11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We planned our trip in the middle of October 2015. Since then I read reviews weekly and was a bit nervous, but honestly, if you are like me and read review after review, please remember that what some people complain about may not mean ... Read More
We planned our trip in the middle of October 2015. Since then I read reviews weekly and was a bit nervous, but honestly, if you are like me and read review after review, please remember that what some people complain about may not mean anything to your trip. My boyfriend and I took this trip and we had the time of our lives! All of the staff were awesome! By the end of the first hour that we were on the ship a bartender who served my boyfriend once knew him by name and greeted him at another area on the ship. They really care for all of the passenger and want to make your trip as memorable as possible! Our room attendant, Roma, was awesome as well. He greeted us by name every time he saw us in the hallways and always had our room cleaned and turned down before we went to bed every night. We saw him interacting with kids on the ship and he was so patient and kind to them. We had the unlimited beverage package and we are so glad we did. We never had to wait more than 3-5 minutes for a drink and we didn't encounter any beverages that we not included besides the few specialty coffee drinks my boyfriend ordered. We only had one excursion planned- It was a dune buggy excursion in Cozumel. We ended up being the only two in the whole excursion and were afraid that they would cancel but we ended up basically getting a private excursion and it was awesome! We did not book through the ship we ended up booking through trip advisor. Our guide, Omar, made sure that we were doing everything we wanted and that we made it back to the ship on time. Since we didn't have an exucrison planned for Belize we hoped to get some shopping done and explore the city on our own. The port area is a tourist trap and you really cant get out of it unless you have an excursion planned. Since we had to wait about an hour to get on the tender, we were late for all of the excursions besides going to Kumbacha Beach (Old Belize) so that's what we ended up doing. We did get a city tour on the way there and it was awesome. I expected something very different than what Belize City is. Old Belize was ok. The restaurant isn't worth going to. We didn't get a server for about 15 minutes and they food was just ok. Overall its a fine excursion if you are looking to relax in a beach chair. Also, be aware of you who book through as the guy who dropped us off never came back to pick us up we had to pay someone else to bring us back. Honduras was my favourite stop. Again we didn't have an excursion planned but we did decided to find something right away. We ended up going to West Beach. Our tour guide, Courtney, was super accommodating allowing us to stop at a gas station on our way. He always agreed to pick us up whenever we wanted. We ended up renting snorkel gear because there are several reefs you can snorkel on your own. It was so much fun. We then ate lunch at the paradise AQUA restaurant and had the seafood platter. All fresh yummy seafood! Absolutely the best food we had the whole trip. Courtney then came and found us around the time we were wanting to leave and took us back giving us a small tour. Our favourite spot on the ship was the garden café on the back of the boat. It wasn't very windy and was the perfect spot to watch the sunset each night or to enjoy breakfast in the mornings. Alizar was our spot for dinner every night the food was amazing! I highly recommend the French Onion Soup. The entertainment on the ship was awesome as well. DO NOT MISS SOULDUO!! You will be sorry if you do. The juggling comedian was funny too. We did not attend any of the parties because they were too late. We are in our mid 20's and a full day in the sun doesn't make for staying out late easy. We would check into our cabins around 10 pm every night and watch whatever movie was on. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Overall, our 1st bi-annual multi-generational family cruise was a really awesome trip. Here's my review-in the simplest possible frame of mind: 1) the cabins-midship, 10th floor, 2 inside & 1 balcony staterooms-all BIG for a ... Read More
Overall, our 1st bi-annual multi-generational family cruise was a really awesome trip. Here's my review-in the simplest possible frame of mind: 1) the cabins-midship, 10th floor, 2 inside & 1 balcony staterooms-all BIG for a cruiseship. Magnificent! Comfortable! Great beds-Great Bedding! Everything you bring will fit. but bring extra hangars and magnetic hooks for stuff. Very rare awareness of sea motion. 2) the food (remember, Norwegian offers the "Freestyle" plan) no pre-scheduled dining times unless you choose to make reservations. ) This worked out beautifully for our variety of ages and appetites. We ate full service dinners twice in the Alazar and breakfasted once in the Grand Pacific--'they were all well-prepared and served. The only unpleasant meal we had was in the Jasmine Asian restaurant. We were given a 30 minute quote for a wait, but they beeped l us after 8 minutes. (Not a complaint-just an observation). Everything we ordered was awful. Especially the service! And most items tasted as if they'd been frozen - then - microwaved. 3) the entertainment-we enjoyed everything we saw-especially (and surprisingly) the juggling. I think our expectations were too high for Elements-basically a poor-man's cirque-de-soliel. 4) spa-adequate; regretted purchasing the thermal suite pkg because we spent most of our downtime out on our balcony-would have made better use of it as just a day-pass. 5) the only other negative we have to share is-we will not take another cruise which requires tendering -- uncomfortably crowded and a major waste of our precious island time! 6) workout facility-adequate, good machines. 7) bars-great! 8) excursion-Cozumel is like an old friend, Belize is just okay (too much tender!) Roatan is spectacular!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We last cruised with RCCL in 2011 - a 9-night European cruise from Norway to France, Ireland, England, Scotland and back to Norway. In the intervening years we took three Disney cruises to Hawai'i, Western Caribbean and Alaska. Quite ... Read More
We last cruised with RCCL in 2011 - a 9-night European cruise from Norway to France, Ireland, England, Scotland and back to Norway. In the intervening years we took three Disney cruises to Hawai'i, Western Caribbean and Alaska. Quite frankly, based on our 2011 RCCL cruise, we weren't expecting things to be better than Disney. Were we surprised. Five years later RCCL had really improved their ships and their service onboard. There were more things to do for families and the available activities were, for the most part, on par with or better than DCL. We even found the food in the main dining room and the Windjammer to be better than DCL. Not everything was rosy. I did have an issue with the charter bus going from Bush International to the terminal. On DCL buses, both charter and Disney, the front seats are reserved for persons with disabilities - of which I am one. It was very hard to have to work my way down the aisle past perfectly healthy passengers to the rear of the bus. Also, despite my notifying RCCL of my need for a wheelchair from the terminal to the ship, there were issues there too. At the terminal, as advised, I asked the RCCL employee for wheelchair assistance. She informed me that there weren't any wheelchairs there and could I walk to the terminal to get one. I have muscular dystrophy and, while I can walk a short distance with a cane, longer distances are a challenge. I made my way to the terminal and asked the staff there again for a wheelchair and was told I would have to stand in the winding line and once inside the terminal would be provided with a wheelchair. What a Mickey Mouse operation! I hope RCCL lets their terminal staff know how incompetent and inconsiderate they were. One more thing. It would be nice if RCCL didn't clutter up the entrance to the Windjammer with marketing tables. Its hard enough to navigate around hungry guests without having to work around guests looking over the latest offerings in jewelry, teeth whitening and spa treatments. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
The dining and excursions were fantastic. Dolphins, sharks, rays, and monkeys - oh my. Jade itself is a bit outdated. It was originally built for Hawaii use and has tacky Polynesian decorations only applicable when traveling there. ... Read More
The dining and excursions were fantastic. Dolphins, sharks, rays, and monkeys - oh my. Jade itself is a bit outdated. It was originally built for Hawaii use and has tacky Polynesian decorations only applicable when traveling there. Having stayed in the Haven on other bigger boats, this class was less worth-while. No dedicated bar/lounge or dinner restaurant. Our Concierge (Omar) did a wonderful job making up for these short comings outside of the haven courtyard, but the lack of staffing and priority in the courtyard meant long waits for meals by the pool or drinks on either floor. We typically only had one steward for all this and it is simply not possible as he had to leave the haven and go to another floor for everything. Entertainment was acceptable for a smaller vessel, but pales in comparison to larger ships like breakaway and Epic (Blue man group, cirque, and second city). The Houston terminal (which they are scheduled to stop using) was clean, modern, and quick. For parents out there - the main teen programs start at 11PM, so be ready for late nights. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We have cruised a different cruise line the last 5 years and decided to try Norwegian this year. We booked the Owners Suite with Haven perks. We were in the white Diamond Suite 9504. We were amazed with all the perks this offers. Not only ... Read More
We have cruised a different cruise line the last 5 years and decided to try Norwegian this year. We booked the Owners Suite with Haven perks. We were in the white Diamond Suite 9504. We were amazed with all the perks this offers. Not only do you get to have priority boarding, you have priority all over the ship! Not only do you get a concierge but also a butler and the usual steward. All of whom were amazing: Omar (concierge), Charlie (butler) and Menzi (steward). We cannot say enough great things about these 3 men!! They definitely made our vacation easier and more enjoyable!! The shows were great! The old cruise line's shows were getting old. Plus, on the Jade we had VIP seating. How cool was that!! The food was good, the buffet set up was a little hectic. We missed the layout of the other cruise line. The specialty dining was great! Definitely try Teppanyaki!! Enjoyable and delicious! We felt like we were inside more on this ship, but maybe that was due to its size (a smaller ship than used to)? We had a great time at the ports and felt they were comparable to what we've done in the past. All in all, we had a great time and will be back on Norwegian. Just may try a different, bigger ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
arrival organisation was a nightmare after a long flight into Houston the rep was pretty useless had no idea who she was supposed to be meeting and only had 8 seater mini bus to transport people to the hotel, very poor, however getting ... Read More
arrival organisation was a nightmare after a long flight into Houston the rep was pretty useless had no idea who she was supposed to be meeting and only had 8 seater mini bus to transport people to the hotel, very poor, however getting onboard was much quicker and smoothly done. First port of call was Montego Bay - would recommend organised tour there, we loved Dunn's River falls, great fun. We had any time dining, sadly the food was not the best I have had with Princess it was very hit and miss, and we were served all three courses in about 35 minutes every night. The pool was taken over every afternoon by children, not supposed to jump in the pool but no-one especially the parents seems to enforce that therefore all the adults were sat around the edge, my fault when booking had no idea it was easter holiday's {they came earlier then expected} worse trip, Private Beach in cancun, supposed to be private but it's done like a relay but they overlap on people so when you arrive you have to hang about til the other people have gone before you can get a bed, poorly ran and very very overpriced. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The cruise on the Norwegian Jade was the best cruise I have taken so far. I was slightly skeptical before boarding the ship because some of the reviews were shaky. The embarkation process was very smooth, and very fast. We boarded the ship ... Read More
