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Posts posted by natefish95

  1. For people who ask for the dailies, I did not take pictures of them except for this one. I guess someone might find this interesting?



    I’ve never done one of the alcohol tastings on a ship, but decided to try the mojito tasting with some new friends. I think it was about $19? and was held in Magnums and posted by Aan. He was so knowledgeable about the drinks and was a great host! Would highly recommend doing one of these with Aan.


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  2. Dutch Harbor

    Lol, nope! Maybe next time



    Y'all, this was were NCL absolutely failed in my opinion. To set the stage, we were tendered in Kodiak from 8am-6pm. The last tender would leave Kodiak at 5pm. Since this was also our first U.S. port, we had to go through in-person U.S. Customs with the officers on the ship. The freestyle daily said this would occur from 8am-noon in a conference room by the Stardust. All passengers were grouped in Group A, B, C, or D based on your deck. I was on Deck 5, so I was in Group D. Funny enough, when we got information about Customs in Dutch Harbor, Deck 5 was in Group B. Wonder why they changed it...


    They didn't call Group A until 9:00am. Group B wasn't called until 9:40. Group C was called maybe around 10:15? At that point, I decided to go grab some coffee from the Atrium Starbucks and get in line. Surely, they'll call Group D while I'm grabbing coffee and becoming alive for the day. I walked up to an absolute circus. The line started on Deck 6 outside Stardust, went up the stairs, and around the corner all the way to the photo gallery...essentially the entire length of Deck 7. I got in line around 10:30. Mind you, they still had not called Group D yet. I'll save you the many annoyed long exhales and eyerolls, but I finally finished around 12:15 ALMOST TWO HOUR LATER. They called Group D around 11:30. Someone I met got in line around then and didn't finish until 1:45. 


    Oh but it gets more fun! Once we were done with that, we could walk to Azura and wait in line for a tender. You get tender tickets, but they were pointless if you get number 5 and don't finish customs until noon. Priority tender tickets because you're a Latitude? Not in this dining room! I waited about 20 minutes minutes for a teneder and finally got on land about 1:15 and you can bet your a$$ I was hangry as f###


    That's a bit ranty, so I'll balance it with how NCL could have handled it better. 

    • An announcement at the very start that the process would be delayed. I'm assuming since Group A wasn't called until 9am, and it was supposed to start at 8am, there was a delay getting CBP officers on the ship. 
    • Maybe have a line for US passport holders and/or those with an ESTA. Half the ship was form the US, so if you have nothing to declare, it shouldn't long for them to look at your passport and mark you off a list. 
    • Related, the officer marked your name off a list, so maybe they could have organized it alphabetically? The longest part was waiting for the officer to find me on the list
    • They REALLY should have had a special line for those with limited mobility. There were several folks around me who were struggling to stand for that long and would take a seat whenever there was one. The line didn't move for a solid 20 minutes while I was on the stairs. Sitting on the stairs was an option for some, but that may be too low for some folks. Once we got into the room, they were pushing some people in wheelchairs in the exit. There should have been staff asking people if they were having trouble standing and pul them to the front. 
    • There were a few staff members offering hot chocolate. Okay, it was chilly outside, but most people were angry and a little warm from the body heat. Folks around asked for water and were told three times in the span of 45 minutes it was coming. Never showed up. 
    • For tenders, we were instructed to wait in Azura and would then be escorted down to deck 4 to board it. Some people just skipped the Azura waiting and slid into the line on Deck 4. This whole process was bizarre. 


    I planned to go hiking around Kodiak (it was raining but not terribly), but there was no time for that. I grabbed lunch on land, and then grabbed a tender back (which was another 30 minute wait in the rain). 

  3. Hello people! I got off the ship today (sadly) and am waiting for my flight back to DC at the Anchorage airport, so I'll pick this back up where I left off. I'll go through the ports, the debark process, and then my overall thoughts on the cruise. 


    I think I left off with Hakodate and the Hakodate ropeway. I can now say it was one of my favorite things of the trip. The views were incredible and so easy to do on your own. Absolutely no need to do an NCL excursion. The ship docked right in downtown, so it was very easy to walk around or hop on the trams (which accepted the IC card).


    One of Hakodate's notable foods is called kaisen-don. I searched it in Apple Maps and picked a random place that turned out to be a in fish market. You order via machine. It had an English option, but nothing was actually translated. After trying to make sense of the pictures, I asked the older Japanese ladies next to me, "kaisen-don?" and made a confused face and vaguely gestured at the machine. They spoke no English, but tapped on something for that was kaisen-don and through some gesturing and a lot of "arigato gozaimasu's" from me, I managed to get it! I'll post pictures below. 



