We have traveled extensively, and this is the first time that I felt the need to write a review for one of our trips. This was our first cruise and chose it because of the ports of call, not the cruise-line. We read many bad reviews about the ship before we left, but thought that people were being too hard and picky, well, we were wrong.
The most frustrating thing is that they turned into Generals after coming back from our first shore excursion. We were sprayed with chemical every time going into a room to "disinfect", what a farce. We were not allowed to serve ourselves in the buffet restaurant, we had to get their "silver" service which was a joke.
The serving staff were extremely unfriendly and unhelpful. After this "service" started, we did not have a good meal (or good coffee). They would never give you what you asked for, and/or would give you too much of something and wasted a ton of food. The biggest joke was that the staff were serving us with gloves, and in between serving people, would scratch their heads, or their pants or whatever, so how safe is that? And the tables were hardly ever sanitized as there are not enough tables so people would have to grab a dirty table.
We went to a couple "extra fee" restaurants and didn't have any better luck. The portions at these restaurants were crazy small and tasted the same as the buffet, the servers were the same as the buffet restaurant, just rotated, so they were not pleasant. And these are the ones receiving the $12/day/person "auto grat", what a joke, they should only get paid extra if they know their job or know how to smile and be pleasant.
We mostly did our own off-roading in the ports of call as the shore excursions were outrageously priced from the ship. We took one through the ship so we would know the difference, it was a $210 USD experiment in Turkey. We couldn't wait to get back to the ship. We had to wait over an hour in the theater until our tour was called, we then had to walk to the bus, wait there for awhile until every one found it. The tour itself was okay with a good tour guide, It was an all day tour, and they didn't give us lunch, which was not good, especially with hungry children. After rushing through the ruins, we were then taken to a rug factory where they were "showing" us how they make silk and rugs, but we were only there for them to try to pressure us into buying a rug. (we heard horror stories of people on other buses being stuck there for over 2 hours with their tour guide gone.)
Do your research, 99% of the time you don't need to book a tour, go on your own, don't let them scare you into missing the boat. These places have buses, taxis, trains, or you can walk for hundreds of dollars less. In Athens, our bus/train ticket cost us $3 each for the day and took us right to where everyone else was, that cost them $70+ each for the bus. In Cairo, we saved over 65% on booking elsewhere and had better accommodations and a private tour guide and driver and we controlled the pace of the tour, not 45 other people on the bus.
The singers/band they have on the ship are really good and we went to every show that they put on. Most of the other entertainment was okay, we didn't expect much, but a couple of the shows looked like high school kids, like the magicians. The bar serving staff were really good, probably because they don't get auto grat and need to be friendly to get their tips, the way it should be. The crew in the kids club were amazing, our kids wanted to be in there all the time. And this crew is not part of the "auto grat" which is stupid. If we were not forced to auto grat, we would of loved to give them a big tip. I now read that you can adjust this auto grat, which we wished we would of bitched more on the ship to get it adjusted.
I was shocked that the ship was only 4 years old, I thought it was built in the 1990s with the decor, the roughness of the carpet, the peeling paint on the boat etc. The prices on the ship were crazy as well. It looks like they go on shore and buy up a bunch of the souvenirs and sell on the boat after. Scarves on shore were 1-5 euro each, but on the boat were $20, bracelets were $1 on shore, but $10 on the boat for the same thing. Don't use the internet, it's $1/hour plus extra fees.
We will not be going on the Jade again, and would recommend that you choose another ship, and we would have to really love the ports to ever cruise with NCL again.
We had a mini-suite with a big balcony, decor was very bland.
Go on your own, bus/train is $3/each and takes you right to where all the action is.
Go on your own, the train is $7/person and is a short 10 minute walk from the port and drops you right off at the Vatican, then take a hop on/hop off bus from there to get to everywhere else.
The dirtiest, craziest city ever. It is hard to breath here and in Cairo, book through Memphis Tours for a private tour. Good to see and visit, but nice to get back on the boat. The ride to Cairo is 3 hours, but can be as long as 4 with the traffic. You need lots of loose change here to go to the bathroom.
Don't go with the ship excursion as I mentioned, book your own and control how long you want to be where you want to be and don't be taken to get pressured to buy a rug and have time for lunch. We checked and we wouldn't have saved that much on going on our own, but we would of been able to feed our kids and bypassed the carpet factory etc. Gorgeous country, we were very impressed on how clean and well taken care of everything is, we were very leary on going here, but we would most definitely go back to Turkey.
We were blown away by this little country and would love to go back. It was a rainy day, but we still very much enjoyed all of the little towns and seeing everything, would love to go back. As soon as you get off of the ship, you can go on a hop on/hop off bus, or take a "tour" bus that has a tour guide with you explaining things as you go. We wished that we took the hop on/hop off bus as we would of wanted to have more time in some areas, but still enjoyed it very much.
We stayed a few extra nights in Barcelona, and if you do, stay in Las Ramblas, close to everything. Take the subway, it is inexpensive and you can get a 2 day pass that includes the bus. Gorgeous city and we felt very safe at all times.