The cruise on the Norwegian Jade was the best cruise I have taken so far. I was slightly skeptical before boarding the ship because some of the reviews were shaky. The embarkation process was very smooth, and very fast. We boarded the ship without any obstacle. The food on the ship was outstanding. Some restaurants were better than others. I would recommend Le Bistro for a fabulous cuisine, and Teppanyaki was outstanding for a presentation while dining. The number of specialty restaurants was remarkable. You could eat french, brazilian, italian, japanese, chinese, sushi and steakhouse. Of course, on nights you don't want to pay for specialty dining, the food at the complementary Grand Pacific dining room is also delicious. You can also eat at the Alomar dining room for free, but it is more cramped and noisy. The cruise staff made the days exciting with awesome shows in the Starsust Theater, and game shows that are sure to entertain the family. The days at sea were not boring at all. Our cabin steward was extremely friendly. He greeted me by my name, and showed outstanding work ethic and customer service. Overall, the ship was beautiful, and very clean. People complained that it was woenough out, but it was in great shape. The Jade was as good as new. I have been on 3 other cruises, and Norwegian sold me. This was the best cruise I have been on by far. I will stick with Norwegian, and I am part of the Norwegian family. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We traveled in a group of 15 with the youngest being 10 and the oldest 70. We had balcony rooms and had an amazing time. My only complaint is that the common areas were too small in places such as the Medusa or the Atrium. The theater ... Read More
We traveled in a group of 15 with the youngest being 10 and the oldest 70. We had balcony rooms and had an amazing time. My only complaint is that the common areas were too small in places such as the Medusa or the Atrium. The theater is gorgeous and the shows were spectacular. Elements is NOT to be missed. We've seen a lot of Broadway shows and halfway through Elements, we were all looking at each other saying, "I can't believe we are seeing this on a cruise ship!" Also, comedian David Naster is top notch if you are lucky enough to have a sailing that includes him. We did not eat in any specialty restaurants although some in our party chose to do so. They enjoyed it. The rest of us opted for the Grand Pacific nearly every evening and it was wonderful. We enjoyed our Ultimate Beverage Packages for the adults and soda packages for the kids. Pepsi products were a bit of a bummer as the kids really missed Dr. Pepper. They aren't allowed sodas at home and had been looking forward to unlimited DP on the ship. Spinnakers was a great place to hang out when it was too windy to be by the pool. Our cruise staff had a ton of fun games to play while we were at sea. I do wish there was more for the teenagers and was disappointed in no teen dance club as I've seen on other ships. Family karaoke ended at 8:30 so if you wanted to go to a 7:30 show after dinner, there was never an opportunity for the kids to sing. My sixteen year old wanted more dance classes offered. The Rat Pack show in Spinnakers was awesome. Overall, this was an amazing trip. We highly recommend the following excursions: Dune Buggy Beach and Snorkel in Cozumel (I've done this multiple times and it's different every time) Gumbalimba Preserve in Roatan because the kids love holding the monkeys Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
My husband and I LOVE Norwegian. We have sailed on the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Getaway before. We've always had a wonderful experience and impeccable service. The Jade just didn't have it together on this cruise. Our ... Read More
My husband and I LOVE Norwegian. We have sailed on the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Getaway before. We've always had a wonderful experience and impeccable service. The Jade just didn't have it together on this cruise. Our cabin steward dropped the ball completely. There was no Latitudes Reward service from her at all. A second cabin steward was assigned two days into our cruise, probably because someone else complained, I'm guessing. On every Norwegaian cruise, we've had exceptional wait staff at the pool and in the dining rooms. Our waitstaff normally knows us by name and anticipates our needs and choices, not so on the Jade. I had good service from Baby, yes that was her real name, in Alizar. The bartender from Romania is great in the whiskey bar near Le Bistro. The guy in the garden cafe who was in charge of "washy washy " duties was upbeat and wonderful. Otherwise, the service was very sub-par. If this had been my first experience with Norwegian, I probably would not have sailed the cruise line again. There were not enough tenders in Belize, and there was a LONG delay for passengers to get off the ship. Many people were worried about making it to their excursions. In Roatan, we had to tender, yet again. ( In three previous trips to Roatan, we've always docked at the pier. The Dawn was in port, and they had precedence over our ship. This little ship looks tired, and its staff does not seem to know that they are in the service industry. We are great tippers, and we always more than compensate with each drink and meal. At the end of the cruise, we always give extra to the staff that takes care of us. We had three staff that truly deserved this extra compensation. My advice, pick another ship. You will have so much better of a time. There are very few entertainment options on this ship compared to the others. The service will be better. Your fellow cruisers will be better. (Strangely concentrated percentage of cruisers from a couple of states.) I will not sail the Jade again. I will sail Norwegain again, however. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our 1st cruise to the Western Caribbean, our 1st time leaving out of Port of Houston, and our 2nd ever cruise on NCL (10 years ago). Cons The embarkation process was not a great start to the trip. We stood in line to ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise to the Western Caribbean, our 1st time leaving out of Port of Houston, and our 2nd ever cruise on NCL (10 years ago). Cons The embarkation process was not a great start to the trip. We stood in line to check in for over an hour. Of the other 10 or so cruises we have been on, we have never experienced a line like this, nor have ever waited in line for more than 15 minutes. The tender process for Belize and Roatan was a nightmare never experienced before. People began lining up almost an hour prior, just to receive tender tickets. Once tendering began, there were very few boats being used for the process, ticket numbers were being called very slowly. In Belize, we waited patiently for our tender number to be called, however the next day in Roatan, we said screw it and sneaked our way on a much earlier tender. *****Trick is to take the stairs to the tender deck 4, Not the elevator, you will come to the tender ticket check point at deck 5 staircase, hide your tender tickets, and say you are meeting family in their cabin on deck 4, they will let you pass to go to the next deck down, blend in with everyone else in line. This saved us about another hour and a half of waiting for our tender. Again, never experienced this much hassle to tender, a major turnoff. The food was very sub-par. We never ate in any of the specialty additional cost locations, many of the times we have in the past we were not impressed for the quality we got for the price we paid. We have always found the food in the regular dining rooms to be just as good if not better. We ate one night in Alizar, the food was very bland with no flavor. The same was for Jasmine. On 2 nights we ate at the Grand Pacific main dining room and the food here was much better than our other experiences on the ship. Buffet for breakfast was standard, however for dinner, it was not very good. Many buffet items were either under-cooked or over-cooked. The ship felt very over crowded, especially in the public rooms and by the pool. Many of the other lines we have been on did not feel this way. Ordering drinks was a hassle as well. We had the UBP however there are hardly any drink servers walking around the lounges and pool, you are forced to go to the bar and wait in a long line since there were only ever 1-2 bartenders working at a very slow pace. Staff was not as friendly and knowledgable as I have experienced on other ships. The casino dealers did not seem too familiar with some of the table games or payouts for wins. The positives The entertainment was great. We went to a few of the shows and thought they were fantastic. The comedian was great, and the production show Elements was incredible and worth the hype. On night 1 we discovered a guitar/singer in the Magnums bar named Carlos, he was the most amazing musician we have seen on a cruise. He was instantly a crowd favorite and the lounge was packed every night to hear him perform. I highly recommend the Magnums Lounge with Carlos performing nightly. The kids club for our daughter was fantastic. She had a lot of fun with the different theme night and the kids club staff was very energetic, outgoing and wonderful. Overall, we made the best of the trip, cruising is cruising so who can complain being at sea with sunshine and creating memories. Based upon this experience however, we will probably not repeat with Norwegian and stick mainly to Princess. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We just disembarked the Norwegian Jade. We enjoyed a 7 day cruise from Houston to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. This is our second Norwegian Cruise. Our daughters, ages 10 & 14, were eager to participate in the Kids/Teen Club and engaged ... Read More
We just disembarked the Norwegian Jade. We enjoyed a 7 day cruise from Houston to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. This is our second Norwegian Cruise. Our daughters, ages 10 & 14, were eager to participate in the Kids/Teen Club and engaged in as many Kids Club/Teen Club activities as they could fit into our schedule. When we sailed on the Norwegian Dawn two years ago, we stayed in a stateroom with a picture window. Our three daughters stayed in the stateroom across the hall from our room. Our oldest daughter was 19 and stayed with our younger daughters across the hall. Our picture window stateroom was very comfortable for the two of us and our girls were very comfortable in their inside stateroom with bunkbeds. This year, we stayed in a stateroom on the 11th floor with a Balcony. We comfortably fit 4 of us in the stateroom. Our cabin steward was very attentive and kept our room well stocked and tidy twice a day. He quickly learned all of our names and greeted us daily with a warm smile and conversation. We did not purchase the drinks package. We averaged about two cocktails each day, so the drinks package would not have been necessary for us. We ate at all of the main dining rooms on the Jade. We enjoyed each of the restaurants. On Day 2 of the cruise, our 14 year old was nauseated from the “rough seas.” She sat down with us, but did not want to eat. When I explained to our waiter that she was not feeling very good, he took it upon himself to bring her a cut up apple and gave her suggestions on what she could do to help alleviate her discomfort. The Norwegian Jade has a fabulous “Quiet Zone” tanning deck with plenty of available seating/lounge chairs at the front of the ship. The area is away from the pool, music and food, but it was perfect for quiet relaxation and provided a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico…just my style. Since we sailed during Spring Break in March, the ship was at full capacity. There were plenty of college students on board. We coexisted just fine…they were reasonably respectful and polite. The entire crew did a fantastic job meeting our needs and making a point of interacting with all of us…from our Cabin Steward, to the Excursion staff to the buffet servers and bussers to the bar tenders and wait staff. The shows were great and very entertaining. We especially enjoyed the Elements Show and the comedian. The magician was fabulous too. We had to tender off the ship in Belize and Roatan. There were several negative comments regarding the long lines waiting for tender boats so they could go on their scheduled excursions. We did not have an issue with the lines, however, we are early risers and made sure we arrived 15 minutes early to tender off the ship. We also tendered back to the ship earlier, so the lines did not affect us. We were able to participate in our excursions and see as much as we wanted to see in the short amount of time we were in each port. Our cruise from Boston to Bermuda on the Dawn (June 2014) was pretty amazing. We were in port for three days, which allowed us a lot more freedom to explore Bermuda at our own pace. We were able to dock right in Bermuda, so tendering was not necessary. Bermuda is a very friendly, safe island. We took full advantage of the bus passes, which included the water taxi service. We enjoyed the local restaurants in Bermuda and asked the locals for recommendations for quieter beaches, away from the crowds. We left the ship early in the morning and stayed in Bermuda as late as the last bus/water taxi ran to port. Norwegian Cruise Line does a fantastic job making memorable vacations. Our family highly recommends NCL for your family’s next cruise. If college age kids scare you, I would suggest you stay away from Spring Break time…but the crew of NCL will accommodate your freestyling cruising needs regardless of when you go. