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Found 143 results

  1. I keep checking NCL for June/July 2020 possible British Isles cruises. The Jade has only 1 cruise in June 2020 and then nothing for July or August. I know NCL can be slow, but I don't get what's going on. Is the Jade in a 2-month refurb or something that takes her out of service? Have they just not figured out the itineraries yet? What am I missing?
  2. We just returned from the 10-night cruise r/t Rome, Aug. 1 - Aug. 11 that sailed to Greek Isles and Italy ports. It was our first time with NCL so I thought I'd just give a few of my impressions. First of all, we had a spectacular time, even though the record-breaking heat everywhere nearly got the best of us. We spent two nights in Rome pre-cruise at Albergo del Senato next to the Pantheon and loved the hotel and the location. We used RomeShuttleLimousine for all of our transfers - airport-hotel-port-airport and they were very reliable and good, safe drivers. Embarkation was absolutely the easiest of any of my 19 cruises. We arrived at the port around 11:15 and went straight through, no lines to speak of. We were able to drop off our carry-ons in our cabins and proceeded to get our first drink of the cruise. The ship has no wow factor but it is clean and seems in good shape. We had mid-ship mini-suites and the location was perfect. Our cabins were 11070 and 11072, starboard, directly over the tender platforms and the pilot access. Starboard seemed to be the best side for nearly all of the ports, and we really enjoyed watching the pilot boats zoom in and drop off or pick up the pilot. Our favorite gathering place became the Whiskey/Martini bar area where we met every evening before dinner. One of the servers there, Sandra, was the best ever - she became part of our family. Having most recently sailed on the Carnival Breeze and Vista, Princess Regal and Oasis of the Seas, I wasn't sure how I'd like the smaller size of the Jade but it was comfortable. Our cabins were wonderful - there was so much storage space we didn't even use several of the drawers and there were three of us adult women. Loved the bathroom and the balcony was very spacious. We ate all of our meals in the included dining venues, mostly the Alizar. We found the food to be just okay, nothing memorable. THe starters were pretty much the same every night and the menu seemed pretty limited. I was surprised that there was never shrimp cocktail on offer. In fact, there weren't any shrimp entrees either, such as scampi. I really missed my shrimp cocktail! The soups were generally good. We enjoyed O'Sheehan's for several lunches and it is a nice alternative dining venue. The buffet was just so-so. If I had to compare, the included dining is far superior on Carnival and Princess. I'm not a fan of RCL's food, but it was also a step above NCL. We saw the three production shows and I will say that the dancers were terrific! Elements was the best but we enjoyed Blazing Boots also. The third show's name escapes me but it was set in old Havanna, which could have been great if they'd used some known Latin music instead of the snorefest songs they did. THe entertainment around the ship was mostly blah, but we enjoyed the singer/guitarist Dave. However, he was leaving after our cruise. THey need more captivating entertainers in the lounges, for sure. THe cruise director, Dave, wasn't nearly as funny as he thought he was and was difficult to understand at times because he spoke so fast. But to be fair, we were comparing him to Carnival's Matt Mitchum who is the superman of cruise directors. At least Dave showed up, which is more than I can say of the CD's on Princess and RCL Oasis. We took this cruise because it had the best itinerary this year for the ports we wanted to see. And it is ever intensive! The only sea day is at the start and from there on you're in a marathon. We tendered in two ports - Santorini and Mykonos and it went fairly quickly and easily. I would have appreciated a bit more information of the ports in the dailies, even a little walking map would have been nice or directions to get to the express bus into Athens at Piraeus. I had done extensive research and had printed out a few maps but Piraeus still seemed a bit confusing, especially with the taxi drivers being so aggressive and in your face as you're trying to find the bus. I'll answer any questions about the ports but I'm not going into detail on them right now. Suffice it to say they were all fabulous. We took three private tours - Sicily, Naples and Livorno. In Sicily we went to Castlemola and Taormina, from Naples we went to Positano and lunch up on the cliffs at La Tagliata. In Livorno we toured several hilltowns in the Chianti region, had lunch and visited Pisa. All other ports we did independently. To sum it up, it was a beautiful cruise - calm seas and blue skies (and sweltering temps!). There were seven in our group and we all absolutely loved it!
  3. I am thinking of upgrading from a balcony to a mini suite bc it is being offered through an upgrade bid. I noticed that all the mini suites are on deck 11 which means deck 12 is above with the pool, loud music, the buffet, etc. Is there a noise problem with any of these mini suites? Thanks, Penny
  4. Hello Fellow Cruisers, trying to find some photos for cabin 8586 Obstructed Oceanview. I have been reading that there are 2 small windows and that they are frosted so you cannot see out at all, not even the life boats. I like to have light in the room and at least see the sky. Would appreciate any feedback from recent cruisers. thank you
  5. Hi everyone, Does Norwegian provide any sort of shuttle into Ho Chi Minh City from Phu My? Happy to do the sites on our own and be flexible. Cruising 2020. Thank you in advance.
