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Rumncoke

!!! NCL Jewel Review !!! -- November 6, 2005

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After we book a cruise, I try to orchestrate that elusive, seamless trip. I like to try new things to see if I can reach that goal. Therefore, I learn something new every time, and that’s what I like to share in my reviews. I’ve learned a great deal from other reviewers and like to share my thoughts in case it might help someone else. Although I haven’t attained that goal, yet, it’s fun trying!

 

For a more detailed review of the antics of our group (and true entertainment), I urge you to find the review posted by MrTractor. (It’s currently being posted in our Roll Call, but I understand will soon be posted in its entirety in the Cruise Reviews section.)

 

I didn’t intend for this to be a novella, sorry, but here goes…

 

A little background on us, we’re DINKS (double income, no kids), active mid- to late forties (not late enough to be early fifties), have cruised 18 times, 13 on NCL. We are scuba divers, love to read and dance to big band music. We are completely and utterly addicted to cruising

 

This cruise might be my new favorite (taking the place of our first cruise on the S.S. Norway in 1989), that says a lot!

 

TRANSPORTATION: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale airport because it’s cheaper from Denver than United into Miami. We’ve used http://www.a1worldwidelimo.com in the past and were pleased with their service, so we arranged for both a ride from the airport to our hotel in Miami and to be picked up at the pier after the cruise back to FLL. We reserved a sedan for the two of us (and our mountain of luggage) for the trip to the hotel. The driver was at the baggage claim area right on time. Cost was $78 including tip. Since we were going to share a ride with a couple back to FLL, we reserved a 6-person stretch limo. Some of the luggage had to ride inside with us on that leg, but we all fit fine and the cost was $52 per couple including tip, which is much more reasonable than two separate cabs. For those that need to fly into FLL for a Miami cruise, we found this to be a much more comfortable alternative to a taxi. Both trips more than made up for the difference in airfare to Miami.

 

PRE-CRUISE: I was really excited when I landed the Intercontinental Hotel on Hotwire for $102. I had always wanted to stay there. Well, we got to the hotel and were informed that some workers from the power company had to extend their stay and they had no room for us. They did, however, arrange a room for us at the Marriott Courtyard just a few blocks away. It was a lovely room and would stay there again; I was just a little disappointed. It’s my theory that they bump the low rates first (duh), so I’m not sure I’ll do the Hotwire thing again. It also took time to make the change and we were trying to meet people in the South Beach area by 4pm, so that cut it awfully close. So much for that elusive, seamless idea – another lesson learned.

 

We met some of our CC cruise friends at Monty’s Stone Crab’s outdoor raw bar area because we wanted to see the Jewel sail away for her one-night dinner/dance cruise and I have to have stone crab at least once a year or I suffer severe withdrawal. Their food is awesome and, sure enough, the Jewel came gliding down the cut in all her glory. We were all getting so excited for the next day. I highly recommend this place for a pre-cruise dinner, especially if there will be ships setting sail that day.

 

EMBARKATION: The next morning, after a nice breakfast at Bayside Marketplace (still walkable from the Marriott Courtyard), and a quick trip to Walgreens for some sodas, we grabbed a taxi to the pier at around 10:30a, got to the pier around 10:45 am ($10 + tip). We got in the Suites/Gold&Platinum Latitudes line, as we are both Gold Latitudes and booked an AC penthouse suite for this cruise. The outer doors opened around 11am and after checking in, were directed to the VIP embarkation area where they had coffee, juice and little sandwiches and cake. We met up with two other couples in our group who were also in suites and visited for a bit. Karan, our butler, whose services we shared with one of the other couples, led us onto the ship and as a group, progressively dropped our carry-ons in our suites, moving on to see the others. We were in an AC, deck 10, #10500. The others were in an AA Owner’s Suite, deck 10, #10004, and an AB (2-bedroom) on deck 11, #10118. They were all just gorgeous!

