Ranked #9 Norwegian fleet
Ranked #100 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
One of the better previous generation Norwegian ships - eclectic decor, many dining options, good entertainment ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #9 Norwegian fleet
Ranked #100 among all ships
Regions: Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean
One of the better previous generation Norwegian ships - eclectic decor, many dining options, good entertainment ...Read the CruiseMates report
This was our fourth cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL): we had sailed on the Norwegian Wind in 1998 to the Caribbean; on the Norwegian Dream in 2002 to South America through the Magellan Straits; and again in 2002 to Hawaii and Fanning Island, Kiribati on the Norwegian Star. We found that the Norwegian Jewel is very similar to its sister ship the N. Star in many ways. The extensive use of fine woods and the implementation of bold primary colors is also evident on the Jewel. There is nothing old fashioned or pastel about her, no mauves or pinks here, but rather striking jewel tones like emerald green interspersed with fuchsias and royal purples.
The Freestyle manner of cruising allows passengers to create their own daily schedules, and it seems to be very popular with cruisers. No more are there one or two formal nights --- rather each passenger may have a formal night any night, or just skip the whole rigmarole and go casual for the entire cruise. On NCL we are all free to cruise the way we prefer.
EMBARKATION Miami on Sunday is the best day tosail, if not traffic can be horrendous. We arrived in port at noon and dropped off our luggage with no trouble. We went straight to the check-in counter for suites, which was quick. We then had to wait twenty minutes for a steward to push the wheelchair on board. It was good we waited, since the distance from check-in was almost the length of the ship over a noisy metal ramp. Once in our mini suite, we realized the first difference between NCL and other lines is we can skip a visit to the Maitre D' since there is no need to choose a table for every night in the dining room. Our boat drill assembly station was the Tango's Restaurant, Deck 8 midship, so we also had the opportunity to make a week's worth of dinner reservations at the onset of our cruise. Reserve early and choice of times and venues across the ship will be yours. (More on dining later under FOOD & SERVICE).
SHIP The Norwegian Jewel is just over one year old. She entered service August 2005 and made her maiden voyage on Aug. 10, 2005. She is 965 feet long and beam is 106 feet, which makes her Panamax. Her draft is 28 feet and gross tonnage is 93,502. She is powered by Diesel Electric Generators, propelled by Bow Thrusters, fixed propellers and 2 ABB Azipods, which give a great maneuverability to the ship. There are 12 guest decks and guest capacity is 2,376 double occupancy with a crew of 1,185. This is a very good passenger to crew ratio of about 2:1. The ship's cruise speed is 25 knots. This trip we spent some of our most uncomfortable days on the Atlantic Ocean ever, due to high seas (7 to 12 ft.). First night on -- Mary was ill, and the next day we missed the Loyalty party for Latitudes members. The Jewel has cell phone service and Freestyle dining, which promotes open seating; thus, there is no longer early or late seating, but rather anytime seating for meals.
The following is a quick overview of the ship; unfortunately details of artists and their decorative works were not available to us, but several specific items are so beautiful they should not be missed, so we will mention them here.
Decks 1 through 3 are not public.
Deck 4 has the Medical Center and staterooms. This ship is very health conscious with sanitizing equipment (balls with antibacterial solutions for disinfecting hands) placed everywhere: at the entrance to elevators, restaurants, the theatre, public rest rooms and anywhere passengers congregate.
Deck 5 has staterooms and forward the Stardust Theatre --- a lovely opera style room with balconies on Deck 6 & 7. Deck 5 has wheelchair reserved seats in the rear, but we preferred Deck 7 in the rear, near the exit.
Deck 6 is all public areas --- forward is the Stardust, going toward midship is the Jewel Club Casino --- by far one of the roomiest casinos afloat, no crowded tight areas here. Next is the Corona Cigar Club, which accommodates up to 11 people --- hand rolled cigars, fine cognacs and liquors. Then, there is Le Bistro French Restaurant. This room is a mini art gallery with copies of works by Renoir, Degas, Matisse etc. There is a life size bronze statue of a French woman leading the people to victory, inspired by a famous painting of the French Revolution. Behind our table was a celebration picture of crowds marching down the Champs Elysee: a veritable explosion of the tricolor: red, white and blue!
Next is Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar (with tiny bubbles changing colors.) The rest of Bar Row is Shakers for cocktails and malts with a huge copper still. Mid ship is the Azura Restaurant and aft is the most beautiful room on board, the Tzar's Palace Main Restaurant. This room is reminiscent of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. The green Malachite Columns, the white and gold walls and a portrait series of long gone Tzars and Tzarinas all culminate in a lovely atmosphere. The finials on the balustrade are Faberge eggs and add charm. But, of course in Quarenghi's reconstruction of the Malachite Room at the Hermitage in the 1790's, all the real malachite was gone, except for the magnificent fireplace and it huge vases and the grand pedestal malachite bowl in the center of the room. Thus, the Jewel's green columns are fine replicas of the ones now in the Hermitage.
Deck 7 forward is the Stardust Theatre, the Karaoke Rooms; midship is the Fyzz Lounge and Chin Chin Asia Restaurant. At midship going toward aft is the Crystal Atrium with its two huge tusk shaped crystal sculptures with scrimshaw like carvings (very apropos, since sailors first did these types of carvings on whale bones and ivory). There are two smaller ones over the Reception Desk. The ceiling has icicles hanging like crystal stalactites, it is very interesting and complements the standing crystal tusks. There is a huge screen on the upper far wall over the Java Cafe` Bar, which projects constantly changing touristic scenes from around the world. This is a nice meeting place, due to its central location and the bar offerings of coffee, pastries and a variety of drinks. Going toward aft, there is the Photo Gallery, the Art Gallery and the Internet Cafe and finally the Galleria Shops --- reasonably priced.
