I absolutely love cruising and have been interested in it for many years. Went onboard my premiere cruise in September 2008 onboard the world's largest cruise ship Liberty of the Seas with Royal Caribbean which was a spectacular 7 night Western Caribbean cruise roundtrip from Miami, Florida. I had planned a trip to England to visit close friends and explore a country I've always loved and been interested in and am interested in long term. Wanted a shorter cruise that allowed me to explore Europe and see other countries, decided on this fabulous 5 Night Scandinavian Mini Cruise roundtrip from Rotterdam. Have long been interested in seeing some of the Scandinavian countries. With 2 sea days & visiting Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark onboard Norwegian Jade. Done Inside stateroom in the past but with the single premium and not much difference in the fare between Inside, Outside & Balcony got a Balcony guarantee. Flew from Canada to London Gatwick , spent an enjoyable day in London area with my friend. The following morning went on the short 40 minute flight to Amsterdam.
Following my short flight to Amsterdams giant Schipol airport I am familiar with from a previous trip I exited into the arrivals hall and quickly found a representative holding a big "Norwegian Jade" sign. Curiously missed the rep standing right by the entrance and she went over to tell her friend with a laugh, she was a ways over. I had pre booked the NCL transfers (shuttles) for $50 each way for the 1 1/2 hours drive from the airport to the pier in Rotterdam north of Amsterdam. They told me which coach to go to and off I went just outside and found it, the driver and his assitant taking my luggage. The drive was very pleasant through the scenic Dutch countryside with its historic houses and its famed windmills and small towns dotting the landscape, would love to spend more time in The Netherlands in the future. We reached Rotterdam, a magnificent city with a meld of old and new and very friendly people. A smaller city but still large enough to feel quite busy.
We made our way across the well known Erasmurg Bridge, a modern cable bridge opened in 1996 by Queen Beatrix, spectacular in its own right! Turned into the port and gave my luggage to the friendly porters. A table with hosts did an initial check of my cruise documents and I headed in line for the airport style security. Then proceeded to the check in, quite smooth, had to check a few things with the cruise line reps as Rotterdam doesn't receive too many cruise ships so they have a volunteer force but they were friendly, helpful and would find out for you. Then took the welcome aboard photo, had my hands sanitized, I notice more with the H1N1 Swine Flu scare this cruise. The magnificent Norwegian Jade with her swirling blue colours towered above. I was extremely excited! Checked in with security , there was an issue with my ID picture, very minor just had it retaken at the reception desk, met the nice German agent , see later on. I was all set!
Norwegian Jade has an interesting history in her short life. She was built in Papenburg, Germany at the Meyer Werft shipyard and made her debut in May 2006 named Pride of Hawaii in Hawaii as part of the NCL America brand and trio of ships sailing year round Hawaiian cruises from Honolulu. She did this until December 2007. After 1 1/2 years of being in Hawaii having the trio of large ships in Hawaii was too much for NCL along with other cruise lines going there and there were issues with the 90 % American crew who had to be on board. It was decided NCL would take Pride of Hawaii (now Jade) and Pride of Aloha (the former Norwegian Sky that debuted in 1999) and bring them away from Hawaii and back into the main fleet. Pride of Aloha returned to being named Norwegian Sky. Pride of Hawaii received her new name Norwegian Jade and went in for a refurbishment to do the renaming, her hull was painted in the swirling blues she has now in keeping with the fun tradition of all modern day NCL ships. A section of passenger staterooms were removed to make room for the lavish large new Jade Club Casino, a casino not being alloweed with the Hawaiian laws and minor changes made to the ship. The Hawaiian decor of the ship, paintings and furnishings kept in place as NCL hopes someday the ship may return to Hawaiian waters. She sailed over to Europe with a new international crew bringing valuable experience to the ship and now sails year round European cruises mainly in the Mediterannean but also to other parts of Europe as my cruise was.
