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Review: Epic 9/1/19 Barcelona Mediterranean


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It has been a whirlwind getting settled and back to work since the cruise, so sorry for the well delayed posting. I hope it helps someone else with their planning.

 

NCL Deal: Two adults, balcony cabin, SDP, UBP, ShoreX, Wifi perks, Reduced Airfare

 

Airfare: Phenomenal - Nonstop United Airlines Newark to Barcelona, one day deviation (Fly Friday night, arrive Saturday morning) United departed about an hour later, but arrival was essentially on time, kudos. Our seats were in Economy Plus which gives more leg room. Those seats were offered by United due to my frequent flyer status. However, friends on the same flight purchased their upgrade (no clue on pricing).

 

I will start with basic Pre-cruise Logisitcs and touring in Barcelona

 

Arrival Transfer: Booked ours privately online through Sun Transfers, difficulty connecting with driver (long wait), but once he arrived service was good

 

Barcelona Hotel: HCC Montblanc, same hotel NCL uses, but I booked independently using credit card points, good location, comfortable room, courteous staff, not warm, but not rude. Arrived around 11am and our room was ready! Spacious, comfortable and clean; typical European hotel. Would be fine to stay here again. We didn't take advantage of the pool, but would on a return visit. We were a combination of tired and hyped to see/do so we didn't take time to just lounge at the pool during our one night stay.

 

Local Transportation: We used taxis or walked to most places, never used the metro and used a bus one way

- Taxi to and from La Sagrada Familia to make our 12:30 tour window (pre purchased)

- Walked to our early evening Flamenco show near Plaza Catalunya

- Taxi to Plaza Espana in the evening to see the Magic Fountain water, light music show

- Taxi to Harlem Jazz Club, though we were too tired to stay for the show

- Local bus to Park Guell, drop off avoids uphill walk and was about 3-4 euros for two riders

- Taxi to the port to on Sunday

 

Eats: We had a late lunch at Laietana, a few doors up from the hotel, wonderful tapas and sangria. We also frequented Pan, a chain sandwich shop. Best treat I had were mini filled donuts from the chain pastry shop near the hotel, cannot recall the name. There was an Argentinian shop specializing in empenadas, excellent and a perfect Sunday snack while we walked prior to heading to the ship.

 

We would consider a return trip to Barcelona, next time hitting up some museums. We tried to find the Picasso Museum the morning of the cruise, but did not locate it and were happy with our stoll anyway.

 

Public Service announcement: I had a lot of concerns about pickpockets, was never an issue for us. We used Vera Bradley cross body bags, so all was zippered. Mom one that even has space for her Nikon camera. Be careful, but not fearful, enjoy. 

 

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Edited by Nola26
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Remember also having trouble finding the Picasso Museum, but it was worth the search.  We could spend many days just strolling Las Rambles, admiring the buildings, feeding the birds.  Can't wait to get back.  Hope the rest of your cruise was as enjoyable as Barcelona.

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Embarkation was a breeze, we arrived after 2pm and took our carryon luggage directly to the cabin which was ready. We had lunch in the buffet, hung out on the pool deck with friends for a short while then headed to our room and our luggage was waiting outside the door. We attended our muster drill. I played in the casino for bit, winning enough to keep my fun going for a while.

 

We had thermal suite passes and I know I went there for a while, showering there rather than when I returned to the room.

 

For the week our only onboard shopping purchases were a 3 photo package with electronic (USB) and prints and 2 tshirts. We spent our money in the ports. We did buy some Cruise Next certificates, so I guess you can call that shopping.

 

I cannot recall if we had dinner that evening given that we'd eaten in the buffet late afternoon, we may have skipped and had a late bite in the pub or buffet, but I'm drawing a blank.

 

I will try to group some of my memories rather than give a day by day report

 

Thermal Suite

I recall using it twice, the best time was after returned from Florence, went close to right away. After relaxing our muscles in the thermal massaging waters I grabbed a lounger on the outdoor deck, ahh. Eventually Mom joined me and we had a nice little group out there for sail away, what a cool perspective for sailaway. 

 

Dinners

We had dinner in Taste and the Mahattan room each twice and had good meals and service each time. The jazz band played one night in Manhattan, but no entertainment on our second visit, disappointing for us.

 

Our three Specialty meals were all excellent: Epicurean Cirque show (Salmon and shrimp as we don't eat steak), La Cucina seated at sunset and had a view of a helicopter circling the ship, apparently getting Marketing footage. Our dinners were great, but I think we skipped dessert. Le Bistro Absolutely a cut above in terms of service, food quality and ambience even though we were tucked in a corner by a velvet covered wall, no view. We definitely didn't skip dessert here! We would return for the meal at each.

 

Buffet

Mom is a fan of the buffet so we had a number of stops here. She usually went for breakfast, I preferred the pub and even went to Taste on our sea day.

 

Shows

We did the early Cirque and late Burn the Floor on our sea day, fun shows. We did Priscilla late on the Cannes day, we were tired so napped off and on during the performance. Costuming is awesome, story is quirky, but fun show. Did not hold a candle to the Jersey Boys performance we saw on the Bliss though.

 

Casino

I am happy to report that I won money in the NCL casino and brought it home! Came home with a cool $1,000 from a hot slot machine, Wonder 4 Tower Pompeii, my favorite game to play.

 

Activities

Mom did dance class and said she worked up a heavier sweat there than in the exercise class. We sat through the Cruise Next or as we like to call it the Dream session to get ideas for our next big cruise. Other than that we didn't do a lot onboard because this is port intensive intinerary with long port days, 8-10hr excursions due to travel times. I'll make other posts for each port, we had a NCL excursion in all ports.

 

First 3 photos are from Lacucina then LeBistro and Cirque.

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Edited by Nola26
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