Sunday, 14 August 2016

August 7, 2016 – End of Cruise, back to Barcelona, exploring Barri Gotic

We awoke to find our account for the cruise in the mail slot by the door. We still had an 11.70 euro credit left on the account from the onboard credits that we both received when booking the cruise ($200 USD each). We had been told by Raymond, our English speaking host, the day before that our Costa Card would not close out until it had been scanned by security upon disembarking the ship. With this in mind, we planned to go up to the bar and have a cool soda and mineral water to use the credit after we had cleared out of our room.

Room service came earlier than expected and we ate our usual fare of cereal and yogurt. We had green tags on our luggage, which we had put out the night before when they were assigned to us, and we would not be disembarking until 2:30 PM. However, we had to leave the room by 11:00 AM, so that the cleaning staff could prepare the room for Costa’s next victim. We did our last bit of packing and then left the room and went up to the bar as planned.

We sat down in the bar area and found an electric outlet to plug in the computer. No one came to serve us for a very long time, so April got up and went to the bar, only to have a waitress come back to the table with her to take our order. We ordered two sodas and a bottle of sparkling water, which came to just under the amount we had left as our credit. The waitress took April’s Costa Card and went to get the drinks.

The waitress returned with the beverages and informed us that we had to pay cash. We told her that we had a remaining onboard credit on our card. She told that our account had been closed. We told her that Raymond had informed us the day before that we would still be able to order food and drink until we had completely disembarked. She said “no” and repeated that our account was closed and we would have to pay cash. We then asked to discuss the matter with her manager. She replied that he was busy, but we could go to the bar if we wanted to discuss the matter with him. We were settled at our table and informed her that the manager could come to us, as we were the customers. Keep in mind, that this was all over the tidy sum of 10.18 Euros in beverages (we weren’t drinking Moet).

After more than 10 minutes, the manager and the waitress came to our table. The manager repeated what the waitress had told us and said that we had closed our account—which we had most certainly not—especially with a credit remaining. We had to explain the exact same thing over again—that which we were told yesterday about our account. The manager then went back and returned with a copy of our account and said that he saw that there was a credit left, but that we had closed the account and had to pay cash. The circular argument was beginning to become infuriating. We told him that this was dishonest, that no one had told us that our credit would be summarily terminated. We told him to take the drinks back, because we wouldn’t be paying for them and asked him to contact Raymond or Celine, the Guest Service Manager.

After a long time, the manager came back and told us that our 10.18 Euro bill would be reversed and we could “enjoy” our now tepid soft drinks. Gee thanks, Costa. A 40 minute shouting matching over a 10.18 Euro bill which we had a credit to cover and then some. What a nice way to end our cruise. It only served to reinforce our decision to almost never leave our cabin throughout the entire voyage. It has also cemented our resolve to never cruise again.

The 10.18 Euro bill that started the argument.
At 2:20 PM, we went down to the theatre where we were supposed to go to disembark at 2:30. They were already calling the green luggage tag section of passengers to disembark when we arrived, so we were able to get off the ship early! Some of the individuals in the lineup to disembark tried to budge and jostle in front of us as we waited in line to have our Costa Cards scanned a final time—Lord only knows what wonderful Costa experiences were driving them to want to rush off the ship quicker than us.

We were exhausted, but relieved to be getting off of the Costa Fascinosa.
We collected our two suitcases and joined the taxi line. We eventually hopped into a taxi, which took us to the Grand Hotel Central Barcelona (this is a Design Hotel, which is part of the Starwood network). The hotel is rated 5 stars and it is extremely beautiful in comparison to the cabin we had come from aboard the Costa Fascinosa. The sheets are gorgeous. There are flip flops for us to use and take with us if we choose. There is a large bathroom with a tub/shower, there are beautiful views of the Barri Gotic out the windows and a cathedral across the street (the Gothic area is one of the best areas to explore Barcelona from). We can’t wait to visit the rooftop infinity pool, which has great views of the Barcelona skyline.

Hallway from door leading towards main room in our hotel room.
The hallway leading from the first hallway into our room.
The bathroom in our room in the Grand Hotel Central Barcelona.

The main part of our hotel room.

The view from our room of the beautiful Gothic Quarter.
The hotel has a delicious restaurant, the City Bar & Restaurant, where we had a late lunch and planned out the rest of the afternoon.



Lemon ice cream with meringue.
April's chocolate brownie dessert turned out to be mostly bits of sponge with dabs of sauce.
After lunch, we set out walking to see the Parc de la Cuitdella and the Gaudi’s Cascada Monumental.
Gaudi's Cascada monument.

Uncarved marble at the back of the monument's sculptures.

Panorama off of the top of the Cascada monument.


A mammoth in the park! Imagine our surprise.
Parliament of Catalonia.
Camouflage bark trees. They looked like maples to us.
These little noisy parrots were all over Barcelona. They are so cute.

We loved the bat on the crest. Bats are underappreciated animals.
It was extremely hot and humid and we bought a cold drink in the park and wandered back towards the Gothic Quarter. We wandered the narrow streets and alleys, losing ourselves in multiple stores crammed with beautiful crafts or crap from China for tourists. The gargoyles staring off of one of the cathedrals down at us bear the stony expression that we would display if we ever found out we were going on another cruise.

We returned to the hotel after two and half hours of wandering through the Gothic Quarter.

The church across from our hotel.
The awesome door of our hotel.
 While out, we picked up some watermelon, coconut water, bread, and cheese to have a simple dinner in our room. We had a cool shower and then wrote the blog. The hotel is extremely comfortable and even has free Ahmed tea for us to enjoy (heavenly after the crap on Costa). The only beef we have discovered with this hotel so far is that the Wi-Fi is extremely slow (like circa 1998 dial up internet). But we suppose some internet is better than none (goodbye and good riddance, Costa). Also there is a weird and very strong perfume smell in the lobby and in our room. We don't like that.

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