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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
10 friends celebrating one our friends birthday. Some of the group have cruised before but it was our first big cruise. We really enjoyed our experience on the Jewel. The staff made us feel very special, and were so perfessional and fun ... Read More
10 friends celebrating one our friends birthday. Some of the group have cruised before but it was our first big cruise. We really enjoyed our experience on the Jewel. The staff made us feel very special, and were so perfessional and fun to be around. We did an excursion at every port using both private and ship excursions. We got to see so many differen and wonderful place, people, architecture, and animals and we felt safe doing so at every port, which I was concerned about before we sailed. Most ports had a little sample of the culture set up so if you didn't want to venture to for off the ship you didn't have to. The food and entertainment on the ship was very good and plentiful, you could always find something to eat and do at most times of the day. Our home was an inside cabin, which is what it is. It had everything we needed but we were only there to sleep. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
For our fiftieth wedding anniversary, we decided to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. We had done a round trip partial transit ten day cruise several years ago, but this time decided to do a full transit. We embarked on the cruise ... Read More
For our fiftieth wedding anniversary, we decided to do a full transit of the Panama Canal. We had done a round trip partial transit ten day cruise several years ago, but this time decided to do a full transit. We embarked on the cruise in Miami, FL. We are wintering in Apollo Beach, FL, near Tampa, so we and the other couple cruising with us rented a car and drove to Miami the day before the cruise. We stayed in the Best Western in Kendall overnight, turned in the car at a lot near the cruise port, and took the free shuttle provided by the rental car agency (Budget) to the port. We arrived at the port at around 12:00pm. We had a fairly short wait outside before the line started moving, and once the line started moving, we were onboard by about 12:45, and our room was ready for us. We had a mid-ship balcony cabin, 9068, so we were very centrally located for everything on the ship. The cabin wasn't as large as others we have been in, but it was sufficient. It could do with some new carpeting and new drapes. There was a king size bed, a couch that could be made into a single bed, a table, and a chair. The table was under the TV, which was on the wall, a flat screen LCD TV. The on/off button on the remote didn't work, so we had to turn the TV on manually, but all the other buttons worked. TV is very limited - MSNBC, FoxNews, BBC News, CNBC, a sports channel, and several NCL channels where they showed movies, TV shows, and the game shows that were played in the Spinnaker Lounge in the evenings. It was not interactive like on some cruise ships. Our room steward was very nice and very accommodating. We had to ask for robes twice before we got them (on other cruises they were already in the room). There was also a refrigerator that was full of booze and sodas that you had to pay for. Also, in one of the closets, there was a safe for valuables. There was plenty of storage space, hangers, drawers, and shelves, so we could unpack our suitcases for the 2 week trip and place them under the bed to get them out of the way. Part way through the cruise they gave us an offer for laundry - fill one bag with laundry and they would wash it and fold it for you for $19.95. It's a great deal and was good for the whole trip. We only had laundry done once. We had the six night dining package, so we ate in five of the six specialty restaurants, and they were all wonderful! Teppenyaki is a Japanese hibachi grill where the chef prepares the meal right at the table. You could have steak, chicken, fish, or any combination of them all. It was wonderful!! Moderno is a Brazillian steak house where servers come to your table with several different types of meat - chicken wrapped in bacon, beef, sausage, pork ribs, beef ribs, and lamb. Plus some delicious grilled fresh pineapple. La Cucina is a delicious Italian restaurant with wonderful food. Le Bistro is a great French restaurant, and Cagney's is a wonderful steakhouse. We ate in all of them, and the food was exceptional! We made reservations in all the specialty restaurants before we got on the ship, and I'm glad we did, because the restaurant reservation desk lines were always very long. We also got the times we wanted by making our reservations early. One restaurant that always seems to fill up quickly and is a favorite is the Teppenyaki hibachi grill. It has very limited seating and is very popular. For lunch, we ate in Tsar's Palace several times because we really liked being served rather than standing in line and then looking for a table. Another nice sit-down place is O'Sheehan's Irish Pub with pub food. We ate there a few times (it is complimentary). The only problem with it is that the menu is the same every day. At Tsar's Palace, it changed from day to day. One place we found our last couple of days on the ship was La Cucina for breakfast and lunch. It is open for both meals, and is very quiet and out of the way. I wish we had found it earlier in the cruise! For dinner, we ate in the specialty restaurants, in the Azura main dining room, Tsar's Palace main dining room, O'Sheehan's, and up in the Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe periodically had themes - one night was Asian food, and one night was Caribbean food, etc. We loved the freestyle cruising, where we could go to dinner any time and anywhere we wanted. Entertainment was some of the best we have seen on a cruise ship. The Jewel singers and dancers were extraordinary, and they had a wonderful Broadway singer come sing for us, a comedienne who was hilarious and included her 8 year old daughter in her final performance on the ship (they both play the violin), and a fantastic Russian acrobatic couple who did all kinds of acrobatics using trapezes and long pieces of fabric. There was also a magician and a hypnotist. The cruise director, Iain, was hilarious and ended every show with a "joke of the day." He also hosted silly game shows, and in the afternoons, did Q&A's with the entertainers. The itinerary was fantastic. We saw four places we have never seen before - Cartagena, Colombia, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Corinto, Nicaragua, and Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala. Plus, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, where we have been before. Not to mention the whole Panama Canal, which was spectacular. We had a narrator that spoke about the workings of the locks, the history of the canal, and about Panama. We also saw a National Geographic documentary on the making of the Panama Canal the day before we got to the canal. They showed it on the big screen in the Stardust Theater. My husband and I both said that our favorite part of the canal was seeing the "Culebra Cut" where they had to blast through the mountains to get the canal through. All the shows were held in the Stardust Theater, a huge theater on decks 6 and 7. They also showed big screen movies in there on sea days and held port and shopping talks in there. Plus, anyone who went on any NCL excursion in any of the