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Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by olivanova: Twice bitten, twice shy?


olivanova
3 Reviews
Member Since 2012
37 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities Not Rated
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation Not Rated
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates 3.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 2.0
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Norwegian Jade Canary Islands Cruises

Twice bitten, twice shy?

Sail Date: February 2012
Destination: Canary Islands
Embarkation: Barcelona

Embarkation, Port transfers and Disembarkation.
As we had never been to Barcelona before we took a taxi from the airport to the port terminal which cost €30 (£25.64), including tip. The embarkation process was very smooth and the NCL ticket processing staff were very friendly and helpful. The port tranfers and disembarkation process was just as smooth and efficient.

Staterooms
On a positive note, the double bed in our balcony stateroom was huge [bigger than our king size at home] and comfortable. We enjoyed sitting out and reading on the balcony when the sun was out but, as we were able to make use of the balcony on only two days of our 9 days cruise because of the weather, we did wonder if we should have just booked an oceanview stateroom instead.

On a negative note, the lavatory in the bathroom is a tight squeeze to get in and out. And when you are sitting down, your knees are in toching distance with the wall - and we are not big people! More There is only a 14 inch CRT TV which is adequate if you just want to watch the BBC World news whilst sitting on the sofa but not if you want to watch a film whilst in bed. Anyway, in this day and age, you would have thought NCL would have larger flat screen tvs. Also, although there is a coffee maker with sachets of coffee for coffee drinkers, there is no kettle for tea drinkers, although tea bags were provided. Obviously, you would not want to make tea in a coffee maker.

Restaurants, Food, Drinks
We had intended to try the Speciality restaurants but were told by some fellow passengers that the extra cost was not really worth it so we had breakfast and dinner mostly in the main restaurant, the Grand Pacific, which shares the same kitchen as the smaller Alizar which we tried on two occasions but reverted back to the Grand Pacific because, as my husband remarked, in the Alizar you are sitting packed in "cheek by jowl". Whichever you choose, be advised that if you want to dine at, say, 7:30-8:00, you will almost certainly have to join a queue and wait to be paged when a table is free - a 20 minute wait is normal. We also noticed that the waiters in the Grand Pacific seemed to more trained-up than those in the Alizar but they probably alternate between the two restaurants. Why we thought there was a difference in waiter service is because we were served a bottle of warm white wine [part of the wine package we bought on the first day - $162.84 (£108.56) for three bottles of red and three of white] in the Alizar and, after the wine was poured, the waiter ran off with it and we had to ask for it to be returned when starting our main courses. The wine did return when we were finishing our main courses, only for the waiter to fill our glasses up twice to empty the bottle, once during the dessert course when we specifically asked him not to since, other than dessert wine, we do not, of course, drink wine with desserts. The waiters in the Grand Pacific, by contrast, asked us to taste the wine and would, from time to time, ask if we wanted more and would not try to serve us wine with the dessert course. We also had lunch at the Blue Lagoon and breakfast there when we had an early start for the ship's excursions and the Grand Pacific was not open. We also tried the Garden Cafe, the Jade's buffet eatery, on two occasions for sandwiches after we had come back from being ashore and had missed lunch and once when we tried to have a buffet lunch - a lamb curry, which was very salty so we quickly left it to go to the Blue Lagoon. Although on each occasion, we were in the Garden Cafe after the peak eating times, it was still very crowded and it was difficult to get a table. We suspect its popularity was down to the fact that you can fill your plates as high as you want with the many food items available in a more relaxing, informal environment. Certainly seemed a favourite with families.

Overall the quality of the food was good considering the number of people to be catered for at any given time. There were only a few "never agains". In addition to the lamb curry, we had a truly awful Louisiana gumbo which was very salty, an eggs benedict in which the poached eggs were like hard boiled eggs with solid yolks and the Canadian bacon was very fatty and tasted off to me. I sent the eggs benedict back and re-ordered and, in subsequent conversation with the executive chef, Hans Peter Heines, at the "meet and mingle" he said I had done the right thing in sending it back because it lets them know where they are going wrong and helps them to maintain standards. A few days later I ordered soft yolked poached eggs with american stlye crispy bacon and the waitress personally stayed in the kitchen to ensure that the yolks were soft and asked me to cut the eggs to see if they were soft. The same thing would happen when I ordered medium rare steak. If you are tired of the usual eggs, bacon, etc, I suggest you try the Scottish kippers. We had quite a wait (suspect they are rarely ordered) but it was worth the wait.

