We are a family of 4, having cruised 3 times before to the Bahamas (Disney Wonder), Alaska (Sun Princess), and Caribbean (Caribbean Princess). This was our first time cruising on NCL to the Mediterranean, and it was our oldest daughter's high school graduation present. She specified which places she wanted to visit, and this NCL Jade itinerary best fit the bill.
We flew into Barcelona and stayed a couple of days sightseeing before the cruise. We also stayed another day in Barcelona post-cruise. We stayed at Hotel Jazz, which is located in the Eixample district, near Las Ramblas. The hotel is conveniently located about 7 miles from the airport, and about 1 mile to the cruise port. Hotel Jazz was clean and modern, with free Internet and great service. Our only complaint was intermittent rumbling from the underground subway, and some outside street noise.
We arrived at the cruise port about an hour before our embarkation time, waited only a short time in line, and appreciated being inside an air-conditioned room. We've had to wait in much longer lines outside in the heat on previous cruises. Our stateroom was ready with our luggage in just a couple of hours. We booked two adjacent mini-suites, one for our teenage daughters (ages 18 and 15), and one for my husband and I. The rooms were spacious, with queen bed, a sitting area with extra foldout bed, a nice balcony, large closet, refrigerator, desk, and large bathroom with tub and shower. We wanted to be able to open the balcony doors between our rooms (like on our last Princess cruise), but were told they had to be closed while the ship was moving. Instead, the inside door adjoining the rooms was unlocked (which gave us a little less privacy). Also, my girls wished they could sun-bathe on the balcony, but that area never received direct sunlight. I thought the temperature in our room was too cold, so I appreciated being able to adjust the thermostat.
We were busy with full-day shore excursions almost every day, so we didn't have a lot of time and energy to enjoy the ship's many amenities. We did use the fitness center and the jogging track several times (which was usually never busy), the adult pool and jacuzzi once, attended a couple of great shows at the Stardust Theater (Shout, and a magic show), watched a World Cup soccer game in the Medusa Lounge, watched a pickup soccer game in the sport court, and enjoyed the poolside live music and entertainment on our one day at sea. We purchased a 200-minute Internet plan for 40 cents/minute, and we had to add another 100 minutes. As far as dining, we enjoyed the Garden Buffet for breakfast every day, and even had dinner there a couple of nights. We thought the cover charges on some of the specialty dining places were a bit high, and ended up eating at the main dining rooms (Alizar and Grand Pacific) several times. The service was very good, and we really appreciated the special attention my daughter received, due to her vegan dietary needs. We did splurge a little on two nights, and enjoyed Teppanyaki and Cagney's. My husband thought Cagney's was the best meal of the cruise. We liked the freestyle cruising philosophy of NCL, without the required formal dress nights. We did dress up a few times (my teenage daughters like wearing their dresses and heels), and purchased the photos taken with the Captain and in Cagney's.
Overall, we loved the NCL Jade and the Western Med destination. We only wished we could have stayed another day in Rome, and had another day at sea. The disembarkation went just as smoothly as embarkation. We chose a specific time to disembark, and used the appropriate colored tags on our luggage. There was no waiting, and we were off the ship, on a taxi, and back to Barcelona in no time. We stayed one more day at the Hotel Jazz, and flew home to Colorado the following day. Our family has agreed that this has been our best vacation ever!