation went fairly smoothly. The Seattle cruise terminal used by NCL is a bit cramped. There is only one security screening area, and the line was long and winding, but it moved fast. Once we got through security, the check-in desk was very cramped with makeshift stations set up on tables to add additional check-in stations. You were shoulder-to-shoulder with the people checking in at the stations next to you. Check-in went pretty quickly and we walked right on the ship. They announced staterooms were ready while we were having lunch right after boarding. We left Seattle right on time at 4 pm. GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE JEWEL I have sailed on the Norwegian Star and Dawn, so the layout of the Norwegian Jewel was very familiar. Although its a newer ship than the Star, Dawn or Sun, which I have also sailed on, I found the Jewel to be more worn than any of these other ships. There were no serious issues, but the furniture was more worn than I have seen on other NCL ships. This was especially true of the chairs in the Tsars Palace dining room. They were nicked, scraped and chipped. Perhaps the Jewel has not yet gone into dry dock for refurbishment. I dont want to make too much of these relatively minor issues, as they really did not impact our enjoyment of the cruise at all. One of the things that really makes me cringe when reading reviews on Cruise Critic is the phrase: Its showing its age. Usually people who say this are the ones inspecting every inch of the ship with a microscope. STATEROOM As previously mentioned, we were upgraded to a balcony. I cant imagine having done this cruise now without the balcony. I like the general decor of NCL cabins. I like the wood (laminate?) walls and the colorful but tasteful design. I also like NCL showers such as they have on the Jewel, Star and Dawn the best of all cruise lines I have been on, The rectangular showers are quite roomy, and I like the glass doors instead of a shower curtain. Id prefer they did not have the wall separating the sink area and toilet. I think that makes the bathroom a little cramped, but its not a big deal. Because there were 3 of us in the cabin, the sofa turned into a 3rd bed. I find the beds on NCL ships to be very comfortable. I've read complaints about the beds being hard, but I prefer a firm bed. I slept on the sofa sleeper bed. It did not feel like a sofa sleeper at all. It felt like a regular bed. I would have liked a thicker pillow though. When the stateroom attendant opened the sofa sleeper in the evening, it did block easy access to the balcony, but we were able to squeeze through to the balcony without much difficulty. Storage space in the stateroom was very good. Some of the furniture in the cabin looks like it had been a while since it was dusted. DINING We ate in both main dining rooms, at the buffet, the poolside BBQ, Cagneys, La Cucina and Moderno. I thought the food was good at all locations. Selection was good. We ordered the delivery pizza ($5 charge for a large pizza) to eat on our balcony while we were sailing through the Tracy Arm. The pizza was hot, fresh and very tasty. It was much better than the free pizza at the buffet. Seating at the buffet was often a challenge, more so than I experienced on the 3 other NCL ships on which I have sailed. The Jewel has a Great Outdoors seating area as an extension of the buffet at the back of the ship. Im not sure this is very practical for an Alaska cruise, however, since it was often too cold to sit out there to eat while at sea or at night. Food got cold pretty quickly when seated in the Great Outdoors area. They seemed to be pumping heat into the area from somewhere, but it was not adequate in countering the cold winds. During lunch and breakfast, they do open La Cucina for overflow seating for the buffet. It was easier to get a table there on most days. My biggest complaint with the buffet was the lack of utensils. Most tables in the Great Outdoors area lacked baskets with the pre-wrapped utensils, salt and pepper shakers and condiments. Tables that had the baskets often were empty or only had one or two set in the basket. On previous NCL cruises these baskets were always filled with sets of utensils and staff were always walking around with trays to refill the baskets with new sets. I never once saw staff carrying trays to refill the utensil sets in the baskets. By the time you found a table and then searched for a set of utensils, your food would often be cold. I liked that the buffet had several islands rather than a cafeteria line setup, but all the food islands were all at one end of the buffet. If you were seated in the Great Outdoors it was a long walk back to the food stations to get dessert or seconds. It would have been better to position the food stations in the center. The layout and management of the buffet on the Jewel were definitely inferior to the buffets on the 3 other NCL ships I have sailed on. I ate in the buffet on the Jewel less frequently than on other NCL ships due to these problems. