Sail Date: April 2013
We had a great time on board NCL Jewel on this long 17 night cruise, and if you're booked on the Jewel, you will really enjoy it as long as you don't have any 5 star expectations. Like all cruise lines in this mid-price range, ... Read More
We had a great time on board NCL Jewel on this long 17 night cruise, and if you're booked on the Jewel, you will really enjoy it as long as you don't have any 5 star expectations. Like all cruise lines in this mid-price range, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. But none are 5 star. And like so many cruise critics so correctly point out, you get what you pay for. If you want a 5 star cruise ship, then book a Regent cruise. The Jewel is a 3 and a half/4 star cruise ship. We got a great deal for this cruise, and our philosophy is just to go with it, knowing some things will probably be a bit hit or miss. And that's exactly how it was. The other key factor you must accept is the upselling of product on board. It's just part of the territory. And a necessity for cruise lines in this price range to make real money. That's why you can choose so cheaply. We never felt the need to book a surcharge restaurant on the Jewel. Knowing the surcharge restaurant reviews were so mixed may have been a factor for us not to book, but we really liked the food in the MDR's Tsars and Azure. And having an evening buffet option with solid food was great, when we wanted to be more casual. We took an inside cabin on deck 11 because we were on a budget having travelled from New Zealand, and wanted to splash out in NYC for our week there, prior to the cruise. The cabin was great value. Knew what we were getting. Bathroom was bigger than our balcony cabin on our last cruise (Costa) and was so clean and well maintained by Richard, our steward. As I'll point out below in my list of Panama Canal cruise tips, it was not a great disadvantage for the Panama Canala, as you really need the full wide vision view of the canal for photos. Not just one side of the boat. The service stars of the show are crew who look after the Garden Cafe buffet and Great Outdoors areas. And the room stewards. They're so friendly and welcoming, as opposed to several service personnel in Tzar's, who spoilt it for the majority of on the ground servers at Tzar's who were great. One reception hostess thought she was running a prison camp for a couple of days there, and I was appalled at how she treated some American guests around us. For those guests, there's no way they'll ever take an NCL cruise again. Just couldn't work out why reception service was so friendlier at Azure - but maybe because it's smaller. We loved the freestyle dining at Tzar's and Azure. Had to wait sometimes, but were always happy to just go with it. Here are some random Panama Canal Jewel tips - in no order of importance - Small torchlight becomes your best friend, especially for an inside cabin. - Great Outdoors at the back of the boat is a great home base. Always tables available except at peak breakfast time. - Will never go on a cruise ship without an evening buffet. The Jewel buffet is excellent value despite some bad reviews. Was just great to have a real casual place to go after a busy day on your feet. We ate dinner mostly at Tzars, so we never got tired of the evening buffet options. Generally good 3 and a half star/4 star fresh food. - Avoid breakfast buffet on port days unless you get there first thing " it's a real zoo with everyone stressing they are going to miss their tour. Go to Tsars for breakfast.. - We loved Tzar's Palace for our a la carte meals. Like all cruiselines in this mid-range cost category it can be a bit lucky dip with the food. But we had some great meals there. We avoided the steak as it tasted manufactured. But other beef dishes were OK. Lamb shank's great. Pork and chicken dishes never disappointed. The large open environment made it a pleasure to eat there, despite the service hiccups. - Tsar's Palace for breakfast and lunch is a bit of a secret it seems.. No queues and very civilised. Lunch was excellent with calamari and beer battered cod on the daily menu fantastic. Would avoid the battered fish off the favourites lunch menu - didn't work from frozen. Such a better experience than the buffet at peak times. - Dinner at Tsar's and Azura has queues to get in for much of the night, but it doesn't take long to get seated really despite that. A small price to pay for the freestyle concept of eating when you want to. Was great to get our own table for 2 every night. - Spinnaker Lounge is great place for space and quiet (except when bingo is on). Library was fairly busy mid morning, and mid afternoon, but also a good option as other posts have pointed out. - If you like tea and scones with raspberry jam, then go to Great Outdoors for their afternoon tea about 3pm/3.30pm. - Don't bother about ear marking seats or getting up at 3am to claim your spot on Canal Transit day. Just a waste of time and energy. There are great views all over the ship, and they also open up the front of the boat on deck 8 mid morning for extra viewing options. That's right up on the bow. You honestly need to move around to get the best shots. Our best pics are from the stern " from Great Outdoors area " looking back at the locks/views. - the entertainment is above average at Stardust Theatre. Production crew were excellent and the flagship shows - Four Seasons Oh What a Night, Band on the Run and Cirque were very good. - NCL excursions were too expensive for us, and no-one we met had a good experience with them. Just head ashore and choose your own tour with the local operators waiting outside. Or better still, just join up with a group on the cruise critic forum. - Book a late flight out on disembarkation day at Los Angeles, and stay on board until 11.30am as you're allowed to do. The disembarkation process from about 7.30am was a total disaster. Most people didn't have a clue what was going on, and the warm friendly fuzzy approach from staffers strangely was absent. They had their B Team on. Was almost like "we've got your money, so don't really care how you get off really". Felt really sorry for older people struggling with it. The logistics crew obviously devised this system on a staff night in a bar somewhere. Unfortunately NCL Jewel take this freestyle thing too far, and allow you to try and get off the ship taking your own bags with you. Most guests, it seemed, decided to take this option, instead of leaving their bags out the night before, like we did. (and do on other cruiselines) The result was chaos. - Deck 7 is great for walks. Spacious and never too busy. Usually use ship gyms, but 45 mins each day walking on deck 7 did the trick. Overall - the positives far outweigh the negatives. We always knew it would be 'lucky dip' in one or two areas. As it always is on ships in this price range. We had a great time. For the record, most cruise veteran's rate Princess as the best in this category, with a question only over their food not being as good as it once was. We knew it would be an older mature set of cruisers, given not school holidays, and the length of the cruise. The average age of cruisers would have been late 60's. Only 17 kids according the the Kids Club, compared to about 650 for the previous 7 day cruise. We met some great people. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We have traveled on NCL many times but this cruise was the best. Although we didn't care much about the itinerary, the crew and staff MADE this cruise awesome. We have noticed that whenever Hugo V is the hotel director, the crew ... Read More
We have traveled on NCL many times but this cruise was the best. Although we didn't care much about the itinerary, the crew and staff MADE this cruise awesome. We have noticed that whenever Hugo V is the hotel director, the crew members and staff seem to be much friendlier and more exuberant than on other ships. We always travel in the suites so we expect quality service but this time was so much more special than any other cruise--we were amazed. From all the waitpersons in the restaurants to our steward, Jeremiah, our butler Maden, to our concierge John, we had outstanding service. Our needs were anticipated before we even expressed them. Jeremiah was a magician--when we left our cabin and then returned--he had cleaned, refreshed, restocked everything! Does he ever sleep? Our butler took care of us completely--bringing us hot coffee and rolls in the morning within minutes after our request to fixing the phone when we had problems with it. And, John, omygod--John is the ultimate concierge--he called us to see if we wanted to make dinner reservations! He was always available not matter what time of day or night--another person who did not sleep. And what a cheerful person! By the end of the 7 days, we really felt as if we were part of the the NCL family. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
WE've never been free style cruising and did not enjoy the experience. DINING on the few occasion we went to the tsar or azure restaurants we had to queue. The front of house took our room no, spoke into her walkie talkie and ... Read More
WE've never been free style cruising and did not enjoy the experience. DINING on the few occasion we went to the tsar or azure restaurants we had to queue. The front of house took our room no, spoke into her walkie talkie and forced us to stand as closely as possible on the stairs,we felt we were like cattle.we dined in the garden cafe several evenings in all restaurants the general level of the meals was poor we did not get a hot meal at all, in the garden cafe we felt we were intruding in the staff canteen.We tried 4 or the speciality restaurants,Cagneys,Mama's,Le Bistro and Modenas generally the food and service was excellent except the manager of mama's didn't acknowledge our existence,otherwise they were truly worth the visit.5*food and service. Excursions We only went on three excursions as they are mainly over priced, we did the bus,train and boat ride in Costa Rica this was good and worth the price,we also did the horse riding in Cabo San Lucas again good value the only complaint we had and reported was the Mexican cooking experience in Puerta Vallarta it was a cooking demonstration in a back street restaurant we sat on a veranda whilst the chef stood in the street and cooked two dishes on a bar b q then went into the restaurant and had a meal of the two dishes, sweet was extra as were any drinks. Complained to shore excursion staff upon return told it was the tour companys responsibility and nothing to do with NCL even if you book through their web site. ENTERTAINMENT The general level of entertainment was good the shows in the theatre by the companys own staff were of a high standard, some of the guest acts were not upto the same standard ie the hypnotist was particularly poor. The groups in the bars and lounges were also of a high standard Overall Though the ship is only eight years old it is starting to show its age the decor and fittings are tired and badly need updating. The general staff were always helpful but the bar staff were always trying to serve you bottles of wine instead of a glass, the senior officers from asst managers and above barely acknowledge your existence. I personally would not free style cruise again and if this had been my 1st cruise it would have put me off cruising for a long time Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
17 days of cruising left me feeling spoiled rotten. The Jewel is a very nice ship and there are plenty of things to do. On this cruise, there were a couple of places that were very hot and HUMID, which doesn't suit me, but going ... Read More
17 days of cruising left me feeling spoiled rotten. The Jewel is a very nice ship and there are plenty of things to do. On this cruise, there were a couple of places that were very hot and HUMID, which doesn't suit me, but going through the Panama Canal was exciting and worth the sweat. The food in the main dining rooms and the buffet was good, but nothing special. One week of eating the "included" meals isn't bad but for a 17 day cruise we needed to get some variety and we ate in the specialty restaurants 8 times. If it is in your budget, I highly recommend Cagney's, Le Bistro, Chin Chin and Mama's. The entertainment on board was fabulous and there was plenty of variety. The service, especially by our "bar servers" and room steward was outstanding. Boarding was speedy but disembarkation was a disorganized mess. I love the daily newspaper things they give out, but a lot of it is redundant and there is a lot they could include but don't. It seems they are constantly pushing the spa, shopping and art auctions... and don't tell you much about the ports we'll be visiting (well, except to push the shore excursions). We visited Colombia (no need to ever go there again), Costa Rica (beautiful country), and several places in Mexico. I'm not a shopper, but I do usually buy some souveniers and stuff. In 3 of the places we stopped, the sales pitches never stopped and the vendors were annoying, which only makes me turn and walk away. Cabo San Lucas is gorgeous. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I have to say from the onset that our experience with Norwegian was fantastic.Our embarkation was very good no real problems. We went straight to Tsars for lunch (thanks CC for the advice) and it was very nice. After lunch we did what most ... Read More
