Tuesday, 9 August 2016

July 31, 2016- Barcelona/ Embarkation on Our Second Costa Cruise

This morning we ate at the hotel buffet again. We packed up almost all of our belongings and walked through the Olympic Port area, along the walkway by the sea. We wove in and out of a few streets before settling on a café by the ocean for some tapas for lunch. We had octopus, mussels steamed in wine, gazpacho, and roasted potatoes with aioli and spicy aioli on them. With ice cold Spanish Coca Cola this was an excellent repast.

We will miss waking up to this view

Buffet breakfast
Wandering the streets

At El Pacifico Cafe
We had a friend join us for lunch.
Our tapas lunch

We walked a little more and found an ice cream stand to have an ice cream. In the hot Spanish sun with real ice cream (unlike Canada) we were soon covered in melting ice cream. 

We  found a grocery store and bought a whole bunch of bottles of sparkling water, some nuts, a few granola bars, and a couple of chocolate bars to supplement our onboard the cruise ship diet. We returned to the hotel and collected our bags.

We could see our cruise ship (the 'little" one) from the windows by the elevator in the W Hotel 
We took a taxi to the Barcelona cruise ship terminal, which was just down the water a ways, so not much more than a 10 minute ride. At the terminal, despite our online check in, we waited in line for a long time to check in our suitcases and show our passports and boarding passes. The employee who viewed Bill’s Canadian passport was not impressed that he didn’t have an entry stamp. We tried to explain that he had come through the EU lineup with April and therefore he didn’t get a stamp. The guy had to view Bill’s boarding pass and then go off and verify it. Then Bill had to surrender his passport while April was able to keep both of hers (because she has an EU passport- anyone without an EU passport is made to surrender it on a Costa cruise). Again the passports were all in a rows in little boxes sitting on top of a folding table, no locks, no top to the box, and ample opportunity for anyone to seize them. We were not impressed that no changes had been made to this practice from last year.

We boarded the ship and found our room. The room was about the same size as our room last year, however, the big difference was our balcony (last year we only had a little window, no balcony). We have a balcony that is about 35 feet long. It has two chairs that partially recline and a little table. It’s way, way bigger than the other normal balcony rooms’ balconies.

Our bathroom.

Our balcony.

Hallway looking into our cabin.

The picturesque Port of Barcelona from our balcony.
Annoyingly, the room has only one chair and one little stool to go with the little table, unlike last year when we had a couch to sit on side by side on when we ate at the little table (room service is one of the only ways to survive these Costa cruises). Bill and April unpacked and April did some sink laundry before we had to dash off to the safety session in a lounge on one of the lower decks. We had to bring our huge life jackets with us. The safety video offered examples of people being complete idiots. Then we returned to our room.

We changed quickly and then went up for dinner. This year we requested the first sitting of dinner. Last year we had second sitting and we often finished dinner after midnight, a nightmare when you have to be up early the next morning to go on an excursion or explore a port where you only have a limited number of hours. The first sitting was at 7:30 pm.  Unfortunately, our experience with dinner in the dining room on a Costa ship was not any better than last year. Our two servers were pleasant, one from Indonesia, the other from India, but that could not improve the fact that it took forever to get through all the courses, almost everything on the menu was previously frozen, many dishes were cold or hot and cold (we suspect pre-made and then microwaved), the food tasted gross, and there was only one thing on offer for dessert with coffee flavour (no ice cream available this time, damn it! That’s practically the only thing that was good about the last cruise.).

Hot on the outside, cold in the middle. M&M Meats probably makes these.

During dinner, April started to shake with cold and couldn’t keep warm. We assumed it was air conditioning, but then she had stomach cramps that intensified once we reached the room where she could not keep warm. She slept fitfully that night feeling absolutely horrible. We wondered if she had food poisoning or if the stress of revisiting the world of Costa had brought on the gastrointestinal distress.

The bed is not that comfortable (and being a cruise ship, it is two single beds pushed together). We have one thin pillow each. The sheets are rough in comparison to the W Barcelona. But that’s the problem with going from one extreme to the other in accommodations. At least our room wasn’t falling to pieces like our one on the Costa Magica- the Costa Fascinosa that we’re on now is much more new.

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