After taking a family cruse, my husband and I wanted to go on another with just the two of us. Being relatively new to cruising unlike our highly-esteemed salty pirate friend MJ on Travel, we scoured website after website for just the right deal. We knew we wanted a balcony, and that we wanted something fairly inexpensive. But there were so many choices, how to decide?
We spent lots of time on Cruise Critic, which is a great site for finding out about specific rooms, ships, food, etc. We read up on the latest Cruise happenings via MJ on Travel. We went to individual cruise line websites, and determined that most of them sucked. Once we zeroed in on Norwegian, we found that Norwegian Cruise Line’s United States website is clunky but their European one is much better.
Finally, we hit on a gem – the Norwegian Jade, for an Eastern European 10-day journey.
Isola di Stromboli
We’d start at Civitavecchia (Rome), have a day at sea, then stop at the ports of Olympia Greece, Athens Greece, Kusadasi Turkey, Istanbul Turkey with an overnight stop, Naples/Pompeii Italy, then back to Civitavecchia (Rome). The beautiful blue seas would be our view every night, and every day would be a chance to explore.
Map of our itinerary
Plus, the price was very low. When all was said and done, the cost for both of us in a BB/GTY (guaranteed balcony where they choose the room for you) including taxes, port fees, etc. would be just over $1000. Including a $200 on-board credit.
Sold! We booked the trip directly through Norwegian rather than using a travel agent. The giddiness of booking a trip kicked in, and I pictured us sitting on the balcony watching the sunset while enjoying a decadent dessert and a glass of champagne.
Dessert on the balcony
Then something happened that I’d only heard whispers about online. My awesome mom had called Norwegian to arrange a gift for my husband and I while on the ship. Before she hung up the phone she handed it to me and I took the receiver, puzzled. The agent on the other line verified my information and then asked me the question that cruisers everywhere want to hear…would we like to buy up? For little more than the price of our onboard credit we had the chance to move from a regular balcony stateroom to a suite. Not just the mini-suite, mind you, but a full suite.
Balcony Room screengrab from NCL’s website
Aft-Facing Penthouse Suite screengrab from NCL’s website
Of course I said yes. It would have been foolish to turn down an offer like that! Since we would be in a “full suite” that meant all of a sudden that our onboard credit increased to $300 plus we’d be getting free specialty restaurant dining for the entire cruise with the Ultimate Dining Package, free alcoholic drinks with the Ultimate Beverage Package, plus butler and concierge service. Amazing.
We didn’t want to pay a ton for excursions and decided to do our own thing in every port, foregoing all organized tours and paying a lot less. It would take some careful planning but we were up for the challenge.
Here are some of the things I’ll cover in this trip report –
Hotel Review: Hilton Rome
Taking the long way to the port
Review: Jade Penthouse Suite 10166
Day in Olympia, Greece
Day in Piraeus, Athens Greece
Day in Kusadasi, Turkey
Hotel Review: Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Day in Naples/Pompeii, Italy
Hotel Review: Hotel Holiday Bolsena
Follow along with me on our Eastern Mediterranean Norwegian Jade cruise!