Norwegian Jade is 93,000 gross tons among the biggest ships today and is 965 feet long with 12 decks all along with up to 14 decks, approximately 15 land stories in height. She has 2,402 guests and 1, 111 crew. She carries several firsts or unique features not often found on cruise ships including:
- first tennis court at sea , one of 4 now with her sisters Norwegian Pearl, Gem & Jewel that also has soccer & volleyball
- golf cage to practice your shot
- the giant 4,490 Garden Villas with vast amounts of space with a piano, several bedrooms and access to a private courtyard with pool & more
- the amazing 15 dining options everything from Tepenyaki to main dining rooms to 24 hour comfort food
She has an amazing 15 dining options, 13 lounges and bars including three clustered in a unique grouping called Bar City, the Medusa lounge & nightclub fusion, three onboard shops, shore excursions desk by the reception, 2 storey atrium with a java coffee bar with specialty coffee, 24 hour fitness centre with special memorobilia you can see!, 2 swimming pools, one for all and one for adults, kids club with their own on deck dining area and splash pool, a teen centre & club with full programming, wrap around jogging track & promenade deck, full service spa & beauty salon with 25 treatment rooms, shop and thermal suites, card & games room, a quiet room, wedding chapel, video arcade, full theatre, casino with private gaming rooms, poolside gaming tables, ping pong & pool tables poolside, deck games and a business centre with meeting rooms. Many all day activities that are a departure from traditional cruising activities with destination lectures, nutrition and fitness sessions, trivia, deck activities, cooking demonstrations and group games such as love and marriage and much more. Yoga, pilates, spinning classes & wine and sushi tastings at charge. She has bright and vibrant colours and a funky decor throughout, some areas more subdued and not ever anything too much.
My very first balcony stateroom which was absolute bliss! Had two excellent stateroom attendants who took great care of me, was sure to leave an extra tip for them. My deluxe oceanview with balcony BA that was upgraded on the guarantee stateroom to a Deck 10 BB. With a fairly spacious bathroom with the shower in one section, the very large sink with huge tap and storage and mirror in the centre and the toilet with its own sliding door off to the side with attatched hangers, electronic safe and mini bar. Don't use the minibars with all the food onboard. Then 2 very comfortable double beds that was set up when I arrived as requested for myself as one big Queen bed, which was so nice! A living room area with couch and coffee table with the room service menu & guidebook. A TV with 24 hour complimentary movies, about 15 channels and information channels along with the ships webcam over the bow and route maps from the bridge. Then the best feature the spacious private balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. I loved the space of the room and enjoyed the balcony so much, eating out there, going there in the morning and hearing the water as I went to bed. Seeing the ship come into port while still in my pyjamas! Several perks come with Balcony staterooms including priority dinner reservations for longer ahead I used and a pair of terrycloth robes to use during the cruise.
The are just over 1,200 staterooms onboard including Inside, Oceaview, Suites, Mini Suites & the larger Romance Suites. The Inside & Outside with the balcony has but no living area or balcony and more condensed. The Suites with more space and bathtubs or jacuzzis in the stateroom. The giant Garden Villas and their smaller but luxurious counterparts Courtyard Villas and Owner Suites. A portion of the Courtyard Villas and the duet of Garden Villas have exclusive access to a sensational private courtyard with their own swimming pool, padded lounge chairs, hot tubs, breakfast buffet and much more. They have specialty coffee & cappacino makers in their rooms and many perks. I didn't have access on Norwegian Jade but at a cruise conference as a travel agent in April last month toured the spaces on sister Norwegian Pearl.
Norwegian Jade has a wide array of dining options with an incredible 15 options onboard! This includes 7 dining options included and 8 specialty restaurants & options with cover charges. The number and international flair to the dining options is quite amazing. They had many dishes I hadn't seen before on a cruise that was fun to try being very interested in the culinary world myself. I especially enjoyed guacamole and tortilla chips at the buffet, scallop tartar in the dining room as well as trying foie gras for the first time at Le Bistro the French restaurant and the Jamaican jerk pork in the dining room another night were all dining highlights. NCL invented their signature Freestyle Dining, that is open dining where you "dine wherever, whenever & with whomever" for all guests for the entire cruise. I ate at the dining rooms, buffet and grill and especially enjoyed the more intimate Alizar. I dined on two ocassions which wasa good amount for me at the specialty restaurants - Teppenyaki and Le Bistro, the French restaurant. Traditional cruise dining has its place on Royal Caribbean on my first cruise in September 2008 I loved getting know the waiters and family we sat with every night. Crew get to know you on NCL but not to the same extent, it's different with the Freestyle.
Breakfast brings the indoor & outdoor buffet restaurants with a wide American hot and cold selection including eggs, bacon, toast, home fries and a variety of cereals. More European and British offerings include fish, bangers, an international cheese selection and poridges. Unique to NCL are several action stations with chefs at the ready to create food fresh to order at wok stations. Breakfast includes omlettes with selections of toppings and cheese. An all day fruit selection features freshly cut fruit, fruit salads and several excotic options. Fresh bakery items are always available with large muffins, danishes and breads. A toast machine station has wait staff at the ready to assist you.
