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luckybecky

BREEZEing through the Mediterranean 6/27 - 7/9/12

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We were on the June 27 sailing of the new Carnival Breeze. We had a marvelous time and thought the ship was magnificent. I've got dozens of pics for you. I'm going to give you a trip report -- not just a ship review -- so if you aren't interested in the ports and other info, just skip over what doesn't interest you. Warning: it’s very, very long! Please don’t complain if you get tired of all my ramblings… just scroll on by.

 

 

 

 

A little background: my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on June 6, and this trip was our anniversary present to ourselves. We have travelled a lot in the US, but this is the first time we've been in Europe since our honeymoon 25 years ago. We are novice cruisers. Our only previous cruise experience was a 4 day jaunt to Cozumel on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Galveston in January 2011. We had a great time on that trip and were eager to try a longer cruise. Here we are enjoying our “tropical vacation” aboard the Ecstasy last year.

 

 

 

 

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We selected the June 27 sailing of the Breeze because of the itinerary. We liked the ports of call, and we especially liked the overnights in Rome and Venice which would give us more time to explore those cities. This was a very port intensive itinerary. It is not for the faint of heart! We wanted to see and do as much as possible. It was exhausting but worth every minute. I did a great deal of online research of our ports, which really paid off, and joined our roll call which was terrific.

 

 

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So here we go...

 

 

We decided to spend a couple of days in Barcelona before the cruise and were so glad we did! For one thing, we did not want to take any chances that a missed or delayed flight would interfere with getting on the ship on time. By arriving a couple of days early, we had a buffer built in to our trip in case of flight delays. Plus, most flights from the US to Europe are overnights. Our flight arrived in Barcelona around 8am. We had time to get over our jet lag and see some of Barcelona -- a beautiful city -- before boarding the ship. I highly recommend giving yourself some extra time and not schedule your flight to arrive on the same day you sail.

 

 

 

We left San Antonio on Sunday, June 24. We had a layover in Atlanta and then we were on our way to Barcelona. Our flights went smoothly, right on time, but it is a long haul to Barcelona. We arrived around 8:30 am on June 25. I had researched our options on how to get from the airport to the city. We decided not to spend 40 or so dollars on a cab. You can take the Aerobus which costs 5.30 euro per person and will drop you at Plaza Catalunya at the top of the Ramblas. Another option, which we chose, is to take the train. You can buy a T10 ticket which provides 10 rides on the metro, the bus, or the RENFE train for only 9.25 euro and you can share the ticket, so if you are a couple travelling together you'll get 5 rides for the two of you for that price. We decided to do this since we knew we would be using the metro during our stay in Barcelona.

 

 

 

To take the RENFE train, you have to take a shuttle from one airport terminal to the other, then follow a long walkway to get to the train platform. We waited about 20 minutes for the train to arrive. Then, it mysteriously stopped for a good 10-15 minutes halfway to town. So, in the long run, it was cheaper but it did not save any time over using the bus, and it was considerably more hassle. We used the aerobus for the return trip after our cruise and it was very easy. The train stops at the Passeig de Gracia station in the center of Barcelona, near the top of the Ramblas.

 

 

 

We were very disoriented upon emerging from the underground train station. There are several exits over a city block or two from this very large station, and we weren't sure exactly where we had come up. For you experienced European travellers, this is going to sound stupid, but we could not figure out what street we were on. I kept looking for street signs typical of what we have here. There were none, so I could not figure out what corner we were on or which way to go to get to our hotel, despite having a good map. We wandered around with our luggage for awhile, before we finally noticed that the street names are on the buildings, high up above street level. Duh. Anyway, we finally figured it out and eventually found our hotel which was just a couple of blocks away. Here again, the Aerobus would have been easier. It drops you right on Plaza Catalunya and it is easy to get your bearings from here.

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Yay!! I can't wait to read the rest and see the pictures!! DH and I did a Med cruise last Oct and its our favorite one yet. We enjoyed it so much, we are talking about a land based vacation in 2014!!

 

Great start so far!!!

