Context - we went on the PAcific Jewel on a 10 day cruise. It was me and my gf (both in our late 20s) and it was our first cruise. We absolutely loved it.
Neither of us had really thought about doing a cruise but one day we walked by Flight Centre. It was only $1100 per person for 10 days! So we figured we may as well give it a go.
We had an interior room. I think next time we'll go a window room if it's only a bit more expensive, but the interior room is fine. TIP - at night, turn your tv onto the ship webcam so you know what time it is when you wake up. Oh another TIP, bring a watch. There are few clocks on the ship & none in your room.
Customer service was great. Our room was cleaned twice a day! Everyone was really nice. There was no tipping on this cruise, at least no pressure to tip. We tipped our cleaner but he never expected it or mentioned we should (TIP - give away your leftover currencies from the islands as tips). He had just been so nice to us through the whole 10 days.
Every day you will get given a program which has loads of activities like shows, theme nights, movies, dancing lessons, that kind of stuff. We bought Kindles thinking we'd have plenty of time to sit and read. Didn't really use it - there was so much on.
THere's a whole team of entertainers and there's generally 1 or 2 shows a night. Lots of dancing, singing, acrobatics, comedy... really enjoyable.
Food was great. There's a free buffet (Plantation) and sit down (Waterfront) restaurant - you can order as MUCH as you want and the food is high quality. I ordered about 5 entrees and 2 mains once (and finished it!). Also, I would recommend trying the 2 paid restaurants La Luna and Salt Grill. For just $20-30, it's a 5 star meal.
We made 4 stops. Vale, Noumea, Lifou and Mystery Island. We decided to risk it and do our own tours. This has its good and bad sides. Firstly, don't listen to what they tell you onboard - you can ALWAYS bargain.
In Vale, we paid $180 for a guy to drive us around. But he was really pressuring us and we should've just walked away (I blame 3 days of cruising leaving us a little dazed and off our guard). Later we found out that we had to pay for all entry fees and that other ppl had paid $50 to hire someone for the day! Having said this though, we went to lots of places and it probably would've cost the same had we booked on the ship.
So aside from Vale, where it can be a little intimidating if you don't like bargaining, the other places, absolutely don't book onboard.
Noumea (which was fairly boring) you walk straight into a tourism info center where the tours there are much cheaper.
Mystery Island you can't book cause it's a small island. You should buy all your souvenirs on this island cause its cheapest. It was just a nice beach day. We had a $20 lopster each (we bargained it down from $25!) for lunch.
My favourite island though was Lifou. There's a beach area within walking distance of where the ship docks where there is some awesome snorkelling. We also went for a walk around n some guy took us to a random cave somewhere with a pool inside. That was fun too!
I might mention some bad things too. There weren't many facilities on the Jewel. There was two tiny outdoor pools and two tiny spas. Half the time, they weren't working and when they were, you had to fight the kids to get in. It would've been good to have an adult area actually.
Alcohol was fairly expensive and they had so many bars. We don't drink a lot so for us, it would've been good if they had less bars and more facilities.
We talked to other ppl onboard and generally, the first timers like us really loved it but the veteran cruisers thought the other cruise companies were better. But we loved it. I've travelled quite a lot and a bit of a shoestring traveller so this was something different, but yeah, we'll definitely go cruising again!