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happytogoing

Norwegian Jewel Dec. 3 Review

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We just returned from the "Jewel" 7 night Eastern Carribean. We had an excellent time, and although everything was not "perfect" it was pretty darn close. We are in our mid-40s, were cruising without our children, and this was our second cruise. The seas were rougher than I expected on a few of our days, but despte that, it was still a great time.

 

Travel: Since we live in a winter climate, we arranged travel through NCL. We had great air travel connections, were met cheerfully in Miami, and taken quickly to the included hotel (Sofitel), for the required pre-night stay (included with NCL air). The hotel was lovely, wonderful bed and ambiance, no complaints.

 

Travel to Pier / Embarkation First off, to be clear, we booked travel through NCL, which includes transfers. Transfers are on a Greyhound Bus, and that always entails a certain amount of organizing a busload of people, many of whom don't cooperate or know what they are doing. NCL had plenty of staff present to assist, and it was reasonably smooth. The bus went directly to the pier, where the luggage was efficiently handled. It's true that the Greyhound drivers don't work for NCL and they ask for tips... be warned..... if the whole Greyhound thing isnt' your scene, DON'T do the NCL transfer.

 

At the pier, we were processed and on board the ship in less than 15 minutes, within 20 minutes we were pool side with a bucket of beer and eating chicken wings and salads from the pool-side bar.

 

Stateroom: We had an AF mini-suite, which is basically like a balcony stateroom with a larger bathroom. We thought the room was great, the balcony was quite enclosed and private. Our room stewards (Alex and Nopri) were outstanding, cheerful, polite, always around, efficient. Our stateroom was always in great shape. No complaints whatsoever.

 

Ship Info We have only been on Jewel and Spirit, and found them both to be beautiful, clean and very enjoyable. Jewel is new, large and I thought was reasonably well laid out.

 

Activities We attended the CC's meet and greet and several officers attended. It was nice to put faces to names, and we were lucky as we also met our "neighbours" on board - Vince and Anita, who were great people and we enjoyed seeing them throughout the cruise. We also attended the "lattitudes" coctail party, also well attended by staff.

We did a few of the on-board demonstrations like ice-carving, vegetable carving, towel animals, etc.... we skipped all the shopping / port / excursion lectures as from our last cruise we found that all we needed was well covered in the "FreeStyle Daily".... The gym is beautiful, DH used that, I did not. We did not do any of the other classes or bingo or gambling tournaments, but there was a ton to choose from, lots of options.

 

Dining: We ate in the specialty restaurant "Tangoes" and "Cagneys" and otherwise in the dining room every evening. We found the selection good and the food was quite good too. A few odds and ends, one meal (rack of lamb) was not up to par, but most were excellent. The lobster night lobster was excellent. The buffet is a buffet......... and as such it is pretty darn good, with a decent selection, good turnover and several "fresh" stations (Omelettes/Waffles) in the morning (Pasta / Sandwiches) at noon. Everything was working - ice cream maker, coffee machines, etc... A few items were not to our taste, but that happens everywhere. Excellent selection of fish, vegetables and prepared salads every day. We ate at one of the deck barbeques (good) and room service too (good).

 

Entertainment: We found the entertainment to be much better than it was on our previous cruise. Jean Anne Ryan Company - their forte is the Cirque stuff, but they were talented even at the 70s show. IT wasn't very authentic 70's, but they were very talented so it was still easy to enjoy! I enjoyed Second City sketch comedy, but I heard many who did not.. the Juggler guy was entertaining, and I don't really like magicians, so will not comment on him, although people said he was excellent. Staff talent was fun, and the cruise director staff were hard workers, and their presentations were pretty good (see "Fountains" when you have a chance)

 

Shore Excursions: We also did NCL excursions and they were actually better than I expected.... we mostly did the island tours and historical stuff (forts, etc...) and also went to Magen's Bay in St. Thomas - lovely... unfortunately, rough weather forced the cancellation of our beach day at Great Stirrup Cay, but we enjoyed wandering around Nassau - the weather was not good for the beach at any rate.

