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6 Norwegian (NCL) Rotterdam Cruise Reviews

We were on the Breakaway for two nights, one night sailing from Rotterdam to Southampton, then an overnight in Southampton, staying in the Haven Deluxe Owners Suite 16102. Embarkation If you are ever sailing from Rotterdam stay in ... Read More
We were on the Breakaway for two nights, one night sailing from Rotterdam to Southampton, then an overnight in Southampton, staying in the Haven Deluxe Owners Suite 16102. Embarkation If you are ever sailing from Rotterdam stay in the Hotel New York, the old Holland America Line building which is literally a minute away from the Cruise Terminal. Staying in their Loft Suite meant we could go onto our roof terrace and watch Breakaway come up the river and tie up literally yards away, and so the excitement begins! She has a classic design without the Epic top hat, and you either love or hate the hull art work, personally I think it's rather cool. Boarding was a breeze, and we ended up maintaining the Butler family tradition (since the Sun) of being the first fare paying passengers to board; being met at the gangway by Denis Prguda the Hotel Director who brought Breakaway into service, a man we've sailed with before and a real professional. The first impression of Breakaway (as with all NCL ships) is WOW, classy, elegant and fun looking, and as you explore the ship it is obvious she is the daughter of Epic and the granddaughter of the Jewel Class ships. Albeit after a while you realise she is Deluxe Epic on Steroids. Throughout this review I will refer to comparison with Epic, so apologise to those who have not sailed on Epic you should. The Haven As usual with Haven guests we were escorted to the Haven by our butler Lucky Lee who has looked after us before and as we discovered later had set the wet bar in our suite exactly how we like it. Unlike Epic the entrance to the Haven is nowhere near as grand, but hey a door's a door. Walking into the reception we were met by Ruth Hagger (who we've known for more years that either of us likes to admit) and the lovely Elvina De Meneses who we last saw on Epic. Ruth was her usual friendly and professional self, ensuring we knew about the reserved seating for the Burn the Floor show that evening in the Theatre. The Haven area has a comfortable bar and meeting area, and an elegant dining room, neither of which are as large as Epic but there are less Haven guests so I don't think this will be a problem as they have less Haven guests to cater for. Fortunately (especially for winter in New York) the Haven has a moveable full glass roof, so no problems with wind and inclement weather. The area itself is much superior to Epic with beautiful items including a stunning and very impressive green planted wall feature. The colours are muted with many beds and sofas/chairs, with a really nice feature being a surrounding balcony on deck 17 under the glass roof with even more beds and sofas. So this is a super place to sit and relax especially for the suites with compact balconies, and we always like to have breakfast here as opposed to the dining room. Pools, hot-tub, sauna and Spa treatment rooms (as on Epic) compliment the Haven area, although the small pool appeared not to have a swim against system? There were a large number of day visitors on the ship before we sailed, so I have no doubt that the Haven will provide more than enough space, comfort, luxury and enjoyment for its guests when cruising. The food in the restaurant was as usual up to the high standards we have come to expect, and it was nice to catch up with lots of crew who we've known from past cruises just like coming home to a family get together. The Deluxe Owners Suite (16102) At the front of the ship above the Mandara Spa with a wraparound balcony what a spectacular suite, except for the Garden Villas, the finest suite in the fleet. The colours, design and finish are magnificent, as we walked in we were just wowed by it, the lounge is stunning with masses of space, a large dining table and even larger sofa which I believe turns into a bed. The wet bar as I said had been stocked correctly by Lucky and I was pleased to see that NCL have kept the same glorious coffee machines, and there is enough technology to keep even me amused. The sound system is still Bose but It's a shame that the surround sound speakers have disappeared. I suspect that is because it's possible to remove the adjoining wall to the next Owners Suite, now that makes some accommodation, find a hot tub and it's nearly a Garden Villa! The whole front of the lounge, as well as the bedroom and bathroom, have a glass wall and doors that open onto an enormous wrap around balcony, with loungers table and chairs. Arturo Guerrero (VP Hotel & Newbuild Operations/Development) who we've had fun with on previous new builds came up to check on us and bet me (unlike Epic) that I wouldn't find anything wrong or missing with the suite. Lucky for me I found one screw on the balcony that had not been tightened. He of course had it fixed within the hour, but still paid his wager. There is no doubt that Breakaway meets all the quality build standards that come from Meyer Werft. Into the very large and comfortable bedroom, with fantastic views through to the plush and luxurious bathroom. A large corner tub with windows on two sides, a very large shower again with a glass wall to the side, dual vanity sinks and everything else you would need in a luxury suite. A very large dressing area leads back into the hallway with a well-appointed guest bathroom. The only other observation about this beautiful suite is that there is more storage space than we've ever seen in any suite (in any hotel let alone ship). Dark wood and soft touch opening drawers and cupboards, although as Pamela said she'd hate to be the steward (ours was Noel) responsible for cleaning the finger marks off. A great example of fantastic design ignoring practicality and functionality, but beautiful all the same. The Ship In two days it's impossible to review the whole ship, so I will focus on the areas we enjoyed and stood out to us. You need at least two weeks on Breakaway to experience the whole ship and she definitely warrants at least that much time. Breakaway has restaurants and then some, Norwegian classics and new additions with the exciting and innovative feature of outdoor dining to many of them along the superb Waterfront, which is a brilliant feature and one NCL should be very proud of. As well as the Haven we ate in Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy, the show is mind boggling and even better than Epic, the tent seating all tables on one floor with standard seating around the edge and premium nearer the action. We sat at one of the two elevated stage tables which provided a superb view, although from what we saw everyone had a great view of a mesmerising performance. The set menu was excellent, although as we were so enthralled with the performance the food was really an afterthought but delicious nonetheless, this experience is a must do on Breakaway. The other must do as far as dining is concerned is dinner at Ocean Blue with the Raw Bar alongside, the menu by Geoffrey Zakarian is simply brilliant, fine dining at its best. My dover sole was to die for and Pamela says her crab risotto was even better; a truly memorable experience, and worth every cent. With inside and outside dining this restaurant is worth making a beeline for. Of course we had to have cocktails in the Ice Bar which seemed slightly smaller (but probably wasn't) than Epic. The New York theme was very much different from Epic, and I would say we missed the actual ice bar inside the cool room. What's a Norwegian cruise without donning the snow cape? Pamela spent a few hours in the Mandara Spa, coming back invigorated and rejuvenated, she loved the time in the Salt Room and very much enjoyed La Therapie Oxy-Polish facial. All in all a great success. The Casino is a very important and key feature for us, we had a great time 'investing' dollars with NCL, met lots of our old casino friends, who always smile as they manage our investment! The set- up is almost identical to Epic, Rimarie Manzano, the Casino Host and Jules Boligao the Casino Fleet Host Manager were charming and attentive as always and made us both very welcome. It was terrific to see that Le Bistro has been brought back to prominence by NCL with a superb location on Deck 6 where the venue actually looks like a classic bistro in Paris. Therefore, Platinum Latitudes members will enjoy meals in fine surroundings as well, of course, as all the other guests on Breakaway. A few very happy hours were spent in Fat Cats Jazz Club and it was especially enjoyable as they brought Slam Allen and his Blues Band from Epic, a venue to spend many hours listening to superlative jazz. We strolled all around the Waterfront seeing all the outside elements of each restaurant. as well as a great outdoor seating area for Maltings. As I said, the Waterfront is a brilliant idea and I am sure that the glass windbreaks along the walkways will ensure dining comfort. The pool and sundecks are everything one comes to expect, the meccano style rope area and walk the plank looked fun, although I didn't have time to try any of it. The crazy golf has an amusing and challenging course recommended only for golfers with a 10 handicap or less! As always a basketball court is available (mainly for the crew if any of our other cruises are to go by)! The colourful and breath taking waterslides are going to give endless hours of fun for all and H2O looks like a party location for the outdoor evenings. I think I liked