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After saying we weren’t going to do too much at any of our ports of call we changed our minds today and took a trip into Athens. And what’s more Alex came too! He even agreed to get up early to come with us so it was breakfast in the Great Outdoors and then off the ship.
Because the HoHo bus is very convenient and Alex doesn’t pay we again used its services to get us into the main area where we walked to the Acropolis Museum.

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The entrance to the Acropolis Museum

This had been recommended by several people and I can now appreciate why. Tickets were €5 for adults and kids go free. Not only is it a stunning building but it houses some amazing artifacts from the Acropolis. The building totally compliments its contents and is a joy to walk round. Photography is restricted in some areas but there are plenty of places where it is permitted and I managed to get some get shots during the visit.

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Inside the Acropolis Museum

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We had quickly bookmarked a couple of sites to visit and set off for the other which was the Agora. Not the best signposted site in the world but we did eventually make our way there. €4 each to get in and again Alex was free.  We wandered round eventually reaching the Temple of Hephaestus for the quick photo stop.

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Temple of Hephaestus, Agora

By now Alex was flagging so we counted or blessings that he had actually got this far and opted to go back and have saved the museum for another visit along with several other places not yet seen. We were off the ship for just over 6 hours in total and mush of that time was spent in the Acropolis Museum.
Back on board we dumped much of our things back in the cabin before going for à late lunch in the buffet where we easily managed to get some seats outside in the sun. The rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping it all off up on our favourite deck where we found ourselves to be all on our own. The sun eventually turning to thick cloud at the later end of the day and we even felt a few spots of rain while sailing way from Piraeus.
I am posting earlier today as I have a few moments spare. The Wi-Fi has been very temperamental so perhaps posing at a different time of day will be more successful.

The clocks went forward an hour during the night so we lost a vital hours sleep. We were awake at around 9:00am (new time) and started the day with a coffee made with the cabins own filter machine. Not the best coffee in the world but more than acceptable for first thing in the morning. There are a couple of sachets of regular or decaffeinated which are replenished every day when the cabin is made up. The regular being the pick of the two.
We again ate our breakfast at the Great Outdoors which was a little busier this morning but the main difference today was we had clearish skies and bright sunshine. Then it was straight up to our adopted sun deck to make the most of the weather and as predicted this was the quietest of the sun decks. With clear blue skies and a wonderful sea breeze it has been a perfect sea day for us. The only other thing to report during the afternoon was that of a solo Japanese male passenger who was wearing bright blue budgie smugglers and his constant need to arrange everything. This he did with his T-shirt over his head so if he couldn’t see us then presumably we couldn’t see him either!

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The only other interruption to the days non activity was a spot of lunch which was taken in the buffet and being as it was a sea day the tables in the a Great Outdoors were well sought after and unfortunately we didn’t manage to grab onand had to settle for an indoor spot in La Cucina which is used for buffet seating during the day but takes on its primary roll as an Italian restaurant in the evening. The carpet in there has been made to resemble flag stones and is quite strange to walk on.
We again ate in the Grand Pacific dining room opting to go before the show which tonight was called “Just Magic” and featured the illusions of Jorgos (renowned on world stages no less!) I am always dubious when the billing reads like that and tonight my preconceived notions were spot on. That’s an hour of my life I won’t get back!
We walke along the open decks back to the cabin and the ship looks quite spectacular all lit up in the dark.
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Tomorrow we are in Piraeus………

It was most welcome that today we were not in port first thing and we all were able to have a bit of a lie in. In fact it was quite a leisurely morning where we eventually went for breakfast around 10:30 which we enjoyed sat out the back in the open in an area called The Great Outdoors.  Partially cloudy but nice and warm and much better than yesterday’s downpours.

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Arriving at a cloudy Dubrovnik

We arrived at Dubrovnik at just before 2:00pm and were very soon given the all clear to leave the ship. Having been to Dubrovnik several times before and with another visit lined up in September we set off with the aim of taking the cable car up to the viewing area of Mount Srd for the panorama. Well when we arrived at the bottom, the cable car service had been suspended due to the strong winds but there were plenty of taxis on hand all offering a trip to the top and back for a very comparative fee and so we decided that was what we would do. I think if I am honest it’s probably a better way of getting up there and certainly more comfortable.