 

Disembarkation: We hit one of our only service snags this morning as we had an error on our account, and the line to accounting was long and slow and irritating. NCL should use some crowd control here, as it was not pleasant, and they did not have enough clerks to deal with every person disputing the bag of cashews from the mini-bar, etc... in our case, we were wrongly charged for laundry, it was a wait but was instantly rectified once we got to the front of the line..... I'm guessing that some people would have just paid extra to avoid the line, however....

We were "Purple" which was very low on the disembark list, but still it was fine, we just hung around the ship until called..... it was an easy exit and although a bit chaotic to get through immigrations, plenty of NCL staff were around directing people. We also had an NCL (Greyhound) transfer to Miami, so it's pretty simple, you just leave the building and walk across the street to your waiting bus.

 

Summary

 

We had a great time. When we cruise, we like to go stress free and go into a sort of brain-dead mode.... let's us totally focus on enjoying ourselves and our unique surroundings.... we've found that using NCL for all the arrangements and shore excursions totally elinates the stress of the travel, although the trade-off is extra waiting and being herded around a bit. We found the Jewel to be a great ship, the crew and staff seemed friendlier than I remembered previously, the service and overall standards around the ship seemed excellent. Not everything is our cup of tea on a cruise, we just stay away from those things (you wont' find us at Karaoke for example), but everyone I saw seemed to be having a good time and there seemed to be something for everyone.

 

My only regret is that we didn't book another cruise while on board!

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Joanne... Thanks for the review.. We are also staying at the Sofitel before our cruise. Do you remember if there is a grocery store nearby or somewhere in hotel that we can buy case of soda to take on ship???? Did you find that most people made their specialty restaurants as soon as they got on board???

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I did not see anything nearby to buy soda, I think that the nearest shopping was at the BaySide mall, which is the one right near the port.... or a cab ride away from Sofitel.

 

My husband also would have liked to carry on soda, but he did the soda card instead...... had to live without his Diet Dr. Pepper, a hardship for him !!

 

RE: Specialty restaurant: We did make reservations Day 2, and we lucked into an empty time on embarkation day before we realized that you needed one for "Tango"....... it seems that the "free" specialty restaurants book up quickly. I loved Tango, (might have been my favourite meal, but my husband did not agree, he thought it just OK). Also, we got in on the "2 for 1" Fee by booking a 5:30 sitting at Cagneys....

 

So... not sure what other's experience was..... we walked right up to the reservation desk in the morning, no line and the process was very quick.

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Joanne, excellent review, thanks for sharing. We'll be sailing her for New Years, can't wait. :)

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A helpful little tip that I have learned on NCL: in order to avoid the last morning lines at the Reception Desk to dispute bills, go to the desk the day before debarkation and ask for a "preliminary bill." They will gladly print one out for you. You can check it over and make sure everything up to that point is fine and if not, go to the desk then when no one else is there. Then the next morning when you get your final bill, you only have to check a few things. Many times, you can catch errors before the final day and save some time.

 

On the POA, I had a minor problem with the bill (charged adult price for a child's excursion.) I caught it a couple of days before and a very nice and helpful reception clerk worked very hard to correct the problem before the final bill. (she wasn't getting much cooperation from the shore excursion people, they kept saying the problem was fixed, but everytime we called the bill up again, it wasn't. Even the Reception clerk was getting frustrated with them!!)

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A helpful little tip that I have learned on NCL: in order to avoid the last morning lines at the Reception Desk to dispute bills, go to the desk the day before debarkation and ask for a "preliminary bill." They will gladly print one out for you. You can check it over and make sure everything up to that point is fine and if not, go to the desk then when no one else is there. Then the next morning when you get your final bill, you only have to check a few things. Many times, you can catch errors before the final day and save some time.

 

I think you have posted this tip before and I wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I followed your advice and picked up a copy of our bill Saturday night. There was a charge I needed to question, so I took care of it in 5 minutes. I heard Sunday morning it was a nightmare to check out so this was a REALLY APPRECIATED tip!!! Thanks! :D

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Happytogoing,

 

Great review...lots of good information. Sounds like you had a great time and met some great poeple ;) lol... It's good to have good neighbors.

 

Fun4us2do

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