Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by Shelleyshoe
- Sail Date: February 2009
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
We arrived in Barcelona and got a minivan taxi to our hotel...The Petit Opera Garden Hotel, by the Boqueria in the Las Floras section of La Ramblas. I found the hotel online through Hotels.com. We chose it for the location and we were not disappointed. The staff were friendly and helpful. The room was quite nice with a view out the side. We could hear the Opera singers rehearsing when we opened our window.
We went to the Boqueria market. This is a must see for anyone who loves food! What gorgeous food! I am so jealous that the residents get to shop there any time they want. We picked out some great items, bought wine and had a picnic in the courtyard of our hotel.
The staff recommended the Taller Tapas bar in the Plaza del Pi for dinner. Dinner is around 8 or 9 PM. We had a fabulous meal. It was reasonably priced, too.
The next day, there was a parade down the Ramblas. It was of local clubs and children and bands. It was so colorful and fun. We caught a taxi and viewed the Sagrada Familia church and then went to Parc Guell. The mosaics in the parc are funky and cool and the view is terrific.
We boarded later that day. Our cabin was so nice. It was all wood paneled and reminded me of a yacht. We had a double sliding door to our terrace. The views were incredible from our room. We were could see each port harbor.
We ate most of our meals in the Alizar restaurant. We went to the Pacific Dining room a few times, too. The food was okay. Some items were excellent and others okay. The best food is in the Le Bistro and Cagney's. The best item of all is the Ribeye steak in Le Bistro. It was the best meal we had on board. The escargot and the salad with the fois gras was memorable, as were the desserts.
The desserts were all great! Loosen your buckles.
We usually went to breakfast at the buffet and had eggs and pastries. We got room service a few times. Room service was a disappointment. The food is limited and it was always room temp. It was fine for pastries and coffee and fruit. That is what we stuck with.
We enjoyed the Bar City bars onboard and we did karaoke in the Spinnaker with the DJ one evening. We enjoyed the show SHOUT. It was fun to sing along to the old songs.
We enjoyed listening to Katie play piano in the atrium. She is so talented.
We did a little shopping on board but mainly, the prices are high, even with their "sales". There are a few bargains in the duty free shop if you hunt for them.
The Yin Yang Spa is wonderful! We used the facilities more than once and I had a shiatsu/hot stone massage to die for. I loved the heated tile loungers in the front of the ship. One day, it was grey and raining and it felt soooo good to lay there and doze while the rain pattered and the ship rocked like a cradle.
We chose to go on several of the ship shore excursions. We did the Baroque Rome tour. Traffic was insane and they were having a big demonstration in the city that day. Our tour guide felt compelled to lie to us and say it was people protesting the traffic problems. It wasn't. It was political. Anyway, we drove past the Coliseum and we went to the Trevi fountain. We went to another square and had time to walk and shop, but only for 15 minutes. We all felt rushed, but we loved our leisurely lunch at Bennito's. There were 2 bottles of wine on the table. The food was good, not great, but the atmosphere was so fun. We all appreciated the time. Then we went to Vatican City. They would not let us see the Sistine Chapel. They said it would take too long to stand in the line; however, some people just left the group and went there on their own. There wasn't a long line. You get to see La Pieta in the Basilica. It put tears in all of our eyes. Fabulous.
The next excursion was Classic Athens. We didn't disembark until 11:00am. We drove straight to the National Museum where we saw incredible treasures and statues of the Greek Gods. I was blown away. It was a highlight. Then we walked up to the Acropolis. I had help with my hubby and sister on either side. Our guide wanted to lecture and kept the group together by the construction site for 25 minutes. We got impatient and left the group to walk around the front and to take pictures of the other buildings. It was gleaming alabaster. The view is spectacular. Then the staff all shooed us off the site. It was only 2:30. They close at 3:00 every day. Go figure. Maybe it is to lessen the impact of all the people visiting. There were some really pissed off people in our group. They never did get pictures from the front of the Parthenon. Yikes.
Then they took us to the Fashion district. It was like being in New York City. We didn't like this part of the excursion. We wanted to be where it was more quaint and where we could purchase hand made Italian items or even food gifts. No such luck. I didn't like the amount of graffiti everywhere, either. It was a shame.
