Had the experience and will never repeat with the Norwegian cruise line. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more for a overall better experience. If you don't mind crappy food and okay service then this ship is for you. I stay away from buffets for a reason in my home life and the restaurants served the same food at the buffet. The staff very sketchy and pool area very dirty. Met a few people who also said this was the worst cruise they've ever been on.
Just got back from taking the Norwegian Jewel for a week in Alaska. While the trip was great, the room was small but nice, the staff was nice and everything was clean and well done, the food was horrible. We did a cruise on Royal Caribbean about 6 months ago on a 7 day for the exact same price and the food in the complimentary dining room was STUNNING. I mean absolutely delicious. The Norwegian cruise food was one step up from cafeteria food, and the dining room was the same food as the buffet where on Royal Caribbean the complimentary dining room menu was an entirely different menu, obviously made to order by well trained chefs. On the Norwegian, it seemed like they sent someone to the buffet to get your meal. It was horribly disappointing. I will never never go on a Norwegian Cruise again. The food was the equivalent to Denny's, while the food on Royal Caribbean was equal to Emeril's or Manning's. Don't cruise on Norwegian.
And if you have any food intolerance or special needs, forget about it. They are not going to accommodate you. Weeat mostly gluten free, but not out of medical necessity. When we were on the Royal Caribbean, they were fastidious about making sure dietary needs were accommodated and provided fantastic and delicious alternatives. I doubt that anyone would have felt the slightest bit deprived being on a gluten free diet on the Royal Caribbean. If we had truly had a medical need to eat gluten free on the Norwegian Jewel, we would have probably been relegated to eating white rice, or ended up in the hospital. I don't think that you could possibly have figured out what was safe to eat and what was not.
Also, several other points. They have a staff member standing in the buffet entrance to make sure that you disinfect your hands. He sings a little 'washy washy' song to the tune of a children's song... over and over and over and over and over again. I wanted to punch him every time I walked by. Horribly annoying.
Also, they keep the hot tubs at 95 degrees F. This is fine in the Caribbean, but too cold when it's 50 degrees with 20 mile an hour winds. The hot tubs would have been a perfect place to be in foul weather, but not on this ship.
Last but not least, my honey got vomiting and diarrhea. While I'm not blaming the ship since we both ate all the same things and I did not get sick, what I am complaining about was the way it was handled. I'm an ER and ICU nurse, so I know what I'm talking about, and cruise ships are NOTORIOUS for outbreaks of infectious diarrhea. So, I go to medical just to let them know and see if they wanted to test him for infectious diarrhea or quiz him about what food he ate, etc. in order to contain what could have been a budding outbreak. They could have not been less interested. The ONLY way they wanted to know about his illness is if he were to pay $150 to be treated. Well, he didn't need treatment, so they didn't have any interest in him. This was extremely concerning to me and, by itself was reason not to go back.
Their lack of interest in preventing an outbreak was equivalent to their lack of care with the food. Don't EVER cruise Norwegian.
I'll make this brief as this is a review of a Norwegian Cruise.
My girlfriend and I sailed on the Norwegian Jewel out of New York for a 7 day cruise to Florida and Nassau Bahamas. Leaving NY was fine, pretty crowded, but handled ok, once on the ship every one working the ship were extremely nice, always with a pleasant hello, and our cabin stewards Marty and Sheeba always engaged in conversation and were extremely pleasant and helpful. Unfortunately though, this was a ship filled with New Yorkers/New Jerseyans, and thus the attitude comes with them. It wasn't too bad, but you'd frequently see the attitude pop up.
Our cruise director was Shona Blair, and unfortunately we had her a year prior. She really does nothing for us. We feel she needs SO much improvement in front of a crowd; so many times her response to something a guest would say would be "I don't know what to say" Genius. She fumbled her words constantly thus passing along wrong information. The rest of the cruise director staff needed work as well although the assistant director Megan seemed pretty good. The Main showswere pretty good, particularly Alexis and Massimo, whom we saw numerous times at the Garden Cafe' and didn't realize who they were still we saw them on stage! Great show and for sure a do not miss. The nightlife was fun, some decent opportunities for us to dance together, or sit back and enjoy the music. Many of us got dressed up for the evenings which is always nice, but certainly not required.
The food was ok, nothing to right home about, but adequate. The Garden Cafe' we enjoyed, although they sure could use more seating.
The cruise was sold out so everything was pretty crowded, then throw in some cool temperatures/rain pushing everybody inside, and this was way too crowded.
The ports of call, again, nothing to write home about. It's disappointing the ships port and shopping talk barely didn't even mention Port Canaveral because they don't have any deals with shops in the area. There are free shuttles to nearby shopping that they don't tell you about, they just tell you, nothing is here so do an excursion. Their private island Great Stirrup Cay was a huge disappointment to us. Again way too crowded; they had to tender us in, and it felt like this was the first time they were doing this. It was horrible, we quickly turned around and made our way back to the ship; with both of us in good shape we felt like swimming back to the ship than go through their tendering process. Nassau Bahamas was nice, various opportunities to do things, although the constant harassment of the locals to sell you something can get draining.
