Please be patient....I'll be posting our report in sections! Also time is short for me, so I'm afraid this is the "unedited" version.
About us: Loyal “Norweenies”, 40 & 50 something, cruising on the NCL Jade for the very 1st time.
Disclaimer: A review is for all intents and purposes a perspective of OUR overall experience.
Our Adventure: 1 day pre-cruise in Barcelona; Eastern Mediterranean cruise, round trip from Barcelona, Spain -> Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy -> Messina, Italy (Sicily) -> Izmir, Turkey -> Alexandria, Egypt -> Valletta, Malta -> Barcelona, Spain; 1 day post-cruise in Barcelona – 5 full sea days included. (Love my sea days!)
Note: Sicily was a substitute port in place of Athens, Greece, which was canceled due to a ground transportation strike. Sad not to get to the Acropolis, but we had a blast in Sicily!
Flight arrangements were booked independently with American Airlines. Prior to our flight there was news of a potential strike after our departure, which thankfully never came to pass!
We departed JFK on 3/5/2010 @ 7PM prepared with $500 euros in advance, arriving at BCN 3/6/2010 @ 9AM on schedule. Thanks to the red-eye flight and some off & on rest, we were ready for some touring Saturday until we could check-in at our hotel. All of our arrangements went off without a hitch, except for our time at the BCN airport. For whatever reason, passengers from our incoming flight waited 1-1/2 hours for our luggage! Ridiculous!
Thankfully Barcelona City Tours waited for us and quickly whisked us off for a 4 hour tour of key sites in Barcelona. Due to the number of roll call members booked, the fee was only 39 euros/pp. We were transported in small vans, making it comfortable for everyone in our group. (Thanks for arranging everything, Pam!) At the end of the tour, we were all delivered to our individual hotels, including our luggage safely stored in the back of the van.
We booked Hotel Onix Liceo through Hotels.com.for 1 night pre and post cruise @ US $157/night. It is located on Carrer Nou de La Rambla, just 2 blocks from port & the Christopher Columbus Monument and directly adjacent to all the action on La Ramblas. Room type was requested, but not guaranteed. For our night pre-cruise, we received a balcony room facing Nou de La Rambla, which was greatly appreciated by me since I smoke. It was a bit noisy into the wee hours of the morning, but nothing bad enough to hamper our sleep. (Thankfully I had remembered to pack my international hairdryer and adapters, so we were all set for the European outlets.)
We had heard and read all about the threat of pick pockets in Barcelona, and were well prepared with money belts, a Pac-Safe purse for myself, etc. But honestly, even though we heard a few horror stories, we never felt threatened once during our 2 days there. Just like any city, it takes common sense, being alert, not wandering into secluded areas and avoiding tight congestion with pedestrians.
Although there are tons of options for dining on La Ramblas, the front desk suggested we stray just 1 block beyond for better food and prices. We did just that, found many to choose from and were not disappointed! After dinner, it was off to bed for us, to recuperate from jet lag and get ready for our cruise!
The "unfinished" La Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi
Opposite side of The "unfinished" La Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi
Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi
Palace at Plaza de España, Barcelona
The port area of Barcelona
The Louis Majesty (Former NCL Majesty) docked after the rogue wave incident
NCL Dawn 01-2004 11-Day Southern Exotic; NCL Dawn 09-2004 7 Day Florida/Bahamas; NCL Dawn 11-2005 10 Day Eastern Caribbean
NCL Dawn 06-2006 7 Day Bermuda/Bahamas; NCL Dawn 12-2006 11 Day Western Caribbean; NCL Spirit 11-2007 15 Day Caribbean Repo
NCL Dawn 06-2008 7 Day Bermuda; NCL Spirit 09-2008 6 Day Canda/New England; CCL Fantasy 11-2008 5 Day Progresso/Cozumel
NCL Dawn 11-2009 14 Day Repo; NCL Jade 03-2010 12 Day Eastern Mediterranean; NCL Jewel 10-2011 7 Day Canada/Portland Cruise;
NCL Gem 10-2013 7 Day Canada/New England; NCL Sun 11-2014 7 Day Western Caribbean; NCL Gem 10-2016 8 Day Eastern Caribbean;
134 days at sea and still counting......