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our sixth cruise and my parents first. We took our two children, ages 5 and 7 as well. We drove from the Dallas area and my parents drove from San Antonio. We all stayed at the Best Western Suites close to the port since ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise and my parents first. We took our two children, ages 5 and 7 as well. We drove from the Dallas area and my parents drove from San Antonio. We all stayed at the Best Western Suites close to the port since they offer free breakfast and parking. The hotel was ok, but I did see moldy spots in the bathroom, very poor construction/repair work done around the hotel that looked shabby. Beds were ok. Hotel staff were very courteous and responsive. The food was decent. They were fairly organized getting us to and from port. Overall, the hotel was fine. *********************************THE CABINS**************** We had two balcony rooms. My parent's room was on the Aloha and ours was on Baja. Their bed(s) were nicer than ours. (two twins) My husband is still recovering from back pain from the awful beds. The bed was worse than some Motel 6 beds. It was really, really worn down. We even bring a tempurpedic pad with us, that is an inch and a half thick and it still didn't help. On the third day, the nearly non-existent cabin steward brought us a egg crate pad as well. It helped some, but my husband is 6'1" and 200 pounds. A non supportive bed is really hard on him. :( The room size seemed fine for my parents, but it really became frustrating with 4 of us in this room. There was not ever enough room for us to 'unpack' fully and we never got organized enough to feel comfortable. We were always looking for stuff and having to pull out a million things to get to the items we needed. We have been on Carnival Magic, Sensation, Dream, Conquest, and Disney Magic in balcony rooms. This is the smallest room we've ever had. We barely saw our room guy but at least our bed was made when we got to the room. My parents got a wonderful steward for their room. They were raving about him. The bunkbed my daughter was in was rattling ALL night long the first two nights. So, I got so frustrated that I moved the mattress to the floor and had her sleep there. It stopped the rattling! But, now we had to step over her to get to the bathroom in the night!!! ++++++++++++++++SHIP ACTIVITIES++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++++KIDS CLUB We went on a ship tour as soon as we got there and were excited to check out the kids club. I was disappointed when I saw the pathetic facilities compared to some of the other ships we have been on. However, this is one of the nice surprises. The kids LOVED being in there. They had many, many activities planned and kept the kids engaged enough that they always wanted to go back! Very good job on that, Princess! +++++++++++++++++++NIGHT LIFE+++++++++++++++ We always try to go out late once or twice on a cruise, so we decided to go out one night until midnight. We walked through all the bars first, then headed to karoake. Karoake was a blast. People were being crazy. I was a little disturbed that some parents were letting their little kids hang out in there after 10... ours were in the kids club! We decided to wander up to the 'dance club', Skywalkers, around 11:30. When we got down there, it was full of cigarette smoke and they were playing a bunch of country music. (not our preference) Ugh. The smoke was the worst. So, we headed back to karoake. They were closing it down for the night when we got there and a bunch of people were leaving disappointed. :( When we walked into the other bar areas, those were shutting down as well??? There were LOTS of people still awake and walking around. I can't believe they would miss the opportunity to sell alcohol! Especially to those of us that don't smoke and didn't want to go into Skywalkers. Needless to say, we called it a night. ++++++++++Shows++++++++++++++ there were only two production shows that I saw on our agenda. Unfortunately, we missed both. But, usually there are shows every night on other ships, so I was disappointed with that. I was hoping my parents would get a full cruise experience. We were treating them for their 50th wedding anniversary. :( DINING +++++++++ROOM SERVICE+++++++++++++++++ Breakfast delivery was timely. The coffee was good. The pastries were almost always stale. :( My kids wouldn't even eat them. The cereal selection is for older people. Absolutely no cereal choices for kids. (like fruit loops, not even cheerios!) The same thing goes at the buffet as far as cereal! No smoked salmon on room service, either. :( We ordered sandwiches by room services late at night once. I requested plain, turkey sandwiches. I said "NO MAYO, NO TOMATO, NO LETTUCE.. PLAIN" three times to a guy that barely comprehended English. Sure enough, 30-40 minutes later, I get sandwiches with different combination of toppings. I try to call back and the phone rings and rings and rings. I ended up throwing away 4 sandwiches because someone couldn't understand what I said. ++++++++++++++MAIN DINING ROOM++++++++++++++++++ Me and my husband agree that the food was not great the first three nights. Dried salmon, over-cooked meats, etc. The food just wasn't what we were used to on a cruise. But, either they got a fresh shipment or a new cook, because the food seemed a lot better on day 4 on in the MDR. The lobster and prawn on formal night was fantastic. The desserts weren't as good as Carnival, though. ++++++++++BUFFET+++++++++++++++++++ There was a lot of food on the buffet that looked good, but tasted bad. We wasted a lot. :( I was happy to see smoked salmon on the buffet at least ONE morning. AND it was fabulous. On other mornings, they had other smoked fish. I wish I had tried them now. For breakfast, there was slightly disappointing corn beef hash, fried eggs on a tray to grab, egg omelets, sauteed mushrooms, etc. , and the elderly's finest selection of cereals and yogurts. Fruit was also available. The evening buffet was better than the MDR in a lot of cases, but still many dishes that need improvement. And, not to be snobby, but the presentation just didn't seem to be what we have become accustom to. I felt like I was eating at Golden Corral sometimes. One other thing about the ship that I saw in other posts--- sewer smell. Yes, I saw the reviews before and thought someone was just over-reacting. Nope. Sewer smell, especially on certain decks, and bathrooms. There are a lot of places that stink unfortunately. It wasn't in our room or in any of the areas we were staying in, so that was nice. :) We could avoid it. SHORE EXCURSIONS Playa MIA- The food was ok. Guacomole is good. Everything else is just edible. Drinks were drinks. Had a lot of alcohol. The beach water was very dirty for Cozumel. We could barely see through it. I had a drunk person fall into my back when I was on the floating water trampoline thing. It didn't feel good. I was worried for my small children when we got out there. I got them out of there as soon as I saw how stupid some of the adults were being. It would have been fun otherwise. the waterpark was nice to play in when we were done at the beach. The kids loved it. Little French Key This was not through the cruise line, so we had to leave the cruise terminal and walk up the 'hill'. We have done this before when we went on Victor Bodden's tour. It looks safer than it used to be. There is a security guard at the top of the hill. It's hot waiting. Bring WATER! We loved our day at Little French Key!! It was so beautiful. Our favorite stop. Even the food was good! I want to go back already. Goff's Cay Beautiful, but primitive. I could see some people loving this, others hating it. I was somewhere in between. The boat ride could have been better. It was so rough. 30 minutes, too! My poor mom looked terrified. I was hoping she wouldn't have a heart attack! My dad said it hurt his back. There were only two restrooms on this island that they dump about 500 people on per day apparently. There were a lot of drunks because the alcohol is strong. Be forewarned though- the rum punch is the same color as the kids punch. Bring water for your kids! The beach is really nice for the kids- it goes forever without getting very deep. The food was ok, but the smoke from the wood! That smoke burned my eyes for two hours. It was horrible. I don't have allergies of any kind, but that just about crippled me when I walked through the path of that smoke! My mom said it bothered her too. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We are experienced cruisers, but this is the first time we have ever cruised with Princess. 29 members of our extended family joined us over Spring Break to help celebrate our parents' 60th wedding anniversary. The staff was very ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, but this is the first time we have ever cruised with Princess. 29 members of our extended family joined us over Spring Break to help celebrate our parents' 60th wedding anniversary. The staff was very helpful in making the celebration -- and the entire week -- special. The food in the Palms dining room was very good -- in fact, the best lobster I've ever eaten. The prime rib was a bit disappointing, but the other beef dishes were very tasty. I was not terribly impressed with the quality of the fish dishes other than the lobster, but I am very particular about my fish. My daughter-in-law, granddaughters and I are all on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet and the staff was very diligent about ensuring that we had gluten-free bread, muffins, pasta and other gluten-free choices as well as special desserts prepared without dairy or gluten. The shows in the Princess Theater was outstanding -- especially Piano Man and Bravo! We enjoyed the Voice of the Seas competition on the final night, although the way they set it up, the singer who was clearly the crowd favorite was bumped out by the three judges. There were plenty of activities to keep us busy from movies under the stars to bingo to lounging by the pool -- and the spa offered some very nice options (and great massages). Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Summary: Let me cut to the chase, by the time we left the ship, we had already booked two more cruises on NCL. However, that is not to say NCL and the Jade is without flaws. But for the money, my DW and I felt our 3/12 NCL Jade cruise ... Read More
