We are seasoned cruisers and happy we chose NCL for this itinerary. In the past NCL had always been our preference, however; we decided to try a few other cruise lines. Having been on Ruby Princess (see my other review) the month prior to this cruise, experiencing absolutely terrible customer service we were ecstatic to be back on NCL. The difference in service was night and day.
The moment we checked in we felt welcome. There were no long lines and the process was well managed. As we were embarking on the ship we were greeted personally by the exceptional CD "Gary" and his assistant "Andres". Gary was a natural with exceptional knowledge of the industry he was able to ensure this cruise experience was truly memorable. Gary was always visible at all venues at all hours. He made a point to personally get to know the crowd. He wow'd me and many customers with his natural talent and passion for his position. I have to say I would go on a cruise for the sole reason of him being the CD. Well done Gary, Andres and staff!
The entire staff was at all times was friendly and attentive. I don't believe that I passed a crew member at anytime with out them greeting me and smiling. Our cabin attendant on deck 10 was extraordinary. She went out of her way to ensure our cabin was spotless. She greeted us night and day when passed by her in the hall. The bar and server staff is very attentive and always available. We dined exclusively at the speciality restaurants and also the captains table which is a must if you are a food and wine lovers like we are.
The ship was very comfortable and fairly modern as it had been recently refurbished. Its very evident of the ships earlier roots when it was based in Hawaii as that's still the theme around the ship. In terms of the ships exterior being maintained, they did a stellar job. My partner and I spent a lot of time on the running path daily. We noticed the maintenance crew on the deck either sanding, painting our scrubbing. The interior was also well maintained and kept up. There are crews constantly cleaning and sterilizing! Washy, washy at every entrance to an eating area on all NCL ships :)
We originally signed up for this cruise for the Egypt stop. We were certainly disappointed when it was cancelled. However, we understood based on the circumstances.
Our favorite stop without a doubt was Israel. We ended up docking for two days in Haifa rather than just one night based on the political unrest in Gaza near Ashdod. We elected the overnight excursion in Israel which included accommodations in Jerusalem at the Dan Hotel (excellent I might add). We had a life changing visit in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Masada & the Dead Sea. Our guide Elaun was extraordinary and no doubt educated us beyond what we would have ever expected on the tour. We always felt safe and never saw any sign of violence. If anything, we saw how three very different religions and or groups live at peace together in a close area.
We had already visited Turkey, Greece and Naples before so we're not overly excited in advance. However after revisiting those places, there wasn't a stop that we didn't enjoy. We enjoyed the wine tour in Cyprus which was very beautiful and the local wine was delicious! The other tours were well guided as well. The only complaint we had was the tour in Antalya, Turkey when it stopped at a jewelry store where there was high pressure sales and it was almost impossible to say no. We had experienced the same type of sales on a cruise we had taken a few years back in Izmir, Turkey. Beware of these sales stops prior to booking your excursions.
Overall, the NCL Jade superseded our expectations. Based on our experience we have decided to become exclusive NCL travelers. We have already booked our next cruises on NCL and I look forward to reviewing them.
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