A secluded level of suites surrounding their own courtyard, a
large mix of interconnecting family staterooms, 10 restaurants and
eye-popping private karaoke rooms are among the flashiest features
of the Norwegian Jewel.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest Freestyle Cruising ship also
brings fresh European itineraries that should appeal to West Coast
customers, said Andy Stuart, NCL’s executive vice president of
marketing, sales and passenger services.
“NCL’s never had a brand-new ship in the Med. There’s a big
market from the West Coast and now they have a quality choice with
this ship,” Stuart said.
After debuting in Europe in August, Norwegian Jewel operated New
England/ Canada cruises before moving to its winter homeport of
Miami for weekly Caribbean sailings. The ship returns to Europe in
the spring for a season of seven-day Western Mediterranean voyages
capped by four 12-day cruises, two pairing the Greek Isles and
The Jewel is a modified sister to the Norwegian Star and Dawn.
Among its most talked-about innovations are the Courtyard Villas,
perched high on Deck 14 near the pair of reconfigured Garden
The Courtyard Villas surround a tranquil oasis that features a
pool, hot tub, Balinese lounge beds, teak chairs, lanterns, potted
plants and statuary. Butlers serve continental breakfast,
refreshments throughout the day and canapes and drinks before
According to hotel director Klaus Lugmaier, a “Melrose Place”
atmosphere of beautiful people enjoying each other’s company
typically develops in the exclusive environment of the
“You have total privacy. It’s your own hideaway,” he said.
The more than 570-square-foot Courtyard Villas themselves offer
a living area with balcony, dining area, a bedroom with queen bed,
separate children’s bedroom and a spacious bathroom with whirlpool
tub and separate shower.
At 5,570 square feet with three bedrooms, NCL’s Garden Villas
are still the largest accommodations afloat. The Norwegian Jewel
version of the Garden Villas contain a private garden in the center
of the space, as well as a roomy private sun deck.
Garden Villas command about $25,000 a week. And they nearly
always sell, said Colin Veitch, NCL president and CEO. In fact, it
was the popularity of the Garden Villas on Norwegian Star and Dawn
that led NCL to develop the Courtyard Villas, providing another
choice of deluxe accommodations.
Who books these extravagant suites?
“All kinds of people,” said Veitch, citing families, family
reunion leaders, groups of friends and tour leaders, as examples.
Also, “There is a market for people who just want the best you
The addition of the Courtyard Villas partly accounts for the
increased number of total cabins on the Norwegian Jewel (1,188)
compared to 1,112 on the Norwegian Dawn. Seventy percent of the
cabins offer ocean views. Almost 600 cabins interconnect to create
family-friendly complexes of up to five bedrooms. The
interconnecting rooms consist of a wide range of categories,
including suites. Often, different categories connect.
Ian Barnett of CruiseOne in Agoura Hills, Calif., was impressed
with the suites in general but disappointed in one feature: the
“It’s a detriment to people who are spending $10,000 to have the
same size balcony as people spending $2,000,” he said.
In Barnett’s opinion, the Norwegian Jewel is “a pleasant,
mid-market ship” with “excellent dining choices.”
“It’s actually sold me on Freestyle Dining,” he said.
With a new electronic restaurant availability information
system, Freestyle Dining is smoother than before. If passengers
can’t get the seating they want when they arrive without
reservations, they can add their names to a wait list and be
notified by pager when a table opens. Or they can consult the
electronic dining info system for availability in other venues.
There are 10 dining venues on Norwegian Jewel. The two main
restaurants offer traditional dining but sport dramatically
different decor. Located aft with large windows, Tsar’s Palace is
an opulent room of green-marbled pillars, chandeliers and
balustrades inspired by Faberge eggs. The contemporary Azura
restaurant provides a sleek venue with pop art rendered in backlit
The ship’s specialty restaurants include familiar favorites,
such as Le Bistro, (French cuisine), Cagney’s Steak House and Chin
Chin, the Asian venue, offering a sushi and sake bar, tep-
panyaki grill and table seating for a varied menu.
Island stations replace the cafeteria-style lines of earlier NCL
ships in the casual Garden Cafe. The nearby Italian restaurant is
now a venue in its own right. Trimmed in rustic bricks with shelves
of copper pans, Mama’s Italian Kitchen serves calamari, pizza and
lasagna to diners seated at long, family-style tables.
Other options include the ever-popular Blue Lagoon, a 24-hour
venue for snacks and light meals such as fish and chips and chicken
wings. Across the way, Tango’s serves tapas and Tex-Mex.
The Norwegian Jewel is fully equipped with every contemporary
cruise “must” a large casino, cigar bar, coffee bar, shops,
library, chapel, meeting rooms. The youth facilities are ample,
including Splashdown Kid’s Club, a children’s pool and, for teens,
Two pools and a water slide spread out across the redesigned
Lido Deck, which eliminated the terraced levels of earlier ships.
And there’s a volleyball/basketball court, a fitness center and
Bora Bora Spa, run by Mandara.
One area where the ship really sparkles is entertainment.
Production shows roll out in the enormous, two-level Stardust
Lounge. At night, the Spinnaker Lounge observation room transforms
into a dance club with live music. Fyzz is a new nightclub lounge
with three private karaoke rooms, each in startling shades of red,
blue and green.
Also new, and a big hit on the Norwegian Jewel, is Bar Central,
a string of three connected but distinct bars. Magnum presents
champagnes and wines, while Shakers serves martinis beneath a
screen that broadcasts sexy silhouette dancing. Maltings pours beer
and a wide assortment of whiskies. (Pssst! It’s the Scottish-born
Colin Veitch’s favorite spot on the ship.)
Cruise Line Ship: Norwegian Jewel Size: 93,500
Capacity: 2,376 (double occupancy); 2,846
Year Entered Service: 2005
Plugging In: Cabins have 110-volt outlets, and
hair dryers and tea/coffee makers are provided. There’s an Internet
cafe, and Wi-Fi access is available. Passengers may use their cell
phones, paying roaming rates set by their home carrier.
Hits: Shows by the talented Jean Ann Ryan
Company are tops. Instead of bland Broadway revues, think bold and
Misses: Over-amplified lounge music sometimes
interrupts conversation in nearby dining venues.
Itinerary: Alternating seven-day Eastern and
Western Caribbean cruises sail roundtrip from Miami through April.
From May to early September, seven-day Western Mediterranean
cruises sail roundtrip from Barcelona. Ports of call are Messina
(Sicily); Naples, Civitavecchia (for Rome) and Livorno (for
Florence/Pisa) in Italy; and Villefranche (for Nice), France. In
September and October 2006, two 12-day Mediterranean cruises sail
between Barcelona and Istanbul and two 12-day Egypt/Greek Isles
voyages sail between Piraeus (for Athens) and Istanbul.
Price: Rack rates start at $579 for Eastern
Caribbean and $629 for Western Caribbean cruises; at $999 for
seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises; $1,899 for 12-day Classic
Mediterranean cruises; and $1,949 for 12-day Egypt/Greek Isles
Commission: Commission starts at 10