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3,915 Barcelona to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Day 1 arrive at port about 10:30 after hunting for a cab from hotel (Hotel Universal)...not a usual issue but there was a parade that closed the street in front of the hotel. Fastest check in ever. Arrived in cab to have our luggage put ... Read More
Day 1 arrive at port about 10:30 after hunting for a cab from hotel (Hotel Universal)...not a usual issue but there was a parade that closed the street in front of the hotel. Fastest check in ever. Arrived in cab to have our luggage put on a dolly and rolled to the ship. Directed to line for previous cruisers, no one in line. Check in and on board in less than 10 min. Ship is large and beautiful but not as large as I expected. Dining room for MyTime is on the 3rd deck and food was excellent as was service. We didn't have the drink packages but I had points from my credit card and had wine delivered to the room....lots of wine. The staff in the dinning room exchanged the bottles that were bought through Royal (vs. the bottles we brought on board) with colder bottles of the same. Cabin was 11610, it is a ocean balcony, couch by the balcony. Bathroom is small like most cruise ships and there is lots of storage. 5 suitcases fit under the bed and there was enough shelfing for 3 people. Room attendant was very nice and kept the room spotless and tidy. Ports: Palma de Mallorca we did a wine tour and visited a Castle Marseilles we did an open top bus of the island not especially memorable Florence we went to Cinque Terre, what a long day especially having to take the train at the end. Would have preferred to take a boat back to the first stop and hiked up stairs to the bus but the bus ended up in a different place so we had to take the train. Worth it though to see Cinque Terre. Just when we thought we would be heading back to the bus they dropped us off at a shopping mall. Other than having nice bathrooms it was a waste of time. Nothing unique one can't find in the United states. Rome we have been to many times before so we took an afternoon tour to Lake Bracciano and a wine tour. This was a most pleasant tour as we were the only tour group visiting the Lake and the wine tour provided lots of wine to drink. Naples we took the tour to Capri. While my husband went up in the chair lift I shopped at some lovely stores. A must buy is Lemoncello. Bring some .50 euro's for the Toilet. We saw Mama Mia which was awesome and a soul group who were very good. Most of the time though we were just tuckered out. I know everyone says this but bring less...Even on formal night many men only wore either a dress shirt and dress pants or dress pants and a golf shirt. No one cared. Debarking, well we were supposed to get 8 am but for some reason got 9. We were at the spot to meet at 8 but we found we could just go to the gangway and our luggage was there within 10 mins. We were at our airport hotel by 9 am. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise and we had a great time. We booked a balcony cabin and ended up on the 14th floor, mid-ship on the port side. Our room attendant was a treasure, friendly and helpful and most of the staff on board went out of ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we had a great time. We booked a balcony cabin and ended up on the 14th floor, mid-ship on the port side. Our room attendant was a treasure, friendly and helpful and most of the staff on board went out of their way to make our cruise a pleasant experience. The ship was massive but even with more than 5000 passengers and over 2000 crew it did not feel crowded. The ship is kept very clean and we found the amenities to be very good. We used the hot tubs but I found the pools too cold for comfort. If you want a lounge chair in the sun, you need to claim a spot early or get a spot near the smoking section which was disgusting. Dining : Breakfast, ate every morning at the Solarium near front of ship (15th deck). I'm sure it did not have the selection that Windjammers did, but it was quiet, quick and efficient. Lunch, almost all of our lunches were off ship during excursions, but there was plenty of selection at Windjammers. Dinner, we ate every night in the main dining room and did not pay for the specialty restaurants. The menu had selection for all tastes and the food was delicious. If you do MyTime dining, book all your times when you embark. Alcohol : We ordered 2 glasses of red wine on our first night and after realizing that the cost was 35$US, we did not order any more during the rest of the trip. We would have wine or beer on shore and content ourselves with water on board. The cost of the alcoholic drinks is frankly ridiculous! Entertainment : All booked online before we boarded and most was good (Mamma Mia and Ocean Aria were excellent), skip the ice show and the Blue Planet. If you didn't book a ticket, no worries, they let people without reservations grab available seats 10 min before show time. Port & Shore excursions : Save your money and do your own thing. The cost of the cruise line excursions are about 5 to 10 times the travel cost to the destination. The tour groups are made up of senior citizens who move slowly and complain about every little thing. Day 1 (Sun) - Barcelona We boarded in Barcelona around lunchtime. We took a taxi and waited in a very long row of taxis to get to the terminal. Word to the wise, wait until 2 or 3 when most of the traffic clears for those who are boarding. Embarkation was fairly smooth, and even though there were tons of people, the wait was not very long. We went to Windjammers for lunch, then went down to the main dining room to book all of our dining times for the remainder of the week since we were on MyTime dining. The ladies who do the booking always looked stressed, but as long as you were friendly with them, they attempted to be pleasant. Had an early dinner then went to see Mamma Mia which was fun. The theatre is huge, hard to believe it all fits into the ship! Day 2 (Mon) - Palma de Mallorca After a few hectic days of touring Barcelona, we wanted an easy day so planned to find a beach where we could relax. We ended up taking the shuttle from the cruise port to the city center for 5 Euro each. From there we walked to Ca'n Pere Antoni beach (about 20 min at a decent pace). Got there about 10:30 and just hung out on some beach chairs. We didn't bring towels so we just got our feet wet and soaked in some sun. We were getting ready to leave about 12 when a big brute of a fellow came demanding money for the use of the beach chairs and parasol. There was no sign anywhere! We paid the 20 Euro and got ready to leave. We sold our tickets to a Polish couple who were arriving. I think they only enforce the rentals of the chairs when the restaurant is open which is at noon. Had a nice dinner then went to see Ice Games which was a disappointment. Though some of the individual skaters were quite talented, the costumes were gaudy and ridiculous. The storyline for the show made no sense and there was no continuity between the individual numbers. Day 3 (Tues) - Marseilles to Aix en Provence After much pre-cruise research, we decided to forego any tours and made our way to Aix en Provence on our own. We were amongst the first to disembark and then walked about 5 minutes to the free shuttle that the Port provides to get you to downtown Marseilles. The cruise line tries to sell a 23 Euro (each!) shuttle to downtown and tries to scare passengers from using the free one, but no worries, it works great (nice, new clean bus). Took the metro to Gare St-Charles (2 stops) and then quickly bought tickets and took a 40 min train ride to Aix (10am, arriving 10:40). We followed the directions in the Rick Steves book to do a walking tour in Aix. We were lucky to come on a market day. This is definitely the place to buy macarons (we bought some back to the ship to eat onboard!) and bread, and just about anything else foodwise. Took the 2:20 train back to Marseilles, walked our way down the hill to the shuttle point by 3:45 and then back to the ship. Total cost to get to Aix and back for 2 people : 36 Euros. Another nice dinner then down to the aquatheatre for Ocean Aria which was really neat. Incredible to see them dive and do all sorts of tricks on a moving ship. Day 4 (Wed) - La Spezia to Florence Prior to the cruise, we booked a Royal Carribean excursion when we realized how far La Spezia is from Florence (2 hrs) and we didn't want to chance missing the boat. We made our way to the meeting point and then the bus. Our tour guide was absolutely charming, unfortunately most of the rest of the passengers on our tour bus were not. One woman almost went into hysterics when we were told the air conditioning on the bus was not working (and it wasn't even that hot on the bus) and made the whole bus stop for her to use the bathroom on the way back even though all the rest of us had made sure to go before hand. The drive was pretty and watching all the Carrera marble quaries by the road made me want to bring some back. We had to stop at a leather factory apparently to use the free toilets (big waste of time where the lady made sure to delay us all by taking her sweet time shopping) and then we witnessed a car accident right in front of the bus. We were only delayed 5 min, but several buses behind us must have been delayed quite a bit more. So, then we finally made it to Florence around 12:30 (docked at 9 but with gathering the group, bus ride and toilets, 3.5 hrs to Florence). The excursion included 2.5 hrs with the guide and 2 hrs to explore on your own. We started off at the Duomo (the exterior is all you need to see) and came to the conclusion that we would be better off on our own for the rest of the afternoon since the rest of the group moved at a glacial pace and we could barely hear the guide through the headset. We used the Rick Steves book to head to San Lorenzo church, seat of the Medici family. The church is interesting, but what you really want to see if the Chapel of the Princes at the back (where all the Medici family are buried) and the museum. It is fascinating and has terrific pieces of art (admission is reasonable, a few euros if I remember correctly). We then stopped for lunch and then headed to Ponte Vecchio. It was packed! Hard to move around, then we went to the Galileo museum which I highly recommend. All sorts of interesting artefacts regarding the scientific knowledge of the renaissance. Met up with the tour group about 4:30 and headed back to the ship. A late dinner. Cost of cruise line