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment on the Jewel was fantastic. We really enjoyed the shows in the Stardust Theatre. Band on the Run was on the second night, and the acrobat couple from Ukraine called Soul Duo who performed on night 4 were incredible. Their show is not to be missed. The Soul Duo team also performed in the Le Cirque Bijou show on night 6. This is another must see show. PORTS Ketchikan Ketchikan is more of a working fishing port than a tourist destination. I think Ketchikan works best as a starting point for excursions in the area. The ship docks right in the center of town, so everything in town is an easy walk. The Creek St area was cute, and the waterfront area in town was nice. They have a visitor center with clean restrooms right on the waterfront. We visited the Totem Heritage Center, which was interesting. It costs $5 to enter. It was fun watching the floatplanes take off and land right alongside the ship. They sure have a lot of floatplanes in Ketchikan. Theres the Lumberjack show right in town, which I wish we had done instead of the Duck tour. The Duck tour was very disappointing, and it cost $42 a person. I have done the Duck tour in Boston and thought it was fantastic. Of course, Boston is a large city with countless cultural and historic attractions. The Ketchikan Duck tour included a short drive through the center of town, followed by a short sail in the harbor. You can see everything in town much better on foot. The highlight of the water portion of the Duck tour was the closed Burger King and the story of why it failed in Ketchikan. The failure of the Burger King had to do with the position of the drive-up window and fierce winds in winter. Fascinating! ? Also, the Duck tour vehicle was enclosed in plexiglass with only small portholes for ventilation. The roof was clear plexiglass, which allowed the sun to beat down on the passengers. This created a greenhouse-type environment that was stifling I wanted to do the catamaran cruise to the Misty Fjords, but it was very pricey. Another alternative I liked was the canoe and rainforest hike excursion. My friends and I dithered about what to do in Ketchikan, and we opted for the Duck tour only upon arrival in Ketchikan. Juneau Juneau is a nice, clean town. We did the rafting trip on the river at the Mendenhall Glacier booked through Viator ($135/per person). Views of the glacier and mountains were beautiful on this trip. The rapids were fun but not too rough, making the excursion appropriate for all ages. I was surprised a bit that the river passed through a suburban area towards the end of the trip. We looked at more backyards than wilderness during this portion of the trip. The provided snacks of salmon spread, crackers, reindeer sausage and veggies at the end of the rafting trip. We saw a couple of bald eagles, but no other wildlife on the river. The free shuttle takes you from the ship to the visitor center at the base of the Mt Roberts Tramway. Here all the tour companies have booths where you can easily arrange any type of excursion in the Juneau area. The price for the shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier was $8. Im not sure if that was roundtrip or not, as we had transportation included in our excursion to the river rafting at Mendenhall Lake. Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier We departed Juneau at 1:30 pm and arrived at the entrance to the Tracy Arm around 4:00 pm. The weather was beautiful when we left Juneau, but it got misty and overcast when we reached the Tracy Arm. This did not really impact our enjoyment of the Tracy Arm, however, as we could still see everything pretty well. The ice flow increased the deeper we got into the fjord. We had a good view of the Sawyer Glacier, but we could not close enough to see it calfing due to the heavy ice flow. Seeing the Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier was quite an experience. Skagway Skagway is a real frontier, Gold Rush town. It is very clean and well-preserved. We booked an excursion to British Columbia and Yukon, which lasted 6 hours, so we didnt have much time to explore Skagway. Its a small town which consists of one street in its commercial district, so we did manage a quick tour of the town when we got back from our excursion. Its a short walk to the ship from town, but it started raining pretty hard while we were walking back so we were pretty wet and cold when we boarded the ship. British Columbia & Yukon Excursion We booked this excursion through Viator. The tour was run by Frontier Excursions & Adventures. Our guide Ian was excellent. They picked us up at the dock and we drove up the Klondike Highway into British Columbia and then up to Carcross, Yukon. The snow-capped mountains and glacial lakes were spectacular. Lunch was provided at the Caribou Crossing stop in Yukon. It consisted of tasty BBQ chicken, half a baked potato, coleslaw and donuts for dessert. Drinks are available for purchase. They have a small museum and gift shop as well as a petting zoo for children. They also have sled dogs there that you can play with and take pictures with for free. You can also travel up to Carcross, Yukon on the White Pass Railroad from Skagway. I believe the rail excursion costs quite a bit more (approx $170/per person) than we paid ($103/per person) for the van tour. Going by van we saw the same scenery as the rail trip and had more flexibility to make stops at scenic spots. Also, I dont know if they transport the rail passengers to the Caribou Crossing stop outside Carcross. Sailing the Inside Passage One of my friends said the scenery sailing the Inside Passage made him feel like he was in the Lord of the Rings