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7/15 Jewel Review

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I'll make this in sections. Here's Part 1:

 

Traveling Day: Saturday, July 15, 2006

Left home around 10am and arrived at Miami airport around noon (plane expected to depart at 1:45). We were extremely lucky and found just the perfect parking spot right near the entrance to the correct terminal. (Yippee!) I had gotten on the internet the night before and tried printing out the Boarding pass, but once I had gotten all the information input it came back saying I couldn't get the boarding pass online and that I'd have to get it at the airport.

 

We went straight to the self-check-in line (U.S. Airways). No waiting. Miraculously all of the information that I had input online was in the system and I immediately got our boarding passes. (Another yippee!) Then we went to the gate and sat (oh the joy of it). Since it was lunch time, husband went and looked for a place to eat and couldn't find anything other than Starbucks and a muffin place. So, we split a large chocolate muffin (my choice). Just before we got onto the plane someone told us that there was more food further down the terminal - around the corner. (Never send a man to search for anything. They don't ask for directions.....)

 

I think we took off on time or maybe a few minutes late due to bad weather in Philadelphia. No problem, we had one hour in Philadelphia to catch our connecting flight (which oddly was the same flight number as the one that we were on). Actually, we got to Philadelphia a half hour after our flight was suppose to leave. Maybe they detained that flight because our flight number was the "originating" flight. They just had to change to a larger plane due to transatlantic flight. Anyway most people had to run through 2 looonnngggg terminals to get to the flight. (We were lucky that due to my disability we caught one of the "cars" to take us to the gate.) We were also lucky that all of our clothing was in the 2 carry-ons that we had. We had our luggage with us at all times. (Some people on this flight were not as lucky as we were and didn't get their luggage for 3 days.)

 

Arrival in Barcelona:

Walked off the stairs of the plane onto the tarmac and got into a bus to take us to Customs. The Customs line was horrendous. We were there for over an hour. After finally getting through that, we went to the place where people were getting their luggage and asked where should we go - all we had was carry on. Well, evidently my husband and I both misunderstood what they told us. He said "go outside and you'll see the bus". So, we went outside and walked and looked and walked and looked and finally after 40 minutes decided to go back inside. What the agent must have said (or meant to say) was "go out of this door into the next part of the terminal and you'll see an NCL stand, go there and tell them you're waiting for the bus". (Never saw the stand the first time, because we weren't looking for it.)

 

Because it was about 10:30am, we were not allowed to get onboard the ship yet. The good news is that we got a 1 1/2 hour sightseeing trip around Barcelona!

 

Arrival at Norwegian Jewel:

Got there around noon. No lines, no waiting. Went to the stateroom and dropped off the luggage then went to the Dining Room for lunch. (NCL is one of the few cruise lines that opens the dining room for lunch on the day of embarkation.) Great lunch. Unfortunately I cannot tell you anything about Barcelona. I was TIRED! So, I took a nap for a few hours.

 

The ship is not that close to Las Ramblas Blvd. (A good mile I believe.) Our ship is the furthest one from the street.

 

Part 2 coming up shortly.

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DINING:

Go straight to Tango's on your first day. That is where you make reservations for any of the "pay" restaurants (plus Mama's and Tango's). They have all of the menus there for all of the restaurants (including the daily ones for the main dining rooms). That way you can check to see if there is anything you don't want on any particular night. We unfortunately didn't realize this until half way through the cruise. Oops.

 

We did not eat at any of the "pay" restaurants, but we did eat at Mama's once. My husband enjoyed the steak and the fruit tartlet that he had for dessert. My pasta was okay - not great, not bad. The tiramisu was great.

 

We are not big fans of buffets and serving ourselves (I do enough of that at home), so we ate every meal we could in the main dining room.

 

Breakfast: They have specialty breakfasts that change 3 times a week. I enjoyed the Eggs Sardou, Huevos Rancheros, and the Pear Blintzes.

 

Lunch: Good lunches but can't remember anything spectacular.

