We found the ship to be in good condition and couldn't find any wear and tear, it's still decorated through out in Hawaiian theme which we found to be just fine, staff through out the ship were very pleasant and accommodating including our room steward Romeo.
Latitudes Exclusive Onboard Gathering with Ship Officers (silver and up) we attended both which were held in the Spinnaker Lounge on the first sea day at 7:00 pm. Neither was well attended in fact one of the officers said they were expecting about 200 guests but I don't think there was a 100 on either week. Folks need to attend this or it will soon be gone. JMO
Embarkment was a breeze as we arrived later in the day via NCL transfer from airport to pier via motor coach. Our aft cabin 9174 was just great with lots of sun, privacy and quiet. Warning that the balconies on deck 9 are not that spacious as some would like but ours had 2 tall chairs and a table which were perfect for us.
There was a slight soot issue being aft which we hadn't experienced except on the Sun in 2008 but again no big deal as you just sit on a beach towel and make sure you don't leave clothing laid out on chairs.
The muster drill was held at 4:30 and is mandatory for both legs of the cruise, this wasn't the case until the Costa sinking earlier in the year.
Entertainment: I won't go into to detail as the venues changed from week to week. Gary the cruise director was very good and had to hold court with 3/4 other languages, so to keep folks attention is not easy to do but he seemed to pull it off well.
We didn't like the Jade dancers as we often felt that they were often not in sync. But then we are JAR fans.
Some highlights were Journey South which were two brothers singing from the UK and had placed third on the UK X Factor.
4Ever which is a group of four male singers, think of II Divo. They were very good and got a standing ovation.
NCL's new production Elements was with out a doubt the best show to come along in a while and also got a standing ovation.
The Staff Show was one of the better one's we have seen but have always enjoyed them all and lets not forget Fountains it still makes me laugh watching it time and time again. For those that want a sneak peak at it it's on you tube just put fountains into their search engine.
Dining: There were no specials such as 2 for one or discounts on the first night but on the second week they offered a free bottle of house wine for diners reserving between 5:30 and 6 pm which suited us fine as this is usually the time we dine. We were told it was to help ease up some of the later dinning that was happening through out all the restaurants including line ups in the MDR's which we saw often around 9 PM
We never ate dinner in the MDR's or buffet. But did have breakfast and lunch in the buffet area as we were off shop early every port day. The food was always very good , fresh and plenty of selection. We also ate a few lunches at the Blue Lagoon , mainly for the tomato/basil soup and
Moderno $25 pp we ate at first night and while the salad bar was about half the size that it was on the Epic is was still very good with the specialty items such as hearts of palm etc.
Unfortunately we didn't find the chicken and meats to be up to snuff. The chicken wrapped in bacon was drier than a desert and the lamb had a lot of was very tough and you couldn't even cut it let alone chew it. Same for the beef.
Another note is that they don't even put out real steak knifes.
Needless to say I complained to the Maitre'd as we had left all the meat on our plate. It was a real disappointment from the Epic as we were looking so forward to the experience. Never went back again during this cruise.
But by accident we found that the Maitre'd in Le Bistro the next night was the guy from Brazil that opened Moderno on the Epic and was sent to open it on the Sun. I won't put in print what was discussed but I will say that after talking to others on board later in the cruise they too had not enjoyed Moderno and we also heard that a couple of the kitchen staff were questioning the meat. We felt that they really changed the quality of their meat from the Epic. I will also say that we have had more poor meats out of Cagney's through all of our cruises that we weren't surprised to find the same in Moderno. Too bad!
Le Bistro $20 pp has always been our favorite, we ate there four times through out our cruise, switched it up between salmon filet, lamb and coq au vin. For appetizers it was always the escargot and mushroom soup. Dessert was either the chocolate napoleon or their creme brulee . All was always very good.
Papa's $10 pp is another favorite of ours with the chicken parmigiana and the osso bucco.
As for appetizers we used to always have the antipasto but they had done away with it two weeks before we boarded so that was a real disappointment, for those that remember they use to have an antipasto cart and did away with it a few years ago and went to making up plates of what we think of at home as low end meats so we would only eat the prosciuto with melon and the roasted peppers and olives and leave the rest. As it turns out they were throwing most of it out so that's why it's gone. We ended up having the deep fried calamari and bean soup both were very good.
Cagney's $25 pp this was an interesting experience as we went with a couple friends of ours
we all ordered the shrimp cocktail each as the shrimp are always cooked to perfection and large. We ordered two cocktails each and told the waiter just to put them in one bowl and the other couple ordered only one. When the waiter brought them to the table ours had 5 shrimp and the other couple had 3 shrimp each, so I called the waiter out on it and he ended up bringing us another two shrimp each. It's these little cut backs that make me crazy especially when the cocktail use to come with 4 shrimp.
