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natefish95

NCL Jade February 17-24 review

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Alright folks, I was on the Jade last week and I don't see much about it on here, so I figured I'd write a quick (it might not be quick to be honest) review. I've written long reviews with lots of pictures for a few of my previous cruises. This one may or may not include pictures. I'll decide later, but for now you'll have to simply enjoy my stream of consciousness and attempts at being funny. 

 

Let's begin, shall we?

 

I guess to start, I'm Nate and I am just your average cubicle dweller in DC. I don't sit near a window, so I'm forced to longingly look at cruise ship pictures when I need a break from pretending to look busy. I've always been a cruise addict really. My parents started me cruising when I was young and the addiction just stuck with me. But now that I have a job, I can take myself on cruises! Not too many though because DC rent is outrageous. 

 

When NCL was doing dollar deposits, I put a whole dollar down on the Bliss for February 9th. I had been talking with my friend Brian that I met on the Escape in 2017 and he was itching for a cruise. I had a studio booked on Bliss, but long story short, we figured we could do a balcony on the Jade for much cheaper. I've always wanted to try a small ship and I love the hull art on the Jade, so let's do it! Knowing I had a cruise on the horizon really kept me going during the government shutdown. 

 

Regarding flights and hotels, when we booked we received free flights through NCL and since my home airport is DCA, according to the NCL fine print, flights were actually free. They were inconvenient, but free. Bottom line up front, I'm not letting NCL book my flights again. They had us flying down the day the ship left and flying back at 9pm on Sunday. I'd rather pay and be on my own timetable rather than theirs. We were able to upgrade to First class for $75 each and move flights to fly down on Saturday instead of Sunday. We did have to pay to move flights, but I can't remember how much it was. Since we were flying down the day before now, we had to find a hotel. Since it was President's Day weekend, hotels were outrageous! Brian was able to cash in some points at the Blue Moon hotel in South Beach, which is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. 

 

Flights-check; hotel-check; other planning-not check. We really did not plan anything else because 1.) we were both super busy and didn't have time to plan and 2.)Neither of us really were dead set on doing anything. We were cruising together, but we're both independent and don't need to be attached at the hip the whole trip, so we can each plan our own stuff. We'd figure everything else as we went along. We were in a balcony, so we got the UBP, 3 UDP, and apparently a wifi package? I didn't learn this until embarkation day and after I bought the social media package. I could have probably gotten it refunded, but ultimately didn't because I forgot. Don't you roll those eyes at me. 

 

Alright, now that you know what we're working with on this trip, let's begin the more detailed version of events. *crack open another beer*

 

Also, I've attached a picture of the ship because I can. I might attach more pictures if we're lucky. 

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Saturday-February 16th

Our flight left DCA at 7:00am, which meant waking up around 4:00am. Yeah, great way to start vacation. I wake up early for work and I thought vacation meant sleeping in? Brian and I Ubered to DCA. Check-in was super easy. I got a doughnut and a latte. The poor girl working at Dunkin Donuts could not make a latte to save her life. Brian and I both drank a bit and then threw it away. This morning is starting swell! Finally it was time to board. Like I previously mentioned we were flying First class, so I was feeling bougie. I have flown First Class once in my life and that was 4 years ago. I'm a Southwest kind of guy normally. 

 

The flight was super non-eventful. We were served a surprisingly good omelette and I had a couple Bloody Marys. Now this is vacation! Landed around 10am into MIA, took forever to get bags and there were children running amok. Should have had a few more Bloody Marys...

 

We Ubered to the hotel on South Beach and I was amazed. I don't know if you would call the building art deco style, but it was definitely older and looked great. It's a small boutique hotel, so it felt very quaint and fresh. Our room wasn't ready, but we changed into shorts and flip flops and set off for a walk down Ocean Drive. We walked around for a good 2 hours up and down South Beach and the park by the Port of Miami exit (where people always wave from). It was hot! We went back to the hotel and waited by the pool for the room to be ready. It was ready about 1:15 and we freshened up before heading out to brunch at 2:00pm.

