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Norwegian Jewel

5
3.5
4 star 4 star 4 star 4 half star empty star

Price: $     Size: L     Refurbished: 4 yrs ago    

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Near Perfection

kincaid reviewed 15 hours ago

What people said about this ship:

"The main dining room dinners were average." in 32 reviews.

"It was difficult to make reservations for the specialty restaurants." in 10 reviews.

"We just got back from the Alaska Cruise on the NCL Jewel." in 22 reviews.


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Traveled As:
Large Group

Room Type:
Suite

Experience:
4-6 cruises

4 star
4 star
4 star
4 star
empty star

Perfect Multi-Generational Family Trip to Alaska

small verified icon Verified Review | Ship: Norwegian Jewel | Sail Date: Jun 14, 2014

Our family group of 14 just returned from a week on the Jewel cruising Alaska.  Because of the vast differences in ages (grandkids ranging from age 11 months to 20 years through 81 year old grandparents), the cruise was an excellent way for us to be together while also offering the flexibility needed for such diverse interests, ages and abilities.

 

My parents had arranged for wheelchair assistance for embarkation at Seattle.  Unfortunately, we were told the ship only had 3 wheelchairs to be used for this purpose, so there was a long wait for two chairs to become available.  During this extended wait time, the rest of our group checked everyone's luggage, including the luggage of those people waiting for wheelchairs.  Once the chair arrived, the crew couldn't have been nicer or more patient as we went through the check-in process to board.

 

Because one in our group was in a Haven suite, they allowed our entire group to go through Priority Boarding.  This was a nice benefit as it allowed us to wait in a side room, with cold drinks and cookies, while each of us was photographed and checked in, however, this process took much longer than I thought it should have.  Once finished, we were escorted aboard by our concierge, Bruno, who kindly told us he would help us out with dinner reservations for our group, and would do what he could to make sure our entire group had a good shipboard experience.

 

I've cruised four times on four different cruise lines, and the first impression when boarding a ship is always the worst.  You are bombarded by crew welcoming you aboard, and you are encouraged to enjoy lunch at the buffet (which is an overcrowded nightmare).  It was no exception aboard the Jewel. 

 

After dumpiing our carry on bags in our staterooms, we headed to the Garden Cafe and had to fight our way through the crowds to get to the food and to find a place to sit.  It probably took us 20 minutes to find seats that could accomodate us.  My biggest problem with the Jewel was the Garden Cafe.  Low ceilings, lattice panels on the ceiling with fake flowers (really??), dividers separating the seating area from the buffet areas.  It felt closed in and claustrophobic, especially when packed with people who seemingly hadn't eaten in a week.  HOT TIP: Later in the week we discovered we could sit in the La Cucina restaurant for breakfast and lunch - much quieter and easier to find a seat than the crowded and noisy Garden Cafe.  Normally we would have sat on the Aft outdoor seating area, but the cool weather made this unappealing to the grandparents.

 

While the Garden Cafe offered a wide variety of food, there was nothing special, interesting, or creative about their offerings.  It was adequate, but fairly standard American food (with the exception being the daily Indian and Asian stations - the curries were a bit too spicy for my tastebuds).  Standard salad bar items, standard sandwiches, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and hot entrees that you would expect.  Omelet station in the morning had egg whites available, but limited vegetables to toss in (and they were using frozen spinach instead of fresh!).

 

Unfortunately, it seemed the crew was not very knowledgable about the ingredients in some of the dishes, and the small signs identifying the food didn't help.  I wanted to know which dishes were vegetarian as I don't eat meat.  A strict vegan or someone who required gluten-free (nobody in our group) would have had a hard time eating much beyond the raw vegetables and cut fruit.  Additionally, the signs tended to get moved around or would disappear.  NCL should do a better job of identifying the ingredients of their offerings.  Every day there were sugar-free desserts available at the buffet.  The kids overindulged in the

 

On the second or third day we discovered the meals being grilled outdoors near the pool - outstanding salmon, chicken, grilled vegetables and a few salads.  It was a fresher and more delicous option than the Garden Cafe.

 

We had all but one of our dinners in Tsar's, the most 'formal' dining room aboard the Jewel.  While they offered the same menu as Azura, we liked the spaciousness of the room and the stricter dress code (still casual, but no flip flops or shorts for men).  Because of the Freestyle Dining, our choices were to make a dinner reservation or show up and wait for a table.  On the first night, we had a fantastic server, Claudeth.  She was attentive, sweet, and so patient with our large group.  The challenge was getting seated in her section each night - we would make a reservation and request her section -  sometimes our request was met, other times it was not.  We found the front reception staff at Tsar's to be cold and impersonal.  One in our group went to Tsar's for breakfast and asked to be seated in Claudeth's section - he was told she was not working (turns out she was).  On another occasion, he asked to be seated in her section for lunch and was told she was on break (she wasn't). 