We took this cruise as the price was right, and we don't expect much from Norwegian cruises. They're good, a lot of selling and trying to get you to spend, (The Dawn was WAY over the top in that regard) but we weren't expecting much, and this cruise did nothing to overly impress us, just a good decent time at a decent price.
A group of us just returned from our Bahamas cruise on the Jewel. Aside from a few complaints, the cruise was fabulous. My main complaint was Dunn the guitar man, who was scheduled to do Beatle tunes at the Sky Bar at 9pm. We waited till 9:15, still no show, so we left to catch Band on the Run show at the Stardust Theatre. The embarkation process ran smoothly and we were in our room in no time. The first thrill of cruise was passing underneath the Verranzo Bridge, with inches to spare! Was surprised the main dining room, Tsar's Palace, was open for lunch. On most lines, only the buffet is open for the first meal. The food all week was delicious, especially the lobster tail, the prime rib and the escargot. Sinan, our assistant cruise director from Turkey, was a riot. He kept us in stitches, whether he was the EMCEE or BINGO Boy.
Two things will stand out from this cruise...Washy Washy Happy Happy, the phrase uttered by the crew members standing outside of the Garden Cafe with the sanitizer spray. The other were the Yankee/Ranger playoff games thatwere televised on a jumbo screen in the atrium. If only it went to a 7th game...that atrium would have been rocking! Cape Canaveral's main attraction for me was the Warehouse that stored the space shuttle and the Saturn V rocket. We took a land taxi to Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island, Nassau.
Great Stirrup Cay was fun, though we we delayed one hour because one of the passengers had a stroke on one of the tenders. Our group had a grand time using one of the private karaoke rooms by the Fizz bar(must buy $20 worth of drinks). We ended our cruise with a fireboat salute from FDNY, which was a pleasant surprise.
Just returned from a 10 night New England Cruise out of NY. Stops were Newport, Halifax, Quebec and Sydney. Not sure why they go to Sydney - Its a complete waste of time. 4 stops in 10 days = too many days at sea. We ate in the buffet nearly every night as there was alway a wait in the other two non paying restaurants - their menus never looked that good. Yes, you have to pay extra ($15 - $25) to eat in any of the other places, and from what I heard from other passengers, it was not worth it. The food was edible, but not great. Our cabin had stains on the carpet. The entertainment on the other hand is very good. If you want to go on a cruise where you will not gain weight, go on NCL because you will not want to eat the food!
My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas on the Jewel, and to be quite frank, we were somewhat disappointed. Having cruised on Holland America, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Carribean, it is obvious that NCL is not in the same league. The attention to detail that we had come to expect was lacking. When we first entered our minisuite balcony cabin, my wife noticed that the area adjacent to the couch and desk had not been vacuumed or cleaned. There were several "items" that she picked up and placed in t he trash can. There were very few lounge chairs on the pool deck in shaded areas. If you wanted to protect yourself from the sun (and it was hot) shaded areas with lounge chairs were hard to come by. My brother-in-law jogged regularly each morning. He advised that he passed the same dirty glasses sitting next to the jogging track for three days. For those "mature" travelers, be prepared to be in the presence of many, many children, and unfortunately, many parents seemed to believe that it was not their responsibilty to maintain controlof their young ones. This was particularly disturbing on the night that my wife and I visited Cagney's Steakhouse, one of the several restaurants that required an additional $25 fee to eat there. Several tables over were two couples with their four children, ages 5-6. The children were allowed to scream and play during the entire course of our dinner, and no one, ship staff included, ever attempted to ask that they be made to behave.
Overall, I would rate that cruise and ship a "4" at best. If you want first class service and attention to detail, stick with Celebrity, Princess or Holland America. I would suspect that Carnival might even be a better value.
My husband and I just returned yesterday from a 7night 8day cruise from New York to Cape Caveneral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. I am comparing this cruise to our last year's cruise on Carnival.
We were on Deck 10 Balcony stateroom which was smaller than Carnival. The food (main dining room and buffet) was just O.K. Menu was limited. The speciality resturant (Cagney's Steakhouse) was a disappointment. My husband's steak was not as good as the steak served in the main dining room and the 1 1/2 lobster (which was advertised) was not available, I was given 2 small lobster tails, at an additional charge, besides the $25 charge- not worth the extra money. Carnival's food was better. The day we were supposed to go to the private island the weather was very windy so the Captain announced for safety reasons with the tenders(boats to take you back and forth from the ship to the island) we would go directly to Nassau for two days. The casino is a ripoff - the staff are not qualified. Do not enter the slot and blackjack tournaments. Carnival, again, wins. On a scale from1 - 10 I would rate this cruise 5.
