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coyboy1971

Live from the Haven aboard the Jewel 1/31/18

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Boarding in Auckland was a mixed bag. Luggage drop-off was well organized and a snap. Check-in was chaotic with no clear signage or direction for Haven and Platinum guests. After being ushered into a large holding room with no further instructions and told to sit down and wait, I finally found a shoreside representative who understood when I asked where Haven guests should check in, and was finally directed up an escalator where check in and boarding was a 10-15 minute smooth and friendly process. I’m afraid there are still guests sitting in that big room wondering what’s happening. Once aboard, we were quickly escorted to Moderno for lunch and to meet the Concierge, Cesar, who seems quite pleasant and helpful. A spa representative was also on hand. Lunch was lovely. The Kiwi sorbet and corn and shrimp chowder were specials and were scrumptious.

 

 

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Rooms on deck 14 and decks 8-11 were ready by 1 pm. The Haven is looking great. Neat and tidy and fresh as ever, despite going in for dry dock later this year.

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Our 2 BR H4 in the Haven looks great. I haven’t found anything evident of wear and tear...the soft gold decor from the 2014 refresh is a nice change from the vibrant green and hot pink colors before. This is such a great room category whether you are in the Haven or the non-Haven family suite. 4b1e0d228a0575d97a8d99fa2bee26fa.jpg2d245c64317d199a3d06e56c90d0a0b6.jpgc2fd0db3ec46f416eec80372bcfb4057.jpg

 

 

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A very nice touch are the USB ports built right into the bedside sconces in the master bedroom. 38ef559ab8a642b3c0e8087e7a7af69b.jpg

 

 

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6abe764938afaf86d2d131c66406ca65.jpg

 

Bye bye Auckland. Next port is Tauranga, NZ.

 

Captain is Kenneth Harstrom

Concierge is Caesar Lanic (super nice)

Cruise Director is Tahani

 

Dinner tonight at Le Bistro. Will post a bit more tomorrow.

 

 

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Ahhh. Been in lazy vacation mode.

 

Dinner at Le Bistro the first night was delicious. Went with the escargots, the onion soup, the duck, and the chocolate Napoleon. Food was top notch and service was excellent but the pace at which the courses came out was languid at best. Seated at 7 pm and finished dessert at 9:40 pm, so we missed the show. Oh well. On vacation, so don’t rush.

 

The GLBT/Friend of Dorothy was fun...more than 2 dozen folks showed up and there were new additions the next night. Good mix of people from Europe, North America, and Australia. Ages from late 20s to 70+. Hector is hosting the event. His energy level is high. Lol.

 

Didn’t see much in Tauranga. The weather was foul (high winds and blowing rain on and off) so just stayed on the ship. Turns out the Haven Courtyard Valet was on the Pearl and we knew him previously as our deck ops person who took care of our hot tub and deck areas in the DOS on the Pearl. His name is Jenzer and he hopes to make Butler soon. He’s certainly a “vacation hero” and goes above and beyond. For us it will be breakfast in the Haven courtyard with Jenzer pretty much every day of this cruise.

 

Last night was the captain’s reception with Haven, Suite, and Platinum guests. They held it in the Haven courtyard with live music, abundant passed canapés, and passed wine, beer, and colorful “martinis.” It was quite lovely, though rough seas and high winds made the pool and drinks a little bit sloshy.

 

After the reception and a stop by the GLBT/FOD gathering we had dinner reservations at Tsar’s Palace which was packed. The gold Haven key and a reservation in advance meant we were whisked right to our table. Dinner was once again excellent. Crab cakes were tasty and for entrees we chose the Hake fillet and the rotisserie chicken, both hit the spot. Desserts were pretty good - cherries jubilee for me and chocolate lava cake with stracitello gelato for DH. Service was friendly, efficient, and speedy. 3 courses in one hour, so we did a little shopping (some good discounts on Bulova and Citizen watches), breezed by the show band playing big band music in Fyzz, and landed in the Stardust Theater in our Haven reserved balcony seats for the show.

 

Ceasar, the Concierge stopped by to make sure everyone was having fun and the show began promptly at 9:15 pm.

 

The show was called “The Tap Pack” and it was a Rat Pack style tap dancing show with 4 very talented young men from Australia. Definitely a nice way to end our evening. The ship was really rocking and booming from time to time, and it was amazing how these guys stayed upright with some of their fast paced tapping. We had a cute little towel dog for turn down.

