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Jade August Italy Greece garden villa

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Trip report


We were a group of 8.  Myself 47, husband 48, mother 73, mother in law 77, sister 48, my children 15, 17, 20.  I planned this vacation for over a year.  We are from the Boston area and have been on a few European cruises.  I hope to touch on a few topics I have seen numberous question about.


We were on an 11 night Italy Greece cruise which began in civitavecchia.  We arrived on Thursday for an embarkation on Sunday.  We spent 3 nights at hotel Santa Maria which was located in the trastevere area of Rome.  I love Rome and find it to be a very walkable city if it was not extremely hot.  I have never understood the need for a siesta in the middle of the day until this trip.  We would walk out of our hotel and within 5 minutes needed to stop.  Never mind the fact that everything is closed from 12-4.  Now I know why.  The hard part is getting myself accustomed to this.  Regardless we enjoyed our time in Rome.  


The first night I had skip the line tickets for the colosseum.  We really wanted to do the upper levels but they were closed for maintenance for the summer.  The basic admission ticket actually included the third level and we able to see quite a bit.  The second day some of us had a cooking class plan, which they loved.  The rest of us were just going to explore but the heat got the best of us and we had a great siesta.  On Saturday we had tickets for the Vatican train ride to the popes summer villa in castel Gandolfo.  We enjoyed this excursion and it is a great way to see the Vatican but again the heat was a major factor in us enjoying the day.  


Sunday: embarkation day! 


We hired Rome in Limo to take us to the port.  Reasonably priced and comfortable van for 8 with luggage.  It was 200 euro.  We arrived at the port about 10:30.  We had brought a case of wine with us we wanted to pay corkage for because we had viewed wine list in advance and found we did not like many of the offerings.  Because we were so early the table to pay corkage at was not open.  We had no problem paying the price for corkage and we were a group of 8 in the garden villa.  Only the first 2 received the drink package.  I would rather pay corkage for a good bottle of wine than for a drink package I won’t use.  


So I will now get into a little of the drink package issues I have as well a suite issues compared to MSC yacht club.  We were a diverse group.    Three of us were “drinkers”.  The rest were not.  In the yacht club all passengers in a cabin got the perks of the cabin.  Not just the first 2.  My husband and myself were listed as passengers 1 and 2.  So we got the drink package.  I wanted to have my sister be passenger 1 so she would have the drink package.  I should have done this before we boarded.  I assumed because we were in the garden villa it would have been an easy transition.  I think to them it was a trivial issue and not worth their time.  Basically what happened was I had the drink package on my card the first few days, if my sister wanted a drink I would put it on my card because she was ultimately going to be the passenger on the drink package.  Three days later and she finally obtained the drink package and all of the drinks I had put on my card for her were charged to my account.  It was about $150 dollars.   During that time we had been to guest services multiple times and had multiple cards issued to us.  At one point, two days into the cruise, we were at guest service and ran into the assistant concierge and he gave us new cards and said your are in the garden villa so you don’t have to deal with this, I said thank you I agree.  The new cards he gave use didn’t work in our room and we had to go back to quest services.  I want to believe it was just a comedy of errors but there were a lot of them.  