  6. Would love to hear all about the Jade and their Greece & Croatian itinerary. Can’t seem to find any reviews.
  7. Hi all! Since CruiseCritic was so helpful to me in planning this trip, I wanted to share our experience as well for those planning. Day 1 and day 2 we were in Rome on our own and scheduled our own tours. I highly recommend this as it was so educational and efficient. We were harassed so badly at the Colosseum by tour and skip the line peddlers since we did NOT have a tour, that we left. The people were RELENTLESS. Even after saying no multiple times, they followed us around until my husband finally had to get loud with them to leave us alone. I had a lot of questions about spending money before we left so I wanted to share our spending. We barely spent anything on the ship except for laundry and Starbucks and in port usually spent €50-€150 per day EXCLUDING tours because I had already prepaid all of that. We have 4 people, 2 adults and 2 daughters, ages 11 and 13. We ate at sit-down restaurants so you could spend less if you wanted to eat differently. We spent about $2000 USD in 14 days (in Rome pre-cruise, on ship and in port, and last final day in Rome post-cruise. This includes what I withdrew in euros. I didn’t think pickpocketing was nearly as much of an issue as you read online, or finding bathrooms (except in Greece, the metro had no readily available bathrooms which I found surprising). I didn’t have to pay for any restrooms except in Naples and Florence area. It was €.50-€1 to use the restrooms (Pompei and Leaning Tower of Pisa area both charged so you will need cash for this). Also, most DID expect tips in Greece. Santorini #1 industry is tourism and I have no problem tipping. I ended up tipping 10% at most restaurants and tours in Greece. In Rome at restaurants, we just rounded up. Restaurants asked me if I wanted to add tip to my credit card charge as there is no line for it be added after transaction is complete. In Italy, tipping was less expected, except in Florence. Florence restaurant had line for tip and gelato stands as well had tip jars. As I state below, Florence city center seems like a tourist trap and I did not feel this way in other areas we visited. I find it interesting that people see tipping as unnecessary in Italy due to people being paid living wages, yet our guides told us people in this region make on average €17,000 per year and tourism is a lot of these places #1-#2 industry. Maybe someone on these boards from Italy knows why? I’m genuinely just curious. Rome cabs took us to hotel from airport (we tipped €5 due to baggage handling) and we tipped our Rome cabs drivers hotel to cruise port €10. It is a personal preference of course, just wanted to share my personal experience. The language barrier was not an issue in most places we visited, probably because we were on tours. Most people we interacted with at tours and our pasta making class told us they liked doing things in English so their English gets stronger. We learned a few key phrases to be respectful although it was not necessary, most immediately started speaking to us in English. Most people we have interacted with have been so wonderful and friendly! Naples and Florence I would say less people spoke English than the Greek islands, Malta, Rome and Sicily. I am so glad we did a cruise to see this beautiful region because the minimal use of air conditioning in Europe with 90-97 degree days was rough for us used to daily AC use in the summer :) The Norwegian Jade was a great ship with the exception of limited activities. I felt there was much more to do on our Disney cruises. The actual ship, service and food was great. My family are all great cooks (not me; but the others I was traveling with) and they had NO complaints which is extremely rare. The service in main dining rooms (Alizar, Grand Pacific and O’Sheehan’s pub) was pretty slow so we only ate at Alizar twice and O’Sheehan’s twice. Garden cafe buffet was great and always had high quality food. The coffee isn’t great so if you’re used to strong coffee, you may have to frequent starbucks! Java Cafe brews Starbucks so I frequented there (extra charge plus gratuity. Prices were completely fair and same as Starbucks at home. Mandara Spa facilities were mediocre (massage room had fluorescent lighting on the whole massage and a hand towel to cover where your face goes which was pretty rough in texture). The massage itself was great though. The kids clubs aren’t great and my kids didn’t really want to go. This is a port intensive cruise so it wasn’t a big deal, but if you had a lot of sea days it would be tough. On the days we were back on the ship early (2p-8p) there was not much to do activity-wise. Laundry days were days 4 and 8 on the ship and back by the next day or the day after (one of my loads came back next day and one came back 2 days later) and it was $19.95 for an entire bag. The bags are paper so they rip easily. Also, I would not put any delicates in even with a mesh laundry bag (I did the mesh bag I brought from home and my stuff came back fuzzy). Day 1-Rome -checked into The K Boutique hotel. AC did not work in our room at all for our 2 night stay. -Went to colosseum (not inside, skip the line tickets too expensive and too hot) -Dinner in Rome Day 2-Rome -City Wonders Extended Vatican tour with Bramante Staircase -Pasta making class with Walks of Italy (our chefs were Luca and Francesco) where we made homemade ravioli and fettuccini with two different sauces, and homemade gelato was made by them while we ate the delicious food they taught us to make. HIGHLY recommend! They taught us a lot about Italian food and authentic vs American version Day 3-Took Rome cabs to Civitavecchia and boarded Norwegian Jade Day 4-Sea day Day 5-Santorini, Greece-NCL excursion to Perivolos Beach. Black lava rock “sand”. I would definitely recommend water shoes to wear at this beach as the sand is very hot. Mera Beach bar serves food and drinks Day 6-Athens, Greece-We had a tour planned with Athens Walks for 9a-11a of the Acropolis. We had planned to take metro to the meeting point of “Acropolis metro station”. Unfortunately; unbeknownst to us, the metro was a good 20 min walk from where Norwegian Jade docked and I had originally read on someone else’s review that metro was “right near metro and just a few steps away” from port. Well, it was not in our situation so we ended up missing the tour. The metro required getting off one line and onto another and took us one hour to get from where we docked, to the Acropolis metro station. Our tour had left by that point although a man from Athens Walks stayed behind to sell us our “skip the line” entrance tickets to Acropolis for €20. We hiked up the top on our own and never did catch up with our tour which was fine because it was incredibly hot and crowded. I would recommend doing a skip the line Acropolis and then not doing a formal tour. It’s easy enough to do on your own. Then, we walked around to a place to eat, walked to Temple of Zeus and town of Plaka; we took a cab back to the port around 1:30p due to extreme heat, we were all tired. Day 7-Mykonos, Greece-Kalaftis Beach transfer (NCL excursion 9a-12:30p)-€20 euros for one umbrella near back of beach (our umbrella had 3 chairs under it and the girl told us it would only be €20 even though bus who drove us here said it would be €30 for 2 chairs so always ask the actual people working the beach), and €50 euros for 2 chairs near water in