We had arranged a Meet and Greet in Magenta on Monday, and that turned out very well, with about 40 people attending, and representatives from the ship introducing themselves, as well. We've been on more than 14 cruises, mostly with NCL, but the Gem was the nicest ship we've been on.We had a fantastic cruise on the Gem, and look forward to sailing on it again. As usual, we enjoyed the freedom and options available to us on NCL. The atmosphere was very upbeat, and everyone was very helpful. We ate at Cagney's one night, and the steaks are great, as are the varied appetizers you can choose. The other nights, we enjoyed Magenta and the Grand Pacific restaurants. We even found the buffet restaurant to be better than those on other ships. We ate breakfast at the Grand Pacific, and Cagney's, and they were excellent. We chose an obstructed oceanview cabin that faced sidewards, and it seemed roomier than the others. We did private tours of Italy with a group of 8 people from CC, with romeinlimo, and it was great. They always got us back in ample time. We also went on private tours that others from CC had arranged in Malta and Cannes. I don't know the companies, but they were also excellent tours, although we only had a half day for each. So, we recommend the ship and private tours; although we had to get up at 6 AM to leave at 8 AM for each tour, it was well worth it. The shows and entertainment were varied and we enjoyed them, too. Our favorites were the Andy Buenger Show, the Newlywed Game, the Kwane Remy Show, and the Second City, Improv and Comedy. Our only criticism was that the chocoholic buffet was poorly organized for crowd control. We spoke to someone about it the next day, and hope that it will be corrected for future cruises. We were also concerned about the long lines waiting for taxis at the pier in Barcelona. In Barcelona, we stayed at the Acta Atrium Palace for 3 nights, and the room, facilities, and staff were excellent. We got a discount by booking well ahead of time.
We spent 3 nights at the Acta Atrium Palace at 656 Gran Via in Barcelona before the tour. We met people from CC staying at other hotels, and enjoyed most of our stay there. We went on the on-off bus tour on Saturday before the cruise, and enjoyed seeing the Gaudi Park and Buildings. Our only complaint was the long lines for the buses. We enjoyed walking on Las Ramblas, and seeing the sights at the port, on Thursday and Friday. We enjoyed dinner at La Barca. Beware of pickpockets on Las Ramblas, and in that area. That was our only bad experience there!
The port in Malta is ancient and beautiful! We went on a private tour that someone in CC recommended. I think the company was Jim Sheridan. We purchased tickets on the internet beforehand for the 10AM tour of the Hypogeum. That was a great experince, and well worth it. Before that, we visited the Tarxien Temple, and Ghar Dalam Temple. Then we visited the Hagar Qum Temple, Mdina, medieval city, Blue Grotto, and Masaxlokk fishing village. It was a wonderful day, and we did everything in time to be back at the ship at 2PM! This was one of my favorite days, since there were no massive crowds to contend with.
We toured with Romeinlimo here. We visited Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. In Pompeii, we hired a guide, who made the tour very interesting. Then, our driver took us to Positano, where we had lunch. Then we went to Sorrento, and saw the many sights there. Rather than having the large lunch, I would have preferred seeing more towns along the coast.
There was so much to see in Rome that we could have spent more time there.It would be great if the ship would dock there for two days! We used Romeinlimo, and hired a guide for the Vatican, as well. We saw the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, The Treve Fountain, and Michaelangelo's artwork in the Vatican! It was an amazing day, indeed!
Again, there was so much to see, and so little time to see it all. First, we visited the Piazza dei Cavalieri, and saw the school Fermi had attended, along with the church where the crusaders returned. Then we saw the Tower of Pisa. After that, we viewed the city of Florence before visiting there. It is a beautiful city, and we enjoyed our visit there.
I really enjoyed our tour here, because the countryside is beautiful, and it is not as crowded as the other ports were. WE toured with a private company, and saw the perfume factory before driving to St. Paul, which is a charming town. We spent quite some time there, since we only had half a day to tour.