Good Cruise, but I've had better.

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western


Contributor Level: Third Mate
Experience: 4-6 cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 4

Overall Rating:

3.0 out of 5
Verified Review
7 Night Western Caribbean (Houston Roundtrip)
Sail Date: November 22, 2014
Cabin Type: Balcony
Cabin Number: 10082
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Reviewed: 2 years ago

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.

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Very marginal in main dining areas, upcharge restaurants not always worth it..

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Just standard stuff like trivia, bingo, deal or no deal - most involved cost.

Entertainment

5 out of 5

Children's Programs

3 out of 5

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Staff was great and accommodating.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Older, smaller ship with not as many activities.

Cabin / Stateroom

3 out of 5
Small room, adequate for two, nice bathroom layout.

Ship Tip

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

5 out of 5
Did the snuba - was really fun.
3 out of 5
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?
5 out of 5
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.
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