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LisaP 04-28-2010 04:14 PM

What a wonderful cruise in so many ways... itinerary and ship. It was a whirlwind trip, as we visited five ports in our six full days (Monte Carlo/Nice, Florence, Rome, Naples/Pompeii/Sorrento, and Palma de Mallorca) and spent a lot of time touring all but Palma, yet it was rewarding and worthwhile. We also enjoyed the ship, particularly the varied entertainment choices, dining, decor (loved, loved, loved the main dining room), and service.

I'll get to a review this weekend, possibly, after being caught up at work. Yet as I know that some of you will be onboard soon, or are just curious (which is absolutely fine), I'm happy to answer any questions. Ask away!

Dave 04-28-2010 04:18 PM

Sounds like it was wonderful time! Three "loves" for the main dining room? That must be a great place.

anya25 04-28-2010 05:34 PM

Hi Lisa! I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed the trip! we are leaving next week. I'm excited and a little nervous at the same time. my main "concern" is rome: did you have enough time to see the city without being overstressed? of course, i would also love to hear your stories about other places. thank you in advance!

djjazzy 04-29-2010 08:02 AM

Very much looking forward to your review, as it sounds like you had a great time. Interested in how NCL got folks off the port in Livorno, as we are looking to do Pisa/Lucca on our own. Also any info on Mallorca?

LisaP 04-30-2010 05:04 AM

Hi anya and djjazzy. Forgive me for not getting back to you sooner.

Anya, we did ship tours in most ports, including Rome. Still, we never felt rushed or overwhelmed. As for Rome, the city is so large that it is impossible to see a good amount of it in the time we have there, no matter what kind of tour you use. My advice is to hone in on a couple of areas you want to see most and focus on those. This is how the professional tours do it. If you are on your own, stop by the Shore Excursion desk and they will help you map out a route and will also let you know how ambitious it is. Again, just keep in mind that you won't be able to see most of the city in this short a time period.

djjazzy, on our cruise, the Port Authority ran a shuttle from the pier throughout the day. The price was 5 Euro per person for a day pass. I do not know the drop-off point as, once again we were on a ship tour, yet that info will be available on the ship. In Palma de Mallorca, a similar service was 10 US dollars, and dropped us off across the road from the Almudaina Palace and Cathedral La Seu. We had a very pleasant walk in Palma, using a great map that was on the seats of the shuttle bus (but, bring your own just in case). I highly recommend a walk down the Passeig del Born... very pretty and lively.

Dave, the MDR was stunning. It had a similar entrance to the Windward Dining Room on SS Norway... the stair tower led directly to the entrance, then another flight of stairs to descend into the MDR. The decor was very ocean-liner-like... losts of dark brown columns. Key difference was that there were windows on parts of two sides and one large one aft. Decor paid tribute to Matson Line menu covers, supposedly, highlighting the history of Hawai'i. (As you know, N. Jade was previously Pride of Hawai'i.) And, the food was fabulous. We dined there three of the seven nights and once for lunch.

I have to rush off to work now, but will be back later this afternoon with information about what we did in the other ports. In brief, they were all ship tours -- Nice, Eze & Monaco (Monte Carlo), Splendor of Florence, Roman Highlights, and Flavors of Sorrento & Pompeii (Naples). Enjoyed them all.

anya25 04-30-2010 04:53 PM

Thank you, Lisa! we'll try to see as much as we can considering the time we have. I'll be waiting for more of your stories!

djjazzy 05-03-2010 01:29 PM

LisaP...Thanks for the quick update, though waiting for more details on the Jade cruise. You mentioned in Livorno there was a port bus for 5Euros pp, and in Malorca a shuttle for $10 US pp. Was the Malorca shuttle a NCL sponsored transportation, thus the charges in US $$, and in Livorno money was paid right on the port bus? What is the earliest time avaiable to disembark the ship once back in Barcelona?

