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Age: 40's


Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Gem

Sailing Date: 2009-11-15

Itinerary: Western Med

Fantastic flawless vacation! We could not have had a better time. We were also blessed with perfect weather every day! The ship is clean and new. The decor is fun without being tacky.

Food excellent with endless choices at the buffet. We never left the buffet to try anywhere else (the food was so good there-why go anywhere else). Salads, Asian (East Indian choices every day), Sushi, Pasta station. Pizza was very good (not excellent but certainly worth it). The buffet dining room was very pretty and stylish. Noise level was good. Sometimes hard to find an open table. Desserts were small but very tasty. Ice cream with several different favors (Yum!). Coffee on the ship was great! We never used room service.

For a small window stateroom it was ideal. Everything handy. Everything worked. The paneling is very pretty. OH and the BED is VERY comfortable! The shower was easy to regulate.

We didn't participate in activities as we were so busy with excursions. The ship was more of a hotel to us. We did go to one or two shows. They were above average. The magician show in several languages was fun. We did not use the spa. We did use the fitness center and it was EXCELLENT!

We enjoyed the Malta Scenic beauty trip. The price was very reasonable and the guide was great. We also did the Rome A Taste of Rome (part by bus and about 4 hours on your own). We totally enjoyed it and it provided just enough time to see a few things and get a tiny taste of Rome. Lastly, we took the Cinque Terre trip. THIS IS NOT TO BE MISSED! This is real Italy. Prepare to walk and walk and walk. But you will love every step.

In Naples, we took the taxi (15 euros) to the Napoli Centrale Train station to Pompei stop. Naples is a frantic high crime area. Stay alert at all times. Especially on the trains. (we had friends have their backpack stolen from an overhead in Rome). Don't take anything with you that is valuable. Avoid carrying a wallet or using pockets. Gypsy kids are roaming the stations and trains. They look friendly and cute and come playing instruments. Best advise for Naples, trust no one. That said we saved a lot of money doing the trip on our own. Pompeii is a must see! We had lunch just outside the Pompeii gates at one of the orange stands. The Pompeii pizza outside of Pompeii does life get better! Pompeii is only 11 euros to get in and the train ride to Pompeii is only about 5 euros round trip. Save yourself some money by bringing a map or book about Pompeii with you or buy one once inside.

I got our Euros from our local bank before leaving home. (I would not feel comfortable using an ATM in Europe) and you will need money right way for the cab. Arrived from Florida to Barcelona Airport. Airport in Barcelona very clean and modern. Most taxi drivers speak English. Ride to port will cost between 25 and 30 E. Bargain for it before you get in the cab.

Ship took off around 5 p.m. We were all suffering from Jet lag so the first day at sea was nice. The ship was sooo smooth you forgot you were on a ship. Never a ripple. Our room was very quiet. (But I understand from another couple whose room was underneath the childrens activity room that they had noise all night.). Shopping area and atrium were great. We loved the Bliss nightclub.

If we return to Italy--we would prefer not stop in Naples (Sorrento would be a better place). Malta was pleasant, but we were not as taken with Malta as I thought we would be. I think learning more about Malta would be beneficial as the history would make the place more interesting. The port is beautiful!

Everyone we encountered spoke perfect or near perfect English. It did seem to make things better when I attempted to speak some Italian. Restaurants are cheaper if you go just a few steps away from the main drag.

We had a lovely meal just a stones throw away from the Colosseum La Pace del Cervello. In the Cinque Terre we ate in Monterosso at a cafe bar called Sciuscettua (both of us E13.00 for 2 lasagnas and I had a coke.)

The French Rivera was amazing. Even though off season and no one was on the beach, everything was open and people were out with their dogs and walking. Everywhere there's a cafe. Very carefree last day. Sad to leave the ship. We didn't feel rushed as NCL allows you to pick what time you want to get off. It was a 5 star vacation and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

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