Just booked! NCL Epic Western Mediterranean from Barcelona

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Pretty stoked, as we have never been to Sardinia, Sicily, Florence/Pisa or Naples/Pompeii. Here's the itinerary:

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.27.19 PM.png

Got a great rate from Casinos at Sea.. instantly into a comped Balcony cabin, with the option to remove fees for 3rd guest using an offer, total fare:

Guest 1+2
$200 cruise rate
$92 taxes/fees
$240 upgrade to Mini Suite
Guest 3
$92

All in cost, including $480 to upgrade the cabin was $1158.

Paid $800 deposit on arrival,and will buy 4x Vouchers onboard the NCL Escape in December for (kinda) 50% off... which will cover the balance, and the next next cruise. (edit will check the terms, and if applicable to only one per booking may just get two...)

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 1.30.52 PM.png
If anyone has good tips for what to do in the ports, be sure to let me know!
 
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smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
That is a great itinerary! Sounds like a lot of fun. Check out Rick Steves' Mediterranean cruise port book. It's on Kindle and if you have Prime you could get it as a free book to peruse. It has a lot of great ideas to use in port if you don't want to use the ship's excursions. He has names and contacts of local guides and generally has some interesting things in there. I cannot recall if all your ports are in there or not, but surely some are.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
That is a great itinerary! Sounds like a lot of fun. Check out Rick Steves' Mediterranean cruise port book. It's on Kindle and if you have Prime you could get it as a free book to peruse. It has a lot of great ideas to use in port if you don't want to use the ship's excursions. He has names and contacts of local guides and generally has some interesting things in there. I cannot recall if all your ports are in there or not, but surely some are.
Thanks! We tend not to ever do official excusions, but we do sometimes use them for inspiration.. EG in Naples I see us visiting Pompeii, but then bailing in time for Pizza..
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks! We tend not to ever do official excusions, but we do sometimes use them for inspiration.. EG in Naples I see us visiting Pompeii, but then bailing in time for Pizza..
Excursions on the mainline cruise company ships in my opinion tend to be overpriced and not a good value. I love doing my own thing as well.
 

GettingReady

Level 2 Member
First post I read on this forum, and it's the cruise we're looking at doing next year! Can't wait to hear your experiences. We're looking at spending 4-6 weeks in Europe next year. Also interested in the inland Bohemian tour by Trafalgar but not sure if the cost/benefit is worth it. We also want to spend time in Germany. A lot of different things to figure out, and no doubt questions, but I need to cruise around the forum first.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Matt, are you flying United into Barcelona or going someplace else first?
I've actually not decided. I see seats in Coach for non-stop JFK-BCN on both AA and UA, with 3 of us that is decent... however, I'm not sure whether I should add on a stopover on the return with UA to somewhere fancy.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
The Rome port is a long way from Rome and not much in that port town. I boarded a cruise there.
Good to know thanks. That is actually the one place we've "done" so I'm not that bothered, but will certainly start focusing on daytrips there rather than just wandering around based on your comment.
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
Cruise critic is great. Last time I was in Rome a few months ago I spent a day in Sulmona and it may be further than you want to go, but it is a pleasant place to wander.
 

bharavi

New Member
I did that trip last summer with my kids. In Rome, we rented Segways, but not thru NCL, and got to see so much more.....Segwaying around the colosseum definitely was the highlight of our trip. The Pompeii excursion is very cool too.

Pretty stoked, as we have never been to Sardinia, Sicily, Florence/Pisa or Naples/Pompeii. Here's the itinerary:

View attachment 2449

Got a great rate from Casinos at Sea.. instantly into a comped Balcony cabin, with the option to remove fees for 3rd guest using an offer, total fare:

Guest 1+2
$200 cruise rate
$92 taxes/fees
$240 upgrade to Mini Suite
Guest 3
$92

All in cost, including $480 to upgrade the cabin was $1158.

Paid $800 deposit on arrival,and will buy 4x Vouchers onboard the NCL Escape in December for (kinda) 50% off... which will cover the balance, and the next next cruise. (edit will check the terms, and if applicable to only one per booking may just get two...)