 

Tsar's menu worked well for our group - plenty of choices with one side of daily specials and the other side available every day.  I had salmon for dinner three times and appreciated the smaller (but very adequate) portions.  Again, the Tsar's menu did not identify any of the menu items as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.  We sailed on the Celebrity Reflection last summer, and as I recall the menu in their main dining room did a very good job of identifying the items on their menu for those who had special dietary needs.  I'd rate the food at Tsar's as 4 out of 5 - very good, but not extraordianary or super-imaginitive.   We appreciated the calm of the restaurant and the slow pace which we could enjoy our meal.  Even on the occasions when we ate early (around 6:00), we never felt rushed to clear our table.  Most nights we ate closer to 9:00 p.m.

 

Traveling with an elderly parent in a wheelchair, I was very conscious of the helpfullness of the crew.  They were always offering to help push up or down ramps, and a Garden Cafe employee saw two of us accompanying my father in his wheelchair and offered to carry our buffet items on a tray.  She followed us through the buffet and beverage lines and to our seats.  Very kind and we appreciated her pro-activeness - I'm sure she would have helped had we asked, but she offered up the help. A nice touch.

 

Entertainment in the Stardust Theater was OK.  The 'Bijoux' show on one of the last nights was by far the best of those we saw.  Magician/Comedian was OK - too much goofy joking around, not enough magic.  Stand up comedian was funny, but in a "I've heard that joke many times before" kind of way.

 

Staterooms: We had several types among those in our group.  My parents Deck 10 midship ADA balcony stateroom was quite spacious - they were very happy with the extra room which allowed them to easily maneuver around with the wheelchair (NOTE: wheelchairs do not fit through a standard cabin door).  The ADA shower and toilet area had grab bars and a seat.  My sister's Deck 10 adjoining balcony staterooms were comfortable and spacious enough.  The 'family suite' on Deck 11 was probably the most disappointing - we were told it would sleep four, but with the Pack & Play (supplied by NCL) open (as it was the entire trip for an 11 month old who took frequent naps), it was close to impossible to access the balcony.  I was also told the tub (one of the reasons they booked a family suite) was quite deep and too hard to reach over to bathe an infant.  My kids were happy with their Deck 8 balcony stateroom.  I didn't hear any complaints about excessive noise or rocking other than one night when the seas were quite stormy and everyone aboard the Jewel had to be aware of the motion.

 

On the other hand, my husband and I hit the jackpot and were upgraded to one of the Owner's Haven Suites, #9004.  Two balconies (the forward balcony just under the bridge was large enough to accomodate all 14 of us viewing Sawyer Glacier - although it did get a bit windy there at times), a living room and dining area, separate guest bathroom (toilet and sink only), spacious bathroom with tub and shower (with wall mounted side water jets), dressing table in the closet, TV's in the main bathroom, bedroom and living room (DVD player in the living room and a list of DVDs available to borrow), Lavazza espresso maker (kept stocked by our butler), champagne on ice when we arrived, afternoon snacks and fruit delivered to our room daily, beautiful large fresh flower arrangement, three complementary bottles of wine or spirits (in addition to the champagne), umbrella and binoculars in the room, sodas and sparkling water also kept stocked by our kind butler, Henry.  Our family all tended to hang out in the stateroom and I'm convinced Henry was even more generous with the cookies and snacks knowing we had a large group enjoying the room.  It was an amazing experience to luxuriate in that much space, lovely furnishings, and multiple balconies.  And the delicious espressos and lattes whenever we wanted kept us fueled with caffeine to explore Alaska!

 

My parents booked a Victoria, BC excursion through the excursions desk and were happy with the tour.  All other excursions our group booked were done independent of NCL. 

 

Overall, it was a great experience.  The cruise was filled with families and kids of all ages, and other large groups like ours.  Between the Alaska itinerary, cooler weather, and Freestyle philosophy of NCL, people were dressed VERY casually, even at night.  College sweatshirts, fleece jackets and jeans were the uniform of the passangers.  This is not a cruise where everyone gets glammed up at night. Very down to earth atmosphere.

 

Similarly, the food and entertainment were a notch below our experience on the Reflection last summer.  Adequate, plentiful but not unique gastronomic experiences.  We did NOT eat at any of the specialty restaurants, so I can't speak to the dining experience in those venues.