One consistent grumble was tea. Like tea ordered abroad, including the USA, the water in the teapot was hot but not boiling hot so the tea tasted like coloured water. There were occasions when I was served a teapot of hot water soon after sitting down with the tea bags arriving half way through breakfast by which time the hot water had cooled down. Sometimes I had to have the "fresh" milk changed because it smelled off and had ruined my tea and my husband's coffee.

In addition to the wine package, we bought beer and cocktails in the various bars on the ship. Another grumble. We tried to buy a beer package from the bar located in the atrium (the package is six beers for the price of five to drink at anytime and anywhere) and were offered the usual american makes, eg. coors, bud, etc, but were refused German brands on the grounds that this bar did not stock German beer even though it was sold at other bars on the ship. We never did buy a beer package. Following the american custom, we added a tip on each order and, with the 15% service charge, the cost soon mounted up.

Entertainment
We missed quite a few shows through dining late (because of the queues!). Of the shows we saw we would highly recommend 4Evers - the Spanish equivalent to il divo. Would also recommend the show Elements - cirque du soleil with magic. The only disappointing show we saw was Shout - a show set in 60s London - it was awful, not only our opinion but others who were on the ship.

We enjoyed the 50s/60s and 70s discos and, although we try to keep up to date on the music [we are not that old], we did not know any of the songs played at the White Hot party so we did not get up to dance. Pity because I was wearing all white and was in desperate need of some exercise!! So, Gary [the rightly, highly praised, Mr "Entertainment"], please note a party should have music from all decades not just the most recent hits.

Dress Up or Not
We agonized on what to pack for the cruise and decided on smart casual with a few items of formal wear. On board it was very informal. Some passengers wore jeans and t shirts for dinner whilst others wore day dresses, chinos, other smart trousers, shirts, polo shirts and jackets. On Dress Up nights only a very few wore gowns and dinner suits. My husband's tip is to pack more tops/shirts and less underwear on the basis that you can "ring the changes" throughout the day and you (me) can always wash underwear in your stateroom bathroom and hang them up to dry on the laundry cords hanging in the shower. Tip: Carry pegs to hang clothes up on the line.

Gratuities
The fixed charge of $12 per person, per day was a source of much discontent with our fellow passengers. We paid up in full - $908.86 (£605.90) - and also tipped one of our stateroom stewards, Mel.

Area of concern
We think NCL should introduce and enforce a ban on very young children being taken to discos. We were very concerned to see young children crawling on the dance floor near the loud speakers which were on the floor. The children no doubt thought they were toys and placed their ears on or very close to the loud speakers. We saw one dim-witted father hold his very young child up to the disco strobe lights, encouraging the child to reach out and touch the lights!!

Excursions
We went on two NCL excursions - "Best of Tenerife" and "Best of Lazarote" and did our own thing in Madeira, Malaga and Barcelona (Please see my review). Less


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Cabin review: Norwegian Jade Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony Deck 8 9612

On a positive note, the double bed in our balcony stateroom was huge [bigger than our king size at home] and comfortable. We enjoyed sitting out and reading on the balcony when the sun was out but, as we were able to make use of the balcony on only two days of our 9 days cruise because of the weather, we did wonder if we should have just booked an oceanview stateroom instead. On a negative note, the lavatory in the bathroom is a tight squeeze to get in and out. And when you are sitting down, your knees are in toching distance with the wall - and we are not big people! There is only a 14 inch CRT TV which is adequate if you just want to watch the BBC World news whilst sitting on the sofa but not if you want to watch a film whilst in bed. Anyway, in this day and age, you would have thought NCL would have larger flat screen tvs. Also, although there is a coffee maker with sachets of coffee for coffee drinkers, there is no kettle for tea drinkers, although tea bags were provided. Obviously, you would not want to make tea in a coffee maker.

