1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Western Caribbean Cruises
  4. Western Caribbean Cruise Reviews

522 Houston to Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

This was our first Princess cruise and my 3 rd total. This will definitely not be our last Princess cruise as we were totally wow'd by the wonderful service, the great dining and the entertainment. Embarkation couldn't have ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise and my 3 rd total. This will definitely not be our last Princess cruise as we were totally wow'd by the wonderful service, the great dining and the entertainment. Embarkation couldn't have been easier. My husband and I dropped our bags with the porter, he parked across the street in front and we were on the ship in 15 minutes. We found our stateroom easily and dropped off our carry-on baggage and headed to lunch. We chose the International Cafe in the Piazza. The staff was so friendly and welcoming. After a nice lunch and yummy dessert we quickly checked out the upper decks. Our luggage arrived quickly and we were unpacked in a flash. The sail away party on Lido was fun and lively. We quickly got our Patter schedule and planned our evening. Dinner was anytime dining in the Island Dining Room. Service was excellent as well as a wide range of choices. The food was delicious and the chocolate journey was decadently amazing. We left Port late because of traffic and it seems that is one of the problems with Houston. Sad that it is no longer going to be used because it is a great location for us. After dinner, we enjoyed all the activities in the Piazza and the show. The best shows were Bravo and the comedian. The Voice of the Ocean was also fun. We saw some very good movies on deck with Movies Under the Sars. Late arrival into Cozumel was a little disappointing but we were given a later All Aboard time to compensate. We were back on schedule for the remaining ports and even with rendering in Belize, we were able to make our excursions without any problems. The week was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary and the cute balloons and door decoration made it extra special. We received a special dessert and the staff sang...it was a nice touch. We won't hesitate to sail Princess again and just hope that they will choose to go out of Texas again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Overall, our 1st bi-annual multi-generational family cruise was a really awesome trip. Here's my review-in the simplest possible frame of mind: 1) the cabins-midship, 10th floor, 2 inside & 1 balcony staterooms-all BIG for a ... Read More
Overall, our 1st bi-annual multi-generational family cruise was a really awesome trip. Here's my review-in the simplest possible frame of mind: 1) the cabins-midship, 10th floor, 2 inside & 1 balcony staterooms-all BIG for a cruiseship. Magnificent! Comfortable! Great beds-Great Bedding! Everything you bring will fit. but bring extra hangars and magnetic hooks for stuff. Very rare awareness of sea motion. 2) the food (remember, Norwegian offers the "Freestyle" plan) no pre-scheduled dining times unless you choose to make reservations. ) This worked out beautifully for our variety of ages and appetites. We ate full service dinners twice in the Alazar and breakfasted once in the Grand Pacific--'they were all well-prepared and served. The only unpleasant meal we had was in the Jasmine Asian restaurant. We were given a 30 minute quote for a wait, but they beeped l us after 8 minutes. (Not a complaint-just an observation). Everything we ordered was awful. Especially the service! And most items tasted as if they'd been frozen - then - microwaved. 3) the entertainment-we enjoyed everything we saw-especially (and surprisingly) the juggling. I think our expectations were too high for Elements-basically a poor-man's cirque-de-soliel. 4) spa-adequate; regretted purchasing the thermal suite pkg because we spent most of our downtime out on our balcony-would have made better use of it as just a day-pass. 5) the only other negative we have to share is-we will not take another cruise which requires tendering -- uncomfortably crowded and a major waste of our precious island time! 6) workout facility-adequate, good machines. 7) bars-great! 8) excursion-Cozumel is like an old friend, Belize is just okay (too much tender!) Roatan is spectacular!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We planned our trip in the middle of October 2015. Since then I read reviews weekly and was a bit nervous, but honestly, if you are like me and read review after review, please remember that what some people complain about may not mean ... Read More
We planned our trip in the middle of October 2015. Since then I read reviews weekly and was a bit nervous, but honestly, if you are like me and read review after review, please remember that what some people complain about may not mean anything to your trip. My boyfriend and I took this trip and we had the time of our lives! All of the staff were awesome! By the end of the first hour that we were on the ship a bartender who served my boyfriend once knew him by name and greeted him at another area on the ship. They really care for all of the passenger and want to make your trip as memorable as possible! Our room attendant, Roma, was awesome as well. He greeted us by name every time he saw us in the hallways and always had our room cleaned and turned down before we went to bed every night. We saw him interacting with kids on the ship and he was so patient and kind to them. We had the unlimited beverage package and we are so glad we did. We never had to wait more than 3-5 minutes for a drink and we didn't encounter any beverages that we not included besides the few specialty coffee drinks my boyfriend ordered. We only had one excursion planned- It was a dune buggy excursion in Cozumel. We ended up being the only two in the whole excursion and were afraid that they would cancel but we ended up basically getting a private excursion and it was awesome! We did not book through the ship we ended up booking through trip advisor. Our guide, Omar, made sure that we were doing everything we wanted and that we made it back to the ship on time. Since we didn't have an exucrison planned for Belize we hoped to get some shopping done and explore the city on our own. The port area is a tourist trap and you really cant get out of it unless you have an excursion planned. Since we had to wait about an hour to get on the tender, we were late for all of the excursions besides going to Kumbacha Beach (Old Belize) so that's what we ended up doing. We did get a city tour on the way there and it was awesome. I expected something very different than what Belize City is. Old Belize was ok. The restaurant isn't worth going to. We didn't get a server for about 15 minutes and they food was just ok. Overall its a fine excursion if you are looking to relax in a beach chair. Also, be aware of you who book through as the guy who dropped us off never came back to pick us up we had to pay someone else to bring us back. Honduras was my favourite stop. Again we didn't have an excursion planned but we did decided to find something right away. We ended up going to West Beach. Our tour guide, Courtney, was super accommodating allowing us to stop at a gas station on our way. He always agreed to pick us up whenever we wanted. We ended up renting snorkel gear because there are several reefs you can snorkel on your own. It was so much fun. We then ate lunch at the paradise AQUA restaurant and had the seafood platter. All fresh yummy seafood! Absolutely the best food we had the whole trip. Courtney then came and found us around the time we were wanting to leave and took us back giving us a small tour. Our favourite spot on the ship was the garden café on the back of the boat. It wasn't very windy and was the perfect spot to watch the sunset each night or to enjoy breakfast in the mornings. Alizar was our spot for dinner every night the food was amazing! I highly recommend the French Onion Soup. The entertainment on the ship was awesome as well. DO NOT MISS SOULDUO!! You will be sorry if you do. The juggling comedian was funny too. We did not attend any of the parties because they were too late. We are in our mid 20's and a full day in the sun doesn't make for staying out late easy. We would check into our cabins around 10 pm every night and watch whatever movie was on. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
we chose this cruise because of the open dining options and the houston departure; as some family members are based there. we had 1 balcony and 2 inside staterooms, 2 across from one-another which made the time spent in our rooms very ... Read More
we chose this cruise because of the open dining options and the houston departure; as some family members are based there. we had 1 balcony and 2 inside staterooms, 2 across from one-another which made the time spent in our rooms very comfortable for all. the majority of our meals were spent in the garden cafe, as we always found table room for the 6 of us and the 3 year-old didn't have the patience to wait for food. the shows were all excellent and we usually napped mid-day so we had no trouble finding seating for the later shows. we did one excursion with the ship, but found them to be overpriced and had pre-researched the private hires>this was definitely the best decision. no waiting for crowds, no time wasted gathering the troops (beside ourselves). we hired the photography people (the ones with their own office) and they took us to a private beach in honduras-van included-to do family pictures...this was the best day ever!!!! the pix were excellent, we ordered special pkg canvases, and they made for a lifetime of memories...aside from a day spent at a great private beach. houston was an easy-albeit ugly-departure point, and we will definitely do ncl again. only negative: our little one was turning 3 that week and they were very strict about age requirements for kids club-if we had it to do over again we would have waited till after her birthday. don't expect them to be flexible!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Overall, this was a great vacation. Very relaxing, good company, and a great time. Our party consisted of 2 couples in our late fifties/early sixties. This was my husband and my 23rd cruise; 3rd on NCL. It was our friend's 4th ... Read More