I have to say from the onset that our experience with Norwegian was fantastic.Our embarkation was very good no real problems. We went straight to Tsars for lunch (thanks CC for the advice) and it was very nice. After lunch we did what most people do and that is explore the ship and wow was it big or at least to us poor Aussies it was compared to the P&O ships down under. We had a mini suite cabin 11108 it was larger than what we was expecting no noise from above and that blackout curtains made for some late sleep ins. The balcony is bigger that what we expected to be totally honest the cabin was great. We ate at all of the free restaurants however Tsars, Asurs and Blue Lagoon was the best for us, the buffet had a very good selection and yes the food was "HOT" contrary to what other people have stated but with a full load of passengers it was crowded on most sea days. The shore excursions were a bit pricey and I would suggest that you walk off the ship in any port let alone the ports that we did as in most cases you can get the same excursions with the local operators at half the price. We found all of the staff and crew to be very polite including the staff at the administration counter. The shows that we attended were very good all be it only lasting 45 minutes or so. The sea day entertainment was also very good (got to get them signatures on your score cards) all in all you could do as little or as much as you wanted, the pools and spars were also very good. We got to know some very good people on this cruse and none had a bad word to say about the cruise. As for "wishy wishy washy washy" she and they do a great job and at the end of the day the hygiene and health of the passengers is their main concern, (Good On Them). It was great to see the captain and senior officers doing a daily walk through the ship and talking to passengers and answering their questions well done Captain Lars, Officers and crew. Our travelling companions being first time cruisers could believe the service etc and all of the above. There is only one thing that NCL need to look at and that is the disembarkation fiasco with the emigration people being on-board to check everyone off, it might have been just a one off on this occasion. Once again well done NCL and congratulations Captain Lars. We will sail again with you very soon. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
A most enjoyable cruise. Staff gave us excellent service. Cabin was most comfortable. The food - the buffet was my choice because I am mainly vegetarian. There was ample choice of vegetables in the buffet and the food was hot. However on ... Read More
A most enjoyable cruise. Staff gave us excellent service. Cabin was most comfortable. The food - the buffet was my choice because I am mainly vegetarian. There was ample choice of vegetables in the buffet and the food was hot. However on sea days the buffet was crowded. The free dining rooms - the food was good, but not great vegetarian selection with very small portions and the service was slow, so we rarely chose this option.My opinion of the ship - very beautiful looking but did not fit my needs. The pool area had very few deck chairs in the shade. I have been on older ships that provided many deck chairs in the shade. The Jewel had about 6 or 7 paying restaurants that took up precious room (for passengers) and appeared to be low on customers most of the time. Such a pity, that room could have been better used for passenger use on sea days, or a bigger pool area. The promenade deck was a better alternative but what the.... hardly any deck chairs (about 20) or chairs (about 30) provided. Weren't there any staff around to see this. In my opinion, on sea days, there were very little nooks and crannies to sit in a big comfortable chair and read. The library was chock a block on sea days. The gymnasium was very adequate. There was a real sense of up selling - and they did not win with me. I would most likely not cruise with the Jewel again unfortunately as the ship did not meet my needs. Such a shame because the food was excellent. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
My husband and I, along with another couple, just returned from the New York to Bahamas cruise on NCL. This was our 5th cruise on NCL and our 2nd to the Bahamas. Overall, I thought the cruise was very nice and relaxing. Contrary to ... Read More
My husband and I, along with another couple, just returned from the New York to Bahamas cruise on NCL. This was our 5th cruise on NCL and our 2nd to the Bahamas. Overall, I thought the cruise was very nice and relaxing. Contrary to many of the reviews I have read, we thought the food was very good considering the price of the cruise. The only specialty restaurant we visited was the steak house, Cagneys. Although the service and food were very good, I do not understand why people pay $25 a person to eat at the specialty restaurants. We ate most nights at Tsar's, and I thought the food and service were both extremely good. Having been on this cruise before, however, I do believe the week we chose this time was a lot less crowded than the last time. We never once waited for a seat in the main dining rooms. When we were in the Bahamas, we took the bus to the Sheraton/Wyndham hotels to use their beach and facilities. We all enjoyed the day and thought that was a good choice. The last time we took this same cruise, we chose the excursion to the Lagoon. I think if you have children, the Lagoon is a much better spot, but if not, the bus or a cab to the hotels and purchasing a day pass for use of their facilities is a much better option. Great Stirrup Cay (the private island) was just okay. The last time we took this cruise we stayed on the boat that day and had a lot of fun. We decided to take the tender over to the island this time. The island was not what I expected. I've been to many resorts with beautiful beaches so I was a little disappointed. We did walk a distance to a more private, peaceful spot and we enjoyed the day. When you first get off the tender and see all the chairs so close together, it's a little disappointing. If you walk a little further, it is much prettier and less crowded. There are portable bars set up close by so you don't have to walk a mile for a drink. The food served on the private island was very good. The Florida port was a boring stop. We stayed on the boat and relaxed because the last time we went to Cocoa Beach and were not impressed. Disembarkation in New York was a mess. Both the cruise line and the Port Authority should be ashamed of themselves for the lack of direction and organization. This is our 5th cruise out of New York and Boston, and this is the only time I have ever seen such disorganization. Almost forgot, in terms of entertainment on the ship, please do not miss the hypnotist's adult show in Spinnaker Lounge or the game show "Quest" on the last night in the Spinnaker Lounge. Both shows were unbelievably funny. I can't say anything bad about this cruise other than the disembarkation in New York was ridiculous. The service we received on the ship was outstanding. We didn't have any problems with our stateroom. Additionally, I have to say that all food servers in the main dining room and Cagney's were outstanding!!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a ... Read More
I had originally seen this cruise advertised last year as a re-positioning cruise from NYC to Vancouver, including the Inside Passage so made a note to keep an eye out for this for 2013. When it was advertised, it wasn't posted as a re-positioning cruise and we were told that because of the Jones Act (Law) we couldn't cruise past LA if it wasn't a re-positioning cruise. Then, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between NCL and the travel agent, we were told that because the ship was going to a foreign port (namely Cartegena) we could sail to San Francisco. You can imagine my anger when we got on board to have the cruise advertised as a re-positioning one There were three of us travelling, so we chose a mini-suite with balcony on deck 11, being told it was a bigger cabin. The three of us have travelled together before and have had no issues with the third bed. Embarkation was quite simple but we were dismayed when we saw the size of the cabin. The interior one we'd had on deck 5 with Holland America on the last trip was just as big. Of greater concern was the third bed. It was the lounge which was as hard as a board. It took 4 days of asking for more padding before the bed was comfortable enough. The one layer of well-used foam that was put on the first night was insulting. If you are going to sell a cabin as being suitable for 3, make sure the bedding is suitable. Even if a child is the third passeger, they deserve better than what we got. Of great concern also was the state of the cabin. It was very dusty, and we found evidence of a previous occupant with trash left in the wardrobe and one drawer, and also a very dry remnant of a coffee bag in the coffee maker. We waited for three days before we asked for it to be removed. The first night we went to the Azure Dining Room, waited for a long time for a meal which was a bit hit and miss. We subsequently found out that we had a substantial number of new wait staff on board, none of whom are given any pre-training re serving, just given a manual or two. Then we tried the Tzar Dining Room and faced the same issue. I don't expect silver service in a dining room unless I've paid for it but I do object to servers reaching across my face to deliver a meal or remove a plate. We took advantage of having our bottles of wine stored each night, and on the third night, one party member was told her wine was finished. This wasn't the case, it had at least one glass left. We really had to insist, speaking to a senior staff member before the bottle was replaced. The next night, another bottle was obviously off. It had a screw cap which was faulty and didn't close properly so the wine had gone off. We were told that wine should be drunk on the same night, and what could we expect with a screw cap. Once again we insisted and had the bottle replaced. Unfortunately, this sort of experience didn't end there. We had cold food served, had to send several dishes back when meat was stringy or tough or had a very strange taste. We had chocolate dipped strawberries delivered to our cabin on two occasions as an apology and were given a free bottle of wine because of problems with food. Two nights it took 90 minutes before we left the dining room, with waits of up to 20 mins for the entree to be served. Some problem had occurred in the kitchen. The final night I had duck salad which tasted delicious, only problem was it contained only one piece of duck measuring about 1 inch by 1/4 inch square. The Lamb Shank dish the same night tasted very nice also, but it was a pity that whoever served it had slopped the sauce all over the side of the dish and then wiped it with a very greasy rag. I should have sent that back but by that stage was over it. We ate a number of times in the Garden Buffet and were satisfied with the offerings, but it would be nice if the fruit provided was ripe. Couldn't help wondering why staff weren't rostered on earlier on shore days. We had to wait for cups, plates etc to be replenished. Staff seemed to be astonished that all these passegers were milling about - what are they doing here? And could someone mentioned to all serving staff that a soup spoon is for soup and a dessert spoon, used for cereal, dessert etc. We complained about the lack of entertainment during the day which is available on other ships. We were told by the entertainment director that budget cuts meant that information talks were't offered any more. We turned up in the Showroom for a talk on the shore excursions to be told they weren't being held as only one staff member had done the Panama trip before. Then we were told that they would do one only after passengers boarded in Miama. Yes, it was held, but not all the printed information on each of the ports was available and we were given information on a lot (but not all) of the excursions which was too much to take in. Yes, they ran in on the TV but we got the whole talk even up to the last day of the cruise. We figured out that things like deck games, beanbag throw and talking to entertainment staff cost no extra for the cruise line, so that is what we got. Thing is, not everyone can do or is interested in the activities that were available. The movies that were available on the big screen were for the larger part not late release, with offerings like Pretty Woman. Was it just coincidence that half way through the cruise suddenly we were offered Les Miserables, Jack Reacher and Lincoln? Or did we all complain. I question the wisdom of showing a kids movie, Wreck-it Ralph, when only 17 children were on board. Another reviewer mentioned the poor offerings on the room tv and I must agree with them. Re-runs of the movies shown in the theatre, and re-runs of the same tv shows shown over and over. Plus of course the remote that didn't work unless it was held right in front of the on/off light. We did do excursion off the ship, and mostly they were quite good. I do object however, to be taken as an almost captive group to jewellery stores with enormous pressure brought to bear to buy. The offerings in the shops on board were quite good but as others have mentioned, over-priced. And I can never understand why people will pay thousands of dollars for jewellery that had no valuation offered with it. We did go to the Art Auctions but by the last one were more than a little jaded by the same old information. I've never heard of a ship tour that cost money (don't think we were ever told how much). We though we had pretty much seen it all but on the last day the organisers (????) excelled themselves. We were all told what bag tags we needed and where to be at a certain time. We turned up where we were supposed to be to be asked if we had been through Immigration? No, we didn't know we needed to. Though it must be on shore. So round we turned, walked from the front of the ship, all round the deck to the other side of the ship to join the queue for Immigration. Then when we got back to the front of the ship where we were before, got our amusement from all those who came after.and who didn't know either. Felt sorry for the staff who had to bear the brunt of passengers anger. Comments from other passengers who have cruised before with NCL but not on the Jewel, said there was no comparison between it and the other liners and they would not cruise on the Jewel again. Came to the conclusion that Freestyle cruising is just another term for sub-standard offering. If passengers don't want formal nights, why do so many make the effort to get dressed up night after night. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
