1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Norwegian Jade
We're back from a wonderful two weeks in the Mediterranean and want to post our review while details are still fresh in our minds. It was truly remarkable to visit sights we've always dreamed about, meet new cruise buddies, and enjoy all the amenities on the Norwegian Jade. This was our 16th cruise and fifth to Europe but this itinerary was a stand-out. Pre-Planning: We booked the cruise in September 2008 before the world economy went into a tail-spin. At the time, the Norwegian air promotion was a good deal and an entry-level inside cabin suited our needs just fine. By the time final payment rolled around, we were able to take advantage of numerous promotions, price reductions, return of the fuel surcharge, etc. We were now in an outside cabin midship, had onboard credit in our account, and close to a thousand dollars back from our original cost that we eventually spent on shore excursions, etc. Keep in mind that you have to call to receive any of these benefits. Air Promotion and Hotel: On previous European cruises we booked air through both Holland America and Celebrity. When we weren't satisfied, we simply called, asked for a changed in time, airport (preferring JFK to Newark), or requested a non-stop flight. We were always accommodated at no additional charge. This time was different. Although we live 20 minutes from JFK which has non-stop flights to Barcelona, we had two flights with connections; departing to Barcelona on Lufthansa and connecting in Munich. Our return flight was on Air France with a 45 minute connection in Paris- a source of much stress but more on that later. When we arrived in Barcelona day early, we were met by a driver who took us and another couple to the Confortel Hotel by van. It was really a great transfer, no waiting for a bus to fill up, and arriving at the hotel by noon. Although you pay a hefty price for the hotel, we were able to check in early, had transfers included, and were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast that was over the top in terms of quality. As for the hotel, it was in an out of the way part of town but that was okay. It was brand new, energy efficient, and had a boutique-like atmosphere. All the accessories and furniture had a red, white and black decor in a contemporary style. The room was large with plentiful light and there was free Internet in the lobby. We were happy campers. Embarkation: Our bags were collected from inside our rooms by 10:00 a.m. and were aboard the Jade by noon. Check-in took less than 10 minutes. Couldn't have been easier. Having been on the Gem last year, we immediately booked our dinner for that night in the Italian specialty restaurant, and left our carry-on in our cabin before exploring the ship. First Impressions of the Jade: After 15 cruises, the bar is set very high for a wow factor. There is no fancy atrium but the ship is very easy to maneuver, beautifully maintained and sparkling clean. Thanks to Cruise Critic, if you follow the dolphins on the rug, you know that the dolphins are swimming toward the forward part of the Jade. The ship is brightly colored but not gaudy. The Hawaiian decor was not jarring to us at all. Every day, we could see continual maintenance and attention to proper sanitation was in evidence everywhere. I'd like to have the concession for hand sanitizers! Our cabin: We had an outside cabin, 5064, located mid-ship. We packed light and had more than enough room for our clothing. There is a laundry special after five days in which you can stuff a bag and have everything washed and folded for $24.95. It is well worth it. In packing your suitcases, the most important thing to bring is comfortable shoes for walking in the ports. Very few people dressed to the nines on formal or not so formal night. The cabin was quite a bit larger than our inside cabin on the Gem which was more like a walk-in closet. This room had two pull-down beds. I don't know how on earth four people could fit in the room let alone get up from the bed without hitting your head on the overhead bunk. Our room steward, Rufus, did a great job. If you remember to turn the indicator wheel outside your door, the room will be made up in a timely manner. We had a slight problem with the shower drain; the plumber came the next day to fix it. The tv didn't have many stations; we would turn to the BBC for news since the vitriol that spewed forth from Fox was not worthy of being called "news." Freestyle Dining: We love the concept of freestyle dining and prefer the specialty restaurants to the large main dining room. On port days, including the day of embarkation, there are two for one specials