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Kmkub

Jade review: Feb 2/1 – 2/6 2019. Western Caribbean

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A bit of background – this was our first, completely away from everyone, vacation in several years. We’ve done a variety of ships on three cruise lines. We are not brand loyal, at all. Throughout this review, when I refer to Nerd, it’s my amazing husband. I love nerds.

 

For us, the cruise is the destination; we rarely care about ports. We will see the occasional show and stop and listen to good live music, but we don’t do trivia games or sexy legs stuff. We live in South Florida, with a pool in our backyard, so, we mostly leave the pool to our fellow cruisers, who don’t have this experience readily available.

 

This was the smallest ship we’ve sailed, and we loved it! A bunch of dings along the way, but we strive to not ruin our cruise over small details.  

 

Embarkation

Port of Miami is so easy. We went from the port parking lot to onboard in 50-ish minutes.  It would have been 30 minutes, but we got stopped getting on the ship because both of our cards made the buzzer sound instead of the pleasant chime. We got put in timeout with some other passengers, having the same issue. There were quite a few of these.

 

Muster was very smooth. It was a typical muster; no complaints.

 

The Ship

Our first impression was the Atrium, which was pretty small compared to other ships.  Very nice, but we didn’t spend much time here.

We love the layout of this ship and didn’t miss any of the mega features, at all. This was a good education for us. We just felt everything was so much roomier on a smaller ship. (Except for the cabin.) The layout on this ship is optimal, in our view.

 

Love O’Sheehan’s on this ship over the Getaway. This is a great place to hang. (It didn’t hurt that we were a few elevator doors down and one floor up from the pub, either.)


Our room was classified as aft, but if this was an aft room, I have to wonder if there are any mid-ship rooms, since we were only about 8 cabin doors from the mid ship elevator. What a convenient location! This room (9612 balcony,) had plenty of storage space. We found the couch a bit odd – it was hard as a rock. The bed was okay, but the pillows were way too soft. We usually bring our own pillows – lesson learned. All in all, a very nice cabin. I spent a lot of time on the balcony. It was a new moon, so it was very dark. Loved it.

 

Staff

The staff were less knowledgeable overall than we’ve experienced on previous cruises. A few examples:

 

We went to O’Sheehan’s quite a bit for lunch, trying a variety of options. Of all the times we went, only one server knew what the soup of the day was. This is bad process and a simple fix. How many times do guests have to inquire about SOD before you think to yourself, “hey, maybe I should find out SOD before I go on the floor!”

 

At the two connecting bars on deck 6, we asked the waitress to clarify what our UBP wine discount was. She told me there was no discount. Now, I know there was, so I told her that I believed it was 40%, but was checking. She said there was no such program.

 

Room steward – we didn’t require much of him, but the one thing we asked was that he open our fridge. He didn’t do that until around 8:00 p.m. Other than that, he was fine.

 

The spa staff could never get their story straight. It’s like calling any cruise CS on land. If you don’t like the answer, call back until you get the answer you want. I had a spa employee tell me that what was written in the daily was a typo, and there were no specials for the times listed. I asked her to call, and sure enough, it wasn’t a typo, she was just not trained on the specials.

 

Much more staff training is needed on this ship.

 

Entertainment

The entertainment on this cruise was quite disappointing. We love to stop and listen; have a martini and relax. The piano player at the bar, Carlos, was good, and we enjoyed him. The rest, though, sent us packing to other parts of the ship. The piano bar is a favorite for us, no matter which line, so we were a bit bummed about that.

 

UBP

UBP cards – a new feature is that the card lists how many UPBs, so Nerd didn’t have to collect my card to get me a drink. Nice touch. Also, not having to sign anymore was good. No complaints on the UBP. There was nothing we wanted that required an extra fee.

 

Food

We don’t take our first two hours on board to set up a schedule for our dinner meals, so sometimes we get stuck with what is available. This isn’t a complaint; it’s how it usually works out for us.  

 

On embarkation, we immediately noticed O’Sheehan’s and went there for lunch & a beer. This pub’s layout is so much bigger and nicer than the Getaway. The food quality was fine to great. We ate nothing bad, but a few things were just, “meh.” The Shepard’s Pie was so good, Nerd ate it four times. (I don’t like Shepard’s Pie.)

