Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Sailing Date: February 26th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Jewel Cruise Review
Overall I was very disappointed with my NCL experience.
The customer service on this boat was lacking. Our trip began with my girlfriend asking a customer service representative at the reception desk where she would recommend to eat for our first night on the boat. It was my birthday and we wanted to go somewhere special. The girl responded "What are you so confused about? Didn't you get the brochure? Why don't you read that? It describes the restaurant. If you still have a question, then you can let me know." From there we went to the spa to get massaged. Mine was one of the best I have ever had! My girlfriend experienced a very good massage as well. Unfortunately, another person in our party did not have such a pleasant experience. She is a frequent massage go-er and has literally had hundreds of massages. Her masseuse was completely unreceptive to her requests and when she complained, the spa manager was dismissive and only offered to let her come back the next day and use the whirlpool.
I found the food at the buffet (Garden Cafe) to be uninspiring. The general dining room (Tsar's Palace) offered consistently poor service. We constantly had empty drink glasses and often times, rude servers.
Initially I thought I would enjoy "Freestyle dining." However, I found that it took away some of the fun of cruising. You don't dine with the same people, therefor there is less opportunity to make friends those at your table. Dinners were also less of an event than on other ships. No ice sculptures, or culinary artistry was seen with any consistency.
The casino was a joke. Dealers were rude, pit bosses were even worse, both at times would actually root against your hand. At one point the pit boss had the audacity to come to us and claim that 6 hands earlier the dealer had miscalculated a hand and wrongly awarded it to my girlfriend, then asked for it back claiming it would get the dealer in "big trouble" if she didn't. Math apparently was not a strong suit for the casino workers, as there were several times I had to correct them shorting players odds on craps. The poker tourney was poorly run as well, set up to induce re-buys so the casino would get a larger rake, and rapidly raising the blinds to hustle through in just 2 hours. You may as well go bet your buy-in on 1 hand of black jack and then go lay at the pool.
In my opinion the main reason I won't be traveling with NCL is the exorbitant drink prices. You could not get a drink on board for less than $6. Any specialty drinks were +$10. A soda drink card was +$40. This to me is gouging. It is my opinion that they needed to offer some special drink for $3-$5 each day. Or possibly a beer card. Anything would have been better than what is in place now.
One bright spot was the food and service at the ship's steakhouse, Cagney's. Wonderful steaks, sides and desserts were well complimented by the incredible service! We actually went back a second time (despite the $15 cover charge) to insure we ended the cruise on a positive note. (Sameer and Melvin were our servers, and if you are lucky enough to have them on your ship, make sure to request them!)
Another positive was the final show called Cirque Bijou. Its a dumbed down Cirque du Soliel style show that was pretty entertaining. The only other show of note was the Crew Talent Show, only due to the outstanding vocal performances of a couple of crew members.
The ship itself, only being a couple months old was very nice. The gym was particularly nice!
It will be a while before I cruise again as this was my girlfriends first cruise and she is in no hurry to go back.