MSC Cruises Splendida – Mediterranean Voyage – Day 6

We are due into Barcelona at 10am but it is just after 8am when we enter the cruise ship berthing area where the cruise ship AidaBlu is already berthed. The quayside is full of coaches waiting to depart on their excursions whilst the taxi rank is full to overflowing awaiting those who leave the cruise here.

Columbus Memorial Barcelona is one of the main embarkation/disembarkation ports on this itinerary so it is a busy day for the crew. Having visited here many times before we already have the day planned. Wait for the ship to empty and then the shuttle bus from the port to the drop off area near to the famous Monument of Columbus looking out to sea and pointing to the New World. This monument is situated at the bottom of Las Ramblas, the main thoroughfare to the Plaza de Cataluna. As we wander up Las Ramblas we notice a change. The flower stalls and those selling garden seeds are still there as are the restaurants selling beer at the equivalent of £5 a pint but what is missing are the many street performers, the stalls with the birds, the sweet stalls and the street sellers. First stop is a regular haunt of mine, the Hard Rock Cafe but to get there you now have to pass an army of people selling ‘Genuine Imitation’ bags. The Hard Rock’s Pina Colada is highly recommended following which I browse for the latest tee shirts, one of my weaknesses.  Fortunately I see nothing new so the wallet stays firmly in the pocket. Street artist in Las Ramblas The Plaza de Cataluna is solid with tourists so we begin walking back down Las Ramblas towards the little Chinese Restaurant we found about 10 years ago and now always visit when in Barcelona. However on this occasion the food is very disappointing and when pointed out to the staff they show total disinterest, which will be our last visit to them. Reaching the end of Las Ramblas we see that all the street performers are now in one area but there still doesn’t seem to be as many of them. Several of what I call the regulars is missing. Joining the throng we make our way back to the shuttle bus as it is starting to get quite hot and a chilled glass of Rose is called for.

Arriving back at the ship HWSBO heads for the Spa for a manicure and pedicure whilst I head for the Movida Bar at the rear of deck 15 from where I notice that we have been joined in port by the Costa Serena. Looking around at the blue sea and sky the world really is a beautiful place.

Tonight is the captains Cocktail Party so time for a nap.

Prawn starter 5.30pm and it is up to deck 15 to see us leave port. At 6pm we start to move away from the quayside and reverse, or should I say ‘Go Astern’, past the Costa Serena and as we pass the Captain sounds the usual long blasts from the ships whistle which evokes cheers, shouts, waves and whistles from the passengers of Serena. It is not until we are almost at the open sea that there is enough room to turn this huge ship but once done we head for the open sea and Toulon. Our designated port for tomorrow was Marseille but for some reason this is not possible and we have been re-routed to Toulon which I am quietly pleased about as having been to Marseille many times I have never been to Toulon. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Tonight is also Gala Dinner so its suit and tie for me and clean jeans and tee shirts for others. Escargot for starters followed by Asparagus Soup and Large Grilled Prawns as a main. This is followed by mixed Ice Cream and yes it had to happen, Baked Alaska. At least MSC have tried to update the ‘Parade of the Baked Alaska’ which in my book is very old hat and should be done away with. Oh yes, nearly forgot the Rosé wine. Dinner finished its off to the Captains Cocktail party where I feel a little overdressed in a suit. How times have changed. We meet again Teresa the Guest Services Manager who really is a credit to MSC. So professional and reliable. Finally it’s time for a final G&T and bed.

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Alan Fairfax

Travel writer & cruise journalist

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