We just returned from a cruise on Norwegian Jade, back to back Venice Dubrovnik, Croatia • Piraeus (Athens), Greece • Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey • Split, Croatia • Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece • Santorini (Thira), Greece • Mykonos, ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise on Norwegian Jade, back to back Venice Dubrovnik, Croatia • Piraeus (Athens), Greece • Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey • Split, Croatia • Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece • Santorini (Thira), Greece • Mykonos, Greece • Katakolon (Olympia), Greece.
First of all, these ports were spectacular. We rented an apartment on the Grand Canal in Venice for 9 days, and if you can, enjoy Venice before the cruise. We loved our apartment stay. We boarded the ship for the first 7 days and sailed to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik was lovely and we'd like to go back again someday. The Athens/Acropolis Excursion was fantastic and I would recommend the excursions highly. Kusadasi and the excursion to Ephesus was the highlight of the first week. Highly recommend this adventure! It is one you will never forget, to a biblical site still under active excavation.
The transition from week one to week two in Venice was seamless and seamless--no disembarking and re-boarding--very easy. If you wanted to go into Venice and re-board before sailing, that was simple, and if you wanted to stay on board and enjoy the quiet, you could do that, as well. The crew on this ship was wonderful. Nothing negative that I could say about the cruise should reflect badly on the crew or staff; they were professional, helpful and friendly.
The second week ports were amazing, as well. We really enjoyed most, the ports where we took shore excursions. Santorini was the highlight port of the week, but Corfu and Mykonos were beautiful, as well. I really think that one of the most amazing ways to enjoy the Greek islands is FROM the sea, so a cruise did not disappoint in that respect at all. We also loved Olympia. Again, we took the Excursion to the ancient Olympic site with a lunch and entertainment at a Greek Taverna following the tour of the Olympic site with viewing of Zeus' and other temples. Well worth taking!
I know that some people booked activities via outside tour companies other than NCL's planned excursions...I don't know why when our tour guides were excellent and the activities that the companies planned were really well done.
Now let's talk about the ship itself: The Jade is NOT impressive. Our balcony cabin was TINY, and although the furniture was acceptable, it was not great. The bed was comfortable and the balcony was okay for 2. The carpet looked like something out of "Little Mermaid," and I doubt has been replaced since like forever. The bathroom was okay for a dinky stateroom--at least the toilet had a separate door and the shower was good. We managed to find room for all of our things and it all worked out fine, but don't expect luxury because you won't find it here. Our steward was fantastic, and I've cruised a lot, so I know a good, on the ball steward when I have one. We tipped him extra for the weeks because we felt he was worth it.
The common areas are really sub standard by today's cruise ship standards...Pink and green decor with feathers went out of style back when Anne Boleyn lost her head. The ship needs some serious upgrading in decor. One dining room, the Alizar, had banquettes badly in need of replacement and showing wear. The other dining room, The Grand Cafe, was much more appealing. Both had outstanding Maitre D's who were friendly and helpful and very willing to seat us at tables of our choosing.
The biggest problem with the dining was the food itself. Aside from Prime Rib nights, the food was hit and miss. There was nothing special about the menu or the appetizers or entrees. Overall, I think the chef needs to go away and they need to try again. Sorry to be so blunt, but I'm not really a foodie, and not very particular, but I just thought it was coffee shop level food. At least I lost 5 pounds on the ship--my husband lost 12! You can't say THAT after many cruises.
I didn't mention the buffet: I'm not a buffet person--more food doesn't mean good food, and this buffet was just okay. The biggest disappointment was the salad bar--it was really meager and the dressings were poor, unless you like Wishbone in a bottle--and I'm not making that up, there were bottles of Wishbone at the end of the salad bar, along with those tasteless dressings in plastic jugs on the bar. I missed good salads! The buffet did have an area where you could order pasta to order or grilled meats, and THIS was the way to go. The service at the buffet and the adjacent dining area was excellent. Someone was always there to fetch a glass of wine or beer for you or to clear away plates. No complaints with the staff--just the food. I do have to say that seafood night at the buffet was really good!
We chose the free beverage package when we booked, and if you are offered this, it is the best value of the freebies. We definitely drank our money's worth in wine and beer alone, and I was VERY pleased with the by-the-glass wine choices. I'm a picky wine drinker girl from California, so I was happy to find quite drinkable wines by the glass as part of the beverage package--much better than on our last Royal Caribbean where I could only find Alice Walker Chard by the glass at the ship's bars! Can you say YUCK! So, at least we appreciated the drinks if not so much for the food.
I loved the casino. The Casino Host, Alexandria, and all of the dealers, knew my name after the first night. I thought it was by far the most friendly, fun casino I've ever been in on a ship.
I hate to bash the entertainment, but the big showroom entertainment was AWFUL. However, one of the bars had an excellent dance band who played Mo-Town, pop and disco dance music--Twice As Nice was a fun duo who provided a good time in the lounge nightly. Also, the singer by the pool daily was really good and listenable but not intrusive. I wasn't impressed by the Cruise Director, but the Assistant Director was really good. The activities were okay I guess, pretty average for cruises.
Overall, I would say, book a mini suite or better, not just a balcony room. It may come with pink and green decor trimmed with feathers, but at least it will be roomy. Book this cruise for the ports--not the food, and take the excursions--they are well worth the cost. You will have a good time but you won't feel you've been bathed in luxury. Read Less