ports, met in the Stardust Theater and went off the ship as a group to get on their buses. It meant much less pandemonium on the pier. The game shows were held in the Spinnaker Lounge, a lounge at the top front of the ship. During the day you have beautiful views of the sea or ports of call. At night there is always something going on in there. Also, on sea days, Spinnaker is called a "quiet zone" for most of the day, so if you want to go up there and read a book or rest in a comfortable chair, that's the place to go for peace and quiet. Drinks on this ship are the most expensive I've ever seen on a ship. A glass of Chardonnay was $8.95, or $11.50 if you wanted a large one. A single shot of "bar" whiskey was $8.50. If you wanted single malt Scotch, it was $10.95. Many people had the Ultimate Beverage Package as their booking bonus, so there were lots of drinks being passed out. On other ships, we've seen 2 for one drinks in certain bars, but not on this one. The only special was the drink of the day, and that was $7.95. They did have two Martini tastings, with different Martinis at each one, and they had several wine tastings - we did one of them. They also had a Mojito tasting which we didn't do, and a Margarita tasting, which we also didn't do. All of the bar waiters are extremely friendly and accommodating. Service was excellent. Shore excursions were great. We did one in all but one of the ports. The guides were very informative, spoke very good English, and were friendly and funny. In Cartagena, we did the Magnificent Cartagena shore excursion. We saw a beautiful church and we also walked through a section of the old city that was beautiful, and went in two museums. In Puntarenas, Costa Rica, we saw a nice folk dance show put on by children, and they even got my husband and brother-in-law up and dancing with them! In Corinto, Nicaragua, we saw two beautiful and totally different looking churches. In Puerto Quetzal, Guatamala, my husband and I didn't do a shore excursion because nothing offered looked interesting to us, so we just got off the ship and walked around the thatched-roof "Palapa." There were lots of things for sale, but I just bought a magnet. In Acapulco, we went to see the cliff divers and had a spectacular view of them, then were taken to a couple of places to shop. In Cabo San Lucas we did the Snorkel and Sail to Santa Maria Cove. It was a beautiful trip. My husband snorkeled and I stayed on the boat. It wasn't a sailboat, which was a little disappointing, but it was a nice, comfortable boat. My husband is a jogger, so he spent a lot of time up on deck 13 on the jogging/walking track. He also went to the fitness center and used the treadmills and lifted weights. There is a walking area on deck 7 where you can walk all the way around the ship, which we would do from time to time. They ask that you walk only, not run or jog on that deck. Disembarkation was wonderful and perfectly smooth. We were flying out the day after we got off the ship, so we signed up for an excursion in LA. We did the excursion that took us through LA, to Hollywood, and then to the Farmers' Market for lunch, then to the airport. We got off the ship, went through customs, went to the black zone to pick up our luggage, and went to our waiting tour bus. At the end of the cruise, we were dropped off at the Southwest terminal where we printed out our boarding passes, then went to the bus stop where the hotel vans stop. It was so easy! My husband and I were both concerned that a fourteen day cruise would be way too long and we would both go stir crazy, but that wasn't the case. We both had a wonderful time! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this particular itinerary because of the unusual ports of call, especially Central America. This did not disappoint in the least. However, the NCL experience could have been better. First of all, embarkation was complete chaos ... Read More
We chose this particular itinerary because of the unusual ports of call, especially Central America. This did not disappoint in the least. However, the NCL experience could have been better. First of all, embarkation was complete chaos and very disorganized. Long lines and half-way into our wait, quite a number of agents just "disappeared" making the wait even longer. No system at all. Maybe they should follow another cruise line by having staggered check-in times depending what deck you are booked on. The ship itself was very disappointing. Did not realize it had no open atrium, so it felt very enclosed. I didn't like that most of the bars were next to each other in a long line. No special area to go to. There wasn't a small cafe where you could get light snacks such as sandwiches, cookies and coffee which I definitely missed. Although I liked the choice of dining when we chose to, I did not like the "freestyle" experience seeing tattered t-shirts, shorts, beach sandals being worn by some of the passengers in the dining rooms in the evening. This especially so in the Azura Dining Room. I think there should be some sort of dress code in the evenings. Casual dress should be worn for the buffet only in the evenings. As such, I didn't wear a second evening dress as most people didn't even bother. I think it is nice to see ALL passengers dressed for formal nights. No shrimp cocktail was served in main dining rooms, only once on the buffet that we noticed. Small coffee cups in dining room too, why??? The entertainment was excellent as was the cruise director, but do not think I will travel NCL in the future, unfortunately. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
It was our 25 wedding anniversary, we chose going through the Panama canal. This was our first cruise. We disembarked on every stop. We enjoyed the sunshine, the itinerary was geared to the older folk, but we found things to do in the ... Read More
It was our 25 wedding anniversary, we chose going through the Panama canal. This was our first cruise. We disembarked on every stop. We enjoyed the sunshine, the itinerary was geared to the older folk, but we found things to do in the sports part of the ship. The entertainment was good until the nights with the two Russian circus couple, they were the highlight and wished for more. The main buffet was also a good feature but towards the end of the cruise, we picked O'Sheehans as our place to go for wings. We loved the freedom to eat when we wanted to. We enjoyed meeting all the staff from different countries. I would have enjoyed a tour of the ship, and only found out later that they did have a tour. More information could have been put on the ships wedsite on our tablet, time change/current time; our port and excursions etc. It would have been nice to have a digital clock in the cabin to see the time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were ... Read More
Even if you know the history, have seen the documentaries and understand the engineering, a full passage of the Panama Canal is a MUST for any lover of history, science or travel. The senior crew members were very assessable and were quite willing to answer questions from the very basic to the very technical. The food set up at the buffet provided a good flow with multiple food islands. Lines were minimal, even during peak hours due to this setup. The ship was exceptionally clean and the staff, with few exceptions was very attentive to the passengers needs. Our cabin on the 8th deck was quiet and well laid out. The showers were better than other ships I have cruised on. My only complaint with the Jewel was the fitness center. None of the upright exercise bikes worked properly. The seated bikes were Technogym brand, which, in my opinion are not nearly as good as Life-Fitness products. The gym was also to hot during most of the cruise. On the bright side, the weight equipment included dumbells up to 75 lbs., incline benches and older life fitness machines (better than the newer designs in my opinion), all of which was well maintained. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
