Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Sailing Date: 8th, 2007
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review
I spent much time on this site reading reviews before deciding between Royal Caribbean and NCL. One of the deciding factors was the private Island in the Bahamas that everyone raved about on this site. We love good snorkeling, coming from Florida. I booked the cruise 6 days before sailing and 3 days before I printed the confirmation out on my computer, and the island stop was changed to Dominican Republic.
I called NCL which is how I booked (directly with them) and the agent I had been conversing with said it was just changed, in fact, the front desk at the ship later said it was changed one week prior) That turned out to be a lie since many passengers on the cruise said they knew as far back as November that this was changed, and there was an asterisk on the NCL website that said that the week we were going, the itinerary was changed. I hadn';t noticed this, and it was not told to me by the agent, -she confirmed that we were going to the Bahamas) When I asked the agent from NCL about the island, she gave me much info...she should have known we weren't porting there.
Let me say the positives about the cruise. The dining style is great IF you can get reservations. I went immediately to the reservation desk after boarding the ship and could only make reservation for THAT night and the next, which I did successfully. However, after that, I was not able to get reservations. It seemed I was one day behind others. The 2 times we were at the restaurants that needed reservations, they were half empty. We tried to change one reservation and make it 1/2 hour later and they said they were all booked, however we were eating at this time, and the restaurant was empty. We noticed this at another restaurant as well. It just perplexed many on the ship. How do they say it is full when half the restaurant is empty? So after the first 2 days, on the 3rd day we went very early before 6) to the Mexican so we were able to get seats, otherwise for the rest of the trip we had to eat at the main dining rooms. One good tip...the second night they advertise "lobster night". in the main dining rooms) We all had this vision of a buffet flowing with lobsters. Wasn't the case. In the main dining rooms they served one half of what was no more than a 1 -1 1/2 pound lobster. The one half of a tail had about one tablespoon of meat that was mushy. It was a huge disappointment and I felt offended that they would take us that way and deceive us. So skip the "lobster" night....
The best restaurant in our opinion was Tangos Mexican..the selection was good and everything we had was very good. Mamas Italian, was very good also. The Caesar salad and the antipasto, as well as the fish were good. My son liked the steak and shrimp scampi. Cagneys was O.K. Don't think it is worth the $20.00 each (they even charge the kids the full amount unless they eat from the children's menu which is the standard grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, etc., unless someone wants to eat the 16 oz steak! The buffet for breakfast was good, but was very cramped compared to the Royal Caribbean Explorer.
The staff was very good and the service excellent wherever we went. It is just the configuration of the ship that felt cramped. The Royal Caribbean has the buffet at the front of the ship and it is very open with beautiful views of the front. This buffet is a section of the side of the ship. The Royal Caribbean has rock climbing, miniature golf and roller skating. This ship really had nothing for my 11 and 13 yr old. The agent lied to me about having a tennis court (there is a basketball court, but I never saw it converted to a tennis court since there is no net), and golf (all it has was a caged in 4x4 foot green square-don't know what you are supposed to do there).
The rooms...we had adjoining rooms on the 5th floor center. I wondered why these rooms wouldn't have been booked...because we were right above the door where we leave the ship and every morning at 6 there was some noise and also a strong humming noise from t the propellers all night. Since it was vibration, my ear plugs made it worse. The ship tried to make it up to us by sending us a bottle of wine, (we don't drink) but every time we arrived at port and other times it was very noisy. I had originally wanted a balcony but was told by the NCL agent that the room I got with the picture window was the same size. I asked how that was possible,,,she insisted they were the same size and that it was the way the beds were configured. Well, she was wrong. The room was barely enough to fit the beds. I wondered how she could get this wrong working for NCL.
The excursions....I am certain that if we ever cruise again I will not spend 350.00 to take a Catamaran out to snorkel in water near the beach where there is nothing to see. I did have tips from these reviews to go take taxis' in St. Thomas, but was told by reception at the ship that the only way to snorkel is to go out by the reefs and could only do this with a boat. Well, the catamaran took us about 30 feet from the beach and we could have done this on our own...so that was a complete waste.
If you are in Antigua, do not go to Dickerson Bay, go to Runaway Beach. Why the reception told us to go to Dickerson Bay is beyond me, since it is under construction with a resort being built and barricades all over. This is not new construction, and the workers were hanging over walls yelling things out to the young girls on the beach.
We did horse back riding there (not worth the 35.00 each to just walk on the ugly road under construction. A small walk on Runaway beach--they told us we would "ride" ) and passed Runaway Beach. It is a beautiful beach about a mile away. I just don't know why the people on the ship can't give out good tips. It is beyond me...here we are on one trip a year and we are sent to a beach under construction.
The substitute of Dominican Republic for the private Island
owned by NCL was disappointing. We had to pay 30.00 each to get there at beach
on Samna), as opposed to what would be free with their own island, and there
were no jet skis or good water sports except a canoe or paddle boat which we
have in our backyard in Florida for our lake.
All in all, I am sorry I didn't stick with Royal Caribbean. It was only slightly higher and I think it offered us more. The dining is a good idea on NCL, but they need to get it together with reservations. For some reason, it didn't work for us after the first day.
They didn't have the private Grecian area for lounging only adults), which was a quiet shaded reading area that they had on Royal Caribbean, and the pool area was so crowded and noisy that we never wanted to go there. Also the water in the pool is salt water which the kids didn't like at all. The pool on Royal Caribbean was chlorine and much larger.
I felt I made a choice based on much inaccurate information from the NCL agent. Perhaps on purpose to get us to book with them, especially that change in port. I hope this information is helpful. I didn't even mention the horrendous embarking and disembarking....don't do the "take your own luggage" deal. Almost everyone did this and we waited on line for what seemed like 1- 2 hours. Better to have a leisurely breakfast and let them take the luggage. Getting on the ship was just as bad if not worse. 2 hours in the hot Florida sun outside. they seem to get the worst port.
One comment--seems they give repeat customers some good deals
since it seemed as if half of the passengers were repeat cruisers with NCL, so
perhaps price is the deciding factor for others who cruise NCL. It just didn't
compare to Royal Caribbean to us. Food is not the main reason we cruise; it is
amenities and ports. My daughter was in a talent show. They said that the winner
would receive a free cruise. They don't tell you until the end of the talent
show that you would be competing with months of other NCL passengers, and that
you were filmed. More deception....but she still enjoyed performing.