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Norwegian Jewel
November 3, 2005
Christening Preview

by Linda Coffman

A GEM of a Ship—Norwegian Jewel
It's pretty hard to top Donald Trump in the "bling" department. However, Norwegian Cruise Line is no apprentice when it comes to showmanship, so it was no surprise that The Donald's lovely wife Melania was present to christen Norwegian Jewel in Miami. Mrs. Trump's arrival was signaled by the appearance of a stretch limo, nearly as long and gleaming white as Norwegian Jewel, but without the gem-toned hull art.

In a diaphanous royal purple gown, Mrs. Trump was escorted to the dais by Captain Constantinos Felafios where she set a cord in motion to shatter the traditional champagne bottle against the hull. “I am honored NCL selected me to christen Norwegian Jewel and to serve as her Godmother,” Mrs. Trump said.  


Purpose-built for NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept, Norwegian Jewel is the next "generation" of sparkling NCL ships. She has more dining options, a variety of entertainment selections, a spa equal to any on land or at sea, and expanded facilities for children and teens. All of this, plus the most family-friendly accommodation configurations can be found on a ship dedicated to the freedom of choice. Norwegian Jewel passengers can tailor a cruise vacation to fit their personal tastes, not someone else's.

Norwegian Jewel's array of traditional and exotic eateries tempts even the least adventurous palate to sample a variety of international cuisines. With ten restaurants, guests never have to dine in the same place more than once.

  • Tsar's Palace—One of two main restaurants with an opulent St. Petersburg-style decor inspired by the era of Russian Tsars and traditional multi-course menus created by master chefs, members of the international gourmet society, Chaîne des Rôisseurs. Exquisite faux Faberge Eggs top the balustrades where guests descend to dine in French shipboard fashion.

  • Azura—The second main restaurant serving contemporary cuisine in a modern "boutique hotel" atmosphere, featuring menu choices that range from the popular President's Menu to light, healthy dishes

  • Cagney's Steak House—Aged Angus beef, seared to perfection, just the way you like it, served in a 1930s style steakhouse

  • Le Bistro—NCL's signature upscale French Mediterranean restaurant features modern and classic French cuisine

  • Chin Chin—Upscale Asian dining featuring Japanese-Thai-Chinese cuisine and a sushi and sashimi bar

  • Tango's Tapas & Latin Restaurant—Overlooking the Crystal Atrium, an authentic tapas bar offering a taste of Spain and Mexico with live entertainment and a menu of hot and cold tapas

  • Mama's Italian Kitchen—A Tuscan farmhouse inspired restaurant where pasta and pizza are served any way you like them and authentic Italian desserts are squisito

  • Garden Café/Kid's Café—Buffet style indoor/outdoor eatery with special kid-sized serving buffet and tables. For sun worshipers, The Grill has burgers and the trimmings poolside.

  • Blue Lagoon—A casual eatery offering snacks and fast-food around the clock

For hot or cold specialty coffees and pastries, head for Java Café in the Crystal Atrium, or satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream, sherbets, and sundaes at the Ice Cream Bar. Room service never closes.

An innovative state-of-the-art restaurant reservation system allows passengers to make reservations for a single night or every night of their cruise. Seventeen screens strategically placed in public rooms show each restaurant's availability status, the size tables available, and estimated waiting time. If a restaurant is full, pagers are issued and passengers are invited to enjoy other activities until their table is ready.

While there is a charge for some of the alternative restaurants, no one is pressured to dine in them. Colin Veitch, President & CEO of NCL, explains the dining fees are levied for capacity control, not exclusivity. On my overnight cruise, the specialty restaurants proved very popular. I sampled seafood in Chin Chin, as well as tried the Market Café for breakfast, and iced coffee and cookies from Java Café for a late-afternoon snack.

Champagne Flows as Melania Trump Christens Norwegian Jewel in a Sparkling Evening Ceremony

Freestyle Cruising means passengers can choose resort casual attire every night or dress up for a special dinner. Formal attire during one evening is optional with one or more restaurants set aside for those who don't want to forgo this shipboard tradition. The only "dress code" caveat is that no jeans, t-shirts, shorts, cut-offs, tank tops are allowed in any of the restaurants at dinner. Most of my fellow passengers selected an array of "country club casual" outfits, ranging from pant-and-top ensembles to cocktail dresses. Pack light and think mix 'n match with various accessories. Without assigned dinner partners, it's unlikely that anyone will notice a "repeated" garment.