This was my 5th NCL cruise and I am happy to report that they keep getting better! The Jewel was a beautiful ship with lots to do for all ages. Embarkation in NYC was easy. We arrived at 11:00 and wee on the ship by 11:30. Rooms ... Read More
This was my 5th NCL cruise and I am happy to report that they keep getting better! The Jewel was a beautiful ship with lots to do for all ages. Embarkation in NYC was easy. We arrived at 11:00 and wee on the ship by 11:30. Rooms weren't ready yet so we went up to the buffet and had some lunch then walked around and toured the ship. It was cold that day so no swimming for anyone but it was nice to be able to look at the city and the weather was good for the giant chess game, ping pong, and using the basketball court. Room was ready at 1:00PM and we headed down to check it out. I have had 2 other balcony cabins on NCL and this one definitely had it's pluses and minuses. The balcony cabins on deck 8 on the Jewel are semi enclosed which offers a nice ammount of privacy but unless you want to look at what is directly in front of you be prepared to hang on the railing. The bed was comfy and there was more than enough space for our things. Bathroom had standard NCL soap/shampoo dispensers and a new addition for me was the coffee maker in the room (well it heated water and you could add instant coffee or tea which was provided). It came in handy when you didn't want to wait for room service and you were not interested in leaving the cabin! We did experience a problem on our 1st sea day as the ship lost an engine. The way they handled it was perfect and we didn't miss out on anything. We ended up having 2 sea days going due to slower speed and moved Port Canaveral to on the return trip. We ate at the main restaurant Tzar's Palace 5 nights and had Cagney's and Le Bistro the other two. The food at all of the restaurants was very good and the service was always top notch. If you do want to eat at 7:30 in one of the main dining rooms expect a 30 minute wait...at least they gave out coupons for free champagne while you were waiting! Blue Lagoon (24 hr restaurant) had good food as well and always check out the BBQ at the pool around lunch time. In addition to hot dogs/hamburgers they have ribs, chicken, sausage, and a lot of other good stuff on rotation! One of the best things about this cruise was the entertainment! The shows were FANTASTIC and the best I have ever seen on any cruise line. The Comedy Magic of Jean Pierre was hilarious and the acrobatic duo was INCREDIBLE. If you take this cruise you MUST attend this show! They also have "Le Cirque Bijou" which I won't spoil for you but is a MUST MUST MUST see (try to sit 6+ rows back). The ship bands were great as well and if you can make it to the Rock Night by the pool it is a great performance of live Rock Music from 1980-2013 which you don't usually see on a cruise ship. There was always something fun to do on both sea and port days from line dancing class to trivia and art seminars. NCL has really stepped up in the activity department and you never felt like you had nothing to do! In terms of what we did in port: -Nassau: Dolphin Encounter at Blue Lagoon WELL worth the cost. We got 30+ minutes in the water with the dolphoins and got to dance, kiss, hug, and feed them. To our surprise we were also able to use the beach on Blue Lagoon after the encounter so we got to sit and relax and have some drinks afterwards. -Great Stirup Cay: This was a true surprise. The beach was clean and sandy, water was crystal clear, and the food they served was good. Lots of lounge chairs available and bar servers offering drinks if you needed them. Water is shallow so you can stand for quite a bit and there are almost no waves. We went snorkeling around the beach and there were TONS of fish within 30 feet of the shore. -Port Canaveral We did not get off of the ship here and opted for massages on board in the spa instead...good choice in my opinion! My husband and I booked this cruise before we realized it was a Spring Break week and we were worried for nothing. There were lots of kids on the boat but with the kids activities, Nickelodeon shows, and the separate kids pool you never felt like you were crowded by kids or that you couldn't enjoy some adult time! We got into NYC almost 3 hours later than planned due to the earlier engine issues but they were great about keeping the buffet open and making announcements so you knew what to expect. I love NCL's policy of letting you stay in your room until you get off the ship...so much more relaxing! We went with the easy walk off and even with the delay were off the ship and heading home at 9:45am. All in all this was a wonderful cruise and I will definitely be sailing NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We have just returned from our week long Bahamas cruise with NCL. The ship: Overall acceptable but lacked the wow factor in the centre of the ship. The atruim was lacking that photo opportunity. The rooms were ok, the bathroom was ... Read More
We have just returned from our week long Bahamas cruise with NCL. The ship: Overall acceptable but lacked the wow factor in the centre of the ship. The atruim was lacking that photo opportunity. The rooms were ok, the bathroom was perfectly serviceable. Food was pretty good but the seats to people ratio is way off, by the time you have found your seat your food is not hot-please go at non rush hour times to avoid this. The staff were the usual 'friendly helpful' style, with the wishy washy cleaners being the difference to other ships. The NCL experience: Again pretty good, entertainment was good-magician (JP) and acrobats (Duo Eglia) were excellent. The bad: The ship is quite clearly set up for selling selling selling once your on board, from bingo to excursions and this gets pretty tiring after a bit. The ship is also completely set up for kids with little or no thought for the 'paying guests' (us adults). There is nowhere or no entertainment that is not hijacked or spoiled by very young children or underage, inexperienced drinkers. The ship lacks an adult only exclusive environment where you can relax. The stairways at night resemble a street corner and are to be avoided. NCL need to address this and fast as security is not to be seen and enforcement of regulations is non existent.Every night an announcement goes out about the theatre with the first 3 rows being kid free and every night the first 3 rows are packed with 6, 7 and 8 year olds, much to the annoyance of the entertainers and cruise director but still nothing is done. It is only a matter of time before a drunk child goes overboard on a dare that goes wrong. Good value yes, but they need to tweak their approach to make them definite repeat customers Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
I just returned today from a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. The reviews I read here in advance were of so much help that I thought I would write my own comprehensive review in hopes that it may be of help to future travelers, particularly ... Read More
I just returned today from a 7 day cruise on the Jewel. The reviews I read here in advance were of so much help that I thought I would write my own comprehensive review in hopes that it may be of help to future travelers, particularly those with children, as it was myself, my husband and our 6 year old daughter on this trip. Just a little bit about us so you know where I am coming from with my opinions. This is only our 3rd cruise, 2nd on NCL. We did the Boston to Bermuda cruise on NCL Dawn last April. I chose this cruise on the Jewel because it is easy for us to get to NYC, as well, I have wanted to sail out of NYC because I have heard from others about the nice views while sailing away. Also, this is one of the few NCL ships which has the Nickelodeon themed events and we thought our daughter would like that. I am not a relaxing cruiser, I like to have my freestyle daily with me and I'm always hurrying from one event to another. Cruiseport/Embarkation: We live in Maine so we drove to Connecticut the day before and then drove into the city early Sunday morning. It was St. Patty's Day and we were concerned about street closures due to the parade. We had no idea how easy it was going to be to get to the cruiseport. It was excellent! Our GPS brought us right there, no problem. Instead of a garage it is a parking lot that is literally right next to the boat. It is expensive ($245 for 7 days) but I think it is totally worth it. Embarkation was very easy and well coordinated and we were on the ship having lunch by 11:30. It was a far easier place to sail out of then Boston and the sail away by the Statue of Liberty was awesome, even though it was freezing :-) Cabin: We had an oceanview picture window room on the 5th deck. I had wanted to have a balcony but when I booked they were all sold. Our room was fine, no issues. It was exactly the same as the room we had on the Dawn last year. The beds are very comfortable. Some people have mentioned in reviews that the tv's are old and that is true, it is not a flat screen, but it didn't bother me any, it worked just fine. We were quite happy with the room, and even though our boat was full of spring breakers it never got too loud. Food: I could say a lot about this, but I'll try to keep it as short as possible. Buffet - We don't generally like buffets but if we are in a hurry we will go there for a quick breakfast or lunch. This buffet was not good, actually I truly feel that awful is an adequate way to describe. I'm not picky and when we did go I tried several different things and it all just seemed like cheap, sub-par food that was pushed out quickly with not much care. Couple that with the mobs of people and dirty tables and it was not appealing. The positives: the washy-washy guy and girl were fun, the soft-serve ice cream machines, and the anytime coffee. I will say that there seem to be plenty of staff working in the buffet cleaning all the time, however, we had a full ship and some of the guests are just slobs so it is not the crews fault that it was messy, they were doing the best they could to keep up with it. Chocolate Buffet -- They have this one night in the Garden Cafe. They have some pretty impressive chocolate sculptures and ice sculptures that are fun to see. The chocolate, however, leaves much to be desired. I'm not sure what you could do to mess up chocolate but the offerings they have for this are terrible. It was the same way on the Dawn but we figured we'd go see this and see if it was different. One thing, the black forest cake, was the only thing remotely tasty. They only had about 6 different things but just had them spread out over the whole buffet area and most of them tasted like something you would get off the week old discount section in the bakery area of the grocery store. They were dry and tasteless. But, it is worth going to see the sculptures. Blue Lagoon -- this is the complimentary 24 hour cafe that overlooks the atrium, so it is a good place to be if you want to have a bite while listening to someone play in the atrium. We loved this area on the Dawn and the food was great, so we were happy to see that the menu was the same on this ship as it was on the Dawn. We ate lunch here our seond day and were very disappointed. First off, the waitress we had was not friendly. She acted like she was put out that she had to wait on us. We got the spinach artichoke dip which was one of our favorites from the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn, however, it was not the same. Actually it was bad, to the point where it tasted spoiled so we didn't eat it, we just had the chips. Our regular meals were okay, they were adequate but not good. We didn't eat there for the rest of the cruise. Azura - this was one of the two main dining rooms. This and the other dining room have the same menu each night. We ate here one night and the atmosphere is nice, the more casual of the two. This dining room is also much smaller than the other so it fills up very fast and usually has a wait of a half-hour or more. Tsar's Palace - this is the more formal of the two dining rooms. It is very large so there is usually no wait. It opens at 5:00 PM and does require men to wear pants for dinner. This room has large windows at the back with a great view. We had breakfast and dinner here most every day. The staff in here was wonderful! Very friendly and attentive, especially to our daughter. The menu doesn't vary much from night to night but we found plenty of good food to eat. My husband had several decent steaks and I especially liked the basil pesto pasta. The only thing we didn't care for much was the prime rib on the last night, but pretty much everything else we had in there was good, especially the desserts! There was a dessert called chocolate decadence that they served on the final night and it was to-die-for! It is extremely rich and I recommend ordering vanilla ice cream on the side to eat with it. Also, the bread and butter pudding was great (again with vanilla ice cream ordered on the side). If you can't tell, I prefer dessert to any other part of the meal :-) But also all of the soups and