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old sole

Review - Jewel Canada/New England 09/28/08

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This was a 10 day round trip from New York, visiting Boston, Halifax, Quebec, Charlottetown and Sydney. We left home Friday morning to spend two days in New York before the cruise on Sunday. We were up at 4:30 AM and arrived at the airport at 6:10 for our 7:35 flight. We used curbside check-in and there were no delays at security, so we were off to a good start. We were a little worried about the weather in New York because Kyle was offshore, but the flight actually boarded early and we relaxed and started looking forward to our time in New York before boarding the Jewel.

 

Then the fun began.

 

The Captain came on and said we were going to hold at the gate for 30 minutes because of weather delays at LaGuardia. After 30 minutes we did leave the gate. While holding for clearance, the Captain came on and said we had been given another hold – this time for one hour. We were feeling less comfortable at that point. At the end of the hour though, he announced we had been cleared for immediate takeoff and revved the engines - then just as we started to roll he shut them back down. After about 5 minutes, he came on and said he wasn’t sure what was going on, but that right after he was given takeoff clearance, he was told to abort the takeoff, and hold for another hour. He said he was going to take us back to the gate while Delta got it sorted out. At the gate, he let us leave the aircraft, but told us to stay close because we could be given the OK at any time. After 45 minutes, the gate agent announced that our flight had been cancelled.

 

After waiting in line to rebook on another flight, we did get rebooked at 10:43 for a 10:45 flight, but according to the agent that was no problem because it's been delayed until 12:30. Using my trust B’berry I checked the flight on Delta’s website and it said 1:08 departure.

 

We actually did leave just after 1:00, and arrived in LaGuardia at 3:30. Fortunately, our luggage did transfer to the new flight. We grabbed a taxi to get to our hotel in midtown, and arrived there at 5:00.

 

Our usual plan is to arrive a day early when we have to fly to a port. In this case it was essential to do that. We would absolutely have missed the ship if this had happened on the day of sailing instead of two days before. As it was, we lost most of a day of planned sightseeing, but we could see (and could have walked to) the dock if necessary, so we would definitely make the ship on Sunday.

 

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We got checked in and explored a little, had a great dinner at an Irish restaurant, the Playwright Tavern just off Broadway at 49th, and went to bed early for some well-deserved rest.

 

 

 

The next morning we went to scout out a place for breakfast and found a really fun place with a singing wait staff, Ellen’s Stardust Diner at Broadway and 51st. The food was ordinary, but the atmosphere was over-the-top fun, and the waiters really were talented performers.

 

 

 

The weather was dreary with occasional drizzle, but we walked our feet off and did get to see and do a lot of the things we had planned.

 

Sunday morning – finally time to board the ship. We checked out of the hotel about 11:30 and went down so the bellman could call a cab for us. We had one unsettling moment when after loading our considerable amount of luggage, some in the trunk and some in the back seat with us, the driver asked us where we were going and, learning that it was only four blocks away, jumped out and said the luggage in the back seat was blocking his mirror and he couldn’t take us. He refused to let us put it in the front seat, and just started pulling everything out of the trunk. He and the bellman got in a very loud shouting match, culminating in the bellman writing down the number of the cab and getting a statement from us so he could report the driver because refusing a fare is illegal in NY.

 

We had better luck with a second cab, and arrived at the pier around 12:00. We waited about 20 minutes to board, then finally were on the beautiful Jewel. Just a note, despite the descriptions of Freestyle 2.0, there was no welcoming glass of Champaign and no escort to our mini-suite.

 

Rooms were not ready, so we went to the Garden buffet for lunch. The serving station layout was just as we had experienced on our previous NCL cruise on the Pearl. Salad Bar, Hot Dog/Hamburger grill, hot food station with a choice of entrees and a carving station, another with stir fry/sushi and assorted Indian dishes, and a bread and dessert station. There were machines to dispense regular and decaf coffee/hot water, a selection of tea bags and a Cappuccino machine with buttons for Cappuccino, Espresso, and Latte, all in regular and decaf versions. There was an ice dispenser, and the cold drink choices were water and tea. A soft-serve ice cream machine was available in Gardens and also at the exit from Gardens to the Great Outdoors. Great Outdoors had a salad bar, a more limited selection of entrees than Gardens, and desserts along with tea/coffee and Cappuccino/Espresso/Latte.

