i went on this cruise with my sister, I was 21 and she was 19, and we had the most incredible time. This was my 3rd cruise and my sister's 4th. We loved the atmosphere of the ship, along with the food and public areas. We had a beautiful balcony room and were so comfortable in those beds after our strenuous days walking for hours through the destinations. I thought it would be helpful for future cruisers to have some tips, so I added a lot of info about the ports in the port review section. I definitely recommend doing a lot of research beforehand (including researching the train schedules), because to be able to see all you can and make the most of your vacation, you need to be pretty travel savvy. We didn't use any of the excursions offered by the ship and we saw everything for much less! It's definitely possible to do it on your own and on a budget. Just wake up very early and get off the ship first! This isn't a "restful" vacation the way most cruises are, unless you don't care about seeing much in the Western Mediterranean.
Oh, and I definitely, wholeheartedly, recommend the Italian specialty restaurant, Impressions (Mangia! Mangia!) WOW! So delicious! I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, it was so yummy!
We loved our first NCL experience and we'll be on the Dawn this summer to Bermuda. :)
We had a balcony cabin. We were pleasantly surprised by how roomy it was. Out cabin steward was very efficient. The bathroom was very nice and roomy for a cruise. Loved it!
So much to do, so much to see, but only a little time! I would recommend either getting there a day early or staying a day later to see all of this beautiful city. We flew in early that morning, checked in, then explored the city before embarkation. To get to the ship from the airport, take the Aerobus to Placa Catalunya, then catch the metro from Catalunya to Drassanes (Green Line, L3 to Drassanes). From there walk (5min) to the Columbus monument and then catch the Blue bus to the cruise terminal (Terminal B). I don't recommend walking from the Columbus monument. It's pretty far and after a long day/ night of travel and exploring, it's just too difficult. It looks a lot easier than it is. After we had checked in, we tried walking and, whew!, bad decision. And we're young and fit!
Things to see: (either walked or used metro) Las Ramblas: the promenade leading from the port to Placa de Catalunya. It's the center of Barcelona and lined with shops, restaurants, street performers, and a street market (Boqueria).
La Sagrada Familia: Gaudi Church
Parc Guell: Cannot be missed!! The most beautiful park in the world, in my opinion, with AMAZING architecture and sculptures.
Although Valletta doesn't have all that much do to, it was very beautiful and peaceful, and nice to walk around. Don't be persuaded by the taxi drivers at the port who harangue you to let them take you to the main part of the city. It's very easy to walk up to Victoria Gate to enter the city on your own. It's not very far at all. Definitely grab a map and you can do this city on your own. It's a waste to pay for any transportation here, unless you want to go to another part of the island. It was perfectly satisfying to walk through the little allies and see the beautiful architecture and forts of the city.
Things to see:
Upper Barraka Garden: Definitely see this. Very beautiful views and super close to the port.
St. John's Co-Cathedral: Knights of Malta
Silent City: you can take a bus to Mdina to go here. We decided against it since we felt we got enough of Malta from Valletta.
We decided to spend our time in this port in Pompeii. Definitely worth it! To get to the train station (Ferrovia Circumvesuviana) walk across the street to the newspaper stand & buy a bus/train ticket. You can buy a round trip that will work for the bus and train. Take the #1 bus to the train station and take the Pompeii train to the Scavi stop. You'll be able to see Mt. Vesuvius from the train too!
Pompeii is AMAZING! We spent the majority of the day there, and got some of the best pictures of our trip here.
We walked around Naples and stayed near the port. The city is very old (obviously, but not kept up in the way the other ports were) and, in my opinion, not worth spending much time in.
We were planning on taking a hydrofoil to Capri, but it was a bit expensive (around $80/person) and we felt we had gotten a lot out of this port already. We also didn't want to risk missing the ship! However, in Capri it is recommended to see the Blue Grotto.
ROMA, oh how I love you! This was my 2nd time in Rome and my sister's 1st and we loved every second of it. There is almost too much to see and do here, so this is where diligent research and planning pays off. The port is Civitavecchia and Rome is an hour train ride away. From the ship , take the mandatory shuttle to the outside port, and walk 4 blocks to the train station. There was a 7:59am and 8:41am train. Try to get on one of those early ones and get there by 10am. Remember to validate your tickets in Italy!
Things to do: (Grab a map and use the metro or walk everywhere) Go to the Vatican 1st to miss the main crowds. Remember, no bare shoulders and nothing above the knee in the Basilica. This is strictly enforced and many people are turned away who are not dressed appropriately. After this, walk around the corner to the Sistine Chapel. Obviously can't be missed!
We then walked, yes, walked (Rome is extremely walkable. The map makes it look a lot bigger)
Spanish Steps: which is right next to. . . Trevi Fountain: which is walking distance from... Pantheon, so see all these together.
Then take the metro to see the- Roman Forum, which is right next to the... Colosseum. We decided to walk around the Roman Forum, and skip the lines for the Colosseum to save time.
You should be on the train ride back at around 4:00pm to leave enough time for delays and getting to the ship on time.
Florence was a great 2-for-1 since we saw Florence and, on the way back, Pisa. Pisa is en route to Florence, on the same train line, so it is very easy to see on the same day. We saw Florence 1st since it was farther, then Pisa, so we would be closer to the ship toward the end of the day.
The port is Livorno and we took a shuttle, then bus to the train station(Centrale). The train ride to Florence is 1 hour, 20 mins, so timing is key.
The things to see/ do in Florence are:
Uffizi Gallery (opens 8:30am) Accademia Gallery (opens 8:15am) Duomo (opens 10am)
We decided on the Accademia Galley to see David and the line was very long. Since we really wanted to see Pisa, we decided to skip the Uffizi Gallery (expecting another very long line) and just walk around the Duomo area and get a snack.
We took the same train back to Pisa and got off at Pisa Centrale. We then took a bus to the Leaning Tower. (It's a bit far to walk with the time restraint.)Very cool! We were so pleased we stopped here!
Cannes is a short day, which is ok since there isn't all that much to "see," structurally speaking, but Cannes is SO beautiful. We really wanted to go to Monte Carlo so we walked to the train station (very easy) and got tickets to Monte Carlo, Monaco. The train rides all along the French Riviera and passes through Nice, if you want to stop there instead/ as well. We then took a relatively easy walk to the casino. Really neat! I really recommend visiting here. We took some really great pictures here.