Summary: Let me cut to the chase, by the time we left the ship, we had already booked two more cruises on NCL. However, that is not to say NCL and the Jade is without flaws. But for the money, my DW and I felt our 3/12 NCL Jade cruise was wonderful and a great value. Boarding/Embarkation: This part of the review will very soon be irrelevant as NCL has decided to not sail out of Houston. However, we felt that the embarkation process was nearly flawless. As we entered into the terminal, we were met by attendants giving us instructions. Once we told them that we were in the Haven, we were ushered to a separate waiting area for check-in. A lesson learned for us was to always make sure that we tell the terminal staff when we are traveling in a suite or above. The terminal staff were very quick to simply give us a number to wait with the other 2900 passengers. They did not ask what level of room we were in. Within our separate waiting area, two women were checking passengers in. Apparently there was a hiccup with another family who got forgotten, but we were checked in fairly quickly—maybe 10-20 minutes. After checking in, we were met by Omar (more on him later) who was our concierge. He directed us to beverages, canapes, and to his assistant who was ready to make restaurant reservations for us. After checking in, we waited in this waiting area for about 30 minutes when Maxi (who would be our butler) guided us and about 10 other passengers onto the ship, bypassing the wait that other passengers who were not in suites had to endure. Once we got onto the ship, we stashed our carry-on baggage in our room. The rooms weren’t ready yet, but no one had an issue with us dropping our bags off. We then went down to Cagney’s for lunch. The only negative, which is quite minor, is that this is the first cruise we’ve taken, including a 2008 cruise on the NCL Spirit, where we were not greeted on the ship with a glass of sparkling wine. It’s a small matter, but it always seemed to heighten our excitement of the cruise and we missed it. After we had lunch we spelunked around the ship and then returned to our room when it was ready. While we were unpacking, Maxi came by the room and explained the room, room service and how we could get a hold of him at any time. Maxi has been with NCL for 17 years and was more than willing to help us out with anything. We were new to the use of a butler and probably didn’t use Maxi to the fullest. But I’m positive that if we had thought of something, Maxi would have fully been able to accommodate us. Room: In a word: Wow. We had the smallest room in the Haven: a Courtyard Penthouse (although the phone in the room referred to it as a junior suite). However, for a couple, it was perfect. Unfortunately, the NCL website only offers a single picture without a floorplan. I’ll attempt to describe it here. Essentially, the suite is in two parts—a main living room opening to a small balcony and a bedroom/bathroom. As you enter the cabin door, you are met by the living room and a view to the balcony. Just to your left is the wet bar equipped with a hutch supplying a set of wine and champagne glasses and coffee/espresso machine. A four-chair dining table is next followed by a 48(??) inch TV and sofa. The space is much more spacious than you might imagine. The balcony is rather small with just enough room for two chairs and a small round table. The furniture, while comfortable, did seem a bit too large for the size of the balcony. A plus of the balcony is that this is one of the few cabins in the Haven that has a direct view to the ocean below. The two-bedroom suites has an awning from deck 13 that interferes with looking straight down. The balcony is also constructed to block much of the wind. Back inside the cabin, between the dining table and the TV cabinet is the doorway taking you into the bedroom/bathroom area. The king-sized bed is to the left as you enter this area. Curtains can be drawn to separate the bed area from the bathroom. There are small nightstands on either side of the bed which are plenty large enough to hold books, Ipads, and other essentials. There is also a small TV mounted to the wall that you can watch while in bed. The bathroom area sports a large double vanity. On the opposite wall is your closet, which we thought was rather small. However, we are horrible over-packers and recognize that the closet is plenty big enough for a couple who might actually pack appropriately for a 7 day cruise. It does have several deep drawers and two safes. Next to the closet is your toilet, sequestered into its own stall, fully equipped with a phone—which surprisingly was more convenient than I thought it would be. The real star of the room, though was the shower and tub. The shower is equipped with a rain-shower faucet, which is nice, but what is wonderful is the floor to ceiling window that you can look out of while you are taking a shower. By far, these were the most scenic showers I’ve taken in my life. Of course, there is a pull down curtain/shade that you can use so you are not giving people a show while in port. Just outside the shower is a separate tub with its own huge window. Above the tub and on the wall is yet another TV. This actually was convenient to have on when we were getting ready for dinner. The room is supplied with Bulgari soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. Ship General Areas: The ship is well maintained. There is a bit of wear on the carpet in the high-traffic areas of the ship, but it certainly didn’t fall into the “worn-out” category. While there are a good number of elevators, they tended to be slow. This didn’t impact us, however, as we declare a “no-elevator rule” whenever we cruise (it makes us feel better about all the food we are eating when we are walking the stairs). Of course, if we were not impacted by the slow elevators, the fact that most of the restaurants and clubs being on level 6 and 7 and our room being on floor 14 certainly gave us a workout. Our favorite gathering place was the Star Bar on deck 13. Beyond its convenient location to our room and Cagney’s, it also was the quietest, most intimate bar we found. Amit, our bartender in the Star, was great and made the best martinis on the ship. I was also glad to find that the Jade had a small cigar lounge. Unlike some cigar lounges I’ve been in on ships, this lounge had a great air scrubber that prevented the room from becoming overly saturated with smoke, even when there were several smoking cigars. The drawback to the ship, overall, is that it still screams Hawaii in all of its décor. The ship was originally christened as the Pride of Hawaii and NCL has done nothing to change its décor since renaming her the Jade in 2008. While it décor would be fine if it still was making its runs around the Hawaii islands, it seems out-of-place and even dated, given that she sails in the Caribbean and Europe today. We were told that she is due to go into dry-dock within the year. One could hope that the décor is changed out with this refitting. The Haven: We were anxious about sailing on a mass-market cruise line during Spring Break. As a hedge against our fears we decided to book a room in the Haven. We are so grateful that we did so. Unlike other parts of the ship, the access to the Haven is restricted to those who are booked in the Haven (and the Owner Suites). Within The Haven are eleven suites plus the two three-bedroom garden villas. As you open the key-card controlled door to the Haven, you are met by the change in décor. In the hallways, there is a nice cream carpet that stands in stark contrast to the bright Hawaiian greens, reds, and blues found around the rest of the ship. The Haven has a more refined feel to it. There are no inside cabins on this deck. Instead at the center of the Haven is the common area which consists of a small dining and beverage area, small dipping pool, hot tub, nice loungers and seating area and fitness area with showers and restrooms. There is also a stairwell to an exclusive sun deck on the 15th deck. Despite there being some 20 loungers on the deck, I never saw more than 5 or six people enjoying the views and the sun. Yes, there were children in the Haven’s pool. However, unlike the main pools used by everyone else on the ship, I never saw a child unattended. In fact, each family in the Haven seemed to be very respectful of each of the other passengers in the Haven. Throughout the day there was always cold water, juice, and coffee available in the dining/beverage area of the Haven. This area was also serviced by an attendant who stood ready to bring drinks from the bar or even bring room service. We learned that while drinks brought to your room would be charged to you, despite having an ultimate beverage package, you could order drinks to the Haven’s common area as part of the package. One negative is that food ordered to the Haven was rather slow…about 45 minutes from order to service. Drinks came much quicker, however. Beyond the value of the Haven’s not-so-common, common areas, the amenities that come with any suite-level room (not just the Haven) makes it nearly worth the price on their own. First of all, Cagney’s is opened for breakfast and lunch to only suite-level members or VIPs. Second, you have your own reserved balcony area in the Stardust Theater for any shows, complete with dedicated beverage server. But perhaps the most advantageous benefit is the priority disembarkation/tendering. Instead of fighting the masses and pulling a number for a tender, you simply meet in the Star Bar the morning of a port day and the concierge or his assistant will whisk you down a staff elevator to the fourth deck. Here, you are ushered ahead of the rest of the passengers attempting to get off the ship or tendering. It is a seamless, easy experience. Furthermore, you get to be served by Omar who is phenomenal. While Maxi would pop in on us to make sure everything is fine in our rooms, Omar seemed to be everywhere on the ship with a bright, infectious smile making sure that everything about our experience was perfect. No task or request seemed to be too big or too small. If it was possible, Omar made it so. Restaurants: With our cruise reservation, along with 240 minutes of internet, $50 off of shore excursions, and the ultimate beverage service, we also had the ultimate dining package included. Thus, we took the advantage of eating dinner in Cagney’s two nights, Le Bistro two nights, and the Moderno Churrascaria. Cagney’s and Le Bistro was solid. However, if you think that you are going to get a Michelin experience here, it’s not going to happen. Manage your expectations. We think it was better than a good Olive Garden or Outback, but probably not as good as that anniversary and birthday-only restaurant that you have back at home. That being said, the scallop dish at Le Bistro was to die for (I had a second serving of them both times we ate there). The steak and lamb was good. The duck at Le Bistro was so-so however. The service at Cagney’s was good, but not necessarily consistent. Service at Le Bistro was very good. Breakfast at Cagney’s was very good as was their lunch. On Wednesday night, we were fortunate enough to be among the dozen passengers (actually 11) who dined at the Chef’s Table. It was an additional $110 per person, but we felt it was worth it. Chef Rodney stayed with us the entire 9-course meal explaining each dish along with his own personal story and experiences. His asparagus soup was fantastic. The only missed dish was the veal which I felt was overcooked. However, I was pretty much stuffed by this course and did not send it back. The rest of the meal was spot-on. Our last night we ate at the Moderno Churrascaria. While the appetizer bar and service was very good, we had a mixed review on the meats. The ala-carte prices at the specialty restaurants were not unreasonable (if you discount the fact that you’ve already paid for dining at the other venues). Most entrees were between 15-25 dollars. Most appetizers were between 3-6 dollars. When the ship was in Roatan, we returned on-board early to enjoy the ship mostly to ourselves. We discovered that the buffet restaurant, usually swarming with passengers when at sea, actually was pretty good with a huge selection of items. We did have dining in our room one night. Maxi did a great job of setting it up for us. This was a relaxing way to have dinner from any of the restaurants in your room without the fuss of getting ready to meet the public. Entertainment: This was the first time in six cruises that we actually went to a show on a cruise ship and were very glad that we did so. We went to the Ukrainian gymnasts who were simply amazing. We also went to Elements which featured the performers of three of the ship’s nights (including the Ukrainians). This also was very, very well done. The other shows that we did not go to received good reviews by the other guests that we talked to who had gone to those shows. Spa: My wife had recently had surgery and chose not to partake in a massage as she usually does on the ship, although we both took advantage of the thermal spa suite. The ship only sells week passes to a limited number of cruisers and we were lucky to be in that number. Each gender has their own area with dry sauna, steam, hot tub, cold (very cold, btw) plunge