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tinykygal

Barcelona cruise

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DH is considering a cruise from Barcelona.

However, we aren't bilingual and unless he finds a group from US traveling together he doesn't feel confident that us seniors could handle the language barrier.

 

Any suggestions?  I tried to explain that most hotels have bilingual employees, but he is concerned about the other facets:  restaurant, transportation from the airport and  to the ship.

 

Thank you.

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We've been to Barcelona and many other places in the world. Language should not be a barrier in most tourist places. You can avoid your concerns by staying at better hotels (4* & above), arrange in advance on line to have transportation pick you up at the airport (higher end will have a sign with your name on it at the arrival hall) have the hotel write out in the local language where or what you want to show to cab drivers, etc. Language is much more of an impediment in 3rd world countries that don't have alot of tourists or many educated persons.. Spain is a highly developed country with many persons speaking English as a second language, especially in larger cities. Travel & don't worry about it.

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I've done a couple cruises out of Barcelona now and the only times I had a situation where the person I was interacting with did not speak English was with taxi drivers.  Hotel employees at checkin desks always seem to speak English.  Restaurant servers in popular tourist locations all seem to speak English.  Museum and tourist site people that you need to buy tickets from seem to speak English.  There are a LOT of English speakers in Barcelona visiting all the tourist spots.  Checkin at the Cruise port will be able to be done in English.  You might not have a bag porter who speaks much English, but just give him your bag (and a tip, if so inclined) and he'll know what to do with it.  As for taxis, I have found that while the drivers don't necessarily speak much English, they know enough to get you to and from your location.  Or write down the local name/spelling of the location for them to read. It's really not much of a problem that you need to worry about.  

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Are you considering the Norwegian Epic ?  We took that cruise in Sept. 

We were a group of 4, aged 60-75, and only English-speaking  :>).   We had no problems communicating during our 3 days in Barcelona, or in the ports for  Naples, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Cannes, or Majorca.   For the most part you will be dealing with people in the tourism industry so they can communicate well in English.  And we took the train at each port, as well as taxis and buses; again no issues communicating and the announcements were in English and easily understood.

 

We travelled light, so we can easily manage our luggage  Just 1 wheeled suitcase and 2 people also had a small daypack.  We took the Aerobus from the Barcelona airport to our hotel near the Placa Catalunya, 5.9 E for the 20 minute ride, then walked 2 blocks. But if you'd feel more comfortable with a taxi, it would cost around 35-40E for a ride into the city.  We took a few cabs during our stay and the drivers all spoke/understood English.  A cab from the our hotel to the pier was 10E.  We didn't know which pier the Epic was using but the driver knew where to go as soon as we said Epic.

 

Join your ship's Roll Call and if it's the Epic, you'll find that the majority of the passengers will be American, Canadian or British.  He'll have plenty of time before final payment is due, to get more comfortable with the idea.   But if he doesn't, tell him to suck it up and be a big boy !  Don't let small fears get in the way of life's adventures. Or leave him behind and go with someone else !  Good luck !  

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1 hour ago, tinykygal said:

he is concerned about the other facets:  restaurant, transportation from the airport and  to the ship.

 

I echo the earlier replies, my personal experience is that most of the folks with whom we interacted spoke English, or at least they spoke better English than I speak Spanish.  Usually they appreciated my efforts to speak Spanish though they would laugh and say yes when I asked if they spoke English.  One restaurant waitress was more interested in practicing her English with us than in letting me practice my Spanish with her.

 

The biggest language issue we've had in Barcelona involved a trip to the doctor with my daughter, where the check-in receptionist refused to speak to us in Spanish, she only wanted Catalan.  Google Translate to the rescue until we got to the doctor, who spoke English...

 

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We never had a language problem in Barcelona.  We always had a paper to hand the taxi driver telling where we wanted to go. 

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I’m a native Spanish speaker and interestingly, we went to a cafe in Barcelona and they wouldn’t talk to us in Spanish. It was either Catalan or English. But besides that, we didn’t have any problems when we sailed the Mediterranean. Most places we visited, people spoke some English. I also downloaded a translating app on my phone in case we were stuck but I only had to use it sporadically, specially when dealing with a taxi driver or waiter, but overall we didn’t have any major issues. 

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The comment about Barcelona locals responding in Catalan or English echoes our recent experience, too.  Many / most people whom tourists meet will speak or understand some English

 

Barcelona is a diverse, global city which is welcoming to tourists.

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DW speaks Spanish (not like a native) and some of her favorite memories are conversations with taxi drivers who complemented her Spanish.  That said, as I indicated earlier I don't remember having a problem with English.  

 

In addition to Barcelona this past summer we were also in Northern Spain.  Communicating in Basque is a different story, although in cities we rarely had problems with English. 