salads that we had for starters were very good. We did not eat at any specialty restaurants, mostly because we were more focused on the shows and entertainment than the food, and we were happy with Tsar's. We usually went to dinner early so we could get it out of the way and have our evening clear for events. The one place we were going to try was Mama's but the night we wanted to go they were full until 8, and then we heard other guests who went saying it wasn't good. Again, just heresay. I heard nothing about the other specialty restaurants from this trip. Room Steward: I think from what I heard most of them are great! Our guy was very friendly when we arrived and introduced himself right away. We had great experiences the previous two times we had cruised so we thought this was going to be another one. We really didn't have any major problem with him, he did a fine job of make up/turn down service. Just a couple of things that kind of bugged me: We would leave for dinner and turn our dial to "turn down cabin" so he would know we were gone for a while. One night we did this but then had some time after dinner so decided we would go back to our room for a few minutes. We forgot we had turned the dial and he knocked on the door. My husband answered and explained we would only be there for a few minutes. He asked us to turn our dial back to the normal position and change it again when we leave. So we left a few minutes later and we again turned it to "turn down" status. When we got to the theater it was quite cold in there and my daughter wanted her sweater so my husband went to the room to get it. Our steward was just going in and when he saw my husband coming he said he would come back. My husband stopped him and explained that he was only grabbing a sweater and leaving. When my husband told me this he was laughing and said "the guy seemed a little pissed off and I can't blame him". I disagree, I understand that he needs to get the rooms done, but it was still early and it's our room, we should be able to go in it as we please! So that annoyed me a bit, but I didn't have the interaction with him myself. Also, a nice bartender at Topsiders by the pool gave us a Stella Artois beer glass earlier in the week when we ordered a large bottle. He said "this is yours to keep". We were happy about it because we have some Amstel gold rimmed glasses in a bar that we have and this would match. Anyhow, my husband cleaned it and set it up on the shelf behind the tv with other items of ours. When he went to pack it on Saturday night he realized it was gone. We figured that the steward took it. I can't blame him, I'm sure he thought it was an empty bar glass. We were afraid to ask about it because I didn't want to get the bartender in trouble in case he's not supposed to give them away, although, I suspect it is something they do frequently. So we let it go, and my husband said he was happy anyway because he had a Stella Artois large bottle that he had kept from earlier in the week. He kept the cork for it and had cleaned it out and it had been sitting on the desk for a few days. We got back later that night after turn down to discover that the steward had removed it. Again, I don't really blame him because I'm sure he probably thought it was trash, but my husband was not happy, he thinks that the steward should have asked us about it before removing it from our room. Wait Staff/Bar Staff -- With the exception of the lady in Blue Lagoon that one day (mentioned above), the wait staff and bar staff were fantastic. Very friendly and patient. One special mention: Mauricio Tuiza in Tsar's. This guy was awesome, he stood out among everyone. He was wonderful and we really enjoyed interacting with him. The wait staff moved around the room each night so we only had him once but he was the best! In comparison to the Dawn, I think the wait staff was better on the Jewel. Entertainment -- We do as many activities and entertainment as possible on the ship. I live by the freestyle daily :-) I will give NCL credit, they are not going to let you get bored on one of their ships! There are many who like to just lay by the pool and relax, but for those of us who like to go, go, go, this suits us well. Every morning there was some type of aerobics or other exercise activity offered early, around 7. I never participated in these, although I really should have after all of the desserts! There was some type of trivia most mornings and I participated in that which was always a lot of fun. Then on sea days there were usually a variety of activities, either music, game shows, bingo, etc., then we would fit lunch in and always plenty to pick from in the afternoon. We got off the ship at each port but there were still activities for those who chose to stay behind. There is a show in the theater every night which runs twice, once at 7:30 and again at 9:30. We saw all the shows, mostly at the 7:30 time. The entertainment on this ship was good, quite a bit better than on the Dawn, although that wasn't bad. For a run-down: 1st night - welcome show....this is where you meet the cruise director, Jaime, and then you get a brief glimpse of some of the acts you will see during the week, and you will see a song and dance from the ships singers/dancers, who were really good. 2nd night -- Band on the Run...Carnival had a similar show when we went on that in 2011. The talent on this was better. It was a half-hour show with 70's music. It wasn't spectacular but it was pretty good if you like that type of music and worth a half-hour of your time. 3rd night -- David Naster, comedian. When we saw him on the welcome show I didn't think he would be that funny but we still caught his show at 9:30 after getting back on the boat in Port Canaveral. I was so wrong! this guy is hilarious! He's not adults only, however, he's edgy enough that I probably wouldn't bring my child to the show, although most things would go over her head. He was good, though, I highly recommend his show! 4th night -- Duo Elegia -- This is a husband and wife acrobatic team and they are unbelievable! It's not just your run-of-the-mill show, it is really good. 5th Night -- Jean Pierre something? He is a magician/comedian. I think he's kind of annoying and a lot of his act is him being a pervert, but his illusions are pretty impressive so it's definitely worth going to see. And then he will stay after and you can purchase his magic kit/book. He also offered a workshop for kids the following day in the theater where he showed how to do some tricks, but we were not able to make that one. 6th Night -- Le Cirque Bijou -- this is their major show. Reading prior reviews helped me to prep for this one. They said do not sit in the first 6 rows because people drop from the ceiling and you won't be able to see them. We got in line at 7 and sat 8 rows back in the center and it was perfect! The dancers/singers and Duo Elegia are the main part of this show. It is a really good show. I was not sure how it would be because the "big" show on the Dawn was a huge disappointment, however, this one certainly was not. At the end of this show Jaime came out and brought on all of the staff from all areas of the ship so they could be recognized. It was really nice, I always like that part. 7th night -- Goodbye show -- Jaime hosted this and opened by reading off a top 10 list of the dumbest questions ever asked by cruise guests. It was really funny, a huge hit. Then they showed the video of the past weeks highlights. The rest of the show was pretty much all Jean Pierre again. Some of his tricks were really good, and he is funny sometimes but he really does get old after a while. None of the shows last more than 45 minutes. I recommend seeing all the shows but the best shows were Le Cirque Bijou and David Naster. However, my personal favorite entertainment came after the show in the theater, up in the Spinnaker Lounge. The game shows that incorporate the guests. Some of them: Perfect Couple, Newleywed Game, Dancing with the Jewel Stars, and the best one: The Quest. The good thing is that if you do miss any of these they usually show them on the tv so you can see them when your getting ready in the morning. If you only see one of these, try to make sure you see the quest. It is 18+ and is on the last night at 10:30 but it is totally worth it, it is hilarious!! Entertainment Staff: Sassy Stephanie, Amazing Alicia, Legendary Leslie, Zesty Zack, Jersey Boy Joel and Dazzling Devyn. I think I got them all. They were all really good for the most part. Leslie was the best, he has a great personality for this. But they were all pretty good and friendly. Although, the last day we attended several activities which were hosted by Stephanie and she just seemed tired and annoyed with everyone and was a little snippy with a couple of guests during a couple of the activities. I have to give her a break, I'm sure it is very hard to do this week after week, and probably some people are completely obnoxious, so I won't completely hold it against her, but the others were still friendly. We played Bingo one time because we wanted to, well I wanted to :-) It was expensive but fun. I also played Deal or No Deal once and that was fun and only $40 for two of us. Kid's Stuff: So one reason we chose this cruise was that it is a Nickelodeon cruise. There was a whole Nick staff and they seemed very high energy during all of the Nickelodeon events, which were mostly free. There was a character breakfast which we attended for $20 each. It was held in Spinnaker and it was cute. The breakfast was done nicely with kid-themed food. Spongebob, Patrick, Dora, Diego, the Fairy Oddparents all came out and danced along with the Nick staff and then all of the characters went to different corners and the kids got in line to meet them. Here's the thing: All week there are other events that the characters are at and plenty of character meet and greets which are free. I do not think that the character breakfast was worth the money. It was basically a meet and greet with breakfast. My daughter just wanted to meet them. I really would strongly suggest saving your money and taking your kids to the free meet and greet and other events. They had a family deck party one night which was great, along with a Dora Dance Party and Dora Storytime, and Slime Time Live gameshow. Kid's Club: My daughter had gone to the kid's club on the Dawn so she was not shy about going to this one. She loved it so much that I had to beg her to spend time with us! The counselors all have cute nicknames. My daughter especially liked Lipstick and she was usually the one at the front and very friendly. They gave us a list of their theme days/nights. And the best part was when they created a circus show that the kids performed in the theater. It was so cute! The security in this area will make you feel okay about leaving your kids here. It is a great service and it made her feel like she had some really great experiences independent of her parents on the ship. Ports of Call/Shore Excursions: Port Canaveral: We went to Universal Studios. We were lucky to have beautiful weather. This worked out well. We had nice coach busses to take the groups over. They left on time and it was about an hour ride. It gave us about 6 hours to explore at Universal and we were lucky that it wasn't busy at all there that day. I had also purchased express passes ahead of time so we were able to do all of the rides during the time we were there and also do some shopping and get an ice cream. It was a very expensive excursion but we all really enjoyed it. We were back in time to catch the 9:30 show that night. Great Stirrup Cay: This is NCL's private island. They dropped anchor and had a continuous flow of tender boats to bring people over. My husband and daughter were very excited to go to the beach but I hate the beach! I am pale and burn really easy. I spray tan, not real tan :-) Anyhow, we didn't do a shore excursion so we were really in no hurry to get over there. They had a person sitting out by the pool area to hand out tender tickets. We were near the end because we didn't get them until late, but it was fine with us. The tender boat was fine and it is a real short ride to the beach. It is nice. There are some local vendors set up selling t-shirts, hats, etc., and someone doing hair braiding. They also have a very large blow up waterslide that you can pay to go down. You can use your keycard for that. As well, you can use your key card for drinks. They also serve a buffet lunch at the beach. We had lunch first and it wasn't bad, your typical bbq type lunch. It was fine. Then my daughter and husband got in the water to play. All beach chairs were taken and there was nowhere to sit in the shade so I just found a place to sit, although in the sun. They were in for about a half-hour and then decided to come out and we headed back on the tender boat. If it were just me I would stay on the boat at this stop and enjoy the peace and quiet. Nassau: Okay, well....we had a not so great expeience in Nassau. We had a shore excursion booked to go to the Atlantis for a tour of the aquarium and The Dig. We had some time to kill before going there and wanted to walk down to Diamonds International to look at the watches. You have to walk through this building and from the time you get to the end of the pier from your cruise ship you are hounded, or rather, bombarded by people offering to take you on tours of the island, offering to braid your hair, wanting to rent you a scooter. They are relentless! There are some nice shops downtown, with some tourist shops mixed in. We went to a few but then started to head back the other way. At about 10:45 we headed back toward the pier. Again, walking through the throngs of people offering their services and a hair braiding lady is offering up her services. Well my daughter heres this