ARCJCM

ARCJCM

Second Mate
Miami, FL
Joined 06/2017

7

Cruises

2

Reviews

16

Helpful Votes

We're two professionals who love to travel when we can take time off work! We've also started making videos of our travel experiences and sharing them on YouTube.

Upcoming cruises

Past cruises

MSC Seaside

May 2020 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean & Bahamas (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on MSC Seaside

Norwegian Joy

July 2019 - 7 Night Alaska With Inside Passage (Seattle Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Joy

Norwegian Breakaway

June 2019 - 7 Night Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway

February 2019 - 10 Night Western Caribbean (New Orleans Roundtrip) Cruise on Norwegian Breakaway

Excellent Cruise in the Haven

The Haven on the Breakaway is exceptional, and if you're looking for a luxury vacation, I highly recommend it. Without fail, the Haven staff were superb. Notable standouts were our butler, Stefan Lojanica; our steward, Ronaldo Clamor; the maitre d of the Haven dining room, Cielo Rojo; Bowen, the Haven Concierge; and Rogelio, the Haven sun deck attendant. Collectively, they made an otherwise great trip perfect. The Breakaway is also a great ship with lots of activities.

Read full review

Norwegian Jewel

May 2017 - 8 Night Alaska Sawyer Glacier (Vancouver To Alaska) Cruise on Norwegian Jewel

Don't judge a ship by its cover!

We recently returned from an eight-day inside passage Alaska cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We sailed in an Owner’s Suite (10004 — category H3), which is part of The Haven. For those like myself who prefer to see rather than read, I've posted videos of our trip and our cabin to a YouTube playlist, which can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDWI8b8Zxdm2J8XAVKehnsy0cLDOFcCgj

 

This was our first cruise, and we were big cruise skeptics. Our vacation travel is generally more geared toward luxury, and we tend to avoid crowds, which is why we’ve avoided cruising. Because we were eager to see Alaska, we decided to shelve our cruise prejudice, knowing that cruising is the most efficient way to see the state. To quickly get to the point, although our trip didn't start out so well, we ended up having an amazing vacation on the Jewel, and we're already looking forward to taking more trips with Norwegian soon.


As you're reading this review, keep in mind that it starts negative and gets positive. I’m trying to be candid about our experience, so it only makes sense to share our experience and impressions as they really happened!


DEPARTURE:


Our cruise departed from Vancouver, BC, and returned to Seattle, WA. As cruise newbies, we found the security, customs, and boarding process in Vancouver to be chaotic and confusing. We thought maybe it was just our newness that made us overwhelmed by the process, but we talked with several frequent cruisers who said they had never seen it so bad before. We were told to expect that we would be directed to an area reserved for Haven and Suite guests, but that didn't happen — eventually we found this area, but there were no staff present, so we didn't know what to do. We later learned that the absence of staff was due to an all-crew drill that, unfortunately for us, coincided with our scheduled embarkation. From staff and other regular NCL cruisers, it sounds like this embarkation process was absolutely not the norm.


SHIP & CABIN:

 

Once we got on the ship, our initial reaction was quite negative. The common areas looked old and dated, and the pool deck, in particular, felt like it had been designed in the 70s. The  obnoxiously loud (but fading) color scheme on the pool deck looked like something out of a circus or an old Las Vegas casino. The plastic, cartoon-style palm trees surrounding the pool were especially ugly. For a ship built in 2005 — and subsequently renovated — we were surprised at some of these design decisions.


While our Owner's Suite was similarly dated in appearance, it was spacious (700+ square feet) and functional, and offered some of the best views on the ship. Our suite was 10004, which is on the front-starboard side of the ship, positioned directly below the ship's bridge. We've made a video tour of this cabin, which you can view on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vJyplnCQraA


The decor of the suite didn't feel like something designed in this century. The carpet looked new, but the furnishings, wall/ceiling treatments, artwork, TVs, and bathroom finishings all looked old and worn. However, we grew to love this room.


The suite is very functional with ample living space, dining space, and privacy. The living area includes a pull-out sofa, lounge chair and chaise, in addition to a 32” (or so) old plasma TV and DVD player. The dining area has a large table with four chairs and could comfortably accommodate four diners. In addition to the master bathroom with a dual-vanity, the suite included a half-bath, which certainly came in handy when getting ready in the mornings.


In the bedroom, the king-size bed was comfortable, and the linens were fine, if not particularly memorable. The bedroom has another small, dated plasma TV with a DVD player. There is also a writing desk with additional storage, though it's unlikely you'll need it — this suite has a massive walk-in closet connected to the master bathroom. We felt like we had plenty of places to hide our junk!