Deck 8 is mostly staterooms, except from the mid elevators to the rear elevators, where the Blue Lagoon ( great fish & chips and crispy potato peels) and Tango's Tapas Latin Restaurant are located.
Decks 9, 10, and 11 are all staterooms, mini suites and suites.
Deck 12 & 13 are all public areas: i.e., the Garden Cafe` Buffet with so many service islands, that there are hardly any lines at all. Here are also the Teen Club Underground, Video Arcade, and the Splashdown Kid's Club. Toward aft here is the Ice Cream Bar (Vincent's favorite haunt) and Mama's Italian Kitchen (the decor is nice, but the food is still being tweaked after the menu change).
In the Garden Buffet there is a section reserved for children; let it be said, the child size accommodations do nothing for the prestige of a whole adult family sitting down there with one 12 year old child the size of an adult. Forward are the pools, and the Top Sider Bar. Also located here are located the Card Room and the bright Library, with comfortable yellow chairs and huge copper vases with green cymbidium orchids, but alas, it is only open with access to books from 9 - 11 am.
Deck 13 has Basket Ball and Tennis Courts and a lovely chapel with stain glass windows which seats 24.
Decks 14 & 15 have the very private Courtyard Villas and Suites.
There are a total of 10 Restaurants, 13 Bars & Lounges, 2 Swimming Pools and 6 Hot Tubs.
FOOD & SERVICE Captain Tommy Stensrud has a very informative and gracious staff. Hotel Director Calvin Lodge cordially spent some time with us discussing the Jewel and her amenities. He arranged for us to meet Executive Chef Markus Reichl, from near Heidelberg, Germany, who is responsible for implementing the new menus. This is a huge task and he is doing a great job. We are fortunate to see these changes in NCL early on. We also met the very accommodating Restaurant Manager Victor Da Silva, who literally travels back and forth between all ten restaurants, plus several other venues like the snack bars, grills and coffee shops. He certainly knows his ship's offerings. We also spoke with Food & Beverage Director Denis Prguda. All of these very busy men kindly took time to discuss on board facilities with us. We really appreciate them all.
We feel that the new menus are just coming together and there are still some kinks to work out, but we have the feeling that there is great improvement in the right direction. There were flashes of brilliance, like the Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, arugula and watercress, and the apple fritters for dessert in the Tzar's Palace (seats 552) at lunch. The Azura Restaurant on Deck 6 (seats 310), it is a modern hotel style dining room, but it lacks the charm of the Tzar's Palace.
Cagney's Steak House ($15 cover charge per person, seats 176) walls have pictures of Calamity Jane and Cagney as prisoner # 15595. It is striking with Black and Red leather decor and carpeting with red and gold bulls' eyes. Very large white Shonwald German plates with gold rims are used. Appetizers we enjoyed were Oysters Rockefeller and Jumbo lump crab cakes; the N.E. Clam chowder which was excellent, and so was Cardini's Original Caesar Salad served with extra anchovies. Mary ordered the Surf and Turf after the Maitre D' Ramona told us the lobster had just come on board and was alive and kicking! No frozen tails here. It was excellent as was the filet of beef. Vincent enjoyed his 12 0z. veal chop, cooked to perfection, and Cagney fries. Dessert was NY Style Cheesecake and Mocha Creme Brulee`. We had excellent service from Jason and Philippe.
Le Bistro French Cuisine ($10 - $25 per person, seats 129), has a lot of ambiance with the voice of French songbird, Edith Piaf ("the little sparrow") in the background. Appetizers included Terrine de Foie Gras, Lobster & Scallop Martini (Yes, it is served in a huge martini glass, but no gin in sight!) and Moules Mariniere (Steamed Mussels in Sauvignon Blanc). Vincent had the Watercress Veloute` with frogs legs; he said it was good and Mary took his word for it, but declined to share it. She stuck with the traditional French Onion Soup --- AhAh! When the entrees arrived the waiters counted : Un, deux, trois, "Viola`" and the plates were simultaneously uncovered! Vincent had the Filet Mignon and Beef braised short ribs --- excellent. Mary tried the Canard a` l'orange (Duck). Then, we finished with Creme Brulee` and Apple Tartin. All served by the friendly Daniel and Corina. Maitre D' Elena was so kind she said call me and I'll make room for you any time. But, there were so many venues yet to try, and not enough time in the week.
Teppanyaki ($20 per person, seats 32) Japanese cooking show is a nice way to eat light. Chin Chin ($10, seats 158) the Thai/Chinese food venue serves a great shrimp and vegetable tempura, Pot Stickers and Spring Rolls. The Chinese Corn & Crab Soup was delicious. We had Sweet and Sour Shrimp, Beef & Broccoli and Sea food Fried Rice and delicious Banana Spring Rolls for dessert. To complete the Taste of Asia dining venue there is also the Sake Bar, where sushi and sashimi are served.
We found that food and service around the ship to be very good. The choices of venues are so many that we rarely ate in the same venue more than once. Every day it was always something new and different.
CABIN Mini Suite #11070 has a long nice entrance; however, it is a bit smaller than mini suites on most of the ships we have been on. Entering on the right is a nice compact bath with a full tub with shower, and the commode is separated by a sliding door. There is a single sink with a lighted mirror and shelves for personal toiletries. Then there is a triple armoire; one section had drawers, the other two were with hangers. There is a queen bed with two night shelves with reading lamps. There is also a large hide-a-bed sofa and a coffee table.
