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This was our first NCL cruise and we didn't choose it; we "crashed" my sister's vacation (she and her husband are awesome to travel with!). We didn't travel with children and we stayed in separate cabins. My sister in an ocean-view wheelchair accessible cabin on deck 8 and we were in a forward penthouse cabin on deck 9 (which I can't recommend; see below) Port: We sailed from Tampa and the cruise terminal was easy to navigate. We stayed the night before in the marina area at the Marriott Marina which turned out to be a great idea. The marina area has a beautiful park, lots of restaurants in a small, easily walkable area. We even got to watch the ship come in that morning from our hotel room. The cruise terminal was only half a mile from the marina hotel. Embarkation: We got to the port at 10:00 and there were very few lines. We checked in with no problem and had snacks/coffee until they started boarding at 11:30. That went very easy, although this is the first cruise we've been on where we were not greeted with champagne. Ship: The ship itself is actually not as tacky as it looks in pictures. It's vibrantly colored, that's for sure but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. For a ship that hasn't been updated in over 10 years, it's in great condition. We saw no signs of wear and tear in any areas of the ship. The carpets looked new, not a speck of dust anywhere, etc. There are 3 elevator bays each with 5 elevators so we never really had to wait much (but the ship was not fully booked; it was clear it was "off season"). Aside from having to walk through the Moderno restaurant to get to my sister's cabin, it was a good ship floor plan. I would recommend NOT walking through the casino when going to the Stardust theater on deck 6. The casino is tightly crowded with machines and smoking is allowed. We also found that the directional signs on deck 8 were confusing - each pointed toward the other so we got lost in the maze that is deck 8! A Must "Do": Get the spa package. There are no "adult only" areas by the tiny pool area so if you want a quiet place to relax and not sit in an overcrowded hot tub, get the spa package (prior to cruising, it's $30 cheaper than buying on board). Cabin: We stayed in cabin 9002, a penthouse forward suite. The cabin was nice although the coloring was a bit "loud" for my tastes. (bright greens/purples/reds, etc). The little square table could easily fit 4 and was very useful. The coffee maker was great with very good coffee. The closet is huge and can be accessed from the foyer or the dressing room, which was convenient. Space is not an issue at all: there are so many drawers and cubbies that we didn't even use them all. Large suitcases (25" and 29") slid easily under the bed. We got very tastey snacks every day, not the tasteless canapes other reviews mentioned. We got cheese trays, chocolate strawberries, cookies, fresh fruit, fancy chocolates, fancy hor's devours of shrimp, ham mousse, etc. We gobbled it all up it was so good. We even asked for another cheese tray to host my sister and her husband on our balcony for a "sunset watching" party. It was great! Why I can't recommend this cabin (or any on the 9th floor FWD): Noise. This is the first cruise I've been on where I could hear the main stage show which was 3 decks below us and there was a cabin floor right beneath us. It was like a muffled noise, either. We heard every word they sang and we heard the audience clap. It was so loud and clear, we thought they had accidentally turned on the ship speakers in the hallway during the show. It literally sounded like the show was going on in the hallway outside our door. It made going to bed early after a long day difficult because the late show at 9:30 (shows were about 45-60 minutes). Cabin balcony: Good news: you can land a small plane on that balcony! It came with 2 lounge chairs and a large, long coffee table. We had 2 more lounge chairs brought in for my sister and her husband and you could still do cartwheels with the space. Bad news: you can't use the balcony unless the ship is moving slowly or not at all. It's simply too windy to be out on the balcony - it blows so hard the lounge chairs were tied down at night. There's no balcony light and you have to keep your curtains closed in the evening when the cabin lights are on. So on the sea days, during the day, our balcony was useless (I'm talking hurricane force winds). I tried to read my book on the balcony and pulled the chair close to the door to get out of the wind and I still couldn't keep my paperback book steady. It just wasn't pleasant at all. My tied back hair ripped free and whipped my face as well. Another major issue: our cabin neighbors were idiots that didn't lock down their exterior door at night so the intensive banging of a heavy steel door hitting a steel ship sounded like explosions. The upside: the butlers got them locked down after about a half hour of a complaint. Dining: There is good food on this ship - and there is