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Jade Cruise

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About Jade Cruise

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Ireland
  1. Hi, have a look at my thread entitled 'Review from first cruise on Epic', http://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2367498&highlight=epic, or if that link doesnt work its on page 4 of the Epic threads currently. There is some detail in it re self-excursion to Herculaneum, which I would recommend. We also went with teens. Enjoy!:)
  2. Have you tried bookingdotcom? They have a free cancellation option and they appear to have lots of apartments available, e.g. Staycity aparthotels. :)
  3. p.s. there's a picture of the library on my review 'Review of First Cruise on Epic' here on these pages.
  4. I'd highly recommend Herculaneum, very manageable to get around, plenty of shade and not crowded. Make sure you get a guide, it makes all the difference. Enjoy!
  5. Bear in mind that the internet access is slow and expensive, dont count on it.
  6. More pictures: 1. Epic up close and personal, from the tender coming back from Cannes 2. Filmstar handprints at Palais in Cannes 3. the library, a lovely place to chill 4. our cabin
  7. Think I may finally and belatedly have figured out how to post more pictures. These are from Herculaneum, showing the depth of lava that the town was buried under, our lovely and informative guide, and some of the original artwork
  8. Pools open 7am to 10pm but very small as others have said.
  9. Hi SuzIreland, For what its worth, my advice for Rome would be to give yourself a generous time cushion, and dont have your agenda too packed, so that if something does go wrong you still have time to get back. You could bring a taxi contact number (and extra cash!) with you, and worst case scenario you could get a taxi back if you had to, but give yourself time. Cannes will be a doddle, just get on the tender, get off on the other end and you're there! Enjoy your trip.
  10. Hi, they have been posted on this board already by Keith Jenner in a post entitled Epic Western Med Dailies:)
  11. Hi Shazpat, I tried to see if there was anything in NCL's terms and conditions about leaving family behind while going ashore, but unfortunately I couldnt find anything. In October it will be much cooler so the hang-out areas in the pools and hot-tubs might not be as attractive for them if they stay behind.
  12. So, we've come to the end! On Sunday we completed the last few minor bits of packing. Surprisingly, we had brought too many clothes (even though we only had carry on bags) and there were some things that we never wore. We had time to go to the buffet for breakfast before finally bidding goodbye to the Epic. For the first time in our experience, the buffet was very crowded and we had more difficulty than usual getting a table,but the downstairs 'spillover' area in La Cucina was available if we needed it. Then, we just walked off and took the shuttle bus in the same place as we had started - it is to the left and a short walk when you exit the terminal. Be sure to have small value Euros ready, they will not take big notes on the bus, or better still, buy a return ticket when you are starting out and remember where you put it! The shuttle bus drops you back at the end of La Ramblas. We had one more day in Barcelona and had booked the Evenia Rocafort hotel on bookingdotcom. From the Drassanes metro, which is just at the end of La Ramblas its just 2 stops to Poble Sec metro and a short walk. This was a good hotel option, reasonably priced at €118 per room B&B, €59 each. It is modern, clean, with friendly helpful staff, and has good wifi and is quite centrally located just off Av. del Parallel, one of the main routes. It is also close to Plaza de Espanya, where the airport bus stops, and this was handy for us the next morning. Breakfast was included and there was a reasonable choice of food, but nothing like the Epic buffet, of course! As it was too early to check in, we left our luggage and went off to explore. By chance, the 'Art of the Brick' exhibition by NY artist Nathan Sawaya was on its last day just down the street at Plaza de Espanya. This is a great exhibition where all the art is made from Lego, thousands and thousands of individual bricks making up some astonishing pieces of work. Unfortunately for Epic cruisers, it is no longer in Barcelona but is currently in Hamburg Germany and a few locations in the US, and it definitely recommended for both adults and children alike, a good place to spend a few hours. After that we took the Hop On bus tour. Tickets were €28 each and there was a stop nearby in Plaza de Espanya. The ticket price covers two different routes, and visits all the main attractions, including Camp Nou, the Barcelona soccer stadium, Sagrada Familia, and other Gaudi-themed locations. It is a good tour and a good way to get an overview of the city. Unfortunately the male members of our group were flagging from an abundance of late nights and they abandoned the bus before the end to go back to the hotel to sleep. Daughter and I disembarked in the Centre and went for a late lunch along La Ramblas. We had hoped to visit a few shops but we discovered to our disappointment that on Sundays the majority of shops don't open - Sunday is a relatively quiet day in Barcelona , so after wandering down La Ramblas a little we made our way back to the hotel, where we just rested up for a while. In the evening we went for dinner to a local restaurant, and afterwards we went to see the Magic Fountains display which was nearby, a display combining music, lights and spectacular water fountains, which started at 9.30pm and attracted large crowds. it is worth a look if you are in the area. The meet.barcelona.cat website has good information on entertainment options in the city including concerts etc. Next morning we walked a short way, about maybe 1km, to the Plaza de Espanya, where the airport bus stops outside the Plaza hotel. There are two buses, A1 and A2, going to terminals 1 and 2 respectively. The buses are very regular and we only had a short wait - the fare was something over €5pp. The trip to the airport was quick and uneventful and we made our way back to Dublin with Ryanair. So that's the end of our Epic adventure, thanks to all who followed along and left comments, hopefully you got some useful info for your own trips - certainly Cruise Critic was a great source of good information for me before we sailed and it meant we were reasonably well prepared. If you have questions feel free to post them here. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise experience and would go again. For what its worth, my teens tend not to like being too 'scheduled' and the trip worked best when we had broad plans but also left room for spontaneity - this is only a personal opinion and of course everyone is different. I had a good excuse for cruising this year because of a big 'round' birthday in June, no excuse next year, but still...I'm tentatively looking at Getaway in Baltic for 2017... I can always dream! :D Bye for now, Jade.