 

OUR CABIN (WOW!): (For pictures of this AC, click on the following link: http://community.webshots.com/album/512440027jaJQiA

 

We loved our AC penthouse suite so much (#10500)! We chose it because we learned that the ACs on deck 10 are larger than on deck 9. Deck 9 has larger balconies and smaller cabins. Ours was one of the two in the center on deck 10, under the bump out of the bridge. This caused our sitting area to be much larger than the other two ACs on either side. We called it our sunroom because we seemed to always be sailing into the sunrise and it was very bright and cheery. We had a full sofa and two side chairs, along with two end tables and a coffee table. The others I saw only had a loveseat and one chair. Our balcony was plenty big, with two rattan loungers and a table, a nice padded covers that the steward took in at night and put out in the morning and plenty of room around them for guests to mingle.

 

Aside from this the lovely sitting area, there is a dining table for four, a desk area with drawers, a glass cabinet with shelves for glassware, a refrigerator, and an amazing coffee/espresso/cappuccino maker that grinds the beans every time you want a cup! I’ve got to get one of these! There are two safes (his and hers) in a floor-to-ceiling storage cabinet with shelves, and drawers below that and a vanity area separate from the bathroom with 4 drawers. It also has a lighted tabletop make-up mirror in addition to the lighted wall mirror. A full-strength, styling hair dryer is also in the area, along with spacious storage shelves. A unique addition to the basic large closet provided is that it opens from both sides (vanity area and entry hall), so you don’t have to climb over each other in this ship-typical narrow hallway. DH loved this!

 

The bathroom had three sections: a full tub/shower on the left with ceiling to tub sliding glass doors, a sink/vanity area in the center with glass shelves on either side of the mirror and shelves beneath the sink. There was a scale on the floor—no, thank you – and on the right is the commode area with a sliding glass door, however, the glass is not frosted for privacy (like it was in our mini-suite on the Sun), so I didn’t understand the point. LOL

 

The bath amenities provided were shampoo, conditioner (yes!), body lotion, face and body bar soaps, sewing kit, shoe buffer, shower cap, cotton balls and Q-tips. They were replenished when used. There was still the typical soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower and soap dispenser by the sink. The bath towels were extra large and very fluffy. Two robes were provided which were really nice; terry cloth inside with a petal soft outer layer.

 

The forward balcony had a heavy, watertight door on the outside and a lighter door on the inside. On sea days, the ship was not sailing at speed, so it was very usable (we even took a blissfully long nap out there one day), but in the evenings, when the ship was really moving, it was really too windy to enjoy. Besides, there are plaques,which ask that you keep the door closed while underway and also to keep your drapes closed at night so as not to encumber the visibility from the bridge. At any time, if the door to the balcony is open and one opens the cabin door, it becomes a wind tunnel and anything not weighted down goes flying. LOL Closing the lighter balcony door solves this, until the cabin door is closed.

 

Also, penthouse suites and above come equipped with wireless phones which made it so easy to keep in touch with fellow cruisers with same, our butler or the concierge. You could also call your cabin from any house phone and the mobile phone will ring, too, if you’re trying to find your cabin mate. This was a really nice touch. We all ended up calling them our “Bat Phones.” (I know this will be lost on some of the younger readers, LOL.)

 

Last, but not least, our butler, Karan, was just as sweet as could be. Although he was kept hopping 24/7 by the raucous couple in the starboard side Owner’s Suite, he had no trouble making time for any of our needs. (HA HA, just kidding, MrTractor!!) At a moment’s notice, he set up a nice bar area with glassware, ice, sodas and OJ for a very impromptu sailaway party from GSC with some of our CC friends. This was my first suite with a butler and it was a real treat!

 

This particular cabin is a great value compared to the other ACs, IMO!!

 

THE SHIP: Although we adore the charm of older ships, I have to say, this brand new beauty was amazing. As others have said, the pictures of the décor we’d seen pre-cruise showed a lot of unusual colors, but again, as others have said, once you see it in person, it all comes together just beautifully. Bar Central was a great pre-dinner meeting place.

 

One extremely helpful feature was the carpeting in the cabin hallways. It had an underwater theme with Little Nemo’s and other fish that only swim in one direction – forward – so you could always tell what direction you were walking. This saved me from a couple of goofs that would have caused me some wild goose chases on other ships. Loved this!

 

DINING: We had the opportunity to try Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Tangos, Teppenyaki in Chin Chin and Tsar’s. Loved all of them! Cagney’s was the least favorite due to a service snafu (they basically forgot we were there for a while), but the company of Will Robinson and Wee Todd, made it a very funny evening (sorry, a little private humor).

