This was to be my first experience of going on a cruise as a solo traveller so I was concerned that it should be as easy an experience as possible, my cruise consultant assured me that if I booked my flight and transfers with NCL then it would mean I could relax should anything go wrong.
On arrival at Venice airport the NCL representatives directed me incorrectly and I ended up lost outside of the airport building, after an hour I was eventually dumped at the keyside where there was no help and guidance to embark and I found the whole thing very stressful and could have quite easily just turned and gone home.
Even though I had a midship balcony stateroom and was on my own the cabin was extremely small and I had to put a chair onto the balcony to enable me to get around the cabin easily. The bed linen was grey and shabby and the towels very worn out and stained.The bathrooms themselves were quite spacious and looked as though they had been recently refurbished.
The food in the main dining rooms was very poor more like school dinners and the food in the garden cafe ( thats if you could get a table ) looked better than it tasted, nothing seemed to have much flavour.
Every effort was made by the crew to get you to pay extra and eat in the speciality restaurants which I did not do as being on my own I would have felt even more out of place than I already did.
There was no welcome get together with the cruise director as there have been on previous cruises and there was a definite lack of information in the cabins.
There wasn't even a mini bar price list, but there was a booklet on the art auctions that were relentlessly plugged.
It seems that it is every crew members aim to make passengers spend as much money as possible, I think they must have targets because it is relentless.
Because the tips are now part of the price of the cruise and taken automatically the staff dont seem so keen to please , whereas before if a member of staff really did a good job then you made sure you gave them a good tip, now that everybody gets the same there is no incentive to go the extra mile.
The trips to the islands Corfu, Santorini, and Mykonos were superb and definitely the best part of the cruise.
The transfer back to the airport was as chaotic as the transfer to the ship, there were plenty of NCL staff around but nobody wanted to help they were more interested in messing around amongst themselves.
Once off the ship there was a long walk with heavy luggage to the bus for the airport there was no NCL presence on the bus or in the airport.
The airport was absolutely heaving with passengers and I found it very daunting trying to find out where I had to go as all the signs are only in Italian and there were no such things as information desks.Everybody was pushing and shoving it was really survival of the fittest.
A useful tip for any potential cruisers on the Jade is check when the Italian school holidays are before you book,as the cruise I was on leaving on 23rd June
was easily half full of Italians and their VERY boisterous children.
As I booked a holiday in June to avoid children this was not a pleasant experience for me.
If you are a solo traveller I would not recommend NCL, I felt very vulnerable and not looked after.