My Life as a Traveler

Cruisin’ Time

After an amazing breakfast of champagne, eggs and Spanish ham, chocolate pudding and cream puffs, it’s time to leave sweet Sitges and take the train up to Barcelona and board our cruise ship, the Norwegian Jade.

But first, there’s one last walk through town for a little shopping. Can’t believe that I left my makeup at home, so I find a pharmacy and buy some L’Oreal foundation. It’s more expensive than home, yet I know prices in Spain are less than in France or Germany. Also, looks like black legs are back in, not bare legs with dresses. My dress is black, so I find some black hose to complement it. There’s an entire little store in the old town devoted to hose, and it’s packed this morning. I find my size and get back to the room – it’s time to go.

The hotel desk clerk gives us directions to the train station and it takes us five minutes to roll there. After buying tickets (using my Spanish, it works!), the train comes in ten minutes and we scramble up to the top level. It’s a pretty ride right along the coast until we get to town.  A strolling musician is at one end of the car plays a tune, then comes down the aisle with his hat. We find a taxi to take us to the ship and before we know it, we’re at the port. (Cost of train 3Euros each for a 25 minute ride, cost of taxi 18 Euros total for a 15 minute ride – not bad.)

It’s a quick process to get our cabin keys and board the ship. We’re a little nervous, though. In Sitges we bought some Cava (local Spanish champagne) to bring on the ship. It’s a new policy that we’re allowed to bring a bottle each of wine aboard ship. Just last year, boarding passengers were not allowed to bring any alcohol at all with them — the cruise line wants passengers to only consume the expensive drinks sold in the ship’s bars. But after arriving at the port building, our luggage went through security before we checked in for our cruise. The people at this security check point couldn’t care less that we had good things to drink. And, to our great joy, there was no further security required to get on the ship.

Most passengers (probably almost all of them) check their big bags at the entrance to the port buildings. Their bags are then loaded on the ship and delivered to their cabin sometime that evening. Since we carry on, we can go straight to our room, unpack right away, and then begin our cruise, exploring the ship. For me, the cruise really doesn’t start until everything’s unpacked and I’ve changed from my travel clothes into cruisewear.

An exploration of the ship, interrupted by lunch, is followed by the safety drill. On some ships, when the whistle blows, everybody is supposed to go to their cabin, grab their life jackets, and head up to their muster station, usually located on deck by the lifeboats. Norwegian is a little bit more laid back. We are asked to leave the life jackets in the cabin and report to our muster station in the dining room. A room with no lifeboats. We watch as a crew member demonstrates how to wear the life jacket. Guess we all have to have good memories if an actual accident occurs. Like the one that happened off the coast of Italy the day we left Spain to go home. Hmm…

After the drill, we snag some glasses from the bar, open our Cava, and go up on deck to say goodbye to Barcelona before dinner. There’s another tradition: no matter how cold it is, we always put on our layers and stand on deck watching the ship leave port. There’s something magical about this — I feel like Columbus departing the known for the unknown. With a big pool and a waterslide. I love this!

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