MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial

Day 1: Getting on the ship



I was excited, but I think my daughter was even more excited. She wouldn't stop staring out the window at the ships (well, she could clearly see the "whale tail" but couldn't tell what the other ship beside it was). All Sakari could talk about it how she couldn't wait to go down all of those wonderful water slides. Sigh. I had to break it to her that we would not be boarding the Sunshine with all of the wonderful water slides, but instead we would be getting on the ship beside it with the measly 1 small baby water slide. (She absolutely loved the Dream and the water park back 7 months ago). But we were going to have fun no matter what. I bribed her with the fact that she was going to get to meet Spongebob and Dora on our ship and that made the boo-boo face disappear really fast.


We got dressed and headed downstairs to the restaurant in the hotel: Cafe at the Square. For those of you that might consider this hotel or restaurant, they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.


We were seated and the waitress came over and brought a glass with crayons in it. She looked at Sakari in a weird scolding way and said "Now this is a special glass of crayons and the only way you can use them is if we have an agreement. You see how these crayons are all stacked in the cup? You can use them, but you have to put each one of them back the way you found them in the cup." UMMMMM.... did I just hear her talking to my daughter as if assumed she was going to dump the crayons out, break them all in half, pull off the outer paper covering them and start slinging them at other people as if they were targets or something? It kinda ticked the hubby off that she just assumed she was going to do something bad with the precious crayons. Sakari had a scared look on her face as if she had done something wrong and she hadn't even touched them. As a matter of fact, they didn't even bring her anything to color on. Sigh


Sakari ordered a HUGE waffle and I had the "make your own omelet" with a side of hash browns and a biscuit. I don't remember what the hubby had, I was only interested in getting my grub on and stretching my stomach for the food to come on the Jewel. After the waitress took our order, she ask why Sakari wasn't coloring and she picked up a crayon and started marking all over the tablecloth. GASP! Such strict rules about crayons, but you mark on the tables??? Well, it turned out to be a thick piece of huge paper that perfectly fit the tables and they change them each time. Whew, I almost had to give her a lecture of my own!


Sakari's "fancy schmancy" waffle:


Our bill was around $35 and some change. We headed out side and snapped a few pictures of the square that we could see outside of our window.

As you can tell by the pants and the winter coat, it was still cold outside.


I am a pop, wait....SODA drinker. I live for the stuff (I know I'm bad), but we always purchase the soda package on board and also bring our own. I mean after all, you can't wake up and run up to one of the bars to grab a soda in your undies, so we like to have our fridge stocked with some. I'm not a coffee drinker, so making coffee in our room is out of the question.


So we usually walk to the nearest grocery store by the hotel. 1 block over and about 2 blocks south is a grocery store with everything you can imagine. It's called Rouses Market. We found this place when we stayed in the Warehouse district last time (but it was quite the haul, especially with a child and carrying cases as well). We were very happy to find out prior to going to NOLA that it was close by. I was also a little more experienced and by being a nursing student, I think my knowledge base is growing....and by that I mean I remembered to bring our backpack roller luggage on wheels and with a handle this time around!! :D


Soda was on sale (yeah me) at 3 for $11. The hubby had ran out of deodorant the day before the cruise and I scolded him for waiting until the last minute to not only pack, but to figure out what he still needed to purchase for the cruise. So this was his chance to scold me back and let me know that he was winning since he could just buy it here at the grocery store...winning for him. They even had his favorite deodorant that we can't always find here back home-Swagger! Ok, I'll give him that one, but I'm sure it won't be long before I can come up with something else. (We are always joking around, nothing serious here folks, no need to call in the marriage counselor....yet <---and you'll see why I say that later). :p


We headed back to the hotel to get our things from the room (only to find the housekeeper tapping her foot at us waiting to get in to clean the room) and headed downstairs to catch a cab. Weren't we the lucky one's, there was one just sitting outside waiting for us. Well, after all was said and done, we weren't the "lucky" family after all. I had read prior to going that it cost approximately $10 for the cab ride from our hotel to the port. We got out of the taxi and he charged us $21!!!!!????? What the heck? We were suckers I guess.


Goodbye Blake Hotel. See you again some day.