Port and Shore Excursions


Barcelona At the port we took a shuttle bus to the port entrance (€2.50 each (£2.14)) and the metro (€2 each (£1.71)) to a fantastic hotel where we stayed for two days. We spent what was left of our first day walking round the Passeig de Gracia which was near our hotel and where three of Antoni Gaudi's houses are located, La Perdrera, Casa Batlló and Casa Mil. We also walked down Las Ramblas and visited the indoor market. On the advice of our fellow cruise passengers, we spent the second day on the hop on and hop off tourist bus. Our hotel advised us to buy discount "tickets" from them in advance. For €3 (£2.56) each we bought two packages which contained money off coupons including a €1 (85p) each discount on the hop on and hop off bus. So our tickets would only cost €23 (£19.66) each instead of €24 (£20.51). But we got on the wrong bus. Instead of the hop on and hop off tourist bus, we got on the City of Barcelona hop on and hop off bus. The attendant aboard told us that we had got on the wrong bus but they would honour the discount and give us a further discount - the seniors discount which she explained was the only one they had and they apparently applied it irrespective of age to encourage you to try their service. We were charged €28 (£23.93) for two instead of the €40 (£34.19) we were expecting to pay if we had got on the right bus. So, for a total of €17 (£14.53) each we spent the day touring the east and west sides of the city on their red and yellow bus lines, complete with audio commentary. We could have stopped to visit places that we passed such as the Olympic village, the Spanish village, the national art gallery, Camp Nou and the beach but only had time to visit the historic gothic heart of the city, the old Cathedral and La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi's masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, was undoubtedly the highlight of our stay. We spent over two hours going round with an audio commentary and went up one of the towers in a lift. It was all absolutely amazing how he managed to ensure so much natural light penetrated the building and how the interior reflected nature. We agreed that if we were still alive when it is finished, we would come back to see it again. We never dreamt it would affect us in that way!! We spent our last morning at Gaudi's Park Gel where we had a picnic, after which we took the metro (€2 each (£1.71)) from our hotel to the main square, the Plaa Catalunya where we caught a bus to the airport. A bus leaves for the airport every 11 minutes and there are always buses waiting to take you there but you have to make sure you get on the right bus to take you to your terminal. The destination, A (terminal 1) or B (terminal 2) is clearly displayed on the front and tickets cost €5.30 each (£4.53). As we would be arriving at Gatwick quite late and had not booked a meal on the flight we decided to have a meal in the Grill restaurant in the departure lounge. We were pleasantly surprised. We had freshly grilled chicken breasts - two each - grilled vegetables, chips/french fries and a half bottle of red wine for €26.50 for two (£22.65). Tip: Try the pata negra ham in Barcelona. We bought two medium slices for nearly €10 (£8.55) and, yes, it is expensive and yes, it was the best ham we have ever tasted. Will we go back to Barcelona again. Yes, many times I hope.

