Dear Cruise Diary — Day 16, May 6, 2013

Dear Cruise Diary

Day 16 – Barcelona

May 6, 2013

Today all but about 900 passengers were leaving the ship, so I wasn’t in a huge hurry to deal with the crowds. After another breakfast in the Windjammer, I packed away the last few things in my suitcase, leaving out what I would want to take with me into Barcelona.

The plan was for the continuing passengers to stop by the Savoy Theater to get our new SeaPass cards for the new cruise. Before breakfast, I noticed the line was long and thought I would wait till later. But by nearly 9 am, the line stretched almost the length of the ship and moved very, very slowly. After standing in it for nearly an hour (and not even making it halfway), someone said there was a new line one deck up. After about 20 minutes there, I finally had my new card, but had missed at least an hour of my time in Barcelona. This was obviously a major error in organization on someone’s part – none of the passengers were happy and some were very upset.

Once in Barcelona (via the shuttle from the port), I joined the large crowds walking up Las Ramblas, a tree-shaded promenade lines with shops, sidewalk restaurants, street performers and pickpockets. I was prepared for the latter, with my money, credit cards and ID in my money belt and always aware of people around me. At one point I strolled through the boqueria, the local food market filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, hams and nuts. The aisles were packed – as much by people like me taking photographs as by actual customers. I got a great fruit cup for 1 , about $1.25. At the end of Las Ramblas, I enjoyed coffee outside a café in the Placa de Catalunya, the center square of old Barcelona.

Las Ramblas Market

Selling Fruit Ham

Eggs Fruit

I had thought about getting on the HOHO – the hop-on, hop-off bus to tour the city, but the line was long and I was just not into another line after the debacle on the ship that morning. Besides, I had taken a great day-long tour of Barcelona last time I was there and didn’t expect to see much different from the bus. So I headed over to the Barri Gotic, the gothic quarter of old Barcelona on foot – not really that far a distance. This area was full of narrow winding streets with antique shops, art galleries and of course souvenir shops. As I wandered somewhat aimlessly, I found myself in the Placa de la Seu in front of the Barcelona Cathedral, parts of which date back to the 13th Century. Among the throngs of tour groups and tourists, I happened to run into Hoyt, my former dinner companion, who had left the ship that morning to spend a few days in Barcelona before going home.

Cathedral 2

Barri Gotic

I spent the rest of the early afternoon following the narrow streets back toward the Monumento a Colòn, the Columbus Monument, to meet the port shuttle. It was a beautiful day, so before returning to the ship spend an hour on the Rambla de Mer, the wide boardwalk that led to a huge entertainment complex and marina. It was a great place to take photographs and just enjoy the sun and the sea breezes.

Rambla de Mer 2

Once back to the pier, I skipped the long lines of new passengers waiting to check in. It was obvious that the demographics would change substantially for this segment, with many Europeans joining the ship. During the muster drill, the staff gave emergency instructions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and at least one other language. We also have a large number of Asians who seem to have mostly started in Galveston on their journey to Singapore. The ship is under contract to spend at least two years doing short cruises in Asia.

I headed to my new cabin, also on Deck 7 but this time with a window overlooking the interior Royal Promenade. The bed was now by the bathroom, with the sitting area at the far end of the cabin by the window. There was more sitting area, but fewer storage drawers than my first cabin. I didn’t think I would like to be sharing this space with someone else – or at least not additional clothes, etc. But it was fine for just me. Once again, I unpacked, vowing to spend some time during the next three sea days sorting out things I had just thrown into the luggage.

New Stateroom

The happy hour half-price drink specials had gone away with the new cruise, but Robin, Helen and I went to the welcome aboard show, which featured a number of the musical groups that play in the various bars and lounges. At dinner we sat with a couple from Australia and two single men – Dexter from Louisiana and Rob from the U.K. It was after 10 pm by the time we finished, and I was tired after three days of busy ports.

Tomorrow: Day 16 – At Sea in the Mediterranean

One of my observations from the first two weeks of this cruise has been that writing this journal has taken much more time than I thought it would. For the second half of the cruise, I plan to cut back the details, hoping to spend my time writing more thematic blog posts. And since most sea days are pretty much the same, I will start by combining the first three sea days of the Barcelona to Dubai segment.