movies. Sailing the Inside Passage is a stunning voyage that everyone should have a chance to experience. Snow-capped mountains, glaciers, deep green forests, the sea, the sky all contributed to an amazing experience. Sunsets (around 10 pm) were a blaze of color. We didnt see as much wildlife as we hoped, but the animals are not adhering to a schedule for our benefit. We saw some dolphins, a brief glimpse of an orca, a couple of bald eagles. We did not see any bears or moose. Victoria, BC We arrived in Victoria at 2:30 pm on our last day. We opted to sightsee independently. We walked around town and took a short harbor cruise. Victoria is clean and cute. I liked it more than I expected. FELLOW PASSENGERS The demographics of our cruise were very diverse. There were young, old, middle aged, all races, multi-generations families, singles, couples, groups of friends, all types of relationships represented. There were a lot of children on the cruise, and they were all very well behaved. The group on this cruise was a fun group, which was evident from day one by the number of people participating in the sailaway dance party. The Spinnaker Lounge was always crowded at night, and the vibe during all activities was upbeat and fun. WEATHER Weather was variable throughout the cruise. I personally did not mind times when it was cold or rainy. It seemed appropriate for the Alaska experience. We had nice weather in Ketchikan and Juneau during our port calls. As mentioned, it started to rain hard at the end of our stay in Skagway, but it was clear and sunny for our excursion up the Klondike Highway to Yukon. It is important to be prepared for any and all types of weather though n an Alaska cruise. Sweatshirts or hoodies, a light raincoat, a warm jacket and gloves and definitely welcome, especially when it gets cold . When it was sunny, temps were spring-like, but it could be very cold and windy at night on deck or sitting on the balcony of our stateroom. DISEMBARKATION We were among the last to disembark (at 9:30 am) since we had a pre-arranged transfer from the ship to the post-cruise hotel booked through NCL. The disembarkation process went very smoothly. Luggage was easy to find when we got off the ship. As previously mentioned, the transfer to the hotel was delayed due to problems getting the door to load a wheelchair passenger onto the bus opened and then closed again. Thankfully our trip on this bus was a short one. Not sure what this says about the overall maintenance of the bus.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This cruise, from April 11th through April 23rd, caught my eye because I liked the idea of starting in one port and ending up in my home port of NYC. I flew home immediately after cruising Alaska and will never do that again; it's too ... Read More
This cruise, from April 11th through April 23rd, caught my eye because I liked the idea of starting in one port and ending up in my home port of NYC. I flew home immediately after cruising Alaska and will never do that again; it's too jarring to go from a relaxed state to the levels of anxiety and stress that are the "new normal" of an American airport. Catching a cab home sounded wonderful. I booked directly with NCL and when I received the email confirmation, I immediately called customer service to tell them they had mistakenly booked a RT ticket. When I was assured that was the price of a OW ticket, I told NCL I would book my own ticket. That is how my friends and I got to Miami for $120 USD instead of the almost $300 NCL would have charged me. A word of caution: If you book your own air, NCL has no obligation to wait for you if your flight is delayed which is why we flew in the day before departure. As a member of a hotel rewards program, I was able to book a free night at the South Beach Marriott. Once on board, we had a great time. Our stewards, Willie and Eileen, were the sweetest, most efficient and friendly people. There were 3 of us in the cabin and they always anticipated our needs regarding extra towels, TP, tissues, glasses, etc. Additionally, even though he was not our steward, Ray was a bright light on deck 9. He would see us in the morning and greet us warmly. He made me feel like a rock star! I love gambling and was in the casino a lot. Cary, the woman in charge of the casino, was fun and friendly. She remembered my name and would speak to me whenever she saw me. I did one excursion, the ruins of Altun Ha in Belize. It was amazing, great exercise and photo ops. Our guide, John, was informative and friendly. I had never gone to the chocolate buffet but, I went this time because one of my friends wanted to see it. I have to say, people acted like they had never seen chocolate, loved it but, would never see it again. I stayed long enough to get a picture of a chocolate Eiffel Tower before I was almost trampled by hungry, slightly crazed chocoholics. I won't be doing that again. My complaints are about drinks and laundry. The cost of drinks adds up very quickly. Even if you have just 2 beers during the day, a glass of wine with dinner and maybe a nightcap before turning in, it can cost $25 a day. That is the drinking schedule of a 100 year old, IMO. My bill was much higher. NCL really needs to review its alcohol pricing and policies. This was the first NCL cruise I had been on where I could not do my own laundry. Now, instead of just going to the laundry room and using the free washers and dryers and/or the iron, NCL now charges $25 to wash a ridiculously small bag's worth of your dirty clothes plus charges you to iron your things. That is outrageous! I would rather they install coin-operated machines that I can use myself. Given that airlines are charging more and more for second bags, being able to do laundry becomes even more important on long trips. As a Gold Latitudes member, I was disappointed that I only received one "goodie" in my cabin the entire trip. Overall, my cruise experience was very, very good and NCL continues to be the only cruise line I see myself using in the foreseeable future. In fact, I put a deposit down on a future cruise before disembarking. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
