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NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby grannyM » 17 Oct 2011 16:08

NORWEGIAN JADE - 24th September - 8th October 2011.

We booked this cruise primarily for the itinerary. Two 7day back-2-back cruises. Venice, Dubrovnik, Piraeus, Izmir, Split, Venice, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Katakolon, Venice.

This was our first cruise with Norwegian and a first fly cruise.

The Jet2 flight from Edinburgh to Venice took about 2hrs 45mins and all went very smoothly until we got to Venice. The coach for transfer to the ship was not at the terminal and we had to wait about an hour in the bus park before it arrived.

Once we reached the cruise terminal we didn’t have long to wait. The whole check-in process was very quick and we were onboard almost immediately. Because we had been on the go since 4am we were really weary and in need of a cool drink and something to eat. We didn’t take time to look around the ship but went immediately to the Great Outdoors bar beside the Garden Café buffet which had been recommended by Jocap.
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The weather was so brilliant for the whole 2 weeks that this became our favourite place both day and night.

Once settled with our drinks we began to unwind. Lunch was available in the Garden buffet and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After finding our stateoom we really could have been doing with a rest but had to attend the muster drill and soon after that it was Sailaway. Everyone tells you how wonderful this is from Venice but really you just can’t imagine until you’ve done it just how spectacular it is. It was perfect weather for it.
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We did of course do it again the middle Saturday of the back-to-back cruise but the first time was just awesome. The music for the Sailaway party from one of the resident bands, Ocean Vibe, was very good.

First impression of Jade was that she was a well laid out and organised ship. Everyone was very helpful and welcoming. Our stateroom was 11532 midships and although it was a mini-suite was no bigger than a balcony stateroom on RCI. The balcony was of similar size too.
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I was struck by how clean everything seemed and then remembered that Jade had been refurbished earlier this year. It was obvious in the fittings and especially the bathroom and toilet which looked brand new. This was not a spacious bathroom and the toilet is separated from the bath/shower and wash basin area by a sliding glass door making the bath and wash basin area feel even smaller. The shower was over the bath and an addition of a frame for the sliding glass shower panels made it rather awkward to get in and out of. The three glass panels did a good job of keeping the shower from flooding the floor.
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A bit of a tight squeeze between the bath and the separate toilet.

The only flat surface used as desk/dressing table was a bit cramped because it contained the coffee maker, the hairdryer and all the electric sockets for these and the television. There was only 1 American and 1 European socket for personal use. The hairdryer was excellent as were the mirrors and lighting round them but there really was not enough room here for all you needed to do.Image

While I’m pointing out the negatives the absence of any drawer space at the bedside was greatly missed. On one side there was a small table which held the phone with a shelf underneath for books etc but on the other side was a tiny little shelf that held no more that a book. Not really very convenient for keeping personal items tidied away.Image
Apart from these small grievances overall the stateroom had great hanging and loads of drawer space for two people. Suitcases went easily under the bed and the bed itself was of the usual good quality you find on cruise ships. Of course the obligatory 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and pillowcases are always a treat.

I am editing this review as a comment by JC on another topic about 'overhang' on balconies has reminded me that a section of deck 11 does have an overhang from the sun deck above. It didn't bother us as far as we do not sun bathe, but there was quite a lot of noise of sun-beds being dragged to be put out in the morning and again when they were being stacked in the evening. If you are a sun worshipper you should take note of which section of deck 11 these staterooms do have 'overhang' from above when booking.
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There is an incredible choice of different restaurants and bars on Jade. Freestyle cruising means that NCL do not have set dining times. The 2 main dining rooms, The Grand Pacific, and the smaller Alizar are both waiter service for dinner. The Grand Pacific is also were you would have served breakfast and lunch. There were no shortage of tables for two and although they could be very busy after the shows and you may have to use a pager we were lucky to get into both with no waiting any time we tried. It is expected that you adhere to the dress code for both. The Garden buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the choice of food is very good. Only one criticism and that is that the food is sometimes not as hot as it could be, however since we sampled nearly everything over 2 weeks on board we really had no complaints about the quality in the buffet. The mushroom soup and the excellent curry dishes which were available every day were particular favourites. When the buffet is closed between main meal times there is a smaller buffet available at The Great Outdoors which many people preferred for a sandwich or snack to eat on the outside deck. You could also get hot dishes, especially for breakfast if the buffet had finished serving. This area has two sides and sometimes only one side was open which became quite crowded. Lots of tables in both the buffet and the outside area which were continually being cleared and cleaned by the staff. If there was a shortage of tables at the breakfast time rush you could take your food into the Italian restaurant nearby, which we mainly did as it was cool, quiet and calm. If you wanted an early breakfast this was available from 5.30am at Topsiders bar and grill beside the pool. Food is also available in The Blue Lagoon restaurant 24 hours. We used it a couple of times in the evening and it was ok for a burger or similar American type fast food.

