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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My wife and I originally chose this cruise as we live on the West Coast and thought this would be a great way to experience NCL's newest ship. Regarding the ship, it is truly beautiful and provides a multitude of restaurant and ... Read More
My wife and I originally chose this cruise as we live on the West Coast and thought this would be a great way to experience NCL's newest ship. Regarding the ship, it is truly beautiful and provides a multitude of restaurant and entertainment options. The ship and, for the most part, the crew did not disappoint. This review is primarily centered on the itinerary itself, as there were many drawbacks that were not disclosed by NCL at the time we reserved our cabin. For us, the coastal or "repositioning" cruise is a great way to just enjoy the ship and not worry about needing to reserve a bunch of shore excursions. With the Bliss being so new, we felt we could just enjoy the ship for this quick, 6-day cruise. The issues that we encountered deal primarily with both Canadian and US regulations and are not the result of any policies adopted by NCL. However, I think all potential cruisers for this itinerary should be aware of its limitations. First off, be aware that the ship will leave Vancouver in the middle of the night - there is no traditional sail-away party. My wife and I have found this is a great way to set the tone for the cruise - music, dancing, and tropical beverages. Secondly, and I'm not going to be able to quote the exact regulation, but when a ship is in a Canadian port, there is a limit to the number of bars that can be open on the ship (I believe that the regulation is one bar per deck). For anyone who has sailed on a mega ship, you understand that there are multiple bars and lounges on various decks. I realize that this may not be a big deal for many people, but when you reserve a cruise on a ship like the Bliss, you do not expect there to be limitations on where and what you can drink. Beverages that would be available in the District Brew House or the Mojito Bar are not available for two days. In some restaurants (Food Republic and Margaritaville in our instance), the wait staff had to go fill our beverage order at another location, slowing down the service and limiting the choices. Secondly, US Immigration. We were not aware that we would lose half a day in San Francisco because all of the passengers and crew needed to exit the ship in San Francisco to pass through US Immigration. The process started at approximately 9 AM, and we were allowed back on the ship at approximately 1:30 or 2:00 PM. However, once we re-boarded at 2 PM, most venues and services were shut down as the crew was still going through immigration. Services and venues began to open up around 4 PM. Again, this may not matter to most people, especially if you wanted to spend the day in San Francisco and/or go on an excursion, but if you planned to stay and enjoy the ship, it makes a big difference. Lastly, we did observe some reluctance of the crew to enforce rules. Examples include children being in bar areas of certain lounges (and including H2O Spice, and including children actually sitting at the Mondavi wine bar) and tours that included children and babies in strollers going through the Thermal Suite (not on embarkation day, which is normal, but on day 4). Anyway, I would go on the Bliss again but would not choose this itinerary - just too many drawbacks and not enough of an opportunity to just relax and enjoy the ship. I'm sure many people had better or different experiences, but thought I'd share mine as someone who has been on a number of NCL cruises. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I'm a platinum member of NCL and been over 12 cruises with the line. I'm a supporter and was looking forward to the Bliss and booked the year before it came out. Four thousand people is a lot to tackle and per the previous ... Read More
I'm a platinum member of NCL and been over 12 cruises with the line. I'm a supporter and was looking forward to the Bliss and booked the year before it came out. Four thousand people is a lot to tackle and per the previous reviews the elevators especially forward take a long time usually a 5 minute or 10 minute wait. Specialty restaurants where i ate every nite are very good maybe not as good as others I've been on but the biggest problem is the lack of training as well as communication regarding wheelchair accessibility. I walk with a cane and when we got off the ship in San Francisco I got off with the last group since I was told to do so and yet there was an hour and a quarter wait in a circular line to get off the ship and no mention of where wheelchairs would be and embarkation was fine with the wheelchair but disembarkation was an issue as when I arrived to the theater with 45 minutes before the time I needed to get off the ship and there were 9 wheelchairs before mine- was a lot of disorganization .I decided to walk off the ship on my own as I knew I would miss the bus to the airport Etc. A lot of training needs to be done with the staff as I met a lot of blank stares when I ask ed questions as well as their inability to master the iPad which was used to order for the menu. Seems like many staff members boarded the ship right before embarkation in Vancouver. Usually an awesome experience with NCL but Bliss is a work in progress. It's a beautiful new appointed ship but more attention needs to be paid to the details and training and the cruise director plus the assistant dynamic is a little weird and you never saw them on board the ship just on the TV Read Less