Freestyle Cruising offers the flexibility of dining when you wish and with whom you choose. What a concept... eating when you're actually hungry! However, cruise traditionalists who prefer the same table and waiter every night at a certain time can simply inform the Maitre d' and those  arrangements will be made. For parents who wish to share a romantic dinner for two, the Kid's Crew program and group babysitting solves the problem of child care.

While there are over thirty fare categories listed in the brochures, Norwegian Jewel's accommodations range from Standard Inside and Oceanview Staterooms to Oceanview staterooms with Balconies, Mini-Suites, Penthouses, Owner's suites, and the fantastic Courtyard Villas and Garden Villas. More than 70% of all staterooms are outside. (Follow this link to
Stateroom Photos.)

All accommodations have gleaming cherry wood cabinetry and paneling accents, a small refrigerator and personal safe for valuables, as well as in-cabin coffee service to heat water for tea or instant coffee. A professional style hairdryer with real power is provided at each dressing table. Bathroom amenities include shampoo and soap dispensers and hold your hats... most bathrooms are split into sections. Yes, the toilet is separated from the sink area by a wall and sliding glass door. The shower is roomy and also has a sliding glass door. No more clinging shower curtain or problem retrieving dropped soap.

At approximately 172 square feet, the standard Oceanview Staterooms are generous. Even Inside Staterooms are cheery and the  clever use of primary colors and strategically placed mirrors achieves an open feeling. One of the most desirable of all stateroom amenities is a balcony and more than half of Norwegian Jewel's outside staterooms have them. Book yours fast—Oceanview Staterooms with Balconies are a hot seller. Mini-Suites with a balcony are even more desirable with additional square footage, generous storage, and bathtubs. Stepping up to more space, Penthouses and Owner's Suites are some of the chicest digs at sea.

The pièce de résistance are the two Garden Villas. High atop the Norwegian Jewel, they are the ultimate in opulence. At 4,390 square feet, with living room, dining room, three bedrooms with luxury baths, and more toys than I could count, they are fantasies afloar. Occupants need only step outside to enjoy a relaxing soak in their hot tub or al fresco dining in their private garden. Have the butler serve cocktails while I slip into my specially-designed robe. Okay... I'm through daydreaming, but it is a lovely wish. Mr. Veitch confided they are not at a loss for occupants, even at rates that make my gold card tremble.

Villa Courtyard

All new on Norwegian Jewel are ten Courtyard Villas. At 572 square feet, they are essentially identical to the Penthouse categories (four have "children's bedrooms" and two do not). All ten share a private courtyard with pool, whirlpool, and gym. Balinese-style sunbeds, lounge chairs, hammocks, and ocean views are found on private rooftop sun spaces one deck above. 

I agree with Doug Stallings, editor of Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises, who found the Courtyard Villas to be "really amazing, although there's nothing different about the villas themselves." He adds, "The Courtyard, which has a retractable roof, is a great addition." However, looking forward, I anticipate they will be ideal for small family groups traveling together. The  possibility of a problem exists if such a group doesn't book them all, though. Couples who anticipate a serene atmosphere could find their relaxation disturbed by such a group (including small children, although Colin Veitch feels they will be more attracted to the waterslide at the Lido pool than the smaller Courtyard pool.)

Butler and concierge services are available for all Villa occupants. An exclusive Concierge Lounge, where refreshments and evening cocktails and canapés are served, is at their disposal as well. Garden Villa passengers are also offered complimentary limousine service from the pier to the airport at the end of their cruise.

For large families, interconnecting standard staterooms and suites can create a two to five bedroom area and passengers with disabilities haven't been overlooked—twenty-seven cabins of various types have been designed for their special needs.

Continued --> Norwegian Jewel Preview (Part 2)

More --> Norwegian Jewel Stateroom Photos

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