 

 

 

After lunch we finally made it to mini-suite 11070 on the Starboard side and met our GREAT cabin stewards Bruce and Dave. Seriously, they were the friendliest and most attentive stewards we have ever had. They both came over to greet us as soon as we reached the cabin, asked about any special needs and wished us a good cruise, adding a reminder to call them whenever we needed anything. That kind of attention remained throughout the 10 day cruise, and we never once had anything but superb service. I hope the cards we left at the Pursers desk describing how good we thought they were, and the decent tip we left for them the last morning showed them how appreciative we were.

 

The cabin was nice. The curtain separating the sleeping area from the TV/sofa/desk is reason enough to pick a mini-suite over a balcony. On this cruise, there was only a $50 PP difference to move up and it was well worth it.

 

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We enjoyed sail-away from our balcony. We had ordered the Romance Package, a great deal at $79, which included chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of sparking wine in our cabin at embarkation, so we were definitely in a good frame of mind as we left New York Harbor, past lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano Narrows bridge, gliding under with seemingly just feet to spare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We ate dinner in Tsar’s Palace and enjoyed it. We had no trouble being seated by ourselves at 6:00 and service was very good. We both found something on the menu to enjoy, although it was not particularly memorable.

 

 

 

One of the Freestyle 2.0 enhancements is the customizable fruit bowl. A card was in the room on which you were to select from oranges, apples, bananas, and pears. Whatever you selected would be delivered the second day and replenished throughout the cruise. We selected apples and oranges and wrote in grapes. Not surprisingly, it came without grapes. We asked Bruce if he could get some, and he said he didn’t know if there were any available but would see what he could do. The next night and for the rest of the cruise we had fresh grapes, and they were delicious.

 

I went to see the comedian at the 9:30 show in the Stardust Theater while DW retired early. I managed to sneak in a chicken breast sandwich (excellent) at the Blue Lagoon before returning the cabin.

 

Boston was the first Port of Call. On the way in, we spotted whales spouting 200-300 yards out from the ship, and a pod of dolphins. While still overcast, we had left the drizzle behind and the temperature was comfortable. This stop was relatively brief, as we didn’t arrive until 12:30 PM. We did the Scenic Boston tour, which hit the high points by bus and included a stop at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. We left the tour there to spend some extra time shopping, and then got a one-way shuttle by trolley back to the ship. I think the cost was $11 PP. Even though this was not arranged by NCL, the shuttle attendant just had us show our ship key card and sign a log she was keeping. The charge showed up on our shipboard account.

 

Boston was followed by a day at sea and dinner at Cagney’s, the steakhouse on deck 13. This was the best meal of the week. I had a NY strip that was tender and flavorful and DW had Prime Rib which she said was very good. We brought along a bottle of wine our TA had sent to our cabin, and they served it without adding the corkage fee.

 

Halifax – We were greeted at breakfast with the news that a few cases of Noro virus had been reported, so to contain the problem the ship was going to an enhanced level of sanitation. This meant that passengers would no longer serve themselves in the buffet. Everything would be provided by a crew member. Now that might seem like an extra level of luxury, but it quickly became annoying to realize that after you’ve gotten your plate created to your satisfaction and found a seat, you had no salt, pepper, butter, sweetener or cream at the table and had to return to three different stations to be handed (actually dispensed with tongs) packets of those items. I managed to forget at least one of the above at every meal for the rest of the week. Bruce (remember him – best cabin steward ever) told us they went to this level when 5 cases had been reported. We had no idea of the extent of the outbreak until a porter told us at disembarkation that over 130 people had been affected during the cruise. If that’s true then I guess I’m grateful for the precautions. When I thought it was only a handful I was definitely aggravated.

 

From Halifax we took the Coastal Drive to Peggy’s Cove tour.

