This was our second trip on the Jade (previous 12 days Med) and followed on from a 7 day Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian Epic which finished in Rome 3 days earlier.
Upon boarding the Jade it was a relaxing feeling of familiarity, almost like coming home! after 7 days on the huge Epic the smaller Jade felt much more personal and welcoming. While the Epic is a great ship and the staff wonderful the smaller vessel just feels a bit more relaxed.
Embarkation - simple enough. Take people mover to port and walk a few hundred metres to the ship. We were there around 1pm and it was quiet enough. On board within half an hour.
Service - I find the service is always good on Norwegian and perhaps the Jade this time was even more friendly and accommodating. Can never complain here!
Cabin - we had a balcony on both the Epic and Jade, so can make some comparisons. I definitely preferred the Jade cabin, even though the Epic was more modern. The bed was bigger (Epic rounds at the corners) and more comfortable (Jade have a luxurious padding between bed and sheet). Seems to be more room on the Jade and after being in both can confirm that the Jade bathroom design is more preferable.
Dining - the food is very good, as usual, but I do have one complaint. After spending 7 days on the Epic I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that the regular dishes (that dishes that don't change) on the daily menu were exactly the same on both ships. Surely Norwegian could offer a bit more variety amongst the vessels? Overall we love the main restaurant food and usually don't find the need to use the specialty restaurants. We went to the Churrascaria on the Epic (they have one on the Jade) and found that to be good - too much food!!
Entertainment - having been on Norwegian 5 times now we found this Jade trip to be the weakest entertainment programme we have had. After previously seeing a good quality of performers the main theatre events weren't up to scratch this time.
Ports - I find that personal preferences dictate what you do in each port and everyone's opinions differ. Research in advance is the key and the best way to organize tours is through the Cruise Critic boards. You will save money on the shop excursions, see much more and be amongst a smaller intimate group. Here's a quick summary of what we did:
Leaving Venice is a "wow' moment. you looking at all the people and sights on shore and the people on shore looking right back. All the flash photography makes you feel like a movie star.....
Koper - private tour for 8 to Ljubljana, Prejama Castle and Postanja Caves. Great day - recommended. Note: none of the Norwegian excursions could fit all of these in!
Split - lazy day walking around town.
Dubrovnik - Cruise ship charges US$12 per person to get a bus to the old town. Local bus outside port gates cost $2 or $3. We walked to take in some local sights. Took about 30 minutes and was a bit of an uphill hike near the end! took the local bus back. Walk around the walls and see some lovely sights. Found the entrance to the Buza bar, which is perched on the rocks on the outside of the walls. An amazing place to relax in the sun and take in the Mediterranean views. You can jump into the sea off the rocks if you like. Was a beautiful place to sit and reflect. Thoroughly recommended but it gets busy as more tourists find it during the day. Inner town a beautiful place to wander and shop with and outstanding seafood lunch at Kamenice outdoor restaurant, in one of the many squares.
Messina - Don't miss the astrological clock, preferably at midday.
Naples - we did a tour to Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Great option to see the historic ruins plus some of the beautiful coast.
Disembarkation - Simple and well organized. Off and transferred to the port entrance in about half an hour. Note: I was surprised by a lot of people paying big prices to get to Fuimicino airport on private vans or cruise ship excursions. We booked with Smartcruisetours and it cost 20 Euros each. Pick up was from where Norwegian dropped us off and transfer tote h airport was seemless. Simple and cost effective.
Summary - we love cruising and Norwegian is our line of choice (4 out of 5 times). the food and service and is always good and despite the small issues mentioned above (which didn't lessen the experience) the Jade is probably our favourite vessel. Go and enjoy.......