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Embarkation in Barcelona
Sunday, April 16, 2017   Related topics:
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This morning, I was up at 5:30am, unusually late for me. In an effort to let Rickee sleep a little later, I left the room with my laptop to see if I could find coffee early this Easter Sunday. The H10 Metropolitan restaurant does not open until 7:30am, so I thought I may have to venture out into the streets of Barcelona in search of a Starbucks. However, I was pleased to find that an after-hours coffee bar is available in the lobby for guests to enjoy.


Nespresso machine available for early morning coffee

After selecting one of the Nespresso™ coffee flavor packs and inserting into the machine, I had a steaming cup of wakeup juice. I found a nice spot to settle in and do my morning work.


Getting my morning blog on at the H10 Metropolitan

Aperturent.com Camera and Lens RentalSurprisingly, I am feeling very few effects from the jet lag. We tried to stay up as late as we could last night in an effort to adjust to the local time (seven hours ahead of Dallas). A great night's sleep may be part of the reason. The bed in our room was very comfortable and the room itself was super-quiet. Overall, we are pretty impressed with the H10 Metropolitan.

After writing all of my nonsense from the previous day's activities into the permanent memory of "the cloud", I head back to the room to find Rickee awake and getting ready. She encourages me to go ahead and check out breakfast, promising to join me when she is "ready". I make my way to the hotel restaurant to find one of the most impressive breakfast buffets I have seen in quite some time. After being seated, I was presented with an á la carte menu.


Impressive buffet at H10 Metropolitan

I ordered poached eggs and bacon to follow my trip to the self-serve buffet. My eggs and bacon were cooked perfectly. My only complaint was the coffee was not nearly as good as what the Nespresso machine was delivering. By the time Rickee joined me for breakfast, the restaurant was pretty busy. Her experience was not quite as good as mine. Her poached eggs were undercooked and after she sent them back, they came back overcooked.


My breakfast was cooked perfectly and was delicious

After breakfast, we decided to do a little more exploring of Barcelona before heading to the ship. Our documentation states that we can occupy our stateroom after 2pm, so we see no hurry to get to the ship. We spend the next couple of hours walking through the back streets of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Many of the shops are closed today as it is Easter Sunday. However, by the time we start our walk back to the hotel, the crowds of tourists are starting to build again. Once back at the hotel, we packed our things and asked the hotel to arrange a taxi to take us to the ship. Viking Cruises provided details on where the ship would be docked, so we were able to hand that information to our taxi drive and, within minutes, we were on our way. The taxi ride from our hotel to the port was 21€ (about $22 US).

We arrived at the cruise terminal about 1:15pm and were pleasantly surprised to find no line of people. We dropped our large luggage with the porter and literally breezed through security. With no line of people, check-in took only a few minutes. We were issued our stateroom key cards, and soon we were boarding Viking Sea on Deck A (the lowest deck accessible to guests). As soon as we boarded, we were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and invited to go to our stateroom on Deck 4 aft.



First impressions of Viking Sea begin forming as we make our way to our stateroom. The ship appears to be brand new, even though she has been in service for two years. The Scandinavian decor has apparently been carried over from the Viking Longships, and that is a good thing. We arrive at our stateroom to find a very familiar layout, very similar that of a Deluxe Veranda on one of the Viking Longships.



The queen-sized bed is flanked by two small nightstands, each with Euro-style 220 and US-style 110 outlets. And, two USB charging ports have been thoughtfully added.



Of course, we will go into great detail on the stateroom in our upcoming review of Viking Sea. But for now, we will just say that we are impressed with the decor and the layout. We decide to explore some of the rest of the ship while waiting for our luggage to be delivered. We start at Deck 7 aft where we quickly get lured into the World Cafe extended lunch buffet. They are serving lunch until 3pm today for embarking guests. A dinner reservation desk sits at the entrance to World Cafe, so we decide to confirm our dinner reservations that we made online through the MyVikingJourney.com website. There are two reservations-required restaurants on board, Manfredi's and The Chef's Table. Our reservation at Manfredi's showed up in the system, but for some reason, our Chef's Table reservation did not.


