July 2015 - Norwegian Spirit to Europe - Mediterranean
This is our 4th cruise, but it is our first on NCL. We chose this particular cruise for the itinerary but a little leery because we had heard that NCL isn't as good as Royal Caribbean or Holland America. Everything went very smoothly from boarding in Venice, right through to disembarking in Barcelona. We stayed at the Hotel Olimpia, very near the port. I highly recommend this hotel, as well. In less than an hour we were out of our hotel, in our stateroom, with our luggage close behind. As the cruise didn't leave Venice until 1 a.m., we were able to eat lunch in the dining room, freshen up, change, and go back into Venice for a nice gondola ride and dinner. Upon leaving Venice, we had a day and a half at sea, which was great for unpacking, planning excursions, and figuring out the ship, for food choices, entertainment, and so on. We had a balcony, which was amazing in places like Istanbul, and Naples. Overall, we didn't care for the buffet in "Raffles". Our meals in Windows and Garden Cafe were more than adequate. We did eat one dinner in Cagneys, the steakhouse, for my birthday the second night of the cruise. It was excellent. We didn't feel the need to pay extra for dining on other nights because we had good meals that were already paid for. We loved the cruise director, Gio, and the staff. Hector was a great Latin dance instructor, and the others were always in the middle of the activities, keeping us involved in Name that Tune, White Hot dance night, Deal or No Deal, and helping us learn Italian for our next excursion. The two most expensive shore excursions we did were through the ship. We did three through "Shore Excursions" group, and one was through Viator. All excursions were good, but taking a private car into Rome saved us a lot of time, which is what we wanted when you only have 10 hours in such a great city. What I felt was especially worth the money was the 7 1/2 hour Barcelona tour at the end of our vacation. It did hurt to disembark at 6:45, however a very lovely women handled the 22 of us perfectly. We were able to stay on the bus to understand the layout of the city and get out to tour once we were more awake. We had the city to ourselves for a few hours. She was able to get us a great view of the biggest must sees, and then gave us an in-depth tour of La Segrada Familia. The excursion dropped us right off at our hotel, an hour before check in. We stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona, in the heart of the city. They held our luggage while we went to the 8th floor terrace to relax while we waited for our room. Sipping on a beautifully handmade sangria with an amazing view of the city was paradise. We had run into other people from the ship who had to wait for 1 and half hours for a taxi to the hotel, just so they could wait around for hours to get into their room. Our time was much better spent. The only negative, besides the buffet, was disembarking in an orderly fashion. They would tell us to form a line on deck 7, even though we would work our way down to deck 4 once the signal was given. For Rome, we got in line at 7:20 for an 8:00 docking. We were 10th in line. By the time they announce our docking, people from all over their ship make their way over and cut everyone off. At least 300 people crammed in front of us in a very rude fashion, and the staff just lets them in. As we were trying hard to not miss a connection within Rome, this was very annoying. Line cutting was a rampant problem, and the staff somehow made it worse. However, we made excellent friends, sharpened our Latin dancing skills, won $$ on Deal or No Deal, and truly miss our cruise director, and staff, DJ, and bartenders. Can't wait to go back!!