Port of Embarkation: Barcelona, Spain
We stayed two nights in Barcelona before our cruise at the Arc la Rambla Hotel located right on Las Ramblas. The hotel is 3 star, but in a good location. Its an easy walk from the hotel to the shuttle bus (at the Columbus Monument) that takes you to the ship. The shuttle is 2 Euros. There are many things to see in Barcelona and most sights are easy to get to on the Metro.
Ship: The Jade holds about 2400 passengers. NCL ships all have a colorful decor which I like.
Stateroom: We stayed in a mini-suite with a balcony and it was certainly nice. The bathroom was roomy and we had lots of storage room. We also had a Mr. Coffee for my morning coffee. We were only one deck below the buffet, but it was still nice to have coffee in our room. The towels were thick and the linens were crisp, just the way I like them. The shower had a consistent and plentiful supply of hot water and was enclosed by a shower door instead of More
those annoying shower curtains.
Dining: We usually ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet. I like Norwegian's buffets. However, finding a seat was a problem. The Blue Lagoon is a nice alternative and its open 24 hours a day. We had dinner in the main dining rooms (there are two) and never had much of a wait for a table. I do like the Free Style dining. The food was good, but not spectacular. Lobster was served on the first night of the cruise, so there was nothing to look forward to after that. There are no shrimp cocktails or escargot offered at all anymore. All those special things you looked forward to eating on a cruise seem to be history.
Entertainment: NCL does a great job with the shows! They are the best shows of any cruise line that I have sailed on. "Elements" was awesome and Celia and Julien were superb! Great job NCL for choreography and originality.
Service: Our cabin steward, Jonathan, was excellent. Cruise Director, Gary, did a great job.
Ports: The ports on this cruise were really interesting. However, some of our shore excursions left a lot to be desired. On Madeira, we took Madeira's Breathtaking Beauty tour to the top of the mountain for the spectacular views. Actually, it was so foggy we could only see about two feet in front of us! They need an alternate activity when the weather doesn't cooperate, it was a total waste of time. Our toboggan ride was a lot of fun. Our tour guide in Malaga for the Captivating Malaga tour was way too long winded. He kept us penned up in a room giving us minute details of Spanish history, while outside we were surrounded by magnificent scenery that we were rushed through because we had no time to stop and enjoy it. I do enjoy the history and culture of an area I travel to, but this guide just went into way too much detail. The tours on Tennerife and Lanzarote were much better. On Lanzarote, we did the Fire Mountains and Camel Ride and this tour was really interesting and a lot of fun. On Tennerife, we did the Northern Island Views and I would recommend this tour as well.
Disembarkation: We chose to carry our luggage off the ship ourselves. I really like this option. We took a taxi to the airport for about 35 Euros. Less
Category MA: Mini-suite with balcony. Cabin # 11066. Our cabin was in a great location. Just steps away from the buffet one floor above us. The bathroom was roomy and there was plenty of storage space. Having the Mr. Coffee in our room was great.
Lanzarote was really different! It was like being on the moon! The scenery here is so unusual. Our tour took us to the Fire Mountains in Timanfaya National Park. This is a must see! Next we took a camel ride which was great fun. From there we went to a winery for some tasting of the local wines. The tour was very interesting.
I loved Madeira! Our tour included a toboggan ride which was a lot of fun. As I stated before, the trip up the mountain for the spectacular views was a complete bust. It was so foggy and windy it was a complete waste of time. After our tour, I stayed in town and did some exploring on my own. Near the ship, there are beautiful gardens. I'm so glad I went there. You also have a great view of the ship from the gardens. They're also free! The gardens are within walking distance from the ship. There's also a nice promenade along the port with little restaurants.
Our tour on Tenerife, Northern Island Views, included a stop at a scenic monastery for a snack and wine. From there we went to the tourist town of Puerto de la Cruz for some time on our own. I would recommend this tour.