VIBE, although I preferred POSH on Epic. I am not sure the design and set-up has been completely thought through, but I have no doubt it will be a success and the cabanas are a great idea for the lucky few who secure them. Back to the restaurants, the Garden Cafe looked spacious and again a similar design to Epic, every food station accessible and what looked like a great choice of dining. The Uptown bar and grill near H2O also looked like an interesting venue to spend some quality eating and drinking time in. Cagneys and Moderno are set up exactly like Epic on each side of the stern of the ship with the centre tables overlooking the Manhattan Room below. It seems that Cagneys has a new menu and a number of people we spoke to commented very positively about the quality of the steaks. Savour and Taste, together with the now classic O'Sheehan's are all well located and complete the eating areas providing great choice and menus. The centre of the Ship on decks 6 through to 8 have the new Norwegian signature very large LED chandelier changing mood and colour as the day drifts by. This is the hub of bars, restaurants, shopping and entertainment and it is great place to people watch and while the time away. (Assuming you have any of course)! Again like Epic Teppanyaki is a big feature with numerous eating/cooking stations which generate a fun atmosphere, great food and entertainment. Whilst catching up with lots of old crew friends, we met up with Andy Stuart and Francis Riley and of course, the inimitable and world famous Klaus Lugmaier, all who were beaming from ear to ear about Breakaway and justifiably so, as she is a fantastic ship and will no doubt become NCL's number one very quickly. However, in closing, there is one point I must make, NCL designs and builds innovative ships, however, they are only steel, wood, glass etc. What makes NCL stand out for us, and ensures we come back time and time again, are the Crew, some of who we consider close friends and indeed, some we have known for over 15 years. NCL recruits, trains, retains and motivates the best crew sailing and to them Pamela and I say a very heartfelt THANK YOU. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I boarded the not quite finished Norwegian Epic in Rotterdam to spend ten nights aboard disembarking in New York. Due to over running construction our first three nights were spent in a Spa Suite that was beautiful, it was ... Read More
My wife and I boarded the not quite finished Norwegian Epic in Rotterdam to spend ten nights aboard disembarking in New York. Due to over running construction our first three nights were spent in a Spa Suite that was beautiful, it was carefully designed to make maximum use of space, with masses of storage, a comfortable circular bed with a corner Jacuzzi bath; an ideal suite for two with access to the fantastic Mandara Spa and Salon just seconds away. The Spa and fitness centre provided every conceivable exercise and treatment facility we could want, staffed with the usual professional and knowledgeable staff that we have come to expect from NCL. Touring the ship we were simply over awed with the options to eat, drink, party and relax, everything we needed was on decks five, six and seven with fabulous outdoor entertainment on decks fourteen and above. As well as the NCL classic restaurants there are the new dining options including O'Sheehan's which has a terrific vibe overlooking the two story screen which was a must for the soccer fans on this cruise. The Garden Cafe complex is light airy and spacious with so many food stations to meet any taste requirements. Hidden at the forward end of the Garden Cafe down the stairway is the beautiful La Cucina Italian Restaurant which served us fantastic pasta. The Bistro on deck five seems out of the way but once seated inside the ambience, as well as the new menu was superb, and the addition of a wine sommelier made the experience a delight. Dinner in the Moderno Restaurant is a new twist with the classic serving one would expect in a Churrascaria, this restaurant shares space with the ageless Cagney's and overlooks the Manhattan Room, make sure you are hungry when you go to Moderno, and remember to turn the card to red otherwise the food keeps coming and you can't say no. The Asian complex of Shanghai's, the Noodle Bar and an enormous Teppanyaki included new menus and the food quality and taste were outstanding, our suggestion eat in Shanghai's but make sure you order at least one noodle dish. All of the restaurants we experienced were first class. There are numerous indoor and deck side bars and I was delighted that NCL has put in a reasonable Humidor cigar lounge which is tucked away so was not full of cigarette smokers but a great place for a cigar, my suggestion here is look at the Sun's cigar area and bring some of that to the Epic. Important to us was the casino, and the Epic Casino excels, it is huge and spirals off in four directions from around the famous chandelier. With many tables, lots of slots and two decent poker tables, the setup works very well, and the dealers looked fantastic on Fedora and Flappers night which is way superior to Monte Carlo night. We loved the design of the casino, it is situated on a major thoroughfare and is surrounded by restaurants, so occasionally when playing tempting food smells would be noticed. The entertainment is a key feature on this beautiful ship, on our first night we experienced dinner in the Spiegel Tent, and then Blue Man in the Epic Theatre. For two hours the artists in Cirque Dreams and Dinner enthralled us, this is the finest two hours entertainment afloat, if you do nothing else when you cruise on Epic go to the Tent. My wife still talks about the guy in the bath tub doing the washing up, which was probably why we had to see the show again later in the week, me I just wished she could get changed as quickly as the hula hoop lady! It's non- stop, you actually don't notice the food but that is excellent. Blue Man is a show you either love or say "what was that about?" we loved it, a scaled down more interactive version of the Vegas show we'd seen some time ago and worth the line to get in. The Legends in Concert show was a blast, Tina, Madonna and Elvis were very good but the band and the five backing dancers/singers were just as good. The other venues we had a blast in were the Ice Bar where my non alcoholic strawberry drink actually froze in the ice glass after ten minutes, we did feel funny dressed in the silver ponchos and gloves waiting to go in as people walked past, well worth the experience and frost bite. Great jazz was playing in Fat Cats when we went in and then stayed for hours. Bliss Ultra Lounge is for people slightly younger than us, but it's a great experience with a very cool entrance later in the evening which caused confusion to some people. At the start of the fourth day as we were due to leave Southampton we were moved to our Owner's Suite in the new Courtyard Complex. We knew they had worked tirelessly to finish the area and our first impressions were WOW. We have always loved the Courtyards on the Jewel class ships but the EPIC Courtyard is an entirely different and sublime experience. As we entered the reception area the muted colours and decor exude class and comfort, in front of us through the glass doors is a massive Courtyard (compared to the jewel class) with ample space for all the suites, further in front is the steam rooms, treatment rooms etc then the gym above which wasn't finished, but NCL acknowledged this and as always looked after us. From reception we walked around into a sitting area with a bar which has fresh air from the slated glass alongside, then Klaus greeted us as the first passengers to enter the sublime Epic Club Restaurant which in our view has a better design, ambience and location than any other premier cruise line dining rooms we've experienced. The menus and food quality in the Epic Club are first class with masses of choice and great taste. At the rear of the restaurant is the Epic Club lounge which is just beautiful and the perfect place for a pre dinner drink, or for relaxation overlooking the pool deck, and as always a grand piano - what is it with NCL and grand pianos? Above the Courtyard we discovered even more fantastic space for sun worshippers, as well as Posh. All in all the Epic courtyard complex has the feel of a super deluxe ship within a fabulous ship, we could relax, be pampered and enjoy the luxury and solitude behind the "gold and black door" but then go into the big ship to play......a perfect vacation for us. Then finally the famous Klaus took us to our suite, and OMG it is just perfect for us, six weeks ago we were in the Garden Villa of the Gem and loved it as always but this suite is even better. There are a few small things we miss from the Villa but the design, colour scheme, location, views, bathroom, furnishings etc.etc. are just awesome. We entered the living/dining room which felt like stepping into a luxury suite, which of course it is, the enclosed solarium balcony with open windows led into a beautiful bedroom, all of this accommodation had floor to ceiling views across and to the side of the bow, and what views. I always maintain that the best place to wake up in the morning is an NCL ship, and our wake ups on the Epic with the drapes drawn back were stunning even with the Atlantic fogs and rain. My wife tells me the bathroom configuration met all her requirements she could sit in the tub and look out to the sea forward, me I loved the walk in shower that has a massive glass window to the side, I've stayed in hotels that have a smaller bathrooms than this shower, and finally more storage space