Many people ask about butlers and what you would use them for.  This is another area were I will compare to MSC.  You can have a great butler and a bad butler.   To me a good butler takes initiative.  This is our second time in the haven but not our first time in a suite.  We are not demanding people.  My kids even commented when they went to the buffet for ice cream and it was closed how another passage stated “that’s ok I will just get my butler to get it for me”.   They knew this was something I would not allow.  But.....  we were in the garden villa!  On MSC. Every time we went near our room were asked if we needed anything.  Unless we called our butler and asked we got nothing.  When we first got to the room we asked about the bar set up, in the garden villa you receive 6 bottles of alcohol.  I did not take care of this ahead of time because we really only wanted a good bottle of scotch and were hoping for better options onboard.  A good butler would have been able to understand this.  By the second day when the bar still was not set up I ask can we get the bar set up and within the hour it was done. Again initiative.  As far as snacks went it seemed if we ate everything he brought he would not bring it again.  He would bring multiple of things we did not eat or ask for.  In the garden villa you have soda, water mixers included.  A few days in I asked for Diet Pepsi for my mother in law.  Great we got 50 Diet Pepsi, nobody drank any of this I only wanted a couple.  I also asked for bottled water.  We got some.  A couple of days later I again asked for bottle water.  Just a couple!  Towards the end of the trip no bottled water available.  To me a good butler would have an understanding of what we drink and eat and made sure we had more of it.   We also sent out laundry.  I asked the butler is the laundry back yet, he said don’t worry they will let me know when it is done.  To me a good butler would say let me check on that.  Also on disembarkation we went to moderno for breakfast to let them clean the suite.  When we left the restaurant and went to get on the elevator it took us 20 minutes to get an elevator.  The butler on MSc would have been waiting with a sign to get us on the elevator.    Let me just say, we had a good vacation, I am only discussing this because many people want an understanding of what a butler does and what makes a good one.  


Now onto the concierge,   The jade is a different kind of ship.  They don’t have a dedicated concierge area.  So I believe it is a different kind of concierge.  In the beginning the concierge asked all suite passengers to go to a meeting on the morning after embarkation, a sea day.  I went to the meeting because I had issues I needed to addresses, ie sister with the drink package and unlimited internet.  The meeting was for all suite guest, probably about 50 people.  I am sorry but I am not spending my only sea day in a meeting so we left before it began.  I should have stayed but I just couldn’t.  For other suites this is probably very helpful, and in the end it probably would have been helpful to us but I felt being in the garden villa should have had more personalized information.  I will say the concierge is very helpful for things I would not have thought to use him for.  After reading many comments and reviews regarding concierges I was very underwhelmed at what their service might be.  To me in a hotel a concierge can tell you about a city, suggest a tour, make dinner/show reservation anywhere.  These services I find useful.  Depending on the cruise the concierge on a ship is just for things on a ship, dinner/show reservations, spa reservations, especially in the bigger ships.  While I found the concierge somewhat lacking in onboard services, we had to use guest services when needed, I was surprised at the knowledge he had of port stops.  We had prebooked most of our excursions with private companies.  For the few ports we had nothing planned he was very helpful.  In Europe with a group of 8 it is cheaper to plan ahead but in a pinch the concierge is more helpful with this that I thought.


That is all for now, i feel like I am rambling and need to regroup in the morning.  I will have lots of ports info then!




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Who was your concierge? We were on the Dawn in the GV last March and had the absolute BEST CONCIERGE EVER, Roel. He came to our villa multiple times a day to check on us, and personally escorted us off the ship when we left the ship. He also personally escorted us to dinners while on the ship. Let’s just say, he was amazing! Our butler, Jane, was also fabulous! We are almost all meals in the villa and she was always there serving with a smile. She would always leave the villa with a “ Just call Jane!” She truly enjoyed her job and it was evident in her level of personal service.  She even figured out r4al quickly what our favorite snacks were and brought them every day. 

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Our experience was not even remotely close.  The concierge came to our room once only because I asked for him, and he seemed like it was not the norm for him to come to a room/villa.  That is why I compared it to MSC.  We were in a regular balcony in the yacht club on MSc and had that kind of service.  If we ever asked how to be escorted off the ship we where basically told we needed to hunt them down when it was convenient for them.  I believe this is partially due to the fact the jade is not that big of a ship and priority embarkation and disembarkation, as well as port is not always necessary but when it is and it is not there it makes a huge difference.

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We also had some meals in the villa.  My mother wanted all meals in the villa.  We would have to call everyday and ask for the mdr menu.  Again a butler should anticipate this need and just provide after a day or two.  11 nights and every day had to ask for the menu.

