We stayed for 3 nights in Barcelona prior to embarking which was an ideal way of preparing for our cruise. We highly recommend the open tour bus, however take cash as the card readers are unreliable. We enjoyed the Gaudi Parc Guille, however the queues at the Sagrada Famillia were so long we stayed on the bus. We also went to the Picasso museum on the first bus and beat all the queues for a fabulous visit.
Check in was very easy at the port which is more or less in the city centre. We left our hotel at 11.00 and were on board by 11.45. This gave my 11 year old daughter and wife a great opportunity to test the slides before any other passengers got on board, and I was able to sample the local cold lager.
Our cabin was ok, a little bit crampt but a nice balcony and good shower etc. Mention must be made of Archie who was a star in keeping us organised during our stay.
First day at sea a bit of a shock for our small party of three. We could not find any deck space around the pool and the NCL pleas not to reserve deckspace go largely unheeded. There is however a nice quiet area on the 17th floor which we found and suited our needs and we met some other small groups who also needed to escape the fun of the lower decks.
Entertainment was excellent. We saw the very interesting Blue Man Group on our first night and we can also recommend the Beatles Tribute Band who gave an authentic Mersey beat. The outdoor H2O venue is fab at night.
Food was very good. Sometimes at peak times a small wait for a seat in the restaurants but this is well managed with a bleep system. The Garden Cafe is manic but did do some excellent burgers.
Excursions - Barcelona - grab the city tour from the harbour - the ramblas is also right next to the dock - suggest you do not get an NCL excursion here - really not worth it.
Livorno - take the tour offered when you get off the ship to Pisa - 50 euros for the three of us.
Cittavenchia - we met some nice chaps in Pisa who organised tours to Rome - we decided not to take it but it was much cheaper than NCL. We did however go to Ostica instead of Rome which are fantastic ruins from Ancient Rome but hardly any other tourists were there - a must!
Naples - we did the Pompeii tour with NCL - however on hindsight other people from the ship made their own way as the ship docks in the centre of Naples and it is easy to get a train to Pompeii. When in Naples do have a little look around, it is chaotic but fun and the pizzas are fantastic.
Majorica - a real jewel. We got a cab into town but there is a citysightseeing bus at the docks which is worth considering. Lovely windy old town, great cathedral with a Gaudi altar.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise. Entertainment excellent, food good, staff great, good ports.
However for a small party like ours you do get a bit overwhelmed by the size of the ship. We felt it suited larger parties best and perhaps did not get as much out of slides and pools as we would have liked. Not keen on the use of dollars on a European cruise. Not keen on the constant selling of products via the PA.
Finally on departing ship at Barcelona - Do not be fooled into taking the NCL bus to the airport - the taxi will be around 40 euro. Wait at port is no more than 20 - 30 minutes and that is if you leave ship at the last minute.