This cruise was to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary and what a glorious cruise it was! We arrived in Rome 3 days prior to the cruise and had a lovely time exploring Rome using the Roma Pass. We stayed at the Aberdeen Hotel which was almost like a home away from home and it was the perfect location to see the ancient sites, near the subway and walking distance to lots of restaurants and shops.
We booked a limousine transfer from the city to Civitavecchia which we shared with another couple. When we arrived at the port there were already lots of fellow passengers there. It took us about an hour to check in and we went to the Grand Pacific Dining Room for lunch as our cabin was not yet ready. Surprisingly the place was not busy as most of the passengers were probably in the Garden Cafe having the buffet.
After lunch we checked into our cabin. We met our cabin attendant, Christian who was from the Philippines. He was friendly and our cabin was kept in an immaculate condition for the next 10 days. We had a cabin with a lovely balcony. There was space for 2 chairs and a little table. It was not big but the layout was excellent. There were lots of storage space and shelves. We were able to put our 2 big bags beneath the bed. The location was quiet which was great as my husband is a light sleeper.
This is our first time on Norwegian Cruise Line and we liked the freestyle dining concept where we had lots of options to choose where to eat, when to eat and what to eat. For the first night, we had dinner at the Grand Pacific Dining Room. We both loved our surf and turf which was lobster with steak. Over the next few days, we tried Jasmine Garden (Chinese), Le Bistro (French) and Papa's Kitchen (Italian). The food was excellent in these outlets and the portions were generous. Our waiters were attentive and the service was also very good. One night, we had a surprise Chocoholic Buffet in the Garden Cafe. There was much anticipation among fellow cruisers and there was a huge crowd waiting before the buffet opened. Wow! What a spread of desserts - decadent but oh so scrumptious! I was spoilt for choice and could not help but had a sampling of almost everything. My favourite is the chocolate macaroon that was simply divine and just melted in the mouth. In between we also sampled the Blue Lagoon Cafe for the wicked chicken wings and sundaes. There were also our favourite afternoon brunch and late night supper at the Garden Cafe.
We attended all the shows in the Stardust Theatre. There was ABBA Mamma Mia, Motown Extravanganza, Sander and Alison of Magika, Jade's resident magician team but the show that scored 10 out of 10 was the finale - ELEMENTS! There were mesmerizing magic, aerial acrobats, stunning music, dancing and singing. Everything was visually stunning and captivating. We were riveted to our seats throughout the whole show.
For ship activities, we participated in all the Latin Fitness Classes. There were different instructors and we had lots of fun working out a sweat. We also liked the Library where there were a good selection of books to borrow. We attended an Italian lesson conducted by our Cruise Director, Simone. He was great and we thoroughly enjoyed his class.
We covered 5 ports in 10 days - Katakolon, Athens, Izmir, Istanbul and Naples. Of these ports, my favourite is Istanbul. There was so much to see and do and not enough time to do so. So we actually flew back to Istanbul after the cruise and spent another 5 days just covering the city alone. We did not join the ship excursions but instead explored the cities on our own. In Katakolon we had a wander around the shops close to the port. It was enchanting and had a village like atmosphere. In Athens we hired a taxi for 4 hours who took us to the Acropolis, the changing of the guards in the city hall and a lunch at a local restaurant. Izmir was a let down as it was Sunday and all the major sights were closed including the bazaar. We took a hop-on hop-off bus to a local shopping mall which was deserted with only a handful of shops opened. In Naples we went to the Naples Archaelogical Museum on a local bus. It was a treasure trove of artifacts and sculptures unearthed from Pompeii.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 10 days aboard the Norwegian Jade. We liked the free and easy freestyle cruising and made many friends along the way. We felt that the Norwegian Cruise Line offered us value for money and we followed up this cruise with yet another cruise on the Norwegian Epic. But that is another story you have to read in Cruise Critic.