We sailed on the 12 day Eastern Med cruise in April from Barcelona return and loved every minute of it. We were celebrating a major anniversary and hoping for something special and it didn't disappoint.
We stayed 4 nights prior in Barcelona at the Regina which is a modern hotel centrally located near Las Ramblas and Placa de la Catalunya. It had everything we needed - a restaurant, bar, and free internet. Staff all spoke English and were very helpful. Barcelona is a great city and you will need at least 3 days to do it justice. We also went to the big soccer game before the cruise but I had my pocket picked on the crowded Metro - be careful with valuables in Barcelona.
Embarkation was smooth and stress free. We took a taxi from the hotel and they dropped us off literally at the gangway to the ship. Once on the Jade we chilled out and explored - there seemed to be special offers for stuff like the gym if you signed on early. It's a good time to see what the ship has to offer.
Overall, the food and service were very good. The ship was spotless but as other critics have commented the decor was over the top but we stopped caring after a while. Our room was small but comfortable and since we had a balcony we didn't feel too cramped and the views were magnificent.
We didn't participate in many activities - it seemed you had to pay for most things even bingo. We played cards with a regular group and had fun that way. My husband was a bit more adventurous and left half our savings at the casino (just kidding).
We avoided the ship's own shore excursions which we considered pricey and instead took advice from the cruise critic forums which worked out well.
We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants - maybe if we were on a longer cruise we might but it didn't seem right that we had to pay extra and other passengers didn't seem to rate them very highly except maybe Le Bistro. On sea days we did appreciate the Margarita happy hour after two hours of hectic card play.
I was disappointed that most of the entertainment shows I wanted to see began at 9.30pm which is a little late for this duck. But then they replayed some of the shows on the tv and I don't think I missed much.
Since we were visiting some of the world's great cities and most famous archaeological sites I rather expected that the ship would have some expert presentations from highly qualified lecturers. However they were very amateurish.
Disembarkation was smooth but we would have liked a little more time on the ship as we had another night in Barcelona before flying out; 9.45am seemed a bit early for last call to disembark.
Overall we had a fantastic time and it's a great way to see 5 countries stress free. We chose this itinerary as it allowed for relaxing sea days between most of the ports and usually a full day or two at each port. By the end of the cruise my husband was ready to get off but I would have loved to have stayed on for another adventure.
Cabin on deck 9 port side aft which was perfect for access to the cafe and very quiet
It is easy to get into Rome on your own. Buy a 9 euro round ticket that entitles you to the metro as well. You can change from the Civitavecchia train onto the metro just by passing your ticket through the electronic turnstiles. Bring a map of the metro from home. Get off at the Colosseum station for direct access to the Colosseum. You can buy a combined ticket at the Colosseum for the Forum to save queuing twice. The guides touting outside will tell you there is no information inside but it's not true. Take a guidebook or notes and read the expansive information boards provided.
It's a long walk from the ship to the metro station and when it started to rain we jumped in a taxi - 20 euros to the Acropolis which was worth it. Then we took the metro back to the port but be aware that it's crowded and hot and one passenger had his wallet stolen from his back pocket. We walked back to the ship but should have taken the taxi again - it makes for a long day if you choose to walk to and from the metro.
This was our favorite. We joined a tour organized by another passenger to Ephesus and loved it. We covered the same sights as the ship's excursions for a lesser rate.
Once again we joined a passenger initiated shore excursion for an overnight stay in Cairo and had a wonderful time. Some fellow American passengers were wary of the security situation in Egypt but our time there was without mishap. Our bus joined the police escorted entourage out of the port onto the highway. The hotel was of a high standard with security scanners and guards as had the museum. The pyramids were of course the highlight of the trip but the constant harrassment from trinket sellers was a little offputting.
Unfortunately the weather was bad in Malta and we saw little of the place. We started out on the Hoho bus but after the first hour spent getting soaked in the rain we made a beeline for the nearest taxi and went straight back to the ship. Malta has a lot to offer and we would love to go back another time. The entry into the harbor is spectacular.