Had booked rooms at the Continental Hotel at the top of La Rambla and could not have been more pleased with the property and location, It is not a 5 star hotel but with good rates (112.00 euro)a balcony over looking La Rambla a 24 hour buffet, free beer, wine, coffee, and soft drinks and a most friendly staff how can you not like it.
After 2 days of exploring Barcelona which I will not detail here as it has been described by much better writers than I, but I will say it was all you read about and more, what a city! On Sunday it was grab some taxis and off to the Ship.
Embarkation - It was so easy and quick, we arrived gave the luggage to the porters and found the appropriate wicket to go to. Received Identification/Key Cards met the Concierge were assigned an escort and on to ship total time approx. 10 minutes and we were standing in the Atrium drinking champagne. It was then off to our stateroom.
We had booked a AB penthouse on deck 11 forward starboard side under the library and close to the forward elevators which turned out to be a brilliant location, handy to get around and no noise at all. My sister and sister in law had a adjoining AF to us and that worked out very well.
I cannot say enough about our suite, it was large, well appointed and attended to very professionally by Maurice our Butler and Myla the cabin attendant. It is a 2 bedroom suite and worked well as our daughter had the second bedroom with private washroom, TV etc. The Master Bathroom is outstanding with double sink vanity, soaker tub, separate toilet, shower (the best ever),makeup station and huge amounts of closets and drawers The living / dining area is large enough to entertain a small group and the coffee maker is first class, we had ordered a bar set-up and Maurice kept us in ice and snacks throughout the cruise.Food - We found the food on the Jade to be above average or better in every venue we ate at including room service. The regular dining rooms and buffet are very good with the Grand Pacific being our favorite but nothing bad about The Alizar dining room either. The tomato soup,fish and chips or chicken wings at the blue lagoon would hit the spot anytime day or night. We always found something to our liking and if a dish was not what you were expecting, simple, order something else, you should not go away dissatisfied or hungry. We dined at the following surcharge venues, Cagney's - Very Good Steaks, Le Bistro - My Favorite (might have been the escargot or foie gras) Jasmine Garden - Wife's Favorite Paniolos Tapas & Salsa - Very Good One of the perks being in a suite is to have breakfast and lunch a Cagney's this is a good one. Great Breakfast Menu, Excellent service level, and lovely location.
Staff - We cannot say enough about the entire ships company from the Captain on down everyone had a smile and were always willing to accommodate whatever we requested. This needs to be recognized as they work very long hard shifts for 10 months or so with hardly any days off and for people to adjust the automatic gratuity downwards seems wrong to me. If someone had a problem with service or staff an appropriate word in someones ear would correct the issue.
Summary - The Jade is a Beautiful, clean, well maintained ship with lots to do or not, whatever your Style may be.
Then it was back in the van and a short drive down the hill to the viewing area for the Sphinx another true wonder of the world. As you view the Sphinx with the Pyramids as a back drop and try in vain to capture it on film which you know you probably can't do justice to, you turn around and there is a great neon sign advertising Pizza Hut and KFC After the Sphinx it was off to a lovely lunch in a nice restaurant with views of the Pyramids. Then a stop to pick up the Cartouches and Bracelets the Ladies had ordered and of course a Papyrus Making Shop where we bought some paintings to bring home. These are made from real papyrus not like the Vendors sell on the street which are actually made from Banana Leaves and will not stand the test of time.
We had booked a Nile River Dinner Cruise and now it was time to set out for downtown Cairo. Let me try to explain traffic in Cairo, If you have a 3 lane road then it must be large enough for 6 lanes of vehicles the lane markers have no apparent reason for being there other than to use up paint then the 6 lanes of traffic try to merge into 2 lanes add to this people crossing the streets when and wherever and scooters taking up any other available space then throw in a couple of donkey carts for the variety, the traffic for the most part travels at about 5 miles per hour and strangely enough never seems to stop except when you take all of the above and force it into a traffic circle I cannot conceive of any one from North America being able to drive there.
The Dinner cruise arranged by Nile Blue was first class the food was very good. The entertainment was great and all in all a very enjoyable time.
We were then Taken to the Le Meridian Hotel in Giza, checked in and off to the light & sound show at the Sphinx which was ok but I could have missed it as it had been along day and the Bed at the hotel was very comfortable.
Up Early, great breakfast at the hotel and off again. First stop was the Palace and Mosque of Saladin where we sat in the Mosque and Amr explained the 5 pillars of Islam and the history of the Mosque and Palace very enjoyable and educational.
The to the Egyptian Museum - You could spend a lifetime there studying Egyptian History and artifacts it is overwhelming. But we came to see King Tut and the treasures from his tomb - breathtaking - The Mummy room has a extra charge but you will not see anything like it in the world.
Then it was time to head back to Alexandria - Summary - A Truly unforgettable tour NileBlue Tours provided us a professional and high quality experience for what I consider a Bargain at $325.00 US all in plus well deserved gratuities. Many thanks to Hazem, Ghada, Amr and the best driver ever - Mahmoud