Even though we fell asleep pretty early on our first night in France, neither the Firefighter or I wanted to wake up the next morning. After forcing ourselves to get moving, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel since “continental breakfast”was included in our price. The Firefighter was impressed with Europe’s version of a continental breakfast because it included various sliced meats, small pickles, breads, cheeses and the like. Personally, I was happy because Nutella is always a given with breakfast and what’s not to like about that?
After breakfast, we got all of our belongings together and headed to the cruise port. We got there pretty early and even had to wait for a few minutes before going through the initial embarkation process. I am proud to say that the cruise staff assisting with check-in were dead impressed that I only had one small checked bag. They just didn’t know about my plan to just buy another bag to carry all of our souvenirs back home. Since this was a hop-on, hop-off cruise with several different ports where travelers could pick as their starting point, we didn’t run into any trouble getting on board. We were one of the first people on the ship after less than an hour after getting dropped off at the port.
After getting on board, we decided to do a little bit of exploring and getting to know where things were on board. The Norwegian Epic is a huge ship with a ton of different bars, restaurants, shops, clubs, and more on board scattered all across 13+ floors. We got a brief idea of the layout of the different floors and then headed to the pool deck to check out our view of Marseille from the ship.
Norwegian has a promotion where people can pick one out of four ‘add ons’ to enhance their cruise experience: complimentary alcohol beverage package per person, Wifi minutes, upgraded restaurant packages onboard, or a certain amount of money off on an excursion in each port. For the Firefighter and I, this choice was a no-brainer and we went with the complimentary alcohol beverage package. To be honest, I’m not sure why anyone *wouldn’t* take that deal – alcohol is basically the only thing people spend money on when they are onboard the ship.
We spent the rest of our first day on board enjoying cocktails on the pool deck, chatting with some of the other cruisers (my favorite was an older Scottish gentleman on crutches who told us he was hiding from his family to nurse a hangover), eating dinner, and kind of unpacking in our stateroom ‘home’ before succumbing once again to a little bit of jet lag.
When we woke up the next morning the ship was already docked in Barcelona. This was
one of the few mornings that we didn’t sign up for an excursion, so we took our time getting ready and eating breakfast on the ship before heading out. For about 12 euros total we were able to get round-trip transportation on a bus from the port straight to the center of Barcelona where we just kind of wandered around for a bit following the crowds. Eventually we did go into a kind of visitors center to get a map, so we could at least figure out where we were going/where we needed to get to.
One of the reasons I enjoyed our day in Barcelona is because we didn’t have any real plans. We got to enjoy the beautiful weather, walked where we wanted, saw several sites (or at least the buildings where several sites were housed), and just did what we wanted, when we wanted. We saw what we could without stressing ourselves out to see everything. One of the sites that we did take the time to go in to and explore was the Gothic Cathedral (and mass just happened to be going on). Neither of us are Catholic but there was something other-worldy about witnessing part of a mass inside such a beautiful church. I tried to get as many pictures as I could of the decoration, paintings and just architecture, but of course none of them do the cathedral any justice at all.
Another reason I enjoyed Barcelona so much? The cava.
I’d never heard of cava before that day, but when in Barcelona, do as the Barcelonians do. And, as I learned when the Firefighter and I sat down at one of the many outdoor tapas restaurants, they drink cava sangria. Out of glasses that are bigger than my head. While sitting outdoors, bathed in sunlight. If that’s what it takes to get the full Barcelona experience, I was more than happy to oblige. It was the perfect cap to our first full day on the cruise.
Up next: our day at sea and Naples!