April 8, 2012

NCL Jewel - The Ship

The last couple of years, we have planned a winter getaway vacation for our family.  Those first trips were both to Cancun and we had a fabulous time there.  We considered going back, and heading a little farther South to Playa del Carmen... but, the airfare and hotels had jumped up in price this year, so that required us to rethink our plans.  We tossed around a few different places to go and ended up settling on a cruise.

The last cruise we had gone on was our honeymoon.... 15 years ago!  So, times have changed a bit since then.  We traveled on a Norewegian Cruise ship back then and had such fond memories... in spite of traveling in November (the tail end of hurricane season) and having a change in our itinerary due to rough waters caused by a hurricane.  We are pretty good travelers... we will have fun wherever we are because we are on vacation.  A bonus to a cruise is that when the weather gets kind of stinky, there are TONS of things to do inside!

Now, for our recent cruise with Our Boys!  This was their first cruise and to say we were a bit nervous as to how they'd deal with any seasickness would be an understatement.  We picked up Bonine (the non-drowsy seasickness medicine) as a precaution.  Thankfully, we had no need to break open the package during the trip.  Our Youngest complained a couple of times of being a bit dizzy or not feeling well, but the complaint wasn't bad enough that he needed to take anything.

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We chose the NCL Jewel for our 7 day cruise vacation.  It's a beautiful ship and had the added feature of being a Nickelodeon cruise.  Not that Our Boys cared a bit about that... they are kind of "over" the meeting the characters thing it seems... so, we didn't go to the meet and greet activities with Spongebob & Patrick or Aang (from Avatar)... and definitely NOT Dora (they would have been mortified if I forced a picture with the pre-school character!).


So, what did we do?  We sailed out of the NYC port - which had the added bonus of being a short drive from home for us.  It was nice to not have to add in airfare when calculating the cost of the trip.  The ship was docked next to the Intrepid, which is an amazing museum of military airplanes and such, which thrilled all of the men in my family.

The ship had a full schedule of things to do throughout the day when you were at sea... and even a nice schedule if you were to choose to stay on board during a day at one of the ports.  We enjoyed playing Bingo one afternoon (sadly, we did not win "big", just a couple of dollars from the instant win tickets we bought).

All of My Boys enjoyed time in the pool.... and heading down the water slide.  Although, My Husband found it to be a bit "slow"... for an adult to go down.  It took him awhile to make it to the end of the slide.  

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The shows were fun and great, family entertainment!  We loved the magician - Jean Pierre.  He was a combination of comedy and magic and we even went to his afternoon show that shared some simple magic tricks that we could do at home.   There was also the hypnotist, Brenda Kaye, who brought people up on stage to hypnotise them and infused the show with a nice amount of comedy as well.  My Oldest is not 18 yet (and I am thankful for that... not ready for him to be that old!), and was not allowed to volunteer - he was very disappointed!  The other main show was a Cirque-style show that was very well done. 

The final night of the cruise was definitely a fun show.  It featured a little bit of everything and included a performance that included the entire cruise director staff in a performance called Fountains.  Let's just say that if you are on the ship, DO NOT MISS this one!  My Youngest had the biggest belly laughs while these fabulous people were on stage performing as "fountains" (there is a Youtube video that shows the performance if you'd like a peek HERE). 

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In addition to the night time entertainment, there were a number of activities throughout each day... including wine and liquor tastings, cooking demonstrations and napkin folding classes to name a few.  If a class in country line dancing or disco dancing or even learning the merengue is your thing, then they had you covered!

Every day at sea there was a movie being shown, but with such nice weather most people took advantage of time by the pool with live music.  There was even an ice sculpting demonstration right by the pool one afternoon. 

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If you didn't want to take advantage of an "organized" activity, there was shuffleboard, giant checkers or chess or table tennis that you could play on the deck.  The ship also had a full-size tennis court, that also doubled as a  basketball court during specified times. 

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I took advantage of the ship's gym facilities most mornings, I needed a way to work off the food that I'd be indulging in each day (more on the food in another post).  The treadmills were a bit tricky since there were some that were based on kilometers and others based on the American mile.  Once I was finished there, I went out for another walk around the deck outside to enjoy the sunrise (no, I really didn't sleep in during this vacation).

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Another of our favorite performers was frequently in the area called "Bar City".  Bruce Crichton plays some great acoustic guitar music and was open to suggestions as the night wore on (everything from Neil Diamond to the Eagles to Tom Petty)... even Our Boys looked forward to the nights when he'd be performing.  He seemed to get to know those of us who came back each night and even remembered Our Boys names.  They loved that!  This was his last week on the ship after many months of performing and we are so glad that we got to be a part of that week.

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Our room was a mini-suite with a balcony, which was a very nice size for the 4 of us.  There was a queen size bed and a pull-out couch that the boys could sleep on with a curtain to pull between us.  There was plenty of closet and drawer space for us to unpack our clothes.  The bathroom was actually a nice size for a cruise ship - full tub with shower.  The room was well maintained by Alfie, our cabin steward, who also left us some fun towel animals each day!

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I'll be sharing more on the ports and excursions and the dining in separate posts.  There is just too much to share for one post!

Have you ever been on a cruise?  If so, I'd love to hear which cruise line you took and what your experience was like - good, bad, just ok?  Where did you go?

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Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.

3 comments:

Keeley said...

I love cruises! My husband and I have taken 3 cruises in our 7 years of marriage. We won't be cruising this summer because I'm pregnant, but I look forward to getting back to cruising soon.

Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean from Philadelphia to Bermuda (Empress of the Seas, now our of service). Our last two cruises were on Carnival Pride from Baltimore to the Bahamas. There's no such thing as a bad cruise, but I do prefer Royal Caribbean over Carnival.

I am not too far from NYC and I did take a Carnival cruise to Canada with a girlfriend a few years ago. You can't beat the savings of cruising from a home port.

I may try Norwegian next time.

Joanne said...

Aww so much fun! I've been on two cruises - Norwegian (my favorite) and Carnival (awful, don't ever want to go on another one again). SOunds like you guys had a ton of fun! Can't wait to hear what you thought about the food.

Cate O'Malley said...

Cruising is absolutely my favorite way to vacation. I've been on 5 (all with RCCL), Nick 4, and Madeline 1. It takes all the thought out of a vacation so you can sit back and relax and let everyone take care of everything else for you. We're planning one for next year's spring break and I seriously cannot wait.

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