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flahagan

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  1. I believe Blazing Boots was the second night (sea day), Elements was the second to last night and the Havana show was somewhere in the middle. Sorry, I nearly always save the dailies but didn't want to fool with so much paper this time. Make sure you're on Deck the evening you sail from Valetta - the place was lit up like Christmas!
  2. Honestly, I only went in the shopping area one time, towards the very end of the cruise, as it is very out of the way and not central as in most other ships. I remember seeing a few notions, e.g. toothpaste and such plus the assorted jewelry, purses and tees. I can tell you that when I was in there, it was nearly deserted, like the casino. I think the majority of people shopped in the ports on this cruise and never gave the ship's shop a second thought. As you probably know, it's all one large area, much like a duty-free shop in a port terminal. I wish I could help you with this. I'll ask my son-in-law later today and see if he remembers.
  3. I'm sure we were right beside you some nights in the Martini Bar, lol! What I missed on this ship was the "fun" vibe that you get on Carnival - there wasn't much energy. We all dressed in our whites for White night and then couldn't even get in the Spinnaker. It would have been nice if they'd had it on deck like most every other line does. But the itinerary made up for any shortcomings - no other line had anything as comprehensive this year in the Med.
  4. Travelicious, I'm not advising you against going, but just to be squared away on the price before you sit down, lol. To be sure, it would have been worth 30 euros for lunch, but 50? I almost choked when I saw 350 euros on that bill!
  5. You're welcome. I'm a retired physical therapist and am always aware of problems people might have with steps, lack of railings, uneven surfaces and such. We came back thinking that if you lived in either Oia or Fira and became handicapped you'd probably have to move, lol.
  6. Well, that's another story. We went there as part of a private tour I had arranged months and months ago and I was able to customize our tour to Positano, lunch at La Tagliata and a short tour of Naples on the way back to the ship. When I first booked this tour, the price for lunch was 25 euros each. About 6 weeks or so ago, I got an email from the tour operator saying the price had gone up to 30 euros each for lunch, so obviouly that's what I planned on. When we got to the restaurant shortly before noon, we were the only ones there for at least 30 or 40 minutes. One of the family owners, Tony, came and explained that there was no menu, that dishes would be brought out to share and that everything was grown on their property and cooked by "Mama", his sister-in-law. He brought 2 bottles of red and 2 of white wine as well as several bottles of water and then the plates started coming. There was antipasti, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, grilled zucchini, bowls of spinach, broccoli, chickpeas with garlic and onions, beans with fatty pork, little bits of pizza and fried bread, then I think 4 different kinds of pasta. Everything was excellent and we were groaning with fullness. THen he brought out a platter of meat (!) - sausage, chicken, rabbit and a steak. Most of us were too full to even look at it but the two guys in our party sampled some of the meats. I swear I don't know where they put it. The wine was flowing and then he brought out a plate of assorted desserts to share and small glasses of limoncello. All of this while loverlooking that gorgeous view. Then the bill came and he requested I pay in cash. I looked at it and he had charged uss 50 euro each for lunch instead of the 30 that I had confirmation for. I didn't want to cause a scene but I also wasn't going to pay this in cash so I used a credit card. As soon as we stepped out to meet our driver/guide I told him about the overcharge. He immediately called his supervisor (Sarah) who subsequently called the restaurant and said we were owed a refund of 20 euros each, as she had it in writing that we were confirmed for lunch at 30 euros. The restaurant refused and said we had been asked if we wanted to choose the more expensive option and we had said yes. Obviously, this was a lie. Sarah said she would contact the owner of the tour company and see how to proceed. When we got back to the states, I contacted her and she said the owner had also contacted the restaurant and demanded a refund for the overage but they were very "frosty" and refused. She said I needed to dispute the amount with my credit card company, which is what I did, and to write a review on Tripadvisor alerting others to this bait and switch. She also said the owner instructed her to cancel all future stops at La Tagliata and rebook with a different restaurant. She said she has two groups of 35 people scheduled to go there in October and she now has to change those bookings! She also said it's a shame when a place has to get so greedy, that it leads to ruin. The strange thing is that yesterday before I wrote the review, I read through several pages of recent reviews and saw that the charge for the evening dinner with meat was 45 euros, so I guess we must have looked like easy marks all the way around. It's such a shame, because until the bill came, we were having a great time but this has left a bad taste, you might say.