excursion 150$Cdn each Day 5 (Thurs) - Civitavecchia to Rome We ordered room service so we could have an early breakfast and be ready to leave the ship as soon it docked. Unfortunately, even though we docked at 7am, they did not let anyone off until 8:15am. More and more people just kept coming down to the gangway and it was packed and uncomfortable. They should have made an announcement that there had been a delay opening the gangway. We boarded a free shuttle to downtown Civitavecchia which brings you to the port gate. From there it was a 20 min walk to the train station and we caught the 8:44 train to Rome. Note if you are using the Rick Steves book, he says 3 blocks, but it was more like 10 blocks as it wasn't the same stop as he was using. Got to San Pietro at 9:30 and walked to the Vatican (10-15 min) and the security line took about 20 min. We did a self-tour using the Rick Steves book. After mailing off a post-card to the kids, we walked over the Tiber river on Ponte San Angelo into Rome and made our way to the Pantheon on foot. We stopped to have a fantastic pizza and caprese salad lunch (the mozzarella was light as air) and then back to the Vatican Museum to meet up with our private guide (booked ahead) for a 3 hr tour. It was packed and we really got our money's worth out of our private guide (Agata - Blue Italy Tours) who answered all our questions and tailored her tour to meet our interests. Ran back to San Pietro having just missed the 4:45pm train, and caught the 5:02 train which was late and ended up coming at 5:25pm. Standing room only until near the end of the ride back. Got to Civitavecchia at 6:10 and back on the ship at 6:45. Late dinner Cost : Travel to Rome approx 30 Euros, + 170 Euros for the private guide (3hrs) Day 6 (Fri) - Naples to Sorrento and Pompeii Hot, humid day where we took a non-cruise line tour (Can't Be Missed Tours) to Sorrento and Pompeii. It was also supposed to include Positano but there were forest fires and the roads were closed so it had to be skipped. It's recommended in the Rick Steves' book, but I wouldn't recommend it. The bus was old and smelled and the tour guide tried to steer you towards shops and restaurants where he obviously got a cut. We started off in Sorrento and did another self-walking tour from the Rick Steves book. Bought some souvenirs and had lunch before meeting back with the tour group where some people were invariably late. Made our way to Pompeii and our guide brought us through the ruins. It was sweltering but at least it was built to maximize the cross winds as there was always a breeze. Make sure to bring a water bottle and you can refill it at will at fountains throughout the site. It was packed so it was hard to see the famous plaster casts behind the throngs of tourists. Cost : tour 156 Euros for 2 Day 7 (Sat) - at sea We grabbed a few deck chairs right at the front of the ship and lounge while we sailed between Corsica and Sardinia. You want to be out of the wind as it's quite cold even if the sun is hot. We took part in various ships activities and had dinner before going to the Blue Planet show which can be skipped. Day 8 (Sun) - Barcelona Disembarkation was easy as we just walked off with our luggage. The cab ride to the airport was frankly terrifying when we saw the dial notch past 140 km/h. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Firstly, we arrived onboard and the check in experience was completely pain free and efficient. Great we thought, however it was a little downhill from here on after. Our main grievance is the 'disgressionary' service charge that ... Read More
Firstly, we arrived onboard and the check in experience was completely pain free and efficient. Great we thought, however it was a little downhill from here on after. Our main grievance is the 'disgressionary' service charge that was not only added to your stateroom and was unable to be taken off but also to every beverage and dining experience we encountered. We opted to book a 3 night meal package which I cannot fault the food which was excellent however we were placed on a table with a screaming child parked in his prime, directly next to my husband for the whole of our tapenyaki experience which was by far acceptable being that it was our wedding anniversary. Also on out arrival on the Sunday I asked if there were any room upgrades available, willing to pay the difference of course and on the Tuesday evening spoke to one of the receptionists asking if there were any available from the Wednesday as I knew quite a few passengers were getting off in Rome. No, we are travelling at full capacity until Sunday, sorry. However, when I enquirerd again on Wednesday evening, after being told by a friend that they had been given an upgrade the receptionist said, we only have inside cabins left now, if you would have asked yesterday..... I did! The entertainment we found to be average at best, the beetles seemed to be more interested in looking like them than sounding like them. Never before have I left a show early but I have to admit, I couldn't endure any more. I don't want to appear like one of those people that just moan on about thing because that really isn't the way I am, we were more than happy with the majority of the services offered, the room steward was excellent it's more the fact that the ' desgressionary' service charge isn't ' desgressionary' at all, bearing in mind that we also left tips directly with the staff and that the service we received from the reception was poor! And I understand that entertainment is of a personal like or dislike but from the response of the audience I'm sure we weren't alone in our opinions. On these experiences can't say id be recommending or returning to the Norwegian epic anytime in the near future. Sorry if this seems a bit harsh but in a time where cruise liners are competing for customers, I don't think the Epic is for us Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
It was my second cruise and the first mediterranean one, and the first one with Costa. I was very, very worried when I have read the reviews, but then I have decided to give Costa and Costa Fascinosa an honest review from my ... Read More
It was my second cruise and the first mediterranean one, and the first one with Costa. I was very, very worried when I have read the reviews, but then I have decided to give Costa and Costa Fascinosa an honest review from my perspective. We have arrived to the port at 11:00. The baggage drop was polite, efficient and with a minimal queue. Then we have waited for quite a long while for the check-in, and there were two minor problems: pens for filling in the health questions were not distributed, and only two ladies were checking in - and the queue was moving very slowly. Then we have embarked and there was no more queues. We have been invited to a room where the safety video was played... but we had to wait for absolute ages and it was rather frustrating, as we were not offered a drink or a chance to buy one. The buffet was served and we were let into the cabins at 13:00. The safety drill was very minimal in comparison to Princess cruise I've previously been to. We had an inside cabin. It was spacious and comfortable. Someone mentioned the finger-breaking door handles. I usually don't complain about such things, but they were ridiculous. The bathroom was perfectly nice as well. Our room was kept in good order all the week. Food and drinks: we had the 'Extra' All inclusive. The illy coffee was excellent, and the cocktails and wines were really nice. The food was EXCELLENT in the restaurant. I absolutely loved almost every dish I have tried, I liked the variety and taste, and the mirroring of the regions of Italy we have sailed nearby was an absolutely amazing touch! The desserts were maybe not that excellent as the mains and starters, but being a foodie I have been really happy. The portions were small and i have loved it, as it allowed me to have a proper four course meal. In the buffet the food was ok, but the variety was rather limited (but everything was fresh and tasty!). Our waitress was the most polite, friendly, lovely and charming waitress I have ever been served by! However, getting someone to serve you a drink at breakfast was an absolute nightmare, and the restaurant service at the Otto e Mezzo restaurant during breakfast on the disembarkation day was dreadful. The ship decor was glitzy and a bit dated to be honest, but it had some Italian charm. The entertainment was really poor. The dancing to the live music was ok, the shows were awful (except for the acrobatic show and the illusionist). The jazz pianists were ok (one of two was very good!). The other things, like the miss costa fashions pageant was dreadful. I hoped for a good set of enrichment activities and there was next to nothing. The excursions were well organised and I thought they were an ok value. The worst thing were the other customers: loud and extremely rude, hogging the sunbeds from early mornings, disrespecting any queues in the buffet, pushing and screaming, I have been rather shocked. I guess it is not exactly Costa's fault, but it made the cruise difficult at times. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The Viking Star is beautiful new ship, perfect size (930 passengers), great food (large, diverse buffet, fine dining restaurant, italian speciality and chef's table), casual but elegant atmosphere. Service was perfect! Gratuities were ... Read More