 

SHOWS: I’ll start out saying we generally aren’t show people. Since the Broadway shows on the Norway, which I thought were outstanding, I felt they’ve been kind of hokey singing and dancing revues. Well, WOW, on this ship, both “Band on the Run” and “Cirque Bijou” were OUTSTANDING!! A must not miss. Those were the only two we caught, and we were both soooooo glad we did!

 

CASINO: I’m a nickel slot queen and was disappointed with the selection. There were many, but none that I recognized (the video type). Only one gave me a decent amount of play for what I put into it. I would have played a lot more if they didn’t suck my money in so fast. Loosen ‘em up, NCL, you missed out on some bucks!

 

PORTS: This was the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, which included San Juan, Antigua, St. Thomas, and Great Stirrup Cay. We didn’t do any ship’s excursions this time. In San Juan, we hopped on the free Trolley, which took us to the top of the hill of Old San Juan, so we could continue on foot to the fort, El Morro. We walked back down into town and met up with some CCers for a brewski, while some split off to shop. We all met up again at Barrachina’s for their famous Pina Coladas, then DH and I headed back to the ship to freshen up for a gala sailaway party in that raucous couple’s owner’s suite down the hall.

 

In Antigua, we went scuba diving with two other CC couples. We reserved a spot with http://www.antiguascuba.com who are located at Nelson’s Dockyard on English Harbour. They will also pay for your taxi one way. For other divers, this is apparently the best area for scuba on the island. We went to a place called “Pillars of Hercules,” which was a beautiful rock formation above water and a neat, shallow dive with lots of nooks and crannies below. Stopped at a nearby pub for a local brew while we waited for our taxi driver to come and get us. This was a great day with good friends!

 

On St. Thomas, we reserved a dive with Coki Beach Dive Club (http://www.cokidive.com), which is my favorite for diving because it’s so easy. If you reserve a spot with them, they’ll pick you up at the ship. Once there, you put on your gear and just walk into the water. Their guides have always been very knowledgeable and friendly. I thoroughly enjoy them. As some divers know, there are dive masters out there that can be a little full of themselves and really take away from the experience. Not true with these fine people.

 

Finally, prior to the cruise, there were rumors that we would be stopping at Nassau instead of the private island. One never really knows until you board, and even then, especially with GSC, sometimes not until they actually get there to determine if it’s safe to tender. At our Meet & Greet, we were honored with the captain’s presence and he said the plans actually were for GSC, after all. We were really glad about that!

 

We were on the second tender ashore, and I have to say, tendering was an adventure! Boarding it was really rocky! That gangplank was rolling back and forth and up and down. If it had been any worse, I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to stop there. For those who crab about missing the private island, yes, it’s a disappointment, but it is absolutely for your own safety. This can be a very precarious situation. Also, for those prone to motion sickness; sit on the top deck instead of below. Filling these tenders take time as they hold a lot of people, and some sitting below on this day couldn’t hold their cookies. Tendering back was a lot smoother, however.

 

The change I noticed most about GSC since the hurricane is entering the water from the beach. What used to be a smooth, sandy entry was really rocky and hurt your feet if you didn’t take it slow and carefully. Until they can correct this, water shoes would probably be a good idea if you have sensitive feet. Maybe they’ll be able to sift through it at some point and make it smooth again. But, I’m glad we got to go, because it was a gorgeous day and a beautiful place.

 

DISEMBARKATION: Being suite passengers, we could have opted for priority disembarkation, but we had a later flight and chose to have a leisurely breakfast with friends and hang out in our cabin until it was time to meet up with them again to catch the limo.

 

I did notice that the Express Debarkation people (those who could carry off their own luggage) were getting off the ship around 7:30am, even though you could still hear names being called to show up for immigration and others to settle their accounts.

 

It was also nice having most of the luggage out of the way when we finally disembarked, and the lines through customs were really short, too.

 

We did have to call the limo company to get status of our ride and hunt him down a bit, but we finally did and that limo was a nice, comfortable ride back to FLL.

 

SUMMARY: This is a beautiful ship and the crew was outstanding. These people honestly seemed pleased to have you there and do anything they could to help you enjoy your cruise. We always feel like we’re being welcomed into their home. This is why we always come back to NCL. You just can’t beat it, IMO.