When entering on the right there is a seascape painting, plus a very narrow full length mirror. There is a mural of exotic lilies and next a vanity/desk with lighted mirror and three drawers, one with a hair dryer, then a refrigerator and mini bar and a cabinet with a personal safe. The colors are maroon, green and pink, but the corker is the watermelon slice carpeting. The Stewards, Richard Espino & Vincent Ponce aimed to please. We asked Richard to remove the heavy (20 lb easy) white puff and to just put a top sheet on. We Floridians haven't used quilts in a Blue Moon. The balcony is narrow and deep with a recliner, a chair and tiny table. It is well covered with a broad over hanging roof.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Paul Baya (he has a nice voice and sings well) has all the usual balls in the air and juggles them well --- Trivia, Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Pool side games, etc.... The shows were on a par with other lines and some better. The Monday night show, "Band on the run", featured the wonderfully athletic Jean Ann Ryan Co. dancers. There was only one problem, the singing was much too loud, it hurt the ears. There were people covering their ears. We were in the last row of the balcony and still it was overwhelming. A sound check would solve this.
"The Second City" ensemble was terrific in two shows of improvisation. Their work was witty; the puns and word spinning were excellent. "Cirque Bijou" (Jewel) is a newly introduced spectacular show with everything it takes for a hit: Beautiful dancing girls, Strong handsome men, excellent singers and awe inspiring acts. Bravissimi!
The musical entertainment throughout the ship has been great, from the pool side performances of the Caribbean Wave to the ballroom dance music of the "Jewel Show Band" and various piano bar music. The Star Bar featured Eric Lilley, who took requests willingly: Louis Armstrong, Henry Mancini and many others. Mr. Lilley is excellent on piano and has a nice voice. There is plenty to do on board and lots to do and see in the Ports of Call.PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Miami, FL, USA Depart 4:00pm
Day 2. At sea
Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 12:30pm Depart 7:00pm A pod of dolphins were frolicking in the harbor all day between the Norwegian Jewel and RCI's Explorer of the Seas. An interesting excursion includes the visit to the Bacardi Rum Distillery and the San Juan city tour, with a stop at the San Cristobal Fort.
Day 4. St. John's, Antigua Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:00pm Several excursions are offered including 4x4 Island Safari, snorkel, swim with the Stingrays, Catamaran Sail, etc....
Day 5. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:00pm This is a great place for shopping. For beach lovers it is imperative to go to Magen's Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Day 6. At sea
Day 7. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:00pm This is NCL private island with beaches, water sports and a barbecue. Parasailing is becoming very popular. From the balcony we admired people sailing 300 - 400 feet above the turquoise blue water of the cay. It must be a spectacular view from above.
Day 8. Miami, FL, USA Debarkation begins at 8:00am
DEBARKATION Concierge Alexander Forbes kindly sent us notices of perks all week; but, on debarkation day, he went one better and sent us a steward to help us with the wheelchair. This was greatly appreciated and made our landing perfect. Thanks! There is early debarkation for those who want to carry off their own luggage --- something to which we never aspire --- we like to find it by the exit and get a porter, if possible. Passport and customs were well organized, and we were off by 9:00am in only 30 minutes. NCL well done!
CONCLUSIONS The difference between a cruise on a NCL ship and one on ships of other cruise lines is mainly the Freestyle Dining. We had done Freestyle Dining before, but we feel that NCL is getting better at it: This time we did not see long lines of passengers waiting to be seated in any of the restaurants aboard the Jewel. Early reservations to any of the alternative restaurants allow the manager to better coordinate the service in all dining venues and allocate more workers where needed, thus, running a smooth program. Which system do we like, the freestyle dining or the traditional one? It is hard for us to choose, we like both of them. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. It's to go with the flow and enjoy what is available and different on whichever ship we are on. This is the reason why we have never had a bad cruise, we enjoyed them all: eventhough, some cruises may have been more memorable than others.
The overall quality of the food has been much better than what we had experienced on earlier NCL cruises; however, there were some dishes which could be definitely improved; i.e., the gnocchi in Mama's Kitchen did not meet our expectation, they were heavy and chewy, while the gnocchi in the Tzar's Palace were lighter than air, just as our mothers used to make them, heavenly delicious! One excuse for this discrepancy was that new menus were introduced only a week ago, and the chefs are still new to some items. We suggest in this case that the chefs in Mama's Kitchen should contact their colleagues at the Tzar's Palace for improving their recipe for gnocchi.
Our next cruises will be in the Western Caribbean on the Queen Mary II, Dec. 9th 2006 and in the Eastern Caribbean on the Voyager of the Seas, Jan. 20th, 2007. Happy Cruising!
