I booked this cruise because I visit Venice often and wanted to cruise out of Venice, I also wanted to visit the Greek Ionian Islands. I had originally booked on the MSC Divinia but changed to NCL because the flight times were cutting it a bit short to get to the airport and the Jade arrived earlier than the Divinia.
I would not normally write such a long review but feel that this will help you if you have not cruised with NCL before.
Myself, my husband and two children (girl aged 15 and boy 13) travelled to Venice by Monarch from Manchester airport. We stayed two nights in Venice first at the Hilton Mollino Stucky hotel on the Giudecca. The hotel was fantastic. We took a water taxi from Marco Polo to the hotel (120 euro but a wonderful experience). We were met at the hotel and our suitcases were taken off the boat and up to our rooms. The hotel was really comfortable and the staff were amazing. The breakfast is incredible.
On the day of our cruise we took the Alilaguna boat from the hotel to the cruise port (8 euros each). Embarkation was quick and we could go straight to our rooms at 12.30 noon.
CABIN - We stayed in two cabins - the children shared an indoor cabin just across from our balcony cabin. They were very clean with sufficient room to store everything. Our beds were set up as 2 singles as we were supposed to each haveone of our children in with us. The beds were quite narrow with 2 foam mattress toppers on each, then a quilted mattress topper, as result of this the sheet kept moving about all night and it was very annoying. The TV is very old fashioned with limited channels. On previous cruises we could view out daily bill but this is not so with NCL so beware as the drinks are expensive plus a 15% service charge on all drinks. The balcony was quite roomy. The bathroom is good with a good sized shower and separate toilet within it. Our room attendant was very friendly and kept the room clean.
FOOD - The MDRs are certainly not up to RCI or Celebrity standards and dining is not a sense of occasion. NCL have freestyle dining which is supposed to allow you to dine when you want but quite often you have to wait up to 45 minutes - you are given a buzzer so you can go and have one of their expensive drinks! The food is mediocre and only 3 courses. The food in the cafe is not too good either and finding a table is difficult. There is not much choice compared to other cruise lines. We used to go to the Great Outdoors which is the outside aft area, where there are more tables available .
DRINKS - very expensive with 15% on top. I expected this but was not happy at paying the prices for poorly presented drinks. They sometimes use a mix rather than making cocktails from scratch and don't dress the drink with anything.
STAFF - everyone was very helpful and friendly which was amazing considering how rude fellow guests were to them. Many guests did not even acknowledge them or thank them. Gary the cruise director was a bore and seemed omnipresent, speaking in his different languages which everyone had to listen to.
FELLOW PASSENGERS -We embarked at Venice so the majority were Italian (1500) who do not believe in queuing, acknowledging anyone else around them or smiling - I travel to Italy a lot so maybe a cruise changes people as I have never had this opinion before.
PORTS OF CALL - all very good destinations.
ENTERTAINMENT - The shows were surprisingly good and the theatre was a good size so we always found a seat. The other entertainment was not so good and anything organised such as parties in the evening only lasted 45 minutes so if you are in the middle of a conga and enjoying yourself stop now! We went to a few quiz/family activities but these were poorly attended! The boat is very air conditioned and sometimes felt quite cold.
Overall the cruise lacked atmosphere, the bars were quite empty at night with no buzz about them. Very few people bothered to dress up in the evening and I am not really into the ballgown and tux look but do like to put something nice on. I wouldn't go on NCL again but if you are looking for a cheaper cruise and don't like too much going on onboard then the Jade would be good.