pool, and relaxation area. Both areas open to a uni-sex relaxation area with reclining, heated relaxation chairs which are absolutely wonderful. There is also a hot-tub therapy pool in this area. The real treat is that this area is at the front of the ship with floor to ceiling windows looking out at the sea. This quickly became a must-do daily activity for us. While this is the only service we took advantage of in the spa, when she was walked through the spa by one of the attendants, my wife remarked it is the most beautiful spa of any ship she’s been on. Last thoughts: The cruise is not perfect. While service was friendly, it was spotty in places outside of our Butler, room steward, and Omar. Spotty mostly meaning a bit slow and non-attentive, but certainly not bad. There was not a single incident that I can point to and say I was upset or frustrated with the service. Just compared to some of the other cruises we’ve sailed on (mind you at a more premium price) the service had room to improve. While the ship was full and we never felt crowded, walking by the main pool during sea days reminded us that we made the right decision to go in the Haven. We saw the usual hording of chairs, unattended children, and mild intoxication that mostly drove our decision to upgrade. The only thing that was irksome was the business model that NCL has concerning its ultimate dining and beverage packages. I fully understand that the UBP only covers those drinks that are less than $15. The selections in that price point were fully acceptable to us. It does not cover bottled water, however, which we were initially disappointed with until we realize that you can order glasses of water anywhere for free. What we could not understand about the UBP was that ordering a coffee at one of the bars was an additional charge, not covered by the UBP. However, if you asked them to put Baileys in that same coffee, it was automatically covered by the UBP as a bar drink. What we didn’t think to do was to order a virgin Baileys and see what they would have done. While I didn’t have any real issues with the UDP, I was disappointed when we booked our next 2 cruises that suite-level rooms no longer include the UDP as a promotion. Instead, they include a Specialty Dining Package that only allows for four nights at a specialty restaurant. This confuses me as at the price point that we are paying for our rooms, it is not about the money. In fact, NCL could easily tack on an additional $75 per guest in the suites to offset the cost of the additional dinners and it would not be noticed. It would, however, give the illusion of a more inclusive experience and better value. On our next two cruises, we will likely eat at the specialty restaurants as frequently as we did this cruise, despite having to pay ala-carte for three of the meals. It’s not about the money. I appreciate the approach of NCL’s sister cruise line, Regent, which is fully all-inclusive. While I am careful not to compare the two cruise lines, I think that NCL is missing a huge opportunity to create much of that same all-inclusive experience for its highest paying passengers. Hope to sail with you in March 2017 on the NCL Dawn and in August 2017 on the NCL Escape. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
This was my first cruise and my husband's first as an adult. We enjoyed it very much. It was very low stress and relaxing. We plan to do more cruising the the future. Ship: The ship was clean, well maintained, and nicely ... Read More
This was my first cruise and my husband's first as an adult. We enjoyed it very much. It was very low stress and relaxing. We plan to do more cruising the the future. Ship: The ship was clean, well maintained, and nicely appointed. While each bar had its own vibe and decor, the three dining rooms were all very much the same. Once I was in a dining room, I couldn't tell which one I was in. It would have been nice if the dining rooms had more varied decor for variety. At anytime of the day or night I could find a quiet spot to read, play board games (we brought a few with us) or watch the water. Or you can always find a lively spot if you prefer. The staff was mostly good but not exceptional. We didn't use the pools but there a lot of them. At least one was adult only with hardly anyone in it. Still the pools were a little small. I would have used one if there had been a lap pool. Dining: We had anytime dining with the unlimited soft drink package. The dining was not really "anytime" as we often waited in a long line for a table. I loved the food in the dining room but my husband did not care for it. It was too gourmet with too much sauce on everything for his tastes. He normally love Eggs Benedict but was disappointed by that dish in the dining room. I loved my dining room breakfast. The best part of smoked salmon and cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Also good granola and yogurt. At dinner, on the first night I ordered a cheese tart (which is an entree) for desert and they were confused for a second but were happy to oblige. At our last meal in the dining room, I didn't like my beef wellington and they happily replaced it with something else more to my liking. Also, the soft drinks served in the dining room were flat and they seemed mostly unwilling to fix the problem. One server, sent his assistant to a nearby bar for our soft drinks and another brought us soft drinks in a can. But others were less helpful all the manager did was blame it on the manufacturer of the drink dispenser. The buffet lacked variety. In the AM the eggs were cold and the pastries stale. We also ate one night in the Italian restaurant and once in the Steak House. The food in the Italian restaurant was okay but not really worth it. The service was mostly wonderful but ... at another table one passenger had taken off his shoes and socks and was getting a foot massage from his son. It was formal night and this seemed well outside the dress code. Even at McDonald's you have to wear shoes. I complained to the waitress but she said there was nothing she could do about it. Not very romantic. The steak house was wonderful. The service there was superb as was the food and atmosphere. We would have eaten there again but it was our last night on board the ship. Even with our soft drink package we had to show our ship ID every time we ordered a beverage. I bought a lanyard (none provided) so that I would always have it on me in easy reach. My husband kept his in his wallet and got very tired of taking it out. We would have been willing to pay more it we could have ordered drinks without the fiddlyness of showing our card every time. Next time we will skip the drinks package and stick to the included drinks of water, tea, coffee. Be warned at least one bar charges for basic coffee even though basic coffee is supposedly included in the cost of the cruise. Entertainment and Activities: I was disappointed that there weren't more scheduled activities. I like more live music and dancing. I'd also like presentations about the upcoming ports covering history, culture, geography, and economy but none were offered. We went to one show in the theater which we enjoyed but there was too much opera singing for my husband's taste. The best activity was the star gazing but it was only offered once the entire cruise. Also, they turn off deck lights on the top deck to better see the stars (good) but when the talk is over they turn the lights back on (bad) so that you have no time just to look without all the yammering. They said it was for safety but they could have given us 30 more min of supervised (for safety) but silent dark to just soak in the night sky. Also the talk was all about the mythology and nothing about astronomy. I would also have liked a talk about ship operation and navigation. Ports: The towns are very poor and ugly. There is nothing glamorous, exotic, beautiful, or quaint about them. The water was gorgeous. The weather was warm and pleasant. Shore Excursions: We booked an excursion for each port and were happy with them. When we first booked, we wanted to do the the America's Cup Race but it was wait-listed so we booked a snorkel thing instead. Luckily someone canceled and we got into the America's Cup Race and had no difficulty canceling the snorkeling but we did have to ask them to do it. It was not automatic. Then, because the water was so beautiful and we weren't doing the snorkeling, we asked to change one of our other excursions to include time at a beach where we could snorkel and we had no problems getting that taken care of either. In Cozumel we did the America's Cup 12-Metre Yacht Race. I highly recommend it. We hope to do that excursion again it was so much fun. In Roatan we did the Gumbalimba Preservation Nature Park & Scenic Drive. We added time at the beach to this one and it came with lunch. It was okay. The scenic drive wasn't very scenic and we didn't get enough time with the monkeys. The lunch was cold hamburgers and there wasn't enough food. The beach was wonderful but the snorkeling was just so so. In Belize we did the Lamanai Mayan Ruins,Mangrove River Cruise & Lunch. I'm glad I saw the ruins once but they were not very interesting compared with ruins I've seen in Europe. The river cruise was loud and windy. Don't expect to see wildlife. I think the noise of the boat scared it all away. Lunch was very good, home-cooked, and the best meal we had on the entire vacation. Embarkation/Disembarkation: The cruise leaves out of our home city. In the morning we drove to the cruise terminal. Parking was easy and check in was low stress. The waiting room could be more comfortable and better appointed but it serves its purpose. We were early and some of the first to board. We had plenty of time to get lunch on board, take a self guided tour of the ship, and unpack. Then sit on the back deck, enjoy a drink and discuss the geography of the area. Then we sailed away thru the ship channel and watched the land pass by. At the ports, getting on and off the ship was easy if a little crowded. At the end of the cruise we had a choice of walking off with our luggage or having them unload or luggage for us. With the second option you have to pick a specific time to disembark. We wanted to be flexible so we chose the first option only to find out that those folks have to get off first very early so we switched the the second option but had to give them our luggage the night before. In the end it turned out well but it could have been better explained in the first place. We were looking for a relaxing stress-reducing week and we got it. We especially liked that there was no air travel involved nor long car drives like all our previous vacations. It was also very affordable. We understand that this is that last season that they are offering the cruise out of Houston but we will take a similar cruise again in the future out of Galveston. We will do the America's Cup Race again and spend the other days snorkeling off a sail boat. We will try a different cruise line in hopes of better dining. We will get an interior cabin towards the front of the ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We booked this cruise when we first found out about it arriving in Houston. The reviews when it first started sailing were not very good, and we were nervous about what to expect. From embarkation to disembarkation we were pleasantly ... Read More