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We stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacete and loved it, but this is a very quirky hotel. Be sure to check the reviews on TripAdvisor so you know what you are getting into before you book any hotel. Hotels are very expensive in Barcelona. The Palacete was affordable and included a limited buffet (including soda, wine, and beer!) available 24 hours a day. The rooms are totally pink, with rosy wallpaper and pink linens. Location is superb, just a couple of blocks from Plaza Catalunya and the Ramblas, and just around the corner from the Block of Discord including Gaudi's Casa Battlo. Staff speaks great English and there are lots of cafes nearby.

 

 

 

Here's our room:

 

 

 

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Here's the ceiling in the lounge:

 

 

 

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And here's the spot where we ate breakfast every day

 

 

 

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After we got checked into our room, we took off to start sightseeing right away. All the advice we have seen says that to deal with jet lag, you should just hit the ground running and do not take a nap! We tried our best.

 

 

 

We had some snacks at the hotel buffet, then walked from our hotel two blocks to Plaza Catalunya, then all the way down Las Ramblas...

 

 

 

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...stopping at La Boqueria (the market)...

 

 

 

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...and finally to the Columbus Monument. We wanted to go up to the top of the monument, but the elevator was broken. They said it would be fixed in a couple of weeks.

 

 

 

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We walked along the port and then wandered through the Gothic Quarter.

 

 

 

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I loved this area and would have liked to spend more time there.

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We are doing a med. cruise next summer for our 25th anniversary and can't wait to read more of your review.....loving it so far! Thank you for taking the time to write it.

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By this time it was midafternoon and we were completely beat. We had tried to sleep on the plane with little success and had by now been awake for over 30 hours, and had been walking for the past several hours. We made our way back to the hotel and napped for a couple of hours. It was hard to drag ourselves back out of bed after this short sleep, but we did it. If you are going to take a nap, you must get up after a short rest, do not go to bed and stay asleep or your sleep schedule will be completely messed up.

 

 

 

 

We found a restaurant not far from the hotel called La Rita that I had read about online. They don't start serving until 8:30. Lunch and dinner in Spain are typically served much later than in the US. The restaurant was nice with good food. We had Le Menu for 19 euro each, which included an appetizer, entree, dessert, bread and drink (soda, water, or 1/4 carafe of wine). If you are in the area, I'd recommend this place. Here's Paul enjoying his wine.

 

 

 

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After dinner we walked past Casa Battlo nearby and then headed home to bed.

 

 

 

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We had 9am reservations for the remarkable La Sagrada Familia on Tuesday. I absolutely recommend buying your tickets in advance, which you can do here http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/docs_serveis/infoTarifesInd.php .

 

 

 

We had a good breakfast at the hotel buffet and headed out around 8am. We went to the nearby metro station with our T10 ticket. Had no problem following the signs to figure out what train to use and had a short ride to La Sagrada. The metro leaves you right beside the church.

 

 

 

There were two lines at the church: one for those with advance tickets, and one for those without. We arrived about 10-15 minutes before opening time and a security guard told us which line to get in. Our line was short. The gates opened promptly at 9am. We simply walked up and scanned our ticket, and went right in. This is a very popular site to visit, so you should go early if you can. We had a lovely visit with very light crowds, in contrast to the massive crowds we encountered virtually everywhere else we went during our entire two weeks in Europe. There is a museum in the basement which is easy to overlook. You'll find the entrance to the museum on the lower level, to the right of the Passion Facade near the gift shop. There are some bathrooms here too.

 

 

 

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Here's a shot looking directly up at the ceiling

 

 

 

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From there, we followed the advice from the Rick Steves guidebook to walk up Avenguda Gaudi



 



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and catch bus # 92 to Parc Guell. Your T10 ticket will work for the bus as well, it is an unbeatable deal.

 





 

We had no trouble following Steves’ instructions to find the bus, but we had no idea how to tell when to get off. We saw a sign that we thought indicated parking for Parc Guell, so we hopped off the bus. Turns out we got off much too soon and had a very long walk to the park. It was very hot. If you want to try this, then do investigate where to get off.

 

 



 

 

Eventually, after much consulting of our map and long walking, we arrived at the park. It was late morning by now, and tourist crowds were huge. The park was marvellous but the main areas were very crowded and the heat was oppressive. We arrived around 11:00 am, and there were already crowds.

 

 



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By the time we left an hour or so later, the place was really jammed.