  13. Hi again, just a short report this time, because our last day on the ship was pretty uneventful. We were in Marseille but most of us didn't go ashore. Our son went with his new friends and they took a shuttle bus into town. They had no particular agenda and just wandered around. After a bit some unruly soccer fans descended on the area and the atmosphere got ugly, so they got out of there quick. (Of course the hooligans were not Irish soccer fans, who are the best behaved in the world ;)) All aboard was much earlier than other ports, at 3.30pm. It was cloudy and quite cool and windy out. There was practically no-one on the sun-beds pre-noon. So, on board on the Saturday we used the time to pack, explore a bit more of the ship, have a few cocktails, relax, read, have some more food, etc. The activities in the Atrium (trivia quizzes etc )are a bit lame, only recommended if you are really stuck for entertainment. The magician was doing a workshop in main theatre in the afternoon, that is worth a look for kids. We had a very long leisurely dinner in the buffet, watching the sun go down and having a few glasses of wine to mourn the end of the cruise. The Freestyle Daily helpfully tells you what time sunset will be at, so you can plan to have your camera ready. Contrary to what some people have reported, the waiting staff in the buffet were nearly too zealous, they kept coming around asking to take drinks orders and were determined not to leave any used items on the table - we nearly had to tell them to go away. The teens were once again off doing their thing, and didn't return until late night/early morning, bearing t-shirts and NCL paraphenalia that they had won. Just a note about the evening housekeeping - if you have a family room and need the 3rd and 4th beds made up, be careful to turn the little wheel on your room number outside the door to 'make up cabin' if you forget to change it from 'Do not Disturb' they will not disturb, and you will have to ring Housekeeping and get someone to do it late at night when you get back to your room. Our steward Allehandro was very pleasant and helpful if we ever needed anything, which wasn't too often. He kept a particularly good supply of towels in the room all week. Towards the end of the cruise he produced a towel animal on the bed each night when he was doing his rounds We checked our account on the TV in our room throughout the week, and it was always accurate. On the last night, if you have given them credit card details they just charge the balance to your card so you don't have to go to the desk and 'check out'. When we woke up on the Sunday morning and checked the TV, the account was cleared and the balance was at 0.00, which was quite efficient, we thought. So, maybe a few summary thoughts here. We had a great week and very much enjoyed the cruise. For what we paid (average of €950pp including tips ) we felt that it was good value for money, since good quality food, drinks and entertainment were all included - it would be difficult to get the same value on land in a hotel. Of course you can spend lots more, but equally there is no need to do so, and we could easily have left the ship with no bill at all, if we hadn't splurged a little on Teppanyaki and a few other bits and bobs. NCL do tempt you to spend extra, in this respect they are probably no different to any other business, but it is quite easy to avoid the temptations, nobody is going to force you to buy extras. I guess the key is to know before you go what is included and what is not, having realistic expectations is probably the key. We are not big into being waited upon, so the freestyle nature of NCL suited us well, but clearly it doesn't suit everyone, and is probably more suited to those who want to be casual. We dressed up a little in the evenings but didn't feel any pressure to do so, and the general vibe was very laid back and relaxed. If you like your ballgown or tuxedo for dinner-wear you will probably not like this ship, there could be someone in a football jersey and flip-flops sitting next to you in Cagneys, as there was when we were there! A small amount of pre-planning is required, mostly just to book the big shows, Priscilla and Burn the Floor. People seem to get very irritated by the need to do this, but to be honest it seems reasonable enough, you wouldn't expect to turn up at a similar show at home and walk in without pre-booking a ticket. We did not do a very culture-intensive itinerary ashore, we just dabbled a bit in a few things, which worked ok for us because the teens were never going to tolerate a holiday that was one big history lesson - where we come from we already got 'a whole lotta history'! To get the best from the ports you would need to be travelling with probably one very like-minded person, otherwise compromise is the key to a peaceful week! For those with teens, as I've mentioned earlier, insist on them going to Entourage on night 1 and see who's there - for us it set the scene for the whole week and made their holiday a great success. So, this has not been so short after all! Back to Barcelona on the next post, where we have a few more things to tell you about, and then its all over :(
  14. As someone else has mentioned here $8-$12 was about average. Every day there was a 'drink of the day' cocktail mentioned on the daily, at special reduced price of $7.95, normal price $10-ish. When we booked, one of the 'perks' offered was the Ultimate Beverage Package UBP, so we took it. I liked the freedom of not having to budget for drinks, and also the novelty of trying different cocktails and combinations that I wouldn't normally have, without having to think about the cost. I think the high cost of drinks would have been an irritation if we didn't have the UBP. Just bear in mind that it doesn't include speciality coffee or water, but there is a good selection of juices and water available in the buffet all the time, as well as regular tea and coffee, but you have to pay extra for the fancy coffees. Also, from time to time some of the bar staff were zealous about enforcing the one drink at a time policy, so if you wanted to use your card to buy a round or a drink for someone else, they would charge for all the additional drinks.
  15. I would assume your interpretation is right, but I've no experience so I can't tell you for sure! Maybe a more experienced cruiser will 'row in' here (- no pun intended!) and let us know. They have lots of tender boats so it would make sense for them to send as many boats as are needed to get everyone who is on the pier at 5pm.:)
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