We booked this cruise when we first found out about it arriving in Houston. The reviews when it first started sailing were not very good, and we were nervous about what to expect. From embarkation to disembarkation we were pleasantly surprised. We chose the arrival time of 10:30 am and were on board by 11:30 am. We were told that rooms would all by ready by 1 pm, but we only had to wait until noon for ours. We carried on all of our luggage so we could set up the room promptly. The safety briefing was at 3 pm and was not as stressful as other ones we have been through. Lunch was ready on Deck 12 and we only had to wait 5 minutes to get a drink at the bar. The cruise was sold out, but since it is a smaller ship we never had to wait more than a few minutes for anything (I.e. food, drinks, towels), except when we had to get tender tickets to the Belize and Roatan (send one person to get in line EARLY for those (Deck 12). The Welcome Aboard show was good and not as cheesy as other ones I've seen. The Soul show had a lot of great talent, but was inappropriate for young children so you probably want to take them to Splash Academy for that one. The illusion show was great, and Elements was definitely Vegas worthy. That brings up another topic- Splash Academy. Our daughter only went a few times, and it seemed like trun of the mill children's program, nothing negative and nothing fantastic. As far as dining goes, we ate at the Garden Cafe frequently since it was convenient and my daughter (6) loved the "washy washy man" named Prince who danced and sang as he sprayed everyone's hands with sanitizer. The reviews about the food being the same on the buffet every day are mostly true, but there is so much to offer that I didn't try half of the things the buffet offered. We had dinner several times at Alazar and had great servers. Grand Pacific is the main complementary dining hall and no shorts are allowed at dinner, so we ate there for lunch. We ate at Blue Lagoon once (24/7 comfort food) and I was not found of the menu and the servers were polite, but not very attentive. We were content with the food offerings and did not choose to eat at any specialty restaurants. In Cozumel we got off the ship easily and we chose to go to the Allegro resort through shoreexcursioneer.com. The resort was very nice and the grounds were well kept. It was extremely quiet and the bar tenders and other employees that we interacted with did not have much personality. The food was not great, but we loved the mojitos and ended up being happy with our excursion. In Belize City we also booked from that website and chose to do the Goff's Caye beach and snorkel tour. It was a bumpy 30 minute boat ride over to the island, but once we got there it was worth every minute. The water was crystal clear and the staff was amazing. They helped my daughter on her first snorkeling adventure and they seemed to have a true love for their jobs and their country. In Roatan we booked a day pass (from a website) to Little French Key. This was the best part of our trip. Words can't describe how much it felt like paradise. There are over 1,500 reviews on TripAdvisor along with pictures. They don't have the leopard anymore, but they still have the other animals. Both the food and drinks were spectacular. Disembarkation went pretty well compared to other cruise lines I've been on. It would be smart to pack the night before and plan on getting up early, because the ship arrives in port much earlier than the disembarkation time and they started calling for people an hour prior to the time on the paper they gave us. Again, we decided to tote our own luggage through customs. I thought it was going to be a long and grueling process because it was too windy to use the gangways, but it only ended up taking 40 minutes from the time we left our room until the time we cleared customs. Overall this trip exceeded our expectations based on the negative reviews we read. We would go on it again next year if it wasn't leaving Houston. The only reason I didn't rate it excellent is because it doesn't offer quite as many amenities and activities as other ships, but it is well worth the money. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Cons: This cruise line does not compare to Carnival or Royal Caribbean. We will not sail with Norwegian in the future. First, the ship smells terrible; like a hospital cafeteria. The food is average at best and service is not what we ... Read More
Cons: This cruise line does not compare to Carnival or Royal Caribbean. We will not sail with Norwegian in the future. First, the ship smells terrible; like a hospital cafeteria. The food is average at best and service is not what we expected. Numerous times we called the service hotline and could not get anyone to answer. In order to get an iron, you must call then wait on other guest to return a checked out iron and board. By the time the iron arrives, you will be eating dinner in a wrinkled shirt. There are only 4 choices for dining unless you want to pay an up charge. Two of the four complementary dining options have the exact same menu. Guests must pay to play pool, eat lobster or sushi, or drink a coffee from the coffee bar. There is basically no dress code and the dining areas include women in formals, girls in t-shirts and exercise pants and everything in between. Elevators were not working on departure day...so hundreds of guests had to drag suitcases, small children and elderly family members down never-ending flights if stairs. Pros: The breakfast buffet has delicious sticky buns that are warm and freshly made each day. Entertainment in Spinnakers lounge was great (game shows and team challenges). Staff was generally friendly and poolside band was great. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I am a high school teacher, and Spring Break is one of the few times in the year I can travel without having to take personal vacation days. Consequently, although I prefer to not be around children and teenagers on my vacation, there ... Read More
I am a high school teacher, and Spring Break is one of the few times in the year I can travel without having to take personal vacation days. Consequently, although I prefer to not be around children and teenagers on my vacation, there really is no way to avoid them on a Spring Break cruise. Nevertheless, with a little strategic planning it can be done, and you can have a relaxing and enjoyable cruise as I did on the Jade. I live in Houston, so this review will not have any information about hotels. What I can say is that for those of you traveling to Houston hoping to enjoy activities near the terminal prior to or after your cruise, be aware that there is nothing -- restaurants, shopping, or a beautiful view -- near the Bayport Terminal. Because I have cruised this particular itinerary before, I did not indulge in any shore excursions, but I did disembark at Cozumel to visit a particular shop that I especially enjoy. More about the Cozumel disembarkation shortly. Embarkation: Easy and effortless. There were two lines for security and both moved quickly and efficiently. Once through security, it was a quick check-in to receive my room key. I noticed that those in priority boarding seemed to be in a longer line. It did not move as quickly while I was there, and that was around 10:15 a.m. We actually began boarding the ship at 11:30 a.m. The Jade: The ship appears to be showing her age in some places (worn carpet, peeling paint on the railings and rust here and there), but overall the crew did a yeoman's job in keeping the ship in great shape. I often saw crew members painting and sprucing up various areas on the Promenade deck 7 during my walks, and there was constant cleaning and polishing. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that the ship reeks of cigarette and cigar smoke especially in the Library (which I could not figure out why or from where it was coming), and on decks 6, 7 and 8. Hopefully, when the Jade goes into dry dock later this year she will get a thorough airing-out. The Spa/Fitness Center: This was a rest and relaxation cruise for me, so I made good use of the Spa. The hot tub, thalassotherapy pool, and the heated loungers are worth every penny spent. The Spa was the one of the few places where I found solitude and quiet and at no point throughout the entire cruise did I share the Spa with anyone! The Fitness Center is adequate and has ellyptical machines, treadmills, rowing machines, stair climbers, and recumbent cycles. The few weight machines could use some maintenance. The center was busiest in the mornings and all day during sea days. There are some free-weights, and an area for spinning, fitness, and yoga classes. I was able to get in good workouts. Service: My cabin steward, Rod, was warm, friendly, and made great towel animals! There was one waiting for me every evening when I returned from dinner. Rod was gracious and accommodating, as was just about everyone I encountered on the ship. I overheard some people onboard, and read some reviews saying that the staff lacked energy and enthusiasm. I only experienced that from the wait staff in Jasmine Garden; otherwise, I found the staff overall to be friendly and helpful. Dining: Food is so subjective, but my overall impression is that the quality was pretty hit or miss. I do not like buffets and do not patronize them in my land life, but they come in handy on cruises when you want a quick bite. The buffet was what a buffet is. Think Golden Corral: bland-tasting with a lot of people's hands around no matter how much "washy-washy." I also ate at Alizars, Cagney's, Moderno, La Cucina, Jasmine Garden and the MDR and found all of them to be average. For some reason all of my meals arrived barely warm. The hotel/restaurant manager should consider how to make sure that the hot meals arrive to tables hot. I suppose with so many people to serve this is asking a lot. I will add that I had the UDP and was able to dine at the specialty restaurants. If I had to pay the a la cart prices for my meals I would have been very disappointed. The quality did not match the prices. I really could not tell any difference between the specialty and the complimentary restaurants as far as quality or service. Cozumel Disembarkation: It was quite the mess. Everyone disembarked on Deck 4 and were packed in like cattle in the stairwells. The elevators were still running which meant that people were unloading into the crowd causing more crowding and chaos. It took me about 40 minutes to get off the ship. I did not participate in the tendering activities for Belize or Honduras because my cruise was about relaxation, and there is nothing relaxing about crowds and lines. Final Disembarkation: Weather made early disembarkation quite the mess. I chose the walk-off option thinking that it would be as easy as it was on the Jewel this time last year. But because of the high winds the port authority deemed it unsafe for passengers to disembark on deck 7. So, everyone who was lined up outside was re-routed inside to the elevators, and told the alternative was to drag their luggage downstairs to deck 4. See my comments about the Cozumel disembarkation and add luggage to the equation... Summary: I enjoyed this cruise because I did not expect to do much except to rejuvenate and relax. I avoided the areas where I knew there would be lots of people and kids, so my cabin was a "haven" so-to-speak, as was the Spa. I ate at off-hours. I did not do excursions and had the ship pretty much to myself on port days. I found the staff to be friendly, and the ship to be functional, but in need of a little TLC. Overall, this cruise met my expectations and I enjoyed it very much. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We had a great time on the NCL Jade. We only ate in the included venues and all meals were very satisfying. Hot foods hot, cold foods cold. Very flavorful meals.Fantastic wait staff in the main dining room. Frasier was a blessing ... Read More
We had a great time on the NCL Jade. We only ate in the included venues and all meals were very satisfying. Hot foods hot, cold foods cold. Very flavorful meals.Fantastic wait staff in the main dining room. Frasier was a blessing for my family. He was there for us for breakfasts in the Grand Pacific and he was there for us in Alizar for supper. We never even wanted for water. He was always there for us. Our cabin was clean, comfortable & quiet. Shower is large and I'm a big guy. Plenty of hot water even at the end of port days when lots of folks were getting back on-board and headed for the shower. Clean bright thick towels and washcloths. Loved being able to spend a little time on our balcony every night before turning in. All the shows were good. Enjoyed the comedian David Naster for multiple shows. Yes, the Jade is showing some age, but is still completely functional and all public areas were clean. If you have excursions through NCL, I would suggest going through your excursion tickets with a "fine tooth comb". We had 6 in our group in 3 cabins. One set of tickets was never delivered. The excursion desk reprinted them for a different time than the other 4. The mistake wasn't discovered until the night before. Excursion desk management was able to get us all on the same excursion, but it was questionable for a while. We weren't sure until we were all in port asking the vendor if they could take us all. Houston port is a breeze. I wish NCL would stay in Texas. It's much more economical than flying to California or Florida. Completely addicted to"Freestyle Cruising". Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
We did this same itinerary on the Jewel last year, and booked for Jade right after we got home. However, having learned from our experience, this time we booked a 2 bedroom family suite in the Haven. (on the Jewel, nobody slept because ... Read More