This was our fourth cruise, all on NCL. We'd sailed before on the Sea (twice) and the Sun. We stayed overnight in the Biscayne Bay Marriot. The hotel was clean and convenient to the port the next morning. Our room was quite noisy due to the high winds that Miami was experiencing that evening, but we slept fine. We grabbed a bite to eat in the lounge and the service was quite slow but the food was good. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel (about $25) and again from the hotel to the pier the next morning (less than $10). Rating: B+
Embarkation: We got to the pier about 10:45 or so. We went through the non-latitudes line even though we were latitudes members as it was quite a bit shorter. We experienced quite a delay in getting checked in. There was either a problem with our passports when they scanned them, or a glitch in the NCL computer, but it kept trying to mix and match the information, such as birthdates, etc. between me and my husband. We finally got that settled, picked up our roomcards, and grabbed a seat in the waiting room. We weren't allowed to board until about 12:15, so we did have about an hour wait. Rating: B-
Cabin: We were in an outside view, picture window cabin on deck 5, cabin # 5060. The room was fine for 2 people and also had a Pullman bed available. Well organized with plenty of storage space. A very nice hairdryer --- I didn't bother to take my own out of the suitcase. The bathroom was much larger than any of our previous cruises. There are sliding glass doors between the toilet area and the sink area, and another one between the shower and the sink area, so two people can use separate sections if necessary. The water was consistently hot with good water pressure. Our room stewards were very attentive and friendly, and we had towel animals on two different occasions. Rating: A
Food: The new menus hadn't been implemented for our cruise, so we were still working off the ones that came out in January, 2006. No chilled soups at dinner and not as many choices that appealed to us as on previous cruises. However, we always managed to find something that both sounded good and tasted wonderful. We ate all but one dinner in Tsar's Palace and joined some friends one night at Le Bistro. We also ate the majority of our breakfast and lunch meals in Tsar's Palace. There were only a couple of different breakfast menus, and probably more choice was available at the buffet. The lunch menus weren't particularly inspiring, but the chilled soups were available then. We ate at the buffet once for breakfast - very good waffles, and once at lunch. Overall, I'd rate the food a B.
Wait staff service: The service can probably best be described as inconsistent. We had one waitress who gave us excellent service at dinner one night, and ended up again with her at lunch the next day. We spent quite a bit of time visiting with her at lunch and requested her again for dinner twice. The second time was also fine; the third night was not good. We had a group of 8 of us from our roll-call dining together, and someone finally complained to the maitre'd after we'd waited for over 20 minutes, with dirty appetizer plates in front of us, and no attempt by anyone to tell us what was going on. I know that several of the Jewel's staff had been transferred to the Pearl and there were 120+ new crew members on board, which probably contributed to the inconsistent service. Overall, B-, but due primarily to the large number of new crew on board.
Entertainment: We thought this was by far the best entertainment we have experienced on a cruise. The Jean Ann Ryan performers were wonderful. We totally enjoyed both Band on the Run and Cirque Bijou. The performance by Edge was also enjoyable. Second City wasn't as good - just OK. Rating: A-
Ship: The Jewel is a beautiful ship. We were conscious of many crew members cleaning, painting, and performing maintenance during the week, which contributed to her appearance. The Stardust Theater was much nicer than either of the two previous ships we'd been on, with comfortable seats and good viewing throughout. I think the pool deck is a little bit small for that many passengers, but we don't spend much time up there. Our favorite place on the ship was the outside seating on deck 7. There are comfortable chairs placed around that deck, which is the promenade deck, and we spent a lot of time sitting there, in the relative quiet, gazing at the ocean, reading and doing puzzle books, and dozing. Rating: A-
Excursions: This was our first time to the Eastern Caribbean, and we're not terribly interested in spending a lot of time at the beach. We ended up doing island tours in almost all of the ports. In San Juan, we grabbed a taxi and were given a tour of both new and old San Juan. The taxi driver did a great job, and we loved seeing the old forts and church that he took us to. Rating: A
In Antigua, we'd arranged a tour through Lawrence of Antigua, along with many of the other members from our cruise critic roll call. We were a little disappointed at the beginning of the tour. While the rest of our friends were seated in his new bus, my husband and I were sent off to a second van, as the bus was full. As our reservations had actually been made by another couple who were seated in the bus, I don't understand his rationale, as I think there were other passengers who weren't part of our group. In his defense, he probably didn't realize that we were traveling as a group, but splitting up a reservation for 4 people still doesn't make sense. The tour itself was fine, and the driver of our van provided us with good information. I also thought the ride in the van was quite uncomfortable. The roads in Antigua aren't in good condition, there was very little padding in our seat, and my back was quite sore after the tour from the amount of bouncing. After the island tour, we went to Turner's Beach. The beach was beautiful, they had adequate restrooms, but the food service was lousy. Rating: C+
We'd arranged a shopping/island tour with Godfrey in St. Thomas. We were picked up right outside the ship (actually by Sunny Liston - they appear to work together), and dropped off for a couple of hours of shopping. We then met up with Godfrey and boarded his safari truck for some sightseeing. The island of St. Thomas is absolutely gorgeous. We didn't choose to spend any time at the beach, which is an option, but instead returned to the ship. Great excursion! Rating: A
At Great Stirrup Cay, the private island, we were on the second tender over to the island. We joined up with our cruise critic friends, who had located a spot in the shade, and had a nice time visiting. We did wade out into the ocean (we're not interested in snorkeling) and enjoyed the BBQ lunch. There were several water toys available, but we weren't interested in any of the floats, etc. Rating: A-
Upon our return to Miami, we took the Everglades tour that was also a transfer to the Miami airport. This was the only excursion we arranged through NCL. We loved the airboat ride through the Everglades, and enjoyed the show and alligators on display. Nice end to a wonderful cruise. Rating: A
Disembarkation: Since we were taking an NCL excursion, we reported to the Stardust Theater at 8:30 to join our excursion. Apparently the stevedores at Miami had decided they didn't want to report for work until 8 AM, so there was almost an hour delay waiting to leave the ship. One of the shore excursion employees tried to keep us entertained - maybe he's envisioning a job as a cruise director someday? Rating: B, but not NCL's fault.
