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MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial


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Well here I am, waking up to snow in the good old state of Ohio. :rolleyes: I'm missing my nice Caribbean weather and wishing I was back basking in the sun and enjoying time with all of my cruise friends. But, back to reality and time to get this review and pictorial going.


A little history about me, for those of you that might not know me around here:


I’m 47 and have been cruising since the late 80’s with my first cruise being with NCL. I took a break for a while after the 90’s and did not start cruising again until 2010. We now try to cruise at least twice a year. I’m very limited as to the times that I can cruise. I’m a Nursing student (since 2010) and will graduate (fingers crossed) next May. My only opportunities to cruise are in between semesters (which only gives me 3 dates to choose from each year). I work at the local hospital (since 1984) and work in the emergency room (which also happens to be a trauma hospital). I am a mother of 4, 3 adult children (27, 25, and 19) and a perky 5 year old. I am a grandmother of 2, basically the same ages as my 5 year old (grandson is 3 months younger than my daughter and granddaughter is 7 months younger) and have 2 more grandchildren on the way in less than a month. Yes, they keep us on our toes. So, I’m young at heart and love to have a good time.


Our youngest daughter has been cruising with us since she was 3 years old and now has 5 cruises under her belt and she's as hooked as we are on cruising. She is willing and can do just about anything we do from ziplining, snorkeling, the animals, jumping off 2 stories into the water and so on. If you have read any of my other reviews....well, she just amazes us with her fearless abilities.


I am laid back, not too hard to please, enjoy cruising and try to have a good time no matter what. I have a quirky sense of humor (as does my husband) and I tell my stories through my eyes, my experiences, and my opinions of the cruise and ports. I realize that everyone has a different experience (even if they are on the same cruise or at the same excursion) and everyone has a different level of tolerance or views of what their “perfect” cruise is. We are all unique in our own way and that’s what makes the world a great place of diversity. I don’t expect everyone to agree or disagree with my views. When I research a ship or a port, I do EXTENSIVE research to find that perfect place for US. I take everyone’s reviews into consideration, but yet with a grain of salt. I like to form my own opinions and experience things for myself. My reviews are just to share MY experience and I try to be as helpful as I possibly can to others by explaining things and showing as many pictures as I can so that others can get a feeling for the place.


So that’s my story and the basics about me…now on the FUN!!! THE REVIEW!!! I hope you enjoy. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. :D

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I'm ready for the review!


Oh....and no more "fingers crossed" BS! You WILL be graduating in May and taking those pesky boards in July-ish! :rolleyes:


Wait until you're working as a nurse! Work three 12-hour shifts....get a bunch of days off for cruisin'! 🚢

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I will start with the day of us leaving the house and heading off to the airport. We had some snow during the week and I was keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that our morning commute to the airport would be a decent one.


Well....that was not the case. It had been snowing non-stop since midnight the night before and the road were terrible. I am terrified of snow. I do not drive in snow. I had a bad accident when I was 18 and totaled a car in a blizzard and have been afraid ever since then of snow. My worst fears were coming true. I tried to stay optimistic and hoped that the freeways would be clear since they've had all night to clean them....WRONG! It was even worse. Traffic was creeping around 25 mph and I was creeping even less than that (yes, I'm the one everyone complains about being on the road in the snow and I should get off of it...and I wished that I could). I was shaking, my heart was pounding, I started to sweat and my mind was racing about missing my plane.


What seemed like FOREVER on that highway (but probably wasn't) was a nightmare to me, but it only lasted about 5 miles before we had to get on the next freeway...and it was CLEAR. Whew. I just might make my flight after all.


Check in was easy as can be. We dropped off our luggage as soon as we got out of the car and headed to the terminal entrance. To our surprise, they told us to "head to this line" and we bypassed everyone standing in the long line??? I'm not sure why, but I wasn't about to strike up a conversation with them about it. When we got to the security, we started to remove our shoes, take out the computer from our bag...then they stopped us. :confused: They told us we were in the VIP line and none of that needed to be done. Um, ok...no arguments from me.


We flew with Southwest, as we always do, and boarded, found our seats and we were off. Well...not really. Since the snow was so bad, we were delayed for an hour while we sat on the runway getting deiced. I swear I took pictures of this process, but can't locate them. We were covered in pink foam and Sakari (my daughter) loved how "pretty" the plane was. LOL


We arrived in Missouri to change planes (we arrived about 20 minutes late) and sprinted through the airport to catch the plane that was waiting on about 7 of us coming in. Thanks for the glaring stares everyone...like we could help that our plane was late. Another delay due to more deicing of the plane and we were finally off.


