Lovely cruise, but read the fine print: NCL smoking policy: Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by Living2Lands

Norwegian Jade 4
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Lovely cruise, but read the fine print: NCL smoking policy

Sail Date: February 2013
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Other
We hand-picked our cruise to visit Israel. NCL offered the same ship we had been on before, so there would be no surprises, or so we thought. As with last time, the ship was fine, the crew grand, the food tasty. We quickly made adjustments to the 'freestyle dining', and were treated royally.

We had upgraded to a mini-suite, to give us a bit more room. As soon as we boarded, we went to our cabin, and opened our door to the balcony....only to step into a cloud of cigarette smoke from the cabins on either side. We are decidedly non-smokers, being health care providers, and on our last voyage on the Jade, a plain balcony cabin, we much have just been lucky with no smoker on either side. Unfortunately, because this was deck 11, there was an overhang to protect from the deck above, and this just made the situation worse, trapping the smoke. When I asked the hotel manager about it, he said "We have just recently changed the smoking policy to not allow smoking in the cabins, but More will need more time to implement anything further, such as non-smoking on the balconies."

We enjoyed all the other aspects of the cruise. The spa package, with the heated chaises, and the massaging whirlpool was just the ticket after a long day of seeing the sights. And the itinerary was a new delight at each of the ports!

On most cruises, we spend a goodly amount of time on our balcony, enjoying the privacy and the relaxing atmosphere. It was a shame we could not do this on our cruise this time. I must say, when I am considering future cruises, I will keep this smoking policy in mind, and more than likely if some other line offers the same itinerary, I will select them over NCL, even if the cost is higher.If you travel off season, be sure to pack rain gear and a warm jacket. Visiting this part of the world in March can be cold, but the crowds in the summer can get quite large. So, the trade-off is possible (not all of the time) cold/wet weather and some venue closures for the wait in lines from the crowds during peak season.

On the port list below, Port 2 was Alanya, Turkey. Quite a surprise, we had heard it was a place to go to sit in the sun at one of the many 'all inclusive' resorts, and not much more. We heard wrong!

We took a local bus up to the castle on the top of the hill, and walked our way down to the ship. FANTASTIC! So many ruins and old town structures, it took most of our day. And, there are many caves to explore. Some of the caves are visited by boat...look for the small boats along the pier and negotiate a price.

Port 5 was Iraklion, Crete, Greece. Knossos, known as the oldest European city, was built in the Minoan times (1900 BC). Used the bus to take us there and then, on the way back, stopped at a shopping street and had a yummy lunch-Greek style! As with some other ports, because of the time of year, some things were not open. But it was nice to visit when the crowds were not there. Less

Published 04/08/13

Cabin review: MA11548 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Overhang from deck above can lead to an echo from other balconies on either side, along with trapping cigarette smoke. The cabin, itself, was roomy and the addition of the coffee machine and the tub in the bathroom (small things, but it sets it apart from the normal balcony cabin) was welcome. We used the curtain between the sleeping area and the sitting area when one of us wanted to sleep, and the other to work at the desk or read. The location was good for elevator or stair access to the other decks, and the buffet/open deck was just one deck above. Deck 11, port side where this cabin was, is also the deck where there is a viewing window to the bridge. It was interesting to watch the crew navigate the ship.

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Port and Shore Excursions

This was the reason for our trip! After a port change by NCL that left us overnight in Haifa, we planned accordingly and booked both days with GTI, a private tour agency. Our first day, Thursday, was spent in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area. This was a great day to visit the Western (Wailing) Wall, because, as our guide shared, Tuesdays and Thursdays were bar mitzvah days, and there were many celebrations of this 'becoming an adult' day for Jewish young people. It also worked well because Fridays in Jerusalem are Jewish Sabbath, and many things closed at noon. Our guide was very informative about all the religious ties in the area, and I was struck with how well the 3 major religious cultures worked together. We walked through the old city. The Dead Sea was quite an experience! We were told to remove all metal, as it would turn from the salt (better to leave it in the cabin safe that day), and then enjoy the feeling of floating (face up only, please *smile*). Also, along the way to the Dead Sea, we experienced an Israeli/Palestinian checkpoint, traveling a bit through the West Bank. We were assured by our guide that it was quite safe, and he explained all about the conflicts and the settlements and the walls between the two groups. Our second day, Friday, was spent in the Sea of Galilee and Tiberius area. Another full day of seeing the sights. First we visited Tiberius and the surrounding area. Then drove along the Golan Heights/Sea of Galilee, and ended up finally at the place where Jesus was baptized, according to tradition. Back then to Haifa, and a final stop to visit the Bahai gardens. These were 2 VERY full days, made longer by the necessary extra driving time from Haifa to Jerusalem on Thursday, since we did not stop in Ashdod for security reasons. Our tour was only 16 people, and the driver and guide were fantastic! Most all places accepted US dollars, so there was no need to convert to their currency...don't forget to tip the guide and driver if you had a good experience...they work very hard!
Read 141 Haifa Reviews

Since Israel was soon, we were planning on having a slow day, just grabbing the bus into town for some shopping. At the bus stop, we were invited by a private tour guide to join his group, for a 4-hour ride up the coast. We were rewarded with breathtaking views of the coast, and a delicious lunch in Paphos, the turn-around point of our tour. We were pleasantly surprised by all there was to see, the guide was friendly and very knowledgeable, and our lunch amazing.

We had visited Naples before (Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Capri), so planned on going to the Archaeological Museum, where many of the finds from Pompeii were kept. We were disappointed to learn that it was closed on Tuesday, the day we were there. We did take the Hop On/Hop Off bus for a wonderful tour of the city and along the coast, and got a discount because it was 'off season' schedule, with fewer buses running and longer waits between the 'hops'. We just stayed on the bus for the entire route, leaving only once as it passed the ship to grab some much-needed hats and jackets. It was March, and cold that day. But that didn't stop the was wash day, and the colorful laundry hanging from many balconies along the route made for some great pictures! For lunch, we experience a local 'caffetteria' packed with was great!
Read 1162 Naples Reviews

We had come in the night before, spending overnight in Rome. We have visited Rome before, both on other cruise itineraries and on our own. LOVELY city...try to spend time before or after the cruise exploring! But, word to the wise, if you would like to see The Vatican, book a tour before you go that will avoid the waiting lines. Without warning, our private shuttle van was refused entry to the port, and we had to transfer to a port shuttle in a pouring rainstorm. This, according to the shuttle driver, does not normally happen. We figured out later that it was more than likely due to our visit to Israel, and security was tighter.

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