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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Embarkation was terrible: we waited for 1 hour in line. On-board time was 2 p.m. but the ship did not depart until midnight- all that time we could have spent in Vancouver. Cabin was comparable to other crusielines but the furniture has ... Read More
Embarkation was terrible: we waited for 1 hour in line. On-board time was 2 p.m. but the ship did not depart until midnight- all that time we could have spent in Vancouver. Cabin was comparable to other crusielines but the furniture has begun to show its age. Room and food service were excellent Food was less sophisticated than say Holland Cruiselines but selection was broader to accomodate more nationalities. Entertainment was above average as were the enrichment activities- very iportant on a repositioning cruise. Disembarkation was orderly. Shuttle buses to connect city transportation were welcome. Excursions were much more expensive than what one could buy on shore. In Petropavlovsk thtat was not a choice but the excursion to Kaytak village was worth the money. The seamanship was excellent particularly how the crew managed to avoid a typhoon and yet to make every schediuled port with enough on-shore time. USD14.50 per-day charge is much larger than what we paid elsewhere just a year ago. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
Original cruise booking process was poor because of repeated incorrect information given by numerous NCL booking staff members. I should have taken this as a leading indicator of things to come. The itinerary was great and the weather ... Read More
Original cruise booking process was poor because of repeated incorrect information given by numerous NCL booking staff members. I should have taken this as a leading indicator of things to come. The itinerary was great and the weather was fantastic, NCL however was a very mixed bag. But don’t get me wrong, even a mediocre day on a cruise is pretty damn good. Internet Service - we paid for the unlimited streaming service advertised / offered. NCL should not advertise and collect large sums of money for services when it can’t come anywhere clise to delivering them. Yes I’m aware of the technical challenges of providing internet service at sea, but I believed NCL’s advertising because their competition also advertises this service. Unlike NCL however their competition actually privides it (and charges less). Main dining restaurant service was suprisingly bad. It got very old missing the evening shows because dinner service was soooo slow. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
This was the least favorite of my 4 NCL cruises (16 cruises total). This ship needs refurb. The carpets in the rooms are terrible. Some of the bad: -Food was cold or cool almost 50% of the time in the MDR. -How many times did the ... Read More
This was the least favorite of my 4 NCL cruises (16 cruises total). This ship needs refurb. The carpets in the rooms are terrible. Some of the bad: -Food was cold or cool almost 50% of the time in the MDR. -How many times did the matre d’ speak to us? Zero. In 21 days. But he visited the table next to us nightly. -JC Sanchez cruise director? Rarely left his office. Seen only at the show nightly -debarkation in Seattle took over 2 hours. My friends missed their noon NCL booked flight. -Internet was terrible. Out a solid 48 hours one time. They said they got a new satellite. It was worse after. -Volume of noice was so loud you couldn’t sleep till after midnight. In a “quiet”room -curtains had holes in them and Alaska sun shines 20 hours a day -Menus very repitative on 21 day cruise, and no fresh Alaska salmon?. -Chin Chin was really bad, and the food was half cold. Good: Fee dining was excellent Activities were lively and plentiful O’Sheehans was Great, and the staff and service excellent Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We had high hopes for this cruise. From Tokyo to Seattle! Alaska is gorgeous! Unfortunately when all was said and done it was really "just OK". I won't review NCL specifically here other than to say that since we first ... Read More