at the Italian and Asian restaurants and at Le Bistro. You can call a day ahead and make your reservation. No problem for us getting the time we wanted. I love to cook and found the food at the specialty restaurants to be delicious.The rack of lamb and creme brulee at Le Bistro were so tasty we returned a second time for an encore. We enjoyed the food and service at the Italian restaurant, Papa's Kitchen, and took delight in meeting Seepa, the maitre'd in training and talking with her about India. The Asian restaurant had great appetizers-more than enough for a meal in itself. We also had two dinners at the Tex-Mex restaurant, which includes a free margarita in the $10 cover charge. There is so much food served there that it's hard to have room for dessert. We did find the lobster tacos and spring rolls very special. One night, we joined our trivia buddies in the Grand Pacific; it was very good but again, make a reservation if you don't want to wait. There was always something to suit our tastes at the Grand Cafe buffet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If there is an English Pub lunch at the Great Outdoors Cafe, make sure to partake. The fish and chips, apple bread pudding, and cornish pastries were so good we cancelled our dinner reservation that night! The dinners in the buffet had many choices and we stopped by on some port days if we had lunch included in our tours. Facilities on the Ship: The gym was always in use; much more so than on previous cruises. There was an abundance of treadmills, weight-training equipment, etc. We took along our head-phones but often could not get sound. The Internet cafe seemed to get a lot of use but at a hefty price. The sign-on charge of $3.95 is really scandalous as is the 75 cents a minute charge with slow service. If you're willing to wait to get into port, there were very reasonable Internet stations or cafes that offered speedy connections at fair prices. The Jade doesn't have the mini-golf that I like but does have a well-stocked library and plenty of places to hang-out and relax. Because the weather wasn't hot, we always could find a lounge chair need the pool to soak up some sun-that was a first for us. Activities: This was the first time I took advantage of the roll call on Cruise Critic and it was worthwhile to chat with fellow cruisers in advance. Our thanks to Jack and Sarah for setting up the Meet and Greet and even making a list of our names and interests in advance. We even had a ready-made trivia team. As for on-board activities, here's one area where Norwegian has pulled back from our last two cruises on the Dawn and Gem. With the exception of trivia, there were very few activities during sea days. I don't think that library is an activity and there seemed to be an excess of beer, martini, margarita and bourbon tastings-all for a fee. Gone were arts and crafts, word games, towel animal seminars, etc. I did enjoy the Asian and French cooking demos, but at 10 a.m. they were interrupted by announcements. The trivia competitions attracted really large crowds and we were happy to bring home our share of key chains, mugs, phone books and water bottles!! Andrea, who hosted trivia, did a great job. I did attend the history lecture on Egypt; it was very informative and well attended. Entertainment: The Stardust Theater is large enough to accommodate everyone so you don't have to show up thirty minutes in advance to get a seat. Of all the shows, the tenor, Laurance Robinson, was superb. He was certainly among the top performers that we have ever seen on any cruise. We even went to his encore performance just to hear his voice. The shows appeal to a wide audience; we didn't attend the ventriloquist or the marionettes. I commend Norwegian for including flamenco dancers on this cruise; if you enjoy folkloric productions, this one was special. Of the production shows, we enjoyed Shout and Show-Down, a take-off on American Idol. The other two shows featured talented performers but the music wasn't familiar to us. We did see Smokey Joe's Cafe on Broadway and remembered that the music wasn't memorable. JR Red, who sang and played guitar, was terrific, and the lounges attracted large crowds. Second City does many shows, both in the evenings and during sea days. We unwittingly sat in the front row one night and of course, I became part of the show. I was clearly uncomfortable but had now ay to get out of my predicament. Live and learn. Ports: We booked the cruise for the ports and they exceeded our expectations. We booked excursions through NCL in Italy, Turkey and Egypt and went on our own in Barcelona, Athens and Malta. Barcelona: It's hard to do touring when you're sleep-deprived, but