Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Sailing Date: January 22nd, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Jewel Cruise Review
This was our 4th cruise on three different cruise lines (previous NCL to Alaska) but the first cruise with our two daughters – aged 6 and 10 – and we had a great holiday!
We flew to Miami the day before the cruise just in case any northern snow storms delayed our arrival. Spent a sunny afternoon walking on Miami Beach and then had a nice dinner at an outdoor restaurant. We had lots of time Sunday morning to have breakfast and make our way to the pier.
Quick as anything. Took a taxi to the pier and was in our stateroom about 45 minutes later. We even had our luggage delivered less than ½ hour after that as we were checking out the room. Very good service.
Our room was beautiful. 11th deck with a balcony and the nicest bathroom I’ve seen on a ship. It was small but everything was so nicely finished and decorated that you didn’t notice the size. We toured the ship and thought it was amazing. Nicely decorated but not too overdone or gaudy. We registered the kids in the Kids Crew and had our first family dinner in the Tsar dining room. We couldn’t help looking around at the paintings on the walls and gold rimmed ceilings and saying how beautiful it was. The food was good – especially in the specialty restaurants. We loved Mama’s Italian food, Tango/Tapas Mexican food, the Outdoor Grill’s hamburgers, hot dogs and fries and the Garden Café’s breakfast buffets – omelettes every day! While the kids were at the Kids Crew, my husband and I had a romantic dinner at Le Bistro which was very good. The only real complaint I had with the food was the lack of rich, decadent (i.e. chocolate) desserts. I found a lot of custardy, bland deserts that just didn’t do it for me. The chocolate buffet had the best desserts of the week but it only lasted two hours!
The kids loved all the special attractions made just for them. The kid’s cinema, kid’s play area and especially the slide and the hot tub. They couldn’t get enough of the Kids Crew and the staff there were excellent. The shows were great – especially the two shows with the Jean Ann Ryan company. Cirque Bijou was like a Cirque de Soleil production – awesome! I could have passed on the comedy and magic shows but they were still entertaining.
Overall, the service was very good. My husband chatted with all the servers, bartenders, hostesses, etc. to find out how long they had been on the ship, where they were from, when they were going home, etc. and they all took the time to talk to him, even when they were really busy. Our room steward would make towel animals and put the kids\ sunglasses on them. One night, he made one that looked like Rover, our daughter’s red dog who was also on his first cruise! Nice personal touch.
Roatan, Honduras was a very nice port - similar to Belize we had visited 2 years earlier. The Jolly Roger Catamaran and Gumbalina Park tour was great. Best snorkelling we’ve done in the Caribbean (equal to Cozumel). Big lunch with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, etc. and as much pop or beer as you wanted. The nature walk through the park was a highlight for me. Having a spider money jump on your back and its tail wrap around you was something you don’t have happen every day! We would definitely go back to Roatan.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Another tender port and it took a while for the pilot to park on the dock which took up almost an hour of our day. The tour guides were very disorganized at the pier and after being handed off to two more guides racing us to the waiting bus, we took the Island Tour and Stingray City excursion. Stopped at the turtle farm and held the turtles and had a quick pit stop in “Hell”. The stingrays were amazing. Our 6 year old was terrified and had to stay on the boat but the rest of us thought it was great.
Ochos Rios, Jamaica
We booked the Dolphin Swim/Encounter and Dunn’s River Falls. Loved the lush, tropical feel of the island but found there were too many people at Dolphin Cove at once. There was about 8 stations of 8-10 people each in the water for the dolphin swim and then the platforms of 8 people each for the dolphin encounter. My husband and daughter liked being in the water with the dolphin but they didn’t have as much interaction with the dolphins as other places we’ve heard about. My younger daughter and I did the dolphin encounter and she got to touch the dolphin but I thought it was a little expensive ($400 USD) for the amount of time actually spent with the dolphins. Dunns River Falls was great. We all did the falls once and then my husband and older daughter did it again in half the time. Nice spot.
We were supposed to stop in Cococay but due to wave damage, the captain advised us we’d spend the day in Nassau. We hadn’t budgeted for another excursion so we took a taxi to Atlantis. Ended up paying to see the aquariums but it was well worth it. This resort is incredible. We took lots of pictures of the sharks, and other marine life and strolled the beautiful grounds of beaches, pools, etc. It was a nice unexpected port of call.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise itinerary and the beautiful ship and would recommend it to anyone. I may try a Royal Caribbean cruise next time just to compare but we will definitely go back for another NCL FreeStyle cruise in the future.