Best of Lanzarote

(4)
Lanzarote Again, we went on the ship's 'Best of Lazarote all day tour costing $129 (£86). On the way to our first stop our guide told us that the coach had to be changed because the air conditioning was not working. We were taken to the Mirador del Rio, a building designed by Cesar Manrique, where you can view the nearby island of La Graciosa and purchase refreshments, postcards, etc, etc. I am not sure how much time we spent there but it was a very long time and we were all getting very restless. When we finally were allowed to leave, it was back on the old coach which took us to visit Jameous del Agua where the replacement coach was waiting. Jameos del Agua is a partially open cave designed by Cesar Manrique comprising of a subterranean pool and concert hall and an exhibition. It is worth visiting. For lunch we stopped at the truly awful "restaurant" in Mancha Bianca for lunch (included in the price). The dining room comprised of several long tables with benches and on each table there was a carafe of very cold vinegary red wine which had seen better days and some water (between 4) and oranges and apples for dessert. We helped ourselves to what could be starters [there were no salad items, cold meat, etc] whilst others just piled on most things onto one plate. We then hit the problem that there was nobody interested in taking away our plates so we left them with the uneaten bits of what we thought could just be starters on a side table and helped ourselves to clean plates and what certainly looked like the main courses which were equally as bad as the starters. Everyone complained about the quality of the food and wine available and how badly it compared to the restaurant in Tenerife. After lunch we were taken to the visitor's centre in the Timanfaya National park where learnt more about volcanoes and lava (more than we really needed or wanted!). We also witnessed three demonstrations of geothermal energy which were certainly worthwhile seeing. Our final stop was at a vineyard where we were given a glass of red or dry white or sweet white to taste. We opted for a glass of cheap and nasty dry white wine. sample. Thankfully it was only a very small glass!! One of our group tried the sweet white wine and asked for a second glass and was refused. Nobody bought any wine or asked to try something better. While our guide in Tenerife waffled on and on about ecosystems, our guide in Lanzarote waffled on and on about lava rocks and, of course, with many repeats. The only release was the recorded audio commentary courtesy of the replacement coach which, although was about volcanos and lava rock, was far more interesting than our guide's attempts to fill up the time. Again, we would have liked to have seen more of the coastal resorts which would have been possible if the tour had not spent so much time at each stop and if the ship had spent more time in Lanzarote instead of leaving at 6 pm. Malaga We took the local authority-run shuttle to and from Malaga (you need to pay but only a token amount). We did not go on ship excursions because we have seen the places to be visited before. Instead we spent a pleasant morning and afternoon walking round the town. We visited the Cathedral where we opted for the audio commentary, walked round the Castle of Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba and the indoor market.

Madeira There is no shuttle service from the ship to Funchal. As we had been to the village of Monte and done the toboggan ride (wicker basket) to Livaramento, wine tasting, etc, before, we decided just to walk round Funchal. However from the port to the city we were pestered by two hop, hop off tour bus companies and decided to hop on the Blue bus company to tour round in and around Funchal. For €12 each (£10.26), we hopped and on various stops in Funchal, went to Pico dos Barcelonas (the highest point with views of villages scattered over green slopes) and also Camara de Lobos (a fishing village where Sir Winston Churchill painted) where we walked around and had a beer. Considering the ship's cheapest tour is $33 (£22) and most of the tours included Camara de Lobos, our bus tour was good value. Having said that, if it wasn't for the Churchill connection, there really is not much to Camara de Lobos. If we find ourselves in Madeira again, we would probably take a bus and go to one of the botanical gardens there. Tip: To go back on board the ship, you go through a building which has shops to purchase postcards and stamps, etc, and a cafe. There is also a post box on site.

Best of Tenerife - Lava and Fire

(4)
Tenerife We went on the ship's 'Best of Tenerife - Lava and Fire' all day tour costing $139 (£92.70). We spent the morning driving to and from the Mount Teide national park, with photograph stops for the lava terrain and views of Mount Teide and a tea/coffee break at a restuarant in the park (included in the price). We would have liked to have visited Mount Teide but was told that the wait for a cable car to take us to the top would be hours, if not the rest of the day. On the way to and back our guide was very keen to tell us all about Tenerife's ecosystem to the point that you had the impression that you had heard the same thing several times. For lunch we stopped at a very good hotel restaurant at Puerto de la Cruz (included in the price) where we had a choice of several starters, mains and desserts washed down by a decent bottle of white or red wine and a bottle of water (between 2). After lunch, there was time to walk on the black sandy beach which was just round the corner from the hotel. the next stop was the nearby village of La Orotava where we visited the church and La Casa de los Balconies (the House of the Balconies) where you can buy lace and local produce such as wine, cheese, etc, etc. On the way back to the ship we stopped at the new opera house near the docks to take some photographs. We would have liked to have seen more of the coastal resorts or Santa Cruz which would have been possible if the ship had spent more time in Tenerife but it left at 6 pm to spend the night anchored somewhere off Lanzarote. We will be going back there to have a more indepth tour round including taking the cable car up to Mount Teide.

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