than we could possibly utilise. The finish of the suite exceeded our expectations, and the technology rich ship provided all the toys I could want including interactive television that access downloadable movies, account information and even casino games. Also on board is a sophisticated photo gallery that has easy to use kiosks that avoid the time consuming search through endless photos before you found the ones you wanted. There's so much to do and experience on this ship, she is designed for everyone, and yes of course on her first sailings there are bound to be teething problems, but NCL acknowledged them and dealt with them appropriately. The staff on board had worked tirelessly whilst the ship was in France to bring her into service, and during our time on board they continued to do so. It was a shame that some passengers clearly expected everything to be perfect and we witnessed lots of rudeness from passengers to crew which we believed was totally uncalled for. Overall though I think the majority of our fellow passengers (who were not deliberately looking for things to fault) had a brilliant time. The crew should be proud of what they've achieved so far and it will only get better, as the Epic settles down. Special thanks from us go to the girls and Ricky who served us in the Epic Club they were just so much fun, our steward Benjamin who did a fantastic job, Karan and Anshuman the Concierge who provided first class professional service, nothing was too much trouble for these guys, our butlers Chris and Ravi who were always only a call away. Not forgetting the team in the casino, they make it such fun whether we win or loose. The roll call of stars could go on but special mention goes to Captain Vorren a charming and professional mariner who's company we very much enjoyed and last but not least the irrepressible Klaus Lugmaier the man on 8888 who makes it happen, where he gets his drive energy and staying power from is a mystery to us, nothing is ever too much bother and he is so approachable, we are sure it helps that he has Sean with him as well! Thank you crew of the Epic we have spent nine days aboard and have one to go before we dock in New York and our only regret is we have to disembark. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We have just got back from first sailing from Rotterdam. It took a long time to board as we found out later that there was a problem with ship and had to sail slower than scheduled and therefore was due to arrive at 5.30pm instead of 10am. ... Read More
We have just got back from first sailing from Rotterdam. It took a long time to board as we found out later that there was a problem with ship and had to sail slower than scheduled and therefore was due to arrive at 5.30pm instead of 10am. So there was a delay in boarding to give people a chance to decide not to sail if there travel arrangements would not allow. then the computers went down so after arriving at 10.30am we boarded eventually at 2.30pm! The ship is huge and in the most, beautiful.we had a balcony cabin on deck nine which was the only thing that we did not like about the ship. we did not like that there was no bathroom and although the shower and Toilet doors were not see through they were not soundproofed! also the sink in the main cabin was very small. The TV and phone were not working but I am sure these will be ironed out before the transatlantic sailing. The Blue Man group show was great& full so make sure you make reservations on line before you cruise. We also because of delayed arrival got to see the cast from the legends show perform in the main restaurant during lunch on the day into Southampton. In fact all the entertainment around the ship was very good and the staff very good too. If you like this new concept of cabins I am sure you will love the Epic, as for us I do not know if we will sail on her again as we did not which is a shame because we could not fault any of the rest of the experience we had Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Pre CruiseI absolutely love cruising and have been interested in it for many years. Went onboard my premiere cruise in September 2008 onboard the world's largest cruise ship Liberty of the Seas with Royal Caribbean which was a ... Read More
Pre CruiseI absolutely love cruising and have been interested in it for many years. Went onboard my premiere cruise in September 2008 onboard the world's largest cruise ship Liberty of the Seas with Royal Caribbean which was a spectacular 7 night Western Caribbean cruise roundtrip from Miami, Florida. I had planned a trip to England to visit close friends and explore a country I've always loved and been interested in and am interested in long term. Wanted a shorter cruise that allowed me to explore Europe and see other countries, decided on this fabulous 5 Night Scandinavian Mini Cruise roundtrip from Rotterdam. Have long been interested in seeing some of the Scandinavian countries. With 2 sea days & visiting Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark onboard Norwegian Jade. Done Inside stateroom in the past but with the single premium and not much difference in the fare between Inside, Outside & Balcony got a Balcony guarantee. Flew from Canada to London Gatwick , spent an enjoyable day in London area with my friend. The following morning went on the short 40 minute flight to Amsterdam. Embarkation Following my short flight to Amsterdam giant Schipol airport I am familiar with from a previous trip I exited into the arrivals hall and quickly found a representative holding a big "Norwegian Jade" sign. Curiously missed the rep standing right by the entrance and she went over to tell her friend with a laugh, she was a ways over. I had pre booked the NCL transfers (shuttles) for $50 each way for the 1 1/2 hours drive from the airport to the pier in Rotterdam north of Amsterdam. They told me which coach to go to and off I went just outside and found it, the driver and his assistant taking my luggage. The drive was very pleasant through the scenic Dutch countryside with its historic houses and its famed windmills and small towns dotting the landscape, would love to spend more time in The Netherlands in the future. We reached Rotterdam, a magnificent city with a meld of old and new and very friendly people. A smaller city but still large enough to feel quite busy.  We made our way across the well known Erasmurg Bridge, a modern cable bridge opened in 1996 by Queen Beatrix, spectacular in its own right! Turned into the port and gave my luggage to the friendly porters. A table with hosts did an initial check of my cruise documents and I headed in line for the airport style security. Then proceeded to the check in, quite smooth, had to check a few things with the cruise line reps as Rotterdam doesn't receive too many cruise ships so they have a volunteer force but they were friendly, helpful and would find out for you. Then took the welcome aboard photo, had my hands sanitized, I notice more with the H1N1 Swine Flu scare this cruise. The magnificent Norwegian Jade with her swirling blue colours towered above. I was extremely excited!  Checked in with security , there was an issue with my ID picture, very minor just had it retaken at the reception desk, met the nice German agent , see later on. I was all set!  Norwegian Jade Norwegian Jade has an interesting history in her short life. She was built in Papenburg, Germany at the Meyer Werft shipyard and made her debut in May 2006 named Pride of Hawaii in Hawaii as part of the NCL America brand and trio of ships sailing year round Hawaiian cruises from Honolulu. She did this until December 2007. After 1 1/2 years of being in Hawaii having the trio of large ships in Hawaii was too much for NCL along with other cruise lines going there and there were issues with the 90 % American crew who had to be on board. It was decided NCL would take Pride of Hawaii (now Jade) and Pride of Aloha (the former Norwegian Sky that debuted in 1999) and bring them away from Hawaii and back into the main fleet. Pride of Aloha returned to being named Norwegian Sky. Pride of Hawaii received her new name Norwegian Jade and went in for a refurbishment to do the renaming, her hull was painted in the swirling blues she has now in keeping with the fun tradition of all modern day NCL ships. A section of passenger staterooms were removed to make room for the lavish large new Jade Club Casino, a casino not being allowed with the Hawaiian laws and minor changes made to the ship. The Hawaiian decor of the ship, paintings and furnishings kept in place as NCL hopes someday the ship may return to Hawaiian waters. She sailed over to Europe with a new international crew bringing valuable experience to the ship and now sails year round European cruises mainly in the Mediterranean but also to other parts of Europe as my cruise was.  Norwegian Jade is 93,000 gross tons among the biggest ships today and is 965 feet long with 12 decks all along with up to 14 decks, approximately 15 land stories in height. She has 2,402 guests and 1, 111 crew.  