We've been on several cruises over the past 20 years, including 3 or 4 on various NCL ships. The particular sailing this time was a combination of 2 cruises into a back-to-back, and we ported in Greece, Turkey, Israel, Crete, and Cyprus. The price was excellent and we couldn't turn down the opportunity to see so much. About 4 years ago we had decided "no more NCL" due to the overbearing sales pitches at every turn: bingo cards, 2-for-1 pens, photo sessions, bingo cards, 2-for-1 mugs, whatever. But when I came across the Eastern Med itinerary and pricing, that was an offer I couldn't refuse. We booked and kept telling ourselves we would just tolerate the annoying sales pushes because the cruise was going where we wanted to go. Well, I think that NCL must have listened to the many complaints of former years, because we were very pleased to report the "nickle-and-dime" attitude has gone, at least in our opinion. We'll look again at upcoming itineraries with NCL.
On top of More
that, NCL really has found their niche in a variety of items. I'll list some things that I jotted down on the ship that really impressed me......
1. A good variety of shows that pleased a very diverse audience. I think only one show was weak, that being a puppet show. Even that was quite an undertaking and involved quite a lot of skill.
2. I really liked the nice "surprise" touches that I observed...one evening a large group of the crew was on the dock, singing, having a good time, welcoming the weary passengers back. It was just fun. ........One afternoon in the Atrium, we were listening to the piano player. A member of the cruise staff came along, talked quickly with the pianist, and then the pianist transitioned into Phantom of the Opera....with a wonderful musical rendition by the cruise staff guy. (Not Cruise Director. That's another delight.) Those are just two of the nice but unexpected things we enjoyed. There were more, but if I told you, they wouldn't be surprises!
3. Another thing we like was the alternating itinerary that swaps from one agenda to the other. It was a great way to see a great variety of ports by staying on back to back.
4.Cruise Director Gary Glading is a real asset to NCL. He is a consummate host who obviously loves his job, and is so interesting.
So, NCL, we'll be back when another itinerary catches our attention.
However, I do have to add a couple of negatives......It's hard to figure out what movies are going to be shown on the in room TV unless you catch the rolling list which only appears very infrequently. The front desk printed a list for us, why not post the movie list somewhere in the Atrium?
No laundry facilities on board unless you pay the way high bag cost.
The noise level in the Garden Buffet gets outrageous, and the decor is so worn, it is time to get rid of the plastic flowers and Hawaiian leftovers. And on that note, the Hawaiian paintings throughout the ship and King Hammakammhaha or whoever (in the Grand Pacific) need to go. The paintings were mediocre to begin with and could be replaced with prints of something much more interesting and appropriate. Doesn't have to be expensive art, just pictures of landscapes would be better. And for decor, how about in the bar,Tankards,....well, how about some actual tankards for decor there? You have display cases, but they are full of liquor bottles. Boring. And the nice snacks down in the Atrium, good idea, but there is very little variety. One last complaint, that is that the library has a pretty weak selection of nonfiction.
Overall, good transition for NCL who has made some changes in processes in response to passenger discussion, and their attractiveness has definitely improved in my opinion. We will likely be back. Less
Norwegian Jade Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
The port is actually a few miles away, at Pireaus. Transportation is available and Athens is a great historic city. We did not take a ship's tour but used a driver with an independent group. Worked great, we saw all the major sights and even had time for some small purchases.
Good tour, interesting sites. However, there was disagreement between the group leader and the tour guide about the obligatory stop at the carpet weaving school which created an awkward situation. The tour company should have made the stop known in advance.
Naples as a destination is not a favored city. It is dirty and covered in grafitti. However, it is the gateway to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Amalfi Coast...all of which are very worth visiting. For the Amalfi Coast we booked an independent tour. It was every bit as lovely as we expected, and a true highlight was a lunch in Ravello at Cumpa Cosimo Restaurant. Our driver knew the restaurant called to be sure they were open, and the owner greeted us warmly and offered a delicious home made lunch.