View attachment 2450
If anyone has good tips for what to do in the ports, be sure to let me know!
 

Jawa

Level 2 Member
Don't forget to stop by the ship casino to get chips everyday (i think $3k per day on NCL). The chips are added to your stateroom bill along with other ship expenditures, so no CA on CC (as long as the ship did not depart from USA, 3% fee for those). You can exchange chips for cash on the last day and deposit at the bank (dunno how that works while abroad though).
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Don't forget to stop by the ship casino to get chips everyday (i think $3k per day on NCL). The chips are added to your stateroom bill along with other ship expenditures, so no CA on CC (as long as the ship did not depart from USA, 3% fee for those). You can exchange chips for cash on the last day and deposit at the bank (dunno how that works while abroad though).
$30k in cash from BCN?
 

zceuxbhjutf

Panel 3 Member
Saw somebody going pretty fast on a seatless Segway-like unicycle last weekend while I was walking around. I thought the heat had gotten to me.
 

ElainePDX

Level 2 Member
My daughter just returned from a month in Italy and Spain and said the pizza she ate in Naples for like 2-3 euros was the best she'd ever had in her life!

Is the Casinos At Sea site only available to members/those with gambling "credentials"? Or can anyone partake? The price seems fabulous.
 

plane2port

Level 2 Member
Matt, here's my suggestions for what to do in the ports that I have visited:

1. Palermo--the Capuchin Catacombs--astonishing. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombe_dei_Cappuccini)
also self-guided walk (http://www.frommers.com/destinations/palermo/752485). Palermo has the most beautiful churches in Europe!

2. Naples--Pompeii, of course! Then after, a visit to Da Michele near the train station for the best pizza in the world.

3. Rome-- I don't even know where to begin. Have you been before? What have you seen already? Are you in the mood for antiquities, museums, or churches?

4. Florence--the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia (to see David) (http://www.florence-museum.com/museums.php) Both easily done in one day. Book ahead online.

All of the above I have done on my own with public transportation. Florence is the most challenging logistically as Livorno is some distance from the city. You may want to cab it here especially if you are traveling with the baby.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Matt, here's my suggestions for what to do in the ports that I have visited:

1. Palermo--the Capuchin Catacombs--astonishing. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombe_dei_Cappuccini)
also self-guided walk (http://www.frommers.com/destinations/palermo/752485). Palermo has the most beautiful churches in Europe!

2. Naples--Pompeii, of course! Then after, a visit to Da Michele near the train station for the best pizza in the world.

3. Rome-- I don't even know where to begin. Have you been before? What have you seen already? Are you in the mood for antiquities, museums, or churches?

4. Florence--the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia (to see David) (http://www.florence-museum.com/museums.php) Both easily done in one day. Book ahead online.

All of the above I have done on my own with public transportation. Florence is the most challenging logistically as Livorno is some distance from the city. You may want to cab it here especially if you are traveling with the baby.
Thanks! We saw the Capuchin in Rome, was incredible and certainly would look at some more. Naples - yep, you nailed it, though I wasn't sure what the best pizza was..

Good point about booking in advance, we forgot that last time to Italy.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
My daughter just returned from a month in Italy and Spain and said the pizza she ate in Naples for like 2-3 euros was the best she'd ever had in her life!

Is the Casinos At Sea site only available to members/those with gambling "credentials"? Or can anyone partake? The price seems fabulous.
It's casino related. I'm in the program from my first ever trip where I actually played, and since then haven't done much at all, but keep getting the invites.
 

gasman

Level 2 Member
Matt,

This looks like a great trip! We did a different Med itinerary about 5 years ago, but loved it!

