Had this been my first cruise, I would probably have been fairly impressed, but to be quite honest, if I compare with previous cruises, Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, I feel the Jade falls short in several areas.
The service and organisation were excellent, and the food in the main dining rooms was a good quality and a good choice of dishes. However, the buffet fell short of an acceptable cruise standard, namely just basic salads each day, e.g. the same lettuce type, cucumber, tomatoes etc., minimal effort at made up salads, e.g. coleslaw. There were two soups daily on the buffet, usually non-vegetarian, and the only fruit the whole trip were the basic apples, oranges, bananas, and large chunks of melon and pineapple. No variety the whole week - some berries, kiwi fruit, apricots etc. etc. would have been appreciated.
Although the music in the bars and lounges was enjoyable, the theatre shows were obviously done "on the cheap", just in front of a curtain, no sets, scenery, no real "production". The only good show was the illusionist and the acrobats, but the rest pretty abysmal. Talking of doing things "on the cheap", there were additional charge for many activities, the most insulting was the "backstage" tour of the ship. I have participated in this on other cruise ships, and never been charged, let alone the exorbitant fee of - wait for it - $99!!!!!
Disappointed in charges for the sauna too. Cabin was pleasant, and we had a charming attendant. All in all, I did like the "freestyle" ethos, general ambience aboard ship, and efficiency. Many noisy families on board, and rather inconsiderate neighbours (loud music on the balcony, which was dealt with by NCL after two complaints). The stops were very pleasant, but I felt the comparison with our previous cruise lines was very apparent - only 3 - 4 star rating on the Jade - 5 stars on the others!
I would possibly cruise with NCL again, if the price reflected the drop in some areas compared with other companies, but would avoid school holiday times as we felt the activities were often geared towards keeping the younger people and the children happy!!