NCL transfer from airport to hotel in Barcelona - this was not what I was expecting. We paid for the NCL transfer from the airport to the hotel booked through NCL. There was an NCL agent when we arrived who was very nice. Though all he did was bring us out to the hotel shuttle area to wait in line for the already running shuttle for the hotel. There was no benefit no skipping lines or priority we could have done this on our own.
The hotel Renaissance in Barcelona was very nice. We were not in the heart of it but they did run an inexpensive shuttle down to la rambla and back so no taxi was required. If we were to do it again we would book the hotel separate from the cruise and take care of our own arrangements.
The transfer from the hotel to the port was very easy and nice. Got there before the rush of it all and checked in and unloaded our luggage. The only upsetting piece was that we had to wait in the terminal until we could get on the ship. We were so close to town and would have liked to go back in but there was no shuttle running over the bridge. So to pay for a taxi once we had paid for a transfer was frustrating.
Check in was very easy and seamless. The terminal was nice and had some cute shops.
I had read on CC that we would be able to bring on our own water and soda. We were told at the terminal we could not. Good thing we brought a Brita water bottle so that we could filter our water each day to take with us. This is an Inexpensive way to have fresh water and not pay $4.50 for each bottle a day.
Since it was our honeymoon and 1st year anniversary we decided to purchase the wine package that is available when you arrive we got the middle package of 8 wines. ( you can pick a 4, 6 or 8 bottles in three different price tiers). We ended up saving $8 per bottle doing it this way. We felt it was a great deal for us as we like to enology wine with dinner or on our balcony. you can bring the wine with you to lounges, the dining room, special dining restaurants or fill your glasses up and wonder the ship. They are all delivered to your room the day of embarkation with a cork screw so you can enjoy them when you wish and not pay a corkage fee. ( you can bring on wine at ports but have to pay $15 for each bottle corkage to be able to consume it on board).
We had a cruise critic unofficial meet up on the first day as we all wanted to get to know each other. The ship had arranged an official one on the first sea day but that was many days into the cruise. Many of us were taking tours with each other and wanted to meet everyone first. The staff went all out for our meet up but they didn't put it in the newspaper to remind everyone. There were about 70 of us on board and only 6 came to the meet up because it was so late in the cruise and people had forgotten by then. So it made us look pretty disorganized when we were a pretty organized group. There were many officers there and they all were very nice but it was awkward as there were more of them than us. Though they were very attentive to our needs and questions. The food and beverage manger Ivo and the bar manager------ were wonderful as we saw them throughout the cruise.
We felt the food on board was wonderful. I have seen bad reviews but we always got food the way we liked it and even some special considerations when it came to likes and dislikes. The chefs table was wonderful well worth the price and time. What an experience. Wine dinner paired with wonderful food with personal attention. This was $75pp 9 course meal with pre dinner champagne, two whites and one red at dinner with coffee and after dinner drink. Each course was explained by the executive chef and the wine experts.
I have seen reviews that said the buffet food was not great. We thought it was just fine for the selection we received. The pretzel bread was awesome. Though there was one thing always missing sweet and sour sauce for the chicken tenders :) . Having the option with 24 hour food from the Blue Lagoon was very nice, we love late night snacks! One of the best kept secrets is when you dine at one of the specialty restaurants before 6pm you receive a complimentary bottle of wine white or red. It was a great way to score a free bottle of wine. We dined in La Trottoria one evening and it was very good. The others we did not try because of the cost involved and many times we could get the same food in Windows. We did not try the garden either because we like to dress up for dinner and not have as many kids around.
On the subject of kids. We do not have any and do not really want to be around them either. We checked out the kids area with the pool and hot tub. Looked like fun for up to about 11 years of age. The main pool had signs that said no kids but then had other signs saying that it was ok if they weren't accompanied by an adult. This was confusing and frustrating as you had to share the pool and hot tubs with kids and annoying and rude teenagers. This should have been more strictly enforced. Also there were many kids who were unsupervised running around and getting in the way of the adults. There needs to be more control by parents and they need to be aware of it upfront. We left the lounges and bars many times to move to other locations because they had been overrun by teenagers being loud, swearing and all around disrespectful. This was too bad as we would have ordered another drink and enjoyed the evening. So in my opinion there should be more defined rules and areas regarding kids and teens.
Passengers pay a lot of money to be on these trips and to have the trip interrupted by unruly teens and kids devalues the experience.
It was great to see the officers around the ship. I did wish that the cruise director would have looked more professional in her officers uniform. It was hard to spot her on the ship as she blended in with everyone else walking by.
We were really impressed by Hector the cruise staff member who really was able to communicate with everyone and engage everyone in activities while also being able to keep control of situations and dealing with cultural differences.
Horace and Rodrigo in the Windows dining room were amazing always accommodating and great with timing. Darius in windows was also very helpful and accommodating.