and wants her hair braided. I had promised her she could do that at some point on the vacation so we stopped. The lady had pictures and Stella picked what she wanted which were braids and beads across the top of her head like a headband. I asked her how much and she said $3 per braid. Now, let me stop here and say that I had seen some of the braid work that was done the day before and there didn't seem to be a huge number of braids. I asked her how long and she said 10-15 min. and my daughter was pleading with me so I told her okay. Now I know I should have haggled but I was tired and just wanted to get it done. She had us follow her back to the hair braiding area which is basically a covered gazebo. My husband went to get some cash from the ATM while they started on her hair. I knew immediately that I was in trouble because the braids were tiny. They were so skinny they barely looked like braids. But then they would combine a couple of braids into one bead so I was hoping they were counting by beads not braids. They kept going and we were getting really concerned, not just because of money but we were afraid we would miss our shore excursion because it was taking much longer than what they had said. They finally got done and told us $120. We only had $102 on us and she said that was fine. I really wanted to throw $40 at her and walk off because that is about how much it is worth, but then again, this is my stupidity for agreeing so we gave her the $102 and then had to run to meet our excursion. We did catch it on time and the bus to get there was sketchy but the Atlantis is really great to see. Other than the Atlantis I wasn't a huge fan of Nassau, it was a bit sketchy aside from a few of the nice stores. Pool -- the pool area on this ship is pretty nice. There are actually two pools, both with salt water and about 80 degrees, and then 3 hot tubs around the pool area and a large shower. However, the more pool space means less deck chairs so if you want one you've got to be really early. The kids area is off to the side and kids have their own hot tub and then a toddler pool. Also, I forgot to mention the waterslide. It's not huge and my daughter was big enough to go down it. She went once and didn't seem to care about going again and I didn't think much of it but a few days later she told us that the guy who is working at the top of the waterslide yelled at her to go when she was on it so she thought he was mean. I don't know what happened, I wasn't up there with her, so that is only her account. The layout was similar to the Dawn. My only complaint would be that there are many activities which are held in the Spinnaker and that is on 13 forward and not easy to get to quickly. But you'll learn your way in a few days! Sorry for the long review. It was a great week and we have great memories. Can't wait to do it again! If you're going, hope you have a good time! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Norwegian Jewel Freestyle cruise was awesome! Background: My family went for my father's retirement. My parents (in their 50s) my brother (29) me (23) and my other brother (21). We had two stateroom balconies down the hall from each ... Read More
Norwegian Jewel Freestyle cruise was awesome! Background: My family went for my father's retirement. My parents (in their 50s) my brother (29) me (23) and my other brother (21). We had two stateroom balconies down the hall from each other. On the first day everything went so well! First of all, you CAN bring cases of water and soda with you on the cruise. Even though no one told us that! Also, we snuck on rum runners full of various alcohol. The first day boarding went VERY smoothly. I thought we would be on line for HOURS but it took us under an hour to get everything settled and be on the ship! Then, we were on the ship for probably 30 minutes (around 130/2 ish) when they told us our rooms were all ready! We got our luggage promptly after that, although they leave your bags in the hall so you can check to make sure they are yours... this made me nervous because anyone could walk on by and take your bag. We got my father shrimp cocktail as a welcome gift and it was a surprise. There was a note when we got there that we had to CALL and get it delivered. This posed an issue because he wanted to go explore and we had to basically lie to him for an hour about why we didn't wanna leave the room. After we got the shrimp (delicious and huge, worth the money) we went to explore. There was food out immediately and we were able to have burgers and hot dogs and chicken out on the deck while we left port. This cruise I would say is not for people who do not like not having a schedule. The dress attire is casual, although people were in dresses and suits sometimes at night. Also, they give you a list of what is going on in the day but you get to pick. We thought this was AWESOME. We got to pick and choose what we wanted. Deal or no Deal is 20 bucks a person which is a little ridiculous so if you don't want to spend extra, don't do that. We went to Cagneys the steakhouse specialty restaurant which I thought was "okay" I'd rather not spend the extra money and just go to the included dining. We also went to the Hibatchi restaurant which starts with "Tep" and I won't try to spell because I won't do it right. This is a MUST GO. It was AMAZING. The environment was great and the food was delicious. 25 dollars absolutely worth it. The two included dining areas were good too. The food was delicious and the waits went quick if there was one. The buffet was also great. There were so many selections so you never have to have the same thing twice if you don't want to! Chicken, veal, burgers, dogs, sandwiches, salad, a whole pig one day, ice cream, dessert....it goes on. Alcohol is NOT overpriced I don't think. A family of 5 drinkers spent over 2000 dollars BUT we all drink and it was 7 days. Also, my brother and I got over 100 dollars in buy backs which was awesome. They also have a drink of the day out by the pool which was nice because it was discounted. The staff is AMAZING. They are friendly and smiling and will remember you and your drink if you treat them well. We tipped generously because these people deserved it. They were GREAT. For first time cruisers, you do feel the boat and the first day at sea was rough because we were rocking but it is a boat and that is over the control of the ship obviously but it is just a note. The ports were good. The private island was great but GET THERE EARLY. Get up and get out early so you get a lounge chair! Then it is awesome! Nassau was good shopping and we went snorkeling which was fun. Senor Frogs is a great place to eat there. The bars on board were good and at night Spinnakers becomes a nightclub type place which was fun. I would do a cruise again and am actually thinking about it for my boyfriend and me because he would love it. I would recommend this to anyone who just wants to relax and have a good time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
My family and I were on the NCL Jewel round trip sailing from NYC to Bahamas. This was our second cruise with the line and on the Jewel, and like many other passengers we were excited to be there. Embarkation was smooth as expected, our ... Read More
My family and I were on the NCL Jewel round trip sailing from NYC to Bahamas. This was our second cruise with the line and on the Jewel, and like many other passengers we were excited to be there. Embarkation was smooth as expected, our balcony cabin was ready, clean and on time, but we did have some problems. We were missing beach towels in our cabin, there were 4 of us in the cabin and 1 beach towel. I spoke to my steward about this and nothing was done. I called housekeeping still nothing was done, it was not until 4 sailing day when arriving to Grand Stirrup Cay [GSC] and a change of steward that I was to receive my towel (2 were given, total of 3). I pre-ordered wine for the first day of the cruise. Wine bottle was there but 0 wine glasses...once again I asked the steward and once again I was ignored.. I got glasses from the main dining room. I also pre-ordered chocolate covered strawberries for my kids for the first day... and that arrived late. On the first night my family and I went to Azura's for dinner. Service was horrendous. It took the server 15 minutes to take our order, 20 minutes to get our appetizers, 35 minutes for the main course, I'm not kidding! another 20 minutes for dessert...let's just say I was kind of mad, but I did not want to ruin my vacation complaining. Oh my kid asked for a soft drink that he did not get...and the server was annoyed when I asked 2 time around for his drink. We ended up eating at Tsar's for the remainder of the trip. I did notice that most of the crew were tired and inattentive, except when wanting for me to buy drinks... 4 times I had a server jump in front of me aggresivly wanting me to order a drink. it became a joke with my family. The public restrooms that I visited were dirty, which surprised me, because when I sailed back on NOV 2011 one of things that impressed me were how well kept the restrooms were. At GSC, the food was unappetizing and cold. The beach was dirty with old used drinking straws and cigarettes butts in the sand, beach service was non existent. For example, I tried to get attention of a server for drinks (go figure)I was ignored, my DH had to go to the bar and get some. The Cruise Director Jaime, she was ok... it felt like she was trying to hard to entertain guests. Assistant CD Joel, rude, condescending and not funny. I only saw 2 shows, the comedy of David Naster outstanding..JP the magician same old routine and boring. Overall, the cruise was ok, but I missed the little things such as having my steward knowing my name and having him and her giving me some attention. When my DH approached me in getting cruise rewards, I was apprehensive in going to another sailing with this line, but I believe in second chances and I'm giving them another chance in impressing me again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
To tell you the truth I was not expecting much after reading reviews here but actually glad I went expecting little because it made it that much better. We live an hour outside the city in NJ drove in to city around 10 and parked at ... Read More
To tell you the truth I was not expecting much after reading reviews here but actually glad I went expecting little because it made it that much better. We live an hour outside the city in NJ drove in to city around 10 and parked at Alliance on W 43rd st after dropping off wife and 2 sons (3 & 6 yrs old) (10 min walk to terminal) I chose this option simply because I didn't want to lug our baggage so dropping off to porter was easier. We had a penthouse family 2 BR suite so priority embarking was smooth and took us all but 5 minutes after returning from parking to be on the ship. Went straight to Cagneys for lunch which was great then to the cabin which was ready about 1pm. We have cruised once Western Carib on Carnival Liberty 3 years ago w/ my older son and had a small suite but it was nothing like this. I can see how these suites are the first to get booked. Complete privacy for all and tons of room not to mention the shower w/ all those jets and tub overlooking the ocean my wife and kids favorite part. Rough seas heading down to Cape Canaveral dodging a storm but nothing crazy. Kids took right to the kids club from the onset which was great for my wife and I. They were testing out new hours for kid's club 9-12pm, 2-5pm, 7-10pm so they would go for 2 hours at a clip here and there so it's not like it got overwhelming for them and they liked the fact it was broken up and they got to spend time as a family and time playing. Nick themed cruise so they said....please. Ok the horrific breakfast for $20 a head consisting of cold pancakes and eggs was the highlight as this was the only time we saw the characters and turned out to be their favorite part of the cruise getting pics w/ all of them. Cape Canaveral didn't wanna waste time going to Disney on a short a stop so we went to Ron Jons Cape Caribe purchased a room for the night to use their water park which is amazing and the kids had a great day. Off to Stirrup Cay what a beautiful little island. Kids had a blast in the ocean and we got some R & R lounging in the sun on a beautiful day that was perfect at 75 degrees. We are all for the freestyle cruise experience don't want to be told what time we have to sit down for dinner especially w/ the kids. This night we went to the french restaurant and had our best dinner of the 7 nights. Kids were well behaved and managed the 2 hours it took to complete our meal. We also went to Mamas, Cagneys, Zars 2 nights and buffet one night w/ kids. Kids joined us on 4 of the 7 meals other 3 we took them to buffet then to kids club while wife and I had some alone dining time so overall dining experience was perfect just wish the food was better. As for the food I'd give it a 5 out of 10 overall and pretty much was hit or miss. This I found was NCL's weakest part of the cruise experience. We ordered in for breakfast from Cagney's almost every morning which was probably the highlight of our dining experience. As for the best part of the cruise for us was the suite itself and the impeccable service top to bottom from our Steward Richie, butler Nelson concierge John made our cruise fabulous despite the below average food. These guys went out of their way and delivered on so many levels of service they should be commended for their efforts. Not to leave out the hosts/hostesses and 90% of the servers at the restaurants who were all eager to serve w/ a smile. At Nassau we took a taxi after reading the horrible stories about the water taxis and not wanting to walk far w/ the kids. We purchased a day pass at the Riu which is next door to Atlantis which included open bar and food for the day as well as use of the beach and pool. We stayed here before and while it's not a luxury resort compared to Atlantis it's on the most beautiful stretch of beach in Nassau and it allowed us to simply walk next door to Atlantis. Trip home was relaxing and we loved the 2 sea days to unwind using the spa frequently which we found to be excellent. The kids at this point really fell in love w/ the kid's club making friends and almost crying when it was time to go. I am an avid poker player so I took full advantage of the live no-limit $2/4 cash hold em game that took place each night around 11...so after the kids and wife went to sleep daddy spent a few hours at the table each night. Didn't quite pay for the cruise but let's just say the competition isn't like you would find in your typical card room at a casino. Similar faces each night very friendly table and lots of laughs, this was another highlight for me this vacation. All in all a great cruise experience despite the below average food. I really hope NCL takes notice of these reviews about their food quality and goes to work on the menu....maybe a Gorden Ramsey intervention or something but it really needs menu face lift and new chefs. Despite this I'm still giving this cruise an 8 out of 10 and would not hesitate to book again w/ NCL that is if I can ever get my wife back on a ship as she is suffering badly w/ that maldisembarquement syndrome thing where she still feels like she's on the ship. She's a big researcher and has herself terrified that she's going to be like this forever so I pray it ends quickly because we love the cruise experience! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
