First - some background:
We are Americans, family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children ages 5 & 7) currently living overseas in Copenhagen, Denmark. We've been here for 1.5 years and thoroughly enjoy living the European lifestyle. We're used to lines, high prices, indifferent service, and cold rainy days. LOL. We're laid back, easy to please, and are able to make lemonade out of lemons. We're not hyper critical, but will call something out if it's not right, in the hopes of making it right in the future.
This review will be primarily about the ship and what it was like cruising with our young family of travelers – full of random thoughts and personal opinion.
We chose this itinerary because of the ports - Rome, Athens, Ephesus (Izmir), 2 days in Egypt, and Malta!!! Wow! We knew that we wouldn't get "up close and personal" in these ports, but were really looking forward to a quick "taste" - a way for us to be able to decide if we wanted to go back for a more in depth look at these interesting countries/cities. We especially liked the port/sea day rotation, with a sea day following almost every port day. More on the ports later.
We chose a BC category room primarily because the specific room we wanted was booked, so we opted for the budget balcony category. We opted for the balcony purely for MY comfort - I wanted to be able to open the door and hear the ocean, or pop out there to get a feel for the weather before we went upstairs for breakfast. Since we were cruising in Jan/Feb, I knew that our time out on our balcony would be next to nothing - but I wanted one "just in case" the weather broke... We did use it daily - popping out there every so often to spot a ship, an island, or even the occasional whale!
Thoughts about the room:
SUPER comfy bed for hubby & I! We were both very surprised at just how comfortable it was! 4 pillows (2 for each of us) was also a nice surprise. I'm sure that we could have requested more if we wanted... but the 4 were perfectly wonderful for us.
The pullman bed from the ceiling – LOVELY! Very comfy (yep! I got up there to try it out) and with the fold down guard rail, my kids were safe up there. No worries at all. They “swapped” who got to sleep up there every night, as they both really enjoyed it. ONLY drawback was that it blocked the entrance to the balcony when it was down. Yes, you COULD get out (and we did!), but it required ducking down pretty low and trying to heave that door open while crouched could be less than fun sometimes).
The pull out sofa thing was the only disappointment in the whole room. It was hard as a rock both folded up as a sofa AND when folded out as a bed. To call it a “bed” is a bit misleading. I think that if you are over 3.5’ tall, you can’t use it as a bed. It fit my kids wonderfully, but I would not be able to sleep in it.
I did request “egg crate” topper for it – but was told that none were available. My kids didn’t complain about the bed, so I let it go. If I would have had to have slept there, I would have made more of an attempt to get some type of topper to make the “bed” more comfortable.
Now – when BOTH the sofa bed thing AND the Pullman were down – the cabin became TINY. The only floor space was between the master bed and the wall – all 13” of it! But, we made do – and probably wouldn’t upgrade based on room size alone in the future. We ONLY used the room for sleeping, showering, changing – not for entertaining ourselves, etc.
We had the cabin stewards (Imee and Marcus! WONDERFUL!) leave the beds OUT for the first few days of the cruise, thinking they’d be good for naps and that we may go to bed earlier than they would normally turn down the cabins. However, about ½ way through the cruise, it became apparent that our kids would last MUST later than we did – and we had them fold everything up each morning, and take it all out again each night during regular turn down service.
The bathroom was actually very well laid out for the space that it occupied. 1 person can shower, one can brush teeth, and one can use the toilet at the same time. That worked really well for our family of 4!
The storage space in the bathroom was also a nice surprise. Shelves in the shower held our items nicely with room to spare. There is a body wash & shampoo dispenser in there too, so that saved on room as we used the ship's stuff (just bring your own conditioner, as there isn't any in the dispenser.) The sink area had 3 shelves which held all of our stuff nicely - we did pare down our bathroom "ritual" though, and brought just the essentials with us. There is also a hand soap dispenser near the sink, so that was helpful as well. LOADS of towels! Towels everywhere! Our family of 4 never had to ask for extras - which was a first for us! Usually when we travel we have to request more towels - - but not on the Jade! KUDOS!
REST of the CABIN:
We found that storage space was at a premium! We had them take out the mini bar stuff so that we could use the fridge for juices and boxes of chocolate milk from the buffet. We used EVERY inch of free drawers/shelves/desk space for our things – and could have really used a few more places to put things.
HOWEVER – I think this is because I packed for 15 days and tried to put EVERYTHING out all at once. If I had packed for a week, we would have been just fine.
What I wound up doing was putting out a week’s clothes at a time, and then leaving the rest in suitcases under our bed. As clothes got dirty, they went into the “dirty” suitcase under the bed, and more clean clothes came out.
In hindsight, I would have ONLY packed for a week and used the laundry service ($24 per good size bag to be washed, dried, and folded).
We did not pack any FORMAL clothing – just some “sportswear” for DH and a few nice pieces for myself and the kids for when we wanted to eat in the Grand Pacific dining room or one of the specialty restaurants.
Ok – back to the room. There are 4 “cubbies” or shelves on one side of the closet. On top of these shelves is the safe, and then one more shelf above that. This is where we stored the majority of our clothing (one shelf for each of us and the top shelf for coats/etc.).
The closet was adequate for our “hanging” things. DO BRING EXTRA hangers! Stock up those cheap dry cleaning ones and bring those. I think we brought about 20 and used all of them. We left them there at the end of the cruise. (they are used to this – as the second I was done taking down all my hanging things, they came to turn down the cabin and took all my “extra” hangers out. So, they must see it ALL the time).
Next to the closet there is another “cubby” area that contains 3 drawers, a cubby above that, the mini fridge above that, and then another “cubby” hole. We used the drawers for socks/undies, the first cubby for excess bathroom stuff, and the top cubby for souvenirs.
Next to this is a “desk” area that contains the coffee pot, mugs, ice bucket and cups. In hindsight, I would have asked to have ALLLLLLL of this removed – as we didn’t use it once and would have preferred to have the space available. I’ll do that next time!
Above this was the TV, and above that was another “cubby” area that we used to store more souvenirs and misc. stuff.
Below this was a stool that we used to access the top “cubbies”. Not sure why it was in there, but we did use it a lot as a “step stool” to reach the top cubbies.
On the other side of the room was a desk area w/ mirror and the hairdryer. I REALLY liked having the hair dryer NOT in the bathroom as it saved on congestion in there. There was also a “side table” and a chair in the room. The good thing was that the table slid under the desk so that when we weren’t using it, it didn’t take up too much room. We moved the chair out to the balcony since we NEVER used it (took up too much room!). We used that little table for our room service breakfast deliveries each morning – and to put the laptop/cameras, etc. during the night.
Our room stewards (Imee and Marcus) were wonderful. Our cabin was always spotless, made up just the way we liked it – plenty of towels and the kids stuffed animals out in plain sight. We DID get towel animals EVERY night – but I did make it a point to tell them that this was the kids’ first cruise and that I thought that they would really appreciate having them. Not sure if we would have “automatically” gotten them or not.
NCL Jade 12 Night Eastern Med Cruise Review - 1/09
"Adventures in Ancientness" with 2 kids!