Sicily - Sicily with Mario http://www.sicilywithmario.com/default.asp?lang=en&p=default

I can't exactly remember who we toured with near Naples, but didn't go into the city. Instead, we did the Amalfi coast and loved it! I believe it was actually with http://www.taxirobertomirabile.com/ Quite the vistas from the highway and quaint towns! You can't go wrong with the food (so long as it's not immediately next to a train station) anywhere in Italy IMHO.
 

guybrush3pw00d

Level 2 Member
My SO and I went on a Mediterranean cruise back in 2009. The cruise itself started in Venice, went to Croatia, 4-5 Greek islands, Turkey, Naples and ended in Civitavecchia. We spent approx. 9 days before the cruise on our own, flew into Rome (spent 2-3 days), took a train to Florence (spent 4 days) and took another train to Venice (where we spent 2 days before boarding the ship). I have to say that seeing all of the Greek islands and other port cities was fantastic. You'll absolutely love it.

I second the recommendation to check out Rick Steves' books. They are generally great at giving overviews and suggestions on what is doable in a given time frame (he's all about efficiency). If you aren't familiar with his books, you can grab most of his books from the local library to see if they are to your taste (although, they may not be the latest edition). If you like his style, you can always purchase the latest edition from your favorite retailer.

For Livorno/Pisa/Florence, it depends on whether you plan on returning to Florence in the future. Florence probably requires at least 2-3 days to fully enjoy (the museums, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the local ambiance). According to your itinerary, you have 12 hours at Livorno. I believe it may take you approx. 1.5-2 hours each way to go from Livorno to Florence (total of 3-4 hours roundtrip), which leaves approx. 7-8 hours (very rarely do you get off the ship right after it docks and you usually need to return to the ship at least an hour before departure) to see Florence itself, which isn't a whole lot. Surely you can do a few of the major sites in Florence in that time frame, but it would be very rushed. As an alternative to Florence, Pisa and Lucca are both quite close to Livorno and neither require a large amount of time to visit as we saw both in one day (as a day trip from Florence). As you probably already know, Pisa is known for the Leaning Tower (it's shorter than I expected it to be) and Lucca is a small, charming walled city. In Lucca, we rented bikes and cycled on the wall around the entire town. Rick Steves' has a lot of detail on Florence as well as Pisa and Lucca.

For Naples, we did both Pompeii and a private driving tour along the Amalfi Coast in one day. IMO, the Amalfi Coast is absolutely picturesque and I would highly recommend it. For the Amalfi Coast tour, we actually stopped in the town of Amalfi and had time to walk around and take pictures. We had lunch at a restaurant in the hills before spending the afternoon in Pompeii. The entire day spanned from 8 AM to 5 PM.

General recommendation for Italy: I would highly recommend grabbing gelato anywhere you can in Italy. We ate it everyday (sometimes twice a day!) because it was so delicious.

I've done a lot of cruising (11 cruises, all with Princess) and we definitely avoid any official/ship-offered excursions. They are always overpriced and you can always find a better vendor for cheaper. In some ports, we just explore the town on our own using a Rick Steves' book as our guide.

Cruisecritic.com is a great resource for specific ports, but it may take some time to sort through all of the information (just like any other forum, i.e. FT). If you want to save yourself some time planning, you can just grab a Rick Steves' book.
 

Gloobnib

Travel Burninator
Congrats on what sounds like a great itinerary, and what is most definitely an amazing deal. I don't have any suggestions about the ports, but I had a love/hate relationship with the Epic itself. The cabins are a little funky with the whole split-bathroom, translucent bathroom doors, and curvy bulkheads (and hence also the headboards). The curved headboards made it difficult to lounge on the bed and also pretty hard for me to sleep comfortably, since at 6'4" I really do need every inch of the 'king' beds on-board.

Anyway - My main recommendations is be sure to check out the live bands on-board. The entertainment on the Epic for my cruise was by far the most talented musicians I've ever seen on a cruise ship. I'm not sure who the current 'house band' is in the Fat Catz Blues Club, but on our cruise we had Slam Alan as the headliner and he was amazing. Very approachable, he made Blues accessible to people who would have never considered stepping into a Blues Club on land. He also let talented passengers sit in on a few songs and there were some pretty amazing performances. The last performance of the cruise was a jam session with all of the other musicians onboard (including 2 of the Blue Men sans makeup) taking turns sitting in with Slam. It was a blast, I would definitely suggest you check it out.

