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Jewel Mar 17-24 Cruise - Review

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[This is by my friend J- who was kind enough to summarize his thoughts and first person remarks come from him; it does a good job of capturing the feelings of the four of us in our group; I will emphasize again we really enjoyed our suite and overall had a good vacation, I'll make one or two notes where our opinions diverge specifically around the Chef's Table.

 

Also thanks again to many here who answered questions about the Family Suites and it worked well for two adults couples who were comfortable being around each other and provided a lot of nice common space and perks.

 

I will also add that while Ignacio the hotel director asked us to bring any issues to his attention at the Meet & Great and was quite visible throughout the cruise, our food service issues were each individually resolved and so it wasn't until we were sitting at dinner the last night looking at it that the totality of my disappointment hit me specifically that unlike every previous cruise (3 total NCL, 3 total Princess, 1 Carnival, several others) I really wanted to be done with the cruise rather than stay.]

 

 

Hello everyone,

 

My husband, two friends [i'm one of the friends!], and I were just on the Norwegian Jewel from March 17-24. This was my second cruise, and as with the first cruise (the Norwegian Star in 2008) Cruise Critic was a very valuable source of information in helping the four of us prepare for our vacation. We really appreciate all of the information, perspectives, and experiences that people share on this site, and I would like to share some of my experiences with you all as a way of returning the favor.

 

 

When reading a review I regularly jump to the very end to see what the writer's overall ratings were, so I'm going to start there with my review. On a scale of "poor," "fair," "good," and "great" I have the following ratings for our cruise:

 

Passengers: great

Shore experiences: good

Non-food service: great

Food service: poor

Food quality: fair

Overall experience: good

 

Now that I have those out of the way, here's some more detail about each of those categories...

 

 

Passengers:

While it's impossible for any cruise line to guarantee the quality of its passengers, I am very happy to report that our fellow passengers were in general very friendly and pleasant to be around. There were a lot of families and college "spring breakers" on the ship as well as older couples and in my experience everyone was able to enjoy themselves without stepping on other people's toes for the most parts. I did hear about a couple of unpleasant interactions, but when you have thousands of people in a crowded space with plenty of alcohol flowing that's somewhat bound to happen.

 

I'd like to give a shout out to six new friends: Donna, John, Naomi, Nevil, Anita, and Milan. We ended up running into them on day two of the cruise and Donna and Naomi took the four of us under their wings and made us a part of their little tribe. These six fine people were our regular meal companions and we were all very happy to spend quite a few hours with them. They are all warm, friendly, and funny people and I'm hoping that our paths cross again sometime in the future. (Barring that I hope that Donna will mail me a package of her peanut butter buckeyes. They give my peanut butter cookies a run for their money, and I love my cookie recipe!)

 

I'd also like to take a moment to thank Kate and Sean for befriending us as well. We met them at the Cruise Critic meet-n-greet, which was very fortunate as they recommended the walking local food tour that we ended up joining in Nassau. Also, you have to love a pair of parents who have a plan for introducing their children to Star Wars in the best fashion.

 

[i'll add a shout out to gma_pat here for organizing an outstanding M&G and slot pull as well as Pat and sis-Shelley from the chef's table.]

 

Shore Experiences (in chronological order):

 

Port Canaveral was an overall pleasant outing on a sunny day in Florida. Instead of signing up for a shore excursion we decided to take a taxi out to Cocoa Beach and organize our own afternoon outing. We walked up and down the beach for a while, investigated the little pier on the beach, and then had a huge lunch at Madd Jack's BBQ Shack (thanks to a recommendation from John). The beach was a fine beach, the pier had a couple restaurants and bars that could be good for lounging around in, and Madd Jack's had incredibly tender, tasty barbecue at very reasonable prices for the amount of food you received.