Aside from the incredible views afforded by the two balconies, we grew to love this suite because of its size and function. We had privacy from each other when we wanted it, but could keep it open when we didn't. It has plenty of space for storage — more than you'll likely need. And the furniture, while ugly, was comfortable and functional.


We'd like to see Norwegian update the technology in the room to include modern TVs with on-demand movie offerings. We were disappointed that the TVs were so old that they didn't include HDMI ports that we would use to connect our iPads to watch our own TV shows, movies and videos.


And lastly, we'd like to see Norwegian install better window coverings in the master bath. The current coverings are see-through, and with a window looking out to the side balcony, you couldn't help but feel a little exposed — and yes, you can clearly see through the shade from the balcony in to the bathroom (we tested it so you don't have to).

 

During a more extensive refit, I'm confident this room could be made stunning, but even as it stands today, we would happily sail in it again.

 

DINING:


Dining onboard was, I imagine, fairly typical for Norwegian. The specialty/up-charge restaurants we tried were all exceptionally good. We ate at Teppanyaki (hibachi-style Japanese), Le Bistro (French), La Cucina (Italian), and Cagney's (steakhouse). Our personal favorite was Cagney's, which we visited twice. Also, as guests of The Haven, we were entitled to breakfast and lunch in Moderno, reserved for guests in The Haven and certain suites. While we never went to breakfast, this lunch was also exceptional, and the food was always well prepared, hot, and delicious. We did wish, however, that the lunch menu had changed at least once over our eight days, but this wasn't too much of a concern because we liked what was offered — we just ended up eating it more than once.

 

We also tried three of the free dining venues on the ship: Chin Chin (Chinese), the Garden Cafe (buffet), and room service. Chin Chin was very good and what you would expect from a Western-style Chinese restaurant. We were also impressed with the buffet, and left it feeling very satisfied. Room service, however, was not good. The food tasted like something from a school cafeteria, so if you're ordering from the standard room service menu, stick to the simple things, like desserts and sandwiches.

 

SERVICE:

 

After the initial confusion with boarding, service was exceptional, which is really what helped change our perspective on the trip. If I had to pinpoint one thing that made our trip special, it was the quality of service we received from the staff onboard.
With very few exceptions, the staff were polite, professional, happy, and committed to creating a positive guest experience. For us, the real standouts were our suite's butler, Mary Jane, and the concierge for suites and The Haven, Bruno. Mary Jane was warm, personable, and informative. She handled all of our requests with aplomb, and always went out of her way to do something special and unexpected for us. Bruno was a consummate professional who took great strides to accommodate us for everything from last-minute reservations in the specialty dining restaurants to getting us tickets on fully-booked excursions after our original excursions were cancelled due to inclement weather. I really hope we have an opportunity to cruise with Mary Jane and Bruno again because they make an excellent team. Norwegian would do well to keep them on staff!

 

We also grew quite close to the wait staff in Cagney's because they also served lunch in Moderno for Haven and suite guests. It was nice getting to know each of them, and when we would see them around the ship, they would always greet us by name and ask about our trip. This really made us feel welcome and looked after.


The only “service” complaint we have is about the onboard internet and is not tied to a member of the staff. To put it bluntly, the internet is terrible. We bought two unlimited internet packages and wouldn't do it again. When it worked, it barely worked — and the rest of the time, it just didn't work at all. Save your money and just wait until you get in to port!

 

EXCURSIONS:


By now, you're probably as tired of reading as I am of typing, but I'll leave a quick note on excursions. We scheduled excursions in every port on our trip through Norwegian, and all of them were high-quality and worthwhile. But because of Alaska's moody weather patterns, we did have a few that got cancelled — namely those that involved flying (the “pilot's choice” glacier tour by helicopter, and a seaplane tour). Bruno, the concierge for The Haven, managed to get us on a seaplane tour at a later port, which I would highly recommend. Not only is the scenery beautiful, the ride itself was fun! And make sure that if you're in Alaska you do at least one whale-watching trip. You will almost certainly see a lot of whales, and it was really breathtaking.


IN CONCLUSION:

 

In sum, our trip was excellent. Better than expected. The staff — in particular our butler, Mary Jane, and concierge, Bruno — were exemplary. Our inside passage itinerary was a perfect introduction to Alaska. And once we stopped fixating on the aesthetics of the ship and allowed ourselves to relax, we ended up having an amazing time. We loved the size of the Jewel — and by the time we were done with the cruise, we felt like we knew every nook and cranny of the ship, and grew to love its character. Just like with people, I think the same saying applies to ships: You can't always judge a book, or ship, by its cover.