 

Dinner: The first 3 nights seemed to be the best (as far as our preferences go). But I wish we had reservations for the other restaurants for the last few nights. The Lasagna and Rollatini dishes were not great at all - much too dry and too "doughy".

 

Mama's was noisy, as was Azura's. Tsar's Palace was large and high ceilings, so it was much quieter. Our definite venue choice for dinner (at least the first 3 nights).

 

Oh - we discovered that the menu is not necessarily the same in Azura's and Tsar's Palace. The first night it was the same, but later we discovered that the last night, they had some different choices. So if you eat at the main dining rooms - make sure you check out the menus to see if there's anything different.

 

Entertainment:

I enjoyed the entertainment. I missed the first show "Band on the Run". But our friends said it was great. "Second City" was a hit and miss type of thing. Some things were great and others were so-so. Cirque Bijou was fantastic!!! Wait till you see the one woman and how she can bend her body. Wow! (If I could only....)

 

PICTURES:

WARNING!!! I personally think this is the biggest rip-off I have ever seen. They sell you 2 4x6 pictures for $15.00. I told them that I only wanted the one from the set. Too bad - you get the second one free. I wouldn't mind if they would sell one for $10 and if you want the 2nd one - you can pay the $15.00, but ....

 

SHIP:

A few hints: I'm sure you've seen this on the board already, but... fish face forward so at least you know which way you're going. Also, the Forward and Aft corridors/hallways are Aqua, and the Midship is Purple. (Helps you to figure out where you are.)

 

There is a "free" steam room within the gym. Unfortunately I found it towards the end of the cruise. Go into the gym, then turn right and go into the restroom of your choice. That's where you'll find the free steam.

 

ATTIRE: Mostly casual. Not many men even had suits for formal night.

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PORTS:

Oh - first a word about the tour buses: Great. Large, comfortable, air conditioned, and some have a tv that shows the view of what the driver sees out the front window. (No bathrooms though.)

 

WARNING: You've probably heard this before - and it's true. Bring toilet paper!!! Also, ladies - I hate to tell you, but there are a lot of places that don't have toilet seats either!

 

Food in Ports: Their beer and wine are cheaper than getting a soda or a "Bud".

 

SICILY: Weather: Warm to hot! We walked into town to see the Astronomical Clock and the Bell Tower. Since it was only 11:15, we walked around the corner and a block or two and got some gelato. Then went back at noon to see the actual workings of the bell tower and watch all of the figurines come to life. Very enjoyable!! At 1:30 we had an NCL tour to Tindari. Very picturesque on the way up there and at the site. Winding roads. They say that this is a Level 2 tour - but to me and most of the people, it was a steep incline for the walking portion. Had toilet facilities available - but see above - no toilet paper, no seat.

 

FROM THE SHIP: Around 9pm - get there around 8:45pm. Go to the right side (starboard side) of the ship and you'll get a good view of Mt. Stromboli - an active volcano - puffing every 5 minutes or so.

 

NAPLES: Weather: HOT!! Sorry, can only tell you what my husband and friends did. (I stayed onboard.) They took the hydrofoil to Capri (14 Euros). They said they started going uphill towards Anacapri but finally gave up. What they didn't know was that they should have taken a cab up and then the funicular back down. (Oh well, they didn't have their "tour guide" with them.) They said the pizza was great, gelato was expensive. On the way back they discovered after 45 minutes that they were standing in the wrong place for the hydrofoil back to Naples (14 Euros). They had missed 1 hydrofoil because of this. They said that the hydrofoil took about 55 minutes each way. I was told by one of our cruise critic friends that the cameo factory was only about 15 minutes away by cab.

