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Review of the Norwegian Jade

Any review of the Norwegian Jade has to touch upon its history. Originally christened the Pride of Hawaii, Norwegian Cruise Lines bought the ship in 2008 and renamed it the Jade. That makes the Jade one of the oldest and smallest ships in the fleet with an awkward layout to match. Because the ship predates the company’s shift toward unique shipboard amenities, passengers tend to book for the itinerary, not for the onboard experience. The ship lacks distinctive bar spaces and most of the newer restaurants, although it does include the better-known specialty dining venues.

I booked an Aft-Facing Penthouse Suite. Below, you will find a review of that cabin.

Read more: Review of the Norwegian Jade

My experience aboard the Jade was colored in part by my stateroom level. Although the Jade has a small Haven area, it doesn’t include its own restaurant, one of the major reasons to book the Haven. We decided instead on an Aft Penthouse Suite, one level below The Haven. The room comes with many of the same perks but for a lesser cost. Once outside our cabin and beyond the perks that come with it, we also experienced the ship as it is for all passengers.

A General Review of the Jade

The ship’s size allows it to dock at smaller ports, enabling passengers to see things not possible on the larger ships. We did a cruise out of Athens that docked at Greek, Turkish, Israeli (before the war), and Cypriot ports.

If you want to walk through public spaces instead of down long stateroom corridors, the ship can be difficult to navigate. Especially because we stayed at the back of the ship, we had to learn how to maneuver to across it. Sometimes you’ll find that a public deck gets blocked midship by a restaurant. Or you’ll find you need to cross the Garden Café on deck 12 where they require you to wash your hands, even to walk straight through.

For better or worse, the Norwegian Jade doesn’t have as many kid-friendlyactivities as do some of the larger ships. Maybe because of this, the passengers skew older. Still the Jade has a Splash Academy and pools.

Aft-Facing Penthouse Suite

The jump between a Norwegian Cruise Lines mini-suite to a full suite (sometimes called a “family suite” or a “penthouse”) is enormous. The size of our room was the equivalent of any Haven room we’ve stayed in. It also comes with personalized concierge and butler service — more on that later. You also get a pre-cruise concierge available by phone or email, just as you would if you had booked The Haven.

I appreciated the café table and three chairs since it had plenty of room even after the butler delivered the daily snacks.

Although our suite was roomy and comfortable, we probably wouldn’t book an aft-facing room of any class again. This is our second time in an aft-facing penthouse, but we booked this one before we had stayed in the other. When the captain backs into a port, you get a lot of shuddering and noise, often at 4 am. Plus, on the Jade, the aft-tilted smoke stacks spew small globs of grease or oil that can end up on the balcony furniture. It’s pretty disgusting and probably a sign of an older ship despite refurbishment.

Our particular suite included a “large balcony.” I loved ours. Especially in the morning and evening, we enjoyed sittng there and sipping coffee or wine. It’s too bad that our chairs were often spotted with oil. We learned to flip up the cushions when we weren’t using them.

Bed and Linens

The high king-sized bed is comfortable and soft. The white comforter and sheet feel cozy and look pristine. You also get four down pillows. If you have an allergy to feathers, you may ask the pre-cruise concierge or, once on ship, your butler, to exchange them for a non-down alternative.

The suite includes a chair-and-a-half that can be pulled out into a single bed. Heavy curtains can be pulled around the king bed for privacy, but it also cuts off the bathroom for whoever is sleeping on the pull-out.


The bathroom, while much better than those in smaller cabins, falls short of The Haven bathrooms on Norwegian’s newest ships. It has a single sink with modest counter space around it.

Based on my experience in The Haven and suites on more recent ships, Norwegian has swapped out individual toiletries for wall-mounted ones. I dislike this change since individual toiletries make staterooms seem more like luxury hotel rooms. At least they still use L’Occitane products.

Bathtub and shower

The bathtub/shower combo drove me crazy because the tub was so high. I had a hip problem, and it wasn’t easy getting in and out of it. Getting in posed less of a problem because the shower wall had a bar to steady me in case I ran into trouble. Getting out was more dangerous, especially since the floor was lower than the bathtub bottom. (If you have hip or knee problems, you probably understand why a high tub with a shower door runner on the edge could cause issues.)

Other Stateroom Furnishings

As with The Haven, you will have a Nespresso machine with as many capsules as you want. You see free movies on the large screen television, although as is the case with many of the smaller ships, you don’t have movies on demand. You see what is available, even if the film is halfway through.

The Aft-Facing Penthouse included a small, round table with three chairs; a built-in desk with an ottoman-like chair; and two small bedside tables with shelves underneath.

In one of the more unique touches, Norwegian squeezed in a vanity between the bathroom and the closets, with a stool. The three drawers next to the stool opening provide invaluable storage.

Electrical Outlets

All outlets were American, not European, and 110 volts. Regardless, you should take an adapter, just in case.

One of my pet peeves in hotel room is a lack of outlets for two people to charge multiple devices. Our suite on the Jade had the same problem. Although each bedside wall lamp has a USB port, most people will find it inadequate if they have both a smart watch and a phone they want next to the bed.

The desk had a single outlet that my husband used to plug in his laptop and his watch from there. I found an outlet in the corner, near the floor, that I could use for my tablet.

Steward, Butler, and Concierge

The steward, just as all the stewards across the ship, are the equivalent of hoursekeeping at a hotel. They take care of keeping the room clean, replacing towels and linens, and any maintenance problems.

The butler delivers daily snacks, ship invitations, and takes care of your general comfort. If you order room service, the butler will set up your table and deliver your meal. We always make a pre-cruise request to have M&Ms in our room, and the butler sees that they are there when we board. Butlers will take special requests for anything that has to do with your room. They do not wait on you exclusively but rather have several staterooms assigned to them.

The suite concierges help with excursions, reservations at entertainment venues, and dining reservations. They escort you to gangways at port and when you disembark so you don’t have to wait in line. They take care of anything that happens outside of your stateroom.

If you stay in a suite, either in the Haven or separately, as we did, you’ll have to bring lots of extra cash for tipping. While gratuitites are generally pre-paid at time of booking, the butler and concierge do not get a share of that pool. We generally give the butler $20/day, and the concierge(s) $10/day. Obviously, these gratuities can be adjusted up or down depending on service.

The Verdict

Even though the Jade is far from my favorite ship in the Norwegian fleet, we enjoyed our cruise nonetheless. If you can afford a true suite, then go for it. I suspect the even more expensive Haven rooms aren’t worth it, simply because the Jade does not have a dedicated restaurant and lounge. For a comparison of what a Haven stateroom looks like, click here for my experience on the Norwegian Joy.

For us, we chose the Jade because of the scheduled destinations. This smaller ship (it’s still not small!) allowed us to see things we would not have been able to see otherwise.

Debbie Lee Wesselmann

By Debbie Lee Wesselmann

I am a world traveler, foodie, and the author of three works of fiction: Captivity, Trutor & the Balloonist, and The Earth and the Sky.