We arrived in NOLA safely and was happy that we had gained an extra hour (after all of the delays) because of the time change.


We quickly grabbed a cab and headed to our hotel, which cost us $42 for 3 people (which we knew in advance because I do my research).


We decided this time around to stay at The Blake Hotel. We have previously stayed at Drury (which is right next door) and also in the Warehouse District at Springhill Suites. We picked this location because we were meeting up with some cruise friends from our 2010 Epic cruise who were staying in the hotel right beside us.


This turned out to be a very good decision and we loved the location and the hotel.


Now on to the hotel itself...

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The Blake Hotel is located on (what they consider) the "edge" of the warehouse district but it is located on the corner of St Charles and Poydras. So we were within walking distance of everything and only a few blocks from the Riverwalk.


The hotel inside was very nice and brightly colored, just like I like it. (After all, this makes for some groovy pictures)


Interior pictures:




Hallway leading to the elevators. They had a flat screen tv on the wall right by the elevators...I guess they thought you wanted to watch tv as you waited on the elevators???




There were also some restrooms there, which were used by people who went to the restaurant located within the hotel.





We made it up to our room and it was nice and a decent size. It included 2 beds, a niche in the wall with a tv, a desk for our computer, an armoire that opened up and you would find a refrigerator and microwave. The also had a chair and a dresser built into the wall below the tv.







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We were located on the 9th floor and had a pretty decent view. Right outside our window was a beautiful park with statues and plenty of "greenery" and flowers. If you look to the left, you could see the port with the ships.





The bathroom was nice. The sink was located in a little area outside of the toilet and shower area.




The only small minor gripe I had was that the shower varied in temperature. One minute it was hot, then it turned cold and I thought the water was running out. But, then it would get hot again. You will learn that this ritual will always seek me out where ever I go! :o The water also didn't drain well. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't fast. I think I'm a magnet for bad plumbing issues.


Now this was a non-smoking hotel and they tell you no smoking cigarettes in the rooms or hotel...however, they may need to go a step further and specify no smoking ANYTHING in the hotel because our floor had this "funny" smell back in our hallway and I can tell you it WASN'T cigarettes....if you get my drift. ;)


They do have a "small" store (well, that's giving them more credit than it really is. It's more like a wall with items) at the hotel, located right beside the customer service desk. We were able to get our "soda" fix for the night there for $2 each. I was born in Birmingham, AL, but raised in Ohio, so I'm from the north and was raised that this sugary substance is called "pop". I ask the lady how much their bottle of "pop" was and she said "what?" I repeated myself and then had to proceed to point out what I was talking about. She laughed and said "You are in the south honey, it's called soda here". (Hanging my head in shame now and turning 50 shades of gray...no wait, I mean red). :o They did sell microwave meals there, so I guess that's where the microwave in the room comes in to play.


They also have a wall of computers in the lobby that you could use to get on the internet, but we had brought our own and used it in the room.


As I stated, there is a restaurant located on the premises in the front of the hotel and to the side. We will get into that later (we ate there for breakfast).


Now on to our day in NOLA.

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So here we are, all checked in, luggage in room and ready to connect with our 2010 Epic friends who had already been there since the day before. We had not eaten anything all day and we were starved. We met up with them and headed to iHop for "breakfast" in the middle of the day. (They had just woke up as well from a night of "fun" in NOLA).


I ordered the BIGGEST breakfast burrito and hash-browns that I have ever seen in my life. Whew! It hit the spot.


Then we were off to see the sites. It had been cold and rainy that day, but it wasn't raining at the moment so we figured we'd head toward the Riverwalk area to see the sites. We had previously been to NOLA a few times and know what a beautiful city it is (our friends had never been there).


NOLA was all decorated with palm tree lights and Christmas trees everywhere. Now I could get use to see palm trees as a Christmas tree for sure!








It proved to be even prettier at night time.




NOLA is a crazy place with crazy drivers. It always seems to be packed and this weekend was especially "hopping" because it was the weekend with the "Running of the Santas". It was bumper to bumper traffic and I'm so glad we were within walking distance to everything.




We made it down to the river area and by the aquarium






They seem to have some type of construction going on in this area, but you were able to walk around it and still make it down to the river area.

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They had some really neat metal sculptures there, which I hadn't noticed on any previous trip.