supremely bad food on this ship. Cagney's is worth the $30/pp. Every bite in that dining room was heaven. We had breakfast & lunch there as suite guests and we found that to be the best perk of suites ever. We found the worst food on the ship at the buffet and in the french restaurant, Le Bistro. My food in both places was so bad I couldn't eat it at all. The best news is that food in the main dining room was fantastic. Everything we ate in there was cooked perfectly (no cooked-to-death chicken or fish). And it didn't take 3 hours to dine, so you could still go to dinner at 6 and make the 7:30 main show with no problem. The Alizar (free) dining room has the same menu as the main dining room but allows shorts in the evening, so that's convenient. I didn't eat breakfast or lunch at the buffet but I walked through during breakfast and it looked very appealing with lots of options. The Blue Lagoon (open 24hrs) is a great place for quick sit-down meals. La Cucina was good food, but I was disappointed in the menu selections (no pasta/cheese/sauce items at all - don't look for lasagna, ravioli, stuffed shells, manicotti, etc.). Le Bistro was a total waste of time and money. Poor service, horrible food (either overly salty or tasteless). We noticed other guests sending their food back, too. We didn't eat at Moderno, Jasmine Garden, or Teppanaki. All in all, I gained 7 pounds with the tastey food from Cagney's and the main dining room. Entertainment: The main shows were fun and they varied quite a bit, they were all different. We didn't attend any of the side-shows late at night in the bars but we caught the karaoke contest and that was so much fun to watch. Don't miss the piano comedian, Barry in the martini bar by the cigar lounge and Le Bistro. Get there at 8 and stay until midnight - he's the ship comedian and he's worth it! He does the same show every night, so no need to go back once you've seen him. The main stage comedy show was mostly clean and mildly funny. If you're a bingo fan, get ready to win tiny amounts of money. The jackpots were little ($90/$120/$150). Some of them got bigger as the week went on, so it pays to skip the first few games and hit the late week ones. Service: I can't say enough how awesome the service on this ship was. Every person working on the ship was polite, courteous and had a smile on their face. Ports: We went to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Harvest Caye. Cozumel: This was our 2nd time in Cozumel. We docked at Puerto Maya port, a much nicer and less crowded port than last time (International),but it's also like a little replica of Cozumel, not like the real thing at the International port. We did the Atlantis submarine excursion which was fun and exciting. Then we ate at Pancho's Backyard, very tastey and not over priced. Costa Maya: We did not go to Mahuahual. It was crowded and "over sold" in my opinion as a great shopping/eating area. If you go to Costa Maya, you simply MUST consider going to the Maya Chan resort for the day. Beautiful beach, lots of beach toys, loungers in the shade, free booze, free food, and the best service ever. They pamper you! $25 massages, floating chair loungers, waiters on kayaks to bring you drinks, snorkeling (not a lot to see, but we saw some fish and a huge red starfish), floating sun dock, kayaks, paddle boards - everything you need to enjoy a day at a small, private beach. It was the highlight of our trip. 25 minute drive from the pier, add a 10-15 minute walk through the pier area to their kiosk outside the pier. Book directly with them to save money, they guarantee you won't miss the ship. Roatan: We took an island tour but quickly realized that their new mega supermarket was the best they had to offer. We spent 3 hours touring the economically depressed country with the occasional view of the water. The last hour was spent at a private beach where we had to pay for lunch ($20). It would have been better to spend the entire 4 hours at the little beach; after lunch we didn't have time to go in the water at all. I've heard there are beautiful beaches in Roatan, but we didn't see them. I would recommend going to one of them instead of taking any kind of historic tour of the island. Harvest Caye: NCL's new made-made island, you simply can't say you've been to Belize because it's just not n Belize. We arrived at 7am and had to be back on the ship by 12:30 - short time there. The beach was terrible; the sand was large-grained and filled with broken shells. It was unpleasant walking on the beach. The pool however was absolutely amazing. It is so large and fun to play in. Lots of shaded lounge chairs, but get there early, they go fast. Drinks and food are not covered by NCL packages, so bring your wallet (or fill up a huge Tervis mug at the Aloha bar and bring muffins from the buffet like we did). All in all, we liked our cruise more than we thought we would considering the reviews we've read. I like Royal Caribbean best having been on Carnival, RC, NCL and Celebrity. I hope this review was helpful!