 

 

 

 

 

After Halifax was another day at sea and we picked that day to go to dinner at Le Bistro, which along with a bottle of wine was part of the Romance package I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, this was a bust. I am a pretty adventurous eater, DW is less so. I saw very little on the menu that I thought sounded good. She found absolutely nothing that she found appealing. Both of us ordered Coq au Vin, and while I ate most of mine, she just picked at hers. The Maitre‘d asked if we wanted to try something else, but we passed. The wine was good though.

 

Quebec – My absolute favorite stop. What a beautiful city. It didn’t hurt that the fall foliage was at a spectacular, brilliant, breathtaking peak as we neared the city on the St Lawrence River. Both river banks were covered in reds, oranges and yellows under bright sun – and at one point just to add icing to the cake a very bright rainbow appeared, blending into the trees and reflecting in the water. We sailed past MontmorencyFalls and docked in Quebec, with Château Frontenac prominently occupying the summit of the upper city. The best photo opportunity of that imposing edifice from anywhere in the city is from the upper decks of the ship. Quite a sight. Once again we took a bus tour, this time to MontmorencyFalls, a visit to the Cathedral of St Anne de Beaupre just north of the falls, and the Ile d’Orleans, a mostly agricultural island on the opposite bank of the St Lawrence from Quebec, as well as points of interest in the city itself.

 

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Following another sea day, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island was the next stop. There is very little at the pier here, just a half dozen or so shops and a visitor center. We had to tender to the pier which some people grumbled about because there clearly was a dock available. About an hour after we anchored, The HAL Eurodam pulled into the dock. We actually had to pass under their bow lines in the tenders on the way in and out. I don’t know how the arrangements are made for use of the dock, but it’s clearly not first come, first served. We did the Island’s Finest tour which included a stop at Green Gables and a lobster lunch at the PEI Preserve Company Restaurant.

 

We had planned dinner that night at Tango’s, and this was the one fiasco of the trip. We had a reservation for 6:00, expecting to finish in plenty of time for the 7:30 show. We were seated promptly, but then completely ignored. No water, no chips, nothing that indicated they knew we were even there. After 15 minutes, a server did come to the table and brought water. We said we were trying to hurry to make the show and could she take our order because we wanted to be out of the restaurant in under an hour. Checking her watch, she said she would try. She did take the order, but service was slow. When dinner arrived we asked her to go ahead and bring dessert. It never came. We ate a few bites of dinner and got up to leave. The Maitre ‘d asked if there was a problem and we explained what the problem was. DW did complain, and the charge was removed from our bill. While this was very upsetting, it was an isolated incident. We think there was a shortage of severs that night, and we had been seated in an area with no initially no coverage. We didn’t have anything like this happen any other time during the cruise.

 

The only back-to-back ports we had on this itinerary were Charlottetown followed by Sydney. Sydney had a few more shops at the pier than Charlottetown, and a larger commercial district within walking distance. We chose once again to get outside the city, so we went on the Heart of the Island excursion, the highlight of which was a visit to a recreated HighlandVillage near the town of Iona, on the Bras d’Or lakes. The scenery was just spectacular, and even though you knew the village was a recreation, the period costumes and the Gaelic phrases spoken by the “inhabitants” lent an adequate amount of authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We skipped several of the evening shows, but did see the comedian the first night, a very entertaining comedy/juggling act, and the Jean Anne Ryan production “Country Gold” (just try to imagine a troupe of Romanian/Russian/Columbian/Australian singers/dancers/acrobats performing Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, and other country artist’s tunes - entertaining, but not likely to land them in the Grand ole Opry!) We also saw the same troupe perform their signature show Cirque Bijou, which was more up their alley and very well done indeed.

 

One show we did not see live but caught on the closed circuit TV feed the next day was the crew talent show. If this one was typical, I will never miss another. They were very, very good. The closing act, called “Fountains” was performed by the Cruise Director Rich and his staff, and was hilariously funny, clever, and well acted. Anyone sailing the Jewel has to put this on their must-do list.

 

One more sea day, then a sunrise arrival back in New York harbor afer a long trip.

