I cruised on Norwegian Jade leaving from the beautiful port of Venice.
If arriving at San Lucia station you can use a porter service for €5 per bag which is worth it as it is difficult to get from the train to the ship with a suitcase. Once you have dropped your bag with the porters you will have to either walk to the port or catch the people mover then walk to the port. Or alternatively catch a taxi from Mestre station and you will be dropped at the ship this costs €35.
Embarking on to the ship is quite efficient and does not take to long and your luggage is delivered fairly quickly.
DAY 1: Because we were a party of nine we tried to book a table in the 'Grand Pacific' well what a debacle that turned out to be.....it seems that you can't book a table for that many people between the hours of 5:30 and 9:30 !!! We were told to just turn up and they would organize something. We ended up sitting on some chairs for 15 minutes waiting for a table to be made up. Most people in the party had opted for the wine package and 2 of the party the unlimited beverage package, well every night the wine slips were collected and dealt with and the 2 with the unlimited package were told to wait and their orders were not taken till all the others had wine in their glasses thus meaning we then had to wait before we could toast/ salute.
DAY 2: tried again to book a table, they took the booking then we ended up waiting again.
DAY 3: booked again waited again.....it's only nine people equal to a table of 5 and 4 not that hard!!!
DAY 4: the same!!! so we thought tomorrow we will try Alzirer the other "free" restaurant.
DAY 5: Why did we bother, same food same waiting same same same.
DAY 6: Did not book and we got a table straight away!!!! Does not make sense but Happy Days...
DAY 7: Did not book got a table fairly quickly after queuing for about 10 minutes at the door.
So we now go into week 2 of the cruise our party now increases from 9 to 11 as other friends (just married) join us after a weeks honeymoon in the Dolomites. So this being the case we wanted a welcome dinner and guarantee a table at a set time after leaving Venice once again. We booked then we waited and waited it really was a joke.
This continued until one night we arrived saw the big table in the middle of the restaurant and so we asked for it only to be told "It is Booked " we then questioned this and we were told it was booked through the Miami office! Go figure can't book on board but you can book through Miami.
Finally one night one of the men had had enough and sort of blew his top in regards to not being able to book and tables booked through Miami and well you wouldn't believe it we had the head honcho all over us finding a large table in another section straight away offering free wine etc.
We have all cruised with other cruise lines and our consensus was that the hospitality team management was very badly managed or that all the restaurant staff were new.
Or was this a ploy to make people book into other paying dining options? We were told that the food in the other dining rooms was not any better!
The Buffet restaurant food is not very appetizing and the crowds can be overwhelming. On our 2nd week one side of the outside garden cafe was booked for a private company so majority of the outside seating was unavailable to other guests. Did they pay more for their cruise? Not very fair to other cruisers!
In the Grand Pacific The Menu is boring and remains the same except for a chefs option but that repeats after 7 nights. What ever happened to the "Grand dining experience " that cruising was once famous for?
On a happier note :- My cabin was very comfortable and the steward was very nice and kept it very clean and I came home to an array of towel art.
I believe that because of all the extra optional restaurants the ship lacks lounge areas.
The drinks prices are ok but the wine prices are a joke, wine that cost less than $10 Australian was selling for $25+US plus 15% tax.
Wine by the glass varies from $7:50 US to $12 US plus 15% tax
All in all it was the ports of call that saved this cruise, they were beautiful.
Big tip hire a car for the day and see as much as you can.
Hop on hop off bus in Athens is good value.
We hired a private car and driver in Dubrovnik which cost 4 of us €12.50 each for the whole day.
At other ports you can just walk.
If you stay on board later on Port days the pool deck is empty so go for a swim then head out to the port.
I don't think I would cruise with Norwegian again.