 

On this cruise we met up with a whole bunch of CCers from our roll call. It was so fun seeing old cruisemates again and meeting so many new friends! I wish we had more time to get to know everybody--what a fun bunch of people! I urge everyone to join and participate in your CC roll calls.

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When my wife gets home, I'm making her look at the picts of your cabin. We were offered an upsell to an AC (from our BA cabin on the Jewel in 2 weeks), she didn't want to do it. I want her to see what she passed up!

 

LOL

-Monte

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Rumncoke: Mr. Tractor said in his review the free trolley wasn't running, at least on that Monday....well it was Tuesday, right??? And according to your review it was running.....since I've never been to San Juan, what street is it running on and do they "call" Ft. Morro as a stop, or do you just see it and figure....better get off. How far was it to walk then to the fort?? Not that I would ever question anything Mr. Tractor would say......

 

Another question....we snorkle and want to know if the snorkleing is pretty good there at Coki, sounds like the scuba diving is.....or would you know if Sapphire is better.....THANX

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We took the trolley and they do not stop at Fort Morro. The driver did not announce the stops either so just keep track of the direction you are going.

We walked the entire way back from the fort along the water to downtown which was not a far trek at all.

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Rumncoke: Mr. Tractor said in his review the free trolley wasn't running, at least on that Monday....well it was Tuesday, right??? And according to your review it was running.....since I've never been to San Juan, what street is it running on and do they "call" Ft. Morro as a stop, or do you just see it and figure...

 

The trolley was running. He was probably drunk! LOL You can pick it up across from the pier. Look for the trolley signs that are hung with the other street signs. Tell them you want to go to the fort. They don't drop you there and the walk is not for the faint of heart. It's still probably a 6-8 block walk on some pretty steep inclines. The view is amazing though. You can walk all the way back if you plan to stop and shop (and drink)

 

Jane

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LOL, Jane.

 

As I recall, another couple that got on the trolley asked to be taken to Walgreen's. When we got there, the driver said that was the stop that's closest to El Morro. It was a bit of a hike to get there, but better than starting from the ship.

 

The first trolley stop we saw was as we walked to the right of the Sheraton (the old Wyndham hotel) and crossed the street going uphill. We saw one trolley leave and just waited a few minutes until the next one came by.

 

We were lucky enough to be the only ship in port that day and it was so nice walking through town without the throngs of people that are usually there.

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rumncoke, which 2 nights were the main shows that you saw on. and do you know how hard it was to get seats at the theatre (which shows are more crowded early or late?) thanks, i'm going on the jewel in january

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Thank you Rumncoke, Jane and Mel and Dan for the information. We were going to take a taxi up to the fort, but I can handle 8 blocks uphill, as long as I walk a nice easy pace, and Jane.....that was our plan on the way down....shop and look and drink!!! :D

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rumncoke, which 2 nights were the main shows that you saw on. and do you know how hard it was to get seats at the theatre (which shows are more crowded early or late?) thanks, i'm going on the jewel in january

 

On our sailing, "Band on the Run" was on Monday, and "Cirque Bijou" was on Friday. We didn't have any trouble getting seats. We sat in the upper seats, which I think are best for these shows. As far as early or late, we went to the late show, I don't know how crowded it was for the early show. The shows were 7:30 and 9:30.

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This is my first time with Freestyle Cruising. I was wondering if you had any tips re. that or the Jewel?

We are sailing 12/11.

I wish we could get an upgrade, but my TA said the ship is full. However, when I went to NCL they still had rooms available. Should I try contacting them directly?

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RumnCoke, thanks for the informative review. Like you, I try to gather as much info as possible before my cruise in order to ensure maximum funosity. :D

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Rumncoke-Great review..We just came off HAL's Westerdam for Thanksgiving..nice ship,but average age was death.....terrible food and very stuffy.I was on the NCL Sun in '01 and we loved it!!!Loved Le Bistro and all the others...Question:Tell me about the situation with regard to the formal dining nights ....I heard they have one room for formal and one for casual,is that right? Is it the same menu,I.E.,on lobster night they both serve lobster?About how big was your cabin sq.footage wise and balcony,too? How's the pool area?We liked the one on the Dawn,guess it is similar.......Thanks!