  7. Dar and Bob, bottled alcoholic beverages are not included, but you could order 2 drinks at a time - put one glass in the cabin fridge while you're drinking one!
  8. I forgot to mention the casino. I rarely utilize them and didn't on this cruise, but I was shocked every time I walked through it to find it nearly completely empty. I mean nobody was in there - a handful at the slots, nobody at the bar. It was very strange. I also found it strange that you couldn't access your ship account on the tv but had to go stand in line to check on it. The same with daily menus - no way to check unless you walked down to the restaurants. Speaking of the tv, there are no movies except one English channel that ran Aquaman almost continuously. I enjoy watching a movie and relaxing before I fall asleep, but the only other thing on offer was news channel - that's NOT relaxing. The Jade served us well on this extremely busy itinerary, but I wouldn't want to sail her on a transatlantic.
  9. Turtles06 - there were 7 of us and we had 3 rooms at the Albergo del Senato. I was in a triple room and it was in the rear so there was absolutely no noise at all. The other two were in the front overlooking the Pantheon and they had no noise complaints. I can absolutely recommend this hotel 100% - it was everything you could ask for. We walked everywhere as it's so centrally located. We loved the rooftop terrace/bar and met there each night for drinks before dinner.
  10. We just returned from the 10-night cruise r/t Rome, Aug. 1 - Aug. 11 that sailed to Greek Isles and Italy ports. It was our first time with NCL so I thought I'd just give a few of my impressions. First of all, we had a spectacular time, even though the record-breaking heat everywhere nearly got the best of us. We spent two nights in Rome pre-cruise at Albergo del Senato next to the Pantheon and loved the hotel and the location. We used RomeShuttleLimousine for all of our transfers - airport-hotel-port-airport and they were very reliable and good, safe drivers. Embarkation was absolutely the easiest of any of my 19 cruises. We arrived at the port around 11:15 and went straight through, no lines to speak of. We were able to drop off our carry-ons in our cabins and proceeded to get our first drink of the cruise. The ship has no wow factor but it is clean and seems in good shape. We had mid-ship mini-suites and the location was perfect. Our cabins were 11070 and 11072, starboard, directly over the tender platforms and the pilot access. Starboard seemed to be the best side for nearly all of the ports, and we really enjoyed watching the pilot boats zoom in and drop off or pick up the pilot. Our favorite gathering place became the Whiskey/Martini bar area where we met every evening before dinner. One of the servers there, Sandra, was the best ever - she became part of our family. Having most recently sailed on the Carnival Breeze and Vista, Princess Regal and Oasis of the Seas, I wasn't sure how I'd like the smaller size of the Jade but it was comfortable. Our cabins were wonderful - there was so much storage space we didn't even use several of the drawers and there were three of us adult women. Loved the bathroom and the balcony was very spacious. We ate all of our meals in the included dining venues, mostly the Alizar. We found the food to be just okay, nothing memorable. THe starters were pretty much the same every night and the menu seemed pretty limited. I was surprised that there was never shrimp cocktail on offer. In fact, there weren't any shrimp entrees either, such as scampi. I really missed my shrimp cocktail! The soups were generally good. We enjoyed O'Sheehan's for several lunches and it is a nice alternative dining venue. The buffet was just so-so. If I had to compare, the included dining is far superior on Carnival and Princess. I'm not a fan of RCL's food, but it was also a step above NCL. We saw the three production shows and I will say that the dancers were terrific! Elements was the best but we enjoyed Blazing Boots also. The third show's name escapes me but it was set in old Havanna, which could have been great if they'd used some known Latin music instead of the snorefest songs they did. THe entertainment around the ship was mostly blah, but we enjoyed the singer/guitarist Dave. However, he was leaving after our cruise. THey need more captivating entertainers in the lounges, for sure. THe cruise director, Dave, wasn't nearly as funny as he thought he was and was difficult to