As Norwegian's fleet has evolved, so has its entertainment, and Norwegian Jade's is no exception. Presenting a nice blend of magic, comedy, singing, dancing, acrobatics, trivia, game shows, bingo and other diversions, there's a lot to keep cruisers busy.
The Stardust Theater (decks 6 and 7 forward) is the ship's main theater, which hosts twice-daily production shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. On our sailing, acts included a magician, a comedian and a Whitney Houston tribute, as well as Blazin' Boots, a country music medley, and Showdown, which pits four singers against one another in what the line describes as an "American Idol meets Motown X-Factor" performance where the audience chooses the winner.
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However, the most notable onboard performance by far is Elements, a Cirque du Soleil-type show that incorporates dancing, magic, acrobatics and aerialists, as well as stunning costumes that highlight earth, air, fire and water.
Daily events include dance classes, painting, casino gaming lessons, Ping-Pong tournaments, bingo, Deal or No Deal, and chocolate and wine pairings, as well as game shows like Jeopardy, goofy golf, martini tastings and afternoon karaoke; most are free but some incur an additional charge. Additionally, meetings of various groups (solo travelers, LGBT, Friends of Bill W.) are held throughout the day, as are various seminars that seem educational but which are really designed to get you to spend money. (Think "Introduction to Acupuncture," "The Art of Collecting Art," "Walking in Comfort," "Detox for Health and Weight Loss," "Go Home Looking 10 Years Younger," "Secrets to a Flatter Stomach" and diamond and gemstone seminars.) Minimal enrichment offerings are available, but they include arts and crafts (journal making on our sailing) and digital photo seminars, as well as a question and answer session with some of the ship's officers. Trivia is also a huge favorite among cruisers, and it's held several times each day on topics ranging from Broadway tunes and company logos to Disney and "Game of Thrones."
Apart from shows in the Stardust Theater, events at night are mostly those involving music, whether it be live, DJ-spun or karaoke-style. On one night during our sailing, there was a Caribbean dance party, and on another, Norwegian's well-known White Hot Party was hosted in the Spinnaker Lounge. Occasionally, there are also game shows, such as the Newlywed/Not-So-Newlywed game show and Battle of the Sexes.
The Jade Club Casino, open when the ship is in international waters -- mostly at night -- houses dozens of slot machines, games of chance and tables for blackjack, baccarat, poker, craps and roulette, as well as a high-roller room with a couple of tables. Various tournaments, slot pulls and gaming lessons are held during each sailing.
With a dozen bars specializing in everything from beer, whiskey and sake to mojitos, martinis and alcoholic coffee beverages, there's no shortage of watering holes on Norwegian Jade.
Java Cafe (Deck 7, midship): This centrally located coffee bar, found in the ship's atrium, serves up for-fee specialty cups of joe, along with a standard bar menu. Prices for caffeinated beverages range from $1.95 for a single shot of espresso or a cafe Americano to $4.45 for a large chai latte or mocha.
Casino Bar (Deck 6, forward): This bar serves those placing their bets in the Jade Club Casino.
Tankards/Shakers/Magnum's/Cigar Lounge (Deck 6, midship): Tankards is the place to be for beer and whiskey, and Shakers mixes up libations for martini connoisseurs. Meanwhile, Magnum's specializes in wine and Champagne. Located in succession along Deck 6's main drag, this trifecta of bars gives way to an enclosed cigar lounge and a more open lounge area with seating where trivia often takes place. (We found it a terrible location for audio-based trivia, due to the noise filtering down from Jasmine Garden and the busy thoroughfare leading to Bliss and the Stardust Theater one deck above.)
Sake (Deck 7, midship): This bar takes its name from the strong rice wine that hails from Japan. Order some with your meal at Jasmine Garden or the Sushi Bar. Specialty sake concoctions can also be had if you'd rather not drink it straight up.
Bliss (Deck 7, forward): Replacing the former Medusa lounge, Bliss is a hip, swanky Miami-themed bar and lounge area, often hosting trivia, dance lessons and movies. The three private karaoke rooms that used to reside there have been turned into comfortable seating enclaves, shrouded in metallic curtains and offset with tables and funky black and raspberry-colored chairs that give the space a pop of color.
O'Sheehan's Bar (Deck 8, midship): Found in O'Sheehan's restaurant, stop at this bar to pick up a pint that will complement your fries and fajitas.
Topsiders Bar (Deck 12, midship): Located next to Topsiders grill, this is the ship's main pool bar.
Great Outdoors Bar (Deck 12, aft): The Great Outdoors Bar offers plenty of outdoor seating with terrific views of the ship's wake. It's the perfect spot to grab a drink to go with your between-meals snack from the Great Outdoors buffet eatery.