We were told that there was prime rib on night 1, no matter where we went to eat, so we went back to O’Sheehan’s. The prime rib was cooked perfectly to requested temp and was quite tasty, but it was extremely fatty and all the sides were cold (not cool, they were cold.) It’s clear that they assembly line these and put them in a fridge and pull them out while they make the prime rib more ala minute.

 

Specialty dining – it’s no longer the special meal it used to be. We’ll adjust. If you give everyone on board, two free upcharge dining experiences, then not everyone who has the perk will get to use it, unless they want their meals at 9:45 p.m. As the saying goes, nothing free is free.

 

MDR – For a few reasons, we only did the MDR once. I think we’ve reached the conclusion that the big drawn out fuss over dinner is not our style, so I can’t comment too much on the MDRs. The service was slow, but the food was fine, but neither of us have the capacity to each that much food at any one sitting anymore, and sitting around and waiting for the next course makes us fill up so much faster. Good news for our waistlines! (Also more space in the MDR for those who love that experience.)

 

O’Sheehan’s – it would have been a great option to run out quick and grab a bite to take to the cabin, but you can’t leave there with any food. What an odd policy. Can anyone explain?

 

Buffet – crowded as usual, but not a big deal. The issue was with the lack of options. I love a good sandwich, but each day I checked, and the only lunch meats out were bologna and Muffuletta.

 

Great Outdoors – We are night owls, and keep odd hours, so often, the buffet was closed when we went hunting for breakfast around 11:00. The Great Outdoors layout is a hot mess. Very cramped, very crowded, and the on-demand omelet station right in the middle of the line. To get around that, we had to back out of line and walk around to the other half. Food was pretty rough, there, too.

 

Le Bistro – We loved this on the Getaway and loved it, here. We used our UDP twice at this option. I got sick (cold,) on Monday, so was not feeling up for dinner on Tuesday. Nerd went, and asked the waiter if I could come down later to use my credit to get a French onion soup to go. It was not an issue, so I was very appreciative that the staff let me do this. I didn’t get to eat much at all on Tuesday. Soup was great! No complaints about any of the food at this dining option. Most of it is excellent.

 

One thing we noticed at Le Bistro is the hypocritical policy on dress code. For men, it was very clear – no jeans, no shorts – pants only. The very same policy states that women can wear dresses, skirts, jeans or shorts. I find this appalling. If it’s fine for one gender, it’s fine for the other. I don’t think they were enforcing, though. When I went down to get my to-go soup, they let a man with flip flops and cargo shorts in.

 

Casino

We enjoy the casino. The layout on the Jade is pretty good. Smoke levels were noninvasive.  Lack of variety of slots would be my only “complaint.”

 

Texas Hold ‘Em (non tourney,) rake is 10%, which is high. Nerd says there are enough bad players at sea to overcome the rake. (He’s pretty good.) He won over $200 on one night, only to lose $160 the next. That’s poker!

 

For the tourneys, though, the rake is 20%. Nerd loves the game, but we have a casino a few miles away, so he skipped those.

 

The rules for blackjack are so heavily weighted in favor of the house, it’s no longer worth it to even try. Reshuffling deck after every hand is just dirty pool. I understand all the lines are doing this. They will keep doing it until people stop playing. This won’t happen.

 

The slots were fun, and looser than I have found on other ships. Some takes:

88 cent bet - $188 payout (my largest ever!)

30 cent bet - $204 payout (Nerd’s largest ever!)

Lots of bigger than usual pots for us. It wasn’t uncommon to see a $25 payout on a 30-40 cent bet. This is a new experience for us.

 

All in all, we balanced out, cash wise, on a casino time. I think we were down $15 and Nerd thinks we were up $15. Either way, a very cheap way for some fun entertainment.

We did buy a square for the Superbowl.  We got Pats 3/Rams 2, so we didn’t have high hopes.

 

Guest Services

The guest services area was always crowded. The layout on other ships is much more tucked away. This may be a side-effect of a smaller ship. Long lines were not unusual.