 

ROME (lots of stairs and inclines): Weather: HOT!! Took a private tour with Rome in Limo. Had Salvatore as our driver. 8 of us from Cruise Critic went as a group. We were picked up at 8am. Sites seen: Circus Maximus (chariot race site); Hillside over the Forum; Knights of Malta Keyhole (A must see!!); Colosseum (10 Euros) (bought tickets about one block from the Arch then walked right up and into the Colosseum past the 45 minute waiting line to get in); Catacombs (5 Euros); lunch at a local restaurant (no tourists); past the "Wedding Cake" building; Trevi Fountain; Hard Rock Cafe (it was my husband's birthday and he collects "real" Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts); Spanish Steps and then finally to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica and Square. We had asked Rome in Limo to get us a guide for the Vatican and unfortunately he was not worth the extra 150 Euros (split 6 ways - 2 of our group had already been to the Vatican museum). Half of the group did not care for the Vatican Museum (12 Euros) - possibly because the guide did not explain much to us. I think you can do just as well without the guide. (Warning: Most of the museum is not air conditioned, which is amazing considering the works of art that are in there.) St. Peter's Basilica was amazing (and free). Our guide had not even told us where the Pieta was when we walked in - I found out just as we were leaving where it was. All in all, I would recommend Rome In Limo and I would use them again whenever I get back to Rome. He did a great job at getting us to see so many things. We've told him of our displeasure in the new Vatican guide he had and I doubt that he will ever use him again.

 

CLOTHING NOTE: I "made" my husband wear long pants in Rome so that he could easily get into the churches. (You're suppose to have long pants on (knees covered) and something covering your shoulders - no spaghetti straps, ladies.) But, since it was SO HOT and so many people had on shorts and they let all of them into the church, I never had him wear long pants for the rest of the excursions.

 

FLORENCE: (Lots of stairs and inclines) Weather: HOT! Again we had a private tour by Paola Migliorini of Tuscany Tours (florencetour.com). She picked 8 of us up at 8:30am. We first went to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was more beautiful and amazing than pictures can actually show. Due to time constraints, we chose not to climb the Tower. (This is where I also realized that I had forgotten to recharge my camera the night before. Hence, my battery died. ARGH! I could not find a battery anywhere for my Casio digital camera. A lot of Kodak products, but none for Casio - or any battery that looked close to what my camera took.) We next went to Florence. On the way there I was enthralled by the fields of sunflowers; the old original road that went next to the paved road; and seeing the yacht in the "field" (actually it was in a canal, but from our view it looked like it was smack dab in the middle of a field). We stopped at a Mosaic factory and saw the amazing (and expensive) work that they did. Gave me a new found respect for mosaic pictures!! Next on to a hill view of the city where we happened to see a group of Japanese brides and grooms. (Evidently Florence is becoming the new wedding center.) Next went to a leather school and then to Santa Croce (5 Euros) where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried; then to the Accademia (12.50 Euros, I think) to see David. Again, more amazing in person. Pictures don't do it justice. Then on to Il Duomo (free) - very remarkable on the outside - not as fascinating on the inside. This was the one place that I actually saw some gypsies outside in the square. We were then given an hour or so of free time. We used this time to just find a restaurant and sit down and relax.

 

Villefranche: (Lots of stairs and inclines) Weather: HOT!! Took the NCL tour to Nice & Monaco. Great scenic port. First went to Nice and stopped at a market place. Could have spent more time there walking around the area. Beautiful flowers in the market place. Before getting back on the bus, I went over to the shore to take a picture. (Yes - I remembered to charge my battery this time.) The beach is nothing but stone and rocks!!! Oh, and it's also topless. Then we went onto Monaco which had a beautiful garden area. Had about 45 minutes to wander around. (Again, we found a cool place to sit and have a quick bite to eat.) Then went to Monte Carlo. We could only get into the lobby and the downstairs bathroom of the Grand Casino. If you wanted entrance into the actual casino, you would have to pay 10 Euro and have your passport with you. If you do decide to go anywhere into the Grand Casino, you must first check your camera. (Nothing much to see in the lobby or the bathroom.) Then we walked over to the Cafe de Paris Casino and lost a whopping 2 Euro each just to say that we gambled in Monte Carlo.

