Here are a few tips from my NCL Jade Western Mediterranean 6/28/09 - 7/12/09 cruise.
VERY VERY VERY SALTY. Dined only in the Grand Dining Room and Alizar and every night, the apps & entrees were extremely salty - they even added additional salt on top of the food. Service was also extremely SLOW - wait staff were inattentive and impersonal. Bread baskets were very unappetizing - the breads were cold and always the same. No "baked alaska" dessert on this ship.
The Jade singers/dancers only performed a couple of nights. Shows weren't memorable. Go early - Stardust theater was overcrowded for the one-time only shows and had to stand in the back a few times.
If you're used to towel animals, you won't get it nightly here. The ship's interior is still "hawaiian" themed. Bring your own headphones if you plan on using the cardio equipment on the ship (each machine has its own tv).
Port & Shopping Talks
Staff informed us that there will be shuttles in certain ports and there weren't. There were very few shops listed on the shopping maps. Maps of each port were not available at the gangway - grab one at the desk in the Garden Cafe if the staff has any available, otherwise you'd have to memorize the map on display if you did not bring any of your own prior to going on the cruise. Only some port terminals had local maps.
BEWARE of pickpocketers, seriously! I caught a young female gypsy's hands in my brother's backpack in the 2 Euro store in Cannes. Watch out for the elusive "blind" folks in Lisbon - they're pickpocketers. Also, watch out for everyone in La Rambla in Barcelona - all of the men selling beer are pickpocketers and they all work together.
Make sure you have small bills or change to purchase tickets from a machine at the Alcazaba Moorish fort and Gibralfaro castle. No one will break your large bills at these entrances. Gilbralfaro is walkable from Alcazaba if you don't mind hills. If you visit both, the combined entry fee is cheaper. Views are nice from both attractions.
NCL nickel and dimed in this port charging $10 pp for the Shuttle bus from the ship to Downtown and back for the 2 days we were docked.
There are no changing rooms/bathrooms at the midi beach (only showers). Bring change (50 euro) for the public bathrooms if you see them. This was the only port that required tender boats.
Since it was a Sunday, the climb to the top of the Duomo was closed, but you could explore the interior of the church and climb up the clock tower (414 steps) for a nice view. Make sure you're dressed appropriately or they will give you a paper vest to cover your shoulders inside the church. Again, public bathrooms are not free (60 euro).
If you take the train into Rome, take an early train back to the port. Our train back was delayed 20min and the last Free Shuttle back to the ship departed at 5p. Again, public bathrooms are not free (60 euro).
Since we were docked for only 5hrs, we only had enough time to go up the Rock. Once you get off the ship, head directly to the Cable Car entrance without stopping at any of the shops along the way - it was a 30min walk. Then, there was a line to purchase tickets and to get on the cable car - we waited 35min. We were able to walk down the Rock and get back to the ship on time, stopping in St. Michael's Caves, Monkey's Den (which only consisted of a man selling monkey food from a small booth) and the Great Siege Tunnels.
There was a language barrier here. There is a Free Public Shuttle bus (it's a yellow bus, but don't confuse this with the yellow double decker tour buses) from the ship to downtown, but the last Shuttle back to the ship departed downtown at 4:30p (ship departed at 6p). Our driver didn't convey this to us and we thought the last Shuttle was at 5p like the previous port Shuttles. Must eat: the custard tart a.k.a. "PastEis de nata" or "PastEis de BelEm."
Shops outside of the mall observe a 3-hour siesta from 2-5p.