 

Big Al

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Great review, Rummie, as always! So many great tips and ideas. That's one of the things reviews are for. To help the next guy!

 

Karebare. You were right. You should never doubt me! HAAHAahahhaeee........What I said was that the trolleys were not running all the way to the fort, at least not on the Monday that we were there. The last couple times, you could get on one right near the information center and it would literally drop you off at the turnaround in front of the walkway to the fort. Not this time. You could get on trolley, but you still had to walk a ways from the closest trolley stop. And if you didn't know where you were going, you could get lost in olde San Juan. Being young and spry (not like PE and RnC, HA!), it just turned out easier for us to walk up there. It sure was a lot easier coming back down!

 

Al

Don't stress about formal nights. Yes the menu is the same and lobster is served in every restaurant on the ship on lobster night. We won't go on another HAL cruise until we are on oxygen and the pool areas are fantastic. Plenty of deck space and hot tubs. Just for fun, give the kids slide a try!

 

All right, I'll stop blathering on. This is Rummie's thread. I'll just chime in and say that she has caught the essence of what make a cruise great. A great crew, a great ship, great friends, great weather and great ports. What's not to like!??!?!?!?!?

 

Thanks again for letting us relive the week with you.

 

MrTractor<--------was he really that bad with the butler???.....:o .......

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Question....In San Juan the trolley is free....where does it go??? Can we just hop on it and ride until we decide we see something to jump off for?? I've tried different San Juan sites, they mention the trolley, but no maps of where it goes. I wished it still went up to Ft. Morro, probably got too busy with all the cruise passengers. Have any of you been to Hard Rock Cafe? seems like it is in Old San Juan, have a son that collects shot glasses. Also they mentioned there are several casinos in Old San Juan, are they slot machine casinos or just cards?? Are they big and fancy like the pictures I've seen of Atlantis??

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Thanks for the review I will be in 10502 which I assume is identical--I noticed there is no separate shower area--Am I right?

 

On the Dawn in category AB they had a walk in shower big enough for 2-3 people --which was agreat shower --I will miss that!!In addition to a Tub overlooking the water with floor to ceiling windows

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After we book a cruise, I try to orchestrate that elusive, seamless trip. I like to try new things to see if I can reach that goal. Therefore, I learn something new every time, and that’s what I like to share in my reviews. I’ve learned a great deal from other reviewers and like to share my thoughts in case it might help someone else. Although I haven’t attained that goal, yet, it’s fun trying!

 

For a more detailed review of the antics of our group (and true entertainment), I urge you to find the review posted by MrTractor. (It’s currently being posted in our Roll Call, but I understand will soon be posted in its entirety in the Cruise Reviews section.)

 

I didn’t intend for this to be a novella, sorry, but here goes…

 

A little background on us, we’re DINKS (double income, no kids), active mid- to late forties (not late enough to be early fifties), have cruised 18 times, 13 on NCL. We are scuba divers, love to read and dance to big band music. We are completely and utterly addicted to cruising

 

This cruise might be my new favorite (taking the place of our first cruise on the S.S. Norway in 1989), that says a lot!

 

TRANSPORTATION: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale airport because it’s cheaper from Denver than United into Miami. We’ve used http://www.a1worldwidelimo.com in the past and were pleased with their service, so we arranged for both a ride from the airport to our hotel in Miami and to be picked up at the pier after the cruise back to FLL. We reserved a sedan for the two of us (and our mountain of luggage) for the trip to the hotel. The driver was at the baggage claim area right on time. Cost was $78 including tip. Since we were going to share a ride with a couple back to FLL, we reserved a 6-person stretch limo. Some of the luggage had to ride inside with us on that leg, but we all fit fine and the cost was $52 per couple including tip, which is much more reasonable than two separate cabs. For those that need to fly into FLL for a Miami cruise, we found this to be a much more comfortable alternative to a taxi. Both trips more than made up for the difference in airfare to Miami.