Lunch brings carving roasts to the action stations, a number of sandwiches, hot foods and more. Dinner has the tables set with linens and candles, I liked going in and having a late night desert or snack here in the dressed up atmosphere. Also the host of the magnificent chocoholic buffet on the final night, which was well laid out with exceptional chocolate sculptures, chocolate fountains, deserts, and my favourite candy apples.In the morning there are a number of fruit juices available from the beverage stations in addition to the always available choice of teas, coffee and hot chocolate. For a real treat there's also cappacino and espresso. Fresh squeezed fruit juices are available in the morning & there's a bar for alcoholic drinks at charge.
The Great Outdoors is an outdoor buffet that branches off from the Garden Cafe. It is a more intimate buffet area with its own selections and a spectacular view over the stern of the ship with the rolling wake behind.
Grand Pacific Dining Room-
The Grand Pacific Dining Room is larger main dining room with over 500 seats. It's the designated dress up dining spot onboard and for dinner you need to dress up and for breakfast & lunch smart casual is appropriate. It's a stunning space with dark rich colours, statues and artwork. A graceful golden staircase leads into the dining room at the main entrance. I enjoyed several meals here, the window tables while at sea with the sun setting was a special time! The Jamaican jerk pork for dinner was very tasty! NCL has excellent selections of tea, brewed well. This time which I wanted to this cruise I also tried the dining room at breakfast & lunch. Loved the lunch, the dining room was quite easy going and a relaxed atmosphere to have my pork pasta. The breakfast was quite rushed with slower service though I went on a port day and the host explained it can be hard with people wanting to get off the ship and be on time for the shore excursions. I think room service & the buffets are the better breakfast option. Though you can go wrong with eggs benedict to start your day!
Alizar Main Dining Room
Alizar is the more intimate main dining room with 300 seats and more enclaves of seating than the Grand Pacific. My favourite dining room and one of my favourite dining spots onboard. Alizar has a beautiful pop art and modern feel to it while still retaining formalities. It has a really special relaxed atmosphere, a nice level of lighting and cozy chairs and banquette seating. Love the colours and the vibe to it, a main dining room with an extra edge and atmosphere.
Blue Lagoon is a 24 hour comfort food hotspot. Serving a menu of comfort food & classic dishes including shephards pie, macaroni & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, burgers and more. I had a great lunch here of fish and chips and chicken wings. Loved the chicken wings, the fish and chips were quite good. Enjoyed seeing chicken wings on a ship along with these other innovative dishes not often seen onboard cruise ships. The restaurant overlooks the main atrium.
Alongside the Waikiki Pool area a buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers & other grilled meats and salads. A casual poolside option. BBQs and food parties are also held here.
The 24 hour room service I liked and did more times this cruise, enjoyed eating outside on my private balcony with the port & ocean views. Did the room service breakfast, you simply fill out a card and hang it on your door by 3:00am. You choose when you would like it delivered. This is the best option for a port day I did when we visited Denmark. Also had a hot pizza and movies night! Both came quite fast with friendly attendants. The only thing is the breakfast doesn't have hot food options such as eggs and hashbrowns that can be ordered I saw on other cruise lines. However they still have other solid options and eggs can be ordered all day on the main room service menu.
On Deck 7 midship surrounding the Bar City collection of bars and piano lounges in the smaller 2 storey atrium is a collection of Asian specialty restaurants laid out together. Speaking of bars, being 21 I am of age to drink onboard now and enjoyed several drinks. Really enjoyed the raspberry martini and the mimosa I had twice.
This intimate high action experience carries a $25 cover charge. There are several small horseshoe tables seating eight diners each around a large open grill where your personal Teppenyaki chef works his magic! They put on a dramatic display of culinary skill & acrobatics in a fun dinner show stir frying and creating gourmet Japanese cuisine in front of you. I greatly enjoyed my dining experience at Teppenyaki and highly reccomend it! A series of dishes are given to you , I'll let you be surprised and great deserts! I had the Seafood Diablo I highly reccomend with a full lobster tail, scallops and clams done on the grill !!
This is the main Asian restaurant with Chinese and a variety of other Asian Cuisine and fusion food carries a $15 cover charge per person. Beautifully decorated off the smaller atrium with the Champagne bar below, many people seemed to be enjoying this restaurant.
Sushi & Sake Bar
The sushi and sake bar carries a $15 cover charge, sake is available at bar pricing. This at the entrance to the Asian speciality restaurant area has a long Asian themed bar with bright colours and cozy chairs. Here the pair of talented sushi chefs create a wide menu of sushi & sashimi with fruit sushi or green tea ice cream for desert.
This traditional Japanese dining experience of cooking meats in a hot pot has a $15 cover charge and is hosted at the sushi & sake bar.