There is a selection of speciality restaurants, Jasmine Garden with different choices of Thai/Asian/Teppanaki and Sushi, French Bistro, Carnegy’s Steakhouse, Papa’s Italian, Paniola Tapas and Salsa, with varying additional supplements of between $10-$25. The only one that we tried was the Chinese section in Jasmine, at a supplement of $15 each and whilst the presentation and service were top notch we really didn’t rate the food as being any better than that available in the buffet. I had read Malcolm Oliver’s review of the speciality restaurants on Jade and I have to agree with him about this one.

Here I would like to mention the Executive Chef, Denton Laing who was very high profile around all the different food service areas of the ship, both during the day and in the evening. One time when we were speaking to him we remarked that he seemed to pop up everywhere and he replied that he felt it essential, to make sure standards were as high as they should be. He has been with Norwegian now for a number of years but was previously with Celebrity. A very nice man and always happy to chat with a cheery smile and wicked laugh. When we told him we had left the Eurodam without gaining any weight he promised that would not be the case on Jade and he was spot on. Also another person much in evidence was The Executive Restaurant Manager, I’m not sure of his name, but it is obvious that those in charge of food take much pride in their jobs. (I feel it is important that I should make it clear that the food on Eurodam was excellent in both quality and flavour and, as I said in my Eurodam review, the best we've had on any cruise ship in this respect. However, the Anytime dining was very badly organised and the queuing system a disaster. Apart from booking a speciality restaurant, this left the buffet as your only choice, which had only one service counter for dinner, compared to lunch, and that closed at 9pm. This was where I feel Jade compared more favourably).

The cleaning regime on Jade is noticeably thorough and it was also reassuring to see that there was always a member of staff with hand sprays outside the buffet and the entrance to every other food area. No choice, no self-administering, they did it and made sure no one passed without getting their hands sprayed. They had a nice little phrase, ‘washy, washy, happy, happy’ they all said in a light hearted manner. You could see that most people enjoyed this bit of banter and there didn‘t seem to be the same number trying to slip past as we‘ve seen on other ships. When coming back onboard at the ports there was the same insistence for spraying administered by a member of staff. It is good to see that Norwegian Cruise Line is enforcing this essential cleansing. Apart from these there were self-service hand gel dispensers outside the casino, the shops and some of the lounges although these were not used by everyone.

The public rooms and lounges on Jade are all very comfortable with the Aloha bar in the Atrium very popular all day but especially in the evenings when there was entertainment. I would say that this tended to be for an older audience and usually RJ Red, who played the same set every time he was on. Mostly John Denver songs it seemed to me. Other times it would be the classical guitarist. The small Medusa Lounge was also used as the Disco, which seemed a little strange as it was open to the corridor and didn’t really seem much like a disco. There are 3 'private' rooms to the side of this lounge which can be used by anyone wanting to either listen to or practice a musical instrument. The Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13 was were most of the live band entertainment took place. A great size with loads of seating and a nice quiet spot with a great view during the day. As on most ships, the shows were mostly on twice nightly. It’s not usually something we would do every night but the quality of what was on offer from both the resident singers and dancers and guest performers was so good that we went more than we normally do,. We saw the excellent Celebration Beatles in the theatre and also they did a great spot for over an hour at the Sailaway party from Split, at the end of the first cruise, which was fantastic. Image
The Celebration Beatles

Also in the threatre we liked the Elements show which again was probably something we would not have bothered about but had been told by others that it was splendid, and it was. Another good show was ‘Shout’ performed by the resident girl singers and dancers. The shows and the other musicians, Ocean Vibe, Champagne Duo, Guy and Doll, the Jade orchestra as well as the guitarists and the piano player all made for a good variety in the many bars and lounges which I’m sure would suit all ages. The Cruise Director, Jill Tasker, and her staff do a great job in providing this level of quality entertainment.