The skies were looking a little dreary and it started to sprinkle. Ugh. I had brought my small umbrella with me (because we knew that it called for rain prior to leaving), however, my wonderful hubby decided we didn't need to bring it on our "walking" trip because it wasn't raining at the moment and if it did, we would be fine and just play in the rain. (Making note, don't ever listen to hubby).






There are a lot of neat picture opportunities in NOLA, I just wish we had more time there.


We walked along the river and headed toward this area:




They are doing some work in this area to the building as well. According to the signs, it will be a shopping mall (and a huge one from the looks of it). We made it so far down here before we were stopped and told that we were not allowed in this area (it was headed straight for a ship that was in port). Oops.


By this time, it was now pouring and I'm kicking myself (when I really wanted to kick the hubby instead-oops did I just say that out loud?) for not bringing that umbrella.

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They have a beautiful fountain in the riverwalk area that we love to take pictures at. However, I'm not sure if they just don't have it working during the winter months or if it was being worked on. It was a disappointment.




This is what it usually looks like:




More picture opportunities IN THE RAIN:






We were headed back toward Harrahs Casino because our friends had found they had a Christmas "thing" called Miracle on Fulton Street in front of it. We had looked it up online and it looked like an awesome time and we didn't want to miss it.


According to their website, they had the following:


Take photos with Santa, see the Reindeer, get crafty in Santa’s Workshop and kiss at Mistletoe Row. Snow falls on Fulton Street every hour on the hour beginning at 5PM daily. Take a picture with Santa in front of the tremendous 30-ft tree Friday & Saturdays from 6-10PM. Check out Santa's reindeer with your own eyes! Merry make on Mistletoe Row, a new addition to Miracle on Fulton! Mistletoe Row features a festive holiday atmosphere for adults with festive cocktails, a la carte menu items, and fun photo ops. Kids of all ages can make toys like the elves, decorate cookies, and more at Santa's Workshop, presented by Michaels Stores.


Sounds like a wonderful experience and something great to do to end the night right?


I even looked up pictures of this place and we figured it would be a great place to head to, especially since it was raining. Here are some beautiful pictures I found on the web of the place and the inside changes colors.








Do you notice anything? Do you see the cover over top of everything? It would be a great place to seek selter during the cold raining weather and still be able to enjoy ourselves.

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Well here we are....and this is what we got:






Does this look like anything in the pictures they advertise? Because maybe I need my eyes checked. Where was the cover? Where is the changing lights? Where are all of the lined Christmas trees all lit up? Where is Santa? Where are all of the activities? Where are all of the reindeer? Well obviously they all went to seek shelter from the rain as well. They were the smart ones I guess. Meanwhile, we were the idiots out in the rain getting soaking wet.


We did find Mistletoe Row, but I really didn't see any "picture opportunities" as they described:




From the looks of the website and pictures we found online, it seemed to be a pretty long area. However, it wasn't big at all. Here's the Christmas tree that Santa was supposed to be there for pictures and was MIA.




At least there were a few picture opportunities for me...being the picture freak that I am. The only negative was there we were, standing in the pouring rain:





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Just so you know, if you have to use the restroom, there are none to be found. We ask every employee we could find and everyone had the same reply..."You have to go into a bar and purchase a drink to use the restroom." UGH!


We decided since the rainy day Miracle on Fulton street was a bust, we would head back toward the hotel to use the restroom since was only a few blocks away.


On the way, we stopped at the corner of a street and found it to be blocked off with a lot of police officers with flashing lights. We knew exactly what was about to happen....Running of the Santa's.





Here's a video of the running Santas, elves, and whatever else people came up with for Christmas.






We decided to head back to our room since it was only a couple of blocks from here (since they forbid you to potty anywhere in the city) and get into some warm, dry clothes.


Along the way we came across this really neat place with waterfalls:







More Christmas decorations in the hotels along the way. This was next door to our hotel:





We caught up with some people on the internet from our roll call and decided to try to attempt to make plans to gather for sail away the following day.


I came out several times that night to see if the rain had stopped so that we could adventure out with friends again and see more of the city, but it continued to rain and then it got a lot colder as well. So, we decided to head to bed so that we would be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning so that we could meet our beautiful Jewel.

Edited by mitsugirly
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I'm ready for the review!


Oh....and no more "fingers crossed" BS! You WILL be graduating in May and taking those pesky boards in July-ish! :rolleyes:


Hey, NayRN, you must have taken the old-school paper and pencil exam:eek:

Gone are the two day exams and the 6-8 week wait for results. Now it is all on a computer; can take the exam very shortly after you complete your program and get results right then and there:D.


