I am married and 47 and a history buff while my wife is 43 and still likes to bar hop and sit in the sun. We boarded in Barcelona on May 22 for a 12 night cruise to the Mediterranean. We stayed in Barcelona for 2 days prior to the cruise with my mom, her sister, and my cousin (ages 69, 74, and 48) to acclimate to the time change which was a good idea. We did the hop on hop off buss (ho-ho bus) to tour Barcelona which was a great deal and the best way to see the city. Most of the the food and the drinks off the Las Ramblas were fairly priced while the ones on the main strip were extremely high. We thought the Tapas were okay but the best meal we had was off of the Las Ramblas and was a take away restaurant selling a burrito that was made with meat from a rotating slab (like you see in a Gyro)...actually we all agreed it was the best meal of the trip!! Of course the wife wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and after 2 beers and 2 cheeseburgers and $63 later I have reflected that it was horrible!!
We boarded the ship on a Sunday and it was very efficient and easy which is always nice. The first thing I should say is the drink prices will kill you on this cruise. We not only had to pay the 15% gratuity but also an additional 3% or so VAT tax. They have a beer that they have made for them called the Red Frog at the Red Frog Pub which is the best deal at $5.50 for 20 oz, but with taxes it is closer to $6.75. You get a slight break for a picture but very little. You can also get a bucket of beers for $17 (4 beers @$5/beer but they take $3 off). The best deal is Fosters Lager for $8 for a 25 oz can. Mixed drinks like a Mojito will run you $10.50 or so. Wine with tax runs about $7-15 a glass.
The ship itself is really nice and the rooms were well kept. We found the staff to be very good as usual and Sirema (from Thailand) in the the dining room was awesome. Another stand out was Timmy Pierce who is an acoustic guitar singer and was a lot of fun to hear and talk to. If you go on board make sure to look him up and tell him Jeff Warwick says hi....we bought his CD and watched several of his shows. We did find the other entertainment to be lacking considerable on this cruise and it was disappointing.
The ports we all good and we always found things to do. In Marseille we took the Little Train tour for 6 euro which was a great deal to see the church of Notre Dame which was awesome. Savona was fun to just walk around and get some drinks at the local off the beaten path places but we also took a 1/2 day trip with the cruiseline to do Genoa on our own. In Naples we successfully took the train to Pompeii for 6 euro round trip instead of the $90 the cruise line wanted. Go here for directions (http://www.europeportreviews.com/Naples5.htm
) as it worked great!! The best pasta I had on the trip was at Pompeii and it was reasonable price. In Rome we prearranged a tour driver and it was great but cost about $1200 for the 12 hours....we spent too much time at the Vatican and should have left sooner....too much art for all of us and we got board. In Messina we just wondered around and it was a nice place to do that and get a drink or two. The thing with Italy that I was disappointed in was the amount of graffiti everywhere and just how dirty everything was. The exception was Venice which was awesome and great to explore on your own. The best thing is to buy a water taxi pass for at least 12 hours but the 24 hour one is only 2 euro more so it is a better deal since you stay over night there. The food was greatly over priced through out Italy and I did not think it was very good.