Overall, we had a very enjoyable cruise. We had a group of about 40 people in our roll-call, and enjoyed getting together with them at the sail-away party and again at the meet and greet. I'm not a beach person, but we definitely enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and, more than anything else, the experience of the cruise itself. We found this cruise to be the most relaxing one we've ever enjoyed and came home feeling very refreshed. Little things like service issues don't really bother us that much, and definitely did NOT ruin our cruise. I continue to thoroughly enjoy NCL's freestyle cruising and will be returning as soon as possible for another NCL cruise. Overall rating: B+
We took our cruise this year with my brother and sister in law. All of us love cruising, as we feel that this is the best dollar for dollar to enjoy a vacation. In going through the boards and reviews,I see many mixed reviews of NCL and the Jewel. My review adds to that.
My bro-in-law had the lowest penthouse cabin on deck 8 and we had the outside cabin just near him. The Jewel I felt was a very nice ship, as it is less than a year old. It took a day or 2 to figure the layout of the decks even though we did much research and reading for the past 6 months.
Our cabin was small(pictures will be posted shortly in the gallery) and it was a tight fit with beds put together. The bathroom was ok but you do not get a bar of soap unless you ask the steward for one. NCL uses the dispensers in the shower and by the sink. They dispense shower gel and shampoo but no conditioner.
Because my in laws had concierge service, we were able to get V.I.P. treatmenton both embarkation and disembarkation. A tip of the hat to Alex who made that part easy going.
Food- Basically, that was pretty good in most cases. As to the specialty restaurants, Le Bistro was tops, followed by Teppanyaki, Cagneys Steakhouse. We ate in those because the rule on ship was that if you were seated before 6:30pm you paid half fee. A policy that pleased us.
We also ate at Mamas Italian and Tangos Tex/Mex. be forewarned that portions at all restaurants are not huge but you can always order more. NCL got smart and realized that much food was being wasted with big portions. Also be aware that a dish on the menu may not come out looking or tasting as you would expect here in the states. Monday night was lobster night so we ate in the Tsars dining room. I had a nice steak while the rest of the table ate 3 lobster tails each. Smallish but good. The Blue Lagoon was a nice place to stop off in the afternoon for a snack of fish and chips, or chili or potato skins. The Garden Grill up on 12 was very good for breakfast and was never really crowded.
We were given a gift of a soda card that goes for $40. Usually when the waiter saw an empty glass they refilled the soda without asking.
Tours- This was the sticking point because no matter how much we read, we were abashed by the higher than expected temperatures (90 each day), and the amount of walking, even on tours rated a 2. We did the half day Mt Etna tour in Messina, but be aware that it is 2 hours up the winding round on the bus and the same coming down. We did the half day tour of Herculaneum in Naples. This was very enjoyable but its tough walking on the cobblestone streets that are 60 feet down from current street level. For Rome we took the classical tour which took in the Colisseum, Forum , and after lunch, St Peters. Street vendors and peddlers annoy you as the tour walks along. Florence was beautiful but our tour guide was flying and it was hot.
When we first landed in Barcelona that first Sunday, the bus took us on a 3 hour tour of the city. This was done because we could not get on the ship until about 11am anyway and we saw a lot. We were staying over one day after the cruise and we booked the Hotel Colon in Cathedral Square. This was a good central point. Since we were so tired each day, we only saw one show-- Second City.
When we left Naples the Captain said we will be passing the island of Stromboli with its active volcano. On this night there was no lava flow but we saw orange flames at the top.
The happy ending to this was that on Monday at the art auction I won the raffle. I ended up with a nice lithograph by Sherri Bohlman and it cost only to have it shipped with a new frame and matting.
NCL does not spend the first day pushing its tours in the theater. Everything you want to know is on the TV.
Overall, it was an enjoyable but tiring week.
We went on the norwegion jewel, from miami to san juan to st. johns antiqua to st thomas to stirrup cay. San juan was very americanized. We did the old and new san juan tour. At antigua we had a lobster lunch on the beach and swam. Saw a valcano across from antigua spewing ash, that was awesome. At st thomas we went to maegans bay, very pretty. Then stirrup cay was a beach break, water was very nice, beach was crowded though. There was a rainbow as we approached st thomas and it ended right next to our ship in the water, pretty cool huh???
As for the ship, clean, beautiful, staff very friendly and genuine! We ate in the french restraunt la bistro…had to pay $10/per person, but WORTH EVERY PENNY. Our seat was a plush red velvet curved couch with throw pillows. I had escargot mmmm, He had a norwegion seafood something appetizer he kept going on and on and on about that, very tastey…filet minogn with a truffle sauce mmmm, cheescake for dessert. Top notch food and service I highly recommend. My husband was skeptical at firstabout the french food, but after the cruise was over he agreed the french place was the best of all the restraunts. We went to cagney’s steak house. 15$/per person, Very good. I got the lamb, he got the steak. I also got the oysters rockerfeller casserole appetizer…good. He got the crab cake, very good. For dessert, sinful dark chocolate cake OH MY GOD! YUM! We also ate at the non pay restraunts… good as well. Tsars place was very nice (main dinning room). Each time we were sat next to the window overlooking the ocean. Candle light dinners every night.
The kids club was crowded, but I believe that was due to all the spring breakers (we brought our 4 yr old). She seemed to have a good time though. Staff/waiters/waitresses… top notch! The shows, top notch! Le Circue Biju sort of like a cicus sole (how do you spell?) very neat. Comedian was funny, magician was good. Cruise director was funny. The staff variety show was funny.
Embarkation, disembarkation, and we even had to go through customs in the middle of our cruise before getting onto one of the islands….all SMOOTH AS SILK! They have got their stuff together on this ship let me tell you! The cruise I did before this one had me second guessing ever going on another cruise again…(was not ncl, see below) but now my faith has been restored once again…I’m ready to set sail as soon as I finish with washing that mountain of dirty clothes!!
