Ports of call were great, and highly recommended. But you should absolutely go see them on a different ship from a different cruise line. The NCL Jewel features below average entertainment, terrible staff, even worse food, on a beat-up, dirty ship.
2 out of 5
Embarkation was ok but disorganized.
Food and Dining
1 out of 5
The food was terrible across the board - main dining rooms, specialty restaurants, and buffets. The worst of the worst was Moderno - the Brazilian steakhouse. As with most of these restaurants, we were informed that cuts of meat would arrive medium to medium rare unless otherwise requested. In reality, all cuts of meat were delivered well done or beyond. When we requested cuts of medium to medium rare meat, we were brought additional meat - also well done. We were informed by the wait staff that these were of rare temperature. I personally have never seen rare beef which was brownish grey and completely dried as if being microwaved. See picture for yourself - this was one of the better cuts, maybe medium well - the best cut of the night! The staff was not pleased by our taking pictures, imagine that. The culinary highlight of this ship was the soft serve ice cream machine. Main dining room had poor variety - same offerings for lunch every day. Evening dinner offerings were also poor - clearly encouraging people to use the specialty restaurants ($$$).
1 out of 5
Extremely limited onboard activities - generally one or zero choices of activity at any given time, even on sea days. You were of course highly encouraged to visit all the ships bars and try as many drinks as possible. Other than that, not much going on. Generally one to two trivia sessions daily and that's about it. We went to a French cooking demonstration which was highly recommended by the cruise director - it consisted of one of the chefs coming out, taking maybe five minutes to garnish a dessert, and then leaving. I'm not joking, that was all there was to this "cooking demonstration". The crowd was all left standing around stunned, wondering what was going on. Also, bingo and "Deal or No Deal" were clearly the cruise director's favorite times of the cruise, as he desperately sought to wring as much cash as possible out of his passengers. On two out of four occasions, passengers were brought up on stage to play deal or no deal and "randomly" managed to win the worst possible prize of $0.01 after buying in for $25 a piece.
3 out of 5
The ship magician was decent, but very strange and awkward (part of his shtick I guess). The comedian was pretty terrible. Both the magician and comedian were quite off color for the "kid friendly" shows. The singers and dancers were alright, standard fare for the most part. The acrobatic performers were also not bad. They did put on a cirque de soleil style singing/dancing show which was a bit of a departure from the usual Vegas style singing shows. The game shows were ok. However, the terrible cruise director (Richard!) and his staff did their best to ruin this as well, constantly hawking instant win lotto tickets before and after every show, begging for every last nickel from each passenger.
Service and Staff
1 out of 5
Service was below average, nothing in comparison to other lines we've been on or even compared to other prior NCL cruises. Dining staff and room stewards were ok, slightly below average. The cruise excursion and customer service staff were poor. Whenever questioned about something they would frequently argue with the customer. When caught in a discrepancy they would suddenly lose the ability to speak English. They were surprisingly unfriendly, especially considering we're silver members. We had to show up to the desk in person to request the discounts associated with our reward status, which they begrudgingly removed from our bill.
1 out of 5
The ship was disgusting, there was no effort put into cleaning. See the attached photos. The sheets were stained and never changed throughout the course of the cruise. The cabin carpet and couch were also stained in multiple places. The toilet seat was also disgustingly stained with who knows what. The bed's headboard was disintegrating, leaving little pieces in the bed.
Cabin / Stateroom
1 out of 5
The television sometimes didn't turn on, and when it did the picture was extremely fuzzy (in port or out). The safe only locked about half of the time, after repeated attempts. The balcony lock didn't latch properly and could be opened whether locked or not. The shower flooded and had to be repaired. On the first few days of the cruise I kept receiving calls inquiring whether my toilet was working. I asked if there was some reason it wouldn't be working, to which they suddenly were no longer able to speak English. (Also a common strategy for the staff ship-wide). There was a sign posted day one at customer service - "All rooms are as is, no room changes will be accommodated for any reason." Makes you wonder how many unhappy customers they had.
Do not sail on this ship no matter what. Spend your money somewhere else. We booked this trip having been advised NCL's food and service was poor. We went anyway because we were enthusiastic about the itinerary. We chose poorly. Save yourself the irritation and disappointment.
We visited the Alaska state capitol which was neat. We also visited the Mendenhall Glacier and did a brief bus tour of the city (not through NCL). The glacier and adjacent Nugget Falls were wonderful. However, after leaving Juneau, we made the mistake of taking the small boat tour through the fjords. We called ahead of time to confirm this boat tour would take a different route than the cruise ship itself and we would be seeing something different. This was a blatant lie, as the cruise ship followed us the entire way. The route was altered, as due to icy conditions the cruise ship could not enter the Tracy Arm Fjord. The small boat captain stated he was perfectly able to take us despite the conditions but the bigger ship could not follow. This was the whole reason we booked this - to go where the bigger ship couldn't. No dice. When passengers complained about this last minute change of plans and requested refunds the cruise staff stated all refunds must be requested 24 hours in advance. Well, if we had been informed of the change 24 hours in advance we could have requested our refund that far ahead of time. As usual, when complaints continued, she lost the ability to speak English. This was not a trivial detail - a $500 excursion for two people to be 100 yards closer to the glacier than the cruise ship itself was simply ridiculous.
We were excited to visit Victoria. This is one of the reasons we chose this cruise, as most other ships only stop for a brief period of time late at night. Unfortunately, due to a medical emergency our ship diverted and we ended up not arriving in Victoria until 9 pm. We had three hours to wander around the city in the middle of the night before getting back on the ship. Things happen as far as medical events, but it was still very disappointing.
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