    The next port was Aomori and we again docked within walking distance of "downtown". I later learned during the Captain's Q&A that we had less than 200m of visibility when pulling in. Someone asked how they dock in bad weather, so it's definitely possible in low visibility. 


    Aomori has some nice art museums (and a giant tourism center shaped like a pyramid), but nothing really piqued my interest, so I opted for another day of wandering on my own. I found a really good sushi place and was finally able to try sea urchin. It really doesn't taste like much? Maybe a liiiiiiiittle briny/fishy tasting? 



    Our last Japanese port was Kushiro in Hokkaido. This was a late addition to our itinerary  where they swapped Homer for Kushiro. Like Sendai, NCL offered roundtrip shuttles to "downtown" for $20. In my opinion, the shuttles were 100% necessary here because the dock is in the middle of nowhere in an industrial area and I believe about 3km from the nearest train station. 


    Like Aomori, there wasn't much that called out to me in Kushiro to do, so I wandered around some more. The waterfront area seemed like a popular area to walk around in and there was a large market where we were dropped off. I used up the last of the money on my IC card and bought snacks from 7-11 and Lawson (don't tell the NCL overlords I brought snacks back!) The market area also had some snacks and some food where literally everyone on the ship was using up the last of their yen. 


    The weird thing about Kushiro (to me) is that while walking down the street it sounds like they're playing radio advertisements? You would hear some speaking and some music, but my limited DuoLingo Japanese couldn't help me understand. It felt strangely...Soviet? I'm like 99% sure it wasn't playing propaganda...but what if? 


    Kushiro and Aomori were nice towns, and I'm glad to have visited, but I much preferred Sendai and Hakodate. It was just so nice to be out of the big cities and the see non-jampacked/power-walking side of Japan. The daily pace seemed much more relaxed that Tokyo and Osaka. 

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  4. Can’t wait to follow along!


    You mentioned trivia earlier…I can foresee a very angry man with how trivia is done on the ship (from my experience). Numerous questions were worded poorly or just wrong. 

    The woman leading most trivias (I think her name was Penny from Mexico) was…not my favorite. She would start exactly on time (yay) but then SPEED through the questions. We made it through 20 questions in 7 minutes. Way too fast for trivia. 

    then when reviewing answers, she’d walk around and have people share their answers. Getting through all the answers would take 20 minutes and was so unnecessary. She would also get rude and condescending if no one knew the answers. It was very odd.

    You might want to do a trial run solo to see how it goes. There were numerous complaints on my sailing. Yamar from Peru and the woman from Nicaragua were better. 

  5. 2 minutes ago, YVRteacher said:

    @Yo Adrienne


    unfortunately the Jewel does not have Starlink and the internet can be a big frustration. I have seen minutes drain away quickly just trying to make a short post on here or connect with friends on What’s App.  There is a great current live from the Jewel thread by @natefish95 and he mentions the challenges with internet.  My experience cruising in Alaska is the surrounding glaciers and mountains contribute to a poor connection.  I’m not trying to be overly negative but am just sharing my experience.


    I will let you know if I see your fabulous server once on board.

    Thanks for tagging me! I’ll finish my live review now that I’m back with stable internet.


    during the Captain Q&A they did mention the Jewel will be getting the cabling for Starlink in about 2 months. I think it still needs to get installed so Starlink might become active in 3ish months? Mas or menos?


    Others posted they had no issues with the wifi. For me, Instagram worked well, but it didn’t work at all for someone else with the same wifi package. 

    I paid to upgrade to the non-streaming wifi package and they refunded 50% of that to me in the form of OBC.

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  6. If the above picture posts, you’ll see we’re sadly skipping Dutch Harbor since CBP is unable to travel to the port due to weather. Disappointing for sure, but understandable. 

    This afternoon is definitely the roughest seas I’ve ever encountered in 20+ cruises. Thank God I don’t get seasick, but judging by how empty some of the bars and restaurants are, it seems like a lot of the ship is out of commission today. 

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  7. That post actually posted surprisingly easy, so let’s get some random thoughts out of the way.


    Loved Sendai and Hakodate! 