Other Specialty Restaurants
The original tried and true specialty restaurant of NCL going back to its earliest ships continues in high style with a $15 cover charge. There's a deluxe menu that carries an additional $10 cover charge. It serves a high end gourmet French cuisine menu with wine pairings at bar pricing. I went here and really enjoyed the elegant classic atmosphere and the fine food, many extra special gourmet dishes here! Having foie gras with a truffle sauce was wonderful !
Papas Italian Kitchen
Serving selections of make your own pasta, Italian classics and other pasta, meat and casserole dishes with a $10 cover charge.
Piniolo Tapas & Salsa
With a menu of the favourite Spanish bites and small dishes of food- tapas as well as American Tex-Mex cuisine from Texas and Mexico with a $10 cover charge. This restaurant wraps around the second floor over the main atrium across from Blue Lagoon.
Cagenys is a steakhouse tucked away on the upper decks serves the ultimate surf & turf cuisine with fine steak, meats and seafood with a $25 cover charge. A deluxe menu including angus beef and Alaskan crag legs carries an additional $10 cover charge.
Crew & Fellow Guests
The crew were very friendly and accomodating, especially nice to me as a single cruiser making sure I was enjoying myself. I think with the Freestyle Dining concept where the wait staff and hosts move about the many dining venues this gives them more variety than other cruise lines staff do and they seem very happy! I am interested in working on a cruise ship in the future and loved talking with them about ship life especially the front desk, shore excursions & cruise activity staff. As this cruise was roundtrip from Rotterdam, Netherlands there were 1, 900 guests from The Netherlands and 300 guests from other countries. A different tone to the cruise than with mainly Americans a little quieter. The Dutch are gracious people and I enjoyed meeting them, they need only stand in lines a little better.
5 Day Mini Scandinavian Cruise
Day 1- Depart Rotterdam
Upon embarking I enjoyed the signature surprise welcome of NCL ! A wonderful welcome from the crew. I was excited to get into my balcony stateroom and loved the space and the views from the balcony! Then headed over for my first meal onboard at the Garden Cafe and took some pictures! Was excited to see all the different foods in the Garden Cafe and liked trying some of the European selections. The oregano chicken is to die for! I then wandered about the ship taking in the stunning views of Rotterdam and the river which we were docked in.
The lifeboat drill I really like how NCL did it, not sure if this unique to the Jade with the cooler climates of parts of Europe where she sails or done across all their ships. However announcements came on to tell you the various restaurants, dining rooms & public rooms where your station was based on what it said in your lifejacket. At the right time you simply took your lifejacket from your stateroom down to in my case the Grand Pacific Dining Room. The crew demonstrated the lifejackets which you put on with them. The annoucements went over the safety drill & other safety information and we were set. I returned to my balcony to see the ship off and as Rotterdam doesn't have too many cruise ships dock each here, if you can depart from Rotterdam I reccomend it! They treat you royally, they had a huge send off for us. A live orchestra played on the balcony of the pier and many adults and children who made streamers and signs cheered and waved as we left. Then all along the river over the next few hours, we even had a soccer tournament watch us, they stopped taking pictures of and paying attention to the soccer and turned to the ship!
Guess a 15 storey 965 foot long luxury ship can do that! I then made my spa appointment for the teeth whitening I wanted done, the spa staff were great people. Made my reservation for Teppenyaki the next night at the reservations desk in the atrium which is open most of the day, a host will key your reservation into a laptop guaranteeing you a space for the time slot you choose. For Teppenyaki for sure reservations are a good idea, otherwise if you really want a specific spot in a peak hour it may be a good idea. Around 8:00pm one night I just walked into Le Bistro. The dining rooms you don't need reservations, just walk in , there may be a short wait. Had my first dinner, had the divine Jamaican jerk pork at the Grand Pacific main dining room with a window seat with perfect ocean views! I then explored other parts of the ship including the shops. A smaller jewelery & watch shop is in the atrium. Then at the stern on Deck 6, the main hive of activity the main shop area is located. To the left Columbian Emeralds, a high end jewelery and Swiss watch shop which I wondered about, how many buy $3000 necklaces. Then to the right the larger main Galleria Shop with a variety of souvenirs, clothing, good pricing on duty free alcohol and more.