Overall, this was a great vacation. Very relaxing, good company, and a great time. Our party consisted of 2 couples in our late fifties/early sixties. This was my husband and my 23rd cruise; 3rd on NCL. It was our friend's 4th cruise; 1st on NCL. We basically took the cruise because the port is located so close to our home and because we got two free offers. We chose the ultimate beverage package and the specialty dining. This offer was too good to pass up. Embarkation was very easy. We arrived to the port around 11 AM and we were on board by noon. Our cabin was ready and we dropped off our bags and the vacation started! Ship: The ship was nice, in typical cruise-ship fashion the decor is a little over the top, but very easy to navigate. We liked the layout of the ship as it was very similar to the Jewell that we cruised on in 2015. We had a CC meet and greet the first sea day. It was very nice and we met the hotel staff. I love that NCL shows their appreciation to CC members. It is a small but might gesture. The Lattitudes party was immediately following the meet and greet and it was fun as well. Cabin: We had an outside cabin with a VERY obstructive view. The cabin was tiny. The room was efficient, we had ample storage, a comfortable bed, and it was always clean. Not a cabin you would want to hang out in, but it served its purpose. Our traveling companions had a balcony room, again tiny, but the balcony was really nice. Their cabin also had a coffee maker (ours did not) which was a nice touch. Dining: Overall the dining was good. Night 1: Alizar (complimentary) the food was great. Night 2: Cagney's Steakhouse (included in the dining package); again great food and great service. Night 3: MODERNO (included in the dining package) although the service was great, this was our least favorite restaurant. If you are a meat lover, it may appeal to you more than it did to us. Night 4: Pacific Dining Room (complimentary) - the food was OK. (We also ate breakfast and lunch here a few times. Good coffee. Night 5 Cagney's Steakhouse - (included in the dining package) the food was so nice we had to do it twice :-) Night 6: TEPPANYAKI; (included in the dining package) - this was entertaining, but the food was a little bland compared to that of a Benhihanas etc. Night 7: Alizar (complimentary), the food was OK, not as good a night one. Just different selections. In addition we ate breakfast on the pool deck a few mornings and had lunch at the Blue Lagoon. We absolutely loved all the different choices. Entertainment: Overall the shows were good and the entertainment thought out the ship was nice. Service: The service was stellar. Everyone greeted us with a smile. Our cabin was always spotless and our favorite bar waiter Roy in the Aloha Cafe kept us laughing. Disembarkation: Normal. We were off the ship by 9:30, home by 10 AM. (We live very close to the port. Ports: We didn't book any tours through NCL. Instead we found drivers to drive us around. COZUMEL: We did an island tour, tequila tasting, and had a great lunch for $25.00 each (we paid for lunch separately) fantastic. BELIZE: Honestly, I never need to visit Belize again. I was open that we were going to visit the new NCL port, but unfortunately the opening was delayed. But we made the best of the day and had a great time .ROATAN: Found another driver (Gabriel) and had a wonderful island tour. He took us anywhere we wanted to go for the duration of the day. We paid $30 per person. He was awesome. Pros: NCL is a good value for a vacation. We really did have a good time. Cons: During our CC meet and greet the hotel manager told us that someone reads our reviews, so reviewer this is for you. We loved our cruise, the things we didn't like had nothing to do with the ship or crew. The wine selection SUCKS!!!!!! My husband is a beer drinker, so he was happy he had choices. Our traveling companions drink cognacs and spiced rum, they had choices they were happy. I drink Chardonnay (white wine) I HAD NO CHOICES!!!! The only Chardonnay available with the UBP was Meridian. This is rotgut wine. I saw it at my local grocery store for less than $5.00 a bottle. Had I paid for the UBP I would have been upset, however it is hard to complain when it is included :-) Please for the sake of wine-drinking cruisers give us a choice. The second con is itinerary, I really am sick of Belize, Roaten, and Cozumel. But since I go for the cruise experience (and since you are leaving Houston anyway, sniff sniff) I understand that there are not a lot of places for us to go. Maybe Cuba... hint hint. Overall, we really did have a great time, and we will be cruising with NCL again in the future. Thanks for the memories! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
.This was a retirement cruise for my wife and number 12 overall for us. For the last several years we had opted to do all inclusive do to cost factors, but this was a deal. We booked short notice and got an inside ros cabin which was ... Read More
.This was a retirement cruise for my wife and number 12 overall for us. For the last several years we had opted to do all inclusive do to cost factors, but this was a deal. We booked short notice and got an inside ros cabin which was fine. Although we were greeted with visitors in our toilet, the room steward Felipe and his supervisor, Alex got things handled. The regrets-Steiner employee did a play on words offering sale/sail day specials. Hotel management got that fixed quickly after I complained. Live pool music needs help, the Dj did a good job music in the lounges too loud, we were not able to hear the singers voices. now for all the good things....the dining room food was fabulous. We did not have one bad meal! Our waiter's name was Fraizer. He was top notch. It was like cruising in the old days. We ask for nothing, as he or his assistant, Elizabeth, had it at our table already. He was very personable, very genuine, and very professional. We are so glad we found him. And Elizabeth,with her captivating smile and eagerness to serve, should be elevated to waiter status. And to top off our Alziza restaraunt experience, after our first visit, valadia, our hostess, was calling me by name. And she did this every time she saw me one the ship! This dining crew made our cruise what it was...GOOD. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We last cruised with RCCL in 2011 - a 9-night European cruise from Norway to France, Ireland, England, Scotland and back to Norway. In the intervening years we took three Disney cruises to Hawai'i, Western Caribbean and Alaska. Quite ... Read More
We last cruised with RCCL in 2011 - a 9-night European cruise from Norway to France, Ireland, England, Scotland and back to Norway. In the intervening years we took three Disney cruises to Hawai'i, Western Caribbean and Alaska. Quite frankly, based on our 2011 RCCL cruise, we weren't expecting things to be better than Disney. Were we surprised. Five years later RCCL had really improved their ships and their service onboard. There were more things to do for families and the available activities were, for the most part, on par with or better than DCL. We even found the food in the main dining room and the Windjammer to be better than DCL. Not everything was rosy. I did have an issue with the charter bus going from Bush International to the terminal. On DCL buses, both charter and Disney, the front seats are reserved for persons with disabilities - of which I am one. It was very hard to have to work my way down the aisle past perfectly healthy passengers to the rear of the bus. Also, despite my notifying RCCL of my need for a wheelchair from the terminal to the ship, there were issues there too. At the terminal, as advised, I asked the RCCL employee for wheelchair assistance. She informed me that there weren't any wheelchairs there and could I walk to the terminal to get one. I have muscular dystrophy and, while I can walk a short distance with a cane, longer distances are a challenge. I made my way to the terminal and asked the staff there again for a wheelchair and was told I would have to stand in the winding line and once inside the terminal would be provided with a wheelchair. What a Mickey Mouse operation! I hope RCCL lets their terminal staff know how incompetent and inconsiderate they were. One more thing. It would be nice if RCCL didn't clutter up the entrance to the Windjammer with marketing tables. Its hard enough to navigate around hungry guests without having to work around guests looking over the latest offerings in jewelry, teeth whitening and spa treatments. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and I travel, I mean a lot. We do not always cruise. This was our 6th cruise and first with Norwegian Cruise lines. Previously we have been on Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Each of those cruises was longer than ... Read More
My wife and I travel, I mean a lot. We do not always cruise. This was our 6th cruise and first with Norwegian Cruise lines. Previously we have been on Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Each of those cruises was longer than this one. This was a unique trip because it was our first cruise taking our kids, 11,9 and 6. We have some flexibility in our work schedules but lining up the kids, school and sports commitments is difficult at times. Also this was spur of the moment, I mean like my wife and I first talked about it Thursday morning in Salt Lake City and by Saturday we were getting on the Jade in Houston. Two cabins, five people, a heck of a deal we booked it and I was all in. I love being spontaneous! Embarkation and Safety brief was the easiest we have ever had. I mean quick. So now what? Embarkation party anyone!? Lets get a drink... Wait no my card is not working, try my wife's, nope. I am sorry sir your going to have to go to guest services. No problem, I know it is all working on my end, I will pop down and get it cleared up... Nope. Not standing in that line, back to the now "dry" party, I will fix it later. Well later became five trips to guest services later. Five trips to guest services so they could turn on my card. You know the card you need to buy anything on board... Twice I was handled roughly, once the lady actually got annoyed at my questions, even though I explained that her colleagues had said it was handled multiple times. That lead to a request for a manager which produced some assistant nobody from finance that said it was system error, oh and apologized. So that took till Friday afternoon... we got off Saturday morning. Look cruising is what you make it, any trip is. I do not need someone to generate a good time for me nor do I expect it. I think my family could have fun anywhere and I mean it. I just really can't get off a boat with onboard credits unused because my ship card wouldn't charge the whole trip and almost five hundred dollars charged to my credit card (so we know that worked) and feel good about it. I mean it is embarrassing to try and get a drink for a new friend only to be told your ship card doesn't work. Buy your kids some trinkets to remember the trip, I am sorry sir please see guest services. Oh there is a line? Oh you been here before? Oh, yes I see, your all set sir... 5 times? The ship is average. I mean like really average. It's okay at everything but nothing goes wow. The restaurant's staff was not friendly and not very competent. The food was average but you know it is not good when the buffets are better than the sit down restaurants. Oh you want my kids to eat the kids menu? You know they pay the same service charge/tip daily as I do, right? The water slide was fun, the once I slid down it. I just could not seem to get there when it was open, though I was at the pool every sea day. Look the family had fun, we actually had a blast but my kids and I could have fun floating on an iceberg. Sometimes you just want stuff to work, people to be friendly and food to be good. Sadly Norwegian Cruise Line did not produce that experience for me and they won't for you. I simply could not recommend them. Tendering two out of three ports is a bad joke. Why would you want to spend your port time waiting in line to get into the port? Oh great day in paradise, stand in this line and we will get you back to the ship when we can... There are too many great ships with awesome staff that really are concerned whether or not you have a great time to go with the Norwegian Jade where Norwegian Cruise lines can not get stuff to work, so you can spend money and relax with a drink. Seriously. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was a spur of the moment trip for us, and we the price was unbeatable, even for a balcony room. As this was to be our second cruise on NCL, we had high expectations. Our previous cruise with them had been wonderful (NCL Jewel) so ... Read More