 

Others have commented about the incessant push to spend and I didn't find it bothersome, I just ignored it.  Typical glittery costume jewelry for sale every day in the Atrium.  Photographers were all over the ship and while we took a lot of photos, we weren't pushed to purchase (only bought two). 

 

O'Sheehan's was a good place to watch World Cup soccer on sea days but it was packed and there could be long waits for a table.

 

A FEW RANDOM THOUGHTS:

White Hot Party: Fun!  My husband and I (50 somethings) had a blast dancing away to to the pounding music, video screen, black lights, foam sprays, glow necklaces, and crew dancers but we were definitely among the older passengers enjoying the fun.  It seemed to us all the 20 somethings came out of hiding and showed up at the White Hot Party.  Hot sweaty fun which harkened back to a college dance party.

Bingo: NICE that everyone got one free bingo card for the second game.  We bought some too...nobody in our group won.  I guess we had already gotten lucky with the stateroom upgrade!!!

Karaoke:  Need I say more?

Washy Washy:  Incessant singing of the "Washy Washy" song as passengers entered the Garden Cafe and were spritzed with hand sanitizer.  I guess it is good to remind everyone so we could all stay healthy.

No toilet seat covers in public bathrooms:  With all the emphasis on hand sanitizer, it kind of surprised me that they didn't think the toilets could be a place where germs hang out.

Basketball Court: My basketball playing sons were looking forward to this but with fairly strong winds, a net above the court which prevented arcing shots, and a flat basketball (the only one aboard ship - they ended up playing with a soccer ball - no excuse for not having a stock of basketballs) it was close to impossible to play.

Ping Pong: Another activity my kids enjoy aboard ship.  Unfortunately, the tables were outdoors in windy areas.  Impossible to play, lots of balls overboard.  When we sailed last summer, ping pong tables were set up indoors in meeting rooms and they were a POPULAR activity for both adults and kids with competitive games!

Onboard shopping: Nothing special and lots of tacky souvenir type junk in the main store.  One nice touch I haven't seen on other cruises: they sold travel guide books to Alaska (one of which I'd already bought at my local Barnes & Noble).

Excursions: Through Shore Excursions Group, we booked the Skagway train ride with a return ride on bicycle.  It was a challenging and exciting experience and we even had an up close encounter with a bear at the side of the road.  My family who took the train round trip said the ride was way too long...probably should have taken a bus tour back via a different route.

Gratuities: On the last night, we had a very hard time tracking down our server to hand deliver a gratuity to her.  We went to find her in the dining room to be told she was already off duty and leaving the ship the next morning to go home for three months.  If we had left an envelope for her at Guest Services Desk, who knows when (or if) she would have received it.  We really had to push the dining room staff to try to track her down so that we could hand her an envelope personally.  The entire process took about 45 minutes: the dining room staff saying they couldn't do anything, sending us to Guest Services, who sent us back to the dining room. 

 

Overall, a great experience which met the varying needs of our group on an Alaska itinerary which matched the casualnes aboard ship.  However, if I were just planning a trip for my family of four (and there wasn't a vast difference in cost), I probably would choose Celebrity again for the slightly higher quality of food and service, and slightly less casual dress code.

 

Cruise Photos

sleeping area with view of forward balcony forward balcony Living/Dining area with balcony on the left

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Traveled As:
Couple

Room Type:
Suite

Experience:
2-3 cruises

2 star
2 star
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Norwegian Cruise fiasco

small verified icon Verified Review | Ship: Norwegian Jewel | Sail Date: May 17, 2014

First we stood in line to get on the ship for a couple hours, the logistics were terrible.  We finally got on the ship on Saturday afternoon and left port several hours late. We woke up Sunday morning to find that our room was flooded. Apparently there was a broken gasket in the closet behind the toilet which caused water to rush into our room. The bathroom was completely flooded and the carpet was sopping wet from the door to the room into the closet and up to the bed. We called the customer service line and had to call back several times before someone came to fix the problem. It was so bad not only our room was sopping wet (the carpet was soaked to the point that it was squishing water up when you walked on it) but it was down the hallway as well and into two other rooms.  They finally came and sucked the water up several times with a wet vac and fixed the gasket, so we thought. We went out for a couple hours as they put blowers in the room to dry out the carpet to find the room had flooded again!  We tried calling again to report the problem and all they said was sorry and they would send someone. The someone never came so I tracked down a maintenance person who was in the hallway and they finally paid attention. It still took them a couple hours to get someone to our room to fix the issue. We told them there was no way we could stay in this room with the soaked floor (and it was beginning to smell) and they said they had no where to put us as the ship was full. We pushed it and they miraculously came up with another room for us move to. They must have thrown those folks overboard. The room they put us in was about half the size of what I paid for so I was not happy about that at all. We called the hotel director who came to our smaller room and let us know he would get the other room fixed so we could move back in to it. He gave us access to "the haven" and a special room to eat breakfast and lunch which honestly did not make up for the nuisance.  Upon our request they also credited us the difference for the cost of the room downgrade for the two nights we were in the smaller room, not sure they would have done this if we did not insist on it.  We moved back into the original room two days later as they finally fixed the issue and dried the carpet. I packed and unpacked three times in one week and spent time moving from room to room because of their broken ship. Kind of defeats the purpose of being on a crusie ship where you are suppose to only unpack once to see several locations. 

