Used Airberlin from JFK to Rome. Also convinced hubby to use Supertrans shuttle from South Jersey. Glad we did - traffic was a mess on the way to JFK. One warning though - Supertrans did leave passengers. Shuttle waited until 9:00 p.m. (last pick up). They check flight schedule - no delays and did not get a call from the passengers. Hopefully they were not stranded - just changed plans.
Stayed in Rome a few nights before cruise. Forum area - Downtown Accommodations. It was a B&B with private bathroom and a nice breakfast tray delivered by the owner every morning. Was great area to stay, lots of restaurants, stores. Did what the locals do, sat by a local fountain, sipping wine from plastic cups (can purchase and they open and provide the stemware). Also tried roasted chicken potato chips (don't knock it until you try it). Reserved a garden tour at Vatican which saved what looked like hours in line. Did Coliseum and Forum; Trevi fountain and Spanish steps and could still use more time in Rome.
Used Pleasant Travel for transport from Rome to port with 14 others from cruise critic. Was relatively painless to set up, and you get to meet nice people. Pleasant Travel got us to the port timely. Embark was easy, breezy. Also had the ship just about to ourselves (meaning the Rome contingent) while others touring Rome. BUT - be forewarned - when we got to Barcelona it was a completely different story - there were almost no services available to us. We did not even have the buffet (we were too late at 10:00 a.m.) and our only option was express breakfast at O'Sheehans. There were even hallways shut off leaving our cabin. Also when we got back on the ship from touring Barcelona - there were muster drills being arranged and we literally could not even get a drink. We were with our besties for the week, Toni and Mike (I first met Toni on cruise critic, and she and Mike joined in port transport and Florence excursion - we saw them everywhere even though there were 4000 others board - and enjoyed food, drink and laughs all week long) and it was not until we got an officer involved - who was annoyed that the staff would not serve us - that we got a drink. We were given stickers to wear but that did not help. We also had issues with disembarking - not being able to get elevators, staff tried to stop me from disembarking with luggage even though it was suggested by other staff members. Ugh. Others on our airport transfer (Nancy and family - hi again). also had a lot of trouble getting off. Hopefully Norwegian will work the hiccups out.
Food and cocktails were good. Buffet was especially good (and hubby does not like buffets). Try the fruit soups and Indian station. Did a couple of specialty restaurants - but really Manhattan and Taste were good.
Did not like the room layout - was annoying climbing over the bed all the time. I tried to get bed by balcony but TA said all gone. The bathroom was okay though - just keep your door locked when in use. We did sneak some peeks into interior cabins - they were roomy - if you really don't need the balcony - save the money and get an interior.
Would recommend that you join roll call. I met some very nice people there. Thanks to UK Jay and Debbie, Brandy and her girls for setting up the Italy excursions. Another tidbit - when doing Rome embark - remember to look on roll calls before and after your cruise - that is where we hooked up for our excursions - there was not so much activity on our particular board.
Special hello to Gary and Stef (the Brits referenced below) - thanks again for my newfound knowledge of jewelry (wink). What do you get when you mix Brits, Yanks and Aussies - lots of laughs.
Enjoyed the martini tasting and Ice bar (again with Toni and Mike - the Aussies referenced above). Liked the itinerary but not the ship layout so much although may do a different ship Norwegian another time.
Hoping to be able to keep in touch with the friends we made.