Checked out the Internet cafe which is 75 cents a minute or prepaid time plans, there is a night I used it apparently once each cruise or more where they take off half your charge. If you used $14 of Internet time, it becomes $7. Look for this in the Freestyle Daily. Also have at charge newspaper delivery and printing. Greatly enjoyed a pair of amazing acrobatics & magicians from the Moscow Circus, put on an amazing show with fire tricks, juggling, spinning plates and more. The Artistic Director said with the short cruises they had entertainers on and off every day and explained how they take the time to research them. During the cruise on other nights also enjoyed the well known comedy of British Lenny Windsor, quite crude but funny mostly too and a fabulous magician! A Showdown show with the cast onboard was along the lines of American Idol and lots of fun and had excellent singing. Checked out the bridge viewing room, a special feature with maps of your cruise's route, ship memorbilia and certificates of Norwegian Jade. During the day large windows look down into the bridge and you can see the Captain and officers driving and monitoring the ship! Went to the lounge & late night club Medusa Lounge for some music with a great singer I saw her there all the time! Chocolates on my pillow finished the night each night! Different flavours mixed it up!
Day 2- At Sea
Started the day off right with enjoying room service breakfast on time, even a little early. However the room service attendant calls you before he comes to make sure you are ready. I had put out the card before and had a breakfast with toast, delicious fruit plates a danish and hot chocolate. Enjoyed it on my balcony with the North Sea stretching out below me. I then went over to the reception desk in the atrium to meet Liu, a extremely nice and polished host for the behind the scenes tour. It is an extra at $55 per person but was well worth it, not sure of the charge though I really wanted to do it. However it was an amazing experience and quickly became one of the highlights of my cruise , I am interested in working onboard a ship in the future and have always had a passion for cruise ships and cruising. Love learning about behind the scenes.
We met with the Hotel Director who gave an overview of what it means to run a cruise ship in the 21st century and about Norwegian Jade. We then headed into the crew areas, neat to see the lavish colours and fabrics of the passenger areas into the simple white and steel of the crew areas. We headed into the Laundry where we met both the Executive Housekeeper & Laundry Master. Both very nice men who explained the housekeeping and laundry runnings of the ship. Saw many machines including the machine they fold linens and sheets with, the giant washers and dryers holding over 200 pounds of laundry each cycle! The laundry attendants giving us demonstrations throughout the area. We then headed up into the Stardust main theatre for a tour with the Artistic Director in charge of the shows and entertainment onboard. Got a look at the soundboards, behind the scenes and headed into the backstage seeing the costumes, dressing rooms, set pieces, lighting and more! I absolutely loved this as a big theatre fan. Standing on the stage was a thrill. I got to know him and would say Hi throughout the cruise and at the shows, gave him a nice comment card where the crew member is rewarded at the end, for him and one of the great agents at the reception desk from Germany. We took a lunch break and were served orange juice, Mimosa cocktails (my favourite) and sandwiches in the Asian restaurant.
We then moved into the galleys (kitchens) onboard with a tour of the Main Galley serving the main dining rooms with the Executive Chef from my country of Canada near to where I live. He has a staff of 400 who work in the galleys and preperation areas and 265 waiters and servers throughout the ship, a huge department! We saw racks that hold 800 deserts enjoyed nightly in the dining rooms, the many special kitchen areas including the diet area for special requirements and more. Then met the Provisions Master deeper below in the ship and the Provisions Team who carry the 7000 items needed onboard and the masses of food including 6000 eggs and many 8 kg containers of ice cream to name a few things. We walked into fridges, freezers and storage areas to see where all is stored with the products from around the world. Everyone very friendly to us. We then met the Environmental Officer who ensures the ship is following all environmental procedures onboard and for waste management. We saw the waste management systems and met some of the Environmental Operators, as the shipboard garbage men are called. Operating on three 8 hour shifts they receive and process all waste and garbage appropriately from all areas of the ship.
Then the crowning highlight we met the Staff Captain after passing the many high security doors to the bridge!! Such an experience I will always remember, standing where they drive and monitor all the giant ship's operations, systems, safety equipment, doors, fire prevention systems and more. We saw the helm of the ship, met the watchmen and the First Officer along with the Staff Captain and the Captain himself can drive the ship. Saw the bridge wings where they pull into port and the many systems, what a wonder and a exceptional tour before we returned back to our side of the ship! Had a rasberry martini, my first cruise drink I ordered! Delicious. Then the Artistic Director came across me and invited me to attend the rehearsal for that night's show , the cast warming up and doing their sound checks with the orchestra, a good experience.
Checked out other areas of the ship and hit the hot tubs, loved the pool area at night with soft music and the waterslide! Then headed to Teppenyaki (see above) for dinner, a memorable experience I reccomend! Extremely popular onboard. Then saw the Broadway style show all about an older time in the US and relationships, very well done. The theatre is well designed as a completely obstruction free theatre with only small supports for the balconies on either side of the stage. Finished the night with the beautiful library and casino I checked out. Love sea days!