after taking a rest in our hotel we headed out to explore the city. It was a beautiful sunny day and I chose to visit La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished "masterpiece," and the Picasso Museum. We used taxis which were plentiful and cheap. After looking at the outside of La Sagrada Familia, I decided that we had to go in (for 18 euros) to perhaps further understand the popularity of this attraction. I couldn't believe that there was an hour wait to take the elevator at an additional charge. We skipped the elevator and can say, "been there, done that." The cab driver consulted a tour book and his GPS device to get us to the Picasso Museum, a repository of the artist's earliest works. As educators, we showed our identification and had a complimentary visit. The Picasso Museum in Paris is better but it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. We found a cafe near our hotel to do some people watching in the evening. It's always nice to see how Europeans dress up stylishly and go for a stroll in the evening. If you need euros, go to an ATM, called a cash machine in Europe, rather than paying the hefty exchange fees charged by the ship. Italy: Rather than going to Rome where we've been on two previous trips to Italy, we opted for a shore excursion to Tarquinia. It is a UNESCO world heritage sight where there is a necropolis-decorated tombs that date to the Etruscans. The tour guide was so enthusiastic and happy to show us the countryside that we were thrilled to be in his company. It was interesting to descend the steps of the tombs and see the frescoes on the walls. Afterwards, there was a visit to the Etruscan Museum in Tarquinia which we cut short so that we could explore the lovely walled town. We even found an Internet cafe that only charged 15 cents per minute. The tour culminated in a visit to a farmhouse where we sampled olives, pate,marmalades, sun-dried tomatoes and wine- exceptional setting with delicious food- a great day! Athens, Greece: I always loved studying Greek mythology and reading the Greek tragedies so the trip to Athens was a highlight for me. We heard a lot about taxi drivers in Athens, but outside the terminal we found a young driver who wanted to work and after a little haggling took us to the Parthenon for 16 euros. He agreed to pick us up 2+ hours later. Although it was cold and a little drizzly, we loved our visit. It wasn't crowded; only two cruise ship tours came before we left and we were truly impressed by the view from the Acropolis and the ruins of the ancient temples. You could only imagine how this represented the golden age of Greece. We had plenty of time to explore but not enough time to find a cafe. Our driver was there early thinking we allotted too much time. It was too cold for an outdoor cafe so we headed back to the ship ready to come back and explore more of Greece. There is an Internet cafe right in the port that is both fast and cheap. Ephesus, Turkey: I must say that we did not know anything about Ephesus and were simply in awe of the Greco-Roman city that we explored. So much to see and learn about the commercial and multi-cultural center that existed there. Our tour, Magnificent Ephesus, focused on the historical aspects of Ephesus; other tours highlighted the religious aspects. Our guide, Murat, was excellent. We loved every minute. We did not see the Terrace Houses-so, we have to go back! There was a stop at a carpet factory; it wasn't a hard sell. The carpets were incredibly beautiful; it's an experience to watch as the carpets are rolled out, and how customers are offered tea and sweets. Another great day. There is Internet available right in the port. Egypt: Egypt is a major highlight in the itinerary. I've been to India, and have seen how business is conducted on the street so I wasn't shocked by the poverty or sight of businessmen sitting outside their shops. I did look for street life since I find that interesting and took note of the numerous shops selling coca-cola and chips. Also, although our female tour guide was very liberated (no hajib), we saw very few woman without a head covering or burka-and Egypt is more secular than most countries in the Middle East. Although a majority of Egyptian (70%) live in poverty, there is a middle and upper class in Egypt. I particularly enjoyed hearing about contemporary society, marriage, and family life today. In Cairo, unfinished buildings are not taxed so that explains some of the rubble that is evident everywhere. We chose the NCL tour that visited the pyramids and included a Nile River cruise. My husband wanted to sing, "see the pyramids along the Nile..." We printed out the lyrics but no one knew the