I was on the NCL Dawn in October, and felt it was lacking in the 'FUN' dept. This was probably because it was a cold weather Canada cruise, but I was hoping the Jewel experience would be different. We were not disappointed! ... Read More
I was on the NCL Dawn in October, and felt it was lacking in the 'FUN' dept. This was probably because it was a cold weather Canada cruise, but I was hoping the Jewel experience would be different. We were not disappointed! There were many spring breakers and families with children on the Jewel during our March 17 trip, but everyone was well behaved and having a good time. The spring breakers did tend to take over 2 of the hot tubs, but no one really seemed to mind. I don't think anyone else was dying to get in them since 10-15 kids were in each one for most of the day, drinking non-stop for hours...and never once getting out to go to the bathroom. Hmmm. The shows were all good, the comedian was very funny! We also watched a couple of games that were very entertaining - Battle of the Sexes trivia (hilarious!)and Quest(insane!!! Don't miss this one!!) We liked the food better on the Jewel, too. The Garden Cafe is set up much better than the Dawn. It has the circular stations that are more like the Windjammer on RCCL. There is also a great outdoor dining area right off the Garden Cafe, so enjoyable to sit out there and watch the ocean! We ate in both of the dining rooms once, but didn't bother on the other nights. The food was slow to arrive and was just ok, we felt. The selection in the Garden Cafe was much bigger. One area that NCL excels in is desserts. YUM! The chocolate buffet was especially gorgeous and delicious! Our cabin was located in a great spot - directly next to the Atrium and very easy to find. It was a little noisy at night but nothing too bad. Our stateroom attendant didn't introduce herself for the first 4 days but she did an excellent job with our room. We had an obstructed ocean view that gave us a good view of the water. The room was good size with comfy beds. No complaints. I don't know whether we were just lucky or whether the captain is just a great navigator but we felt virtually NO boat motion the entire week. Amazing! It was the smoothest cruise I've ever been on, and we were expecting just the opposite, figuring NYC-Bahamas in March would be a rough ride! All in all, a wonderful experience on the Jewel. If anyone has specific questions, feel free to email ekb2004@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We travelled on the Jewel from New York to Vancouver. The cruise was 24 nights. We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal transit. Our longest cruise to date had been 14 nights and we were interested how we would manage with so many ... Read More
We travelled on the Jewel from New York to Vancouver. The cruise was 24 nights. We chose this cruise because of the Panama Canal transit. Our longest cruise to date had been 14 nights and we were interested how we would manage with so many sea days. We really enjoyed this cruise but have decided that shorter cruises/less sea days are more appropriate for us. We enjoyed all the ports except Puerto Chiapas where we took our only ship booked tour, Mangroves. It was very disappointing. Everywhere else we either booked tours privately or took taxis. Our balcony cabin was on deck 10 forward. The motion of the ship was not a problem even when we had rough seas. The cabin was fine and there was plenty of storage. Having travelled on the Star last year where I hadn't really enjoyed the food I was concerned that the same issues would apply but I found the food to be good. We usually ate in the main dining room and while sometimes we had a pager we found the wait was usually less than 20 minutes. Service was usually good, our only issue was with the lady at the entrance of the dining room who was brusque and failed to acknowledge us on many occasions. We also ate in the Garden Cafe and while it was certainly crowded we always found a table towards the back of the ship or in the Great Outdoors. The food was varied and everything we tried was good. We never found the pools to be crowded, there were so few children on the ship we rarely saw them. There were always loungers available by the pools whenever we needed them. We didn't go to many shows but enjoyed the live music playing around the ship. Reading previous reviews proves that the same cruise can be different for different people. We had a lovely time and never felt pressured to spend, spend, spend. I would certainly travel with NCL again if the itinerary was right for us. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
The Norwegian Jewel was perfect for a first time cruise with our children (21 and 15). We left New York on a chilly Sunday, boarded effortlessly and were eating the first of many meals within an hour. The staff is friendly, attentive and ... Read More
The Norwegian Jewel was perfect for a first time cruise with our children (21 and 15). We left New York on a chilly Sunday, boarded effortlessly and were eating the first of many meals within an hour. The staff is friendly, attentive and happy. The ship is beautiful and clean. Upon entering our cabin, I was concerned with the size but once the suitcases were stowed under the beds, it was okay. There were 2 twin beds we pushed together which allowed the high riser to fit. The last was the pull down from the wall which my daughter thought was cool. We camp often in a tent so it wasn't too scary to us! The bathroom is big, there is a lot of cubbies,drawers and a closet so there was lots of room for all of our stuff! The seas were continuously rough the first full day which had my son quite sick but I heard that this was uncommon. After that it was smooth sailing :) We ate in all of the free dining areas and never got bored with the food (my son is very picky). We saw the Cirque Show-amazing!, the Duo Elegia-wow!,Jean Pierre-hysterical and magical!, Farewell Showtime-wonderful! Our ship stopped in Port Canaveral (we went to Cocoa Beach-sunning and shopping), Great Stirrup Cay-gorgeous, lots to do or just relax, and last, Nassau-beautiful-shopping galore, many historical and interesting attractions-we walked all over..Queens Stair, Senor Frogs, Fort Fincastle, Junkanoo Beach, Straw Market to name just a few! We opted out of the shore excursions because they were pricey and we felt it would be stressful being on a time constraint (that's not relaxing).The island is beautiful! It was fun taking the tender over, getting on was a little scary but thrilling too! There were plenty of lounge chairs as we were 5th tender over. There was lots to do but we didn't snorkel because it was a little too chilly for us but many were enjoying the sand, ocean and music! The food was great and we relaxed,carefully sunned and took lots of amazing pics! Everyone was friendly and happy-great experience! Totally easy to get off ship, plus the captain got us to Nassau an hour earlier!, so we were off and running! Easy to get to shopping areas, taxis available everywhere but almost everything is in walking distance! We came back to eat lunch and off we went again! Of course, there is a lot of pressure to take tours and buy goods but the locals are always friendly and polite when you refuse :) Coming back onto the ship was so fun! Some of the crew lined up with music playing we danced on to the ship...wet hot towels provided to clean your hands, smiles and dancing! The other ships didn't have that! Again, easy to get back but very secure! We heard someone got left behind in Nassau, yikes! We saw seals and dolphins swimming at sea, my daughter swears she even saw a whale! We played bingo, shuffleboard, basketball, golf and walked around the ship so many times. There is always something happening somewhere on the ship! All in all, for our first family cruise, amazing! When we got back to New York, we chose the Express Walkoff and it was terrific! We docked at 7am, we ate our last full amazing breakfast, grabbed our bags, walked off the ship to a friends waiting car and were home (Long Island)by 10am! The island is beautiful! It was fun taking the tender over, getting on was a little scary but thrilling too! There were plenty of lounge chairs as we were 5th tender over. There was lots to do but we didn't snorkel because it was a little too chilly for us but many were enjoying the sand, ocean and music! The food was great and we relaxed,carefully sunned and took lots of amazing pics! Everyone was friendly and happy-great experience! Again, totally easy to get off ship, plus the captain got us there an hour earlier!, so we were off and running! Easy to get to shopping areas, taxis available everywhere but almost everything is in walking distance! We came back to eat lunch and off we went again! Of course, there is a lot of pressure to take tours and buy goods but the locals are always friendly and polite when you refuse :) Coming back onto the ship was so fun! Some of the crew lined up with music playing we danced on to the ship...wet hot towels provided to clean your hands, smiles and dancing! The other ships didn't have that! Again, easy to get back but very secure! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We recently returned from 12 days on the NCL "Jewel". This was our "Friends and Family Annual Winter Caribbean Cruise". There were 24 of us. I have orchestrated the winter cruise for more than 25 years, now and we ... Read More
We recently returned from 12 days on the NCL "Jewel". This was our "Friends and Family Annual Winter Caribbean Cruise". There were 24 of us. I have orchestrated the winter cruise for more than 25 years, now and we have been anywhere from 14 to 43 of us. Embarkation was a breeze! From getting off of our charter party bus that brought us to the pier to being on the ship, it was maybe 8-10 minutes. We arrived at the pier at 1PM. I think not arriving too early expedites boarding. Everyone who gets there early has to queue up to get on, once the initial boarding starts and they are all on, the rest of the boarding process is a breeze. I had a couple of bottles of wine in my carry one and expected to have to pay a corkerage fee. No one said anything to me and I did not volunteer any information, so.....on I went with my wine. Also, in St Martin I bought a bottle of vodka, put it in my carry on, boarded, put my bag on the security belt, went through ship's security, no one said anything to me, so I said nothing to them and enjoyed a couple of vodka on the rocks in my cabin during the cruise. The ship was maintained spotlessly. The staff and crew were friendly and accommodating. We had an inside cabin. We've been on a LOT of cruises (over 100) and this was one of if not THE smallest cabins we've ever had. The bathroom however, was larger than expected. We enjoyed the "adults only" pool and hot tubs. As we sailed from NY, it was nice to have the pools heated the first and last days of the cruise and thus, usable.Dining: As we were a group of 24, we could only dine as a group at either 5:30 or 9PM. No matter who we talked to, dining as a group at any other time was absolutely positively a "NO!" We opted not to and dined as groups of 4, 6 or 8 "whenever". The joke amongst the group was that "Freestyle" dining meant you didn't dine when YOU wanted to, you dined when they were ready to feed you. Whenever we went to the dining room we got a beeper and they would beep when a table was ready. Service in the MDR is "OK". It was not the staff's fault however. They were VERY understaffed. Usually a cruise ship dining room will have a waiter/waitress assistant and a separate person for bar service. We had a waiter/waitress who did it all, and also had one or two more other tables. The food in the MDR was however, quite good. But we never saw items like shrimp cocktail on the menu. They were on the surcharge restaurant menus, however). The food in the self serve buffet area was I thought outstanding, both in variety and quality. We dined in one surcharge restaurant one evening (Bistro) and the dinner was wonderful. But what's on the menu in the