It’s that moment at Christmas where each family member demands where the next holiday must be.
Horrifically, my mum informed us that this year we would be going to a no-electricity and no -shower campsite.
But they had donkeys!
Shower facilities were not on-site, so we would also have to wash in the nearby leisure centre.
While my heart attempted to recover, she declared the campsite was called “The Norwegian Jade” before laughing hysterically.
I had been tricked. Instead, we would be taking a week Greek Island cruise residing on the Norwegian Jade.
The holiday had a great start foreshadowing the whole experience!
How I wish I could write those words.
Regrettably, this was the worst embarkation I have ever experienced in my years of cruising.
After a two hour flight to Venice, we had to immediately get to the ship; which unfortunately is the case on most cruise holidays.
On every bucket list, I have ever created, visiting Venice has always been a recurring point.
Thus, to be in Venice but not get to explore it, was devastating.
While my cheeks becoming tomato-colour, I feel frustrated with myself that I didn’t organize a pre-cruise stay.
Embarkation at the terminal was organized like a bad circus, keeping us waiting hours to board.
Sometimes this just can’t be helped, due to the size of the terminal and the number of passengers.
Approaching the ship, I was slapped with a fun holiday-camp vibe, before immediately joining a cue to sterilize my hands (which I know is essential).
Onboard my first cruise line, the MSC Splendida, we were sent into a relaxed atmosphere with a light jazz band in the atrium and complimentary drinks (wine or mocktails for children) offered upon arrival.
This was not the case onboard the Norwegian Jade.
The atrium onboard the Norwegian Jade was fairly small, with a Grand Piano central that wasn’t being played.
No other music or complimentary drinks, in fact, the only sound of scurrying loud passengers could be heard.
Dread began to fill my stomach as I could predict what the next week would entail.
Standard routine for a cruise holiday, the muster drill was arising.
This element really surprised me onboard the Norwegian Jade and is something I’ve never experienced before.
Life-jackets weren’t compulsory! Baffled, I couldn’t decide whether this was a good or bad concept.
I must admit I hate always having to shove a life jacket on and sit for an hour, but nonetheless, is this a safety essential exercise?
Not speaking figuratively, as soon as the Muster Dill concluded we dashed to get a seat outside on the deck to watch the sail-away from Venice.
As fit and active as I am (HA!), I managed to grab a table out on the deck in the sun.
As we sailed off into the sun, I slurped on a coke taking in the view.
Despite the amazing view, I couldn’t help feeling cheated on and resentful.
In conclusion, I believe I was spoiled by my time onboard the MSC Splendida and thus everything on this trip I compared against.
Onboard the Norwegian Jade, I must say, my dining experience was mixed.
Nonetheless, one element I absolutely cannot fault is the freestyle aspect.
Norwegian Cruise Line is famous for their freestyle dining, giving customers the luxury of popping into the restaurant whenever they feel like it.
Thus, giving you completely flexible dining with no set times.
This worked in our favour throughout the holiday, as some days we wouldn’t be able to eat till later because of planned activities etc.
Juxtaposing my initial cruise on the MSC Splendida, onboard the Norwegian Jade there is no dress code.
Pre-cruise, I felt quite excited about this aspect, with the prospect of being able to just slip on my jeans and go to dinner.
Yet, I completely missed this whole experience.
Dressing up every night in your best with your family is part of what makes a cruise so special and memorable.
The Pacific Rim menu was quite limiting for me, though I am quite a fussy eater.
Thus every night, my meal consisted of the same.
A mini-burger starter and spaghetti for dinner.
Feeling adventurous on my first evening dinner, I decided to try the chocolate mousse; being it my favourite dessert.
Being as polite as possible, this certainly wasn’t my cup of tea.
With a texture more resembling a Jelly, I was really disappointed with this.
Never in my history of cruising, have I sent a dessert back.
However, on this occasion, there was no alternative.
Our fabulous waitress (who was INCREDIBLE) Mary Ann, was very apologetic and informed me she had a secret dessert she knew I would love.
And boy was she right! Indulging in a Chocolate Volcano, I felt the warm chocolate massage my taste buds, as I’m left in a state of complete awe.
Although earlier on, I have tried to remain polite and fair, I was absolutely disgusted with Norwegian Cruise Line by the treatment of my mother.
Being a Vegetarian, my mum has sometimes struggled when we travel with dining.
In fact, onboard the Norwegian Jade, there was only one dining option on the menu suitable for her.
Without any choice, she endured the same meal each night.
On the final night, after being fed up for the whole week, she asked the waiter if there was any possibility the chef could make something else for her.
Just a few minutes later, the chef brought out a bowl of peas and sweetcorn.
Is this a joke?
After explaining to the manager how disgusted I was, and how shameful this is, he sincerely apologized.
Rectifying this, he brought out what seemed like 10 different dishes all from the Asian speciality restaurant.
At the end of a long day, if you’re similar to me, you just want to drop off to sleep in a comfy bed.
Experiencing my first inside cabin onboard the MSC Splendida, I swore I would never again stay in this type of cabin.
