Cruise to Mediterranean on Norwegian
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
I knew I really wanted to visit #Europe, my parents took a trip twice and I was beyond envious. Dylan on the other hand, was nervous about the idea of there being a huge language barrier and he was unsure of what he would eat in Europe (he’s so picky). It hit me that a cruise would be the best way for us to have a balance of getting to go to Europe, but having the safety of being on an American ship.
When I got serious into planning the cruise I looked over hundreds of itineraries. All I knew was I wanted to go to Italy and Greece. The trip I ended up booking was an 8-Day Adriatic & Greece From Venice on the Norwegian Star, with ports of call in Venice, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Athens, Santorini, Naples, and Rome. Our full itinerary was:
Day 1: Embark, Venice
Day 2: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Day 3: Kotor, Montenegro
Day 4: Day at Sea
Day 5: Athens, Greece
Day 6: Satorini, Greece
Day 7: Naples
Day 8: Disembark, Rome
Because of where we got on and off, Venice and Rome, we opted to do a few extra days before and after the cruise, cause, duh. Ha! Our timeline was as follows:
Get on boat in Venice Sunday
Cruiseeee for 7 more days…
Get off the boat in Rome Monday
Leave Rome Wednesday
In this post I’ll be breaking down the cost of our cruise, pros and cons of the cruise, and all the tidbits I think you should know before booking your next Mediterranean Cruise.
Cost of Our Norwegian Mediterranean Cruise
This is never a fun topic, but I want to be honest about the whole thing. Our cruise cost breakdown is as follows:
PAID BEFORE CRUISE STARTED
Beverage Service Charge: $230.32
Dinner Service Charge: $227.52
Shore Excursions (2): $596
PAID ON BOARD:
Bus Transfer to Dubrovnik: $30 ($15 per person)
GRAND TOTAL: $4,145.68
A balcony room
2 x Ultimate Beverage Package (unlimited alcoholand drinks normally $99.00per person per day x Cruise Days plus 20% gratuity, so at least $1500)
2 x 3 Meal Specialty Dining Package (normally $89.00 per person, so 178)
All meals for 8 days
Entertainment on board
Room upkeep (hello cleaning service)
Entrance to 4 ports of call (we didn’t have to pay any sort of taxes for entering or getting on/off the ship)
So yeah, $4k is steep. But really it breaks down to $260 per person, per day. Not bad for being over in Europe.
Also, because of the time we signed up for our trip and put our deposit down, we were able to select two Sailing Freebies. We chose the Unlimited Beverage Package which gave us unlimited drinks for the entire cruise; and, we chose the 3 Meal Specialty Dining Package which allowed us to go to three of the specialty, non-free restaurants on board. Nice!
Pros of a Norwegian Mediterranean Cruise
We loved our cruise. I have very few negative things to say about the experience. But here are some of the biggest things I loved and the perks of opting to cruise!
One Room, Many Stops
The best part? Easy: getting onto a boat, unpacking and traveling to 4 different countries without ever having to carry my suitcase again. I always choose to empty out my bag when we travel; I hate living out of a suitcase. So it was beyond nice to be able to see so many destinations without actually having to lug around a bag to each destination. Here was the view from my bed!
Food and Dining Set Up
There’s nothing more difficult than finding food in a country that you don’t know the language. I loved that we could have breakfast and dinner on the ship before taking off to explore new ports. Like most standard cruise ships, the Star had restaurants that had food that was included, and then extra restaurants you could pay extra to go to.
The free restaurants included:
Buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (pictured above)
2 Main Dining Halls only open for dinner (they always had the same menu)
A Bar/Pub that had bar type food, open 24 hours a day
An Asian cuisine restaurant, mainly Chinese food, open for dinner
A poolside buffet with burgers, hotdogs, and fries, open for lunch
The restaurants that cost extra varied in pricing, but they were:
Italian restaurant (honestly I don’t remember seeing it! Ha!)
Norwegian offers a freestyle dining, meaning you don’t have a specific time that you have to eat, and you don’t sit next to the same people every evening. This was super nice when we had late ports and didn’t get on the ship until 5 pm. And, we made friends with another couple and were able to have dinner with them a few times.
Unlimited Beverage Package
On a previous cruise that we took we opted to not have the unlimited drinking package, simply because it was too expensive. Because it was one of our free options, we didn’t feel pressure that we had to drink a certain amount per day, or even get our money’s worth. But! It was amazing just to have it. Being able to have a cocktail or glass of wine with dinner was perfect. And I loved drinking mojitos by the pool. As opposed to our last cruise where I only ordered one drink the entire week! I definitely feel that it will be a must whenever we cruise in the future. Here's just a few shots of drinking throughout the week!