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Dubrovnik from the top of Mount Srd

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As suspected the views from the top are quite stunning and we spent a good 30 minutes up there taking photos and taking in the scenery. Our taxi driver John was waiting to take us down, the downward journey took a while longer as there is only a single track road which is for traffic going both ways. It does get a bit hairy in places when you meet something coming the other way on one of the bends but our driver seemed well tuned to what was needed and actually told us we were his 6th fare of the day up that particular route.
Once down we had a quick stroll round the town before returning to the ship, we can do some other things next time we are here but being as the sun was was out and skies were blue we thought we should go back and make the most of it along with the free food and drink. The town was also very busy and we couldn’t really be bothered with fighting for a bit of space with everyone else. 

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Once back to the ship we made our way up to the quiet sun deck we have found which is on top of the Haven area, so far we have seen only a handful of people apart from us that have gone up there. If the weather permits is going to be our spot. 
We opted to eat in the Grand Pacific Dining room tonight and were very impressed with both the service and food. We followed this up by a visit to the Stardust Theatre where we enjoyed the show which were acrobats Yuriy & Iryna from Kiev. It was a very entertaining show of acrobatics.

After a quick walk round the upper decks and a look in the different bars we have decided to retire for the evening and prepare for our busy sea day tomorrow……….

Yet another early start for us today as we made our way to Venice and the Norwegian Jade. We were up at 2:30 to make the 126 mile journey to Heathrow’s T5 where we caught or British Airways A320 to Marco Polo airport in Venice. It was bright sunshine when we left Heathrow but this was not the case in Venice as it was pouring down and it meant we had to sit inside our water taxi on the trip across the lagoon.
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The nice thing about the water taxi was it delivered us right next to our birth at the cruise terminal and after a short walk we were back in the dry again all ready to check in.
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This wasn’t the quickest we have done and it took just over an hour for us to get onboard where we found or cabin was ready and waiting for us. First impressions are very good and it is a good sized cabin with plenty of space and storage. We even have a bath which is a bit of a rarity for us.
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We also had a good look round the ship and think we are going to really enjoy this cruise as the public spaces are very open, plentiful and very colourful, especially the carpets!
Muster was at 5:00 and our station was in the Pacific dining room and I have to say it was the the best one I have ever been present at. Well done NCL!
Sailaway was at 6:00 and despite having sailed out of Venice on the previous occasions I still could not resist taking a fourth batch of photos. It’s that kind of place.

We have all retired early tonight due to the early start so it’s just down to me to test the Wi-Fi out and pray it works OK.

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Wansbroughs Digital Postcards from the Norwegian Jade

At the start of the year we thought a cruise for us in 2015 was well off the radar but after a change in direction with regards to our future plans, the opportunity for us to be able take a cruise materialised and so we leapt at the chance to take Alex away for half term at the end of May. The only 7 day itinerary we could find in the Mediterranean with a cruise line of our liking and which also fitted with the dates was on the Norwegian Jade so I sent out the usual enquiries to the various agents that have served us well in the past. To be honest there wasn’t a great deal of difference in price between them but I eventually chose the cheapest one which was with a US agent that we have used several times previously. The booking was for cruise only and by the time the flights were added in it worked out £200 cheaper than those of our home based agents could offer.
After being notified of a price drop by an e-mail alert from www.cruisefish.net in early February I contacted our TA and managed to get the 3rd person in the cabin free plus all 3 of us benefited from an all inclusive drinks package.
We have read so many good things about the Norwegian Jade and are really looking forward to experiencing the ship for ourselves, the itinerary is not the most exciting but it will hopefully provide us with a nice break and with a bit of good fortune some warm sunshine. It starts in Venice and ports at Dubrovnik, Piraeus, Kusadasi & Split before returning to Venice. We have nothing planned at any of the stops with the exception of Split where we are hoping to visit the Krka National Park and because this will be a tender port along with the fact we are due to be there for only 7 hours it will unusually for us mean we will likely opt for a ships tour.
Being totally frank, this cruise is an any excuse to take a cruise and with half term and taking Alex away it just fitted the bill nicely so we are basically just looking for a bit of R & R and we fully intend not to do too much rushing around so don’t expect there to be loads of exciting details of exotic and adventurous land excursions. Much of what I post will probably be our day to experiences on board with a few photos to embellish the posts. (So its just the usual stuff really)

