Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Jade Review
Our cruise on Norwegian Jade was a mixed success, but definitely not without its upsides.
Spa and Fitness
Ying & Yang Health Spa and Beauty Salon
Operated by Steiner Leisure, the company that manages spas and salons for the vast majority of cruise ships, Ying & Yang is a spacious facility located on Deck 12, forward. Despite the name, aside from a couple potted bamboo plants and batik prints in treatment rooms we didn't see a lot of Asian influence here.
Spa prices started at $119 for 50-minute La Therape HydraLift facial, Swedish massage or reflexology treatments and ranged up to $169 for a 50-minute Elemis Oxydermy facial, $195 for a 75-minute aroma stone therapy or Thai herbal poultice massage, and $269 for a couples Swedish massage. In the salon, full hair and nail service were available—ranging from $29 to $49 for a traditional manicure or pedicure to $119 for a hair styling session. There was also a spa menu for kids. These included a 50-minute acne attack facial ($99), ice cream manicure or pedicure ($45-$65), or the 50-minute mother/daughter or father/son massage for $195. An 18 percent service charge was added to all spa treatments.
Various specials and discounts started to materialize as soon as we set sail. Actually, we attended the spa raffle that took place just after we set sail. We didn't win anything during the raffle, but imagine our astonishment when a letter appeared in our cabin the next day saying that we were one of the "lucky runners up who has won a 25 percent discount off any signature treatment! Run don't walk to the spa as spaces are limited." C'mon guys, we're not cynical, but some of us have been through this fire drill a few times before.
Located to the rear of the spa (that would be far forward on the ship) was the Relaxation Suite, a private-access facility that provided an indoor hydro pool, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, a therapy pool and heated lounge chairs with a forward view—for a fee. A pass to use the facility was $119 for the entire cruise, or $199 for couples; a day pass was $30 per person.
A fitness center and aerobics room was adjacent to the spa. The cardio equipment was Precor and there were plenty of treadmills and a few climbers; bikes were in short supply. Teens age 13 to 16 were allowed to use the fitness center when accompanied by an adult.
There was a roster of fitness classes—both complimentary and for a fee. Free classes included a morning stretch session daily, Fab Abs and various promotional seminars that ended in a product pitch. Yoga and Pilates sessions were $12 each, TRX suspension training and spin classes were $20 each, and Body Sculpt Boot Camp was $69 for two classes or $120 for four.
Deck 13 was referred to as the Sports Deck. We found the Sports Court for basketball, soccer and tennis, a golf cage, and a jogging track circuited half of this deck. But most of this deck, especially at midship overlooking the pools, was reserved for sun loungers, most of which were filled by mid-morning on sea days. There were two dozen loungers set up behind the Sports Court, and these were usually the last to fill during our cruise.
The jogging track was marked in red along the deck, but on sea days and even afternoons in port, the path was often blocked by loungers. Smoking wasn't allowed near the track, but this wasn't always enforced. Five-and-a-half loops equaled a mile—plus or minus depending on how many diversions were required.
Despite great weather, the Sports Court was little used on our cruise. The nets were set up for tennis play daily from 8 to 10 a.m., and open soccer and basketball was announced in the ship's daily newsletter a couple other times. A few rows of bleachers overlooking the court went unused pretty much all the time. Golf equipment could be signed out from the towel station.
Pools & Sun Decks
Though Norwegian Jade is not a mega-ship, with more than 1,200 cabins there were a lot of guests onboard—many of them families. As such, the two pools located at midship on Deck 12 were very crowded, both in the water and on the surrounding decks. By the mid-point of our cruise, guests began reserving loungers as early as 7:30 a.m., so arriving by late morning and hoping for two side-by-side was a near-hopeless quest.
The forward of the two pools was designated as the adult pool—age limit unspecified. Two hot tubs sat alongside the pool and there was a pool lift for transferring guests of limited mobility into the water.
