We are just back from the July 22nd sailing out of Barcelona. What a wonderful trip we had. 12 days, 10 cities, and 5 countries!
The Boat: Smaller than other NCL boats weve sailed with in the past (GEM & DAWN). Public spaces were nice and I quite enjoyed the layout of this ship. Stardust at the back was nice. We enjoyed Henrys pub and Galaxy of the Stars. Everything was clean. Some of the outside deck was being changed while on our trip (deck 7). This prevented us from walking around. Buffet was chaotic at best and the pool situation / deck chairs needs to be address pronto.
Our Stateroom: We were in Stateroom 8006 (outside unobstructed). Being a germ freak I must say this was the cleanest stateroom weve ever had. Kudos to our stewardess Marian. We didnt spend a lot of time in our stateroom therefore it was good enough for us.
The good: The main dining rooms were nice and the food was warmer than what we had previously experienced. It was also better (some of the meals are the same on every boat). Service was prompt and everything was nicely cooked. Dont get me wrong, this is not a 5 star restaurant but a very nice option for the price of the cruise.
The not so good: Breakfast was not NCLs strong point. 12 days of the same food at the buffet and in the Main dining rooms was depressing and should be addressed. There should be some variety.
The service: In one word, impeccable. Everyone was friendly and nice; anything that could be done was done. Armando and his team were superb.
Entertainment: First off, the cruise director, Paolo, could not stand him. He was quite annoying and somewhat creepy. Unlike other cruises, couldnt even tell you who the assistant cruise director was. We went to see 1 show in the theater. Not worth our time. The lounge pianist in the Champagne Bar was horrible with his bad midi track playing in the background. One of the only places that need a lot of improvements.
Ports of call:
Toulon : Beautiful little gem. Took the little train 6 per person for the day, visited the beach and then town / market. Quite fun and relaxing day.
Livorno: Split a cab (8 people) for 45 per person to Florence and Pisa. Worth it! We had the best pizza of all our trip. Loved walking around Florence. Pisa was busy and a lot of pressure sellers with fake watches and little things.
Civitavecchia: Took the train to Rome and visited the Vatican. Book your tickets ahead, the lines are crazy. Climbed up the Dome and say the Basilica. Very big day.
Naples: Did the CBM (Cant Be Missed tour) 65 each of the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Pompeii. Choose your group carefully.
Mykonos: Too short! Enjoyed the beach and a little food in port. Would have enjoyed a longer stay.
Istanbul: BEAUTIFUL. Visited the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazar, Spice and Egyptian Market. Walked the bridge back to the ship. Restaurateurs on the bridge are not pleasant and pushy.
Izmir: Had a great tour of Ephesus and a carpet coop. Very interesting.
Athens: Saw the sights and had we known would have hired a car driver rather than the hop on hop off bus. 20 and stuck in the traffic in intense heat. Best Greek meal at a little place close to Syntagma square
Venice: Walked and walked and visited. Check out the little shops and just get lost in the city. Worth the night on the town.
Embarkation and disembarkation: Best embarkation by far weve ever had. Somewhat of a busy disembarkation and the port in Venice did not help.
Overall, a fantastic trip. The ship does not make or break a vacation. You do. Remember this!