Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Sailing Date: July 2nd, 2006
Itinerary: Western Mediterranean
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review
My husband and I are recent cruise
enthusiasts, now having taken 3 cruises with our extended immediate family (my
mother, 2 grown sons and a niece (ages 20-22). We had previously sailed on Royal
Caribbean, but given our work schedule, opted for the Sunday sailing from
Barcelona that the Norwegian line allowed.
Overall our experience was very enjoyable, but felt that RCL has a few extra touches in food, service and amenities that put them a notch above the NCL experience.
What was great- Despite being fully booked, embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly at all stops. We arrived early in Barcelona before the ship was ready, so they took us on a brief tour of the city-a nice touch. The pool area; they had two pools of equal size, one (with its accompanying hot-tubs) was adults only, which was fairly well monitored. The pool itself was deep (4’11” at it’s shallowest) but had a wide “wading area” for those who just wanted to cool down. The beds and linen: very comfy. The spa: we each took at least one treatment and everyone raved about their therapist. Be warned that they add the gratuity on the bill, but don’t tell you that if you tip them in cash. The ship itself: The NCL staff took cleanliness and health very seriously; there was a sanitizing station in front of each restaurant and when re-boarding the ship.
What was disappointing- The food: We had a great meal at Cagney’s (paid extra) but the main dining rooms were ordinary, but acceptable. Service: Our cabin steward was very nice and courteous. Other attendants in the “common areas” were pleasant but not as polished as what we found on previous cruises. The front desk staff was particularly unresponsive to the various minor issues we were encountering. The array of restaurants: myriad of bars and restaurants took space away from other activities. While many of the specialty restaurants were booked during key hours, many of the bars were empty.
The shore excursions: We used the shore excursions at each stop, and enjoyed them. Be warned; each tour started progressively earlier. The last stop’s excursion (Nice and Monaco) assembled at 6:45 AM. Nothing in Nice justified a 45 minute stop before 9AM. A “drive through” an hour later would have accomplished the same. Also when the tour guide says “eat in ‘Old Monaco” because it’s cheaper than Monte Carlo, believe her- even if you’re not hungry at 11AM! Would have loved to have more time for shopping in Florence (Florence and Pisa), but the tour was very informative and covered a lot. Pisa was a quick, but worthwhile stop as you can’t appreciate the tower from pictures. Another word to the wise, even level two’s were very strenuous. My mom, in decent health at 75, had trouble with all the walking, and “sat out” a few stops during several of the tours.
In general, we liked “free-style cruising” and booked a 7:30 dinner reservation each night in advance for our party of 6, but missed the niceties (and service) of our own wait staff. NCL was less expensive that RCL, but it showed in some less than vital areas. In short, if I have the choice I would book RCL, but NCL did put on a fabulous vacation package, that everyone enjoyed immensely.