Length: 965 ft
One of the better previous generation Norwegian ships - eclectic decor, many dining options, good entertainmentBest For People Who Want
Best for People who Want: a flexible cruise experience, including flexibility in dining times, and a variety of selection for dining venues.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Should be Avoided By People Who Prefer: traditional assigned dinner seating and dining times, suggested dress codes with formal nights, and public address announcements regarding shipboard activities.Onboard Experience
While I always considered myself to fall into the "traditional cruiser" category, my last two cruises, on NCL, and it's "FreeStyle" experience, have made me a believer. The Freestyle program is particularly effective on busy, port intensive itineraries.
While today's modern cruise ships are often referred to as floating resorts, no other cruise lines offer a product as close to that reality as that offered on the Jewel. The "Freestyle" program onboard is built around the multitude of dining choices offered, with no set dining times, or assigned seating.
The design, and layout of this ship's public areas is quite different from that you'll experience on the ships of other cruise lines of similar size. From outdoor pool decks, to bar and lounge areas, to public use corridors, the ship is designed to maximize useable space from the limited space available.
The core of the ship's interior "life" for passengers is on Decks 6 & 7, with only one wide corridor passing from stern to bow for passenger traffic on one side of the ship, rather than more traditional design of a corridor on each side. This design creates a "main street" within the ship, with access to most of the restaurants, bars, lounges, and casino along the route. And the heart of this "main street" is Bar City on Deck 6, sectioned by four different bar themes that flow together covering one large area. Bar City is the perfect location for pre or post dinner drinks, and people watching; and as the social heart of the ship's interior also allows you to accidentally run into familiar faces much more frequently than is the norm on ship's this size.
The heart of the outdoor decks is the area surrounding the Sapphire Pools on Deck 12. Within this area, there's a child's play area, an adult's pool (with waterfall), a central stage area, a water slide, a family pool, and on the sides under the overhangs of the deck above, a multitude of tables and chairs for al fresco dining during the day, card playing, or just sitting around a table socializing. On sea days there's even an area for casino games pool side.
On the Jewel, the cruise truly begins at sail-a-way with an enormous pool side barbeque (using large Weber style grills), while the band kicks off the cruise, and the drinks flow. Adding the barbeque to the traditional sail-a-way party serves to draw many more people to attend, and truly jump starts the liveliness of the cruise.
These barbeques are repeated several times during the cruise -when the ship is sailing early from ports of call.
On the deck by the Sapphire Pools one might think they are at a theme park, with covers over the Jacuzzi's and band stand, designed to look like carousels at the faire. Combined with lighting designed to look like large palm trees, it creates a very festive atmosphere.
Along the overhang poolside NCL also has misters, which occasionally expel a light cool spray of water, similar to what you'll find poolside at luxury land based resorts. The cooling spray is welcome on hot sunny days when the temperatures are rising, and the first I've seen on a cruise ship.Public Rooms
Bar City (one Deck 6), a continuous series of bars, including Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar, Shakers Martini & Cocktail Bar, Magnums Champagne & Wine Bar, and the Corona Cigar Bar, is the gathering point to kick off the night life onboard. A pianist entertains at Magnum's, which provides background music for all of Bar City.
One deck above, on Deck 7 is the FYZZ Cabaret Lounge and Bar, where karaoke is the held each evening, and there's several private karaoke rooms which can be booked for small private group parties. During the day this lounge is used for several activities, including trivia games. One day as we passed by, we even saw people bowling, using the popular WI gaming system on the big screen.
The Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 12, is the ship's disco, as well as alternate showroom. Any of the late night "theme parties", like the 50s dance night are held her, as well a late evening performance of the Second City Improv Troupe, comedy, or close up magic.
Also on Deck 12 is the Star Bar, a more intimate lounge, with a duo entertaining each evening. The atmosphere is relaxing and elegant, and it makes an excellent spot for pre-dinner drinks prior to dining at Cagney's SteakHouse next store. Likely due to it's location, The Star Bar is the quiet lounge onboard, so it's an excellent spot to use if anyone is planning get together with fellow CruiseMates met online.
The Java Café, is located in the expansive lobby area on Deck 5, across from the Guest Relations desk. Specialty coffees, and pastries are offered here, and each evening a quartet entertains with easy listening music.
The Internet cafe, open 24 hours a day, features eight computer stations. After an account activation fee of $3.95, the basic charge is .75 per minute. Frequent users do better with package rates: 250 minutes for $100 or 100 minutes for $55. Shorter plans the last day of the cruise include 15 minutes for $8.25 and 30 minutes for $12.
