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James

Age: 52

Occupation:Teacher

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Jewel

Sailing Date: 05-6-2009

Itinerary: Trans-Atlantic

This was a fantastic cruise! It was our third trans-Atlantic, with 2 of them on the Norwegian Jewel. With 6 days at sea, we had planty of time to explore the ship again, and to relax. The waitstaff in The Tsar's Palace, the stateroom attendants, the Reception Desk staff and all other crew members and staff were fantastic, going the extra mile for us.

We have cruised the Caribbean and the Mediterranean on on other lines, and have done a trans-Atlantic with another cruise line. While each of these cruises was a wonderful experience, NCL, and especially the Norwegian Jewel, met and exceeded all expecations.

On our first cruise on the Jewel (Baltic Capitals, July 2008), I was greatly disappointed by the selection of food and the variety of meals available on the menu; I ordered principally from the 'Always Available' menu. On the second cruise (Trans-Atlantic, September 2008), the quality and variety of food choices had improved, but I selected about half my meals from the 'Always Available' menu.

On this cruise (trans-Atlantic, April 2009), the food selections and variety had markedly improved. There were always selections on the 'Daily Menu' from which I could choose. The presentation was superb, the tast ewas excellent and the preparation was perfect. I was very impressed with the meals I had, never once having to order from 'Always Available.' I was able to speak to the head chef to tell him how impressed I was.

These changes must be attributed to the Dutch head chef, and probably more to the Food & Beverage manager from France.

On our previous 2 cruises on the Jewel, our staterooms were on Deck 10 midship, once port and the other starboard. This time, we were again on Deck 10, occupying the last stateroom aft and port. It was the average size category BB stateroom with a balcony, and had the typical accoutrements (TV, sofa, kettle and coffee/tea, hairdryer). The twin beds had been pushed together to make one queen-size bed.

Having sailed on the Jewel twice previously, we knew what to expect in our stateroom. It was a good size for the 2 of us, and really all one needs (perhaps a little more than what one needs) considering how much time you spend inside your stateroom. Personally, taking a cruise means exploring the ship, participating in some activities, see ing a show or using the gym in addition to visiting the shops onboard or the spa/salon. All in all, the staeroom we had fit our needs.

There is a myriad of activities onboard any cruise ship, so much so that it is often difficult to choose which ones to do. I enjoyed listening to chamber music quartet on the ship. I really enjoyed the Cirque Bijou and the staff/crew show ("Fountains") that were presented the night before disembarkation. I also liked the juggler Hilby who was onboard; I saw his show twice. I even attended his juggling class!

I'm not one for bingo, but I do, on occasion, enjoy Trivia. I didn't go to the shows that were presented. What I did see, I enjoyed.

In general, I don't do shore excursions. I prefer exploring places on my own. We had only 2 ports-of-call on this trans-Atlantic (Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal and Vigo, Spain) before reaching Dover. We were in these ports for a limited time and I explored on my own anyway. I did shore excursion in Russia (which I highly recommend doing inorder to avoid a lot of headaches) and in Iceland. I took them because of distance and/or accessibility and/or traffic congestion and/or individual admission costs.

From everything I've said above, I would qualify my cruise as a tremendous experience. It was, by far, the best cruise I've ever done and was the best vacation I've ever had. All the vactions and cruise vacations I've taken have been outstabding, but this last one beat them all! I am very glad I took this cruise.

Having said that, the only parts I did not enjoy was the very short time I spent in Miami, particularly the airport and the port. I can only decribe the airport as chaotic. I was very difficult to locate the NCL agents who were responsible for our transfer. When we finally found them, it took them several minutes to find our names on the transfer record. We were told our bus would arrive at 11am to take us to the port; it arrived almost an hour late. They gave us our ship assignment stickers, but neglected to give us bus assignment numbers. They were most unhelpful. However, the driver we had was nice and the journey was pleasant.

The airport was chaos, but the port was disorganized chaos. There was no crowd control - people pushed in front of each other to go through security check. There was no direction - no agents were on hand to tell people where to go to check in and get keycards. Once again people pushed and ran to get in front of others to register.

I had been through Miami airport and port in the past . Both were very disorganized and chaotic then, and neither has improved. In fact, I think they've gotten worse. The best part about Miami was boarding the ship.

In contrast to this, the disembarkation process in Dover, England was smooth. It was well-directed and the staff were pleasant and rather acccommodating. There were several coaches we could take to get to Heathrow airport, and they tried to find the earliest departure from the pier for us. The cruise, of course, was the bestpart of the trip.



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