We cruised to the Eastern Caribbean from 1/29/06 to 2/5/06 on the new Norwegian Jewel. It was our second cruise on this beautiful ship, the first having been to the Western Caribbean in November 2005. Whereas our earlier cruise was with members of Kim's family, this one was with two of my brothers and their wives plus a long-time family friend and his dw. We had booked 4 inside cabins on Deck 9 and, like our previous Jewel sailing, the ship was full to capacity (2,500).
EMBARKATION... We drove to the port of Miami in two cars, from Orlando and Fort Myers, and arrived at the pier about 12:15 pm. After dropping off our luggage and parking, we proceeded to check-in where the very efficient process was quick and painless. We were on board in our cabins by 1:00 pm. The outside parking lot is directly across the street from the ship, requiring a walk of less than 5 minutes. (Note: vehicles with handicapped tags or plates park for free at the Port of Miami). We enjoyed lunch in the Garden Café¬ and our luggage was delivered to our cabin before 3pm. The always-enjoyable boat drill took place at 3:30, and involved going only to our assembly area in one of the lounges. We were not required to assemble at the boat stations, as had been the case on most of our previous cruises. Good for NCL!
THE SHIP... The Norwegian Jewel began service in August 2005, and is NCL's fourth purpose-built ship for Freestyle Cruising. A bit larger than the two earlier vessels in her class (Star and Dawn), the Jewel features all of the popular attributes of her sisters including their speed, number of restaurants and family-friendly accommocations. The Jewel sports a passenger/crew ratio of about 2:1, and features added luxury such as two 4,390 sq. ft. garden villas, four 790 sq.ft. owner's suites, plus huge courtyard villas and penthouses too numerous to mention. There are 12 passenger elevators and 10 service elevators for guests and crew. A new NCL concept, Bar Central, is located on Deck 6 between the casino and the main restaurants, featuring: a beer and whisky pub, a martini bar, and a champagne and wine bar (connected in location but with three very different "personalities"). All in all there are 13 bars and lounges, including the Corona Cigar Club.
CABIN... Our inside cabin, although rather small at 145 sq. ft., was very attractive with rich cherry wood finishing throughout. Included were a built-in refrigerator and safe, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer and a wonderful large shower with sliding glass door and plenty of water pressure. Delightful! There was plenty of storage space and a large hanging closet. Bathrobes were available upon request, and the bathroom towels were big and soft. We happen to enjoy sleeping late in the morning, and frequently book inside cabins so as to avoid the sunlight which would awaken us earlier than we would prefer. And for some reason, we have seldom taken advantage of a balcony even when we had one. Chaque a son gout!
Our cabin attendants, Sr. Steward Athena and Steward Gregorio (both from the Philippines) were friendly and very efficient. Our ice bucket was always full and the attendants managed to keep our cabin clean and resupplied without disturbing us at any time. And they they made great towel animals (including a monkey hanging from a clothes hanger).
DINING... We took breakfast in the Great Outdoors buffet each day, an alfresco venue located at the stern on Deck 12. The food was tasty and varied, just about everything you could want for a good breakfast, and the service was good as well. The weather was terrific for the entire cruise, and dining outside every morning was something we looked forward to with great pleasure. And there were always plenty of tables available, no matter what time we chose to dine.
For lunch, we usually chose the Garden Café ¯n Deck 12 as well. It was a buffet unlike most buffets on ships, being composed of numerous "islands" each featuring a course (such as salads, soups, hot foods, cold foods, sandwiches, desserts, meat carving, etc.) There was a separate area for beverages and ice cream. We never felt like we had to wait in line, because as a matter of fact we didn't! We could take our meal to the table and then return for anything we had missed, without having to cut into a line.
For dinner, we decided to avoid the "pay" restaurants (three out of the ten) completely on this cruise. We dined in the Azura main restaurant three times, the Tsar's Palace (main) once, and Mama's Italian Kitchen twice. Althouth the two main restaurants feature identical menues each evening, we favored the Azura because we found the service to be much better there than at the Tsar's Palace. We had no idea why, but that was our impression (on both of our cruises, actually). The food in both restaurants was of excellent quality with a reasonably good selection, as was the food in Mama's Italian where we had the best pasta and chicken dishes that we have enjoyed on any ship. Their chicken parmagiana was the tastiest I've had in a long time, even in our favorite Italian restaurant back in Orlando.
There was a wide choice of desserts in all of the restaurants, and the ones we tried were all very tasty and nicely presented.
ENTERTAINMENT... Here's a place where the Jewel really shines! All of our party agree that we were witnessing the absolute best performances we had ever seen on any of our (combined) 40 cruises. Two of the production numbers in the Stardust Theater ("Band on the Run" and "Cirque Bijou") were in the realm of "spectacular". The former took us back to the music and dance of the 70s, and the Jean Ann Ryan Company was at their very best. The latter was an artistic & awe-inspiring aerial ballet, with the quality of gymnastics and acrobatics approaching that which we've enjoyed at the renowned Cirque du Soleil. It was that good!
The other theater performances on our cruise were also exceptional, especially the comic juggler (the wonderful Romano Frediani, in his final performance on the Jewel) and the funny yet mystifying Gossamer Magic show. We also enjoyed the improv talents of The Second City, the famed Chicago troupe which produced so many of today's stars.
Finally, there were some talented and entertaining Russian pianists in the bars and lounges, Michaiel Polak and Vladimir Kirivan. There was no lack of good entertainment whatsoever on board the NCL Jewel.