Day 3- Oslo, Norway
From my balcony watched as the ship made her way into port in Oslo right alongside downtown passed the beautiful surroundings, Norway defintley has scenery! Had long been interested in Scandinavia and was excited to be here. Had breakfast at the Grand Pacific with great Dutch seat mates and enjoyed the eggs benedict. Was in a bit of a rush for my shore excursion but I had a lighter breakfast and the wait staff were quite good when I told them I had a tour to get to. Then met for my Nordic Traditions shore excursion to explore Norway! A great guide we had and we explored the Vigeland scultpure park with more than 300 intricately carved sculptures signifying our lives as humans on Earth. Very green and graceful. We then drove through the centre of Oslo and saw their brand new opera house they are very proud of where you can walk on the roof! We headed to the Kon Tiki museum to see the famed ship that crossed the Pacific made of reeds and its later modern day voyage in a replica! We also went to a Viking era museum with outdoor replicas pioneer village style and its art gallery to see authentic Norwegian artwork and furniture.
I then wandered the area surrounding the port saw the Noble Peace Prize Museum though was closed , wandered the harbour and the Akershus Castle, a spectacular historic fortress directly across the street from the pier. Enjoyed a traditional Norwegian Style hot dog with mustard, went shopping for their handmade wool clothing and more. Explored the downtown and its parks before returning to the ship. Enjoyed Norway, a quieter serene country with nice albeit a little more serious people. Enjoyed lunch at the Blue Lagoon (see above) for chicken wings as an appetizer and fish and chips, two good items to have onboard I thought!
Then refreshed at my room and got ready for my spa appointment. Headed over to the Ying and Yang Spa, the full service spa & beauty salon onboard. Muted colours and beautiful floors and most of all people there. Cruising out of Norway had this calm light blue shaded waters, perfect view from the spa! I had booked an appointment for the Go Smile teeth whitening. Got the discounted price of $179 plus the 18% service fee, and I gave a little extra tip. The regular price is $199, far less than the $600-700 on land! Filled out the questionaire regarding my teeth and waited in the serenity of the spa. My first spa experience onshore or sea!
The Canadian Assistant Spa Manager once she was ready let me know and led me into one of the pretty treatment rooms. Did the preperation and cotton with a mouthguard and then did the actual whitening with a small light and with the whitening material. Quite painless, sometimes felt something and she added more cotton. She was very nice and we had a great chat about cruising and the spa. I then thanked her and got a $20 thermal suite pass for the next sea day I had seen when I toured Norwegian Pearl and wanted to try. They put a sticker on the back your cruise card and you can come and go as much as you want that day or get a full cruise pass for $75. Enjoyed a great dinner at Alizar and then headed to the Monte Carlo night which didn't work out, see below. Headed to the 24 hour fitness centre for some treadmill time and cooled off with an iced towel they have there. The changerooms are spacious and include private showers and steamrooms. Fitness classes and seminars are offered here. At charge private training and nutrition planning with the fitness instructors is also available.
Day 4- Copenhagen, Denmark
Had a big brunch at the Garden Cafe and then headed to my balcony as we pulled into Copenhagen, Denmark. Looked around the multicoloured buildings and the buzz of Copenhagen surrounding us, we were at the pier slightly away from the downtown but taxis & sightseeing buses were readily available. Saw Celebrity Century and Jewel of the Seas docked at the other pier nearby. Took the popular double decker sightseeing bus that were parked by the ship and went for a whiz through Copenhagen seeing the many palaces, fountains and areas of the central part of the city. Especially loved Denmark, such a vibrant and friendly country filled with energy and plans for the future. Refreshed back at the ship and left again to go on the Copenhagen Highlights & Ice Bar shore excursion. We had an amazing tour guide. We headed on a coach with her then while waiting for the bus she gave us excellent insight into Copenhagen and the country of Denmark as a whole.
The coach then headed off into the city, we took a stop at the famed Little Mermaid statue, a symbol the Danes like but also like others to recognize other places. Sleek and sexy she stands by the vibrant harbour area we discovered. Headed into central Copenhagen and went into Nyhavn, the fabulous high energy tourism and young people heart of Copenhagen. Lined with cafes, restaurants, clubs and bars along the canals of the city. We stopped to see the harbour area with the new opera house, concert hall and the under construction theatre, walked along the cobblestone walkways. Saw the intricate Amalienborg Gardens and the quarter of Amalienborg Palaces- one the Queen and the Price of the Kingdom of Denmark, one for their family, one for the Prince & his family soon to live in and one as a guest house!! Then the highlight we went to the Ice Hotel and entered the Absolut Ice Bar!! Kept a cool -20 degrees Celsius and completely carved of ice minus the steel floor for safety I and the other guests greatly enjoyed the bar!! We had our choice of brightly coloured vodka drinks served in glasses carved out of ice. Ice sculptures, bar stools and glowing celings and walls all ice was so special. Then continued into the canals and alleys and main hub and train station of Copenhagen during rush hour, I felt this excursion and the tour company did a sensational job and the excursion really gave quite an in depth look at Denmark along with my earlier double decker tour. Loved Denmark!!!
