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This cruise on Norwegian Jade was only our second cruise, with the first one being on Royal Caribbean. We had been told that RC was the only way to go so when we decided to book this it was with the expectation of "We paid half the price so we only expect half." We were so very wrong! While not as grand as the Freedom of the Seas, it was every bit as elegant, clean and fun. We arrived in Houston and very quickly embarked...no lines, no struggles, no masses of people...just friendly people helping us get on board quickly. From the first person we met to the last, everyone was helpful and friendly. We got on board about noon and expected to have to lug our carry-on bag with us until 1 or 2, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that our stateroom was ready for us. A nice Norwegian employee suggested we avoid the congestion of the mid ship elevators and directed us to the elevators at the front which were completely open. Our stateroom was a balcony room on the 10th floor. It was a little smaller than our first one, but the bathroom area was much bigger! We were happy to find that the toilet was in a separate space and that shower didn't resemble the tube at the drive-in at the bank! Dennis, our stateroom attendant, greeted us immediately and from that moment on called us both by name. Our room was clean and had plenty of room to unpack all our things. We had no issues with our room at all. Dennis's service was wonderful for the duration of our trip. We found the Jade to have plenty to do and plenty of quiet spaces when we wanted it to be quiet and plenty of activity when we were looking for activity. Our favorite spots were the Spinnaker Lounge at the front of the ship and the outdoor eating area at the back. We had breakfast outside every morning and usually found ourselves there again to watch the sunset while enjoying a beverage and a snack in the later afternoon. We were unsure about the whole "Freestyle Dining" aspect so we purchased a 3 Specialty Meal package before leaving. We found that this was unnecessary as the food in the Dining room was EXCELLENT...much, much better than what we experienced on our first cruise. We missed having the same table with the same waiter each night, but that was just a difference and wouldn't keep us from sailing with Norwegian again. The second night we ate at Moderno, the Brazilian specialty restaurant. I would not go back. If you have ever eaten at a Brazilian Steakhouse, it can't begin to compare. Service was slow and the meat was moderate. The pineapple, on the other hand, was a highlight!! We also ate at Cagneys, which was wonderful and Le Bistro, which was good but not that much better than the dining room. All in all, save the money and eat where it's complimentary. The biggest downside to this cruise was that we had to tender in Belize and Roatan. The tender ride in Belize is about 20 minutes and the process is cumbersome at best. You have to go to the pool deck and stand in line to get a tender number and then wait for your number to be called. If you don't have an excursion with Norwegian save yourself the trouble and stay on the ship. The cruise directors said that Roatan would be much easier and that the tender trip was only 5 minutes to the dock...sounded great to us and we were excited to get to Little French Key (non Norwegian excursion but NOT TO BE MISSED). My husband got up early and was on the pool deck, in line, by 7:05...by 7:30 we had tender tickets for the 4th tender...fast forward to 9:30 and we were just getting on the tender. What we found out later is that the winds in Roatan were too high for them to tender from both sides of the ship! So, anyone with a Norwegian excursion was taken off first, while the rest of us waiting. Communication was lacking and we were all very frustrated. We were told that the last tender would leave the dock at 3:00 so we arrived back a little after 2 and stood in line to get back on board for approximately 35 minutes. We were not happy when we counted at least 10 tenders that came back to the ship after 3:00. I did complain to guest services the following day and they were very kind and said they would look into our concerns. BUT, simply communicating about the winds would have made it better to begin with...the captain doesn't communicate on this ship like the one did on our first cruise...it would have been nice to hear from him about that and about the bad weather we experienced. Again, not a reason to not sail with them again. Also not to be missed is the Mexican Cuisine cooking class at Playa Mia! This was for sure a highlight for us! Luis was a great teacher and chef and the food we made and the drinks they served were wonderful. Be sure to have a Dirty Monkey at Playa Mia as it made cooking even more fun. We made some friends who we ran into from time to time the rest of the trip and it's always fun to get to know some new people. If you do this class you might want to see if you can go to the park earlier as we didn't have much time to enjoy the beach once our class finished. The beverage packages were extremely expensive and so were drinks. We found out that some people, who booked much earlier than we did, got beverage packages free or at greatly reduced rates, so be on the look out for those. We just didn't know to do that but wish we had. This was a marvelous vacation and we would do it again in a heartbeat but they are closing the Houston port. We hate to see Norwegian leave Texas! It was an easy drive to and from and made the travel experience much better. Do not hesitate to book this cruise!

Better than We Expected

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by linda124

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This cruise on Norwegian Jade was only our second cruise, with the first one being on Royal Caribbean. We had been told that RC was the only way to go so when we decided to book this it was with the expectation of "We paid half the price so we only expect half." We were so very wrong! While not as grand as the Freedom of the Seas, it was every bit as elegant, clean and fun.

We arrived in Houston and very quickly embarked...no lines, no struggles, no masses of people...just friendly people helping us get on board quickly. From the first person we met to the last, everyone was helpful and friendly. We got on board about noon and expected to have to lug our carry-on bag with us until 1 or 2, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that our stateroom was ready for us. A nice Norwegian employee suggested we avoid the congestion of the mid ship elevators and directed us to the elevators at the front which were completely open. Our stateroom was a balcony room on the 10th floor. It was a little smaller than our first one, but the bathroom area was much bigger! We were happy to find that the toilet was in a separate space and that shower didn't resemble the tube at the drive-in at the bank! Dennis, our stateroom attendant, greeted us immediately and from that moment on called us both by name. Our room was clean and had plenty of room to unpack all our things. We had no issues with our room at all. Dennis's service was wonderful for the duration of our trip.