Primarily because with no light (at all) you can’t tell if it’s 5 am, 3 pm, or 11 pm.
Therefore, thankfully I was staying in an Ocean View cabin onboard the Norwegian Jade.
For cruise newbies, this is essentially a replica of an inside cabin but with a porthole window.
Although you may not expect it, this made a huge difference.
Waking up every morning on a new Greek island to the sun streaming on your face was a magical experience.
The actual ‘bed’ I was sleeping on consisted of a hard mattress directly on the floor, while my parents slept on a double bed.
Joining me on a cruise, you will notice I fill my days absorbing sun rays and drinking mocktails.
Nonetheless, I could have done much more than this on the Norwegian Jade.
There are plenty of daytime activities ranging from the Miss Norwegian Jade competition (which my dad was determined to enter) to deck dance classes, the days were filled and little ones entertained non-stop.
Parents travelling with older teenagers may be happy to know their teens can relax in the teens club which is directly attached to the arcade.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy a well-earned break and indulge in a treatment at the onboard spa (which I of course did!).
Sadly, I store lots of tension in my back.
This meant the massage wasn’t very enjoyable for me, but likely will be for you.
Additionally, if feeling sophisticated, there was also a Martini tasting session at the onboard Whiskey Bar.
Similar to Vegas, the Norwegian Jade comes alive at night.
Traditionally, my dad, of course, had to attend the Karaoke.
This may just be me, but I sometimes feel quite awkward when I go to Karaoke.
Observing families cringe with embarrassment, as their relatives deface a once beautiful song.
Of course, it can be good a laugh.
More along my sisters street, there is an onboard Night Club.
Packed daily with many passengers dancing all night…and morning!
At various points during the cruise, there were evening dance classes in salsa which I participated in and loved.
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I’m an actor.
Thus, as you probably expected I always make sure to watch a show at the theatre during a cruise.
For a Matinee show, I got to experience a four-piece opera group.
And yes, they were extraordinary!
Despite all the various entertainment options I’ve mentioned, my favourite was the onboard pianist.
Funnily enough, she is now one of my best friends and we Skype call most days.
Jeanie Perkins is an award-winning internationally performing pianist and singer, with a voice to sustain your smile throughout.
Developing a love for her, my whole family watched her perform every single evening.
Devastatingly, just a few weeks after this cruise, Jeanie’s contract was cut short my NCL.
All I can say is it’s their loss and someone else’s gain.
Although so far, it seeming like somewhat of a negative experience.
The destinations are what made this cruise a trip to remember.
Widely regarded as one of the most popular Greek islands, Santorini boasts 365 days of Mediterranean sunshine.
Famous for its beauty and whitewashed homes overlooking a spectacular view of the tropical blue ocean.
And boy did it not disappoint!
Initially, we had planned to take a donkey-riding trip up the hill.
However, after seeing a gentleman being carried off on a stretcher after falling off, we decided it would be best not to!
Instead, we took a cable car trip up the hill which was picturesque with mesmerizing views!
Arriving at the peak of Santorini, we headed to one of the many bars overlooking the vibrant blue ocean.
Slurping on a smoothie in the sun.
What can possibly more resemble heaven?
Hoping to glean a thorough insight to Santorini we trecked off on an exploration of the island.
The classic market stands in the centre of the island, offering many different souvenirs and pieces of clothes.
Once purchasing every tiny nick-nack possible, we headed off in search of a restaurant.
The island is packed with large complex restaurants, designed for tourists.
Nonetheless, we wanted to source something a bit different.
At the last minute, we came across a tiny (I mean TINY) pizza restaurant determined to create any Pizza you could possibly desire.
With hundreds of ingredients, customers can order practically anything your taste buds require.
“SOAK IN THE SUN”
Mykonos is most popular for its summer party season, attracting many student travellers.
Best beaches such as Paradise beach and Super Paradise beach house bars that blare music all day and night.
Whilst also celebrities can be spotted here, with gigantic dance clubs attracting the best DJ’s around the world.
Aside from the young vibrant atmosphere, there is also a large historical significance in Mykonos.
Iconic tourist attractions stand on the island such as the classic 16th-century windmills.
Putting aside the numerous activities available in Mykonos from water sports to visiting the archaeological museums.
Sometimes all you want is to relax on a sunbed soaking in the sun.
Thus, we decided to do just that in Mykonos.
Relaxing on the party beach, and indulging in multiple smoothies and cocktails.
In conclusion, I feel Karma best represents this cruise.
When vastly disappointed by the ship, the destinations and little gems like Jeanie (the onboard pianist) made up for it creating an overall neutral experience.
Since my voyage, the vessel has now undergone a multi-million-pound upgrade.
My Favourite Travel Accessories!
(click to expand)
**Disclaimer: Please note that in order for me to carry on providing free cruise & travel tips, I participate in affiliate marketing. At no additional cost to you, I earn a small fee on sales of these bestselling products. This allows me to keep the site up and running, and provide you with the best free guidance. Some of the links found on this page are part of my affiliate marketing.**