Fun and entertaining with a few drawbacks

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by chewie274

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2016
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse with Large Balcony
This was our first NCL cruise and we didn't choose it; we "crashed" my sister's vacation (she and her husband are awesome to travel with!). We didn't travel with children and we stayed in separate cabins. My sister in an ocean-view wheelchair accessible cabin on deck 8 and we were in a forward penthouse cabin on deck 9 (which I can't recommend; see below)

Port: We sailed from Tampa and the cruise terminal was easy to navigate. We stayed the night before in the marina area at the Marriott Marina which turned out to be a great idea. The marina area has a beautiful park, lots of restaurants in a small, easily walkable area. We even got to watch the ship come in that morning from our hotel room. The cruise terminal was only half a mile from the marina hotel.

Embarkation: We got to the port at 10:00 and there were very few lines. We checked in with no problem and had snacks/coffee until they started boarding at 11:30. That went very easy, although this is the first cruise we've been on where we were not greeted with champagne.

Ship: The ship itself is actually not as tacky as it looks in pictures. It's vibrantly colored, that's for sure but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. For a ship that hasn't been updated in over 10 years, it's in great condition. We saw no signs of wear and tear in any areas of the ship. The carpets looked new, not a speck of dust anywhere, etc. There are 3 elevator bays each with 5 elevators so we never really had to wait much (but the ship was not fully booked; it was clear it was "off season"). Aside from having to walk through the Moderno restaurant to get to my sister's cabin, it was a good ship floor plan. I would recommend NOT walking through the casino when going to the Stardust theater on deck 6. The casino is tightly crowded with machines and smoking is allowed. We also found that the directional signs on deck 8 were confusing - each pointed toward the other so we got lost in the maze that is deck 8!

A Must "Do": Get the spa package. There are no "adult only" areas by the tiny pool area so if you want a quiet place to relax and not sit in an overcrowded hot tub, get the spa package (prior to cruising, it's $30 cheaper than buying on board).

Cabin: We stayed in cabin 9002, a penthouse forward suite. The cabin was nice although the coloring was a bit "loud" for my tastes. (bright greens/purples/reds, etc). The little square table could easily fit 4 and was very useful. The coffee maker was great with very good coffee. The closet is huge and can be accessed from the foyer or the dressing room, which was convenient. Space is not an issue at all: there are so many drawers and cubbies that we didn't even use them all. Large suitcases (25" and 29") slid easily under the bed. We got very tastey snacks every day, not the tasteless canapes other reviews mentioned. We got cheese trays, chocolate strawberries, cookies, fresh fruit, fancy chocolates, fancy hor's devours of shrimp, ham mousse, etc. We gobbled it all up it was so good. We even asked for another cheese tray to host my sister and her husband on our balcony for a "sunset watching" party. It was great!

Why I can't recommend this cabin (or any on the 9th floor FWD): Noise. This is the first cruise I've been on where I could hear the main stage show which was 3 decks below us and there was a cabin floor right beneath us. It was like a muffled noise, either. We heard every word they sang and we heard the audience clap. It was so loud and clear, we thought they had accidentally turned on the ship speakers in the hallway during the show. It literally sounded like the show was going on in the hallway outside our door. It made going to bed early after a long day difficult because the late show at 9:30 (shows were about 45-60 minutes).

