Feel Free at Sea… Onboard the Norwegian Jade with Sam & George
Tuesday 13th June 2017, 12:00am
It all started a couple of weeks ago when two places became available for a 2 night trip to Hamburg onboard the newly refurbished Norwegian Jade. We entered our names and were fortunate enough to get our names picked out of the hat, simple as that. We then had to send our details over to Norwegian Cruise Line, book the Eavesway coach down to Southampton and the return flight home, and before we knew it we were on our way!
The itinerary for the trip was as follows, meet Friday morning at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre to catch an Eavesway coach down to Southampton, board the Norwegian Jade for 2 days of fun… sorry learning, while we sail across the North Sea to Hamburg before reluctantly disembarking and catching a flight back to Manchester.
It was an early start on Friday, arriving at the Empire Theatre at 0700 hours to embark on our Eavesway journey to the cruise port. The first thing we noticed about Eavesway was how friendly the staff were even at ‘Stupid o’clock’ in the morning. The driver placed our luggage in the hold, we took our seats and we were off. The coach was very luxurious with nice laminate flooring, comfy leather seating and more than generous leg room (This didn’t really matter for Sam). There was also a toilet onboard which was a lifesaver with all the coffee we’d been drinking that morning (Gents… make sure you sit down when the coach is in motion). The journey was split up into 3 legs by 2 stop offs, the first was at Lymm to stretch your legs and grab some fresh air. The second was at Cherwell services where we had 45 minutes to grab some lunch… and more coffee! The final leg from this point was only a little over an hour long, as we neared the port the driver, Dave (not a typical coach drivers name in the slightest), shared a load of information about Southampton the city, the port itself and how he spends a lot of time here in-between journeys, which sounded lovely and made us a little jealous! We arrived at the port at around 2 o’clock, made our way through the Cruise Terminal and boarded Norwegian Jade!
We should mention here we did get the obligatory picture you have to get in front of a green screen whenever you board a ship however; we were too tight to go and actually buy it. After the quick picture we headed straight to the cabin to drop off our stuff and get exploring the ship. We had been allocated a Balcony cabin and luckily it had 2 single beds and not a double! The cabin was spacious and modern with lots of storage space, a mini fridge (sadly this wasn’t part of the Premium All Inclusive!) and a great bathroom with all the amenities we would ever need… plugs for your electric razors, an abundance of hand towels, face towels and large towels as well as a washing line to hang your wet swimming costumes. We left pleased with our home for the next 2 days and head down to deck 6 to begin a little mini-tour of our own (Even though there was an organised tour in the Itinerary the following day).What were our initial thoughts on the refurbishment? We loved it. Deck 6 was home to the Piano Bar, the Martini & Gin Bars and the Cigar Lounge, this was a very elegant and quite intimate part of the ship with classy background music and a very sophisticated vibe to it… we felt right at home! We then passed through some double doors into a very large Casino (This was more like it!) Dozens of slot machines, Blackjack & Poker tables and a bar right in the Centre (We would definitely be back here to lose all our money at some point.) At the front of the ship was the Stardust Theatre, we poked our head in and saw a very grand theatre with rehearsals underway for the show later that evening, so we thought it was best to leave quietly and head up to Deck 7.
The Atrium was located on this Deck; it was beautifully designed with very modern décor and a wonderfully open plan layout over 2 floors (Deck 7 and 8 centre ship). The lower level of the Atrium had a snazzy coffee bar, a grand piano and a lot of seating; this was also where the reception desk was located. Then on the upper level, Deck 8, almost like a balcony looking over the Atrium was O’Sheehan’s, home to quite possibly some of the nicest chicken wings at Sea… we think! (To be fair anything tastes nice at half 4 in the morning when you’ve been drinking all day!) We would later find out O’Sheehan’s was also our muster point. Anyway back on Deck 7 as you leave the Atrium you enter Bliss Bar, a high energy late night bar with some great music and open Karaoke nights. (Unfortunately we didn’t get to showcase our duet of Grease that we had been practicing on the coach journey down.) We then skipped Decks 9, 10 (our floor) and 11 as they were just staterooms and headed to Deck 12!Deck 12, probably our favourite deck onboard the Jade, from what feels like a mile long buffet with all the different types of food you can imagine, to the great pools and hot tubs, the bars, the fitness centre (which we managed to make it to once, mainly to enjoy the steam room located in the men’s changing room), and the kids clubs that we were sadly slightly too old for! But they looked like a load of fun with games consoles, arcades, the works! (We found out the following morning on our organised tour that parents can now pay to leave their children onboard the ship while they go and explore the cruise destinations, which we all agreed was a great idea from Norwegian Cruise Line.) Deck 12 has fun for all the family and really is the hub of the ship; there were games and music from DJ Viper the ships resident DJ and poolside Hotdogs and Burgers from Topsiders. Many a Strawberry Daiquiri was consumed here, made even better by the relaxing bubbles of the Hot Tub. Only negative in our opinion besides the weather not being too great was that the swimming pools were salt water, only a minor issue but would have been nice to know that before jumping in!
