Launched in 2005, Norwegian Jewel has regained its luster with an extensive refurbishment in late 2018. Upgraded areas include all cabins, suites, restaurants, cafes, the teen-only Entourage club, main pool and atrium. There are two new bars -- Bliss Ultra Lounge, offering dance music after dark, and The Pit Stop, a 1950s-themed bar with a view of the pool. Two Deluxe Owner’s Suites have also been added in The Haven.
The new look is decidely more modern to the point of being unrecognizable in some public areas. Some people may lament the loss of the water slide and fake palm trees around the pool, but the result is a more relaxing space, especially for adults. Add to that an always-casual, laid-back ambience and a wealth of dining venues, and Norwegian Jewel is a comfortable base from which to explore any port of call.
The first of Norwegian Cruise Line's Jewel-class ships, Norwegian Jewel may lack many of the bells and whistles of its younger fleetmates (no rock wall, bowling alley or ropes course), but it's anything but boring. With dozens of daily activities, numerous lounges for live music and 10 eateries, the variety of choices is dazzling. You'll find it all, from cheesy poolside traditions (sexiest leg contest, anyone?) and interactive game shows (the Not So Newlywed Game never gets old) to breathtaking aerial acts and a logic-defying magician in the main theater.
Our favorite spot to grab breakfast and lunch on the go was the large O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill. Spacious and bright, thanks to windows on both sides, it dishes up guilty pleasure pub grub like fish 'n' chips and chicken pot pies. A pleasant side effect of O'Sheehan's, open 24/7, is that it takes pressure off the main dining rooms, making the waits for dinner, which in the past could be up to an hour, much shorter. We never waited more than five minutes for a table, regardless of whether we showed up at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Although it's a big ship, there is plenty of nifty digital signage that not only lets passengers know what's going on onboard, but allows them to make dining reservations and buy shore excursions on the spot. See that Cagney's is filling up fast? No need to get up to the reservations desk. Just swipe your key card, choose your dining time and you're all set to go.
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For more details about cabins, dining and things to do, see the separate sections of this review.
In Australia and Asia, the majority of passengers are expeced to be locals. In Alaska, you'll find a bit more of an international mix with passengers from America, Australia, Europe and Asia also onboard. The ship draws a broad range of age groups, especially during summer and winter/spring breaks when children and teens are out of school.
Daytime: Casual dress is the name of the game when it comes to Norwegian's freestyle cruising.
Evening: You might spot a handful of passengers in suits or cocktail dresses on the ship's one (very optional) formal night, but most stick to a fairly laid-back version of formal (i.e. pants, collared shirts, sundresses, skirts, etc.). Shorts are allowed in all dining venues except the Tsar's Palace main dining room and Le Bistro French restaurant.
Not permitted: After 5 p.m., tank tops, flip-flops and baseball caps are not permitted in any of the restaurants.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Norwegian Cruise Line.