It was my first time in Europe in a cruise. I was a little reluctant because of time in the port of calls and I like to get to know the cities I go to. But NCL made my experience so amazing I've already booked another cruise to Europe. It was a mother daughter trip, a "congratuation" present for me for my high school graduation and college acceptance.
My flight was Sao Paulo, Brazil to Paris, France, flying AirFrance. Over all, the flight was good. Than, another short flight, a connection, to Barcelona, where I spend four days before the cruise. I booked Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona. The hotel is beautiful, located next the port terminal and the beautiful beach. A short trip by taxi leads you to the city center.
We arrived by taxi quite early on the port terminal, around 11 am. It was not crowded and our embarkation was very easy. We waited probably half a hour to embark the ship, but was worth it. Our bags got really early in our stateroom.
The ship has aged decor, but everything was very clean and very well preserved, with the staff painting and cleaning when the ship was less crowded in port of calls days.
The staff was amazing! Our steward was an angel! Very sweet and helpful all the time. We dined allot of night at Windows, and we liked a specific member of the staff to wait us. The food was always good and when I wanted something else they were very sweet to answer my requests. We also went to Le Bistro, the french Mediterranean cousine. It cost 20$ per person, if I'm not mistaken. The service was good and the food was delicious, the quality of restaurants I've been in France. Me and my mom had the escargo for started and also shared the moules. For entrèe, I had the duck and my mom the vegetable Napoleon. For desert, I had the Crème Bûrlée and we couldn't remember what my mom had. Another night we dined at Teppanyaki. It is quite a show. The food is good - nothing really special, in my point of view. And it is a good way to meet people at the ship, since it is a shared table for twelve. TIP: do reservations in the first day, this way you can choose date and time best for you! One night we decided to try The Garden Room to dine - I thought it was to crowded and there was the need to wait in line. So, another TIP: if you don't mind getting a little more dressy, go dine at Windows to avoid lines and crowded dining room.
The entertainment on board was good. The shows were quite fun. There was the usual - bingo, art auctions, etc. The casino and night club was quite fun too.
We bought same excursions. To Rome, we choose the one they by bus only take you from the port - Civitavecchia. The bus stopped at the Coliseum and we had almost 9 hours to enjoy the city. You need to choose between going to the Vatican or visiting the other places, like the Coliseum, Spanish Stares, churches... We choose to do everything by foot ! Was a great experience walking in those small streets, in between the cars. In the end of the day, we wore very tired! TIP: Catholic churches don't allow people to walk in with shorts or naked shoulders. The other place we took the ship's excursion was at Kusadasi, Turkey. We went to visit Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary. It is a amazing experience, I recommend to everybody this excursion. It was very very very hot that day, 120-130F and I had a heat stroke. Not fun experience, tough. And in Athens, we choose to take the ship's excursion to the Acropolis - it made us cut the huge line!
The other port of calls we managed on our own. The cities were small, the port was a very short distance from the city center or we already been and knew what we wanted to do, like Istanbul. If it is your first time in Istanbul, it might be interesting a excursion, private or not.
Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation. We chose to were the last ones to leave the ship and enjoy the day in Venice while our luggage was taken care by the ship. At 4pm, we returned to the port terminal and a shuttle took us to the air port with our bags. It didn't cost much and was a great way to spend the day.
We didn't had any problem. Was a great experience. The NCL's freestyle has is very good for us - we don't love formal nights and if we want to, we can get dressy in captain's night; also, choosing dining time is very good since we have the habit of dining later than most people.
About my heat stroke, the ship's doctor took care of me and it wasn't that dangerous or complicated. Point plus for the staff for all the attention and care.
When we booked our cruise, all good cabins were gone, meaning with more space and balcony.
The stateroom was always very clear and it had enough space to fit everything if you're not an over packer.
The bathroom had a good space. Not big and not the smallest bathroom ever.
I always recommend getting a cabin with at least a balcony - makes all the difference and it is a little bigger than the oceanviews.