As usual a little late with this review, but, better late than never!! Like any cruise, everyone’s opinions and experiences are different, which is what makes the Cruise Critic reviews so interesting. This was our 7th NCL cruise. ... Read More
As usual a little late with this review, but, better late than never!! Like any cruise, everyone’s opinions and experiences are different, which is what makes the Cruise Critic reviews so interesting. This was our 7th NCL cruise. Panama Canal had been on my bucket list for a very long time, so I was very excited to finally be going. We booked this cruise 9 months before departure and did a fair amount of research/recommendations beforehand. All the ports were places/countries which we hadn’t visited previously. Pre Cruise We decided to spend 3 nights in Miami. First visit and we opted for a boutique hotel in South Beach. Great fun experience and we also used the hop on hop off bus to tour all the areas of Miami. Embarkation We were fortunate to have VIP status for this cruise which made the check in and embarkation process very easy. Looking round the embarkation hall there seemed to be some lines but didn’t hear anyone complain about the time it took to board. Sail Away Party Worth the time it took for me to organise it. Although difficult to know exactly how many people were there (most did wear red) it was very nice to have the opportunity to meet up with some of the Cruise Critic members before the Meet & Greet. Meet & Greet The Meet & Greet was not as well attended as it could have been. I find it annoying that people sign up and then don’t turn up. The ship caters refreshments according to the number of people that the Cruise Critic organisers give. Maybe something to think about before you sign up next time!! There was a very good turn out by the senior crew members who came to meet and talk to us. Their presence was appreciated and those who attended had a very enjoyable time. Casino Good size casino with plenty of tables and slots. Bonus for me was that it actually wasn’t too smoky!! Shopping Probably the most boring I’ve seen on any cruise ship to date. Cabin Mid ship balcony – deck 9. Comfortable bed, spacious and kept really clean and well serviced by our cabin steward Clariza. (She got a Hero report from me!) Never had to ask for anything more than the first time and the cabin was always ready by the time we went back to it. She got to know our routine very quickly! Plenty of storage space and even the bathroom wasn’t too bad. Would be nice to have a bit bigger table on the balcony and it’s time that the ship went interactive on the television system. Crew Members The majority of crew members were happy, smiling, helpful and very friendly. (Always the odd exception!) With the majority of tips prepaid or added automatically, there’s not that tendency to ‘overwork’ the tips!. However, we still tend to give a little extra to those that deserve it. Food Overall, there was plenty of food available on the ship at all times! We had the ultimate beverage package which worked very well. We were able to try the new Main dining room menus that started the week we boarded. We found these menus very good. 15 day rotation, so always something different each evening. Plenty of choice, good size portions, favourites kept on the starters menu in addition the daily ‘Classic Entrées’ and the changing daily Featured Entrées dishes. All the food was good quality, nicely presented and the hot dishes were hot! Not bad desserts too. I was sorry to see the 3 ‘a la carte’ items on the menu have been removed as I personally thought that that was a great idea for those that wanted something different without needing to go to a speciality restaurant. Perfect for families. Both main dining rooms were very nice but overall we much preferred the Tsar’s Palace. Well spaced tables and good wait staff. Didn’t eat in the buffet very often but what we did have was fine and there were certainly choices to suit everyone. The design is good with island stations for a lot of the food. Like most buffet areas, there is never enough seating and at busy times that often meant food going cold whilst you tried to find seating or having to take it in turns to get your food. Ate several times in both O’Sheehan’s and Chin Chin restaurants and thought the food was good in both of them. Particularly enjoyed having a complementary Asian Restaurant. Moderno (VIP) The Suit/VIP guests get to use this restaurant exclusively for breakfast & lunch. Initially very poor service here although this was quickly remedied by management after complaints were made. The quality of the food is very good but the menus remained exactly the same for the entire 15 days. I would also add that these limited menus have not changed for at least the last 5 years!! If you want to eat lunch there every day it’s quite a challenge! Speciality We had 2 speciality dinners included as platinum latitudes members. We chose the Bistro and Moderno. Have to say that these were the worst two meals, regarding food and service, that we had during the entire cruise!! Inclusive dining packages may well be part of the reason for this drop in standards?? Entertainment/Activities Some shows were better than others but again that’s down to personal taste. We particularly enjoyed Jeri Sager, The Le Cirque Bijou and The Souled Out Band. There was music and dance provided for everyone and of course my favourite ‘The White Hot Party’! Ian is a really good cruise director. Always around and very friendly and approachable. He also has a good team. Plenty of dance classes, lessons, trivia, bingo, exhibitions, lectures, poolside dance parties, etc. so there was always something you could do. However, I never did work out why the Fyzz lounge was always so cold! Ports of Call Ports of call were Cartagena, Columbia – Puntarenas, Costa Rica – Corinto, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala ,- Acapulco, México and Cabo San Lucas, México. All new places for us and we really enjoyed all the excursions we took. (some NCL, some private). Particular bests for me were Antigua and the Cliff Divers in Acapulco. Panama Canal This day more than lived up to expectations! Don’t want to say too much as it’s something you want to experience firsthand. However the ship did a really good job of making it a great day with various events. Very interesting documentary film a couple of days before and live commentary during the transit. Disembarkation Disembarkation was not as bad as I feared but still quite a long line for US Immigration but it did move at a reasonable rate (at least when we disembarked at 9.30am!). Post Cruise We stayed overnight in LA and then flew to Orlando for 4 nights. Visited Epcot and Kennedy Space Centre, both of which were brilliant! Overall we had a really great holiday and NCL remains a favourite cruise line for us as it really suits our life style very well. Additional thanks to Claus for his time and to our Concierge Virginia. And, of course, to the very approachable Captain Pelle Fredriksson for such a wonderful smooth sailing. Now looking forward to researching for a new adventure in the not too distant future! