My recent experience on the NCL Jade made me proud to be a "Norwegian!"
I was booked on the NCL Jade April 28th out of Venice to the Greek Isles. I have been to Venice before so I did not expect any difficulties. Our arrival from Minnesota into Venice was uneventful. Our first thanks to NCL happened at the airport. Our transfer to the Crowne Plaza took forever at the airport, but thanks to the person who was meeting the NCL Crew at Marco Polo airport we finally connected with the shuttle. I say thanks, because here we were in Italy with no language skills, and no phone, and feeling lost. Then I saw this man with a sign for NCL Crew to check in. This man meeting the crew made three phone calls and got the shuttle to pick us up. I'm only sorry that I did not get his name so he could be appropriately thanked. Right away I was very glad for NCL.
When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza at Quarto d'Altino we were very pleased with the staff and room and also because it was right next to the train station. It was a wonderful location for getting around. They also had free bicycles you could check out. They sold tickets for the train at the desk and gave great information for travel and train times, etc. The breakfast was also wonderful by any European standards...and the coffee was fantastic. The transfer to the ship was in a big new coach. There was plenty of room and it pulled right up to the luggage racks for our luggage to be directly loaded at the terminal. It was a very short walk and we were in to the terminal.
The check-in process was fairly seamless and we were soon boarding the Jade. We were greeted by smiling "gondoliers" with a squeeze box who even posed for pictures. It was a fun start. We had lunch in the Grand Pacific dining room while we waited for the cabins to be cleared.
Our midship mini-suite balcony was large and comfortable and the coffee pot in the room was also handy. I traversed the ship, checking it out and taking pictures. I ran into the cruise director, Gio, in the fitness center and recognized him from another cruise we had taken on another cruise line. He is very happy at NCL and how staff are treated by NCL.
I met Dennis, the Hotel Director, during sail away. He is a peach! We thought Kaj Turinen on the Pearl was terrific last December. It is hard to believe it is possible, but Dennis out did him.
On Sunday, the Group Service Coordinator Elwynn had arranged for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in Le Bistro. She even had a portable microphone for us. As I had coordinated the meet and greet, the Jade staff made me look good.
The Latitudes gathering was also very nice.
Monday we went to Corfu. It was also my husband's 65th birthday. When we returned to our room after a day in town, we found our room totally decorated with towel swans, balloons, confetti, champagne, cake, hors d'oeuvres, and chocolates.
Tuesday is when NCL showed their true colors. We had gone into Santorini and taken the Charming Oja Village bus tour on bus 11 with Cristos as our guide and Janos as the driver. It was a great tour. After we got off the bus and walked up the hill to the church I noticed my hip bag with cruisecritic.com written on it was missing. I could not find Christos, or the bus to recheck the bus. I had intended to buy a piece of jewelry and had both my husband's and my passport, my driver's license, six credit cards, about 250 Euros and about $300 USD in my bag, along with my ship card. Also, my ticket for the cable car back to the ship. I started to panic. The cable car people let me ride for free down to the ship where Orlando O'Neill, the Housekeeping Director, radioed the ship. We had met Orlando at the Lattitudes Reception and the Captain's reception and he was such a calming source of strength for me. He reassured me that everything would be okay. I was and am so extremely grateful for his presence on the dock that day. The cable car people let me ride back up the hill to find my husband and ride back down again free.
It was about this time that I saw a woman on crutches with a new cast on her leg and a fresh x-ray. I remember thinking, this is only money. At least I didn't break my leg. I found my husband and Orlando was able to get us through the crowd and on the tender so we could get back to the ship. He alerted the security people so we would be able to board.
Thank God, for the staff at Guest Services, particularly Frauke "Frankie" and Jimmie, the Embarkation Officer. They allowed me into the office and for about four hours I used their phone as I contacted Travel Guard Insurance, my credit card companies, found out how to get new passports and where, cleared my credit card for the ship charges and for a cash advance before the card was changed. I hadn't even thought about the cash advance. Frauke was the brilliant help on that. Our mail was held for three extra days and our other employers were notified we would be two days late getting back. Jimmie even gave me his email so information could be sent to me. He printed out screen copies of the boarding picture and info with our passport numbers. (Silly me, I had not copied them before leaving.) They got me water, Kleenex, and let my husband sit with me. During that whole time Frauke was amazing, as was Elwynn. They printed out directions and hours of the Consulate in Milan so we could get new passports.
Because there was not time to make the police report in Santorini, I was informed of how to get to the police station in Mykonos. What could have ruined our trip turned into experiencing some of the finest customer service anyone could ask for on a cruise.
In Mykonos we reported to the police and then were able to enjoy the rest of our day. Fortunately we had not planned an excursion that day, so it did not mess up our plans. Afterwards I was still able to go enjoy some taramasalata. Throughout the cruise, several of the crew kept checking on us. What could have been a disaster, wasn't. Everyone went out of their way to make sure we had a good cruise. Carlos, the Concierge, called a number of times to check on us.
Gladys, in the Casino, never failed to greet me by name and always made sure I had a bottle of water, my beverage of choice. One evening the female maitre d' of Alizar dining room whose name I think was Vitoria became my cruise hero when she took my bag of microwave popcorn and cooked it for me. It is one treat I can have after having stomach surgery and I could not find a micro wave on the ship. She took my bag ad cooked it for me. I wanted one of the NCL Jade shirts in the color "jade". They did not have one in my size left in the shop. I saw one in a display case by Guest Services and hoped it was my size. Frauke asked and got the shop to open the case and sell me the one on display.
We had dinner in Le Bistro one night. The escargot in NCL's LeBistro is better than on any ship I have been on. The ceramic dishes they are served in keep them hot. Jade's LeBistro was better than the Pearl's LeBistro last December, both the food and the service. The waitress even fixed a special fruit desert for me when I didn't want anything on the menu.
We had dinner in Papa's Kitchen Italian restaurant one night. The only bad thing was carbonara left a lot to be desired, but the calamari was excellent, as was the seafood pasta.
I purchased a behind the scenes tour for my husband as a birthday gift. I was given a complimentary ticket to the tour by staff. It was a nice surprise. The tour was excellent. The kitchen was immaculate. The First Officer on the Bridge from Panama, whose name escapes me, gave the best bridge tour I have ever had on a ship. You can tell he loves what he is doing.
I don't want to neglect mentioning Alexander, our cabin steward. He was super! And he even cleaned up all the confetti!!! To top it off, he recognized my husband from being on the Epic 18 months ago.
The last night, we went to the final show and heard the staff sing, "You're a Norwegian now." This little Irish gal was never so proud. It brought tears to my eyes. It is clear that the officers and crew love their jobs and love helping others enjoy their cruise.
The rest of the story is we had a post cruise night at the Crowne Plaza and took the train to Milan. Delta Airlines even waived our ticket change fee. We got our passports and flew home on Tuesday. Jade staff not just salvaged our cruise, but made it a joy and a trip to remember fondly.