MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial
Day 1: Getting on the ship
TODAY IS THE DAY....WE MEET OUR JEWEL OF A SHIP! WOO HOO.
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 finish....by 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.
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 answer....in 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:
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 "favo