 

Once back in the room we sailed through a bad storm which I understand is not their fault but it was one more lost day as we could not do a lot as you had to hang on to rails just to walk so we spent the whole day in the room riding out the storm. So our of seven days at sea we had about four where we did not have to move, pack, or hang on to the walls to walk.  

 

The food in the garden cafe was bland and generally pretty bad.  The room was always full and you had to fight through the crowds to get your food and find a place to sit and eat.  When you did find a place to eat the tables were not clean and you had to search to find silverware to eat.  It would not have been that bad if the food was higher quality.  For the price you pay to cruise I would have expected the quality of the food to be better than a cheap buffet place! 

 

It seems their version of customer service is to say sorry because that is all we heard from everyone we spoke with - no fixes or solutions just apologies (other than the hotel director who attempted but fell short).  We had to push for everyting or we would have stayed in a sopping wet, stinky room for the two days it was drying out.  I am just amazed that anyone would think that would be an option for their customers and the whole experience was disappointing and frustrating! 

 

Alaska was beautiful but cruising with Norwegian is not something I would want to do again anytime. Look for other cruise lines and read the reviews - do they really care about making your vacation that you get once a year (for most of us) and spent your hard earned money on a great experience or do they just want to pack the ship full and you get what you get....  

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Traveled As:
Couple

Room Type:
Balcony

Experience:
2-3 cruises

5 star
5 star
5 star
5 star
5 star

Cruise Like a Norwegian - In Style!

small verified icon Verified Review | Ship: Norwegian Jewel | Sail Date: Jul 12, 2014

This was our second cruise and the first time with Norwegian.  We had always wanted to see some of Alaska and we were hoping this would be the cruise of a lifetime for us.  I am 68 and retired and my wife is 56 and a teacher.  We had to fly from Florida to Seattle to make the cruise, so it was a big trip for us.  We spent the extra money and booked a Balcony Stateroom.  It was worth it.  The room was surprisingly spacious for the two of us and offerred private viewing of some of the cruise and made the room seem open and bright.  The boarding process was very orderly and painless in Seattle and the personnel were friendly and helpful.  The ship was absolutely beautiful! The decor colors were red mahogany and a dark blue and purple.  It was in top condition down to every detail.  The facilities were clean and bright and we were just amazed at the venues for the different activities.  The ship was much better appointed than the Carnival ship we traveled on before.  The food was plentiful and varied.  There was a selection of buffets that carried a choice of hamburgers, hot dogs, fruit, several main dishes, hot and cold drinks, salads, breads, desserts and ice cream.  There was always somewhere open to eat.  For a slight cover charge there were upscale restaurants available for a more luxurious dining experience.  Everywhere we ate the food was good, fresh and hot.  The excursions we chose were excellent.  We enjoyed the ability to pre-purchase the excursions on the web before sailing.  The excursions were also rated by physical effort required to enjoy them.  This allowed us to select excursions suited to our energy levels.  All in all, we enjoyed this cruise and would recommend Norwegian for your

Alaska cruise.

Cruise Photos

Creek Street, Ketchikan Pier at Ketchikan Glacier

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Traveled As:
Family w/older children

Room Type:
Inside

Experience:
4-6 cruises

2 star
2 star
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Poor Experience

small verified icon Verified Review | Ship: Norwegian Jewel | Sail Date: Jun 21, 2014