 

I know what you're thinking and I agree that 2:00pm is not actually brunch. But we were going to Drag Brunch at Palace on South Beach, so I really don't care about semantics. Bring me mimosas!!! And drag queens

 

If you have never been to a drag brunch, I highly recommend checking out Palace. It is an EXPERIENCE. Have you ever seen drag queens do backflips, get on random motorcycles in traffic, and poor mimosas on themselves? If that sounds like fun to you, check out Palace and reserve a spot early. If that doesn't sound fun, your loss. Sashay away. I believe it was $50 for bottomless mimosas and an entree. I had a steak and potatoes entree, which was actually amazing. Perfectly cooked steak and well-seasoned. 

 

Brunch was like 3 hours, so we went back to the hotel to rest and then Ubered down to the park by the port to watch the ships sail out. I think we saw Symphony of the Seas and the Carnival Glory sail away. We walked back up along South Beach and had a few drinks in the hotel bar. I walked to CVS nearby and we ordered food on Postmates because we were so exhausted. I forget the name of the place, but it wasn't good and isn't worth discussing any more. We passed out at like 9pm. You could say we go wild on vacation... 

 

I can't praise the Blue Moon Hotel enough. The bed was comfy. The AC worked well. The room and bathroom were very clean, and the staff was super nice and helpful. If I wasn't a Hilton loyalist, I would stay here again. 

 

Next up-embarkation day

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Sunday-February 17th

A few days before embarkation day, NCL texted, emailed and sent carrier pigeons that we should not arrive at the port until 12. Being the ardent rule followers we are, we decided to get to the port by 10am. I woke up and walked to the nearby Starbucks to get my fix, we packed, and Ubered to the port and arrived around 10:15. Security took a grand total of 5 minutes. Check-in took about 1 minute, and before we knew it, we were in the waiting area with a Group 5 boarding card. Getting there early definitely worked out and we boarded shortly after 11:30am. 

 

After boarding, I was immediately impressed by how nice the Jade looks inside. I knew it was an older ship, but NCL takes care of their ship and it looked amazing! We walked to the Jasmine restaurant to make dinner reservations, which took forever (okay, 20 minutes max) because some people took forever. Not sure why they were having trouble because we were able to get Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, and Cagneys at the times we wanted and the nights we wanted. Teppanyaki had to be at 5:00pm, which is a little early, but we'll live. Le Bistro and Cagney's were at 6:00 and 6:15 respectively. 

 

By the time we finished that, we went to the main dining room for lunch. I had the scallops gratin and the shrimp burger. The burger was excellent (Brian hates seafood so we was probably gagging at my order). The scallops on the other hand...they tasted fine, but I've seen bigger pieces of fish food. I'd recommend something else. 

 

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Afterwards we went to the pool deck and grabbed some frozen drinks to really kick off vacation and lounge in the sun for a bit. Neither of us packed swimsuits in our carry on bags, we just looked on longingly at the people in the pool. After who knows how long we went to the Spa and Fitness Center. We did the spa tour because I had been having an internal dilemma for months on whether or not I should get a thermal suite pass. I ultimately decided to get it because I'm worth it and I wanted to treat myself to something relaxing. Plus, I wanted to find out if I would actually enjoy it so I can plan or not plan on it for future cruises. 

 

The thermal suite on the Jade has a co-ed area in the middle with heated loungers and a little thalassotherapy pool. On the mens side there is a sauna, steam room, showers, lockers, comfy relaxation chairs, and a hot tub. I'm sure the women's side is the exact same. 

 

This is the sauna on the men's side. 

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Hot tub

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Comfy chairs for reading

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Showers in the middle area, with two rainfall-type showers on the left and 3 normal showers in the back left, and the steam room out of front on the right. 

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We then checked out the Fitness Center. I didn't take a picture of the class prices, but they were much cheaper than what I remember on the Getaway. I believe a spin class was only $12. Take that Soul Cycle! I ultimately didn't sign up for anything and the Fitness Center attendant was a little pushy. I did go back once to run on the treadmill and it was crowded. Small gym, but had everything you need. 

 

Pro-trip: there is a small locker room off the fitness center with a very small steam room. It seems like a very well-kept secret. 