This was a spur of the moment trip for us, and we the price was unbeatable, even for a balcony room. As this was to be our second cruise on NCL, we had high expectations. Our previous cruise with them had been wonderful (NCL Jewel) so we were really excited. Embarkation was a breeze! The Houston terminal knows how to move people swiftly through the check-in process, something Carnival needs to figure out. Parking at the terminal was also much better than any other terminal we've had the pleasure of sailing from. I really can't say enough about how wonderful the embarkation process is here. Upon first glance, our room was lovely and the balcony superb. Although the rooms are definitely smaller than Carnival, it was still roomy enough for the two adults and an active 8 year old. The bathroom is a nice size for a ship and I really liked the size of the shower and the separate toilet area. That being said, I did not like the smell of urine and no amount of cleaning took care of that smell. It didn't bother my husband and grandson as much as did me, but I have a sensitive nose. I knew the bathroom was clean, but the smell could be overwhelming for me. The cabin steward, Mario, told us this was his first time working on a ship. And it showed. There were three of us in the room, yet only 2 towels for bathing and 2 towels for the pool. It was an effort on our part everyday to locate him and ask for towels. Listening to some of the disgruntled stewards complaining in the hall was very disconcerting. I prefer dining in the restaurants vs the buffet, but we were so disappointed in the food that we ended up eating at the buffet. At least the buffet had several options. The jade offers Indian, vegetarian, and Asian fare on the buffet as well as traditional American food. There was something for everyone, even if a bit repetitive. NCL could take some cues from Carnival as far as the food goes. The ports: I loved the ports! The only thing I didn't like was having to draw numbers to wait on the tinders to take us to shore. This happened at 2 ports. While we were being tindered to shore, NCL Jewel came in was permitted to actually dock. The crew: Splash Academy is awesome! Our grandson begged to go there every day. Yeah, for us! I can't say enough about these wonderful people. They made our grandson's cruise memorable and he still speaks about the treasure hunts and sports activities. Overall, I loved the view from our room, the ports, the people we met, and the smile on our grandson's face. Will we cruise on NCL again? Yes, just not on the Jade. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My husband and I sailed on the Norwegian Jade, April 2nd through 9th, with two other couples. This was our 16th cruise and 3rd with NCL. Our ports were Cozumel, Belize City, Belize and Roatan, Honduras. We drove down from Kansas to ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Norwegian Jade, April 2nd through 9th, with two other couples. This was our 16th cruise and 3rd with NCL. Our ports were Cozumel, Belize City, Belize and Roatan, Honduras. We drove down from Kansas to Houston's Bayport Cruise terminal the day before and stayed at the Best Western Plus Seabrook Suites. The hotel is very nice, ideal to stay before your cruise as it's about 5 minutes from the cruise port. I was sure my husband had set the GPS incorrectly when we were dumped off in an industrial area, but the hotel is there off a main highway with nothing but industry around it. There is not a place to eat dinner on property, but they do serve a continental breakfast, so prepare to take the hotel shuttle, or a taxi if you don't have your own car. The free shuttle will take you to the cruise terminal. We chose to park right at the terminal. We arrived at the terminal at about 10:30 AM which was the time we had chosen through NCL. There was no waiting as we made it swiftly through security, filled out our health forms and got right to the counter with our documents. About half an hour later boarding commenced. All of this is moot, as NCL would be through sailing out of Houston by mid-April. We've heard a variety of reasons for this, but for us it was love/hate. This is the easiest terminal to drive to and park, but what a nasty port; smelly, noisy and polluted. Also, the Texas tax on liquor was a mess for the ship to deal with and the passengers certainly weren't happy about it. Not too long after our arrival, it was announced that we were free to drop our bags off in our cabin—for our convenience—even if our cabins weren't quite ready. Nice touch, NCL. We chose to enjoy our relaxing lunch in one of the main dining rooms, the Grand Pacific. We had it almost to ourselves, as we knew that the buffet area would be wildly busy as folks boarded. This dining room would be where we would eat dinner every night. Reviewers tend to prefer this dining room to the other, the Alizar, as the Grand Pacific is more open. We found the dining experience aboard the Jade surpassed any experience on any ship in all of our cruises. We did start out with a very rocky first night. Our food service was slow, servers inattentive, our food was cold, lack of bar service; we finally complained when our dessert arrived with the ice cream completely melted. We had a great discussion with staff and from that evening on, Gautam, our maitre d' and Romeo, who would be our waiter every night, took care of us completely. Courses were perfectly paced, as Romeo would always ask if we were going to the show. The food was beautifully presented and the quality was excellent. None of us can say we were dissatisfied with a single dish. On sea days we had lunch in the Grand Pacific every day. Again, so much nice than the hustle and bustle of the buffet. Prior to our cruise, we were quite concerned about the quality of the dining experience aboard the Jade, as there were so many negative reviews on Cruise Critic. We noticed that the reviews had seemed to improve in the last couple of weeks before we sailed and so we were hopeful. I know staff does read our reviews and they DO listen. Because the MDR experience was so satisfactory we never bothered to go to one of the Specialty Restaurants. One of the other couples when to Moderno and reported that it was excellent. One of our perks was the free Ultimate Beverage Package. We sailed with Celebrity a couple of months ago and their package did not offer near the premium liquors that NCL offers in their package. What we found odd was that NCL charged extra for bottled water and premium coffees and there was also some complaints about the cost of cans of soda, however you can get a glass of soda without charge. We simply brought our own refillable bottles from home to take off of the ship. The water tasted fine. We found bar staff aboard the Jade to be very friendly and after awhile they would know what your drink was. We particularly patronized the Aloha Bar and there was always a warm greeting and smile to be found there. The casino itself is nice enough. What I say in all my reviews regarding the shipboard casinos: Lower the table minimums. It's nuts to have so many empty tables with dealers doing nothing. C'mon lower those minimums and you'll still make plenty of profit. Since entertainment is so subjective, I don't have a lot to say about the shows and I'm not much of a show-goer. I thought the magician/illusionist act was laughable and cheesy. I left after about the 4th time I saw him do some variation of putting his wife in a box. My husband had a good time though and always enjoys the shows. The musical entertainment in the small venues and bars was excellent! A good variety and good quality. Our first port was Cozumel and we've been there many times. Usually we enjoy shopping and walking around, but this time we pre-booked Mr. Sancho's online with a $5 deposit. It would be our beach day. Food and fun activities in the sun, plus the good reviews were a big selling point for us. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain. One of the couples decided to tough it out and go anyway. Of course, it cleared up in a couple of hours and they said they had the beach to themselves. The food was great and there was so much to do. We walked around and paid our usual visit to Woody's Bar & Grill enjoying some time relaxing with a giant margarita and appetizers. Nellie, the proprietor, runs a nice place just off the town square and it's fun to sit in the open cafe and watch the people go by. Our second port was Belize City, Belize. This our 3rd time to Belize. The first two times we booked Cave Tubing with Vitalino Reyes. A fantastic tour and if we go to Belize we will do this again! This time we had considered just grabbing a taxi and touring around, but it was pouring rain. Also, this port was a tender of about 25 minutes. We just walked on the tender after all the numbers had been called as we were no in hurry. We stayed in the mall area and walked around, but really, unless you book a tour, there is not much to do in Belize City. A private island will be completed 2016 and should make it a very nice port stop. Our friends booked a ship's excursion to Starfish Island and went anyway even though it rained. They were dissatisfied with this tour. It was $65 and did not include chairs or umbrella and of course, you take your own towel from the cabin. Our other couple wisely stayed on the ship. Our 3rd port, the island of Roatan, Honduras, was finally sunny! We had booked tours from home with Bodden Tours on their website after reading some stellar online reviews. The email communication with them was constant as they answered all of our questions and sent their recommendations. Prices for tours are extremely reasonable. The husbands did a deep sea fishing tour and the wives did a Best of Roatan private tour. The men had a successful fishing day and we enjoyed our excursion around the island and to Victor Bodden's "Monkey Business" where you get to visit a small zoo and get up close and personal with the animals. Our guide, Howard, took us anywhere we wanted to go and patiently waited while we enjoyed ourselves. We had asked for history and culture information during our tour and Howard proved to know absolutely everything about his island home. This was also a tendered port and it took 5 minutes using the ship's lifeboats as tenders to get to the dock. We found the tendering process at both ports to be pretty seamless. Just get down and get those tender tickets when they tell you to be there. There are many activities aboard the Jade, most are geared to upsell—make you spend more money. We would like to have seen more enrichment-type activities. We especially enjoyed the "Senior Officer's Profile Q&A". The captain, hotel director and chief engineer talked about their careers and answered many questions about the operation, crew and history of the NCL and Jade. You can also meet many officers if you attend the Cruisecritic Meet & Greet. Get on the boards, find your cruise and sign up. Norwegian, in fact most cruise lines, really roll out the red carpet for the Meet & Greet and we like having the opportunity, not only to meet our Cruisecritic friends, but the ship's officers as well. What we think does matter, as I guarantee they are reading this review. Also, if you have a major issue? Address it with the appropriate department head, as we did in the dining room the first night. Give them an opportunity to correct it. This was a request straight from the hotel director, Mirsad Bucuk. They gave us cards with their names and phone numbers, so there you go! The ship itself while kept immaculately clean and in excellent repair is needing an update. It's obvious that it still retains all of it's Pride of Hawaii themes and decor from when it was based in the Hawaiian Islands. The decor does not seem appropriate for the now, Norwegian Jade. We heard that it will undergo a much-needed refurbishment late this year. The layout of the ship is a good one. One thing that struck me is that the ships Tradewinds Gift Shops are completely out of the traffic flow in the aft of the ship. I walked back there a couple of times and it was literally deserted. Most ships have their shops along the main walkways. I'm not a pool person, but everyone in our grouped complained about the fact that the adult pool and hot tubs on deck 12 were filled with children. While we all like kids and have some of our own, it's nice to have a kid-free zone. Our last two cruises on the Celebrity Equinox and a solarium with pool and hot tubs that was completely off-limits to kids, and it was enforced. It's easy to miss it, but don't: The bridge viewing room on deck 11 forward. Very interesting. For disembarking from the Jade, we chose to carry our own luggage off. This is the way to go! None of the putting our luggage out at night, or worrying about it being buried in the bottom of a pile and since we were driving, meticulous packing was not needed. We were first off the ship by 7:30AM and through customs and in our car within about 45 minutes. We will certainly sail with Norwegian again. I love the freestyle option. I don't have to be anywhere at any certain time and I don't have to dress up if I don't want to. The attitude of the crew is outstanding. They are always smiling and genuinely friendly. With the dining experience so much better than our last two NCL cruises, I hope the other NCL ships take note! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We just returned from our Norwegian Jade cruise from the Port of Houston to Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan, and had a lovely birthday celebration for my wife, accompanied by our daughter and her boyfriend. Highs: Port of Houston was very ... Read More