 

 

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We really enjoyed this cruise. The ship’s crew was unfailingly cheerful despite the overtime they were putting in because of the enhanced sanitation measures. The ship itself is beautiful and well maintained. Food ranged from good to very good, with Cagney’s excellent. Our one disappointment on food was Le Bistro, and that had more to do with our tastes than the preparation. Our one disappointment with service was the awful experience at Tango’s, which they tried to make right by refunding the cost.

 

All-in-all we had a really good time and would not hesitate to sail NCL, and especially the Jewel, again.

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Thank you "old sole" for your review of the ship and cruise. I board the Jewel in a few weeks for the southern Carib repositioning voyage. I will definitely be sure to catch the crew show per your recommendation. I am just dying to get on this ship and sail to warm weather. Fall is too quick in NH and I am not ready!!

 

I do love those cappucino machines in the buffet too. What a great treat for free. That is one thing that NCL does beat the competition on.

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I really appreciate your great and detailed review. We'll be on this trip on the 18th and we were really anxious to hear from someone who just did it. Thanks again so much, I'm looking forward to my trip even more now!

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Nice, thorough review! We're doing the same cruise on the Jewel next October, so I was really happy to hear about your experiences. Was that photo of the ship in the NY Harbor taken from your hotel room (and if so, what's the hotel)?

 

Thanks, Old Sole.

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Thanks, Old Sole ... we went on this itinerary last year on the Dawn ... We LOVED Quebec! Looks like you got a whole lot more color than we did as a year ago it was still pretty warm up north. Thanks for the great memories!

Adele ~ I can't believe you have to wait a whole year to cruise again! :eek:

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Nice, thorough review! We're doing the same cruise on the Jewel next October, so I was really happy to hear about your experiences. Was that photo of the ship in the NY Harbor taken from your hotel room (and if so, what's the hotel)?

 

Thanks, Old Sole.

 

Glad you enjoyed it.

 

Yes, that pic was from our hotel room. We were in the Crowne Plaza Times Square at 49th and Broadway. It's a very nice hotel and a great location. We walked to everything we wanted to do (but not always back - took a cab back from Herald Square :o )

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thanks for the review and pics (especially love the NY skyline pic - my son is at college in NYC). I'm leaving on the same cruise in 8 days.

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Glad you enjoyed it.

 

Yes, that pic was from our hotel room. We were in the Crowne Plaza Times Square at 49th and Broadway. It's a very nice hotel and a great location. We walked to everything we wanted to do (but not always back - took a cab back from Herald Square :o )

Thank you! I've copied/pasted your review and the name of the hotel into a document I'm keeping about things to do/see next year.

 

Note to Dianne: If we don't see a turnaround in the financial markets soon, we might have to rethink this puppy. At least we'll have our final 1,500 NCL MasterCard points to apply to it! I'm thinking that if we continue to cruise, it will be inside cabins for us from now on.

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Lovely review! You are clearly reasonable people who can deal with any little bumps along the way!

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and I thank you for the great review to get us very excited. Accuweather told me that Quebec could see SNOW on our visit, here in Cleveland the local weathermen state Rain mixed with snow Monday & Tuesday but we have 80 today. Have had 39 for lows since Monday. So we are ready. Watching the African storms leaving that could make us head to Bermuda, so I am packing shorts & halters just in case.

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Thanks for posting your review. It was very detailed and combined with the pictures, it was fun to read. Glad you guys had a good time.

 

Happy Cruising! :)

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Great review - we've never thought of doing NE/Canada but after reading your review I'm having second thoughts......

 

Your pictures are marvelous and were a great addition to your review.

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Thanks for the review --- I've been waiting for one from the Jewel! We are on the same cruise on 10/18/08 and it will be our second time on the Jewel this year. We took her to the Baltics in May/June and loved her. We had an outbreak of Norvirus on that cruise and it was awful waiting to be handed each and every item and it really slowed down service. I hope it doesn't happen again on our cruise. While I'm all for precaution, the service people can't get it together to bring cream, sugar and coffee all at the same time -- among other things. The staff must also be worn out waiting hand and foot on people for long shifts.

 

Your photos are great and I am really getting excited about our cruise. While we won't have quite the scenery or nice weather you had, it still a cruise on the Jewel and worth the wait.

 

Thanks again,

 

Ruth ;)

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Thank you for posting in such detail.

