Background information: This was my seventh cruise, third one with norwegian cruise lines. I cruised with my husband, mom and dad, and my sister and her fiance. Embarkation: We flew from Boston to NYC, NYC to Paris, and then Paris to Barcelona on Air France. No problems with any of flights, however, we were exhausted since we flew overnight and there was a six hour time difference. We finally arrived in Barcelona with no sleep at around 12 pm. We took the local taxi to the pier which cost about 25-30 euros.They also charge a baggage fee. Be careful they do try to rip you off. We were on the boat by 1 and put our small bags in our room. You might want to put a bathing suit and tanning lotion in a small bag because the bags don't come to your room to much later. We then went to the Garden Buffet for lunch. Reviews in food section. The Boat: I thought the boat was nice. We traveled on the Dawn last summer and felt that the Dawn was slightly nicer. I like the glass elevator on the Dawn and the Jewel did not have a really great entrance. Other than that, the boat was nice, not the best, but good. I liked the idea of all the bars( such as champagne bar, martini bar, etc) all in one location. It was nice to sit here and listen to the piano after dinner. The pool area is very crowded but I expected this. We were never able to get 6 seats next to each other since by 10 am, all the chairs were already "reserved" with towels. Norwegian needs to make a better system for this. People leave towels for hours at a time. They did have 2 pools and 2 hot tubs although a lot of kids younger than 13 used the hot tubs without adult supervision.
Entertainment: The entertainment on Norwegian is some of the best. Due to the very long days, we only went to 2 shows but both were fantastic. We wen to the Jean Ryan company performance and Cirque Birjoe( not to be missed). My husband and parents also went to see a magician named Sean that they loved. At night, there was a lot to do around the boat. They usually had a band playing in the Spinnaker Lounge and lots of other entertainment around the ship. We usually went to the show and then to the casino and called it a relatively early night since we were so tired.
Excursions: The ports were the absolute highlight of my trip. Everyday we had an incredible time. We did 2 excursions by the boat and the remaining days we used ROMEINLIMO( more information to follow). In Messina, we did the Taormina and Sicilian Vineyard excursion. We went to Taormina and had beautiful views of Mt. Edna and saw the Roman theater. We then went to a beautiful vineyard and had incredible wines, that we bought, and a home cooked italian feast. It was so much fun. The next excursion we did via the boat was Monaco and Nice highlights. This tour was really worth it as we saw things that I don't think we would have been able to see on our own. The trip went to Monte Carlo. Nice and Monte Carlo are beautiful and not to be missed. The BEST part of our trip was using a company called ROMEINLIMO( www.romeinlimo.com). We had the best driver named CARLO. We used him on Wednesday to Naples, thursday to Rome, and friday to Florence. He had everything planned out for us including all the prearranged tours to Pompeii,Vatican, David,etc. If we wanted to do something else, he was very accommodating. For lunch he took us to some of the best places that were reasonably priced. Truly was the best way to see the ports in the limited amount of time we had. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Food: The food on the Jewel I thought was very good to excellent. The garden buffet was okay for lunch the first and last day. Nothing to special but they did have variety. We ate breakfast most days in the dining hall before our excursions began. Breakfast was always good. For dinner, we ate in 2 of the speciality restaurants-Le Bistro and Chin Chin. Both meals were great although I did miss the chocolate fondue at Le Bistro. The main dining hall food for dinner was mostly excellent.
Disembarkation: Big problems here but not the cruise fault. Another passenger mistook our baggage for their baggage so i was missing a huge suitcase at the end. Luckily, we and the other family were staying in Barcelona so we got it back later on in the night. Disembarkation overall was very easy.
Barcelona: We stayed for four nights at Hotel Jazz in Barcelona. Incredible hotel and city. Loved Barcelona and hotel jazz. Highly recommend Salamanca for dinner in Barcelona. If you are a seafood fan, you will love all the food. Please feel free to email me with any questions.My email is firstname.lastname@example.org