Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by E.T.
- Sail Date: August 2008
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Family Penthouse with Balcony
Embarkation was easy for us. Short lines and VIP pre-boarding room. Folks in the other lines seemed satisfied with the speed of boarding too. We were able to check bags upon arrival at 9:30am and board before 10:30am. We were greeted with champagne, walked around a bit and went to get some lunch at the garden cafe (go as soon as you get on because by 12:00 on boarding day, it is packed). The rooms are ready by about 12:00 on average.
Sea Day: Truth -- The pool is not the place to be. Too many people, even for my kids. The bowling was cool for $5.00/person. The kids club was great according to my kids who would never leave it, even for dinner. Good day to drink, eat, sleep and re-evaluate your excursions well -- a must do.
Malta: Good port TO DO ON YOUR OWN! LESSON #1 - EXCURSIONS AREN'T ALWAYS NEEDED! Take the bus from the boat up the hill to Valletta for 2 Euro. Walk around for about 2 hours. See a chapel or two, eat a gelato, and take the public bus to Medina for 2 more euro. Its a great little town. Clean and interesting with great views of the country. BTW, Malta is not part of Italy. Its a separate country that was a British colony. Maltese is the first language, English the second. I just saved you about $300. Just my opinion, but trust me.
Naples: Heard Capri was great, but we opted for Pompeii excavations excursion. Again, do do the excursion. Its too rushed, and hot in the summer. Take a cab of 4 people from the ship for about 15-20 euro and pay the small entrance fee. You can walk along with the million other tour groups to hear about the history. Just saved you another $400. I walked Naples in the afternoon, after lunch on the ship. Downtown is close to the port. I walked the shopping area and the main plaza. Nice Basilica! Then had a beer by the plaza. Naples is dirty and uninteresting except for the small area close to the port. The old neighborhood is dangerous too according to a couple of the port authority security staff.
Rome: If its your first time, take the tour. Too much to see on your own. Amazing, and hot place. The tour lunch was not great, but not too bad either. Was good not to worry about lunch in town. Livorno: Road to Pisa and Florence. Don't take the Pisa excursion. You can do it on your own. Bus from the boat round trip 2 euro. Then connecting bus to train station 1 euro. Train to Pisa 5 euro. total travel time 45 mins - 1 hr. Its really easy to do. The walk to the tower is about 30 mins, with some cafe's along the way. Many people walk the path along with you. Buy your tickets to the tower on line ahead of your trip. I heard Florence was great, but too rushed because of the long drive there from the port the boat leaves early. BTW, Livorno is pretty ugly, with some shady folks walking around, along with the good.
Nice: The most beautiful port. I took the Nice, Monaco, Monte Carlo excursion. Same cost as Monte Carlo/ Monaco tour. The guide was not great, but the vistas were amazing. Bad part--all the tours get back at about he same time, and this is a boat tender port. So the line to catch the tender back to ship was about an hour wait. Crazy!!
Debarkation and Overall: A mad house to catch a cab! I miss the staff. They were great! Tip them if they've gone the extra mile, even if you're charged $10/day tip fee already. And the Captain and Head Hotel Manager are great, attentive people! ... Also The Spa is worth a look. Awesome! And for specialty restaurants (Le Bistro is great. Tapenyaka was over-rated, but still good). But my best experiences consistently were in the Grand Pacific and Magenta. Good food every night!!
Barcelona: Cool City to stay over a night or two. See Las Ramblas, and the Segrada Familia Church. Check out the Olympic Stadium. Many cool places and great food.... That's it! Have fun! It's a great NEW boat
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