87 Norwegian Jade Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were ... Read More
We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were on board by 1pm. We met our cabin steward the day we embarked and we saw him at least once if not twice a day. Our cabin stewards service was great. We only ate in O'Sheehan's once on Embarkation day. We didn't have trouble procurring a table. I was dissapointed O'Sheehan's don't serve the chicken tenders anymore. Our first day at sea we ate lunch in the Grand Pacific Restaurant after we attended the Meet & Greet. I wasn’t fussed by the lunch options and wouldn’t choose to eat lunch in the restaurant again. The remainder of our lunches we ate in the Garden Cafe and we always found enough options to eat. We ate dinner in Alizars every night. We almost always arrived for dinner at 7pm and at least half the time we had a 20min wait for a table. Magnums was a great bar to spend the time whilst we waited for a table. The bar staff in Magnums were fabulous(very entertaining and prompt service). The food in Alizar was great and service was almost always outstanding. The day we were traversing the Panama canal we were upstairs by 5am. We had planned to be outside on deck 13 but by the time we made it upstairs there were already too many people so we settled on a 2nd row seat on the port side in Spinnaker instead. A fortuitous decision we were very glad we made when it started to rain. We had pretty awesome views of the locks including an LPG tanker coming the other way. Before we completed the crossing I went down to Deck 7 to get an up close view of the mules (towing trains) and the walls of the lock. We had two tender ports(Gatun Lake, Panama & Puerto Limon) but only one where we had to line up for tender tickets. I was in line for tickets by 8.10(for an 8.30 pickup) and I was about 50th in line. We just missed out on tickets for the first tender but were two of six who managed to get on the first tender at the gate. We booked two tours through NCL (Gatun Lake and Harvest Caye) the remainder we booked independently. My original tour of the Mayan ruins of Nim Li Punnit (8.30) was cancelled and I was moved to a later tour which meant I wasn't able to spend anytime checking out Harvest Caye. I utilised the gym most days. A couple of times I used the pool and the spa. The temperature of the spa was perfect. I wasn't impressed by the DJ who played in Spinnaker. The dance floor would be full and he would stop playing the song half way through. On our second night I came across Dave McHugh a guitarist from Newfoundland who was amazing. The venues where he played were always packed and standing room only. We elected to be in one of the last groups to disembark, disembarkation was VERY slow. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly. We feel that the ... Read More
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly. We feel that the cruise director is the heart of the ship, planning events and making the ship fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, our cruise director was not that good. The cruise was very low key and lacked a really happy vibe which Norwegian is known for and what we experienced on other cruises. The food did not meet any of our expectations. The buffet offered the same food quite often and the desserts very rarely changed. Specialty dining we would consider as being the worst. The only one we all enjoyed was Cagney's We avoided the main dining room because it took a minimum of 2 hours to get out, and the food was sparse. We all noticed it was difficult to understand many of the crew and vice versa. The entertainment in the Magnum lounge was very good and the Elements show and Jeff the Juggler were great. The games shows with our cruise director were awful. Leaving the ship was painless and we were out of the terminal in a timely manner. In general, in spite of the few shortcomings, we all considered this to be a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t worth it unless you drink a lot. Basically, the amount we paid in service charges would have paid for our drinks anyway. Free airfare meant a horrible itinerary, causing an overnight in a hotel that wasn’t free, baggage fees and seat selection costs. Excursion credits we only used twice because NCL excursions are so overpriced that even with the credit they were more expensive than a local guide. The specialty restaurant freebie was probably worthwhile, just to have some variety, though we would have been happy to just do three nights instead of five. And the WiFi package was a joke, since the WiFi didn’t work most of the time. The good: I was afraid 4 days at sea was too many and that we’d be bored, but the games and activities kept us busy. The musical entertainment was very good. I did like the itinerary and the ports of call. The not so good: 1. Seating comfort. Our mini suite cabin had a couch/convertible bed that was so hard it was uncomfortable to sit on. Plus, if you leaned back, it would start to slide forward to create a bed...basically making it impossible to use to watch tv or just relax. The seating in the theatre was horrendous. I stood during one show because I couldn’t take it anymore. The couches in the Spinnaker Lounge also were uncomfortable, canting forward so that you slide off of them. What is wrong NCL? 2. Communication. NCL did absolutely NOTHING in terms of education about the Panama Canal. Wasn’t that the purpose of the trip? The library had no display. There was no lecturer, no channel on tv with the history. Nothing. In fact, no announcement as to when exactly we were going through the canal and suggestions on when to get up or where to view. It was pathetic. Besides the canal, they did a very poor job about all the ports—the only maps we got were incomplete shopping maps. The excursion info was incomplete as well. There is no excuse for people to wonder about the timeline of the excursions, it should be up front. People on the Panama Canal ferry had no idea they would be taking a bus for an hour and a half each way. A bus with no restroom, by the way. There were plenty of people who didn’t know we were tendering at Roatan. NCL had two signs ( with conflicting info regarding timetable) in the entire ship. Why? Why don’t they use the elevator monitors for something useful rather than just listing the floor number? That might be a good place for daily announcements. And why make people run around to the dining rooms to see the menus? Just post them on the app, or on the monitors. Have more monitors around the ship...make them touch screen! It’s 2019 for crying out loud! All NCL seems to care about is selling you something. 3. I guess we drew the short straw with regards to our cabin steward, we never got an introduction to the room. The little sign with his name and extension showed up partway through the cruise. We had no room-service sheet. He always forgot a washcloth, or other towel, etc. we did complain and the towel animals started showing up, but unfortunately he grossed me out because he replaced the paper doily on the glassware, even though the glass was used. He did this 3 times. Made me wonder about the cleanliness and standards. 4. $19 for 4 ounces of robitussin. Lots of people developed coughs, and they take advantage of it. That’s just mean. 5. Food was generally ok. The beef and lamb were particularly good. I thought the Asian food was good. The bread was awful...no good crust, not good texture, the soft serve ice cream was not worth the calories. Our best meal was at La Cucina...excellent pasta, and ask for gelato. I felt much of the food was under salted, leaving it flavorless. The accompanying sauces were little dots on the plate. The mixed drinks were generally very good. The service in the dining room and bars was good. 6. I don’t know how embarkation is supposed to work, but it was hideous. The terminal did not have enough seats. The announcements were difficult to hear ( again, why not use monitors?) and it took way too long. Embarkation at Cartagena was a mess. Disembarkation was rather disorganized as well...lots of people crowding the stairwells with nary a crew member organizing it, Overall, I’m glad we went, as we wanted to go through the Panama Canal, but NCL didn’t convince us to become regular cruisers. ( last time we cruised was 20 years ago with Princess to Alaska. That was wonderful.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Our primary purpose during this cruise was to travel through the Panama Canal and celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary.The food was outstanding with beautiful presentation and staff that were have to ... Read More
Our primary purpose during this cruise was to travel through the Panama Canal and celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary.The food was outstanding with beautiful presentation and staff that were have to supply our every need. The Jade only carries about 2500 passengers so there were no long lines for meals, shows, etc. With a longer cruise an added bonus is an older crowd and very few young children. Our cabin was smaller than we've become accustomed to but we settled in quite easily. Bathroom setup is really smart with sink in the center, shower to one side and toilet to the other side. Shower and toilet had glass doors for privacy so more that one person could use the bath at the same time. The staff was outstanding with friendly smiles, good suggestions and a world-class friendliness that was remarkable.Ship excursions were pretty pricey but very worthwhile. Every bus we traveled on was immaculately clean. Guides spoke English very well too. Excursion tips: tour the old city in Cartagena; don't miss the Aerial Tram and Exhibits in Gatun Lake, Panama; banana plantation, scenic drive & Shopping (if you consider a convenience store as shopping); dolphin encounter in Costa Maya is good with limited dolphin contact but pictures with dolphins start at $40 each. The best beach day was at Maya Key Private Island retreat. There is a huge winding beach, lots of shade or sun, no blaring music, a nice buffet was also included. There are guides to help beginners snorkel and see parts of the beautiful reef. Very comfortable and safe. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of ... Read More