The cab driver did not say one word to us along the way and when he pulled up to the port, he pulled in the middle of traffic, there was a forklift trying to get around him and I have a 5 year old, 3 large luggage, 1 small luggage, and a huge shoulder bag and you want me to do what? I'm not in to playing "frogger" (if you guys remember that game? I was never good at it and always ended up getting splattered and this is what I was picturing trying to dodge all of the incoming traffic). The guy on the forklift got a little perturbed with him parking where he did and told him to move AFTER we had all piled out of the van and started taking our luggage out. Seriously? So bad in everything went and we pulled up to where everyone else is. Needless to say, with the $21 3 minute ride, risking our safety, then having to move, there went his tip. (Well actually, I'm sure he made one heck of a tip at $21).


We made it inside to check in and I have to say this was the quickest check in from start to far! We walked in, showed our papers to the lady, she pointed us to the latitudes line, we walked right up to the desk, checked in, got our cards and off we went to board. This was all at around 11:30ish. We did have to carry our soda on with us (but remember I'm smarter this time around and we pulled it along instead).

Jewel....HERE WE COME!!! :D


So here we are...we have arrived and the welcome party is there to greet us and welcome us on board.


Sakari was thrilled and wanted pictures with everything of course.

As you can tell, it was warming up a "little" since we have our winter coats off, but it was still very chilly and we couldn't wait to get inside.


I guess Frosty and Santa had to come outside so that they wouldn't melt.


But that would soon change and the weather would be perfect the rest of the cruise.


We headed off to explore the ship and felt like Déjà vu had come over us. Yep, it was just like the Pearl, her sister, with a few minor differences as we would learn as we explored.


I like to head up and into the areas that you normally won't find people at after boarding (because everyone is either at the MDR or buffet stuffing their faces as if they had went without food the previous week trying to hold out for the Jewel). We had just eaten and was still stuffed from breakfast and this gave us the opportunity to check things out.


I have to admit, the ships that don't have the huge, open, stories high atrium with the glass elevators don't impress me. I like that "wow" factor and of course the Gem, Jewel, Pearl or whatever stone it may be, ships don't have that. But it's ok. I was prepared for this and knew this ahead of time.


So off we go (and off I go to try to get my pictures together from the ship now so that I can continue...and truth be known, throw in another load of laundry because I just got up enough enthusiasm today to start on it after that wonderful cruise).

Now on to showing you around the Jewel. Come on in and walk with me as I show you around. To some, this may be a new experience for you, for others, it may bring back memories.


I will start with Deck 6 and in the back (since I'm a backwards type-o girl)


We start out with one of the Main Dining Rooms: Tsar's Palace. This is one of the free dining rooms and the more "classier/dressier" dining options.


Depending on the day you are there, the hours are as follows:


Breakfast: either 7am-9am or 7:30am-9:30am


Lunch: noon to 1:30pm on sea days only.


Dinner: 5pm-9:30pm


It is located between deck 6 and 5 in the stairway.


I did not notice this on the Pearl, but where they seated us this time around (near the stairway as you walk in), I noticed the neat brightly colored "balls" on the railing. You know that thing when you are talking and something catches you eye, your ADD kicks in and says "squirrel". Well these caught my eye. They had so many different types. I kept snapping pictures of the different designs and my hubby gave me that "are you really going to take a picture of each one of them" look. So I decided 4 or 5 were enough.


One of the many questions that comes up on these boards are how do those people in people-movers get down to the dining room? Well here's your the picture below, you will see the walkway that runs alongside of the grand stairway coming in to the dining area.


As you can see, this area leads to no-where-land. It's only a room with chairs and an elevator. Your option is to take the elevator up or come back into the dining room.


Oh one other thing, you can't walk straight through deck 6 from the rest of the ship to get here. You have to go up along deck 7 and walk down the stairs or take the elevator down, which became quite annoying to someone who is GPS challenged like me.

We will make our way toward the middle of the ship...reminding you and myself that you need to go up 1 flight of stairs and then back down to get back on deck 6.


This takes you to Azura Main Restaurant. This is another free dining venue for you to enjoy.


It is open during the following times:


Dinner: 5pm-10pm


Walking along the starboard side of the ship, you will next come to Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar.