Then boarded and headed for dinner. Had been eyeing the menu of Le Bistro the French restaurant and walked right in with a one of a kind table by this large French painting. Had a fabulous gourmet dinner there. Had foie gras for the very first time, very smooth! Then had my favourite of French onion soup all done nicely wish a cheese crust followed by orange duck with truffle sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Great French decor in here, a peaceful restaurant, really enjoyed it there. Then headed to the giant observation lounge- Spinaker. Brightly coloured room with funky furniture abounds for the signature NCL White Hot Party! It was a great event with low lighting, the theatre performers doing a dance number. Glowing ice sculptures, funky decorations, crew with the special White Hot shirts on for sale and a big dance floor! It was lots of fun. As they say on the big screens "Ice Ice Baby" ! Also saw an amazing magician doing incredible tricks! I then unwound with room service movies & pizza. Something nice NCL does in the staterooms is having 24 hour complimentary movies, not pay per view like some cruise lines. Good new releases, excellent!
Day 5- At Sea
Awoke to the dark waters of the North Sea and enjoyed breakfast at the Garden Cafe, got a perfectly cooked omlette from the chef at an action station and headed all the way aft to eat above the stern with the rolling wake far below! Then headed to the spa and checked in for the thermal suite. They scanned my cruise card and I showed them my sticker, gave me a terry cloth robe and led me to the Male Thermal Suite. To the left is the Male Thermal Suite, in between is the unisex area and to the right the Female Thermal Suite. You are given a locker key for your own locker for the duration. Each thermal suite has a multitude of amenities for that type of deep relaxation, serenity and quiet. There's a steamroom, sauna with ocean views, deluxe bathrooms with special spa products, special showers with either a warm tropical shower or an ice mist I liked. There are private showers and an ice cold plunge pool and hot tub filled to overflowing. A relaxation area overlooking the bow of the ship with floor to celing panoramic views forward. Then you can enter the unisex area with a grouping of luxurious heated tile thermal loungers! Tiled chairs that are curved to your body and heated. A hydrotherapy pool with lounge chairs plunged in the pool for the ultimate relaxation.
I continued the water theme and headed to the pool area, fun quieter when in the cooler climates of Northern Europe but still a good spot. Tried out the twisting waterslide! Then headed for lunch of pork pasta and more at a window seat in Grand Pacific! Went for a sushi tasting comp for the small group of us that attended and sake tasting at the sushi bar, great to try the variety of sushi. Back in my stateroom enjoyed the balcony which I did many times through the cruise and got my laundry I had put in. The laundry was waiting all folded and in tissue in a basket. and a hanger. They also have an embarkation special with unlimited to fill the bag with laundry for one price.Then headed back to the thermal suite for another while to relax more. Headed to my favourite Alizar for a final dinner greeted by the hosts from India & China that now knew me. Enjoyed a mimosa again! Then headed to the Farewell show with a great show with all the crew and Liu again the host starting things off, will keep it a surprise but they show you how to farewell the Norwegian Way!
For the Freestyle Disembarkation, it is easy going. You can pick up the newsletter a condensed version from the usual Freestyle Daily newsletter with all the going ons onboard. You pick up by the reception desk one of quite a number of colour coded luggage tags. You choose the time you wish to embark. The time if you do the NCL transfers (shuttles) to the airport are suggested. I took the appropriate ones attatched them to my luggage and needed to have the checked luggage out in the hallway by 10:00pm.
Day 6- Return to Rotterdam
I awoke to us arriving back into Rotterdam, went on the balcony for a bit! Looked over the special final day Freestyle Daily. They had several drinks on offer from the bar, the swimming pools & photo gallery open as the lounges and atrium area. The buffet restaurants were open where I had breakfast and Mamas Italian Restaurant open as I found out it was daily for additional seating, got to see what the restaurant looked like. A cozy Italian countryside feel with big wooden tables, Italian paintings and cookware. I did as the newsletter suggested and relaxed on a deck chair for a while, one lady walked by and smiled how relaxed I looked, why not? As it got closer to the time I moved to the atrium until my colour was called. Made my way down to the promenade deck, the Hotel Director and our wonderful British Cruise Director Karen Maybury bid farewell as we scanned the card with security and cleared customs. The Dutch woman remembered me from check in said hello. Then walked outside and quickly found the coach for the NCL transfer back to the Amsterdam airport for my flight back to London, England for several final days.