Go mitsugirly!!

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I was excited, but I think my daughter was even more excited. She wouldn't stop staring out the window at the ships (well, she could clearly see the "whale tail" but couldn't tell what the other ship beside it was). All Sakari could talk about it how she couldn't wait to go down all of those wonderful water slides. Sigh. I had to break it to her that we would not be boarding the Sunshine with all of the wonderful water slides, but instead we would be getting on the ship beside it with the measly 1 small baby water slide. (She absolutely loved the Dream and the water park back 7 months ago). But we were going to have fun no matter what. I bribed her with the fact that she was going to get to meet Spongebob and Dora on our ship and that made the boo-boo face disappear really fast.


We got dressed and headed downstairs to the restaurant in the hotel: Cafe at the Square. For those of you that might consider this hotel or restaurant, they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.


We were seated and the waitress came over and brought a glass with crayons in it. She looked at Sakari in a weird scolding way and said "Now this is a special glass of crayons and the only way you can use them is if we have an agreement. You see how these crayons are all stacked in the cup? You can use them, but you have to put each one of them back the way you found them in the cup." UMMMMM.... did I just hear her talking to my daughter as if assumed she was going to dump the crayons out, break them all in half, pull off the outer paper covering them and start slinging them at other people as if they were targets or something? It kinda ticked the hubby off that she just assumed she was going to do something bad with the precious crayons. Sakari had a scared look on her face as if she had done something wrong and she hadn't even touched them. As a matter of fact, they didn't even bring her anything to color on. Sigh


Sakari ordered a HUGE waffle and I had the "make your own omelet" with a side of hash browns and a biscuit. I don't remember what the hubby had, I was only interested in getting my grub on and stretching my stomach for the food to come on the Jewel. After the waitress took our order, she ask why Sakari wasn't coloring and she picked up a crayon and started marking all over the tablecloth. GASP! Such strict rules about crayons, but you mark on the tables??? Well, it turned out to be a thick piece of huge paper that perfectly fit the tables and they change them each time. Whew, I almost had to give her a lecture of my own!


Sakari's "fancy schmancy" waffle:




My omelet plate:




Our bill was around $35 and some change. We headed out side and snapped a few pictures of the square that we could see outside of our window.




As you can tell by the pants and the winter coat, it was still cold outside.




I caught a street car zooming past us (yes, if you stay here you are right on one of the street car routes).






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Hey, NayRN, you must have taken the old-school paper and pencil exam:eek:

Gone are the two day exams and the 6-8 week wait for results. Now it is all on a computer; can take the exam very shortly after you complete your program and get results right then and there:D.


Go mitsugirly!!


Actually it's still a 6 hour exam and you have to wait weeks to get your results...at least here you do. :(

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Im ready and your timing is perfect we sail the Jewel in March


COME ON !!!!!!


Well thank goodness you have plenty of reading time ahead of you...my reviews are rather "lengthy" to say the least. :D


I'm ready for the review!


Oh....and no more "fingers crossed" BS! You WILL be graduating in May and taking those pesky boards in July-ish! :rolleyes:


Wait until you're working as a nurse! Work three 12-hour shifts....get a bunch of days off for cruisin'! 🚢


Thanks. I'm still crossing at least my fingers. This has got to be the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life...especially at my age.


I only work 3 days a week in the ER now and only 8 hours a day. I'm definitely not looking forward to 12 hour shifts. lol :o



Yay! One of my favorite reviewers!


We were on the Jewel in August and loved it. Hope your trip was fun.


Aww shucks, thanks.


Great photos even in the rain.

Family heading there in April.






Hope your trip was fun! The Jewel is home to my favorite staff and crew! :)


What cruise isn't fun? I haven't found one yet. :D


WAAAAAAA I want to read but I have too much to do! WAAAAAAA


OK' date=' I have made a bargain with myself: I will finish wrapping, cleaning, and preparing what I can ahead of time for tomorrow morning, and then reward myself with your review!!! :D


Can't wait![/color']


You crack me up Robin. We had such a great time with you guys and so happy we got to spend some time together with the ma'am clan.


Don't worry, it will take me awhile to get this thing done. I have over 2000 pictures I have to chose from. YIKES. You'll have plenty of time to keep caught up in between everything.