We just returned from our Norwegian Jade cruise from the Port of Houston to Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan, and had a lovely birthday celebration for my wife, accompanied by our daughter and her boyfriend. Highs: Port of Houston was very convenient (4 hour drive from Austin), with the fastest embarkation we've ever experienced. Also appreciated the convenient and reasonable parking, so close we could drop off passengers and luggage, park, and join our group in 2 minutes. (The sad news is that the port is closing, partly because NCL is pulling out). Dining was very good (Garden and other Buffets, Grand Pacific dining room) to excellent (Le Bistro, Moderno, Cagney's), with excellent service everywhere (the best we've seen in a dozen cruises on various lines). We especially appreciated the "free-style" cruise that NCL offers, with no need for coats & ties, or fancy dresses, and the ability to eat at our convenience, rather than on a fixed schedule. The specialty dining package promotions are widely available, and represent a very nice added value. Some of the shows were very good, especially the acrobats, and the pop singers & dancers. Others were pretty bad, such as the irritating cruise director and his constantly ingratiating integration of numerous ship officers and crew, taking half of two "shows." Lounge and atrium acts were generally quite good also. Overall, not as outstanding as the Breakaway, but very good. The ship's size is modest by "mega-ship" standards, which gave us a much less crowded feeling than we've had on larger ships, with plenty of room to sit inside and outside, and a high ratio of staff to passengers, with outstanding service throughout the ship. I should add that the stabilizers did a very good job, even in fairly heavy seas. Room service charges for food are annoying, but the restaurants offer fast service and very good food; so there are nice options. We had rain in 2 of the ports (Cozumel and Belize); so I cannot judge them completely. Never got to Belize, because the tenders were too infrequent (unlike Roatan, where the ship was allowed to provide their own tender service). Roatan's port city is very limited, unlike the concessions at Cozumel, and poverty is quite apparent. Guest services has some outstanding employees, who helped when we needed them. We especially liked sitting near the back of deck 12, enjoying the rear buffet and quiet tables, with terrific views and shade. Smoking policies are evolving, with smoking no longer allowed in cabins and on balconies, which we appreciated (smokers may disagree). The Promenade and 13th decks are the only places where you can walk around the ship, and unfortunately, allow smoking in several places (making you hold your breath if you want to avoid second-hand smoke). Overall, the positives significantly outweighed the minor negatives, and we would recommend the Jade to anyone who likes a relaxed atmosphere, great food and service, and plenty of personal space and privacy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
At the last minute we decided to book a 7 night cruise on NCL out of Houston. I had some time off and the price was fantastic so away we go. We booked an inside room guarantee only 10 days before departure and got it for $299pp with tax ... Read More
At the last minute we decided to book a 7 night cruise on NCL out of Houston. I had some time off and the price was fantastic so away we go. We booked an inside room guarantee only 10 days before departure and got it for $299pp with tax and port charges it was $810 for the week. Houston is close enough we can drive making it a pretty inexpensive week. We booked online with no problems, got our documents a couple days later and was assigned a cabin on deck 10, cabin 10145. I have traveled out of Galveston several times but this was the first time out of "Houston" which was really Baytown or something. Very nice port, very easy parking, walked on-board in about 10 minutes and in our room in 30. We arrived at the port at 11:30 which is the time we were told to arrive, Terminal was full of folks sitting around so we thought it might be a mess, apparently these were folks who did not arrive at the allotted time. Our boarding was a breeze. We cruise a lot, but this was our first NCL since the Norway back in the 80s. (NCL didn't give us credit for those cruises in the 80's, said they couldn't find them in their records the fact we knew the names of the ships, (Starward, Norway) etc didn't help. The Jade is not a very large ship, i think it carries about 2500 passengers. It was clean and nice but not laid out in a very convenient fashion. I have since looked at deck plans and notice NCL follows a similar plan on all their ships. some elevators didn't go to all floors you couldn't always go from front to back without going up or down. Not a customer friendly layout and with my bad knee, lots of waiting or climbing involved in moving about the ship. The NCL dining arrangements are also a little different than others. Not that it matters that much to me but they seem to push dining in their specialty restaurants a little more than others and thus some line waiting is involved if you want the free stuff. The Buffet was average, as was main dining room meals, and I mean average like sirloin stockade well below Carnival, or Royal Caribbean. The service was great, friendly staff etc. but the food not so good, never offered a shrimp cocktail, never saw a lobster, no decent steaks. Our Cabin was inside, sideways facing room on deck 10. Typically small but convenient and had everything you might need, service again was excellent. Near rear elevator but not too noisy. Showers bigger than on RCI but similar in every other way. The Cruise director and staff were all over the place, lots to do or not do. The Jade has a great spa but they make you pay even if you just want steam rooms and sauna (RCI doesn't) There is an adult only pool but it is right next to the kids pool and kids were all over both pools without restriction. (not the cruise lines fault but they need to monitor the situation better). The Ship needed a little maintenance, windows had a cloudy problem but it wasnt dirt, just old. Casino was large enough to not have to wait to play table or slots. Auto Shufflers for blackjack which no one likes but they don't care. Drinks and bars at your disposal everywhere, good selection and again friendly bar staff. If there is anything that was better than other cruises it might be the showroom entertainment. Comedian was great, they had an Illusionist as well as the normal singers and dancers. Finale show was fabulous, they get an A+ for shows. Ported in Cozumel, Tendered in Roatan and Belize, tendering went OK, we have been to all these ports on several cruises so didn't take any excursions. Debarkation was as easy as embarkation, we chose to walk off and did so by 7:30am. Carried our own bags, and away we go.... I probably wont do NCL again unless its a very good deal or happen to be going somewhere I want to go. Seems to me Royal Caribbean is better as is Carnival. but for the money spent we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our 17th cruise with NCL in less than 5 years, the first 16 were just wonderful so we were really looking forward to this cruise also. After this cruise I can say that the Jade is the worst, and not an NCL standard. Most of the ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise with NCL in less than 5 years, the first 16 were just wonderful so we were really looking forward to this cruise also. After this cruise I can say that the Jade is the worst, and not an NCL standard. Most of the staff in common areas were rude, and did nothing to make you feel welcomed. We have been on the Jewel, Pearl, Epic, Getaway, Sun and Sky and have never encountered such a non caring rude bunch of workers. We were in a balcony cabin, it was comfortable and what we expected. The first time we have cruised when we didn't feel the need to tip extra to our room steward, since he only did the basics, we told him before we left the ship on an excursion at 8AM that our laundry was ready to go down, he said I will take care of it, at 6PM it was still on his cart, so of course we didn't get it back the next day. We tried to make reservations for dinner for the week, the first day on the ship and was told nothing was available all week until 8PM, and that we should have made them online, which we would have but their site wouldn't let us on, lucky for us Malik (maitra-d at Cagney's) was there, he asked how everything went making reservations, my husband said not good and told him what happened, he said come to Cagney's at the 5:45 time we wanted and he would make sure we got in. To our surprise when we got there, most of the tables were empty. Also surprised at the Al-a-cart menu, would much rather they raised the flat rate price than making you pick and choose what you want, made the whole experience more stressful when all you want on a cruise is to relax and have fun. Yes the food was very good, but here again the wait person was not exceptional, but we do have high praise for Malik, one of the very few shining stars on the Jade. We also ate at La Bistro, where we met Ann the only wait person on the whole ship who seemed to love her job and made you feel that she cared how you were doing. In the buffet the greeter, sorry I didn't get his name, was one of the few who knew how to smile. Have to say all the entertainment was very good, enjoyed the comedians, and the Masquerade duo were our favorite club singers. Activities more attuned to the younger set. Had so much fun on the shore excursions, especially the Mexican cuisine cooking class in Cozumel, the food was so good and Luis the chef in charge was very entertaining. We were told by the cruise consultant, she didn't care what the other NCL ships did, it was not their policy to give the platinum members each a bottle of Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, even though it is listed on your perks for being platinum. So what's the point of being loyal cruisers if they don't live up to what we have come to expect? She even sent a copy of their policy to our room as if to say, see you don't know anything. But we do know what we got on the other ships. One of the reasons we like to cruise is the Casino at sea. Since we don't like to carry a lot of money with us, we use the ATM when we want to gamble. At our last port, and 2 whole days left at sea, their ATM doesn't work but they will be glad to give you money at 3% charged to your room (which of course is on your credit card), saved us a bundle because we refused to do that. Not our fault your ATM isn't working so why should you charge me. Then to top it off, the ship gets into Houston by midnight, so at 8 PM the last night at sea the casino is closed, which really pissed a lot of people we met there off, and all drinks in the bars are now charged a Texas tax, approx 90 cents a drink which aren't cheap to begin with. Just seemed like one thing after another on this ship to make you just want to get off and go home, Have never felt this way before. Have always been loyal to NCL because we have enjoyed so many cruises with them, but definitely not the Jade. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