The Viking Star is beautiful new ship, perfect size (930 passengers), great food (large, diverse buffet, fine dining restaurant, italian speciality and chef's table), casual but elegant atmosphere. Service was perfect! Gratuities were included, free wine and beer with meals and free speciality coffees. Many excursions to choose from (at least one free per port), and the tour organization and operators were top notch. We especially enjoyed the day in Aix en Provence and the Day in Tuscany. An additional highlight was the post tour excursion from Venice to Verona, Bolonga, Florence to Rome - extremely well organized, with great food, lodging and tours included. Only problem encountered was at the end, Viking was planning to take us straight to the Rome airport from Florence, but we were staying an extra two nights in Rome. It got worked out and they took us to Rome with a quick tour. We booked our flights on our own (to use points) along with two days pre-cruise in Barcelona (which we really enjoyed) and two days in Rome post-cruise. Next time we will book airfare through Viking, less hassle and they will include the add-ons for very little extra $, plus only one insurance (cheaper). Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We are seasoned cruisers mainly CCL & RC and we decided to try an entirely different line to celebrate mom's birthday. MSC was offering a fly/cruise/hotel/ package that fit our budget; 7adults and 2 children. Ms Divina is ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers mainly CCL & RC and we decided to try an entirely different line to celebrate mom's birthday. MSC was offering a fly/cruise/hotel/ package that fit our budget; 7adults and 2 children. Ms Divina is certainly a DIVA ship, no way to find any fault with the ship. Let's start at the beginning. Booking: we went through a travel agent and that helped a lot. Confusion came when our flight info was on the invoice it read Birtish Airway - operated by American Airline. Since we had to do our own checkin and seat selection it became fuzzy. Clear direction for who to contact & that process happened was frustrating. EMBARKMENT: after an 8hr flight from JFK we had hoped this part would be simple-NOT. Unlike previous cruises lines, MSC embarks & disembarks guest at each port. There was such confusion at the cruise terminal-not organized at all. The only other downfall was the pool area for the children. MSC definition of kids pool resembled a wading moat-like structure and was intergrated with the adults-NOT GOOD! No water games or interactive features. Best feature was staff-very friendly. Spa area - get a massage and facial. GYM - there were some that hogged the equiptment (need more). The buffet was good and our evening meals were good. Our wait staff made deal memorable. They were so welcoming every night and knew exactly what we wanted. The gelato on the upper deck was to die for. Evening entertainment was excellent. Other sea day activities were so-so. Pool-side activities were drab and not inviting to join in. Lesson needed from RC & CCL. The ship activities left me numb. I would try MSC - the backend portion of the trip - 2days in Barcelona was amazing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise and I have to say we are total converts. The ports on this cruise were all interesting and varied. The organisation from the cruise line to get the right passengers on the right excursions with the right guides ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I have to say we are total converts. The ports on this cruise were all interesting and varied. The organisation from the cruise line to get the right passengers on the right excursions with the right guides and done in such a light-hearted, non stressful way deserves recognition itself. The ship never felt cramped, the food was good and varied and the crew were unbelievably helpful and pleasant on each and every occasion that we needed them. How people can complain about the entertainment I have no idea, the "On The Bayou" show was as good as any West End musical that I have seen, yes they were only 30-40 minutes long but with bars on almost every deck and food available from dawn until midnight why tie people down to a theatre for longer than necessary? A wonderful, interesting and simply brilliant experience that I will be repeating asap. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
September 2015 proved to be the ideal time to cruise the Med on the Island Princess, as the ship had been refurbished in April 2015 and the weather was perfect. Having travelled on eight of the other Princess ships, we would now rate this ... Read More
September 2015 proved to be the ideal time to cruise the Med on the Island Princess, as the ship had been refurbished in April 2015 and the weather was perfect. Having travelled on eight of the other Princess ships, we would now rate this as one of our favourites, with excellent, friendly service and high quality food. There was a good mix of passengers on board with at least 50% from the USA, followed by Australians then Brits. SERVICE We have enjoyed excellent service from the friendly staff on all Princess ships and thought that this was amongst the best. Our cabin steward was exceptionally good. DINING We opted for fixed dining at 8.15 pm, which worked well. Fellow passengers who chose anytime dinning reported that they had initially waited more than an hour for a table. We used the revamped Horizon buffet a couple of times for lunch and thought it was one of the best we had found on Princess ships. There is no International Cafe on ships of this size and the La Patisserie on level 5 was a poor alternative. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment could, and should, have been better. We had seen most of the shows several times, especially The Piano Man, which Princess has kept running for far too long. We thought the Do You Wanna Dance show was so much better than the others, simply because the resident live band were not involved and the excessive background lighting was reduced. Everybody on stage worked hard but we felt they were let down by the production team, who let the band drown the artists. Tracy Shield did a good Celine Dion tribute act, as on the Royal Princess, but probably burst a few ear-drums. The other singers were very average and we skipped the American comedian and abandoned the grim multi-instrumentalist/singer after a few minutes. PLACES VISITED All ports visited were interesting and it was good to start in Barcelona rather than spend days getting there from Southampton. We prefer to explore independently, so have included a few tips below. Barcelona - It is well worth spending 2 or 3 nights here before joining the cruise. Toulon - The helpful Information desk on the port directed us to the public ferry to the town, which was 15 minutes walk and costs 2 euros (as an alternative to the Princess shuttle, costing 20 USD). At the Toulon office you can buy a day pass for 6 euros, which covers the number 40 bus to the cable car, return cable car trip and even the ferry back to the ship. The daily morning market at Toulon is well worth visiting. Pisa - Getting the train to Florence or Pisa is rather tedious, but Princess offer a shuttle to Livorno. At the Lavorno stop you will find people selling return coach trips to Pisa and to Florence. We opted for a 3 hour trip to Pisa. The Cathedral entry is free but you need timed tickets. Rome - Rome is easily accessible by train from Civitavecchia but, having been there recently, we explored Civitavecchia instead. Sorrento - We used the Princess shuttle, then the number 1 tram, to the rail station, where we caught the train to Sorrento. It takes 60 minutes and costs just 4.50 euros each way, which seemed preferable to the hydrofoil. Most passengers on board chose Princess trips to Pompeii, which is en route to Sorrento. Sorrento is lovely and a great base for visiting the sites on the Amalfi coast. Mykanos - You can buy tickets for the local shuttle bus (for 7 euros return) before leaving the ship. We were only there for half a day but this was ample time to walk around the picturesque town and see the windmills. Ephasus - We opted for a Princess excursion because this provided a guide and was easier than the taxi alternative. It proved to be a good choice and also took us to the House of the Virgin Mary (optional) and a carpet shop (optional). Remember to take water with you. Athens - We discovered that you can get an X80 bus from either cruise port terminal (A or B), which stops at Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament Building. It stops at the Temple of Zeus/ Acropolis and Parthenon and, amazingly costs just 4 euros for the day. Entry to ancient sights is 12 euros (6 euros if 65+) and the fantastic New Acropolis Museum cost 5 euros. It is all absolutely amazing! Venice - Cruising into Venice is fantastic, with St Mark's Square on the Starboard side and Pavoroti etc providing the background music. St Mark's Square is quite a walk from the port, and the vaporetto (water shuttle) is much easier. We re-visited all the main sites, including the Bassilica. PORT LECTURES We greatly appreciated the assistance of the port expert on board (Lindsey Jolley). With only two sea days, live presentations were limited but recorded talks were available on Channel 36. Unlike the newer ships, these programs are not "on demand", so you need to view at certain times. GETTING TO VENICE AIRPORT We had plenty of time before our flight, so we caught the Alilaguna Airport Boat, which took about 90 minutes. It is a easy 10 to 15 minute walk at each end and they are used to handling luggage. OTHER POINTS Captain Mariano Manfuso kept a low profile, as did the long-serving Cruise Director, Richard Joseph. The international entertainment team were fun and we enjoyed several good trivia quizzes. WiFi varied from excellent to non-existent, so we gave up using it after a couple of days. Unusually, many of the passengers on board were relatively new to Princess and even the "most travelled" passenger had less than 300 days with Princess. Overall, it was an excellent cruise with interesting ports, excellent food and great service. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The concept of the Haven is outstanding. The service is excellent, the room is amazing and the food options were first class. While we had some issues, the staff (our butler, Johnathan, the concierge David, and the Epic club manager, Diana ... Read More
The concept of the Haven is outstanding. The service is excellent, the room is amazing and the food options were first class. While we had some issues, the staff (our butler, Johnathan, the concierge David, and the Epic club manager, Diana went above and beyond in helping us. The shore excursions were a bit disappointing and the entertainment was not what we have grown to expect from Norwegian but food, service and accommodations were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Sailed from Barcelona on the 6th September. Had an apartment for 3 days beforehand in the Gracia area which we had booked independently. Taxi to port was only a short journey by taxi which cost about 12 euros Chose this ship because of ... Read More
