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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was a repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver with our 2 grandkids 3 & 7. First off, under three year olds have a room to play in with some toys but no supervision until they hit 3 years old. Kids did like the program for the ... Read More
This was a repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver with our 2 grandkids 3 & 7. First off, under three year olds have a room to play in with some toys but no supervision until they hit 3 years old. Kids did like the program for the few times they went, it was closed at lunch and dinner and cost money after 10:30pm. Arcade pass was $175 for a week, we found that expensive and they do not honor the day pass as advertised on their website. Go karts we thought were going to be the highlight, it was unsafe for my seven year old after doing a double ride to test. We cancelled future single rides, however they did end up on our final bill which resulted in a trip to guest services on debarkation day (it did show refunded on our account in our cabin on tv). The family pool was deep but warm and in cooler weather not crowded. The big blue slide was so much fun! We didnt find any entertainment that would capture childrens attention but did enjoy Jersey Boys for ourselves. We have never minded ship buffets but this was very challenging with small children as tables were scarce or non existant and we were offered a suggestion of carrying our food down one floor...well not a possibility with small kids. Food was fine, we really loved the Q for specialty dining. Some weirdness were noted with the drinks, I had the drink package included so just paid the grats on it. However when ship is in port ( in our Pacific Coastal this was 75% of our cruise) we are charged an additional port tax ranging from $1.06 to $3.97 ...I couldn't figure out the varying amounts on the same priced drink?! I asked about this when booking when reading a review and the NCL rep told me there was no such charge!! ( insert confused emojii). Hubby is a smoker and has now after several wonderful years of cruising...he vowed he would never return. There is 1 area at the back of the ship dedicated for smoking (casino when opened and your if your gambling) and it closed for: refueling ( hours), special events and random closures. There was some grumpy passengers right from getting on the ship and I don't usually have sympathy...but they are people too! Every drink was yummy but the best was found in the mojito bar. Enjoy your cruise friends. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our 7th cruise overall and our 3rd with Norwegian. Overall not very blissful....I would rate it was average at best. What surprised me the most is that none of the staff went out of their way to provide exceptional customer ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise overall and our 3rd with Norwegian. Overall not very blissful....I would rate it was average at best. What surprised me the most is that none of the staff went out of their way to provide exceptional customer service. Perhaps with this being their newest ship, they have yet to work all of the kinks out. At the end of the cruise you are Aurora given “ cruise hero” comment cards and I was unable to think of one single employee to nominate.The main dining rooms are entirely way too small for the ship. We had a specialty Dining package so we had 4 meals that were specialty restaurants. Unfortunately, the specialty restaurants fell short on this ship as well. That being said, I would NOT recommended strictly going with the “include restaurants” unless you like to order the same menu items. The Taste and Flavor had the same menus the entire cruise and look to seat abut 50ppl. We did eat at Taste once and only once. After I found a huge black hair (I’m a blonde) in my food, we never went back. The cabins are a huge miss on this ship as well. My husband is 5’11” and of average build...his suits were too wide to fit in the already awkward closet. Go Carts were a waste. We were on the track with 3 kids that couldn’t move their cars and the attendants wouldn’t pull them off of the course or apologize. Only to say...“go to guest services”!! That seemed too be the answer for everyone until you wait in line for an hour. Our past 2 cruises have bee with Norwegian but we will most likely be finding a different company that values service and repeat customers. I was not impressed with the Bliss!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
First, let me say that we have not cruised in about 10 years. We are retirement age people who cruised often as a family with our 2 children. They enjoyed it more than we did. Recently, we decided to give it a try again and visit some ... Read More
