There's rarely a quiet moment on Norwegian Jewel; live music is always playing somewhere, and the entertainment staff's constantly got something going on. Daytime fun runs the gamut from trivia and art auctions to games of Bingo and "Deal or No Deal." Once the sun goes down, the ship is all about live music, laughter, karaoke and dancing.
Every night, the ship's three-deck art nouveau Stardust Theater (decks 5 through 7) plays host to a show, with a wide range of performance styles on offer each cruise. We were entranced by the captivating beauty and raw strength of a Russian aerialist duo, the best act of the cruise. The rest of the performances were a bit "take it or leave it," with a comedian, magician/comedian and two cruise revue shows rounding out the entertainment. The second show, Le Cirque Bijou, attempts to add elements of Cirque du Soleil to what is essentially a traditional cruise Vegas-style revue. When acrobatics are involved, it's engaging, but the song-and-dance numbers fall flat. The Stardust Theater also is used for "Deal or No Deal" and daytime movies.
A quick glance at the Freestyle Daily tells you all you need to know about daytime fun -- there's a lot of it. Trivia sessions are offered twice a day at various bars and lounges, as are demonstrations ranging from cooking and vegetable carving to towel animal making. Dance and fitness classes (free and for fee) are on offer, as are myriad family fun activities, from a circus workshop and cupcake decorating class to family dodgeball. In the main theater, you'll find a movie playing every day; on our Alaska cruise, the theater was used for educational videos about Alaska on our first full day. Shuffleboard, sports competitions, art auctions, drink tastings, goofy golf challenges, bingo, "Deal or No Deal" and casino tournaments are other daytime options.
Keep in mind that almost all of the so-called seminars like detoxing for health and weight loss, digital cameras or relieving back pain are money-making pitches to get you buy things.
Norwegian Jewel comes alive at night with music and dancing. Bar City and the Crystal Atrium offer live music, including jazz, piano and covers of popular music, while the two lounges also feature music but add space for dancing. A typical night's rundown includes such events as salsa dance classes with the Jewel cast, rock night with the Next Stage band in the Fyzz lounge, piano and vocals in Magnum's, and a late-night DJ in Spinnaker.
Not interested in music? Game time doesn't stop at night, with such popular cruise games as Battle of the Sexes, the Not So Newlywed Game and movie-themed trivia.
Jewel Club Casino is on Deck 7 forward and features slot machines and a variety of table games that include poker, roulette and craps. Depending on the itinerary, the casino might run slot and poker tournaments.
Along with the more sedate Crystal Atrium, Bar City on Deck 6 is the main place to hang out with a drink on Norwegian Jewel, though you'll find a couple of poolside and sun deck bars, too. The three bars that comprise Bar City are strung together seamlessly with the majority of seating at either end and just a little seating across from the middle bar (Shakers). Just the signage, a subtle shift in wood color and a few bar-specific decorations indicate you're actually passing three distinct bars. A small Cigar Bar is located in this area, as well.
Magnum's Champagne and Wine Bar (Deck 6): The first of the three bars that make up Bar City, Magnum's is the Champagne bar -- as denoted by the colored bubbling liquids inside the glass bar counter. Magnum's has the most seating in Bar City and no TVs. Instead, it's a great place to chill in the evening and listen to live music.
Shakers Martini and Cocktail Bar (Deck 6): Right next door is Shakers, marked on either side by statues of Sean Connery and Ursula Andress from the bond movie "Dr. No." Limited seating means Shakers is mainly a place to grab your drink, though you will find the main sporting event of the day on the TV there.
Maltings Beer and Whisky Bar (Deck 6): The big copper still in front of Bar City's third bar lets you know this is where the brewed and distilled drinks are served. Maltings is also where you'll find the ship's weekly beer and whisky tastings, the most number of TVs playing sporting events and the best place to sit with friends to talk. It's not a spot for music, though you can hear the sounds of the piano or jazz band playing in nearby Magnum's.
Atrium Cafe & Bar (Deck 7): Located in the Crystal Atrium, the Cafe & Bar is primarily a coffee bar. There is a tiny bar counter -- just five scooped purple bar stools -- and selections are limited to specialty coffees, teas and pastries, including baked goods from Carlo's Bakery, as well as select beers, wines and cocktails. At night, one or another of the ship's bands plays popular hits from the '40s through today.
Bliss Ultra Lounge (Deck 7): Added in the 2018 refit, Bliss replaces the FYZZ karaoke lounge with dance music, modern furnishings, an illumnated bar and mood lighting.
Sake Bar (Deck 7): You'll find the rarely occupied Sake Bar immediately outside of Chin Chin restaurant, next to the sushi bar. Choose from a selection of sakes from 5:30 p.m. 'til late.
O'Sheehan's (Deck 8): The bar part of O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill is pretty small. There are only a few barstools, with two TVs playing sporting events, but it does have the largest beer selection (both domestic and imported) on the ship. Unlike other iterations of O'Sheehan's, there are no bar games (darts, billiards, etc.) to enjoy.
Topsiders Bar (Deck 12): The ship's poolside bar offers limited bar seating and a small selection of beers and cocktails.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Deck 13): The Sugarcane Mojito Bar debuted on Norwegian Getaway and was popular enough for the line to schedule a fleetwide rollout. Located at the front of Moderno Churrascaria, the Sugarcane is unassuming and easy to walk past. But, from 5 p.m. on, it's the place to be if you like mojitos. Though the bar's hours include an early afternoon shift (noon to 2 p.m.), we never saw anyone there during the day.