    Aomori and Kushiro are definitely tinier without much to do (that I’m interested in). The ship offered shuttles to Kushiro from the port for $20 (like in Sendai) and they were definitely necessary. We docked in a very industrial area far from any transportation. (You could get by without the shuttles in Sendai if you don’t mind walking a know how to use public transportation in Japan)


    Garden Cafe buffet has been better than when I sailed last year. 

    Tsar’s Palace service either has a good night or a bad night. Some nights I’m in an out in 40 minutes, other times it’s 90 minutes. I went to O’Sheehans for lunch today for the first time and they were struggling. Took 45 minutes just to get food and it came out lukewarm. Never saw the waiter after he took my order. I’ll try again another time and see how it goes. I do love those nachos…


    La Cucina and Le Bistro were excellent. The filet at La Cucina with the blue cheese ravioli is incredible. I tried the chicken cacciatore this time and will go back to my filet. (Sidebar-the woman at the table next to me ordered spaghetti carbonara and then got mad when it didn’t have meatballs and meat sauce. Maybe read the menu next time?)


    I haven’t done Le Bistro in awhile and it was delicious. I may go again this trip. I’ve been randomly deciding to try new things this cruise and decided to get a $30 glass of Veuve Cliquot and came to the conclusion I can’t tell the difference between good champagne and crappy champagne.  Maybe I’m just trashy haha. It was still good though.


    Haven't been to many of the “activities” but I’ve heard from a few they’re not enjoying them, but that might be because of the international participants not fully understanding the activity. Personally haven’t been a fan of Renan as CD. I sailed with Tahani twice on Jewel before and loved her. Renan definitely isn’t as communicative and isn’t as engaging when he hosts activities. All just my personal opinion and in no way negatively impacts my cruise.


    Last (but certainly not least) the thermos spa is sooooo worth every penny. It’s so nice to have a quiet, not crowded area to relax in. I’ve been spending a lot of time there reading my Kindle. The spa staff has been super nice overall!

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  8. Hi all, as expected wifi onboard during the crossing is prettyyyyyy terrible. We finished day 2 of the crossing and are repeating Tuesday April 16th tomorrow. So far seas have been good , but should get a bit rougher as we get closer to Dutch Harbor…where it’s supposed to snow on Friday…we’ve been mostly fogged in the past two days with the exception of one hour of actual sunshine yesterday afternoon. Outside temp is probably in the 30s (and the interior of the ship is also very cold even for me. 

    I’ll try and post a thorough review recapping what I’ve missed when I get back to stable WiFi. 

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  9. Hello! Docked in Hakodate about 10am today. I spent the morning relaxing in the thermal suite before heading ashore. 

    I took the tram up to Goryokaku Tower. Tram was 230yen and the tower ticket was 1000yen. Pictures below













    IMG_8707.thumb.jpeg.271d8cf33ed9dee241605c2f661d3764.jpegthe Sakura ice cream was 450 yen. I’m keeping a running total of price’s because NCL shore excursions were ridiculous and this is all doable on your own.


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  10. Wednesday the 10th, took the JR line to the ship and got on about an hour after I got there. The process was a bit strange and surprisingly unorganized. The ship still looks great and just how I remember her. We had a very large solo traveler group of about 35, which was really surprising. Solo host right now is Caio from Brazil.


    Today we docked in Sendai. The schedule had us actually docking in Ishinomaki (contrary to port schedules). Turns out NCL is wrong and the port schedules were right—we docked closer to Sendai. 

    They offered a shuttle service to downtown for $20 which took about 40 minutes each way. We docked a bit late around 10:30 and back on board was 4:30 so not an ideal port stop. 

    The NCL shuttle dropped off at Sendai station about noon and then I went with another solo to get the local favorite of beef tongue (gyutan) which was surprisingly delicious! Walked over to Jozenji-Dori to take pictures and hopped on the shuttle around 2:30pm. 

    gyutan, barley rice, and oxtail soup



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  11. What’s up party people


    did I forget about you? Yes.

    Am I enjoyed this trip? YES

    Is the wifi bad on the ship? YES!!!!!!


    To quickly summarize, my day trip to Mt Fuji was great even though we couldn’t see the mountain. We saw (and smelled) all the sulphur from where the hot springs water originates and took the Hakone ropeway and a short cruise on a lake.


    the next day the weather was terrible. I took the subway to Shibuya, but it was monsooning so I noped out of there real quick and went to an onsen. Then I did a really fun walking tour around Shinjuku.

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