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of activities, they had painting events (that you paid for) in same lounge as balloon folding, painting had no microphones, but balloon instructor did. Dis embarkment waa chaotic beyond any other cruise.. Very disappointed. They let those that used a stair case not instructed too use, to exit endlessly. While those that follows directions were left piling up in tight hallway. Food was tasty, service was impeccable, iteniary was unique. Private island was beautiful, pool enormous, beach beautiful, but jelly fish warning. Cute little shops. On ship have to collect signatures for trivia, n other games, n at end of cruise trade in for gifts, missed the presentation, so never got to trade in progress report Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
First of all, the employees were awesome and the onboard entertainment was very good; otherwise, we were very disappointed. Our room was an inside room on the 10th floor. There were loud noises from the ship all night long. We never got ... Read More
First of all, the employees were awesome and the onboard entertainment was very good; otherwise, we were very disappointed. Our room was an inside room on the 10th floor. There were loud noises from the ship all night long. We never got a good nights sleep. The noises were NOT from other rooms, it was definitely from the ship. The food was also disappointing. We had 1 evening it was okay. Getting off the ship for excursions was a nightmare as they stopped running the elevators during that time. People were backed up for floors trying to get off. Getting back on was fine. They changed the time on one of our excursions without letting us know and would not work with us to be sure we were able to make it. We didn't and lost our money for it. Overall, we were very disappointed... I would not suggest this cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
After working on the Celebrity Zenith 2004-2005, possibly I'm being too critical? This was my first cruise as a passenger and 2005 was a long time ago, but I wouldn't think that service would be so bad on this cruise. It seemed ... Read More
After working on the Celebrity Zenith 2004-2005, possibly I'm being too critical? This was my first cruise as a passenger and 2005 was a long time ago, but I wouldn't think that service would be so bad on this cruise. It seemed like many of the crew were crabby all the time if not downright rude. I prepaid my gratuity and the only person who deserved it was my room steward plus, we gave him an extra $100. I didn't understand that I could get some of that money refunded by going to Guest Services. Also, I don't drink much and didn't get any drink or dinner packages and didn't understand that I could book a room that had some of these perks. I also didn't know that every single time you ordered a drink, a coffee, anything there was a 20% gratuity automatically added to the price. Big shock. Also, who knew how dumb I could be booking my first cruise by myself through the agent, but I didn't ask enough questions. The food was good. I paid to go to Cagney's and the food was excellent. The food in the buffet got real old after a while. It seemed that every restaurant or bar we went to we were ignored and sat for a long time before someone came to the table even when it wasn't busy. The balcony stateroom was very nice. We went to one show and it was fun. The worst part of the cruise were the ports. I know cruise line has their own private Caye, but I didn't know that Costa Maya was owned by several cruise lines and it was packed. I almost started having panic attacks because people vendors were on us like crazy, We had something to eat which was supposed to be Mexican food, because we were in Mexico and it was some crappy American/Mexican. The bill was $70. for 2 meals and 2 drinks. The food was cold and horrible and I didn't have any qualms telling them about it. We did make it to the beach in Mahahual which was nice. I was extremely disappointed in most of the ports, Limon was filthy and I don't remember being in that port before when I worked on the ship or maybe we never got off there because of that. Roatan was beautiful, but we accidentally got in a tour cab and we wanted to go to the Grand Roatan Hotel West Bay Beach to get away from the crowds, but it didn't work that way. We still found a nice part of the beach that was semi-quiet and didn't have to pay for a chair and drinks were reasonably priced. The Panama Canal was nice. We did a zip line somewhere, but I have a short memory and don't remember where it was at. The worst thing about the trip is that I went with an old friend who I hadn't seen for a long time. She's a vegetarian, complained a lot, she got sick. So because I was so unfulfilled by the cruise, I just booked another one to Bermuda for May 19th on the Norwegian Escape ALL BY MYSELF! I cruised back and forth between New York and Bermuda every week for almost my whole 8 month contract so I pretty much know where things are. It will be the first time docking at the Dockyard since we docked in Hamilton. I can't wait! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Embarking onto the ship was a horrible experience and we were worried that this was an indication as to what our trip was going to turn out. Felt like we were be herded in like cattle. Thank goodness once we boarded the ship things turned ... Read More
Embarking onto the ship was a horrible experience and we were worried that this was an indication as to what our trip was going to turn out. Felt like we were be herded in like cattle. Thank goodness once we boarded the ship things turned around. Our first cruise with Norwegian; overall was a great trip! Cabin service was excellent and service in the spinnaker lounge was exceptional. Many dining choices. The ship was very clean and the crew was friendly. The nightly entertainment and game shows were so much fun; the Cruise Director/Co-Director were very fun with everything they hosted. We decided to book with Norwegian because of the wonderful packages they offered; by the middle of our trip we signed up with Next Cruise to book future cruises. Only negative - compared to other cruises we have taken we felt that the Shore excursions were a little disorganized when meeting to depart the ship and trying to find the right tour bus to get on. There wasn't much direction given. Also, one evening I went to the shore excursion desk and the gentleman working was very dismissive to me and seemed annoyed that I was asking him a question. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Checking in and disembarking went very smoothly. The specialty dining was excellent. The main dining rooms had the same menu so other than having to dress up more at the Grand Pacific there was no difference. The crew and staff on ... Read More
Checking in and disembarking went very smoothly. The specialty dining was excellent. The main dining rooms had the same menu so other than having to dress up more at the Grand Pacific there was no difference. The crew and staff on board were excellent. They were helpful and friendly and addressed us by name if they saw us several times. I lost my wallet at Colon Panama and they did all they could to help me address the trials and tribulations of this occurring. The steward said good morning etc. every time we saw him in the hallways. The room was always in excellent condition without him hovering or being in the way. The theater's seating was very uncomfortable as the seats were very low and hard to get up from. The lounge and nightclub seating was very uncomfortable as they were tight. I don't know how large people sat in any of the seating in the lounges. The bartenders and wait staff were entertaining and friendly. They remembered you if you went to the same lounge more than once. We had a mid-ship picture window room on Level 5 Our picture window was so scratched we couldn't really see anything out of it. This could be because our room was so close to the water level and is probably scratched from the salt water and wind during storms. The toilet area was tight but the rest of the bathroom area was adequate. The closet wasn't huge but there were plenty of drawers to accommodate clothing for an 11 day cruise. Entertainment was very good with a high quality and variety. There were many activities during the day that were a lot of fun. The digital scavenger hunts were very entertaining. The port in Belize is beautiful. I wouldn't plan an excursion at this stop unless it's something you can't miss as the beach area is huge, free and beautiful. The passage through the Panama Canal was the highlight of the trip. I sat right up front in the Spinnaker Lounge which has 90 degree view from the front of the ship. I used the NCL app on board. The wi-fi was active to use this app. I could check my account spending, the days activities and it listed which excursions and specialty dining were active for each day. You also can text others on the cruise that paid a $10 fee for this feature only. I did not have need of this feature but would use it if I was traveling with a larger group. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The comedian was funny as was the ventriloquist, the singers and dancers were good, the singer from Vegas (Alyssa Harris) was great, the acrobat duo were fantastic. We thought the shows were the best that we have seen and we have been on ... Read More