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because my brother pics all our cruises and I just trust his choices..lol. I have been traveling with Norwegian for 4 years now and it is amazing. So spoiled by the time i get home,have a hard time adjusting. We had ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my brother pics all our cruises and I just trust his choices..lol. I have been traveling with Norwegian for 4 years now and it is amazing. So spoiled by the time i get home,have a hard time adjusting. We had the most wonderful crew, but our waiter was one of the most pleasing people i have ever met. Word of warning...on this ship and a few others. The pull out bed is as hard as a rock, so it would be fine for kids, but not adults. Even though it was so hard our room steward brought extra padding and blankets to make it a softer experience..Thanks to all the crew and we will be back traveling with you next and forever..I know i should quit smoking, but if i choose not to i may have quit going, because i see Norwegian is sending surveys out asking if you would cruise if it was no smoking. Im done if they do..cancel the food for heavy people..they wont be going either then.. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
Going through the canal was an interesting experience. Hard to believe they have been using them for over 100 years and still working like clockwork. The film about the building of the canal was very enlightening. Colombia, Costa Rica, ... Read More
Going through the canal was an interesting experience. Hard to believe they have been using them for over 100 years and still working like clockwork. The film about the building of the canal was very enlightening. Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala were all different and we enjoyed our excursions in each port. Catamaran and walled city in Cartagena was a hilite for me. The coffee plantation in Costa Rica a close second and I don't even drink coffee. We had been to Acapulco and Cabo before, so enjoyed returning! The staff is amazing, always smiles, good mornings, etc. Especially want to mention the washy washy staff, who played guitar and sang us into our breakfast and lunch each day with smiles and squirts of hand sanitizer. The entertainment was amazing and varied. Jeri Sager has a truly great voice, thoroughly enjoyed Jean Pierre's magical comedy. Chris Pendleton is truly funny, David Naster was good. The hilite for me were the performances by the Russian aerialist duo and Le Cirque Bijou where the jewel cast of singers and dancers joined in for a cirque du soleil like performance. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears ... Read More
we have wanted to go through the Panama Canal for a long time. this is our second time on the Jewel, she is an awesome ship. the first time was spectacular. it is a little hard to live up to that. the new management at NCL, it appears are more concentrated than ever on making money. the prices for photos have been raised, the prices of drinks has been raised and are measured out exactly. NCL had a reputation for giving an outstanding cruise for a reasonable price. however those deals seem to be drying up. the food remains very good, the service by the crew excellent, the entertainment and activities remain good and the shore excursions were outstanding. jewel class ships are so easy to get around on. we were more than lucky with the weather. embarkation went very well, but disembarkation was in a little bit of disarray. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because it was Her turn to choose! It has been on Rachel's bucket list for awhile now. Mine too, a win win I call it! This was our first time on Norwegian and It was not a disappointment. I enjoyed the choice of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was Her turn to choose! It has been on Rachel's bucket list for awhile now. Mine too, a win win I call it! This was our first time on Norwegian and It was not a disappointment. I enjoyed the choice of food in the garden cafe, specialty restaurants, and the other dining options as well. Our cabin was # 4573 inside, no problems at all. The ships decor was a pleasant surprise from our most frequent line, Carnival, with a more conservative wood theme in the cabins and throughout the ship. I have read some reviews saying the ships interior was faded, and out dated. I found that to be false. I personally find many of Carnivals ships to be gaudy, so a wood theme worked for me. We experienced no problems on embarkation or debarkation(Miami / San Pedro) or at any of the ports of call. My wife found the entertainment a little weak, but the Circus show was great! We found the crew to be friendly, for the most part, and willing to help with any needs that were asked. The people on this particular cruise was a bit older, as we are in our forties and lower fifty's, and wanting to unwind from the daily grind, we found it refreshing to not have to fight for a spot in the Jacuzzi, or pool. We met some really great people too, Clive, Gaile, & Noela from Australia, Mark & Toni from Minnesota, Lenny & Vickie(squiggy) also from Minnesota. Among others, Great crowed! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
We had an amazing experience. The staff were incredible. Never saw a grumpy face. Every day on board we were made to feel very special. The specialty restaurants provide a quality meal. I am 74 and the just had the best Lamp Chops at ... Read More
We had an amazing experience. The staff were incredible. Never saw a grumpy face. Every day on board we were made to feel very special. The specialty restaurants provide a quality meal. I am 74 and the just had the best Lamp Chops at Moderno's that I have had in my entire life. 14 days sounds like a long time, but with all of the activities and ports of call, it was never boring. The entertainment was very diverse. They had a young man that did a Neil Diamond tribute. If you closed you eyes, you would think Mr. Diamond was on stage. There were other professional entertainers along with their own staff. Very enjoyable. The freestyle cruising makes things less rigid, but I can say that some people don't the part when going to the high end restaurants. This trip through the canal should be put on everyone's Bucket List. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
My Husband has always been a Panama Canal Buff. So when I saw this cruise I gave it to him for our 38th wedding anniversary. Actually we spent our 39th for this cruise. Everything was great from our cabin steward Priscilla to the ... Read More
My Husband has always been a Panama Canal Buff. So when I saw this cruise I gave it to him for our 38th wedding anniversary. Actually we spent our 39th for this cruise. Everything was great from our cabin steward Priscilla to the waiters at the restaurants to the entertainment director Ian, The shows were top rate, the food was excellent, there were many open dining restaurants, we at a Tsars (a dressier place), the Azurre same food as Tsar(not as formal) food was great in both places. We ate at Chin Chins Asian cuisine, we had a waitress there named Frenz both times and she made us feel extremely welcomed.O Sheehans was like and English?Irish pub Good food. Frenz was also part of the washy-washy team and made it fun to remember the sanitizer before meals. The shore excursions were fantastic, I am 61 y/o and Ziplined for the first time, the instructors made ir very easy and non scary! The Norwegian Jewel lived up to her name. I will cruise with Norwegian again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
