I recently returned from a 7-day cruise of the Western Med aboard the NORWEGIAN JEWEL. We were a party of 9 passengers occupying 3 staterooms on Deck 10. The JEWEL is a beautiful ship with an accommodating staff which made our stay aboard ship very enjoyable.
Unfortunately, we did not have the same enjoyable experiences on our shore excursions. The tour in Messina was very good with a wonderful guide. The other 4 tours were not as satisfying for the following reasons:
Highlights of Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii This tour was entirely too long. We were rushed from one location to another and wasted over an hour in line for the funicular up and down the mountain. We had almost no time on our own in either Capri or Sorrento to shop or explore. Had the tour not included Pompeii, it would have allowed us much more time to explore these beautiful locations. It was obvious our guide had a love of Pompeii. We felt we were rushed in the other locations to allow entirely too much time in Pompeii.
Rome, Baroque City Again, it was almost impossible to hear the guide over the traffic and crowd noise.
Florence & Pisa The guide in Florence had a small handheld speaker but it was still impossible to hear over the traffic and crowd noise.
Eze & Monaco Once again, it was impossible to hear the guide. It did not help the situation in Eze when she began her talks before half the tour was caught up to her. The narrow streets made it impossible to get close enough to hear anything. I feel this particular tour was especially a waste of money as I literally learned nothing of the area from this guide due to not being able to hear. We could not even hear her directions regarding when and where to meet after our short free time in Eze. She had to repeat the information several times as the back of the group caught up.
If NCL is going to offer tours, I feel they should provide the individual headsets we saw many tour groups wearing. We were not offered this option on any of our tours.
In general, all of the tours were very long. Because of this, we returned to the ship too exhausted to enjoy the amenities offered by the ship and crew. I understand the need to take a long bus and/or boat ride to reach a destination such as Capri and Sorrento is a necessary part of the tour. However, if the tours covered a little less ground and allowed more leisure time, I believe your travelers would be happier. It would create less stress and frustration among cruisers. The food aboard ship was not the best but it was plentiful. The Chocolate Buffet boasted beautiful desserts with very little taste. Mama's Kitchen was very good. Tzars and Auzura were okay but nothing special.
I was disappointed in the shore excursions and food but our entire party was extremely upset with NCL when we departed the JEWEL. We were not warned of the Iberia Airlines strike which occurred at the Barcelona Airport just days before our departure. We walked into the most stressful, confusing and frustrating travel nightmare I have ever experienced. We were dropped off at the airport to fend for ourselves in a country where we did not speak the language. The least NCL could and should have done was warn us in advance of the situation at the airport and provide personnel to help with translation and sorting out flights.
Our flight was scheduled to leave Barcelona at 9:55 am on July 30. It took us almost 2 hours just to get through the lines and checked in for our flight. The flight was delayed and left Barcelona around 1 pm on July 30. We missed our connection in Madrid and had to switch to a different flight from Madrid to Spain again with no assistance from NCL. We almost did not get all of our party on the flight. Two of us were on standby and were cleared as the last two passengers on the flight to JFK. We were over 4 hours late leaving Madrid.
Due to the delays in Spain, we arrived at JFK at 8 pm on July 30 (instead of 3:10 pm as originally scheduled) just as our flights to the West Coast were departing. We had carefully scheduled our flights so we had four to six hours between our arrival on Iberia and our departures from JFK plenty of time to clear Customs, switch terminals and check in for our flights. Four people in our party had connections to Portland, Oregon, on Jet Blue which has only one flight a day to our location. This meant we had to stay in New York an additional 24 hours before we could catch a flight home. The other 5 members of our party were also stuck at JFK overnight as the airport had shut down for the night so there were no connections to their destinations (San Diego, Atlanta and Seattle) until the following morning.
The 5 people in our party traveling to the Pacific Northwest checked 7 bags in Barcelona. None of the bags arrived with us in New York. Our bags finally arrived from Spain at approximately 5 pm on July 31 just three hours before our scheduled departure for Portland. As a result of all the delays experienced by Iberia, we finally arrived home 25 hours after our scheduled arrival. The fact that NCL simply abandoned us in Barcelona is totally unacceptable. As a result of the fiasco in Barcelona, I can assure you no one in our party will sail on NCL again. This is very unfortunate as the ships crew and cruise portion of this vacation was truly enjoyable.