The full report is on the US forum
I will post only the cruise part here
CRUISE – NORWEGIAN JEWEL
We made a Yellow taxi reservation the night before, it came 10’ early, short ride from hotel to the terminal B was approximately $20 – metered ride. Check-in was short and pleasant, all were given tickets with a group number, and yes, they check the numbers going on the ship or on the tenders, and we were amazed how well it was organized. As usual, buffet first, rooms were ready at 2 pm. I must say, compare to Royal Caribbean and Princess our cabin was best designed.
The bed was the most comfortable; the shower area subdivided into three compartments, the dispensers had “lavender soap,” “sharp body wash” and “aromazing shampoo.” Not complaining, just want to say this shampoo is not for all hair types. Mine is “normal to oily” so I was glad I brought my own. Lots of shelves and draws in the cabin.
A Fodor’s poster sent me a magnet that I put on the cabin door – it was nice to come back to the cabin to be greeted. Bring your favorite magnet for a nice touch! We also bought a rose on the ship with a small capsule to hold water – and it held well for all 7 days, such a fresh flower! We changed water daily.
Ship activities are very much drink-oriented, very few at daytime even on sea days. This is why they have good library, we went in to check, there is a color-coded list posted, even large print books! Shows were good, stood out a pair of gymnasts, she’s from Belarus, he’s Italian, and a professional dance pair. Go early for Cirque Bijou if you want a seat, people line up one hour before the show, they open strictly 30’ prior. This was probably the best show of the cruise.
Once we came back on the ship early – a movie was scheduled – the bar area was dark, but no movie. We were 2-3 minutes late, so it was either cancelled, or nobody showed up. Scheduled were friends of Dorothy, friends of Bill W – we were left out as nobody’s friends! On the first sea day there was a Cruise Critic meeting where the ship leaders introduced themselves, but our meeting was not on the daily roaster.
On the meeting somebody said, he’d like sometimes to reply to a report posted on-line, so here is my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I didn’t know they don’t give out souvenirs like on other ships for participating in classes and competitions, other cruisers had cards that were signed during the cruise, and on the last day of the cruise redeemed for key chains, playing cards, pens. By the time I’ve noticed that, it was too late to get a card on day 5. Why didn’t they tell me at the check-in or even gave the card?
The buffet was on schedule, and between the hours the smaller one in the back was opened. Food was plenty, and most of good quality. The only thing I didn’t like was peanut butter – at home I don’t use the one that had salt and sugar added. A pleasant surprise was the cappuccino machine in the buffet. Ice cream was vanilla, chocolate, and swirl. 3 juices in the morning (a small dispenser next to water), iced tea for lunch, coffees and teas all day.
As I didn’t care to make reservations, we went to Azura only for early dinner when it would just open, only once in 7 days there was waiting. Blue Lagoon supposed to be always opened, once they turned us back shortly before 11 am telling they are moving or cooking something, don’t remember exactly, asked to come back at 11.15 what we did. If they always do that, why not to put it on the daily schedule, we’d know when to come.
We really liked the food choices, and it was easy for any diet or preference! Meat eaters had plenty, vegetarians had plenty, and I was happy with fish, chicken, lots of raw and cooked veggies and great breads! My husband was happy with everything.
Casino had slot machines from 1c and up, way up; we saw $5 – possibly more. There were other things like card room, computers, kiddies’ activities – children didn’t run around. As organized groups they came to the evening shows.
Music was by the pool part of the day (would you like cocktails?) and in the evenings in the bars. Champagne is served with chocolate-dipped strawberries, and martinis (dark or milk chocolate martinis!!) with snack mix – tiny pretzels, chips, nuts including almonds.
Roatan, Honduras – this was our shortest trip ashore! Steady rain is no fun, we didn’t care for diamonds or “duty free” perfume, the souvenir stand was so overpriced! and yes, there was only one on that rainy day, we didn’t feel like walking around, went back to the ship on time to see “Julie and Julia” on the larger screen then cabin TV. At the shopping presentation they ran out of maps, don’t worry, when you get off the tender, pick up a free map at the local information kiosk.
To get on the tender, you need a ticket. They call up numbers by the hundreds: up to 100, up to 200, etc. The elevators go down only to 6th floors on the tender days. Yes, they look at the ticket numbers; you cannot even take the stairs down if your number was not called. Morning tours go on the tenders first. People with moving difficulties ride the one designated elevator all day with a ship employee; it takes some waiting.