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We had zero issues with communication in the beautiful city of Barcelona spent two nights there wish we spent more . Can’t wait to return perfect city to start a cruise. Prices are also extremely reasonable was really shocked when we went into small tapas bar across from hotel and ordered two  Amstel beers and cost was just 3 euros total , I questioned the price and was told it was happy hour 😁😁

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I also hope our OP will be successful in reassuring the spouse that they will have no issues in Barcelona.  

 

We were in Barcelona earlier this month following a B2B2B cruise series.  We stayed in the Hotel Barcelona Universal (for the third time -- we love this hotel), which is located out of the main tourist area in a residential area.  So the retail shops in near the hotel don't sell tourist items and the numerous small restaurants cater to locals.  But all of restaurants, even in this non-tourist area, have menus in English.  When we left the cruise terminal we had the name and address of the hotel written down -- but the taxi driver knew exactly where the hotel was.  And the Barcelona subway system is just so clear and easy to navigate.

 

But if the spouse is really concerned then consider investigating possible options with Spain Day Tours.  We have used them in the past (ie, a trip to the Alhambra from the Malaga cruise terminal) and were extremely pleased.  They may be able to design a tour of Barcelona which will reassure the spouse.

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Language barrier ???? We've sailed out of Barcelona a few times and have never had "any" problems...Everyone we encountered in the tourist area spoke perfect English.

Actually we were just there recently and enjoyed the location of the Hotel Jazz.

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We have been to Barcelona three times now.  Hotel Jazz has a great location.  Breakfast, while pricey, was great.  We have also stayed in the Avenida Palace, which is also a great location closer to the Gaudi houses.  This past summer we stayed closer to the Magic Fountain.  The area was a little more residential but, again, no problems with English.

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6 hours ago, Ashland said:

Language barrier ???? We've sailed out of Barcelona a few times and have never had "any" problems...Everyone we encountered in the tourist area spoke perfect English.

Actually we were just there recently and enjoyed the location of the Hotel Jazz.

We also found the location of the Hotel Jazz excellent. We always DIY in Barcelona and have never had an issue with a language barrier.

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I haven’t been to Barcelona (as yet other than airport transit). I’ve been to other far less touristy areas of Spain and generally had no language issues. Barcelona handles a lot of tourists every year, those of us from English speaking countries tend to be the least likely to speak another language. 
whenever I have French speaking customers in my family’s shop they’re always delighted to discover I speak their language. 
if you want to learn the basics of any language there are free apps, I’ve used duolingo in the past. I can understand an awful lot more than I can speak but it is a comfort as a just in case. I’ve used google translate with all sorts of languages when I was volunteering at sports events. 

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language issues in Barcelona I suspect are more of a pretence on part of [some] locals

 

we had a local tour guide who explained that the Catalan dialect is similar but not same as pure Spanish and as Catalonia is attempting independence from Spain some refuse to reply to  pure Spanish

 

taxi drivers I have found are a law into themselves-I am sure they pretend not to understand English if the fare is too short

Trying to get taxi from Pl Catalunya back to ship was an exercise!

 

write down your destination and show to driver

 

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To OP,

Im also a senior. My wife and I have been on 2 European cruises and will be going on our 3rd in 2021 out of Barcelona.

Before our first, I was also concerned about a language barrier. Fortunately, the European school systems require learning other languages unlike the American school system.

I was amazed and pleasantly surprised when almost every individual I ran across spoke some level of English. Even on the ship, you would be surrounded by people of differing nationalities and hearing all these different languages being spoken. Yet, when interacting as a group, everyone automatically reverted to English. The kids, definitely. The younger adults, definitely. Seniors, mostly.

 

what did I do to prepare?

I have an iPhone and downloaded the Google translate app. Then I can type in English and it will translate to the language of your choice. You can touch a speaker button and it will say the phrase. You can save these translations. I will listen to them, listen to how the phrase is enunciated, and I will memorize some basic phrases. Please, thank you, toilet, hello, I’m sorry I don’t speak ———, do you speak English?

Even better, the app will let you use your camera on your phone and it will live translate a menu or a paper, or a plaque that is describing something.

The app is not perfect in its translations, but it will let you get thru the rough spots.

 

Dont let the fear of a perceived language barrier stop you from seeing and experiencing the world.

 

The only place I’ve ever had an issue was in Paris. Not in the airport and not outside of Paris. Only in downtown Paris. The people of Paris are a special breed. I still didn’t let them stop me.

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To the OP, English is the international language of business. Even in Europe, many people know English in order to talk with Europeans from other countries.  I've really only had issues with very rural areas and older people.  Even much of the signage in Europe frequently has English "subtitles."

 

 

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Most everywhere you go, and people you will deal with speak English......go, have fun!!

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