The ship also features wireless hot spots in public areas for guests bringing along their own laptops. In cabin service is available, but you'll need to bring along your own Ethernet cable for hook up.
The wood burl shelves of The Library groan happily beneath the weight of a good selection of self-help, sports, travel, science, history, fiction and children's books in multiple languages. Passengers can check out three at a time.
The Casino on the Jewel is located forward on Deck 6, just aft of the Star Dust Theatre. It is an expansive space, decorated in enough bright colors to keep even sleepy passengers wide eyed as they try their luck with games of chance. There's a multitude of slot machines, in all increments, as well as huge selection of table games, from the standard Caribbean Stud, and Blackjack, to tables for Texas Hole ‘Em.Cuisine
The choices for style of cruise onboard are broad. Traditional cruise dining fare, with menus changing daily is offered in two dining rooms (both with the same menus), and we found the quality to be quite good the evenings we dined there. But with seemingly unlimited choices of other restaurants to try, we found ourselves only "making time" for the traditional dining rooms 3 times on a 12 night cruise.
The best food on the ship could, not surprisingly, be found in two of the ship's alternate restaurants, where a surcharge applies - La Bistro, offering French cuisine, and Cageny's Steak House.
Mama's Kitchen, one of the cost included alternate restaurants, features an Italian menu, with an antipasto card carrying choices to begin your dining experience, pastas, pizzas, entrees, and deserts is a wonderful alternative choice, that is a must try during your cruise.
Another of the ship's alternate surcharge restaurants, Asian themed Chin Chin, offered delicious dishes, and enormous portions; order 2 dishes per person, and you have enough food to serve twice as many people. When ordering plan on sharing dishes.
We found the quality of the food in all of the restaurants we managed to sample to be of very good quality, and taste. Perhaps the biggest surprise were the excellent breakfast and lunch choices we sampled in the Garden Café, the ship's buffet dining area.Restaurants
The two main dining rooms, Azura and Tsar's Palace, seat 310 and 552, respectively. The very attractive Russian themed Tsar's, all royal burgundy, green, and gold, with chandeliers, marbled pillars and faux Faberge egg balustrades, is two stories tall, with fabulous huge windows aft. There are seldom lines, except for peak dining times (which can vary by cruise and itinerary) for either Tsar's or the smaller, sleeker, pop-art-decorated Azura. Reservations are not allowed at either of these two dining rooms, so it's first come, first served. Menu's change daily, but are the same each day in both dining rooms.
Either Tsar's or Azura is open for breakfast and lunch.
The Garden Café and Great Outdoors buffet areas offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are always varied, occasionally with a culinary theme. Multiple serving stations are surprisingly efficient to preclude crowding, even on days at sea. Serving stations for breakfast include custom-made waffles and omelettes, while lunch and dinner feature pastas and sauces in the combination of your choice. The layout works so effectively that even when crowds were long, queuing for line ups was never necessary.
Le Bistro, the line's signature alternative restaurant, does French. Each of the other four other restaurants has its own specialty. Cagney's does steaks, Tango's Tapas does Tex-Mex; Chin Chin does Chinese, Teppanyaki, Shabu-Shabu and sushi; and we'll let you guess what Mama's Italian Kitchen does. Neither Mama's nor Tango's levies an extra charge. The others charge a modest $10 to $20. All are open for dinner. Cagney's, Chin Chin, and Le Bistro all halve their cover charge between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Le Bistro and Cagney's also offer a special "tastings menu" for an additional $10 per person.
On Deck 8, across from Tapas is the Blue Lagoon. Open 23 hrs. a day, for casual dining choices like burgers, or fish and chips.
In an impressive leap forward in the art of free-style dining, NCL's all original and innovative reservations system lets guests book tables 24 hrs. in advance for the all restaurants other than Tsars and Azura dining rooms.
Those who prefer to play it by ear will rejoice in the presence of more than a dozen television monitors indicating which restaurants have tables available at any given moment. Upon making a selection, the party is given a beeper, allowing them to wander the ship until their table is ready.Service
The multi national staff on the ship is friendly and attentive in all service areas. We found everyone we encountered, from food service areas, guest relations, and officers (seemingly always visible on deck) attempted to make the extra effort to offer a smile, and a chat while offering top grade service.