We did this same itinerary on the Jewel last year, and booked for Jade right after we got home. However, having learned from our experience, this time we booked a 2 bedroom family suite in the Haven. (on the Jewel, nobody slept because my kids dont sleep well in general). This was the BEST MOVE EVER. We drove down the night before and stayed at the Best Western Seabrook. Prior to checking in, we went to Johnson Space Center (NASA) for the afternoon. The hotel was fine, clean, and we knew the drill, since we parked and cruised from there last year as well. We arrived at the port at about 9:30 am and were first in the security line. Once they opened the line, we went directly to suite check in and had some refreshments. The Concierge (Omar) and his assistant were there to assist us in choosing shore exursions (already had booked private ones, but my parents took advantage of this - they were in an aft penthouse), gave us our cards and led us onboard to the Star Bar as soon as embarkation began. The cruise began with lunch at Cagneys, and that was just the beginning. The 2 bedroom suite was FANTASTIC, the Haven had quite a few well other children in it - and aside from a little splashing (they always stopped after parents reminded them not to), all were very well behaved. Splash Academy has done nothing but improve, IMO, since Nickelodeon stopped. My son (7), actually liked it this year! Dining was Ok in the specialties, but in our experience this year, was slow and not as tasty as the meals in the MDR. I thought that was a bit odd, but oh well. We also did the Chefs Table, which was a bit of a variation on the fleetwide published menu (fine with me!) and it was delicious. I do wish they would take veal off the menu, though. Entertainment - we went to Cripton, Elements and Tenors of Rock, all of which were very good. 1 tip, though, DO NOT sit it suite seating in the left balcony if you watch the Cripton show. you see more than you're meant to. Ports: Priority debarkation and tendering was a WONDERFUL suite perk. Cozumel - we went to Melia this year. Cozumel is Cozumel. Beach, sand, pools, booze, and a visit to Mega. Belize City - when we originally booked, it was Harvest Caye, and we REALLY wanted to go there. Belize City again? Meh. My parents took the kids on the old belize river/altun ha ship tour, I had a spa day, and DH sat in the room/Haven and read his book all day. Roatan - we went to Little French Key. It was fun, but I think it was a little TOO crowded for my taste. Maybe if it wasnt spring break. The gym: I bought 3 personal training sessions while on board, as I was JUST released from PT for ACL surgery, and I couldnt afford to fall behind. The gym was large, plenty of equipment, and the trainer (Richard Dinning) was great. Sea days - my kids mostly swam in the Have and DH and I read/talked with other Haven guests. On a Spring break cruise, there are like 1000 kids and it seemed like ALL of them were in the main pool all day on sea days. My daughter is only 4 and doesnt swim, so the Haven let Mommy be able to monitor from afar while she swam with her brother/friends, and not have to be in the pool every second (she had a puddle jumper on, and OBVIOUSLY, I was still keeping a hawk eye on her, but it was much less stressful for me). Disembarkation was a total breeze. we did not do self-assist, but did use priority disembarkation and were still let through customs before pretty much anybody else so we could start our drive home. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
You've read the mixed reviews good and bad so here's mine. Whatever issues the Jade had, yes they were admittedly real according to the staff, those issues are long gone. This is a great cruise, well done by a hard working ... Read More
You've read the mixed reviews good and bad so here's mine. Whatever issues the Jade had, yes they were admittedly real according to the staff, those issues are long gone. This is a great cruise, well done by a hard working crew. Do yourself a great vacation, enjoy an outstanding ship, a quality experience, and just be informed ahead about how some things work as much as you can. Embarkation in Houston around noon was a breeze, fast, efficient, short lines, and we made it through quickly. The Ship was reported full. We were able to drop our carry-on stuff in the room and went to get a bite to eat. The required Muster drill was fast and painless. We were off to a great start. Garden cafe - is typical cruise ship fare, our choice for breakfast, quick, after excursion meals and snacks. We ate dinners in three "pay extra restaurants" as well as the Grand Pacific, Alizar, and Jasmine garden which are complimentary. More on those later. Cagneys Steak house - appetizers ordered were shrimp cocktail, lump crab salad with arugula, arugula salad with pears, onions, red peppers, raspberry vinaigrette, Mexican Caesar salad, whole cold water lobster, and filet mignon. Great service, quality food and presentation. The bill totaled $80 which was part our 3 meal dining package. Saturday and Sunday at sea we just relaxed, tried to orient ourselves to the ship, fore, aft, and the different ship levels and what's where. The Garden cafe is on deck 12, which we would frequent for coffee, breakfast, and occasionally at other times. Several of f the bars, music, the theater are on decks six and seven along with the front desk. Spinnaker is on 12. Pools are on 12. Take your time it's a nice sized ship with lots of venues. Cozumel - we had priority status for getting off and were one of the first 15 people off the ship. It's a fair walk down, across the pier, and you have to walk through the entire shopping area to get downstairs to a taxi. We found a taxi, agreed to the fare ($12 for all 3), and made our way quickly to PalMar SMALL Snorkel beach club. We were welcomed, found a spot on the small beach area, and settled in for the day. We had reserved our spot, paid half in advance, and took care of the rest, in cash, when we arrived. They don't take cards, only cash. It's $14 per person which includes 2 beverages per person. Not bad for $14. If you are not interested in crowds, multiple activities, and want a quiet place to sun and Snorkel this was our ideal day. After my son and I were getting out of the water, here came the Snorkel tour boats one after another to drop off snorkelers right where we had just been. We watched, enjoyed one of our two beverages, and relaxed. I went out snorkeling one more time. We ordered quesadillas, $8 and ceviche $12, both were freshly prepared and delicious along with our 2nd beverage. The green habenero sauce was hot but excellent. It was our ideal day, quiet, beautiful water, and a cold beverage. You did need solid shoes to navigate the rocky shore to get in the water but the best snorkeling is off rocky beaches not sandy ones. The owner came out and explained they had gotten permission to create an "entry/exit" point on the rocks which is needed. But we got in, saw lots of different reef fish and enjoyed it very much. We easily got a taxi back to the pier and were back on the ship in plenty of time. I tried to negotiate for some Cuban Cigars in town near the dock but they were too rich for my budget. An enjoyable day in Cozumel for sure. We had dinner at the Jasmine Garden. We ordered pot stickers, egg drop and corn soup, fried calamari, Wakame salad (seaweed and cabbage with a sweet vinaigrette), orange beef, sweet and sour pork, Mahi Mahi, udon noodles with seafood. The Green tea ice cream was very good. Service was good and the food good as well. It was busy every time we walked by. My son and I shared a spicy tuna roll from the sushi place, an extra $7, but it was really good 8 piece sushi roll. Our son returned to eat more sushi on Thursday so I know it was really good. We stayed on the ship instead of tendering into Belize. Spent a relaxing day in the spa, took a nap, got some sun and avoided the tenders and the crowds. The music in the bars is really good. The Masquerade duo played to the Sr crowd quite well. They played a Beatles set one night, the Eagles the next. There was a single guy Carlos, from Columbia in a nearby bar who is outstanding. He's an excellent guitarist and singer and thoroughly enjoys what he does. We heard him three times in three days. Cripton The magician was as good as advertised. Not a long show but worth the time for sure. His wife disappears from all kinds of boxes and then reappears. He does an impressive floating table too. Roatan - We arranged for a private transport from the Pier. Tendering is certainly will one of the Jades issues. It takes time. Get your tickets early if you want an early tender. We took a bit of a tour of island, including West Bay, then made our way to Infinity Bay Beach Resort for a day of snorkeling. We had wristbands reserved ahead by our driver and walked right to the beach, found loungers and went snorkeling, saw lots of fish and the coral and reef is definitely worth seeing. The beach was eventually packed with 4 ships in port. Yes, local folks are walking by trying to sell you everything. Met the Donut man and enjoyed his pineapple donuts, (3 for $5). The, hawkers are plentiful up and down the beach but they won't pester you if you say no. We left at 2 and arrived back at the pier about 2:30 as the last tender was at 3. It was a long line. There must have been 500 people waiting. It took some time moving up as filling the tenders is kind of slow. If impatient there's a bar on the dock for a drink or snack as you wait. Meet your shipmates, share your days experience and relax. Tendering wasn't completely done until around 4. All in all a really enjoyable day. I overheard a lady the next morning saying it took her party an hour and a half to get back on the ship. It didn't take us that long but it was at least 45 minutes or a bit more. As long as you are in line to tender you will be fine, it just takes awhile. Alizar - Our menu selections included appetizers of Calamari, prosciutto with melon and arugula salad, burger sliders, main dishes of prawns with linguini, gnocchi with braised short ribs and snow peas, strip loin Steak with onion strings, and for desserts, strawberries napoleon with mixed berry sauce. Snickerdoodle pound cake with ice cream, chocolate volcano, service outstanding, food was excellent all around, served in a timely fashion, efficient, a very good meal and dining experience. Went to hear comedian David Naster last night in the Stardust theater. He is hilarious. He does real life that's funny. He's a seasoned comedian and kid friendly. We'll be going to hear him again on the trip back to Houston as well. Our preferred breakfast spot is the Garden buffet. I love the eggs cooked to order, all you can eat bacon, and biscuits and gravy. It's not my own homemade sausage gravy but very good nonetheless. There's any kind of breakfast you can ask for from continental, waffles, cereal, fruit and more. Moderno restaurant is a Brazilian churrascaria. It's another word for "meat fest." There's a serve yourself salad bar which was really good and fresh. Offered were two kinds of soup, a Brazilian bean soup and another, chorizo, salami, olives, a cold shrimp pasta, a cold bean and corn salad, a pear and walnut salad, and much more. After the salad they bring you a "meat plate," The gauchos come by and offer you all different meats, sirloin, filet mignon, garlic Beef, chorizo, two kinds of chicken, grilled lamb cops, shrimp and fish. All the meat we tried was outstanding favorites were the sirloin, filet and lamb. The bill was $25 per person but it was one of our three dinners I added as part of the dining package. It was a really enjoyable meal. The desserts weren't our favorite, (no chocolate), flan, rice pudding, and a mango cream cold sort of ice cream offering. We went to the 9:30 pm variety show which includes all the evening shows stars, magic, acrobatics, dancers, and singers concluding with the Norwegian song by all the staff coming out and joining in. It's surely worth the time. We then heard the Jade staff band do a few oldies in their Glenn Miller tribute, then we made our way down and listened to Carlos again. We enjoyed all the musicians on board but he was by far our favorite. I read a review a couple of cruises back from someone that recommended you bring your own coffee cup and I've done that since. It makes it really convenient if you like fixing more than the one cup. I'm sure same could be said for tea, water or juice. We also brought our Yeti coozies to keep the other beverages cold. We booked early enough to have the beverage package included, a nice bonus especially if you drink, order drinks anywhere and let them swipe your card. The only added charge is tax while in Texas waters, i.e. on the way out and possibly the last night in if the ship is early. It's a tax you can't avoid. La Cucina restaurant is the Italian specialty restaurant. It was excellent. We ordered minestrone Soup, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, osobucco, lobster linguine and desserts I can't recall now but we enjoyed the specialty dining and will likely do it again next time. All said, we loved the Jade, her hard working, friendly crew, and pretty much everything about it. For the value it provides, the convenience of sailing from Texas and for a quality cruise, sail the Jade, enjoy the ride, it's your vacation!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This cruise on Norwegian Jade was only our second cruise, with the first one being on Royal Caribbean. We had been told that RC was the only way to go so when we decided to book this it was with the expectation of "We paid half the ... Read More
