Barcelona and Transatlantic Cruise 2008 – Day 5 – Leaving Barcelona

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Today we boarded the Celebrity Summit to begin our 15 day transatlantic cruise. The cruise will take us to Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, across the Atlantic, St Martaan before concluding in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

We boarded the ship around noon with a slight rainfall occurring. Getting to the ship was a minor adventure. We cleaned up the apartment a bit in the morning, packed our bags and called for a minivan taxi since we had half the clothes we owned with us. We had to wait for about 30 minutes for the taxi to find us to get us to the airport. Its always a bit interesting standing on a foreign street corner with 8 bags of luggage in the rain waiting for a taxi.

Once we got the ship terminal, boarding was quick and painless like always with Celebrity. We waited for one person ahead of us and quickly completed our paperwork and were soon walking the gangway onto the ship. It was truly wonderful to be back aboard a cruise ship since it had been 18 months since our last cruise last June to Alaska.

Since they asked us to not go to our rooms until 1:00, we grabbed a quick lunch. A couple of slices of pizza tasted really good. Afterwards, we proceeded to our cabin which was presented in perfect condition. We are staying in a family ocean veranda cabin on the back of the boat. It was a bit different as when we opened our cabin door we had about a 20 foot hallway to the real cabin door. The hall way is making a great spot to store our empty luggage.

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The cabin is a bit bigger than a standard cabin since it’s on the back of the boat and a “family” cabin. We have plenty of room and plenty of closet space. Actually, we have two rooms with a sliding divider between them. The room is capable of sleeping 5.

Suzanne unpacked the suitcases, as they had arrived within about an hour after reaching our room, while I checked out the Wi-Fi situation. Its pretty good signal and decent speed, but unfortunately not free. Luckily, I can do most of my prep work and email reading offline on the laptop and just jump online to complete things.

Suzanne and the kids took their traditional walk around the ship with camera and video camera though they had to cut it short due to battery issues. They will have to complete it later.

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Of course, we had the obligatory life boat drill. It was a bit cold in Spain yesterday so most folks were bundled up a bit, but most managed to smile throughout the “event”. As usual, there were the occasional folks who just grumbled about having to participate. I don’t get that as it’s a mere 30 minutes before the cruise really starts. Yes, it’s kind of pointless, but we use it as an opportunity to meet and greet some folks and have a few laughs about the wonderful look of everyone in their life jackets.

The ship was planned to set sail at 7:00 pm, but during the life boat drill they announced we wouldn’t be leaving until about 8:30 since there were folks who were flying in that were having delayed flights. We are doing late seating dinner on this cruise which means dinner at 8:30 so we would have a nice dinner as we departed Barcelona.

Prior to dinner, the kids made a stop in at the Kids Club for some video gaming time while Suzanne and I attended the Welcome Aboard show in the theater. Being a transatlantic cruise during the school season, we knew that there would not be many kids on this cruise. In fact, it turns out that there are only 6 kids on the cruise and 3 of them are 4 or younger. There is one other 10 year old boy about our kids’ age. Our kids aren’t phased a bit as they know how to amuse themselves quite fine and actually enjoy some of the adult activities. They still plan to utilize the Kids Club facilities and the counselors there.

Dinner was as usual quite stunning and delicious. Some folks on internet sites have complained lately about the general decline in the quality of food aboard cruise ships. In my experience, cruising once a year, I just haven’t seen it. I don’t know if they are expecting more with rising costs and tougher times or just need something to complain about. The food, to me, is still outstanding, at least aboard Celebrity since that is our cruise line of choice.

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Both kids chose the Spaghetti Carbonarra as their main entrée. Suzanne enjoyed the Chicken Saltimbocca while I devoured some Veal Piccatta Milanese. However, being a true aficionado of Carbonnara, and having spent many a days searching for the best in Rome, I had to have some of it too. I bypassed the appetizer and salad courses and asked for a small portion of the Carbonarra instead. They don’t really know how to do smaller portions and I received a full portion instead. Not surprisingly, I didn’t leave a scrap of it behind. Being the first night, Sean sampled all courses (appetizer, soup, salad and entrée). The kids and I closed the meal with a crème brule, while Suzanne had here traditional mixed berries desert.

The kids did just fine with late seating and had no issues with the lateness. Suzanne and I have always enjoyed the late seating but for the kids first three cruises we had moved to early seating for their benefit. We decided to try late seating this time and assuming it contains like the first night, will probably do so for future cruises.

After dinner, we went to the Revelations Lounge to sample the ship’s party band. They were quite good with a female lead singer with an astonishing voice. We will surely enjoy them many more times on the cruise. At one point, they played La Bamba and Suzanne was obligated to get out on the floor all by herself and do her Mexico folkloric dance to the music. Shy, she is not.

We returned to the cabin just past midnight to call it a night and get some sleep for our day at sea tomorrow.