 

Today is Napier, weather is gorgeous, and we are doing some wine tasting around the Hawke’s Bay region. Cheers for now!

 

Here are some pictures of arrival at Tauranga and Napier to enjoy. 9e46250a46b7585aedaf9871caeb136a.jpg73fae2df970275ca5ddd4da9424d95b6.jpg30e7afbed1c1be51201ecb1420008317.jpg

 

 

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I'm so enjoying your review of the Jewel...my all time favourite ship. I remember Jenzer (the Courtyard Attendant) from last September to Alaska. Really, really a very nice guy. Went above and beyond. Please tell him Ms.Nancy said Hi! I'm sure he won't remember. lol :)

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Docked today in Marlborough Bay at Picton. Planning to do some scenic cruising on Queen Charlotte Sound. The sound is quite serene after crossing choppy Cook Straight.

 

Dinner night before last in Azura was disappointing. We were seated in the overflow dining area adjacent to Le Bistro with mismatched furniture from Moderno and Chaney’s and even the waiters were wearing a mish mash of uniforms from O Sheehan’s and Azura. Food was just okay. Long pause between course made me think it had sat under the plastic lid for awhile.

 

The show was “Australia’s Doctor of Laughter.” It was billed as a laughter is the best medicine type thing but a lot of the humor was cliché or just poor taste (lots of jokes about marriage and the wife back home). Meh.

 

Wellington was a spectacular Port. Free shuttle to the CBD and you could easily get about to what you want to see from there, or shop the department stores. We toured the outstanding Wellington Museum which focuses on the history of the city and influence of the sea. There was a very moving exhibit on the tragedy of the shipwreck of the Wahine, with excellent archival footage and items recovered from the wreck. The third floor is a very amusing pop culture exhibit. Free to the public with a great museum shop. Directly across is the Academy of Art which was holding a sale for students and faculty of some very nice contemporary artwork. Lunch at Shed 5 was splendid, with amazing seafood and excellent service. Would love to spend another couple of days in Wellington.

 

Dinner was back at Tsar’s and the food and service were excellent. I had a mouth watering swordfish carpaccio and a hearty dish of gnocchi and turkey scallopine with sage sauce. Dessert was a flavorful banana soufflé with whiskey sauce. Just terrific with good service too! The show was the outstanding Club Band on the Run. 1970’s music (funk, disco, and rock) and some really good dancers who were also very easy to look at!

 

Attached is the view we woke up to in Marlborough Bay. Cheers! 6db4175ef3e0dd6afc13a7aa0954a576.jpg

 

 

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Yesterday was just an abundance of beauty on the water at Picton. We chose a scenic cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound through the ship’s excursions. This was interesting because although we were docked, the tour boat pulled up alongside and we boarded directly from the Jewel via a hatchway on Deck 4. Cool! The sounds are lovely, with lots of sea birds and million dollar holiday homes. A 2 hour cruise was perfect.

 

Sail away through the sounds and out through the narrow passage of Tory Straight into Cook Straight was a real treat to enjoy from our balcony. Our Butler provided some crudités and a bottle of Chardonnay for the experience. Ahhh...the Haven!

 

Dinner back on the ship was La Cucina which has become our favorite specialty restaurant. Service was excellent and the maitre’d was constantly about the dining room checking on drinks and food and experience. The food was outstanding. Knockouts were the shrimp fra diavalo and the chocolate tart, either of which could be on a high end restaurant menu.

 

I also noticed some information on a regional wine program...it’s not been promoted very much so I’ll need to investigate further.

 

Today is Akaroa. I have rented a BMW convertible to explore the hills. It will be my first time driving on the left, so if there are no other posts, you’ll know it was a failed experiment.

 

Enjoy these pics!

 

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It’s always nice to start the day with breakfast in the suite delivered by Rufino, our very pleasant Butler. 12a2cd67dcab8a0d1939d4d77c8f5ba6.jpg6bafff556b59ffa148dd325ba8e035a4.jpg

 

 

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I'm really loving your review and all your pictures of the Jewel. Your Butler Rufino...he's tall with dark hair isn't he? Think he was our butler on our September Alaskan cruise.