Belize City, Belize. If you get motion sickness, take a pill before the tender. The bumpy ride is 20 minutes, plus it takes a while for everybody to get on and off, this is when the rocking gets really bad.
The day before we tried to make a reservation for the Calypso train – the noon tour was sold out, 8.30 seemed too early for vacation… so we are lazy people, shoot us! On the website I saw 3 time slots, on the ship only two – so it was good we didn’t make advance reservation, or we could’ve been moved to the morning tour.
On the Internet I’ve learned about horse carriage rides for $15 per person for 1 hour of narrated fun! While it was nice to see the city, I can only imagine the life behind bars – all windows and doors had metal bars even on the second floors! In shops, there were bars between customers and sales clerks. People are living under a siege, so sad!
The next day most of the girls on the ship had their hair braded differently; they looked happy and proud. Some women did it too, I even saw a man with braded beard with a bead hanging off each strand. Yikes!
Costa Maya, Mexico. When we got off the ship, the free shuttle was standing there, waiting. Coming back we walked – it’s not far! There is a shopping village guarded by soldiers with machine guns. We tried to find the amphitheater with local shows, used the map, circled the village a couple of times… gave up and went back!
There is a pool in the village, some loungers, if you want to get one, get off the ship as early as possible!
Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. This was the scariest tender ride! The boat was rocking and water spraying, and then you get from the boat on sand. Don’t know how or if disabled people can get on the island, but we saw special wheelchairs on huge wheels like balloons, probably designed for sand.
The nice sandy beach is on the left off the tender. Kids activities, volleyball and the restrooms are in the middle. On the right, the live band, buffet and the beach with rocky bottom, a bit further is the shopping area, why the Caribbean prices are so high?
The food was a choice of pizzas, meats, rolls, mixed veggies, coleslaw – very nice! To drink only iced water and regular coffee, everything else was for sale. Loungers, high and low chairs, park-type tables with benches everywhere. With the right weather, it’s a great stop!
On the last day we thought our cabin will be available till 9 am, went up for breakfast shortly before 8 to see the cabin door opened and 2 people changing the bedding. Each cabin had a dial of 4 colors – welcome, make the cabin, turn in, and do not disturb. Even though we did not mark ours as “make” they tucked in the final statement, which my husband took out. This was probably the signal to clean the cabin. We came back when they were done, washed our hands using the towels – makes me think, will the cabin be touched up after we leave?
The last day they put out colored tags for people to take what they want to put on suitcases if needed. First, easy walk off for people who made their own arrangements and carry their own luggage, then they call the colors or escort the groups. We had a transfer to FLL for $25 per person on a comfortable bus that made several stops for different airlines.
Flying back on Delta 2 hours to Atlanta, 5.5 hours to SFO. On the first leg – peanuts and drinks, second leg a choice of peanuts, pretzels or cookies and drinks. At FLL they accept suitcases only 2 hours prior to the flight. Took one look at the security line – dash to the curbside check-in to get rid of another $15.
Our little discovery: there is an art installation showing the Tarzan tree, and off that tree words are falling in several languages. The best part, there are chairs. In the main area, people were sitting on their suitcases, on the floor, anywhere they could. It looked crazy. And we didn’t see any place to eat. After security, it’s a normal airport.
Arrived SFO at midnight, the restrooms are closed. Downstairs to get the suitcase, opened restrooms, back up to the shuttles. By 2 am we were finally in beds just to wake up at 6 am being still on the Florida time zone.
Will we travel with Norwegian again? Definitely yes if the itinerary is right. The only thing we didn’t like is the absence of a set dinnertime. If only this company would offer a choice of a fixed sitting along with “whenever” we’d give them A++. All they asked in Azura is whether you want a table to yourself, or willing to share. It really gets old fast to have a lonely dinner or to explain each time where you are from and what you do for a living.
Overall, we enjoy cruises, and if I’d have to pick our category from “newlywed, well fed, nearly dead” I would pick the last one as we are not healthy, and the slower pace of cruises suits us well. The next one planned is from Copenhagen along the Norway coast to cross the Polar Circle.
And the photos are posted here:
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The full report is on the US forum