This cruise on Norwegian Jade was only our second cruise, with the first one being on Royal Caribbean. We had been told that RC was the only way to go so when we decided to book this it was with the expectation of "We paid half the price so we only expect half." We were so very wrong! While not as grand as the Freedom of the Seas, it was every bit as elegant, clean and fun. We arrived in Houston and very quickly embarked...no lines, no struggles, no masses of people...just friendly people helping us get on board quickly. From the first person we met to the last, everyone was helpful and friendly. We got on board about noon and expected to have to lug our carry-on bag with us until 1 or 2, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that our stateroom was ready for us. A nice Norwegian employee suggested we avoid the congestion of the mid ship elevators and directed us to the elevators at the front which were completely open. Our stateroom was a balcony room on the 10th floor. It was a little smaller than our first one, but the bathroom area was much bigger! We were happy to find that the toilet was in a separate space and that shower didn't resemble the tube at the drive-in at the bank! Dennis, our stateroom attendant, greeted us immediately and from that moment on called us both by name. Our room was clean and had plenty of room to unpack all our things. We had no issues with our room at all. Dennis's service was wonderful for the duration of our trip. We found the Jade to have plenty to do and plenty of quiet spaces when we wanted it to be quiet and plenty of activity when we were looking for activity. Our favorite spots were the Spinnaker Lounge at the front of the ship and the outdoor eating area at the back. We had breakfast outside every morning and usually found ourselves there again to watch the sunset while enjoying a beverage and a snack in the later afternoon. We were unsure about the whole "Freestyle Dining" aspect so we purchased a 3 Specialty Meal package before leaving. We found that this was unnecessary as the food in the Dining room was EXCELLENT...much, much better than what we experienced on our first cruise. We missed having the same table with the same waiter each night, but that was just a difference and wouldn't keep us from sailing with Norwegian again. The second night we ate at Moderno, the Brazilian specialty restaurant. I would not go back. If you have ever eaten at a Brazilian Steakhouse, it can't begin to compare. Service was slow and the meat was moderate. The pineapple, on the other hand, was a highlight!! We also ate at Cagneys, which was wonderful and Le Bistro, which was good but not that much better than the dining room. All in all, save the money and eat where it's complimentary. The biggest downside to this cruise was that we had to tender in Belize and Roatan. The tender ride in Belize is about 20 minutes and the process is cumbersome at best. You have to go to the pool deck and stand in line to get a tender number and then wait for your number to be called. If you don't have an excursion with Norwegian save yourself the trouble and stay on the ship. The cruise directors said that Roatan would be much easier and that the tender trip was only 5 minutes to the dock...sounded great to us and we were excited to get to Little French Key (non Norwegian excursion but NOT TO BE MISSED). My husband got up early and was on the pool deck, in line, by 7:05...by 7:30 we had tender tickets for the 4th tender...fast forward to 9:30 and we were just getting on the tender. What we found out later is that the winds in Roatan were too high for them to tender from both sides of the ship! So, anyone with a Norwegian excursion was taken off first, while the rest of us waiting. Communication was lacking and we were all very frustrated. We were told that the last tender would leave the dock at 3:00 so we arrived back a little after 2 and stood in line to get back on board for approximately 35 minutes. We were not happy when we counted at least 10 tenders that came back to the ship after 3:00. I did complain to guest services the following day and they were very kind and said they would look into our concerns. BUT, simply communicating about the winds would have made it better to begin with...the captain doesn't communicate on this ship like the one did on our first cruise...it would have been nice to hear from him about that and about the bad weather we experienced. Again, not a reason to not sail with them again. Also not to be missed is the Mexican Cuisine cooking class at Playa Mia! This was for sure a highlight for us! Luis was a great teacher and chef and the food we made and the drinks they served were wonderful. Be sure to have a Dirty Monkey at Playa Mia as it made cooking even more fun. We made some friends who we ran into from time to time the rest of the trip and it's always fun to get to know some new people. If you do this class you might want to see if you can go to the park earlier as we didn't have much time to enjoy the beach once our class finished. The beverage packages were extremely expensive and so were drinks. We found out that some people, who booked much earlier than we did, got beverage packages free or at greatly reduced rates, so be on the look out for those. We just didn't know to do that but wish we had. This was a marvelous vacation and we would do it again in a heartbeat but they are closing the Houston port. We hate to see Norwegian leave Texas! It was an easy drive to and from and made the travel experience much better. Do not hesitate to book this cruise! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We had a balcony 10562. ( Coleman was our steward,and he rocks!) the room was great space for the three of us, and a very comfortable shower/wc. Plenty of storage, closets drawers and shelves. we also had our teen granddaughter with us. ... Read More
We had a balcony 10562. ( Coleman was our steward,and he rocks!) the room was great space for the three of us, and a very comfortable shower/wc. Plenty of storage, closets drawers and shelves. we also had our teen granddaughter with us. Shy at first and then because of the teen club we had to enforce a curfew for her. She was occupied by sports, karaoke singing, and whatever music and dancing teens like to do. But the family atmosphere was highly present so I felt safe for my grandchild. And the shows onboard were pretty darned good. Because the food was awesome, everywhere! I preferred eating on the deck because of the view, and the wind. Thank goodness for the fitness center, it was pretty comparable to a lot of fine hotels that I use for work. They even had personal trainers on board. My hubby really enjoyed the massage and hot stone treatment. The excursions had so many ranges in activities, but we settled for seaside resting in Cozumel,with the clear blue waters. Although it rained, I didn't care, it was warm, the locals were great, but the cave tubing in Belize was again, a treat, and so informative. we did the horseback riding in Roatan,Honduras. My dream! But although I was more afraid of the horses than I thought I would be it was still a blast walking through the ocean on such a magnificent beast. I needed the two days at sea to recover from the three days in a row excursions. However, NCL had so many onboard shows and singing and dancing, poolside music by True, there was long thought about to rest or not to rest. Also, I Have to say, I may be a little germaphobic. I saw the pool being emptied one night also hot tubs, they were scrubbed AND refilled. Wow! And they are so sanitation oriented. i was in heaven! I also had to the behind the scenes tour which again, Amazing! Spotless galleys, how? Floors recycling laundry food service, and with such warmth! I'm starting my vacation fund next week! I apologize for being so lengthy, but.... It was a great experience Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
My family and I have seven times now, though never on NCL before. We have enjoyed every one of them in their own way and this cruise was no exception. The entertainment was among of the best we have seen. The food overall was good and ... Read More
My family and I have seven times now, though never on NCL before. We have enjoyed every one of them in their own way and this cruise was no exception. The entertainment was among of the best we have seen. The food overall was good and flavorful everywhere we ate on-board and there was plenty of things to keep us occupied during the day. The problems as I see them were small but they build up after while. To start with embarkation went very smoothly and we were on the ship very quickly. Once we arrived in our room we noticed the safe wouldn't open so we discussed it with the steward . It took three days to get it fixed. Our room was cleaned everyday but not until after 4:00 pm and it didn't get turned down every night. My wife and I were discussing how you rarely saw they staff actually smile or seem to enjoy themselves. Our biggest complaint though was the tendering process in Belize and Roatan. In all of the cruises we have been on this process was the worst by far. It took almost 2 hours just to get off the ship in Belize. In Roatan, it took over an hour waiting in line to get back on the ship. It was an unorganized mess. The ship has alot going for it and my 13 year old son really enjoyed the youth program and I would recommend that program to anyone. Disembarkation as was embarkation was a breeze. As I said before we really did enjoy the cruise and we loved the itinerary. Though in all honesty we have decided NCL and Freestyle Cruising is not for us. We enjoy the other lines more. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
It was nice to depart from Houston as we live in Dallas. I will miss having that port as an option. Embarkation and debarkation were very smooth and we much appreciated seating while waiting to embark. We had a small, inside cabin ... Read More
It was nice to depart from Houston as we live in Dallas. I will miss having that port as an option. Embarkation and debarkation were very smooth and we much appreciated seating while waiting to embark. We had a small, inside cabin for four which was fine as we prefer to spend our time out on the ship anyway. We liked the freestyle dining quite a bit. With assigned dining on other cruise lines we always seemed to miss the early show and couldn't stay up for the late one. The buffets throughout the ship had a good mix of offerings and the main dining room had different, interesting things for my kids to try. I wish there had been more bar/lounge areas open during the afternoons. It was VERY hard to find quiet places that would serve alcohol. Had to find a main bar (which was crowded) and carry the drinks. Wonder if that was because they had offered the free drink package to so many and were trying to deter people from using it? Our boys, 12 and 17, didn't want to utilize the kid programs but kept busy with us and did enjoy the game room. We missed our excursion due to getting our days switched around. That was disappointing! Even though it was our error I wish the cruise line would have been able to credit us somehow, even partially. The port towns were pretty much cookie cutter touristy but that is as to be expected. The shows were terrific!! We made sure to catch all the shows with the comedian and the magician. We had a great time and, if the itinerary and price were right, would said with them again! Read Less

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