front of restaurant/bar (quite expensive since Santorini chairs and umbrellas were free with purchases of drinks and food from Mera Beach bar). You are able to use Aphrodite Hotel bathroom which is directly behind beach, across the street. The area closer to the restaurant has showers, changing rooms and bathrooms. The sand here is much more forgiving. It’s still more pebbly than sandy, but less rough than Santorini. The water here is absolutely beautiful and clear. Mykonos was more developed than Santorini and very beautiful. Since we were on an NCL excursion, the bus gave us option to be dropped off in town and then take NCL shuttle back to ship. Day 8-Chania (Crete), Greece-this was an extremely short port day (7a-12p) and we didn’t feel like getting up early so I stayed on ship. My husband and family got off and it looks like a really beautiful area. Day 9-Valletta, Malta-We did the hop on hop off Malta bus NCL excursion just so we could get around easily and see what we wanted. We docked at Laboratory Wharf Berth and boat shuttle was offered to cross over to Valletta cruise port although since we had our excursion we didn’t need to do that until the way back since the Hop On Hop off ends in Valletta. We got off the bus at San Anton Gardens and got back on until the stop for Mosta. The Mosta costs 2 euros to enter. (we skipped a couple stops that weren’t interesting to us). Next, we went to Mdina. We took a horse drawn tour for 35 euros and it was well worth it. The driver gave us the history and it was a nice breezy ride. Then, back on the bus to Valletta and back to the ship via water shuttle! Make sure to get off at bus stop for “port” instead of city center (our driver told us to get off at city center, and yes you can walk to the Port of Valletta but it is about 15-20 minutes and my grandmother has mobility issues which made it a challenge) Day 10-Messina, Sicily-We did an NCL excursion “Italy Taormina & Sicilian Vineyard” which took us to the town of Taormina first to walk around and see the sights with our tour guide, Renata. It included the Greek theater and entrance fees were included in tour price. We then had one hour to walk around on our own until meeting back at the bus at 11:50am. Then, off to the Sicilian vineyard (Gambino vineyard) for lunch and wine tasting. The educational part was about 30 min with tour of wine cellar. Then, onto food! The appetizer was a plate of different cheeses, a few olives, 3 red peppers and a portobello mushroom. They also had hard boiled eggs and bread on the table. The second course was cured meats. Luckily, we ate some Sicilian pizza in Taormina!! I don’t drink, so luckily one of my family members took my samples that were given :) There were 4 different types of wine and the family says they were very good. It is an hour 20 minute ride back to the port from the vineyard. This excursion is well worth it IMO. Day 10-Naples, Italy-Pompeii Excavations NCL excursion. It’s about a 48 minute ride from cruise port to Pompeii and it’s a 4 1/2 hour excursion including travel time. It includes a guided tour of the excavations. Our guide was Marcello and he was great (degree in archaeology). We stopped at a cameo factory on the way to Pompeii because apparently it is a requirement for certain tours (some said it’s required by government?). We were able to use the restrooms though so that was nice. There are also restrooms outside the entrance and inside the entrance (outside cost €.50-this was first time I had to pay for restroom entire trip). It was an absolutely amazing sight to see and well worth having a tour guide to know what everything is. It was brutally hot the day we went (98 Fahrenheit), but overall worth it to see this historical archaeological site. Day 11-Livorno, Italy-Florence and Pisa-We did a private van tour for 8 hrs to take us to Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo Square in Florence as well as going to see Accademia Gallery to see statue of David. We went to Florence city center. Florence city center was a tourist trap IMO. There were no posted prices for gelato and we paid €18 for 2 gelato!!! This is the only place we’ve experienced some “tourist pricing”. We have bought gelato almost every day and it is €2-3. Lots of high end shops here such as Gucci, Prada, etc., as well as many people selling souvenir and leather goods. We used “Nicola Scovenna Travel Experiences to Italy” (Diego and Maria were our guides). Highly recommend! Day 12-tomorrow we disembark-Rome Cabs back to Rome for the day and fly home the next day, day 13 from FCO
  8. First a little about our group: 6 people -- myself, my wife, our 2 kids (ages 8 and 9) and my wife's parents. We ranged in age from 8 to 72. This whole adventure started after we read a book on Greek mythology to our kids (bedtime stories) starting about 2 years ago. They said they wanted to see "all those places." Well, we wanted to see them, too. We found this particular cruise and NCL was offering their 3rd and 4th guests sail free offer, so that brought the cost of the cruise to about what we would pay for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. We booked it. Then, we figured since we're already going to be in Europe, why don't we try to see London, Paris, Florence, and Venice, too? We couldn't make the trains work out for us to squeeze in Florence, but we hit the others! We flew out, direct the Heathrow, on 5/16. Landed around noon on 5/17, and since we weren't suffering any jet lag, we rented a car and drove to Salisbury to see Stonehenge. We did, though it is a bit underwhelming. We also saw Salisbury Cathedral (where one of the 4 remaining original copies of Magna Carta is kept) and had fish and chips before returning the rental car and hopping on the tube to King's Cross. On 5/18, we had arranged a private tour with ToursbyLocals to see the highlights of London. This did not disappoint. We were picked up in a black cab (not the curvy iconic black cabs, but a black Mercedes van with traditional London cab seating) and driven all over the city. Our guide was a licensed London cab driver -- which apparently takes 4 years of training to become -- and we saw Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, the Mall, St James Park, Green Park, the old Republic of Texas embassy, Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, the Globe, Burrough Market, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey, and then it was off to the Tower. We had skip the line tickets for this and we took one of the "free" Yeomen Warder (Beefeater) tours. Of course we saw the Crown Jewels, too! We finally stopped for a late lunch at a pub, and then our guide dropped us (and our luggage) off at St Pancras to catch our Eurostar train to Paris. We boarded the train for Paris and in less than 3 hours we were in the City of Lights. We thought our cab driver on the way to our hotel was going to kill us -- he was in a way grumpy mood and I thought he was actually aiming for people on the sidewalk. We finally made it there, dropped our bags, and headed to the Eiffel Tower (in an Uber) to catch our nighttime cruise on the Seine. Perfect timing, too, as the Tower started it's twinkling just as we left the dock and as we were returning. After a late, late dinner -- lasting until 1:30am -- we turned in for the night. The next day we had a private walking tour of Paris. Beautiful city, but there's a lot of graffiti and some trash. We had a wonderful late lunch near the