Norwegian Jade Entertainment
The two-level Stardust Theater, with playful jester masks decorating the walls, is the main venue for Vegas- and Broadway-style reviews. The entertainment options range from the standard cabaret or song and dance review to the more offbeat ("The Sound of Music" sing-along) to the really out there (interpretive dance set to the sounds of Frank Sinatra).
There's a variable 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. show nightly, with one comedy/variety act and one more standard Broadway or Vegas revue.
One of the most enjoyable experiences is the crew variety show, held on the final evening. Performances ranged from traditional Indian dance to renditions of Bon Jovi's "Bed of Roses." The talent was impressive, and the tryouts are apparently very competitive -- the cruise director tells me only the best of the best are selected to perform in front of cruisers.
High atop the ship, overlooking the bridge, forward, is the secondary showroom, Spinnaker Lounge. The venue serves different purposes throughout the day. For instance, during the afternoon, passenger participation games, like the Newlywed, Not-So-Newlywed game, take place. At night, The Second City troupe, which features a mixture of crowd-influenced improv comedy, lounge music, and other cabaret act hold forth. A DJ spins tunes into the wee hours.
Jade also hosts a pair of themed parties. There's the Monte Carlo casino party, with its show girls in feathered hats, and the White Hot Party, a danceathon where a large number of passengers clad in white spazz about to some bass-heavy joints.
Other onboard activities run the gamut from trivia in the atrium and three-on-three b-ball tournaments up on the sports court to informal chess, checkers, cards and Scrabble in the Card Room on Deck 12.
If you want your own spot for entertainment, the Medusa Cabaret Lounge -- a loud looking venue with blazing orange fire flower sculptures -- is outfitted with three private "Whatever" rooms (complete with curtains). Inside you'll find seating, a huge flat-screen TV, a phone for dialing in your bar orders, as well as Nintendo Wii and a karaoke setup. All the necessary goods are locked behind glass doors, so you'll have to request a key from the bartender. And if the demand is high for the rooms, you may be held to an hour or so (it makes more sense to invite the waiting group to join you). NCL is also trying to discourage the drawing of the curtains, because, well, the game playing might transcend the virtual.
Music is found throughout the vessel, with a more toned down "San Tropez" style poolside crooner and a packed jazz night in the Aloha atrium -- with plenty of guests tappin' and boppin' along to oldies standards.
Norwegian Jade's Jade Club Casino lets you double down with slots, black jack, roulette, craps, and the first at-sea Texas Hold 'Em cash game ($60 minimum buy-in; $200 maximum). There are also at least two tables using euros.
Norwegian Jade Public Rooms
Guests enter the ship via the Aloha Atrium, a central meeting spot that also houses the reception desk and concierge, the shore excursions desk, and the Port of Call shop, which features collectibles and memorabilia. The Aloha Bar here serves up for-fee Lavazza coffee products (hot and frozen), tea, cappuccinos, pastries and cookies, and plenty of plush red armchairs dot the floor at the foot of two grand staircases.
As you work your way aft from the Aloha Atrium, the photo gallery with prints for sale is set up starboard (don't forget to take a peak; there are some really horrifying photos), while the art gallery, powered by who else, Park West, that impenetrable force in at-sea art auctioneering, and Internet cafe line the port side of the ship (there are eight terminals, open 24 hours; per-minute rates start from 45 cents -- it is cheaper if you buy a package).
Aft on Deck 7 is the Dufry, a large department store-style shop where you can find everything from destination specific jewelry like Egyptian kartouches, brand name watches and clothing, toiletry items (but sadly no mouthwash) to souvenirs like key chains and stuffed animals.
The SS United States Library features ample shelves of fiction and non-fiction titles in multiple languages, but it is also worth a visit just for a peek at original photography, vintage advertisements and original lithographs from marine artists that decorate the space. The library is open 24 hours, and borrowing is done on the honor system. Enrichment courses are held in the nearby Lifestyles Room, and a chapel one deck up can accommodate 24 for an intimate wedding.
Editor's note: It is easy to find your way around, even on day one of your voyage. When you exit your cabin, look down at the carpeting. If you follow the direction of the dolphins, you'll be headed forward; if you need to go aft, swim against the current!
Norwegian Jade Spa & Fitness
The pool area midship on Deck 12 features two swimming pools (there's a third, further aft, just for kids). These are flanked by whirlpools under bright awnings and a water slide. Those looking for prime deck real estate should come early, especially on sea days. Most poolside loungers get snagged early in the day.
The Mandara Salon is operated by London conglomerate Steiner Leisure, and offers the usual treatments (facials, massages) as well as more trendy wellness offerings, such as acupuncture and teeth whitening (a 40-minute session was on special for $199).
Arrive early or stay after your treatment to take advantage of the steam room, therapy pool and heated-tile loungers.
The fitness center is open 24 hours a day and features state-of-the-art equipment such as treadmills and bikes, as well as weight machines and free weights, all with floor-to-ceiling windows as a backdrop. There's also an aerobics room for class. Some, such as stretching, are complimentary; others (yoga, Pilates and cycling) typically cost around $10.
For staying in shape outdoors, the stadium-style sports deck with bleacher seating that was introduced on Norwegian Jewel is back, and accommodated, on my cruise, basketball and football (soccer). The court also could serve as a regulation size tennis court, but no such activity was offered. There are also golf driving nets on either side of the aft sports area, a shuffleboard court (very popular -- high-stakes games going at 10:30 p.m.), Ping-Pong tables, oversized chess sets and a walking/jogging track (5.5 laps to a mile).