Sailed from Barcelona on the 6th September. Had an apartment for 3 days beforehand in the Gracia area which we had booked independently. Taxi to port was only a short journey by taxi which cost about 12 euros Chose this ship because of route and the studio cabins. I have been on 6 cruises and this was my second with N.C.L. the previous one being the Jade. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. Did not get access to cabins until 1:30 but was happy enough with the studio cabin which was roomier than I had expected. Ate in the complementary dining rooms initially but service was very slow. I waited for an hour for my main course one evening so gave up and ate in the buffet after the third night. The food in the main dining rooms was very mediocre and bland. My starter one evening was cold potato with 5 shrimps on top. Drinks were very expensive. Breakfast in the buffet restaurant was always crowded and noisy but the choice of food was very good. The trips were outrageously expensive too and so my friend and I did some research at home on the Internet before we went. Took the train or local bus to Pompeii, The Colosseum, and Florence for a tiny fraction of what N.C.L. were charging. So do your research before going on board. Doing these trips on your own is really very straightforward. The design of this ship is not good. The casino is big and you have to go through this area to get to most things. Decor on the ship looks tired and drab in places. There is only a very small area to sit in if you do not like noise and on the sea day there were no beds to be had . Even though it was September there seemed to be many teens and young children on board and they occupied and often crowded the Jacuzzi for most of the day. I thought the staff less friendly than on the other ships I have sailed on and less well organised. Never saw the captain or Pedro around the ship. Even the mandatory safety demo seemed more laid back than usual. I went to a hair seminar, won the raffle but when I turned up at the spa for my treatment no one knew what I had won. Did not go to the entertainment so cannot rate it. I went to the art auction but the auctioneer spent so much time doing the pre/ auction warm up that we saw very few paintings which was really frustrating. I used the gym every day and it was first class. So would I cruise with Norwegian again? Certainly not on the Epic. and reserve judgement on the new ships. I found myself wanting a little more formal dress code, less noise and better service. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Very disorganized transfer from plane to ship. Our 8:30 am transfer turned into a 10:30 am. We were made to sit in the airport for over an hour then thirty minute on the bus. We paid $70 a couple (we had two couples) and if we had known of ... Read More
Very disorganized transfer from plane to ship. Our 8:30 am transfer turned into a 10:30 am. We were made to sit in the airport for over an hour then thirty minute on the bus. We paid $70 a couple (we had two couples) and if we had known of their transfer would be so frustrating we would have gotten a taxi which we later found out was only $30 for all four of us. When we took this matter up with their customer relations on the ship they were very rude and after three days of back and forth told us there was nothing they were willing to do. This ship is very poorly designed with the bathroom separated, located just inside the door with only frosted sliding doors, the toilet on one side, the shower on the other and the sink at a separate location. This gives almost no privacy. The sofa is curved in a way tha it is almost impossible to sit on and there is almost no storage. There is not an outlet near the bed so if someone has sleep apnea they can not use a CPAP machine. Over all POOR DESIGN. The only good thing I can say is the staff were very friendly. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have cruised with Princess twice in the past and have enjoyed those cruises. We stayed 3 days in Barcelona before the cruise and loved the city. Would recommend that. We signed up for 8 excursions in 12 days , might not do that ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess twice in the past and have enjoyed those cruises. We stayed 3 days in Barcelona before the cruise and loved the city. Would recommend that. We signed up for 8 excursions in 12 days , might not do that again. It was a lot of work but very interesting. The tour guides used by Princess were all excellent. The cruise ended in Venice and we stayed 4 days there. We found Venice to be crowded and very commercialized. The romantic gondola ride was not so romantic with 3 couples crowded in to the Gondola. We should have checked this out better. Highly recommended the private water taxi tour. It was.pricey at $200 for an hour but it truly was worth it. We stayed at the Monaco Grand Canal which was very close to Saint Marks square. They had breakfast on the canal included each morning. Watching all the coming and going on the canal was very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We were a family of 8 celebrating mum and dads Golden Wedding Anniversary. Our parents were the only ones to have cruised before out of our party so when l was left to do the organising l was a little worried it would suit us all. Our ... Read More
We were a family of 8 celebrating mum and dads Golden Wedding Anniversary. Our parents were the only ones to have cruised before out of our party so when l was left to do the organising l was a little worried it would suit us all. Our ages included a 7, 21 and 75 year old and l must say there was something for everyone. In my 48 years l hadn't previously considered a cruise thinking it maybe something l would save until my 50's. The Epic had a very freindly crew who couldn't do enough for us. The ship is immaculate and the food was excellent. We sorted our own trips with private mini buses on two occasions. I must say though we didn't organise one for the South of France and l am glad we didn't the train was only 60 euros for 5 of us buy 4 get 1 free and at under £10 each we went to Monacco and then stopped of at Antibes on the way back to Cannes. The train runs along the coast so you capture some nice views. Other members of my family did less trips and more chilling on the ship but that suited them and isn't that what holidsys are about. Each time we got back to the ship there was a nice welcome with a cold drink. Around tea time on the top deck a band played most nights just before the ship set sail. It was a party atmosphere and as we were all inclusive the drink options were superb with top branded drinks non of the cheap blonk shall we say. We also had 200 dollars on board credit for our cabin so this covered the on board extras like a visit to the ice bar. If lively isn't your thing and you want to escape the music then there are areas at the front and rear of the ship one of which is adult only. Each evening we all met in a lovely cocktail bar and enjoyed an aperitif before visiting our favourite restaurant. We only upgraded once and to be honest l was happy with the choice on offer. I would recommend a balcony it made all the difference and so nice to open the curtains to a new destination every morning. So my advice is hop on board. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
First let me start off by saying this was my 5th cruise but first time on NCL, and my wifes 3rd cruise all on NCL. We decided upon this cruise to Europe as our honeymoon destination. Let me tell you about the positive and negative ... Read More
First let me start off by saying this was my 5th cruise but first time on NCL, and my wifes 3rd cruise all on NCL. We decided upon this cruise to Europe as our honeymoon destination. Let me tell you about the positive and negative experiences we had on this ship: Positives: 1) Our stateroom was great for the two of us. We enjoyed the balcony we had and used it every opportunity we got. Our balcony was one of those large-balconies which jutted diagonally forward on the right side of the ship. We opted for the right side of the ship because we embarked from Barcelona and headed up the Italian coastline and across the French Riviera coastline. We were definitely not disappointed. 2) Our stateroom attendant Marck was phenomenal. He always greeted us with a smile and asked how our day was and was very attentive. 3) The food was good. Especially loved the options in the buffet and the steak at the Manhattan Dinning room. We were able to find or request a table near a window at almost every meal. 4) We loved our shore excursions. The guides were very knowledgeable. Provided us with water bottles and took us to everywhere we wanted to go. There was a wide variety of choices but for some not as many options (ex: ones that went to both Florence and Pisa) 5) The icebar was very cool. It costs an extra $20 per person to go inside but it includes 2 specialty drinks from the menu you can't get anywhere else on the ship. It's a cool experience but don't spend all night in there. 6) The Iconcierge app was cool and so was the interactive panels where you can make a dinning reservation, see the menus, pick a shore excursion, see the entertainment schedules and many other things that make things a whole lot easier. Negatives 1) Embarkation was a little confusing. It may have had something to do with half the ship embarking and disembarking in Barcelona and the other half doing it in Rome. Either way we arrived at 9:30am and were told by a gentleman who worked there that they would start at 10:30am. So we got online at 10:25am and waited 30mins until the staff came to check us in. 2) The staff for the most part was pleasant enough. Our stateroom attendant was amazing, the hand cleaning person and the pasta chef at the buffet restaurant, the staff at La Cucina and front desk staff were all very nice. The wait staff at the other free dinning places such as the Manhattan room were pleasant enough but gave off some bad energy. Also didn't like that I had to order my appetizer, entre and dessert all at once. Not to mention that nobody congratulated us or knew we were on our honeymoon. The little things go a long way sometimes. 3) The winding hallways made things a little confusing the first few days. We were in the middle of the ship but there were no elevators or stairs nearby. The elevators and stairs were located in the front and back of the ship only and for such a big ship they should've built one for the middle of the ship. 4) We all know that cruiselines are charging more and more for things that should be free. One of the things they charge for on the Epic is bowling. Something I found unnecessary to charge for when it caused the lanes to be empty the majority of the time. 5) Water bottles. Unlike other cruiselines, NCL does not include water bottles on any of it's drinking packages. What they do have is a separate water bottle package where they charge $22.95 for 6-pack (1-liter bottles). It's better to just buy water off the ship or bring your own refillable water bottle like we did. 6) The entertainment was subpar. The shows were fun but other than 1 or 2 shows we weren't that impressed with what was offered. Overall we had a great trip because of our stateroom attendant, the room we had and the destination. That being said it didn't live up to my experiences on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean and my wife who had only been on NCL said it didn't meet her expectations either from the other ships she was on. I would cruise Norwegian again but I would sail RCL or Celebrity if given the option. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We just come back from 7 days (East Mediterranean sea) dirty ship and cabin bathroom, understaffed all the time, image a lane of 40 people to get a mediocre dinner, lunch or breakfast at windjagger, always the same food, no new variations, ... Read More
