—28 April 2012—
Sailing day! We set the alarm for 8:00 AM so as not to repeat our late rising of the day before. As it was, I woke about 20 minutes before the alarm went off. We showered, dressed and packed our bags before heading out. A review of cruise documents showed that we could embark as early as noon. And check out time was noon. We had debated visiting the Picasso museum, but Rick Steves’ note about a possible hour wait was enough to discourage us. Instead, we stopped for a light breakfast at Ciudad Condal and then set off to walk about 6 blocks to La Pedrona, another of Gaudí’s creations. We actually got a 2-fer, as we passed Casa Batlló, also a Gaudí building, on our way. We walked via what appeared to be the Rodeo Drive of Barcelona, a lovely walk despite a gray and breezy … make that windy … morning. We took photos of both structures from the outside but skipped the tours, and then walked back to the hotel. I did a little computing, we gathered our thanks and checked out, and caught a cab to the pier.
Checking into the ship was much like an airport. We handed over our bags to a fellow who put our stateroom number – 9530 – on them and whisked them away. We showed our pre-printed ticket to an agent and advanced to a security check. Carry on bags were x-rayed, and we removed our jackets, but didn’t have to remove shoes or belts. We were handed a health affidavit to say that we didn’t have sniffles and fever or nausea and vomiting, and then proceeded to check in … a huge cavernous room with a long counter at one side, manned by agents who took our ticket, checked and retained our passports (!?!), and took an impression of our credit card for on board charges – like alcohol and soda. They kept our passports for clearing security/immigration at ports of call and assured us we would get them back before the last day and that we could see them anytime we needed to. 🙂 I still felt a little naked boarding without it. In return, we received our key cards, which had our evacuation station printed on it in bold letters, and was swiped everywhere we go for service – even “free” (included) meals.
We actually boarded about 12:30, and it was exciting. We went to find our stateroom. It is very close to an elevator, but of course we took one at the other (aft) end of the ship and walked the length of one side to our port side forward cabin. We checked everything out and then decided to lunch in the Main Dining Room as part of our exploration. We were early and company was light, so we got a window seat. Since we were still at the pier, we had a bird’s eye view of produce being loaded … a lot of fruits and vegetables!!! Jerry had a burger and I had a grilled chicken sandwich, both with fries. Jerry’s can of Pepsi cost $2.29 (not included)! We split a bread pudding. It quickly became clear that we’d have to watch the desserts! 😦
We returned to our cabin, where our bags were delivered shortly. We unpacked and stowed our bags under the bed before announcements for the mandatory evacuation drill started. They were delivered twice, in each of 5 languages, which used up the 30 minute warning period. The drill required us to go to an assigned mustering point and check in with our leader, who was a member of the crew. They demonstrated the life vests, but we were not required to bring ours or to do a dress rehearsal.
After the drill, we went to the forward lounge on deck 12 – comfortable seating with floor to ceiling glass – and watched harbor activity for close to 2 hours. We saw two other cruise ships depart before ours. The weather deteriorated a we watched. Visibility was low and it was sprinkling by the time we left the pier at 7:00 PM. The CruiseCritic “Meet and Mingle” was set for 7:00 also. We opted to miss it in favor of watching departure. After a brief visit to our stateroom, where we met our steward, Richard, we proceed to The Garden Room, a smaller, more intimate dining room. From earlier scouting, I knew that lobster and redfish (combo) was on the menu, which I had with a Caesar salad. Jerry had what turned out to be beef roast with mushroom soup. He finished with coffee and apple pie. I had hot tea and key lime pie. Those desserts! Finally, back to our room to prep for bed and catch up on my journal.