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Saturday, May 23, 2015 Venice, Italy 06:00 PM
Sunday, May 24, 2015 Dubrovnik, Croatia 02:00 PM 09:00 PM
Monday, May 25, 2015 At Sea
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Piraeus (Athens), Greece 07:00 AM 05:00 PM
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 Kusadasi, Turkey 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
Thursday, May 28, 2015 At Sea
Friday, May 29, 2015 Split, Croatia 11:00 AM 06:00 PM
Saturday, May 30, 2015 Venice, Italy 08:00 AM

A map of our Norwegian Jade itinerary

Our cabin selection was made with the consideration that it needed to be large enough for 3 of us and we thought that what NCL have called a mini suite would be a good choice. After reading a couple of reviews on the Cruising Mates Forum and then passing a few PM’s back and forth with the reviewer at the same time as consulting the deck plans we eventually opted for a Cat MB suite which is situated towards the aft of the ship. The reason we chose this grade is that the MA mini suites all appear to suffer from an overhang but the MB’s don’t and being as we like our sun we opted for the latter. The space given for this cabin is given as 26.5 M² which is roughly 6 M² bigger than the last cabin we shared with Alex last August on the Celebrity Reflection.

Norwegian Jade Cabin Location

 I always like to have a look at what other ships we might encounter on the cruise and the timetables are suggesting that we will see MSC Poesia in Venice, Splendour Of The Seas in Dubrovnik, Celebrity Reflection in Piraeus and Norwegian Spirit in Kusadasi.

The morning has finally arrived where we have to get off and go home. We arrived alongside at just after 5:00 this morning and left the cabin at 8:00 and headed for the buffet instead of the dining room as planned. As there are some 200 passengers who got on at Malaga we thought that there is no way they would shut the buffet.
So just to use up some of my remaining internet minutes I will post a couple of photos from this morning.

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Arrival at Barcelona

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A chilly Barcelona

So until the next one…….

Last nights entertainment in the theatre was a fantastic show combining several of the acts and it was called Elements, It featured the illusionists, the acrobatic duo along with the ships cast and was a real visual treat which depicted the elements such as fire, wind, rain etc… It finished with the usual crew gathering on stage and I have to say it was all put together really well.

On our last day of this cruise we were finally treated to some sunshine. We have had virtually clear blue skies all day and if you could find a spot out of the wind then it was lovely. Better late than never, its just a shame the skies weren’t like this is the Canary Islands as it would have been perfect.

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Blue Skies for breakfast

We finished the afternoon off with some coffee and cake at The Cafe in the atrium and then a couple of laps of the lovely wrap around prom deck that this ship has before heading back up to the cabin for the dreaded packing.

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We have been given the option of carrying our own luggage off which is something we did last time on NCL in Barcelona and this will hopefully buy us a little more time on the ship before our transport is due to arrive at 10:00. According to the daily programme the absolute last person must be off by 9:30, the downside is the buffet and restaurants will close at 8:30. Our plan is to use the restaurant an stay until they chuck us out.

We arrived at a sunny Malaga at 9:00 this morning and were sat on a coach by 9:15 ready for a tour organised by one of the members of our Cruise Critic Roll call to Granada and specifically the Alhambra Palace. The journey took around 2 hours and when we arrived we were met by our guide Danny who was waiting to give us our two and half hour tour of the complex.
Once again the clouds followed us but this didn’t bother us too much today as there was plenty to take our minds off the weather. All tickets to Alhambra have to be pre booked as there are no tickets available on the day. There were 16 of us on the tour which made for quick and easy navigation of the site.
The Alhambra Palace for want of a better description is simply quite stunning and the detailing is simply amazing.