Can't wait to read about the ship! We leave on her Sunday! We've previously sailed on the Jade and hope we enjoy the Jewel just as much!


Gasp, not much time left for you. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get everything done by then.


We've enjoyed your adventures (and writing style/flair/perspective). Looking forward to the updates


Awww, thanks so much. I hope you enjoy this one as well.


Go mitsugirly!!


Thanks. I'll need all of the encouragement I can get come May!

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I am a pop, wait....SODA drinker. I live for the stuff (I know I'm bad), but we always purchase the soda package on board and also bring our own. I mean after all, you can't wake up and run up to one of the bars to grab a soda in your undies, so we like to have our fridge stocked with some. I'm not a coffee drinker, so making coffee in our room is out of the question.


So we usually walk to the nearest grocery store by the hotel. 1 block over and about 2 blocks south is a grocery store with everything you can imagine. It's called Rouses Market. We found this place when we stayed in the Warehouse district last time (but it was quite the haul, especially with a child and carrying cases as well). We were very happy to find out prior to going to NOLA that it was close by. I was also a little more experienced and by being a nursing student, I think my knowledge base is growing....and by that I mean I remembered to bring our backpack roller luggage on wheels and with a handle this time around!! :D




Soda was on sale (yeah me) at 3 for $11. The hubby had ran out of deodorant the day before the cruise and I scolded him for waiting until the last minute to not only pack, but to figure out what he still needed to purchase for the cruise. So this was his chance to scold me back and let me know that he was winning since he could just buy it here at the grocery store...winning for him. They even had his favorite deodorant that we can't always find here back home-Swagger! Ok, I'll give him that one, but I'm sure it won't be long before I can come up with something else. (We are always joking around, nothing serious here folks, no need to call in the marriage counselor....yet <---and you'll see why I say that later). :p


We headed back to the hotel to get our things from the room (only to find the housekeeper tapping her foot at us waiting to get in to clean the room) and headed downstairs to catch a cab. Weren't we the lucky one's, there was one just sitting outside waiting for us. Well, after all was said and done, we weren't the "lucky" family after all. I had read prior to going that it cost approximately $10 for the cab ride from our hotel to the port. We got out of the taxi and he charged us $21!!!!!????? What the heck? We were suckers I guess.


Goodbye Blake Hotel. See you again some day.




The cab driver did not say one word to us along the way and when he pulled up to the port, he pulled in the middle of traffic, there was a forklift trying to get around him and I have a 5 year old, 3 large luggage, 1 small luggage, and a huge shoulder bag and you want me to do what? I'm not in to playing "frogger" (if you guys remember that game? I was never good at it and always ended up getting splattered and this is what I was picturing trying to dodge all of the incoming traffic). The guy on the forklift got a little perturbed with him parking where he did and told him to move AFTER we had all piled out of the van and started taking our luggage out. Seriously? So bad in everything went and we pulled up to where everyone else is. Needless to say, with the $21 3 minute ride, risking our safety, then having to move, there went his tip. (Well actually, I'm sure he made one heck of a tip at $21).


We made it inside to check in and I have to say this was the quickest check in from start to finish....by far! We walked in, showed our papers to the lady, she pointed us to the latitudes line, we walked right up to the desk, checked in, got our cards and off we went to board. This was all at around 11:30ish. We did have to carry our soda on with us (but remember I'm smarter this time around and we pulled it along instead).




Jewel....HERE WE COME!!! :D

Edited by mitsugirly
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Hey, NayRN, you must have taken the old-school paper and pencil exam:eek:

Gone are the two day exams and the 6-8 week wait for results. Now it is all on a computer; can take the exam very shortly after you complete your program and get results right then and there:D.


Go mitsugirly!!


Nope! I took the new computer-based exam! I meant that once she's graduates, she'd have to wait for her ATT certificate (ability to test) from the college....mine took about 3 weeks after classes finished then another 5 weeks for an open seat. I don't know about other states though...Michigan may just be slow!! I'm adjunct faculty for a large university in Detroit and it now takes them about 6 weeks to get those ATTs out!! Drives those poor "kids" crazy!!!:eek:

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Actually it's still a 6 hour exam and you have to wait weeks to get your results...at least here you do. :(


That's how it is here in the Detroit area! Two seatings, Monday thru Friday for 15 people. We were (and still are) allotted 6 hours to test. So for 30 nursing students a day - 150 per week - you can see why it takes so long to actually schedule for the test! BUT results typically take two days to get.....even faster if you pay a little bit for next day results! :cool:

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