Cabin balcony: Good news: you can land a small plane on that balcony! It came with 2 lounge chairs and a large, long coffee table. We had 2 more lounge chairs brought in for my sister and her husband and you could still do cartwheels with the space. Bad news: you can't use the balcony unless the ship is moving slowly or not at all. It's simply too windy to be out on the balcony - it blows so hard the lounge chairs were tied down at night. There's no balcony light and you have to keep your curtains closed in the evening when the cabin lights are on. So on the sea days, during the day, our balcony was useless (I'm talking hurricane force winds). I tried to read my book on the balcony and pulled the chair close to the door to get out of the wind and I still couldn't keep my paperback book steady. It just wasn't pleasant at all. My tied back hair ripped free and whipped my face as well. Another major issue: our cabin neighbors were idiots that didn't lock down their exterior door at night so the intensive banging of a heavy steel door hitting a steel ship sounded like explosions. The upside: the butlers got them locked down after about a half hour of a complaint.

Dining: There is good food on this ship - and there is supremely bad food on this ship. Cagney's is worth the $30/pp. Every bite in that dining room was heaven. We had breakfast & lunch there as suite guests and we found that to be the best perk of suites ever. We found the worst food on the ship at the buffet and in the french restaurant, Le Bistro. My food in both places was so bad I couldn't eat it at all. The best news is that food in the main dining room was fantastic. Everything we ate in there was cooked perfectly (no cooked-to-death chicken or fish). And it didn't take 3 hours to dine, so you could still go to dinner at 6 and make the 7:30 main show with no problem. The Alizar (free) dining room has the same menu as the main dining room but allows shorts in the evening, so that's convenient. I didn't eat breakfast or lunch at the buffet but I walked through during breakfast and it looked very appealing with lots of options. The Blue Lagoon (open 24hrs) is a great place for quick sit-down meals. La Cucina was good food, but I was disappointed in the menu selections (no pasta/cheese/sauce items at all - don't look for lasagna, ravioli, stuffed shells, manicotti, etc.). Le Bistro was a total waste of time and money. Poor service, horrible food (either overly salty or tasteless). We noticed other guests sending their food back, too. We didn't eat at Moderno, Jasmine Garden, or Teppanaki. All in all, I gained 7 pounds with the tastey food from Cagney's and the main dining room.

Entertainment: The main shows were fun and they varied quite a bit, they were all different. We didn't attend any of the side-shows late at night in the bars but we caught the karaoke contest and that was so much fun to watch. Don't miss the piano comedian, Barry in the martini bar by the cigar lounge and Le Bistro. Get there at 8 and stay until midnight - he's the ship comedian and he's worth it! He does the same show every night, so no need to go back once you've seen him. The main stage comedy show was mostly clean and mildly funny. If you're a bingo fan, get ready to win tiny amounts of money. The jackpots were little ($90/$120/$150). Some of them got bigger as the week went on, so it pays to skip the first few games and hit the late week ones.

Service: I can't say enough how awesome the service on this ship was. Every person working on the ship was polite, courteous and had a smile on their face.

Ports: We went to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Harvest Caye.

Cozumel: This was our 2nd time in Cozumel. We docked at Puerto Maya port, a much nicer and less crowded port than last time (International),but it's also like a little replica of Cozumel, not like the real thing at the International port. We did the Atlantis submarine excursion which was fun and exciting. Then we ate at Pancho's Backyard, very tastey and not over priced.