music. Our tour to the pyramids was very exciting-seeing the pyramids alongside the modern highway is simply amazing. The sphinx is absolutely breathtaking. Of course, the visit is marred by the aggressive peddlers; use your street smarts and avoid eye contact and the vendors will disappear. Camel rides were $30-a lot of our cruisemates took advantage of this "deal." Our tour guide offered cartouches and t-shirts that were ready at our final stop of the day, the Papyrus Institute. The Nile River cruise was fun- the Nile was not dirty and the boat was new. There was a buffet with Middle Eastern and American choices. The ground beef was flavored with interesting spices and the pastries were very good; we liked the food and no one got sick. The cruise featured a belly dancer who interacted with the audience and a whirling dervish. He was remarkable; after a while, I had to stop watching since I was getting dizzy from his spinning. That alone was a fun Egyptian experience. It's a long day and the tour included a visit to a mosque and the Papyrus Institute. At the mosque, we saw a school group with kids acting like kids. Both of us were middle schools teachers and know how kids behave on class trips. Well, the young man who kicked a soda bottle had to pay for his offense. He was subjected to a lashing and then a public humiliation. This upset both of us. The ride back to the ship was very long due to heavy traffic and when we arrived after nine p.m., I was ready to turn in for the night. Vendors were outside selling souvenirs but that was for another day. On the second day in Egypt, we opted to visit El-Alamein, the sight of a famous World War II battle. The drive along the coast was where the rich people live in Alexandria-gated beachfront communities. I even saw Starbucks! The museum at El Alamein was small but interesting and we did need more time to visit the rooms and outside grounds. From there, we visited the British, German and Italian cemeteries. The cemeteries are beautifully landscaped and maintained reminding us of those in Normandy. It was another worthwhile tour for anyone interested in history and one that you never could have duplicated on your own. We did buy a little sphinx and wooden camel at the bazaar-total bill after haggling-$5. In Egypt, they are very willing to take dollars. We had cool weather in Egypt-low sixties. Malta: The entry into the port at Malta is breathtaking-a beautiful walled city that is easy to explore on your own. At the port, there is a tourist station that has flat fees for taxis-10 euros or $17 dollars (an exorbitant exchange rate). Our driver was not too happy to have a $10 fare and grumbled as he took us on a five minute ride to the center of Valletta. It's a very clean city where English is spoken. Just wandering through the streets, enjoying a snack or meal at a cafe, and escaping the main boulevard for the side streets on a sunny day was fun for us. We did go into the palace, met up with many tour groups, and watched some of the restorers. Again, we found an Internet cafe on a side street. We were more than outraged at the taxi fare so we walked back to the ship- a long 45 minute walk but it gave us a chance to follow the fortifications and imagine life in a different age. Remember to look both ways crossing the street there; they drive on the left. Disembarkation: Sadly, all good things have to end but we give an A+ to Norwegian for disembarkation. We were off the ship early for our 10:30 flight to Paris. There was a carousel with our baggage in the cruise terminal making it easy to find our luggage and in no time we were in the airport. Flight home: Here was the only glitch in our trip-a 45 minute connection at Charles de Gaulle Airport. This is scarcely do-able and neither Norwegian nor Air France would do anything to help us in advance. I offered to go on a later flight to JFK or an earlier flight to Paris-not possible without an extra fee. In the end, there were 38 of us who had to make the transfer. It was a brisk 30 minute walk, not counting the stop for security. Thankfully, they held the plane and we made it! Not the best way to end a great cruise. If I had a do-over, I would book my own air. For the first time, NCL allowed cruisers to book flights before noon; all the flights direct to JFK were in the early morning. If I had known that, I never would have booked the NCL air. Final thoughts: This was a terrific cruise. I cannot fault the food, service, tours, or freestyle concept. It worked for us. If there is a need for improvement, I'd add more activities on sea days. I'd advise cruisers to join the roll call. I'll book my own air and get ready to plan a return trip-as soon as possible!!