First, let me say that we have not cruised in about 10 years. We are retirement age people who cruised often as a family with our 2 children. They enjoyed it more than we did. Recently, we decided to give it a try again and visit some cities we've never been before, namely Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia. In the past, we cruised on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess. These were standard size ships (2,500 to 3,000 passengers). The Bliss is a new (almost 1 year old) "Mega" vessel with a capacity of over 6,000 passengers (although the ship lists it at 4,000 passengers). And despite its immense size, no matter where you go, you were always jammed in with a huge crowd of people. On this ship, be prepared to do a lot of walking. From the back end of the ship to the front (or other way around). Or going up or down stairs from one deck to the next. The elevators on the ship were always jammed with passengers all day and night long. My wife found it very difficult to get around, having had knee replacement surgery recently. • I'll list all the "pros" of my experience first: • Entertainment: "Jersey Boys" was the best show on the ship. Standing ovation. Get your seat a 1/2 hour before the show starts, because it fills up fast. "Havana" was a good latin song and dance review. Elaborate costumes and stage decor. The stand-up comedians were terrific, hosted by Tim and featuring Jay Black and Larry Omaha. Book your seats on your first day on the cruise at the theater asap. I did not go to the Cavern Club shows. Way too late for us. However, "Siglo", their resident rock band that played at functions around the ship (the atrium and the pool) throughout the day were awesome. Be sure to go to the functions at the atrium, there's a lot games and shows with lots of audience participation. If you can find an empty seat, grab it fast. • Food: The best specialty restaurant for us was Cagney's steakhouse by far. Great Prime Rib (16 oz). La Cucina was good, not great. But "Q" was very disappointing and hardly anyone besides us were in the restaurant. I guess they got the word of mouth on it. The main dining rooms are good, The Manhattan room is the best of the mains, be sure to book a dinner reservation (even in the main dining rooms) or else you will wait in a long line before you are seated. Beware the breakfast and lunch service in the main dining rooms are slow, but sometimes a better alternative than the buffet. The Garden Cafe (the buffet, on deck 16) is a mad house. It's the largest buffet restaurant we have ever experienced anywhere and you can have ANY kind of food that you can imagine (asian, italian, mexican, deli, salads, on and on). But you have to scramble to find an empty table and you have to dodge and weave around the other passengers getting their food. Overall, the food at the buffet is standard in quality. Our cabin: see my separate review • The observation lounge: what could be bad about lying on a long lounge chair with a pillow behind your head and overlooking the ocean along with a drink and a snack, This is the observation lounge, a quiet area one deck below the buffet. • The Cons: • The elevators were always jam packed! I would have taken the stairs if my wife wasn't with me. • Excursions: because of scheduling problems, our time at the cities were very limited to a short quick afternoon. Plus, because of the number of passengers, we were very slow in disembarking the ship. Very frustrating. Overall, the cruise had some great aspects with a few not so great aspects. If you come in with a positive attitude and are not annoyed by the bad aspects, you'll have a great time. If you read this review you will know what to expect and figure out how to avoid the bad and indulge in the good. Good luck. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Since we are more mature and seasoned cruisers (over 50+), we probably have different expectations and reasons for cruising. We have sailed NCL several times, but this was the second, and probably last, on their mega-ships. The first was ... Read More
Since we are more mature and seasoned cruisers (over 50+), we probably have different expectations and reasons for cruising. We have sailed NCL several times, but this was the second, and probably last, on their mega-ships. The first was on the Breakaway out of New York. This was a repositioning Coastal Cruise; LA to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco and Victoria. We took it for a quick and close getaway and the two stops are favorites of ours. We flew to Los Angeles from Phoenix the same day and reserved a Supershuttle to take us to the pier. Easy, peasy, and cheaper than taxis or transfers. There were no other stops, since all passengers were going to the port. The Bliss is a beautiful ship with a sophisticated vibe. There are certainly plenty of places to go and things to do, with go-karts and laser tag as NCL’s latest entertainment venture. We tried the go-Karts - $9.95 for a double (two person) kart – 4 laps. Singles are the same price, but you get 8 laps. Caution: the seats are VERY tight and anyone with flexibility issues may want to reconsider. They were lots