Let me start this review with the comment that we absolutely loved the trip. We had a wonderful time seeing sights we've all dreamed of with a lot of great new friends made through Cruise Critic on our roll call.
We booked this trip mainly due to the itinerary. We hit all the major ports of the Med. Yes, I know other ships have very similar itineraries but the Emerald had longer times in each port giving us more time to see everything we went for. In retrospect, this may not have been the best idea. A trip this port intensive is very tiring with very little "down time" to recuperate.
We arrived in Barcelona one day prior to departure hoping to see the major sites prior to leaving port. Due to flight delays in Frankfurt we were unable to see anything the day of arrival. Stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona near the airport. The hotel shuttle is free and they do offer free shuttle service into central Barcelona. A very modern hotel by European standards but not very convenient to the sights or restaurants of Barcelona. We took an inexpensive shuttle to the port on the morning of departure to check in and see as much of the town as we could.