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Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby grannyM » 23 Sep 2012 18:34

Because I did a review of this ship last year I thought I wouldn’t bother this time. However I decided to do a few comparisons both with our last cruise on Jade and a recent one on Adventure of the Seas. I’ll try not to repeat myself and I hope it's not too long winded.

We liked this ship so much we decided to go on it again even though the itinerary was similar to last year. I had been unwell the second week as so I was looking forward to re-visiting the ports that were just a blur in my memory.

We travelled to Venice from Glasgow airport on a BA charter which was very good. Seats were allocated on check-in and there was no rush or crush once on the plane. Transfer to the ship by Norwegian staff was very well organised. The coach was waiting so unlike last year we did not have to wait in the heat. Embarkation was smooth and efficient and we were onboard quickly. Once again on a beautiful sunny evening we sailed out of Venice. We had a relaxing sea-day next day to look forward to before arriving in Corfu on Monday.

Last year our cruise started a month later and the passengers were a good mix of Northern Europeans, particularly Norwegian, Dutch, German, British. We enjoyed many a good conversation and made friends with all nationalities. It was obvious from the start of this cruise that the majority of passengers were Southern Europeans, predominately Italian, as it was still their school holidays. Recently I wrote about how we enjoyed travelling on Adventure of the Seas with well behaved Spanish families but I honestly can’t say the same for the behaviour or manners of some of our fellow passengers on this cruise. It was noticeably different in so many ways but particularly in the Garden Café buffet, around the poolside and any queue situation.

Our stateroom was the same category as last year so I won’t go into any detail of that.
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The stateroom attendant was very attentive and the standard of cleanliness here and throughout the ship was as good. Also, as before, the mandatory hand-sanitising at every food venue and when returning from ports was as strict as it should be, unlike our experience on Adventure of the Seas.

The choice of food and eating places was as good as we remembered although we didn’t find the ‘freestyle dining’ in the evening as easy this time.

At breakfast the Garden Café buffet was a nightmare but since the MDR was only open until 9am it was either the buffet or room service for us. We usually like to take a walk around the deck before breakfast so it was mostly the buffet.
An early morning walk round Deck 14. (The tennis and basketball court)
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In the mornings and afternoons the Italian restaurant Papa’s Kitchen, which is a speciality restaurant in the evening, was open for overspill from the buffet and that is mostly where we sat. You could always get a table and it was an oasis of calm just through from the mayhem of the buffet.
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It can be entered from the buffet end or from the Great Outdoors at the rear of the ship. There is no food actually served there but there is a small buffet in the Great Outdoors which had almost all that was available in the Garden Café. It too could get busy but if, like us, you only wanted a light breakfast it was preferable. We used it at lunch time or when coming back on the ship for a light snack.

In the evening we ate in the Alizar a few times with little difficulty but no matter what time we tried for the Grand Pacific there were queues so we didn’t get there at all. We obviously didn’t try every night so perhaps we were just unlucky. The buffet was quieter at night and since my OH loves the curries we ate there frequently. Twice we ate in the Blue Lagoon diner. This is one place that disappoints. The food which is mainly burgers, fish & chips etc, is very good if that's what you fancy on occasion. However, unlike every other part of the ship the attitude of the staff leaves a lot to be desired. Both times we were there they brought our main course before we had finished our starters. On the second occasion I said it wasn’t acceptable and the waiter said, rather cheekily, ‘it is a fast food restaurant‘. I reminded him that that meant fast cooking and not fast eating. We finished our starters and left. We went to Cagney’s steak house one night and had fabulous steak. The whole meal was beautiful. There is a $20 surcharge for this restaurant and it was well worth it. We were also very fortunate to be invited to La Bistro. This is also a speciality restaurant and it was also excellent. The invitation came from a very nice chef who we had chatted to many times last year. His name is Denton Laing and although we did not know this when we first met him he is the Executive Chef on Jade. Last year he sent us a gift of chocolate covered strawberries after we complimented him on the standard of food in general on the ship and how hard the staff worked thoroughly cleaning the buffet when it was close. He is a lovely unassuming man who comes from Jamaica. He seems to be always about the different food areas checking everything. It was an honour and a pleasure to spend some time with him and hear about his work. Here is a picture of the chefs at the last night show. He is in the middle with his regalia on which he does not wear every day or perhaps we would have known he was the Executive Chef when we first we met.
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Denton was not the only member of the crew who recognised us. Jose and Marilyn who were both bar-waiters in the Great Outdoors last year also recognised us. When we saw him smiling and coming towards us we were struggling to remember Jose’s name but he immediately said Mr.T and MissMary! How can you deal with the number of passengers these folk do and remember names from a year ago? Another person who recognised us was a bar-tender. (You get the picture of where we spend most our time?). Anyway, Cresselda? was in a very empty Sky Bar when we walked in. We just heard from behind the bar ‘I know you‘. She later confessed she had recognised my shoes! Obviously time to replace the posh cruising shoes.