We found the Jade to have plenty to do and plenty of quiet spaces when we wanted it to be quiet and plenty of activity when we were looking for activity. Our favorite spots were the Spinnaker Lounge at the front of the ship and the outdoor eating area at the back. We had breakfast outside every morning and usually found ourselves there again to watch the sunset while enjoying a beverage and a snack in the later afternoon.

We were unsure about the whole "Freestyle Dining" aspect so we purchased a 3 Specialty Meal package before leaving. We found that this was unnecessary as the food in the Dining room was EXCELLENT...much, much better than what we experienced on our first cruise. We missed having the same table with the same waiter each night, but that was just a difference and wouldn't keep us from sailing with Norwegian again. The second night we ate at Moderno, the Brazilian specialty restaurant. I would not go back. If you have ever eaten at a Brazilian Steakhouse, it can't begin to compare. Service was slow and the meat was moderate. The pineapple, on the other hand, was a highlight!! We also ate at Cagneys, which was wonderful and Le Bistro, which was good but not that much better than the dining room. All in all, save the money and eat where it's complimentary.

The biggest downside to this cruise was that we had to tender in Belize and Roatan. The tender ride in Belize is about 20 minutes and the process is cumbersome at best. You have to go to the pool deck and stand in line to get a tender number and then wait for your number to be called. If you don't have an excursion with Norwegian save yourself the trouble and stay on the ship. The cruise directors said that Roatan would be much easier and that the tender trip was only 5 minutes to the dock...sounded great to us and we were excited to get to Little French Key (non Norwegian excursion but NOT TO BE MISSED). My husband got up early and was on the pool deck, in line, by 7:05...by 7:30 we had tender tickets for the 4th tender...fast forward to 9:30 and we were just getting on the tender. What we found out later is that the winds in Roatan were too high for them to tender from both sides of the ship! So, anyone with a Norwegian excursion was taken off first, while the rest of us waiting. Communication was lacking and we were all very frustrated. We were told that the last tender would leave the dock at 3:00 so we arrived back a little after 2 and stood in line to get back on board for approximately 35 minutes. We were not happy when we counted at least 10 tenders that came back to the ship after 3:00. I did complain to guest services the following day and they were very kind and said they would look into our concerns. BUT, simply communicating about the winds would have made it better to begin with...the captain doesn't communicate on this ship like the one did on our first cruise...it would have been nice to hear from him about that and about the bad weather we experienced. Again, not a reason to not sail with them again.

Also not to be missed is the Mexican Cuisine cooking class at Playa Mia! This was for sure a highlight for us! Luis was a great teacher and chef and the food we made and the drinks they served were wonderful. Be sure to have a Dirty Monkey at Playa Mia as it made cooking even more fun. We made some friends who we ran into from time to time the rest of the trip and it's always fun to get to know some new people. If you do this class you might want to see if you can go to the park earlier as we didn't have much time to enjoy the beach once our class finished.

The beverage packages were extremely expensive and so were drinks. We found out that some people, who booked much earlier than we did, got beverage packages free or at greatly reduced rates, so be on the look out for those. We just didn't know to do that but wish we had.

This was a marvelous vacation and we would do it again in a heartbeat but they are closing the Houston port. We hate to see Norwegian leave Texas! It was an easy drive to and from and made the travel experience much better. Do not hesitate to book this cruise!
linda124’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BX 10512
Great cabin! A little small, but for a week it worked out just fine. Great service and it was always clean and Dennis made sure we had everything we needed.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Belize City
    Next time we will book an excursion or just stay on the boat. Just going to the port itself wasn't really worth the time on the tender.
    View All 2,330 Belize City Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Belize City Cruise Port Review
  • Cozumel
    Playa Mia Mexican Cuisine Cooking Class!
    Do not miss this!!!!!! A highlight of our trip. Chef Luis was a master teacher and entertainer.
    View All 6,735 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cozumel Cruise Port Review
  • Little French Key
    This is a little slice of heaven on Earth! We had been told by friends to visit LFK and we are so glad we took their advice. We made an online reservation and followed their directions to find Dave and Larry, who took us to LFK. It is a drive so you'll want to have plenty of time while in Roatan. With our tender issues we really didn't have the amount of time we wanted, but don't regret that we got to visit. Once we arrived we had to wait behind some spring breakers who were registering, but it didn't take more than 15 minutes. It was a short ferry ride to the island and it was everything we expected and more. The water was crystal clear and there is plenty for everyone to do. Our waiter told us that we couldn't hold the monkeys, which disappointed me, but as we got on the ferry to go back I saw other people holding them. Apparently it was his first week on the job...everyone has to learn but I was really looking forward to that. The lunch was excellent and the drinks were good. We have friends whose kids road the horses and it looked like a great experience. Our only complaint is that we didn't get to spend all day. It was worth the time, effort and money. If you can go, you won't regret seeing this piece of paradise!
    View All 62 Little French Key Reviews