Setting sail on an Alaskan adventure aboard the Norwegian Jewel is an incredible experience exploring breathtaking glaciers, delightful ports, and untouched landscapes. I’m excited to share our experience with you, including the highlights that brought us joy and some aspects that didn’t quite hit the mark for us. Check out our review for an honest take on the cruise, so you’ll be ready to make informed decisions for your own travel adventures, just like we did!
What makes the Norwegian Jewel super cool is its awesome lineup of Alaskan cruise options. Whether you’re wanting a northbound or southbound cruise, this ship’s got you sorted. Get ready to check out top-notch Alaskan spots like Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Glacier Bay National Park. It’s like a dream come true for any explorer!
Why We Went with the Norwegian Jewel
One big reason we went with the Norwegian Jewel for our Northbound Alaskan Cruise was the chance to explore Glacier Bay National Park and end our journey in Seward. We were eager to take some extra time to explore Seward, check out the stunning Kenai Fjords, and hop on the Alaskan Railroad for that unforgettable Coastal Route experience. We really appreciated how each port stop gave us plenty of time to wander and soak in the surroundings. Those extra days in Seward? Pure perfection for exploring and making the most of our time!
Honestly, Seward and the Alaskan Railroad made it to the top of our favorite memories list. And let me tell you, Glacier Bay National Park? Absolutely jaw-dropping. If you’re planning a cruise, go for one that gives you a full day to soak in the beauty there – totally worth it!
Once you step onto the Norwegian Jewel, get ready for a boatload of fun and entertainment! There’s a whole bunch of stuff to dive into – from different restaurants and cool bars to cozy lounges and even a casino, they’ve got something for everyone. And hey, if you’re feeling the need for some pampering, there’s a spa, a fitness center, and more than one swimming pool to choose from. When the night rolls in, treat yourself to live shows at the theater or just chill out in one of the laid-back lounges. It’s all about making the most of your time on board!
Here’s the lowdown on what we loved and what could be better in this Norwegian Jewel review, especially when it comes to cruising through Alaska.
Things We Loved About This Ship
Recently Updated Ship with Modern Amenities.
We thought the ship looked great and we loved all the cozy spots where you could just kick back and soak in the amazing views. Our favorite hangouts were definitely the Spinnaker Lounge and the Maltings Whiskey Bar. The spa wasn’t the most upscale I’ve visited, but it had a nice vibe. The massage I got there was hands down one of the best I’ve ever had. Even though the therapy area was on the smaller side, the design was top-notch, and everything was super easy to navigate.
Great Alaskan Itinerary
The Jewel takes you on both Northbound and Southbound Alaskan cruises. Now, Norwegian does have these closed loop cruises on fancier, bigger ships with more bells and whistles than the Jewel. But here’s the thing – those ones usually have shorter port times and miss out on sailing through as much of the Inside Passage, and those were two things we really wanted to experience. The Northbound adventure kicks off in Vancouver, BC, and wraps up in Seward, AK. If you’re going Southbound, it starts in Seward, AK, and ends in Vancouver, BC. One big perk of these one-way cruises is that you get more time to explore in each port, and that was a big deal for us.
Exceptional Crew and Service
Overall, we had a great experience with everyone being super helpful and friendly wherever we went. The only hiccup was in the main dining rooms, Azure and The Tsar’s Palace – it felt a bit rushed, but I get it, it’s part of the whole Freestyle dining thing with Norwegian. I did miss having the same servers for our dinners there every night, though. On a brighter note, the staff at Maltings Whiskey Bar & Shakers Martini Bar totally stole the show for us. They were hands down our favorite crew to hang out with on the ship!
Absolutely Delicious Food at the Specialty Restaurants
The specialty restaurants were a hit! Each one treated us to mouthwatering dishes and top-notch service. We had a blast savoring every meal, especially since we decided to try four out of the five specialty spots. The only bummer was missing out on Teppanyaki due to a reservation glitch with Norwegian.
We purchased Norwegian’s Have it All package, which included four dinners at the specialty restaurants, and it was such a smart move for us. It made diving into delicious food a breeze, and that’s a big part of what makes our vacation so special.
Plenty of Activities and Entertainment
We really enjoyed the mix of activities on board. We treated ourselves to the Wine and Chocolate Pairing event and had a blast with several rounds of Bingo. Trivia was an option, but we never quite made it. Just to note, if you’re traveling with kids, it didn’t seem like there were loads of activities specifically for them, so that’s worth considering.
Overall we thought there were lots of great positives and since this is a cruise focused on the destination, we didn’t mind not having waterslides or bumper cars on the ship. Also, a not
Some Things That Aren’t as Amazing
The Cabins are on the Smaller Side
Just a heads-up, the cabins on the Jewel are a bit on the smaller side, so keep that in mind when you’re booking. The interiors, especially, are cozy, so you better really like the folks you’re sailing with if you go for that option! I initially felt a bit frustrated by the smaller cabins compared to other ships, so I splurged on a Club Level Veranda Cabin, and it turned out to be a brilliant move! Surprisingly spacious bathroom, a handy extra seating area, and the added bonus of laundry services – it really made our stay more comfortable. If you’re looking for more space, I’d totally recommend upgrading to the Club Level rooms. For us, it was a fantastic choice, and we took full advantage of all the extra perks they had to offer.