SImply a great cruise - The ship was fantastic, the crew incredibly attentive and polite, the food delicious, and the entertainment top notch. Loved all restaurants except Cagney's atmosphere did not do the food, or the other ... Read More
SImply a great cruise - The ship was fantastic, the crew incredibly attentive and polite, the food delicious, and the entertainment top notch. Loved all restaurants except Cagney's atmosphere did not do the food, or the other Cagney's on other NCL ships credit (we were seated by the kitchen, it was loud and not intimate at all). We loved Tsars main dining (the best comp dining we have had on a cruise yet), Tepanyaki, the Brazilian steak house, and the BBQs on deck. We purchased 8 specialty dining on this 14 day cruise prior to the cruise, and as the complimentary dining was so great, we probably should have purchased fewer. Passage through the canal will be a cherished memory for the rest of our lives - truly awesome. Read a good book about the construction of the canal prior to the cruise so you can try to appreciate what a marvel it is. The stops - we didn't care too much for Cartegena (took an NCL tour), or Acapulco (poor city has been destroyed by the crime/ gangs/ perception, etc), but loved Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatamala, and Cabo. My advice: try to book a smaller on-line tour group instead of the tours arranged by the ship (way too many people, too expensive). We thought we might get bored with so many sea days, and a 14 day cruise - we certainly did not, I could have done it again in a hearbeat (and I am sure we will in the future). Thank you to the crew of Jewel and to NCL for putting together the best cruise we have ever had (prior to this we have been on about ten). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
I have wanted to sail the full Panama Canal cruise for years. Now that we are retired, my husband and I could do it! We flew to Miami two days before departure, so we could have some fun in Miami. We cruised the Bay of Biscayne-a great ... Read More
I have wanted to sail the full Panama Canal cruise for years. Now that we are retired, my husband and I could do it! We flew to Miami two days before departure, so we could have some fun in Miami. We cruised the Bay of Biscayne-a great time-and got to see all of the boats and yachts in the harbor for the Presidents' Day holiday weekend. We got to the port early for embarkation, but were held up because the ship was not ready on time. The wait was about 1.5 hours-not what I expected. The ship, the Jewel, is an older ship that has been refurbished. We happen to like the mid-range size of the Jewel. Cruise companies are going to the large-size ships, with which we are not enthralled. Our cabin was on deck 10, midship, a perfect place to be, especially with a balcony. The cabin and bathroom are tight, but are adequate for sleeping and showering. We had a coffee maker and refrigerator in our cabin. These were nice features: we could get up and have our morning coffee on the balcony, watching sea turtles, dolphins, and whales! Yes, we did see them. The dining options are good. There are two dining rooms that serve the populace, as well as the buffet in the Garden Café and O'Sheehan's. We do not use the for-a-fee restaurants because we always get good meals in the 'free' restaurants. The entertainment was good. Iain, our activities director, is a comedian/magician as well. We had a hypnotist and a comedian, aerialists, the show band and performers, and various singers. All were good. There were so many activities around the ship that no one could be bored. There were good excursions for most ports. We did not book anything for Nicuaragua and Guatamala because they required long distances/times to get to them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
I wanted to see the Panama Canal and surrounding countries. This was my retirement present. This was a great price, and the idea of a 14 day cruise sounded wonderful. It did not disappoint. Getting to see the panama Canal was absolutely ... Read More
I wanted to see the Panama Canal and surrounding countries. This was my retirement present. This was a great price, and the idea of a 14 day cruise sounded wonderful. It did not disappoint. Getting to see the panama Canal was absolutely awesome, plus we got visit Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. It was so amazing. The staff was beyond exceptional and service was wonderful. My room was clean and our needs were always met. Everyone was very friendly and acted like they enjoyed their job. The entertainment was excellent and their was so many offerings of things to do on the ship you were never bored, plus it seemed to me there was something for everyone. I definitely cruise with them again. The excursions offered were great and so were the guides that did them. Book early though because they do sell out. This whole experience in my opinion was a 5 star event! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the Panama Canal and had cruised on NCL before and had good experiences with the line. I'm not saying this was a bad experience, I am saying it was generally "blah." I say that ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the Panama Canal and had cruised on NCL before and had good experiences with the line. I'm not saying this was a bad experience, I am saying it was generally "blah." I say that because it was a 16 day cruise and the food overall was not good. With exceptions. First - the Canal is fantastic and this is a great ship to see it from. We started in Miami so we saw it on the 4th day (4th or 5th, not sure!) If I had it to do over, I would go from LA to Miami - then you have the Canal to look forward to and all the ports are just vacations. My only quibble and that's my own. The shore excursions are fine - we went to Las Caletas - John Huston's house and beach and I highly recommend it. The crew on the Catamaran over is fabulous and entertained us with a hilarious show of their own. Some of us got off and walked around a few other ports but the ladies stayed on and did the pool and the spa. My two biggest complaints - the on board "entertainment" was spotty, and poorly thought out. I am not talking about the evening shows - they were fine. Usually there is Bingo everyday, and all kinds of games etc. Not on this ship - in fact one of the two Bingo games was canceled because there were not enough people. The same thing happened with a trivia game. There were a few of these but the crew in charge of them really didn't care much and were very haphazard about them. The cruise director was very impressed with himself and did a lot of entertaining by himself. I wished he had p aid more attention to his staff.There just wasn't enough to do except lie by the pool, which we did. About the food - it was boring, I never had a piece of meat I didn't have to fight with (except in the specialty steak house and Brazilian "meat" restaurant), The buffet restaurant was same old, same old though they did try. In my case, everything had bell peppers in it, which I cannot eat. And I mean, everything. I love indian food and they had a lot of it, all with peppers. What saved me was the hamburgers and sandwich makings. We had been in the French restaurant on previous cruises and loved it - not this time. The food was lukewarm and the service was terrible. In fact the service was generally not good in all of the restaurants. We got the feeling the whole place was understaffed. I feel badly about this review because I wanted to really like it. It was the first time my husband had been on an ocean cruise and he kept saying he thought the food would be really great - and it wasn't. I hope I can get him on another cruise, but I doubt it. We loved our cabin which was an aft suite and weren't even bothered when we hit some bad weather. The beds are great! We like to book a suite so that we get priority embarcation and disembarcation.. In Miami they didn't seem to know what they were doing and led us all over the terminal until we were allowed to board. LA was a breeze compared to it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
