Sailing on NCL’s Gem…. Jewel
The Norwegian Jewel approaches Sawyer Glacier on an Alaskan cruise last summer
Norwegian Jewel a Gem
By Pat Lindsey
An Alaskan cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel might best be described as a gem of a trip. Fortunately, our shipboard experience was nothing like what the passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph recently faced. We have only positive memories of an accommodating cruise line with a crew that aims to please.
Friends of mine, who have never been on a cruise, think they might be bored or claustrophobic on a ship. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Jewel is not the largest vessel afloat, but it offers more than enough activities to keep a passenger entertained for a week. There are organized sporting events, games, and exercise classes all day long for passengers of all ages and top-notch shows in the beautiful Stardust Theater every night. The daily list of scheduled events is published in the Onboard newsletter that is delivered to the cabins each night.
I always like a good game show and “Deal or No Deal” was one of the many shipboard activities passengers could choose. Outdoor barbecues are held most days at sea on NCL’s
Jewel and sister ship Pearl that sail Alaska’s inside passage mid-May to Mid-September. Pat Lindsey photo
While several contestants were called from the audience to play the game live on the Stardust Theater’s stage, everyone else played along from their seats with their special game cards. Even though I didn’t get called to play on stage, I managed to win $50 and an 8 x 10 portrait that was taken on one of the dress-up nights.
Jackpot Bingo was popular among many of the passengers. They were more than willing to pay $30 for their bingo cards for the chance to win thousands of dollars or another NCL cruise. The casino also held a certain allure for passengers who wanted to try their luck at the slots or gaming tables.
For those who are not game players,there are always yoga classes, aerobics, sporting events, dancing, karaoke, wine-tasting, art auctions….you name it, you can do it while you are sailing. Our adult son was traveling with us, because the cruise was his birthday gift. He liked the disco and many of the just-for-singles events, as well as the trivia contests.
During the daylight hours, younger passengers enjoyed playing games in the swimming pool, where the water was heated to 83 degrees (the outside temperature was usually 5-70 degrees sailing the Alaskan waters in the summer). The swimsuit-clad kids were diving in and out of the pool while whales dodged the icebergs in the sea below. When they got hungry, they could go to a nearby restaurant to get anything they wanted or partake of the barbecue that was set up on deck a few times during the cruise.
All aspects of cruising have been expedited with the invention of the key card that contains each passenger’s vital information. The card is swiped whenever passengers embark or debark the ship and it serves as a credit card for all shore excursions or purchases in all the ship’s lounges and shops.
Freestyle dining is one of Norwegian’s claims to fame. Passengers can eat whatever they want whenever they want. There are no assigned seating times. This does not, however, apply to the six specialty restaurants that require reservations and an additional charge. There is also freedom in deciding whether or not to wear dressy clothes on the two designated dress-up nights.
Room service is another dining option. Where else can you go and order room service at no extra charge? Midway through our cruise, I got a terrible cold and I was able to pick up the phone and order anything I felt like eating. Our cabin stewardess, Joan, also took excellent care of me by keeping me supplied with boxes of tissues until my symptoms subsided.
Alaskan ports are known for their jewelry shops, so Norwegian Cruise Line dedicates a staff member to give seminars on where the best deals are to be found. This is an especially valuable service for those shoppers who don’t know the difference between tanzanite and glacial opals. Other seminars are held to familiarize passengers with the ports and shore excursions that are available to purchase. Choices abound and, as far as my family is concerned, an NCL cruise is an excellent choice.
For more information, go to www.ncl.com
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