We had high hopes for this cruise. From Tokyo to Seattle! Alaska is gorgeous! Unfortunately when all was said and done it was really "just OK". I won't review NCL specifically here other than to say that since we first sailed NCL 5 years ago we have noticed a steady decline in quality and amenities. Their "chocolate night" is gone. The quality of the food is noticeably lower. Etc. From other cruisers I've spoken with this is not unique to NCL (HAL has been mentioned a few times by people I know). But we sailed NCL, and so that's what I will criticize. The crew was fine. That has been the one constant in all our NCL cruises. They are friendly, helpful, and just generally really nice. No complaints there at all. That said, there were significant organizational problems with disembarking in several ports. In Petropavlosk, for example, we missed our excursion because getting off the ship took over four hours. I knew someone who claims he saw what the problem was, but I won't resort to hearsay since I didn't witness it myself. I will just say there is no excuse for those sorts of delays, and the organizing of the disembarking was a mess. It wasn't as bad in most of the other ports, though Seattle was a nightmare. Again, poor organizing caused us to have a drastically shortened tour of Seattle. We were supposed to see Pike Street and some other locations, but all we had time to do was the Space Needle. No refund, or even partial refund or ship credit, was offered for either of those fiascoes which were THEIR FAULT. The food was very mediocre. Some of it was downright bad. Their eggs Benedict was raw. Not just once, but each of the three or four times we checked it out. A runny yoke is expected, but most of the white was runny too. That's not right. There was a variety of dishes available, but the seasoning was almost always very mild. Mild to the point that you couldn't really tell it was seasoned many times. Even in the premium restaurants (which we ate a few times). All in all, unacceptable. I can't pin this only on the Jewel, or this cruise. As I said, we've sailed NCL several times over the past five years, several different ships, and we've noted the steady decline in food quality with each successive cruise. Unless something changed we probably would not do this sort of itinerary on NCL again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Needed a short refresher cruise from a home port. We have sailed on several NCL ships including the Sky, Sun, Gem, Jade, Epic, Star, POA, and this last cruise on the Jewel. NCL has been consistent in their delivery of a nice lower cost ... Read More
Needed a short refresher cruise from a home port. We have sailed on several NCL ships including the Sky, Sun, Gem, Jade, Epic, Star, POA, and this last cruise on the Jewel. NCL has been consistent in their delivery of a nice lower cost product with a casual atmosphere, a little too casual in some venues....We have also sailed Princess, Disney and will be trying Celebrity in September 2017. The entertainment was adequate. The comedians Sam Fedele and Bob Brizendine, were FANTASTIC! Could have watched these Comedians all cruise. Luminescence was very good. The NCL group Souled Out was Fantastic! The Alambres trio were very good. The production show Band on the Run was TERRIBLE, Hokey and the Choreography of these talented kids was insulting to their talents. Le Cirque Bijou wasn't much better and we left after the Hokiness of Band on the Run. The food was typical, very good and ate too much of it. I do wish they did have a basic dress code, the tight tank tops on Men that looked dirty (also go by another name) should not be allowed in main dining rooms, very tacky. The service was pretty good in most venues with a few hiccups at O'Sheehans. The bar service was good, bought drinks individually and thought the $$ was fair. The food and dining experience was MUCH better in the Pay for Play venues. I liked Teppanyaki and Cagney's the best. Overall we had a great time, I make my own fun so really didn't have a big agenda. I wouldn't chose this ship until after a major refurbishment, I would chose another NCL ship. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was my 3rd sailing on the Pearl (chosen only for the stop in San Francisco) and 7th overall on NCL. Pre-cruise customer service was disappointing and left me not wanting to sail. I called multiple times pre-cruise to request a ... Read More
This was my 3rd sailing on the Pearl (chosen only for the stop in San Francisco) and 7th overall on NCL. Pre-cruise customer service was disappointing and left me not wanting to sail. I called multiple times pre-cruise to request a balcony cabin change but was thoroughly rebuffed. I guess I expected better having reached Gold on last sailing 8 months prior. NCL just feels different than in years past, and not a good different. There were many balcony cabins available up to the day before sailing. I was travelling with someone in another balcony cabin. Upon embarking in Los Angeles I went to guest services to ask if there was any possibility of a change (there was a sign saying full capacity, no changes possible). I got a call after 8PM that night offering a different cabin but declined after having already unpacked. Cabin 8542. Carpet seemed clean or new. No bathrobe (requested one from steward). Disgustingly dirty balcony table. No room service menu. Used Ziplock bags under sink left