Similar to stated above, but seriously. Can we talk about this itinerary?! Santorini?! Naples?! What! I was so excited to be visiting so many beautiful places that I had on my bucket list. And truly, every day in port was the perfect amount of time. Except for Santorini, I don’t really feel like I need to revisit any of the ports again because we got everything in that we wanted to. It truly is the perfect way to travel! Sunset shot below:
After much, much, muchhhh research – so many blogs and hours spend on Pinterest – I was able to determine that we needed to do two excursions on our cruise. I am one that does not book through outside companies; instead I stick to booking through the ship. We booked an excursion for Athens and Naples.
In Athens, over 1,000 cruisers booked an excursion through Norwegian. Our ship had less than 2,000 cruisers, so that’s saying something. On our excursion alone, there were enough cruisers to fit 13 tour buses! In Naples, there weren’t as many, but still a lot.
I won’t use this post to dive into our full details, because those blog posts are coming! But I will say it was well worth the cost at $358 for Athens and $238 for Naples.
Diversity of Cruisers
We met so many people from all over the world on our cruise. For sure there were a lot of Americans, but we also made friends with a couple from Wales, a Filipino family, a guy from Australia, and a lot others I currently don’t remember. But it was really great to chat and get to know different people on the boat, because then whenever we were walking around we’d run into new friends!
Midway through the cruise there was a laundry service: for $19 you could have everything that fit into one bag cleaned. And being the amazing packer that I am, I was able to fit A LOT into that bag. This really came in handy since it was almost the halfway point of our trip. We each only brought one backpack on our 18-day vacation, so laundry was a must.
Halloween on the Boat
Our trip was during Halloween, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole ship decorated when we went out for breakfast that day. Here’s just some of the décor we saw:
Need I say more?
Cons of a Norwegian Mediterranean Cruise
Not everyday at sea is perfect. And sadly, we did have a few hiccups on our cruise. They’re not major, and I’m going to spill all the tea right here. So here were the cons of our cruise:
Cancellation of Ports
The biggest problem we faced on our cruise wasn’t necessarily something Norwegian Cruise Line had in their control. Weather got real bad on the Adriatic Sea. Like, 12-foot waves, Dylan feeling so sick he had to hide in our room – and because of that, they ended up having to be grounded in the Dubrovnik Port overnight. This completely cancelled our second port stop of Kotor. I get it. Weather’s bad, it’s unsafe, let’s not go.
But… as we were walking around on the moving boat the cancelled port day, I realized we were nearing shore. Turns out we DID go right near Kotor to pick up Norwegian employees. And you know what I did for two hours? I wrote blog posts in the sun on the top deck.
We were at port for almost four hours. Not allowed off the boat. Originally that port day was slotted for 8 am to 5 pm. Even with half that time we could have still gotten off and explored for a bit. It was really annoying. Here is a great shot of Dylan and I looking off at the Montenegro Coast that we were unable to explore.
The Star and a few of the other ships in the Norwegian fleet are apparently too small for comedians. Normally that is our favorite entertainment option on a cruise, so we were very disappointed to not have that as an option. But in all honesty, we felt most of the evening entertainment options were geared towards older cruisers: opera singer, violin player, and 80s tribute band show. Nothing except game shows were anything we ever wanted to go to, which was sort of a bummer.
So, our entertainment was napping by the pool. We aren’t normally pool people, but we spent a lot of time at the pool on this cruise!
I am embarrassed to say that I was asleep by 8pm more than half the time during our trip. It was fine because I was awake at 4am, but still…
Food Quality in Free Dining
On our last cruise there was only one specialty-dining restaurant, so I was quite surprised at the five options this cruise had. But I realized quickly that the food in the free dining wasn’t as good as free dining on the ship with less specialty dining.
For example, on our last cruise, Dylan had sirloin steak every night. On this cruise, sirloin steak was never on the menu. But it was at the specialty restaurants. They save the good stuff for the paying customers.
I also noticed on one of the last days that the breakfast was the same no matter which restaurant you go to. Which would have been nice to know earlier in the week when we were wasting time at the sit down restaurants.
Our cruise was amazing. Hands down, one of the best trips of our lives. I was so nervous that Dylan wouldn’t have a good time, but he loved Europe, which made the trip even better.
I still think cruising was the best way for us to dip our toes into big travel like this. I mean, we’ve visited other countries before, but not the country hopping like many do when they visit Europe. We’ve even talked about doing the same style trip for Asia, or returning to do a northern European cruise.
If you know you’re a cruiser, I highly, highly recommend this method of travel!