We saw a few shows and although we had seen them before we enjoyed seeing Shout and Extremes once again. The theatre was always full and the standard of the performers was excellent. There is music of some kind or other in most of the bars in the evening. Some better than others. In the Atrium it was to be the same performer as last year and again every night singing the same John Denver songs. It was quite popular but we found it very repetitive. In the area called Bar City there are three bars, Whisky, Beer & Tankards and Champagne & Wine Bar. These were all very handy for the Cigar Lounge.
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The piano man played here most nights but had a varied selection. Sometimes he would be replaced by a trio and they were also good. If we were not indoors we would be in the Bali Hai bar above the pool before or after dinner.
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One thing that we found could be better was the timing of ‘sail away’ parties. The live music was always good but this always started about an hour or so before sail away and actually finished either at the time we actually sailed away. Sometimes even before if we were a little later leaving than expected. Unlike last year we were surprised that there was little entertainment around the poolside at night. There was Zumba exercises in the morning and sometimes a group playing around lunchtime but very quiet at night although the pools were opened late and the jacuzzis until midnight.
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The itinerary was reversed from last year and so we did the Greek Islands first week. Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos then Katakolon before heading back to Venice. It was really nice to re-visit these places although once again we haven’t managed to actually reach the top at Santorini. When we were leaving Corfu it got very windy and the sea conditions, from calm when we arrived to rather choppy when we were leaving, meant a rather bumpy night.
A calm arrival in Corfu
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Very different by the time we were leaving
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It was still the same when we arrived at Santorini and the tenders were having a hard time keeping close enough to the ship. They were bobbing about so much it looked rather scary.
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Having watched all this from our balcony we decided not to go off but many who did said it was extremely rocky on the tenders.

Mykonos next day was thankfully much calmer and we had no problems with either weather or sea conditions.
Just closed the balcony door on time when leaving the stateroom.
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Mykonos from the Windmills.
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I think this car has been in the car park quite a while.
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You never know what you're going to see in the narrow streets of Mykonos
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Katakolon was sweltering hot and as usual we took advantage of the many excellent waterfront cafes.
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We also took a ride on the land train to see the 'lovely countryside' as the driver advertised!!!
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After Katakolon it was back to Venice and our turn-around day there. I have already posted a separate review so won’t repeat anything about it here. From Venice we sailed towards beautiful Dubrovnik.
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Bathers near the harbour.
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Just as Wansbrough said in his review we also were docked this time and got the ship’s shuttle into town. These ran very every 15mins and we had no trouble from the ship or on the way back. Norwegian Jade’s operations of both tenders and shuttles are very well organised. Also, like him we saw the boards on walls of houses that had actually been demolished during the war. There were very moving descriptions and photos of the people who lost their homes. It's quite incredible to see how Debrovnik has recovered from this dreadful time.

After another sea-day we arrived in Piraeus for Athens. Last year we just walked off the ship near the cruise terminal but this time we were docked quite a bit away beside a different terminal. However we weren't going through that building and had to get the free shuttle to the main terminal!
The empty terminal.
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Norwegian Spirit arriving after us but got the 'top spot' nearer the terminal.
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Again, I have a separate review of our visit to the Acropolis Museum so will not repeat that either.

