As there are several reviews of the 12 night Barcelona round trip, I will mostly speak of the transatlantic portion of the trip. We are a somewhat laid back, yet adventuresome youngish 50ish (okay mid 50ish) couple who have enjoyed 2 other transatlantic voyages prior to this sailing. This was our first westbound TA and our very favorite because of the extra hours gifted and seven glorious seadays after many days of hectic touring.
We flew into Barcelona two days prior to departing, stayed at the Hotel Gaudi - perfectly located just off La Ramblas. Great location for walking everywhere. The night before sailing we hosted a CC cocktail party at the hotel (albeit tiny) cocktail lounge. It was well attended by about 40 anxious travellers, ready to meet, greet and set the tone for the upcoming sailing. We also put together a fabulous pre-cruise dinner for a group of 20 at Taller de Tapas on La Rambla de Catalunya - one of the meal highlights of my life.
Embarkation was a breeze - both times. 15 minutes from cab drop off to Cafe al Baccio on the first leg and a very easy turn around for the B2B. We did change cabins - starboard to portside. it would have been nice to stay put, still the process was painless. We attained Elite status on the TA - no balloons falling from the sky or band playing when we received our new Sea Pass with the new status, yet we giggled and promised to still speak to those in our group without the coveted designation. Truly, I am grateful for the internet time, laundry and did enjoy the cocktail hour most evenings. The morning breakfast is perfect for my appettite.
The Equinox is still a beautiful ship, well maintained and well loved. This was our third trip with her and not our last. It is the crew that keep us coming back year after year. Ivana in Cafe al Baccio, Maggie - wine goddess extraordinaire, Kristel's warm smile, Bruce's energy and on and on....
Our cabin was as expected - just like "coming home" each time we board. Nice size, cozy robes, well attended by two hard working crew members. Lovely amenities - fresh flowers, sparkling wine to be traded,upgraded at dinner, better canapies than in the past, bottled water, chairs with footstools on the balcony. Decent bath products. Clean, clean, clean.
We ate most dinners in Blu - THE reason to sail AQ in our opinion. More quiet than main dining, more attentive service and excellent cuisine. Did not have one bad meal in the entire 26 days. maybe one mediocre, all else were very good to excellent.
We were able to enjoy the beverage package on the first leg of the B2B, thanks to the 3-2-1 promotion. We did miss it on the transatlantic, but when realistically looking at how much we ordered when having the perk, it would not make financial sense for us to purchase in the future.
Our ports :
Barcelona - on turn around day, we simply took the ship's bus to town and wandered a bit. Back to La Bouqueria one more time, a little Chocolate con churro and supply shop at Carrefour.
Cartagena - meandered through town on our own. It was our second visit, did the HoHo the first time. Good deals on shoes.
Malaga - private tour arranged by fellow CC member to the Alhambra.
Cadiz - again, our second time, so did our own tapas and wine tasting throughout town. This was Thanksgiving day. We shared a large table in the select dining room with new friends. Very accomodating staff that made us feel as though it were a holiday with our cruise family.
Lisbon - another DIY with a small group. Strolled, sampled great local cusine and wine.
Tenerife - more of the same on our own.
The weather in the ports ranged from blustery to more temperate. The weather for the crossing was heaven. Warm, almost tropical.
Needless to say, a great time was had by the two of us. We met people that we hope to remain friends with for many years to come. We booked next year's TA, so we now have just a bit over 300 days to go until we sail again.