They always seem to be playing some type of sports on the tv's there.


Next up you walk along the Shakers Martini & Cocktail Bar. I don't know why this was considered a different bar than the Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar because it's all the same bar, it just does a turn and down the hall. I didn't find anything interesting in this area I guess because the only thing that caught my eye were the huge signs on the side along the walk.


As we walk around the corner you come to Magnum's Champagne & Wine Bar. I loved the way this looked on the Pearl and this is identical to that. The bubbling water around the bar just makes this place beautiful. It does change colors but from the looks of my pictures, I must have caught it every time it changed to pink. Hey, pink is a good bright color right? Enjoy your pink fix for the day.


Oops, maybe I did catch it on an "off" color after all.

Run, stop, pose, you know the drill Sakari....


This place is opened to the area above and is 2 stories. Here's the steps leading up to deck 7.


If you caught a glimpse in the image above, you will notice they had a gingerbread village set up here. It was cute, but it didn't hold a candle (or lights in this case) to the one they had on the Star last Christmas.


Here's an over all view of the place. I also love the lighting in the ceiling (which is the same as the Pearl). I was almost positive that I got a picture of just it, but I can't seem to find it.

Within this area, there is also a piano and someone was playing there nightly. I don't know why I didn't think to snap a picture of this, but it's on the opposite side of the bubble water.


There is a door in the corner beside the piano stage that leads you to the Cigar Bar (I'm not sure why it's not listed on the blue prints on NCL's page, but it's there). This room would later prove to be a "good" room for us. Details later, you'll just have to stop being impatient and keep reading why. :D


Le Bistro-although we didn't eat here, we did spend some time in here off and on and another "favorite" place for a different kind of reason other than eating (I know....gasp, like there's anything better than eating?) which you will find out why later. Yep, I'm still leaving you hanging. :D


The following picture is "R" rated, so please be advised and hide your childrens eyes...Or maybe not. 


On to one of my favorite places of the cruise....THE CASINO!!! Yes, it was good to me.

The casino had a "circus" theme to it and I thought it was cute.


Now to the end of the ship (or the beginning depending on where you are at)...or the front of the ship.


The Stardust Theatre. This is your normal big 2 story venue with all the great entertainment in the evenings and game shows during the day. It was beautiful just like the Pearl and set up exactly the same. The only gripe I have about this place is the rows being too close. It really made me miss the huge rows with plenty of walking room down each isle with the tables to put your drinks on while watching the show like the Carnival Dream had. There's a lot of up and down going on once you sit down and even during the show for those "late arrivals" that usually get called out by the performers.


Heading back down the hallway you will find a beautiful Christmas tree. It was really pretty when they had the lights out in the halls. I tried several times during the week to get a picture of it and they wouldn't turn out. Gotta love lighting and cameras. This was the best that I was able to get.


Sakari insisted that I take her picture on the stage because she remembered being on the stage on the Star when they had their Circus show and she was ready to be on stage again. It was all she talked about during the cruise. She told everyone she came in contact that she was going to be a "tiger in a circus show". Of course they had no idea what she was talking about and probably took one look at our family and thought "yea, there's a circus alright".


Since we are in Stardust, we might as well get some exercise before beginning our week of binge eating and walk up these stairs and head to the 7th floor to continue our tour. Come on, no griping, you'll be glad you did by the end of the week, because by the end of the week, you won't be able to make it up those stairs unless it's by aide of a hoist. You'll be thanking me...wink wink.


So now we are heading along the starboard or port side...which ever suits your fancy because they both lead to the same place...The Fyzz Lounge and Bar.


This is really a neat little place. We went here several times for some Nickleodeon things, listen to some karaoke, and just passing through at times. It had an outer space type of theme to it. It's just a neat little funky colorful place.


Off to the side of this room there are 3 doors with the rooms named after colors (like the green room and so on). They were NEVER opened when we walked by or where in there. When I came home and looked up what they are supposed to be and it says they are Karaoke rooms.

Walking out of the Fyzz Lounge you will come to another open area (which is the 2nd story opening to the Champagne bar).