Not one of my favorite ships. The staterooms were very small. No desk or makeup area. No glasses in the room. Mini bar was not stocked. Meals were mediocre at best. Much repetition. Desserts were the same each nite with 1 new choice. Main meals just average. Ate in the Blue Lagoon (free) and got better meals. Tried the main entertainment, but was less than entertaining. Tried the other entertainment (in the atrium) and it was better. We went with a group of 10, so we made our own fun. Only 1 dress up night, but there were too many people in tee shirts and jeans at meals in the big dining room. Service as slow, only 1 person taking care of the table. No wine steward,no bus boy, no coffee and beverage person. One waiter to do it all. They allow you to carry on wine to consume, but charge a $15.00 corking fee even if you drink it in your room. You can buy liquor for your room, but they charge almost $30.00 more per bottle than other cruise lines. This will be our last NCL cruise. Goingback to Princess
My husband and i have been cruising every year for the last 20 years or so. NCL is the only cruise line i would not go on ever again. The only good thing was the room was ok. This new alternative dining was terrible. Everyone wanted to eat at the same time pretty much any ways and it was always a bottle-neck to get a table with every one waiting to be seated to a table. Normally you have your own table and casually go to that table at your scheduled dining time. The food was terrible and very repetitive at every meal. That's because you no longer could get certain foods unless you went to there restaurants and paid for your meal. The service was bad because they were going to get paid if they gave you good service or not. Next item..if an attorney is reading this i would like to know if our rights were violated. Caution cruisers...i was woke up by 3 police officers and a huge dog. They said they were doing a random cabin search and we were one of the lucky ones.We were not singled out, as i did see them search randomly other cabins. That's my domain for the week just like it is my home, and i don't feel they have the right without a search warrant to come in. Have further details but won't elaborate unless someone wants to e-mail me..
To begin, I should say that of all the cruise lines currently operating on the seven seas, NCL would have been the last choice. It seemed to be too gaudy, too nickel and diming, too 'inyourface' for my 'casual elegance' preferred style of cruising.
I am here to tell you that I was so wrong!!!
My 22 yr old son and I have cruised together off and on through the years, lately almost exclusively on Christmas vacation cruises. He attends college plus plays hockey both of which force me to be on a rather limited budget for cruises. That said, although I won't ever choose an inside cabin again, I still try to get as much bang for my buck as possible. As I was trying to find a cruise that went somewhere sunny, I was limited in the port of departure options so I - reluctantly - "settled" for NCL's Jewel. I chose the Jewel over the Gem simply because the Jewel allowed us to have Christmas Day on board, whereas the Gem returned to home port on Christmas Day. I will always be thankful that I made thatdecision.
I had originally booked a Mini Suite at an extremely affordable rate I might add, but thanks to comments I had read on this site, I kept checking the NCL website to see if the rates went down as we grew closer. So glad I did! When I noticed they had gone down by $50 per person, I contacted my TA and he got me upgraded to a Penthouse Suite at no additional cost. They also gave me an on board ship credit which proved to be invaluable! Therefore we were set to sail in a considerably upgraded suite that included a butler and a concierge!
The embarkation and disembarkation were quick and seamless. One of the main reasons I started booking suites was the VIP embarkation process as I cannot stand for any length of time. They ushered us to the VIP check in and we were whisked onboard with barely enough time to catch our breath. Ditto the disembarkation.
The 'PH suite' (8130) wasn't really a suite, per se, but it was roomy enough for both of us to live in for the week. There was a fresh flower arrangement, a complimentary bottle of wine (from the TA) and a large bowl of fresh fruit waiting for us in the suite. There was plenty of cupboard and drawer space for the two of us, two wall safes, a loveseat and a small table with four chairs. It also had a small vanity I could sit at to do my makeup along with a roomy bathroom and tub/shower. However the veranda was very small by anyone's standards as one could just barely fit two chairs and a small table on it, and one of the chairs could only face sideways as the verandas curve precluded it from facing aft. Still we were content. I had brought along a short extension cord with extra outlets which proved to be very handy.
I should point out that these suites only have Queen beds, which cannot be separated, so my son had a roll-away bed while I got the entire luxurious bed to myself. And I have to say this was one of the most comfortable beds I have EVER slept in... It was heaven! I ended up spending a lot more time on it than I had planned, simply because it was so heavenly! My son's roll-away was also extremely comfortable, albeit very narrow.
I took the suggestion of adjusting my "automatic service charge added daily of $12 per person" by going to reception and asking them to adjust it. We cut it in half as we hadn't dined in the MDR and I wanted to particularly single out the people who had been so good. One note: I had read a suggestion by another Cruise Critic member to offer International Calling Cards as part of a tip. That might have been a good idea at one point, but now, with Skype and internet cafes, that is outdated. I wasted $60 buying them and ended up bringing them home with me. As they are non-refundable, I don't know what I will do with them. Bottom line... Cash money is best.
