This was my second time on the Jade and my 10th cruise overall. We were a group of 5 friends who were just looking to get away.
We chose this cruise after our plans changed and needed to transfer a previous holiday so as not to lose our deposit. We liked the itinerary and once we booked our other friends joined.
Embarkation -- We made it to the pier at about 12:30 and boarding had not started yet. We dropped our bags and got into the long line in the terminal that seemed very unorganised. However this seems to be the norm for boarding in Italy as we have been on a few cruises from Italy and it is always unorganised.
Boarding started at 1 and we were in group 13 and actually got called up about 1:30 and we were on board by 2:00.
The first day was pretty easy going as soon as we got on board our rooms were ready and we received our baggage by 5:00 so we could unpack before dinner which was nice. We dined almost every night in Alizar and found Garry the Matre D to be most helpful is seating our group quickly even though our numbers changed every night as we were always inviting people we met to join us. We also went to the Star bar and ended joining the Friends of Dorothy get together. We thought we had missed it as we were quite late, but it was still going strong. We ended hanging out in the Star Bar every night and thought Angese and Lirio provided great service and were really easy to talk to. We even got some tips from Angese about our upcoming trip to Latvia where she is from.
Our first two days were Sea Days so it gave us time to relax before the ports started. We had lunch in Grand Pacific on Sea Days and otherwise we visited the Buffet or the Blue Lagoon. This was also the day of the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet which was nice to see everyone from the roll call and also meet the staff of the Jade who came to greet us and welcome us on board. A slot pull had also been organised and we won over $750 as a group.
Day 4 we found ourselves in Alanya Turkey. We did not do any organised tours and just enjoyed a leisurely day which included a visit to the Castle (Take a taxi, its crazy walk and cheap) and a visit to the bazaar.
Day 5 we visited Limassol Cyprus. We had been here before and decided just to take a taxi into town as it was cheaper than the transfer offered and we found the starbucks for free wifi and a quick drink. As it was raining we headed back to the ship but not surprisingly we saw lots of people from the ship at Starbucks.
Day 6 & 7 were Haifa Israel. This was the highlight of the cruise for us and certainly what we had been looking forward to. Our first day we just walked around the city and really enjoyed it. We got taken for a ride by a local taxi driver and learned our lesson on clarifying meaning of top of the hill when saying where you want to go. Later some of the group found a pub at the top of the funicular and enjoyed a few drinks. They also replaced all of the TV's in the cabins on our deck whilst we were ahore. It as a few days later then the letter we recevied said it would be, but was a nice change.
The next day we took a ships tour to Jerusalem which was absolutely amazing and is a must see if you are in the area. The tour was also the best ships tour we had taken and found our guide to be quite knowledgeable and passionate about her city which was refreshing. She told us the good the bad and the ugly.
Day 9 we visited Iraklion (Crete) Greece. The main city is walk able from the ship and easy to get to by following the Yellow Line that has been painted. We enjoyed walking around and sampling the local beverages (read beer and wine) and food.
Day 10 was a sea day and we won big at Bingo. But otherwise uneventful.
Day 11 we were in Naples and we enjoyed a walk around and some pizza and a nice little local place. As we are there 3 times this year we decided to take it was as it was the last day of the cruise before debarkation. It was also pouring down so it was not a pleasant day.
Day 12 we are back in Civitavecchia and we debarked and took the port shuttle which is a bit of a joke to the edge of the port and took the train into Rome. We were able to leave our luggage at the train station and enjoy a day in Rome including a visit to our favourite little restaurant near the coliseum and some gelato before heading to the airport on the express train.
Dining -- Overall we found the food to be quite good. We did specialty dining two nights one in Teppanyaki and the other in Moderno. Both left us very full and we certainly enjoyed it. The only place I found a little disappointing was Blue Lagoon as quite often certain items like chicken wings came out luke warm and the cheese sticks could use another minute or two in the fryer t be at the right temp, at the same time the service was not as good as other places on the ship.
Staff -- Compared to my previous time on the Jade I found the staff to be really friendly and helpful esp in most of the restaurants and at guest services.
Cruise Director Gary (whilst a little over the top) and his staff provided some great entertainment and Gary's knowledge of the area was really impressive.
I am looking forward to my next cruise on the Jade when she take me from Rome to Venice at the end of April.