We just come back from 7 days (East Mediterranean sea) dirty ship and cabin bathroom, understaffed all the time, image a lane of 40 people to get a mediocre dinner, lunch or breakfast at windjagger, always the same food, no new variations, you will finish eating a sandwich anywhere...bc you are tired of the same stuff, disorganized staff and unprofessional. My wife get food poisoned, be aware that they never clean your table appropriately after other people finish just take away plates, glasses and silverware, never clean or they use the cloth napkin used by the costumer before to clean your table, that is nasty (checked by myself several times). They charge us double drinks at samba grill restaurant (we experienced a real churrascaria before, this is a real joke), expect a service of 3 hours!!! very slow service, every 20 minutes!!!! another serving of horrible meat, over cooked and flavorless, in the end you are tired of waiting (advise: leave your card on green all the time and refuse a particular meat that you don't like) we commented about our experience to a captain of waiter never get a feedback, nobody speak well English either, another night we went to silk dinner room: 3.5 hours of service....!!!!, slowwwwww service, they didn't find our bottles of wine....pathetic, poor food quality, we get tired of waiting without service and a drama to get seated when we reserved a specific table the day before, we went to there just to make our reservation personally, they lost one luggage so I missed a specialty restaurant dinner the first night, shore excursions desk with people focused on sell, not to inform you, they guessing...reading with you about your excursion....ridiculous, we had to go to costumer services to get some information about our excursions and when you get back from them coincidently never has a free charge restaurant available. Nice ship, terrible staff, the worse service ever received by RCL, this is my 4th cruise with them. We have cruised on another companies and never had to wrote a disappointed review. Allure of the seas no thanks.... Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Back from 2 weeks on board The Ncl Epic. This was a trip of two halves, the first week as a Solo, and the 2nd week with friends. I've sailed with Carnival 13 times and R.C.I. 5 times, so I think i'm in a pretty good position to ... Read More
Back from 2 weeks on board The Ncl Epic. This was a trip of two halves, the first week as a Solo, and the 2nd week with friends. I've sailed with Carnival 13 times and R.C.I. 5 times, so I think i'm in a pretty good position to give a fair review of what to expect from a cruise. Firstly for anybody sailing alone, then having also sailed solo on both Carnival and R.C.I. solo, I was keen to try NCL, having read so many positive reviews. I cannot recommend NCL any higher, they are superb at looking after Solo's, making it so easy to meet, then organizing meals, and social activities,so you never feel alone, except when you want your own space. I had read so many reviews about Epic, and one of the things I picked up on from both reviews and from friends who had sailed on her was to make sure I got a pass for The Posh Beach Club...so straight to guest services, and spent the best $ 59 of all time. A great area to relax and sleep, read, but basically get away from all the packed in sunbathers on the General Lido area. Having been to all the ports apart from Cannes previously, I stayed on board most of the time, venturing out to Naples and Cannes for a wander, and was hugely impressed with Cannes (if only the lottery would come up). So back to my thoughts of The Epic.....firstly having read so many negative reviews, I have to say I think these people must have sailed on a different ship,and also on a different planet!!! The Freestyle experience is fantastic, walk to a restaurant, and your seated immedialtely, and if not then try another. We ate in all the free dining, and the food and service was superb, the only one I didn't like was O'sheans, but everybody else did so!! The Cirque show was as good as anything i've seen in Vegas, and the food was was good. Also went to Souls Satisfaction, and again first class. Ate in Teppanyaki,and was a great evening of entertainment and top food. Gambled in Casino, and sadly lost, but thats to be expected! So overall I , as were my friends , were so impressed with NCL , food, staff, entertainment win by a mile over any cruise previously, the only negative was the ship doesn't have the wow of an Oasis or Magic, but by far one of the most enjoyable cruise experiences, and I can't wait to sail again on NCL with or without friends!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have sailed on RC many times, and Barcelona was the easiest port ever in terms of embarkation. Upon arrival at the ship, porters met us at the taxi and took our luggage immediately, so we didn't have to drag bags at all. Check in ... Read More
We have sailed on RC many times, and Barcelona was the easiest port ever in terms of embarkation. Upon arrival at the ship, porters met us at the taxi and took our luggage immediately, so we didn't have to drag bags at all. Check in began at 11, and obviously most people waited until later, because we had no wait at all and were heading onboard within about 15 minutes. NOTE: There is a duty free store after you go through security, so you can wait to buy your 2 bottles of wine to take onboard at the port. Some varieties were offered in a 2 for 1 sale! Our bags were not checked again after the initial security screening. This particular itinerary has 2 embarkation ports – of the 6400 passengers, approx. 4000 got onboard in Barcelona and the other 2400 on day 5 in Rome (Civitavecchia). We didn't find this a problem at all, except that this meant "turnaround" days twice during the week for the cabin stewards, and so the hallways were a bit crowded the day we were in Rome. There were separate muster drills for each set of passengers, which was a welcome relief that we didn’t have to do that twice. We had sailed on the Oasis before, so exploring the Allure was easy...there are several dining venues, and one of the best features are the interactive screens near each elevator which show you how crowded each one is. That can save time and frustration. The ship has recently gone through refurbishment, and so everything was in good order. The public areas were clean, there didn't seem to be long lines for the Flowriders, Rock climbing wall, or zip lines. The pool and decks were only crowded on the sailing day, as would be expected. The spa and fitness center were seldom crowded when we were there, but this was a heavy port itinerary, with 6-9 hour days in port. The casino is nice and big, but could get crowded at night and a bit smoky, as it is the only indoor area of the ship where smoking is allowed. Dining: The only challenge we had was that we had booked our reservation for My Time Dining, but when we went to make our reservations for the week, we were told we were in the first seating instead. No one could tell us why this happened, and even after calling RC after returning home, the system still showed us as My Time. Wouldn't have been a problem, except that we were traveling with another couple, and they were still on My Time. The staff helped us out, however, and reserved a table for 4 in the first seating so we could dine together. As it turns out, because of the late sailing times at most ports, we only used the dining room 3 nights. There is a great buffet for breakfast and lunch in the Solarium – we used it rather than the Windjammer, because the Windjammer was always packed. Park Café was also a good choice with sandwiches & salad bar. We used one specialty restaurant: Izumi. It was fantastic. The staff was fun and attentive. The prices (a la carte as opposed to a set fee as in the others) were reasonable ($15-20 for 4-6 pieces of each type of sushi). Shows: We made reservations on day 1 for several of the shows, but only saw 2: ice skating and the Zoots (60s band). They were both average. The ice skating show was based upon the ship, and at first we thought it was going to be all commercials for the specialty dining, as it started out with a setting of Giovanni's Table. But they wove a story around it, and it was cute. Book all of your shows in advance or at least on the first day; with 6000+ passengers, they fill up fast, especially Mamma Mia. Diamond Lounge: This was our first cruise as Diamond Members with Crown & Anchor, and we utilized the Diamond Lounge daily. As a Diamond, you get continental breakfast, and a happy hour with free drinks and hors d'oeurves from 5-8:30 pm. RC has also started offering 3 free drinks during the same timeframe at almost every bar on the ship, so if you don't make it to the lounge in the evening, you can still enjoy free drinks! Angel was our concierge in the Lounge, and he took great care of all of us. Here's a big tip about reaching Diamond, if that is a goal you have -- if you book a cabin that is a suite, you get double cruise points. We did not know this and learned about it on a cruise earlier this year when we had booked a Jr Suite because of a great price. We thought we would have to do another cruise to reach Diamond, but found out we were there after 5 days into that cruise! Had we known about that, we might have splurged on suites earlier and gotten there much faster! Ports of call: Western Med itinerary: Because this ship is so huge, it cannot dock where most cruise ships go; it has to dock in the industrial ports. So be aware that at most ports, you have to catch a shuttle bus to get from the ship to the port gate at each destination -- no simple getting off and walking to nearby souvenir