Before the Cruise we stayed in a nice hotel in Barcelona, we searched Trip Advisor for the best locations/price. Any hotel on La's Rambles will be great and offered my son (13) and I (47), a great place to walk,people watch and eat. We purchased a double Decker bus ticket(On and off type for the entire day), from a vendor on La's Rambles. We had the best meal of our entire trip at a small restaurant on this strip (I wish I could remember the name, sorry).
Embarkation was very smooth, at most 15 minutes. I was fearful handing over our passports for the cruise line to hold but it truly was necessary due to the number of ports being visited (to my son's dismay France and Greece are not stamped on our passports).
We had an inside stateroom which was extremely clean,the cleanest I have ever had on a ship....I am a clean freak and have cruised several lines before.We had ordered water and juice as well as a surprise cake for my son-all of which were waiting for us.The room was mid ship and very quiet/little rocking or ship type movements were noted Our Attendant was very kind and courteous, provided anything we needed.
The food in the main dining room was good/not excellent.We only attended dinner once-opting for Chops or Giovanni's the other evenings (both were very good)< the best cruise dinner food we had was Azumi. The place I did not pre- reserve prior to our trip because I was not much of a sushi fan...It was wonderful...I had a filet/lobster sushi with champaign sauce that I absolutely loved. My son enjoyed the filet he cooked himself on a lava rock brought to the table...I can't say enough for the staff there and in all of the dining rooms.
The shows were better than any of the cruise lines I had been on- but we were so tired from the port intensive tours we didn't see all of them. They had an acrobatic team perform high above the main ship deck a couple of evenings which was exciting to watch.
The ports.Because this was a trip of a lifetime for my son and I, I purchased every intensive excursion from Royal Carribean pre cruise. As I investigated (Trip Advisor), via a few of the posts on Cruisecritic, I realized there were some options which would not only save us money, but keep our group small.In Italy only, we used Share a Tour (Trip advisor). It was fantatstic, much cheaper than the cruise line, only 6-8 people with a tourguide or "driver". One example was Pompei- our driver had set up a tour guide at the Pompei site which bypassed every line (even the royal carribean ship tours). Having done both the ship tours and the seperate tours I would definately use the "Share a Tour" again. They were fantastic and much less expensive.
Disembarkation was very smooth-it took us some time to get our bearings as there is no one to help you figure out where to go once off the ship- luckily there were signs to help in Venice and we were staying in St. Mark's square- which was easily accessed via water bus.