We embarked in Barcelona on October 3rd. One of the people in the roll-call for our cruise organized a cruise critic meet and greet on the first night, that was very well attended. Some of the crew introduced themselves and the ship and tour groups were created or got acquainted.
When you embark in Barcelona, you should consider either a day extra upfront or after your cruise, to get a taste of this fantastic city. On embarkation day we took a walk from the Columbus monument to the Cruise terminal. It is quite a walk (approx. 30-40 minutes), but for us worth it as we enjoy walking and especially the great views of the cruise ship while walking. You can also take either a cab or the special port bus (blue bus from Columbus monument). When taking a cab, be sure to tell them to go to "Mol Adossat", which is the name of part of the port the cruise ships dock. If you just say "terminal 1" you might very well end up at the airports terminal 1.
First impressions of the cruise ship (exterior) were very good. People were still working hard cleaning the outside of the ship, that looked brand new, probably because they take good care of it. We got really excited watching the boat.
At the terminal we arrived at prime time. But embarkation is very well organized and even though you have to stay in a line a while, it did not take long (about 20 minutes). We were lucky to be on the ship at the time the rooms were ready (14:00) and since we only carried carry-on luggage we could first check out the room, put our valuables in the safe and pack out our stuff. First impression of the room: very nice, clean and bigger than expected.
After that, we explored the entire ship and grabbed some lunch.
Navigating the ship can be hard, sometimes you don't know left from right or front from back. Good thing there are signs everywhere. The public spaces on the ship are neat, look very colorful but still luxurious. Elevators are fast, clean and plenty.
Now, just some aspects of the ship and the cruise:
Breakfast: The breakfast buffet is very complete and good. It can be very crowded in the buffet areas, but what most people don't know (or don't do at least) is that you can sit in Papa's Italian restaurant to eat your breakfast. Very nice and very quiet.
Lunch: Did not have much lunch on the boat apart from the sea day. They was a BBQ then and it was good.
Diner: Was good to excellent everywhere. Buffet is rich, complete and quite good. The main dining room food was excellent, as well as the speciality restaurants.
Personnel: They are correct, willing to please and everywhere. After a few days, I noticed the "hello sir" on each corner got a little too much for me. Also, on embarking the ship, the personnel try to (slash have an order to) trick you into selling all kind of packages and things you have to pay extra for. The prices are ridiculous, even without the extra service charge and VAT. For example, a special offer for 6 bottles of water for 22 dollars (plus extra). These 6 bottles cost 2 euro (say 1,50 dollar) in each store. Or 200 dollar for a couple of pictures. Maybe someone else likes to be fooled in spending too much, but not me. I don't consider myself cheap, but I do like to get my money's worth.
Cabin: We had an AF mini suite, which is a large balcony stateroom. We got to spend one night in a regular balcony stateroom and found it to be a great bit smaller.
Then the glitches.
On the second day, we noticed the mirror behind our beds to come loose. As we were afraid that it would end up on our heads while asleep, we informed the housekeeper about it and she arranged it to be fixed by a carpenter. When we returned back to the cabin late that night, we saw that the carpenter had tried to fix it with putting a screw on the side, which resulted in the mirror now being cracked. So we had to call in the officer on duty that night and he considered it too risky to let us sleep under a cracked mirror (so did I) and he moved us to another cabin for the night. The next day it would be fixed. When we returned back to the cabin after a port day, we were disappointed to find out that the "fix" was just some tape over the crack, and also found out that by this time the entire mirror was cracked. So, we had to phone again and urged for a solution that let us stay in our own cabin. First they told us the mirror could not have been replaced that day. But at the end, they did replace it that night, when we were on the ship. Which was a shame, as now we had bother of it and they did have plenty of time to replace it while we were on shore. But after all it was fixed.
The second glitch was a invasion of ear wigs, on our balcony, in our room, in our beds and in our clothes. This was at the fourth evening. Apparently they got on the ship while we were in port. We left our sliding door open while having diner and during that time they entered our room. I see this as our own fault. After having killed about 20-30 of them in our cabin (bed, clothes) we called for assistance and they arrived around midnight. Together we killed some more and they used flashlights to check all the holes. After we could find any other for 10 minutes, they left, leaving us a good night. You can imagine we did not have a good night. The next day we found another one in our cabin and some more on the balcony.
Now, we are not much of the complaining type. But we were a bit disappointed by the way these 2 things were handled by NCL. Sure, a mirror can crack. And yes, the bugs entering our room can be said to be our own fault leaving the door open. But still. They could see from us that being moved to another room for one night and not have slept another night really affected the way we were experiencing this crew. A small gesture or a token of consideration would have helped put it aside us faster, but I guess my expectations were too much. I was told later by someone that we should have filed a complaint. But that was not the point, I did not want a complain, only a token that someone understood what this did to us. A bottle of wine, some chocolates, anything small would have done.
Did it spoil our cruise? No, it did not. After another good night of sleep we left it behind us and could enjoy every aspect of the cruise again.
Oh, maybe someone might now think "ear wigs"?? On the boat? Don't be afraid, we were told that they did not see them yet on this boat, and not for nine years at any other. So I guess some guys just get all the luck.