The comedian was funny as was the ventriloquist, the singers and dancers were good, the singer from Vegas (Alyssa Harris) was great, the acrobat duo were fantastic. We thought the shows were the best that we have seen and we have been on 7 cruises across 4 lines. Main dining room food was the least appealing of all of our cruises. Crepe and omelette stations in buffet were nice. They know how to make real cheesecake! We tried many flavors. My husband liked the ice cream and the milk stations close together. :) We enjoyed the free pub, O'Sheehan's. We appreciated the many ports included on this cruise. We usually do our own excursions but went entirely with the cruise line on this one due to security concerns. They were expensive, but with the $50 per port excursion perk, they were manageable. It was a lot of time on buses and other transport, but the guides were good and the trips well managed. We were warehoused for a couple of hours before embarking, something that we usually avoid by arriving a bit later. They offered enrichment activities like painting and origami, but they didn't interest us. We exercise daily and found the track to be small but ok and the fitness room to be ok. Staff were pleasant across the board, especially the excursions desk which allowed us to make a couple of changes at the last minute. Overall price was quite high for a vacation for us as budget conscious travelers. We enjoyed our vacation and would book with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I was leader of a group of twenty friends age 60-70. And we chose this cruise for the Panama Canal itinerary. We ate in 4 special dining rooms and the Alizar and Grand Pacific for dinner with reservations made before we left home. My ... Read More
I was leader of a group of twenty friends age 60-70. And we chose this cruise for the Panama Canal itinerary. We ate in 4 special dining rooms and the Alizar and Grand Pacific for dinner with reservations made before we left home. My group generally agreed the food and service was very good. Embarkation procedure was good although the terminal was hot and didn’t have enough seating. The entrance to the ship was lame and the atrium space is under whelming (but clean and nice) after being on some of the bigger ships. The public spaces were always clean. The food at dinner was very good to excellent, for lunch, in the Garden Cafe, the food was a little repitious but tasted fine. We did lunch several times in O’Sheehan’s. The burgers on the pooldeck were very good too. Dinner at Teppanaki was terrific, the food was delicious and I am not even a fan of Asian food. The chefs and their “shows” were fantastic. The group loved it. Cagney’s food was great too and service good. They were helpful with a large group. LaCucina was ok. It is small (as are all of the specialty restaurants) so less able to accommodate a group of twenty. Also there is nothing special about the ambience. No tablecloths just plastic place mats. And Moderno was also just ok. The same placemats as in LaCucina. The meat in Cagney’s and Teppanaki was better, but it was our last night and I could hardly look at food because I had already eaten so much. The cabin (a balcony mini suite) was great, clean and comfortable. The bathroom had a tub and shower. So much closet and storage space. We didn’t see all of the theater entertainment, but Blazing Boots was good. We felt like they missed the age demographic in the nightclubs. Not enough dance music from my time and too many games. Our cruise director was Jacky and I was not a fan. He tried too hard to get suggestive responses during the night time games and it felt like the only type of dancing he knew was line dancing. I felt the bar service was fine. There were always waiters circulating, but you can get a drink fast enough at the bar too. And a special kudo to Diamond, our bar waiter in the Bliss Lounge. We did a few excursions. Basically they all worked well and were as described. The day at the Panama Canal was not as smooth we spent too much time waiting in the theater for the tenders, probably because we were late getting into and through the canal. The good news was the ship was early getting out of the lake and to Colon where everyone who went on an excursion was taken to reboard the ship. That way less time to kill in Colon. Debarkation went well and we did an excursion in the Everglades that was a good way to spend time before a 5pm flight and it was also transport for the group to Fort Lauderdale. And one final point. We had an included drink package but bottled water isn’t even included. Considering the ‘charge’ is shown as higher than RCI’s drink package. Water bottles should be included. It is on RCI. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go thru the Panama Canal again. We did it a couple of years ago and it was not a very enjoyable experience. This time was much better. Our cabin was ok, however I really did need a handicapped ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to go thru the Panama Canal again. We did it a couple of years ago and it was not a very enjoyable experience. This time was much better. Our cabin was ok, however I really did need a handicapped cabin, which the ship could not accommodate me with. Most of the food was ok, however having a dietary issue, at times the dining staff could not find a dessert to fit my needs. Sorbet and jello were usually offered, neither of which I like. Teppanyaki is an amazing restaurant, as was Cagneys steakhouse. Le Bistro's food was intensely over seasoned, and not palatable. We were disappointed with the Dolphin swim and Adventure at Costa Maya. It was amazing to be able to swim with them, however the costs for pictures were VERY EXPENSIVE!!! Beware, and cameras are not permitted. Our trip to Harvest Caye was very enjoyable, and our least expensive. The Capuchin monkeys, macaws, and sea lion more than made up for our disappointing visit with the dolphins, Otherwise, our trip was very enjoyable, excellent entertainment, things to do aboard ship, attentive stewards and cruise staff. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We traveled with a large group so, you can be sure we had a good time. The ship was quite nice and a perfect size--not too big. The staff was great--especially Diamond in the Bliss Lounge, Sandra in the piano bar, and of course our ... Read More
We traveled with a large group so, you can be sure we had a good time. The ship was quite nice and a perfect size--not too big. The staff was great--especially Diamond in the Bliss Lounge, Sandra in the piano bar, and of course our steward, Asep. Everyone working onboard was friendly, hard working, and attentive. The specialty restaurants were great-Teppanyaki, Cagney's, La Cucina, and Moderno (Teppanyaki the best) and dining in Alizar and the Grand Pacific were also very nice. The Garden Cafe always had a variety of offerings if you wanted to eat quickly but, finding seating was not always easy. The other dining areas around the ship were also very good. It was never difficult to find something delicious to eat, or drink either. We enjoyed the piano player, Toze, and the guitar player, David, enjoyed listening to their music, singing, and dancing-while it lasted. Sometimes it ended too early, stopping for a game show or some other activity which resulted in lots of people leaving with no where else to go to dance. We didn't go to any of the shows in the Stardust Theatre after the first night so I can't say anything about them. The ports of call were not the greatest. We did private tours in Cartagena and Costa Maya and they were our best excursions. Harvest Cay was nice and we enjoyed spending a relaxing day on a beautiful beach. The private beach in Roatan was okay and the animal refuge there was interesting. Our excursions, with not a lot to choose from, in Colon and Limon were fair at best and certainly not worth the price. It would have been far more interesting staying on the ship in Colon and going back through the canal to see what we couldn't see going through the first time. Limon was too much the same as Colon. Both of these cities were so run down and poverty stricken, that it was difficult and depressing driving through them to get to where we were going. I think my favorite days were our five days at sea. Disembarkation was easier than on any other cruise we have been on which made for a pleasant ending to an enjoyable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because it fit in to our schedule, they offered free drink package, reduced airfare and 5 free dining upgrades. We were flown from Boston to Miami on a premium airline nonstop. We got their free shuttle from the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it fit in to our schedule, they offered free drink package, reduced airfare and 5 free dining upgrades. We were flown from Boston to Miami on a premium airline nonstop. We got their free shuttle from the airport to the ship terminal building. Once there, check in was immediate. We were on the ship at 12:06pm... 6 minutes after boarding had begun! Once on board, the staff welcomed us at every juncture. The buffet was open so we stopped there first to wait for our rooms to be ready at around 2pm. There are 3 free restaurants and 5 restaurants that you pay for but we had the 5 included in our package. We however, chose only to go to two of them. We found the other free ones quite nice. We have been on many cruises but this by far was the most “laid back”. We really could eat any time with anyone or just alone. The people cruising were very friendly. The entertainment was very good and the excursions were extremely well done. We chose an 8th deck cabin with ocean view which suited us fine. We saw many awesome sunrise and sunsets from our cabin. We especially liked the Tabyana snorkeling excursion and the one to the Miraflores locks because our tour guide was excellent showing us all the air bases and explaining the history. We would definitely recommend this cruise. We have been on other cruise lines (4 Royal Caribbean and 1 Carnival) and are traveling without kids (I think the other cruise ships have more for kids) this is a great cruise. It is not as fancy as some of the other ships we have been on, but the flexible schedules makes it truly a pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We had a group of 12 of us sail aboard the NCL Jade over Christmas and New Years for an 11 day Panama Canal Cruise. Food - We had 4 specialty dining reservations to use on our cruise. We did the Teppanyaki and Cagney's which were ... Read More
