Cruisers are spoiled for choice on Norwegian Jade, with cabins ranging from entry-level insides to $20,000-a-week Garden Villas that seem more like something you'd find at a five-star resort than on a mainstream mega-ship. Sixty percent of the 1,080 standard cabins are outsides, and of those, 54 percent have balconies. Best of all, for families, interconnecting cabins are available in a range of categories from standard insides to suites. And it's not just apples to apples: Different grades of cabins can be interconnected -- balcony to suite or suite to penthouse, for example -- to create two- to five-bedroom combos for small or large clans.
All cabins have a richer feel due to cherry wood finishes, and they boast mini-fridges (you can have it customized or emptied -- $2.95 for a soda, $9.50 for a small bottle of wine), code-operated safes and in-cabin coffee facilities. Staterooms have also been updated with new flat-screen TVs, artwork, furniture, bedding and carpeting in a modern color scheme that features cream, gray and teal. Reading lamps now include USB outlets for bedside cell phone charging, which we thought was a great touch.
TV programming includes a selection of movies and TV shows, plus a music channel, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC Worldwide, FOX News and ship-related channels that show location, general information and the view from a bridge cam.
On the downside, standard cabins on Norwegian Jade are smaller than the industry average. On our sailing, we found ourselves scrounging for enough space to store clothes for two people in our balcony cabin, which had the capacity to sleep four. Drawer space is limited, and we had to ask our room steward to remove some things (coffee maker, tray of glasses, etc.) in order to use some of the shelves. Closets are tiny, with a bar for hanging clothes. We ran out of hangers and asked our room steward for more, which he happily provided. Standard closets each have a large top shelf (overtaken by life jacket storage) and one small shelf, which folds down from the wall and, unfortunately, cuts off about half of the available space for hanging clothes.
We also were sad that there wasn't a real desk/vanity; instead, there was a mirror and a small shelf built into the wall next to the closet at an odd angle. There was also a small ottoman that served as both a stool and storage.
Interior: Standard inside cabins (143 square feet) are small, but they're functional, with a sitting area, two twin beds that convert to a queen, and partitioned bathrooms with sliding-door shower stalls on one side, a separate toilet compartment on the other and a central sink area. All bathrooms feature in-shower wall-mounted dispensers for shower gel and a shampoo/conditioner combo. Passenger consensus seems to be that water pressure throughout the ship is fantastic. (Personally, we think it's the best we've ever experienced -- at sea or on land.)
Oceanview: Ocean-view cabins (161 square feet) are set up almost identically to the inside cabins but with either a picture window or a porthole for sea views.
Balcony: Balcony cabins are slightly roomier (167 square feet, with a 38-square-foot balcony) but with the same general layout as insides and ocean-views, but there are also pullout sofas for sleeping one or two extra passengers. Starting at this level, Norwegian adds small touches like bathrobes, slippers and Bulgari toiletries. Balconies each include two metal and mesh upright chairs and a small table for drinks.
Mini-suite: Mini-suites are larger still (231 square feet, with a 54-square-foot balcony), and each includes a full-sized pullout sofa and a small bathtub.
Suite: Those looking to splurge should consider booking one of the 48 suites, which include pillow-top mattresses and down comforters. Suite passengers receive a free bottle of Champagne, evening canapes, private breakfast in Moderno Churrascaria and lunch at Cagney's Steakhouse. Balconies in these cabins feature wicker sun loungers and tables.
The four 375-square-foot Romance Suites each feature a balcony, full tub and shower, and living and dining areas. The 24 341-square-foot Penthouse Suites each provide a living area, balcony, dining area, separate bedroom with queen-sized bed, and bath and separate shower with massaging heads. Most also have a "spare" bedroom (slightly bigger than a big closet and outfitted with two twin beds -- great for kids). The living and dining areas are equipped with a mini-fridge (stocked with complimentary water and soda). There are three flat-screen TVs -- one in the living area, one in the main bedroom and one above the tub; the first two have CD/DVD players.
The exclusive 14th deck is where you'll find the 10 440- to 572-square-foot Courtyard Villas that are part of Norwegian's The Haven "ship within a ship" enclave -- a concept introduced on sister ship Norwegian Jewel. They are essentially larger versions of the Penthouse Suites (save for the fabulous tub set against a window with a bird's-eye view) with 60-square-foot balconies, but what's extra special is that they surround a private courtyard shared by all Courtyard Villa, Owner's Suites and Garden Villa passengers. The space is gorgeous, with a sleek but small pool, a hot tub, Balinese beds, sun loungers and tables and chairs at which passengers can enjoy a daily spread of fruit and other small bites. It's all covered by a retractable roof. One deck up is an exclusive sun deck with sun loungers and four cabanas with Balinese beds. Included in the mix are 572-square-foot (85-square-foot balconies) Family Villas, which add another bedroom and accommodate five.
The only categories above Courtyard Villas are the five 791- to 824-square-foot (151- to 248-square-foot balconies) Owner's Suites on Decks 9 and 10 and the two 4,719-square-foot (2,142-square-foot balconies) Garden Villas on Deck 14; cruisers booked in these cabins are also granted access to the courtyard. The Owner's Suites offer king beds, Bose entertainment centers, a whirlpool tub and walk-in closets.
But the kings of all cabins are the Garden Villas, each with a private roof terrace for open-air dining, hot tubbing and sunning. These complexes each include three separate bedrooms -- one with a whirlpool tub -- a baby grand piano, a bar, a dining room and a living room with Bose accouterments.
All suite passengers (including the Penthouse and Romance suites) also have a concierge and butler at their disposal to arrange restaurant reservations, expedite room service orders, stock mini-fridges, etc. Elemis products in the bathrooms are replenished daily. The in-cabin coffee makers are also upgraded to fancy espresso and cappuccino machines, and balcony furniture improves from the plastic found elsewhere to teak.
The ship offers 27 accessible cabins in a variety of categories for hearing or sight-impaired and wheelchair-bound passengers.