About the Reviewer: It helps to gauge where the experiences you're about to read come from and to put them in perspective. I'm a 28 year old male non-traditional college student who traveled solo for the first time on a ... Read More
About the Reviewer: It helps to gauge where the experiences you're about to read come from and to put them in perspective. I'm a 28 year old male non-traditional college student who traveled solo for the first time on a non-Atlantis charter for spring break. As a side note I did have to pay the dreaded single supplement which is 200% of per person fare. I have sailed on the Norwegian Jewel twice with the most recent being January 3, 2010 (read the review here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=61953 ) and in 2007 for a 12-day Egypt, Greece & Turkey itinerary. The Norwegian Jewel is the ship I've spent the most time on (25 days) and there's good reason for it! This was my 7th Latitudes Norwegian cruise and 8th overall with NCL on March 14, 2010. I've sailed on other lines to make comparisons including Princess (5x) and Carnival (1x) and have sailed on Atlantis charters on Celebrity (3x) and Royal Caribbean (1x). This was my 18th cruise and it was an experiment for traveling solo on a non-Atlantis cruise. Would it work? Pre-Cruise Stay: Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport - Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As insurance on New England weather I flew down the day prior and I'm happy I did as New England experienced a Nor'easter which caused flight delays. By the time I arrived at the hotel it was after midnight on Sunday morning. The room was very well cleaned and appointed and provided a comfortable environment to crash in for 6 hours. Hotel staff was very accommodating for the late arrival and very helpful. I would recommend this hotel to anyone. It's not centrally located to any stores though so if you forgot something you're going to spend a lot at the hotel's store. Transportation to Port of Miami: SAS Transportation shines through once again. It's a hidden gem here on Cruise Critic and their service was incredible. I was picked up on time and after a brief stop at the Fort Lauderdale airport we were on our way to Port of Miami. Embarkation: This was the smoothest EVER! I can't say enough about how well John O'Hara the Hotel Director is. The process literally flowed smoothly with no stopping. Got the keycard for my room on Deck 8 forward (Cabin 8008) to be precise and was whisked right onto the ship where John O'Hara greeted me back to the ship right after stepping off the gangway. Incredible how he never forgets a face! The Ship: Since I had sailed on the Norwegian Jewel twice before she still looks like she's brand new. The Jewel crew does a fantastic job of keeping her clean and looking like new. She was put to sea in 2005 and easily looks like she was just christened yesterday. Major venues used during this sailing include: Star Bar & Cagney's Steakhouse (Deck 13 midship), Spinnaker's Lounge (Deck 13 forward), Garden Cafe (Deck 12 mid-to-aft), Fitness Center (Deck 12 forward), Stardust Theater (Deck 7 forward), Azura Main Dining Room (Deck 6 mid) and Tsar's Palace (Deck 6 Aft). Tsar's Palace is my favorite room onboard. The dEcor makes me feel like I'm dining with royalty. Don't know if it's the pictures on the wall or just the overall feel to the room but it's by far the best dining venue onboard. The Stateroom: I booked this trip as an interior originally and was assigned to Deck 10. One week prior to departure I got an upsell to Deck 8 forward, cabin number 8008. Sadly a fellow Cruise Critic person had to cancel who was in a balcony and offered it to me. I didn't catch this until the manifest closed but brought it up to John O'Hara prior to boarding. I didn't unpack after the ship sailed but the room wasn't freed by NCL corporate but there was another balcony room that was open and for another small fee I upgraded to a Category BC stateroom number 9144. Thanks John for finding the open balcony and working with NCL shore-side to get me the upgrade. I love balcony staterooms. Cabin 9144 was in great shape. Everything worked properly and the room was pristine. Thanks to Wayan Pelom and Jill Yen for keeping the room extra clean even after some glitter got loose again! The towel animals nightly were incredible and I had a collection on the shelves by the balcony door by the end of the cruise. These two cabin stewards were so efficient I hardly ever saw them but they did a great job! Food: This is such a subjective area