shops or into town. There were charges at 2 ports for the shuttle; it was free at others. If you do a ship excursion, however, the buses pick you up and drop you off right at the ship. Mallorca, Spain – beautiful city. We took the shuttle in ($) and explored on our own: visited the cathedral, shopped for Majorica pearls, and stopped for a much needed cold Spanish beer. There were long lines of passengers waiting to get back on the shuttle buses to return to the ship, and the process was not well organized. Some passengers (& crew members) got a little cranky in the heat! Don’t wait until the last minute to return to the ship. Marseilles, France – We took a taxi up to the Cathedral of Notre Dame – highly recommend doing so, as you can ride uphill then walk downhill; otherwise would have been quite a hike! The view from up top is amazing, with the city on one side and Chateau d’If on the other. We explored the harbor area of the city, enjoying some French pastries and baguettes, cold beer (again) and shopping. Be sure to get off of the main street a few blocks to get a more local feel – you might find a farmers market with fresh local goods. Be leary of pickpockets – we had read about this online and met at least one passenger who was pickpocketed in Marseilles. La Spezia, Italy – After reading reviews of Florence, Pisa and various ways of getting to Cinque Terre, we opted to hire a private boat to take us to Cinque Terre. Our captain, Diego (Fish & Chill) treated us to an amazing day in his beautiful 37’ boat, seeing the villages from the water and avoiding long lines at the train station. I highly recommend him! We had some rough water, but still had a blast. We visited Porto Venere, Vernazza and Monterroso – all lovely villages and enjoyed a swim in the Med! Diego’s mom had prepared a delicious lunch of salami and cheese, veggie kish, stuffed vegetables, focaccia with pesto and stracchino, wine & limoncello (homemade). YUM! This day was the highlight of our entire trip! Civitavecchia – Because we had all been to Rome before and were not excited about a 1-1/2 hour bus or train ride there and back, we decided to have a leisurely day in Civitavecchia and onboard while everyone else was in Rome. We checked online for recommended restaurants and found PaneAmore & Fantasia – wonderful, fresh-caught seafood. It’s a 20-25 minute walk from the port gate but well worth it. Again, get away from the touristy areas and explore this gem of a city. Naples – This was our only shore excursion day. We did the Exploration of Pompeii 4 hour tour. It was well worth the price. Our guide, Barbara, was passionate about the ruins and made the day so interesting and fun. Be sure to take water and wear a hat – it’s brutally hot. The only disappointment was that 4 hours didn’t allow time to visit the museum, which we would have liked to do. If you want to get a more in-depth understanding of what happened there, do a longer tour. After the tour, we walked into town to find the #1 pizza place, which had a 1-1/2 hr wait. So we walked across the street to the #5 pizza place and some fantastic pizza! Disembarkation: We had an early flight out of Barcelona, so opted for Express departure. We took our luggage off the ship ourselves and were in line at 6 am to depart. There was no customs procedure since we had been in the EU all week, and we were off the ship by 6:15. Simple and painless! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This is our 2nd cruise aboard the Norwegian Spirit. The Itinerary cannot be beat with the port of calls and the value received. We previously sailed this ship in 2013. When deciding what cruise to take for 2015, we had such a great ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise aboard the Norwegian Spirit. The Itinerary cannot be beat with the port of calls and the value received. We previously sailed this ship in 2013. When deciding what cruise to take for 2015, we had such a great time in 2013 it was an easy decision to return. This will have been our 2nd trip to Europe. Norwegian did an excellent job in almost every respect. Barcelona: Embarkation was the easiest of any cruise ship we have ever been on. We arrived in Barcelona at 8:30 am from a direct flight from Philadelphia. This time around I took two Advil PM and actually slept 5 hours on a 7 hour flight. My prior experience was not having slept well at all and being wiped out the 1st day. The US Air pilot when approaching Barcelona made a nice wide turn over the water in front of the city before landing giving us a picture perfect view of the Norwegian Spirit at dockside. This only heightened our expectations for a great trip! Taking the Aero Bus from the Airport to downtown Barcelona is easy and inexpensive. From downtown Barcelona to the cruise terminal is a short ride by taxi. Very inexpensive taxi ride (13-15 euros). After check in, no waiting we proceeded to board the Spirit. Upon entering the main salon, Gio the cruise director greeted us. He mentioned our rooms would be ready in 30 minutes and suggested we have lunch until then. It was approximately 11:30a.m.-12:00. Gio was a great cruise director! Always around the ship and very friendly to converse with. We proceeded to have lunch in Raffels Court. We enjoyed the variety and the quality of food offered. No shortage of selections. Almost anything you can think of for lunch. After lunch we proceeded to our cabin 11588 and met our cabin attendant Dennis. Very professional person and does an excellent job for our two week vacation. The best towel animal maker we have ever encountered! The Norwegian cabin with balcony is more than sufficient for a two week stay. We were greeted with a new flat screen tv, refrigerator, safe, makeup table and sofa. Bed is very comfortable with excellent sheets and pillows. What's nice about the cruise is after you initially unpack you are good to go for the next 12 days. This has to be the easiest way to see Europe (5 countries and a new port almost every day). 11588 is on the top floor with balcony. The views are spectacular and we feel it is worth paying extra for this great view especially with what you are about to see! Cabin is in excellent overall shape and very clean. No discernable noise from either above or below, very quiet and peaceful. After the Lifeboat drill late in the afternoon we proceeded up to Raffels Terrace for a meeting with the Cruise Critic members also going on this trip. Virtually all of the Cruise Critic members that showed up we had been conversing with and planning excursions with for the prior year. A fun way to start the cruise. One of the special aspects of this is that the year leading up to your vacation you are having fun on line exchanging ideas with other Cruise Critic members. Then you have the opportunity to meet! During the cruise you have the advantage of knowing many interesting and fun fellow cruisers like yourself. This is part of the fun on going on a trip like this in my opinion. The 1st dinner aboard was at our favorite restaurant Garden Café. Virtually all of our dinners except one were spent here. We enjoy this dinning venue because it is smaller than Windows and slightly less formal. We ate at Windows one evening and we "brought" Raffel's down to our cabin for two nights and ate in our cabin. Food at the Garden Café was more than adequate with nightly chef specials. Typically you will have a choice of 10-12 entrees to choose from. Plenty of great appetizers and deserts also to choose from. We never waited for a table and did not make reservations ever. Truly "freestyle" dining! This cruise Norwegian had a bonus when booking. There were 4 choices. We choose the "Ultimate Beverage Package." Not having to worry about every cocktail, beer or wine selected when ordering really was fabulous! The 1st night's show at the main theater was too much flamenco dancing. There should have been more variety. Shows later in the cruise were much better. Our only disappointment. Our 1st port of call was Toulon, France. On our 1st trip in 2013 we did the "Provence Wine Tour" and thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. It was clearly our favorite thing to do on our 1st trip. Since we did not want to repeat any of the excursions we opted to go into Toulon and walk the marketplace. You really get to experience some French culture in the walk thru. More than we expected. Our 2nd port of call was Livorno, Italy. Here we decided to go to Pisa on our own. It is very easy to catch the train from Livorno. Since 2013 the Italian railroad has upgraded their trains to double decker, all new, clean, air conditioned and nice. An easy 2 stops and your in Pisa. In Pisa there is a new museum off of the "Field of Miracles." Approximately a 20 minute walk from the train station with a McDonald's in the station. The souvenir kiosks off of the "Field of Miracles" have been moved to the square. Great souvenir's and you most certainly can bargain. My other half enjoys bringing souvenir's home for family and friends shopping! Our 3rd port of call is Civitavechia, Italy. Again we took the train to San Pietro which is the stop for the Vatican and 1st of three for Rome. All new double decker trains! Thumbs up to the Italian rail system. Another easy DIY. We spent the day going through the museum and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican has treasures that are unimaginable. Not to be missed if you can help it. I was amazed. Purchase tickets in advance on the internet. We had a most enjoyable lunch at one of the street side cafe's near the Vatican. The local Italian beer was great. Our 4th port of call is Naples and our 1st of 2 paid excursions. Through Rome in Limo our group of 8 went to the Amalfi Coast which included Sorrento and Pistano with Pompeii. Our guide Alex from Rome in Limo was very funny and made the day most enjoyable. By far our favorite meal of the vacation came overlooking the Amalfi Coast high up on a mountain at a restaurant called "Constantinos" with the most incredible views. Everything is organic and home grown including the wine. Alex's choice for us in selecting our dining venue certainly memorable. After our lunch, we headed off to Pompeii. Again an interesting ancient city. We switched guides for Pompeii. One does not realize the size of Pompeii until seeing it in person. The 1st sea day came with a Cruise Critic party in the morning. We had an excellent turnout with many of the Norwegian senior offices showing up and welcoming us! Norwegian went all out for this event. Shout out to the two Cruise Critic members who organized this event. Our next port was Mykonos, Greece. The ship tendered at this location. We stayed on board and had a nice barbecue lunch at the pool and enjoyed the Jacuzzi! Since we had been to Mykonos in 2013 we decided to take it easy this time around. The next port of call was Istanbul. Beautiful city with an unofficial count of 17 million people! Stepping off the boat we proceeded to the electric tram to get to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. 