The Jade is not unlike the Pearl (our Alaskan cruise ship), with a few exceptions. It was originally decorated and built to be a ship for Hawaii cruises. NCL decided to change its purpose when the Hawaii cruises turned out to be unprofitable. There’s lots of Hawaiian and South Pacific theming on the ship, which feels really odd in the Mediterranean. The other oddity is that this ship was not planned to include a casino, because casinos aren’t permitted in Hawaii. So, they converted what was probably the ultralounge area into a casino. As a result, the casino on this ship is larger and more airy than most cruise ships. If you happen to be a person that spends most of their time in the casino, the Jade is probably a great ship for you.
I had one disappointment with NCL on this cruise. Apparently, they confiscate everyone’s passports as a matter of procedure because they’re going in and out of the EU, and they have to clear the passports at the ports. Instead of having all the passengers go through customs individually (which would take forever), they take them and handle it with the port authority directly for the passengers en masse. The problem I had with this is that they failed to communicate it before the cruise, so we got shocked by it as we checked in. Initially at check-in, they gave us no explanation at all, but I was bothered because I knew we would be doing our own thing in the port (not taking NCL excursions), and if by some chance, we got stuck in port, we’d need our passport to leave. I asked what we were supposed to do for identification, and they said a photo ID is fine, and I’m like, “No, we’re supposed to have passports. We’re supposed to have them anytime we’re not in the US.” But…the people there didn’t seem to have answers, and DH rightly said we’d be better off asking about it on the ship, so we left. For your benefit, here is what we have learned since then:
* In Dubrovnik and Split, you can check your passport out from the front desk if you want to bring it with you in the port. You can’t do this in Greece or Turkey, as the port authority holds them while the cruise passengers are on shore.
* For children or people without an alternate photo ID, they recommend carrying a photocopy of your passport. They can make a photocopy on the ship so long as you ask before you end up at any ports that hold it.
* In the event that you get left behind, the ship reconciles the “aboard” roster with the port authority before leaving, and if you aren’t on board and they leave, they leave your passports with the port authority. When you do make it back to the port, you can pick up your passport there in order to have it for making arrangements for alternative travel.
What disappointed me is that NCL didn’t have all of this in a ready-made FAQ at check-in. They are normally very good at informing you about policies and procedures, often in a fun and humorous way. They do that sort of thing better than any of the other lines I’ve been on. This passport confiscation is something that is so unusual to the EU cruises that it feels like they ought to hand you an info sheet with an explanation along with your passport receipt. They could also say on the info sheet who to contact onboard if you have any questions or concerns not covered. (I’m writing an e-mail to NCL with this same comment.)
Otherwise, there’s not much unique to add about the Jade. It’s exactly what I expect from NCL in every other respect. This particular cruise is definitely an older crowd. We’ve met lots of young couples simply because we’re all desperate to find people our age. 🙂 More on that in other posts. 🙂
(Side note: The last picture is of the vaporetto stop that was closest to our apartment. You can kind of see the very pretty park that we got to walk through to and from the apartment, with the fall colored trees. There were also TONS of pigeons. Apparently, swans live in Switzerland and pigeons live in Italy.)