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The best thing about this cruise was the daily meeting group for solo travelers--hands down!!!! It was a listed activity in the daily mailer and I went just on a lark. This was the best decision I made because I met lots of wonderful people. Not everyone was single, some were just unaccompanied. We met for dinner every day, hung out, went on shore excursions, etc. As a solo traveler, this group made all the difference for me! The ship's restaurants are pretty good. One of them--The Grand Pacific, I think- has lovely wood columns and huge windows--very elegant. Most people l don't know it's open for breakfast too--shorter lines then. Entertainment was very good, especially the husband-wife aerialist team. We couldn't go to Costa Rica because of rough waters--major bummer. But the rest was great. If you're trying to figure out the Harvest Caye conundrum, you CAN get to actual Belize using a ferry for $20. The ferry does not show up in NCL's list of shore excursions. But you can find it on the actual NCL "Shore Excursions Order Form." It's listed as "Placencia Village Ferry." Take the 8:30 or 9:30 ferry if you want to do excursions. I took the last ferry back and had Harvest Caye mostly to myself for about 45 minutes before the ship left. The beach at Placencia has very calm waters. Watch out for the sand fleas--they hurt! I also have the map of Harvest Caye. Contact me if you want a copy, as I don't know how to post it here. Cartagena was hot, but well worth it. If you're going to visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, don't linger at the base. The peddlers there are especially insistent. In general, Cartagena had the pushiest peddlers of all the ports. But none were rude or threatening in any way. Mister Emerald is the place to go for knowledgeable staff and good prices, especially on rawer stones. Overall Cartagena is lovely and deserves increased traffic as a cruise port. Taking the shore excursion to go all the way through the Panama Canal is worth it too. But you have to make a choice between seeing the whole canal and seeing anything else in Panama. You cannot do both in 1 day. I was frankly surprised at how many passengers did not know that this cruise does NOT go all the way through the canal. There are easy ways for NCL to educate passengers about this if they want to. See more below about that. Roatan was wonderful! I had a particularly good, very attentive tour guide who took me all over the island. I will post about that in the shore excursions. The Costa Maya combo ruins, lunch, and beach excursion was enjoyable. Excellent buffet, esp the ceviche! Beach is pretty nice too. Also, overall, the Cruise Director named Sin is pretty entertaining and one of their dance instructors is excellent. Downsides: NCL's communication issues and lack of transparency. Service desk staff could use a manners class. On my last NCL cruise (Mediterranean-October 2014), I paid for all onboard charges the night before disembarkation. This time I got a very insistent phone call the 2nd day demanding that i come down immediately with a card. When i showed up with the card and explained the practice I expected based on my last NCL cruise, the service desk staff person insisted that had never been NCL's practice (i.e. implying I was lying or mistaken.) I suggested NCL allow passengers to register a card with the online check-in, as this would resolve the problem in a convenient way. The staff person said this was impossible because the land-based side and the on-board sides of NCL have nothing to do with each other. If they can create a passenger list from one to the other, I don't see what the barrier is. Also, at the suggestion of a very well-traveled singles group member (Bellagio04 on Cruise Critic--Hi!!!) I asked for a breakdown of where my daily charges were going so i could figure out how to tip. NCL refused, saying only their Accounting Dept had that info and Accounting could not release it to me. As a paying customer, I feel I have a right to know where my money is going. Don't you? Also, the shore excursions desk will tell you 3 different stories about where the ship goes during the Panama Canal portion. They don't have their stories straight at all. Here's the truth: the ship goes through only the first lock of the old Panama Canal (the Gatun lock.) You will not go through the new, wider Panama Canal, the "Canal 2000", at all unless you buy the shore excursion for it. NCL could easily put the basic info and a MAP of the locks in their daily mailer if they wanted to. Also, the Stardust Theater is too close to the casino and the secondhand smoke drifts in. NCL should do more to protect the health of its non-smoking passengers in this regard. With all that said, I had a fantastic time and came back from this cruise feeling like a new person--the best I've felt in years!

Great Cruise for Solo Travelers!

Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by zemale1

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The best thing about this cruise was the daily meeting group for solo travelers--hands down!!!! It was a listed activity in the daily mailer and I went just on a lark. This was the best decision I made because I met lots of wonderful people. Not everyone was single, some were just unaccompanied. We met for dinner every day, hung out, went on shore excursions, etc. As a solo traveler, this group made all the difference for me! The ship's restaurants are pretty good. One of them--The Grand Pacific, I think- has lovely wood columns and huge windows--very elegant. Most people l don't know it's open for breakfast too--shorter lines then. Entertainment was very good, especially the husband-wife aerialist team. We couldn't go to Costa Rica because of rough waters--major bummer. But the rest was great. If you're trying to figure out the Harvest Caye conundrum, you CAN get to actual Belize using a ferry for $20. The ferry does not show up in NCL's list of shore excursions. But you can find it on the actual NCL "Shore Excursions Order Form." It's listed as "Placencia Village Ferry." Take the 8:30 or 9:30 ferry if you want to do excursions. I took the last ferry back and had Harvest Caye mostly to myself for about 45 minutes before the ship left. The beach at Placencia has very calm waters. Watch out for the sand fleas--they hurt! I also have the map of Harvest Caye. Contact me if you want a copy, as I don't know how to post it here. Cartagena was hot, but well worth it. If you're going to visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, don't linger at the base. The peddlers there are especially insistent. In general, Cartagena had the pushiest peddlers of all the ports. But none were rude or threatening in any way. Mister Emerald is the place to go for knowledgeable staff and good prices, especially on rawer stones. Overall Cartagena is lovely and deserves increased traffic as a cruise port. Taking the shore excursion to go all the way through the Panama Canal is worth it too. But you have to make a choice between seeing the whole canal and seeing anything else in Panama. You cannot do both in 1 day. I was frankly surprised at how many passengers did not know that this cruise does NOT go all the way through the canal. There are easy ways for NCL to educate passengers about this if they want to. See more below about that. Roatan was wonderful! I had a particularly good, very attentive tour guide who took me all over the island. I will post about that in the shore excursions. The Costa Maya combo ruins, lunch, and beach excursion was enjoyable. Excellent buffet, esp the ceviche! Beach is pretty nice too. Also, overall, the Cruise Director named Sin is pretty entertaining and one of their dance instructors is excellent.

Downsides: NCL's communication issues and lack of transparency. Service desk staff could use a manners class. On my last NCL cruise (Mediterranean-October 2014), I paid for all onboard charges the night before disembarkation. This time I got a very insistent phone call the 2nd day demanding that i come down immediately with a card. When i showed up with the card and explained the practice I expected based on my last NCL cruise, the service desk staff person insisted that had never been NCL's practice (i.e. implying I was lying or mistaken.) I suggested NCL allow passengers to register a card with the online check-in, as this would resolve the problem in a convenient way. The staff person said this was impossible because the land-based side and the on-board sides of NCL have nothing to do with each other. If they can create a passenger list from one to the other, I don't see what the barrier is. Also, at the suggestion of a very well-traveled singles group member (Bellagio04 on Cruise Critic--Hi!!!) I asked for a breakdown of where my daily charges were going so i could figure out how to tip. NCL refused, saying only their Accounting Dept had that info and Accounting could not release it to me. As a paying customer, I feel I have a right to know where my money is going. Don't you? Also, the shore excursions desk will tell you 3 different stories about where the ship goes during the Panama Canal portion. They don't have their stories straight at all. Here's the truth: the ship goes through only the first lock of the old Panama Canal (the Gatun lock.) You will not go through the new, wider Panama Canal, the "Canal 2000", at all unless you buy the shore excursion for it. NCL could easily put the basic info and a MAP of the locks in their daily mailer if they wanted to. Also, the Stardust Theater is too close to the casino and the secondhand smoke drifts in. NCL should do more to protect the health of its non-smoking passengers in this regard.

With all that said, I had a fantastic time and came back from this cruise feeling like a new person--the best I've felt in years!
zemale1’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window
Cabin OF
Cabin was fine. Really good to have a porthole view when the ship was going through the first lock of the Panama Canal! The walls were so close, you could touch them.
Deck 5 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Gatun Locks
    Excellent, extremely knowledgeable tour guide. Everyone should go through the Panama Canal once in their lives. Be aware that this tour goes through the old Panama Canal and includes the Pedro Miguel (2nd lock) and the Miraflores (3rd lock). It takes a while to get to the embarkation point from the cruise ship. You will not go through the newer, wider "Panama Canal 2000" at all unless you take that shore excursion instead. And you must buy a shore excursion from the ship to see anything in Panama, not just the canal. And you have to choose between doing the canal and doing anything else in Panama because it's impossible to do both in 1 day.
    View All 37 Gatun Locks Reviews