Checking our dinner reservations at World Cafe

After straightening out our reservations, we continue to walk forward, through the pool area and into Wintergarden, an interesting spot for lounging. Moving forward we come to Explorers' Lounge. This would be considered the Observation Lounge on most ships with 180-degree views of the ocean ahead. One thing is already becoming obvious: Viking Cruises has spared no expense when it comes to decor and furnishings. Rich leather seating is everywhere you look. The decor is exquisitely simple, clean and inviting. As we make our way through Decks 1 and 2, we see an incredible attention to detail and many a departure from traditional cruise ship design. We feel like we are a guest in someone's home.



The Guest Services area is not your typical "reception desk."  Instead, Viking Cruises uses individual desks where you can sit with a representative to sort out your needs, a concept more like a 5-star hotel than a traditional cruise ship. This ship really does have a different look and feel, and it is a good one.

When we return to our stateroom, we find our luggage has arrived and been placed on the bed for us. Unpacking duties commence and Rickee soon discovers that we will require many more hangers than are currently in the closet. Eka, our stateroom attendant, is just down the hall, so Rickee asks for more hangers and, within minutes, he appears with a handful of wooden hangers. Crisis averted.

Tonight, we have booked an excursion which starts at 8pm. The information in the Viking Daily states that we should eat a light dinner as we will be served tapas at a local restaurant. We decide to re-visit World Cafe which is featuring a seafood buffet tonight. A small plate of cocktail shrimp and sushi makes a perfect light meal.


Sushi and cocktail shrimp at World Cafe

We find a nice, quiet table at Aquavit Lounge, located aft of World Cafe. There are a few tables indoors, and many outdoors surrounding the infinity pool. It is a little too cool and windy to sit outside, so we opt for one of the tables next to the bar. However, out on the deck, chefs are preparing Sea Bass and fresh mussels as part of the seafood extravaganza. I am not sure many guests even knew they were out there!

At 8pm, we disembarked and met our local guide, Sergio, for our excursion, "An Evening of Flamenco". We board our bus and begin the short drive up the mountain to the Spanish Village.



When we arrive, Sergio leads us into the Spanish Village, an interesting place that Rickee and I are certain we have visited previously. This local attraction gives visitors a history of Spanish architecture, art and life in each of the regions of Spain.


Sergio explains the history of the Spanish Village

The sun is setting as we walk through the village, giving the architecture added impact. There are little alleyways with small shops and cafes scattered throughout the village.



We soon arrive at the location for our event, a small restaurant with an elevated stage. Guests are seated at tables set up for ten surrounding the stage. Bottles of wine and pitchers of Sangria are waiting for us when we are seated. Before long, small plates of Spanish tapas begin to arrive.


Pan Con Tomate and Iberico ham

After the cheese course, the musicians and dancers took the stage. Not being familiar with Flamenco dance, I was surprised by how powerful the dancers are. I guess this is sort of a Spanish version of tap dancing, but with much more power and anger. The dancers rarely smile during the performance. It is almost as if they are trying to stomp an opponent to death with their movements. Yet, it is quite skillful and very entertaining.



Halfway through the performance, there was a brief intermission and guests were served Creme Brulee for dessert.


Creme Brulee

As we enjoyed dessert, the musicians and dancers appeared once again and we enjoyed another round of fiery Flamenco dance and music. I think it is safe to say that everyone in attendance had a great time. At $139pp, the Evening of Flamenco was a good value and quite enjoyable. We were back on board Viking Sea by 11pm. Tomorrow is another day in Barcelona.
     
     
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One Comment
 
LINDA ALEXANDER
 
Excited to follow your journey. I always carry extra very thin old wire hangers from home when traveling as there are rarely enough in any hotel or onboard. Then I simply leave them upon returning home.
 
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 12:00 AM  
 
 
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https://cruisereport.com/crBlogDetail.aspx?id=4623&bmst=Y   |  12/17/2017 3:20:33 PM