First a little bit about ourselves. We are a young newly married couple from Massachusetts. We are Disney Vacation Club Timeshare owners and travel there every 9 months or so but have never been on a cruise together. We chose Norwegian Jade itinerary and the price and we are extremely happy that we di.
BARCELONA REVIEW We flew into Barcelona the Friday before the cruise, and stayed in an apartment we rented from inside-bcn.com. If you REALLY want to live like a local I highly recommend these guys. Their office is a located just steps away from the #2 tapas bar in all of Barcelona, Cal Pep. We checked in but our apartment was not ready so we left our luggage there and decided to walk around the Gothic Quarter including the Picasso Museum which was less than a 10 minute walk. Later, we saw people queueing up outside of a building and and decided that since our room wouldn't be ready until 2 we would get in line also. (Not knowing what it was for) It turns out we were waiting for a tapas bar to open (Cal Pep). We were there at opening (1:30) and still weren't seating until almost 2:00, but this food was amazing and definitely worth the wait, the calamari was my favorite. It was an expensive meal but it got us in the mood for Barcelona. Our Apartment was a TINY 1 bedroom In between Santa Maria Del Mar, The Train Station (Estation Franca) and Parc de La Ciutadella. Like I said the apartment was tiny but for 75 Euros a night I would happy stay in a smaller place in an amazing location. On Saturday we rented a moped from Cooltra Scooters, in Barceloneta for 6 hours and it cost only 25 Euro. We traveled to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell to see Guadis work. (If you are planning on going to both there is a discounted combo pack ticket you can purchase at Sagrada) We also traveled to the top of one of the mountains to take some good pictures of Barcelona and drove through las Ramblas, we decided that a drive through the street was more than enough time we wanted to spend there. On Sunday we had planned to wake up early and explore some more but decided to wake up around 10 (which is well before locals wake up so don't expect ANY stores to be open before then) We packed our things and got a cab to the cruise port. I am not sure if the Jade is always at Terminal A but it was for us.
CRUISE REVIEW Embarkation was extremely easy eventhough we were told to go through the wrong line. The second we got on the ship I had a drink in my hand I loved every second of it. Our room wasn't ready so we got lunch and sat at the stern of the ship. Eat the sushi during your first lunch, it won't be there until the end of the week. Our room was a lower category balcony (BD) on Deck 8 forward starboard side. During the trip it felt like the port side always had the best views but now I feel like I was having a case of the "grass is always greener" syndrome. In the future we will not book balcony's a port hole is fine for us, but since it was our honeymoon we decided to upgrade. Our room steward Nata (or Nada) introduced himself to us right away and remembered our names instantly (along with his staff), which was an amazing touch. We sat poolside for the cast off party and watched as the cruise director staff got everyone dancing. It was a great way to start the cruise.
The first night we decided to try Grand Pacific, it seemed elegant and we were happy to be seated next to one of the windows. That is until our waiter, Andrew from Jamaca, arrived. Normally, I think it is mean to bash someone online but this guy deserves it. Keep in mind we were in the best spirits starting off this cruise and so happy to be on our honeymoon. First he comes by and literally throws the basket of bread our table, then when my wife wasn't ready and said "Marc you go first..." It makes a large "hmph" noise and walks away. It then comes back and takes my wifes drink order, asks for her card and then walks away again without asking me if I didn't want anything to drink. So I decided to drink water to avoid further complications. We the wrong meals came he was clearly upset at us, and I felt like it was my fault that I didn't order what we recieved. Needless to say If you walk into the Grand Pacific and Andrew is your waiter, walk out. We decided not to return there for the remainder of the Cruise.
The first night we went to the show in the Main Theater and met the amazing Cruise Staff, they openly said that they read the reviews on the ship, so I want to personally thank them for making our vacation amazing! We took part in as much activities as we could but we were asleep most nights by 10pm and off the ship by 10am. The next day "Freestyle Dailies" are delivered each evening while you are at dinner and always offer some sort of duty free or spa deals. Be aware that if you see a good Spa deal book it then. My wife made the mistake of thinking that a great deal would be offered on the Sea day and that wasn't the case. You will get to know the same 20 songs the band at the poolside offers because they play them over and over again. Some of them must be European songs because I had never heard them but I was singing along by day 3. As I said earlier we never set foot again in Grand Pacific, but Alizar was a good alternative but completely different atmosphere, (louder, which we didn't mind). The third night we ate at Tapiolos, Tex Mex. I am not an expert on Tex Mex coming from the New England but it was very good for my taste buds, but by judging by the abundance of seating I would say that the large number of Texan's on board did not approve.
Many nights we would sneah down to Blue Lagoon after Bingo or the Show to eat some Buffalo Wings, which are advertised as "HOT" but they were just right for me. We ate at the French restaurant strictly because I love escargot and we had a great meal there. Our final night we at at Tappenyaki which was absolutely amazing. My one complaint was that on Day 1 I asked to make a reservation for Tappenyaki on our at sea day and the woman said that reservations could only be made 24 hours in advance. This appeared to be untrue when I called exactly 24 hours prior and was unable to get a table and had to go the last night, which wasn't really a problem but was a great end to the vacation. Tappenyaki always was filled up first so make your reservations early, it appears that rest of the restaurants didn't require reservations as we just walked up each time.
Disembarkation was extremely easy as we chose to carry our bags off, we took a cab from the port to the airport which was 40 Euro, a little bit of a shock since the cab FROM the airport to our apartment when we first arrived was only 30, and our return trip was much closer. At the Barcelona Airport beware of the duty free shop. You can purchase wine after you have already checked your bags and put it in carry on, but if you have a connecting flight into the US from Canada the US customs in Canada will throw it out. Which makes sense as you can't have more than the 10 ounces but it was just frustrating to have it thrown out. If you have time check out my port reviews, we did a mix of traveling on our own & NCL excursions.