We were supposed to be on that trip

but a medical problem caused us to

cancel at the last minute. We have done

the Canadian cruise the past 3 Septembers

and just love it.

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Thank you for taking the time to write an interesting review. Are they charging in Tango's now? I thought it was still the one no-charge specialty restaurant. I'm disappointed as we board in about 18 days time. :( We enjoyed Tango's when we were on the Jewel last November. The food ws very good and I agree that the service in there is a bit slower than in the other restaurants.

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Who was captain, cruise director, hotel director, customer service rep?

 

Sorry, all I can tell you is that the Cruise Director's first name was Rich and he is Canadian. Rich introduced the Captain as the only Captain in the NCL fleet who is Greek, but I don't know his name. I checked a Freestyle Daily to see if they and the others were listed there but they aren't.

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Thank you for taking the time to write an interesting review. Are they charging in Tango's now? I thought it was still the one no-charge specialty restaurant. I'm disappointed as we board in about 18 days time. :( We enjoyed Tango's when we were on the Jewel last November. The food ws very good and I agree that the service in there is a bit slower than in the other restaurants.

 

Yes, Tango's was $10 PP. The only free restaurants were Tsar's, Azura, Blue Lagoon, the Garden Buffet and Great Outdoors.

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My sister & I also took this cruise. Had a good time. We ate mostly in Tzars and Azura. The food was very good. The buffet became very difficult after the viral breakout. Extra staff were required to give you everything & they were harried at times. This made the service in the other venues slower because more staff was need in the buffet.

We loved the food (2 for 1 with coupon book on first night) in Mama's.

Never saw anyone in Tango's which is right across from Blue Lagoon, which was busy & had great food.

Loved the Jean Ayn Ryan troop & the crew show was the best ever.

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Sorry, all I can tell you is that the Cruise Director's first name was Rich and he is Canadian. Rich introduced the Captain as the only Captain in the NCL fleet who is Greek, but I don't know his name. I checked a Freestyle Daily to see if they and the others were listed there but they aren't.

 

 

Ah, yes--that would be Stavos.......When were were last on the Jewel, he had just departed and Captain Tommy Stensrud came on board. Captain Tommy, as I recall, lived in central Canada and was looking forward to shoveling snow.

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Hi Foursum - We were on the 9/28 Jewel sailing to New England and Canada. The current Captain is Konstantinos Fafalios. Hope this helps.

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thank you for the great review-we leave on Saturday for the same trip. Two questions.

1-Do you remember what the laundry specials were and how frequently they were offered on the 10 day?

2-Also-any trouble making dinner reservations at the speciality rest.? Plan to make them as soon as we get on board but interested to know if we change our mind late in the trip to have dinner in le bistro-will we be shut out?

Many thanks!

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thank you for the great review-we leave on Saturday for the same trip. Two questions.

1-Do you remember what the laundry specials were and how frequently they were offered on the 10 day?

They were offered twice but sorry, we didn't use them and I don't remember the cost. It was a fill a bag for $? promotion. There are self-service laundry rooms which I did use. Machines are free to use, you just need to buy (or bring) packets of detergent/softener. Word of advice, if your spouse asks you to wash a few things don't use the hot water setting - and that's all I'm going to say about that!

 

2-Also-any trouble making dinner reservations at the speciality rest.? Plan to make them as soon as we get on board but interested to know if we change our mind late in the trip to have dinner in le bistro-will we be shut out?

Balconys and above can make reservations 48 hours out, others 24 hrs out. We had no trouble making exactly the restaurant and time we wanted. In one case we called the day of an existing reservation and moved the time from 7:00 to 6:00 with no problem. I didn't get the sense that reservations at the specialty restaurants were hard to come by at all. We did see lines most nights at Tsar's and especially Azura just after opening.

 

Many thanks!

 

You're welcome. Have great cruise.

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Do you remember what movies were being shown that week?

 

I only remember two, What Happens in Vegas (Cameron Diaz & Ashton Kutcher) and Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

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I remember Maid of Honor with Patrick Dempsey. On the alternate channel I remember 50 First Dates and the Holiday.

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