 

After that, rooms were ready so we went and checked out our home for the next week, balcony cabin 10508 which was all the way forward on the port side. Room pictures below

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We separated the beds, which made walking by the beds a bit tight and the toilet/sink area in the bathroom was very tiny. I'm only 5'5" (5'6" on a good day), so it wasn't a big deal for me, but Brian is taller so it was a bit tight. There was plenty of closet space and the beds were very comfortable. 

 

Muster was at 3:00pm (which felt very early). We were in the Stardust theater balcony, so it was quick and painless. 

 

We watched sailaway and then went to the solo traveler meetup at 5:30 in the Spinnaker Lounge. We met the Serbian version of Pitbull aka Bodja the bartender who took great care of us all week. We also met the solo host for the week, Brenda! I cannot say enough positive things about her. She is honestly one of the most incredible crew members I've ever met, and she really cared about making sure solo travelers had a great. You'll hear lots more about Brenda throughout the week. 

 

This was apparently the first week where they had a full week planned of solo events. There were coffee chats scheduled with Officers, reserved seating for all the shows in the theater, hosted meetups every night, and several other activities throughout the week. Jacky the Cruise Director is also very passionate about solo travelers, so he was very supportive of Brenda all week. The solo group this week definitely skewed older ( as did the entire ship). I'm 23 and I was definitely the youngest solo. Everyone was super nice, but we found a core group of about 6 people that we hung out with most of the week. Towards the end, Brenda brought out glasses and a few bottles of champagne. I like you already, Brenda! 

 

In the next installment, I'll discuss dinner in Jasmine and whatever else I can remember from the first night. Please ask all the questions you have and I'll do my best to answer! 

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Thank you for taking the time to write this review. It’s a lot of fun.

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Continuing on-

Dinner at Jasmine was very nice and complimentary! Below are menu pictures

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Pot Stickers

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Hot and Sour Soup

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Beef Chow Fun

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I thought everything tasted great! The portions were a bit small, so definitely order more than you think you can eat. It was only the first night, so I had to pace myself for the week. Jasmine was also very loud because there was live music being played in the area below by the champagne bar, so it made conversation a little difficult and annoying. Nonetheless, I would have defintiely gone back if I had time. 

 

The rest of the night was very relaxed. We did not go to the Welcome Aboard Variety Show, but we did close down Sugarcane mojito bar. I loved the mojito bar on the Getaway, so I was very happy to see it on the Jade. The mojitos were still good, but I had 4-5 and did not feel tipsy at all. I would have been annoyed if I was paying full price for a drink with little to no alcohol in it. The Pineapple Coconut mojito is definitely my favorite. 

 

Up next-day 2, sea day number 1

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So for day 2, we moved our clocks back an hour. I woke up about 8:00am and decided to make a smart choice and go to the gym. I ran on the treadmill for about 30 minutes. That's the most exercise I would do all week. Afterwards I decided to check out the thermal suite, but the doors were locked. I was yanking on the door when finally one of the spa ladies said it was't 8:00 yet. Ooops, forgot to turn my clock back. 

 

I decided to check out the Garden Cafe for breakfast and it was very crowded for 7:45am, but I had no trouble finding a seat. I could not find Eggs Benedict for the life of me, so I finally asked someone. He took me over to the omelette station where the chef made it fresh for me. They don't set EB out and you have to specially ask for it. No big deal-delicious as always. 

 

I finally went back to the spa, which was now open, and relaxed in the thermal spa for about 90 minutes. The comfy chairs by the hot tub on the men's side were great to sit and read in for awhile. The sounds of the jets from the hot tub made it a bit loud, but it wasn't a big deal. Plus, you had amazing views out the front of the ship. 

 

We had our Cruise Critic/FB page meetup at the beer and whiskey bar at 10:30. There was no official meetup set up with Officers or anything, which is my first, but it was still nice to meet people you've been chatting with for the past few months. 

