We booked the cruise via the NCL website, and the further assistance for the process from the European representative via the phone was also very helpful and polite (thanks, Galina.) After arriving Venice airport early in the morning we took a taxi to the port (recommended). We left the baggage there and returned only in the afternoon after sightseeing a bit in town. A tip: do not take a taxi to Piazzale Roma (from where you can start the stroll around the lagoons), it is much cheaper and handy to take the people mover.
Embarkation was very swift and friendly stewards escorted us first to the concierge lounge to take some snacks and drinks, and then to our suite. The suite was fine, clean and with lots of storage place, plus 4 flat screen TVs, 2 DVD players, Lavazza coffee machine, minibar and a gorgeous bathroom... Though its location was right under the fitness centre, and sometimes we really "enjoyed" a heavier than usual runner practicing his/her last miles above our heads, all in all it was not so disturbing. For a more quiet suite the starboard aft side is more recommended (under the library and the card room). Carlos, our concierge, was amazing, he was on top of the job during the whole cruise! Our butler, Teresa and the cabin steward, Felix, were also very nice and friendly and arranged everything we asked for.
I should not forget to mention the particular attention that all Jade staff paid towards hygiene and cleanliness - not only the cabins were cleaned properly and thoroughly, but also the public places and entry into the ship and the restaurants could only happen after passing the smiling washy-washy crew member ensuring that your hands are clean.
Freestyle cruising was perfect for us, we always found a place to eat at any time of the cruise, we also tried some of the speciality restaurants, Cagneys, Teppanyaki were all fine as well, in terms of variety and quality of food. The chocolate evening was really special(and very tasty.)
We were amazed by the friendliness, hospitality and effectiveness of the crew, including those working in the restaurants, the bar service, cabin staff and others. And there was a kind of a happiness athmosphere around the whole ship, with staff smiling and chatting with guests. We also liked that staff paid attention to details and also welcomed guests back from port visits with refreshing towels and drinks upon embarkation - we did not see this with any other ships docked together with us....
Indeed, the pool area became a bit crowded on sea days, but there were always some free beds available. We found the open BBQ next to the pool fantastic, along with the live music and the partying there. You could very easily find yourself dancing when waving goodbye to the port.... The evening shows were very enjoyable, and the one (Elements) on the last evening of the cruise was truly spectacular!
Our teens did not really engage with the activities of the Kids programme, but rather opted enjoying themselves either at the pool or just strolling around the ship. A side remark is that the kids group from the ages of 6 to 12 is a bit too wide in terms of ages covered.
We found the shore excursions very expensive, so we rather arranged them for ourselves:
- in Corfu we rented a car (over the Internet a few days before) and drove around the island a bit to see the caves of Paleokastritsa (wonderful) and to see the Palace of Sissy at Achillion, then the so called Mouse Island before driving along the fortress of Corfu town on the way back;
- in Santorini we just took the cable car to Fira, strolled around the small streets and enjoyed drinks and the view in a lounge;
- in Mykonos we walked to the windmills, sat down for a (expensive) drink in little Venice, wandered along the small streets of the city amongst the hundreds of boutiques, and had a nice gyros in one of the port restaurants;
- in Katakolon we again rented a car to Olympia (30 mins drive), visited the site and the museum ourselves before returning to the ship.
All in all, this was a wonderful experience for the whole family on board of the beautiful Norwegian Jade, as the cruise director, Gio phrased. Hopefully we will return.