 

Grand Stirrup Cay is the private NCL island in the Bahamas and it was a great little place to have a day on the beach. Since NCL runs everything you only needed to bring your room key with you (unless you wanted to shop at the small collection of tourist trap kiosks, which only took cash). Given that this was a private beach there was more than enough room for everyone in terms of chairs, room to swim, etc. One of my friends and I swam out to the far buoys and the water was calm the entire time, and there were several fish around the rocks that would swim right by you. Overall it was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours (though I still haven't forgiven my husband for turning into a bright red lobster due to too much sun and not enough sunscreen!).

 

The best of the shore experiences was in Nassau in the Bahamas. Nassau is a lovely little city (and I say "little" because there are 250,000 people in Nassau, which is tiny to me as I live in New York City). There's a nice strip of touristy downtown shopping outlets and restaurants, and just a block inland from there are a large number of historical buildings, colonial architecture, and a large number of old churches. My friends and I spent the morning just walking around the city and taking in the sights. In the afternoon we joined up with Kate and Sean for a walking food tour thanks to Tru Bahamian Food Tours (http://trubahamianfoodtours.com/). The walking tour was about three hours long and well worth it. Alanna, our guide, has an encyclopedic amount of knowledge about Nassau, Bahamian history and culture, and the eateries we stopped at along the way for our seven tastings. The food was delicious and the experience was top-notch; I highly recommend this tour!

 

[i highly highly recommend the food tour, this is an experience not to be missed.]

 

 

Non-food service:

 

The non-food service on the Jewel was very impressive. One example of this was the maintenance staff. When we arrived in our room we noticed that one of the thermostats wasn't working. Within fifteen minutes of me reporting the problem a pair of crew were in our room hard at work, and in under ten minutes after that they were able to completely resolve the problem. We were all quite impressed with how responsive the staff were in addressing this issue.

 

Naveen, the butler for our suite, was always very friendly and helpful for all of our idiosyncratic requests. On Wednesday one friend called Naveen asking for chocolate. "Is there anything in particular you would like?" "No, just do something with chocolate and bring it down for us." Naveen showed up with four plates of different chocolate goodies for us to enjoy. (In the interests of protecting a small amount of my dignity I will not share the amount of time it took for those chocolate treats to disappear. Hint: it's a small number.)

 

John, the concierge, was also incredibly helpful. He met us every morning at breakfast to remind us of any restaurant reservations we had, what the important times of going ashore were, what the best activities of the day were, etc. In particular, when we arrived he told us that we had been invited to a suites-and-above cocktail party on the same evening that we already had pre-booked the Teppanyaki restaurant. The time of our original reservation conflicted with the party, and John had already noticed the conflict and changed our reservation for us.

 

Last but not least, Richard, our room steward, did an amazing job of keeping the suite clean and tidy for us. Whenever we marked the room with "Make up cabin" we would always return to find that everything had been taken care of in our absence. It didn't matter if we'd been gone for a full hour or twenty minutes; Richard had always been there while we were gone, meaning we could always count on coming back to a fresh room. My husband even turned the pillow cases and sheets green one night from his aloe and lidocaine gel (for treating his aforementioned sunburn) and when we got back from breakfast the bed looked completely pristine.

 

 

Food service:

 

This is where things went seriously downhill for us on this cruise, unfortunately. I hope that the above statements have demonstrated that I'm not a compulsive complainer and that I know how to appreciate and acknowledge when things go well. However, when it comes to food service, there was a lot more to be unhappy with than the other way around.

 

[i will also personally add that despite eating 5 specialty restaurant meals and having access to Cagney's via our suite, I was particularly disappointed in the lack of variety at Cagney's for breakfast/lunch and the main dining rooms. It felt like nothing EVER changed, not even the ice cream flavors. That said it was nice at Cagney's how they will get other items for you, e.g. pretzel bread.]

 

Of the seven days of the cruise (not counting the disembarkation day), on six days the wait staff got our orders wrong rather significantly at multiple meals. We often received the wrong dishes, which then had to be sent back, and also often didn't receive everything that we'd ordered. For one example of this, during our dinner at Cagney's we received the wrong wine, then two of us had their meals arrive without the side dishes that they'd ordered. If this had been the only meal where this had occurred then we likely wouldn't have minded, but most of the meals we'd had were like this. [Again each individual problem was fixed promptly.]