We had a group of 12 of us sail aboard the NCL Jade over Christmas and New Years for an 11 day Panama Canal Cruise. Food - We had 4 specialty dining reservations to use on our cruise. We did the Teppanyaki and Cagney's which were very good. Teppanyaki was entertaining and the food was good. Cagney's was very good, steak was tender and cooked perfect. Service in both these restaurants was good. We also did Moderno and La Cucina. The service was good in both but the food left a lot to be desired. Moderno's salad bar was great but the meats served were very dry and tasteless. La Cucina just didn't do it for us. Now outside of these specialty dining restaurants we ate in both the Pacific and Alizar dining rooms. We made reservations due to being a group of 12 rather than taking our chances on going in at anytime and trying to get a table large enough for us. The service in the dining rooms was atrocious! Other than the hostesses welcoming you no one even said hi. The servers would come right over and expect you to know exactly what you want without even time to review the menu. Often your drinks would arrive after your meal. God forbid they ever come back and check on how you are or ask if you'd like another drink. The food was not good and the combinations of items was bizarre, almost seemed like what ever was left from the buffet earlier in the day or the next day was thrown in as the side or to create a recipe. We ate at Jasmine Café one night for dinner and it took over 30 minutes from the time we were seated for anyone to even come over. O'Sheehan's was so bad one day my cousin went down to the buffet and brought up some pizza and small stuff for the kids to eat so they could stop waiting. The buffet was repetitive and not very tasty. Activities and Entertainment - Let's start by the only activity is the pool, there is really nothing on this boat to do. The kids were so bored. The kids club was a bit too babyish for the 9 and 12 year old. The teen club was pretty good for the 15 year old. The 19 and 21 year old were bored to death. The best shows were those that involved the audience in the spinnaker lounge such as Newlywed Game and Dancing with the stars, these were very entertaining. The planned shows in the theater were ok. This boat might be ok for a short cruise but after 11 days all we wanted to do was get off. There is not even a movie screen out at the pool or anywhere on the boat. The gym was very small. I paid for unlimited classes, $80. I would not do that again as they were only $12 per class and I only ended up going to 3. The pm times always conflicted with dinner and the am times only worked for non port days. Customer Service - did not exist! The cruise director was very nice and always around other than that though I am not sure I had a single staff member say hi or how are you throughout the 11 days. Wait service at the pool was only on the pool level, and since there was nothing to do on the ship except the pool that is where everyone was and most days you need to go 2 decks above the pool to get a seat. Ports - Columbia - The port itself was very nice, they did a good job here. You could just come off the boat and enjoy the animals in the port. We took a cab into the walled city, about 25 dollars each way. Leave the port to get the cab, if you get one of them inside the port gates they want $120 and don't believe them when they tell you that you won't be able to get a cab back. I recommend having international on your phone as we used Google Translate to communicate with our cab driver. We walked around ourselves without a guide and it was fine. We did need to find an ATM because most all the stores only took Columbian Pesos. Panama - Get up early and go to the Spinnakar lounge for a front row seat as you go through the locks. I also recommend spending the money and doing an excursion as it is the only way to get off the boat at Guatan Lake. We did not and regretted it. Once you get to Colon you can get off, but this port was horrible. There was a casino, a restaurant and a couple of shops. Harvest Caye - This port was great. We opted to rent pool cabanas and enjoyed having an area to ourselves with couches, tables to eat at and shade. Getting a chair at the pool did not seem to be an issue though. Be aware though the cabanas are for 5 people and they will not let more than 5 in. We just relaxed here an enjoyed the pool. Plenty of other things to do on the island though. Roatan - We did a private excursion to Little French Key and it was wonderful. They were at the port to pick us up. Short drive to the "ferry" which is just a small floating dock to bring you across to the private island. Very nice lagoon type area to swim and snorkel in. Costa Rica - Our ship skipped this port, they told us the swells were too high to dock. This was very disappointing as we had planned a private excursion to Cahuita National Park. Costa Maya - Not knowing what to expect we booked private transfer to a beach resort. If I were to go back I would not spend any money here on an excursion. The port itself is very nice, large and lots of activities. Get off the boat early and grab chairs by the large free pool. The aviary was great at the port and worth the $12. You can also swim with dolphins. Plenty of places to eat and drink. Even though they say there's a beach there is really just chairs overlooking the water, not really anywhere to swim Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I have sailed with NCL twice before and each time we have had minor issues but this time it was a total nightmare. Service was well below sufficient, staff was incredibly rude, 2 out of the 11 nights we were awoken at 4am with a ... Read More
I have sailed with NCL twice before and each time we have had minor issues but this time it was a total nightmare. Service was well below sufficient, staff was incredibly rude, 2 out of the 11 nights we were awoken at 4am with a technician outside our door for 45 minutes doing some work to try and get the toilets to flush. The boat was extremely rocky to the point that they had to put out barf bags all over the ship. This was obviously not their fault but then I heard from staff members that the stabilizers weren't working? The pool was like a huge wave pool and they left if open much to our surprise. People were flying around and although it may have been fun was extremely dangerous. Finally, during the second day of this they decided that they needed to close it down. There was a kids club and one sports deck as this is an older and smaller ship. They would take the kids out of the kids club to the sports deck and kick all the kids/young adults off the only place on the ship for them to hang out for 1-2 hours at a time. Terrible planning for a Christmas cruise that is obviously going to have children of all ages on the cruise with nothing else to do but play on the sports deck. Some young adults were in the hot tub - well behaved- and simply sitting inside the tub as the sports deck was closed yet again. There were 7 in the tub and 2 sitting on the edge with their feet hanging in the tub. The lifeguard, who was not even watching the kids in the pool most time called security because there were more than 8 kids in the tub (although two were sitting outside the tub)and was going to ticket these kids? What a fiasco. I spoke with the safety supervisor and he was extremely rude to me. He didn't like the way that I was standing while I was talking to him and called me out like I was his child. Keep in mind that I am a grown adult with three teenage children. My husband, on another occasion, was in the public washroom and a cleaning attendant came in and told him to hurry up because she needed to get in there. I don't even know what to say to this one?I spoke with the Staff captian regarding this incident as well as many others that occured - too many to name here and he simply said "oh, sorrry and by the way what nationality are you?" He wanted to know if I was Amrerican because he said that they get sued all the time by the Americans and they have to be careful?! I told him that I was a Canadian - not that it should have made any difference. I have sent an email to NCL and was told the resonse period would be 15 business days. I am at 33 business days! Apparently there is a BACKUP for this particular ship!!! Well that says it all doesn't it? Apparenlty there were mechanical problems on this ship for the two sailings prior to mine (but it appears that they were indeed NOT fixed for my sailing either). So extremly dissappointed in the lack of service both while on the ship and now. We have sailed on over 20 cruises - will never go back to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise for it's Itinerary to the Panama Canal, Columbia and Central America. We read reviews of the Norwegian Ships, and ports, and most importantly past word of mouth reviews. The Freestyle cruising is fine, but we ... Read More