Concierge service is available to those in Mini-suites and above, to assist in arranging your dinner reservations, or priority tender tickets where necessary.Tipping
$10 per adult per day and $5 per child are added to your folio automatically. Fifteen percent is automatically added to bar bills and spa services. NCL suggests that concierges and butlers be tipped separately in accordance with the services they provide.Entertainment
The main entertainment venue, the Stardust Theatre, customarily packed, presents nightly Broadway and Vegas-style productions, comedy and magic acts, and a Cirque du Soleil-style aerial thriller, Cirque Bijou, including gymnasts, acrobats and bungee jumpers. Or you might prefer the justly celebrated Second City Troupe, which has produced many of North America's best-loved comedians the past few decades, including Martin Short and Rick Moranis.
Evening and late-night attractions include a 50s/60s dance and comedy show, the Not-So-Newlywed Game. and Liar's Club. On karaoke nights, the Fyzz lounge is a big favourite of families.
The visually busy casino's two hundred video games and slot machines include penny slots; to the delight of serious players, the craps tables offers Las Vegas betting odds. For the casino regulars, NCL offers a Casino At Sea program where players earn rewards or cash back based on their play. Just see one of the casino hosts onboard.Cabins
The ship has 1,188 cherry wood-finished rooms broken down into 32 categories, a positively dizzying range best considered group by group. The largest group, with 1,008 rooms, includes inside rooms at 143 sq. ft.; ocean-view rooms at 158-166 sq. ft.; and ocean-view rooms with balcony at 205 sq. ft. All have safes, hairdryers, TVs and refrigerators, beds that convert from queen to twins, and the beds are wonderfully comfortable, and high enough to allows guests to easily slide luggage under the bed for storage during the cruise. High quality bedding, and duvets add to the creature comforts one enjoys in these cabins.
In standard cabins there's certainly enough closet space for two people on a seven-night cruise, though drawer space is minimal.
The only weak areas is the bathrooms in the standard cabin categories, and lack of a real desk. The bathroom, though well designed, broken into three areas, with the toilet separated by a sliding door to the central wash basin, and the shower on the other side; is small to the point of feeling cramped.
And though there's a table, and a small vanity desk and mirror, we missed a desk area with drawers, where we could store odds and ends, and electronic gear passengers normally carry with them.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the two groundbreaking Garden Villas, 4,390 sq. ft., have living rooms, dining rooms, sun decks and three separate bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Each Garden Villa sleeps up to six adults, two kids/adults in rollaway beds and three infants in cribs -- great for a big family. The smaller (574 sq. ft.) 10 Courtyard Villas share a central courtyard with its own pool and small gym.
For those wanting something between the wonderful Villas and the regular inside/outside rooms, there are 168 Owner's Suites, Penthouses, Romance Suites and Mini-Suites.Fitness/Spa
Body Waves Center, Deck 12, open 24/7, has 14 treadmills with their own TVs, more than 25 other pieces of fitness equipment, abundant free weights, and a large workout area with lots of aerobic equipment, such as steps and balls. The Bora Bora Health Spa and Salon, operated by Mandara, has 20 treatment rooms for such exotic treatments as algae detox, lime and ginger salt glows, coconut rubs, and milk ritual wraps, including three for couples. Men's and women's sides are set up with stream and sauna rooms, whirlpool, indoor lap pool, jet-current exercise pool, hydrotherapy pool, and Jacuzzis.Children's Facilities
Norwegian Jewel is wild about them, as witness: interconnecting cabins, a kids-only pool and water slide, and the Splashdown Kid's Club, featuring a kid cinema and video arcade. Where most at-sea children's programs turn their backs on the under-threes, NCL welcomes even those in their terrible twos.
One of the two main central Sapphire Pools on Lido Deck is designated adults only.
The complimentary Kid's Crew program is organized by age group: Junior Sailors (2 - 5), First Mates (6 - 9), Navigators (10 - 12) and Teens (13 - 17). Families can gather in the Card Room for a game of Monopoly or Clue, sing together during family karaoke night, or compete in a "Family Feud" game show.Attire
Determinedly casual, though T-shirts, shorts, and tank tops are forbidden in the dining rooms after 5 p.m., except for the Garden Café//Great Outdoors. There are "optional formal nights" held, and noted in the ship's daily. We were almost surprised to see perhaps as many as 20% of the passengers dressing formally on those designated nights.
Of course the temptation to leave the formal wear at home is great. Particularly with the airlines current weight limits on passenger luggage, if flying to the cruise, it makes packing and travel so much easier leaving the formal clothing at home.
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!!!
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.