Stateroom wasn't setup for the required amount of people as stated. Family of 4. Guest Services treated me like it was my fault. They offered me a second room but would charge me more, even though this room stated a family size and beds for everyone. After 6 hours on board they finally came to the room to see the setup. Apologized and gave chocolate strawberries and bottle of wine for the mistake. But the second room was on another floor and completely other side. Wanted to split up family one child and adult per each room. A joke. After 3 nights of no sleep miserable with sleeping arrangements and hitting leg against table and wall due to pushing bed against wall and putting up the popup bed next to bed it was wall to wall bed and bunk right over top and table on side blocking u front getting up properly. Or popup blocking bathroom and door for emergencies or fire hazard was what they had for our room. Head manager suggested putting child on floor. Why did I have to pay for a child to sleep on floor or sleep with us all week in my bed!  Stated in was full and nothing they can do. But later that night on 4th night was offered a room big enough for a family of 4. They said they had nothing for us. Amazing they did have another room but wouldn't offer it until I asked for dept head of hotel and wanted a meeting with him. He was busy and never spoke to him but was given he would call you after 4pm. I was offered this vacant room by a letter delievered to my room. Had to move all my stuff half way through the cruise and miss out on activites and sight seeing due to constantly running back and forth to guest services desk and room change.  It was suppose to be relaxing and enjoyable. It wasn't. I was stressed, miserable, gratituded too death and always told one thing and speak to someone else and they give you a different answer. Food Service was great first 3 days but then the staff gets moody and they cut off you getting it anytime. And fighting lines to buffet or specials they have for the day or if it rains no seating at all if you go at 9am. Service was terrible last 2 days of trip because they know it's almost over pleasing you and they lack friendliness and treat you like they are miserable. No smiles or greetings. I have been on several cruises and this was the worse one. Never again will I book a NCL. 

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Traveled As:
Family w/young children

Room Type:
Oceanview

Experience:
7+ cruises

4 star
4 star
4 star
4 star
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Amazing Family Vacation, Service was Stellar

small verified icon Verified Review | Ship: Norwegian Jewel | Sail Date: Jun 21, 2014

We were a family of 16 that took this cruise to Alaska - ranging in age from 2 till 80 years old. For many in the group, it was their first cruise. I have to say, It was one of the best vacations we've ever taken. Alaska, of course, is gorgeous (1st time visit for all of us) and is a definite bucket list item.

What we didn't expect was the impressive service from Norwegian. One of the kids (2 years old) in our family has severe allergies. Every day a Norwegian server (Michelle) would find us and ask what she would like to eat and how it should be prepared. E.g. butter nut squash, steamed, no oil. And like clockwork, the food show up at the meal time...even if we were dining at a specialty restaurant. Michelle would also take her order for breakfast the next day and show up at the Garden buffet. Our cabin steward was also great. We had a light bulb out and reported it to him. It was fixed in an hour, plus someone in guest services followed up with a phone call.

Other highlights of the trip included:

- Going through Tracy Arm Fjord and seeing Sawyer Glacier (captain did a nice job of getting us close and spinning the ship around)

- Dining at the specialty restuarants - food was excellent, on par with great restaurants on land. I highly recommend Le Bistro (had 2 orders of escargot!), Moderno and Teppanyaki. I would pass on Chin Chin.

- Karaoke!

- Watching world cup soccer at O'Sheehan's on the big screen. Was pretty happy that they had every game on!

What could be better? The glass in our cabin (8572) was frosted. There is no light in. We knew going in it would be 'obstructed', but didn't realize it is completely frosted. The main dining room dinners were average. Great service (one of the waiters serenaded us!), but food was about average. 

Overall, it was a bucket list vacation we are going to remember for a long time. Big Smile

Cruise Photos

Victoria, BC Garden cafe - spent way too much time here

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More about Norwegian Jewel


Cabins

Norwegian Jewel has 1188 cabins and 41 categories. Explore each cabin type and read cabin reviews from the community.

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Deck Plans

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Dining

Explore the 18 dining options including complimentary and up charge restaurants.

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Entertainment

Explore the 33 entertainment options on this ship.

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Popular Tips for Norwegian Jewel


If no tables at the garden cafe, walk to the Aft of deck 12 and take your food into Cucina. Was empty for the most part!

On Norwegian I would always get premier dining package, well worth the value for the options that you have. Since we had great shore excursions didn't really use balcony much since we were off of the ship.

Don't bother bringing a laptop unless you plan to use it in your room. WiFi is very expensive.



Roll Calls


Norwegian Jewel
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7 Night Western Caribbean (Houston Roundtrip)

Sail Date: Nov 01, 2014
Ship Name: Norwegian Jewel
16 Ship Mate app members

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Norwegian Jewel
14
Members on Cruise

7 Night Western Caribbean (Houston Roundtrip)

Sail Date: Dec 06, 2014
Ship Name: Norwegian Jewel
14 Ship Mate app members

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Norwegian Jewel
13
Members on Cruise

16 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (Los Angeles To Houston)

Sail Date: Sep 25, 2014
Ship Name: Norwegian Jewel
aussie2324
moodyll
+ 11 Ship Mate app members

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