She carries several firsts or unique features not often found on cruise ships including: - first tennis court at sea , one of 4 now with her sisters Norwegian Pearl, Gem & Jewel that also has soccer & volleyball - golf cage to practice your shot  - the giant 4,490 Garden Villas with vast amounts of space with a piano, several bedrooms and access to a private courtyard with pool & more - the amazing 15 dining options everything from Teppanyaki to main dining rooms to 24 hour comfort food  She has an amazing 15 dining options, 13 lounges and bars including three clustered in a unique grouping called Bar City, the Medusa lounge & nightclub fusion, three onboard shops, shore excursions desk by the reception, 2 storey atrium with a java coffee bar with specialty coffee, 24 hour fitness centre with special memorabilia you can see!, 2 swimming pools, one for all and one for adults, kids club with their own on deck dining area and splash pool, a teen centre & club with full programming, wrap around jogging track & promenade deck, full service spa & beauty salon with 25 treatment rooms, shop and thermal suites, card & games room, a quiet room, wedding chapel, video arcade, full theatre, casino with private gaming rooms, poolside gaming tables, ping pong & pool tables poolside, deck games and a business centre with meeting rooms. Many all day activities that are a departure from traditional cruising activities with destination lectures, nutrition and fitness sessions, trivia, deck activities, cooking demonstrations and group games such as love and marriage and much more. Yoga, pilates, spinning classes & wine and sushi tastings at charge. She has bright and vibrant colours and a funky decor throughout, some areas more subdued and not ever anything too much.  Stateroom My very first balcony stateroom which was absolute bliss! Had two excellent stateroom attendants who took great care of me, was sure to leave an extra tip for them. My deluxe oceanview with balcony BA that was upgraded on the guarantee stateroom to a Deck 10 BB. With a fairly spacious bathroom with the shower in one section, the very large sink with huge tap and storage and mirror in the centre and the toilet with its own sliding door off to the side with attatched hangers, electronic safe and mini bar. Don't use the minibars with all the food onboard. Then 2 very comfortable double beds that was set up when I arrived as requested for myself as one big Queen bed, which was so nice! A living room area with couch and coffee table with the room service menu & guidebook. A TV with 24 hour complimentary movies, about 15 channels and information channels along with the ships webcam over the bow and route maps from the bridge. Then the best feature the spacious private balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. I loved the space of the room and enjoyed the balcony so much, eating out there, going there in the morning and hearing the water as I went to bed. Seeing the ship come into port while still in my pyjamas! Several perks come with Balcony staterooms including priority dinner reservations for longer ahead I used and a pair of terrycloth robes to use during the cruise.  The are just over 1,200 staterooms onboard including Inside, Oceaview, Suites, Mini Suites & the larger Romance Suites.  The Inside & Outside with the balcony has but no living area or balcony and more condensed. The Suites with more space and bathtubs or jacuzzis in the stateroom. The giant Garden Villas and their smaller but luxurious counterparts Courtyard Villas and Owner Suites. A portion of the Courtyard Villas and the duet of Garden Villas have exclusive access to a sensational private courtyard with their own swimming pool, padded lounge chairs, hot tubs, breakfast buffet and much more. They have specialty coffee & cappacino makers in their rooms and many perks. I didn't have access on Norwegian Jade but at a cruise conference as a travel agent in April last month toured the spaces on sister Norwegian Pearl. Freestyle DiningNorwegian Jade has a wide array of dining options with an incredible 15 options onboard! This includes 7 dining options included and 8 specialty restaurants & options with cover charges. The number and international flair to the dining options is quite amazing. They had many dishes I hadn't seen before on a cruise that was fun to try being very interested in the culinary world myself. I especially enjoyed guacamole and tortilla chips at the buffet, scallop tartar in the dining room as well as trying foie gras for the first time at Le Bistro the French restaurant and the Jamaican jerk pork in the dining room another night were all dining highlights. NCL invented their signature Freestyle Dining, that is open dining where you "dine wherever, whenever & with whomever" for all guests for the entire cruise. I ate at the dining rooms, buffet and grill and especially enjoyed the more intimate Alizar. I dined on two ocassions which wasa good amount for me at the specialty restaurants - Teppenyaki and Le Bistro, the French restaurant. Traditional cruise dining has its place on Royal Caribbean on my first cruise in September 2008 I loved getting know the waiters and family we sat with every night. Crew get to know you on NCL but not to the same extent, it's different with the Freestyle. Garden Cafe Breakfast brings the indoor & outdoor buffet restaurants with a wide American hot and cold selection including eggs, bacon, toast, home fries and  a variety of cereals. More European and British offerings include fish, bangers, an international cheese selection and poridges. Unique to NCL are several action stations with chefs at the ready to create food fresh to order at wok stations. Breakfast includes omlettes with selections of toppings and cheese. An all day fruit selection features freshly cut fruit, fruit salads and several excotic options. Fresh bakery items are always available with large muffins, danishes and breads. A toast machine station has wait staff at the ready to assist you.  Lunch brings carving roasts to the action stations, a number of sandwiches, hot foods and more. Dinner has the tables set with linens and candles, I liked going in and having a late night desert or snack here in the dressed up atmosphere. Also the host of the magnificent chocoholic buffet on the final night, which was well laid out with exceptional chocolate sculptures, chocolate fountains, deserts, and my favourite candy apples.In the morning there are a number of fruit juices available from the beverage stations in addition to the always available choice of teas, coffee and hot chocolate. For a real treat there's also cappacino and espresso. Fresh squeezed fruit juices are available in the morning & there's a bar for alcoholic drinks at charge.  Great Outdoors  The Great Outdoors is an outdoor buffet that branches off from the Garden Cafe. It is a more intimate buffet area with its own selections and a spectacular view over the stern of the ship with the rolling wake behind.  Grand Pacific Dining Room-  The Grand Pacific Dining Room is larger main dining room with over 500 seats. It's the designated dress up dining spot onboard and for dinner you need to dress up and for breakfast & lunch smart casual is appropriate. It's a stunning space with dark rich colours, statues and artwork. A graceful golden staircase leads into the dining room at the main entrance. I enjoyed several meals here, the window tables while at sea with the sun setting was a special time! The Jamaican jerk pork for dinner was very tasty! NCL has excellent selections of tea, brewed well. This time which I wanted to this cruise I also tried the dining room at breakfast & lunch. Loved the lunch, the dining room was quite easy going and a relaxed atmosphere to have my pork pasta. The breakfast was quite rushed with slower service though I went on a port day and the host explained it can be hard with people wanting to get off the ship and be on time for the shore excursions. I think room service & the buffets are the better breakfast option. Though you can go wrong with eggs benedict to start your day!  Alizar Main Dining Room  Alizar is the more intimate main dining room with 300 seats and more enclaves of seating than the Grand Pacific. My favourite dining room and one of my favourite dining spots onboard. Alizar has a beautiful pop art and modern feel to it while still retaining formalities. It has a really special relaxed atmosphere, a nice level of lighting and cozy chairs and banquette seating. Love the colours and the vibe to it, a main dining room with an extra edge and atmosphere.  Blue Lagoon  Blue Lagoon is a 24 hour comfort food hotspot. Serving a menu of comfort food & classic dishes including shephards pie, macaroni & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, burgers and more. I had a great lunch here of fish and chips and chicken wings. Loved the chicken wings, the fish and chips were quite good. Enjoyed seeing chicken wings on a ship along with these other innovative dishes not often seen onboard cruise ships. The restaurant overlooks the main atrium. The Grill  Alongside the Waikiki Pool area a buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers & other grilled meats and salads. A casual poolside option. BBQs and food parties are also held here. Room Service The 24 hour room service I liked and did more times this cruise, enjoyed eating outside on my private balcony with the port & ocean views. Did the room service breakfast, you simply fill out a card and hang it on your door by 3:00am. You choose when you would like it delivered. This is the best option for a port day I did when we visited Denmark. Also had a hot pizza and movies night! Both came quite fast with friendly attendants. The only thing is the breakfast doesn't have hot food options such as eggs and hashbrowns that can be ordered I saw on other cruise lines. However they still have other solid options and eggs can be ordered all day on the main room service menu. Specialty RestaurantsAsian:  On Deck 7 midship surrounding the Bar City collection of bars and piano lounges in the smaller 2 storey atrium is a collection of Asian specialty restaurants laid out together. Speaking of bars, being 21 I am of age to drink onboard now and enjoyed several drinks. Really enjoyed the raspberry martini and the mimosa I had twice.  