 



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However, there are lots of wonderful photo spots here, with cool architecture, pretty landscaping, and expansive city views. The park is one of several Gaudi masterpieces in Barcelona.

 



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Take water; this park is one of the few places where we could not find a water fountain (but plenty of people willing to sell you bottled water). The only bathrooms are port-a-potties costing 0.50 euro.

Edited by luckybecky

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The heat will be an ongoing theme throughout this review. It was unrelenting. I had been watching temps in our destination cities for a couple of weeks before we left, and they looked quite tolerable, consistently running 10 or so degrees lower than in our hometown of San Antonio, where we are accustomed to high heat and humidity. Just as we arrived in Europe, a heat wave seemed to hit and followed us everywhere we went. We carried a bottle of water, refilling it constantly from the public water fountains we found everywhere in our ports of call. Still, the heat really can drain your energy, and a walk that would be easy in more moderate weather will completely exhaust you in this heat. Plan for that if you are travelling in summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing our visit to Parc Guell, we checked our map and decided the walk to our hotel looked do-able. Big mistake. We had already been on our feet all morning, and the walk back took at least 45 minutes. We should have taken a cab. We really learned our lesson: give yourself a break and do not over-estimate your stamina. We were dealing with oppressive heat and still making the adjustment to the time change. We were hungry, tired, and cranky by the time we finally made it back to our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

For lunch, we went to Ciudad Condal on the recommendation of our hotel staff. This is a fantastic tapas bar with indoor and outdoor seating. It was just a short walk from our hotel. Total bill including some wine was 25.20 euro. A great deal; you should try it if you are near Plaza Catalunya. We made a point to eat here again after our cruise ended. Here are pics of the inside, outside, and menu.

 

 

 

 

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We were exhausted from the heat and hours of being on our feet, and still suffering from jet lag, so we took a long afternoon nap. Upon awakening, we went to Casa Battlo, very near our hotel and a cool place to tour. It is a little expensive for what you get. Look for booklets with 10% off coupons (we got one at our hotel). Then we went to El Cortes Ingles, the huge department store on Plaza Catalunya, to get drinks to take onboard the ship the next day. They sell everything. They are a department store like a Macy’s, but also have a grocery store in the basement. Here’s a guy shopping with man’s best friend.

 

 

 

 

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By the time we returned to our hotel to drop off our heavy purchases of beverages from the department store, we were again worn out. After a couple of glasses of wine from the buffet at the hotel, we decided we were too hot and tired to venture out yet again. We just had a simple supper of snacks from the buffet and packed up to be ready to board the Breeze in the morning. We put all the drinks we had purchased (our allotment of 24 sodas and 2 bottles of wine) into a rolling suitcase. We had packed light and had planned to allow space for these beverages so it wasn’t too hard to get everything packed up. I used the hotel computer to check in at home and then we went to bed dreaming of the Breeze!

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ahhh love looking at your pics from Barcelona!! reliving my trip 10 years ago in HS!! seeings how i NEVER finished that scrap book! LOL.

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Wednesday, June 27: Finally, it is embarkation day!! We had a leisurely breakfast at our hotel buffet (this buffet saved us so much money!) and finished packing up. There is a taxi stand directly outside our hotel, so we were able to get a cab easily. The hotel staff had said we might expect to pay 20 euro for a cab to the port, but it wound up being less. Drivers are crazy! Our cab ended up costing 11.55 euro plus tip. Here’s our first glimpse of the Breeze:

 

 

 

 

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We arrived at the port at 11:15 AM. Our driver was able to pull up right by the entrance. A porter came right over and took our bags (which we had of course already tagged).

 

 

 

 

 

The terminal in Barcelona is large and modern.

 

 

 

 

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We breezed right through security very quickly.

 

 

 

 

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Not one of our many beverage bottles was checked. They did not even open the suitcase. This is in contrast to our only other cruise experience, leaving from Galveston, where every single bottle was very carefully inspected.

 

 

 

 

 

From there we were directed to a short line downstairs where we had a very brief wait, and then got our Sign and Sail cards. Apparently there were two areas for this, one upstairs and one down. Next, on to have a fun boarding photo taken and then we were whisked up an escalator to get our official photo done. Again there was a short line but it moved very fast. Everything was very efficient and all the staff was very cheerful and helpful.