surcharge restaurants is pretty much on the MDR menus on other lines we've sailed. Not so on NCL. Though what we had in the MDR was very, very good, options were rather limited and no "higher end" options...ever! (other than one night surf and turf, a lobster tail and a fillet)Cabin staff was very, very good. We were in an inside lower priced cabin and our steward was very, very attentive and took care of all of our needs promptly. I thought NCL was a little too over the top with the "nickel and diming", especially when it came to dining.There were at least 4 separate surcharge restaurants, there was no tour of the bridge but there was a "behind the scenes" tour that included going to the bridge....for a fee. Spa fees were pricy, drinks were more expensive than on other line we've been on, and there seemed to be many more opportunities of "optional" spending. Shows were very good, live music was very good, but different bands played in different rooms and in many rooms, there was no dance floor!!! Too bad, as we all like to dance and other folks commented on that, as well. My only complaint, and I think this is VERY important.....someone in our group fell on an outside stairway and cut his head. He ultimately was taken away in a wheelchair and required 9 stitches, but it took 8 minutes for appropriate staff to arrive to assist from the time we notified someone of the accident. Time it.... 8 minutes is a LOT longer than you might think! We did not take any of the cruise sponsored tours. They were about double the price that anyone on the pier was offering fro pretty much the same tour. Internet access was 75 cents a minute. I think they need to rethink that and charge say, $15-$20, period, as on all the islands it was very very, easy to find multiple places offering free WIFI. In all ports, we were able to disembark minutes after arrival. Disembarkation in NYC was fairly effortless and quick. Except...once off the ship there was someone monitoring people taking the escalator down to the area in which the luggage was collected. They would only allow a couple at a time on the escalator and would not allow the next couple on until the first couple were 3/4 of the way down. So....after disembarking the ship, we stood on the pier, outside in the cold and wind for at least 15 minutes, because this "escalator guard" would only allow two people at a time on the escalator and the stairway was blocked, so it could not be used as an option. I still don't understand why, but....that's NY! We had a wonderful time!!!!! It was 80 degrees, the sun was out and it was winter. Because we were a large group that wanted to dine together (the cruise is the only time some of us see other members in the group) anytime between 7 and 8:30 and we couldn't...we probably won't sail on NCL and "Freestyle" again as our annual winter group cruise. But if we went alone or with only 2 or 4 other people, we most likely would include it in our options. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We drove to NYC on February 1st. For those looking to drive and not pay the outrageous port fees, we stayed at the Wyndham Garden in Newark, New Jersey. We chose the "stay & fly" package which was $155+tax and included 14 ... Read More
We drove to NYC on February 1st. For those looking to drive and not pay the outrageous port fees, we stayed at the Wyndham Garden in Newark, New Jersey. We chose the "stay & fly" package which was $155+tax and included 14 days FREE parking.... that's right, completely FREE! To get to Manhattan, we took the hotels free shuttle service to the airport, then took the NJ transit train into Penn station for only $12/person. It was incredibly easy and worth every penny (to save us from driving in NYC traffic) Embarkation was incredibly simple and fast, we were on the ship by 11:30am with absolutely no issues. We had lunch at Tsar's Palace, which was good but not the same "incredible ship food" I was expecting. When we were allowed to go to our rooms (about 1pm if I'm not mistaken), I was pleasantly surprised by how much storage room we had for such a small room. Cabin: Our room steward was very nice and kept our room nice and clean. However, he did not once address us by name when he seen us. He did however always have a smile on his face and asked how we were. The carpet in the room was stained in a few areas and looked like it could have used updating. I was quite disappointed to find out that the $12/day automatic gratuity did NOT include our room steward, who I found was the only people who actually worked for US the most. I think the automatic payments should be going to room stewards, waitresses, etc, not the lights & tech people who do nothing for my overall cruise experience. Although we were on Deck 5, we had friends on Deck 4 and whenever we went to their room there was a very distinct awful smell on the whole deck. It was there the entire cruise. Entertainment: The entertainment was good. We only walked out of one show (the puppet guy) because it was just awful to watch. Jean Pierre was funny and a good show to watch. Cirque Bijou was wonderful. The cruise staff were great (especially Chris and Brian), and very helpful. The casino dealers, staff, etc, were all wonderful and enjoyed just stopping by to talk (even without losing all our money, heh) Although we didn't bring our 2.5 year old daughter on this cruise, once we seen the facilities/activities for the children, we were glad we didn't. The children's area on the pool deck was tiny as well as the activity areas. There may have been more going on for activities, but there definitely wasn't much published in the freestyle daily for family activities. Freestyle daily & activities: I was in my room by 11pm-12am every night because there was absolutely nothing going on after the 9:30pm show or karaoke. We were quite disappointed with the lack of activities going on throughout sea days. Don't waste your time at BINGO, the cards are incredible over priced ($50 for 9 cards for ONE game only - a blackout.... and that's supposed to be budget bingo) The prizes weren't even that great so they didn't make up for the price of it. Trivia - the trivia on the ship was lame. The questions were not even challenging because half of them weren't even correct. For example: Multiple choice trivia: Which is the world's largest cruise ship? A. Freedom of the Seas B. Queen Mary 2 C: Carnival something or other. As a cruiser we all know it's Allure of the Seas (or Oasis) but NO, the answer was Freedom of the Seas, because the trivia questions were done up in 2005 when the Jewel first came out. Like NCL even has a ship bigger than the Freedom (the Epic) and they think the answer is the Freedom? It wasn't even worth playing after a while. Pool area: Average. Hot tubs were closed by 10pm, pools closed earlier than that. BLUE DOT RULE? Biggest made up thing ever. There were multiple days with multiple chairs that were only saved by towels (PLUS the pool was closed and 10 people in the 4 hot tubs, so they definitely weren't around the pool deck). I even got so frustrated I asked a waiter who told me to speak to the gentleman with the yellow shirt (I didn't get his name), who I asked about the blue dot and the 20 minute rule who told me to go look for a chair on a higher deck. He has absolutely no idea what this rule was (or maybe he was pretending he didn't because it definitely wasn't being enforced). None the less, I finally watched for a chair that hadn't been occupied for a while and just moved the persons belongings off of it. Food & Dining: Average. Food was average in all restaurants, including specialty. The menu and options in the MDR's were horrible and ALWAYS the same thing. We ate in both main dining rooms, as well as Le Bistro, Cagneys, and Teppanaki. Le Bistro was good and worth the price however, should be able to receive that quality of food in MDR's. Cagney's was very average. I could have made a steak just as good at home. However, was impressed with the size of the steak & prime rib (which was cooked to perfection). Teppanaki was a complete delight.... we actually got so sick of the below average buffer and the average main rooms that we booked there twice. We were very impressed both times with our food and our server. BEWARE: IF YOU WANT GOOD BREAKFAST, GET TO THE MAIN DINING ROOM BEFORE 9AM OR ELSE YOU EAT IN THE BUFFET. Now on to the buffet. The breakfast in the buffet was awful, until we discovered getting our own omlettes made, then it was average. Most of the food was horrible and was left on the plates (and I hate wasting). Public areas: Average. The bars and lounges were good. We enjoyed the waiters in the Fyzz Lounge so found us spending lots of time in there. The casino was also very average and not quite as big as I expected. The public washrooms were horrible. They had been cleaned multiple times a time, however still had a built in smell of stale urine. I tried to refrain from using them and only using the washroom in my stateroom. About 80% of the stall door handles were lose. I couldn't understand why they hadn't had people in there with a simple screwdriver fixing them. Ports of call: WONDERFUL. Every island we visited was fun and even though we didn't book excursions in each place, we also quickly and easily found something to do and enjoyed each place. Debarkation: It was easy. The guards were actually on the ship but we chose to carry our own luggage off and had absolutely no trouble. It was a 2 minute process and very easy. Overall: Our cruise was okay. We were on vacation after all! We had a good time and enjoyed our cruise. However, I don't think I would cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
I really believe that the staff on this cruise went out of their way to make the entire experience incredible. Every day they were friendly, fun, witty and interactive with everyone they met. They made each show, game & events one - ... Read More
I really believe that the staff on this cruise went out of their way to make the entire experience incredible. Every day they were friendly, fun, witty and interactive with everyone they met. They made each show, game & events one - of - kind !! Although the destination was an ultimate goal for us to see the on-board activities were outstanding. The entertainment was by far very well put together and executed. The dining staff were attentive and professional. The house keeping staff were on their A-game providing the most quality in everything they did to make our room cleaned each and every time we came back to our room. Every person we met made the trip amazing ... the energy we felt from each person made our trip one that we would come back to time and time again. This was an incredible experience !! Thank you PS. I did not get to drop off my comment card when disembarking and I wanted to recognize the staff that cleaned our room day and night during our trip. His name was JAMES FLORES 8TH FLOOR - JEWEL- BAHAMAS VACATION PORTING FROM NYC - JAMES FLORES was incredible and took very good care of us each and every day with a smile and a positive attitude. Thank you James - I hope you get recognition !! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
My Mother and I cruised together on this ship. I had "won" a free cruise from my local casino and paid port charges and taxes - I paid an extra $150 for an Oceanview and was glad I did. Total price for the trip was $700 for ... Read More
My Mother and I cruised together on this ship. I had "won" a free cruise from my local casino and paid port charges and taxes - I paid an extra $150 for an Oceanview and was glad I did. Total price for the trip was $700 for the two of us, courtesy of Casino at Seas. This was my first time on NCL. I had cruised 6 times previously all with Celebrity. While the two cruise lines are different, they are both great. I enjoyed eating when I wanted to and not dressing up on NCL but I liked the daily activities more on Celebrity. Our room 8104 was spacious for an Ocean view with plenty of storage room and a great room attendant, Rustee. He kept our room spotless and often left us a nice surprise (towel animals) most evenings. The entertainment was the best I ever encountered on a cruise - a comedian, a magician, a duo who performed aerial feats and a great troupe of singers and dancers. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
About us, DH is 74 and I'm 61. This was my 6th and DH's 5th cruise with NCL. We were in a SF suite, 10666. This was one of our fastest embarkations ever! We arrived at the pier just before noon and were sitting in ... Read More