Teppenyaki - This intimate high action experience carries a $25 cover charge. There are several small horseshoe tables seating eight diners each around a large open grill where your personal Teppenyaki chef works his magic! They put on a dramatic display of culinary skill & acrobatics in a fun dinner show stir frying and creating gourmet Japanese cuisine in front of you. I greatly enjoyed my dining experience at Teppenyaki and highly reccomend it!  A series of dishes are given to you , I'll let you be surprised and great deserts! I had the Seafood Diablo I highly reccomend with a full lobster tail, scallops and clams done on the grill !! Jasmine Garden- This is the main Asian restaurant with Chinese and a variety of other Asian Cuisine and fusion food carries a $15 cover charge per person. Beautifully decorated off the smaller atrium with the Champagne bar below, many people seemed to be enjoying this restaurant. Sushi & Sake Bar The sushi and sake bar carries a $15 cover charge, sake is available at bar pricing. This at the entrance to the Asian speciality restaurant area has a long Asian themed bar with bright colours and cozy chairs. Here the pair of talented sushi chefs create a wide menu of sushi & sashimi with fruit sushi or green tea ice cream for desert. Shabu Shabu This traditional Japanese dining experience of cooking meats in a hot pot has a $15 cover charge and is hosted at the sushi & sake bar. Other Specialty Restaurants Le Bistro The original tried and true specialty restaurant of NCL going back to its earliest ships continues in high style with a $15 cover charge. There's a deluxe menu that carries an additional $10 cover charge.  It serves a high end gourmet French cuisine menu with wine pairings at bar pricing. I went here and really enjoyed the elegant classic atmosphere and the fine food, many extra special gourmet dishes here!  Having foie gras with a truffle sauce was wonderful ! Papas Italian KitchenServing selections of make your own pasta, Italian classics and other pasta, meat and casserole dishes with a $10 cover charge. Piniolo Tapas & Salsa With a menu of the favourite Spanish bites and small dishes of food- tapas as well as American Tex-Mex cuisine from Texas and Mexico with a $10 cover charge.  This restaurant wraps around the second floor over the main atrium across from Blue Lagoon. Cagneys Cagenys is a steakhouse tucked away on the upper decks serves the ultimate surf & turf cuisine with fine steak, meats and seafood with a $25 cover charge. A deluxe menu including angus beef and Alaskan crag legs carries an additional $10 cover charge. Crew & Fellow GuestsThe crew were very friendly and accomodating, especially nice to me as a single cruiser making sure I was enjoying myself. I think with the Freestyle Dining concept where the wait staff and hosts move about the many dining venues this gives them more variety than other cruise lines staff do and they seem very happy! I am interested in working on a cruise ship in the future and loved talking with them about ship life especially the front desk, shore excursions & cruise activity staff.  As this cruise was roundtrip from Rotterdam, Netherlands there were 1, 900 guests from The Netherlands and 300 guests from other countries. A different tone to the cruise than with mainly Americans a little quieter. The Dutch are gracious people and I enjoyed meeting them, they need only stand in lines a little better. 5 Night Scandinavian Mini Cruise Day 1- Depart Rotterdam Upon embarking I  enjoyed the signature surprise welcome of NCL !  A wonderful welcome from the crew. I was excited to get into my balcony stateroom and loved the space and the views from the balcony! Then headed over for my first meal onboard at the Garden Cafe and took some pictures!  Was excited to see all the different foods in the Garden Cafe and liked trying some of the European selections. The oregano chicken is to die for!  I then wandered about the ship taking in the stunning views of Rotterdam and the river which we were docked in.  The lifeboat drill I really like how NCL did it, not sure if this unique to the Jade with the cooler climates of parts of Europe where she sails or done across all their ships. However announcements came on to tell you the various restaurants, dining rooms & public rooms where your station was based on what it said in your lifejacket. At the right time you simply took your lifejacket from your stateroom down to in my case the Grand Pacific Dining Room. The crew demonstrated the lifejackets which you put on with them. The annoucements went over the safety drill & other safety information and we were set. I returned to my balcony to see the ship off and as Rotterdam doesn't have too many cruise ships dock each here, if you can depart from Rotterdam I reccomend it! They treat you royally, they had a huge send off for us. A live orchestra played on the balcony of the pier and many adults and children who made streamers and signs cheered and waved as we left. Then all along the river over the next few hours, we even had a soccer tournament watch us, they stopped taking pictures of and paying attention to the soccer and turned to the ship!  Guess a 15 storey 965 foot long luxury ship can do that! I then made my spa appointment for the teeth whitening I wanted done, the spa staff were great people. Made my reservation for Teppenyaki the next night at the reservations desk in the atrium which is open most of the day, a host will key your reservation into a laptop guaranteeing you a space for the time slot you choose. For Teppenyaki for sure reservations are a good idea, otherwise if you really want a specific spot in a peak hour it may be a good idea. Around 8:00pm one night I just walked into Le Bistro. The dining rooms you don't need reservations, just walk in , there may be a short wait. Had my first dinner, had the divine Jamaican jerk pork at the Grand Pacific main dining room with a window seat with perfect ocean views! I then explored other parts of the ship including the shops. A smaller jewelery & watch shop is in the atrium. Then at the stern on Deck 6, the main hive of activity the main shop area is located. To the left Columbian Emeralds, a high end jewelery and Swiss watch shop which I wondered about, how many buy $3000 necklaces. Then to the right the larger main Galleria Shop with a variety of souvenirs, clothing, good pricing on duty free alcohol and more.  Checked out the Internet cafe which is 75 cents a minute or prepaid time plans, there is a night I used it apparently once each cruise or more where they take off half your charge. If you used $14 of Internet time, it becomes $7. Look for this in the Freestyle Daily. Also have at charge newspaper delivery and printing. Greatly enjoyed a pair of amazing acrobatics & magicians from the Moscow Circus, put on an amazing show with fire tricks, juggling, spinning plates and more. The Artistic Director said with the short cruises they had entertainers on and off every day and explained how they take the time to research them. During the cruise on other nights also enjoyed the well known comedy of British Lenny Windsor, quite crude but funny mostly too and a fabulous magician! A Showdown show with the cast onboard was along the lines of American Idol and lots of fun and had excellent singing. Checked out the bridge viewing room, a special feature with maps of your cruise's route, ship memorbilia and certificates of Norwegian Jade. During the day large windows look down into the bridge and you can see the Captain and officers driving and monitoring the ship! Went to the lounge & late night club Medusa Lounge for some music with a great singer I saw her there all the time! Chocolates on my pillow finished the night each night!  Different flavours mixed it up!  Day 2- At SeaStarted the day off right with enjoying room service breakfast on time, even a little early. However the room service attendant calls you before he comes to make sure you are ready. I had put out the card before and had a breakfast with toast, delicious fruit plates a danish and hot chocolate. Enjoyed it on my balcony with the North Sea stretching out below me. I then went over to the reception desk in the atrium to meet Liu, a extremely nice and polished host for the behind the scenes tour. It is an extra at $55 per person but was well worth it, not sure of the charge  though I really wanted to do it. However it was an amazing experience and quickly became one of the highlights of my cruise , I am interested in working onboard a ship in the future and have always had a passion for cruise ships and cruising. Love learning about behind the scenes.  We met with the Hotel Director who gave an overview of what it means to run a cruise ship in the 21st century and about Norwegian Jade. We then headed into the crew areas, neat to see the lavish colours and fabrics of the passenger areas into the simple white and steel of the crew areas. We headed into the Laundry where we met both the Executive Housekeeper & Laundry Master. Both very nice men who explained the housekeeping and laundry runnings of the ship. Saw many machines including the machine they fold linens and sheets with, the giant washers and dryers holding over 200 pounds of laundry each cycle! The laundry attendants giving us demonstrations throughout the area. We then headed up into the Stardust main theatre for a tour with the Artistic Director in charge of the shows and entertainment onboard. Got a look at the soundboards, behind the scenes and headed into the backstage seeing the costumes, dressing rooms, set pieces, lighting and more! I absolutely loved this as a big theatre fan. Standing on the stage was a thrill. I got to know him and would say Hi throughout the cruise and at the shows, gave him a nice comment card where the crew member is rewarded at the end, for him and one of the great agents at the reception desk from Germany. We took a lunch break and were served orange juice, Mimosa cocktails (my favourite) and sandwiches in the Asian restaurant.  