We chose this cruise for it's Itinerary to the Panama Canal, Columbia and Central America. We read reviews of the Norwegian Ships, and ports, and most importantly past word of mouth reviews. The Freestyle cruising is fine, but we were unable to choose the restaurants, because they were all filled up from the 1st day of the nearly 2 week cruise. The food overall, was the same, whether you ate in the specialty restaurants, the buffets, or the main dining room...just plated and served differently. The food was average at best. The constant "time-share" promotions that bombarded us for re-booking another Norwegian cruise were a major turn-off. The Room was nice, but we spared no expense and chose a larger room with a balcony, previous cruises gave us that insight. The staff on board seemed quite stressed and un-happy. The room was clean, but not spotless. Mirrors not cleaned from previous cruise, missing towels, pillows, etc. And lastly, the a la carte style of cruising, where you have to buy a various assortment of "packages" for your beverages, dining, and activities was seriously overpriced. We chose NOT to purchase these packages, and to just pay the entire amount at the end, and were pleased with our choice. You would need to drink 10 alcoholic beverages per day per person to break even on the adult beverage plan. And we had an incident with overcharges by waiters wanting bigger tips, then not giving us the receipts. This was corrected by the Food and Beverage Manager for the ship, but it took a week to get a hold of him. And lastly, this was a Holiday Cruise, several paper streamers does not make for holiday decor. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise because it spanned both Christmas and New Year, and travelled to many of the Central American destinations we wanted to visit. Ship was clean and well maintained. Dining was Freestyle, meaning you wear what you want ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it spanned both Christmas and New Year, and travelled to many of the Central American destinations we wanted to visit. Ship was clean and well maintained. Dining was Freestyle, meaning you wear what you want and dine whenever the facilities are open. The normal dining venues were so good that we didn't even use the Specialty dining tickets that came with the package. Main evening Entertainment shows were very good. Daily activities were okay, there were several choices of things to do, however I thought more variety would be better. Live music at the several lounges was very good. All ship personnel were pleasant and helpful. Easier at this point to tell about the negatives: The shore excursions aren't cheap, and if you don't book early enough you lose out... the excursion will be full. The cabins aren't soundproof. We were disturbed by children/young adults running through the hallways, noise from adjoining cabins, etc. Also there were underage teenagers crashing the adult bars/lounges and being served alcohol. Not a major problem if they were well-behaved, but they were not. We're talking about groups of teens taking over the venue and being drunk & disorderly... having verbal altercations with the adults. So... all in all it was a good cruise and I'd take another one at some point in time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We wanted to go big this year for my wife's 30th birthday which falls right after the year end holidays, so this itinerary was a great fit. Being a multi-holiday cruise, I get why the fare was jacked up so much to an extent, but the ... Read More
We wanted to go big this year for my wife's 30th birthday which falls right after the year end holidays, so this itinerary was a great fit. Being a multi-holiday cruise, I get why the fare was jacked up so much to an extent, but the price did not match the quality we received in my opinion, even for an inside room. I feel bad for the people who paid for Haven rooms on this cruise. We were pushed to download the NCL app before embarkation to help with restaurant reservations and excursions. The app basically did not work the entire trip, and I don't recommend you waste your time with it because it provides either incorrect or no information at all. I wish they would incorporate the freestyle daily into this app and stop wasting SO MUCH PAPER. We must have thrown away a full ream of paper by the time the cruise was over. I want to start off by saying that the crew really helped save this cruise for us. Of the five NCL cruises we have been on so far, this one had the best crew hands down and we really hope to see some of them again on a future endeavor. Rakesh (Sugarcane), Jennifer (Moderno), Vincent (Cagney's), Christina (Cagney's), Robert (Sugarcane, Topsiders, Amazing), Elinda (Moderno, Garden Cafe), Ida (Sugarcane, Topsiders) all made our trip memorable. I love when the crew has fun with guests and each other and this combination of people up at Sugarcane (where we spent a large amount of our time) really made for some great laughs. Again, these members of the crew saved this review from being a 2/5 or lower. The Sugarcane gets its own paragraph. This is the best part of the refurbishment on all the older ships and is a hidden gem which not many people seemed to know about on this ship. Located previously where the Star Bar was on Deck 13, this is where all the best drinks are poured. The nightly bartender, Rakesh, was super personable and a blast to talk to each night. The mojitos were excellent and we definitely got our money's worth on the ultimate beverage package. Around 5 PM every night, we would find ourselves at the empty bar and the ten or so chairs would never be filled. Definitely a highlight of the trip. This was our first trip on the Jade, however we had been on the Gem in the past (pre-refurb) which is basically the same ship. For a ship that was refurbished in 2017, it was a bit disappointing. Our cruise director was Vincent Teschel, who was personable but seemed a bit standoffish. Our assistance cruise director was, now that I think of it, I have no idea. On previous cruises we'd get to know our assistant director because they are always jamming bingo sessions down your throat, but not this one (bittersweet, I guess?). I honestly don't recall seeing our assistant director at all during the 11 day journey, and only remember hearing her over the PA on embarkation day stating that our rooms were not ready. The ship has been retrofitted with all the core offerings that the larger breakaway and higher class ships have (Cagney's, Sugarcane, etc) and it shows that these places were jammed in where they don't really belong. Sugarcane and Moderno on deck 13 share a space which is too big for a bar and too small for a restaurant. Moderno has roughly 40 tables and the other half of the room was empty seating areas meant for the bar, which rarely had people sitting there. Cagney's across the hall awkwardly has surrounding windows which everyone on the jogging track can just look into. I felt like an aquarium animal sitting there. Entertainment was mediocre. During days at sea, there was really nothing interesting to do but eat and drink. The three shows we saw, Elements, Blazing Boots, and Palace of Lights were good. Other than the night entertainment, the standard bingo and other lame activities were offered. We stayed in an inside room and it was fine. The updated furnishings were a nice touch and the LCD TV was new and nicely mounted out of the way. Really your standard inside room, nothing noteworthy to mention here except the two twin beds pushed together were extremely uncomfortable. Additionally, we opted for the 11th deck aft which was a mistake. Directly above our room was the Great Outdoors bar area and starting at 6 AM every morning, we were awoken by the sound of chairs being dragged back and forth on the deck. Also being aft with the butt of the ship didn't help with the rough seas during the first half of the itinerary. This was definitely the roughest cruise we've been on to date. The room was often warm and we kept the AC on the lowest setting at all times but still woke up sweating some nights. The sway during the first couple days was very jarring and multiple times while we were out at Sugarcane, bottles and glasses were falling off the shelves and counters. Even the crew was not prepared for the amount of rocking the ship was doing. We opted for the spa pass for the entire duration of the cruise and paid for it before embarkation to save a few bucks as opposed to buying on-board which was a mistake. If I had toured the facility before purchasing the pass, I wouldn't have gone for it. I hadn't really researched the spa post-refurbishment and assumed it was more like the spa areas on the breakaway class ships with big, open unisex areas as opposed to separate male/female locker rooms. Once you enter the spa doors, you need to navigate a maze of rooms to get to the locker room or unisex area, which is anything but relaxing. The unisex area had a measly eight radiant heat chairs, which were always occupied and one of them didn't even work. We often found people reserving the chairs while they were in the therapy pool or just off in their locker room and the crew were not enforcing the rule that this is not permitted. The water dispensers were often empty or filled with warm cucumber water, which was gross. Generally, I'm disappointed that the refurbishment didn't prioritize