Jade’s varied culinary mix a hit with passengers

Norwegian Jade will be plying Mediterranean waters through December before embarking on a series of Canary Island voyages roundtrip from Barcelona. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, ITALY, August 6, 2011 — World class dining venues abound on Norwegian Jade.

That might seem surprising to some — great dining is traditionally the domain of the luxury cruise sector and not necessarily what one expects to find on a 2,402-passenger mass market vessel.

Jade, however, delivers. There are some 14 dining options and passengers would be hard-pressed to find comparable décor, quality and service at even their favorite land-based locales.

From U.S. steak and seafood (Cagney’s), plus Tex-Mex (Paniolo Tapas & Salsa), to French (Le Bistro) and Italian (Papa’s Kitchen) offerings, the ship is alive at dinner hour. Most notably, Jasmine Garden is the culinary hub. The Asian restaurant complex, located on Deck 7 mid-ship, features made-to-order sushi and sashimi, a Sake Bar and a Teppanyaki grill and is clearly a runaway favorite with passengers.

Look for Cagney’s, a classical steakhouse from the 1930s and the ship’s signature restaurant, to serve a 32-ounce porterhouse for two; at Paniolo their zesty signature dish — lobster tacos — is a must; and both Le Bistro and Papa’s offer classical French and Italian fare respectively.

And, while all of the aforementioned specialty restaurants require nominal fees ranging from $10-25 per person, Jade still packs a punch with quality food and choice in its no additional charge main dining rooms – Grand Pacific and Alizar — plus Garden Café where enticing buffet spreads are offered including specialty dishes from ports which the ship has just visited. Following a port call this week to Izmir, Turkey for instance, the culinary team featured Turkish bread with chicken plus assorted kebabs.

A Norwegian Jade chef prepares Turkish bread with chicken in the Garden Café. The ship’s buffet, one of 14 dining venues onboard, often features local culinary options from the very ports the ship has visited. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Dining options are a big factor today within the cruise industry as more ships than ever before offer alternative onboard venues for their passengers to enjoy. At Norwegian Cruise Line, however, it’s the very premise of their “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where one is offered a host of outstanding dining choices, relaxed dress codes, and the freedom to dine with whom they want, when they want at a locale that’s right for them on the evening of their choosing. As such, all restaurants aboard Jade feature open seating and flexible, extended dining hours.

Norwegian Jade began her seafaring career in 2006 as Pride of Hawaii. She’s now year-round in the Mediterranean but the Hawaiian motif and bright island colors remain front and center throughout the ship giving it added vibrancy, as is the case here in the Aloha Bar located in the Atrium on Deck 7. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Specialty restaurant reservations can be made in respective locales just minutes before dining although, to avoid disappointment, advance reservations are recommended.

Still hungry? Jade offers 24-hour room service. The new and expanded menu includes soup, salads, pizza, assorted sandwiches and desserts. There’s also a kid’s menu plus a special occasion menu that includes a jumbo shrimp platter, a collection of international cheeses and Caspian sea Sevruga caviar.

Norwegian Jade epitomizes “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept

The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade, at anchor this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, boasts 14 dining options, a host of bars/lounges and shipboard amenities worthy of its international passenger make-up. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

EN ROUTE TO SPLIT, CROATIA, August 4, 2011 – The “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept is playing out brilliantly aboard Norwegian Jade here in the Mediterranean this summer.

NCL pioneered the model over a decade ago — regimented onboard routines and set dining times would not be thrust on their passengers. It’s their vacation, after all.

Instead, passengers are enjoying a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules or even dress codes to adhere to. Add open seating dining and flexible restaurant hours to the mix and it’s a big hit with passengers.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is but one of 14 dining options aboard Norwegian Jade. Some specialty restaurants, like Cagney’s, offer a nominal surcharge. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Feel like sushi tonight? Perhaps a thick steak? Maybe a lite snack from the salad bar? Jade offers no fewer than 14 dining options spread throughout the ship. Some are part of your cruise fare others, however, feature a nominal fee between $15-25 per person but well worth it among Japanese, French, Italian or U.S. steakhouse/seafood fare.

Whether paying additional surcharges, or not, the culinary options are among the most varied at sea. We’ll take a closer look at the choices later this week.

Meanwhile, as passengers settled into their 7-night, roundtrip Venice voyage (port calls have included Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece and Izmir, Turkey) what they found was a 2,402-passenger ship which never sleeps.
The multi-national passenger mix here onboard can wake to fitness center activities and aerobics, two golf driving nets, shuffleboard, oversized chess, volleyball/basketball court and paddle tennis.

Norwegian Jade’s spacious pool deck. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The pool deck features two swimming pools (one, adults-only), a water slide and four hot tubs. Jade also features a full-service spa and salon, a 7,000-square foot boutique, art gallery, Internet center, library, casino and for evening entertainment, a three-deck theater plays host to a variety of performances.

Jade offers a supervised facility for children featuring a play gym, movie theatre with kid’s movies, computer center, and an arts and crafts area. There’s also a club for teens and a video arcade.
In keeping with the “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept, Jade stateroom accommodations run the gamut. There’s even a suite complex at the top of the ship complete with two luxurious 5,000 square-foot garden villas, a deluxe owner’s suite, three owner’s suites and 10 courtyard villas, eight of which have a separate children’s bedroom.

It’s all about choices aboard Norwegian Jade . . . lots of them.

Follow us this week in the Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade (formerly Pride of Hawaii) embarked on a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean journey from Venice, Italy, this past weekend. One of 11 ships in the NCL fleet, this European-based vessel will be unveiling a series of 9-day cruises from Barcelona to the Canary Islands beginning in December. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship in this space over the next week. Image courtesy Michael Coleman