 

That's it for now. Can't think of anything else. Any questions?

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Thanks for your post! We are booked with Stefano in Rome as well. There are 8 in our party.

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Thank you for the informative review. We're cruising on the August 6th Jewel and welcome your insight.

 

 

Hoping that the weather will cool off a bit before we arrive!! If not, will have to make the best of it! :D

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Marianne, Thanks for taking the time to write about everything. Great details! We appreciate it! I just posted in your roll call thanking you!

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Ruth from our 7/16 cruise posted this tip on our roll call board:

 

great review, Marianne! It brings back great memories already!!

 

One hint for others travelling to Barcelona (and Ann will echo this, unfortunately) - when you leave the plane and head for the baggage claim area, make sure that you are heading for the right one! We landed at terminal A but when we came off the plane we didn't realize that there would be signs (depending upon which way you turned your head when you entered the terminal) for baggage claim areas for both terminal A and terminal B. Since we didn't know which terminal we were in, we headed in the direction that we turned first (right) (not realizing that there were signs for baggage claim to the left as well). Unfortunately, that was the wrong way. Once we realized that we were at the wrong baggage claim area, we were told that we had to exit the terminal, walk outside to terminal A, and re-enter via security as if we were flying out! What a pain! And there were others that had done the same thing. Why they have signs for baggage claim for Terminal B within Terminal A I don't understand. So be sure to head for the baggage claim area for the Terminal that you are in (I believe most int'l flights arrive in A).

 

Otherwise, I will echo those that have written already that it was a great trip with many wonderful memories. It was so nice to have met all of you on Cruise Critic. It really made the trip even more memorable.

 

- Ruth (on my 4th laundry load as I write this!).

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Thx for great post, we are on the same cruise for August 13th and also from Miami, thx for heads up on terminal info, I know it will be a big help, and also for Tango's update.

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Marianne, you're too right about the photos on the Jewel. The only bad taste we had from the same voyage was being chased down the passageway by the photo director after we complained about the way they display the photos without any indication of their price. His response implied that we were newby idiots: EVERYONE knows you have to pay for those photos! :o

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Marianne, you're too right about the photos on the Jewel. The only bad taste we had from the same voyage was being chased down the passageway by the photo director after we complained about the way they display the photos without any indication of their price. His response implied that we were newby idiots: EVERYONE knows you have to pay for those photos! :o

That is ridiculous. So many people were complaining about the price of the pictures (and that the price wasn't listed). Unfortunately it seems that a lot of people were intimidated and purchased the pictures after they were rung up and were surprised at the cost.

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The wife and I did the Jewel in May. I am what you would call the last of the big spenders when it comes to buying photos. I acturally think that NCL does a better job on their photos than some of the other cruiselines I have been on. I did notice on the second night the Photo Gallery had a photo special advertised. It was the only photo special of the week. If you purchased one 5 by 8 they would give you another 5 by 8 picture of the ship along with a custom NCL custom photo frame....$19.95. I asked what the price was first and then went ahead and made my purchase. No complains here. Tim and Cathy

 

Norwegian Sky Alaska 05/2003

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Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas Meditterean 05/2004

Holland America Mexician Riviera 12/2005

Norwegian Jewel of the Seas Meditterean 05/2006

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Hi we are going on the Med cruise next sunday 27 Aud 2006.......What if any are the drinks packages?????????The reviews are very good....I hope we do not fall into the usual pit fall.........Any advice???????

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Hi we are going on the Med cruise next sunday 27 Aud 2006.......What if any are the drinks packages?????????The reviews are very good....I hope we do not fall into the usual pit fall.........Any advice???????

Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you. We just got back from a cruise and I went through over 100 emails.

 

In case you haven't left yet - the only drink package that I saw was the "Unlimited Soda Package - only $40.25 Be sure to try the Unlimited Soda Program. Drink unlimited sodas all cruise. (Room service beverages excluded) For more details see your bar staff.

 

Have a GREAT cruise!

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