The dining and excursions were fantastic. Dolphins, sharks, rays, and monkeys - oh my. Jade itself is a bit outdated. It was originally built for Hawaii use and has tacky Polynesian decorations only applicable when traveling there. ... Read More
The dining and excursions were fantastic. Dolphins, sharks, rays, and monkeys - oh my. Jade itself is a bit outdated. It was originally built for Hawaii use and has tacky Polynesian decorations only applicable when traveling there. Having stayed in the Haven on other bigger boats, this class was less worth-while. No dedicated bar/lounge or dinner restaurant. Our Concierge (Omar) did a wonderful job making up for these short comings outside of the haven courtyard, but the lack of staffing and priority in the courtyard meant long waits for meals by the pool or drinks on either floor. We typically only had one steward for all this and it is simply not possible as he had to leave the haven and go to another floor for everything. Entertainment was acceptable for a smaller vessel, but pales in comparison to larger ships like breakaway and Epic (Blue man group, cirque, and second city). The Houston terminal (which they are scheduled to stop using) was clean, modern, and quick. For parents out there - the main teen programs start at 11PM, so be ready for late nights. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We have cruised a different cruise line the last 5 years and decided to try Norwegian this year. We booked the Owners Suite with Haven perks. We were in the white Diamond Suite 9504. We were amazed with all the perks this offers. Not only ... Read More
We have cruised a different cruise line the last 5 years and decided to try Norwegian this year. We booked the Owners Suite with Haven perks. We were in the white Diamond Suite 9504. We were amazed with all the perks this offers. Not only do you get to have priority boarding, you have priority all over the ship! Not only do you get a concierge but also a butler and the usual steward. All of whom were amazing: Omar (concierge), Charlie (butler) and Menzi (steward). We cannot say enough great things about these 3 men!! They definitely made our vacation easier and more enjoyable!! The shows were great! The old cruise line's shows were getting old. Plus, on the Jade we had VIP seating. How cool was that!! The food was good, the buffet set up was a little hectic. We missed the layout of the other cruise line. The specialty dining was great! Definitely try Teppanyaki!! Enjoyable and delicious! We felt like we were inside more on this ship, but maybe that was due to its size (a smaller ship than used to)? We had a great time at the ports and felt they were comparable to what we've done in the past. All in all, we had a great time and will be back on Norwegian. Just may try a different, bigger ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I am not an avid cruiser (yet). My first ever cruise was about 18 months ago aboard the Caribbean Princess. So it is from this point of view that I am offering a review of my experiences. The one thing that I have observed about ... Read More
I am not an avid cruiser (yet). My first ever cruise was about 18 months ago aboard the Caribbean Princess. So it is from this point of view that I am offering a review of my experiences. The one thing that I have observed about cruising is that when I have had less than positive experiences it was not necessarily anything that the crew or ship or line did. Most often it was the actions or demeanor of other passengers that sometimes made the trip less than enjoyable which I think happens anywhere you have large amounts of people gathering, whether its aboard ship or in a theme park. That being said I will state from the outset that I enjoyed my cruise aboard the Jade very much! I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 only because like most of these types of venues the resort or in this case ship, does some things very well and others maybe only good. Thats not a criticism its just an observation that often there is compromise and give and take when running an operation on this scale. EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION: It was so much easier here at the Port of Houston using the Bayport Cruise Terminal, then at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. We drove to the Houston area from Albuquerque NM, arriving Friday at mid day and visited some family while there. On Saturday morning we made the 60 mile trip to the port in about an hour. Traffic was light and it was easy to find, arriving at our appointed time given to us by NCL. You could almost drive the car right up to the ship! We stopped in the unloading zone, gave our luggage to a porter who works for tips (many people forget that I think) and did not see it or handle it again until it was delivered to our suite. I parked the car and within about 20 minutes I was walking onboard. Even with 2K plus passengers they moved us through and unto the ship very quickly. My arrival time was 1230 we were up in the Buffett having an excellent lunch on the rear open patio of deck 12 by 100 PM. We were informed our Mini-Suite was ready for us to occupy at 130PM. Perfect timing! Leaving the ship was even quicker. We docked back at Bayport early in the morning. We went up and had a great breakfast at the Buffett at about 630 AM. If you carry your own luggage you could get off the ship as soon as Customs will start processing. In this case about 715 Am. By 740 Am we were in our car and headed back to Albuquerque! Nothing like Port Everglades where it was around noon by the time we cleared Customs. My only criticism here was that I had to pay the State of Texas a tax for some good Scotch I bought Duty Free. It irked me that as a free American Citizen I could buy Duty Free, at a very good price, high quality 25 year old scotch (saving hundreds of dollars) in international waters only to have to pay a tax on it when I went ashore. I was not bringing it in to the state to resell or even consume, I merely had to go through the State of Texas to get home. I had no such experiences in Florida when I did the same thing there. CABIN: We had a Mini-Suite on Deck 11 Midship which was worth the extra price because of the sometime rough ride when we hit some moderate sea swells a couple nights. The min-suite was well appointed and spacious enough for our family of four which included two young daughters. My In-Laws traveled with us and had the Mini Suite next to ours. We opened the door between them on the balcony and that gave us a lot of room between the two. Because we booked late (and at a great price) we were unable to get a large family suite but this was just as good. It was a few steps to the stairs and the buffett, spa, and pool where we spent most of our time aboard. Our Steward, Noel was excellent always attentive and surprising my girls with a variety of towel-animals each night. We made sure to thank him with a good tip and a excellent write-up. FOOD: This is an example of where my experiences diverged. Let me begin by saying that I had no bad meals! But there was a difference depending on the venue. The first evening at the "Sail Away Party" they set up an excellent Buffett line out at the pool. My kids went swimming and we snagged a pool side table. The food line was short and I ate a deliciously tender New York Steak cooked to perfection on the Barbecue the crew had going. All the other food items were equally excellent as we sat, had a great meal listening to great music and had a few drinks as the kids swam and used the water slide. A first class send off! The Buffett was also Excellent and we ended up taking most of our meals there. I do believe the food Qaulity and variety at the Buffett far exceeded my Experiences on the Princess. But as for the formal dining I was disappointed. I know that NCL really promotes their "Free Style Cruising" but I think their formal dining is compromised as a result. On the Princess for example we would dress formally for dinner on certain nights and Smart Casual on others then go down to the formal dining room where the Maitre d' would recognize us and seat us immediately. Then our Main waiter, our table waiter and his/her assistant would attend to us. They got to know us and would always bring an appetizer, scotch and bottled water to our table almost immediately. Truly it was first class service. On the Jade, the lines to get into the formal dining rooms could be a bit long. No one recognized us and when we were seated we dealt with one seemingly overworked wait person who when he/she would come to the table would immediately ask for our order. No inquiry about drinks, types of water or appetizers. Then they would disappear leaving you having to flag down a bus person for more water, bread, wine etc. This was unfortunately our experience in both of the formal dining rooms and we ate at the Buffett the rest of the time. If you enjoy dressing for dinner and having first class service the Jade is ok, but you will not receive the service you may be expecting. While we enjoyed a few nice dinners we were quite content with the Buffett as well and never felt disappointed by the food anywhere. We did not try any of the "up charge" venues as we saw no need to. SPA: We made good use of the spa, me especially. Having to share a bathroom with my wife and 2 young daughters, particularly at the end of the day after an excursion, it was nice to have a place where I could unwind, take a sauna or steam and shower and shave and get ready with out being cramped for space or time. Unlike the Spa on the Princess which was small and only had a sauna and steam room the one on the Jade is quite expansive. It is divided into a Male and Female side with a shared Thermal Suite between them. Unlike the Princess where the spa was free and could be crowded, there was a $125.00 fee for the week but in my estimation well worth it. The male side which is an exact duplicate of the female side has a sauna with great views with its large windows. There was a cold plunge, rain showers, steam room, hot tub and relaxation area with comfortable chairs, large screen TV's, magazines, flavored water and fruit in an area over looking the bow with large windows. There was a fairly spacious locker area with sinks to shave and showers complete with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Robes and towels were always replenished and the facility