A memorable Western Med cruise for our family of four: Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by KokoSadie

Norwegian Jade 4
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

A memorable Western Med cruise for our family of four

Sail Date: June 2010
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
We are a family of 4, having cruised 3 times before to the Bahamas (Disney Wonder), Alaska (Sun Princess), and Caribbean (Caribbean Princess). This was our first time cruising on NCL to the Mediterranean, and it was our oldest daughter's high school graduation present. She specified which places she wanted to visit, and this NCL Jade itinerary best fit the bill.

We flew into Barcelona and stayed a couple of days sightseeing before the cruise. We also stayed another day in Barcelona post-cruise. We stayed at Hotel Jazz, which is located in the Eixample district, near Las Ramblas. The hotel is conveniently located about 7 miles from the airport, and about 1 mile to the cruise port. Hotel Jazz was clean and modern, with free Internet and great service. Our only complaint was intermittent rumbling from the underground subway, and some outside street noise.

We arrived at the cruise port about an hour before our embarkation time, waited only a short time in line, and More appreciated being inside an air-conditioned room. We've had to wait in much longer lines outside in the heat on previous cruises. Our stateroom was ready with our luggage in just a couple of hours. We booked two adjacent mini-suites, one for our teenage daughters (ages 18 and 15), and one for my husband and I. The rooms were spacious, with queen bed, a sitting area with extra foldout bed, a nice balcony, large closet, refrigerator, desk, and large bathroom with tub and shower. We wanted to be able to open the balcony doors between our rooms (like on our last Princess cruise), but were told they had to be closed while the ship was moving. Instead, the inside door adjoining the rooms was unlocked (which gave us a little less privacy). Also, my girls wished they could sun-bathe on the balcony, but that area never received direct sunlight. I thought the temperature in our room was too cold, so I appreciated being able to adjust the thermostat.

We were busy with full-day shore excursions almost every day, so we didn't have a lot of time and energy to enjoy the ship's many amenities. We did use the fitness center and the jogging track several times (which was usually never busy), the adult pool and jacuzzi once, attended a couple of great shows at the Stardust Theater (Shout, and a magic show), watched a World Cup soccer game in the Medusa Lounge, watched a pickup soccer game in the sport court, and enjoyed the poolside live music and entertainment on our one day at sea. We purchased a 200-minute Internet plan for 40 cents/minute, and we had to add another 100 minutes. As far as dining, we enjoyed the Garden Buffet for breakfast every day, and even had dinner there a couple of nights. We thought the cover charges on some of the specialty dining places were a bit high, and ended up eating at the main dining rooms (Alizar and Grand Pacific) several times. The service was very good, and we really appreciated the special attention my daughter received, due to her vegan dietary needs. We did splurge a little on two nights, and enjoyed Teppanyaki and Cagney's. My husband thought Cagney's was the best meal of the cruise. We liked the freestyle cruising philosophy of NCL, without the required formal dress nights. We did dress up a few times (my teenage daughters like wearing their dresses and heels), and purchased the photos taken with the Captain and in Cagney's.

Overall, we loved the NCL Jade and the Western Med destination. We only wished we could have stayed another day in Rome, and had another day at sea. The disembarkation went just as smoothly as embarkation. We chose a specific time to disembark, and used the appropriate colored tags on our luggage. There was no waiting, and we were off the ship, on a taxi, and back to Barcelona in no time. We stayed one more day at the Hotel Jazz, and flew home to Colorado the following day. Our family has agreed that this has been our best vacation ever! Less

Published 06/27/10

Cabin review: MA11554 Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Our mini-suite was spacious and comfortable, large bathroom, closet, and sitting area. We liked having a coffee maker in the cabin, but sometimes had trouble requesting an extra packet of coffee. We had adjoining mini-suites and wished we could have opened the balcony doors instead of the inside doors. Balconies were nice, but wished they offered direct sunlight. We sometimes heard footsteps of kids running through the halls outside. Our greatest disappointment probably was the lack of self-service laundry facilities on the ship, like on the Princess ships. The laundry service charge was very high, so we chose to reuse our clothing for the duration of the vacation.

Read All Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony (MA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We loved Barcelona! My daughter will be studying architectural engineering in college, and was fascinated with the works of Antoni Gaudi in the city. We stayed at Hotel Jazz, which was walking distance to Las Ramblas, an exciting display of street vendors, colorful street performers, shopping, restaurants, tourists from all over the world. We booked a city bike tour through Fat Tire Bike Tours and it was a great way to see the sights of the city in a day, including the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia. Our tour guide, Buddah, was extremely entertaining and knowledgeable, and riding our bikes through town was fun and exhilarating. We also stopped at the beach for lunch and sangria. We took a taxi from our hotel to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi's creations, and enjoyed a long walk through the park with beautiful views of the city, and local musicians providing free entertainment.

Read 1749 Barcelona Reviews

We booked a Half-day Capri shore excursion through Shore Trips, and it was the highlight of our vacation. We stopped in Naples and took a hydrofoil boat to Capri where we met our tour guide, Constantino. We rode around in a convertible taxi and were shown many sights in Capri and Anacapri. We rode a chair lift to the top of Anacapri for some gorgeous views of the island, walked through the cobblestone streets of Capri and shopped for souvenirs, tasted Limoncello and other delicious lemon confectionaries, toured the beautiful home of Swedish doctor Axel Munthe, stopped for lunch at a wonderful local restaurant, rode the funicular cable car down the mountain, and went on a scenic boat tour around the island. Capri was our favorite destination and we loved our tour guide, Constantino, who went the extra mile for us.

Read 41 Capri Reviews

We booked a full-day in Florence shore excursion through Shore Trips, and were met in Livorno by our driver, Roberto. He took us to many of the famous sights in Florence, including the Santa Croce, Duomo, Piazza del Signorio, and Ponte Vecchio. We also wanted to see Galileo's Science Museum, and it was fascinating for our family. Our friends recommended a restaurant in town called Antico de Noe, and we had a delicious lunch there. Later, Roberto recommended a visit to an organic winery in Tuscany, and we were treated to a wonderful tour and wine tasting.

We booked a Monte Carlo Highlights shore excursion through NCL. It was informative and enjoyable, but sometimes we couldn't hear the tour guide because of our large group size. We saw the Grand Casino, visited Princess Grace's grave, and the home of her children. We were impressed by the many fancy cars and private yachts. Since it was so expensive to stay there, the cruise ship was the best way to see the city.

My daughters and I chose to stay on the ship at this port, based on our travel agent's recommendation, but my husband spent several hours walking around town on his own. He tried going into a shop, but was told that he had to leave his backpack someplace before entering, so that discouraged him from entering. He took some pictures, and saw some old buildings. We heard that Palma was a popular vacation place for Europeans, but we preferred having another day to relax on the ship.

We booked a full-day tour of Rome through Bob's Limousines, and were met in Civitavecchia by Franco, our driver. He drove us to Rome where we saw many famous sights, including the Palatino, Colosseum, Forum, Trevi Fountain, and parts of the Vatican city, including the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We were disappointed that the tour didn't include seeing St. Peter's Basilica, and we realized that it would have been much more informative to have hired English-speaking tour guides. There are just too many things to see in Rome for one day. We felt like we rushed through every site, and wasted a lot of time waiting in lines surrounded by thousands of other tourists.

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