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I have taken so many photos today is extremely difficult to select just a few to post here, I would try and post a few more but every time I try and upload more than 3 the process throws a wobbly and also it is quite difficult to try and piece together a quick account of our tour so at this time I am not even going to try and attempt to.
All aboard by 6:30 and our tour had us back at the port for 6:00 and tonight we have actually felt like we have done something worthwhile with our day.
Suffice to say this has probably been the best day of cruise so far and we have a really good day. A sea day tomorrow followed by disembarkation on Saturday morning so all of a sudden the cruise is nearly over.

This was our third sea day on this cruise and the first on our return leg back to Barcelona. All of a sudden time seems to have flown by and it only seems a few days ago that we were embarking.
The clouds have continued to follow us but we did get some brief sunny intervals around midday when were able to sit up on deck. The prize areas being those out of the wind of which we were lucky enough to find one.

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Blue skies over the ship

The weather even held out long enough for a poolside BBQ at lunch time which was relatively well attended,  however the weather had the last laugh as soon after 1:30 the clouds took control yet again and even produced a few showers for us.
Because of this we ended up watching the Crew Talent Show in the theatre which was almost full, nice for the performers to play in front of a full house but not the way I intended to spending my afternoon. The talent included several singers, a guitarist, one of those swirly ribbon dancers, a Salsa dancer and a drag queen who mimed two songs!. Two other other acts were made up from the entertainment staff.

As with all of the NCL fleet there are various speciality restaurants on board along with the complimentary ones. The free ones for want of a better name are called Windows & Garden and both are located on deck 6, the larger of the 2 (Windows) is located at the aft while the other is midship. We have so far favoured Windows as this one at least requires the gents to wear trousers in the evening and we have always like to put something smart on when going out to dinner. All of the restaurants are what NCL call Freestyle Dining which basically means you can turn up when you want. We have never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table so from our perspective it works quite well. The food too has been good but a little inconsistent, some of it being exceptional while others very lacking indeed. The service too has been excellent and NCL have obviously fine tuned this style of eating to perfection and it is really fascinating to watch the tables being reset ready for the next diners. We thought they must have been influenced by formula one tyre changes.
For the speciality restaurants you are advised to book and the one that everybody seems to be favouring is Teppanyaki ($25 cover charge) which is Japanese style cuisine prepared in front of you. The other restaurants include Sushi, La Trattoria (Classic Italian cuisine with a $15 cover), Shogun which is described as an Asian fusion ($15 cover), Le Bistro ($20 cover) French Gourmet, Cagney’s ($30 cover) American Steakhouse. None of the following have been able to tempt us as we are more than happy with the complimentary food.

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The dark clouds gather again at the end of the day

Tomorrow is Malaga and we have tour lined up regardless of what the weather does.

The weather on this cruise has certainly played its part in what we have done and today was no exception. On our sail in we had beautiful blue skies but were not surprised to see the island covered in clouds. The forecast the previous night was 71F and sunny but this I think was a little optimistic.

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Arrival at a cloudy Arrecife

After breakfast we decided to catch the free shuttle into town and go for a walk. Our shuttle bus stop dropped us a good 10 minutes outside of the town which I thought was really odd as there are loads of places where the stop could have been placed near the beach.

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Arrecife Beach

As we walked the clouds dissipated and for the first time on this cruise the weather was really nice, we managed to walk up to the Aqua Park before turning round to head back, stopping along the way for some liquid refreshment along the way.
A this point thought that we should go back to the ship and make the most of the weather and the fact the ship would be quiet but as we were making our way back the clouds started to appear again and by the time we arrived back at the ship it was overcast again.

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Clouding over on our way back to the ship

We spoke to a local man on our return leg as there were loads of huge puddles everywhere and we were curious as to when it had rained so heavily, he told us that the weather had been bad for the last 20 days or so and it was very unusual for it to be like this. I guess we have just been really unlucky on this cruise with the weather, it hasn’t stopped us enjoying it but it has had a major impact on what we have decided to do.

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Sailaway from a cloudy and miserable looking Arrecife

Tomorrow is a sea day and fingers crossed that the winds have died down and that we get a calmer passage back to the Mediterranean.

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