Sunday, 26 August 2012

And so it begins ...

A very early start to our holiday; a 6.40am flight to Barcelona. It seemed preferable to wake up at Gatwick rather than Reading but our choice of airport hotel was less than ideal. It's not quite the country house the photo on the website led us to believe; more like a downmarket holiday camp. Our room didn't even have a window. But it was 70miles closer to the airport than our house so that alone made it preferable.

So the first day of our holiday began at 4am rather than 2am, which was definitely still too early as far as Alex was concerned. The flight was fairly uneventful and we foumd our way to the cruise terminal by taxi, but arrived too early to check in. We dropped our bags off and took the port shuttle to the Columbus monument.

We are on familiar ground in Barcelona; our previous med cruise stopped here. That was in April though and one difference is immediately noticeable - it's VERY hot. Having made sure we saw all the key sights on our last trip, we're content with a stroll along the promenade and a beer (ice cream for Alex) at a pavement cafe.  There seems to have been a cycling boom since our last visit, too. The cycle lanes are well marked and there seems to be a Boris Bike scheme.There are also quite a few people on electric scooters and Alex wonders why we don't have those at home.

Travelling back to the dock it's remarkable how small Norwegian Spirit looks against its neighbours; it's dwarfed by the Norwegian Epic. It's got a capacity of 2,000 guests and 1,000 crew but that's much fewer than Ventura and Celebrity Eclipse so it will be a different experience. Check-in takes a while and it's 2.30 by the time we get to our cabin. It's pretty compact, and there's no fridge. But Alex is impressed by the balcony.

It takes us a while to find a restaurant that's open, as the staff don't seem to know. We end up in the buffet which has plenty of choice including dishes prepared to order. After lunch we begin to explore but Alex finds the wet and wild kids pool where we stay until the emergency drill. That is a real chore; being translated into about 17 languags takes ages while we stand in rows on deck.

I unpack after that, while the boys play cards and then we watch from our balcony as we leave Barcelona. This is 'freestyle' cruising, so we can eat dinner when we like in a choice of two a la carte restaurants. The dress code is pretty informal too - even formal night is optional. We opt for the Garden Room; the food is excellent and our waiter is really friendly.  But even Alex can't manage dessert and we have a fairly early night. It's been a long day.

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