 

The Garden Cafe was supposed to open at 11:30 for lunch, but it was closer to 11:50, so I was rushed since I was trying to make trivia at 12. I inhaled a burger and ran down to trivia. Now here's a tip, the daily displayed on the app may not be 100% accurate. On the app it said World Currency trivia. I'm a geography nerd and would have crushed it. When I got down there, it was Cartoon Character trivia, which is what the physical Freestyle Dailies said. I made it a point to always carry the physical copy with me the rest of the week and not rely on the app. I never noticed any other discrepancies throughout the week though. 

 

For the rest of the afternoon, I laid out by the pool, spent some more time in the thermal suite reading, relaxing, and making new friends. There was definitely a nap involved. We had our solo meetup at 5:30 like normal and then went to the Alizar Main Dining Room for dinner. Menu pictures below 

 

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Crab and cheese wontons were a big hit!

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The gumbo was pretty good (but I have high gumbo standards)

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And then the beef sirloin medallions were excellent! The steak was cooked perfectly.

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That night we went to the show, which I believe was Palace of Lights, a Cuban themed singing and dancing show. It was good, not great, but good. It was far better than any show I saw on the Getaway last year. It was enjoyable and only lasted about 45 minutes. Brenda, the solo host, had us reserved seats in the balcony, so we had a great view of the show. I definitely had my fair share of martinis that night. Mat, the bartender at the martini bar, is excellent! There was another bartender who did tricks with ice and your key card, but I forgot his name. It's a really enjoyable bar to sit at and have some great drinks. 

 

Next up-Costa Maya

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From the look of your cabin photos I see you had a PrivaSea balcony.  What did you think of it?  I know some CC members think it's horrible to have one of those balconies but when we had one on the Dawn I was very satisfied with it.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, natefish95 said:

Continuing on-

Dinner at Jasmine was very nice and complimentary!

 

In looking @ the menus & your reference to the noise from the Champagne Bar below leads me to believe Jasmine's is similar to Chin Chin on the Jewel...  We enjoyed both Lunch & Dinner there.  Dinner was our first meal & better than the lunch (flavor).  During dinner we did enjoy the live music wafting up the stairs from the Champagne Bar...

 

Thanks for the great review  --  it's been 8 years since we were on the Jade...  Looking forward to the rest of your review...

Edited by Von & John

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42 minutes ago, Oakman58 said:

From the look of your cabin photos I see you had a PrivaSea balcony.  What did you think of it?  I know some CC members think it's horrible to have one of those balconies but when we had one on the Dawn I was very satisfied with it.

Some members on CC think minor issues are the end of the world, so I'm not surprised they feel that way. 

 

I thought it was great and did not take away the view in any way. I still enjoyed sitting out there and watching the sea go by like on a "normal" balcony. 

2 minutes ago, Von & John said:

 

In looking @ the menus & your reference to the noise from the Champagne Bar below leads me to believe Jasmine's is similar to Chin Chin on the Jewel...  We enjoyed both Lunch & Dinner there.  Dinner was our first meal & better than the lunch (flavor).  During dinner we did enjoy the live music wafting up the stairs from the Champagne Bar...

Yup, they are the same thing, different name. I did not even know they had a lunch option! Thankfully the musician was very talented, but just a bit too loud for me trying to talk with new friends. 

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2 minutes ago, natefish95 said:

Yup, they are the same thing, different name. I did not even know they had a lunch option! Thankfully the musician was very talented, but just a bit too loud for me trying to talk with new friends. 

 

Totally understandable on the sound level!!!

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Loving this, going on the Jade in 18 days.  Keep it coming I'm very curious.

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Will be on the Jade in 29 days so I am following along as well.  As an aside,  I live in the DC metro as well and feel your pain about the cost of living!

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Enjoying your review and writing style.  Jade was our first ship, nearly 8 years ago now.  Right after we finished our European cruise, it went into drydock, and has been back one other time since then.  Would love to see it now...we have great memories associated with it.

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Thanks for taking the time to post your review.  We are booked on a TA on the Jade in April so really enjoying your post. 

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Hanging on to every word!  When I booked the cruise, I was thinking itinerary.  After reading Nate’s review, I can hardly wait to experience Jade for myself!

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Another Jade TA sailor checking in - we are all stalking your review!

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I'm hoping that natefish95 can find the time to continue with his review.  I've been enjoying it.

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