Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by LadyReadingOxford: Freestyle = No Style
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Freestyle = No Style
A sea of thousands of bra straps, singlets, tattoos and baseball caps worn back to front. Photographers flashing at you all the time. Music blaring in every public room all day long and even outside the ship. Swirly garish patterned carpets everwhere, orange, purple, blue, fluorescent colours and plastic decorations and flowers assailing you. Embarkation involved lots of queuing in the sun and carrying our own suitcases, until very nearly there at the ship, when they were removed and you had to wait for them to be delivered. YOU HAD TO PRINT YOUR OWN LUGGAGE LABELS AT HOME. Disembarkation meant another very long walk, queuing for coaches in the heat, and it took 40 minutes from ship exit to boarding the coach. The English of the woman who was announcing who in turn should disembark was so heavily accented as to be incomprehensible. The fares are relatively cheap, but, like Ryanair, once tempted by the low cost, the extras are exorbitant. Extra for fresh fruit juice in the More
morning, extra for any coffee except "regular", (which is not made plain on the menus, which give the impression that you have to pay for all coffees), extra for the specialty restaurants. We went to two of them, Jasmine Garden (Chinese)(extra $15 a head) and Cagneys,(extra $30 a head) and they were good, indeed very good, but really the rest of the food should have been more up to standard.
The main dining rooms - there was always a long queue to get in, in part because each group had to wait at the reception desk to show their cards and then for a waiter to seat them, instead of being able to walk into what was sometimes an empty restaurant. This created the impression that there were simply not enough dining spaces for the more than 2000 people aboard. If you went for dinner at 7.30, IT TOOK 45 MINUTES FOR THE FIRST COURSE TO BE SERVED AND WINE TO BE OFFERED, AND you would not emerge in time for the 9.30 show. The food was average. The steaks and fish were good, but the desserts were very artificial looking. The cheesecake tasted of nothing, the cheese likewise, and the sliced cheese on the buffet was warm and sweaty and unidentifiable. The menu in the main dining rooms, Grand Pacific and Alazar, was almost the same every night. Some variation on chicken, beef and lamb, and the dessert menu did seem to be identical every night.
Worst of all was the Garden Cafe, a giant buffet on the 12th floor, with all the atmosphere of a works canteen - those who were acquainted with works canteens told me that was not doing those canteens justice! A crowded scramble for the different dishes on display. Pushing and shoving around the coffee and tea machines; the coffee dispenser was frequently empty or out of order. The machine juice was watery. The patterned formica tables all displayed big plastic bottles of ketchup and mustard, and bottles of vinegar. There were no trays to serve yourself, so you had to take one plate at a time. If you were sitting on your own, you would then have to go back to the buffet for the next course and lose your place and cutlery. I surmised that trays were withheld in order to stop diners taking too much food. The breakfast pancakes were always hard and cold from having been left out too long before serving. Bottled water was $5.95, although you could buy it on shore for ABOUT $1. The first bottle was sitting in the cabin, not IN the MINIBAR, so I thought it was complimentary, but it wasn't.
The excursions were good but very pricy. For example, one could go to the Olympia site on one's own for about a 10 euro fare on the local bus WHILE the ship charged 22 euros FOR THE SAME TRIP. At one stop we were told that there were no taxis at the port and the only way into town was the ship shuttle at $12 a head - not so, there were lots of taxis at every port, and to be fair they did refund the $24 when I pointed this out. Because the ship appeared to be trying to get passengers to pay extras, and passengers were trying to avoid this, it felt like constant skirmish. $12 per head per day was added as a "discretionary" gratuity - in other words, jacking up the fare, but you could ask to have it removed, which involved paperwork and saying why. Long queues at reception most days; they could have done with more staff there.
Laundry - there was no self serve launderette, so one had to use the ship laundry: again, expensive and when I used it the clothes came back folded, not ironed, one pair of socks missing and a hole in a polo shirt (they did repair it when pointed out). I saw no ironing facilities, but one could get items ironed for an extra charge. THE CABINS WERE COMFORTABLE BUT SMALL; NO TOILETRIES OR CHOCOLATES ON THE PILLOW AT NIGHT!
Internet service was very intermittent and slow (maybe not the ship's fault, but I have had better on more faraway cruises), and it cost $100 for about 250 minutes. Entertainment - slot machines, casino etc., and many films, but they all seemed to be aimed at teenagers and were about sci-fi or future horror. Lots of towel folding demonstrations and karaoke. No lectures that I was aware of, not even port information lectures. Luckily I had printed off ample port information for each stop, otherwise it would have been sparse. The ship singers AND DANCERS were very good, so were the acrobats and their shows were worth going to, but most nights there was rather disjointed magic, crooning, clowning and so on, rather boring. ONE SHOW INVOLVED FOUR PRESUMED CLASSICALLY TRAINED MUSICIANS WHO HAD TO FOOL AROUND A LOT RATHER THAN JUST PLAY. Again, hardly enough places for the audience in the Stardust Theatre unless you got there early, and many people stood at the back. The library was small and the bookcases not unlocked that often. The shops were expensive - the usual Colombian emeralds and polyester pareos.
The sunloungers were hard, no cushions, just plastic or mesh seats and backs. The area round the pools was crowded but there were areas where they could have put more seats, for example on the deck 7 promenade. Smokers were out there. It was hard to find a quiet spot: no sooner had I settled down in a bar or lounge than bingo or line dancing would start.
Safety had me worried. When the usual drill was announced, my husband was asleep and slept right through - nobody checked, and when I mentioned this they said they would make him do the drill at the second opportunity the following day, but did not. Drill was carried out without us bringing our life jackets, so no chance to rehearse putting them on; nor were we passengers led to the lifeboat stations.
The staff were very willing to do whatever they could, and the ship was very clean. The ports of call were lovely but for a proper indulgent cruise experience, I would not go Norwegian Jade again.
The staff were very willing to do whatever they could, and the ship was very clean. The ports of call were lovely but for a proper indulgent cruise experience, I would not go Norwegian Jade again. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Jade
Cabin clean, adequate, bathroom tiny, all worked well, bed comfortable. Hangers were the sort that have to be unhooked from a loop so you don't steal them, which was annoying. Wished I had paid extra for a balcony. Nowhere to sit except the bed and one chair.
Port and Shore Excursions
We stayed in Piraeus and found it interesting. I had heard there was rioting in Athens that day and did not want to go, having been there before.
Very pleasant and easy to walk on your own. Climb the city walls if you are fit! 740 steps in all, it felt like 700 up and 40 down.
Did not bother with Olympia, though my husband went on his own. I took the little local toy train to the winery (Mercouri, nice wine tasting, but not much to see) and to the beach, a very charming ride.
Rather more concrete architecture than Santorini, but pleasant enough and good shopping, lots of jewellery.
A very long queue for the cable car up to the town; so we queued for slightly less time for the donkeys. Quite scary, but inexpensive. Donkeys going up meet donkeys coming down, and if your donkey presses against the wall on your left too closely, your leg gets squashed. Rather smelly too from the dung, but all in all quite an experience. Cable car down was easier. Lovely little town, great shopping, great restaurants.
Gorgeous, my favourite, great shopping and marble pavements, old ruins. I'd like to go back.
A short bus ride from the ship, then a people carrier (overhead rail) to Piazzale Roma, then buy a ticket for the vaporetto, find the vaporetto stop (over the bridge, but there might have been one closer). We stayed on the vaporetto all the way to the Lido, seeing all the sights on the way, and found the Lido a less crowded charming place, lots of cafes for lunch. Bring your own guide book.
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