making the unisex area bigger like the Breakaway class ships. I personally feel that in 2019, having large sex segregated areas are unnecessary. My wife and I spent most of the time in the spa separated because there is no shared sauna or steam rooms. I also don't understand why there needs to be 50 massage rooms, more of this space should be dedicated to the thermal suites as I doubt there is that much demand for that many individual rooms. I do not recommend the spa. The fitness center across from the spa was good and barely had anyone in it. There are a large number of treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters and weight machines. We inquired about using the spin bikes during non-class times and were told we were not allowed to use them. Why? If we wanted to participate in a spin class, it was going to cost us extra. Again, why? Food is always an important factor to us when cruising, and we were again disappointed with the specialty dining offered on this cruise. Previously we have sailed on both the Dawn and Breakaway/Escape which offered many more options and the food overall was higher quality than what we received on the Jade. Getting dining reservations past the first day was near impossible. This cruise had ~2600 guests and reservations filled after the second day (I was told), however if you went to any of the specialty restaurants (besides Teppanyaki) there were tons of open tables throughout the night, yet the restaurant reservation board was red every single day. The food was mediocre at best and I'm glad we opted for the 5 meal dining plan as paying a la carte wouldn't have been worth the asking price. Specifically, Cagney's was a major letdown compared to what we've experienced on other ships. The steaks and sides were just okay, nothing compared to what we experienced on the Dawn, which were some of the best steaks I've had to date on land or at sea. Honestly the best dining was at Alazar, which we visited probably five or six times throughout the trip. I feel like the post refurbishment Garden Cafe was way smaller than I remember on previous jewel class ships. The food selection and quality was meh with too much emphasis on Indian cuisine (probably due to the executive chef residing from India). I'm someone who couldn't care less about the ports and docking for the most part, but my wife is all about the destinations, and the ports we hit (and couldn't hit) were underwhelming. Cartagena, Colombia - This was the best port by far, with a lot of rich history and great excursions. This is one of the few ports where it doesn't feel like you're just being dropped at an Americanized shopping haven. We took the hop on/off bus tour which I felt was worth the money and provided a nice overview of what the city had to offer. The old town area was very interesting with many places to shop and experience the culture (COFFEE). Colon, Panema - Why bother with this port? There is a Subway sandwich shop and a grocery store, that's it. We got off the boat to take a picture in front of the Colon sign, walked through the grocery store out of pure curiosity, and got back on the boat. A major waste of time. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - We were unable to dock here due to rough seas. *shrug*. Harvest Caye - A very nice island that is privately owned by NCL, however your beverage package DOES NOT apply here. Why? If you want to do anything besides sit on the beach in a normal chair (covered cabana chairs extra, of course), you're going to be nickeled and dimed for it. Roatan Bay, Honduras - Another very touristy location which we had to tender in order to get to the island. Standard shopping and bars, really nothing special to see here. Coasta Maya, Mexico - Very touristy location, standard bars, shopping and excursions. In conclusion, NCL let us down this time around. It has become very clear to me that NCL is cutting corners and nickle/diming on the older ships to help pay for these new mega ships they are pumping out. Everything has some kind of charge associated with it, and they push you so hard to put down more deposits with CruiseNext. We visited the desk to inquire about a sailing on the Joy, and the amount of hidden fees and gratuities was just asinine. Scaling back the Latitude Rewards program and making it harder to obtain points is also disheartening. Since returning to shore I've explored booking another cruise and again stop the process due to the amount of hidden service and gratuity fees and misleading cabin prices. NCL needs to overhaul their booking process, website (which is TERRIBLE) and pricing model to be more consumer friendly. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Myself and my family had an amazing time on the Jade. All the speciality restaurants we ate at were delicious and the staff on the entire ship were outstanding! Poolside (C Notes) and evening (Mary Simon) entertainment was spot on! ... Read More
Myself and my family had an amazing time on the Jade. All the speciality restaurants we ate at were delicious and the staff on the entire ship were outstanding! Poolside (C Notes) and evening (Mary Simon) entertainment was spot on! The ports were amazing. This is a winning itinerary! My only criticism is that the buffet never changed. Always the same offerings at lunch and the dinner buffet only minimally changed each day. Dining room and bar staff delivered first class guest service and hospitality with a smile everyday. This ship needs to up its fitness class game! Classes were offered the same time whether it was a port day or day at sea which is poor planning when you have be off the ship for an excursion. The number and variety of classes was lacking and staff were more interesting in selling things than being available. Book this trip! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We are a family of 5 (NCL platinum) and split into two mini suites for this trip. Embarkation We drove down from North Carolina (I know, ridiculous but we wanted to visit friends in South Florida before the cruise). Parked in the ... Read More
We are a family of 5 (NCL platinum) and split into two mini suites for this trip. Embarkation We drove down from North Carolina (I know, ridiculous but we wanted to visit friends in South Florida before the cruise). Parked in the garage about 10:15 a.m. and hauled our luggage to the nearest porter to be brought on the ship. Waited in a pretty crowded waiting area for about an hour (we were in boarding group 2) and then headed onto the ship. The ship We had been on the Jade before for a European cruise a couple of years prior. It's a smaller ship which we prefer as there are fewer people and it’s easier to move around. The ship is in good shape and with a couple of minor exceptions the crew was friendly and helpful. Unlike other ships we have been on, the fitness was usually busy but not overcrowded. We never had trouble getting on a cardio machine. The stretching/free weights area is tiny but it usually is on ship gyms. We did not use the spa. Dining We had specialty dining for 4 nights as part of the package-we did Moderno twice (the kids really like it), Cagney's, and Teppanyaki. Great food and good service in all specialty restaurants. The Garden Café was not usually too crowded and we never minded walking through to the Great Outdoors to get away from the hordes. We ate in Alizar and Grand Pacific a few times and O’Sheehans for lunch and breakfast. For some reason, this is the first time we had eaten at O’Sheehans for breakfast on any cruise and it was a very pleasant, relaxed experience. The Kids My son had just aged out of the Splash Academy. He LOVES the Splash Academy and was excited about trying out the teen activities (Entourage). Unfortunately, because he was the youngest, he had a hard time fitting in with the older kids and did not love the many scavenger and other “hunts” that were the planned activities. It would have been great if Entourage had more open hours so kids could come in and play foosball and PS4 without having to participate in group events. My daughter is 17 and wanted nothing to do with the Teens area. She mostly hung out with us. Entertainment We attend the shows mostly as a diversion for our 17 year old. There are usually a couple of good performers and the people watching is at least as entertaining as the shows themselves. We don’t gamble and I’ve only been in the casino when I’ve gotten lost. Drink package Because we travel in two staterooms, we usually try to divide up the “free at sea” offers. This cruise each stateroom received two “free at sea” offers. My husband and I took the Ultimate Beverage Package and Specialty Dining. My Mom and the kids had 250 Internet minutes and Specialty Dining. We shared the 250 internet minutes and most days it worked though it was slow. Mom doesn’t drink alcohol but does like a virgin Mudslide and a Diet Pepsi once a day. The kids like Shirley Temples and Pepsis. We never had a problem ordering drinks for everyone with just one card. I always leave an extra tip (bring dollar bills) but I really don’t think I received any special treatment. Ports Cartagena We were most excited to visit this port and I wish that we had more time there. I would definitely go back. I had read all of the warnings about safety but we felt very safe the entire time. We got off the ship promptly at 7 a.m. and walked through the touristy terminal with parrots, flamingos, and a gift shop. We walked out to the taxi stand and negotiated for a van that would hold ten people. The driver was from Switzerland and spoke perfect English, good Spanish, and some German. We then recruited a German family to join us in the van. The cost was $5 per person and he took us to the Old Town. We