We then moved into the galleys (kitchens) onboard with a tour of the Main Galley serving the main dining rooms with the Executive Chef from my country of Canada near to where I live. He has a staff of 400 who work in the galleys and preperation areas and 265 waiters and servers throughout the ship, a huge department! We saw racks that hold 800 deserts enjoyed nightly in the dining rooms, the many special kitchen areas including the diet area for special requirements and more. Then met the Provisions Master deeper below in the ship and the Provisions Team who carry the 7000 items needed onboard and the masses of food including 6000 eggs and many 8 kg containers of ice cream to name a few things. We walked into fridges, freezers and storage areas to see where all is stored with the products from around the world. Everyone very friendly to us. We then met the Environmental Officer who ensures the ship is following all environmental procedures onboard and for waste management. We saw the waste management systems and met some of the Environmental Operators, as the shipboard garbage men are called. Operating on three 8 hour shifts they receive and process all waste and garbage appropriately from all areas of the ship.  Then the crowning highlight we met the Staff Captain after passing the many high security doors to the bridge!! Such an experience I will always remember, standing where they drive and monitor all the giant ship's operations, systems, safety equipment, doors, fire prevention systems and more. We saw the helm of the ship, met the watchmen and the First Officer along with the Staff Captain and the Captain himself can drive the ship. Saw the bridge wings where they pull into port and the many systems, what a wonder and a exceptional tour before we returned back to our side of the ship!  Had a rasberry martini, my first cruise drink I ordered! Delicious. Then the Artistic Director came across me and invited me to attend the rehearsal for that night's show , the cast warming up and doing their sound checks with the orchestra, a good experience.  Checked out other areas of the ship and hit the hot tubs, loved the pool area at night with soft music and the waterslide! Then headed to Teppenyaki (see above) for dinner, a memorable experience I reccomend! Extremely popular onboard. Then saw the Broadway style show all about an older time in the US and relationships, very well done. The theatre is well designed as a completely obstruction free theatre with only small supports for the balconies on either side of the stage. Finished the night with the beautiful library and casino I checked out. Love sea days!  Day 3- Oslo, NorwayFrom my balcony watched as the ship made her way into port in Oslo right alongside downtown passed the beautiful surroundings, Norway defintley has scenery! Had long been interested in Scandinavia and was excited to be here. Had breakfast at the Grand Pacific with great Dutch seat mates and enjoyed the eggs benedict. Was in a bit of a rush for my shore excursion but I had a lighter breakfast and the wait staff were quite good when I told them I had a tour to get to. Then met for my Nordic Traditions shore excursion to explore Norway! A great guide we had and we explored the Vigeland scultpure park with more than 300 intricately carved sculptures signifying our lives as humans on Earth. Very green and graceful. We then drove through the centre of Oslo and saw their brand new opera house they are very proud of where you can walk on the roof! We headed to the Kon Tiki museum to see the famed ship that crossed the Pacific made of reeds and its later modern day voyage in a replica! We also went to a Viking era museum with outdoor replicas pioneer village style and its art gallery to see authentic Norwegian artwork and furniture.  I then wandered the area surrounding the port saw the Noble Peace Prize Museum though was closed , wandered the harbour and the Akershus Castle, a spectacular historic fortress directly across the street from the pier. Enjoyed a traditional Norwegian Style hot dog with mustard, went shopping for their handmade wool clothing and more. Explored the downtown and its parks before returning to the ship. Enjoyed Norway, a quieter serene country with nice albeit a little more serious people. Enjoyed lunch at the Blue Lagoon (see above) for chicken wings as an appetizer and fish and chips, two good items to have onboard I thought!  Then refreshed at my room and got ready for my spa appointment. Headed over to the Ying and Yang Spa, the full service spa & beauty salon onboard. Muted colours and beautiful floors and most of all people there. Cruising out of Norway had this calm light blue shaded waters, perfect view from the spa! I had booked an appointment for the Go Smile teeth whitening. Got the discounted price of $179 plus the 18% service fee, and I gave a little extra tip. The regular price is $199, far less than the $600-700 on land! Filled out the questionaire regarding my teeth and waited in the serenity of the spa. My first spa experience onshore or sea!  The Canadian Assistant Spa Manager once she was ready let me know and led me into one of the pretty treatment rooms. Did the preperation and cotton with a mouthguard and then did the actual whitening with a small light and with the whitening material. Quite painless, sometimes felt something and she added more cotton. She was very nice and we had a great chat about cruising and the spa. I then thanked her and got a $20 thermal suite pass for the next sea day I had seen when I toured Norwegian Pearl and wanted to try. They put a sticker on the back your cruise card and you can come and go as much as you want that day or get a full cruise pass for $75. Enjoyed a great dinner at Alizar and then headed to the Monte Carlo night which didn't work out, see below. Headed to the 24 hour fitness centre for some treadmill time and cooled off with an iced towel they have there. The changerooms are spacious and include private showers and steamrooms. Fitness classes and seminars are offered here. At charge private training and nutrition planning with the fitness instructors is also available.  Day 4- Copenhagen, Denmark Had a big brunch at the Garden Cafe and then headed to my balcony as we pulled into Copenhagen, Denmark. Looked around the multicoloured buildings and the buzz of Copenhagen surrounding us, we were at the pier slightly away from the downtown but taxis & sightseeing buses were readily available. Saw Celebrity Century and Jewel of the Seas docked at the other pier nearby. Took the popular double decker sightseeing bus that were parked by the ship and went for a whiz through Copenhagen seeing the many palaces, fountains and areas of the central part of the city. Especially loved Denmark, such a vibrant and friendly country filled with energy and plans for the future. Refreshed back at the ship and left again to go on the Copenhagen Highlights & Ice Bar shore excursion. We had an amazing tour guide. We headed on a coach with her then while waiting for the bus she gave us excellent insight into Copenhagen and the country of Denmark as a whole.  The coach then headed off into the city, we took a stop at the famed Little Mermaid statue, a symbol the Danes like but also like others to recognize other places. Sleek and sexy she stands by the vibrant harbour area we discovered. Headed into central Copenhagen and went into Nyhavn, the fabulous high energy tourism and young people heart of Copenhagen. Lined with cafes, restaurants, clubs and bars along the canals of the city. We stopped to see the harbour area with the new opera house, concert hall and the under construction theatre, walked along the cobblestone walkways. Saw the intricate Amalienborg Gardens and the quarter of Amalienborg Palaces- one the Queen and the Price of the Kingdom of Denmark, one for their family, one for the Prince & his family soon to live in and one as a guest house!! Then the highlight we went to the Ice Hotel and entered the Absolut Ice Bar!! Kept a cool -20 degrees Celsius and completely carved of ice minus the steel floor for safety I and the other guests greatly enjoyed the bar!! We had our choice of brightly coloured vodka drinks served in glasses carved out of ice. Ice sculptures, bar stools and glowing celings and walls all ice was so special. Then continued into the canals and alleys and main hub and train station of Copenhagen during rush hour, I felt this excursion and the tour company did a sensational job and the excursion really gave quite an in depth look at Denmark along with my earlier double decker tour. Loved Denmark!!!  Then boarded and headed for dinner. Had been eyeing the menu of Le Bistro the French restaurant and walked right in with a one of a kind table by this large French painting. Had a fabulous gourmet dinner there. Had foie gras for the very first time, very smooth! Then had my favourite of French onion soup all done nicely wish a cheese crust followed by orange duck with truffle sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Great French decor in here, a peaceful restaurant, really enjoyed it there. Then headed to the giant observation lounge- Spinaker. Brightly coloured room with funky furniture abounds for the signature NCL White Hot Party! It was a great event with low lighting, the theatre performers doing a dance number. Glowing ice sculptures, funky decorations, crew with the special White Hot shirts on for sale and a big dance floor! It was lots of fun. As they say on the big screens "Ice Ice Baby" ! Also saw an amazing magician doing incredible tricks! I then unwound with room service movies & pizza. Something nice NCL does in the staterooms is having 24 hour complimentary movies, not pay per view like some cruise lines. Good new releases, excellent!  