Arrived in Barcelona a day early. Stayed at the Hispanos Suiza, which was a 2-bedroom hotel (apartment) with a small kitchen. It was great for the four of us (2 adults & 2 kids). We could hear the people upstairs and outside the hall all night...I think they were preparing for a wedding.
Took a cab to the port. I don't remember how much it was. NCL check-in was very quick and easy.
No tenders, the shipped docked at all of the ports.
MONACO Very nice, very upscale, very clean, very easy to get around via city bus.
There is a bus available to Nice for 1 euro pp each way.
Saw people wearing shorts and flip-flops in the cathedral.
There are four casinos in Monte Carlo--2 are free...no cameras, no bags allowed--you'll need to check them in.
There is a tram that looks like a train (it's like the parking lot trams at Disneyland) that will take you around Monaco...I think it was 7 euro pp. It was located when you walk off the ship. We took this to the top (Rock) where the Palace, Oceanic Museum, Gardens, and Cathedral are located. Walk around "old Monaco"...the buildings are beautiful and there are shops & cafes thru the cobblestone streets. We took a city bus back down to the casino area, then back to the port.
LIVORNO Pre-booked a private tour with "Your Tour in Italy" with 2 other couples. It was OUTSTANDING!!! Our tour guide was Gian. He was AWESOME!!!
Driving through the Tuscan countryside to Pisa and to Florence was even more beautiful than I imagined...in fact, Florence was my favorite place out of the whole trip. I hope to go back to see MORE! Photos don't do this breathtaking place justice!
Stopped to see the leaning tower (Field of Miracles with its four white buildings, including the cathedral and leaning tower)...there are a ton of souvenir stands along the wall. If you have a moment, this is the time to pick-up a t-shirt or magnet in Pisa...because there won't be much time during your visit.
Next was on the Florence...went to Piazzale Michelangelo for a breathtaking view of the city and to see one (green) copy of David. There are a few souvenir stands here and this is the time to buy some (I wish I did, because I NEVER had another opportunity and never was able to get a Italia t-shirt because I kept waiting). They are pretty cheap here!
We had reservations for the Accedemia (Michelangelo's David) or else you wait in a super long line. The museum itself is not very big at all, just crowded.
It's "forbidden" to take photos in there...but, I saw some people quickly snap a quick, discreet photo of David.
Our guide knew of a great place for lunch at a quaint little Tuscan cafe. Also, took us to the BEST gelato in Florence! They make it from scratch.
Here's a tip for you...the Market Square where the bronze boar statue is...well, steer away from here for bargains. It's packed so tightly with an overwhelming amount of merchandise! Walk over a few streets and you will get a better bargain (6 euro for a leather belt vs 15 euro for the same belt!) and steer away from the stands near the merry-go-round...go across the street, it's less crowded and the vendors have better prices.
ROME It's impossible to see all of Rome in a day....you feel rushed with the limited hours at port. It's nice to get a small sampling of it.
We shared a guided tour with Rudy in Rome with 2 other couples. He was fantastic!
Get your tickets for the Vatican ahead of time--the line was super long to get in. We had a tour guide that Rudy arranged, so we walked right in.
There is too much to see in the Vatican Museum in just a couple of hours.
There are toilets before you enter...another long line.
If there was a place I felt like I was going to be pick pocketed, it would be in the Vatican--people were so tightly crowded in there...would be tons of opportunities for this to happen, even though it didn't.
People were talking loudly in the Sistine Chapel and even taking photos...both are "forbidden". There is another set of toilets near the Sistine Chapel...more lines are to be expected.
Too much to list about Rome, except there isn't enough time to see it all. People were nice, it was neat to see a mix of Romanesque and Baroque building styles.
Rome is just so amazing when you see it in person!
NAPLES Lots of graffiti...probably the most I have ever seen anywhere! Although there was graffiti in Rome and Florence/Pisa...it was nothing like you see in Naples...which was filthy and dirty. Not a good representation of Italy.
Once you get off the ship, walk past the swarms of aggressive & pushy (but, polite) taxi drivers trying to sell you a private tour. Go directly to the end of the port to a little building that sells tickets...looks like a little travel agency.
We bought SITA bus passes for 5 euro pp round trip to Pompeii. FORGET about taking the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii--you won't want to walk there or pay 10 euro for a taxi to take you to the train station. The trains are covered with graffiti too.
Pompeii was massive and great to see. It was 11 euro pp. Wear comfy shoes & socks. They offer a free map and booklet. We didn't feel like we needed a tour. We liked seeing it on our own at our own pace.
There is a place to eat inside of Pompeii. There are also places to eat just outside of the excavation site too. There is a small Post Office near the souvenir stands near the Pompeii entrance if you want to mail any postcards or purchase postage for 85 centos.
Take the SITA bus back to Napoli--it comes by every 30 minutes.
We didn't make it over to Sorrento. I hear it's very nice, as well as the Almafi coast too.
PALMA Easy to get around. Very clean, friendly, and lots of shopping opportunities.
Driving is not so crazy like in Italy.
You can take the City Sightseeing tour bus (#50 bus) also called "HOHO" Hop-on Hop off--there is a stop right at port when you exit the terminal.
JADE SHIP * Loved the vintage Hawaiian decor! * Service was great like always! * See the "SHOUT" show--dancing and singing from the mod 60's (Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Pet Clark, etc). I think it was Wednesday night. * Thursday is wear ALL white party. * Chocolate buffet is Friday night from 10:30-11:30pm. Get there early for photo opps and before it gets crowded from the evening farewell show. * At SEA DAY...buffet was busiest between 9-10am...at one point there were NO coffee cups, no coffee either! Very hard to find a seat. * The buffet has a "kid's zone" with a small buffet area, plus 11 pint-size tables and chairs and highchairs for family & kids. Everyday, I saw adults (with NO kids) sitting at these tables, which I thought was kinda rude, instead of walking further down for a regular table. * The food in the buffet was good/decent.(I personally don't think it compares to the AMAZING buffets at some of the casinos in Vegas.) * The service in the main dining was VERY slow no matter when we went, maybe we just got a slow Server each time...as I would see people sat after us and get served much faster and were done before us. * FORGET the spa!!! They automatically get 18% gratuity no matter how good or ok the massage is. I had a massage and the Therapist was ok, the service was mediocre for what you expect on the cruise. They have you fill out a form to find opportunities to sell products to you--believe me, write down that you have NO STRESS or HEALTH PROBLEMS or DRY SKIN or you'll be listening to spiels on their beauty line products. * Towel animals twice during the week.
Take a taxi from the ship to the airport--it's about 35 euro. We left at 6:30am with our own luggage for our 10am flight. Made it with some time to spare. Keep checking the assigned gates, they might change the Gate that your flight is out of.
Viaggio di Bon!