NCL Epic Cruise from Barcelona, July 2014

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July 3rd 2014
Published: July 30th 2014
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After having to delay my trip because of my nephew's sudden death, I was very happy I had purchased trip cancellation insurance. I learned a few things about the plan I purchased. First, it covers the death of relatives as far out as cousins and some in-laws. Secondly, it did not cover any additional costs to delay your trip (unless it has begun) if the new price is more. Mine happened to be because the studio cabin on the NCL Epic was sold out for the new date, but I was only to rearrange some of my dates, so I bit the bullet and bought a double cabin for a single price. Third, with the obituary, Delta Airlines would change the ticket for me at no additional charge. Nice! The original hotels in Barcelona were sold out for the new dates, so had to pay a lot extra to get into a good hotel.

Delta Airlines Economy Comfort is very nice for long haul flights. There is 4" more pitch and 4" more legroom, free cocktails (I don't drink on planes but full bottles of water if you wanted them). Eat (and if you order a special meal, mine is diabetic, you are served first), watch a movie, sleep, and you're in Amsterdam. That airport if not set up for people with tight connections. There are no boards showing connecting gates, until you get to the terminal you're supposed to be going to. My boarding pass didn't show a gate, so it was a maze of confusion trying to find out where my connection was leaving from to Barcelona. I made the KLM flight from Terminal 2, a pretty crowded 737, but had a window which was nice to continue my sleep. KLM serves the same sandwiches on every flight I've been on with them. It's filling but boring. The cookie after the snack is more memorable than the meal. I woke up and chatted with a lovely Malaysian couple from Penang going to BCN for a medical conference. I still wonder if they were returning on MH17. They were so nice, but sad that their country is now known for the disappearing plane. Little did we know there would be another major disaster just a few weeks later. On arrival at the Barcelona Airport my private transfer arranged by Expedia was smooth as could be. A nice Russian driver who spoke English perfectly, met me outside customs, helped with the baggage. It is a perk I give to myself after long hauls so I don't get into any trouble with jet lag.

Hotel 1898 is a gorgeous, historic hotel right on Las Ramblas. It's great location is just two blocks from La Boqueria on Las Ramblas (a great spot to get an inexpensive snack or meal). That being said, we've all read about pickpockets and crime in Barcelona. Traveling as a solo woman, I felt very safe and secure here. Their safety system is one of the best I've ever seen outside New York. Your room key must be used to get up the elevator, and only takes you to your floor, or the public floors. Not to mention the bellman was on watch to see that you belonged here. The interlock mechanism is built into the wall next to the door, so less chance of anyone using a code reader to open your door while you're away. With dark hardwood floors and spacious rooms, I thought it might be noisy from above, but it wasn't a bit. The bath is well appointed with a bidet. There is a large safe, big enough for a laptop or iPad. Anytime I travel I leave my "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door at all times, but turn it to "Make Up My Room" when I want service, and usually get it within the time I'm out. I don't care for turn down service, so up goes the DND sign again. Since I had arrived from the West Coast, my time schedule was upside down, falling into bed early, before most restaurants open in Barcelona (8:00pm - 10:00pm). I ordered Room Service, the food was fresh, (too) plentiful, and the full meal deal was 21 Euros, including salad and dessert & service charge. You can walk anywhere in Barcelona's core from here, Catalyuna Square, the Cathedral, Picasso Museum, waterfront. I never took the subway, but there is a stop 1/2 block away. My taxi to the cruise ship pier was 15 minutes and 15 Euros, more because of some heavy traffic and the meter goes by time and travel distance. The rooftop pool is an oasis amid the craziness of this beautiful city. I only ordered local wine and beer and felt the prices were on par with any other big city hotel. There is a Starbuck's in the same building, which made the breakfast plan unnecessary, so had my coffee and rolls there. I had a half body massage in the spa, the girls speak English very well. I used the indoor pool, which has a waterfall massage, jetted section, so more like a spa than swimming pool, very relaxing. Maybe that's why I fell into bed and slept restfully amid the chaos of Las Ramblas.


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