Other than the outdoor lookout spots on Deck 14 and 15, Deck 13 is the top indoor deck of the ship. It was home to the Spinnaker Lounge which was fantastic and the place to be late at night! It was very luxurious, modern and open, with a tiered booth layout leading down to the dance floor. We were due to meet here later that night to meet all the other agents that were onboard with us. After a couple of drinks and a freshen up we arrived back up at the Spinnaker lounge and began socialising… and drinking! A couple of hours quickly went by and it was time to make our way to the Grand Pacific Dining room for tea, we both had the Crab Cakes to start and the Peppercorn Steak as our main. It was delicious and FREE! Both the Grand Pacific and the Alizar restaurants are complementary and we honestly wouldn’t have had a problem eating here both nights and not even going to a Speciality restaurant the food was that good! Instead of sharing a galley like most restaurants do on other ships, these restaurants have their own, meaning quicker service time and HOT food, (so we were told, and to be fair they weren’t lying.) There was only a short wait for our meals and there wasn’t a bad way to say about the food, it was lovely. After some cake for desert and a couple more drinks we headed off to Spinnakers to dance the night away! (Until half 4 when we went for chicken wings)
On Saturday we had to be in the Atrium for half 10 for the organised tour, so obviously we roll out of bed at 25 past 10, chuck on a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and some flip flops and brush our teeth before heading to meet ’most’ of the other agents and tour the ship again (It looked like some people indulged in the Premium All Inclusive a little too much the night before). After the tour we had a meeting with Jeremy McKenna, the head of Sales for the UK & Ireland, and even though we were slightly feeling the effects of the night before we learnt a lot.
The meeting ended and the Jade was ours to enjoy, we made full use of all the facilities and the Premium All Inclusive while we had the chance. That evening we had reservations for the Teppanyaki, which in case you haven’t been is basically just as much of a show as it is a restaurant. It definitely isn’t the place for you if you want a quiet and civilized sit down meal, from kitchen utensils being flipped and tricked, to pieces of food being thrown into your mouth, it’s a fantastic experience and we would certainly recommend doing it at least once. The charge comes in at $29 a head which is really reasonable when you think about what you’re getting, some of these chefs are the best in the world at what they do. (Just a side note, some of the speciality restaurants work like the Teppanyaki with a $29 charge per head, while the a la carte restaurants such as the Steakhouse work on a price per dish basis, so the vegetarians and people who don’t eat a lot don’t end up covering the cost of the more expensive dishes.) We then left the restaurant entertained and very full and made our way to the Theatre to catch ‘The Showdown’ which was the name of the show that evening. The concept is basically, (spoiler alert), a singing competition between 4 competitors whereby one act was eliminated each round, decided by the level of cheering from the audience. The show was fantastic and all the songs were well known classics so after a few drinks you’ll definitely be up dancing and singing along just like us!
After the show it was back up to Spinnaker for the final time, earlier to bed on the Saturday night though as we had to be up to catch our flight the following morning. The plan was to meet a couple of our new friends at the cruise terminal just off the ship at 9:15 to get a taxi to the airport, so naturally Sam set his alarm for 6 o’clock in the morning which was necessary and I really appreciated… NOT! We said a quick goodbye to our stateroom and some of the other agents, grabbed a quick bite to eat from the buffet and then jumped in a taxi. Hamburg was great… well it looked it out of our taxi window! We arrived at the airport said our goodbyes and hopped on our flight back home, the trip was short and sweet but we had a great time and made some great friends. The Jade was fantastic, better than we could have hoped for in fact, she was more of an intimate ship but still had so much to offer you could never get bored! Thank you Norwegian Cruise Line for a great trip!
By George Fletcher & Sam Dossantos