Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by acvelo: First timers - with kids
Overall Member Rating
First timers - with kids
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Our flight from Boston to Barcelona got us in Spain by early morning. After dropping off our bags into the hotel, we grabbed a taxi back into downtown. All four of us were able to sleep on the flight over, so very little jet-lag was experienced.
We walked around Barcelona to start taking in the sights. We mainly ate the local offerings and bought the soccer jerseys of the winners of the 2010 World Cup. Haggling over prices was not too difficult.
The following day we grabbed the shuttle to the cruise. The sign-in process was uneventful and quick. We had all the papers ready, passports ready and followed the crowd.
The mini-suite, or cabin, was immaculate and large enough for the four of us. The view from the balcony was amazing. We walked around to familiarize ourselves with the layout.
The ship was much bigger than we imagined. The crew was very professional and helpful.
Our vacation was sun-kissed as we experienced mainly smooth More sailing and sunny skies. The day at sea had slightly taller waves which we felt and a brief interlude of rain.
The food at the Garden Cafe was well-prepared and in abundance. My boy and I paid for sushi for 1 night (my daughter and wife didn't want to join us) - we ate until we were quite full. The sushi bar did not contain all varieties of fish but it had enough variety for me. The sushi was of good quality.
As a family we ate at 3 sit-in restaurants - The Grand Pacific, The Alizar and The Blue Lagoon. All had great service and food.
My wife and I paid extra for the spa usage. We both saw how crowded it can get in the whirlpools by the pools so paid to have a more private experience. This was well worth it - especially after the port excursions. After every excursion, my wife and I would eat a late lunch with the kids, drop off the kids at the Tree Tops and head over to the spa where we would take a tropical rain shower to take away the dust of the day then sit in a whirlpool that was overlooking the port and ocean and then lastly, lie down on a heated sauna bed that was overlooking the front of the ship.
The Tree Tops, or child-care center, was a wonderful experience for my kids. The crew were great with the kids. The kids made friends from all over the world.
We all went into the swimming pool - which to our surprise (but maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise) was salt water. Since our in-ground pool at home is fresh water, it was a shock to our mouths when we opened our mouths in the boat's pool. The pool can definitely get quite crowded. The water slide was not fast as we had to push ourselves all the way down to the pool.
The night-time entertainment was very enjoyable. Because of the nightly entertainment and the need to get up early for the excursions, sleep was no more than 5 to 7 hours a night.
We could not have asked for a better time on a cruise.
See separate port reviews for our take on the various excursions. We did all the excursions on our own - "freestyle" baby!!! Less
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Cabin review: MB11520 Mini-Suite with Balcony
Excellent view, decent sized closet and decent sized bathroom for the 4 of us.Read All Mini-Suite with Balcony (MB) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
We did our final disembarkation at 9am.
My wife's dream is to take the double-decker tourist bus around the town - so we did it.
We stopped by various stops to see Gaudi's art work. We stopped by the Olympic stadium and the stadium where FC Barcelona plays their home matches.
We stopped by La Sagrada Familia.
I was able to procure a ticket for bullfighting at 6:30pm. Having now watched a bullfight, I can say that I would not want to watch another one.
We ate our last dinner at a local restaurant - we ordered paella and assorted other local dishes, I had Damm cerveza.
A great city to end a great vacation.
I rented a car from Hertz for this port excursion. My only complaint is that having a reservation did not get us a car any faster than walking up to the temporary desk and asking to rent a car.
The car that we rented was a manual shift which I have on my car so that was no problem.
Since I did not have a GPS to come along with the car, I bought the CoPilot app for the iPhone. The GPS app worked wonderfully and directed us to Florence and Pisa without a hitch. We parked the car at the train station without a problem. Using the map provided by the cruise line, we made it to our destinations.
Florence was a great city with all its history and art. We took pictures of the Duomo but chose not to wait in a long line to get in. We did have reservations for the Accademie to see the statue of David.
After doing some shopping and more site-seeing, we got in the car and let the CoPilot direct us to Pisa.
We went to Pisa for one reason - the leaning tower. I did not remember to get tickets ahead of time, so we just walked around and took more family photos.
My piece of advice is to leave the boat as early as you can in order to see everything you want to see - long lines await you everywhere - even if you have reservations or tickets.
We left the boat by 8am and got back on the boat by 5pm.
We took this excursion by foot. This was an easy excursion to accomplish with plenty of time for family photos, souvenir shopping and clothes shopping.
We left the ship by 8:30am and made it back on the boat by 4:30pm.
We took in 2 sites - Pompeii (Mt. Vesuvius) and Capri.
We took the bus and train to Pompeii and then the hydrofoil out to Capri.
Pompeii was a very humbling experience whereas Capri was much more colorful and vibrant.
While at Capri, we ordered the pizza and then took the tram up the island - very breathtaking.
Both sites offered souvenirs galore but Capri offered more clothes (my wife enjoyed Capri much more).
We left the boat by 10am and got back on by 5pm.
The Cathedral was nice to look at but there was definitely more shopping to be had.
We took the #3 bus to downtown and back.
We left the boat by 10am and got back on by 4:30pm.
We got off the S.Pietra stop - which is the Vatican stop. We attended the mass held by the Pope and then climbed all 320??? steps to the top of the cupola. We walked through the magnificent church and took in all the richness, beauty and history. We took some time for souvenirs and photos.
We took a taxi to the Colosseum where we walked around the historical building and took some more pictures.
We took more photos at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and shopped as we headed back to the train station.
We walked back to the train station and grabbed some seats on the train. We headed back to the boat.
I would suggest that you site-see from the Vatican to the Colosseum in order to get seats on the train at the beginning of the train ride back. The train filled up as we headed back to the cruise ship and stopped at the various stops. People had to sit down on the aisles (ugh!) because there were no more seats.
Today's port visit was very hot and I could see the energy being sapped out of us as we toured the city.
We left the cruise ship at 8:30am and boarded at 5pm.
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I love Norwegian!