me wondering how well this cabin was cleaned. Slept in this cabin the first night then called the next morning to see if a change was still available. A friendly girl at Guest Services moved me to 9028. This room was no improvement. The shampoo dispenser was broken (button was missing) so a small bottle was provided. Still no bathrobe. Dirty carpet and sofa cover. Coffee table needs replacement. No room service menu here either. Steward either lacked attention to detail or didn't like having an unexpected cabin to service. Bath towels would be picked up off floor but bathmat left. Just simple little things. Travelling companion in 9008 had overall better service from a different steward. I'd not be too happy with these little things on an Alaska cruise at those high prices. 9028 may just be a cabin that's kept vacant as a back up in case something happens in another cabin. The rest of the ship needs a good cleaning. Dingy. There was maintenance going on. The Promenade Deck was roped off more than once. Other than that, same old Pearl. Activities seemed to be lacking for this 5-day sailing. Casino was closed the morning we sailed towards Victoria (2PM arrival) and for the rest of the trip. Positive notes: Got to see the Golden Gate Bridge sailing in and out of San Francisco after heavy fog prevented that on the Jewel a few years prior. Priority embarkation in Los Angeles was a nice surprise after finally reaching Gold on prior cruise. Disembarkation at Vancouver's Canada Place was painless (no immigration having stopped in Victoria the day before) and a short walk to the Skytrain to YVR airport. Overall, just not very exciting but then I didn't go in thinking it would be. Not a trip of a lifetime type of itinerary. It appeared to be mostly an older crowd as expected on an early May sailing. Lots of passengers had been onboard from Miami. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Norwegian Jewel cruise, reposition from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, Sept. 29, 2015. Cabin 5052 This was our second cruise on the Jewel, in addition to cruises on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers, with other cruise lines (plus ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel cruise, reposition from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, Sept. 29, 2015. Cabin 5052 This was our second cruise on the Jewel, in addition to cruises on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers, with other cruise lines (plus several less-pleasant ones on Navy ships). For comparison with our first cruise experience on the Jewel, see http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1920121 . Generally, those comments still apply, except where noted otherwise. I provided courtesy copies of that review twice to NCL management. They did not reply. Considering the extremely competitive nature of the cruise ship industry, that is both surprising and disappointing. I learned that NCL management is interested in hearing from their customers only when it involves additional income. Our cruise documents were more helpful than before. The departure pier was specified, along with its address, but the destination was listed only as “Los Angeles”. In actuality, the Pier is in San Pedro, which is within Los Angeles, but considered a separate area by some. The Long Beach airport is closer than the Los Angeles airport. It could be a better choice for some passengers, who might not consider it, because no specific information was provided about our arrival location. With no help from NCL, I located our destination pier, which was important to us, because of travel plans following the NCL cruise. Our cruise documents now made a distinction between “boarding” and “departure” times, which was helpful. The documents for our previous cruise had used the terms interchangeably, which led to considerable confusion as to when we should actually appear for the check-in process. The cruise documents now said that boarding would be at noon, and that we should not arrive more than an hour earlier. Based on our previous experience, we arrived at 10:30, and found 100-150 people ahead of us. As before, there were many staff members to guide and assist passengers. We boarded a bit before noon. A printed guide to the ship was available in the check-in area. This was a change from our previous cruise, and very helpful. Some passengers received one-sided copies. Be sure to grab a double-sided one, as it has helpful information, and a rudimentary map of the ship. NCL’s website now has better maps of each deck on their website. They can be downloaded, if you know how. However, they’re in the PNG format, rather than the more-common JPG format. I downloaded and converted the deck plans for each deck, then transferred them to my smart phone, for easy access. Look here, if interested: https://www.ncl.com/cruise-ship/jewel/deck-plans. From our previous NCL cruise, we knew that most passengers would head immediately to the Garden Café buffet for lunch. We had lunch at O’Sheehan’s, which was nearly vacant, though almost full when we