wandered around the Old Town for awhile and walked the wall before it got too hot. I bought my son a Colombian soccer jersey for $10. Negotiations started at $45. We stopped for a snack of gelato and then walked to the Castillo (Fortress). There was quite a line to enter but we eventually made it up the hill to explore the very impressive building. ` I speak enough Spanish to get by but most people wanted to practice their English with me so I would speak in Spanish and they would respond in English. Everywhere we went took USD or credit card. We had no issues communicating except the cab driver on the way back to the ship did not speak English. I would definitely bring sunscreen and water. After the Castillo, we had to back on the ship by 1:30 so we caught a small cab back to the cruise terminal (terminal de cruceros). Negotiated price was $10 total but traffic was so bad and it took us so long (35 minutes-should have been about 10-12 minutes), I gave him $20. Panama Canal/Gatun Lake We got up at sunrise to watch the ships enter the locks. It was very cool but honestly the return trip had a much better view for us and I could have slept in! Because only NCL excursions could tender from the ship and the shore excursions were not that interesting and were pricey, we stayed on board. A lot of passengers cleared out and it was a great day to just hang out and watch all of the cargo ships coming and going. For the return trip through the locks, we watched from our balconies and then walked in the Colon terminal just to say we had “been” in Panama. Colon terminal has a couple of photo ops and a pretty neat grocery store that we wandered through (it takes USD and credit cards) but we had a hard time stretching this out to even 45 minutes off the boat. We ended up just walking within the terminal area to get our steps in. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica This was the second most anticipated stop. We got up early so we could meet our private guide at 7 a.m. We watched the ship try to dock several times. Finally, the ship started to pull away and an announcement was made that it was not safe to dock and we would not be staying in Costa Rica. We instead headed early for Harvest Caye. We were NOT happy. I emailed our tour guide and he also expressed his disappointment and the economic impact on the entire area that was looking forward to hosting the ship. Harvest Caye Because we missed Costa Rica, we were on the ship for two sea days before Harvest Caye and we were ready to get off! Before we left, I reserved a 6 seater golf cart from Captain Jak’s for $55 for 4 hours. We bought ferry tickets to Placencia from the Shore Excursion desk (See story below about tender tickets for Roatan. Initially we were also told we could not buy ferry tickets on the ship but I kept asking different people until I was directed to Shore Excursions). Tickets were $20 per person round trip. We were given a set time (10:50) and told we had three hours on Placencia. I emailed Captain Jak’s and gave them our ETA and they offered to meet me at the docks. Once we arrived on Harvest Caye, I went to the ferry desk and asked if they had an earlier ferry. They did and we boarded about 30 minutes. I called Captain Jak’s and they were kind enough to meet us early. Once we arrived, we hopped in the golf cart and took off to explore the island. We stopped at the beach and several stores and had a great time on our self-excursion. The return ferry was scheduled for us at 1:30. We may have been able to get on a later ferry but they only have 61 seats and if we missed our guaranteed time and there was no space on a later ferry, it wouldn’t be good. We then spent a couple of hours relaxing and exploring Harvest Caye. We found seats by the pool and there were also tons of seats near the beach. There were lots of local vendors and places to eat. Roatan We used a tour guide we have used before, George Lemus of Roatan Custom Tours. George is fantastic. He speaks excellent English, is very responsive to emails, and has great ideas for activities. We toured the island in a large van, did a little shopping, and then hung out at Paradise Beach Club for $20/pp for the rest of the day. We walked down the beach and did some of the best snorkeling that we have done in years (we brought our own snorkel equipment). Great water clarity and lots of fish. Paradise Beach Club has a restaurant and bar and we ordered food for the kids and Monkey LaLas for the rest of us. They reported the chicken fingers were very good. My husband, Mom, and I walked down the alley to Omay’s local food stand. We ordered fried fish with plantains, rice and beans for $15 a plate. Two plates were more than enough for 3 of us. Costa Maya We had been here before and went back to Maya Chan. I can’t say enough good things about Maya Chan even though the day we visited the weather wasn’t great and the beach had a lot of sea grass (obviously, neither of which they control). The service is exceptional, the food AMAZING, and the location perfect. I got a massage (one hour-$45) and the kids played in the new pool, kayaked, built sand castles, and roamed around. There was another large party there but we barely noticed them. The taxi ride back to port was dominated by a couple who had imbibed too much and were the definition of ugly Americans but it just made for a teachable moment and a funny story later. My difficult-to-please 17 year old declared it the best stop on the cruise. Disembarkation We were scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. and since we were driving home (not a good idea), we wanted to get up and out early. Unfortunately, we were not let off the ship until after 8 a.m. We always use the walk off process with our own luggage and the line moved pretty quickly. Immigration was a cursory glance at our passports and if there was any customs scrutiny, I missed it. We were in the van and on the road by 8:40. Norwegian Generally As I mentioned, we are platinum with NCL so clearly we keep coming back. However, there are things that need improvement and now I just plan for NCL screw ups. One is the specialty dining reservations and transportation reservations. There are always discrepancies between what the NCL app says, our confirmation print out says, and the reservation desk says. ALWAYS, check and double check the times and names of any reservation and print out your confirmations. Second is the lack of communication. On the day we were tendering for Roatan, I found out in an email about 4 p.m. the day before from our tour guide that we were tendering. NCL did not mention it until the Daily came out that night. We have had horrible experiences tendering before where the ticket acquisition is unmanaged and chaotic and the lines are endless so I was immediately suspicious. I walked down to Guest Services to confirm that we were tendering. Yes, we were. I asked where and how do we get tickets? 7 p.m. in Bliss Lounge. Ok. So we drew straws to see who would go down to Bliss Lounge and wait in a long line for part of the evening to make sure we got tickets. But then I had another suspicion. NCL usually tells me the wrong answer at least once. So, I called down to Guest Services to inquire and was told that tickets would be issued at 7 a.m. the following morning before tendering began at 8 a.m. I then asked if we get priority tender tickets because we have platinum reward status. The answer was yes but she couldn’t tell me how we acquired the tender tickets with the status. She thought I could just show up. The next morning, I continued my fretting (as I noted we have been burned before on the tender process) so my husband dutifully went down to Bliss at 7 a.m. to get tender tickets. After waiting in line, he was told that because we are platinum, we cannot obtain tender tickets and we should just show up, flash our cards and we will have priority boarding. Theoretically good. However, when we did just that, the very nice dancer who was pulling duty as queue director did not know this policy. I politely told her what we had been told and then we just kept on walking to the tender. So, yes it all worked out. But I have been on cruises where it did not work out because of poor communication between passengers and crew and these situations could be easily avoided. Maybe NCL staff are trying to give me the run around. I don’t know. I really think it’s just the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing and then does not communicate internally to the crew and externally to the passengers. I should not have to hear from my tour guide in Roatan about our tender process before NCL tells me. Tips We have Tmobile and our package allows us to call the U.S. for .25/minute and data and texting are free. So anytime we were in port, it was great to check in and allowed us to preserve our 250 minutes over 11 days. We always bring lots of dollar bills and small denominations so we can tip and pay taxis and vendors easily with exact change. Water bottles are handy to take when in port and we always bring ziplocs so we can pack some snacks for our time off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
There are a number of areas where this cruise ship disappointed me, and did not provide value. For starters, the nearly $300 internet service quality was abysmal. It was so difficult to connect, and when connecting was possible, the ... Read More
