Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Contributor Level: Third Mate

4-6 cruises


Helpful Votes

3 out of 5

Good Cruise, but I've had better.

Sail Date: November 22, 2014

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Traveled As: Family (older children)

Room Type: Balcony

This is the second time I have cruised with NCL.  The first time was on NCL Pearl to Alaska, this time on the NCL Jewel to Western Caribbean. 

The good:  Embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly.  This was out of the Port of Houston (not Galveston) and it was a well organized port with parking right in front of the terminal.  Baggage handling was smooth and efficient as was loading and unloading.  The main show entertainment was good.  There was a comedian, magician, acrobatics, even the cast dancers and the band on the run 70's music was entertaining.  Teppanyaki and Le Bistro were good. The cabin bathrooms were well laid out and made good use of small space with the sliding door to shower and sliding door to toilet area - allowing one person to be in either shower or toilet, while allowing someone else in sink area if needed.

The not so good: The spa area.  We enjoyed the spa area on the Pearl and wrongly assumed it would be equivalent on the Jewel.  It was not - definitely NOT worth $150 for a spa pass.  The coed area was small and the small Jacuzzi there stunk and didn't have all the various jets that the one on the Pearl had - total waste of money.  Learned a valuable lesson - tour the spa on each and every ship before committing to spa pass.  The main dining and café buffet food.  It was very marginal and not as varied as other cruises (Carnival Magic, Celebrity Constellation).  I think NCL does this on purpose to promote their various upcharge restaurants.  Friends of ours dined at Cagneys and said it wasn't worth the upcharge.  I thought the Carnival Magic had better food in the main restaurants - there you could get lobster one night, steak another, and they always had shrimp cocktail as an appetizer option.  Carnivals desserts were much better as well.  Celebrity had the best buffet by far.  Even Carnival had a better buffet with different options so that you could actually eat something different every day.  Since most people like food on cruises - this is a pretty major disappointment.  The cabins were very small as well.  We had two connecting balcony cabins and could barely fit two comfortably in each cabin.  On Carnival the balcony cabin fit three very comfortably and had room for 3 peoples clothes - no way you could fit 3 comfortably in NCL balcony cabins.  In fact, our friends had their 9 year old son with them and he couldn't even fit on the pull out sofa bed.  There also aren't as many activities on the Jewel as other ships - like RCL or Carnival - sports court was basic, no rock climbing or ropes courses or anything like that. They don't allow you to take two bottles of wine like other cruise lines - you have to pay a $15 corkage fee.  Their wine wasn't too expensive, but it was cheaper on Carnival ($7.50 a glass/$30 bottle for pinot grigio vs. $6 glass/$26 on Carnival) - plus Carnival allows you to bring on two bottles.

Summary:  We had a good time and I think it was okay because we had friends on the same trip, but I don't know that I would cruise with NCL again, I just think there are better value/options.  I wish cruise lines would put some of their nicer/newer ships in Galveston or Houston - we have limited options out of this port.

Ship Quality
Older, smaller ship with not as many activities.
Food and Dining
Very marginal in main dining areas, upcharge restaurants not always worth it..
Service and Staff
Staff was great and accommodating.
Children's Programs
Onboard Activities
Just standard stuff like trivia, bingo, deal or no deal - most involved cost.
Destinations and Excursions
Cabin / Stateroom
Small room, adequate for two, nice bathroom layout.
Cozumel, Mexico
Did the snuba - was really fun.
Belize City, Belize
Did the zip line and cave tubing. There were two different choices on this excursion - one for 8 and older and one for 12 and older. We did the 8 and older because of our kids. It was pretty mild experience. Maybe the 12 and older was more exciting?
Coxen Hole, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Booked a private catamaran tour with Radical Adventures. It was awesome - took us away from touristy areas to some great snorkling spots. Provided great food and drinks were included. We got our excursion in before the rain hit - unlike others whose tours were cancelled.


There was a library and game room - great for rainy days or something different to do. SPA was not worth a spa pass.

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