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pres

Age: 49

Occupation:communications

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Jewel

Sailing Date: 2010-06-12

Itinerary: Bahamas

Just got back from the Bahamas cruise on the Jewel with the wife, our second cruise together. A wonderful experience that was a lot of fun. If you've booked on the Jewel you'll love it (unless you don't like teal). First off, if you are due to sail, give your travel agent a call a couple days prior to sailing to have them call for a free upgrade. My wife did and we got a stateroom that was much more spacious. And don't even think about bringing liquor on the ship, it will be confiscated. Try to get to the pier early but not too early. I had researched that for a 4pm cruise they begin the boarding procedure at 12:30. We took the 9am bolt bus (tix online - do it!) from Philly's 30th Street train station and got a roundtrip for $46 for two. Arrived at Madison Square Garden at 11:00. It's a quick cab ride costing about $10 including tip. Got to the terminal at close to 12. The process is easy: you unload the cab, and your luggage is taken by porters. If you don't have tags - or in our case, need new ones since we got an upgrade - they will be supplied. (Make sure you've got some $1 bills.) Once inside, your sailing documents and passport are checked and you get a plastic number and your color-coded cruise card. Unless you're a heavy soda drinker do not get the soda package at $6 a day!!!! There's iced tea available at all meals. If you want a soda once in a while, pay the $1.75 for it; you'll still come out ahead. Then to the waiting area where, when it is time to board, they call you number and onto the ship you go. As soon as you can go to Tsars, the fancy resturant. There will be no lines at this time and it is the perfect opportunity to sample the groceries. Afterwards, can't get to your cabin yet, so take time to explore the ship. I suggest you start at deck 13 and make your way down. Decks 13 does not run the length of the ship. Plenty of food on deck 12, which is where the pools are. Be sure to go through the Garden Cafe to the stern of the ship to the Topsider and I guarantee it wll be your favorite spot! your cabin is ready by 2, but your bags will be delivered to your stateroom. And that's it. The ship is beautiful, colorful and a marvel with a bar level on deck 6, spa, casino (stay away!), and other bars on decks 12, 13. The Spinnaker lonunge on deck 13 has the best view on the ship. Entertainment is everywhere from the games - newlywed game, bingo, etc. - to the evening shows - be sure to see Cirque Bijou and the cruise staff show - art auctions, to the excellent singing performers at the Atrium, bars, etc - loved the guitar-playing Alhambre Brothers especially. Fabrizio plays piano and sings in heavily accented Italian and is everywhere. Karaoke in the Fizz lounge is generally dreadful. The 70s disco night is mucho fun. The food: our last RC cruise had set meal times although there were other options. LOVED the Freestyle dining concept. Works like this: there are free restaurants - Azura, Tsars, the Blue Lagoon (which is always open). At those restaurants you go and eat. But at the others - Le Bistro, Cagney's, Tippanyaki, Mamas Italian - there is a service charge of between $10 - $25 per person. Don't go to these until they are doing a 2-for-1special after the second day as there is no need to do so quite so soon. The food is very good overall beginning with the Garden Cafe and the outdoor Grill on deck 12. Hamburgers and hotdogs at the poolside grill. But the Cafe, goodness gracious, there is every kind of food you can think of - salads of all kinds, burgers, sausages, with all the toppings pizza, indian food, fruit, vegetables, deserts. I mean it's a lot of good stuff. It's grab and go. Unlimited ice cream - chocolate in the front, strawberry way in the back. The wings at Blue Lagoon are stellar. The food portions are small, a good idea considering how much food is wasted. But you can order what you and as much as you want. Standout was le Bistro with its fancy french food: foie gras, bouillabaise, lamb chops, mushroom soup, chocolate napoleon, etc. Fabulous and worth the 2-for-1; we went twice. Didn't go to the steakhouse or asian restaurants; I can do that at home. You don't have to dress up which turns some people off, but we loved the informality and the lack of a schedule. Service: excellent throughout. The stateroom was always cleaned promptly. The restaurant servers are tres attentive - lots of bowing and scraping. Most of the crew is Phillipino and they are on point, professional and nice too. Plus, the women are very attractive (men too) with cute short hairstyles, or their hair in buns. The guys look good too. But if you appreciate looking at pretty women, you'll be in heaven. Excursions: A lot of reviews complain about the trip to the private island. I found it to be fabulous. The boat stops, the crew goes ashore preparing a beach barbeque and then the tenders filled with passengers. Better bring your sunscreen and flip flops because it is hotter than hell out there! Beach chairs are all around and it's just a lot of fun even for two hours which is about all you can stand. Bear in mind, as the day gets later, you'll have to wait for a tender and, again, it is hot as hell out there on the island. Unless you have kids and are taking them to Disney or the Spaceport, the stop in Canaveral is a waste of time. But it is an opportunity to go to the Wal-mart, drugstore, and say you've seen Cocoa Beach. if you're looking for a less-crowded pool time, this is it! Same with the private island and Nassau. Reminder: you cannot take food off the boat or bring it back in. Nassau was cool because the wife had a hankering for some conch salad. Take a walk along the shoreline about a mile to all the strip of resaurants on the beach side - the Fish Fry. Bring a photo ID along with your cruise card! Also, you can take a boat $3 each way to see Atlantis, which is worth going for the banter of the tour guide and to see the aquarium.
Tips/reminders: there is a $12 per day per person service charge. Keep that in mind. There are 2-for1 martini specials at the Sky Bar and they are strong. There is a tip/gratuity automatically added to your purchases, which is convenient. There are a lot of birthdays and anniversaries so you'll hear singing. But if you have a birthday cake take it with you when you exit the restaurant or you will not see it. (Trust me on this.) You can smoke on the 7th deck and it take 2 2/3rds walk around the ship to equal a mile. And they do serve breakfast on the day you get back to NYC. I suggest the stern on deck 12 for a lovely view of the Statue of Liberty. If you want to get off the ship quickly, you can take your own luggage with you. And when the ship gets back to NYC, the line on deck 7 to leave is horrendous. READ THIS TIP: So, instead, one of you should hang on deck 6 near the casino/theatre entrance on the starboard side of the ship to see if they are setting up an exit there. I happened to be passing by, noticed the setup and asked if they would have disembarking there. We were the third in line and off the ship so quickly and thorugh customs we had to wait for an hour and a half for the bus home. Don't know why more folks don't know about this.
Overall, I give the entire experience five out of five stars!!!! And enjoy!

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