This was a 21 day cruise consisting of 2 cruises back to back: a 7 day cruise departing and returning to Venice visiting Croatia and the Greek Isles and then a 14 day transatlantic cruise from Venice to New York City visiting several ports in Spain and Portugal. This was our 4th cruise on NCL and our 2nd Transatlantic cruise on NCL. We have been on 20+ cruises.
Before anyone starts to ready this—I want to apologize for all the complaining. I'm sure that there were many folks on board who loved the cruise—unfortunately I'm finding after cruise # 4 on NCL that I'm just not a fan of Freestyle cruising because the service just isn't the same with Freestyle as it is on a traditional cruise ship. I want to have the same waiter every day who knows what I prefer even before I sit down. Some people could care less about the service—I have friends who are just as happy going to the buffet every day and hate sitting down for meals. Luckily, we have the freedom to choose what we prefer.
Overall I was disappointed in this cruise. The itinerary and ports visited were fantastic—but the food, service, and activities on the ship were average to subpar. NCL's cost cutting was evident at all times and trying to avoid hidden costs was a major activity and frankly—exhausting.
A beautiful city on the Adriatic coast. The tenders docked 1 block from the famous Roman Diocletian palace. We did a shore excursion to the historic site of Salona and then to the village of Trogir. The tour was good, but I quickly got “historic shore excursion overload”. I would have been much happier just walking off the boat and doing the self or guided walking tour of the Diocletian palace—followed by shopping and exploring the town on my own.
We did the 4 x 4 adventure where you drive a jeep with standard transmission all over the island—thru small villages down narrow streets and hairpin turns in the mountains. One of our best shore excursions ever—the island is beautiful. One of my favorite memories is driving down a narrow street in a Greek village. We were so close to the houses that you could nearly reach out and touch a house on both sides of the street. The elderly Greek women sat in their windows and waved to us as we drove by. A very pleasant and adventurous trip. Great views!
We decided to explore the island on our own. The tender drops you off at the bottom of the cable car area. We choose to ride the donkeys up the stairs. Everyone warned us not to do it—we were warned about the smell and the fleas. I am so glad that we did it—very exciting, not too smelly and I got no flea bites. Would do it again next time! We found a restaurant with a great view and enjoyed a lovely dinner and did some shopping. We took the cable car back down to the tenders.
Here we took the shore excursion to Delos. Delos is one of those sites that is not to be missed because of it’s historical importance. (But we are talking boring if you don’t like seeing old ruins.) I’m glad that I saw it—but don’t want to see it again in a huge tour group. Luckily we were there at the end of October during one of the last days of the tourist season. I can only imagine how miserable it must be during the summer during the intense heat. Trying to crowd in close enough to see what the guide is talking about when you are in a group of 40 other ship passengers is frustrating. The ride to Delos and back on the boat was delightful. There is great shopping and outdoor cafés right at the tender docking area—so there is still plenty to do if you don’t want to go on an organized shore excursion. The windmill area was also only a short walk from the tender dock.
Another beautiful Greek Isle. We took the shore excursion to Knossos which is another one of those historical sites that you need to see if you are a history fanatic. This shore excursion will not be interesting to those folks who hate seeing old ruins. We saw it on a cool day in late October and I imagined that it would have been absolutely miserable in the heat of the summer. One of the advantages of doing this tour thru the cruise ship—was that we entered the site before it was open to the general public. We walked past a huge group waiting to get in. Our guide told us that the lines to see some of the most interesting places like the throne room can be 45 minutes long in the summer and we were able to see this area after waiting only about 5 minutes. We were also taken to a “typical” old Greek village which was delightful—great views and great shopping!