 

There were also a number of other examples of poor awareness and teamwork. One of these examples was a dinner at Azura where someone cleared off everyone's silverware between the appetizer and main course, which caused the server who had been attending to us to have to become very confused and have to give us all new silverware while also setting out our entrees. Another example would be how our group of four people didn't receive all of our dishes at the same time. I'm not talking about a server needing to make two trips because it's difficult to carry four plates at once of a ship, but rather two people receiving their food five minutes earlier than the other two of us. There was a significant lack of coordination between the kitchen staff and the wait staff.

 

Part of the trouble in writing about this is that there was no one huge, glaring problem with the food service that was egregious in and of itself. Instead, it was a collection of many annoyances and frustrations that felt like the "death of a thousand paper cuts." For any one of them you could point at it and say "this wasn't really so bad" and you'd be right. When you roll them all together, though, it was a very unsatisfying experience in this regard.

 

In the interests of fairness and transparency there were a few moments of good service at the restaurants on the ship. For example, I saw the manager at Moderno do an excellent job of attending to a dissatisfied guest on the first evening of the cruise. The manager quickly and discreetly attended to the guest's needs, resolved the issue, and the guest finished his meal with a big smile on his face. Another instance of good service was at Chin-Chin when one of our group ordered his meal and then decided that he wasn't actually hungry and wanted to lie down back in the room. Our server comped his meal and still brought out his order so the rest of us could enjoy it or have it boxed to be taken back to the room.

 

 

Food Quality:

 

Overall the quality of the food on the cruise was okay. There were a couple of meals that were good (specifically the Teppanyaki restaurant and Cagney's), though the vast majority of the food was simply okay or worse.

 

The worst aspects of meals tended to be the desserts. The macadamia nut brownie was inedible, and as you can tell from the above I'm a man who loves his chocolate. My friend ordered the banana cream pie and found that to be inedible as well (as did other passengers whom we spoke to about the quality of the food on the ship). I don't know what the "marinated berries and mango" were marinated in, but all I could taste when eating them was an unpleasant alcohol flavor. The papaya and vanilla cream dessert also reeked of alcohol. Some of the desserts were okay, but my group ended up leaving most of them largely unfinished.

 

There were some significant issues with how some of the food had been prepared and served. One example of this is with the Eggs Benedict I ordered where my eggs came out completely hard boiled and dry. Several of the meats at Moderno (the Brazilian steakhouse-themed restaurant) came out overcooked and dry. When my husband and I ordered each ordered "biscuits and gravy" for breakfast we only received a single biscuit each, and it was a rather small biscuit at that. I personally find it misleading to serve a single biscuit when the menu item is listed in the plural.

 

That all said, most of the food was okay rather than being poor. The lamb shank was okay, the hamburger was okay, the pasta was okay, etc.

 

In terms of a specific recommendation, I recommend that you not participate in the Chef's Table experience. It is not a good value for the money in my opinion, and even not accounting for cost the food wasn't all that impressive overall. I've seen tuna tartar served in a ring mold for over a decade; anyone with a home kitchen and a ring mold can do it. I couldn't bring myself to finish two of the dishes (the grapefruit and Moscato granita just tasted like alcohol and the dessert with a banana filling had a very unpleasant texture for me). The asparagus soup was quite tasty, and the tomato tartlet was very well done. However, two good dishes cannot save a nine-course menu.

 

[The chef's table is the primary place J- and I diverge. I enjoyed the meal and felt it was a reasonable value for the money. That said as compared to our chef's table experience on Princess and Carnival it was not an outstanding value, but it was a fair price for an elegant dinner.]

 

I hope you found my above review to be informative. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions that I can answer for you. [i'll pass the feedback on to J-]

 

[hope this was helpful.]

