My wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise on the NCL Pearl last September and had such a great time, we decided to go on a Mediterranian cruise this year. We also decided to include three of our adult children as well. We booked through NCL and our cruise advisor was attentive throughout the process, which included getting us additional deals as the price of the cruise changed. As a preface, because we had never been to Europe before, we spent a week in London and Rome prior to the cruise which was the icing on the cake to a great vacation.
Embarkation: We stayed in Rome prior to boarding in Civitavecchia. We used Shore Excursions in Rome for the transfer which we shared with an another couple. Although we were aware that the same cruise also used a Barcelona to Barcelona itinerary, we were not aware that more than 3/4 of the ship used that itinerary. As a result there were very few people at check in when we arrived at noon. Check in was a breeze and we on board within minutes of our arrival.
The Rooms: With five in our party we had three cabins. One large balcony, one inside stateroom and one studio. From reading past reviews and the NCL website, the unique nature of the rooms was no surprise. My wife and I were in the large balcony of course and it was a beautifu room although a little tight in going end to end. The one disappointment was our balcony. It was not a true balcony because we were forward so part of the ship's structure covered our balcony and we were left with a large picture window. If I had been informed of this beforehand, I would have chosen another balcony because it did not offer a true balcony experience. Our two boys ages 24 and 19 shared an inside room on deck 9 forward. There room was directly above Bliss and the theater and they could hear loud music into the early morning hours. I would recommend against these rooms. They were able to switch to another room the next night fortunately. Our 26 year old daughter had a studio and she loved the moderness of it.
The Food: We were quite pleased with our dining choices. We ate at Manhatten three times, Taste once, Shehann's once, Moderno once and had dinner at Cirque. We had breakfast every morning in the buffet. The "free" restaurants had nice selections and we were happy with the service. Shehann's was okay, basic pub food. If you like Brazilian Style Steakhouses, we would highly recommend Moderno, that was a fun experience.
Entertainment. We loved the Legends Show. The impersonations were spot on. Certainly the highlight was Cirque Dreams. We had priority seating so we were close to the action. Two of our children got pulled on stage to be part of the show and they had a great time. Highly recommend this show. Perhaps the greatest disappointment of the cruise was the Blue Man Group. My wife had seen them in Vegas, but this show was very different, perhaps because of limitations of the stage. In any event we all thought it was quite boring. We didn't stay and listen to any of the muscians for any lenghth of time, but there are all types of music around and it all sounded good. We also did a beer tasting which was fun for me and my boys. We also did the Ice Bar. Entry was $20 which included two drinks. It was very cold. It should be tried once. Overall I was surprised that the price of alcohol wasn't as bad as I expected.
Overall Ambience: The ship is a little large for our tastes, but we still enjoyed ourselves. We had seen prior comments about the amount of smoke in the casino but we didn't notice it. We saw plenty of air filters.
The pools: Because we were in port all but one day we didn't spend much time at the pools. All of the pools were quite small especially for a large ship. We spent most of the time at the adult pool Spice H20 and it was nice not having screaming children around. We did do the water slides and for a cruise ship they were quite amazing. On the sea day it was difficult finding a lounge chair, but we didn't realize until it was too late that there are upper adult only decks that had plenty of seating.
Ports: discuss below
Disembarkation: The saddest day of course, but it went smoothly.