Hi truquera, welcome to Cruise-Chat. I sent you a PM telling you that I moved your post to this section since it had nothing to do with the cruise line. Wish I could help you on your itinerary, but have not done the Mediterranean itinerary. There are plenty on board who have, though. You can also use your "Find" feature in the upper left hand corner. Type in your ports and it will pull up all the posts made about them. You might find something of interest there. Best wishes and have a wonderful cruise!
Hard to resist commenting on this itinerary. In a word, "fantastic." And also very educational for a 10 year old. However, you are correct to question the cost of the ports and even independent travel will be somewhat expensive. Barcelona is an easy city to explore on your own and you need no tours. For Rome, you could take the free port shuttle to the Civitavecchia port entrance and than walk the 4 blocks to the train station. You than can buy a normal regional train ticket (about 6 Euros round trip) or a 9 Euro BIRG ticket which covers round trip train to Rome (about 1:15 each way) and unlimited use of Rome's bus system and Metro system. You would need a decent guide book (we like Rick Steve's guide). There are many options in Rome so you need to do your homework and prioritize. For Naples, you can walk (or take the local bus) from port to the Naples train station and take the inexpensive train to Pompeii Scavi Station. Than cross the street and you are at Pompeii (11 Euros for an adult ticket). There are many other choices for your day in Naples. Cairo - Do not mess around here since Alexandria (port) is more than 2 hours drive from Cairo. Bite the bullet and book the cruise tour that takes you to the Pyramids (Giza) and hopefully also go to the Egyptian Museum (in Cairo and where they have the King Tut collection as well as a great Mummy room). Rhodes - Just make this a cheap day, get off the ship and walk around Rhodes Town since you have a short port day. Izmir - Again bite the bullet and take a tour to Ephesus. You might want to look at a private tour (check EKOLtravel.com and compare their prices with the cruise tours). You should go to Ephesus and you want a tour that includes a visit to the Terrace Houses (not included in all tours).
Athens- you can save money by doing this on your own. There is a cheap train (about 1 Euro) that runs from Pireaus (port) into Athens. I could post 1000 words on doing Athens but you might want to simply do some searching on this forum and also use the internet. As to Crete, if you are not already "ruined" we recommend going to the ruins at Knossos. There are the usual tours, but you can probably save some money by doing it on your own. Problem is that Knossos is quite a distance from town and I am not sure of the current cost of a taxi. We also like to drive on Rhodes (you can rent a car) which is another option. So that is my quick capsule ideas (we could write a book about this itinerary). As I said, the itinerary is fantastic. The bad news is that you are going to spend more money than you want,,,,especially since the US dollar has collapsed against the Euro (down more than 10% in the past few months). Keep this thought in your mind. You are already spending tons of money on your trip and will be going to quite a few amazing places. Good planning will save you money in some ports, but this kind of trip is rewarding enough to justify spending a few extra dollars.
It has been years sinced we cruised on Norwegian so I do not know their soft drink prices. But most ships sell coke and other soda for about $2 - $2.50. Some lines offer packages such as a soda card where you pay one price for a cruise which can really help with a child who drinks lots of soda. Keep in mind that you can also bring aboard your own soft drinks (you can buy any soda in Barcelona or most other ports) and keep it in your cabin. All the cruise lines also have some type of free drinks such as ice tea, lemonade, etc and of course water is free (unless you insist on buying bottled water). If you post this soft drink question on the board for your cruise line somebody will give you exact info. Your postings are really fascinating since its unusal to find a first time cruiser on such an ambitious cruise (most start with short cruises in the Caribbean). The more I look at your itinerary the more I think your cruise line got it right! Its an amazing mix of ports and spending Xmas and New Years Day at sea is smart planning (everything on shore would be closed). We really look forward to you posting a review of your cruise when you return. If you have any specific questions on the ports we can probably help here, but since I am gone for about 2 weeks (starting next Wed) and than on a cruise 12/4 most of my help will have to get posted in the next few days or very close to your departure date in Dec.
I won't have time enough in my whole life to thank you for all your helpful information. I never imagined that I will even recieve any tips, so I am really grateful.
I know is an ambitious cruise, but I had this opportunity now and it was always my dream, so why not making it as big as you can, right? You never know if you will have another opportunity like this...
I am really excited about Xmas and New Years Day at sea, I think they have special decorations and shows so it's really perfect.
The only thing that concerns me now is the gratuities,I just read it's 12 usd per person, I thought it was per room. I also read is possible to refuse paying that much, we are three in my cabin so it will be 540 usd, too much for tips.. do you know how can I do it?
I will post my review of my cruise when I return, so I can help another people too.
Tips! ARGH! I should be diplomatic and defer to Lisa for this issue. Gratutities on cruise ships have long been a custom and also somewhat of a controversy. Can they force you to pay that amount? No. Should you pay? The reality is that its the norm. Much of the crews pay is derived from these so-called tips. Cruising would be much simpler if they added so-called tips to the original cruise price and had a no-tipping policy (Holland America used to do this years ago). In the end, what you tip is ultimately a matter of conscience spurred-on by lots of subtle and not-so-subtle cruise line pressure.
You can ease your mind because the process in Barcelona is quite simple. When you arrive at the airport (this is a large modern airport just like at home) you will have your passport stamped at immigration (you are now free to travel anywhere in the European Union) and will than go get your luggage (again, just like at any US airport). You will breeze through customs (they hardly ever look anything and than are ready to cruise. If you have transfers included, there will be representatives (holding Norwegian signs) that will meet you and get you to the ship (about a 20 min drive). If you do not have transfers you simply walk outside and grab a taxi to the port (make sure they run the meter) which costs about 25 Euros. By the way, if you want to get Euros a good way is to just use your ATM card (ATM machines are everywhere in Europe). But make sure you notify your bank before you leave home and give them your itinerary...which avoids any security issues. You also need a 4 digit PIN number and must know that in numbers (not letters). Its the same with major credit cards in that you should notify your credit card companies in advance of your itinerary. Ok, now as to Barcelona. Since you will not get to the ship until at least noon, you will be able to immediately check-in and get on-board. The ship will have a large lunch buffet (you never go hungry on a cruise). Your ship is located about 1 mile from the Ramblas (the heart of Barcelona) so once you are check-in on the ship it is possible for you to go into town for a few hours (there are shuttle buses, or taxis, or you can even walk...which takes about 25 min). You will need to be back at the ship by around 6:00 for your departure (they will give you exact info when you get on-board). Barcelona is a pretty neat town so you should try to spend a few hours just walking around the Ramblas (the main pedestrian street) or perhaps trying to see some local sites such as the amazing Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's unreal Cathedral). From anywhere in Barcelona you are just a short taxi ride from the ship and taxis are plentiful. Your ship will also operate shuttle buses all day that go between the ship and an area near the Columbus Statute at the foot of the Ramblas. When you first get on the ship you will be tempted to explore the vessel, but keep in mind that your time in Barcelona is limited and you have 2 weeks to see the ship.