On the last day of our cruise, we made deposits for two future cruises with NCL in The Haven. We're already excited to figure out where we want to go next, and I'm hopeful that the next cruises live up to the ridiculously high standard set by our first.

Read full review

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway

Sail date: February 07, 2019

Excellent Cruise in the Haven

The Haven on the Breakaway is exceptional, and if you're looking for a luxury vacation, I highly recommend it. Without fail, the Haven staff were superb. Notable standouts were our butler, Stefan Lojanica; our steward, Ronaldo Clamor; the maitre d of the Haven dining room, Cielo Rojo; Bowen, the Haven Concierge; and Rogelio, the Haven sun deck attendant. Collectively, they made an otherwise great trip perfect. The Breakaway is also a great ship with lots of activities.

Read full review

Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Jewel

Sail date: May 05, 2017

Don't judge a ship by its cover!

We recently returned from an eight-day inside passage Alaska cruise on the Norwegian Jewel. We sailed in an Owner’s Suite (10004 — category H3), which is part of The Haven. For those like myself who prefer to see rather than read, I've posted videos of our trip and our cabin to a YouTube playlist, which can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDWI8b8Zxdm2J8XAVKehnsy0cLDOFcCgj

 

This was our first cruise, and we were big cruise skeptics. Our vacation travel is generally more geared toward luxury, and we tend to avoid crowds, which is why we’ve avoided cruising. Because we were eager to see Alaska, we decided to shelve our cruise prejudice, knowing that cruising is the most efficient way to see the state. To quickly get to the point, although our trip didn't start out so well, we ended up having an amazing vacation on the Jewel, and we're already looking forward to taking more trips with Norwegian soon.


As you're reading this review, keep in mind that it starts negative and gets positive. I’m trying to be candid about our experience, so it only makes sense to share our experience and impressions as they really happened!


DEPARTURE:


Our cruise departed from Vancouver, BC, and returned to Seattle, WA. As cruise newbies, we found the security, customs, and boarding process in Vancouver to be chaotic and confusing. We thought maybe it was just our newness that made us overwhelmed by the process, but we talked with several frequent cruisers who said they had never seen it so bad before. We were told to expect that we would be directed to an area reserved for Haven and Suite guests, but that didn't happen — eventually we found this area, but there were no staff present, so we didn't know what to do. We later learned that the absence of staff was due to an all-crew drill that, unfortunately for us, coincided with our scheduled embarkation. From staff and other regular NCL cruisers, it sounds like this embarkation process was absolutely not the norm.


SHIP & CABIN:

 

Once we got on the ship, our initial reaction was quite negative. The common areas looked old and dated, and the pool deck, in particular, felt like it had been designed in the 70s. The  obnoxiously loud (but fading) color scheme on the pool deck looked like something out of a circus or an old Las Vegas casino. The plastic, cartoon-style palm trees surrounding the pool were especially ugly. For a ship built in 2005 — and subsequently renovated — we were surprised at some of these design decisions.


While our Owner's Suite was similarly dated in appearance, it was spacious (700+ square feet) and functional, and offered some of the best views on the ship. Our suite was 10004, which is on the front-starboard side of the ship, positioned directly below the ship's bridge. We've made a video tour of this cabin, which you can view on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vJyplnCQraA


The decor of the suite didn't feel like something designed in this century. The carpet looked new, but the furnishings, wall/ceiling treatments, artwork, TVs, and bathroom finishings all looked old and worn. However, we grew to love this room.


The suite is very functional with ample living space, dining space, and privacy. The living area includes a pull-out sofa, lounge chair and chaise, in addition to a 32” (or so) old plasma TV and DVD player. The dining area has a large table with four chairs and could comfortably accommodate four diners. In addition to the master bathroom with a dual-vanity, the suite included a half-bath, which certainly came in handy when getting ready in the mornings.


In the bedroom, the king-size bed was comfortable, and the linens were fine, if not particularly memorable. The bedroom has another small, dated plasma TV with a DVD player. There is also a writing desk with additional storage, though it's unlikely you'll need it — this suite has a massive walk-in closet connected to the master bathroom. We felt like we had plenty of places to hide our junk!


Aside from the incredible views afforded by the two balconies, we grew to love this suite because of its size and function. We had privacy from each other when we wanted it, but could keep it open when we didn't. It has plenty of space for storage — more than you'll likely need. And the furniture, while ugly, was comfortable and functional.


We'd like to see Norwegian update the technology in the room to include modern TVs with on-demand movie offerings. We were disappointed that the TVs were so old that they didn't include HDMI ports that we would use to connect our iPads to watch our own TV shows, movies and videos.


