We were looking for a special trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary and we found it. We selected the CruiseTour, spending 3 nights in Rome with a small tour group arranged by Norwegian and then the 7 night Western Mediterranean cruise. It was the first time we had ever been on a cruise and the first time I had been to the area (although my husband had spent time in the Med while in the military). We enjoyed almost everything immensely, just a few drawbacks and things we learned that we would do differently.
The tour operator in Rome was Gate1 and Francesca did a wonderful job. Simon met us at the airport on 7/28, got us to the car and we were taken to our hotel. We met the rest of our group of 18 and Francesca that evening and went for a short walk around the area of our hotel. Francesca led us through various areas of the city the next three days - Vatican, Collesuem, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc. She was very considerate in how she arranged the trips through the next few days to beat the worst of the heat. There was time we could have spent on our own as well, but for most part we elected to go on the optional tours arranged by Gate1. Hotel Mediterraneo was decent. Rooftop restaurant had great view. Food in rooftop restaurant and breakfast buffet was satisfactory, but not great.
After a last tour on 7/31, they got us all to the ship. We had booked a suite and immediately on checking in, Anoop, the Haven concierge, met us and we were whisked away to the Haven restaurant as we had chosen not to eat lunch before boarding and then shown to our suite. Our butler, Maria, later gave us a tour of the ship including all of the Haven amenities. Our steward, Chris was also very great. We enjoyed all the benefits of being in a spa suite. We were a disappointed though that upon hitting the port of Barcelona, our butler and steward were changed out and we never felt as well taken care of as we had with Maria and Chris.
We took advantage of the thermal area of the spa that was included with booking the spa suite. I also had a massage which was very good, but let them talk me into purchasing some product that I never should have - oh well!
We never did sample any of the specialty restaurants, choosing to use the Haven dining room or the buffet most of the time. Also used the main dining room, Taste the last night we were there. Had a couple very good meals, but I have to say I never felt like the food was all I had ever heard it would be on a ship. Don't get me wrong, nothing was bad and some things very good. The meal at Taste was probably overall the best meal we had the entire time we were on the ship. Some of the desserts on the buffet were amazing! There was always plenty of food, just not always exceptional quality. For example the steak my husband had in the Haven dining room was ok, but certainly nothing we would have wanted to pay extra for by paying a cover charge to the steakhouse. I'm sure it is very difficult to feed and impress so many passengers and crew though and overall we were satisfied.
We enjoyed Blue Man Group one night and also saw another show Grafitti Classics that was kind of fun. Wish we would have gotten to see Howl at the Moon.
All the shore excursions we signed up for were through NCL and most were good and for most part we enjoyed the ports. I will discuss the excursions in the port reviews. One issue I had with the tours was passengers that signed up for them not paying attention to the activity level - there were people on some of the tours that should never have signed up for so much walking/stair climbing. It was hot - heat index around 100 some days as very humid - but coming from Arizona and also having lived in Florida and Georgia, we were able to deal with it better than many of our fellow passengers. Also felt time wasn't planned well on all the tours - too rushed or too much shopping time.
Spent a little time at the Haven pool. Nice to have own area, but pool actually very small, not deep and almost too warm.
Liked our cabin but not the location - see discussion of cabin 14151.
Anoop made sure we had an easy time disembarking.
All in all, we enjoyed the trip, liked the Haven benefits and felt it was worth the money. We would do it again and would recommend it to others.
Note - we used Romecabs to get us from the port to the Airport Hilton in Rome for 130 euros and they were great. Right where they said they would be, when they said they would be there and the car was clean, driver spoke English and she was very nice. Check out romecabs.com
We spent the last night at the Hilton Rome Airport and that was nice as well. They have a bus service to take to and from Rome that was very convenient. Breakfast buffet was really good.