and I always say that. Too many times people complain about the food onboard and I can't ever figure out why. The food is fantastic. I've had this menu several times in the past few years with NCL in the main dining rooms and it never gets old. This cruise I tried new things like the Beef Stroganoff and loved it. The night of the prime rib when I asked for extra portions the waitstaff happily obliged and gave me three slices. I liked every piece of food I was served and attribute the liking to the hard work of the chefs behind the scenes. Fellow Passengers: This was a spring break cruise so the average age was considerably lower. Plenty of college co-eds sleeping four in a cabin and as a result the energy level was considerably high. The security team onboard the Jewel did a great job of keeping the rowdy folks in check and did a great job confiscating booze these folks tried to bring into the disco at night - especially White Hot Party night. Ages were checked at the door each night in Spinnaker's Lounge. I felt like I was at a real club but it kept the crowd under control. Nice work security team! I felt bad for the Blue Lagoon folks, especially Lorena who put up with a lot of non-sense in the early hours of the morning when the lounges closed. She kept her composure and gave me great service but you could clearly see that she was frazzled with the way all the college kids were acting. Nice work Lorena! Now for a run down of what I did day-to-day so you can gauge how I spent my cruise and who I interacted with and who made lasting memories for me: Day 1: Miami, FL - Embarkation - Smooth embarkation. Dropped the carry-on in Cabin 8008 when the rooms were ready and went topside to catch the Bon Voyage festivities hosted by Paul Baya, Cruise Director and his staff which included Jane who was onboard in January. I've sailed with Paul twice before and he didn't disappoint. He promptly jumped into the pool with all his clothes on when enough people crammed onto the stage! What a way to get a cruise going! The party was high energy and started the cruise off great. We got underway on-time and I met up with some fellow cruisers who returned from the 1/3 sailing. After the upgrade and getting settled into the new cabin there was no time for dinner and it was off to the Friends of Dorothy gathering in the Star Bar. After Friends of Dorothy it was off to Tim Kaminski's one show only in the Stardust Theater. You really don't want to miss Tim's show. He does a fantastic job and uses audience members to make his show work. He's a great comedian and an asset to the Norwegian Jewel. Throughout the week you will find Tim out and about checking on how passengers are doing and how their experience is going. He's an incredible guy and loves broccoli sent to his cabin at 3AM. Once Tim's show finished it was off to dine somewhere but the show ran long and it was after 10PM. Where would I eat? I went to Azura's Dining Room which was still open and had a quick, yet very lonely dinner service. I dined alone this night and this felt very awkward. Service by the dining room staff was very hurried this night. Not what I was accustomed to from January and I had dined in Azura the first night back then too. This was different waitstaff. No biggie as I would make it a point to get to Tsar's Palace the remainder of the cruise. Back to change for the disco up in Spinnaker's Lounge. I missed the 70's Groove party but did catch the Celebrity DJ Ivan G. He spun all hip-hop music most of the early part of the night until 1AM with a video screen going. DJ Jean Perez took over after 1AM and the party really took off. She spins a lot of vocal house music mixed with hip hop and this serves everyone in attendance. She really knows how to play to both crowds this Spring Break. I had sailed with her before on the Norwegian Sky and she's the best in the NCL fleet so I was ecstatic to have her on the Jewel! Off to bed at 2:30AM... Day 2: Sea Day: Woke up and had breakfast on the balcony courtesy of room service and running up to the Garden Buffet for a hot plate. Relaxed for a few minutes and headed down to the Walk-A-Mile with Jane, Cruise Director's Staff. Met another lady who was cruising alone and we walked and talked the three laps around the ship. Afterward it was back up to the room to freshen up and get ready for the Cruise Critic gathering. Thanks to Rochelle Brown, Event Coordinator, for giving us the space for the CC Meet and Greet in Azura and to the Norwegian Jewel pantry for providing complimentary juice, coffee and a tray of cookies. Senior staff members attended including John O'Hara (Hotel Director), Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminksi (Comedian), Katya Plyakova (Bar Manager) and the rest of the department heads. Captain Konstantino Fafalios stopped by to answer some questions as well and gave us some general knowledge of the ship throughout the week. This Captain is unlike any other I've seen anywhere on any cruise ship. He is very visible to the passengers and is always making sure we have a good time. You know you're in good shape when the top authority onboard is checking out things to make sure they're right. Thanks to the fellow Cruise Critic folks for showing up. We had great weather this day and peeling yourself away from your deck chair to attend must have been hard but as the organizer I appreciated