of fun and certainly a first on a cruise ship. There are lots of bars, restaurants and specialty shops (Ice Cream, Starbucks, etc.). The Bliss has a rather large selection of Specialty Restaurants as well, all with an up charge. So let’s talk about food. The food in any of the three main dining rooms was good, but not exceptional. Free style dining works for many, but we like having the same waiter and fellow diners, especially for dinner. There was rarely a feeling of care that we have received on other cruise lines. The buffet is huge, but the selections were not memorable. Trying to find a table during peak times is a challenge. We tried three specialty restaurants; Le Bistro, which is a favorite, La Cucina, the Italian Restaurant and Q, the bar-be-que place. Le Bistro never disappoints; the food was excellent, servers friendly and efficient and the décor soft and sophisticated. The only strange thing was the location; on Deck 16 close to the go-kart entrance. Access was through an outside deck near the elevators and on a chilling evening, could make you walk faster. La Cucina was very nice, the food was very good and they accommodated us when we arrived a bit early. Q is more casual and pricing a la carte. They have a country band playing there, so the atmosphere is appropriate; also very good food and friendly servers. The Atrium is an area on deck 5 where most of the passenger activities take place; trivia, game shows, cooking demonstrations, etc. This was a major disappointment. The area is ringed by a bar, customer service desk, future cruise desk and Internet café, so there is lots of traffic, with most of it not engaged with what’s happening on stage. The area is open above and the Local (Pub style restaurant) has a bar where passengers can eat lunch and view (and comment on) what’s happening below. Children would run around the stage – chaos ensued. Noise level was through the roof. We had a balcony cabin(13300) located on deck thirteen. It was a good nice location, aft and close enough to a bank of elevators, but far enough away to avoid noise. Beds were comfortable; two different types of pillows and wonderful top quilts. Storage was somewhat different. Nightstands were about 9 inches wide with one shelf (no drawers). There were two storage cabinets adjacent to the desk, again no drawers. The closet was RIGHT NEXT to the couch, so accessing hanging clothes was a challenge. The bathroom was roomy and had glass shower doors and enough shelf space for everything we had. There were more shelves in the closet, as well as the safe. Workable, but not my favorite configuration. As far as entertainment on board, there were lots to choose from. Jersey Boys was excellent, Havana was good, but about average for a production show, but the music and costumes were very good. My advice is to book pre-cruise for these shows. They are complimentary, but if you want to see the earlier shows, book in advance. There seemed to be enough duos and bands, but they played in restaurants and/or small bars, so dancing was difficult. The guest entertainers were diverse and a hit or miss, depending on your personal expectations. In general, while the ship is beautiful, it seemed more like a hotel/resort than a cruise ship. There is a center aisle along most decks and very few windows, so you might not know you were at sea. Good for some, not for others. This is a ship more for families and young adults. Prepare to pay for many things above and beyond your fare. Also be aware with so many passengers (Over 4500) the noise level and traffic will be above average. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
This is a nice ship with lots of things to do if you want to pay extra for them. NCLs free at sea program is anything but. It cost more to book with free at sea than with a sail away rate, you are charged tips on the drinks you could ... Read More
This is a nice ship with lots of things to do if you want to pay extra for them. NCLs free at sea program is anything but. It cost more to book with free at sea than with a sail away rate, you are charged tips on the drinks you could have not the drinks you do have. Most of the fun extras on the ship like the race track and laser tag cost extra. There were 1/2 empty drink glasses and beer bottles sitting aroun all the time, probably because drink were free if you choose that package. Bartenders were kept very busy. They repeated the main stage shows for 2 nights which left limited options on the other nights for something to do. Waste baskets are built in to the walls by the elevators but are not labeled and basicly hidden. I loved that the smoking area in the casino was glassed off. Lunch menu was the same every day. Because of the free at sea program we never ate dinner in the main dining rooms. Specialty dining was ok, but not excellant. Read Less
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
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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