Boarding Had to wait a bit in the holding area for ship to start boarding, but it was a relatively quick process. Easy to offload luggage and all the staff was friendly.
The Hawaii decor is a little weird given the area the ship sails - but it's functional and well kept. The Jade is not the newest, biggest ship out there, but it's a great size and not overwhelming. It's design relates to the sea very well - it's focus in most areas is out to the sea rather than inward to interior space. Fitness Center was well equipped and cardio machines were readily available. Only slight issue is what one will find on the Pearl also - the windows are low so that when on a machine your view is cut off. Cabin was fine. TV's are old - but not a major issue again, since we rarely watch anything when we're cruising.
Our room steward Nelson was one of the best we've ever had. Sweet, genuine guy! Celebrity stewards tend to be way too endearing.
Except for a weak fist night, where we felt food was being thrown at us in a rushed pace, our main dining room experiences were very good. We were pleasantly surprised, as our MDR experience a few years ago on Pearl was not very good. Staff in the larger MDR was excellent (first night was in smaller dining room so we always went to the larger after). Not quite Celebrity quality - but overall very good.
We also dined in Papas, Le Bistro and Asian Gardens. All meals in the specialty restaurants were very good and we felt the upcharge was appropriate.
Entertainment was good overall. We loved sitting in the atrium and listening to both guitarists and the pianist. The ship band was also enjoyable and played in various venues.
We're not usually into going to the big theatre shows, but prefer small quality lounge acts. But, we did attend three shows on this cruise. They were all great - particularly the final show.
Absolutely a great itinerary. Even given the unrest in the area and knowing some key ports might not be made we would do this cruise again in a heartbeat.
Alayna and Limassol were great easy fun ports to tag with the heavy, intensive Israeli and Egyptian ports. We could not make the second port in Israel, but stayed an extra night in Haifa, due to unrest.
We are converted land travelers to cruising, so we try and DIY whenever possible. In Alayna we just hiked the mountain (great day). In Limassol we took a CC excursion to Paphos. Israel we DIY'd it and spent the night in Jerusalem as it seemed that city needed a week to really see. In Egypt we did a two night Ramses tour with the CC group. All were great!
Jade has a great Cruise Director in Gary. In six previous cruises, on three different lines we have tuned the CD out (our usual view of CD's is the less we hear them the better). Gary was the exception. We listened to him. He wasn't overbearing. No constant upsell (it was soft upsell). Knows his stuff, along with half the languages on the continent! The consummate CD that every cruise line should want!
We both said it was the best cruise we have ever taken. Would never have thought that going in. The Jade was missing so many of the things we love on Celebrity, I was worried. But, we have always loved the Freestyle aspect of NCL. In the end, the overall package came out just right! We had a slammin' good time! Good job NCL - we'll look to you again in the future!