April 2014 - Norwegian Spirit to Europe - Mediterranean
Go in 3 days before to Barcelona - a fabulous city! This is a remarkable cruise with great multiple stops. This was our 7th Norwegian cruise and our second time on the Spirit and we enjoyed all of the restaurants. Hint: on the nights you get back after 5 or 5:30 from your tours schedule a specialty restaurant reservation - everyone heads for the main dining rooms or buffets and it's great to have a specific time to eat. All specialty restaurants are great. Try and get a balcony room - great views. Note: we never take the floor below the pool area, since you can hear the people who are there late at night as well as the deck chairs being moved around. Go two floors below the pool floor. The shows were good but not as spectacular as they usually are. Also we prefer the ships with the pool stadium seating - much bigger capacity and less hasseling to get a pool chair. Go out early with your towel to get a chair if you plan on sitting at the pool most of the day. If you wait till after you eat breakfast, the deck areas may be full.
As for the stops:
France - Did Marseilles and Aix - ok - cute village - only rode through Marseilles to a church - should have done the San Tropez Tour - everyone said it was fabulous.
Rome - the city was closed to tours for the Cannonization of the popes - HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT - no Vatican or Rome city tours. Did village of Orvieto - ok but not much there or worth the price.
Also, original date of that stop was a day that part of the Vatican is closed to the public. Norwegian should have known about that day of the week when scheduling Rome stop from previous cruises.
Florence - did Amalfi Coast - did the ruin & Sorrento tour with farm lunch - terrific!
Naples - did the Cinque Terra - terrific!
Venice - did it on our own - no need for the walking tour - ship provided shuttle boat to and from St. Marks Square and from there toured and took Vaporetto all over the Grand Canal - fabulous! Make sure you bargain for the artwork with the vendors along the canal and get a gellato!
Mykonos - did on own - ship provided bus to the beach area - wonderful! Ferry to Delos right there.
Istanbul - HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT! Tour cancelled due to it being Labor Day with strikes and protests in the city - Norwegian should have known from previous trips that date is no good!!
Got re-routed to Croatia which turned out to be a terrific stop. Ship provided transportation into the city and it is absolutely beautiful. Great cafe at the edge of cliffs right at the square. Wonderful guides in the town plaza (very, very reasonable and got terrific walking tour and cable car ride).
Kusadasi - great stop loved the tour of the ruins.
Athens - did the Best of Athens - a bit much with ruins all day. Would pick one only (Acropolis).
NOTE: Be careful at the Acropolis - make sure the guide tells you how to find the return bus - our's didn't give clear instructions how to get down since we were very hot and didn't want to continue climbing and we got lost and bus had to wait for us. We were totally freaked out trying to find the right path down - no one we met spoke English! So bad that the ship called our room and asked my husband where I was since I hadn't checked back in. Thank God it was a Norwegian Tour and they waited for our bus. We departed the port as soon as our bus got back. Never had such a poor guide!
All in all though I would recommend this tour. Just make sure the Vatican is completely open on that day you stop and that it's not Labor Day in Istanbul (a top location for tours).
If you finish in Venice and have the time, take the Eurostar back down to Florence and Rome for a couple of additional days, since you won't see that much on a one day stop. Asked the cruise line about ground transportation and they had none. BUT THERE IS GROUND TRANSPORTATION to Mestre Train Station on the mainland in Venice. The taxicabs are right at the cruise terminal so no need to book a taxicab or limo online (more expensive). Much easier than taking a vaporetto to the train station on the island with all your cruise luggage since the next stop off the island is on the mainland at Mestre Station. The cab ride is about 20 minutes to the train and the high speed trains get to Florence in 2 hours and from there to Rome (Termini Station) in 1 1/2 hours. Try and get First Class - more luggage compartments and less people in those cars. Well worth it!! Also don't take the Fuimenco Airport Express Train from the city (via Termini Station) to the airport if more than 2 people. The hotel limo services are cheaper and about 1 hour ride. Enjoy your cruise!!