We arrived Venice 20 Oct, stayed at the Marriott near the airport. Took the ALILUGUNA to St Marks or bus to Piazza Roma. No negatives at all re the hotel, except that next time will stay in city. Took VIATOUR guided tours 21 ( (Walking tour of Venice, plus guided canal ride), 22 (tour of Murano, Burano, Torcello) Oct, always very satisfied.
Boarded ship 23 Oct, embarkation was fine, and relatively quick. Ship is very clean, and well maintained. We stayed on thru NY, so got to know many staff members. Marrianne and her partner, our room stewards were very efficient. We tipped them every friday. We always use the soda plan, so glad they still have that. First leg with excursions was Split (Historic walking tour), Corfu (Scenic Island and Flavors-Bella Vista and Distillery), Santorini ( Charming Oia Village-sunset and shopping), Mykonos (Scenic views-Taverna restaurant and church), Crete (Pottery and Vineyards-pottery and distillery), and back to Venice. All tours were More
enjoyable, tho we felt the time in Santorini was less than adequate. The view is the thing here, but arrived @ 4, left at 10PM. We ate at Orchid Garden, and Tequila as well as Grand Pacific and Magenta. All good meals, staff friendly, efficient.
Back to Venice, took monorail to P Roma. Found out later there was a free NCL shuttle. Massive amount of shopping 30 Oct around Rialto. Reboard was done smoothly, tho we cut it close, arriving back at 3:30. They announced a 2 for 1 deal at the specialties for all lattitudes members, and We made use of it, eating at Orchid 3x, Tequila 2x, Cagney's 3x. I like Orchid the best, Grace Salva M'D, runs it like a top. Had multiple entrees every night. My wife likes Cggney's, extra $ well worth the attention and better food. Then went to Malaga (Marbella and Banus), Cadiz (Stroll), Lisbon (Scenic), and Azores (passed on excursions, walked around town). Re Malaga, more time should have been given to shop in Marbella, and less in $$$$ Banus. The Cadiz stroll was fine for us, but lots of folks could not do the walking. I like this tour the best. Had time to shop, saw the fish market, awesome!!! Tho Azores needs to work at more interesting tours.
Realize the crossing has lots of smoking Europeans, but we think Carnival does better in allocating space for them. On deck 12, we were restricted to only the starboard side, with lots of folks, but space on the port side was available if you wanted to smell smokers. We did not.
They also have to do better with babies in the Jacuzzis, as saw a naked kid come out of one, and a 1 yr old come out of another. Potty trained, not!!! Anybody think those waterproof diapers keep everything in?
They also restricted folks being able to take their own food in the Garden Cafe, am guessing to cut down on spreadable sickness. Still saw men coming out of the bathrooms who never washed their hands. Carnival has the little napkins near the doors. I took to using the paper towels, and opened the exit doors that way. They ended up propping all bathroom doors open, a little tacky.
The actual crossing was fine. Capt kept us informed about efforts to avoid the bad weather. Only had about 1 1/2 day of really bad weather. Was intimidating to see a huge wave crash against the windows at lunch, in the stern of the Grand Pacific !!! We were fine. Heard there were some injuries, but they continually told people to hold onto the railings (some still did not), and you could have meals delivered to your room, if you felt unsteady.
The entertainment was very good. Especially liked the folkloric program. Liked Fourever, and Claire Maiden, as well as the in-house troupe (Jeremy, Jasmine, Chris). They added afternoon jam sessions for the crossing, a great idea.
In conclusion, the ship was fine. We had not cruised with NCL in 1 1/2 years, and hoped it had same high standards. Staff were all very friendly. Saw numerous time of staff personally helping cruisers.