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NCL Jade From Barcelona
Europe - Western Mediterranean
We found the Jade to be comfortable. Although the mini-suite was smaller than those we've experienced on other cruise lines, the unit was very well designed and therefore adequate.
The crew/staff was helpful, friendly and efficient.
Food - Breakfast was a disappointment; nothing quite right. The lunches in the cafe were just fine. The evening meals in the two dining venues were good. The meals in the Le Bistro, Jasmine Garden (ate there twice) and Papa's were very good and worth the up-charge.
The work out facilities were very good. Only four spas/whirlpools. Two were marked adult only, but children visited them often.
The two times we watched the shows, we were favorably impressed. Probably the best entertainment we have experienced to date.
Although we enjoyed the ship, the service and specialty restaurants, in our opinion Holland America and Celebrity are slightly preferable to NCL.
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Port and Shore Excursions
We book Giovanni Sirabella of SunFlower Tours (email@example.com). He met us at the dock on time. We opted for Florence alone. Giovanni was a delightful guide. Highly recommend him. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly and just plain good at his job; he obviously enjoys doing his tours. When we arrived in Florence, we started at the 8th century Monastary Basilica of St Minias that is still active. The church and grounds are beautiful. The view overlooking Florence is spectacular. Just a jewel. Very few visitors at this site. We were fortunate to have Giovanni take us there. We went on to see The Accademia (to see Michangelo's David), Monastary San Marcos, the Duomo and to the Uffizi Gallery to view the Medici family's works that have been collected through the centuries. In between Monastery and the Uffizi Giovanni steered us to a delightful restaurant where we dined outside. This tour is a little pricey at 380Euros, but we believe it was the highlight of the trip. It would be a shame to be in Florence and not experience Giovanni's view of this wonderful city. A Great Experience. The whole trip took about 8 hours and we were back in plenty of time for departure.
Note: Giovanni is the owner of his tour service. It is our experience that when you get the owner as your guide, you have a better chance at an exceptional tour.
We took the ship excursion/bus up the grade to the Royal Palace. Monaco is lovely. Everywhere you look, everything is manicured and in it's place. The Palace was just amazing and the adjacent town was charming. Highly recommend this excursion.
We opted for a driver (AldoLimos) for the Amalfi Coast. Our Driver Franco was courteous, friendly, and knowledgeable. We opted out of Pompei. We visited Sorento, skirted by Capri, Tramonti, Scala, Furore, Positano and Amalfi. Many places to stop and photograph. The little villages are carved out of the side of the mountains/rock. Very beautiful and dramatic. Franco gave us anecdotes about present and past residents. Very colorful. At the end of the trip, he found a wonderful restaurant between Positano and Amalfi. Great food and a wonderful setting. Generally, a very nice day. You many contact at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our fee was 300 Euros.
We opted for a slow day in Palma. We had read about the #51 bus HopOn HopOff for 15 euros for the day and thought about using it. However, we found that the #1 would take us into town for 1Euro each. We toured the Cathedral. It is just beautiful. The stained glass was large pieces and reflected the Mediterranean sun, casting spectacular colors on the interior. This was a great find. Spent about an hour, then found a nice tapas bar for an outside lunch. Our general view of Palma is that is beautiful and interesting. We will probably return someday. Took the #1 back to the ship and had a leisurely afternoon.
We had been in Rome a few years ago for three days, so we decided not to take the bus trips/tours to and from Rome; just seemed like too much travel and not enough visit time. So, we selected the NCL tour for the ancient city of Ostia. What a great surprise. Ostia is about a 45 minute drive from the port. Ostia was the very vibrant port for Rome when the empire was at it's height; however, the Tibur silted in and changed it's location. With no water, the need for the port vanished. Ostia was abandoned. Two thousand years later, the dwellings/ruins remain in an abandoned field. We saw the northern half of the ruins during our visit; that stretched over an area approximately a quarter of a mile by several hundred yard wide. For those who like to view ruins, this is an exceptional site. These buildings were warehouses, stores, granaries, marble processing sites and other buildings of commerce. The common buildings included an amphitheatre, gymnasiums, restaurants, baths and a general Forum. Just ruin after ruin after ruin. The guide we met at the park was very knowledgeable and well spoken. Her first visit to the site was as a school girl with her teacher and classmates. Her knowledge of the site was first rate. Again, if ruins appeal to you, this is a don't miss site.