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I am sorry to hear your experience was subpar!  On 2 occasions, we have sailed in the Garden Villa on the Dawn. We had Roel for 1 sailing and Bowen on the other.  They were superb. Each came to the room the first day to meet with us and discuss our needs. They popped in every day to check in on us. We had 1 minor billing issue and it was handled without a visit to guest services . The butler was always available with a smile and an inquiry for what we needed. I have many more examples of top-notch service.We were truly spoiled.


We experienced all of the service you outlined as service you experienced in MSC YC and more.


I am wondering if there are variations ship to ship.  I have learned to speak with the concierge if we have any butler challenges (2 issues in 15 +cruises). I would also suggest speaking to the General Manager for any concierge/butler issues that are not quickly resolved.


Everyone deserves the level of service they pay for. Especially for the amount you pay for a Garden Villa.  I am curious to hear from others on their GV service level.





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We had a large CC group on the Jade TA this past spring, and a family in one of the GVs welcomed the group with open arms.  I was also in the Haven, so I had a chance to experience the concierge/butler service myself.  I personally found it outstanding-our first butler, Frances, was wonderful.  I had asked for MDR menus daily and he delivered.  He left two days before the end of the cruise and his replacement was barely adequate. We preferred dinners in our room and they both were fine - I’d leave my order and delivery time in advance.  Butler 2 brought it ice cold!  I think I had asked Butler 2 for the menus, #1 just automatically brought them.


The GV folks had a party and Frances coordinated it - he recruited the courtyard butler to help, and the concierge stopped in as well as the other butler.  Great experience, lots of fun and perfectly executed.


As far as the concierge he would walk through the suite breakfast and lunch every day to see if people needed anything, and he’d tell us when and where to meet for priority debarkation.  I had asked him to fix issues with my excursion billing (my latitudes discount wasn’t applied) and I had to ask three times before it was done.  I actually stood in line at Guest Services, then the Excursion Desk, to take care of it myself after he didn’t, but they also messed up - I had two overcharges and they only fixed one - so reluctantly i asked the third time.  But as far as reservations, etc we all put in our requests first day and it was done.


It varies tremendously depending on the individual in the job.  I’m sure if Frances was your butler you would have been thrilled; if you had our butler #2 I can absolutely see that level of service.


Sad—when you pay $$$$ you really do expect and deserve outstanding service.

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We’ve not sailed in the GV, but we were in the OS on the Sun. Our concierge, Gian, stopped by our room every day of our cruise. Our butler, Rodwin, personally escorted us to our villa on Great Stirrup Cay, and he brought our daughter special snacks without being asked. He also switched out our bottle of alcohol to one that we wanted that had not been on the pre-concierge list. You should’ve gotten similar or better service during your cruise and I understand your disappointment.

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Thank you everyone for your replies regarding the butler and concierge.  After having it consume my time for the first three days I just gave up trying to fix it and enjoyed the cruise.  I debated even discussing it but many times people ask what to expect of a butler and concierge and hopefully someone finds this helpful.  For me I would not book another garden villa because of this.  If I had wanted to spend the first few days of my vacation in line at guest services, in line a restaurant reservations, at the internet desk, I would have just booked a balcony.  


One last thing about the drink package and I will move on to ports.  My sister was able to find a wine she liked for a $4 up-charge, no problem.  At least half of the bars told her she would need to order it by the bottle if she wanted it.  The menu said it was by the glass.  She went to the martini bar and ordered a drink but because her card did not say the drink package, it was switched to her at this point, the bartender refused to apply it to the package and said he was not going to be responsible for it.  Again we were in the garden villa, this should not have been an issue three days into the cruise.  On MSC I was offered drinks before I would even walk up to the bar.  They would offer what they thought I might like based on past experience.  World of difference in service.  






