Have just returned from a fantastic weeks cruise on the Med. Like previous posters have also cruised previously on the NCL Jade so comparisons will be unavoidable. Here goes:
Travelled from Stansted, check in was swift, aircraft (737-800) was modern, seats were comfortable and one particular cabin steward was outstandingly polite and helpful. He was fantastic with the children and adults alike and really did Thompson proud.
Palma was busy but efficient and after waiting a short time for our bags made our way along the whole length of the terminal where we were directed onto our bus and given our info/medical questionnaire form (have you or anyone in your party had diarrhoea recently - yes/no). Arrived at the port and informed the premier passengers (us, as we'd booked a Deluxe cabin) were to be let off and ushered through a separate desk. It honestly didn't make a difference as check-in was smooth and efficient for everyone and in no time you'd left your bags and entered the ship.
As mentioned, we've been on the Jade. On arrival there we entered into the main atrium and was provided with a weak glass of bubbly and introduced to the different drink packages NCL had to offer then found our own way to our cabin. On the Dream we were met at the door, a steward took our hand luggage and showed us directly to our cabin - really nice touch.
We were in Cabin 9004, a deluxe cabin which was far roomier than our previous inside cabin on the Jade. The beds were comfortable, the room was clean, the bathroom was functional but dated. We did have issues with the basin which blocked several times over the week and the hairdryer which had a loose internal wire so would stop/start constantly. Issues were reported but never really resolved much to my OH annoyance as her hair takes a lot of drying - hardly Platinum deluxe but still a very good cabin and the issues didn't detract from our enjoyment of the room. Our steward, Balawani, was excellent and kept our room immaculate but without being "in your face" all the time.
Different to the Jade, as "the voice from above" explained the Dream isn't all chrome, steel and glass but it does have a soul, character and personality reminiscent of older, grander times. Most of the public areas/bars/show lounge are on Deck 8, the restaurants are on separate decks but deck 8 provides a very good focal point. The lifts were a bit hit and miss. Being on deck 9 meant going to the Orion each night which was 5 floors down. The lift would illogically go up or down and even though it stated 450 kg max sometimes that equated to 5/6 people max and I witnessed several people getting on the lift then having to vacate as it was overloaded. The Jade wins here I'm afraid. The bars were lovely but sometimes trying to find a seat was difficult.
We were given the free drinks package and it was excellent, the drinks available were more than adequate including the house wine, very drinkable. the cocktails were lovely and not weak at all. Must also mention the martini of the day which in the Medusa/Ocean was lovely. My son also enjoyed his first taste of non alcoholic cocktails - virgin emotion was his fave. The lovely staff were also very open about drinks which had a supplement attached and made sure you were aware there was extra to pay. The Lido was our normal breakfast haunt but I think there was better choice in Sirens to be honest. Also heard good reports about the waiter service breakfast in the Orion. If you do use the Lido and the queue is the length of the servery then the majority of the hot food is also served outside but there is no queue! Lunch was equally good at Lido/Sirens and the burger station was also good. We ate in the Orion most nights and found the food excellent. It does get very busy and one particular night we were asked by the Maitre'd for our party number/room number and asked to wait on the sofa outside the restaurant. Twenty minutes later and watching several people go in before us when I approached him he mumbled an apology and showed us straight to a table - don't sit down at the door, his system doesn't really work. The waiters/waitresses are fantastic but they must use about a 1000 calories per shift. I witnessed one wine waiter sweating as he attempted to get around everybody!
Bram and Mark are indeed excellent along with the whole show team, average age of 23 but committed, enthusiastic and very professional. Our son did the backstage tour and managed to chat to CJ about his training etc as it's something he is interested in pursuing. CJ couldn't have been nicer and the whole teams work ethic was admirable. Stand out performances were Les Mis and Michael Jackson tribute.
Looking forward to this as we did the formal night on the Jade and because of unlimited luggage allowance (sailed from Southampton) wore my DJ. Unfortunately, the luggage allowance was restrictive this time, and seeing as we also had a stay in a hotel for 3 days after the cruise I had to make do with a normal suit. It was heartening to see so many people make an effort and was a really good night.
We did the ship's tour to Erice after the day at sea. It was the best way to spend a Monday morning and we shared our cable car with a lady off to work. What a commute!! Erice was lovely, our guide was fantastic, the lemon cakes beautiful and the views amazing. We were back on board by lunchtime so it was a very relaxing day.
Tuesday found us in Sorrento and tendering in to Port. Ships tour again. Picked up our guide on the port side, small journey by coach to Pompeii - fantastic. Our guide took us to a restaurant and gave us an hour. 14 euro's each bought us a drink, large pizza, salad and an ice cream. The pizza was lovely! Back in the coach to Vesuvius and we really enjoyed that but it does take about 25 mins to reach the summit up a steady incline so beware. The views were stunning.
Wednesday was the Rome on your own trip. I pre-booked full tour tickets with TicketItaly prior to our cruise. We'd already been to Rome when on the Jade and had made the classic mistake of trying to do too much in one day. This time we arrived in Rome and was dropped off in exactly same place as last time. Just outside St. Peters square next to a large gift shop where you can use the rest rooms for free. From this gift shop if you come out onto the main street, with the Vatican behind you, go all the way down the street. Turn left and there is a bus stop with an easy to use ticket machine. We bought 3x 1.5 euro tickets and caught the No. 40 bus which took us toward the colloseum. We got out just before the forum and walked the rest of the way. Our tickets stated we had to go to the Gruppi Cassa )group counter and collect our tickets. It was chaos at the entrance and a mass of people trying to file into 2 single files didn't really work. I overheard a guide saying the left hand file was for the group counter so we plunged ahead. Well worth it as the main queue was a good half hour wait whereas we went straight to the reservation counter and were in within minutes. The guy at the counter didn't really give us a lot of info and we assumed we would meet our guide at the meeting point signposted. Luckily another tour guide pointed us in the right direction with minutes to spare and we met up with the English speaking tour at the lift which was past the toilets until you reached a gate. The tour was fantastic, it gave us access to underground, we walked out onto the colloseum floor, bit of a Gladiator moment as you do a 360° turn. We finished off on the top floor.
We took a slow walk back past the forum and caught a No.64 bus back to the Vatican and explored St. Peters square. Coach trip back was good and back on board in plenty of time.
Thursday we caught the tender to Calvi, lovely, elegant place that we really enjoyed for a couple of hours.
Friday we stayed onboard as we wanted to enjoy the ship, Palamos looked nice enough and the beach was on the doorstep but we were happy to just relax.
All in all a fantastic cruise/holiday which my teenage son put right up there with our trip to Florida! In the comparison stakes the Jade edges it on meal choices but the Dream wins hands down on cabin comfort, service, entertainment, excursion prices, drinks packages ..................