Very puzzled when planning my first cruise



Hi all cruisers,

I am from Asia and planning a trip to Europe coupled with a first time cruise experience to the Mediterranean. Yet I am quite puzzled by a few major questions. Hope you guys can help:

(1) I am looking for a 7 day cruise and greatly attracted by NCL's freestyle (My wife and I are totally relaxed and leisure people, and scared by the idea of wearing suit, chating with strangers and behaving like in a business dinner). However NCL's 7 day cruise does not combine Italy & Greece (West Med), the 2 places I want to go mostly, while other cruiseliners like RCL/Costa do have such itinerary. NCL goes to places like Valetta, Naples instead. Do you think it's worth to swap charming Greece Islands for an NCL experience. Are Valetta/Naples etc. great places to visit?

(2) I plan to go either in May or Sep (2008). Do you think which month will be better in terms of weather and crowd?

(3) Normally how early should I book the cruise before the planned trip date? Is it better to book through those online travel/cruise sites (e.g., who seems cheaper, or NCL official site directly? (travel agents at my place do not do many cruise holidays)

(4) What is the latest embarkation time normally - I have quite a tight schedule and plan to depart from Liverpool in UK in the morning (7am) to arrive at Barcelona (the embarkation port) at around 10am - if I am to choose NCL - is it possible to catch the boarding time (scheduled sailing time at 7pm departing from Barcelona, according to NCL's website)?
(5) Any other special point to note/reminder for a first timer like me?

Many thanks in advance for all you opinions.


I've not cruised Europe, so I don't have many answers to your questions. I would encourage you to head to the community board, where more people might see and respond. You might also try to the ports of call boards.

I usually like to arrive in my embarkation city a day early to account for any travel delays. I have travelled the day of embarkation, and have never missed a ship - though I did come close once.

Have fun planning!


thanks for your advice... i may not have the flexibility to arrive 1 day earlier, so wish me good luck!!


NCL has Eastern Med cruises that do the Greek Islands. Western Med cruises do Barcelona to Italy.


We booked our cruise through Easy to use and no problems so far! We sail Feb. 16th.


Greetings and welcome to Cruise Addicts.

Even if you are sold on the Greek Isles and I can understand why, I think any Mediterranean cruise would be a wonderful experience and from the life style you seem to enjoy NLC is a perfect choice.

Of course booking through a TA is the best, but booking directly with NCL is just fine. The prices won't be much different, if different at all.

I would book as soon as possible if you are thinking of this year. Either may or Sept will give you pleasant weather. Choose the time that has the best rates and availability.

The timing, arriving in the mid morning and making the ship may be a little tight. Is there anyway you can arrive a day earlier? If not, I would check on a package with air included. Of course this may not be possible. I don't know your situation.

Whatever you decide have a great cruise. I do not think I would do Costa. There is nothing wrong with them, but they would be the most formal of the three as they are a European line.

One more thing, regardless of how you book I would not use an internet company for my first cruise. You may need help on several issues. Not all internet companies are bad by any stretch of the imagination, but personal service is very important when planning your first cruise.