4 Turkish Lira to ride $1. The Blue Mosque & Hagia Sofia are incredibly beautiful. (Be warned, when we stepped off the Tram you are approached by salespeople telling you the Blue Mosque is closed or will open later in the afternoon. They are trying to get you into their rug stores to make sales. We just kept walking and ignored them. Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia were open and not "closed for lunch.") Very much enjoyed both Mosque's. Took an easy ride Tram back to ship. During two sea days, Norwegian had appreciation cocktail parties for Latitude members. Both nice events with the Captain attending both. Captain Roger is easily approachable, friendly as well as his officer staff and crew. We appreciate Norwegian doing these events as they are making the effort to show they care about your business. After leaving Istanbul our next stop is Kusadasi, Turkey. The ship docks in downtown Kusadasi making it easy to leave the ship. Our same group of 8 Cruise Critic friends gathered for our tour of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary. Our tour guide "mystery" met us at the dock. We had a driver in a Mercedes Van. Ephesus Deluxe tours does an excellent job also providing lunch in the tour price. Be forewarned, you do have to sit through a carpet selling "speel" while having lunch. Going to the House of the Virgin Mary is definitely a religious experience. Very serene and special and high up on a mountain. Lit a candle, said a prayer inside her house, drank the holy water from the spring and made a wish and wrote it down to be attached to a wall. If you have any ills, the holy water is supposed to cure and making the wish will come true! Our next port of call was Piraeus, Greece. Probably the warmest day of the cruise. We elected to just relax on board. Since we did the "hop on hop off" bus in 2013 we saw many of the sites previously. Our favorite part of this day is getting Martini's and sipping them on our balcony as we can see the Acropolis in the distance as we sail away. Make sure you bring an excellent pair of binoculars. Then off to a nice dinner. Our final port of call was Venice, Italy on day 12. The view when coming into Venice is phenomenal as you sail right by St. Marks square. Norwegian allows you to stay the final night on board as technically you are disembarking on day 13. This allows you to explore Venice and come back on board that evening. We elected to walk to the Rialto Bridge. An easy walk from the cruise port terminal. There are no cars, busses or scooters allowed in Venice. Streets are narrow and fun to explore. Disembarking was the easiest we have ever experienced. Some of the crew members are lined up saying good bye as you disembark. A nice gesture by Norwegian. While on the Spirit I noticed they had equipped the gym with all new equipment! A great place to exercise. I try and go to the gym every day on board. Gym is exceptionally clean and neat. Some have complained that the ship is old. We did not notice anything broken or lacking. Rather we enjoyed this ship and its' layout. We have been on ships with 4,000+ and would rather prefer a ship like the Spirit which has only 2,000 passengers. The ships being too big means too many passengers and crowds and in our opinion long lines. Norwegian does an excellent job of keeping this ship clean and beautiful. We stayed an extra day in Venice at the Pellegrino. We chose this hotel because of its location near St. Mark's square. Also an easy walk after checking out with bags to the Vaporetto stop. When leaving Venice make sure you take the Vaporetto (water bus) to the airport as it is almost a tour in and of itself. It stops at a number of locations around Venice lagoon giving you more great views of this magnificent city. Takes about 50 minutes and will drop you off at Marco Polo airport. Then an easy 10 minute walk inside the terminal. Our non stop flight back to Philadelphia (9 hours) went smoothly and without incident. Again, the U.S. Air pilot after takeoff took a nice wide turn over Venice giving us a magnificent view of Venice for our farewell. Watched 4 movies to pass the time. This time going through US Customs was quick and efficient. US Customs now has electronic kiosks! Thumbs up to US Customs It literally took 5 minutes and no lines. (In 2013 at JFK we waited 2+ hours with hoards of people coming from other flights.) All in all, for the price we paid for this vacation you get a lot of value for your money. The big draw on this cruise is the ports visited and history you will see. The Captain and crew of the Norwegian Spirit all in all do an excellent job. They work hard to make sure your vacation is stress free. Finally become involved with Cruise Critic a great resource to enhance your trip, make friends and share ideas. Also if you are considering this cruise pick up a copy of Rick Steves' most recent copy of "Mediterranean Cruise Ports." An invaluable resource with many DIY tours. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
First off, let me offer this......this was our 11th cruise and we are fairly easy going and easy to please travelers. (Dad 47, Mom 44, daughter 10) We booked this cruise based on the price and the itinerary - we knew we were getting on a ... Read More
First off, let me offer this......this was our 11th cruise and we are fairly easy going and easy to please travelers. (Dad 47, Mom 44, daughter 10) We booked this cruise based on the price and the itinerary - we knew we were getting on a smaller and older ship but the ports looked to be amazing and we knew we wouldn't be spending much time on the ship - and for $2,200 (USD) per adult for a balcony room, with the Ultimate Beverage Package AND the Ultimate Dinner Package included for free....we couldn't resist. That said, we were still a little disappointed. Having free drinks and free (and unlimited) dinner bookings at the a la' carte restaurants made the 12 nights bareable. Trust me, if we had to pay for drinks and pay for the specialty restaurants this review would be a lot more critical and scathing. I can honestly say this, of the 11 cruises we have taken on 9 different ships with 4 different cruise lines the buffet was the worst of them all. Seriously. Small, limited selections, and a "cafeteria" feel to it - and that was day 1. By the 4th or 5th day I was utterly sick of it. Later in the evening, when most restaurants and dining rooms are closed (after 10:00pm) the "snacks" offered in the buffet are terrible. Again, no selection, no imagination. The pizza is laughable. It is no better than a frozen pizza from a convenience store and they don't even cook them properly (crust should at least be "brown" on the bottom, not snow white) I never ate another slice after the first piece. Rome, Naples and Venice provided all the gourmet pizza I craved. Considering you have to rely on the buffet for several meals and almost all snacks.....your stuck with one choice, and it sucks. The ship itself is small, and in need of an upgrade. The Casino is small, with a very low ceiling (8'). The slots don't pay (like on ANY cruise) yet the table games were poorly attended by cruisers as well and it was "dead" night after night - no excitement. The shows were standard "cruise quality" shows which we avoid. I would have thought that there would have been some late night pool parties, bands, bbqs at midnight like on all other cruises. Nope. Nothing, nada, zilch. Room was "average", cabin steward not overly friendly. Most of the staff were pleasant and smiling, and we enjoyed them yes. All in all - awesome ports, unbelievable sights and history to see but the next time we cruise the Mediterranean we will almost certainly book with a different cruise line on a bigger, newer ship. Royal Caribbean is more to our liking in terms of class, style and quality of food. Sorry NCL, we did have fun yes, but we left disappointed with the ship and the food. This was our 3rd, and probably our last NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was my second cruise with NCL .. First time going to the European areas... Went on the Epic... and this was supposed to be my Birthday cruise .... last time , I went to the Bahamas, on the Getaway. ( 2014 ).. The Epic is abit older ( ... Read More
This was my second cruise with NCL .. First time going to the European areas... Went on the Epic... and this was supposed to be my Birthday cruise .... last time , I went to the Bahamas, on the Getaway. ( 2014 ).. The Epic is abit older ( 2010 ) and the layout is not as good as on the Getaway .... The kids pool on the Epic, is in the Center of the ship was all the outdoors bars are and all of the music and concert stage is.... this really should be the Adult area , not the kid area !... Overall, the cruise was nice ... the entertainment cruise director was never seen and did not do anything to get the quests in a festive, party mood... No Bon Voyage party. at all !!! Very Disappointing . Half way thru the cruise, some sewage pipes broke , which flooded about 6 of the cabins ( but not ours, thank goodness ) but all the noises in the middle of the night to clean it up and the terrible smell was a problem... also, there were kids, running the cabin halls, well into 4 am , and nothing was being done about it.. so that was 2-3 days of No Sleeping .... also, there were one day, in the O'Sheenans Restaurant, where my food was served Raw ! the Manager took down my cabin number but nothing came of it.... I finally complained to the Guest Service's people and told them about all of our not so good experiences, and all that they could offer me was a Dinner in one of the Higher Priced Restaurants ( but, NO, not the Steak House ! ) I asked them if they could just put the difference on my account as on-board credit, and the girl said NO ! WOW, I was asking so little to make this experience a little bit better ( and this was MY BIRTHDAY Cruise , after all ) and they wouldn't even do that for me ... NCL is so, so very tight with their money, that they would rather have you very unhappy and disappointed , then give you a $50.00 on-board credit , for your in convinces... WOW... That is so sad NCL.... i am very disappointed with this Cruise line and who ever is managing it .... This is not good business practices.... Very Unhappy Cruiser ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We really enjoyed the trip. The only problem was the heat, no one can change that. The ship is beautiful and easy to get around. The food was very good. We tried all the restaurants but ended preferring "The Restaurant." ... Read More
