Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Jade Review
Our cruise on Norwegian Jade was a mixed success, but definitely not without its upsides.
The kids activity center on Deck 12 was conveniently located between the Garden Café; and pool area, and flanked by the arcade room, making this section of the ship family central.
Kids were broken into four age groups—age 2 to 5, age 6 to 9, age 10 to 12, and teens. The three younger groups were based at the Tree Tops Kid's Club. The 2 to 5 year olds had such activities as Lego building, Nickelodeon adventures, and a fairytale parade. The 6 to 9 year olds played King's Camps games, had a Survivor night, a treasure hunt, and craft making such as leis. A parent or assigned guardian had to check the kids in and out of the facility.
Teens used the nearby Wipe Out Teen's Club—a venue decked out in surfer themes, naturally. There was a black and white party, a Matrix team challenge, a scavenger hunt and a Ping Pong challenge.
Sitting services were available for children age 2-12, at $6 per hour, and $4 per hour for each additional child in the family. Services could be scheduled for late night (10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.) or during the day while the ship was at port (when parents wanted to go to shore).
Staff & Ship Policies
With just a couple minor exceptions the service was spot-on, in line with some of the better cruises we’ve taken. The ship’s newsletter, Freestyle Daily, was delivered to our cabin each evening, and detailed the various events taking place the following day. Offers were announced inside—drink discounts, internet specials, etc. along with a long list of activities.
Overall, service was excellent, and the senior staff was readily available to guests; their phone extensions were displayed on guest TVs and elsewhere on the ship. One lady was stationed outside the buffet with a bottle of hand sanitizer, saying “washy washy” with a cheerful air. She charmed most of the passengers (especially kids). The one glaring exception to good service was our dinner at Le Bistro, which might as well have been a meal at Denny’s.
Our other service complaint: We had an incident in our bathroom, when the toilet overflowed one afternoon when we weren’t in the cabin. We contacted the front desk and a plumber came to our cabin within 25 minutes. The plumber fixed the problem in another 25 minutes but since the floor of the bathroom had been soiled we asked for it to be cleaned. We came back to our cabin about an hour later and the floor had been wiped down, but the bathroom still smelled of urine. We called the front desk and asked for the floor to be cleaned properly; 10 minutes later a janitor came and gave the bathroom a thorough rinse, resolving the issue. Plumbing problems happen, but we wondered why the first janitor had not adequately cleaned the bathroom.
A 15 percent "autogratuity" is added to drink charges, including anything from the minibar; 18 percent is added for spa services. Additionally, a $12 per person, per day "service charge" was built into our checkout bill.
NCL says the service charge is divided between restaurant staff, cabin stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff; unlike most other cruise lines, the formula for how this amount is shared is not revealed. Although NCL says "guests should not feel obliged to offer a gratuity for good service," they note that staff is allowed to accept cash tips. Additionally, beverage service, concierge, butler and youth counselors do not benefit from the service charge, and so guests who use these services are "encouraged to acknowledge them with appropriate gratuities."
Dress Codes and Alcohol Policy
Norwegian promotes what it calls "freestyle" cruising, which allows guests a great deal of flexibility in dress code—the ambience is very casual. During the day, swimwear is acceptable at the buffet or at outdoor restaurants but a shirt or coverup and footwear are required. At night on cruises of five days or more, in the Grand Pacific dining room and in Le Bistro restaurant the dress code for women is slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops; for men it's jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. Resort casual and shorts were allowed in all other restaurants at dinner. There were two nights that were called "Dress Up or Not Night." While the attire did move up a notch or two on these evenings, there were plenty (maybe even a majority) who kept it casual.
There is no limit to the number of bottles of wine that passengers can bring onboard, however we were told that guests would automatically be billed a $15 corkage fee for each 750ml bottle brought aboard, regardless of whether the bottle was opened by a crewmember or passenger or not at all.
The Latitudes rewards program is divided in four tiers. Guests are automatically enrolled in the Bronze level following their first cruise, availing priority check-in, discounts at the gift shop and on WiFi, and an invitation to the member's only cocktail party on future cruises. Points are awarded for the number of days sailed with additional points for suite bookings. With 20 points guests attain the Silver level with additional benefits, and 48 points guests reach the Gold level. The big benefits roll in at the Platinum level, at 76 points—complimentary dinner and wine at Le Bistro, behind-the-scenes ship tour, free laundry, etc.
Laundry and dry cleaning services were available onboard at inflated rates. On the fifth night of our cruise we received a flyer that offered a full bag of laundry washed and folded for the discounted price of $24.95. There were no self-serve laundry facilities on Norwegian Jade.
Health & Safety
General Health & Safety
Muster drill was held 90 minutes before sail-away, no life jackets were required, but attendance was taken and those not present were asked to attend a make-up session the following morning.
Hand sanitizer stations were spread throughout the ship, especially outside restaurants. During boarding (including at ports of call) and on entering the buffet areas crewmembers had hand sanitizer in spray bottles. Most of the bottle nozzles were adjusted to the "spray" position, which meant much of the liquid was dispensed as mist that disseminated in the air rather than landing on our hands.
Since its original launching in 2006, Norwegian Jade has not been inspected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has no oversight while the ship sails the Mediterranean year-round. Thus there is no vessel sanitation score on record by the CDC for Norwegian Jade.
The medical center was on Deck 4. The facility was open 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 8 p.m. daily.
As the majority of passengers on our cruise were European, smoking was quite prevalent. Indoors, cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking was allowed only in the casino and in the enclosed cigar lounge next to Magnums Champagne and Wine Bar, and we didn't see any exceptions to this rule.
But contrary to Norwegian's stated policy ("most public areas are smoke-free"), smoking was prevalent in most outdoor areas of the ship. Smoking was allowed on guest balconies, the Promenade Deck, Deck 14 port side and the Sun Deck. Smoking was also allowed on the port side of the main pool area, including next to the kids-designated pool and waterslide, and close to the jogging track. Although the ship's newsletter stated that kids pool area was "designated non-smoking," we found ashtrays set out on tables each morning next to the kids pool and plenty of smokers used them throughout our cruise.
Internet Café and Art Gallery
Jade's bright art gallery shared the same space at the internet café. Art auctions took place almost every day of the cruise, in various venues—each announced in the ship's newsletter and with fliers left in our room. It got to be a paper pile after a few days.
While we didn't find art we wanted to bring home, we did surf the web on a few occasions. Whether using the ship's computers or WiFi for our laptop, internet time was priced.75/minute, plus an initial $3.95 activation fee. But various packages purchased upfront brought the price down—100 minutes for $55 (.55/min) or 250 minutes for $100 (.40 min). Specials were availed the first, second, sixth and seventh day of the cruise.
Jade’s shopping arcade was located on Deck 7 aft, in a single large room that showcased a somewhat more diverse range of items than we’ve found on other cruise lines.
Perfumes were carried in a separate venue, the Port O’ Call Shop, also located on Deck 7, but next to the Guest Services desk.
A staff of photographers were aboard to capture cruisers in action, with formal shots also available. Portraits and casual shots in 8x10 size were priced $19.95 each.
In addition to photos, the Photo Gallery sold Canon and Panasonic cameras, Olympus and Pentax binoculars, chargers, AA and AAA batteries and 4-GB SD cards.
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