Last edited by Po
For mains I ordered the salmon oscar which was very good and my partner ordered a steak but had them butterfly it and it was actually cooked to perfection and was edible, that's a first as we haven't had luck with Cagney's in the past!
We went back once more on the second week and ordered the same and all was well and good with the proper number of shrimp.
Jasmine Garden $10 pp I know that this restaurants often doesn't get good remarks but we have always had excellent food, its fresh and always non greasy unlike the usual stuff you get at home.
Maybe it's because you can't get the popular chic balls with red sauce that folks don't like it.
We ordered the shrimp dish, scallop dish, orange beef and Singapore noodles and a bunch of starters and all was very good.
We always found the service to be top notch and professional and always added a tip to the bill or left cash.
Ports and Excursions: Here I will post in the order that we did them. First a couple important notes.
For those that look at the popular port site to see how many ships are in port on a particular day it was so out of whack for both weeks it wasn't funny. I checked right up to a couple days before leaving and there was only one day that it showed more than just the Jade in port which I found really strange. There was always one or two other large ships as well as a few smaller ships.
This is the first time we have ever done ship excursions but due to time restrains and booking almost last minute we felt it was the safest bet. As it turned we were glad we did because a couple issues popped up such as the ship couldn't tender in Santorini the week before ours due to high winds and when this happens the funicular doesn't run either, so the only way up would be by donkey or walk.
On the second week there was a security issue at one of the Greek ports, can't remember which one but they decided to start checking photo and passport ID's along with ship card, the problem was that there was only one person doing this and according to one of the senior officers on board said that it would have taken them 8 hours to clear all the passengers on the Jade as a result they stopped but Princess cruise ship decided not to dock and went on. So with all what's happening in Greece I guess anything is possible.
I would also like to say how professional NCL runs their excursions. In Athens I had pulled one right excursion ticket and one for another port by mistake and ended following the wrong time so therefore missed our excursion by 20 min. but NCL excursion staff were able to fit us in another tour on the spot which worked out just fine. They also credited our on board acct. with the original excursion and recharged for the newer excursion which was less. They didn't have to do either.
Excusions 2nd Week
Corfu: Timeless Villages & Scenic Drive Tour was 6 hours and consisted of a stop for lunch with some local Greek foods, the tour was good from the point that unless your driving you would never make it to the vantage points for some great pics. The pier area hear was also quite nice. But I wondered if the ship that's at the pier on its side was a Costa ship from years ago.
Santorini: Charming Oia & Winery the winery I had been to before and wanted to go back because we were traveling with some others that wanted to sample some wines and the views from their location is spectacular. They have expanded and is a perfect location for outside wedding so that should give you an idea. It was called Santo's and they had lots of wine sampling accompanied by some bread, cheese and olives. They also have a great gift shop that's not over priced for purchasing wines, souvenirs olive oils, olive etc. Oia is a former community on the islands of Thira (Santorini) and Therasia and just is not to be missed as it's a highlight of the island with all the white and blue domed houses with some that have been built out of caves.
Santorini you want to be careful booking outside excursion's to make sure they have a cancellation policy if the ship can't make into port and allow for time to get up and down as the line ups are long long long.
Mykono's: Scenic Views of Mykonos we did this tour to accommodate our friends, as it turned out it was an amazing tour with lots of stops for photo's in fact we probably got our best picture here out of 1800 that we took. It was a pic of a Greek family loading up a large boat with their herd of sheep to go across to the island of Delos to graze. It was definitely a pic of time gone by! We also spent a lot of time walking around little Venice, it was extremely congested with lots of people in narrow laneways and this was just with 3 ships in port.
Olympia (Katakolon): Olympia & Greek Flavors this was an amazing tour that seemed to be quite surreal when you enter into the grounds of the Olympia. Fortunately it was not too hot and we had some cloud off and on to keep us comfortable. The Olympic site is huge and requires a lot of relatively easy walking. You basically see ruins and can't imagine doing this tour without a guide to get the whole effect from the baths to the playing field. We stopped for a lunch at the pier and again enjoyed some Greek foods and watched some of their staff doing tradition dance.
The only negative was the smoking on board is all over with no one enforcing the rules and we were blown away seeing the majority of Europeans smoking like chimney's. It was also a major issue on the balconies as people spend morning noon and night out there because they can't smoke in their cabins. They also still have the smoking room located next to Le Bistro, I don't know if they allow cigars in there or not.
Lastly we were really glad that we chose to go at the beginning of the season as all the ports were busy with two to three ships in port but I can't imagine being in some of these ports with 10 to 14 ships as was told to us on numerous occasions. The weather was also perfect at this time for excursions with some sun, then some cloud, it made all the walking more comfortable.
All in all we enjoyed all the tours and the entire cruise and would not hesitate doing this cruise again!