We really enjoyed the trip. The only problem was the heat, no one can change that. The ship is beautiful and easy to get around. The food was very good. We tried all the restaurants but ended preferring "The Restaurant." The evening entertainment in the theater was good, not great but fine. The incidental music in the open areas of the ship was excellent. The tours were good, not great again but fine. We enjoyed the ports we stopped at, although thought they could have spent more time in Monte Carlo and skipped Toulon--poor guide there and not a lot to see. The cabin was more than adequate--we had a balcony which we always enjoy. The heating in the open areas and theater of the ship was extremely variable--sometimes too warm, more often too cold. However, there were lovely cashmere blankets all over which you could use and we did. All in all we loved the cruise and highly recommend it. The Viking Star is a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We travelled from within Spain by car to Barceleona the day before we were due to sail. Parked in the World Trade Centre Car Park, using their cruise parking deal, and stayed in the hote located above it - the Eurostar Grand Marina. The ... Read More
We travelled from within Spain by car to Barceleona the day before we were due to sail. Parked in the World Trade Centre Car Park, using their cruise parking deal, and stayed in the hote located above it - the Eurostar Grand Marina. The hotel was good with fantastic views of Barcelona and literally just a few minutes from the cruise port, visible from the hotel. Embarcation at noon was smooth, with no queues. Of course not all 6000+ guests were boarding as several thousand had already boarded in Rome. This also meant that as some people were ashore on excursions we had no trouble having a mid-day snack at the Park Cafe. Our cabin was ready promptly at 1 o'clock. CABIN 11329 a boardwalk cabin at the very rear of the ship is fantastic. Great view of the sea and the shows at the aquatheatre. As well as the climbing wall and any other activties going on in the boardwalk area. No noise at all from neighbours and with balcony door shut tight no outside noisde either. No tea/coffee making facilites but you can overcome this by ordering room service. DINIING is a weak area. We had booked "my time dning" and had made reservations for each night but in spite of this we still had to stand in a long queue on many nights before being seated. It was the same on the Oasis of the Seas last year. Cannot understand why they can't get a handle on it. The food was the usual cruise fare. Waiter Pablo and his assistant were fantastic, as was head waiter Omer - not forgetting June at dining room reception. We had breakfast in the main dining room and also lunch on the few days it was open, which was ok but the staff were not a patch on the evening waiters. There is no egg station anywhere, so avoid the omelettes - I ordered one and it was like a piece of rubber. I noticed that the buffet area also had pre-cooked omelettes - never seen that before. The Windjammer restaurant is awful. Too small for size of ship. We did not go ashore at all the stops as we had visited the places before and here again is where the ship is lacking. On port days, in spite of the fact that lots of people stay onboard, the activities are very limited. They are only all operational on sea days, which as this cruise only had one sea day, speaks for itself. We had a wander ashore at Spezia, which is quite a pleasant little place. At Naples we left the ship early and caught the hydrofoil to Sorrento and spent the day there. It is very easy to do on your own. The boats to Sorrento are at the same port, just a couple of minutes from your cruise ship. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Sorrento. Boats for Capri leave from the same place. The shows we saw were excellent: Mama Mia, Blue Planet, Ice Games, Aqua Shows We left the ship at around 8 o'clock in the morning and again everything was totally relaxed even to the point of no taxi queue - we walked straight up to a taxi. One point about the taxis - they charge whatever is on the meter plus so much for each suitcase you have. We had one hiccup: we had packed 2 bottles of wine, as now allowed by RCL. However, the case was held back on Deck 2 for it to be opened to show it was not spirits. We were not told what had happened to the missing case. We had to make our own enquiries to try and find it. We don't object to them checking it but they could have contacted us, the cabin number is after all on the luggage label. Lesson - bring any wine in your hand luggage. We were disappointed that many guests made no effort to dress for dinner but it seems to be the norm on these mega ships. We were also amazed to see that a couple of the loft suites had fixed up a washing line on their balconies - in full view. The ship, like the Oasis, is a wonderful specimen of engineering and something to see,which was the reason for taking this cruise as my daughter wanted to see it, but it is nothing like real cruising. It would make a good resort hotel berthed somewhere, perhaps moving location every so often, rather than cruising. Another point: if anyone is looking for the "secret" balconies on decks 11 and 12 - they have disappeared and have been replaced by extra cabins. Maybe was done during recent refit. The wonderful viewing area on Deck 14 is not promoted but is easy to find - go to Deck 14 and on port side (left) go as far forward as you can and follow Sundeck sign. Make use of it before they decide to use it for more accommodation as nobody goes there!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Had a fantastic holiday on the Viking Star and was made to feel really special. The ship is amazing and though it was the smallest I have been on it felt so spacious and luxurious. The food was very good and varied and the service spot on. ... Read More
Had a fantastic holiday on the Viking Star and was made to feel really special. The ship is amazing and though it was the smallest I have been on it felt so spacious and luxurious. The food was very good and varied and the service spot on. We were never kept waiting for a table for more than a few minutes even when we chose a busy time to dine.I liked the fact that all drinks with meals were included in the holiday too as were some of the excursions. The cabin was really well furnished and kept spotless by the steward twice a day. The entertainment was also very good,something for everyone. Everything about this cruise was first class and we have already booked our next one! The only niggle would be the flights to and from Barcelona. We had to fly from Manchester to Paris and wait 3 hours before flying from Paris to Barcelona. Whilst waiting at Manchester a direct flight left for Barcelona which made our wait even more frustrating. Coming home the wait in Paris was 4 hours meaning when we arrived at Manchester in the evening we had to book into a hotel rather than carry on with the long drive home. However, the Viking Cruise was a fantastic holiday and surpasses all our previous cruises. Looking forward to next year and our Baltic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
When we heard that Viking was going to do ocean cruises we wondered if they could be as good as the river cruises. We have taken three river cruises, including China, and loved them. We were not disappointed in the Mediterranean Odyssey ... Read More
When we heard that Viking was going to do ocean cruises we wondered if they could be as good as the river cruises. We have taken three river cruises, including China, and loved them. We were not disappointed in the Mediterranean Odyssey cruise on the Viking Star. The Viking Star is a lovely ship, with relatively-few passengers, and never felt crowded. The restaurants were fabulous, both the "ordinary" and the specialty ones. We were a bit put off by the many, extra-cost shore excursions, since shore excursions on the river cruises are mostly included, with few options. We took the included excursions and, with one exception, found them to give a good overview of the destination. The one regret was choosing the included tour of Pisa instead of paying extra for a tour of Florence. There isn't much to see in Pisa. We have been to Florence and believe it should be the included tour. Our cabin was spacious. The cabin attendant very accommodating and genuinely friendly. We enjoyed the entertainment. There was almost continual entertainment somewhere all day. There were very good lectures on history and art. The evening special performances were very well done, featuring talented musicians and singers. Bottom line: we are planning another Viking ocean tour. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Smaller ship with all balcony cabins. Largest bathroom we have seen on any cruise ship with similar cabins. There is a free laundry room on each level which is nice to have on the longer cruises. No formal nights. Free beer or wine ... Read More
Smaller ship with all balcony cabins. Largest bathroom we have seen on any cruise ship with similar cabins. There is a free laundry room on each level which is nice to have on the longer cruises. No formal nights. Free beer or wine with lunch and dinner. At least 1 free tour at each port. Smaller ship allowed us to visit more ports. The crew members were all friendly and bent over backwards to give you outstanding service. The food was excellent and so were the waiters and servers. Two specialty restaurants on board and you could book them for free. Activities were OK but not a lot of things for kids to do. This is a great adult cruise ship but I would take Disney or Carnival lines if bringing kids. Overall, an excellent experience. The cruise was a little pricey, but with all of the free things like internet, beer and wine at lunch and dinner and free tours, all things you would normally pay extra for on other cruise lines, the price was worth it. We also found that booking air fare through Viking was the most cost effective way to fly to and from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015

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