I have said a lot about the food and entertainment on Jade because, apart from the crew, it is probably the two areas of the cruise which impressed us most and certainly compares favourably with any other cruise line we’ve sailed with.

We also felt that we had never seen such a happy, cheerful crew. In the main everyone was polite, as you would expect, and some were extra helpful, but it was more than that. We spoke to several of the young people working the bars and buffet and like the stateroom attendants they work long hours and with little time off but there did seem to be a genuine feeling that Norwegian was a good cruise line to work for.
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Jose and Antonia bar waiters in The Great Outdoors.
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Marilyn bar waitress and Sam, bar tender in The Great Outdoors.


To sum up. Our impression of Jade and the crew is of an extremely well run ship with a well trained crew. Indeed we were so impressed that we took advantage of a Cruise Rewards offer to pay a deposit of $250 for another cruise, up to 4 rewards for cruises on any of their ships. You don't have to choose until you're ready to book but you immediately received $100 credit into your ship account for each reward you purchase. You have 4 years to book any NCL cruise of more than 6 days when the full $250 will be used as your deposit. We thought it a very good incentive to sail with them again although we had already decided to do that.

As I have concentrated on the ship I will hopefully do another review about our itinerary and the ports later. Unfortunately, apart from our stateroom, I have no photos of the indoor areas of the ship or of our turn-around day in Venice as I managed to delete a whole SD memory card while still in my camera. No doubt some will think this a blessing considering the quality of my other photos but I can only say, that the ones that got deleted were the best. ;)
Marie
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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby jocap » 17 Oct 2011 19:31

Absolutely great, Marie- I've just lived it with you!
When you say that the crew seem happy on NCL, there was something 2 or 3 years ago about "Freedom" applying to the crew as well, and that NCL were trying to keep them happy. When we were in Izmar, our room steward was really excited, because all the stewards were having a trip to the Virgin Mary's House, laid on by the company. As most of the Filipino staff were Catholic, this was an enormous treat for them, and they took loads of photos to send back home. That's the nice sort of little treat which we heard about on Jade.
Thanks for the review. ;)
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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby Mungo » 17 Oct 2011 21:27

Thanks Marie! :D Sounds super! ;)
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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby Wansbrough » 17 Oct 2011 21:49

What a fab read M. :D
Sounds like something we would enjoy. A happy crew makes an enormous difference to the feel of a ship too. Its a real shame about your photos but you will know what not to do next time......
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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby Skier Pete » 17 Oct 2011 23:03

Sounds like great cruise and very pleased you enjoyed it, just a shame about the missing/deleted pictures. I was impressed With NCL's attitude to hand sanitation ( Nobody is allowed to get away with not using the spray/gel) when we were on the "Dawn". The friendly manner of the "Washy, Washy" crew members made it pleasure to comply. I was also impressed that when the captain did his obligatory "introduce the senior officers and members of staff" parade three members of the washy washy crew were introduced personally by him. NCL are by far the most impressive cruise line I sailed with when considering hand washing regimes.
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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby Barrowboy » 17 Oct 2011 23:04

.
A very good read Marie, and adding photo's to a review makes all the difference - excellent stuff - bet your
glad you found how to include photo's into your posts now.....:)...I certainly am.

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Re: NCL Jade 24th September-8th October 2011

Postby grannyM » 18 Oct 2011 11:16

Thank you all for your comments. I'm not sure I really did it justice as there has been so much more I've thought of since posting the review, however you will have gathered that we are now NCL fans. While onboard we saw an episode of the American version of 'Undercover Boss' which had been made for television. I don't know if it was shown here or if we just missed it at the time but it was very interesting to see the CEO, Kevin Sheehan on two NCL ships. He really listened to what the people he was working with had to say and made some changes due to their input. It's well worth a look if you ever get a chance to see it. :)

David, must give credit to those like Pete and Wansbrough who have helped me with the photos and also W's suggestion about adding them to reviews. I do think it makes it better, if only my photos were half as good. :oops:
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