PORTS... We took only one excursion during this cruise, that being with Lawrence of Antigua when we arrived at that lovely island. Our tour was led by Lawrence's right-hand man, Christopher, who did a marvelous job of showing us the high points during our 3+-hour excursion from the port (St. John's) in the northwest to the interesting and scenic areas of Falmouth and English Harbours to the south, including Nelson's Dockyard and the lovely vistas of Shirley Heights. It was both a scenic ride and some interesting history of the British military and social presence of many years ago. Very enjoyable!
We did walk around San Juan a bit, and we performed our ritualistic shopping tour on the island of St. Thomas. Our final stop was at the NCL island in the Bahamas (Great Stirrup Cay), where we stayed on the ship this time.
DISEMBARKATION... NCL does this as well as or better than any cruise line we've sailed on. They use a color-coded system which is easy to understand and which works well. Best of all is that you're welcome to remain in your cabin until your color is called, at which point you simply walk off the ship to recover your luggage and sail through the Customs inspection. We debarked by 9:15 am and were into our cars about 20 minutes later. Smooth!
We just got back from our first cruise, the NCL Jewel, and it was wonderful. A brand new beautiful ship. The staff was first class, the food was excellent, the shows were wonderful. The fitness center had alot of equipment to choose from, no worries about being too busy. My husband and I enjoyed it so much that we signed up for the Mexican Riviera, then Hawaii usually NCL again. We really enjoyed the "Freestyle Cruising". No need to worry about reserving because there are 10 restaurants to choose from and eat anytime you want. Thank you NCL for an excellent vacation. Rated AAA!!!
After cruising on Carnival, RCCL, Princess, Holland America, and a Texarribean cruise years ago on NCL, I planned a cruise on NCL's Jewel. I did book a penthouse suite on the aft end. Beautiful ship, and every staff member, from deckhand to Captain was courteous, helpful, friendly and always had a smile. While I did miss not having a jacuzzi tub that I had on Princess and Holland America, I can't say enough good things about NCL.
Why I ever elected to try any other cruise line is beyond my comprehension. Yes Maxi, the butler came with the PH suite and what a professional he is. But it didn't stop with him - Percival and Mr. FNU the stateroom stewards had the best personalities, cleaned the room in a matter of minutes, and brought me joy every day I saw them. TDH (Suresh) in the Spinnaker Lounge made me feel like I was the only passenger on the ship. I am disabled with M.S. and asked the concierge Marikke (Sp?) to advise the department heads that if they saw me bouncing off walls due to balance problems, or slurring my words,I wasn't drunk, just the multiple sclerosis.
She made sure that during a staff meeting that this information was passed down to everyone who might come in contact with me and during the days my speech sounded like I had beamed down with Capt. Kirk, every staff member asked if they could help me. I have rebooked on the Jewel leaving Dec 5th on the eastern Caribbean leg.
I will never cruise another line.
Most importantly, I felt very safe and secure being a 58 yo grandmother alone and walking at night. If I had one complaint it would be the parents who allowed their toddlers to run willy-nilly without any discipline whatsoever, and the staff are not in a position to discipline the kids. All in all NCL is the best cruise line and as long as I am still drawing a breath, I will continue to take a cruise with them every year.
The Jewel is the newest ship in NCL’s fleet. The ship is beautiful and well-run with an experienced, friendly crew. For anyone who has sailed on the Dawn, the layout of the Jewel is very similar. We have sailed the Canada/New England itinerary for the past four autumns on different cruise lines, but enjoyed sailing on the Jewel’s 11-day cruise even more than the standard seven-day cruise that does a New York City roundtrip. EMBARKATION Since the Jewel was the only ship in port on September 29 (Thursday), embarkation was easy and quick. A pleasant surprise for us was that our room had been upgraded to Penthouse status. We soon learned the advantages of being in a penthouse: a butler, plasma screen TV and concierge service, chocolate dipped strawberries, doorbell -- I think you get the picture. ITINERARY Boston The Canada/New England itinerary is fairly standard for most of the cruise lines. By departing on Thursday, we docked in Boston on Friday when everything is open. The last several times we did this itinerary, we docked in Boston on Sunday when most stores are closed. There is a lot to do in Boston,but you do need some form of transport from the pier; it is too far to walk into town. Cabs and transport buses are available at the pier. Bar Harbor, Maine You need to tender in from the ship at Bar Harbor. The town is an easy walk with many shops, stores and restaurants. There are beautiful areas to just sit and people-watch, or visit the park up the hill from where the tender leaves you off to view the ocean, ships and New England scenery. Halifax This Canadian city is a port for all cruise ships. You can easily walk into town along the boardwalk for sightseeing or shopping. There is even a casino downtown for anyone who has not lost enough in the ship’s casino. If you are interested in hiring a taxi for some sightseeing, there are plenty on the pier. One word of warning: When you negotiate price, specify whether you mean Canadian or U.S. dollars, how long you wish to engage the service, and whether the price for the cab or per person. One group we knew had a bad experience with one driver who rents a stretch white limo (the only one at the pier). He scammed them into paying several hundred dollars more than agreed to for an afternoon’s rental because of what he said was their misunderstanding of his price quote. Quebec City Depending on where you dock, you may have to use the bus shuttle to drop you off in Old Quebec and bring you back to the ship. Quebec is a beautiful city with many interesting sights and lots of history. There are many cafés and stores to visit. Read up on the sites before leaving the ship so that you see the things you may want to see, but didn’t know were there. Cruising the Saguenay River I found this part of the trip quite interesting and beautiful. The ship had a lecturer to tell us about the river’s history, the native peoples and the geology of the area as we sailed up then back down the Saguenay. Sydney This is a port where you can easily walk into the town. On days when the ships are in, local vendors are at the pier and near town to offer their crafts for sale. The town is not large, with a limited number of things to see and do, but charming nevertheless. Saint John Saint John is another small Canadian town that is within easy walking distance from the pier. It is bigger than Sydney, with more to see and do. There is an interesting cemetery at the top of the hill that also doubles as a beautiful park. THE SHIP We experienced excellent food in all the restaurants, and we ate in them all! I’m amazed that the quality of the food, as well as the variety, is so well maintained and with such consistency. Mama’s Italian Kitchen and Teppanyki (Japanese) were VERY popular, so make your reservations well in advance. The sushi bar was a personal favorite of mine. Who can beat an all-you-can-eat sushi lunch for $5? There are monitors near the restaurants that show how busy the restaurants are around the ship — a great idea. You can be waiting at one and see which of the others might be less crowded. There are no buffet lines on the Jewel. Instead, it has various large oval stations where you can go for a salad, entrée, dessert, etc. It works very well and there is never a long line to contend with when going to dine at the Garden Café. There are launderettes for the passengers (which strangely were not shown or advertised in the original maps). This is an important feature, especially for passengers on longer cruises. The casino is large and full of the newest slot machines. The entertainment was excellent throughout the cruise, although I had one criticism about the singing and music at the shows: Louder does not make it better, it makes it louder. FreeStyle Cruising is an NCL trademark and I enjoy it a great deal. You eat when you want in resort casual attire. The crew was absolutely wonderful. Everyone we dealt with was pleasant and helpful. We recognized crew members (and they recognized us) from other NCL ships we sailed on this year. This was a great cruise experience for us on so many levels.
