We flew from LAX to London and stayed 2 nights at the Park Plaza County Hall near Waterloo station and the London Eye. We got this hotel for a AAA rate of 85 gbp. It was modern and perfect location for sightseeeing. We did the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and the Thames river cruise, the Tate Modern and a lot of walking. Getting to Waterloo with luggage was not fun however as there were steps we had to take a long route around the station to avoid. We got a Midsummer Madness rate to Southampton and the train was packed. Embarkation was very easy and smooth, we ate lunch in the dining room before checking out our room. We had a sideways room with very limited closet space. The room was not turned down the first night so we had towels on the floor. We called to complain and a supervisor came by and inspected, he saw we didn't have ice,etc. and made a report. We requested bathrobes which we received the next day. Our CruiseCritic meeting was at LeBistro the first sea day. We had a great turnout, lots of staff attended as well. Many of us had planned shore excursions together so we were able to meet up and finalize our plans. We ate in LeBistro the first night but mostly ate dinner in the dining room. I was adequate. The menu was sometimes strange. We ate at Papas one night which I thought was good. The service in the dining room was very inconsistent. Before being seated you are asked for you room number, for some reason we almost always got window seats, something we were never able to accomplish on other cruises. The first port was Vigo, I had hoped to go to Samil Beach but it wasn't really warm enough, also the buses were very few and far between. We walked around and every street seemed to be under construction. It was frustrating and we ended up going back to the ship where I bought a day pass for the spa. Lisbon was a much better stop, we took the shuttle to town, walked around until our walking tour began at 10. Lisbon is very hilly and a good guide is really helpful. We decided to go to Belem afterward and were exhausted when we returned to the ship. In Seville we grouped up with CruiseCritic people and and took a bus to Seville where we met a tour guide. It was extremely hot 44C! Gibraltar began with some fog so we caught a local bus to lands end and took pictures, then we returned to town and walked around. We got another bus to go up the hill and back. It was fun going up the local streets. We managed to persuade someone to open up one of the 4 synagogues, that took some doing--they are very reluctant. Olbia was a beach day. Finding the bus was tricky and you needed tickets before boarding. When the bus arrived we filled it up, standing room only. We went to Pittulongu and took a cab back with another CC couple.
In Rome was took the train and caught the HOHO bus, we had a great lunch and then had tickets to the Vatican museum.
In Malaga we took the ship's tour to Alhambra. It was pretty but I thought Seville had just as good sights.
In Naples, we took the train to Herculaneum where we were sold the wrong tain tickets, hence we needed to get a cab with another couple to the site. It was very hot. We then went to Sorrento on the slowest train walked around and decided to take a ferry to Capri. On the ferry we were sold a tour of Capri, very resourceful these guys. We took a bus up to Anacapri, took great pictures and took the funicular back. We returned by ferry.There was some confusion because our ship did not dock where it was scheduled to due to 2 other large ships being in port (we were NOT right next to the ferry terminal but 25 minutes walk).
In Livorno, we did the Cinque Terre excursion. The weather was somewhat cloudy. I enjoyed the day but thought the Amalfi Coast was more scenic.
Cannes although a short day and very windy was beautiful, we enjoyed walking around.
We attended several of the shows onboard, many of them were very good. We found that any complaint was adddressed by staff, they really tied to please. Both concierge and hotel staff sent canapes during the week to our stateroom. We enjoyed meeting the CC crowd.
We stayed 3 additional days in Barcelona at Hotel Jazz, a modern hotel not far from the Ramblas. (This hotel has free internet and a good breakfast selection.) I am not a fan of the Ramblas, too crowded and I felt very paranoid about pickpockets. We took the HOHO bus the first day since our room was not ready. This was a great idea we did 2 of the routes. We got off at the Miro Museum and Park Guell (which was packed). The city was very crowded. The next day we did the Barri Goti, Boqueria (disappointing), Columbus statue and Picasso Museum. The third day we did the Modernist buildings, the dept. store, and Barceloneta. I did not enjoy eating so late but we found Le Quinze Nits, La Tramoia, and one more place for dinner. We ended up taking a cab to the airport for 25 Euros. Check in was extremely easy at BCN. I am not sure if I covered all the ports. We walked a great deal, it was exhausting. We met some great people!