Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by faith4keep: This Cruise Packs a Punch!
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This Cruise Packs a Punch!
Seeing Santorini is on my travel bucket list, and I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to do this cruise at the age of 26, with 5 of my close friends. My group ranged in age from 26-31 and our youth put us definitely in the minority of the ship. Most other young cruisers were couples/honeymooners.
Getting in to Venice was quite simple for most of us (we all had separate travel plans). I arrived the Friday before around 11pm. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn which is on the mainland. I took the public bus ACTV Line 5, which goes from Marco Polo airport to Piazzale Roma, but has a stop right outside of the hotel. At the airport I bought two tickets for 1.60 Euro each, one for Airport > Hotel and then next morning Hotel > P Roma. This was significantly cheaper than a taxi, and the bus was quick and easy.
Once at P Roma, we dropped our bags at the deposito bagagli (just to the right of the people mover entrance) and explored Venice. Picking up our bags More later was no problem. We took the People Mover (1 Euro) to the port. Signage at the port was abundant and embarkation was one of the fastest I've been through. We boarded around 1:30pm, but if I could do it over again I'd wait to board until around 3pm to have more time in Venice.
Our group of 6 split two suites, 4 of us in the Mini Suite with Balcony 11130, and 2 others across the way in an interior cabin 11129. We found picking cabins this close to be extremely convenient and we highly recommend if traveling in a group. Location was convenient to the buffet and the MDR (Grand Pacific). We had almost no issues with noises from above. We were definitely pushing it putting 4 people in the room, but since we had a mini-suite we had a little extra space. Not sure I'd do it again, but we definitely saved on cost.
My last cruise was on the NCL Pearl, and the ships are almost identical. It was almost like returning to a vacation home. :) The size is just right; there were only a few times that the walk felt long, but likely due to the fact that we were staying in an Aft cabin. The decor is modern and clean, but not over the top, which suited both my young group and our more senior fellow cruisers.
Ship activities were OK. We ended up making friends with much of the cruise staff because they were more our age. I wish they would have had some more activities (like an under-40 mixer?). On my last cruise they had a pub hop, which was where we met so many fellow cruisers. This cruise didn't have one, sadly. 3 people in my group attending the "Singles/Solo Cruisers Mixer", which was held at Tankard's, but the activity was not facilitated by a cruise staff. In other words, there were about 5-6 people hanging around the area, but no one to arrange introductions or games, or even identify who was there for that activity. As a group we attended the family cupcake decorating, where we were hoping to learn cool ways to decorate cupcakes. Instead we were provided with cupcakes and toppings and left to our own devices (as this activity was intended for children it was OK, but still could have used some instruction).
We played a lot of Bingo and felt that it was wildly overpriced. $20 for one card?! It was great fun, but definitely too expensive. We also played the Deal or No Deal game one night, which was $20 for one card, and was very poorly attended and there were almost no winners in the session.
Service was overall above average. Some of the best, most friendliest service I've ever had on a ship. We had two issues: #1 -- Our drinks were WEAK. Very weak. The fun of having servers around at pools and lounges was really lost when they delivered you an $11.50 glass of juice mixes. We found that going straight to the bars yielded much, much stronger drinks. A little bit of a bummer and inconvenience, but worth the time to do. #2 -- Service in the dining rooms was slooooooow. Only exception was one morning for breakfast when we were the only ones there.
Food was decent. For dinner we ate 2 nights in Alizar, 2 nights in the MDR, once at buffet, once at port, and once at Cagneys. We were happy with the food, although not impressed by any means. But we were disappointed in the desserts. After the second evening, we all skipped dessert. The food at the buffet was OK and selection is much better than on other ships. I particularly enjoyed the Indian selections. Cagney's was excellent, as always, and I highly recommend trying it once. Unfortunately service was very slow there too, taking almost 2 hours for dinner.
Entertainment was average. We went to the Showdown show- seemed a little cheesy, but we enjoyed the audience participation. I thought the singers in the shows were pretty good, but the Champagne Duo which had many gigs at the pool were AWFUL. So bad, that any time they were singing our entire group left the pool area. So many songs were butchered. Most other entertainment- the guitarist, and pianist, were all great. Definitely see Elements, the last night of the cruise. Excellent show: Bravo NCL.
As for the ports, we absolutely felt stretched for time in each one but I suppose that's what happens when you take a cruise. We did not take any of NCL's excursions. They were so expensive (starting at $89 per person in some locations!). Instead we did DIY everywhere which ended up being MUCH cheaper, but I imagine it helped that we had a larger group. With a little research ahead of time, it was very easy to figure out each port, transportation, food, etc. on our own. See my port reviews for each one: Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Katakolon.
Disembarking was VERY simple. I had forgotten that since we were returning within the EU we didn't have to process through customs (unlike cruises in the US when you visit the Bahamas, Caribbean, etc). We had a 1:10pm flight on the Saturday of the cruise, and disembarked around 8:10am and were out of the terminal by 8:30am. Took the People Mover back to P Roma, got on an ATVO bus (more expensive, but nicer than the ACTV. I would have done the ACTV instead) to Marco Polo.
The airport was INSANE. People stood in the same spot in line for almost an hour, without moving. British Airways and KLM were particularly bad. We flew on Delta which had almost no line (especially compared to the others) and therefore were fine, but one of our group was on KLM and she was miserable. Last warning- leave plenty of time for airport, or preferably, fly Delta.
Overall I was really happy with my cruise. We felt like 4 port days in a row was a little much, and we packed every single day, but at the same time we wished we had even more time to pack more in. It was a great introduction to Greece. The ship was wonderful, staff was great, and I couldn't have asked for more. Definitely recommend trying this out! Less
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