The Pit Stop (Deck 13, forward): Themed after a 1950s-style diner, The Pit Stop functions mainly as a bar but also occasionally offers burgers and fries to accompany your drink of choice. Belly up to the bar to check out jugs of specially mixed drinks with refreshing, fruity ingredients.
Spinnaker Lounge (Deck 13, forward): Spinnaker Lounge functions as Norwegian Jade's nightclub and secondary theater, hosting game shows, trivia and musical performances, as well as the White Hot Party and a Q&A session with the ship's officers, held once per cruise.
Sugarcane (Deck 13, midship): This trendy mojito bar takes up residence in Moderno Churriscaria. It's the ideal spot to grab a pre-dinner drink while killing time before a meal at Moderno or Cagney's, which is just across the hall.
There's just one full-sized pool on Norwegian Jade, and on our April sailing it was overrun with children, as were the three hot tubs flanking it. An additional small pool and hot tub are found in The Haven, but they're reserved for Haven passengers only. A kiddie pool -- the Sapphire Pool -- is available for use by the youngest cruisers on Deck 12, just outside the Guppies play area, but we hardly ever saw it in use. (Kids must be potty trained to use any of the pools.) A tiny wading pool that looks like a giant cartoon version of a shower is hidden on the Deck 13 sun deck; it's so forgotten that it didn't even have water in it.
In addition to shuffleboard courts, Deck 7 is ringed by a promenade that's great for walking; 2 2/3 laps equal 1 mile. If running is more to your liking, check out the jogging track on the outer edges of the aft section of Deck 13. Up there, you'll have to do 5.5 laps for a mile. If you're feeling sporty, follow the jogging track to the ship's basketball court, which also doubles as a spot to play tennis and volleyball. Two giant chessboards and two golf driving nets can also be found on either side of Deck 13.
One floor below on the pool deck, travelers can join in the fun with Ping-Pong tournaments and contests like Mr. Sexy Legs and Miss Biceps. (Check your Freestyle Daily for days and times.)
The pool deck offers ample sun loungers, but on sea days, you might find yourself having to venture up to Deck 13 to find space. However, if you really want some alone time or relative quiet, poke around some of the rarely visited areas on Deck 14, which is so secluded there might not even be chairs available to use. Not to worry: You can drag your own up there or ask a crew member for help.
Found on Deck 7, midship, the guest services desk is where passengers can make restaurant reservations, obtain daily schedules, ask questions about their onboard accounts and obtain new keycards if lost or deactivated.
To the right of guest services are the shore excursions desk and future cruise office, where passengers can go to inquire about ship-sponsored port tours or booking their next voyage. Excursions on our Western Caribbean sailing ranged from kayaking, snorkeling, sightseeing and shopping to swimming with dolphins and tours of Mayan ruins. There are options for a variety of budgets.
Located farther aft on Deck 7 are the photo gallery, art gallery and internet cafe. The photo gallery is where passengers can go to find the photos professional photographers have taken of them throughout each sailing. They can be looked up by cabin number and purchased if desired. In the art gallery, cruisers can peruse works for sale and bid on them at the art auction held on each voyage.
The internet cafe consists of eight desktop computers with headphones. A single printer is available for use; the cost to print is 50 cents per document. The area is manned by an IT professional daily between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon. This is also where cruisers can purchase internet packages, which are 100 minutes for $75 or 250 minutes for $125. Passengers can also purchase unlimited access plans for $29.99 per day; this option is only available for purchase until 10 p.m. on the first day of each sailing, and the fee is charged every day for the duration of the cruise. There's also a pay-as-you-go option that costs 95 cents per minute. We found the speeds to be impressive for a ship, and the connection was reliable, with just a few minor hiccups while we were at sea. A one-time activation fee of $3.95 applies to all internet use, with the exception of the unlimited plan.
Still further aft on Deck 7 is the large onboard shop, which sells duty-free watches and jewelry, cigarettes, perfume and alcohol in addition to logo items, clothing and a small selection of toiletries and snacks.
On Deck 12 forward, just inside off the pool deck, is where the ship's photo studio, game room and library are located. The photography studio is where passengers can make appointments to have professional photos taken. The game room provides several tables and chairs, as well as card and board games for cruisers to use. Unfortunately, the S.S. United States Library is located right next door, and the sounds of raucous fun often bleed over into it from the game room. Due to its proximity to the pool deck down the hall and jogging track above, the library is probably one of the least ideal places to read or work if you're hoping to do either in peace and quiet. A fairly impressive selection of book titles is available for checkout from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on sea days and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on port days; otherwise, they're locked inside glass cases. Should you find yourself bookless and bored, the library is also the place to grab a sudoku puzzle or trivia sheet. There are two desktop computers in the library for passenger use.