 

 

 

 

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And here we go, onboard at last!!

 

 

 

 

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Great start! Can't wait to get on the Breeze in November!

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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We headed up to the lido deck and found a seat near the Blue Iguana bar.



 

 

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We had arrived at the terminal at 11:15, and by 11:40 we were on deck with our first DOD!

 

 

 

 

 

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Since we had our heavy suitcase full of drinks, we just waited there until rooms were opened at 1:00pm. While waiting, we had our first Guys Burger.

 

 

 

 

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It was delicious! I loved the toppings bar, where you could pile on as much bacon, grilled onion, etc as you want. We ate here a few times, it was so good. The only bad thing about Guy’s Burgers is that they close early. Get one for lunch because they are closed for supper (same with the Burrito bar)

 

 

 

 

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At 1:00 the doors were opened to the guest room corridors. We went to drop off our things, but our room wasn’t quite ready. We just put the suitcase in the corner and went out to explore the ship while our steward, Pavlo from Croatia, finished getting everything ready. Pavlo was fantastic. A very nice guy, he worked hard every day from morning til night. He kept our room spotless with twice daily service, kept us supplied with ice (we did not have to ask), and left us cute towel animals every night.



 

 

 

 

I had read here on CC about a duty-free shop in the Barcelona terminal, and we decided to find out if what I had read was true. We disembarked and went back into the terminal. You have to scan your S&S card to get off the ship. We were obviously going against the stream of guests getting on board. The guy at the entrance just told us to be sure to check with him when we got back on. So we got off the ship and went to the duty free shop (on the 2nd floor in the terminal). We bought 2 bottles of wine, which we then proceeded to openly carry on board, no questions asked. We checked back in with the guy at the entrance and scanned our S&S card. After taking the bottles to our room, we repeated the process, but this time we bought 3 or 4 bottles of wine. Again, we re-boarded the ship with no questions. We ended up having enough to enjoy a bottle of wine almost every night on our balcony. The duty free shop also sells liquor. Selection is a bit limited, but you should be able to find something that suits you.



 

 

 

 

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Next up, I'll show you our cabin!

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Becky, what a wonderful review! I'm following you on the Breeze on Aug 26th, can't wait! Our cruise starts in Venice and ends in Barcelona but I think otherwise the ports are the same. Thank you soooo much for the great pics and tips on Barcelona - we are staying there for 2 nights post cruise and are a block away from the Plaza Catalunya. I've noted down the tapas places you went to. Can't wait to read more!

Edited by Baby_Bear

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Oh, this is wonderful! :D Since I will never in my lifetime do this cruise, I am enjoying yours immensely. Your pictures are awesome! Only thing I "don't like" (besides the fact that I won't ever be doing this cruise as stated above! :(:p) is when you talk about how much things cost in euros...but I'll get over it! :o Thanks for sharing your cruise and congrats on your silver anniversary! :)

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I don't understand why you don't like her talking about costs in Euros. That's the currency of the Eurozone where the Breeze is sailing. What is strange about that?

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Great review ! Keep it coming !

 

Thank you. I'm glad y'all are enjoying it. :)

 

Becky, what a wonderful review! I'm following you on the Breeze on Aug 26th, can't wait! Our cruise starts in Venice and ends in Barcelona but I think otherwise the ports are the same. Thank you soooo much for the great pics and tips on Barcelona - we are staying there for 2 nights post cruise and are a block away from the Plaza Catalunya. I've noted down the tapas places you went to. Can't wait to read more!

 

Yep, don't miss it. It is just a block or so off the Plaza. The address is 18 Rambla de Catalunya.

 

Oh, this is wonderful! :D Since I will never in my lifetime do this cruise, I am enjoying yours immensely. Your pictures are awesome! Only thing I "don't like" (besides the fact that I won't ever be doing this cruise as stated above! :(:p) is when you talk about how much things cost in euros...but I'll get over it! :o Thanks for sharing your cruise and congrats on your silver anniversary! :)

 

You never know, Karen -- maybe you will someday get to do a cruise like this! It was a dream vacation for us, that's for sure!