About us, DH is 74 and I'm 61. This was my 6th and DH's 5th cruise with NCL. We were in a SF suite, 10666. This was one of our fastest embarkations ever! We arrived at the pier just before noon and were sitting in Cagney's by 12:15! Yes we had the VIP line, but all lines were very short and moving right along! Our waitress was Lili and she and Carl (also a she, not he) became our favorites in Cagney's. They were so much fun and always had warm smiles to greet us. John D'Souza was the concierge and we found him to be very caring. He was always around the ship in the restaurants, atrium, outside the show theater and I even ran into him in the casino once! Whenever he saw us he would ask what he could do for us. We're fairly low maintenance so aside from some dinner reservations we really had no special requests, though he did keep asking every time he saw us. I did finally stump him on the next to last day when he stopped by our table. I told him I did have a request for him and he said, "Anything". I then asked him to have the Captain turn the ship around so we could head back to the islands. I wish I had a picture of his face! This was our second time in an SF suite, the previous one was the corner cabin and this one was one over. While essentially the same, this cabin was slightly smaller and there was less room between the bed and the wall. That was DH's side and he noticed it right away. It certainly was not a show stopper for us. The biggest treat for DH is the espresso machine! We happened to have a brand new one and the menu instructions were still in Italian. When the butler said he would change it, we said no since DH's primary language is Italian. Our butler was Chris and he was very accommodating to all of our special requests. He already had stocked the coffee machine per our pre-concierge requests. He switched out our sparkling wine for red wine and kept DH stocked with his breakfast cereal and milk, I prefer Cagney's most days. We're not crazy about all of the mid-afternoon snacks and requested just cheese and crackers and that's what we got each day. I had breakfast in the cabin on a couple of port days and it was always delivered hot and on time! Our room steward was Barrington. My first and only special request was for a step stool to get into the tub. I recently had knee surgery and those tubs are not the easiest when you have knee problems. He brought me the step stool right away and always kept the cabin in tip top shape. Most nights we got a towel animal and he would arrange my PJs in all different styles. If he was in the area of our room when we were heading back, he'd always come over and open the door for us. Such a nice touch! We had a very active roll call group and the meet and greet was well attended. The Captain and some officers came to say hi, and Hugo the food and beverage manager did a short Q&A. Right after the meet and greet we did a slot pull and managed to get back $14 of our $20 investment. We had most of our dinners in Tsars. We loved our waiter the first evening and requested to have him the rest of the cruise whenever we were in the main dining room. This requires sitting in a different section each time, but that was no problem for us as we really liked the waiter. We had a standing 7pm reservation and would always advise the Matre'd in advance if we were dining elsewhere on a particular evening. The food in the main dining room is okay and we certainly did not go hungry! There were no problems with special requests to substitute vegetables (e.g. spinach instead of green beans) and on lobster night DH requested and received two lobster tails. We were lucky to have dinner with the Captain one evening in Tsars. He was very personable and it was a highlight of our cruise. We also had a free dinner in Bistro (I'm Platinum) and that dinner was outstanding! We also had dinner in Cagney's twice and the filet minion was very tender! A friend and I did lunch once in Tepanayki since neither of our husbands like it. It's the same menu as at dinner and the waitress said they need at least 4 reservations to do a luncheon. Luckily another couple had also made reservations that day! Of note, my guess is the average age on this cruise was around 70! As a result, there were very many early diners so if you didn't have a reservation, you could end up with a long wait in the main dining rooms. We often saw a line and many folks with pagers. It sure pays to make the reservations at the beginning of the week! We didn't go to many of the shows in stardust since neither DH nor I are into hypnotist and comedians. We did enjoy the 70s show, the le circ and the crew talent show. We only caught a bit of Oh What a Night since that got switched to the last night since one of the performers was ill earlier in the week. We had a late reservation in Cagney's that night. We hit the casino most nights and most nights donated our budgeted money. I usually play Let it Ride but the table wasn't very good to me most nights. Luckily one night I went to the Poker machine and hit a jackpot so I managed to come home with my budgeted money. DH left all of his there in the slots and at the roulette table. Ports: San Juan, we stayed on the ship St. Thomas -- DH went to Limetree Beach and I did some shopping St. Maartin -- We went to LeGallion beach with a group from our roll call. Great beach with very calm water. Perfect for families or folks like me with bad knees! I do understand that this beach can get crowded with locals on the weekend since it is such a great beach for kids. St. Lucia -- We walked around town a bit and I could not wait to get back to the ship! Folks kept walking up to you offering tours and many followed you down the street even if you said no! DH did ask one driver the fare to the beach and was quoted $50 each way. Many folks I talked to had the same reaction that I did. Barbados -- Since we'd been here before and it was a Sunday we stayed on the ship Antigua -- We went to Coconut Beach Club with a group from our roll call. I had found this on the port of call section of cruise critic. There were 8 of us and the cab was $4 per person each way. At the club they charged $45 per person for use of the beach, loungers, pool, buffet lunch and open bar. The only disappointment for a few was that the beer was served in cups, not a bottle or can. The buffet was great. The beach had a fair number of waves that day and was windy. We were told some days it's very calm, just depends upon the weather. DH enjoyed the water, but with bad knees I limited myself to walking along the water's edge. All in all we had a great cruise, enjoyed meeting new friends and running into old ones from previous cruises. Now I have a long wait until my next cruise so have a serious case of Post Cruise Depression! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
This cruise is designed for NY/NJ area residents who don't want to fly. Probably 3/4 of the ship were locals. As Chicago area residents we always have to fly somewhere to catch a cruise, so usually go south and get the full warm ... Read More
This cruise is designed for NY/NJ area residents who don't want to fly. Probably 3/4 of the ship were locals. As Chicago area residents we always have to fly somewhere to catch a cruise, so usually go south and get the full warm weather escape. Flights to NYC were cheap, so gave this a try. Enjoyed a day in NYC prior to cruise. This cruise gives you 3 warm days. The 4 sea days are cool (40s and 50s F). Not great balcony weather, so if booking winter out of NYC, an interior or ocean view may be a better value. Cabin 8040 is a "hull" balcony. It is cheapest, as most prefer a full view. On winter out of NYC, the hull is actually a benefit - extra wind protection. Hull also offers extra privacy. Neighbor can't peek around wall. Jewel was in good condition. I have read a few others complaining about stuff. When you see presentations of the new Breakaway, you see room for improvement. However, the ship was as good as it was when we sailed in 2008. If you like Jewel class, your expectations will be met. I like buffet-ing at the aft facing great outdoors area -- something the Star/Dawn don't offer. Cruising by the NYC area is one of the highlights. If you plan on watching from your balcony, embarking port side, sees the statue of liberty. Starboard sees NYC. Reversed for 6am return. Your best views will be outside on top deck. Ports - Cheap cruise if you don't go to theme parks. The only ship excursion we took was a $13 shuttle to Cocoa beach in Port Canaveral. Nice to have a port with US mobile access. There is shopping by the beach if you need anything. Great Stirrup Cay was good for snorkeling. Bring your own gear -- cost to rent ($40) is about what I spent purchasing. You can skip fins, but vest is required. Nassau just walked around. Walked to water tower / queen stair / fort area that you can see from the ship. Not much to town area. Caught some dunkin doughnut wifi to catch up with home. Walked along Junkanoo beach. Since we didn't spend much at ports, purchased the 3 pack specialty restaurant deal online. Cagney's and Bistro were worthy upgrades. Mama's (Italian) didn't seem like much of an upgrade over MDR. Overall enjoyed food on ship. Burned off most of it walking laps around promenade (3 laps = mile). Disembark - Storm related delays others have reported seem to be cleared up. We did self walk out and were out by 8:30am with no lines. Walked over to a shuttle service to airport. Enjoyed the vacation. Purchased a cruise reward (future credit), so will likely continue on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
Just a little background first,my DW and I have been cruising for 10 years and have been on 8 cruises. We have only been on Carnival and Norwegian. We were on the Norwegian Jewel 2 years ago and are scheduled for the Gem in April. Being we ... Read More
Just a little background first,my DW and I have been cruising for 10 years and have been on 8 cruises. We have only been on Carnival and Norwegian. We were on the Norwegian Jewel 2 years ago and are scheduled for the Gem in April. Being we were on the Jewel a short time ago we didn't need to do to much exploring. The ship is designed well. It's easy to find your way around. We arrived at the terminal at 10:15am and were seated in the waiting area by 10:45. A record in my opinion. We were actually the first ones to go through the metal detectors. We got number 5 for boarding, we thought we would be on sooner than we did. There was some glitch in the boarding but we did get on by 12:15. It really isn't bad waiting. Once on the ship we headed for the buffet area and found all the food there to be very good, many choices for all tastes. DW is a vegetarian and she found enough to eat. After lunch we left the area to give others a place to sit, being it was cold we knew the area would fill up so we went to the Spinnaker lounge to wait for our room to be ready. The rooms were ready earlier than expected and we proceeded to it. We always get a balcony but figured it was a short trip and why not try an obstructed ocean view. The room and the hallway had a strange odor that we noticed throughout the entire cruise. It actually smelled like sewage. We were in room 8590 just in case you wanted to know. We did sail away in the spinnaker lounge as did mostly everyone. We met a fellow firefighter and his wife, it was their first cruise, so we had a lot to talk about. It was great to see the city skyline from there, since all of our cruises are from New York we will probably go there from now on, even on nice days. We decided to check out the main dining room Azur's for dinner, big mistake. My wife ordered the Salmon, there were so many bones in it she couldn't eat it. We sent it back and received an apology from the Maitre D who took our room number, but we never heard about it after that. I'm sure others Salmon wasn't going to be good either. The entertainment on this cruise was top notch. We went to the show that night and loved the show, I won't give it away but only to say you must attend the shows. I know people call this cruise the booze cruise, but after a long day of travel we turned in for the night and slept better than we have in months. The first sea day was filled with many things to do. Most of the big things to do like bingo were held in the spinnaker lounge and it got very crowded. We sat at a four top and met two great people. They were doing a Father-Daughter weekend, she was from Pennsylvania and he was from Massachusetts. Since my birthday was this day my DW treated me to a spa treatment of my choice, she wanted one also so we spent some time there. It was great! We later went to the buffet for lunch and met two other fantastic people who needed to sit down due it being so busy. We hit it off immediately and we were all laughing like we had known each other for years. It turned out it was his birthday that day also. That after noon they had a drawing for a free cruise but it wasn't run so well, it was in the spinnaker lounge and it was mobbed, and ran over the time it was supposed to start, we had to leave due to dinner reservations. My DW wanted the dinner that night to be special and she knew how much I love a good cut of meat. So we went to Moderno, it's a new Brazilian restaurant where they come around with meat on swords and you have a green tag for more or red one for enough. She being a vegetarian,I knew it would be hard to go there, but they had a salad bar and she did have a little meat(don't tell anyone). We got there at 5:30 and weren't served till 6:30, the sides were served after we finished eating. At 7pm we decided to forget dessert and got the check to leave. Other guests were a little more vocal and demanded their money back. In a word the service "stunk", but in all fairness it was the kitchen not the wait staff. We went to the buffet and had dessert there. The show that night was amazing. "Le Cirque Bijou". It is a must see and you should sit higher up in the theater. We did and had a great view. Since we don't drink alcohol, we weren't in the mood to go to many of the bars, but we did go to the Casino which on both nights was packed. Everyone looked like they were having a great time winning and loosing. We lost on the roulette table but had fun doing it. The ship has a cigar room and I sat and smoked a good cigar while my DW read a book. On the last day we decided not to rush off the ship like we usually do. The ship got into New York at 7am, we had an early breakfast and decided to walk off at 7:30. We caught a cab to Penn station and made the 8:10 home. We were home by 9:45am. Overall this was a fantastic 2 days away from it all. We have been thru so much in our lives this past year with Hurricane Sandy and a death in the family, that we needed to do this for our sanity. I highly recommend a cruise to nowhere, we are booked on one in January 2015 on the Breakaway. Read Less
Norwegian Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 3.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 3.0 4.1

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