This was our first cruise! We loved it! We arrived in Barcelona on Friday the 27th (a day early). We stayed at the Hotel Barcelona Center, a fairly expensive 4 star hotel just a block off la Rambla. We had made our reservation through Orbitz and the hotel did not have the reservation. However, the hotel looked at our confirmation and honored it. By American standards, this is NOT a 4 star hotel. The beds were like sleeping on a concrete slab. The bathroom was nice but the rooms were small, dark and worn. I would not recommend this hotel.
Embarkation (line) was a little long, but not a big deal. Our balcony room on the 6th deck was wonderful and bigger than we had expected. Our two girls, 18 and 23, had an interior room on the 9th deck and they were very happy also. The beds were very comfortable and the room was clean. They were replacing the hall carpeting on our deck and I assume this is an on going process throughout the ship. We also noticed that there were several huge rolls of new outside deck carpeting which means the carpet by the pools would be replaced soon.
We did not do any of the "ship" excursions. We always explored on our own and had no problems using taxis, trains and metros. We used a taxi in Naples and saw Pompeii and then we drove to Sorrento. The drive was beautiful and I wish we had had more time to look around Sorrento. Malta was a beautiful island. Definitely go to Medina but skip the craft village. We found the prices were better in Valleta on the blown glass than at the glass factory.