it. Next it was off to the Latitudes party for past passengers bronze and higher at 1PM. I stayed at this until it was over chatting with a fellow CCer and then went back and lounged the afternoon away sunning out on the balcony and napping. Off to dinner at Tsar's Palace. If there was anyone I knew to ask for there it was Alexandra Golubyatnikova. In January she was fantastic and we only had her once but she knew I had written a comment card and STYLE card for her so when I had asked for her she instantly recognized me and gave me a warm welcome back onboard. I dined in her section nearly every night for the remainder of the cruise. She is truly a fantastic waitress and she made dining alone a lot less lonely. Her assistant Vanessa Mabale was also very attentive and engaging. Congrats to Alexandra for her transfer to the maiden crew of the Norwegian Epic, a new ship needs a phenomenal crew and she's perfect for it. Vanessa could easily be promoted to a waitress because she's that good too! Off to Friends of Dorothy for a short while before heading to Jean Ann Ryan's Band on the Run. The Jean Ann Ryan Company is just fantastic. I love their shows and seeing Band on the Run twice was excellent. Between the shows I ran back and changed into my White Hot Party attire which was up in Spinnaker's Lounge at 10:15AM for the pre-party. Thanks to Richard Oaxaca (acrobat) for the extra help with the costume for the White Party. This night was incredible and it got even better when DJ Jean took over at 1AM to finish out the night in style! It was also nice to celebrate crew birthdays in Spinnaker's with Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminski (Comedian) & Adrian Bica (Concierge). Day 3: Roatan, Honduras: Nice warm cloudy day in Roatan as we pulled up and dropped anchor. Celebrity Equinox took the Coxen Hole pier but the tender was a short ride and moved very quickly. The whole process took 20 minutes total. Shore side I met up with some friends made on the ship and a crew member and headed off to Sundowners Bar on the West End of Roatan Island. It's a quaint beach bar complex that serves food and cheap drinks. It has beach chairs available and the bar staff are incredibly nice. On this day we were treated to a fire-eating performance by a member of the Norwegian Jewel's production company. It was a great day to hang out at the beach and jump off the pier in to the water. It's a hidden gem on the backside of the island far from the cruise ships. On the tender ride back to the ship I spotted Nona, an incredible stateroom steward I had on the Norwegian Spirit in May 2009. It is such a small world and when I met her we knew each other and recognized each other immediately. It was a nice reunion and then I realize that the Norwegian Jewel really has the best staff in the Norwegian fleet on her! When I got back onboard I bumped into Willie, Deck 9 forward stateroom steward, who was my cabin steward in January. He remembered me as well and gave me a warm welcome back onboard and greeted me every night he saw me in the corridor. Great customer service ethic by these two! After a brief cocktail party visit, it was off to Cagney's Steakhouse for dinner to celebrate a crew member's birthday onboard. Thank you to Richard's parents for allowing me to join in on this special occasion. The service in Cagney's was impeccable and the birthday celebration was a memorable occasion for all involved. The 10 ounce Filet Mignon was cooked to order and was done just right. Spotlight showtime tonight was Troubled Annie featuring singer-songwriters Meg Allison and Joshua Stevens. They have a very unique musical style that even for a person who can't stand country music can get into. Meg & Joshua were always out and about on the cruise as well just like Tim Kaminski so not only are they great performers I can say these two are genuinely great people. Here's hoping NCL brings them back again soon! Off to Dancing with the Jewel Stars where three celebrity judges consisted of Tim Kaminski (Comedian), Betsy (Principal Singer) and Richard (Acrobat). Tonight's show featured six couples. This entertainment truly varies depending on the passengers who get involved in the show and tonight's show was great. Losers lounge is always a fun place to get into. Quick change of clothing and it was back up to the disco until the early hours of the morning with DJ Jean once again bringing down the house with her incredible mixing style! Day 4: Belize City, Belize: Is this a vacation? What am I doing up at 6:30AM? Oh right… SHORE EXCURSION: Cave Tubing & Jungle Trek Since I was sailing solo I was able to do something more rugged and this tour was perfect. You take a walk through the jungle to the spot up the river where you put your tube in and float down stream. I've never done cave tubing before and read of the dangers of doing it but rest assured you are given a life jacket, hard hat with light and a sturdy inner tube. We were allowed to go along unattached to each other and just float down the stream through the cave with the guide pointing things out. It was the best tour and the only organized tour of my vacation. It was a goal I had and something I always wanted to do and doing it with NCL made it guarantee that I would be back to the ship on-time and safe. Back to the ship to freshen up and dine in Tsar's Palace with Alexandra