My husband and I were VERY pleasantly surprised by this experience...despite a check-in that could have been better (why key distribution had to be a line separate and after a first line for registration, I do not understand). My husband and I have sailed on Holland America, Cunard, Celebrity and Princess - I would put this close to on par Celebrity, which is our favorite.
Food was outstanding (perhaps the biggest surprise) and the diversity of restaurants with excellent decor and seating not on top of other diners was terrific. We never had to wait or compromise on our preference for a table for 2 - and on the last night, when we were told we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, we were offered glasses of champagne for our incovenience. Even the buffet food was consistently very good - with a better layout than we've seen with multiple rectangular food 'islands' that eliminated lines always.
Staff was great, especially the entertainment and housekeeping staff - energetic, hard-working and warm. The shows were very, very good - with the exception of 1 comedian.
Ship is beautiful, with many tucked awayareas. It never felt crowded despite a full ship. Pool area (2 pools) was fun, especially with the winding slide. We only wished that there was a retractable roof for bad/cold weather.
Highly, highly recommend...and we are so enthusiastic about our experience, that we are going back on this ship on Christmas day for a Carribean cruise!
To travel a roundtrip of almost 40,000 kilometres to sample a new ship you have to be very keen. As long time cruisers (over three dozen cruises between us) Maureen and I were very excited about travelling from Dover to New York aboard the brand new Norwegian Jewel.
This motivation was stoked by our experience aboard the better than excellent Norwegian Star in Hawaii the previous year and Norwegian Sea and Norway several years earlier. We also feel that NCL's Freestyle Dining product is for us preferable to the more traditional product offered by most other lines.
I am loath to say we were disappointed but sadly that is true. From the moment we boarded in Dover we were amazed at the totally visually dysfunctional interior design of the ship. We couldn't find one public room where the basic decor was in sync with what you would call pleasant while in most bars the seats were 'modern' to the point of simply being uncomfortable. Those in the library would bring howls of protests from a physiotherapist and were just too uncomfortable to sit in. Check them out on the NCL website and youwill see what I mean.
This ship is the exact opposite to the beautiful and classy Norwegian Star. Jewel by comparison looks like a tarted up whore with a mix of ugly and garish colours that are nothing like anything we have ever seen on any other cruise ship anywhere. We mentioned this to many crew members and other passengers and most agreed. The only pax that seemed to not actively dislike the decor were first timers who sadly probably left the ship thinking that was the norm.
Bar City also simply does not work. The concept of puting most of the bars together only creates congestion and sadly NCL allows smoking at the bar itself which means that the smoke of just a very small minority (10%?) drifts endlessly through the entire bar area irrespective of where you sit.
Surely in 2006 it's time we moved on from catering for such a tiny minority and had no smoking ships or complete bars that were smoke free. On Star the bars and restaurants were well spaced out and individual and very pleasant, the direct opposite to Jewel.
Food quality was as always with NCL, very good and the upstairs buffet area worked well though again let down by terrible decor that looked cheap.
The shows are always a highlight on NCL and no exception on this cruise as was the very well designed, though garish theatre.
Our cabin, despite being one of the cheaper options, was excellent with the best bathroom and shower we had ever had though again the lovely light timber tonings were let down by a completyely garish carpet straight out of a Vegas casino.
NCL's attitude to bring-aboard liquor also needs to be rethought in comparison with say Princess or P&O. What on earth is the fear they have with you bringing on a bottle of champagne or spirits to be privately enjoyed in your cabin?
At the bar and wine prices charged these days there are few passengers who could surely even remotely consider that they are getting a fair deal when buying their drinks onboard. Some of the mark-ups we saw on Australian wines (of which we are familiar) were in the 500% category - there is simply no need for treating passengers this way and every line should remember that there is always an alternative cruise product out there.
I hate for this to sound all so negative but really NCL management needs to spend a day on Oriana or Aurora or its own Norwegian Crown to see what the word 'taste' really means. Jewel is sadly like a tarted up old whore and that's a great pity.