Great Ports-Great Cruise

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by Educators2

Trip Details
We're back from a wonderful two weeks in the Mediterranean and want to post our review while details are still fresh in our minds. It was truly remarkable to visit sights we've always dreamed about, meet new cruise buddies, and enjoy all the amenities on the Norwegian Jade. This was our 16th cruise and fifth to Europe but this itinerary was a stand-out.
Pre-Planning: We booked the cruise in September 2008 before the world economy went into a tail-spin. At the time, the Norwegian air promotion was a good deal and an entry-level inside cabin suited our needs just fine. By the time final payment rolled around, we were able to take advantage of numerous promotions, price reductions, return of the fuel surcharge, etc. We were now in an outside cabin midship, had onboard credit in our account, and close to a thousand dollars back from our original cost that we eventually spent on shore excursions, etc. Keep in mind that you have to call to receive any of these benefits.
Air Promotion and Hotel: On previous European cruises we booked air through both Holland America and Celebrity. When we weren't satisfied, we simply called, asked for a changed in time, airport (preferring JFK to Newark), or requested a non-stop flight. We were always accommodated at no additional charge. This time was different. Although we live 20 minutes from JFK which has non-stop flights to Barcelona, we had two flights with connections; departing to Barcelona on Lufthansa and connecting in Munich. Our return flight was on Air France with a 45 minute connection in Paris- a source of much stress but more on that later. When we arrived in Barcelona day early, we were met by a driver who took us and another couple to the Confortel Hotel by van. It was really a great transfer, no waiting for a bus to fill up, and arriving at the hotel by noon. Although you pay a hefty price for the hotel, we were able to check in early, had transfers included, and were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast that was over the top in terms of quality. As for the hotel, it was in an out of the way part of town but that was okay. It was brand new, energy efficient, and had a boutique-like atmosphere. All the accessories and furniture had a red, white and black decor in a contemporary style. The room was large with plentiful light and there was free Internet in the lobby. We were happy campers.
Embarkation: Our bags were collected from inside our rooms by 10:00 a.m. and were aboard the Jade by noon. Check-in took less than 10 minutes. Couldn't have been easier. Having been on the Gem last year, we immediately booked our dinner for that night in the Italian specialty restaurant, and left our carry-on in our cabin before exploring the ship.
First Impressions of the Jade: After 15 cruises, the bar is set very high for a wow factor. There is no fancy atrium but the ship is very easy to maneuver, beautifully maintained and sparkling clean. Thanks to Cruise Critic, if you follow the dolphins on the rug, you know that the dolphins are swimming toward the forward part of the Jade. The ship is brightly colored but not gaudy. The Hawaiian decor was not jarring to us at all. Every day, we could see continual maintenance and attention to proper sanitation was in evidence everywhere. I'd like to have the concession for hand sanitizers!
Our cabin: We had an outside cabin, 5064, located mid-ship. We packed light and had more than enough room for our clothing. There is a laundry special after five days in which you can stuff a bag and have everything washed and folded for $24.95. It is well worth it. In packing your suitcases, the most important thing to bring is comfortable shoes for walking in the ports. Very few people dressed to the nines on formal or not so formal night. The cabin was quite a bit larger than our inside cabin on the Gem which was more like a walk-in closet. This room had two pull-down beds. I don't know how on earth four people could fit in the room let alone get up from the bed without hitting your head on the overhead bunk. Our room steward, Rufus, did a great job. If you remember to turn the indicator wheel outside your door, the room will be made up in a timely manner. We had a slight problem with the shower drain; the plumber came the next day to fix it. The tv didn't have many stations; we would turn to the BBC for news since the vitriol that spewed forth from Fox was not worthy of being called "news."