This was my 14th cruise-5th with NCL. GOOD: (1) The ports and shore excursions were great. My DH and I took the ship's excursions and didn't mind spend a bit more to ensure we returned to the ship on time. I learned a lot ... Read More
This was my 14th cruise-5th with NCL. GOOD: (1) The ports and shore excursions were great. My DH and I took the ship's excursions and didn't mind spend a bit more to ensure we returned to the ship on time. I learned a lot about the countries we visited and the Panama Canal. There was a commentator on board as we traveled through the canal. (2) The crew was friendly, hardworking. Awesome as usual. My DH and I made several our vacation heroes as we just couldn't choose one out of so many wonderful employees. (3) There was a problem with our room and we were switched. The room and service staff were amazing, They went out of their way to make us happy and make-up for the problem. BAD: (1) Except for the breads and desserts, the food in the dining rooms was generally terrible. My DH and I eventually gave up on them and apart from the 3 nights we went to Cagneys, we opted for the buffet or Chin Chins. At the very least the buffet had some good french fries and Chin Chin's was surprisingly fresh and tasty (I had read some not so good reviews). (2) My DH and I were disappointed with the entertainment and activities on board. Can someone please come up with some new game shows please? Every single ship I have been on has had the newlywed/not so newlywed game. My DH and I won the 80s music trivia. No prize, just 3 points towards a prize at the end of the ship. If you just attend, you get one point. Attend another trivia-everyone gets 5 points towards the prize. What??? Obviously, the hosts were not consistent, some were very boring, and they need to be better trained to handle drunk people who ruin things for everyone. Lastly, the live band Souled Out was personally not my cup of tea. I prefer to dance to the real songs. I wish they would start the DJ at 10 or even 10:30. I can't do what I love the most onboard-dancing! and get up in time for an 8 AM shore excursion. (3) The spa needs to stop the hard sell after treatments. My DH and I have sworn off the spa from now on. After a relaxing couples massage which I splurged on, I do not want to hear about even more massages I should buy and all of the expensive products you want to sell me. It's one thing to ask if I am interested in any of their products which I wouldn't mind and quite another to push and keep asking why we don't want to buy. Really? Even if we say up front we are not interested. This doesn't work. And we shouldn't have to say that anyways. Thanks for reading my honest review. I have appreciated all the reviews I have read. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
Cruise was chosen because of length and destination. Buffet food was delicious, but ice cream machines were not always functioning. It would have been nice to have an ice cream machine near the pool. Coffee was too strong for our taste. ... Read More
Cruise was chosen because of length and destination. Buffet food was delicious, but ice cream machines were not always functioning. It would have been nice to have an ice cream machine near the pool. Coffee was too strong for our taste. We watered it down. Decor in dining rooms was not as elegant as some larger ships. Personnel were fabulous. Our room stewardess (last name Harris) was very friendly and helpful. A woman who worked in various positions, especially the games played, (Shirley I think) was a true joy. I think she was having as much fun as we were. Shows in main theater were very good. Pool area was crammed with chairs, many of which were saved and no one ever came to sit there. Many times, we could not find a chair. A sign stated that chairs remaining unoccupied for 1 hour would be cleared for other guests. That never happened. Apparently some guests reserved a chair in the sun and another one in the shade. That shouldn't be allowed when so many other guests are looking for a seat. The ship is older but is clean and well maintained. We purchased the soft drink package. Water was not included and should have been. Over all, the trip was a pleasure. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We've taken five cruises on NCL, all in the Haven going back about six years. We had certain expectations based on that past experience, and we were disappointed with a number of them. Let's start with the embarkation. My ... Read More
We've taken five cruises on NCL, all in the Haven going back about six years. We had certain expectations based on that past experience, and we were disappointed with a number of them. Let's start with the embarkation. My wife needs a wheelchair to get from the curb to the cabin. We had to wait 45 minutes sitting outside in Los Angeles before a wheelchair came and this was after I nagged half a dozen employees to get their attention. In the past, there was a "Haven" lounge area before we got onto the ship where we had a snack, got our ID cards, had a chance to meet with the Concierge and had a nice welcome. And then we were personally escorted to our cabin. Not so this time. No lounge, no welcome. We did get escorted to our cabin, but I think that was because of the wheelchair. The cabin, a two bedroom suite, was as we expected. Very clean, very well appointed. The decor has been updated and is much better. Everything worked as it should. But. In the past, Haven passengers were given a couple of bottles of liquor/wine of their choice. This time not. We had snacks/treats delivered every afternoon as part of the Haven butler service, but there was very little variety. On a fourteen day cruise it got very repetitive. The cabin service, butler, steward and concierge was without fault and is, of course, one of the big attractions of the Haven service. We especially love the unpacking and packing of luggage. In the private pool area, there were a lot of gaps during the day, when there was no service. As for the dining, we knew what we were getting into and so there were no surprises. NCL has some nice variety in restaurants, but we find that the flavoring of dishes in the specialty restaurants is just too timid. We were disappointed that Cagney's, which used to be open for breakfast and lunch for Haven passengers, is now only for dinner. The Moderno space is where Haven passengers can get lunch and breakfast. Speaking of Cagney's, this is our favorite NCL restaurant and we ate there about every other day. But what happened to the menu? The number of choices is much less than the original and we missed the variety. Perhaps our biggest disappointment was the cancellation of the Chef's Table special dinner. We had done that on every one of our prior cruises. It was a great opportunity to meet like minded dining companions. So, I think this will be our last "Haven" trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda ... Read More