Bastille and took some "Griswold-esque" pictures, with berets labelled Clark, Ellen, Audrey, and Rusty. Finally, we took the Metro back to Gare de Lyon for our overnight train to Venice. The overnight train was an adventure. We had a 6-person couchette, which basically means 2 bunk beds stacked 3 high. There are no shower facilities, and the toilets are at each end of the car. Even so, it was not uncomfortable, especially considering they offered somewhat reasonably priced Prosecco in the dining car. Of course, it was late getting into Venice, so we didn't arrive until around 11, instead of 9:30 (something about being held up in Switzerland), but our guide was waiting for us at the station. We loved Venice and we were even able to visit a glass-blowing shop on Murano, St Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, and the Bridge of Sighs. Our guide returned us to the station in time to catch our train to the Eternal City. We arrived into Rome after dark and immediately transferred to our hotel, a Holiday Inn. Rather nice and spacious, especially by European standards. We had pizza (what else?) and turned in. Promptly at 8am the next morning, our Best Rome Driver driver arrived and we started touring Rome. It was a long day, but well worth it. The Colosseum and Forum as magnificent, and you can't miss the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. Lunch at MaxRoma on Aventine Hill near Circus Maximus and the Secret Keyhole was great. St Peter's Square is awe-inspiring even in the waning light of day. Our kids had a "gladiator class" at Gruppo Storico Romana, and they loved it. We had dinner at Osteria dei Pontifici -- we didn't order anything, they just kept bringing out dish after dish including homemade ravioli. It was delicious! One special thing we did was climb the Scala Sancta. This is a marble staircase that was brought to Rome in the 4th century. It originally was in Pontius Pilate's praetorium and they are the actual steps that Christ climbed during his Passion. For over 300 years, they have been covered in wood to protect the well-worn marble, but they were uncovered this year for 10 weeks for restoration. We were privileged enough to be in Rome during those 10 weeks and we were able to ascend the marble stairs (on our knees, of course). On Wednesday, we were up quite early to get to the Papal Audience. Though we had to wait about an hour before getting into St Peter's Square, we got very good seats and immensely enjoyed the experience. After, we had a food tour with a local guide. I don't know how many restaurants we went to to sample various dishes (including gelato), but we were absolutely stuffed at the end. Thurday, 5/23, marked our day to board the Jade, but before we could do that, we had one last tour to squeeze in -- Waking Up the Vatican! Only 20 people, we met at the entrance to the Vatican Museums at 6am. We were met by our guide and ushered into the museums to literally unlock all the doors and turn on the lights! My father-in-law somehow got the honor of unlocking the door to the Sistine Chapel itself. After breakfast, we climbed to the top of dome of St Peter's for breathtaking views of Rome. Then we returned to our hotel to collect our bags and head to Civitavecchia....... To be continued....
  9. Hi, I have been cruising with Celebrity and Royal mostly for the past few years although I have cruised on NCL, just not lately. Celebrity and Royal's prices have gone our the roof so looking at alternatives... Here are the two I am considering with NCL: 1. Joy HI Haven suite. It's looks like the best deal. Anything in particular I need to know about the HI suite or the Joy Haven area OR the Joy overall? Kinda disappointed with suite balcony furniture... 2. Jade NON-Haven suite. The Haven suites on the Jade are beyond what I'm willing to pay so that leaves something like a non-Haven SN or SM. What exactly does one lose other than Haven access? I've been in a suite(SF) in a non-Haven ship before and I was fine with that. We had basically Cagney's and a butler, etc. Any other info? Thanks for your help!
  10. Anyone know why there's nothing scheduled for the Jade for July through October in 2020?
  11. Hi all, we are leaving next week on the Norwegian Jade for a 10-night Greek Isles and Italy cruise. I have never been on a vacation where I couldn't do laundry! I know others have posted that they offer a "fill your bag up" for $20 to be washed and dried at some point on the cruise. Does anyone know exactly when they do this? Trying to pack for my kids and don't know how many outfits they will truly need if laundry can be done halfway through.
  12. Hello, we are Mark & Ruth from Brisbane Australia. We have australian passports and will be cruising on 27th February from Singapore to Dubai and then B2B from Dubai to Rome. I have been trying to find answers on what visas we need to obtain before leaving home. I have sent a message to Norwegian but have had no response. There are so many ports, Maldives, Sychelles, Dubai, Jordan, Eygpt, Turkey, Israel. I know that the Jade is doing this cruise in reverse later this year and hopefully someone can let me know what visas we need. Thank you so very much for any help or advice you can give,
  13. We normally sail in 2-bedroom suites (H4s), but this year we sailed in a DOS on the Dawn that had two bedrooms. Do any of the DOS or OS on the Jade or Gem have two bedrooms? What about on any other ships (large or small)? I know we could always go for the Garden Villa, but we can't quite justify the cost for three adults. We are just wondering if there are other options for us besides the named 2-bedroom villas. Thanks!
  14. We have been assigned Balcony Cabin 9148 on the Jade on an upcoming Greek/Italy cruise. It was a guarantee cabin as part of a group. We do not need a handicap room and I am just wondering how this will be. I know sometimes in hotels I've been assigned a handicap room and since I don't need it I have not really liked it. I am wondering if this will be a similar experience or if it will be ok. I have read some reviews online where people have mentioned the cabin is bigger and they liked it, but trying to get any feedback here. Thanks in advance!
  15. Hoping someone is just off of the Jade on the Greece/Italy itinerary. I would love to hear your experiences good and bad about the ship, the ports etc. We are going in September with a group and hoping to gain some in site.
  16. I’m cruising on the Jade later this month. Does anyone know for the shows can you make reservations after you’re on board (it’s not available to reserve on plan/explore on website) or is it all first come basis?
  17. Can anyone who has knowledge of the Bose System that is in the cabins, tell me what chord we need to connect our IPhone or is it Bluetooth? Thx
  18. We have sailed the Jade numerous times before but always in an aft penthouse suite. This time I splurged on the Haven, the courtyard penthouse (h5). In looking at the layout of the room, it looks like the bedroom and the bathroom are all one space, which seems odd. Can anyone who has stayed in one comments as to any privacy issues for the bathroom. I can see that the toilet and shower are separate, but the doors appear to be clear-ish glass. Also, I basically want to know if I get up early and want to get ready in the bathroom, is there a way for my husband to sleep peacefully (in the dark) and not be disturbed? Cruise is not til Dec 2020 if that matters. Thanks!
