In the year 2000, NCL decided that cruising had become too stuffy, so it began redesigning its onboard programs and its ships to be more casual, down-to-earth, and just plain fun. The 92,000-ton, 2,376-guest Norwegian Jewel and her Jewel-class sister ships are the direct result of that makeover. Launched in 2005, Norwegian Jewel is everything a mainstream American megaship should be: She offers a festive atmosphere, great entertainment, a slew of restaurants, awesome children’s centers, fun decor, fantastic suites, and comfortable standard staterooms, all at a fair price.
On Jewel’s hull, a festive painting of jewels and banners flows back from the bow like a scarf — a playful touch that was designed to say, “Hey! Come aboard. We have fun in here.”
Inside, the mood continues from the moment you come aboard, with fantasy furniture and artwork in the atrium lobby, an explosion of bright island colors in both the public rooms and accommodations, and a dash of contemporary and art deco styling in some of her fancier restaurants and lounges. The multi-deck Stardust Theater seats 1,000 guests for some of the best production shows in the cruise world. The FYZZ Cabaret Lounge & Bar on Deck 7 hosts late-night music and dancing and offers three great little private karaoke rooms that can be reserved for private parties. Up on Deck 13, the Spinnaker observation lounge is also open for dancing at night. More intimate, low-volume socializing takes place at midships on Deck 6, where three themed bars are clustered together, one specializing in beer and whiskey, one in martinis and cocktails, and one in champagne. Other public rooms include a large casino, a reading room, a library, an Internet center, and a wedding chapel.
Kids get a huge, bright play area outfitted with cozy TV rooms, a huge climbing maze, and great crafts, play, and computer areas. There’s also a small play area outdoors. Teens get their own hangout space called Club Underground.
A dinnertime, guests can choose among 12 different restaurants:
There are also the usual outdoor grills and indoor snack spots during the day, plus room service, and you can even order pizza 24 hours a day for $5 per pie, delivered to you anywhere on the ship.
Outdoors, on Jewel’s resort-like pool deck, a row of palm-tree-shaped street lamps frames two pools, several hot tubs, and a large waterslide. Up in the bow on that same deck is the ship’s amazing spa, with its multiple treatment rooms, saunas and steamrooms, beauty salon, and calming relaxation center with its own aquatherapy pool. A large fitness center is next door, and there’s a jogging track and a basketball/volleyball court outside.
Standard staterooms are comfortable if not plush, decorated in bright fabrics and woody paneling and accents. Furniture tends to be a bit spindly and insubstantial, but overall the rooms are pleasant and livable, with TVs, minibars, well-designed bathrooms, and, in about half the outside cabins, smallish but acceptable private balconies. Outsides range from about 160 to 205 square feet.
At the high end, Jewel offers 11 different categories of suites, many of them in its “The Haven by Norwegian” first-class section. Top of the heap is the incredible Garden Villa, with its three separate bedrooms, living room, dining room, and private garden. Most distinctive are the two-bedroom, 572-square-foot Family Villas and 440-square-foot Courtyard Penthouses, all arrayed around a private courtyard with its own small swimming pool, hot tub, and plush sun beds. There’s also a private sun deck upstairs and a dedicated concierge lounge, all for the use of Haven guests only.
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