This was our 5 th cruise with ncl. 3 of them on this ship. We are latatude members because we have traveled with them so many times. We are awarded certain perks. Standing in line for over 2 hours is not one of them. No more bringing soda or water on board, company policy. Once on board the room was great. Large bathroom with a tub. If you bring your own coffee be sure to bring basket type filters. They don't sell any on the ship. When are the cruise ships going to start puting more than one electrical plug in? I'm tired of bringing my own power strips. Cabin stewards were great as usual. Food was just average. Lots of Germans on board to cruise through the canal so we had Bavarian food in the buffet. BBQ on the swim deck was good. We had free dinners in the specialty restraints. The Cagney restraunt had the best filet I ever ate. We ate there 3 times. No more free lobster in the main dining room, company policy. No more midnight chocolate party, company policy. The entertainment was average. Seen most of them on other NCL sailings. How bout something new. The shore excursion to the jungle train ride and boat ride was lame. The train traveled next to the road we drove in on. We did happen to see a few monkeys. The rride up a river to see alligators was also lame. We did see a couple of alligators , lots of birds and many rare Michelin black wall tires. Also a few Nike shoes on the bank. Can ya clean up the mess a little Costa Rica. The hop on hop off buss in Cartagena worked for us. We stopped at the beach and went swimming. Why did the maintainace crew close and paint the swimming pool on the ship for a couple days on the hottest part of the trip? Of all the ships we have been on , Ian was the best cruise director . He had magic tricks in the morning and jokes at night after the shows in the main theatre. Gina Welch our personal cruise consultant was very good to us over the years, we will miss you. Come on NCl can ya get your ship together? Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
Staff members, great, especially assistant who booked our Valentine's Day dinner and Tarynn, in the internet shop. Say hello...Very sweet person with the most terrific smile and laugh. She made my cruise. The ship's activities ... Read More
Staff members, great, especially assistant who booked our Valentine's Day dinner and Tarynn, in the internet shop. Say hello...Very sweet person with the most terrific smile and laugh. She made my cruise. The ship's activities were abysmal. The ship's band, Souled Out, grew tiresome REALLY fast. The ship had a great DJ;he was left to start playing near MIDNIGHT. If you are in your 50s and would like to REALLY dance off the nice meal from Cagneys, you best prepare yourself to start then or suffer with Souled Out. The constant hawking of bingo cards and products, especially after a nice relaxing massage, defeats the purpose of the massage. It is equivalent to being hassled at the ports, and I don't mind being hassled at the ports, honestly. But, seriously, the masseuse would not take no for an answer! No more spa passes for us. Dining room dinners, awful. Buffet and Chin Chin, edible. Tropical Four, a good band. If you go for the ports, you will love this cruise. If you are in your 50s and would really love to dance to a DJ spinning good records, fuhgetaboutit, until near midnight...by then, your blood sugar will have sufficiently damaged your innards and your ears hurt from listening to Souled Out, as the poor thing struggle to live up to the songs you are familiar with. :) 60 mins of Souled Out is ENOUGH, Mr. Cruise Director. Let the DJ play! It is all the 50 somethings have to look forward to...as during the daytime, there is hardly anything to do, but people watch. And, that, we did a LOT. Just so you know.... :) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL. We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we ... Read More
We booked this cruise for the Panama Canal. Everything else was just extras. We are a married couple in our mid 50s and this is our 15th cruise overall, 7th on NCL. We live on the east coast, so we booked the LA to Miami route so we had a shorter flight home at the end of the trip. We flew in a day ahead and stayed at the Doubletree San Pedro. Nice, generic hotel but a bit more isolated that I would have liked. Taxi from LAX was about $70 with tip. The hotel had a van to the port. Drinks at the bar were priced ok during happy hour, but the margarita was not that good. Embarkation went smoothly, once it started, but the ship had an unexpected inspection upon docking, so we were delayed getting on board. We had an aft balcony, 9674. Great location, cabin was smaller than I remember NCL cabins to be. On the ship drawing, this one did look smaller that other afts, but I didn't see that until the day before we sailed. There were some minor age related issues with the drawers, but it was clean and the bed fairly comfortable. Our cabin steward was great. The passengers were generally older, 50+, with a few exceptions and very few children. The staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be there, especially the cruise director's staff. Iain Bagshaw was the CD and he did a great job. Shakin' Shirley deserves to be promoted, she was always on, remembered peoples names and where they were from and made everyone her friend. The shows were good, with Cirque Bijou the best. I didn't like all the musicians on board, but the show band, Rockaway Duo and Tropical Four were our go to evening entertainment before dinner and after the show. JP the magician and Pat the comedian were our favorite entertainers. We ate most breakfasts and not specialty dinners at Tsar's Palace. We found one waiter we really liked, Julius, and tried to sit in his section whenever we could. We always asked to share a table and met lots of great people and shared our experiences on board as well as life in general. We met people from Sweden, England, Scotland, Germany and Canada, and a few other Americans. Political conversations seemed to be inevitable with a new president, but they were polite and educational. Julius made menu recommendations and the food was generally good. Hint: on nights that you don't want dessert, ask for the cheese plate. It is not on the menu and is very nice. We used to like to have a cappuccino with our dessert, but the ship used boxed milk, which I don't like the flavor of, so we saved some money and did not have it after the first night. We ate at Cagney's twice, liked the steaks and the service; La Cucina once, which was once too many. OK food and just barely OK service. Le Bistro was our valentine's day dinner. Service was less attentive than we expected, but the place was busy all night. The food was good, but I liked Cagney's better. We ate at Moderno once, and as in the past, we felt like we rolled out of there, even when we went to sharing meat servings. Service was good, but the food came too fast. We should have said "not yet" more frequently. We had the UBP and felt we didn't drink much more than we would have without it. Exceptions were when we tried something we didn't like, we got something else without buyers remorse. Bar service was always good when we were at the bar, and staff service was usually good in the bars, but less so outside by the pool. I do think they