To the right, you will find the Sake and Sushi bar


Beyond that is the Asian restaurant Chin Chin. We always eat here every cruise (or whatever Asian restaurant they have), but for some reason, we decided we didn't feel like doing any of the pay restaurants and were perfectly happy with the free meals. This will be the first cruise we haven't done at least 1 specialty restaurant and I have to say, I didn't really miss it. We were eating all the time anyhow.


Walking on down the hall out of the Asian restaurant area

This is another shot of one of the similar hallways like above, I just don't remember where it was located. It always makes for a nice view of the ocean or if you just like to sit and people watch.


Now we have officially made it to the Atrium. It's not the grand atrium that I like to see, but it will do. It was exactly like the Pearl except the ceilings icicles changed colors, which was neat.


It included the piano in the middle and they had someone playing in the evenings either there or upstairs on the landing of the steps in front of the big screen tv.


Boy I have to say I can tell the difference in my 2 cameras. I really loved my Canon D10 when I got it, so much that I ended up buying 2 of them. The first one ended up quitting out on me right after we came home from our Star cruise and this one looks like either the quality of the pictures are not as good as they use to be and the pictures are not vivid anymore or either my new camera (the Olympus) is even better than I had originally thought. I can definitely tell the difference.


The Java cafe is located right between the steps winding up to the next floor. This is also where you go to get your "soda" card stickers for those of you that purchase the soda package.


Ok, last set of Atrium pictures and these are the "sparkly" one's as Sakari calls it. "They are so pretty" Then I'm off to bed so that Santa can come. I would feel really bad if he missed Sakari because I was still up. Big day tomorrow with the family and my grown kids. I managed to talk my oldest daughter into her throwing Christmas at her house (since there just wasn't enough time for me to prepare after our vacation) and she agreed. I feel bad because she is due with baby number 2 in about 20 days now, but it's ok, I keep reminding her how I did it myself with a 2 year old as well (her older brother). :p


I found that if you get right up on these icicles and caught them at the right moment, boy did they glow on the right setting on my camera. It did take a lot of tries to capture it at the right moment and trying different settings on the camera, but I think the end result turned out pretty good. This would be one of the times I actually couldn't do a drive-by-shooting and had to stay still, calm, and collected. But hey that's always me right? Nah. :p

So now walking down the starboard side of the ship from the Atrium, you will come to the Photo Gallery. This is where you will find all your pictures that the ship photographer takes of you at functions, around the ship, and when you get off the ship at each port with the people dressed up. They also have items for sale such as cameras and stuff (in case you are like me and forget your battery charger plugged into the outlet back home or all of your batteries along with the charger :rolleyes: No, this didn't happen this time, but it did when we were on the star last Christmas).


They usually sell the pictures they take of you while getting on the ship for $19.95 and then the smaller one's from during the week are $12.95. They did run an early bird special once toward the end of the cruise that if you bought an 8x10 then you could get a 5x7 of the same picture for free or something like that.

If you walk along the port side of the ship you will come to the art gallery and internet cafe.


I'm not really into art work, but they did have some neat pictures that the paint stuck out. They also had some really neat sculptures that caught my eye that were made with different things like gears and stones. They were pretty neat.


On the opposite side of the art collection is the Internet Cafe lined up along the walkway.


At the very end of the hall you will come to a huge shopping area. Most ships have the "mall-like" shopping where you walk up and down the isle and go into the different stores to shop. This is one big shopping area completely open and together. But, things are sectioned off; for instance the jewelery in a section, the alcohol in another section, trinkets up a few stairs toward the front section, then clothes and other items in another section.


Just be aware that everything they have in the store is not everything you'll see during the cruise. They will pull out other things with "specials" toward the end of the cruise. I had been looking for a sweat shirt with "Jewel" on it all week and settled for a different one that just said "Caribbean" and "NCL" on it. Then the last sea day, they pulled out the one I was looking for. So, just saying don't be in a rush to buy something if you don't see what you're looking for.


Heading up another flight of stairs....come on, you can do it, you will come to the Blue Lagoon on the starbaord side. This is your 24/7 free restaurant with excellent food from wings to....well, you'll see:


They have the best cheesecake!!


This restaurant surrounds the top half of the atrium and is open in the middle down.