 

A great CS story. I forgot my brush and comb. I noticed immediately. As soon as the shops opened, we went on a search. I wasn’t even a bit worried. The shop had no combs and no brushes. We couldn’t find a single thing that would assist detangling my freshly washed hair. We went to the spa, since they absolutely have grooming tools. We begged, but couldn’t convince them to sell us one of their stash. We checked with housekeeping, who had nothing.  After 90-minutes of this, I’m in a full blown panic, wondering how I’m going to live with uncombed hair between Friday evening and Monday afternoon. Nerd called guest services and Jessica told him she’d set us up. She gave me a very small comb, that got the job done until we got to Mexico. Thank you, Jessica!

 

Spa

We almost always get a massage on cruises, and this one did not disappoint. It was incredible. The best part is there was no product hard-sell post massage. Post massage people just want to go relax somewhere, and drink lots of water.

 

Television

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a cruise’s tv options, but on this cruise, I spent most of Monday and Tuesday in the cabin, sleeping and trying to stay away from people. The television options were abysmal. Sometimes the movie channel would sit dead for over 90 minutes until the next movie started. I had a lot of boring times being sick.   Two movie channels, one television channel, four news channels and two sports channels (showing the same soccer game.) It was mostly soccer, with a few breaks for basketball and one for the Superbowl.

On the up-sell channel, the guy was peddling internet packages. I didn’t write down the exact quote, but it was something like, “Just because you are at sea to getaway and disconnect, doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected.” That made me eye roll. I also chuckled.
 

Harvest Caye

We got off specifically to check out what appears in pictures to be an absolutely amazing pool. Yes, it is nice, but if you’ve stayed at a Disney or Universal resort in Orlando, you can expect something quite like Hard Rock or Yacht & Beach Club. We were only on land for about ½ hour.

 

Costa Maya

First time for us, and it was a disappointing port. Now, we know all the Caribbean ports are nothing but tourist traps, so we already went in with incredibly low expectations. They weren’t met. It was crowded and the entertainment blocked valuable foot traffic real estate. This is when I started to get sick, so we quickly went back to the ship.

 

Summary

Despite being sick, I had a very nice time. Being sick at sea is way better than being sick while working. I made the best of it.  The room steward was nice and didn’t make the bed, much, per our request. He came in once a day to grab trash, refill towels and TP, etc., and to remove garbage.

 

Note that that night in the Casino, several people told Nerd that they had a fellow traveler who had gotten a cold as well. When we got home, we found out the kid got sick on Monday, too. We can’t know if we are in the process of getting sick, which is why we are completely OCD about washing our hands when we get back to the cabin, before we leave the cabin and before we eat. Even after washing my hands before eating, I still comply with “washy washy.”

 

Would we do the Jade again? Too soon to tell. I love the ship, but some of the experiences on the ship were less than what we usually experience.

 

We’re doing Yacht Club on MSC Divina next year, so that will be yet another new way to experience cruising.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Edited by Kmkub

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Thank you for your review. We are sailing on the Jade in April on a TA and have never sailed on her.  Also we are setting up a slot pull for our roll call and are not very familiar with the various slot machines. Is there one that you would recommend for a slot pull?  TIA

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6 minutes ago, BlueLadyBlue said:

  Also we are setting up a slot pull for our roll call and are not very familiar with the various slot machines. Is there one that you would recommend for a slot pull?  TIA

So I am bad with names; people, movies, games, etc.

 

The games that had the most frequent wins were the type that had only a few symbols

 

777

BAR 

x2

Bonus

 

On these, if you get 5 bonus (orbs, hearts, wolves, gold bars, etc.) you get to spin to get X value; then 7 free spins, and each bonus symbol gets you X value for each symbol.

 

Nerd made his $200 on this one - he got the 1,500 value on his bonus, so each symbol he grabbed on those 7 spins gave him $15.

 

I have never enjoyed the 777 games, but this style was quite fun.

 

The 88 cent min bet games are all very similar. 88 is the Chinese good luck number, so the min bet on the Chinese style lucky slots, was 88 cents. That's where I won big.

 

I have found that the games I enjoy "seeing," the most, are incredibly tight, so I have learned to favor ROI over "pretty."

 

 

 

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OMG your Yacht Club stay on the Divina will blow you out of the water! That's been our favorite cruise thus far. The ship is beautiful. Met lots of lovely people from around the world and loved our evenings sitting in Laluna lounge listening to music while people watching. 