was kept clean and neat by the attendant. The Thermal Suite, if you've never been, is made up of 6 or 8 tiled warming "couches" that are very relaxing. After a good soak, and hot sauna its a great place to wrap yourself in a robe and towels and take a nap or relax as you enjoy the views over the bow of the open sea. Unfortunately on several occasions when we were in there it was difficult to completely relax as it seemed be a gathering place for a few "cackling hens" who would be loud and were unconcerned with who heard their conversations. I would then just retreat to the men's side where it was always quiet and peaceful. If you want to get away from the sometimes crowded public areas of the ship I would highly recommend getting access to the spa. Aside from a discourteous few in the Thermal Suite it was a place where you could relax in peace and quiet. I did not use the gym which looked decent enough. I brought my work out clothes but since I work out daily at home I simply decided to take a break which I think your body needs now and then. Well thats my excuse anyway... EXCURSIONS: We went to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. In Cozumel we went to the Playa Mia Beach which we found adequate, great food, nice pools, ok beach lots of rocks. They had jet skis you could rent and I bargained with the guy and got one for a couple hours for about 2/3 the price of the $60.00 per half hour he was asking. It wasn't a great place for swimming but we did have a blast riding the jet ski. When we did go swimming we used the pools which were very nice. On the way back I stopped at a street vendor and was looking at a 5-Pack of "Cuban Cigars" in a glass topped wood box. I was actually more interested in the box as any one knowledgable about cigars will tell you that 99% of the "Cuban Cigars" in Cozumel are knock offs. Its not that they are bad cigars, often factory seconds from the Dominican Republic or someplace with similarly excellent smokes, but they are not Cuban. If for no other reason than Cuba can not produce enough to meet demand. You can get them and I did see some at a reputable cigar shop there, they are $20-$30 and up apiece. The vender was asking for $40.00 USD for the five pack, half the price he would have had to pay retail so no way they were Cuban, plus there are no Cuban Cigars exported in Glass top boxes FYI. I told him in Spanish that I liked the box, I would give him $10.00 for the Box and a $1.00 for each of the cigars inside. After some haggling we agreed on $20.00. I guess it depends on how you look at it, I either paid $4 per cigar and got a free box or $20 for the box and 5 free cigars. In the end the cigars were actually pretty good, I smoked one on the ship. Certainly the equal of a $10.00 cigar you would buy in the states. If you like cigars don't be fooled by the Cuban Labels or "Official Cuban Stamp." I did not even worry about hiding them. I knew that Customs doesn't care about fake cuban cigars. In Belize you have to Tender ashore and as we were doing a Ship Excursion we were allowed first onto the Tenders which as we found the next day to be a bit of problem since we had booked a private excursion. In Belize we went on the River Boat to the Lamanai Ruins which was a great adventure, we saw a lot of wild life going both ways including a few alligators who shared the river with us. We had a great meal and got to see a lot of the city. Our guide Derek was very informative and constantly pointed out things of interest. At Roatan we also had to tender in. Because we had booked a private excursion not offered by NCL we had to go to get tender tickets to get onto a tender. I showed up at 7 am thinking I had plenty of time as they were to start giving the tickets on a first come first serve basis at 730 AM. I was shocked at how long the line was and ended up getting Tender 12 which while much better than people who showed up even a few minutes later than me, was going to cause problems with our 9 am Meet Time. They began to operate the tenders shortly before 8 AM taking the passengers who had NCL booked excursions off first. I was told it would be about an hour before we could board a tender for the 5 minute trip to the pier. I thought we would make it, but then two problems occurred. One of the Tenders was taken out of service for some reason at the last minute and then the waves were choppy. You didn't feel it on the ship but they bobbed the tenders around making boarding them very slow. Watching how difficult a time some of the passengers had getting onto them made me shudder at the thought of the ship having to be evacuated quickly, but I digress. When 9Am came and they were only at Tender number 3 I went to Guest Services, not to complain but to ask to use their phone as I could not get a signal on mine so I could call the tour operator and let them know it would be 10 am at the earliest before we could meet them. When the Concierge found out we were to miss our appointed meet time she took us down personally and saw that we got onto the next tender, even reissuing us new numbers. It was not something I asked for, but it was a very nice thing to do! I got the impression that a certain amount of seats are reserved for crew going ashore on each tender and that gave her the flexibility to bump them to allow us on. I also believe by not making demands, it gave her the opportunity to do something nice for someone, after all the crew had no control over the waves, slow passengers or a broken down tender. I thought it was outstanding service by NCL! She got us ashore about 20 after 9 and the tour operator waited for us. We went to a place called "Little French Key" an all inclusive resort with beautiful white beaches and crystal clear water. It was the best day of the trip! If you go to Roatan go there! The only negatives on any excursion had to do with other passengers. One on a Bus in Cozumel who, along with his wife, to my amazement took the seat of an elderly handicapped lady and her husband that was being held by the tour operator. This passenger proceeded to argue with the bus driver that if the person wasn't on the bus he could take the seats. He was the very example of an "Ugly American" overweight and demanding. Kudos to the Mexican Bus Driver who kicked him off the bus and made him and his wife wait for another one then showing the handicapped elderly couple courtesy and dignity. I actually felt ashamed of my countrymen. The second incident was similar aboard one of the ship's tenders as we returned to Roatan. I gave my seat up for an elderly woman and stood. I watched in utter amazement as another male passenger healthy and younger than I would not move over for another Handicapped woman. The bench, he was told could seat 4 and there were only 3 people. He told the Crewman there was not enough room for her! The crewman, probably not wanting to have a passenger complain took the lady to another seat where another young man gave up his seat. I really am quite amazed at how inconsiderate and rude some people can be. I saw other examples of people making demands of crew members or complaining, I think just for the sake of complaining or to try to get something for free. I found it all quite repulsive. Fortunately that was the exception and most people we encountered were courteous, friendly and accommodating. POOLS: I think on any ship the real estate around the pool gets taken up pretty quickly and the Jade was no different. For me I did not care that much as I got into the pool mostly to play with my kids or cool off. There were always lounge chairs on the upper deck, a short walk up the stairs. There are two pools in contrast to at least four on the Princess. One of the nice things on the princess that two of the pools were adults only which made them less crowded and quieter. It wasn't a huge deal for me, but again if you want a quieter pool experience you are not going to have that option on the Jade unless you book the Haven level. One of the great things about the Jade was the Bar on the deck over looking the Pools. It was a great place to sit in the shade or sun depending on what you wanted, to look down onto the pool. It also is a smoking area so I could enjoy one of my "Cubans" while people watching or watching my kids swim while drinking a really good Mojito. On the Princess Cigars were only allowed in one special bar, no where on deck even where cigarettes could be smoked. On the Jade anywhere there was a smoking area, including some on the Promenade deck you could light up and enjoy a cigar! The Jade does have a "Cigar Bar" but its small and cramped, unlike the great Churchill Lounges on the Princess ships, but then again you had more options on the Jade. ENTERTAINMENT: What can I say. It was superb. Overnight they had great shows in the Star Dust Theater. The Cruise Director "Philly Joel" was highly visible and very interactive with the passengers. There were also a great number of smaller lounges where one could enjoy guitar music, piano, some great singers and even a Karaoke Bar. There was so much to do and see you were never wanting for something to do. I had planned on relaxing a fair bit and reading, but hardly had the chance! There are great options for Children and Teens and they have their own spaces onboard that are "parent free" zones. Overall I found the Jade to be a very nice, well appointed and clean ship. The food was outstanding and aside from the formal sit down restaurants the service always excellent. I was disappointed that I could not order a bottle of Scotch to the room as I could on the Princess. A bottle of wine yes, but not Scotch! I had to buy that by the glass, at the bar and walk it back to my room. Totally unacceptable. Sitting on the balcony having cheese, crackers, fruit, bread, olives etc and a good glass of Scotch is an excellent way to pass the time in the late afternoon after a busy day ashore. I was able to buy a 500L Bottle of some good Scotch in Cozumel and I stuck it in the cargo pocket of my shorts with a water bottle on top. I didn't mention it when I went back aboard and no one asked. Some things just depend on your demeanor... I would have no reservations on sailing on this ship again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We have cruised with Princess many, many times and this was one of our only two so-so experiences. First, the positives. The waiters, stewards, and other workers were great...very accommodating and friendly, and the cruise staff was ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess many, many times and this was one of our only two so-so experiences. First, the positives. The waiters, stewards, and other workers were great...very accommodating and friendly, and the cruise staff was terrific. No complaints there. There were lots of things to do and the evening entertainment was very good. We also very much enjoyed the itinerary. We only went on one of the ship's shore excursions, and it was very good as well. On the downside, the inside of the ship was looking pretty tired and shabby and run-down, and could stand to be deep cleaned, repaired and updated...both in the cabins and public areas. What stood out more than anything else on this cruise and really coloured our experience however, was the poor selection and quality of the food. It was nowhere near the standard usually seen on Princess, especially in the Horizon Court. Not everything was dreadful of course, but the food tended to very plain, and there was an inordinate amount of repetition, a preponderance of what would be cheap dishes like stews, and the preparation itself and presentation often left a lot to be desired. It reminded us of what you would get at an inexpensive "family restaurant." The preparation and quality of the food was somewhat better in the dining-room, but again the selection did not seem to be as good as we've had on other Princess ships. Interestingly, a friend of ours who just returned from England after having sailed over there from Houston on the Caribbean's re-positioning cruise in April had almost the exact the same comments. She was saying that at a Q & A session, on a Holland America ship they were on a few months ago, the captain admitted that department heads on the ships are given bonuses for cost-cutting. If that's the case with Princess as well, then the head chef on the Caribbean, was vying for a big one!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having read a couple of negative reviews I feel compelled to balance it, in favour or Princess who, in our opinion were impeccable. There is one recent review that frankly after reading the 6th sub heading I stopped, and it says to me ... Read More
