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Normal Family

Age: 55

Occupation:teacher

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Jewel

Sailing Date: 2011-06-11

Itinerary: New York to Bahama

We started out with a "cruise professional" through NCL that made promises he couldn't keep, he then would not respond to our calls or emails. When I got a hold of his supervisor we got things worked out. He could not fulfill the promise that was made, but did provide us with a bottle of wine in our cabin for our troubles.

The ship is big, so it does not feel crowded. We did not have to wait long for anything and was always able to find a table or seat. The freestyle dining is nice in that you can eat when you want, but you do not get to "bond" with your wait staff. We had a different server at every meal. Some of the meal service was slow as we had to wait a long period between courses.

The food is really the only complaint we had with the Jewel. The meals were bland and not the quality we had expected. We did eat at Cagney's one evening (you have to pay $25 per person at the specialty restaurants.) The food there was more what we expected on a cruise. The buffets were pretty much the same food each time. By the end of the week, the fruit was mushy and the rolls stale Wed night was the lobster, beef wellington night. We did not know that and chose that night to go to the buffet. Not sure what the quality of that night would have been. The desserts were nothing special either. There is a chocolate buffet on Thurs night. Mostly brownies and chocolate cakes with added flavor (orange chocolate cake, walnut chocolate cake etc.)

The 2 restaurants serve the same meals, but the Tzar is a nicer atmosphere. The first night you could wear shorts in the Tzar. The second night they turned away a group of 8 due to the children having shorts on. The 3rd night they changed that rule due to so many children on board.

We stayed in a family balcony room and it was very nice. The room was big as was the bathroom. The bed was extremely comfortable. The fold out couch, however, was very hard. The bath was one of the biggest of any cruise we have been on. The tub is a full size tub. Be careful you don't put any thing in the refrigerator or you may get a mini bar bill. We put a bottle of water in there to cool, and we were billed for it. They did take it off our bill, but we had to stand in line to get it taken care of.

There are no clocks in the staterooms, so make sure you bring a watch or a wind up alarm clock. Your phone will not display the time due to being in the middle of no where. There are also very few electrical outlets which was surprising. (1 in the bathroom for a razor only, and 2 in the stateroom, and none by the beds.)

Aside from the pool, there was not a lot of activities. We had 2 days in a row at sea and on day 2 our children were bored. No movie theater. The shows on the TV in stateroom are the same ones over and over. There are about 4 shows but they repeat their self over and over and over. Our children are 11 and 12 so in that age, where they are too old for Dora and Sponge Bob, but was not old enough to go into the teen area. There are 2 ping pong tables, but it is hard to find a time when they are not in use. Also the first day, someone hit the ball overboard, so there was no more ping pong until the next day when they brought out extra balls.

We did attend 4 of the shows. The magical was the best. He is funnier than the comedian. Most of the shows are family friendly. They did tell you if they were geared toward adults. I think that was just once the entire week.

If you love art, there are 2-3 art auctions. We did buy some nice pieces from the auction. You could spend $100 up to $50,000. If you see something you like, talk to them and they will work with you on getting the best price they can offer.

In Orlando we went to the Kennedy Space Center. The bus tour is very long and boring. You just drive through the Center and see buildings. The museums were nice once you got to them, but there is not a lot of time due to the length of the bus tour. We spent the extra money for the up close tour and not sure I would do that again. You did get closer to the launch site, but if you have a good lens on your camera you will still get a good picture from the cheaper tour. Also after the last launch in July, not sure what there will be too see on the up close tour.

On the NCL island we rented snorkel equipment. The snorkeling is much better with NCL than Disney. Disney has fake ships etc. where NCL is a true experience. The beach is very crowded. Make sure you bring water with you, as the only place you can get free water is at the food area and you will have to walk a distance for that. Bring a reusable water bottle from home and fill it before you leave the ship.

On Nassau we went to Atlantis and swam with the dolphins. We all agreed that was the best part of the trip. The dolphin experience was unbelievable. You can either swim in deep water with a hand held motorized fan or have the dolphin push you across the pool with their nose while you hold on to a water board. They also do that if you have the deep water experience. Try and get an earlier time for the dolphins as it takes a good hour and half. There is not a lot of time after to experience Atlantis. The maps they give you for Atlantis is worthless. The lockers cost $12 and were sold out by they time we got there. We left our stuff under a tree and thankfully it was safe.

Don't spend the $40 per person for the pier to airport transfer. You can get a taxi at the pier very easy. We flew out of Newark and it was $90. For a family of 4 that was much cheaper. You can get your color tags for debarking on Thurs evening. If you need to leave the ship early, make sure you get your color tags on Thurs. night. We had the first color (brown) and was off the ship by 9:10.

Overall, the Jewel was a good experience for our family. Other than the food, I cant think of anything negative about our trip. You will never be able to wash your hands again with out singing "washy washy" . Once you go on the Jewel, you will know what I mean by that.

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