February 2015 - Norwegian Jade to Europe - Mediterranean
This was our 3rd Norwegian cruise and first time on the Jade. This reminded us why we enjoy Norwegian cruises. The Freestyle way of doing things is the way to go!. Embarkation was a breeze, debarkation was even easier. We chose to depart at the end of the cruise taking our own bags with us and it was the most pleasant experience of leaving a cruise we have ever had. Getting off the ship on port days was also very easy. We never had to wait in a long line to leave the ship. We only did 2 shore excursions through the cruise line and were extremely happy with the way we were treated like adults and the meeting points for the tours were actually off the ship so we didn't have to spend extra time waiting in a lounge or the theatre for the entire group to show up so that we could all be herded off the ship at the same time. This has been an experience on other cruise lines that is an annoyance and waste of time.
We had the Ultimate Dining Package and Ultimate Beverage Package which also added to our enjoyment of this cruise. We chose to eat in a specialty restaurant each evening and our favourites were LeBistro and Cagneys. We used the buffet for breakfast most mornings and although it can get a bit chaotic because there are heaps of people in there, we found that we could carry our plates and sit in the restaurant that is LaCucina at night and avoid the crowds in the seating area of the buffet. Because of the port intensive itinerary we only had lunch on board during sea days. The Blue Lagoon hit the spot for us during lunch as it was not overly crowded and the table service was a nice bonus.
We had an aft balcony cabin (not a suite) and were very happy with the choice. Great views and adequate size balcony and cabin for 2 people. We were surprised there were actually 2 other beds in the cabin (a convertible 2 seater sofa and a small bed that comes down from the ceiling). In my opinion, the room would be quite crowded with 4 people in it.
Our cabin steward, Joseph, was really good and made us smile with his great towel animals every night.
The cruise director, Archie, was quite entertaining and "everywhere". I don't know how he ever gets any rest as we saw him at so many of the activities!
Norwegian shore excursions: We did the night cruise on the Bosphorus. Our meeting point was just outside of the exit at the terminal in Istanbul Because we were there in early March, it was COLD! We stayed on the top deck to get great photos & were happy we were rugged up with gloves, scarves, beanie caps and heavy jackets. The scenery was beautiful and it was an experience we will never forget. There were only about 30 of us on the entire boat, so it was not crowded.
We also did the Naples Herculaneum tour through the cruise line. The guide was good and explained many of the things we saw. It was a pretty big group and would have been more enjoyable with less people in the group. There was a stop at a Cameo "factory" sales showroom on the way back to the boat.
A wonderful cruise. Wish we were back on the ship right now!