Having read a couple of negative reviews I feel compelled to balance it, in favour or Princess who, in our opinion were impeccable. There is one recent review that frankly after reading the 6th sub heading I stopped, and it says to me nothing in this world would seem to please that person. For us - the service was second to none - the food was outstanding - the cabin was admittedly tiny, but then we expected that, and the sea wasn't 'knocking us from wall to wall' although it was unusually rough, but is that really Princess's fault!! The beds were incredibly comfy, and my pillow was perhaps the cosiest I have ever had in a 'hotel' style environment. Our only niggle is the 2 pools are too small for 3.5k guests, but then it is a boat!! Having said that we feared a mad scramble for sun beds, and there were enough to go around, and incredibly it wasn't crowded either. Theatre shows - amazing!! West end standard. Alcohol - a bit expensive, but we knew that, so were grateful we didn't over indulge. NEVER saw a drunken person once! We chose to eat 'anytime' dining, and apart from the first night which coincided as my 50th birthday too (where we ate in Coral), we ate in the Horizon buffet every night and we couldn't fault the choice, or quality of food. We didn't do the formal nights as frankly dressing up and trying to be something we're not wasn't our thing and some sites were to be best forgotten!! Guys from across the pond - a 'please' and 'thank you' in customer services goes a long way, and believe me, gets noticed when it's short coming!! I was astounded at the amount of times I heard a demand for food or drink with neither word at the beginning or end of the request. The waiters may be waiting, and most were from many different parts of the world, but they didn't need to constantly be made to feel servile. More so to witness hats being worn at dinner and many not making the least bit of effort to dress for dinner, even if it was just casual dress was disappointing to see. Princess actually ask that guests wear what they would do for a casual dinner - SO, a lot of you go to dinner in short shorts and scrappy T-Shirts do you??? So - in summary, where those choose to put down a company who I believe actually couldn't really have done much more than they did, perhaps if only the company could do a review about the customers, about trying their best to please people who in truth simply will moan at anything, then that would be a review worth reading!!! As they can't - I've done it for them. For the reasons above cruising isn't for us, based on being surrounded by people who want to eat and be lazy all day every day (the sites we witnessed proved that one!!). Perhaps there wasn't enough food guys! I am English - though you would have worked that out I'm sure. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Compared to our first sailing with Princess, this ship did a fine job with service. The Caribbean Princess was also in better condition. On the Grand Princess (sailed 2011), the stewards and dining room staff were so overworked they ... Read More
Compared to our first sailing with Princess, this ship did a fine job with service. The Caribbean Princess was also in better condition. On the Grand Princess (sailed 2011), the stewards and dining room staff were so overworked they appeared feverish with exhaustion. While the crew certainly had to work hard on this sailing, they appeared to have been allowed time to sleep. Special kudos to Stefano at customer service, Maria at shore excursions, and our steward, Romy. Even more so for a waiter in the Lido Buffet, Andriy, who noticed I appeared dehydrated after a hot day in Grand Cayman and kept refilling my water and lemonade glasses. That may be part of his job, but I felt cared for, which isn't common. Highlights included embarkation - the smoothest we've ever experienced. Princess hit a home run with their show, Bravo, and several other shows were popular with passengers, too. With one exception, the food on the Caribbean Princess varied from not bad to pretty darn good and their chocolate specialty desserts were a big success. They had yet another home run with their coffee. Who might particularly like this ship? For cruisers who appreciate large ships with plenty to explore, the Caribbean Princess is a good choice as it rarely felt overcrowded. There are signs about not saving seats in the theater or on deck and passengers were good-natured about following the rules. If you enjoy art auctions, the Caribbean Princess is a champion. I checked with the gallery staff, and as I suspected, this vessel has more sales and a larger art gallery than other liners, even other Princess ships in the same class. According to the manager of their Effy store, the Caribbean Princess gets special consideration and greater jewelry selections as well, but that brings me to the next topic. Who might not like this ship? Enrichment gets a zero, unfortunately. Compared to lectures on Holland America, which are first rate, Princess' offerings are ridiculous. Their listed enrichment talks consisted of a jewelry seminar and another on watches. The emphasis on shopping is heavy for a deluxe liner when compared to Celebrity or Holland America. More than one fellow passenger said the pressure to buy was surprising. Overall, not a deal-breaker, but an itinerary including stops in Jamaica, Roatan, and Belize would be ideal for talks on the history of Caribbean piracy or the Garifuna people. Princess missed those opportunities and should do better. The trouble spot for me was ventilation. I'm likely a special case as I have a breathing issue (to the point I've been prescribed a CPAP machine to help me sleep though I'm unable to use one) as well as anxiety. However, I've had a particularly tough time with non-balcony rooms on Carnival and Princess while I didn't experience problems with the same kinds of cabins on Holland America or Celebrity. The fact that I had trouble with breathing a second time on Princess means I'm reluctant to sail with them again unless I have a balcony room. Honestly, I think the ventilation and AC were in good order, but keep this in mind if you also have breathing difficulties in non-balcony rooms. More on the ventilation: One more strong point for Princess was how quickly and how well they fixed a problem when a sewer gas smell seeped into the air ducts late in the cruise. No complaints there and thanks again to Stefano. However, I'll add that our temporary room up on the Caribe deck (also interior) seemed airier. There, I was able to sleep. Other than that, shore excursions went fairly well though we heard of some problems, major and minor. To their credit, Princess seemed honestly interested in passenger feedback, even the negative. The ship appeared clean, the decor pleasant if not memorable, elevators didn't take forever to arrive, and most importantly, the ship and captain provided a smooth ride, got us to every port on time, and got us home safely. Our fellow passengers were largely in good moods and seemed to be having a good time. I'm sad Princess has no plans to sail from Texas next year and hope they return soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We just disembarked the Norwegian Jade. We enjoyed a 7 day cruise from Houston to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. This is our second Norwegian Cruise. Our daughters, ages 10 & 14, were eager to participate in the Kids/Teen Club and engaged ... Read More
We just disembarked the Norwegian Jade. We enjoyed a 7 day cruise from Houston to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. This is our second Norwegian Cruise. Our daughters, ages 10 & 14, were eager to participate in the Kids/Teen Club and engaged in as many Kids Club/Teen Club activities as they could fit into our schedule. When we sailed on the Norwegian Dawn two years ago, we stayed in a stateroom with a picture window. Our three daughters stayed in the stateroom across the hall from our room. Our oldest daughter was 19 and stayed with our younger daughters across the hall. Our picture window stateroom was very comfortable for the two of us and our girls were very comfortable in their inside stateroom with bunkbeds. This year, we stayed in a stateroom on the 11th floor with a Balcony. We comfortably fit 4 of us in the stateroom. Our cabin steward was very attentive and kept our room well stocked and tidy twice a day. He quickly learned all of our names and greeted us daily with a warm smile and conversation. We did not purchase the drinks package. We averaged about two cocktails each day, so the drinks package would not have been necessary for us. We ate at all of the main dining rooms on the Jade. We enjoyed each of the restaurants. On Day 2 of the cruise, our 14 year old was nauseated from the “rough seas.” She sat down with us, but did not want to eat. When I explained to our waiter that she was not feeling very good, he took it upon himself to bring her a cut up apple and gave her suggestions on what she could do to help alleviate her discomfort. The Norwegian Jade has a fabulous “Quiet Zone” tanning deck with plenty of available seating/lounge chairs at the front of the ship. The area is away from the pool, music and food, but it was perfect for quiet relaxation and provided a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico…just my style. Since we sailed during Spring Break in March, the ship was at full capacity. There were plenty of college students on board. We coexisted just fine…they were reasonably respectful and polite. The entire crew did a fantastic job meeting our needs and making a point of interacting with all of us…from our Cabin Steward, to the Excursion staff to the buffet servers and bussers to the bar tenders and wait staff. The shows were great and very entertaining. We especially enjoyed the Elements Show and the comedian. The magician was fabulous too. We had to tender off the ship in Belize and Roatan. There were several negative comments regarding the long lines waiting for tender boats so they could go on their scheduled excursions. We did not have an issue with the lines, however, we are early risers and made sure we arrived 15 minutes early to tender off the ship. We also tendered back to the ship earlier, so the lines did not affect us. We were able to participate in our excursions and see as much as we wanted to see in the short amount of time we were in each port. Our cruise from Boston to Bermuda on the Dawn (June 2014) was pretty amazing. We were in port for three days, which allowed us a lot more freedom to explore Bermuda at our own pace. We were able to dock right in Bermuda, so tendering was not necessary. Bermuda is a very friendly, safe island. We took full advantage of the bus passes, which included the water taxi service. We enjoyed the local restaurants in Bermuda and asked the locals for recommendations for quieter beaches, away from the crowds. We left the ship early in the morning and stayed in Bermuda as late as the last bus/water taxi ran to port. Norwegian Cruise Line does a fantastic job making memorable vacations. Our family highly recommends NCL for your family’s next cruise. If college age kids scare you, I would suggest you stay away from Spring Break time…but the crew of NCL will accommodate your freestyling cruising needs regardless of when you go. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
