I’ve just returned from the first Cruise With Cross holiday on board the stunning Norwegian Jade to the beautiful Norwegian Fjords.
It’s the first time Norwegian Cruise Line have based a ship sailing from Southampton for a number of years so its proving popular for passengers who prefer not to fly. Norwegian Cruise Line are now premium all inclusive, so that means they all your drinks, up to the value of $15 per glass and all your service charges and tips are included (and yes I made full use of this!) – You can literally step on board without a penny in your pocket!
There is a great choice of activities for all to do on board Norwegian Jade. The majority of public facilities can be found on deck 7, deck 12 and deck 13. The heartbeat of the ship is the atrium; this is where you will find Guest Services, Restaurant Reservations, Shore Excursions and Cruise Next – the future cruise sales desk. The staff are incredibly helpful and are always on hand to assist with any queries my fellow travellers and I had on board. The Atrium Bar & Café will keep you refreshed with a morning coffee and chocolates or a place for a pre-dinner drink. There is a piano in the atrium with live music every evening, it was rocking! Just along the atrium you will find the art gallery with original works of art by well-known artists which are available to buy. The photo gallery is interactive and by scanning your cruise card you can view all your holiday snaps! If shopping is your thing, you are in for a treat. There is on board shop with duty free items, jewellery, alcohol, branded merchandise plus the essentials if you have forgot them!
In the evening there is something happening all over the ship, on deck 13 you will find Spinnaker Lounge with its live music and disco in the evening and in the day a great venue to sit back and enjoy the views and also play bingo! It’s really where the action happens at night, where you can throw plenty of moves on the dancefloor into the early hours! On deck 7 is the Bliss Lounge, a venue that offers daily live entertainment plus karaoke! Of course the main event takes place in the Stardust theatre with its twice nightly show included in the price of your holiday, I enjoyed a magic show, singing and dancing plus the impressive Elements show which is well known on board Norwegian Cruise Line ships. If you want to have a little flutter in the Casino you will find this on deck 6 which is open through the day when at sea or sailing from the ports, and just next to the casino is the Champagne, Whiskey and Martini Bars with its live music offering.
When it comes to dining, Norwegian Cruise Line, really offer something for everyone. Its freestyle cruising which means you can eat when you want, where you want and with who you want. There is no need to pack the cocktail dress or bow tie – there are no formal nights on board a Norwegian Cruise Line holiday so you can be relaxed at dinner. There are two main restaurants: Alizar and Grand Pacific which are waiter service and serve an impressive menu. There is no set times you just turn up when you want and get seated right away. If it’s a light bite you are after the Garden Café is the buffet option with its serving stations and live cooking demonstrations. I will always remember the friendly staff at the entrance who greet you with ‘washy washy’ before entering the buffet! O’Sheehan’s is your neighbourhood bar – open 24 hours a day it is totally complimentary with waiter service starting with a full breakfast, traditional daily specials and then the late night chicken wings – yes you can eat chicken wings at 4am, I did! The Topsiders Grill is located next to the pool and weather permitting offers a light bite for lunch – burgers by the pool is a great way to chill out! The Jasmine Garden Asian restaurant is another complimentary dining venue with freshly prepared noodles, soups and wok fried dishes. If you want to enjoy some speciality dining there is a further choice of venues such as Moderno (the Brazilian steakhouse), Teppanyaki (live show cooking), Cagney’s Steakhouse (American premium cuts), La Cucina (Italian restaurant), Le Bistro (French restaurant) and the Sushi Bar. Booking is recommended at the speciality restaurants and great if you are celebrating an anniversary or birthday whilst on board. If you are looking to book, you will find interactive boards around the ship which shows which dining venues have availability – it’s a really good way of finding the ideal time slot.
After all the eating, you can burn off the calories in the fitness centre on deck 12 – its open from 6am – 11pm and there are on board instructors on hand to assist with any questions or to help you. I visited the gym on a number of occasions and used the bike, clocking up some miles! At the rear of the ship on deck 13 is the sports court with its nets, ideal for tennis, basketball or football! The Mandara Spa & Salon is the place to head if you want to chill out or enjoy a relaxing massage or facial – look out for the daily special offers.
Norwegian Jade offers accommodation for all budgets. Each stateroom has been refurbished during the upgrade with accommodation starting at insides, oceanview, balcony, suite and Haven suites. It all depends what you want from your holiday but all include ensuite accommodation and amenities. The bathroom was one of the largest I had experienced before at sea with a power shower, plenty of shelves and space for all your toiletries, in addition to the toiletries provided complimentary from Norwegian Cruise Line.
One of the things people say to me is that they will get bored on a cruise ship – trust me you won’t! I had three sea days on my cruise and there was always something going on around the ship. You will find the activities detailed inside the freestyle daily newspaper which is posted inside your cabin every evening and lets you plan the next day.
If you are planning to travel with the family, like many did on this itinerary. There are the well organised and supervised children’s clubs on board – it looked like great fun when they went for a tour of the ship with their faces painted! They even have their own pool area out on deck just for kids!
Our cruise took us to the stunning Norwegian Fjords via Hamburg. Hamburg is a great city to walk around and enjoy the architecture, it was a maiden call for Norwegian Jade so they quayside was lined with thousands of people for our departure. Our ports in the Norwegian Fjords were Skjolden, Olden, Alesund and Bergen. These villages and cities offer everything from walking tours to excursions to glaciers, I would recommend pre-booking the excursions to get the most out of your holiday. And when you leave the ports there is often hours of sailing inbetween the fjords, head out to the sundeck with your camera and watch the moving picture postcards of the scenery.
It was great to be cruising with so many Vision Cruise customers on board Norwegian Jade, we had a number of first time cruisers and a number of passengers who were new to Norwegian Cruise Line and said they would be returning and I can see why. This won’t be my last cruise with Norwegian, nor it won’t be my last Cruise With Cross – keep an eye out for details of the next cruise!
Have a look through my holiday photos & video - it was great fun!