Norwegian Jade offers no self-service laundry, but laundry services are available for a fee: $1.95 for underwear, bras and socks; $4.95 for shorts and short-sleeved shirts; $7.95 for jeans. Dry-cleaning is also provided: $19.95 for a two-piece suit or an evening gown; $11.95 for pants, skirts or jackets (men's or women's); $6.95 for dress shirts and blouses. Specials are generally announced on each sailing and might include 50 percent off pressing services or bundled laundry service for a flat fee of $19.95 per bag.
The ship's medical facility is on Deck 4, and three conference rooms can be found on Deck 6. Each holds 20 people, but two of them can be combined to form a larger meeting space. A small chapel is located on Deck 13 forward, just outside of the port side entrance to Spinnaker Lounge. It's used for onboard weddings, but most often it hosts passenger-led prayer services and Friends of Bill W. meetings.
The Mandara Spa, Deck 12 forward, encompasses changing facilities; 22 treatment rooms for both singles and couples; a thermal suite with sauna and steam rooms, a hot tub and a thalassotherapy pool; and a salon that offers hair and nail services.
Treatments are on the pricey side and run the gamut from facials ($119), massages ($119 for 50 minutes) and acupuncture ($150 per 50-minute session) to upstyling (from $49), manicures ($29) and teeth whitening ($149 per session).
Deals are often advertised and might include discounted services on port days, packages that offer several abridged services for one price or a percentage savings for booking multiple treatments at the same time.
The salon also offers a retail section, where passengers can buy products from Elemis, La Therapie and Bliss. If you have a treatment, know that there will be a product pitch at the end unless you specifically request not to have one.
Pulse, the onboard fitness center, Deck 12 forward, is outfitted with TechnoGym equipment and comprises two regular exercise bikes, two recumbent bikes, 11 ellipticals, 14 treadmills, two rowers, various weight machines (shoulder press, quad and glute machines, fixed squat/bench press bar, leg press) and free weights up to 50 pounds.
There's also a small studio with yoga mats, balance balls and foam rollers available for passenger use when for-fee spin ($12), yoga ($12), Pilates ($12), TRX ($20) and boot camp ($35) classes aren't in session. Personal training is also offered at a cost of $45 per 30-minute session.
Free classes are posted, as well, and they include group ab workouts and 1-mile sea-day morning walks.
The facility also encompasses a water fountain, a cooler with chilled towels and men's and women's changing facilities, each with lockers, one shower, one toilet stall and a steam room.
Splash Academy is the collective name for Norwegian's kids clubs. The academy is broken down into four age groups for babies and kids: Guppies (6 months to 2 years), Turtles (3 to 5 years), Seals (6 to 9 years) and Dolphins (10 to 12 years). Teens, ages 13 to 17, have their own space, known as Entourage. All kids and teens facilities are located on Deck 12 midship.
Regular programming is free of charge, but there's a $6-per-child fee for supervision during meals (for kids ages 3 to 12). For parents needing some alone time, there are also late-night group activities available for kids from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at a cost of $6 per child, per hour, and $4 per hour for each additional child in the same family.
For babies, Guppies programming offers a play space that's open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for parents to use with their little ones. Although parents must always be present, there are also staff-run activities scheduled at various times throughout each sailing. Those might include ball play, using building blocks and creating masterpieces with edible paints.
Although kids from ages 3 to 12 years share the same large, colorful space -- complete with tables and chairs, a movie viewing room and plenty of space to run around -- their activities are broken down to an age-appropriate level. Turtles might enjoy finger painting, board games and giant puzzles, while Seals might do themed arts and crafts or play video games. For the Dolphins, there are trivia, video games and sports.
Children 9 and younger must be signed in or out by a family member. Those ages 10 to 12 can sign themselves out after spending a minimum of two hours in the club and knowing where a parent is located.
Teens can come and go as they please from Entourage, which is staffed but much less structured than Splash Academy. Inside, they'll find plenty of alcoves to hang out in, as well as board games, foosball and TVs for watching movies and playing video games. Activities include Battle of the Sexes, dodgeball under the stars, charades, scavenger hunts and dance parties.
Between Splash Academy and Entourage is the ship's arcade, which charges keycards for each play. Gamers will find air hockey, racing games, first-person shooters and claw games where they can try to literally pick up prizes. Parents can limit their children's onboard spending by visiting the guest services desk.