Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by PorkChopKid: First European Cruise
Overall Member Rating
First European Cruise
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Jade is structured EXACTLY the same as Jewel so getting around wasn't a problem. Jade originally began service in Hawaii as "Pride of Hawaii" but for economic reasons was re-registered in the Bahamas and had a name change. Much of the Hawaiian decor remains. These ships carry about 2300 passengers and we were told that 1600 of them on this trip (June 11-18, 2011) were non English speaking. All announcements were in five languages. Gary, the cruise director, was amazing in that he could speak eight languages!
Everything about the ship was familiar to us... the entertainment was very enjoyable. Have to admit we really felt the crew show was pretty good.
We ate all of our meals in the venues included with our cruise. We couldn't see paying extra for the specialty restaurants because the food offered in the included venues was better than what we typically eat at home. We like the generally smaller portion sizes we have gotten on all of our cruises.
All More breakfasts were in the MDR or Blue Lagoon. Lunches were out of the buffet. All dinners were in one of the two dining rooms.
The balcony cabin was the same as we've had on other NCL ships. Bright, roomy, comfortable. Our balcony was on the starboard side so, for the first time, we had room service bring us breakfast so we could take in Venice as we returned to port. It was memorable!
Our favorite place on deck is deck 13, midship, starboard, side in the shade under the overhang. We'll spend hours there reading our Kindles. Never had a problem finding space there until the last day at sea. The chair hogs were out early because there were NO chairs to be found ANYWHERE (by 9am) let alone a place to put it in our favorite shaded spot.
We totally enjoyed all four of the Greek ports visited. We did NONE of the ship sponsored excursions choosing instead to go ashore and do our own thing.
Everyone on the crew was professional and friendly. We sensed that they were slightly older (more mature) than the crews we've seen on Jewel and Dawn out of NYC.
Getting on/off the ship in Venice was a breeze. We were in no hurry because we had arranged to spend a couple days in Venice before heading home. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Cruise Critic describes this port as “a one horse town with a big pier”. The draw is the ruins of Olympia, home of the original Olympic games. Olympia is 20-25 miles away and we were originally going to share a 240 euro (!!) taxi but we heard that the week before a train began operating at 7-8 euros pp, a much better deal. On our way to the railroad station, we ran into someone running buses to Olympia for 10 euros pp so that's the option we chose. Buses drop you off closer to Olympia. The bus option gave us 2 hours at the ruins which was enough.
Now this is what we were expecting of Greece! The town itself is perched along the edge of a 200 foot high cliff and everything was white with some brightly colored roofs and window and door frames. This was a tendered port so once ashore there were three ways to get to town. 1) Walk up a winding trail that zigzagged its way to the top 2) Ride a donkey up the winding trail that zigzagged its way to the top. 3) Ride a cable car to the top. We opted for #3 and took the cable car to the top. 3-4 euros one way per person. Once up there, the view is absolutely breathtaking!! We spent 3-4 hours wandering around town capturing images. Getting down involved using one of the three assent options in reverse. We opted to walk the zigzag donkey trail down to the tender dock.
Venice is AMAZING and much of it can be seen from the water buses BUT to really appreciate it you've got to go out on foot and walk the alleys. It's an easy place to get lost in and, frankly, that was the real fun in exploring it. We enjoyed walking the narrow alleys and loved the way they opened up (usually around churches) into a piazza with little cafes and places to rest.
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Norwegian Jade Cruise Mayhem