and Vanessa who again gave me excellent service and made the dining alone experience so much less awkward! Then it was off to the Jean Ann Ryan Production of "Country Gold." As I write this I am saddened to say that Country Gold is no longer a part of the Norwegian Jewel's line up as of the 3/28/10 sailing. I'm not sure what it's being replaced with but Country Gold is gone. I caught both shows and again excellent performances by all. Next it was off to the Caribbean Deck Party that was outside by the Sapphire pool on Deck 12 mid. The party featured ice carvings and music being spun by the Celebrity DJ Ivan G and later by DJ Jean. Thanks to the Jewel crew who came out by the Topsider's Bar and had some festive St. Patrick's Day drinks and posed for photos. Thanks to Katya, Bar Manager, for even making my Grey Goose and Sprite festively green! This night was truly one to remember for so many reasons. It was also another major birthday night onboard for a crew member and friend - Richard. Finished out the night with DJ Jean poolside and closed down the celebration. After sitting out at Sky High Bar for a while we dined at Blue Lagoon in the wee early hours of Thursday morning. Thanks to Lorena for excellent service in Blue Lagoon. It was nice to get caught up and also learn that she too was celebrating a birthday that week. It was one huge cruise of celebrations! Day 5: Costa Maya, Mexico: Didn’t set the alarm and I goofed on the time to meet up with friends and next thing I know it’s just before noon and I’m heading off to Pez Quadro just about five miles from the port. It’s a nice beach area where they serve you booze and food from the hotel and you lay on the beach. It was a great day at the beach and met up with the rest of the friends I missed when I overslept. You can rent a golf cart for three hours to take to get there or for $5 you can take a bus to get there. It’s a very short ride and well worth the trip. Cheap booze and great local Mexican food cooked in the authentic Mexican way. Great place to go. Back onboard I watched the ship leave Costa Maya from the balcony while readying for dinner. Dined again in Tsar’s Palace and had Alexandra and Vanessa again this evening. Very good service and the food superb! I caught the early show of illusionist Jean-Pierre Parent who was phenomenal. Not only can he do illusion tricks he’s also got a pretty good humor bone in him with zinging jokes out. I went back to the room to change and laid down for a second which ended the night very early for me. Tonight was the Chocoholic Buffet, NCL’s Signature Buffet, and I was sad that I missed it but I’ve been to them before and can tell you it’s truly something you do NOT want to miss. Tim Kaminski also had a late night adult comedy show in Spinnaker’s Lounge which I missed. Lack of sleep does catch up with you eventually. Lesson learned - schedule disco naps better. Day 6: Sea Day: Wow, sunrise – even with the time change! I haven’t done that in so long on a cruise I can’t remember. After having breakfast it was time for Walk-A-Mile. I guess a lot of guests didn’t keep up with the time change since I was the only one who showed up. I did the mile and then hit the gym. The gym was still pretty dead and all of the equipment was wide open for using. This is the best maintained gym I’ve ever used on any ship so props to the crew for keeping it tidy. Caught up with some friends and went and did some sunning up in the Villa complex and took yet another nap before starting out on a busy evening. Dined in Tsar’s again with DJ Jean and celebrated her birthday there. Thank you to Mr. Plunkett, Maitre D in Tsar’s Palace for getting DJ Jean’s birthday celebration put together in record time by reserving a table for two at the aft windows and for having a birthday cake at the ready. All this was done in under a half hour! After dinner I headed to Cirque Bijoux. This show is not to be missed. The acrobats take the show to you in the audience so you want to make sure you are 10 rows back from the front at least to catch the full view. This show takes a lot of energy from the performers because it’s intense in movements. The dancers, acrobats and gymnasts did a fantastic job. I caught both shows because it’s really THAT good. Off to Liar’s Club with Tim (comedian), Jean-Pierre (illusionist) and Paul Baya (Cruise Director). You had to guess which person was lying and the whole thing just had tons of jokes and jabs being spun between them. It was comical to watch the whole thing unfold and this is definitely worth attending. It’s adults only though! Time to disco with DJ Ivan early on and then DJ Jean took over and the party got started! DJ Jean can rock the house with her style and tonight was especially hot for everyone. What an incredible night in the disco. Thanks birthday girl DJ Jean! Day 7: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas: Finally! I made it ashore at Great Stirrup Cay after two cruises that called there and I missed it both times. Once was my fault on the Sky and the other time Mother Nature acted up and the Jewel left before I could get to the island. It was a nice day at the beach. The beach was a little crowded but NCL announced this week when we were onboard that they were expanding the island and renovations to the island are already under way. Pretty soon the beach area will be bigger and