Costa Maya: We did not go to Mahuahual. It was crowded and "over sold" in my opinion as a great shopping/eating area. If you go to Costa Maya, you simply MUST consider going to the Maya Chan resort for the day. Beautiful beach, lots of beach toys, loungers in the shade, free booze, free food, and the best service ever. They pamper you! $25 massages, floating chair loungers, waiters on kayaks to bring you drinks, snorkeling (not a lot to see, but we saw some fish and a huge red starfish), floating sun dock, kayaks, paddle boards - everything you need to enjoy a day at a small, private beach. It was the highlight of our trip. 25 minute drive from the pier, add a 10-15 minute walk through the pier area to their kiosk outside the pier. Book directly with them to save money, they guarantee you won't miss the ship.

Roatan: We took an island tour but quickly realized that their new mega supermarket was the best they had to offer. We spent 3 hours touring the economically depressed country with the occasional view of the water. The last hour was spent at a private beach where we had to pay for lunch ($20). It would have been better to spend the entire 4 hours at the little beach; after lunch we didn't have time to go in the water at all. I've heard there are beautiful beaches in Roatan, but we didn't see them. I would recommend going to one of them instead of taking any kind of historic tour of the island.

Harvest Caye: NCL's new made-made island, you simply can't say you've been to Belize because it's just not n Belize. We arrived at 7am and had to be back on the ship by 12:30 - short time there. The beach was terrible; the sand was large-grained and filled with broken shells. It was unpleasant walking on the beach. The pool however was absolutely amazing. It is so large and fun to play in. Lots of shaded lounge chairs, but get there early, they go fast. Drinks and food are not covered by NCL packages, so bring your wallet (or fill up a huge Tervis mug at the Aloha bar and bring muffins from the buffet like we did).

All in all, we liked our cruise more than we thought we would considering the reviews we've read. I like Royal Caribbean best having been on Carnival, RC, NCL and Celebrity. I hope this review was helpful!
chewie274’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SE 9002
Cabin: We stayed in cabin 9002, a penthouse forward suite. The cabin was nice although the coloring was a bit "loud" for my tastes. (bright greens/purples/reds, etc). The little square table could easily fit 4 and was very useful. The coffee maker was great with very good coffee. The closet is huge and can be accessed from the foyer or the dressing room, which was convenient. Space is not an issue at all: there are so many drawers and cubbies that we didn't even use them all. Large suitcases (25" and 29") slid easily under the bed. We got very tastey snacks every day, not the tasteless canapes other reviews mentioned. We got cheese trays, chocolate strawberries, cookies, fresh fruit, fancy chocolates, fancy hor's devours of shrimp, ham mousse, etc. We gobbled it all up it was so good. We even asked for another cheese tray to host my sister and her husband on our balcony for a "sunset watching" party. It was great!

Why I can't recommend this cabin (or any on the 9th floor FWD): Noise. This is the first cruise I've been on where I could hear the main stage show which was 3 decks below us and there was a cabin floor right beneath us. It was like a muffled noise, either. We heard every word they sang and we heard the audience clap. It was so loud and clear, we thought they had accidentally turned on the ship speakers in the hallway during the show. It literally sounded like the show was going on in the hallway outside our door. It made going to bed early after a long day difficult because the late show at 9:30 (shows were about 45-60 minutes).

Cabin balcony: Good news: you can land a small plane on that balcony! It came with 2 lounge chairs and a large, long coffee table. We had 2 more lounge chairs brought in for my sister and her husband and you could still do cartwheels with the space. Bad news: you can't use the balcony unless the ship is moving slowly or not at all. It's simply too windy to be out on the balcony - it blows so hard the lounge chairs were tied down at night. There's no balcony light and you have to keep your curtains closed in the evening when the cabin lights are on. So on the sea days, during the day, our balcony was useless (I'm talking hurricane force winds). I tried to read my book on the balcony and pulled the chair close to the door to get out of the wind and I still couldn't keep my paperback book steady. It just wasn't pleasant at all. My tied back hair ripped free and whipped my face as well. Another major issue: our cabin neighbors were idiots that didn't lock down their exterior door at night so the intensive banging of a heavy steel door hitting a steel ship sounded like explosions. The upside: the butlers got them locked down after about a half hour of a complaint.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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