There are a number of areas where this cruise ship disappointed me, and did not provide value. For starters, the nearly $300 internet service quality was abysmal. It was so difficult to connect, and when connecting was possible, the speed of the connectivity was atrocious. In asking the internet cafe manager for help resolving our issues, he gave some truly absurd reasons as to why we were experiencing such sub-par performance: "Turn off your VPN. That should solve most of your problems." - I use VPN at work & home ALL THE TIME and NEVER have any problem with WiFi. So why would that suddenly be a problem on the ship? "Don't stand too close to a window when trying to connect to the internet." - WHAT? How is that even a thing? Given the small size of our stateroom, anywhere we stood could be considered "close to a window". As an aside, I work for a software company and have lots of technical experience, so if someone like me was experiencing so much difficulty & frustration, I imagine other non-internet savvy passengers were truly disheartened. On to my next complaint - the temperature of the food. Having once owned a restaurant & been a Certified Food Handler in Los Angeles County, I happen to know something about this. The temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow is known as the "Danger Zone", and is defined by food safety agencies (such as FSIS - the US Food Safety and Inspection Service), as between roughly 5° to 60° C (41° to 140° F). There were many, MANY items in the Norwegian Jade's buffet that were served WITHIN this Danger Zone temperature range. It's therefore probably not a coincidence that a number of people in our party were having stomach cramps, diarrhea, and other discomforts throughout the cruise. Finally, there's no self-service laundry on board this ship! We were a party of 20 people with many kids, and the parents really wanted to do their own laundry, rather than having to pay $20 for each bag of laundry submitted. It was very disappointing that this wasn't an option, especially since I thought Norwegian's "freestyle cruising" concept was supposed to be family friendly. I'd categorize not having self-service laundry facilities as being family-unfriendly. On the positive side, stateroom service was outstanding, and I commend the captain for putting passenger safety ahead of corporate profits the day he chose to skip docking in Costa Rica because of the ship's inability to dock safely. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise as a holiday cruise just for my husband and I. The ship was smaller than the ships we have recently sailed on, but this ship was pristine and decorated very festively for the Christmas, New Year holiday. Embarkation ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a holiday cruise just for my husband and I. The ship was smaller than the ships we have recently sailed on, but this ship was pristine and decorated very festively for the Christmas, New Year holiday. Embarkation was very easy. We had a transfer through Norwegian for transfer from the airport to the ship and from the ship to the airport. We did not have to wait long at all for embarking and disembarking went very smooth, as well. Most of the wait staff was very friendly, and the ports of call were fantastic. We were unable to dock at Costa Rica, but it was explained by the captain that it was not safe to dock due to the swells. The swells may have moved the ship from the disembarkation stations, making it unsafe to disembark. I appreciate that he put the safety of the passengers first, even though I am sure he knew he would have a lot of disappointed guests. The cruise staff did an excellent job of putting together some activities and extra entertainment for the unexpected sea day! I still gave a 5 star rating for the cruise! We took a private excursion we booked off the ship for Roatan. The tender process could have gone more smoothly. We were encouraged to get our tenders when we were "absolutely ready" to go ashore. We got our tender number at 7:30 am, but we were in group #5. We did not get to shore until 10:30 am, making us an hour and a half late getting to our meeting point for our private excursion. Thankfully, our guide waited for us, realizing they were having tender problems. We took "The Shape of Panama" excursion that the ship offered for Panama. We saw a lot of scenery, but we were on the bus for 3 hours before taking a restroom break. Some of the passengers needed to stop way before this. I would give this particular excursion only a 3 star rating, as our guide kept telling us we would stop for a restroom break in a "few minutes" but took quite a while to stop. Other than that, the excursion was okay. Harvest Caye was clean, the beach beautiful, and the swimming pool was large. Plenty of chairs and shade! Columbia was fantastic. We took the ship's excursion "Cartagena through the camera lens" and was thrilled. We had excellent guides, and only 8 guests on the excursion, making it easy to get around. We just walked into Costa Maya and visited the souvenir shops and ate lunch. The port of calls were varied and was a good itinerary. Being a smaller ship, I did feel the movement, the rocking of the boat, most days, but my husband and I can handle some rocking without difficulty. I know some passengers were slightly nauseated from the ships movement, but most seemed okay with it. Our cabin steward was excellent. We never had to wait for our room to be made up or turned down. The food was excellent. We had a 4 night specialty restaurant package as an amenity when booking, as well as 2 free specialty restaurant meals sue to being on the Platinum tier, and we had fantastic meals at Teppanyaki's, Moderno's, La Cucina's, and Cagney's, (Our favorite restaurant is Cagney's,) The Grand Pacific and Alizar main dining rooms were also very good. We usually ate our lunches in the main dining room, but had our breakfasts at the Garden Cafe almost every morning. The entertainment, for the most part, was good. Blazing Boots, Elements, and Palace of Lights were really good, but the comedian and juggler were a little weak. The illusionist and the aerial duo were quite good and entertaining. We had the Jersey Boys Musical in the theater and the British Finest in the Cavern Club on our last cruise while on the Bliss, which was excellent, but you have to consider it was a larger ship and could offer this type of venues. There was music offered in the Bliss and the Atrium throughout the day and night. I have already booked another cruise over the Christmas/New Year for this year and looking forward to another wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My daughter asked us. It was fun to be with the grandchildren. Really high waves. Our room was nice. The excursions were disappointing. We really did not get to enjoy any country. Resorts offer better excursions and you don’t ... Read More
My daughter asked us. It was fun to be with the grandchildren. Really high waves. Our room was nice. The excursions were disappointing. We really did not get to enjoy any country. Resorts offer better excursions and you don’t have to wait in lines as often. The pool on the ship was not greAt and very overcrowded. I thought the food would be better. The people that worked on the boat were wonderful. I felt they were underpaid and overworked. We tipped them a little extra. Some of the restaurants were better than others. We really liked the French restaurant. The shows were good but the casino was too close to the theatre and the Smokey air carried over. We have traveled extensively throughout the US, Asia, and Europe. This was the most expensive trip we’ve ever taken and it was so disappointing. We hardly got a glimpse of any country. I felt like they were always trying to sell us more on every excursion, Deal or no deal, bingo, art activities etc. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary and although the boat, food & service were pretty sub-par, ports we did get to visit were great! Travel time to and from the excursions ate up the entire time at the ports which really ... Read More
We chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary and although the boat, food & service were pretty sub-par, ports we did get to visit were great! Travel time to and from the excursions ate up the entire time at the ports which really stunk! In all honesty, this may be our first and last cruise with Norwegian or any other ship all together since it left such a “bad taste in our mouths.” We felt that there wasn’t enough to do on the boat UNLESS we wanted to incur more charges. (Bingo, Deal or No Deal, yoga... nothing was included) We paid extra, a lot extra ($3500 on onboard charges) for specialty restaurants, spa services and other miscellaneous games, taxes etc. only to be greatly disappointed in the quality. Beyond the control of anyone was the 11-15’ wave swell that lasted about 8 of the 11 days. Because of the rough seas, not only was the pool closed at numerous times, but we could not dock in Costa Rica. It took them over 30 minutes of sailing AWAY from port to even tell anyone- pretty sure we’d figured it out by then! My daughter visited the teen club and barely spent time in there because she said there was nothing to do in there other than video games and foosball. The only glowing review we can give of this cruise was our room steward Roberto and the spa staff. Other than that, waaaaay too much money spent on a basic boat where we felt we got nickel and dimed every where we turned. And why on earth are there little to no trash cans? Empty cups, plates and food were left about for what seemed hours at a time. Never once when sitting on deck did a staff member approach us to ask if we needed anything. Does no one work in the boat? Just overall not a pleasant experience at all. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Norwegian Jade Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 5.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.9

Find a Norwegian Jade Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click