Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Norwegian Jade.

Me and my family decided to go on a cruise and after a thorough internet search booked a 2 week cruise on the med.
As this was our first cruise we had little idea what to expect.

My first shock was discovering the service charge, this was a charge of $12 per person per day. As a family of four this meant almost $50 a day, $700 for the 2 weeks. I also discovered that all bar bills had an automatic 15% gratuity added to them.
I am not a skinflint but I do prefer to tip after the service.
Working out the cover charge at $12 per person per day which went to the behind the scenes staff. There were 3000 people on the boat and 1000 members of staff, equating to $36 per member of staff per day.

After boarding the boat and seeing the jobs done by the staff in ensuring the boat was meticulously clean and all your needs are met I forgot about the service charge and just accepted it.

We looked through and checked all the reviews, as ever there is good and bad.
Most relating to either the cost of things on board the cruise, the cost of the cruises excursions or the amount of people taking over the areas around the pool.

The food:
There was food available 24/7 if you wanted, most of this was served in the garden cafe which operated a buffet of just about everything you could imagine. This area was always busy with people eating.
There was also a variety of speciality restaurants, we managed to try a few and found the food to be very good. We have a child with special needs and although the kids club were happy to have her she never stayed too long, we were lucky if she lasted 2 hours. This meant we were unable to book a restaraunt as we never knew when we would get a call.

The staff:
Every member of staff was there to ensure our needs were met.
We know when it comes to bar services or restaurants that they are looking for the tips, but wether it was a cleaner or chef they always had a smile.

The excursions:
The excursions were expensive compared to local transport.
The 2 things we liked about the excursions were if the excursion was late back the ship would wait, if you go it alone and are not back on time then bye bye. This did actually happen in a couple of ports and people were left.
The other thing we enjoyed was the information given by the tour guides, this was invaluable when alighting the bus and taking a walk around.
The knowledge the guides have is a great bonus when visiting foreign cities.

The Drinks:
The drinks were expensive but this was to be expected. If you did not want to pay then you could always go drink the free water or breakfast juices.
The bar staff and drink servers were all fantastic, when they had a little time they actually stopped and had a little chat.

The Cabins:
The cabin was bigger than we imagined, as a family of four it was a little tight but a couple or family of three would easily find them comfortable.
The cabin attendants had the room cleaned impeccably and were always ready to greet you. Of course they were looking for a nice tip at the end but that is how they make up their wages.
They even made our daughter some towel animals and left them on the bed for her. She loved it.

Pools and sun loungers:
The front of deck 12 and 13 was the pool and sun lounger area, to us this area was butlins on the sea. Not being a fan of the crowded areas with kids running around having fun and trying to find a sun lounger we usually went to the rear of deck 12. Although sometimes this area was crowded it was generally a quieter area where you could sit comfortably and enjoy a drink while watching the boat chug along.

As with the restaraunts we were unable to attend these because of our little girl. We overheard others talking about it and it was a mixed review. I suppose it depends what you like.

Kids Club:
These were great like I mentioned before one of our children has special needs. They gave us a phone so they could call us whenever there was a problem. Our other child is 12 and loved going in there.

Overall we loved the cruise. If you are constantly worrying about money your gonna have a lousy holiday. I know we have got to be careful with our money these days but there is a difference between being careful and being stingy.
If your going on a cruise it's a time for relaxation so sit back relax and enjoy all the hospitalities a cruise has to offer.


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