understand at times because he spoke so fast. But to be fair, we were comparing him to Carnival's Matt Mitchum who is the superman of cruise directors. At least Dave showed up, which is more than I can say of the CD's on Princess and RCL Oasis. We took this cruise because it had the best itinerary this year for the ports we wanted to see. And it is ever intensive! The only sea day is at the start and from there on you're in a marathon. We tendered in two ports - Santorini and Mykonos and it went fairly quickly and easily. I would have appreciated a bit more information of the ports in the dailies, even a little walking map would have been nice or directions to get to the express bus into Athens at Piraeus. I had done extensive research and had printed out a few maps but Piraeus still seemed a bit confusing, especially with the taxi drivers being so aggressive and in your face as you're trying to find the bus. I'll answer any questions about the ports but I'm not going into detail on them right now. Suffice it to say they were all fabulous. We took three private tours - Sicily, Naples and Livorno. In Sicily we went to Castlemola and Taormina, from Naples we went to Positano and lunch up on the cliffs at La Tagliata. In Livorno we toured several hilltowns in the Chianti region, had lunch and visited Pisa. All other ports we did independently. To sum it up, it was a beautiful cruise - calm seas and blue skies (and sweltering temps!). There were seven in our group and we all absolutely loved it!
  11. We just returned from the NCL Jade Italy/Greek Isles cruise and we were in Santorini August 3rd. I was pretty shocked at just how difficult it was to get around once ashore and thought it might benefit those with mobility problems to know ahead of time. We only waited about 25-30 minutes to use the cable car up to Fira, but no one said how many stairs there are to climb just to get into the cable car. There are several sets - one of about 18-20 to get up to the ticket office, then another set of 35-40 to get to the car itself. There are no railings or anything to hold to, so this would be very difficult for anyone using a cane or with balance/endurance problems. There is a walk of about 12-15 minutes to the bus station for the bus to Oia. On a map, it appears to be a road that you walk down but it's actually a very narrow stone pathway lined with stores and cafes. The bus to Oia takes about 25 minutes. Once there, the walkways are all stone and/or marble, very uneven and extremely slippery. Some of the steps that lead down to restaurants don't even look possible to navigate - steep, uneven and nothing to hold to. We witnessed several falls while we were on the island and 2 in our party fell. One slipped trying to enter into a store that had a sloping marble threshold and the other fell while entering a taverna that had a very steep step with a 3" hangover. The toe of her sandal caught the lip of it and down she went. We were a party of seven and all of us were glad we got to see it, but if we were to ever go back we'd opt for a catamaran cruise. BTW, we came back to the ship before sunset and watched it from the promenade deck and it was beautiful. I hope this information helps.
  12. Thanks for posting this. We are doing the same cruise August 1 and I have a few questions. In Malta, do you know why you docked at the Laboratory dock instead of the one for cruise ships? The day we visit there will be 3 cruise ships in port - us, the HAL Koningsdam and the MSC Bellissima. Also, In Mykonos, did you dock or did you tender? I've read that NCL can do either. The day we visit, it will be the Jade, Vision of the Seas and Wind Star in port. Since we're doing both of these islands on our own, it would be helpful to know ahead of time where we will dock. Thanks so much for your review.
  13. We are visiting Santorini on the Jade in early August and are planning to take the boat from the tender dock to the port below Oia. I have read many places where there is a bus that takes you up to Oia after the boat docks - was this not offered to you? I am 75 and in good shape, but I'm not into climbing up a steep hill in the heat.
  14. I know Santorini is a tender port - how about Mykonos? We're doing this same itinerary on Jade August 1.
  15. So happy you're continuing this terrific review! It sounds like the lines weren't too horrible for the cable car to/from Fira - was it much of a wait either way?
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