It started off by having cloudy and windy weather the first 2 1/2 days so that spoiled the pool area time...it was also very chilly when we left Houston. We had the Specialty Dining for four nights...Great Food...we ate in the Le Bistro ... Read More
It started off by having cloudy and windy weather the first 2 1/2 days so that spoiled the pool area time...it was also very chilly when we left Houston. We had the Specialty Dining for four nights...Great Food...we ate in the Le Bistro twice which was our favorite, the Moderno and at Cagney's. Thought they were all slow getting plates picked up and your next entree served to you, food could have been warmer sometimes. Anything shrimp was great...steaks were great. Had a Flounder in the Alazar...choose something better. Almost forgot the Blue Lagoon...Has great WINGS for a good quick snack or lunch, the Chicken Tenders are not that great, the Mac and Cheese is fair and they also have a Fruit/Danish Bar and more--the Breakfast here is made to order so it is good..just order extra ham if ordering an omelet...they don't put much meat into the omelet. I think the food is much better on the NCL versus Royal Caribbean even in the buffet. The snrokeling and swimming at Tabyana Beach was fun especially for beginners..they had all the necessary equipment including a life vest for all swimmers. Went to A Tun to see the maya ruins...that was fun. Our guides..Paula on the bus and Evon at the ruins were very knowledgeable host. Paula was great for the city like tour on the way to the beach. We had three people in a room with a picture window and a fold down bed. We were good on space. On entertainment the Elements were very good. The one comedian--David(?) Naster was very good but he was into promoting his book and his formula for grieving, on the last night we had a guy who called himself Mr Groucho...he was GREAT!! They should have booked him more for his humor and add lib...put on an excellent show..thought I would die laughing. If you carry on and carry off your luggage it is much quicker and not much of a hassel. Pretty quick. When getting off the ship get in line by 7 or 7:15 if you can. Overall, had a very good time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We traveled in a group of 15 with the youngest being 10 and the oldest 70. We had balcony rooms and had an amazing time. My only complaint is that the common areas were too small in places such as the Medusa or the Atrium. The theater ... Read More
We traveled in a group of 15 with the youngest being 10 and the oldest 70. We had balcony rooms and had an amazing time. My only complaint is that the common areas were too small in places such as the Medusa or the Atrium. The theater is gorgeous and the shows were spectacular. Elements is NOT to be missed. We've seen a lot of Broadway shows and halfway through Elements, we were all looking at each other saying, "I can't believe we are seeing this on a cruise ship!" Also, comedian David Naster is top notch if you are lucky enough to have a sailing that includes him. We did not eat in any specialty restaurants although some in our party chose to do so. They enjoyed it. The rest of us opted for the Grand Pacific nearly every evening and it was wonderful. We enjoyed our Ultimate Beverage Packages for the adults and soda packages for the kids. Pepsi products were a bit of a bummer as the kids really missed Dr. Pepper. They aren't allowed sodas at home and had been looking forward to unlimited DP on the ship. Spinnakers was a great place to hang out when it was too windy to be by the pool. Our cruise staff had a ton of fun games to play while we were at sea. I do wish there was more for the teenagers and was disappointed in no teen dance club as I've seen on other ships. Family karaoke ended at 8:30 so if you wanted to go to a 7:30 show after dinner, there was never an opportunity for the kids to sing. My sixteen year old wanted more dance classes offered. The Rat Pack show in Spinnakers was awesome. Overall, this was an amazing trip. We highly recommend the following excursions: Dune Buggy Beach and Snorkel in Cozumel (I've done this multiple times and it's different every time) Gumbalimba Preserve in Roatan because the kids love holding the monkeys Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My husband and I LOVE Norwegian. We have sailed on the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Getaway before. We've always had a wonderful experience and impeccable service. The Jade just didn't have it together on this cruise. Our ... Read More
My husband and I LOVE Norwegian. We have sailed on the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Getaway before. We've always had a wonderful experience and impeccable service. The Jade just didn't have it together on this cruise. Our cabin steward dropped the ball completely. There was no Latitudes Reward service from her at all. A second cabin steward was assigned two days into our cruise, probably because someone else complained, I'm guessing. On every Norwegaian cruise, we've had exceptional wait staff at the pool and in the dining rooms. Our waitstaff normally knows us by name and anticipates our needs and choices, not so on the Jade. I had good service from Baby, yes that was her real name, in Alizar. The bartender from Romania is great in the whiskey bar near Le Bistro. The guy in the garden cafe who was in charge of "washy washy " duties was upbeat and wonderful. Otherwise, the service was very sub-par. If this had been my first experience with Norwegian, I probably would not have sailed the cruise line again. There were not enough tenders in Belize, and there was a LONG delay for passengers to get off the ship. Many people were worried about making it to their excursions. In Roatan, we had to tender, yet again. ( In three previous trips to Roatan, we've always docked at the pier. The Dawn was in port, and they had precedence over our ship. This little ship looks tired, and its staff does not seem to know that they are in the service industry. We are great tippers, and we always more than compensate with each drink and meal. At the end of the cruise, we always give extra to the staff that takes care of us. We had three staff that truly deserved this extra compensation. My advice, pick another ship. You will have so much better of a time. There are very few entertainment options on this ship compared to the others. The service will be better. Your fellow cruisers will be better. (Strangely concentrated percentage of cruisers from a couple of states.) I will not sail the Jade again. I will sail Norwegain again, however. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We had been planning this cruise for about a year for my son's HS graduation present. Over the past several months I have been reading some pretty harsh reviews about the Jade and the staff so I was a little worried about how this ... Read More
We had been planning this cruise for about a year for my son's HS graduation present. Over the past several months I have been reading some pretty harsh reviews about the Jade and the staff so I was a little worried about how this cruise was going to turn out. Well it was great. The Jade is in excellent condition and we found the crew to be very friendly and helpful. Although the port of Houston is not attractive the embarkation was the smoothest of any of the 4 cruises we have been on and we were literally on the ship in 30 minutes. Once on board we had lunch in the Grand Pacific dining room which was not crowded at all most likely because most of the people were at the buffet on deck 12. In fact all week we avoided the buffet and had meals in the other venues which were not crowded. I did hear that people were happy with the buffet food quality and my son went there a couple of times. The food in the main dining rooms was good and best in the Grand Pacific. We ate dinner there twice and lunch and breakfast several times. We only ate dinner in Alizar once and were not happy with how loud and obnoxious some of the people were. There is no dress code in the Alizar and I think some people who wanted to be very casual ate there for the most part. The for fee specialty restaurants are worth the extra money. Le Bistro was so good we ate dinner there twice. The steak there was delicious. The Italian and Japanese restaurants were also very good. The only one we did not try was Cagneys but I suspect it was good too given how booked they were all week. We booked an inside cabin which was a first for our family and I really enjoyed it because it was nice and dark for sleeping. Our cabin steward was outstanding. The cabin was a little small but not overly so and there was plenty of storage. The ship did not feel crowded except in the pool areas but even there lounge chairs were available. It was relatively easy to find quiet spots on the ship. People were generally well behaved although there were some rowdy spring breakers on the ship. People of all ages were aboard and everyone seemed to have a good time. One area that really stood out was the entertainment. It was outstanding. The shows each night were very well done and the quality was above the other cruises we have been on. There were also plenty of activities each day to keep people busy especially on sea days. The cruise director staff was friendly and energetic. I think people generally liked the ports of call but our family is not really big beach people so we enjoyed the ports of call on our Alaska cruise better. One thing to note is that in Cozumel we did some shopping in Punta Langosta and I have read a lot of complaints about the pushy locals trying to sell you stuff. It really isn't that bad. We bought some things and bartered to get lower prices. We had lunch at Jimmy Buffetts and I would say the food was average. They do have good margaritas. It was a party atmosphere and the staff has fun. I liked it there because they were playing a lot of 80s music but my wife and son thought it was too loud. The one negative I would have about cruise is that your ship account can really add up quickly. Mixed drinks are 10-12 dollars and sodas 3 dollars. We did not drink enough for the beverage packages to be worthwhile so the dollars start adding up. Also the kids wanted to play bingo and deal or no deal. $39 bucks for a bingo card really? So although we payed less sticker price for this cruise by time we were finished it pretty much ended up a wash compared to the others we were on. Disembarkation was not nearly as smooth as getting on the ship the line was long and it took over an hour to clear customs. We purchased a ride to the airport through the cruise line and no one knew where the buses were located. We had to ask several people for directions. Despite a few glitches I have to say the ship was great, service was excellent, amenities were top notch, and we had a great time. I really liked the dining options with NCL compared to other cruise lines. We dressed as well or better than most people for dinner but it sure was nice not to have to pack a suit for this trip. I will definitely be looking at NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click