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Thank you so much for the review! My family and I will be on the jewel in September. I do have a question on the family suite! We are a family of six, and In checking most sources for pictures/videos, etc... it appears that only three can sleep in the second bedroom and two in the main. Of course it is supposed to sleep six. Does the sofa in the room make into a bed as well? Some of the videos and photos appear to show a sofa that does not bit its difficult to tell.

 

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

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Thanks for the review. We are traveling on April 7th. You did not mention any of the Entertainment. The shows, white hot night, Karaoke, etc. How was the Casino ? Weather ? Water temp at GSC ?

 

Welcome home and thanks again,

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Thank you so much for the review! My family and I will be on the jewel in September. I do have a question on the family suite! We are a family of six, and In checking most sources for pictures/videos, etc... it appears that only three can sleep in the second bedroom and two in the main. Of course it is supposed to sleep six. Does the sofa in the room make into a bed as well? Some of the videos and photos appear to show a sofa that does not bit its difficult to tell.

 

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

 

Correct, the sofa in the main area can turn into a bed as well. So 2 in main room, 2-3 in smaller room, and 1-2 on living room sofa.

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Thanks for the review. We are traveling on April 7th. You did not mention any of the Entertainment. The shows, white hot night, Karaoke, etc. How was the Casino ? Weather ? Water temp at GSC ?

 

Welcome home and thanks again,

 

We honestly didn't go to any of the shows, not appealing to us so thus no comments there.

 

Casino - we only went for the M&G slot pull.

 

Weather - we got very lucky, a small amount of rain in Nassau for like 10-15 minutes, but otherwise was basically sunny any warm.

 

Water temp @ GSC - very warm.

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We honestly didn't go to any of the shows, not appealing to us so thus no comments there.

 

Casino - we only went for the M&G slot pull.

 

Weather - we got very lucky, a small amount of rain in Nassau for like 10-15 minutes, but otherwise was basically sunny any warm.

 

Water temp @ GSC - very warm.

 

 

Thats great to hear! I am looking forward to Great Stirrup Cay. Thanks again for the review !! Very much appreciated :D Just curious... do you remember what a bucket of beer is going for ? (bud lite)

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Thats great to hear! I am looking forward to Great Stirrup Cay. Thanks again for the review !! Very much appreciated :D Just curious... do you remember what a bucket of beer is going for ? (bud lite)

 

Sadly no clue, glasses of wine/cocktails were around $8-11/each. My random guess is about 5+1 for around $30-35.

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Thats great to hear! I am looking forward to Great Stirrup Cay. Thanks again for the review !! Very much appreciated :D Just curious... do you remember what a bucket of beer is going for ? (bud lite)

 

$34 bucket of six 16-oz Coors Lite or Miller Lite aluminum resealable cans - less $$ once you're out to sea and don't have to pay additional NYC tax!!

 

Not sure about BL... have fun!!!!!!!

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Thanks for sharing. We've done that same itinerary on a different ship (Spirit) and loved the ports of call and had a wonderful time. We especially loved Nassau. It gets a bad rap here on the boards, but if you get off the well-beaten path, it is a very vibrant and fun city. My 17-year-old loved Port Canaveral, because her negligent parents finally took her to Sea World. :) I appreciate your opinions, both good and bad. It sounds like you had a great time and met some wonderful friends.

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Thanks for sharing. We've done that same itinerary on a different ship (Spirit) and loved the ports of call and had a wonderful time. We especially loved Nassau. It gets a bad rap here on the boards, but if you get off the well-beaten path, it is a very vibrant and fun city. My 17-year-old loved Port Canaveral, because her negligent parents finally took her to Sea World. :) I appreciate your opinions, both good and bad. It sounds like you had a great time and met some wonderful friends.

 

Glad to have shared and I highly highly recommend the Nassau food tour.

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$34 bucket of six 16-oz Coors Lite or Miller Lite aluminum resealable cans - less $$ once you're out to sea and don't have to pay additional NYC tax!!