finished our lunch. The place has an Irish bar theme, and good menu of “pub grub”. No draft beers were available during the cruise, nor were advertised drinks that required draft beer. Luggage was delivered to our cabin by 3:00. An orientation tour of the ship was offered at 1:30. We’d taken the tour on our previous cruise, and found it very helpful. The tour on this cruise included only a visit to the assembly stations for abandon ship drills and a lengthy tour of the spa, where spa staff members explained the wonderful services (additional cost) available to us. The tour was disappointing, and seemed to be largely an excuse for marketing the ship’s spa. Even worse, the tour was led by a person with a very thick accent, who was difficult to understand. After the mandatory abandon ship drill (life jackets not necessary), many passengers headed for the bar. The scene there was very dis-organized, with the bartender making no effort to serve passengers in their arrival order. Rather, he served the persons who yelled loudest. With many passengers having taken advantage of a promotional beverage package, this was totally foreseeable, but apparently not a concern for NCL food and beverage managers. A better system wouldn’t have been difficult to devise. During the cruise, we observed other situations where it became apparent that “crowd management” is not one of NCL’s core competencies. I understand that the Jewel spent some time in a shipyard in 2014. I noticed some improvements in our cabin, which was near the one for our previous cruise, and of a similar class. Our previous room was 5068. I remember noticing only one single 110-volt electrical outlet previously. Now, I found three single outlets, plus a “razor only” outlet in the bathroom, above the mirror. I still recommend bringing a multiple-outlet tap and/or extension cord, as you may have more electronic devices, or want to use only one location for powering them. The bed was very comfortable (the beds were joined, per our request), with firm mattresses and soft pillows. As before, no guest guide was provided, leaving us to discover everything on our own. The shower controls are a clever, but unconventional arrangement, where the left knob controls the water flow and the right one controls the temperature. After an airline career that included both international and domestic layovers, I do not recall seeing a similar arrangement in any hotel. An explanation in a guest guide would have been thoughtful. The actual water temperature varied significantly and unpredictably during showers, providing an incentive to keep them brief. The room was compact, but very adequate, with lots of storage and two small desks. Our room category was “OB” (Ocean View, Midship, Deck 5). Several television channels are available, though there is no channel guide or information about them. The movie and cartoon channels are not identified. Three news channels are available: MSNBC (very liberal), Fox News Channel (very conservative), and BBC (very British, and with a lot of sports programming), plus a few that seemed to show movies and cartoons. CNBC is also provided, though it lost credibility with most investors after the 2008 recession (I watch Bloomberg at home). Several shipboard channels are available. Interestingly, most of these are very grainy and snowy. One is from a webcam mounted near the bridge. Another channel shows the ship’s position on various maps, along with interesting information about the ship’s course and speed, plus weather-related information. It includes the current time, which is otherwise displayed only on the room’s phone (very difficult to read), the pool deck, and the sun deck. You may wish to bring an alarm clock, unless you want to rely on the phone’s wake-up call. Other channels tout shopping and shore excursions, and one shows videos of entertainment from previous days. Individual reading lights are located above the beds. Sadly, they are flood-type lights with frosted covers, and not very effective. If you want to read in bed, you should consider bringing a battery-powered reading light, as there are no electrical outlets near the head of the beds. Another change from our previous cruise was a small refrigerator with an “honor bar” inside. No pricing information was provided until Day 3, when a list was tucked into the refrigerator’s door. “If you have to ask the price….” As before, the carpeting for passageways in the stateroom areas is different from that in public areas. An easy way to remember your orientation is that the fish images on the carpet are swimming toward the bow. Also, stateroom numbers increase as you move aft. Food is plentiful on the ship, though the quality seemed to vary more than we remembered from the previous cruise. While most of it ranged from pretty good to excellent, some was nasty. Coffee had not improved from our previous cruise. It retains the honor of being the worst coffee I have experienced – even after careers in the Navy and the airlines. I used the espresso machines in the Garden Café buffet, which were okay. I’m not a coffee snob – I buy