When we first arrived in the cabin, I thought we were in the wrong cabin as there was no 'corner' view.... I had purposely picked an Aft cabin because I had read that one got the best view as the corner suites had a side and aft view. Unfortunately the Jewel is not configured for that. The aft cabins face aft... Period. I think they missed the boat (no pun intended) in their design of the aft corner cabins because at the very least they could have put a window on the side portion, instead of a blank wall. Nonetheless we were very comfortable there and I grew to appreciate the fact that there was a considerable walk from almost anywhere on the ship to our cabin... I didn't feel so guilty when I had those scrumptious desserts as I was going to walk them off!
The cabin stewards were friendly, polite and very helpful.... They remembered us by name as we passed them in the hall and quickly determined the best time to come in and service the cabin so as not to disturb us. The butler was pleasant and accommodated our requests, however the star of this whole cruise was our amazing concierge, Adrian. He was magical. There was nothing that he couldn't do, our wish was his command. I freely admit that he spoiled us rotten, so much so that we have both vowed that the only cruises we do from hereon will be with him. He MADE this cruise the best cruise we have done - ever! The PH Suites (and above) come with their own type of cell phone with which we could call our butler, our concierge (both pre-programmed into the phone) and any cabin. It was a boon to have and saved many steps. Wonderful idea!
The only negative in the suite was the water in the bathroom sink. If you wanted hot water, you had to turn it on full force and go away for five minutes (at least), by the time you came back, it would be tepid, and eventually get to warm. Then, the next time you used the sink, if you wanted warm water you were in luck, but if you needed cold water, you had to go through the same process all over again. I mentioned it to the cabin attendants and they sent an engineer but he wasn't able to make it any better so we just planned accordingly. For some reason the bathtub water faucet was not half as bad but it was difficult to reach if just wanted to wash your hands or get a glass of water as it had sliding glass panels as a shower curtain.
As to the food, we only went to the Specialty Restaurants, never one of the Main Dining Rooms so I can only comment on them.
Cagney's - the steakhouse ($25 pp surcharge): this was the one I was most looking forward to as on a Carnival cruise we had gone to their specialty steakhouse and had the best steak we had ever had in our lives. Unfortunately
Cagney's must buy their meat somewhere else. My rib eye was thin (half an inch?), gristly and lacklustre. Very disappointing.
Le Bistro - European cuisine ($20 pp surcharge): This restaurant quickly became our favourite. The Rack of Lamb was superb and they tried very hard to create a mint sauce for me, rather than the plain mint jelly. The waiters were exceptional, remembering our names and preferences immediately upon seeing us. I highly recommend this venue.
Chin Chin ($10 pp): we had both Japanese food and sushi here... Very nice, but not very memorable.
Tango's Tapas ($10 pp): excellent lobster tacos!
Tapanyaki ($25 pp): where you sit around the chef who performs admirably with his knives but whose food was just adequate.
Another bonus for having a suite is that for breakfast we could dine at Cagney's with other suite members. Thus we were dining with only 20 or 30 people max and with nice views and excellent service. We also learned near the end of the cruise that we could have ordered breakfast from Cagney's menu and have it delivered to our suite, rather than order from the regular room service menu. Cagney's offered more choices (than the room service menu) and - since it came from Cagney's kitchen rather than the MDR kitchens, it was nice and hot!
The Chocolate Lovers Buffet featured a large variety of chocolate items, cookies, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, sundaes, fondues, ice creams etc. etc. It was mobbed and not really worth the time, I thought.
Embarkation and Disembarkation was a dream for us. What I neglected to mention was that my son had left a bag with his shoes hanging from my wheelchair handles when we got in the cab to go to our hotel. We realized our mistake our when we got to the hotel. I promptly called the line and after a number of "overseas" calls (the ship is registered in Panama I believe), the Captain (yes I was given the number to the bridge accidentally!) patched me through to our indefatiguable concierge. After learning of the loss, he said he would find them and would email me. I really didn't expect much, what with the 3000 people getting off the ship and the 3000 people getting on, but within hours Adrian - that amazing concierge - emailed me that he had indeed found the shoes and would be sending them off to my son.
Bottom line.... I can't say enough about the ship and especially its crew. I would give Adrian a good 65% of the accolades, the beds another 20% and Le Bistro (specialty dining room) the remaining 15%.
It reminded me of how splendid cruises of yesteryear were - and could still be - with all the pampering and lavish attention to detail we experienced on this ship. I HIGHLY recommend her - as long as you travel in a suite and as long as Adrian is her concierge.
Bravo NCL! Bravo Jewel! Double Bravo Adrian!!!