 

I know what you mean about the euros. Of course everything there is priced in euros and it took a little getting used to. I'll try to put some conversions in my descriptions later. One euro is around $1.30. So something priced at 10 euros would cost you $13.

 

Onward! Here come some room photos.

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Didn't mean it that way. :confused::eek: I meant it in the way that I don't like it cuz I don't know the euros to dollars calculation. :o I kind of mentioned it as a joke! ;):cool:

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We were in room 10248 on the Lido deck. This room was absolutely perfect – except for one thing which I’ll get to in a moment. First, here are a bunch of pics for you:

 

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Becky,I was responding to Baby Bear. Forgot to hit the quote button before I replied! Thanks for your explanation (about euros) ...sorry this was sidetracked. When I win the lottery the lst thing I will do is book a cruise in Europe! Thanks again for sharing! ;)

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More cabin photos:

 

 

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Here's all the stuff that was in the amenities basket in the bathroom. These items were not replenished during the cruise.

 

 

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I absolutely loved our location on the lido deck. It was extremely convenient to walk down the hall to get a drink from the bar, a glass of tea or ice water at the beverage station, or hit the buffet. On several occasions, we got a snack from the buffet and brought it back to our room. We also were just down the hall from the laundry room, which you will probably need to use on a long cruise like this one. More on that later. There were also a few computers just inside the door from the lido pool (heading toward the forward elevators), not far from our cabin. These were very handy, since I used the Carnival website forums (“Currently on Board” is free to use!) to keep in touch with my kids at home. There were other “Fun Hub” computer areas around the ship, sorry I don’t recall all the locations since I always used the one by the Lido pool.



 

 

 

After checking out our cabin, we went to the Port Adventure talk in the Ovation Theater at 3:15 with cruise director John Heald. Now I know some of you don’t care for him, but personally I think he’s hilarious. I met him briefly and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. John said we had 4404 passengers, of whom 873 were children.

 

 

 

 

After this, we went back to our room for a short rest, and here is where the one problem with our room became evident. (We like naps, if you haven’t already figured that out!) So we lie down on the bed and my husband immediately starts snoring. Then from the next room, I start to hear some giggling, then some heavy breathing, followed by some grunting, leading to some “Oh God!!” exclamations. Between my husband snoring and the vocalizations from the next cabin, I was thinking “Oh God” too! This is at 4:30pm on embarkation day – it’s going to be a long cruise!

 

 

 

 

My word of advice is to look at deck plans. Do NOT get a cabin with a door to the adjoining cabin. This seemed to be the problem. We could clearly hear noises from the adjoining room, but heard nothing from the cabin on the other side. The door seemed to be the weak link here. Anyway, aside from this problem, we loved our cabin. It was spacious and comfortable.

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YEAH!!!! A Breeze review!! With photos :D

 

I am really enjoying your review and looking forward to the rest. THANKS!

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One little incident: while I was changing for dinner, our steward walked into our cabin without knocking. I remember that a few months ago, a lady here on CC was very upset when the same thing happened to her. Our steward immediately shut the door and apologized profusely to me later. It wasn’t a big deal to me, stuff happens. But a word of warning: put out your Do Not Disturb sign and/or lock the door. Our steward thought he had seen us leave and was coming in to do turn-down service. He should have knocked, but it wasn’t the end of the world.



 

 

 

By the way, I don’t recall when our luggage was delivered, but I know it arrived in plenty of time for us to unpack before dinner. Some final comments about our stateroom: We asked our steward to empty the minibar so we could use the frig for our own drinks. He did so promptly. He hid the large water bottles behind the TV to give us more space on the vanity. Note that this is a great hiding / extra storage space. There was no ice bucket when we arrived, but by evening one had appeared without us asking, and was kept refreshed throughout the cruise. The bed was very comfortable. The safe uses a four digit code (no card required). The lights only operate if you put your S&S card in a slot by the door. Someone asked if any card would work, I do not know since we didn’t try it. A/C stayed on even when the card was removed. Our room temp was always comfortable. Here are photos of the minibar, the safe, and the room key thingy on the wall by the door.