The rear pool was designated for all ages, but age 12 and under were expected to be accompanied by an adult. There was a slide next to the pool that was popular. A towel hut was available for exchanging towels.
On the starboard side of the pool area there were sprayer nozzles that emitted a fine mist—when they were turned on. We found them utilized on one very hot afternoon in port, but on an equally sizzling sea day that followed they weren’t.
The Promenade Deck circled Deck 7. There were few loungers, so mostly it was used by smokers on our cruise. A shuffleboard court invited play.
Decks 14 and 15 forward were additional space for loungers, with a shower and kids play area on Deck 14. The small sun deck above was designated as adults only. On sunny sea days, we found both jammed with bodies.
Norwegian Jade's casino was an exercise in chinoiserie, seductively lighted with red lanterns—it was a beautiful spot. Not generally crowded, we found the dealers to be unusually engaging and friendly. Gaming lessons were conducted the first couple days and tournaments for Texas Hold 'Em, Blackjack, Roulette and slot play were announced in the ship's newsletter.
In addition to dozens of slot machines (some of which were open overnight), tables games included Blackjack, Let it Ride, Three Card Poker, Texas Hold 'Em, Craps and Roulette. There were also automated machines for Poker and Roulette—the advantage (we were told) was being able to play faster (we think this meant lose money faster).
Cash advances for play were available at the casino cage (some restrictions applied) with a 5.5 percent surcharge. We could also charge casino play to our cabin account, up to $2000 per day, with a 3 percent convenience fee charged. Smoking was allowed in the casino.
Beautifully decorated in Venetian Art Nouveau style, replete with carnival masks and opera house flourishes, this 1000-seat venue is the ship's grand theater. With a steep rake spanning three decks, almost every seat had an unobstructed view for stage shows. And we liked that seats each had their own built-in fans, so air conditioning was no short supply.
Bridge Viewing Room
Not shown on most maps of Norwegian Jade and little known to most passengers, we loved this little room from which the activities on the bridge could be viewed, from behind glass. There's no conversing with the crew, and for much of the time little appears to be happening, but it's a beehive of activity during docking activities.
Few cruise ships allow public viewing of the bridge area, so it's worth checking out, especially if you have kids in tow. You'll find it forward of cabin 11500 on Deck 11.
The Library, Card Room, Life Style Room
Located on Deck 12 next to the spa, these three adjacent rooms were intermittently used through the day and evening.
The Library had a decent selection of books, including a few dozen travel guides for the area we were cruising through, but books could only be checked out when a crewmember was present (actually, the locked-up travel books couldn’t leave the room at any time). Librarian hours varied daily, but were generally an hour or two in the morning starting at 9 or 10 a.m., a couple hours in the afternoon starting at 2 or 4 p.m., and one hour in the evening beginning at 7:30 p.m. There were also three computer stations for checking the Internet, at the usual cruise rates. A model of the SS United States, fastest ocean liner ever built (and the last American) sat behind glass.
The Life Style Room had funky orange chairs for reading or web surfing, but we barely saw this room used by anyone during the entire cruise. The Card Room was more utilitarian, with chairs and tables set up for card play; a couple of the tables had built-in Chess Boards. Board games could be borrowed from the Guest Services Desk, on Deck 7.
Lobby, Guest Services, Shore Excursions
The two-story lobby at midship on Deck 7 was often a bustling area. Next to the guest services desk was a counter for making dinner reservations (often not manned) and a shore excursions desk. Opposite this area was the Lobby Bar.
The ship's pianist played at different times during the evening (and after lunch on sea days). Other evenings there was a Dixieland-style jazz band and a guitarist strumming.
This pretty little nondenominational chapel sat next to the Spinnaker Lounge on the port side of Deck 13. There was seating for 24, a small podium and a backlit altar. In addition to daily "personal prayer" from 8 to 9 a.m., Friends of Bill W met here each afternoon at 5 p.m.
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