I did have an amazing time but there is always room for improvement. One thing I noticed is NCL is more promotional of their onboard products than other cruise lines which can be a bit much at times for people that have already paid good money for their cruise. I know onboard amenities are important for the cruise line but I feel NCL should tone things down a little more in line with other cruise lines. Being in the travel business I am familiar with it and still know their cruise fare is more important and 3/4. The main part of the ship in the area of atrium and in various parts of the ships there are display cases which are promoting the various extra services and products onboard including the specialty restaurants, spa services and more. This is okay but the number of display cases seemed to be a bit much. Having toured Norwegian Pearl last month at a cruise conference I felt the same about the display cases onboard her. Also one night in the theatre just prior to the show the cruise staff were promoting a $25 lottery ticket & pull tab package, cruise staff were in the audience, I would say I saw maybe 2-3 people go in on it of the 1000 + guests in the theatre. There are more announcements than I'vse seen before that granted mention the other events onboard but always mention extra services.
With regards to dining NCL does have more than the norm of 2-3 specialty restaurants with 8 specialty options onboard. Still an option and I loved the variety and creativity and the dining rooms and buffets remain in good stead. However most often you would be offered sparkling or bottled water for $4.50 at the start of your meal, people know they can get alcohol at charge but having to say you want regular water for something so simple seems silly all the time. I prefered on Royal Caribbean where you knew you could get bottled water but they just automatically gave you ice water. Some people would get confused that the waters they were offering were at charge vs regular ice water.
The Monte Carlo night in the future I wouldn't attend, it also was all about promotions at the same time promoting the casino where it was held, not a true party or what I would say is a cruise experience. I left after a few minutes. On my Royal Caribbean cruise they had towel animals every night and turn down service which was wonderful. NCL only did the towel animal one night which was fun but included a flyer about a towel animal book to buy and would lay expensive Columbian Emeralds jewelery flyers on the bed at turn down sometimes. These perks of cruising such as towel animals, turn down & seeing a show people should just enjoy without promotions. People understand cruising isn't all inclusive and there are extras to choose from onboard in addition to the cruise fare but they also don't want promotion to be overdone. NCL still has all the other services other cruise lines do and can promote like they do but should take it down a notch I feel. Their guests have already paid their cruise fare and flights or transportation to get there. My onboard account in the end was essentially the same as Royal Caribbean even with the extra promotion. People understand cruising isn't completely all inclusive and there are extras to choose from onboard in addition to the cruise fare but they also don't want promotion to be overdone. In travel courses we learn cruising is approximately 80% inclusive.
I had an amazing time onboard Norwegian Jade in Scandinavia and greatly enjoyed discovering a new cruise line and part of the world with them. The 5 nights was a good duration to fit into my other travel plans in Europe, not too short but still a good duration to also allow time for my other plans. When the cruise is the only part of the trip longer cruises for sure are wonderful but when doing other plans 5 nights I learned is a perfect fit I would do again. Some guests added nights in Amsterdam or other European cities or continued with the following 3 night cruise to with 1 sea day and visiting Le Havre (Paris) & the Channel Islands ending in Southampton, England for a 8 night cruise. 5 nights is long enough to enjoy and explore all the ship has to offer and with 2 sea days & 2 ports was a great fit. My comments section denotes some improvements that I feel would make it even better. Norwegian Cruise Line and its trademark Freestyle Cruising has a special style. Norwegian Jade is a well run ship with great crew & staff and atmosphere happening with many creative activities and dining options onboard. It was fun trying a balcony stateroom this time, I enjoyed the added space and having a beautiful balcony to see the ship come into ports & the ocean views.
Seeing oil rigs glowing in the night in the North Sea , the first time I've ever seen another type of floating city at sea of another variety was exciting. Being my first cruise as a single was wonderful, you meet people throughout your cruise but also are able to enjoy time and relaxation on your own which I appreciated. The crew & staff were good to see how you were doing and making sure you were having a great time. I would cruise single again, no problem and am interested in NCL now. I absolutely love cruising and its my favourite form of travel, its an exceptional experience with people from across the world on this sensational floating palace.Thank you NCL & Norwegian Jade!! Best wishes.
Liberty of the Seas 7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise
- September 2009
Norwegian Jade 5 Night Scandinavia Mini Cruise
- May 2009