The Norwegian Jewel is now twelve years old, that might sound fairly recent but in ship years she is practically Methuselah. Not that she shows it.

Like most boats her age she's had some work done. Not a month out of a two week stint in Singapore and the Jewel looks like a new ship.

Meeting with the ship's Hotel Director, Steven Jacobsen, onboard the freshly restored ship he seemed quite relieved the procedure was over.

"It was probably busier for dry dock than a cruise," he says.

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For the pleasure cruiser one of the most drastic changes during work is not necessarily swapping the water underneath her for dry land, but replacing guests with an army of workers.

"We had 1800 contractors onboard half of those were staying on the ship - all moving, deck by deck by deck."

Now the Jewel has returned to sea and full of guests at leisure, the atmosphere is far more relaxed.

Jacobsen certainly seems to be happier when sailing with a boat load of passengers to look after.

Pit Stop: The American-style diner is one of two new bars on the newly refurbished Jewel. Photo / Supplied
Pit Stop: The American-style diner is one of two new bars on the newly refurbished Jewel. Photo / Supplied

And the Jewel is certainly full. The three sailings over the Christmas period are fully booked, including the Haven class suites.

Haven guests have an entire two decks to themselves, including a Haven class sun deck area and even their own reserved boxes in the 1000-seat Stardust theatre. Then there is the accommodation which is even more spacious. The Garden Villas onboard the Jewel are some of the larges suites at sea.

"Each one of those has three bedrooms, a private outdoor courtyard with a big Jacuzzi, steam room all kind of amenities," says Jacobsen "It's just a beautiful unit."

While he admits nowadays – in the age of titanic floating cities like Ovation of the Seas – the Jewel might be considered a mid-size ship but that's really quite comfortable. "It has as much as a big ship has to offer, with not so many guests."

His role as keeps him extremely busy as the general manager of what is "essentially a floating hotel". Like anyone else in hospitality December is the busiest time of the year.

Although there are all kinds of additional duties which come with the festive season, Christmas is a high point both for passengers and crew. While the dinners and more entertaining such as helping with the previews for the Christmas show. This year it will be devised by the cast of the Australian hit show Velvet.

While there is already a festive touch of decoration to the ship there are still yards of tinsel to get up and twenty more live Christmas trees to onload. "We' have a Christmas day parade that'll be going around the atrium and that'll be topped off by a visit by Santa Claus," says Jacobsen.

While he is adamant that Father Christmas will be arriving this year via reindeer, the man in red has been known on occasion to arrive at the Jewel via jet ski.

This year the boat will be at sea for the 25th– midway between Melbourne and Fiordland.
"The Jewel has some of the best itineraries in the fleet." In the four years he has been running the show he has accompanied the Jewel around the Pacific from Russia into Japan, however he is delighted with the ships first posting after the colossal refurbishment. "Coming down to Australia and New Zealand is something I've always wanted to do," he explains.