We flew from New York to London's Heathrow, never saw so many people in an airport or did so much walking). NCL arranged a bus to take us to Southampton. The two hour ride on narrow seats was not too comfortable for one as tall as me. Upon arrival at Southampton, embarkation was carried on efficiently by NCL and we were on board about 12:30PM. We had a nice lunch at the buffet and our mini-suite cabin was ready at 2:00PM, well prepared by our cabin stewards Claire and tito from the Philippines. They did an excellent job throughout the cruise servicing our cabin and fulfilling every request. We were still tired and suffering from jet lag so we dined the first night at the Gardemn Cafe and we found a nice variety of selections. We turned in early as we were exhausted from the overnight flight.
Saturday morning we awoke to a surprisingly calm North Sea and attended a cruisecritic meeting in LeBistro at 11AM arranged by fellow passenger Barbara from New York. The senior ship's staff attended including the Captain, Hotel Director, Food and Beverage Manager and welcomed us aboard. They answered our questions and addressed any concerns we may have had. We got to meet the people we had previously coresponded with on our roll call and we found it a delightful beginning to our cruise. We formed a trivia team called the "Norwegian Nomads" comprising of Barbara and I from New York, Terri and Bernie from Florida and Brenda and Linda from the UK. Almost three team trivia events were sceduled on board daily and we competed well throughout the cruise and always finishing in the top three. We had a funny, well balanced and diversified team that found it's origin on the cruisecritic roll call site. A lot of fun.
NORWAY: The scenery everywhere was spectacular and the waeather surprisingly warm and sunny. We had only one real rainy day in Kristiansund. The Jade pool was open for hardy swimmers every morning at 7AM and was rarely empty. I managed at least two lap swims a day. I had not expected to swim much in Northern Norway but can say I manged to swim in the Jade's heated outdoor pool at 9:PM in full sunlight at the North Cape. I swam every day on this cruise, much to my surprise. Norway is very expensive and the excursions were no exception. We did only one, the Hellesylt to Geiranger 8 hour overland tour which was wonderful. We had a friendly and informative guide from Germany named Heidi who really made it interesting. We went from summer valleys to spring highlands to winter mountain vistas along challenging hairpin turns expertly handled by our driver. We visited a summer ski resort with heavy snow as i stood there in my short pants. The view from the top of Mt. Dalsnibba was spectacular and we could see the tiny Jade anchored below in the Geiranger fjord. Fortuantely, this tour was blessed with wonderful warm, sunny weather and a highlight of our cruise. We did walking tours it all the other ports. We disappointed that the funicular broke down in Bergen and we couldn't enjoy the view from above. We tried to obtain phone cards but were unable to buy them and the phone booths that the guide books said we could use to call the U.S. have now been replaced by universal cell phone use so we were unable to phone back home.
JADE: Having saild NCL many times before we were familiar with the layout of the Jade although its original Hawaiin motif seemed a little out of place in Norway. The production shows were very good as were the lounge perfomers but we were disappointed that the Jade orchestra played only on night for dancing on this 12 day cruise. We were used to them playing often in the Spinakker Lounge on the Dawn. We enjoyed the dinners in the main restaurant when they featured lobster, rack of lamb or duck but on the other nights, we often had dinner in the Garden Cafe. We especially enjoyed dining at Cagney's and LeBistro where the food and service were superb. The crew and staff throughout were very very friendly and accomodating. Our wonderful concierge Ruth, took care of our every request. It was a very memorable cruise and we feel one of the best European itineraries.