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ninasdream Nov 23rd, 2012 07:56 AM

NCL Jewel did you like it? and the Freestyle dining?
How was the NCL " freestyle" experience? What was there in place of formal night? Was there a captain's party? A singles mixer? Did you like the overall offering of activities and entertainment/shows? Could you book a late seating for every night in advance? I’d rather not have to do that every day. Did you meet other people? Were you able to sit with others for dinner if you wanted to?
NCL website doesn't really offer a lot of information on activities & shows, & doesn't post the regular dining sample menus. Seems very casual, and the entertainment didn't seem to be at the same level as other ships.

Also, a lot of mixed reviews on NCL & the Jewel. DId the cruisers reporting on cruisecritic and other sites have unrealistic expectations of the staff? or is indifferent ( and rude) service really that common an occurence? ( not sure how a company would stay in business). I have a bad knee & want to avoid lines and disorganized disembarking as much as possible. Royal Caribbean was very efficient (or I was lucky). I enjoyed most of it, good service, good food & activities, mostly good shows.

Subjective, of course, but any feedback on your own experience with NCL would be appreciated. I need to decide Fri or Sat, & solidify arrangements for petcare.
I am awaiting renewal of my passport, so cruising from US port is really my only option without passport.
Thank you!

tenthumbs Nov 23rd, 2012 09:54 AM

I have been on three NCL cruises, and I've enjoyed all of them. We did the Mexican Riviera, the Hawaiian islands, and a Carribean one (ports of call Belize City, Roatan, Cozumel, and Costa Maya). Unlike "early" and "late" seating on other cruiselines, NCL has their "freestyle" dining~in otherwords, in the main (free) dining rooms, you show up when you want to eat. If you have a large group and want to be seated together, you can make reservations. Because I've always travelled with large groups, we didn't request to be seated at a table with others. Their "formal night" is not mandatory, and it mainly consists of a photographer being available to photograph you in your finest,should you choose to participate. I'm not sure if there is a "captain's dinner," as it was never anything that interested me or any of my travel companians. We didn't have any problem making friends (we still are in contact with some of the folks we met).

The entertainment was fine~perhaps a little more casual than other cruiselines, as you stated, but I found it adequate. We've had fabulous service. I found the boarding and disembarkation organized with the exception of the disembarkation at the port of New Orleans. There was a long, slow-moving line, but I think it had more to do with customs than NCL.

Take the really bad reviews with a grain of salt and pay close attention to what the complaints are. If they are numerous and trivial, I figure those are the type of people who will find fault with anything. :)

ninasdream Nov 23rd, 2012 10:14 AM

tenthumbs- thank you so much, that answers much of what I was looking for. I am not interested in very formal dress or the captain's table, but have found that the first night champagne toast is a great way to meet people. I need dinner companions, so I am a bit concerned about that.

ninasdream Nov 23rd, 2012 11:31 AM

If anyone who has travelled alone on NCL has a chance, let me know if you met people to do things with, or were you pretty much exploring on your own. Thanks.

Rhea58 Nov 24th, 2012 03:18 AM

I was on the GEM this past Feb as a single. I did not need to meet anyone as I went for the cruise, not the ports. However, they had a number of Singles get-togethers which is a good place to start. Also, a Meet & Greet. I am taking another longer cruise on the GEM his coming Feb & hope to engage others to go ashore independent of their tours as the ports are more interesting.
In short, if you decide on NCL, sign up for the meet & greet
@ under Roll Calls & also attend any single get togethers including the lunch. You also might meet folks at any of the daily activities such as the Trivia Pursuit game which is quite popular on all cruises.

ninasdream Nov 24th, 2012 06:28 AM

thanks very much Rhea, that's what I was looking for. What did you do for dinner when you were on the GEM? Did you request to be seated with others, & were they able to find a party to do that?

Rhea58 Nov 25th, 2012 03:29 AM

No Nina I didn't. I only dined twice w/others: a cruise
staffer & the captain's dinner. However, I fully intend
to try & meet others this upcoming trip by going to the
Singles get-togthers & from the Meet & Greet.