  19. We sailed on the Jade last year on a 7 day cruise and noticed that the “fill a bag” laundry special wasn’t offered. We are sailing it again this summer, this time for a ten day cruise. Does anyone know if the laundry special will be offered since it’s a longer cruise? Or has NCL stopped offering it?
  20. We’ll be in Santorini on the Jade in August. It sounds like even though it might be crowded, NCL stays later than other ships. I’m wondering if anyone knows what time the last tender will be. We are looking at a trip that says we’ll be back to the cable car around 9pm with the ship leaving at 10pm. We plan to buy round trip cable car tickets ahead of time but then to just walk down if the line is still long around that time. We are pretty fast walkers so I figure as long as the last tender is around 9:30, we should be fine. I know it will be cutting it close but I’d really like to make it work. Can someone please tell me what time the last tender is approximately?
  21. I am looking at a voyage in a Mini-Suite. The only one in the category available is a "Disability" one. I am not in need of such a stateroom. What are the disadvantages of such a room, if any?
  22. On my way home from Jade TA and wanted to address a couple of hot topics from when I left: 1. Towel animals: hotel director said that there is no decision on discontinuing towel animals; it's being tried on a couple of ships but no decision has been made. Even if they decide to discontinue, you can request them from your steward and you will get them. 2. Straws: there were paper straws at all bars and they were automatically added to frozen drinks. i didn't ask for any with non-frozen drinks, but given that they are available I suspect they would have been provided. hope this helps.
  23. Will someone post a daily for the Greece itinerary? If not, could you let us know when the show times are and what the shows are? We will be sailing to Greece in September. Thank you!!I
  24. We have not cruised on NCL for several years. We would be Platinum in their latitudes for our next cruise, whenever we go. We have come across a great 20 night sailing on the Jade 2/27/20 sailing from Singapore to Dubai. I can't find much info about the Jade. This sailing has a very unique itinerary. There is an overnight in Phuket, along with 2 stops in Malaysia, then sails to Male, Maldives, then over to Victoria, Seychelles, making its way to 2 stops in Oman, then a day in Aubi Dhabi, and finishes in Dubai. We have been to Singapore (spent almost 2 weeks here), Langkawi (1 day from cruise stop) and Phuket (5 day land trip). Definitely on my bucket list are the Maldives and Seychelles. Has anyone been on the Asian cruises either on the Jade or any of the other ships? How was the cruise experience? We have sailed Celebrity & Royal Caribbean in Asia in the past. We know the passenger will be a great mix of cultures and looking forward to this experience. Any thoughts and input would be appreciated. I looked for a roll call, and was only 1 person. TIA.
  25. I am sadly tucked into my Seattle area home office wrapped in a sweater and a wrap attempting to readjust from incredible weather during our 11-day cruise out of Miami to the Panama Canal and points beyond. About Us: We were a group of six in three cabins, a 2BR suite, a mini-suite and an inside cabin (deck 11). My DD, DH and I shared the suite, while my in-laws stayed incredibly organized in their mini-suite and my mom enjoyed the dark, quiet of her inside cabin. Our Cabin (11030) The 2BR Suite was great, the bed in the master was extremely comfortable but a bit tight against the wall on the forward side. The faux columns were attractive, but the first couple times I woke up I had was startled thinking that someone was standing over the bed. Also, they made getting around the bed a bit of a struggle. There were USB ports in the lamp fixtures on both sides of the bed and a single plug on the aft side – DH brought an extra-long power cord and we were able to plug the “I’m over 50 and can’t sleep without this silly” c-pap. We had no trouble with the cabin stewards unplugging anything in our room. The mini-room was ideal for the DD (aged 😎 and she enjoyed the fold down bunk until the night of significant rolling and rocking. The creaking and bangs were enough to make her want to sleep closer to the floor. She opted to move to the couch below (but didn’t want it pulled out into a bed. Our steward kindly left the bunk open as the kiddo had fashioned quite the fort using the extra sheets. I’m not exactly sure how a cabin like that would work for two people. (Especially if the cruise fare had been split evenly between the parties.) The closet in the mini-room was the depth of a reasonably large suitcase, the three drawers were tall, but not deep. Thankfully I’ve got my Marie Kondo certification and was able to keep things a bit organized (until day 7 when it all fell apart). The adjoining bathroom in that area was the same size as the inside cabin that mom was tucked into. It was great to have a second, more private place to potty – more on that later. The bathroom in the master area really sells this cabin. Double sinks, a rather large shower with 8 shower heads (a fixed rain shower overhead, a wand, and six wall-mounted jets that can be adjusted up, down, left and right.) It is too bad that there is only one drain in the shower as when the ship was docked the water would pool on the far side of the shower and during one of the more exciting sea days sloshed out of the shower pan onto the floor in the main area (there is a wet area with two drains so the carpet was not in much danger. The bathtub with huge picture window was a draw to DD and myself who are bathtub people, but sadly, it didn’t hold water and functioned much better as a place to hold towels and the many swimsuits that served us well. NCL does offer “Seven Luxury Bath” Packages that you can order from your butler (awkward). Most were $99 and included a cocktail and special things scattered in the tub. The pinnacle item was the Mediterranean Soak – a French verbena bubble bath, and eye mask and a bottle of chilled Dom Perignon champagne with sturgeon caviar “beside you”. Grand total: $499. Hard Pass. In Costa Maya, Mexico we were docked next to the Breakaway and I was able to view the bathroom windows from the outside and I would like to report that you CAN see into the shower and tub area from outside. These windows come with shades, and not being nudists – we used them. Storage, as reported in the 2BRs is plenty. A full closet, ample space under the master bed to shove the suitcases (opened), three drawers and a shelf for use next to the closet. Two safes (handy – if you’re sharing the cabin with friends with whom you don’t trust.) In the master area around the TV, there is an upper cabinet with a shelf and a lower cabinet of similar configuration. Had I known that I, the short person in my party was going to have to use the lower cabinet for most of my non-hanging things I would have managed to work in better storage cubes. The proximity to the bed made it challenging to see what was in the cabinet on the lower level. The vanity had three smaller drawers, and loads of space under the sinks. Out in the “kitchen/bar” area, the storage was