Freestyle Dining:
We love the concept of freestyle dining and prefer the specialty restaurants to the large main dining room. On port days, including the day of embarkation, there are two for one specials at the Italian and Asian restaurants and at Le Bistro. You can call a day ahead and make your reservation. No problem for us getting the time we wanted. I love to cook and found the food at the specialty restaurants to be delicious.The rack of lamb and creme brulee at Le Bistro were so tasty we returned a second time for an encore. We enjoyed the food and service at the Italian restaurant, Papa's Kitchen, and took delight in meeting Seepa, the maitre'd in training and talking with her about India. The Asian restaurant had great appetizers-more than enough for a meal in itself. We also had two dinners at the Tex-Mex restaurant, which includes a free margarita in the $10 cover charge. There is so much food served there that it's hard to have room for dessert. We did find the lobster tacos and spring rolls very special. One night, we joined our trivia buddies in the Grand Pacific; it was very good but again, make a reservation if you don't want to wait. There was always something to suit our tastes at the Grand Cafe buffet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If there is an English Pub lunch at the Great Outdoors Cafe, make sure to partake. The fish and chips, apple bread pudding, and cornish pastries were so good we cancelled our dinner reservation that night! The dinners in the buffet had many choices and we stopped by on some port days if we had lunch included in our tours.
Facilities on the Ship: The gym was always in use; much more so than on previous cruises. There was an abundance of treadmills, weight-training equipment, etc. We took along our head-phones but often could not get sound. The Internet cafe seemed to get a lot of use but at a hefty price. The sign-on charge of $3.95 is really scandalous as is the 75 cents a minute charge with slow service. If you're willing to wait to get into port, there were very reasonable Internet stations or cafes that offered speedy connections at fair prices. The Jade doesn't have the mini-golf that I like but does have a well-stocked library and plenty of places to hang-out and relax. Because the weather wasn't hot, we always could find a lounge chair need the pool to soak up some sun-that was a first for us.
Activities: This was the first time I took advantage of the roll call on Cruise Critic and it was worthwhile to chat with fellow cruisers in advance. Our thanks to Jack and Sarah for setting up the Meet and Greet and even making a list of our names and interests in advance. We even had a ready-made trivia team. As for on-board activities, here's one area where Norwegian has pulled back from our last two cruises on the Dawn and Gem. With the exception of trivia, there were very few activities during sea days. I don't think that library is an activity and there seemed to be an excess of beer, martini, margarita and bourbon tastings-all for a fee. Gone were arts and crafts, word games, towel animal seminars, etc. I did enjoy the Asian and French cooking demos, but at 10 a.m. they were interrupted by announcements. The trivia competitions attracted really large crowds and we were happy to bring home our share of key chains, mugs, phone books and water bottles!! Andrea, who hosted trivia, did a great job. I did attend the history lecture on Egypt; it was very informative and well attended.
Entertainment: The Stardust Theater is large enough to accommodate everyone so you don't have to show up thirty minutes in advance to get a seat. Of all the shows, the tenor, Laurance Robinson, was superb. He was certainly among the top performers that we have ever seen on any cruise. We even went to his encore performance just to hear his voice. The shows appeal to a wide audience; we didn't attend the ventriloquist or the marionettes. I commend Norwegian for including flamenco dancers on this cruise; if you enjoy folkloric productions, this one was special. Of the production shows, we enjoyed Shout and Show-Down, a take-off on American Idol. The other two shows featured talented performers but the music wasn't familiar to us. We did see Smokey Joe's Cafe on Broadway and remembered that the music wasn't memorable. JR Red, who sang and played guitar, was terrific, and the lounges attracted large crowds. Second City does many shows, both in the evenings and during sea days. We unwittingly sat in the front row one night and of course, I became part of the show. I was clearly uncomfortable but had now ay to get out of my predicament. Live and learn.
Ports: We booked the cruise for the ports and they exceeded our expectations. We booked excursions through NCL in Italy, Turkey and Egypt and went on our own in Barcelona, Athens and Malta.
