Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 5: Boarding Noordam in Barcelona

We were all set for leaving the hotel. Of course we once again enjoyed the breakfast buffet. The hotel Gran Via 678 is one of our favorites. Checkout was easy. The cab driver we arranged through was about one hour early, but we were ready so we left for the port. Nice driver. Not very fluent in English (nor Dutch), but he used a translate-app on his cell if he didn’t know the words. Nice way to communicate.

When you enter the Barcelona Cruise Port you drive over a high bridge. That was where we saw her: Noordam. She immediately looked very familiar as we sailed on Noordam two years ago and on Nieuw Amsterdam last year.

The taxi delivered us right on the doorstep of the cruise terminal. The porters took our luggage and we proceeded to the check-in. Barcelona has a great cruise terminal. We were assigned group 6. Because we were really early (2 hours before the boarding time on our tickets), we had to wait about one hour. We sat on the couches overlooking the Mediterranean. A lot of our fellow passengers were sleeping on the couches. They probably flew in on red eye. It reminded us never to do that if we can avoid that. It is not a very relaxing start of your vacation, but they also miss a lot of the things we saw in Barcelona.

Shortly after noon we boarded Noordam. It was like coming home. We remembered our boarding 2 years ago. Then we had to explore the ship to get to know all the restaurants, bars, lounges, etc. No need this time, everything felt familiar again. We had our lunch in de main dining room, the Mariners ‘welcome back lunch’. Shrimp cocktail, soup and a crispy chicken breast for some and salmon for others.

The room however was a bit disappointing. It was the same room as 2 years ago, but by the looks of it the room was really lived-out. There were piles of dust in certain places and the door of the closet was broken (2 of the 3 hinges were out). On the rest of the ship there were also things just a little bit off. We were wondering if it was us, because after a while you tend to remember the good things. We talked to some staff members we recognised from our earlier cruises. They told us that the ship had been chartered for multiple weeks before our sailing. Apparently charters are always a very tiresome period for the crew. Shorter sailings then usual and guests that are more the partying kind. They said in a few days everything would be back to normal. Later that afternoon our room was re-cleaned and the closet was repaired.

Kim and Rhodé went up to Club HAL to register. Kim (13) is in The Loft so there was no need to register. We are curious if there are more kids her age that she can hang out with in The Loft. We did have to register Rhodé (9) at Club HAL. They have new rules about checking-out. Last year it was possible for her to check herself out if she wanted to do something different. She could just write where she was going next but apart from that she was free to go. Now all kids up until age 12 have to be picked up by an adult. Probably something has happened. It does feel safe, we will see how practical it is. Of course we will check on her regularely.

We didn’t go back in the city. Instead we just sat on the aft of the ship overlooking the port and te city. This is what we were looking forward to for so long. Almost an emotional moment.

Barcelona port

After dinner the kids went up to Club HAL. Both the Tweens and The Loft had a welcome party to get to know the other kids. Because we have an overnight in Barcelona, a lot of guests will still be ashore. But they did meet other kids and made friends.

We walked on the promenade deck, just enjoying the ship again. In the theater they performed a preview with all the artists on board. The preview was better then we remembered from Nieuw Amsterdam last year and Nieuw Amsterdam was even better then Noordam before. Looks very promising.

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