The Pit Stop (Deck 13): This new American-themed bar is a throwback to the 1950s, with classic car parts and old gas station signage. The Pit Stop takes the place of the old Sky High Bar on Deck 13, one deck above the pool. More seating has been added to this area to accommodate more guests who enjoy a drink with a pool view.
Spinnaker Lounge (Deck 13): For most of your dance-related nighttime entertainment, head to the revamped Spinnaker Lounge. There you'll find the ship's largest dance floor, home to everything from country and western line dances to ballroom dancing and pulse-pounding dance music. But Spinnaker also is home to cabaret performances by the ship's singers, "Dancing with the Jewel Stars" and interactive game shows like the Liar's Club.
Norwegian Jewel has four hot tubs and two regular pools, all on Deck 12. All are outside and have an accessible electrical hoist for passengers who need assistance. The poolside deck has room for more than 300 deck chairs. The Haven courtyard, on Deck 14, features an indoor pool and hot tub that's only for suite passengers.
Norwegian Jewel has a small sports deck on Deck 13, where there's a basketball court. A volleyball or tennis net can be strung up there, and soccer goals are erected for shootouts. Two golf driving nets are located on Deck 13, as well, as is an oversized chess set. There's also a jogging/walking track around Deck 13; one mile is 5.5 laps.
Sun worshippers will find space on Deck 12 by the pool, as well as on decks 14 and 15. Haven suite passengers have their own private sun deck space on Deck 15.
The Crystal Atrium on Deck 7 is where the main passenger service desks are, including shore excursions and guest services. Those who want to book their next cruise can do so in the same area at the Future Cruise Sales desk.
Also on this deck are the art gallery, photo shop, Internet cafe and onboard stores. The photo shop was recently digitized, so passengers can now review all their pictures on computer monitors; print copies are kept in binders along the wall, as well. The Galleria Shops, aft, feature essentials like toiletries and snacks, as well as logo apparel, jewelry (costume and gemstone), alcohol and tobacco.
A small Internet Cafe is located immediately next to the art gallery and has eight computer stations. Wi-Fi is available shipwide. Passengers can purchase Internet minutes via the pay-as-you-go option at 95 cents per minute or buy a package: 100 minutes for US$85 or 250 minutes for US$129. Plans purchased on embarkation day receive up to 20 free minutes as a bonus. There is a US$3.95 activation fee for all plans. As with all Internet at sea, speed is slower than you would get on land, especially during peak times and sea days.
The ship's library on Deck 12 offers a selection of fiction and nonfiction books, primarily in English. All items are free for passengers to borrow on a trust system. You'll also find daily trivia, crossword and Sudoku printouts in the library. Next door is the card room where passengers go to play bridge and other card games.
Norwegian Jewel also has a bridge viewing room on Deck 11 and a small chapel on Deck 13.
The Mandara Spa is located on Deck 12 at the front of the ship. The simply decorated space offers traditional cruise-ship treatments, including a variety of massages, facials, wraps and scrubs, as well as teeth whitening, acupuncture and Botox. Spa specials are offered throughout the cruise, usually on days when the ship is in port.
While there is a relaxation area with heated loungers in the Thermal Suite, it is only available to those who pay the weekly fee of US$149 (no day passes) and is not offered to passengers receiving spa services. Also in the Thermal Suite are separate men and women's saunas, steam rooms and thermal plunge baths. Passes are limited to 100 per cruise.
Adjacent to the spa is a beauty salon, where passengers can get manicures, pedicures, hair color treatments and styling. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to all spa and salon services.
The fitness center onboard (also on Deck 12) has a variety of cardio and strength-training equipment with ellipticals and treadmills facing the ocean. Try to go during off hours (super early or late), as it can get busy during peak times, especially on sea days. A variety of classes (both free and for a fee) are offered.
Runners and walkers can use the ship's outer promenade on Deck 7 or the jogging track on Deck 13.
Norwegian Jewel, like all of the Norwegian fleet, is built with families in mind. It offers amenities like interconnecting cabins, children's menus in the main dining rooms, a kids-only pool with a waterslide (though we saw adults in there) and two free kids clubs. Activities designed for the entire family to enjoy together are offered throughout the day.
Norwegian's Splash Academy Youth Center, located on Deck 12, is divided into four age groups: Guppies (6 months to 2 years, with a parent present), Turtles (ages 3 to 5), Seals (ages 6 to 9) and Dolphins (ages 10 to 12). Splashdown features an indoor play gym, a movie theater showing kids movies, a computer center with child-appropriate games, and an arts and crafts area.
The teen program, called Entourage Teen's Club, is for 13- to 17-year olds. Inside the club are a juice bar, gaming consoles and Club Underground, a New York subway-themed disco. Activities include gaming tournaments, disco nights, socials and movies.
Parents should be aware that the kids clubs are only free on sea days. On port days, there's a charge of US$6 per child, per supervised meal provided. Depending on when the ship arrives into port, meals may include a combination of breakfast, lunch or dinner. On port days, children ages 3 to 12 are combined into one group for arrival into port or until departure or 6 p.m. (whichever comes first). Also, late-night baby-sitting (10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.) is a fee-based group drop-off service for children ages 3 to 12. The fee is US$6 per child, per hour, and US$4 per additional sibling, per hour.