A little about us first, we are Americans, currently on sabbatical in Italy. We are living in a one bedroom apartment outside of Milan. We chose the NCL Jade cruise for the ports and especially to see the pyramids. We did not know if we would like cruising and took a big chance. We read Cruise Critic daily from January on until time to leave. We signed up for private tours, read updates and information about cruising on the Jade. It was great to meet people online before even getting to the ship!
We flew to Barcelona via Lufthansa which allows 2 bags per person free of charge up to 44 lbs. It is an hour flight so we did not have to deal with jetlag and were energetic when we landed. We wanted to check into our hotel first thing to unload our bags. We rode the blue Aerobus from Airport Terminal 1 to Plaza Catalunya, buying a ticket with a small bill from the driver. We asked the driver who spoke a little English, where to get off for our hotel's address and it turned out to be a short ride.
The Plaza Catalunya is a major connection point to the Metro subway and in the direction for our hotel. We purchased our subway ticket from a machine downstairs which had an English language option. We bought a couple single tickets with euros, but you can use credit card. It was mid day and we did not see any one lingering around underground.
We reserved our hotel online from the Lufthansa's HRS hotel site as it gave a deep discount. We read Trip Advisor reviews for The Silken Diagonal Hotel and liked the area it was in, Eixample. This area is Rick Steves' recommendation and not too far from the Ramblas avenue. We got directions from the hotel website to take the Metro to Glories stop and the hotel is a short walk away.
The hotel is a modern hotel and we planned one night stay. After check in we were out the door to go see the famous Gaudi cathedral, La Sagrada which is within walking distance of the hotel. (We much prefer the Milano Cathedral). We walked the Ramblas to find an eatery and enjoyed dinner in a Sports Bar.
The next day we walked across the street to the mall for breakfast. And then using our Barcelona map headed to the port on foot down the Ramblas to Christopher Columbus monument, where a blue cruiseline ship came to take us to the terminal. There was a helpful cruiseline guide there who showed us where the bus would pick up.
Our stateroom was on deck 5 inside and we hoped I would not have motion sickness. One night was rough and I ate green apples and took a Benadryl which seemed to help. The next day I felt like a zombie, but by evening the seas calmed and I was fine for most of the cruise. We would have liked to have a coffee-maker in our cabin but other than that the bed and pillows were heavenly!
The NCL Jade is an easy to navigate ship with plenty of signs at elevators and on corridors. We followed the dolphins swimming forward to get to the front of the ship.
Dining is casual for us and we enjoyed the cafeteria for breakfasts and lunches in the Garden Cafe. Sometimes we ate at the 24 hr eatery, Blue Lagoon, and it was ok. We ate dinners in the Alizar and loved the sit down service. It was so delicious to have so many options of where to eat, what to eat and to try new foods.
We watched all the shows, danced, listened to Pablo, played bridge, laughed at passenger participation games and used the Spa near the end of the cruise. I got my hair colored, a facial including derma-abrasion and quick polish on my nails. My husband said I looked "all-dolled up" and I felt very pampered.
We were disappointed at the workers strike in Athens. Messina Sicily was not a good substitute - but what can you do? We're there now and enjoy, right? But Malta was a really great surprise - we loved it! We bought tickets online to see the Hypogeum, which was reviewed on Trip Advisor. We love ancient history and this prehistoric site might have been better than Pompeii!
We did not get sick on the Jade probably because of the stringent hand spraying and cleaning by the crew. Thanks go to the crew and passengers who kept a good sense of humor throughout the cruise. We laughed so hard the last show with Jill, the cruise director's group. There were many talented people showcased and much care given to us, that we would be hard-pressed to find major complaints onboard. The weather was fickle as it is right before spring comes. We got some sunshine days but even Egypt was not that hot - YEAH! We loved meeting and talking to fellow passengers about life and their home towns.
We returned home rested and with great memories and photos of our cruise. We would cruise again, longer or shorter trips. We would probably continue to get an inside cabin and for the best price possible. We spent most of our time out of the cabin so it works for us. Happy Cruising!