BTW, re specialty restaurants: I really enjoyed Le Bistro
as I love French food but since I am a New Yorker, paying $30
for steak @ Cagney's doesn't "do" it for me.
Any other queries?

ninasdream Nov 25th, 2012 08:37 AM

Hi Rhea, Thank you so much for your generous time. I feel silly. I am a seasoned traveler, and I just can't decide. You have chosen to travel with them again, so that is telling me you enjoyed it enough. I read that about Cagney's, so you're not alone, a shame, because I was looking forward to that, and on RC, steakhouse was good. What about the dinners at the regular dining room?

My itinerary is Port Canaveral, Nassau & Grand Cayman islands, the last of which I have been to & would gladly spend a day snorkeling.

How were the lines for boarding & disembarking when you went? I have a bad knee, which I am slowly building strength in again by walking, but standing is still a problem.

Rhea58 Nov 25th, 2012 10:36 AM

Nina; drop the Jewel & go with me on the 9-day 2-5-13 GEM.
I cannot vouch for any other NCL ships that are still sailing.
The reason I am returning is that the staff on this ship was more accomodating & friendly than others I've sailed. And the
deliveries of choc.covered strawberries didn't hurt either.

Excursions are way over-priced as you prob know. To wit: $119
to go to the Atlantis. I walked easily off the ship, into the bldg, bought a $8 round-trip boat ride over there & then paid $39 to get a wristband to tour the property & all the sealife. (it is no longer free save for the Casino which is gigantic). If you want to e-mail me directly: Ralbert58 at

kismetchimera Nov 25th, 2012 01:45 PM

I never been on a cruise before and always said that i like Terra firma better..

However I saw one cruise that seems very interesting and would love to do.
Is a seven day Greek islands leaving from Venice..

We (my daughter and Me) would be able to visit Corfu, Santorini,mykonos, Katakolon?never been to Greece also..

Has anyone taken that cruise before..?

Pardon me Nina..I dont intent to take over your Thread..But I couldn't help when I saw your inquirers about cruising with NCL( our ship name is Jade).
I have always flown and taken the trains when traveling from country to country..

Thank You for any informations..

ninasdream Nov 25th, 2012 06:46 PM

Hi kismet, you & I have "known" each other a while on this site, and you are so helpful, I don't mind the hijack. I posted on the other forums, but The Lounge crowd knows me best, which is why I posted here. So if anyone on the thread can help, I am happy for it. Just to let you know, I booked my first cruise with my travel agent in 2000 - but when she suggested it I said cruises weren't for me. She assured me that you can do the cruise any way you want - make it into the kind of vacation activity you enjoy. It's worked for me. I was actually looking into a cruise in Greece & Turkey, but my airfare was prohibitive ($1300). Good luck!

Rhea - I emailed you off-board. Thank you for the email address. By the way, I joined this board to put together a return trip to Paris in 2004, so a destination we have in common.

katybird Nov 26th, 2012 06:36 AM

"My itinerary is Port Canaveral, Nassau & Grand Cayman islands, the last of which I have been to & would gladly spend a day snorkeling."

Nina, Are you sure it is Grand Cayman? It is usually Great Stirrup Cay..NCL's private island for the Bahamas itinerary out of NYC. Sure don't want you to be disappointed!

There is NOTHING at the Port Canaveral port. We did not care for any of the excursions offered and stayed on the ship for a nice relaxing day. Great Stirrup Cay was in the process of being refurbished when we weere there last year at this time. There were a ton of beach chairs, bar-b-que, music, straw market. The tender boats ran frequently.

ninasdream Nov 26th, 2012 07:03 AM

Ooh, Katybird, you're right! I knew that at one point, and then somehow got it wrong when posting here. Was it worth disembarking? Did you snorkel? I spent the day on the beach when I went to RC's Labidee island in Haiti, and it was awful. I didn't have an ipod to drown out the hawking of the $10 drinks, and the smoke from the pretty awful BBQ drifted. I wished I had signed up for snorkel which took you to a different area, where the beach was - it was the wrong part of the island for seeing anything. Oh boy.

katybird Nov 26th, 2012 11:59 AM

Hi Nina, No, we did not snorkle. We spent about an hour on the island. We really aren't beach people. I know that probably sounds crazy but we went on this cruise because we enjoy being on the ship and on the ocean. We were happy sitting on our balcony and wandering the ship. We took advantage of a rock bottom price for a mini suite at the last minute. No worry about flights to board in NY and such a nice stress free vacation! BTW, NCL does a good job embarking and disembarking. Things move right along and they are very organized.

Have you decided yet?

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