Adios Barcelona !

Trip Start Sep 22, 2009
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Princess Cruise Line

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Friday, September 25, 2009

Halo!  This morning, after getting up, having a shower, getting ready, and packing, we arrived at the front desk to check out with a few minutes to spare.  Overall, we were pleased with our accommodation at the Olivia Plaza Hotel.  The location was fantastic!  Basically, at the foot of Las Ramblas and the Barri Gotic Quarter and within walking distance of many major attractions, including shopping and restaurants.  And if it wasn't within walking distance, the tour buses and subway station were only 150 meters away.

Again, we arranged with our hotel to put our luggage in secure storage for a few hours.  We thought that we'd take a walk around the Placa de Catalunya and the adjacent streets.  And, just as things turn out, we found a Starbucks when we weren't looking for one.  And it was just around the corner!  Not that we're big Starbucks fans!  We just appreciated more than thimble sized coffee!  ha!ha!

Our check in at the Princess Cruise terminal was 3pm so we had a couple extra hours to do a little shopping.  We made a visit to the El Corte Ingles, Spain's largest department store chain, adjacent to the Placa de Catalunya.  Exiting the El Corte, we crossed the street onto Av Portal de l'Angel, also known as "Barcelona Walks" which leads into the Barri Gotic Quarter.  This walking mall possessed an eclectic array of stores and shops. 

Here, Rick zoned in on a shoe store that would make Carrie Bradshaw proud!  If you know how Rick shoe shops, he begins with six or so possible shoe designs, then after choosing a colour, tries on different shoe sizes, beginning with his normal shoe size and then asking for a shoe one size below or above.  Then he walks around the store.  Then he tries on the other sizes before going through this whole process at least three more times.  But, not before the mental argument, "do I really need another pair of shoes"?  And the emotional debate, "how much do I like them"?  Shopping with Rick is like a marathon!  Like endurance training!  Fortunately, the decision making process is shortened significantly with the presence of Elsie!  With Elsie's supporting words "Rick, they look good," his decision was made!  In response, I think we saw the sales clerk quietly say "hallelujah!"  Thank goodness for Elsie or we'd still be standing in that Barcelona shoe store!

By 2:30pm, we were at our hotel picking up our luggage and catching a cab to the cruise terminal at Port of Barcelona.  It wasn't long before we had some cruise ships in eye sight.  Finding the right cruise ship wasn't very difficult.  I mean, a 100,000 ton ship usually stands out!  But it was the name "Ruby Princess" which caught our attention and directed the cab driver.  

The check in process has improved significantly over the years.  We remember standing in long lines 20 years ago in Miami Cruise Terminal during our first cruise.  Today, the line up was us!  Show our passport, e-ticket, luggage, receive our Princess Card and within minutes, we were walking up the gangway to the ship.  But not before stopping for the traditional "Welcome" photo which we never buy.  

Knowing we were portside on the Caribe deck, it wasn't too difficult to find our cabin.  Upon entering our cabin, we met our cabin steward Cerry.  Rick noticed his tux, which he preordered, hanging in the closet.  A tray of canapes arrived shortly afterwards, courtesy of our travel agent Bob!   By 5pm, we were in the Explorers Lounge for the Muster Drill.   It's always interesting to watch some people do what they were told not to do!  You never know when your ship might hit an iceberg!

Back in our cabin, we began reviewing the Princess Patter, our ship's daily newspaper highlighting the day's activities and events on the Ruby Princess.  All the information you want to know is printed in the Patter!

Having chosen anytime dining, our options were the Michelangelo or Da Vinci Dining Rooms.  Basically, this gave us the option to dine anytime from 5:30pm to 10pm.  While exploring the ship, we discovered Sabatini's, an Italian Specialty Dining Room.  We were so impressed with the intimacy of Sabatini's that we booked a reservation for tomorrow evening.  Although dining here would cost an extra $20/pp, we thought it would be nice place to celebrate Elsie's Birthday!  

Another essential area to locate was the fitness center.  Located on the Ruby Princess at the bow of the ship, the view for anyone on a treadmill, cross trainer, life cycle was the same view the ship's navigational crew would have as the bridge was directly below the fitness center.  While here, Rick signed up for some upcoming spin classes.  Unfortunately, he couldn't instruct any classes. 

At 6:30pm, we positioned ourselves at the stern of the ship to experience the sail away.  There was another cruise ship in port but I can't remember which cruise line it was.  All I remember is that ours was bigger!  And bigger is better!  Well, let's just say that bigger is more impressive!  It seemed like we were quietly leaving the Port of Barcelona until our ship sounded it's horn with three long and one short blasts.  Then it was onto razzle and dazzle of Monaco!

We dined at about 8:30pm and were impressed by the menu, wine and service!  All five courses!  After dinner, we made it to the 10:30pm show in the Princess Theater.  Here we met our cruise director James Ibrahim, who hailed from Melbourne, Australia.  The main act was comedian Billy Vader. He was funny!  One joke we remember was his recent trip to Australia.  While completing his visa to visit Australia, an immigration official asked him, "do you have a criminal record?"  He replied, "I didn't know you still needed one!" 

Buenas noches everyone!  Tomorrow brings a new dawn and a new day!  Oh yeah!  Elsie wakes up a year older too!   Cheers, Rick & Elsie!   


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