jacked up the prices with so many people using the UBP. What used to be $7.95 is now $10.95. And forget about trying top shelf liquor, they are all off limit with the plan unless you want to shell out another $5 per drink. And the wine selection is VERY limited. But we found a Cabernet and Chardonnay that we liked and stuck with those. The highlight of the trip was the day spent going through the Panama Canal. So impressive. There was an authority on the Panama Canal onboard giving commentary all day so we knew what we were seeing. As recommended I went all over the ship taking photos from the bow, the sides and the stern of the ship. Due to work commitments, I did not do as much research for the other ports. Instead I joined other CC members on their excursions to Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We booked off ship for a whale watch in Cabo San Lucas and with the ship for Acapulco and Guatemala. The whale watch at Cabo was less impressive than I had hoped, but we had a good time and enjoyed lunch at a place recommended by some ship staff. I would go back to Cabo to explore some more. Acapulco was not a favorite port. We did the "historical, picturesque and cliff divers" tour through the ship. It was all ok. We saw a bit of the city. We stopped a few times and went to the cliff divers show. After we were treated to a "free beer" in a store across the street from the cliff divers. In Guatemala I took the "Casa Santo Domingo and Antigua" tour through the ship. Casa Santo Domingo is an old convent that is now a five star hotel. very beautiful and the lunch was delicious. But the guide spent only a few minutes with us and then said "follow the signs, there are some museums here" without giving a tour. We spend a bit of time walking in Antigua, but I would have liked more time with a guided tour and less time for shopping. We booked with CC favorites Julio tours in Nicaragua, Gio Tours in Costa Rica and Dora in Columbia. All did a good job. Our favorite port was Costa Rica and would gladly go back. One of the surprising flaws of the trip was disembarking at the port of Miami. We did walk off and due to some scheduling issue we were lined up outside on deck 7 waiting inline to get off for about half an hour while the excursion folks were getting off. They seemed to have called us all at the same time. And then we had to walk through the terminal past all of them trying to find their luggage on the airport style conveyor belts. Once outside we went to find where to pick up the shuttle to Budget to get a rental car, and the van pulled into the excursion bus area instead of where the sign was for the rental car vans. If I hadn't caught seeing it we would still be standing there! Overall rating of the cruise 4* Would I go again, no. but no fault of the cruise. I just don't do the same vacation twice. Too much in this world to see. Would I recommend it? I would recommend the Panama Canal, but wouldn't say it HAD to be this ship/itinerary. But if asked specifically about this one, I would say sure, I had a great time and you might too! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
This was our 1st cruise on NCL and it was great. The service is outstanding. We really enjoyed meeting new people, going to the nightly shows, watching movies, being able to choose from a variety of dining options and taking part in some ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise on NCL and it was great. The service is outstanding. We really enjoyed meeting new people, going to the nightly shows, watching movies, being able to choose from a variety of dining options and taking part in some of the activities. What did we do besides relaxing at the pool? We took part in trivia contests, bingo, deal or no deal, origami classes, Q&A sessions from entertainers and from officers, played slots, watched cooking demos and ice sculpture demo. And of course, the Panama Canal is an amazing experience. The shows were all good and some were wonderful. We did 2 shore excursions through NCL and 4 that were private tours with 10-12 people. Some reviewers complained that NCL tours are pricey. All cruise line tours are pricey. When you book a tour from a cruise line, one of the things they are selling is peace of mind. If they are late getting back to the ship, the ship waits for them. If you are late back from a private tour, they leave without you and you have to meet the ship at the next port. Spend time reading reviews of shore excursion on this site and on Tripadvisor. This was our 3rd cruise. In talking to people on the cruise, you'll be surprised at how many cruises people have been on. It ranged from 8 - 24 from the people we talked to. Many of them had been on NCL several times. Would we do another cruise with NCL? Absolutely. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2017
We cruised the Canal 29 years ago and were anxious to do this cruise again. We had a very good experience. There was a 2 hour delay at embarkation as there was a surprise Coast Guard inspection so the cruise did not get off to a great ... Read More
We cruised the Canal 29 years ago and were anxious to do this cruise again. We had a very good experience. There was a 2 hour delay at embarkation as there was a surprise Coast Guard inspection so the cruise did not get off to a great start. But once we got on, all was well. While the entertainment was pretty typical cruise ship entertainment, the quality was very good. All I know is that I left every show very much entertained. Comedy, magic, song and dance - all very high quality. The Cirque du Bijou show was the one exceptional show and is their best overall show. The cruise director Ian was all over the ship and helped make the cruise entertaining. Some of his humor was corny but heck we're on vacation and I laughed. Pretty good magician too. While not the newest of ships, the Jewel holds up just fine compared to other ships of similar size and age. It's a great ship to transit the canal. I was able to wander the ship during the canal transit and there were numerous quality vistas. We had a mini suite and I'm not sure that we'll cruise in anything less in the future. The extra space in the cabin and bathroom was much appreciated. I remember the old days of the standard inside/outside cabins where we had to walk sideways to go from one end of the cabin to the other and the tiny showers with the butt hugging shower curtains. It was nice to actually have a bath tub/shower. Food was average at the main dining rooms. Sad to say they no longer serve lobster tails as one of the dinners. Fortunately we got the 6 specialty dining restaurant bonus and took full advantage. Cagney's was excellent - try the 29 oz. Tomahawk Chop rib-eye. Moderno also very good. While not cheap, the shore excursions were pretty good. We did whale watching in Cabo and saw numerous whales. The Rum Distillary tour in Nicaragua was very informative and we did buy some. The Bus, Boat and Train tour in Costa Rica was fun and enabled us to see much of the country in 5 hours. Disembarkation was very slow. We had a tour and still were stalled getting off the ship and getting to customs. As we finally got close to customs, an agent came to our line, took all of our declarations and told us to walk through and not stop at the customs counter. Needless to say, he did not have to tell us twice. Don't know how back ninth line he went. Overall one of the better cruises that we've taken and it was our18th (6th with NCL). Read Less
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