my beans from Costco. With only a couple of exceptions, all of the ship’s staff were very friendly and competent. Most were from developing countries, and appreciate this employment opportunity. The ship has almost 1100 crewmembers, from sixty countries, to serve about 2500 passengers. Entertainment on the ship is plentiful and very high caliber. We enjoyed all of the performances. Of special note is the Jewel’s “Show Band” (house band), led by Larry Lockwood. He is a gifted trumpet player. Another favorite was the “Awesome Twosome”. A welcome improvement from our previous cruise was the placement of deck plans on each deck, for guidance in finding your destination. They are located in the passageways on either side of the elevators/stairs at most locations, and on most decks. These are in addition to the profile views of the various decks on the ship. At the forward end of the port (left) passageway on Deck 11 is the Bridge Viewing Area, which provides a daytime-only view of the ship’s bridge, along with repeaters of electronic chart display information used by bridge officers. Unfortunately, no explanation of the information is provided, and passengers are not allowed to hear radio conversations. Instead, there is a repeating video of the ship’s construction process. Based on my career as an airline pilot, I know that many passengers are interested both in understanding the technology and in listening to radio conversations, especially in congested waters. While impressive and current, maritime chart display technology is many years behind that used by commercial airliners. Some information provided by NCL is incorrect, mis-leading, or contradictory. We learned to verify everything. One is the issue of reservations in the complimentary dining rooms. Guidance clearly states that reservations should be made only for large groups. In fact, the Restaurant Reservations desk will accept reservations for smaller groups. We learned this the hard way, after appearing at Tsar’s Palace without a reservation. We were told to expect a fifteen-minute wait, and were given a buzzer. Twenty minutes later, we inquired about our status. We were told that the hostess had just buzzed us (either she hadn’t, or the buzzer had failed), and were seated immediately. We watched several couples with reservation arrive and be seated immediately while we waited. Another is the issue of onboard shopping discounts for Latitudes members (NCL’s frequent traveler program) in the duty-free shop. Our Latitudes letter stated that the discount did not apply to “watches, alcohol, tobacco, and sale items”, implying that it would apply to other items. Our traveling companions learned that it actually applied only to NCL logo items. Depending on where you look, a $7.95 service charge applies to all room service orders, only those outside of 6:30 to 10:00 am, or to everything except beverages and baked goods ordered for breakfast. Take your pick…. The last day’s newsletter explained the procedures for disembarking in Los Angeles, and how to clear U.S. customs and immigration screening. That was of only academic interest, since we’d already cleared immigration and customs during a port visit to Astoria, Oregon. Since that stop, we were considered to be in the U.S. I suspect that this was standard protocol for the Los Angeles-based cruises to Mexico, and no one thought to change the information. The same incorrect information was repeated on an internal television channel. The PA announcements on the morning of arrival made no effort to correct the error. It didn’t cause specific problems, but probably left some passengers confused. In Astoria, the entry process for U.S. citizens was efficient and much quicker than advertised. For non-citizens, it was pretty much a disaster. The Cruise Director continued calling more groups to join the line, even though it already contained a few hundred persons. NCL must bear most, if not all, responsibility for that mess. On a positive note, there was considerably less presence of the very annoying photographers. I appreciated that. NCL is very proud of their “Norwegian Concierge” smartphone app, which is said to work only aboard ship. Most likely, it is intended to work with the ship’s Wi-Fi system. Presumably, it will offer information about the schedule for shipboard activities. Attempts to launch it in the embarkation area resulted in an invitation to launch it after boarding the ship. It didn’t work there, either. Ship’s staff said that the company was still working to implement it. It’s a great idea, as it might be used to publish the daily menus for the various restaurants on the ship, which were otherwise impossible to find, short of actually visiting each restaurant, and then only for that day. Compared to our 2013 Alaska cruise, the Jewel experience was better in some areas, and worse in others. It’s very disappointing that NCL is uninterested in comments from customers, unless it involves additional revenue. I won’t bother with sending them a courtesy copy of this review. Read Less
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