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Joining this cruise in Sydney on the 20th February so really interested in following along. Hope you enjoy the rest of it

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Yesterday in Akaroa was wonderful. One could simply walk off the dock and spend all day wandering around this little town with its cafés and art galleries and shops and pretty beaches...but off we went in our little BMW M-Sport 120i Convertible to try driving on the left for the first time. It was a bit unnerving at first, but by about 20 minutes, I had the knack of it. My husband, sitting in what would be the driver’s seat back home with no steering wheel in front of him spent the day gripping the handholds with white knuckles worried we were about to careen to our deaths off the left shoulder at any moment. Ahh, the thrills of Top down motoring!

 

Our first stop was the cheese factory in Barry’s Bay where they were making cheese as we arrived. After a few samples we chose their double gold medal winning aged Gouda as our favorite. Hitting the road again, we meandered down French Farm Road past vineyards and pastures filled with shorn sheep, and sweeping views of the bay. It was so nice to be off on our own and not part of a tour. The car company gave us a Garmin full of places to visit, so we decided to drive to Governor’s Bay to have some fish & chips at the Governor’s Bay Hotel. This was a fun trip with some crazy curvy mountain roads to test out the BMW’s handling.

 

After lunch we motored back to Akaroa and turned in the car. As a reward for not killing us, I treated myself to a cup of locally made hokey-pokey ice cream at the Akaroa Creamery. Delish!

 

Tending operations were smooth and easy and once we got back on board it was time for a dip in the Haven pool, a refreshing libation, and a quick nap before sail away. Rufino, our Butler, iced down our bottle of French Peak Winery Chardonnay (Biodynamic and Organic and wonderful) we picked up in town, and brought us plates of tea sandwiches and fruit to enjoy along with our Gouda for sail away. Another perfect day of vacation.

 

Our evening activities were a stop for a couple of sushi rolls at the sushi bar. The spider roll is made to order with soft shell crabs that are flash fried in a jiffy. The sushi bar is another highly underutilized and under appreciated spot on the Jewel. It’s a limited menu for sure, but what they do, they do well, and the chefs are eager to please.

 

After we polished off a “two timing tuna roll” and a “rock and roll” we ambled over to the theater where Ceasar the Concierge was greeting Haven and suite guests. The shop was one of the outstanding “Burn the Floor” productions. I counted at least 15 dancers on stage, and the live band is terrific. This is a really fun broadway style production that features a lot of popular songs from Prince, James Brown, and many others woven loosely into a story set in a swinging nightclub. Fun!

 

Worn out from our day, we returned to the suite to find the cutest towel animal on our bed. Anteater? aardvark? Adorable for sure.

 

Today is the last port call in New Zealand at Dunedin (Port Chalmers). Tomorrow is a day cruising the sounds of the southern fjords, starting with a hosted viewing party in the Haven.

 

Until next time...

 

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A few of the nice amenities I like about our suite...

 

The bedside sconces with USB port for charging devices. (Cable not included).

 

The Bulgari bath products.

 

The Lavazza machine, well stocked with regular and decaf capsules, milk for making lattes and cappuccinos, and Tea Forte teas provided in English Breakfast, Green Jasmine, and Chamomile Citrus.

 

The large bottles of Aqua Panna and Pellegrino. However, drinking these will cost you $11 for both. b66af6a54bc498c18b5a7f7fd14ce4a5.jpg68d3314332233effb590c9980595e0b1.jpg8b468085601e1de8896dc748ead5ea46.jpgc89d87145f66cd5d26f8f58dfd49f9ce.jpg7aee38d679d90cf0839bea056d31dc81.jpg

 

 

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Fantastic review! We almost did this one but dates didn't work. We will be on Jewel in November from Singapore as it comes out of drydock. Only did Haven once (Baltic cruise) & wish we could afford more often. My husband was spoiled!

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Disembarked today. I am going to miss breakfast in the Haven with Jenzer!

 

Overall this was our second favorite NCL cruise (read my June 2011 review from the Jade, Venice-Greek Isles).

 

I’ll post some final thoughts in a few days when I return to reality.

 

Disembarkation at Sydney was pretty painless for us - then again, we had VIP escorted walk-off by Concierge Caeser. For the rest of everyone it looked like bottlenecks and long lines.

 

Cheers for now!

 

 

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We are booked in a 2 bedroom suite on deck 11 and considering upgrading to Haven. Can you tell me the benefits of the Haven over the 2 bedroom suite. The rooms look identical. We were on the Epic once and the Haven included a private dining room, it doesn't appear that this is a benefit on the Jewel - just quick seating in the other restaurants. Can you convince me to upgrade? ;)

Cole

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