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.
Path of the Vikings - Dover to New York
Boarded the 'Jewel' at Dover and soon in our mini suite with balcony on deck 11. This was our first time with NCL and with 'Freestyle' cruising which we enjoyed very much. It was great to eat where and when we wanted. As a couple if we wanted a table for two at dinner there was no problem. If you had to wait for a table they gave you a pager and offered you a complimentary glass of champagne in any bar while you waited. Enjoyed breakfast in the cabin each day. Excellent service. Room service would phone before they delivered the breakfast and it always arrived on or just before the time it was requested the night before.
As a brand new ship, top features for us would be - the Tsar's Palace main dining room - very ornate. - the Stardust Theater - great seating for shows. Seats tiered so able to see well from any seat. Must mention two great production shows - 'Band on the Run' and 'Cirque Bijou'
Ports of call - highlights Reykjavik, Iceland Arrived 7amand took full day Golden Circle tour including lunch. Magnificient Gullfoss waterfall, geyser area , the view of Reykjavik from the 'Pearl'.
Newport, Rhode Island - Visited two fabulous mansions of the Vanderbilts, The Breakers and the Marble House.
Downside - Missing port of St. John's, Newfoundland due to rough seas. However, ship very stable so no seasick problems !
Getting up at 5am before arrival in Newport for US immigration !
Arrived on schedule in New York and docked with Concorde on one side and QM2 on the other ! Finally thanks to our cabin stewardess Teti from Indonesia, a great cruise director Paul Baya, great food and entertainment, special award to the acrobats in the show 'Cirque Bijou'
Freestyle cruising is definately for us and look forward to our next cruise with NCL on the Jewel or another NCL ship.
My husband and I were on the 13-night inaugural voyage of the Norwegian Jewel around the Mediterranean this summer (August 2005). An easy, swift and orderly embarkation procedure at Dover was followed by the appearance of the colorful ribbons and jewels that adorned the Norwegian Jewel herself.
On first inspection, we were amazed by the vivid and modern interior throughout the ship, highlighted with contemporary armchairs in many bars and restaurants. On closer scrutiny, we started to notice subtle accents of a 50's and 60's influence in some of the furniture choices in the bars. Outside, there was an energetic feel around the pool area, incorporating the theme of the circus that appeals to the child within. There were also many large and colorful palm trees that bejewel the Jewel at night.
The interior theme throughout the stateroom decks incorporates mahogany wood and turquoise, and flowed effortlessly into the staterooms. We were in a category JJ inside stateroom, designed with storage space as a top priority. There were seven ample storage shelves, and a roomy wardrobe. Other features included a separate dressing table with hairdryer, safe, fridge, a well-laid-out bathroom and a TV (althoughnot flat-screen as in the more superior staterooms).
All over the ship were strategically placed flat-screens displaying information about the 10 restaurants and their occupancy levels - rating them from busy to full. This proved vital in avoiding the rush at the Garden Café (buffet style restaurant) and to gauge the busiest eating times.
Since Norwegian Cruise Line prizes itself on its "Freestyle Cruising" concept, we attempted to sample some of the 10 restaurants - including Cagney's steakhouse, Mama's Italian kitchen, Le Bistro French restaurant and the Chin Chin Asian restaurant (including a sushi bar!). Booking the desired restaurants was easy at first, using the reservations desk at reception; but as word got out among fellow guests there were many queues and block-booking of mealtimes over the two weeks. Many of these specialty restaurants had a cover charge ranging from $10-$15 per person, which would have to be considered with large groups. These cover charges had been reduced by $5 from the original printed prices on the menus.
Overall, the specialty restaurants provided excellent service, using more experienced and efficient staff. Only on one occasion was our booked dining time (8 p.m.) made later due to large numbers, but in compensation we were offered a complimentary bottle of wine. The main dining rooms differed in design from modern, as in the Azura restaurant; to grand, as in Tsar's Palace. Both were equal in terms of broad taste/themed menus and good service. The chocolate buffet was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise, and we were stunned by the artistry shown in the chocolate "Big Ben clock" and the ice sculptures.