quickly taken up with our bottles of water and the one storage drawer that we used to house the games, decks of cards and arts and crafts (these things are obviously optional). One more thing to note – the walls in the main cabin were not magnetic and a roll of tape would have served us well. Again – not a deal breaker. The deck was adequate, we enjoyed our chairs and “never ever” used our towel clips to hang our wet gear to dry. This is forbidden and we never (wink) ever did it. The Suite Life: We didn’t take advantage of all the perks of the suite as we were traveling with non-suite people. However, priority boarding was delightful and it was easy to connect back up with our travel mates when they finally got onboard. The Haven/Suite area in Miami – terminal B was small, but the staff was friendly and my daughter reported that the orange juice was the best she had ever had in her “entire life’. So there. We used the priority disembarkation for one port and on the last day, as my mom was traveling with us our awesome concierge Bruno had no issues with her getting off the ship with us. It was fun for the DD to see the inside areas of the ship as we zipped thru secret passageways and I was only a bit horrified when Bruno halted lines so his “priority VIPS” could jump lines. (Where is Bruno when I’m online at Costco?) Our butler was not asked to draw me a bath, much to his delight I’m sure, but he did keep us in M&Ms and cookies. The little sandwiches that arrive on a daily basis were not popular with any of us, but the fruit that showed up was. We didn’t order room service but did order in breakfast rolls and coffee one morning and that was very nice. I over ordered food at La Cucina and our waiter called the butler to bring the extra pizza back to our room. I would have been happy to bring it to the cabin myself, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Perhaps I am not the princess I think I am. Being in the Suite category on a ship without a Haven Restaurant entitles you to dine at specialty restaurants for breakfast and lunch. Due to the mixed nature of our group, and our preference for a casual breakfast we ate only twice at Moderno for breakfast. I had the crab cake benedict and thought it was spectacular, and the second time I had the omelet – which, to be honest, was equal to the buffet made-to-order omelet. The breakfast bar in Moderno was lovely with fresh fruits, yogurts, cold cuts, and cheeses. We did not ever make it to Cagney’s for the suite/haven lunch. I would say that having an alternate option to go was nice, but even on sea days for our busy group, it was hard to want to take an hour or more to eat during the morning and afternoon. We did make a blunder and in light of the fact that we weren’t taking advantage of the breakfast/lunch services on a daily basis, my DH went to breakfast in Moderno with my FIL, while I happily stayed with the breakfast hating DD. Our flawed rationale was they were expecting 3 people times 10 days times at 2 meals (60 sittings), and we had only used the service twice for 1 meal for 2 people (4 sittings) – so what would it matter? They were kind about it and didn’t charge us for FIL’s breakfast, but DH was discretely told that swapping was not allowed. Whoops. They only wanted to do the special breakfast thing once, and I believe no true Haven/Suite passengers were harmed, or even aware of our blunder. I did see that the kindly gentleman who organized our M&G and his lovely bride who were not in a suite were invited to breakfast, so I’m pretty sure that the Haven/Suite people were dining on the regular with “normal people” GASP. We did call Bruno a couple of times to help work out some restaurant reservations and he was able to make the changes that we could not. I pre-booked everything and couldn’t see the value of a concierge, but I was wrong and happy to tip Mr. Bruno for his services. Ship Life: The age of our fellow passengers was quite a bit older than our previous summer cruise to Alaska. At times there were scooter mishaps in the hallways and getting around required some attention to those of different physical abilities. The downside to this is that there were only about 35 people under the age of 18 on the entire ship. My DD was sad to not find friends. There were only two gals around her age – one seemed to be happily tucked into the Haven at all times (her brothers attended the kids club) and the other gal didn’t speak English. After a tearful chat, my daughter rose to the challenge to use her skills in art and making friends to figure out how to communicate. At the end of the cruise, the two girls gave each other a big hug. YEAH! The upside to the demographics and the lack of kids is that Splash Academy was ours for the taking. Even without a plethora of kids, the DD loved her time there and the staff was superb. They told us that on the previous cruise there had been 300 kids and on the next full cruise (not the Bon Jovi thing) there were 700! Registered. I love my kid – but 700…WHOA. The other awesome thing is that on sea days it was actually possible to get chairs by the pools and with the exception of a couple of offenders the chairs that were claimed were used. We weren’t always able to get chairs together, but if we went out to sun/swim for a few hours a single chair would work for us, then as the day went on we were magically able to get a couple together. A miracle occurred on day 3 when the waiter actually came and took drink orders so I didn’t have to schlep “all the way to the pool bar” for a cocktail. It only happened once, but when it did, it was magical. (Princess status restored) Nightlife: I’m not a “show person” so we skipped the formal shows, although my mom went twice and thought it was fantastic. As a single, she was able to squeeze into seats in great locations. DH and I did head to the spinnaker lounge and bliss for live music and enjoyed ourselves even if the bands were cheesy. To be honest, the band at the pool was far better. We got caught in show traffic outside of Jasmine one night and it was clear that plenty of folks were enjoying the theatrical offerings. Dining: Most mornings, our party would get their preferred breakfasts and meet at a table in the Great Outdoors. The buffet gets repetitive, especially if you’re picky but in the end, it’s an efficient way to start the day with a large group and everyone is happy. For the most part, we saw folks being very diligent about food/tong handling. Lots of washy washy! Our lunches were primarily at the pool area as well. This is probably not a shocker with the kiddo who is part fish. We had 9 specialty dining nights for our trip. This was too many for the Jade, as when we got to the point where we were repeating we were rather over it. In hindsight, it would have been better to have 4 or 5 and spread them out, but this is the vacation we planned. Night 1: Cagney’s – the service was off, and the steaks were frankly terrible. We weren’t offered a wine/beverage list and I think it would have been nice for the first night at least for the server to offer to explain how the restaurant worked for the new cruisers amongst us. My FIL (the vocal one) did call attention to the fact that his steak was terrible, but our server seemed ill-equipped to respond. I ordered