Barcelona: It's hard to do touring when you're sleep-deprived, but after taking a rest in our hotel we headed out to explore the city. It was a beautiful sunny day and I chose to visit La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished "masterpiece," and the Picasso Museum. We used taxis which were plentiful and cheap. After looking at the outside of La Sagrada Familia, I decided that we had to go in (for 18 euros) to perhaps further understand the popularity of this attraction. I couldn't believe that there was an hour wait to take the elevator at an additional charge. We skipped the elevator and can say, "been there, done that." The cab driver consulted a tour book and his GPS device to get us to the Picasso Museum, a repository of the artist's earliest works. As educators, we showed our identification and had a complimentary visit. The Picasso Museum in Paris is better but it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. We found a cafe near our hotel to do some people watching in the evening. It's always nice to see how Europeans dress up stylishly and go for a stroll in the evening. If you need euros, go to an ATM, called a cash machine in Europe, rather than paying the hefty exchange fees charged by the ship.
Italy: Rather than going to Rome where we've been on two previous trips to Italy, we opted for a shore excursion to Tarquinia. It is a UNESCO world heritage sight where there is a necropolis-decorated tombs that date to the Etruscans. The tour guide was so enthusiastic and happy to show us the countryside that we were thrilled to be in his company. It was interesting to descend the steps of the tombs and see the frescoes on the walls. Afterwards, there was a visit to the Etruscan Museum in Tarquinia which we cut short so that we could explore the lovely walled town. We even found an Internet cafe that only charged 15 cents per minute. The tour culminated in a visit to a farmhouse where we sampled olives, pate,marmalades, sun-dried tomatoes and wine- exceptional setting with delicious food- a great day!
Athens, Greece: I always loved studying Greek mythology and reading the Greek tragedies so the trip to Athens was a highlight for me. We heard a lot about taxi drivers in Athens, but outside the terminal we found a young driver who wanted to work and after a little haggling took us to the Parthenon for 16 euros. He agreed to pick us up 2+ hours later. Although it was cold and a little drizzly, we loved our visit. It wasn't crowded; only two cruise ship tours came before we left and we were truly impressed by the view from the Acropolis and the ruins of the ancient temples. You could only imagine how this represented the golden age of Greece. We had plenty of time to explore but not enough time to find a cafe. Our driver was there early thinking we allotted too much time. It was too cold for an outdoor cafe so we headed back to the ship ready to come back and explore more of Greece. There is an Internet cafe right in the port that is both fast and cheap.
Ephesus, Turkey: I must say that we did not know anything about Ephesus and were simply in awe of the Greco-Roman city that we explored. So much to see and learn about the commercial and multi-cultural center that existed there. Our tour, Magnificent Ephesus, focused on the historical aspects of Ephesus; other tours highlighted the religious aspects. Our guide, Murat, was excellent. We loved every minute. We did not see the Terrace Houses-so, we have to go back! There was a stop at a carpet factory; it wasn't a hard sell. The carpets were incredibly beautiful; it's an experience to watch as the carpets are rolled out, and how customers are offered tea and sweets. Another great day. There is Internet available right in the port.
Egypt: Egypt is a major highlight in the itinerary. I've been to India, and have seen how business is conducted on the street so I wasn't shocked by the poverty or sight of businessmen sitting outside their shops. I did look for street life since I find that interesting and took note of the numerous shops selling coca-cola and chips. Also, although our female tour guide was very liberated (no hajib), we saw very few woman without a head covering or burka-and Egypt is more secular than most countries in the Middle East. Although a majority of Egyptian (70%) live in poverty, there is a middle and upper class in Egypt. I particularly enjoyed hearing about contemporary society, marriage, and family life today. In Cairo, unfinished buildings are not taxed so that explains some of the rubble that is evident everywhere. We chose the NCL tour that visited the pyramids and included a Nile River cruise. My husband wanted to sing, "see the pyramids along the Nile..." We printed out the lyrics but no one knew the music. Our tour to the pyramids was very exciting-seeing the pyramids alongside the modern highway is simply amazing. The sphinx is absolutely breathtaking. Of course, the visit is marred by the aggressive peddlers; use your street smarts and avoid eye contact and the vendors will disappear. Camel rides were $30-a lot of our cruisemates took advantage of this "deal." Our tour guide offered cartouches and t-shirts that were ready at our final stop of the day, the Papyrus Institute. The Nile River cruise was fun- the Nile was not dirty and the boat was new. There was a buffet with Middle Eastern and American choices. The ground beef was flavored with interesting spices and the pastries were very good; we liked the food and no one got sick. The cruise featured a belly dancer who interacted with the audience and a whirling dervish. He was remarkable; after a while, I had to stop watching since I was getting dizzy from his spinning. That alone was a fun Egyptian experience. It's a long day and the tour included a visit to a mosque and the Papyrus Institute. At the mosque, we saw a school group with kids acting like kids. Both of us were middle schools teachers and know how kids behave on class trips. Well, the young man who kicked a soda bottle had to pay for his offense. He was subjected to a lashing and then a public humiliation. This upset both of us. The ride back to the ship was very long due to heavy traffic and when we arrived after nine p.m., I was ready to turn in for the night. Vendors were outside selling souvenirs but that was for another day.
