Ode to Italia cruise – day 1 (Barcelona)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Map with Barcelona marked as our starting port.

We were up early, enjoyed the complimentary hotel breakfast, and decided to try to fit in a 2-hour city tour before leaving the hotel at noon to head to the pier.

We chose the “HOP ON • HOP OFF” bus tour we’d heard about, and although we wanted to do the “blue route,” it wouldn’t get us back in time, so we chose the “red route” instead.

It was a guided tour (with headphones and the ability to choose from a multitude of languages) in a double-decker bus.” We took a seat on the open, upper deck in spite of it being a little chilly. We didn’t hop off at all, because we didn’t have time to do that. We really just wanted to see some highlights of the city. Here are some of those highlights:

Excited to see our ship in the port while the tour passed the ports

Loved these figures by the entrance

In the theater district

Sitting atop the double-decker bus for the tour

Art and history!

Casa Milà by architect Antoni Gaudí

A “local” supermarket

There were a lot of palm trees, which felt a little out of place, perhaps because the weather wasn’t at all warm

And lots of motorcycles

Cool street lamp posts

More art!

The city center

Back at the hotel to reconnect with our group

Our group left the Intercontinental Barcelona by bus at 12:30 and headed to the pier.

Bob and I were one of only a few people in our group who hadn’t been COVID tested within the last 72 hours, so at the pier, we stepped aside to have that done, for which Regent (our cruise line) picked up the tab. We had a 15-minute wait for our results:

Awaiting our COVID test results at the pier before we can board

And we both passed! A gold sticker for being fully vaccinated and double-boosted, and a blue “wrist ribbon” for negative tests at the pier.

Note for posterity: If you tested positive, you could not board the ship, and unless you had trip insurance or something, you were on your own to figure out quarantining requirements and change your plans to get back home.

We were then able to check in, and since it was only about 2:00, the cabins weren’t yet ready, so we had lunch at the Pool Grill, where we both enjoyed a Reuben. I scraped off my sauerkraut and replaced it with coleslaw. I had some most delicious pistachio, while Bob chose the chocolate, ice cream for dessert.

Just as we finished lunch, they announced that our cabins were ready and we headed up to ours.

Here’s a little tour of cabin 868, our home for the next 7 days:

The king-sized “love nest”

Our welcome bottle of champagne in our sitting area

Our bar and entertainment area, complete with cabinets for actual glassware

Our writing/office area

Our walk-in closet

Said closet filled after Bob unpacked for us

Our bathroom, complete with double sinks, which we don’t even have at home (albeit by choice)

And we have both a shower and a bath tub

And finally our veranda with two chairs and a recliner

We set sail at 5:00, and we went to the Observation Lounge for the departure, where we had a cocktail and some salty snacks—potato chips and nuts.

The Observation Lounge

The piano that turns the Observation Lounge into a piano lounge at night

Sailing away at minutes past our scheduled 5:00 departure time

Our Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Cruise Vacation group met at 5:30 in the Constellation Theater for a welcome gathering at which we had cocktails and appetizers (I loved the bacon-wrapped scallops and the cocktail weenies in crescent rolls), and Seth & James (Seth’s husband) went over the schedule and then introduced each of the 4 Broadway stars who are here with us this week—Jason Graae (gay), Faith Prince, Andréa Burns, and Bonnie Milligan.

Afterward, the group moved to the Compass Rose room, where we’ll sit for dinner as a group each night—if you want to. On 3 nights, Bob and I have dinner reservations in the 3 specialty dining rooms (The Prime 7—a steak house, the Pacific Rim—Pan-Asian dining, and the Chartreuse—French cuisine) during which we’ll have a break from the group dining.

Tonight we were seated at a table-for-four with Marilyn and Connie, who are the mother and “aunt” of Judy Perl, who is the owner of the travel agency Seth uses to manage his Broadway Vacations. Aunt is in quotation marks because Connie isn’t actually a relative, but rather a lifelong friend of the family.

They both must be in their 80s and both were an absolute delight. Judy is obviously proud of her daughter. The conversation flowed pretty easily—at times funny, at times serious, but always interesting.

That’s Judy’s mother Marilyn in front of me and “Aunt” Connie next to Bob

Bob and I had the mahi-mahi, his with mussels and mine with a salad, and we split some mushroom risotto. For dessert, Bob had chocolate ice cream and I had a Kahlúa caramel soufflé.

Back at our cabin, we learned that our port call for tomorrow had been changed from Monte Carlo to Corsica because the Monaco port was closed due to high wind conditions.

We had to request an excursion at this new port, and after filling out our form, I brought it down to the Destinations Services desk.

While I was out, I stopped by the Observation Lounge where it was “Late Night Piano Bar” (10:15-11:30) and a guy was playing that grand piano seen in our departure pictures, but where there were very few people, one of whom was an intoxicated woman who was on the dance floor by herself and acting like some kind of emcee, yelling out to everyone, “Get out here on the dance floor. Give the piano player a hand. Don’t leave me up here hanging. Give the piano player another round of applause.”

“Sit down and shut the f*ck up,” was what I was saying—in my head.

I had one bourbon and soda there and then stopped by the Splendor Lounge where it was “Blame it on the Boogie! (10:30-11:30) and that place was hoppin’ with about 15 people on the tiny dance floor, all seemingly having a very festive time. I just observed for a minute and then returned to our cabin for the night.

Leave a Comment