creamed corn as one of my sides and it was visually awful and tasted worse. It was a disappointing kick off to our cruise dining adventure. Night 2: La Cucina – what a huge improvement. Fun service, and an enjoyable dinner. For those expecting olive garden or pizza tavern type Italian, La Cucina is not it. It is pretty close to the types of places I enjoyed in Rome, Venice and in Sienna. I had the carbonara noodles and wanted to pour it all over me – it was so good that I had to stop eating so as not to hurt myself. Night 3: Teppanyaki – everyone must do this at least once on an NCL ship. The show is fun and the food is pretty good and extremely plentiful. Once you do it once, going back is really only necessary if you LOVE the food. The show is EXACTLY the same (and I don’t just mean between night 3 and 7 of this cruise, but between this cruise and the one 2 years ago in Alaska.) Night 4: Le Bistro – my in-laws love this place and when we dined here on the Pearl I was unimpressed, but that must have been an off night, because we had a delightful meal and the gentlemen LOVED and I mean lick the plate loved the special T-bone steaks. They raved. Night 5-no reservations and due to our extremely late arrival back from our excursion thru the Panama Canal – we all just foraged for food on our own (which means we somehow all ended up in the Great Outdoors with a plate of buffet food.) Night 6: Moderno – so I had low expectations for this place after reading the reviews on CC, but we had a great time. We liked the salad bar and didn’t over indulge on the skewers of meat that were offered to us. The chicken offerings were a bit dry, but the lamb, pork and beef were very good. No room for after dinner treats. Night 7: Teppenkayi – same show, different meal. Had the chicken and noodles. The noodles were HUGE and should have been a meal on its own. Night 8: Grand Pacific /MDR My FILs meal what a total and complete fail. He would like to pull you aside to tell you all about how the Swedish Meatballs were in fact NOT Swedish Meatballs, but dry noodles and steak with a “blob” of sauce on top. He was very unhappy and I will agree that calling that dish “Swedish” came with expectations. However, the plate looked amazing and if it tasted half as good as my own plate then he was a winner. Our night in the GP was lovely, and in spite of complaints from DH and FIL about having to put on long pants, it was as good or better than the specialty dining events. Night 9: La Cucina – I love Italian food and decided to open with the “small” portion of the carbonara noodles as my starter and then move on to the “lighter” pizza. This was a terrible mistake. I ate all the noodles and when the pizza came I didn’t even want to put a slice on my plate. This was the night our server called the butler to take the food back to our room, which he did. I do like cold pizza and did enjoy a slice later on in the evening, but I really chalk that up to the extra prosecco that was enjoyed on the back of the ship after “walking off” dinner. Night 10: Le Bistro 2.0 – This time 4 out of the 5 of us ordered the t-bone steaks and again there were raves. I’m the standout and ordered lamb and it was also very good. By now our waiter knew us well and came back to the table over and over with Prosecco which we happily enjoyed. We ordered the crème brule to split and loved it. Night 11: Celebration night for us at Cagney’s. Thankfully, the service improved from night one and this was a much better meal experience. The food was perfect and the side selections were more in line with expectations. We finally saved room for the chocolate cake and it was gone in a heartbeat. With this meal, Cagney’s was once again crowned our favorite place for the last night on the ship. (We’ll see you on the breakaway in 2020) Where is the kid in all this dining out? Well, she was on a culinary experience all her own. After the first night at Cagney’s she wanted to go to Splash Academy as soon as they opened up – so she was dining on the limited kids menu (plain burger and fries) or in the buffet on hot dogs and fruit. I normally aim for variety and balance, but this “old people” cruise required some adjustments on all of our parts. She was eating, she was happy and pleasant to be around – WIN, WIN, WIN. EXCURSIONS AND PORTS (we’re almost done) Due to our travel agent and NCL perks we received $100 per shore excursion booked thru NCL, so we booked exclusively NCL activities. Our TA offered guarantees about getting back to the ship, but the only excursion they offered that we were interested in was on the second to last day, so the risk of not getting back to the ship meant missing the last sea day and meeting the ship in port in Miami – so we went the NCL route. Cartagena, Colombia: “Old City and Spanish Fortress” tour. Oh my, what can I say about this LONG day? The hike to the top of the fortress was good, but it was already 90 degrees when we left the ship and the street vendors were literally in your face. The tour agent did not give our kid a ticket and we had to argue a bit in pigeon Spanish that we were not going to go without our daughter. After about 30 minutes on the fortress, we got back on the bus and went to a shopping mall, where we had 15 minutes in “shop 11” to look for souvenirs. Then it was onto the Naval Museum where we watched a 4-minute dance and then wandered around the one-room museum. From there we walked thru the old town to the Inquisition Palace by way of the Slave Market. In 30 minutes I had to explain the slave trade, the Spanish Inquisition and murder to our DH. We had been working up to these topics, primarily slavery, but were trying not to break her heart in doing so. This isn’t a complaint about the tour, but I was ill prepared for the rapid-fire topics and questions they raised. There was a brief segue to a church which DH wanted to skip so we waited with our guide outside a park. The walk back to the bus was long and we made an apparently mandatory stop in an emerald shop. My DH fixated on a lovely bracelet that was $3000.00 Um NO. Finally, back to the bus and back to the ship. The port shop at Cartagena was nice, and we spent some money there on silly trinkets and coffee to bring home. All in all, I felt like the day was designed to encounter people to tip (the museum dancers, the museum people, the street dancers that we “happened upon”, the photo op guy on the fort, and of course the bus driver and our guide.) PANAMA!!! This is the reason we picked this cruise in the first place. We selected the “Panama Canal by Ferry” excursion. We tendered to the “yacht club” where we met 6 buses and started our trip across Panama. There was a brief but needed stop at a very clean and large gas station with a mini-mart and restrooms. It was only day 5 of our cruise, but I’ve never seen American’s go so crazy for chips and soda before. We were guilty of it as well, and even though I had a bag full of snacks, water and energy bars the chips and soda we bought were handy. After about an hour we arrived at the ferry and I was pleased to see that only two of the six buses were there, but alas – nope the other buses arrived shortly thereafter and every seat on the ferry filled up. As reported half the seats were not under cover from the sun but with