|The pilot boat approaching our ship to let the pilot on board to guide us out of the Port of Barcelona|
Prior to leaving the Hotel Grums at 10:30, we asked the reception desk to order us an SUV type taxi. Within two minutes a small taxi appeared on the street with a taxi driver insisting that he was the one called.
|This five mast sail boat was touring with passengers when we stopped in Mallorca Spain on the way to Barcelona.|
With our multiple bags on the curb, we waved a hand showing him how much we have and he claimed in unintelligible Spanish that he could fit us and the bags into his small cab. Not possible.
|Views as we pulled away from Barcelona|
As we shook our heads “no” a second equally small cab appeared saying he was the taxi called. He commenced arguing with the first driver. Another 60 seconds later, a larger SUV taxi appeared just as I began to walk back into the hotel to ask for their help.
|The Windjammer Buffet, very nice, great food, comfortable ambiance.|
The three cab drivers stood on the street yelling profanities (from what I could determine) at one another. The hotel desk guy came running out into the street yelling at the first two cab drivers, explaining that he’d ordered the SUV taxi not the two smaller taxis.
Four of them were yelling all at one. Finally, after an obscene gesture by cab driver #1, the two drove off in a huff, leaving us grateful to the hotel guy for interceding in our behalf.
Apparently, they all heard the request for a cab at the same time, scuttling to our location hoping they’d be chosen. Twenty Euros (US $26) later and a short 10 minute drive we arrived at the Porte of Barcelona.
The process of boarding Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas was disorganized and time consuming. This was our worst boarding to date with over 2000 passengers boarding speaking in at least 10 languages all seeming to arrive at the Port of Barcelona, earlier than the suggested 1:00 PM arrival as stated on the cruise documents.
Arriving at the pier at 10:45, our nine items were tagged and quickly whisked away including one of our two rolling luggage carriers which we kept to hold our carry on bags: our prescription bag, two computer bags, my handbag and one small bag with a newly broken zipper.
|View from the ladies room by the Windjammer Buffet.|
At this point, we proceeded to the lengthy line waiting to go through the first round of security, with a newfound interest in paying special attention as to what we put into the white plastic bins and what came out after the knife incident (see post of May 1 about this incident).
With our vitamins scattered throughout our bags, now checked we felt at ease going through security. Our year’s worth of prescriptions were in my hand as always in a wrapped cloth bags with accompanying documents in a computer bags. We made it through without a hitch with two more checkpoints yet to go.
A full three hours later we used our new key card/ship credit card to unlock our balcony cabin with nary a moment of disappointment as to its amenities. Roomier than most other cabins, it was clean, comfortable and well stocked.
|In the casino this glass floor was a sight to behold.|
Soon, our delightful Chinese cabin attendant, Jing, stopped by to see to our needs: ice daily, morning and night, a few laundry bag (we had hand washed small items but had 16 days worth of wash with no laundry facilities on board the Epic nor here on the Mariner of the Seas.
Shortly after unpacking a few items, we were herded of to our muster station to be left standing in one spot for over an hour while they waited for dallying passengers to appear for the mandatory emergency evacuation training. In our minds, they should have begun on time requiring the late comers to attend a separate training.
It was frustrating and annoying as unconcerned passengers lollygagged to the area at their own pace with little regard for the process.
|More of the playful décor in the casino.|
However, the passengers on this ship is of entirely different demographics, mostly retired travelers, (although over half are non-English speaking), leaving us feeling more comfortable in the less noisy, less rowdy party-like crowd we experienced on the Epic, especially over the last four days of the cruise when many new passengers boarded in Barcelona.
With our diminished inventory of clothing after ridding ourselves of five large suitcases since April 13th, we can’t go for long without getting our dirty laundry washed. Today, we loaded 25 items into the ship provided laundry bags, handing them over to Jing to be returned to us tomorrow, most likely at a cost of over $100.