Oh and DW and I had an amazing time partying in Bliss until shortly before dawn the last night of the cruise. Again, the entertainment was significantly better (and the fellow party-goers significantly younger) than what we experienced on RCI ships on similar itineraries. Less corny and more 'fun/party'. The Shippenmales Dancers were a riot.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Congrats on what sounds like a great itinerary, and what is most definitely an amazing deal. I don't have any suggestions about the ports, but I had a love/hate relationship with the Epic itself. The cabins are a little funky with the whole split-bathroom, translucent bathroom doors, and curvy bulkheads (and hence also the headboards). The curved headboards made it difficult to lounge on the bed and also pretty hard for me to sleep comfortably, since at 6'4" I really do need every inch of the 'king' beds on-board.

Anyway - My main recommendations is be sure to check out the live bands on-board. The entertainment on the Epic for my cruise was by far the most talented musicians I've ever seen on a cruise ship. I'm not sure who the current 'house band' is in the Fat Catz Blues Club, but on our cruise we had Slam Alan as the headliner and he was amazing. Very approachable, he made Blues accessible to people who would have never considered stepping into a Blues Club on land. He also let talented passengers sit in on a few songs and there were some pretty amazing performances. The last performance of the cruise was a jam session with all of the other musicians onboard (including 2 of the Blue Men sans makeup) taking turns sitting in with Slam. It was a blast, I would definitely suggest you check it out.

Oh and DW and I had an amazing time partying in Bliss until shortly before dawn the last night of the cruise. Again, the entertainment was significantly better (and the fellow party-goers significantly younger) than what we experienced on RCI ships on similar itineraries. Less corny and more 'fun/party'. The Shippenmales Dancers were a riot.
Yep, we've been on the Epic already and I dislike the cabins also. But we will suck it up. Since then we've also been on the Breakaway which moved things up a notch in terms of decor/class, plus no silly curves. We're also going on the new Escape in December, this is the most exciting ship for me, since it has a craft beer bar (most ship beers suck) and a wine bar by Mondavi. Jose Garces is the celebrity chef, so it should be a good time.. I turned down another one for November, which is handy as it would be when TravelCon is.
 

Gloobnib

Travel Burninator
Yep, we've been on the Epic already and I dislike the cabins also. But we will suck it up. Since then we've also been on the Breakaway which moved things up a notch in terms of decor/class, plus no silly curves. We're also going on the new Escape in December, this is the most exciting ship for me, since it has a craft beer bar (most ship beers suck) and a wine bar by Mondavi. Jose Garces is the celebrity chef, so it should be a good time.. I turned down another one for November, which is handy as it would be when TravelCon is.
Now you've got me jonesing for another cruise on one of the newer NCL ships!

We really liked NCL, but our last (and next upcoming) trips were/are on RCI primarily because of available Itineraries that fit our schedule (2 teens). I'd really like to see NCL get some of their bigger ships home ported in MIA/FLL to more ports in the Caribbean - you can only do St. Martin, St Thomas and Nassau so many times! All of the interesting itineraries were out of NYC, but the thought of spending the first/last 2 days of a 9 cruise in freezing cold weather (NYC in January) really turned us off of that idea.
 

MickiSue

Level 2 Member
Supporter
In Florence, make sure to keep some time to walk on the Ponte Vecchio and just along the riverbank. It's lovely. If you are up for the challenge, you can climb the campanile at the Basilica. Husband did that; Daughter and I sat in the piazza and had a gelato while we cheered him on in our thoughts.
 

Jung Lee

New Member
I was in Rome, Naples and La Spezia last summer on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Livorno looks like about 30-45 minutes south of La Spezia.

Rome - even if you've done it once, i'm sure there is much you missed. we hit all the big hitters last time, but i missed out on Castel Sant'Angelo and the Sistine Chapel.
Naples - we had a boat tour out of Sorrento and spent our whole day at Capri. got to see the blue grotto and since the boat was private, we got to sail around Capri and visit other grottoes.
Livorno - if you have the time, take the train and see the towns of Cinque Terre.
 
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