Our next excursion was to Ephesus, in Turkey. It was a rainy day, but the trip into the countryside was beautiful. Turkey is BEAUTIFUL. We arrived at Ephesus and again, we were blown away at this ancient Roman city and its treasures. The guide was very knowledgeable and we stayed with her most of the time. The mosaics and the columns, the streets of marble, the Ampitheatre, the Library. It was all magnificent Our tour was called The Magnificent Ephesus and it did not disappoint.
Then they took us to a carpet shop where it was almost like being in a tent with the men flapping out gorgeous handwoven rugs one after the other. They were very hospitable and served us Apple Tea and cheese bread.
There was a bazaar of dealers in the port terminal complex where we did some shopping. It was fun.
Then we went to Egypt. The port of Alexandria is sprawling and impressive. Our tour guide was great. He was brilliant and really was a great lecturer. He has us call him Habu and he called us all Habu. He had many fun and interesting stories and I think he was our favorite tour guide.
Its a long trip...3 hours. It was kind of shocking to see all the unfinished houses and the piles of rubbish that are never picked up. They don't finish their houses so they don't have to pay taxes. Crazy. Then we would pass a house that looked like a palace and next door was a shack. It was very, very different from anywhere we have ever been.
At the Pyramids, there are roaming "gypsies" selling toys, postcards and bookmarks, etc. They are there in numbers. They are bothersome and bold. They will pull on you. We were not alarmed or anything, but they should be kept to a certain area. I cannot understand why they are not given a space for a bazaar and kept there so that tourists can walk around without being accosted. Watch out for camel poop, too. I had a lot of trouble walking around the Pyramids. the ground is uneven and you have to climb over fallen rocks, etc. in a lot of places. This was just hard for me because of my leg.
In spite of all that, I was at the Pyramids for heaven's sake! I even got to touch the massive stones and imagine what it must have been like. However, we REALLY loved the Sphinx. It is so majestic. You have to pay extra to walk up to the viewing area of the Sphinx so that you can see the new excavation. It is well worth the fee.
The next stop was the Cairo Museum. We were a little impatient inside because it was so crowded and we couldn't hardly hear our guide. He wanted to show us the highlights, but we wanted to walk around ourselves. The best part, of course, is seeing Tut's treasures. That was a dream come true for me. OMG. The gold and inlays...fabulous. I make jewelry, so I was extremely speechless at the jewels.
The next day we were on our own for Alexandria. Unfortunately, there had been a grenade tossed into a tourist street in the Cairo Souk the day before and a woman was killed and 11 were injured. The atmosphere was a little fearful.
We were so tired...but we decided to go out into the port terminal and shop at the bazaar. This was a lot of fun and we got many little things to take back to friends. The prices vary, so beware.
Our last excursion was to the country of Malta. As our ship went in between the gates of this Medieval port, we all had goosebumps. What a beautiful port!!!! We took a taxi to the city center and walked the streets. We took lots of pictures and purchased some great Mdina glass. I bought a little plate. It will remind me of this gorgeous Valetta. We ate lunch in a little cafe that was catering to British tourists. It was fun. Then we went to the Knights of the Templar Armory and saw the collection of armor, weapons, shields, helmets, guns and canons! My brother-in-law is a Free Mason. He was tickled pink to see all of the amazing collection. I enjoyed it, too.
I guess the only criticisms we had for the cruise is that there were a lot of inconsistencies on board the Jade. Our room was not always straightened up as we would have liked. Also, it seems that if you don't ask or keep requesting things, you will not get them, i.e. ice, water, towels, fruit. We had been warned that the Jade nickel and dimes you at every turn. We prepared for that and so we took it in stride.
All in all, the cruise was wonderful. There were a lot of whiners around. We ignored them and had the time of our lives. I hope you do, too.
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When we were ready for bed, we could feel a great deal of vibration in the beds. This annoyed my sister, but
mainly because it happened at the same time each night. We might have been feeling machinery from the pool
system. We never found out what it was. It only lasted about an hour. We were so tired that we slept right through
this most of the time.
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