Day 5- At Sea Awoke to the dark waters of the North Sea and enjoyed breakfast at the Garden Cafe, got a perfectly cooked omlette from the chef at an action station and headed all the way aft to eat above the stern with the rolling wake far below! Then headed to the spa and checked in for the thermal suite. They scanned my cruise card and I showed them my sticker, gave me a terry cloth robe and led me to the Male Thermal Suite. To the left is the Male Thermal Suite, in between is the unisex area and to the right the Female Thermal Suite. You are given a locker key for your own locker for the duration. Each thermal suite has a multitude of amenities for that type of deep relaxation, serenity and quiet. There's a steamroom, sauna with ocean views, deluxe bathrooms with special spa products, special showers with either a warm tropical shower or an ice mist I liked. There are private showers and an ice cold plunge pool and hot tub filled to overflowing. A relaxation area overlooking the bow of the ship with floor to celing panoramic views forward. Then you can enter the unisex area with a grouping of luxurious heated tile thermal loungers! Tiled chairs that are curved to your body and heated. A hydrotherapy pool with lounge chairs plunged in the pool for the ultimate relaxation.  I continued the water theme and headed to the pool area, fun  quieter when in the cooler climates of Northern Europe but still a good spot. Tried out the twisting waterslide! Then headed for lunch of pork pasta and more at a window seat in Grand Pacific! Went for a sushi tasting comp for the small group of us that attended and sake tasting at the sushi bar, great to try the variety of sushi. Back in my stateroom enjoyed the balcony which I did many times through the cruise and got my laundry I had put in. The laundry was waiting all folded and in tissue in a basket. and a hanger. They also have an embarkation special with unlimited to fill the bag with laundry for one price.Then headed back to the thermal suite for another while to relax more. Headed to my favourite Alizar for a final dinner greeted by the hosts from India & China that now knew me. Enjoyed a mimosa again! Then headed to the Farewell show with a great show with all the crew and Liu again the host starting things off, will keep it a surprise but they show you how to farewell the Norwegian Way!  For the Freestyle Disembarkation, it is easy going. You can pick up the newsletter a condensed version from the usual Freestyle Daily newsletter with all the going ons onboard. You pick up by the reception desk one of quite a number of colour coded luggage tags. You choose the time you wish to embark. The time if you do the NCL transfers (shuttles) to the airport are suggested. I took the appropriate ones attatched them to my luggage and needed to have the checked luggage out in the hallway by 10:00pm.  Day 6- Return to Rotterdam & Disembarkation I awoke to us arriving back into Rotterdam, went on the balcony for a bit! Looked over the special final day Freestyle Daily. They had several drinks on offer from the bar, the swimming pools & photo gallery open as the lounges and atrium area. The buffet restaurants were open where I had breakfast and Mamas Italian Restaurant open as I found out it was daily for additional seating, got to see what the restaurant looked like. A cozy Italian countryside feel with big wooden tables, Italian paintings and cookware. I did as the newsletter suggested and relaxed on a deck chair for a while, one lady walked by and smiled how relaxed I looked, why not? As it got closer to the time I moved to the atrium until my colour was called. Made my way down to the promenade deck, the Hotel Director and our wonderful British Cruise Director Karen Maybury bid farewell as we scanned the card with security and cleared customs. The Dutch woman remembered me from check in said hello. Then walked outside and quickly found the coach for the NCL transfer back to the Amsterdam airport for my flight back to London, England for several final days.   Comments I did have an amazing time but there is always room for improvement. One thing I noticed is NCL is more promotional of their onboard products than other cruise lines which can be a bit much at times for people that have already paid good money for their cruise. I know onboard amenities are important for the cruise line but I feel NCL should tone things down a little more in line with other cruise lines. Being in the travel business I am familiar with it and still know their cruise fare is more important and 3/4. The main part of the ship in the area of atrium and in various parts of the ships there are display cases which are promoting the various extra services and products onboard including the specialty restaurants, spa services and more. This is okay but the number of display cases seemed to be a bit much. Having toured Norwegian Pearl last month at a cruise conference I felt the same about the display cases onboard her. Also one night in the theatre just prior to the show the cruise staff were promoting a $25 lottery ticket & pull tab package, cruise staff were in the audience, I would say I saw maybe 2-3 people go in on it of the 1000 + guests in the theatre. There are more announcements than I'vse seen before that granted mention the other events onboard but always mention extra services.  With regards to dining NCL does have more than the norm of 2-3 specialty restaurants with 8 specialty options onboard. Still an option and I loved the variety and creativity and the dining rooms and buffets remain in good stead. However most often you would be offered sparkling or bottled water for $4.50 at the start of your meal, people know they can get alcohol at charge but having to say you want regular water for something so simple seems silly all the time. I prefered on Royal Caribbean where you knew you could get bottled water but they just automatically gave you ice water. Some people would get confused that the waters they were offering were at charge vs regular ice water.   The Monte Carlo night in the future I wouldn't attend, it also was all about promotions at the same time promoting the casino where it was held, not a true party or what I would say is a cruise experience. I left after a few minutes. On my Royal Caribbean cruise they had towel animals every night and turn down service which was wonderful. NCL only did the towel animal one night  which was fun but included a flyer about a towel animal book to buy and would lay expensive Columbian Emeralds jewelery flyers on the bed at turn down sometimes. These perks of cruising such as towel animals, turn down & seeing a show people should just enjoy without promotions. People understand cruising isn't all inclusive and there are extras to choose from onboard in addition to the cruise fare but they also don't want promotion to be overdone. NCL still has all the other services other cruise lines do and can promote like they do but should take it down a notch I feel. Their guests have already paid their cruise fare and flights or transportation to get there. My onboard account in the end was essentially the same as Royal Caribbean even with the extra promotion. People understand cruising isn't completely all inclusive and there are extras to choose from onboard in addition to the cruise fare but they also don't want promotion to be overdone. In travel courses we learn cruising is approximately 80% inclusive.  Conclusions  I had an amazing time onboard Norwegian Jade in Scandinavia and greatly enjoyed discovering a new cruise line and part of the world with them. The 5 nights was a good duration to fit into my other travel plans in Europe, not too short but still a good duration to also allow time for my other plans. When the cruise is the only part of the trip longer cruises for sure are wonderful but when doing other plans 5 nights I learned is a perfect fit I would do again. Some guests added nights in Amsterdam or other European cities or continued with the following 3 night cruise to with 1 sea day and visiting Le Havre (Paris) & the Channel Islands ending in Southampton, England for a 8 night cruise. 5 nights is long enough to enjoy and explore all the ship has to offer and with 2 sea days & 2 ports was a great fit. My comments section denotes some improvements that I feel would make it even better.  Norwegian Cruise Line and its trademark Freestyle Cruising has a special style. Norwegian Jade is a well run ship with great crew & staff and atmosphere happening with many creative activities and dining options onboard. It was fun trying a balcony stateroom this time, I enjoyed the added space and having a beautiful balcony to see the ship come into ports & the ocean views.  Seeing oil rigs glowing in the night in the North Sea , the first time I've ever seen another type of floating city at sea of another variety was exciting. Being my first cruise as a single was wonderful, you meet people throughout your cruise but also are able to enjoy time and relaxation on your own which I appreciated. The crew & staff were good to see how you were doing and making sure you were having a great time. I would cruise single again, no problem and am interested in NCL now. I absolutely love cruising and its my favourite form of travel, its an exceptional experience with people from across the world on this sensational floating palace.Thank you NCL & Norwegian Jade!! Best wishes.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This was to be my first time on a new NCL Freestyle cruising ship. I didn't know what to expect and wondered if it would suit me as I have been used to the more traditional cruise vacation. I arrived at the Port of Rotterdam at 1230 ... Read More