Next stop Izmir where we were greeted on arrival by some traditional Turkish music and dancers.
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We walked for miles along the sea front which was very pleasant as there was a cooling breeze that was not evident in the city. We stopped a few times for either coffee or a cool drink. At the central point of Konak square there was a new, almost empty, shopping mall where we took advantage of the air-conditioning and beautiful toilets. There is a lovely café/restaurant at the far end where the outdoor area looks out onto the sea. The waitress did not have great English so I pointed to a picture on the menu of a white coffee and asked how you pronounced it. She said something that sounded like Mjito and although it did begin with an M we thought it strange. We waited and waited while others who came in after us were served drinks or food. Eventually a different waiter came with 2 Mjitos - the real kind not coffee. We left without having the Mjitos. If nothing else it was a nice cool place with a lovely view. When we came back to the ship we went for something to eat and from a window seat in Papa's this is what we saw happening over on Costa Mediterrania.
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It looked as if a winch had jammed causing the other rope to snap. It took some time for the second lifeboat to be launched and the delicate operation of hoisting the other back up. It caused a lot of interest on our ship with both passengers and crew taking photos and videos.

Our last port, Split, was as delightful as before and we enjoyed another day finding our way around this lovely place.
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Another sea day and then back to Venice for disembarking. Once again all went very smoothly and we were at the airport for coming home. Marco Polo airport, as others as remarked, is probably the worst airport I’ve been in although unlike last year someone came on the coach and told us what door to enter for different airline check-ins. This did help but the BA check-in for Glasgow did not open until exactly 2hours before the flight. There were 2 desks open but one of them was held up for a long time because of some problem with a wheel-chaired passenger and her helpers. It appeared that there had been no prior arrangements for this party. Fortunately we were about 6th in the queue so it didn’t take long to check in our bags. We went out of the building for about 20 minutes and when we re-entered the queue had only slightly moved. Very badly organised situation with people trying to pass through these queues to get to other areas.

Between this and our experience of the queue for the Valporetto in Venice we decided that it would possibly be the last time we wanted to sail from Venice. Would we go on Jade again? Absolutely but it would need to be a different itinerary.

As I said in my review last year Jade is a great ship and the crew and staff are the friendliest we've met on any ship and nothing was too much bother for them. We spoke to many of them both junior and senior members (not just the bar staff) and all seemed to be happy on this ship.
This year's favourite bar staff, Luigi and Gusti in the Bali Hai.
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You can see more of my photos in the Gallery here:
Norwegian Jade 2012
Marie
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Wansbrough » 23 Sep 2012 18:48

Another Grand Job M. Thank you for taking the time and effort. ;)
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby grannyM » 23 Sep 2012 18:50

Wansbrough wrote:Another Grand Job M. Thank you for taking the time and effort. ;)


Why thank you M. Coming from the master blogger that is really appreciated. :D
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Jimmy the One » 23 Sep 2012 18:54

Great review Marie fab photos :D
Jim
Im just a soul whose intentions are good Oh lord please dont let me be misunderstood

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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Wansbrough » 23 Sep 2012 18:55

grannyM wrote:
Wansbrough wrote:Another Grand Job M. Thank you for taking the time and effort. ;)


Why thank you M. Coming from the master blogger that is really appreciated. :D


Its a pleasant change to see something actually cruise related on here at the moment. ;)
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby sevenseascoaster » 23 Sep 2012 19:06

Seems my quick reply has been lost, so I'll try again!

Great review and pictures Marie, a good insight into NCL whom we've never tried . I have a friend who loves the Line and will travel on no others!
Shame you missed the top of Santorini though, marvellous views from the top, perhaps next time? :)
Not sure I would want to be on the Costa ship with the 'dodgy' lifboat though :roll: not a very good advert for them :?:

Glad you had a good time :)
Wen

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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Janet » 23 Sep 2012 19:24

Enjoyed your review and great photos Marie, thanks for posting them.

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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Barrowboy » 23 Sep 2012 19:52

.
Enjoyed reading your review Marie, sound like you had a great time aboard............Loved the photo's as well, getting a good little snapper now what... Image
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby jocap » 23 Sep 2012 22:45

That's just great, Marie....it made me homesick for Jade, though! We, too, were recognised the 2nd time on board, by a young waiter from the bali Hi, who'd moved into another bar.
Lovely ship, lovely cruise, lovely review.
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Re: Norwegian Jade 25thAug-8th September 2012

Postby Mungo » 24 Sep 2012 07:24

Thank you! :D
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