 

PRE-CRUISE: I was really excited when I landed the Intercontinental Hotel on Hotwire for $102. I had always wanted to stay there. Well, we got to the hotel and were informed that some workers from the power company had to extend their stay and they had no room for us. They did, however, arrange a room for us at the Marriott Courtyard just a few blocks away. It was a lovely room and would stay there again; I was just a little disappointed. It’s my theory that they bump the low rates first (duh), so I’m not sure I’ll do the Hotwire thing again. It also took time to make the change and we were trying to meet people in the South Beach area by 4pm, so that cut it awfully close. So much for that elusive, seamless idea – another lesson learned.

 

We met some of our CC cruise friends at Monty’s Stone Crab’s outdoor raw bar area because we wanted to see the Jewel sail away for her one-night dinner/dance cruise and I have to have stone crab at least once a year or I suffer severe withdrawal. Their food is awesome and, sure enough, the Jewel came gliding down the cut in all her glory. We were all getting so excited for the next day. I highly recommend this place for a pre-cruise dinner, especially if there will be ships setting sail that day.

 

EMBARKATION: The next morning, after a nice breakfast at Bayside Marketplace (still walkable from the Marriott Courtyard), and a quick trip to Walgreens for some sodas, we grabbed a taxi to the pier at around 10:30a, got to the pier around 10:45 am ($10 + tip). We got in the Suites/Gold&Platinum Latitudes line, as we are both Gold Latitudes and booked an AC penthouse suite for this cruise. The outer doors opened around 11am and after checking in, were directed to the VIP embarkation area where they had coffee, juice and little sandwiches and cake. We met up with two other couples in our group who were also in suites and visited for a bit. Karan, our butler, whose services we shared with one of the other couples, led us onto the ship and as a group, progressively dropped our carry-ons in our suites, moving on to see the others. We were in an AC, deck 10, #10500. The others were in an AA Owner’s Suite, deck 10, #10004, and an AB (2-bedroom) on deck 11, #10118. They were all just gorgeous!

 

OUR CABIN (WOW!): (For pictures of this AC, click on the following link: http://community.webshots.com/album/512440027jaJQiA

 

We loved our AC penthouse suite so much (#10500)! We chose it because we learned that the ACs on deck 10 are larger than on deck 9. Deck 9 has larger balconies and smaller cabins. Ours was one of the two in the center on deck 10, under the bump out of the bridge. This caused our sitting area to be much larger than the other two ACs on either side. We called it our sunroom because we seemed to always be sailing into the sunrise and it was very bright and cheery. We had a full sofa and two side chairs, along with two end tables and a coffee table. The others I saw only had a loveseat and one chair. Our balcony was plenty big, with two rattan loungers and a table, a nice padded covers that the steward took in at night and put out in the morning and plenty of room around them for guests to mingle.

 

Aside from this the lovely sitting area, there is a dining table for four, a desk area with drawers, a glass cabinet with shelves for glassware, a refrigerator, and an amazing coffee/espresso/cappuccino maker that grinds the beans every time you want a cup! I’ve got to get one of these! There are two safes (his and hers) in a floor-to-ceiling storage cabinet with shelves, and drawers below that and a vanity area separate from the bathroom with 4 drawers. It also has a lighted tabletop make-up mirror in addition to the lighted wall mirror. A full-strength, styling hair dryer is also in the area, along with spacious storage shelves. A unique addition to the basic large closet provided is that it opens from both sides (vanity area and entry hall), so you don’t have to climb over each other in this ship-typical narrow hallway. DH loved this!

 

The bathroom had three sections: a full tub/shower on the left with ceiling to tub sliding glass doors, a sink/vanity area in the center with glass shelves on either side of the mirror and shelves beneath the sink. There was a scale on the floor—no, thank you – and on the right is the commode area with a sliding glass door, however, the glass is not frosted for privacy (like it was in our mini-suite on the Sun), so I didn’t understand the point. LOL

 

The bath amenities provided were shampoo, conditioner (yes!), body lotion, face and body bar soaps, sewing kit, shoe buffer, shower cap, cotton balls and Q-tips. They were replenished when used. There was still the typical soap/shampoo dispenser in the shower and soap dispenser by the sink. The bath towels were extra large and very fluffy. Two robes were provided which were really nice; terry cloth inside with a petal soft outer layer.