This was to be my first time on a new NCL Freestyle cruising ship. I didn't know what to expect and wondered if it would suit me as I have been used to the more traditional cruise vacation. I arrived at the Port of Rotterdam at 1230 midday and was given a yellow card with a number 25 on it. I was told to take a seat in the waiting area until my number was called. I was only waiting for 15 minutes and then proceeded to the check in counter. The process was quick and efficient by friendly NCL staff. Rotterdam Terminal is not the best and needs a face lift. As I boarded you couldn't help but admire the Gem. As you enter the ship you are greeted by rich colors and smiling staff. I proceeded to my stateroom which was to be a Balcony BC grade on deck 9. Cabin number 9168 which is at the back of the ship. I opened the door and right away was more than happy with the look and size. The most impressive thing that stood out to me were the bathrooms. It is the first time that I have seen the toilet with a sliding glass door to separate it from the rest of the bathroom. A great idea. The showers are hot and powerful which is what you would expect from Grohe!! These bathrooms are standard even in the lower categories and this puts NCL ahead in my opinion. All plug sockets are American 2 pin so if your from the UK/Europe you will need adapters. All staterooms have Flatscreen HDTV with a good selection of TV channels although I would have liked to have seen Sky News or BBC World available and not just Fox News !! The air conditioning system is good and has a 'quick cool' button if you want instant temperature reduction. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers are available and a easy to use safe. The beds were very comfortable with good pillows that provide good support. I decided to then go to the top of the ship and work my way down. I wanted to familiarize myself with the facilities on offer. Deck 14 and 15 had plenty of sun deck space with nice new loungers. Also the rock climbing wall is here. Then down to deck 13 for the Spinnaker lounge, the decor is quite eye opening to put it mildly but is a really nice place to chill by day and socialize by night. Cagneys Steak house is a must and did not disappoint. The meal I had there was amazing and the food exceeded all expectations. Deck 12 houses the Spa and it really is a tranquil place to come to at least a few times during your cruise. The hydro pool is very inviting and the hot ceramic loungers are most welcoming. The sauna I saw in the mens changing rooms was really nice and a good size. It looks out to sea and was the ideal temperature. The spa has all the normal facilities with Elemis treatments etc... The Library was well stocked and a nice place to come for peace and quiet. Next door is the card room very similar to other cruise lines. The Tahitian Pool is really nice and the hot tubs are a good place to spend a few hours to wind down and relax the muscles. The swimming pool is heated to a comfortable temperature. The water slide is fun and I have to admit I tried it Once! The loungers have really soft mattresses and look really well. On either side of the ship in the pool area they have these double bed like chairs where you can relax and even take a siesta. I thought they were a brilliant idea. The grill served hot dogs hamburgers and salads which were of a good standard and fresh. The Garden cafe was really nice and the amount of choice was impressive. I had the best Indian lunch there in a long time. There was always a wide choice of Chicken,Beef,Pork,Fish dishes with soups,salads,desserts and the Pecan Ice cream is a must. On a sunny day take your food to the back of the Garden Cafe 'The Great Outdoors' where you can sit outside which was really nice. All of the restaurants are impressive in design. I managed to eat in the Grand Pacific dining room,Cagneys Steak house and Lotus Garden. Grand Pacific is your traditional cruise ship main dining experience and the food was of a high standard and service was also good. Cagneys as stated above was amazing. Lotus Garden was a real gourmet experience and the Chinese dishes were all presented in a unique way. You will know what I mean when you dine there. The choice was huge and it was hard to decide what dish to go for as they all looked so good. I went for the Chicken Satays with peanut sauce for starter then the beef Szechuan strips with chicken fried rice. It was perfect and service was second to none. On this particular cruise the restaurants , especially Cagneys and Orchid got really busy between 8pm and 9pm. Best to make reservations. The Teppanyaki looked very impressive but I didn't have enough time to try it although I would love to in future. Down to Deck 8 where the Blue Lagoon is housed and offers 24 hour dining. I went one night at 11pm and decided to try the Singapore Fried rice with chicken,shrimp and pork. It was simply delicious and makes a great snack at anytime. There was also fish and chips in a basket which I thought was a great idea. The bowling alley and nightclub are impressive. The nightclub has private VIP areas with four poster beds and other such novelties. The DJ was very good and knew how to get a crowd on the dance floor. The show on both nights was 'Worldbeat' which was a mix of Greek,Irish, American and Japanese music fused into one 45 minute presentation. It was very professional and for someone that doesn't really go to alot of shows , I went to the same show on both nights so that says it all. The Java Cafe and the crystal Atrium are really nice meeting places. This area houses the reception,shore excursion desk,internet cafe and cashier. The Java Cafe does a mean cappuccino and is well worth a visit. I was lucky enough to see most types of cabins with the highlight being the Courtyard Villas. As you enter you just go 'WOW'. It is pure luxury and offers the ultimate 5 star cruise vacation experience. The facilities on offer are mind blowing and if your budget can stretch to it then why not. They are like apartments, in fact they are bigger than some apartments I have seen!! So what's my impression?? Well before I got on board I was wondering if the vibrant colors and 'different' furnishings would be to my taste and would I find it all a bit too much. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised because NCL have got it right, they know what they are doing. It really does work and creates the perfect vacation environment. Would I go on NCL again ?? Yes I really have to say I'm seriously thinking about booking the Gem for my next vacation. The FreeStyle experience has changed my opinion of what I want from my cruise vacation and has opened up a whole new world to me. I love the idea of dine when you want with whom you want and being able to choose whether to wear a suit or just go smart casual. For all of you lucky people booked on Gem prepare to be amazed!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We did use the Gem one nighter from Rotterdam - Dover just to see the new ship and compare it to the pearl, which we did use in february for 9 nights . Transfer to Port of Rotterdam is very easy .. Just fly into Amsterdam and use the train ... Read More
We did use the Gem one nighter from Rotterdam - Dover just to see the new ship and compare it to the pearl, which we did use in february for 9 nights . Transfer to Port of Rotterdam is very easy .. Just fly into Amsterdam and use the train .. runs every 20 minutes and then it is a short ride by metro. As we did leave the station , the Gem was right in front of us .. only a 2 minutes walk. the Cruise terminal is a little bit older but we did check in in the first group at 11.30 am and were on the ship within 2 minutes. The cabins and layout is a 100% copy of the pearl, which is a good thing .. we booked an inside at Deck 9 which was just fine for the few hours of sleep we wanted to catch . The overall colors on board have been toned down just a little bit compared to the pearl , so it looks very sparkling and animating . It was actually the 2nd night they were running the boat for passengers and we were highly impressed with the service and stuff on board. Everything was running smoothly , bar service, casino , restaurants .. We did choose the Garden Cafe for an early lunch and the food was outstanding and presented very nicely ... We did like the indian dishes and the soup varieties best .... but naturally there were all kinds of salads, burgers, roasts ... pizza/pasta station available .. In the evening we went to Magenta and really liked the atmosphere .. a little bit more light and colors than in the sister restaurant Indigo at the pearl made the difference. The service was immaculate ... food was well prepared, my lamb rack was melting in the mouth .. We were amazed how well everything was working together .. if you did not know you would think this crew was running the boat for at least a couple of months ... not much to improve .. We booked our transfer from Dover to London by bus in advance with NCL and everything worked pretty well .. it is a 3 hours drive so be prepared .. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
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