My husband and I were on the Nautica for the 10-day Western Europe Escapade. We sailed from the Port of Rome to Barcelona and then visited Cartagena, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Oporto, Portugal; Bilbao, Spain; and Bordeaux, France. It ended in Southhampton, from which we were bused to Heathrow.
The very beginning of our cruise was also the worst part of it. I thought it would make things easier to let Oceania book the flights and airport transfers. The flight from Seattle to Heathrow was long but not too bad. We paid extra for premium economy. Then it was a couple-hour flight to Rome. We were supposed to be met by Oceania representatives once we cleared customs and retrieved our checked bags. We did find the people, but they accused us of being "late" and said the bus had already left. Believe me, we had come through as quickly as we could, not even stopping to use the bathroom. We and one other hapless couple were told we would have to wait until there were more people for a fuller bus. By this time we were exhausted, hungry and getting very irritated. After about two hours, just when we were about to find private transportation, we were told we could get on the bus. Ninety minutes later we were on board, sipping Champagne in our stateroom.
We found the ship quite stately and attractive, especially the artwork that was everywhere. The public rooms were beautiful and pleasant. We particularly enjoyed Martinis Bar and Horizons at the top of the ship.
It was very small and cramped, but the bed was comfortable. The shower was unbelievably tiny, but since we were concierge level we had access to the spa. I took to taking showers and steambaths in the spa, which was spacious and rarely used.
We did not take an excursion but found Barcelona a fairly easy city to navigate, especially after listening to Dr. Stephen Wesley's excellent lecture. There was cab waiting when we got off the ship, and we took it directly to Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia cathedral. We did not go in (you need to get tickets ahead of time for that) but walked slowly around it, taking in the details of this still-unfinished dazzling work. From there we grabbed another cab and asked to be dropped off at the food market on Las Ramblas. This was an amazing market, for fish, Spanish ham and other meat products, produce and everything you could think of. Then we made our way through the old quarter to the Picasso Museum, where we saw many of the master's early works. We found a little tapas place for lunch. I always thought tapas were "small plates," but these were quite large, and we got to taste that delicious ham, a tortilla (Spanish omelette) and other specialties. We grabbed another taxi and went to Miro Foundation, a wonderful building with Miro's works well displayed inside and out. By this time I had the taxi app downloaded on my phone (I'm not sure why I didn't use Uber) and summoned one to take us back to the ship. This was a great way to get to see the things we were most interested in without a lot of extra expense.
The excursion I wanted to take (to experience the mud baths) got canceled so we didn't book one here. It turned out to be a perfect place to simply walk around and look at the beautifully restored buildings and to enjoy the many pedestrian streets.