hats, spf clothing and sunscreen we braved it at the back side of the ferry which turned out to be a perfect place to be to watch the other ships in the locks. This excursion was a lot of waiting for something exciting to happen. It took all day and it was hot and at times WET (a crazy rain occurred) and the lunch on the ferry was unappealing. All that said – the boating portion of this excursion was a once in a lifetime event and I am thrilled we did it. At the end of the canal, we docked outside Panama City and boarded our buses for the trip to Colon. Traffic in PC was horrific and I’ve seen terrible traffic. On the freeway towards the bridge (we were going the opposite direction), there were vendors on the freeway selling the folks in their cars food and water. Of our two lanes headed away from the bridge, one lane had been taken up by commuters also heading toward the bridge. When we finally arrived in Colon I was horrified by the state of that area. Buildings with no power, but people living in them, babies in the street and the buildings were crumbling. When we finally turned the corner to the port the difference was striking to say the least. Everything at the port was lit up, painted, pretty, clean…while a block away it looked like a war zone. We were tired after our long day and happy we did the excursion, but have mixed emotions about our full experience. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: Caribbean Train, eco-cruise and countryside. This was our least favorite excursion. The time on the canal was fun and the pontoon captain was superb at spotting wildlife. Seeing sloths and spider monkeys in the real world was thrilling. Driving through the banana plantation was interesting and we learned a lot, but the train thing was really strange. It might have been my mood, but I did not enjoy it and really hated that there were private vendors on the train to sell us things and a man with a banjo who played and then walked the aisle for tips. I will not be recommending this excursion. Roatan, Honduras: Dolphin Encounter. Oh my, aside from going all the way thru the Panama Canal, this excursion was the most wonderful thing we did as a family. The crew at Anthony’s key were organized, focused on the safety and happiness of the dolphins and were a delight to be with. If I could quit modern life today and go do their job I would. What an amazing place. The encounter with the dolphins was controlled, quiet and really fun. The dolphin seemed happy, and it was an honor to be in close contact. They took photographs during our brief time in the water with Callie (our 5-year-old pregnant dolphin) and they charged by the person in your group. We were a large group, but the price was $129 and totally worth it. I had my underwater camera which was nice, but the professional photos are superior. I have a new happy place. The other excursion they offered was like ours with the encounter, but then there was time to snorkel. We’ll do that next time when we go without the water-phobic grandma. Harvest Caye: So, from the in your face poverty of Colon, to the groomed Disneyesque shores of Harvest Caye, you have to simply set things aside and enjoy a beautiful day. We rented a cabana and enjoyed a luxury day atop cushioned lounger, a private beach area, in-cabana dining and a cart service to save us the trouble of walking everywhere. Because it was ala carte we toned down on the beverages but did have lunch brought to us. The total cost for lunch for the 6 of us plus 7 adult beverages and one virgin daiquiri was about $150. The zip line experience was $69 per person and my mom (77) and the DD (8) had a BLAST. I only cried a little when they were doing their thing, but – how could I not let the kid and the grandma have that experience together. Harvest Caye was everything I had hoped it would be during the long long weeks of waiting for the cruise to come. Even though we had another super crazy rainstorm in the afternoon it did not detract from the memories we created. I am surprised that of all the things that NCL has managed to charge for, that they didn’t have photography available for the zip line experiences. Like Roatan, I probably would have been happy to drop extra $$ for the picture of my kiddo and mom exiting the “lighthouse”. Costa Maya, Mexico – Maya Lost Kingdom waterpark. Even after swearing that we would NOT do the zip lines in Mexico – the kid and the dad did it and had a high old time. I’m a solid no, but I’m a chicken. I did a couple of the high slides and thought it was fun although as previous folks have noted the slides are a bit rough and I wished I had had a rash guard. The park has a shuttle that runs to the port every 15 minutes and we didn’t eat in the park, so when it was time to eat we zipped back to the ship, ate and then spent the afternoon in the clean ship pool. We were at the park by 11 am or so, and waited in no lines the entire time we were there. As we were leaving around 2, a third ship had arrived in port and the park was getting much busier. The park was a good choice for the kid, her dad and I and I am equally happy that the grandparents did their own thing. It is not a place to “relax”. I would strongly recommend bringing water shoes and rash guards – they have them for sale in the park and you cannot get into the park without going thru the gauntlet of extremely skilled salespeople. We contributed to their store and now have a cute Maya Lost rash guard for the little to wear this summer. Oh, there was one very unpleasant thing that happened. Our last night on the ship it was clear that the ship was starting to wind down and prep for the next cruise – which was a 3-4 day Bon Jovi cruise. During dinner at Cagney’s, we saw staff roll heavy equipment toward the pool area and by the end of our meal they had drained the family pool. Our room was under the pool area near the towel swap area and for the most part, we were never bothered by any noise from up top. We would hear chairs moving during the AM cleaning, but it wasn’t disruptive. But, this last night it felt like a complete construction crew was above our heads. We did call guest services and even went up to the desk to complain. I know that the ship swap has to occur, but construction at 10 pm until well after 2 am was awful. In the morning we went up to the pool area and they had built a stage area over the family pool and set up a complete bar where the towel swap station had been. Clearly, the people getting on the ship after us would not be of the “going to bed at 6 pm” variety. I wish that NCL would include time to swap the ship set up in between sailings rather than disturb folks on a previous sailing who have no interest in the upcoming event, but I suppose – a quick swap is money. BEVERAGES: We all had the regular 'premium" beverage package. The two times I wanted a more expensive wine I gladly paid the upcharge. Other than that we enjoyed the free-flowing cheapo prosecco and Bahama mamas. When we ordered mixed drinks we specified the brand of liquor we wanted and it was never an issue. @kfnesq posted a very nice review of the Ultimate Beverage Package. So… that’s it. It’s a novel and I’m sure I left something out. All in all a fantastic trip.
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