Our cruise departed from Civitavecchia (Rome). We stayed in Rome for 3 nights / 2 days prior to the cruise, and it worked out great - gave us time to get acclimatized and get over the jetlag. Plus being in Rome is always a great treat! We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Trastevere and it was a great location for us, as it was easy to get there from Fiumicino airport [using public transportation] and then from Trastevere to Civitavecchia train station (which is close to the port).
A little side note: If you are into using public transportation/trains, it's very easy to reach the port from Rome by train (takes about an hour). When we got off the train at Civitavecchia train station, we jumped into a shared taxi, a minivan, which was only 5 euros per person. The taxi delivered us right to the ship. Nice and easy; and the cost of the whole trip from our Trastevere apartment to the cruise ship was around 10 euros per person!
EMBARKATION - Very efficient and quick. All and all, it took us no more than 10 minutes.
OUR SHIP ("Norwegian Jade") - I can definitely say that we really liked it, although it didn't take our breath away. Something we felt was inconvenient (as far as layout of the ship areas) - Guest Service Desk is located in the area where there is often loud live music and it’s difficult to communicate with Desk Service staff when you have to yell to them (trying to be heard over the music). And we wished they had had a separate quiet area [with a dedicated pool and jacuzzi] for people who do not feel like being in the center of the main pool activities. There is a quiet area on the ship with lounge chairs, but there is no pool there.
FOOD and DINING - We really liked all the food we tried on the ship. Out of all the complimentary restaurants, we had most of our meals at the Garden Café (just because it’s quick and easy), a couple of meals at the Grand Pacific and one at Alizar. As for paid restaurants, we ate once at Teppanyaki and once at Sushi. Teppanyaki was a lot of fun! They cook right in front of you and make a show out of it, accompanied by songs!
Some things that we felt could be improved are: - Sometimes the desserts at the Garden café were not cold enough; - Fruits selection/variety could be improved. At least in the Garden café, where we ate most of the time, the fruit selection was always the same; - Alcohol drinks are very expensive.
EVENING SHOWS – Most of the time we really enjoyed them. Our favorite was "The Elements" show - very entertaining and really shows off all the incredible talents of the cast! We also loved the cruise director Dave, Fabi and all the guest entertainers - juggler John Nations, acrobats (I do not remember their names, unfortunately), Russian dancers, the singer Robert (again, don’t remember his last name). We went to the shows every night and really enjoyed ourselves.
SERVICE AND STAFF - We really appreciate all the hard (and excellent!!) work done by the ship staff to make sure our cruise would be the best possible experience. We are very pleased with all the service!
PORTS OF CALL - we really enjoyed most of the ports. We didn't take any of the shore excursions offered by the ship, as they are very pricey [for our budget]. We either did things on our own, or booked semi-private small group tours.
DISEMBARKATION was efficient, quick and easy.
IN SUMMARY, we had a wonderful time on the Norwegian Jade and would definitely cruise with NCL again, given the right itinerary that would be appealing to us. And we greatly appreciate all the hard work from all staff members. I can only imagine how much effort it takes to keep the ship in top shape for us!
I am not really sure how to rate our cabin. From one hand, it was great (as far as its layout, size, cleanness, etc.) BUT we did have an issue that put a damper on our experience. Every once in a while, we heard some loud noise that was coming from the outside, and it made it very uncomfortable for us to rest or sleep in our stateroom. The noise was not constant, but when it was on, it was quite disturbing. We reported this issue on a second day of our cruise and, to our knowledge, things were being done to investigate where the noise was coming from. However, the issue was not resolved. So in the end we just got used to living with the noise and used earplugs when we went to bed. And at one point we were offered to move to an inside stateroom, but we didn’t want to do it, as it would have been a hassle to move and a downgrade from our Oceanview stateroom as well.
How can you not love beautiful, majestic Rome! This was our 3 time in the Eternal City and we are falling in love with it even more every time we visit.. the list of things to see and experience is just endless!
I am not sure how to rate this
We love Athens and all the incredible historical places that one can see when visiting Athens! We booked a semi-private all-day Athens tour with PK Travels. Very good and informative tour. Just wish we had more time to "soak in" all the Athens experiences.
We did our own thing. Walked around a bit and then went to Ornos Beach. Caught a public bus that goes from the main bus station to Ornos beach every 30 minutes. Nice and easy. Same bus back from the beach. You can buy the tickets from a kiosk at the bus station, or on the bus from a driver. Very nice (if slightly crowded) beach where you have to pay 30 euros to rent two sun beds and an umbrella. Kinda expensive by our standards, but I guess it's to be expected when you are on a highly popular touristic island!
We did a half-day kayak tour with a company called "Trekking Hellas". Excellent company and a great activity to do on the island! After kayaking we had some free time to walk around the old city. Such a great place to explore and learn the history of! Wish we had had more time in Rhodes!
So much to see and do in Messina! And all kinds of day trips to choose from! We did a tour with a company "Discover Messina Travel" to Taormina and Castelmola. A very pleasant experience. There is also a lovely beach in Taormina that we visited when we had 2 hours of free time there.
Valetta is great! It was one of the ports where we wished we had had more time. There is a ton of things to see! We booked a semi-private tour with Amy Pace, a private guide. It was a very good tour, but because our time in Valetta was quite limited, we felt a bit rushed (and this is not our guide's fault, of course).
We did a shared tour for Rick Steves with Mondo Guides. Excellent system - you sign up for a tour on-line and if your group gets the minimum required number of people, you get an email with confirmation of the tour. We did a tour "Sorrento, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast". Good experience, however, it felt rather rushed. We visited three places - Sorrento, Positano and Pompeii. We only managed to have roughly one hour in each of these places (alghtough the original itinerary for Pompeii indicated we'd have two hours there). Both my husband and I felt that we'd rather have had 2 stops, but that they'd be longer. One hour for Pompeii is just not enough! The Pompeii stop was so short because we lost time while visiting first two stops (people on our tour were late to show up at the meeting place) and got into a traffic jam.
Our ship did not go to Livorno because we had mechanical issues of some sort. We docked in Rome instead for an overnight stop there.