Lounges and Bars
We regularly visited the bars and lounges throughout the two weeks, and we were most impressed with the efficient, friendly service throughout. Most drinks were reasonably priced, although some of the specialty cocktails and alcoholic smoothies were more than $9. "Bar city" on Deck 7 is home to many of the Jewel's unique bars: Malting's beer and whisky bar, Shakers Martini cocktail bar, and our favorite, Magnum's Champagne bar, which offered a deluxe range of champagnes to be indulged on formal nights. However, our night always ended in the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 13, which had live music and then a DJ.
Overall, the entertainment by the many performers around the bars and lounges was excellent and could not be faulted. The dance company produced two impressive shows with acrobatic expertise. There was a hugely talented comedian on board, and some great lectures were provided during the day. The daytime schedule had a good range of activities, including many art auctions to tempt you to part with cash. The assistant cruise director had a jovial personality and created many quiz nights (Jeopardy, Mr. and Mrs., The Weakest Link, etc.) for guest participation - which were hilarious.
We can think of few if any negatives about our experience on the Norwegian Jewel. Given the fact that this was the inaugural voyage and lots of mistakes could have happened, we and NCL were fortunate. It was clear that there was good management and swift action throughout to prevent any guests from not having a good holiday. We would wholeheartedly recommend the Jewel to fellow cruisers and hope you have an enjoyable time as much as we did.
I was fortunate enough to travel on a Norwegian Jewel shakedown 2 nighter from Dover to Jersey and back.
The ship is stunning. She looks wonderful from the outside and is designed like the transatlantic liners of yesteryear inside. She is bright and colourful, with a huge choice of where/what to eat. Her crew are second to none, extremely helpful and courteous at all times. The cabins are much roomier than expected and again beautifully decorated with bright colours and wood veneers. The 'special cabins' on deck 14 are absolutely amazing. The Garden Villa's and Horizon Suites are out of this world, along with their private pool, courtyard, sundeck and gym areas.
The restaurants are superb, food quality is excellent as is the service from all the staff. There are so many bars and restaurants to choose from, you can have somewhere new to eat and drink every night of a 10 day cruise.
I would highly recommend the ship and her crew. I wished that I didn't have to get off her on the 10th August.
Did a 3 day trip out of Dover to Jersey & back. I believe this trip was sold to past NCL passengers in the UK + all travel agents & NCL booking staff.(we received a flyer from NCL UK) ship is beautiful & very spacious. crew all very attentive & polite including the reception desk!! food was excellent in the main dining rooms & mediocre to poor in the cafe. however the cafe was very spacious & huge!. makes the NCL Dream ( sports bar) look like a joke - t'was horrible eating in there!
we had a restricted view cabin 8074 which was excellent, spacious & well designed, plenty of cupboard & drawer space. bathrooms were quite spacious & well fitted. however the large tender outside the 2 small windows totally obscured any view. all the other grades of cabins had one open to view for anyone who wished to look. of course we examined every one & we have to say the owners suite is the nicest, especially if you would like to take friends or family with you. the decor & furnishings we (britsh) feel is a littlegarish & you need your sunglasses on inside the ship! the czars main dining room is very opulent & beautifully done in gold & green marble & red furnishings. it does get very busy & noisy. the azur dining room is quite subuded, very well spread out & quite a peaceful & refined place to eat. we did not try any of the speciality resturants as they were booked solid. pool area was excellent for children & there were lots of spaces on the decks above for quiet sunbathing ( it they turn the music on the loudspeakers off!!- not everyone likes jazz!) we liked the undercover walkway all around the ship on promanade deck & we saw a couple of sharks in the english channel one evening, honestly we did, the photographer saw them too!)! the theatre is the best we have seen on any cruise line, everyone can see over the person in front & the seats are comfortable. the comedian was ok but the Jean Ryan group who performed "Band on the Run" were first rate. I was reluctant to go to the show as I would rather have curled up with a book in bed, however was persuaded ( blackmailed) to go & the performance. the group gave was the best show I have ever seen. (I was sleepy when the show started & knackered when it finshed, very highpowered & adrenelin fueled!) there were a few little rough edges but considering it was only their 2nd performance ever, they deserved the standing ovation they got. first rate show!!!! we would go back on the Jewel again as we like the informallity & good service NCL always gives, a very professionally, multi national ( passengers) run ship but only if the time & money previals we have just booked the celebrity constellation on 20th may 2006 for the baltic. got good deals in here in uk! ( cheaper than NCL - sorry!)