better with more things to do on the island. It was a good day at the beach and the BBQ was nice. DJ Jean came ashore and spun for a few hours at the tail end of the day turning a beach day into an afternoon t-dance. It was great to have good music while in line waiting for the tender after hanging out for a while by Jerk’s bar. After getting back onboard I dined in Tsar’s Palace one last time and said goodbye to Alexandra and Vanessa. Off to the Friends of Dorothy gathering to say goodbye to the friends I made there and then it was off to Bar City to meet up with some other friends and say goodbye. I managed to sneak into the crew talent show and caught “Fountains” which is always hilarious and this cruise didn’t disappoint. You have to catch this show. The crew onboard is truly talented that participates but this show is NOT to be missed! Thanks to Katya for her personalized bar service attention at Shaker’s Martini Bar to send me on my way packing in style! Got back and finished packing and had enough time to get out to Quest, the adult game show. It’s always saved for the last night onboard and there’s good reason. What happens at Quest stays at Quest! Its adults only and you have to catch it. While it’s not something you have to participate in, it’s definitely worth a look. Sorry to poor Cherryl, Bar Waitress, who I chased to the back when I needed a bar staff person for our group. LOL! Even Paul Baya was impressed by the speed that I moved to get her! Oh the memories on that night are always good ones! After Quest concluded the disco took over and it was time to say goodbye to the disco group that had been pretty much the same group the entire cruise. Doing the exchange of emails, taking pictures and the like makes the end of cruise experience that much closer. Thanks to Cherryl that feeling quickly went away! The night continued on with DJ Jean spinning her tunes until 2AM when the crew and the passengers pretty much have their curfews. Day 8: Miami, FL: Disembarkation: I had the purple color bag tags to get off the ship. After dining on the balcony one last time I waited eagerly for the luggage tag color to be called and it was off the ship at 9:15AM. I cleared customs and was on a bus by 9:30AM. Very quick through customs this time and I was thankful. I was an idiot and booked a flight at 11:25AM on Jet Blue which is the second stop of the transfer bus. The bus was nearly full and did fill up very quickly after I boarded but the driver and the person outside the bus who was taking the tickets took FOREVER to get the bus to leave. I was in the back of the bus having the makings of a panic attack. By the time I got to the airport it was 10:40AM at the first stop. It was 11AM when I got to the terminal for Jet Blue. I ran inside and couldn’t check in. Luckily the person checked me in at the ticket counter and over-rode the computer. I was late and I was lucky to have such service. I made it through security in RECORD time and made it to the gate while the plane was still boarding passengers. I was winded, panic stricken but I was on my way home. Lesson learned here: Don’t book your flight that close out of Fort Lauderdale airport EVER again or arrange your own ground transportation back to the airport from the ship. Conclusion: Did the experiment work of solo cruising on a regular non-charter cruise work? This is a resounding YES. The Captain, Senior Staff and the Norwegian Jewel crew rolled out the red carpet for me again and treated me like a VIP the entire week. The only awkward moment was dining alone which by the second night was resolved. I’m living proof that you can be a solo cruiser and still have a fantastic time onboard the Norwegian Jewel! Without the help of these wonderful people Spring Break wouldn’t have been simply PERFECT: John O’Hara (Cruise Director & Customer Service Extraordinaire), Captain Kostantinos Fafalios (for being so accessible and hospitable everywhere I saw him), Katya Plyakova (Bar Manager for fixing a problem early on in the cruise and becoming a great friend by the end of the cruise), DJ Jean Perez (for being the best late night Jewel DJ and best DJ in the NCL fleet), Paul Baya (Cruise Director), Tim Kaminski (Comedian), Alexandra Golubyatnikova (Best Tsar’s Palace Waitress), Vanessa Mabale (Best Tsar’s Palace Assistant Waitress), Raluca (Senior Waitress – Cagney’s Steakhouse), Wayan Pelom (Stateroom Steward – Deck 9 Aft Starboard), Jill Yen (Junior Stateroom Stewardess – Deck 9 Aft Starboard), Nona (Deck 8 Stewardess), Jean-Pierre Parent (Illusionist), Meg & Joshua (Troubled Annie) and Betsy Padamonsky (Principal Singer – JAR for the dancing memory). A very special thank you to Richard Oaxaca, Acrobat from the Jean Ann Ryan Company, for making the White Hot Party that much hotter and to his family for making me feel welcomed whenever I was with them during this voyage. I left the Norwegian Jewel with a feeling like I was leaving my extended family behind. Like the Norwegian Way says… “You’re a part of the family” and I truly became a part of the Norwegian Jewel’s family. I’ll miss you all and thanks again for making my spring break a cruise to never forget. It was PERFECT and I look forward to coming back onto the Norwegian Jewel again soon! Read Less
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

Find a Norwegian Jewel Cruise

Email me when prices drop