Food Quality in the Main Dining Rooms and the Buffet
I’ve got to be honest; the food was my biggest letdown on this trip. It just didn’t live up to what I was expecting. There was this one meal in the dining room that left me so unsatisfied that I ended up heading to the buffet to find something else to eat. I’m usually a fan of dining in the main spots on ships, but the one on the Jewel was my least favorite, especially Azure – I’d suggest giving it a pass. On the bright side, there were a few tasty highlights, like those morning buns at the buffet that changed daily. Plus, the afternoon snack buffet at 3 pm was a winner, with scones, finger foods, and a different cake each day.
The Locations of the Docks in Port
When I booked this cruise, I knew that Princess Cruises and Holland America get the prime docking spots in Alaska, and that became pretty evident during our trip. It didn’t bother me too much, but if you’re not ready for it, it can be a bit of a hassle. In Ketchikan, the port is a 20-minute bus ride from town. Since it was our shortest day, I booked an excursion through Norwegian, and it was fantastic. You just need to be aware and plan ahead. In Juneau and Skagway, the docks are about a 15 to 20-minute walk from the ship. If you prefer, there are shuttles available too.
Nightly Performances in the Theater
I get that Norwegian is working on spicing up their theater lineup, but to be honest, this part fell a bit flat for me. The variety was lacking, and the quality wasn’t up to par. Surprisingly, we found more enjoyment in the smaller shows happening in the Spinnaker Lounge compared to the main theater. I’m crossing my fingers that they step up their game in the future because live performances are usually one of the highlights I eagerly anticipate on a cruise.
Tips for Booking an Alaskan Cruise on the Norwegian Jewel
Alaska offers a bunch of incredible cruise options, and for us, the Jewel turned out to be the perfect match. If your main interest is soaking in the destinations rather than a ton of activities, you might find it’s the right fit for you too. Check out these tips to make the most of your Alaskan cruise – they’ll work for any cruise line you choose. If you’re unsure which one suits you best, feel free to reach out, and I’d be happy to help you pick a fantastic one!
Book your cruise as early if you are traveling during peak season.
To make sure you snag the rooms with the best views, especially if you’re eyeing spots like the cabins that face the land side of the inside passage or a specific location, it’s key to book early. I’m prone to getting seasick, so I made sure to lock in my cabin well ahead of time for the smoothest sailing.
Given how sought-after Alaska cruises are, I’d recommend booking at least a year in advance to secure your ideal accommodations.
Consider Booking a Suite or Balcony Cabin.
Getting a balcony for our Alaska cruise was a definite must for us. We spotted a bunch of animals right from our balcony and had stunning views in the morning while sipping on my coffee. I can’t stress enough how worth it was for the price – it truly elevated our cruise experience. Highly recommend it!
Consider Buying an Upgrade Package
For those who love exploring various onboard restaurants, I’d suggest going for a specialty dining package. The Have it All package is a winner if you’re into trying out specialty restaurants, booking your excursions through Norwegian, and enjoying top-shelf liquor. We went for it, and it was fantastic! We even scored free Goldbelt Tram tickets on a whim in Juneau, as they were under 50 dollars per person. Turned out to be an awesome experience!
Avoid Disappointment by Booking Shore Excursions in Advance.
We chatted with some folks who waited too long and had to settle for something else. Lesson learned: if there’s something you’re super excited about, don’t procrastinate! An Alaska cruise is a bucket list adventure, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on those dream experiences you’ve been imagining. Plan ahead and make it happen!
Pack for All Types of Weather
Alaska’s weather can switch up in a heartbeat, so being ready is key. We found that packing layers and waterproof gear was a game-changer for fully enjoying our time in port. As the saying goes among Alaskans, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear! Curious about the must-have items we packed for our Alaska cruise? Check them out!
Overall Thoughts on Sailing the Norwegian Jewel
In our overall take on the Norwegian Jewel, it’s a fantastic choice for an Alaskan cruise. There’s a ton of things to do and enjoy, the crew and service are top-notch. If you’re looking for a mid-sized ship with a variety of Alaskan adventures, the Norwegian Jewel is a stellar option. We’d absolutely go for another Norwegian cruise, being prepared to splurge a bit on the Have it All package and an upgraded cabin to enhance the overall cruise experience. Our Alaska cruise was truly amazing, and we’re already gearing up for another trip there!
Let us know if you had any additional thoughts about our Norwegian Jewel review or if you are ready to start planning your next cruise. We can help you plan one – we will take care of the details and you start dreaming of what you are going to do while on your vacation!
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