We had booked a half day tour with Santorini day tours.  Our guide was Ted and he was very knowledgeable about the island.  He was also very accommodating when we realized my mother was not going to be able to navigate the hilly streets.  Santorini is very beautiful but also very crowded.  Ted gave us a tour of the island and brought us to a beautiful restaurant in a fishing village away from all the crowds.  With a final stop in Oia he then took us back to Thira to wait in line for the cable car.  The line does move pretty fast.  Once off the cable car there is then another line for the tender, no haven priority access.  I went to front of the line to ask and they said no.  I am glad we went to Santorini, it is kind of like the Grand Canyon, you need to see it but I didn’t fall in love with it.  

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We did a half day tour with H P tours.  The van they had was very spacious and comfortable.  Half of our group went to the acropolis and museums and the other half went shopping.  The guide was very accommodating and made sure we all got back together at the end to get back to the ship. Athens was not very crowded because of a holiday in Greece.  I found I enjoyed Athens much more than I thought I would.  




We booked a resort for the day pass at Saint John hotel.  This included breakfast and lunch.  We did this because of the holiday in Greece was actually that day so the island was very busy, which we knew ahead of time it would be.  The resort is very beautiful.  They picked us up at the port and returned us there at the end of the day.  




We booked a tour with manosgoing.  We had the best time in Rhodes.  It was my favorite Greek island.  We did a short tour of the old town, a stop at a ceramic factory and then onto the beach.  Across from the beach was a restaurant we were going to have lunch at.  Before going to the beach we picked out a sea bass they grilled for us while at the beach.  We had chairs, umbrellas and waiter service  on the beach.  This was the best meal of our trip.  After the beach we did some shopping in the old town, I wish I had more time to spend there it was bigger than I realized.  

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we were only in port from 7 to noon.  They had shuttle buses from the port to the center of town.  I think it was 2 euro each way.  We did a little shopping had some Greek yogurt and headed back to the ship.




The sail into Malta is very beautiful.  Definitely be on deck for that.  Again we hired a tour guide, this time thru Malta private guide.  Very knowledgeable guide who loved her island very much.  Malta is very beautiful and I am glad we toured the island and didn’t just stay in the city of Valletta.  There were many festivals going on and many decorations all over the island.  We also had a stop in MDina which was very pretty.  After the tour we had dinner at the port.  There are multiple restaurants right next to the port and we had a lovely dinner.




We hired a driver through Sicily for you.  We basically just needed a drive to get us to Taormina.  We have been there before and just wanted to do some shopping and have lunch.  Also a stop at the Greek theatre.  




We have also been here before and been to the almafi coast.  This time because this so port intensive we decided to not schedule anything for Naples.  My husband and children decided to do the Pompeii on your own tour thru the ship.  My sister and I went into the city.  To the left of the port there are some swimming areas and restaurants, we had the best pizza I have ever had here.  I enjoyed the city more than I thought I would.  




We hired a driver through Tuscany tours.  We wanted to go to the Cinque Terre.  Very crowded area.  We hired a boat to bring us on the water and see the villages.  The tour driver dropped us at one village and picked us up at the end of the boat ride at another village.  I had arranged this all in advance.  The boat we hired through portovenere taxi boat.  We had a lovely lunch in the last village and then headed back to the ship to pack.


We did have a good vacation and saw many beautiful things.  We had done a similar cruise to this in 2015 and thought then it would be a trip of a lifetime.  It just got us hooked on doing a trip like this annually!  


I hope this trip trip report was helpful!



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Your experience mirrors most of our last few trips where we were sailing in the best  category on the ship.  Kept having to leave notes for things which are included with the room.  Near the end it was like they were worried we were going to take all the waters home so they barely put any out as one example.


My guess is they are trying to save money and my observation is the butlers have too much to do and too many rooms to service so your experience suffers.  Our three YC have been great as has service.  Only downside is room types and sizes but MSC is slowly fixing that on newer ships. 




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