And lastly, we'd like to see Norwegian install better window coverings in the master bath. The current coverings are see-through, and with a window looking out to the side balcony, you couldn't help but feel a little exposed — and yes, you can clearly see through the shade from the balcony in to the bathroom (we tested it so you don't have to).

 

During a more extensive refit, I'm confident this room could be made stunning, but even as it stands today, we would happily sail in it again.

 

DINING:


Dining onboard was, I imagine, fairly typical for Norwegian. The specialty/up-charge restaurants we tried were all exceptionally good. We ate at Teppanyaki (hibachi-style Japanese), Le Bistro (French), La Cucina (Italian), and Cagney's (steakhouse). Our personal favorite was Cagney's, which we visited twice. Also, as guests of The Haven, we were entitled to breakfast and lunch in Moderno, reserved for guests in The Haven and certain suites. While we never went to breakfast, this lunch was also exceptional, and the food was always well prepared, hot, and delicious. We did wish, however, that the lunch menu had changed at least once over our eight days, but this wasn't too much of a concern because we liked what was offered — we just ended up eating it more than once.

 

We also tried three of the free dining venues on the ship: Chin Chin (Chinese), the Garden Cafe (buffet), and room service. Chin Chin was very good and what you would expect from a Western-style Chinese restaurant. We were also impressed with the buffet, and left it feeling very satisfied. Room service, however, was not good. The food tasted like something from a school cafeteria, so if you're ordering from the standard room service menu, stick to the simple things, like desserts and sandwiches.

 

SERVICE:

 

After the initial confusion with boarding, service was exceptional, which is really what helped change our perspective on the trip. If I had to pinpoint one thing that made our trip special, it was the quality of service we received from the staff onboard.
With very few exceptions, the staff were polite, professional, happy, and committed to creating a positive guest experience. For us, the real standouts were our suite's butler, Mary Jane, and the concierge for suites and The Haven, Bruno. Mary Jane was warm, personable, and informative. She handled all of our requests with aplomb, and always went out of her way to do something special and unexpected for us. Bruno was a consummate professional who took great strides to accommodate us for everything from last-minute reservations in the specialty dining restaurants to getting us tickets on fully-booked excursions after our original excursions were cancelled due to inclement weather. I really hope we have an opportunity to cruise with Mary Jane and Bruno again because they make an excellent team. Norwegian would do well to keep them on staff!

 

We also grew quite close to the wait staff in Cagney's because they also served lunch in Moderno for Haven and suite guests. It was nice getting to know each of them, and when we would see them around the ship, they would always greet us by name and ask about our trip. This really made us feel welcome and looked after.


The only “service” complaint we have is about the onboard internet and is not tied to a member of the staff. To put it bluntly, the internet is terrible. We bought two unlimited internet packages and wouldn't do it again. When it worked, it barely worked — and the rest of the time, it just didn't work at all. Save your money and just wait until you get in to port!

 

EXCURSIONS:


By now, you're probably as tired of reading as I am of typing, but I'll leave a quick note on excursions. We scheduled excursions in every port on our trip through Norwegian, and all of them were high-quality and worthwhile. But because of Alaska's moody weather patterns, we did have a few that got cancelled — namely those that involved flying (the “pilot's choice” glacier tour by helicopter, and a seaplane tour). Bruno, the concierge for The Haven, managed to get us on a seaplane tour at a later port, which I would highly recommend. Not only is the scenery beautiful, the ride itself was fun! And make sure that if you're in Alaska you do at least one whale-watching trip. You will almost certainly see a lot of whales, and it was really breathtaking.


IN CONCLUSION:

 

In sum, our trip was excellent. Better than expected. The staff — in particular our butler, Mary Jane, and concierge, Bruno — were exemplary. Our inside passage itinerary was a perfect introduction to Alaska. And once we stopped fixating on the aesthetics of the ship and allowed ourselves to relax, we ended up having an amazing time. We loved the size of the Jewel — and by the time we were done with the cruise, we felt like we knew every nook and cranny of the ship, and grew to love its character. Just like with people, I think the same saying applies to ships: You can't always judge a book, or ship, by its cover.


On the last day of our cruise, we made deposits for two future cruises with NCL in The Haven. We're already excited to figure out where we want to go next, and I'm hopeful that the next cruises live up to the ridiculously high standard set by our first.

Read full review

Cruise tips

Belize City, Belize

Took a helicopter tour with Astrum Helicopters out to the Blue Hole, and it was amazing! Highly recommend. The port area was also nice and safe.

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