 

The forward balcony had a heavy, watertight door on the outside and a lighter door on the inside. On sea days, the ship was not sailing at speed, so it was very usable (we even took a blissfully long nap out there one day), but in the evenings, when the ship was really moving, it was really too windy to enjoy. Besides, there are plaques,which ask that you keep the door closed while underway and also to keep your drapes closed at night so as not to encumber the visibility from the bridge. At any time, if the door to the balcony is open and one opens the cabin door, it becomes a wind tunnel and anything not weighted down goes flying. LOL Closing the lighter balcony door solves this, until the cabin door is closed.

 

Also, penthouse suites and above come equipped with wireless phones which made it so easy to keep in touch with fellow cruisers with same, our butler or the concierge. You could also call your cabin from any house phone and the mobile phone will ring, too, if you’re trying to find your cabin mate. This was a really nice touch. We all ended up calling them our “Bat Phones.” (I know this will be lost on some of the younger readers, LOL.)

 

Last, but not least, our butler, Karan, was just as sweet as could be. Although he was kept hopping 24/7 by the raucous couple in the starboard side Owner’s Suite, he had no trouble making time for any of our needs. (HA HA, just kidding, MrTractor!!) At a moment’s notice, he set up a nice bar area with glassware, ice, sodas and OJ for a very impromptu sailaway party from GSC with some of our CC friends. This was my first suite with a butler and it was a real treat!

 

This particular cabin is a great value compared to the other ACs, IMO!!

 

THE SHIP: Although we adore the charm of older ships, I have to say, this brand new beauty was amazing. As others have said, the pictures of the décor we’d seen pre-cruise showed a lot of unusual colors, but again, as others have said, once you see it in person, it all comes together just beautifully. Bar Central was a great pre-dinner meeting place.

 

One extremely helpful feature was the carpeting in the cabin hallways. It had an underwater theme with Little Nemo’s and other fish that only swim in one direction – forward – so you could always tell what direction you were walking. This saved me from a couple of goofs that would have caused me some wild goose chases on other ships. Loved this!

 

DINING: We had the opportunity to try Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Tangos, Teppenyaki in Chin Chin and Tsar’s. Loved all of them! Cagney’s was the least favorite due to a service snafu (they basically forgot we were there for a while), but the company of Will Robinson and Wee Todd, made it a very funny evening (sorry, a little private humor).

 

SHOWS: I’ll start out saying we generally aren’t show people. Since the Broadway shows on the Norway, which I thought were outstanding, I felt they’ve been kind of hokey singing and dancing revues. Well, WOW, on this ship, both “Band on the Run” and “Cirque Bijou” were OUTSTANDING!! A must not miss. Those were the only two we caught, and we were both soooooo glad we did!

 

CASINO: I’m a nickel slot queen and was disappointed with the selection. There were many, but none that I recognized (the video type). Only one gave me a decent amount of play for what I put into it. I would have played a lot more if they didn’t suck my money in so fast. Loosen ‘em up, NCL, you missed out on some bucks!

 

PORTS: This was the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, which included San Juan, Antigua, St. Thomas, and Great Stirrup Cay. We didn’t do any ship’s excursions this time. In San Juan, we hopped on the free Trolley, which took us to the top of the hill of Old San Juan, so we could continue on foot to the fort, El Morro. We walked back down into town and met up with some CCers for a brewski, while some split off to shop. We all met up again at Barrachina’s for their famous Pina Coladas, then DH and I headed back to the ship to freshen up for a gala sailaway party in that raucous couple’s owner’s suite down the hall.

 

In Antigua, we went scuba diving with two other CC couples. We reserved a spot with http://www.antiguascuba.com who are located at Nelson’s Dockyard on English Harbour. They will also pay for your taxi one way. For other divers, this is apparently the best area for scuba on the island. We went to a place called “Pillars of Hercules,” which was a beautiful rock formation above water and a neat, shallow dive with lots of nooks and crannies below. Stopped at a nearby pub for a local brew while we waited for our taxi driver to come and get us. This was a great day with good friends!

 

On St. Thomas, we reserved a dive with Coki Beach Dive Club (http://www.cokidive.com), which is my favorite for diving because it’s so easy. If you reserve a spot with them, they’ll pick you up at the ship. Once there, you put on your gear and just walk into the water. Their guides have always been very knowledgeable and friendly. I thoroughly enjoy them. As some divers know, there are dive masters out there that can be a little full of themselves and really take away from the experience. Not true with these fine people.