On the second day in Egypt, we opted to visit El-Alamein, the sight of a famous World War II battle. The drive along the coast was where the rich people live in Alexandria-gated beachfront communities. I even saw Starbucks! The museum at El Alamein was small but interesting and we did need more time to visit the rooms and outside grounds. From there, we visited the British, German and Italian cemeteries. The cemeteries are beautifully landscaped and maintained reminding us of those in Normandy. It was another worthwhile tour for anyone interested in history and one that you never could have duplicated on your own. We did buy a little sphinx and wooden camel at the bazaar-total bill after haggling-$5. In Egypt, they are very willing to take dollars. We had cool weather in Egypt-low sixties.
Malta: The entry into the port at Malta is breathtaking-a beautiful walled city that is easy to explore on your own. At the port, there is a tourist station that has flat fees for taxis-10 euros or $17 dollars (an exorbitant exchange rate). Our driver was not too happy to have a $10 fare and grumbled as he took us on a five minute ride to the center of Valletta. It's a very clean city where English is spoken. Just wandering through the streets, enjoying a snack or meal at a cafe, and escaping the main boulevard for the side streets on a sunny day was fun for us. We did go into the palace, met up with many tour groups, and watched some of the restorers. Again, we found an Internet cafe on a side street. We were more than outraged at the taxi fare so we walked back to the ship- a long 45 minute walk but it gave us a chance to follow the fortifications and imagine life in a different age. Remember to look both ways crossing the street there; they drive on the left.
Disembarkation: Sadly, all good things have to end but we give an A+ to Norwegian for disembarkation. We were off the ship early for our 10:30 flight to Paris. There was a carousel with our baggage in the cruise terminal making it easy to find our luggage and in no time we were in the airport.
Flight home: Here was the only glitch in our trip-a 45 minute connection at Charles de Gaulle Airport. This is scarcely do-able and neither Norwegian nor Air France would do anything to help us in advance. I offered to go on a later flight to JFK or an earlier flight to Paris-not possible without an extra fee. In the end, there were 38 of us who had to make the transfer. It was a brisk 30 minute walk, not counting the stop for security. Thankfully, they held the plane and we made it! Not the best way to end a great cruise. If I had a do-over, I would book my own air. For the first time, NCL allowed cruisers to book flights before noon; all the flights direct to JFK were in the early morning. If I had known that, I never would have booked the NCL air.
Final thoughts: This was a terrific cruise. I cannot fault the food, service, tours, or freestyle concept. It worked for us. If there is a need for improvement, I'd add more activities on sea days. I'd advise cruisers to join the roll call. I'll book my own air and get ready to plan a return trip-as soon as possible!!
Educators2’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Norwegian Jade price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Oceanview Picture Window
Cabin OB 5064
We were happy with the room-great value, enough space, plenty of hot water. Not enough for four people if you used the pull down beds.
Deck 5 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins