Just back from our second cruise but the first with NCL. Our first cruise was on Ocean Village which was our best ever holiday and has converted us to cruisers much to the amusement from friends who have never been.
Why have they stopped Ocean Village cruises?
I must firstly state that the Jade was a fantastic ship and we thoroughly enjoyed our week with a few exceptions, the cost of drinks, the hard sell from staff, the cost of onshore trips and the tipping policy.
I must state we are by no means big drinkers but like a few beers during the long hot Mediterranean days, wine with our meal and then out for a few drinks in one of the numerous bars afterwards. With a beer averaging approximately $7.00 and a glass of wine $10.00 and a bottle anywhere from $40.00 upwards or a bottle of water between $6.00-$7.00 you easily rack up a bill of $100+ a day without thinking. This was something I was not prepared for and wish this information was available beforehand. If you were aware of this from the start you would not spend the first 2 days analysing every thing you buy.
On top of the published prices you then have the 15% gratuity and VAT added on top. Now being British, tipping is not in our nature. When you are already paying $12.00 per person per day for tips a further 15% on all beverages your tips that should get distributed among the staff were in the region of $350-$400. In pounds £300.00 this is a ridiculous amount of money to hand out, I have friends that pay this for a weeks holiday!
You also need to be aware that on your first few days the serving staff must be on a large amount of commission. You cannot walk further than 5 yards without someone trying to explain the benefits of drinks packages, water packages, picture packages and on and on. They want you to purchase there and then, the friendly smiles soon disappear when you don't want to listen.
On Shore excursions. If you are like me and want to get the most out of the places you visit, but prefer the option of using the cruise company for excursions, consider the fact you will need up to $1000 per person if you go on an excursion every day. Again, a staggering amount of money when you consider what is on offer. On our trip into Rome, using the frequent trains, Metro and the local guide at the Colosseum, we paid 70€ for 2 people. NCL were wanting £70.00 each for a bus trip only into Rome. This was a simple procedure and allowed us to visit the amazing Trevii Fountain, the Spanish Steps and still be back on board by 4.30pm. We also went on the Ferry to Capri, had lunch at the harbour, go on boat trip to the Blue Grotto for considerably less than the basic trip NCL have on offer.
Please do no let this put you off going on the Jade, she is a fantastic ship with great staff and wonderful facilities. Just be aware if you want to have a good time and visit some fantastic places this can cost you a serious amount of money. Please do your research before hand for each port (I didn't and we got by) before you go. Have a bit of an adventure and enjoy the savings you make spending it in these wonderful places. if the vast majority of passengers were to adopt this I am sure the prices would soon come down.
On the other hand it would be great if NCL stopped ripping us off which is essentially a captive audience.
Would we use NCL again? Yes.