 

Finally, prior to the cruise, there were rumors that we would be stopping at Nassau instead of the private island. One never really knows until you board, and even then, especially with GSC, sometimes not until they actually get there to determine if it’s safe to tender. At our Meet & Greet, we were honored with the captain’s presence and he said the plans actually were for GSC, after all. We were really glad about that!

 

We were on the second tender ashore, and I have to say, tendering was an adventure! Boarding it was really rocky! That gangplank was rolling back and forth and up and down. If it had been any worse, I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to stop there. For those who crab about missing the private island, yes, it’s a disappointment, but it is absolutely for your own safety. This can be a very precarious situation. Also, for those prone to motion sickness; sit on the top deck instead of below. Filling these tenders take time as they hold a lot of people, and some sitting below on this day couldn’t hold their cookies. Tendering back was a lot smoother, however.

 

The change I noticed most about GSC since the hurricane is entering the water from the beach. What used to be a smooth, sandy entry was really rocky and hurt your feet if you didn’t take it slow and carefully. Until they can correct this, water shoes would probably be a good idea if you have sensitive feet. Maybe they’ll be able to sift through it at some point and make it smooth again. But, I’m glad we got to go, because it was a gorgeous day and a beautiful place.

 

DISEMBARKATION: Being suite passengers, we could have opted for priority disembarkation, but we had a later flight and chose to have a leisurely breakfast with friends and hang out in our cabin until it was time to meet up with them again to catch the limo.

 

I did notice that the Express Debarkation people (those who could carry off their own luggage) were getting off the ship around 7:30am, even though you could still hear names being called to show up for immigration and others to settle their accounts.

 

It was also nice having most of the luggage out of the way when we finally disembarked, and the lines through customs were really short, too.

 

We did have to call the limo company to get status of our ride and hunt him down a bit, but we finally did and that limo was a nice, comfortable ride back to FLL.

 

SUMMARY: This is a beautiful ship and the crew was outstanding. These people honestly seemed pleased to have you there and do anything they could to help you enjoy your cruise. We always feel like we’re being welcomed into their home. This is why we always come back to NCL. You just can’t beat it, IMO.

 

On this cruise we met up with a whole bunch of CCers from our roll call. It was so fun seeing old cruisemates again and meeting so many new friends! I wish we had more time to get to know everybody--what a fun bunch of people! I urge everyone to join and participate in your CC roll calls.

i have only one comment that would differ much from what you have said; I agree the nickel slots were pretty unexciting and just too different, but I did very well on the penny slots when we were on the Jewel. Did I end up winning? Of course not but I played for 10 days on a very small investment compared to Vegas and elsewhere. I did win several times on the nickel Wheel of Fortune, but not on anything else. The VP was a joke. Glad you enjoyed your cruise. I am looking into going with my 2 DD in the spring, not around any spring break though. NMNita

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Thanks for the review I will be in 10502 which I assume is identical--I noticed there is no separate shower area--Am I right?

 

On the Dawn in category AB they had a walk in shower big enough for 2-3 people --which was agreat shower --I will miss that!!In addition to a Tub overlooking the water with floor to ceiling windows

 

I'll answer for my bride since I was there. :rolleyes: If you go to the following link I have posted a series of pictures of cabin #10500. The major difference between #10500 and your #10502 is what we called the "Sunroom". I did include a picture of the exterior of the balcony for #10502 and you can see the difference. We did get a chance to look into #10002 and the seating areas was dramatically smaller. If there is any way for you to switch to one of the middle deck 10 AC's I would.

 

http://community.webshots.com/album/512440027jaJQiA

 

One other thing...you are going to love Karan (Butler).

 

PE

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Question....In San Juan the trolley is free....where does it go??? Can we just hop on it and ride until we decide we see something to jump off for?? I've tried different San Juan sites, they mention the trolley, but no maps of where it goes. I wished it still went up to Ft. Morro, probably got too busy with all the cruise passengers.

 

I think someone posted either the trolley route or a link to it on the San Juan / Puerto Rico Ports of Call board - might be worth having a look there.

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