We were aboard the Jewel for the annual repositioning cruise from Alaska to the winter itinerary. There were several really great things about the ship that deserve 5 stars. But there were also several dismal things about the ship that ... Read More
We were aboard the Jewel for the annual repositioning cruise from Alaska to the winter itinerary. There were several really great things about the ship that deserve 5 stars. But there were also several dismal things about the ship that deserve 0 stars.
First, the good news. I was highly impressed by the efficiency in embarkation and disembarkation. It went so smoothly! Very orderly and methodical. This was the first time that we were able to get on board at Noon, eat lunch, and go directly to our cabin by 1 PM. Disembarkation was simple too, using the Walk Off program. US Customs came onboard and the process was very easy.
The ship was super-clean and tastefully decorated. The cabin was a standard balcony cabin, small but in perfect condition. The room steward, Eric, was excellent, too! Very friendly and hard working! We appreciated his efforts.
End of good news.
Sadly, there is more bad news than good. Let's start with the food. The breakfast buffet was always excellent, but lunch and dinner food was low quality. You could really tell that Norwegian was trying to stretch a dollar. For example, in the Azura dining room, they served scallops as an appetizer. Sounds good, right? It might have been if they weren't BAY SCALLOPS! That's right, five teeny, tiny bay scallops on a plate. If you can't serve real SEA SCALLOPS, then don't bother serving scallops at all!
Cuts of meat were pounded paper thin and there were no expensive fish dishes in the main dining rooms. Lots of tilapia-type dishes, but no shrimp cocktail, lobster, etc. Unlike the luxury cruises, which of course, Norwegian is not.
Now to the specialty restaurants that we tried:
The Chin Chin restaurant (Asian) is horrible. I took one bite of the chicken dish and spit it out. Disgusting! If you are used to good Asian cuisine, don't bother going here, even though it is free.
Cagney's Steakhouse was OK, but not great. A sad note about Cagney's - if you are a Platinum Latitudes member, you get a comp for Cagney's. This would be good BUT the comp limits you to only $35 per person. Which doesn't go far in a steakhouse. Be aware if you use the comp.
The Brazilian steakhouse was the high point of dining. It is excellent. However, if you use your Latitudes comp, be aware that it only covers about one half the cost of dinner, which is typically $39 per person.
The absolute WORSE thing about the ship is the Spa. What a joke. The hot tubs weren't hot, the saunas were broken, and there was a male crew member in the Ladies locker room while there were women in it getting dressed! I complained to the Spa manager, and asked for a refund. She said that she couldn't refund me for my thermal spa package, since I had bought it online, so I had to wait until I got home to call Norwegian. (I went to Guest Services onboard, though, who quickly processed a refund. Strange that they could help me but the Spa Manager could not.)
My final complaint about the ship is the choice of onboard activities. I would honestly guess that half of the activities are designed to sell you something. For example, the Look 10 Years Younger seminar is a sales pitch for Botox. The Wine and Chocolate Paring is a chance to sell you a $19 sample of wine and chocolate. The list goes on and on. I was really getting tired of being "nickeled and dimed at activities", so I stopped going.
We will take another Norwegian cruise for sure, but we have learned what to do, and not do, while on board these ships. Read Less