Right now as I sit here in the Café Promenade along the “street” inside the ship, entitled the Promenade, I am wearing a nice tee shirt and my solitary remaining pair of workout capris. Literally all of my few remaining casual shorts and jeans are being laundered.
|The Savoy Theatre where we attended two seminars today.|
Ugh! Tonight is dress-up night. We will be forced to wear casual dressy (if such a thing exists). Tom’s suits and sport coats where shipped to Julie, my sister in LA, and I donated all of my dressy dresses, leaving me with but a few casual dresses to dress up with costume jewelry.
All future photos of us will be with us wearing the same darned clothes over and over. Sorry. Its the nature of the beast. Tom always comments when he’s wearing the same shirt over and over in photos. We’ll wear these clothes until they fall apart, replacing them one item at a time. I even donated five of my bathing suits, leaving me with a tiny inventory. Oh well.
|The Promenade, an actual street with shops, bars and restaurants.|
So, this ship? Do we like it? Love it? Or what? Its early to say for sure, but so far, we love it! It reminds us of our favorite Celebrity Century, although its 1000 passengers larger. Its an older ship like the Century possessing the “old Hollywood charm” we so much love. We’re content as we could be.
|More treats in the Café Promenade, none of which we could eat.|
In two days, we’ll arrive in Alexandria Egypt. At 7:15 am we join a shore excursion to see the Great Pyramids, Giza ad the Sphinx at $179 per person. The 12 1/2 hour expedition requires hats, sunscreen and bottled water, includes a buffet lunch in a fancy hotel in Cairo, five to six hours on the bus and…a three and a half hour walk in the desert, mostly uphill to arrive at our destinations. Oh.
|Café Promenade “outdoor” bar.|
|Café Promenade, all foods and beverages are included in the fare.|
This morning, after a seminar on our upcoming ports of call: Egypt, Jordan and United Arab Emirates including some history of these countries, I headed to the health club to test my ability to walk uphill for on the treadmill for 40 minutes. All went well but in the upcoming 100 degree heat, the desert sands blowing in our faces, it will be a totally different experience than walking on a treadmill in air conditioned comfort.
|Décor in the playful casino.|
There many passengers much older than us with walkers, wheelchairs and medical conditions affecting their ability too walk. If they can do the 3 1/2 hours, so can we. The key will be staying hydrated during the entire period.
If we are back with photos on Friday morning, then we made it. We’ve heard many stories of the difficult hike.
|Another pool view later in the day as it warmed up slightly. Brave souls in the cool air.|
As we’ve determined, we won’t be riding the camels after hearing many horror stories of people being thrown off the camels or, the camels being run out further into the desert by their swindling owners in order to rob unwary passengers, left to fen for themselves miles from civilization. Then there’s the stories of the camels turning their long necks to bite the riders, leaving many severely injured. No thank you.
|While in the Savoy Theatre today.|
Tonight, we’re meeting our new friends, Adele and Wally for dinner at the Sound of Music Dining Room. We met them while at the Hotel Grums in Bareclona this Sunday, only to discover that they were also boarding this ship on Monday. Small world.
As for dinner last night…heavenly. Yes, they also will require me to pre-order for the next night but, they are more accommodating than any other ship, running circles around me to provide me with the perfect three course dinner.
|My view this morning while working out on the treadmill. To the left of this photo is the bridge which we can peer into through windows down a short flight of steps.|
The food was fabulous: a seafood salad made with homemade mayonnaise and excellent seasonings, a dinner salad of fresh greens, vegetables and giant chunks of perfectly cooked rare sliced tenderloin with a side of steamed veggies. For dessert: a plate of cheese comparable to the fine cheeses I devoured daily in Belize from Cavesbranch Cheese Factory in Belmopan.
Tom enjoyed his dinner as well. The service is extraordinary everywhere we’ve been on this ship in the past 24 hours. Perhaps, its a little early to say we love this ship although, we have a feeling the pleasure will continue all the way to Dubai.
|The health club, well-equipment, good views.|
We’ll be back tomorrow, Wednesday and again on Friday with photos and stories of our adventures to Egypt, the only remaining ancient Wonder of the World. Gee…sounds like us, ancient wanderers of the world.