Tony and Vicki are dancing again. It seems they can't help themselves. Almost every song the talented duo Spoken Two play, the loved-up couple in their 60s are up there, up there, up there on the dance floor in Bliss Ultra Lounge, strutting their stuff. They quickly become everyone's favourite couple, an exemplar of the sheer fun of cruising.
Twenty years married, the couple from Cronulla in Sydney's south are regular cruisers, and they love Norwegian Jewel. Whether it's the diet of green barley powder and beetroot, carrot, celery and wheatgrass juice nutritionist Vicki has them on or whether it's the vibe of the ship, Tony and Vicki are party animals on this cruise.
"This is a great ship," says Vicki. "The staff are the nicest we've ever met and we've cruised about 20 times. We love the entertainment and we're up until one o'clock most nights."
"We love the nightlife," agrees Tony. And clearly, they love to boogie.
The entertainment is indeed a standout feature on this Norwegian Jewel cruise, with a range of excellent musicians performing in venues throughout the ship. The acrobatic young things in Norwegian Cruise Line's staple "Le Cirque Bijou" receive standing ovations in Stardust Theatre, and in the cabaret-style show "Velvet", Brenda Edwards, a British Aretha Franklin clone discovered on X Factor, belts out high-powered hits from the '60s. Audiences lap it all up and yell for encores.
Norwegian Jewel has recently undergone an $80 million bow-to-stern, dry-dock refurbishment and the effect is obvious. Staterooms, restaurants, bars and lounges have all received a Norwegian spruce (sorry), and the Entourage area, a hangout for 13 to 17-year-olds, contains new furniture, artwork, entertainment features and a video arcade.
This company invites you to "Cruise like a Norwegian", and no, I can't see that without getting an earworm of The Bangles' Walk like an Egyptian either. Cruising like a Norwegian also brings Thor Heyerdahl to mind. Cruising like THAT Norwegian involved sailing a balsa-wood raft 8000 kilometres across the Pacific. This cruise, on a 294-metre long, 93,000 tonne, 15-deck steel monolith, with endless fun activities, cocktails, swimming pools, hot tubs and a day spa, is easier. Nor does cruising like a Norwegian mean having to eat norfisk, that stinky fish concoction only palatable to people named Per or Olav. In fact, the food is very good.
Complimentary dining option O'Sheehan's (sounds like Oceans, geddit?) is an Irish/English pub that does a roaring trade at lunchtime knocking out fish and chips, chicken pot pies, "old fashioned meatloaf", corned beef on rye and other pub fare, best washed down with a Molson ale. Chin Chin is an upscale Asian hawkers hut with a tasty, if somewhat limited, menu and a 45-minute waiting time, which is fine as they summon you on a buzzer when your table is ready, and we get to hear a few more numbers from Spoken Two and more engaging choreography from Tony and Vicki. Other dining options include teppanyaki, sushi, French, Italian and Brazilian.
Cruising like a Norwegian also means no formal dress code, which not only makes it easy to pack but also makes for a totally relaxing cruise, from breakfast until late in the evening when Tony and Vicki call it a night.
Norwegian Cruise Line operates 16 ships throughout the world and itineraries are on their website. Norwegian doesn't come down this way very often, so you may have to fly to your cruise. In fact, Norwegian Jewel is the only one of the company's ships to visit Australia, taking on itineraries including Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. She will return for her third Australasian season in 2019-20.
Mal Chenu travelled as a guest of Norwegian Cruise Line