Very nice but brace yourself for all the teens and kids
Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review to Caribbean - Bahamas
Sail Date: April 14, 2013
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Cabin Type: Balcony
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 5 years ago
Very nice cruise. The stateroom was comfortable although neon pink and orange striped carpet felt a bit dated and cheesy. Biggest stateroom bathroom I've seen on any cruise line so far including the QM2, Royal Caribbean, and countless Princess Cruises, so that was very nice. The food was good and plentiful. The late night free options were really nice, like having a 24 hour TGIFriday's or Chili's on board. The steakhouse, Cagney's was excellent! The theater is very very nice, one of the nicest I've seen on board any ship and the production crew, singers, and dancers were very good. The aerialist shows they performed (2 of them, a show focused on their aerialists specifically and then a big production show that featured them as well as other dancers who were gymnastic and aerialist as well) were truly special and the most unique that I've seen on ships. The itinerary was just right, 7 nights from NYC with stops in Port Canaveral (close to Orlando which has a huge impact on the passenger ages on this cruise so beware!), a nice private island in the Bahamas and then Nassau.
There were only two drawbacks for me, one of which many may not be the least bit worried about, but the other that people will more likely want to take into consideration.
1. I like an occasion to dress up and have one or two formal nights on cruises. This being NCL and having a focus on "Freestyle Cruising" there is no formal night. They do have one night, the first sea day on this cruise, where they have "NCL Night Out" where you can dress up if you want but believe me it was very very scarce and passengers even complained that in the Tsar dining room some were turned away in shorts because jeans was just too much to ask for. I like hanging out in my shorts and tees as much as the next person but it's nice to have occasion to wear a tuxedo or suit and tie. For people like me, NCL is not the cruise line. Cunard or Princess are both excellent for having a touch of nice elegance on at least a couple of nights a cruise. On Princess it was not mandatory but the majority dress up on formal nights, and on Cunard it is mandatory. "Freestyle" is nice in the dining options, but I'll look for cruise lines that fit my style a bit more next time. Very curious to try Celebrity and I'd go back to Princess gladly as well.
The biggest factor to be a hindrance was the sheer number of teens and kids on this cruise. I should have thought of this and realized that a cruise that has a port stop near Orlando would be packed with teens and kids but I didn't think about it. If you're considering this cruise beware :) The kids and teens have every right to be there and to have a great time but I'll choose to be on a different ship :) The sad thing was that way too many parents use the ship as a babysitter and just let all ages of kids run free around the ship. NCL does a good job of having teen areas, clubs, kid activities, etc, but the overflow just can't be helped and there are kids and bands of teens everywhere. They were in the gym breaking equipment, they were everywhere underfoot in the buffets, they were hanging out loudly in the stairwells, and they dominate the pools. The last night of the cruise there is a chocolate buffet that serves a myriad spread of all things chocolate. Kids had entire PLATES of sweets and you can imagine the even more hyper than average results on THAT night :) Most kids were not a problem at all, and it's the perfect family cruise. Just know what you're getting into if you book this particular cruise.
As on most cruise ships I've ever been on, the staff on the NCL Jewel is excellent, very friendly, outgoing, customer service oriented, professional and helpful. The cruise certainly merits a "well done", but overall my preference will be for alternate cruise lines in the future where I can relax with fewer packs of kids and have a few chances to suit up for formal nights.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Know what you're getting into, it's packed with kids and teens bound for Disney and Universal Studios. The teen programs have the effect of banding them all together and they travel the ship in loud packs :)
Cagney's Steakhouse is very well done. The production shows with the aerialists are special