LisaP 05-06-2010 06:21 AM

Yes, the Livorno bus was run by the port authority and the Mallorca bus by NCL, thus the different currencies. The Livorno fare was paid on the bus. I can't find my Freestyle Daily for the last morning, yet I know that pax were disembarking by 7:00 am, possibly earlier. (We had a late flight, so chose to get off later.) Once I locate it, I'll post the details.

penny3333 05-06-2010 12:16 PM

Sounds so magnificent! I can only dream One day, one day.

Did you have any sticky buns for breakfast? They were so good on the Sky. Of course, they probably change up the menu a good deal on the other side of the pond.

I know you had a marvelous suite. Did you get a chance to view the balcony rooms? Were they a decent size? I'm excited about the Oasis as this will be my first balcony cabin on NCL, I've always had insides. I promise I'll report on the bathrooms, though, since the Epic is definitely a different layout.

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know about this marvelous itinerary. What was your favorite port? Did you eat any local cuisine? How long was the flight? Did you stay any extra days pre/post?

Sorry for the 50 questions, guess I should just wait to read your review

LisaP 05-15-2010 04:11 PM

Wow. I didn't realize how long I'd been away from this thread. Real life took over in a way that needed some attention. (Still does, actually, yet I've got to have some fun, too.) My apologies.

I'll get to Penny's questions first, then the ports.

Sticky buns -- Yes, we did have them and you are right in that they are so good! Our general routine in the morning was for my husband to pick up a few pastries in the Courtyard buffet, make tea and cappuccino in our stateroom, and then head for a real breakfast. I thought of you when I saw the plate, and made a note to myself to comment on them in the review.

Courtyard Villa -- Courtyard, you say? We had access to this area on N. Jade as we had, a few days before sailing, accepted an upsell to a Courtyard Villa from our originally booked mini-suite. The CV was fabulous. Separate bedroom and bathroom for our son was on the left after entering the cabin. Actually, it was its own cabin in itself. Continue down the hall to a large living/dining area, and to the left of that was the entrance to the sleeping area. An alcove with a queen-sized bed was on the left, and the bath area was on the right, complete with the glass lack-of-privacy doors discussed in this thread. I didn't get a chance to peek into the mini-suite or balcony cabins, yet I did glance into an oceanview cabin on the same deck as the gangway as we went by and it was more spacious than I had expected. I did, though, walk through the huge Garden Villa the last morning. I think I even got lost in there... wow.

Favorite port -- Enjoyed them all, yet, if I had to select one, our favorite was Naples. Not for Naples itself, but for the excursions we did from there to Sorrento and Pompeii. Next time, we will also include Capri. I'll elaborate more in the next post.

Local cuisine -- We sampled it just about everywhere. My husband enjoyed espresso in all of our ports in Italy, and said it was sensational. Same goes for gelato. Other standouts were a small pizza place in Rome and quiche in a small bakery in Nice. One of our excursions (Sorrento) included a nice lunch of antipasti, homemade cheeses, and pasta. With the main attractions so far away from the ports in most places, we had no choice but to have lunch in town, yet this is something we always try to do, anyway.

Flights -- We were very lucky in that the volcanic ash did not disrupt our flights. We flew Boston to Madrid on a Friday night, arriving Saturday morning, then a quick flight to Barcelona. Slept through most of the first flight, which was 7 hours. We flew through London Heathrow on the way back, which was fully operational after closing for a few days earlier in the week. Barcelona to London was 2 hours, I believe, and the London-Boston leg was around 7-and-a-half hours. For those flying Iberia through Madrid, expect to be separated from your luggage until they decide to deliver it to your hotel some 12 hours later. I now have a new least-favorite airport. (Move over, Atlanta.)

Barcelona -- Arrived a day early, but didn't have any plans to see the city. Past experience made it clear to me that my guys would hit the sack as soon as we got to our hotel, and that's what happened. We stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar, which we enjoyed. Had a nice dinner near the convention center across the street. Unfortunately, the school break schedule didn't allow for more time pre- or post-cruise.

Ports to follow...

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