It was with much anticipation that we booked our first cruise anywhere away from our favorite destination, the Caribbean. The Cruise looked amazing! Leaving from Rome, Then Greece, Olympia, Athens, then Egypt (the reason we booked this cruise) then Turkey. Could not wait!
Then the unrest of Sept 11. We received and e-mail from Norwegian as well as our travel agent shortly thereafter informing us that due to the unrest in the region they were going to skip Egypt and go to Istanbul Turkey as the overnight port. They said we could switch or date to October and still visit Egypt. Difficult to do that since vacations were scheduled, Airline tickets purchased etc. So we said we were sure it would still be a great cruise.
Then our next disappointment. The price of the cruise was slashed!! Close to 50% less than what we had paid, most probably as the Egypt leg was the strong selling point on this cruise. We contacted our Travel agent and asked how we would be compensated for such a drastic reduction in the fair. He said he would get back to us. When he did he said 'They" wont do anything since we had received an upgrade to a better balcony cabin. I said I really did not care where the balcony cabin was. The price we paid was now for a suite and could we get an on board credit due to such a big difference. He said they would give us $50.00 per person on board credit and that's it. Certainly did not seem right as we booked this months in advance to get "the best deal". Not good!
WE arrived in Rome 2 days early (booked through Norwegian) and also arranged for 1 night post (through Norwegian)....big bucks! which added insult to injury on the price reduction oh and also booked 6 shore excursions each for my wife and I again Big Bucks! along with specialty restaurants all before we sailed....and only got $50.00 on board credit...Shame on Norwegian!!
The first day in Rome it rained like crazy!! could not do anything. Stayed at Crown Plaza St Peters!! St Peters...where? Would take you 2 days to walk to St Peters from the hotel. Hotel was very nice but way overpriced!!! They had a free shuttle to the Vatican which dropped you off about a mile from the Vatican...amazing. But the Vatican and St Peters was breathtaking. Ate at a tourist trap across the street and had a 10 Euro piece of Pizza. Was awful but my wife's salad was great.
Wednesday 02/13/13 was embarkation in "Rome" Civitavecchia which is about a 50 minute drive from the hotel. Transfer was included in the room cost. "yea"!
Oh forgot... When we flew into Rome on the 11th we pre booked a private car to take us from the airport to the hotel approx35 to 40 min. 45 euro total for the both. Anyway embarkation was the fastest and easiest we ever had on ony of our cruises. From when we got off the buss to on the ship in the cabin less than 15 min.
Ist day was at sea. Get used to the lay of the land on the ship. Not good traffic patterns. So many specialty restaurants that you can only navigate on half of the ship on some floors as well as having to go down a floor then go back up to stay on the same floor. Specifically decks 6 and 7.
Breakfast in the Garden Cafe! - What a treat! or should I say Circus. Again only half the part of deck 12 since the Italian Specialty Papa's occupies the other half. Not enough room for 2400 people to have breakfast. No traffic patterns, people dumping food on people etc. Same scenario every day.
While I am on the food kick, here is another disappointment! There was not 1 and I mean not 1 meal that was hot for the entire cruise. Buffet, Dining rooms, or specialty. We had dinner in Cagney's, Papas and the Brazilian steak house. Not one meal was hot. Had to send some back! My wife said that Every salad she has was amazing and the Salmon which she ate most nights was very good. I am not an adventurer when it comes to food...Meat and potatoes guy but would like it to have some flavor and be hot. Enough about the food...you get the picture.
Ist port Olympia Greece. Went to the ancient site then lunch at local farm.
Amazing sites. Good tour. Lunch at the farm with wine was good however it was all in a light rain. Seemed everyone had a good time.
Next Port Athens Greece. A tour to Acropolis and lunch at a local restaurant was included. Again....amazing. You could see it in pictures all you want but up close it is amazing. I am not much of a walker or exerciser. Sit behind a deck all day and most exercise I get is standing on stage for a few hours as a musician so be prepared to do A LOT of walking and climbing A LOT OF steps throughout this cruise. But it is certainly worth it.
Next port Izmir Turkey. Visited House of Virgin Mary, Ephesus, lunch and a local Turkish Rug Factory. A GREAT Tour. Amazing sites... better than Greece.
Everything in Ephesus is less expensive than Istanbul so if you are a souvenir shopper for the gang back home do it there!! Interested in buying a 'Real" Turkish rug buy it there. They will ship it to your home anywhere! We will be looking out for ours!
Next port Istanbul. This was the replacement for Egypt and the place we felt would be a disappointment compared to Egypt...What a surprise! The ship did an overnight there and we did a 2 day tour which was absolutely amazing. This was the favorite part of the cruise. We would go back there in a heartbeat. We Loved that city. People were great. Prices were inexpensive. Place was clean, Food was great. We cannot say anything bad about that destination...also no rain...but still lots of walking.
Next 2 days were at sea then a stop in Naples. Went to Pompeii, Lunch at a Pizza Parlor, the museum. Real Pizza! was very good. Of course rained a little.
Then back to Rome and stayed one night at the airport Hilton. Again pretty pricey.
In Summery -
Norwegian Jade - Our first time on Norwegian and actually like every other cruise line better. We spoke with many people who swear by NCL and told us not to judge NCL by this ship. We will give NCL another shot even though we felt we got the shaft on the price!!
Food- Bland and cold- Buffet terrible and Specialty over priced for the quality.
Entertainment - Above average
Crew - For the most part very good - did not see our cabin person for the first 4 days.
Layout of ship - Not good
Decor - Still decorated in Hawaii Theme as it used to do the islands.
On and Off - Best we ever had
On board activities - OK weather cold (Feb in Europe is cold) No outdoor activities on the ship unless your a polar bear.
All in all it was a great cruise...they all are! Would like to go back to Europe but everyone says the summer is really hot and the lines to all the attraction are ridiculous.
Planning our next one already.