This is part of a series of posts about my family’s two week cruise in the Mediterranean in July, 2012. New posts will pop up every couple of days, or as they’re written, which as you might be able to tell, is a pretty slow manner.
Travel to another continent is probably never easy. As part of the package we booked, our travel was scheduled by the cruise line. We got the airfare for free from Las Vegas, but were at the mercy of Royal Caribbean as the dates and times went. This meant a couple of things: we would have to fly basically overnight (probably would have anyway) and we would not get to go early or leave late in order to spend more time in Barcelona, our origination and destination port.
As for the overnight flying, I’m not sure there was really any other way. As it was, we left Vegas in the morning, had a long layover in Atlanta, then left there at about 5:00pm to arrive in Barcelona at about 8:00am. We’d catch a bus to the ship at 10:00, then depart at about 5:00 again. The flight was about ten hours, and it was a pretty tough thing to try and get any real sleep. I think we each got some, but to say we were at all rested the day of our arrival would be a lie.
Customs would have been an easy trip (it still was, honestly) except for one small incident. We lined up together, but were as The Boy and I began to approach the officer, we were told one at a time. No big deal. We each had our passports ready to go. He went first, then moved around to wait for us. As he got behind the booth, I could see him through the door in the back, which was open. He began making faces. The customs agent noticed me looking behind him (and essentially trying to get him to knock it the hell off) and turned around. He saw The Boy looking through (from about ten feet away from the door) and didn’t think it was funny. He moved to close the door, but seemed upset by this. He then began asking me what our business in Spain was. I started stammering something about a cruise and had to get the itinerary from Christy to show him. He took his time looking it all over before finally letting me through. After the long flight, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the goofing off and started saying things about being a fool in foreign countries where they’d probably cane your ass just for looking at someone the wrong way.
When we got to the seaport, it was around 11:00. We had to check our luggage, check in for the boat, and turn in passports. They take your passports from you and issue you a keycard thing in its place. This does a few things: it unlocks your cabin door, it acts as your method of payment on board, and it gets you through the seaports you visit. It also tracks whether you’re on or off the ship. There are times they probably need to make sure everyone is back before they ditch town, and these taking the place of a passport makes that a lot easier. Our cabin was to be available at about 3:00. We had heard that it would be possible to hop on a bus back to some sort of town center in Barcelona for a few hours instead of waiting around for our room, but we were exhausted and hungry. So we stayed put and didn’t head into town carrying a few bags that we had carried on toto the plane and wanted to keep close for the time being.
We wanted to see Barcelona, but just felt like we had no way of actually enjoying the experience, nor did we have any idea what there actually was to see there. Having booked every excursion as part of a tour, and being generally clueless about what we were going to see in each place, venturing out on our own to a strange place with a set time to return, while also not really having any idea how any of this worked, was not exactly a great idea.
So we pulled up and had a drink.