We flew from New York's JFK airport directly to Barcelona. We were met by an NCL representative who directed us to our transfer bus. Because it was very early (about 8:30 AM) we were treated to a two hour tour of Barcelona. Unfortunately, our family couldn't enjoy it very much because none of us had slept on the overnight flight. Still, it was a nice treat.Embarkation was a breeze. We simply walked up to the counter after going through security and we were all checked in rather quickly. Because we had to wait for our cabins we went to the outdoor aft section of the Garden cafe and got lunch from the buffet. We had two cabins an aft minisuite and an inside. The minisuite was spacious enough for two and maybe a child, but no more. The inside that my sister and daughter shared was adequate and average as far as insides go.
We all agreed that the ship was very pretty. Although, the Hawaiian theme seemed a little out of place, we still liked it. The ship's size was perfect.You More
could easily find what you were looking for without getting lost. I prefer the feel of a smaller ship because I don't feel like I'm on a "floating mall" which we experienced on our last cruise. Just personal preference. The area where the pools were located was just like any other ship. One side for smoking and the other for non smokers. My husband went swimming in the pool and loved it because the pool was heated. Then he went in the hot tub and told us that was great, too. Unfortunately, we girls didn't bring bathing suits. It was January , but if we had we would have given it a try. All the public rooms were attractive and everything was kept in order and clean.
What we all agreed on was that "freestyle" was great. We loved the choices, but didn't necessarily like all the restaurants we tried. The Grand Pacific has a beautiful dining room. The food was average to above average, but the service was great. Altizar was very similar to the Grand Pacific, but more casual. We felt the Blue Lagoon
wasn't very good at all. The worst by far was Papa's Kitchen. Now in
all fairness, we are of Italian descent (except for my husband) so we
may have expected too much,but we just couldn't finish our meal. The
service was great, though. We ate twice at LeBistro and had a wonderful
meal on both occasions. We had tried LeBistro and Cagney's on another
NCL ship an preferred LeBistro. However, an English couple we met on
board loved this ship's Cagney's restaurant. The buffet was fine for
breakfast and lunch. Lots of variety. Twice there was a barbecue on
deck. The first one was better than the last one.
Unfortunately, we didn't go to many shows except Second City which our
daughter liked. Several of the solo musicians, the guitarist and the
pianist were pretty good. We tried our luck in the casino , but just
made contribution to NCL, I guess.
Everything considered, we had a wonderful time. The ports were the
biggest draw and they didn't disappoint. We have been on NCL before and
would go again on a similarly enticing itinerary. Less
Norwegian Jade Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
We took a private tour with Vasillis Vassalos. He can be contacted at www.athenstours.gr .We toured the city, the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus etc. and then went down the sounion coast to the Temple of Poseidon. I can't say enough about this temple. It sits at the top of a hill overlooking the Aegean. It is just breathtaking. On our return drive, we stopped at a taverna and had dinner. Mr. Vasillis is very personable and a great driver. The ship's excursion was over $200 pp and Vassilis fee was 225 Euros. Dinner cost us a 100 Euros.
We decided to go with DeCastro tours because of several recommendations on cruise critic. At first we were a little concerned because we had opted not to take the ship's tour and if anything happened we would be stranded in Egypt. We were pleasantly surprised by the very personal service we received and DeCastro exceeded our expectations. We wanted to have just a family tour so the cost was a little higher than the larger group , but we had a large minivan all to ourselves. We had a wonderful and personable driver, Ahmed and a well informed guide, named Rasha. At every stop we made, DeCastro's representative was there to meet us and make sure we were on schedule. Our hotel was 5 stars with a balcony view of the pyramids. Our Nile River dinner was great. We saw belly dancers, whirling dervishes and a traditional band. People from the ship's tour complained about their dinner and they paid a lot more than we did. The Pyramids and the Sphinx were just incredible and the highlight of the overnight. Wish we could have had more time in the Egyptian museum. Did not like the Khan el Khalili bazaar. The vendors were way too aggressive for me. We would love to go back on a Nile River cruise to see Luxor and the Valley of the kings.
We joined a group from Cruise Critic that put together a tour with Celsus tours. They were great ! The cost was $55 pp. including lunch. The ship's tour was $ 127 pp. We had a wonderful guide who took us through Ephesus and then the house of the Virgin Mary. If you should ever visit this part of Turkey, do not miss Ephesus and the Blessed mother's house. We had beautiful weather and a great time.
We have relatives in Rome so we met for dinner. We ate at the Taverna Rossini in the Villa Borghese area of Rome. I would definitely recommend it. Emanuelle met us in Civitavecchia and we took a little tour because our daughter didn't remember her last trip there. Rome is just a beautiful city with lots to see. Unfortunately, this time the Sistine chapel and the Vatican museum were closed because of the feast of the Ephiphany. Maybe next time.