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Norwegian Jewel - NCL Norwegian Cruise Line - cruise ship review and photos

The sun is shining gloriously as a taxi drops us off at the Port of Miami at precisely 11.55 AM. Porters take care of our luggage,  a security guard checks passports and tickets, we are x-rayed and without so much as a 2-minute wait we are checked in by a guy wearing a bright yellow tie which says: "Forgot your tie? Good, you won't need it!". Welcome to Freestyle Cruising! 

Sapphire Pools Pina Colada in tacky souvenir glass
Sapphire Pools   Pina Colada in souvenir glass

Exactly 15 minutes after dropping off our luggage outside the terminal, we are munching away on a turkey burger in the Great Outdoors Restaurant. It can't go any faster than this!

The Great Outdoors Restaurant
The Great Outdoors Restaurant

As we order our first Pina Colada we experience an example of NCL up selling tactics. Our drinks are served in extra-large, extra-tacky "souvenir glasses". At a surcharge, of course! All too soon an announcement is made that the staterooms are ready. And not much later we find our luggage waiting in the corridor. Bravo!

Miami skyline Sapphire Pools

Miami skyline

  Sapphire Pools

After lunch we discover our floating resort. NCL's signature style calls for a ship that is playful, colorful and has a sense of humor. Norwegian Jewel was built with this concept in mind and turns out to be a ship that is perfect for anyone that feels young at heart.

BBQ time at sailaway BBQ Time at sailaway
BBQ Time!   BBQ at departure from Miami

At exactly 5.00 PM, directly after the boat drill, a long blast on the ship's horn means that our 9-day Southern Caribbean cruise has officially started. As chefs fire up the open-air BBQ on Pool Deck, Norwegian Jewel slowly reverses out of the Port of Miami.

Reversing out of the Port of Miami Someone is following us...
Reversing out of port   We are being followed...

It's a tight fit as our 965 ft long ship swings around close to the breakwaters, watched by many  out on the open decks.

Miami Beach
Miami Beach

Once clear of the breakwaters, Norwegian Jewel quickly picks up speed and Lucy and I linger on our balcony before it is time to dress for dinner. But with no strict dress codes enforced, every night is "casual" night on Norwegian Jewel. What a delight!

 

Once you've made a warm-weather cruise with the added comfort of a private balcony, there is really no way back. So when booking this cruise, we decided to again splurge on a balcony cabin.

Cabin 9580 - Oceanview stateroom with balcony, grade BB
Cabin 9580 - Oceanview stateroom with balcony, grade BB

Done in an eclectic bright color scheme, stateroom 9580 is located amidships on deck 9. NCL's standard balcony staterooms are a little smaller than those on competing cruise lines. But what they lack in space they make up in innovation and amenities.

Balcony stateroom Bathroom with shower
Room with a view   Bathroom with shower

With a tea & coffee maker, a wonderful bathroom (with large shower and semi-separate toilet), comfortable beds and ample wardrobe space, we feel at home right away. 

Our balcony Our balcony
Our balcony   View over Miami from balcony

Best of all is of course our balcony, more than worth the extra $. It has two comfortable chairs, a small side table and a glass railing. And is perfect for weather checks in the morning, afternoon wine tasting and late-night stargazing!

 

Lucy and I happen to like Asian food - we can't help it. So one of the first things we do after lunch is report to the restaurant reservations desk in Tango's and book a table for two at 7.00 PM at Chin Chin's, Norwegian Jewel's Asian fusion restaurant.

Enjoying Chin Chin's Thai spring rolls
Dinner at Chin Chin's   Thai spring rolls

As the sun sets over the distant Florida coast, we report to Chin Chin's and are seated at a table overlooking the Promenade Deck. For a flat fee of US$ 10 per person you can dine royally here on Chicken Yakitori, Sweet & Sour Shrimps, Beef Teriyaki and the likes.  

Chin Chin's Asian restaurant with Sushi Bar
Chin Chin's Asian Restaurant with Sushi Bar

It turns out the food is great and service is very friendly and attentive. We like! We like! With its adjacent Sushi and Sake Bars, a full menu of Mongolian Hotpots and the ever-popular Teppanyaki Rooms, Chin Chin's turns out be an excellent choice and we vouch to return for a second helping later in the cruise.

Chin Chin's Asian Restaurant Teppanyaki Room
Chin Chin's Asian Restaurant    Teppanyaki Room
 

Photos and text: 2008 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on May 12, 2008

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