 

Not sure about BL... have fun!!!!!!!

 

Thanks.... never realized it was more expensive in NYC port.

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Thanks.... never realized it was more expensive in NYC port.

 

The drinking age is also different (lower) in bahamian waters with parental permission.

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Hi you guys. You beat me to the punch with the review. I just started mine because I had to hit the floor running when I got back. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed meeting you and your hubby especially during the slot pull. I had such a good time and can't wait until the next one. Take care, and thank you for your response to my outreach efforts.

 

Ramona (aka Gizmo911)

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Hi you guys. You beat me to the punch with the review. I just started mine because I had to hit the floor running when I got back. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed meeting you and your hubby especially during the slot pull. I had such a good time and can't wait until the next one. Take care, and thank you for your response to my outreach efforts.

 

Ramona (aka Gizmo911)

 

You're most welcome Ramona!

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Thats great to hear! I am looking forward to Great Stirrup Cay. Thanks again for the review !! Very much appreciated :D Just curious... do you remember what a bucket of beer is going for ? (bud lite)

 

Hi, My DH and I were on the 3/17/13 NCL Jewel cruise. To answer some of your questions...

 

We enjoyed every show, some more than others. The comedian, David Naster is hilarious. He is on stage briefly the first evening and then a few days later as the entire show. We loved the magician/comedian, JP. We had seen him the year before and enjoyed him then as well. The Jewel staff and the 70's review was fun and entertaining especially if you like 70's (disco) etc. The Duo team we did not attend although we heard they were great. We have seen so many of the "Cirque" type performances that unless accompanied by something else we find them boring. "Le Cirque Bijoux" with the Jewel Staff was very well done. And, if you have never seen the staff do "The Fountains" be sure to catch that mid day on the last full day of the cruise.

 

We are not beer drinkers but we saw plenty being sold and the cost was $25 for a bucket of 5 + 1 freebee. That seemed very reasonable to us. BTW we are retirees but still think we are in our 30's!

 

Enjoy your cruise and I hope your weather will be as great as ours was.

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Thank you for your very nice review. I have to say, I was surprised at your Chef's Table review. That is not something that particularly interests me, however, I have read nothing but great reviews about it here on CC. It was interesting to read a different perspective on it. :)

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Hi, My DH and I were on the 3/17/13 NCL Jewel cruise. To answer some of your questions...

 

We enjoyed every show, some more than others. The comedian, David Naster is hilarious. He is on stage briefly the first evening and then a few days later as the entire show. We loved the magician/comedian, JP. We had seen him the year before and enjoyed him then as well. The Jewel staff and the 70's review was fun and entertaining especially if you like 70's (disco) etc. The Duo team we did not attend although we heard they were great. We have seen so many of the "Cirque" type performances that unless accompanied by something else we find them boring. "Le Cirque Bijoux" with the Jewel Staff was very well done. And, if you have never seen the staff do "The Fountains" be sure to catch that mid day on the last full day of the cruise.

 

We are not beer drinkers but we saw plenty being sold and the cost was $25 for a bucket of 5 + 1 freebee. That seemed very reasonable to us. BTW we are retirees but still think we are in our 30's!

 

Enjoy your cruise and I hope your weather will be as great as ours was.

 

Thank you.... keeping fingers crossed for the weather also :D

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Thank you for your very nice review. I have to say, I was surprised at your Chef's Table review. That is not something that particularly interests me, however, I have read nothing but great reviews about it here on CC. It was interesting to read a different perspective on it. :)

 

I also want to point out that myself and my friend J- who wrote the review felt differently.

 

That said, it was NOT as good a value as either the Princess or Carnival chef's tables. Nor was it as intriguing/different a set of food, but I felt it was net a good value and enjoyed it while J- did not.

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Thanks for sharing your unbiased review with the rest of us CC'rs. I always find it interesting how you can talk to several people that were on the exact same cruise and get completely different opinions. Thanks again for your thoughts.

 

Cdn in KS

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