 

Loved your report- thanks for sharing!

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We were on the same cruise. We had a great time. The Jewel class ships are our favorite. We love  the SF corner aft suites and think they are the best bang for buck cabin NCL offers. Took our grown children and their sig others as a Christmas gift. Got them insides and they all upgraded to balconies. Thought the food was good, and the staff wonderful. Ship looks great. Sorry you didn’t enjoy Costa Maya. You need to get out of that port maze and head to the Malecón at Mahajual. Great beach and bars, and the sargassum wasn’t too bad. Probably was next to you a few times at the slots. Glad you enjoyed your sailing. We did have great weather!!!

Edited by jpcdds6

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1 hour ago, jpcdds6 said:

We were on the same cruise. We had a great time.  

The weather was perfect!

 

Do you have an opinion on the male/female duo called Azalea?  It may be the worst singing we've heard at sea in 10 years. I wonder what others think. 

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7 hours ago, CarrieAP said:

OMG your Yacht Club stay on the Divina will blow you out of the water! That's been our favorite cruise thus far. The ship is beautiful. Met lots of lovely people from around the world and loved our evenings sitting in Laluna lounge listening to music while people watching. 

 

It's a special treat for our 10th. We've never done the suite-life, so we were excited to try it without breaking the bank. As I understand it, these completely affordable MSC rates are to entice Americans. Once they have an American following, the YC prices are going to soar, and we'll be on the outside, again.

 

Super excited!!

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17 minutes ago, Kmkub said:

The weather was perfect!

 

Do you have an opinion on the male/female duo called Azalea?  It may be the worst singing we've heard at sea in 10 years. I wonder what others think. 

Were they at the martini bar?

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9 minutes ago, jpcdds6 said:

Were they at the martini bar?

We saw them frequently in the martini bar & the Atrium. Super skinny man playing guitar, she was sitting, playing a keyboard.

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To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with any of the entertainment. And that includes the goofy illusionist production in the Stardust Theater.

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Heading on the Jade in 40 days.  Thanks for the review.  I'm bummed at the entertainment review.  Maybe some will be swapped out by then.  We enjoy the piano bar evenings as well.  O'sheehans sounds good.  Generally you hear mixed reviews about those spots.  Our last NCL didn't have one (Sun) so we are interested to see what it's all about.  Love grease and beer. So I hope the wings are good.  We loved the great outdoors on the Sun so I'm hoping that the Jades' won't be too bad. 

 

 

Edited by Aesop081

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6 hours ago, Aesop081 said:

Heading on the Jade in 40 days.  Thanks for the review.  I'm bummed at the entertainment review.  Maybe some will be swapped out by then.  We enjoy the piano bar evenings as well.  O'sheehans sounds good.  Generally you hear mixed reviews about those spots.  Our last NCL didn't have one (Sun) so we are interested to see what it's all about.  Love grease and beer. So I hope the wings are good.  We loved the great outdoors on the Sun so I'm hoping that the Jades' won't be too bad. 

 

 

I think the Great Outdoors areas on the Jewel class ships are terrific. We always spend loads of time there. Buffet is scaled down, but the main buffet is only a few steps away. Wonderful open air space.  Bartenders were good back there as well.

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13 hours ago, Aesop081 said:

 Our last NCL didn't have one (Sun) so we are interested to see what it's all about.  Love grease and beer. So I hope the wings are good.  We loved the great outdoors on the Sun so I'm hoping that the Jades' won't be too bad. 

 

 

We haven't been on the Jade in 7.5 years, so things have certainly changed (there has been at least one dry dock).  But on both the Jade and the Jewel (2 years ago), the Great Outdoors was a favorite. Big time!  Great views.  Few crowds (somehow, people don't seem to find their way back that far...fine with me).  And a respectable buffet for that late night craving.  And a bar, again, for a late night snack.  We've been on a fair number of other ships and nothing quite measured up to the Great Outdoors for  relaxing outdoor spot to enjoy food.  O'Sheehan's are fun too, although we ended up going there the most for breakfast.  Less hectic than the buffet, but faster sit-down service than the main dining room.  

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