 

 

 

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Becky:

 

Thank you for the pictures of the Continental! We're booked here for several days pre-cruise in April and my husband has said he'll deal with the pink for the 125 euros a day balcony overlooking La Rambla... lol I jotted down notes of your restaurant recommendations and walking tour photos. Much appreciated. :)

 

~ Sheryl

 

We stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacete and loved it, but this is a very quirky hotel. Be sure to check the reviews on TripAdvisor so you know what you are getting into before you book any hotel. Hotels are very expensive in Barcelona. The Palacete was affordable and included a limited buffet (including soda, wine, and beer!) available 24 hours a day. The rooms are totally pink, with rosy wallpaper and pink linens. Location is superb, just a couple of blocks from Plaza Catalunya and the Ramblas, and just around the corner from the Block of Discord including Gaudi's Casa Battlo. Staff speaks great English and there are lots of cafes nearby.[/font][/color][/left]

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What a fantastic job ! Can't wait to read and see the rest. I love the details and all of your photos. Thanks so much. We've all been waiting for a review to appear with lots of photos.

By March 2, I should know everything there is to know about the Breeze thanks to posters like you.

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Becky:

 

Thank you for the pictures of the Continental! We're booked here for several days pre-cruise in April and my husband has said he'll deal with the pink for the 125 euros a day balcony overlooking La Rambla... lol I jotted down notes of your restaurant recommendations and walking tour photos. Much appreciated. :)

 

~ Sheryl

 

Sheryl, just a warning. There is the Hotel Continental, and there is the Hotel Continental Palacete. They are both run by the same people, and I believe both have the same pink decor, and the buffet, but they are two separate properties located a few blocks apart. The Continental is located south of Plaza Catalunya, on Las Ramblas proper. The Palacete is north of the Plaza about 2 blocks. Either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy your stay! :)

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Loving the review and can't wait for the review of the ports and what excursions/tours you used if any (unless you did it all on your own):cool:

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Sometime during this first afternoon, we had some time to stroll around the ship and take some pics. Here ya go:



 

 

 

I believe this was deck 11, aft. A great spot to sit and relax with a DOD and a good book!



 

 

 

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Here's the aft pool.





 

 

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The sky fitness area:





 

 

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Basketball court:





 

 

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Mini golf:



 

 

 

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I absolutely loved our location on the lido deck. It was extremely convenient to walk down the hall to get a drink from the bar, a glass of tea or ice water at the beverage station, or hit the buffet. On several occasions, we got a snack from the buffet and brought it back to our room. We also were just down the hall from the laundry room, which you will probably need to use on a long cruise like this one. More on that later. There were also a few computers just inside the door from the lido pool (heading toward the forward elevators), not far from our cabin. These were very handy, since I used the Carnival website forums (“Currently on Board” is free to use!) to keep in touch with my kids at home. There were other “Fun Hub” computer areas around the ship, sorry I don’t recall all the locations since I always used the one by the Lido pool.

 

 

After checking out our cabin, we went to the Port Adventure talk in the Ovation Theater at 3:15 with cruise director John Heald. Now I know some of you don’t care for him, but personally I think he’s hilarious. I met him briefly and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. John said we had 4404 passengers, of whom 873 were children.

 

After this, we went back to our room for a short rest, and here is where the one problem with our room became evident. (We like naps, if you haven’t already figured that out!) So we lie down on the bed and my husband immediately starts snoring. Then from the next room, I start to hear some giggling, then some heavy breathing, followed by some grunting, leading to some “Oh God!!” exclamations. Between my husband snoring and the vocalizations from the next cabin, I was thinking “Oh God” too! This is at 4:30pm on embarkation day – it’s going to be a long cruise!

 

My word of advice is to look at deck plans. Do NOT get a cabin with a door to the adjoining cabin. This seemed to be the problem. We could clearly hear noises from the adjoining room, but heard nothing from the cabin on the other side. The door seemed to be the weak link here. Anyway, aside from this problem, we loved our cabin. It was spacious and comfortable.

 

Thanks for the heads up on adjoining cabins. I recently booked the Breeze for August 2013 and I placed in an adjoining cabin by my PVP. I've been so worried about it and you have now confirmed my fears! Thanks. I plan to call and request a change immediately.

 

Great review! I am enjoying reading it and all the great pictures!

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