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Barcelona, Spain
Monday, April 17, 2017   Related topics:
This morning, Viking Sea is still docked in Barcelona. My first morning on board begins with a search for the perfect early morning coffee location. I prefer a quiet place where I can work on my blog, sort through the previous day's photos, and enjoy my coffee. I have decided that Mamsen's on Deck 7 forward is the perfect spot. Mamsen's begins service at 6:30am and, even though that is a little late for me, I can always swing by World Cafe, if necessary, to fill my French Press with hot water on my way to Mamsen's.

Mamsen's is a peaceful retreat for early morning coffee

Mamsen's also has some fresh waffles that may require journalistic review later in the cruise. Speaking of food, we decided to grab a quick lunch at the Pool Grill today before our 1:00pm tour.

Rickee orders a hot dog at the Pool Grill

The Pool Grill is located on Deck 7 midship. Burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches are made to order and there is a small self-serve salad buffet. Waiter/esses deliver drink orders. I had a cheeseburger and Rickee had a hot dog, which must have been at least a foot long! We will be reviewing the Pool Grill more thoroughly in our new Cruise Dining Blog, so keep an eye out for more details.

Cheeseburger and fries

After lunch, we had just enough time to make our way to the gangway located on Deck A. And, speaking of the gangway, Viking Cruises has placed monitors outside each elevator and stairwell with gangway information. That makes disembarking in port MUCH easier. Great job Viking!

Monitors provide disembarkation information

After swiping our key cards at security, we disembark and walk to the cruise terminal to meet our local guide for an "included" tour of Barcelona. As we walk to the terminal, we pass by palettes of bottled water about to be loaded onto Viking Sea. The photo below shows the scale of the provisioning required for a ship this size.

Bottled water about to be loaded onto Viking Sea

Once outside the cruise terminal, we quickly locate the bus that will take us on the Panoramic Tour and Walk of Barcelona. Viking Cruises offers a complimentary included excursion in every port of call, making it a great value. In addition, Viking Cruises provides a free shuttle service from the port to a location in town in many ports. This makes it very convenient and affordable for guests to explore destinations on their own.

Rickee boards the bus for the included tour of Barcelona Camera and Lens RentalOnce the bus departs the terminal, our local guide, Anthony, introduces himself. His lack of an accent tells us that he must be American or Canadian. As it turns out, he was born in Oklahoma City! The tour begins with narrated drive past many of Barcelona's most famous landmarks. The bus makes a stop near the famous Las Ramblas pedestrian street where the walking tour portion of the excursion begins. Viking provides guests with Quietvox sound systems for use on all tours. The system allows the guide to talk to guests in crowded places without having to yell. It makes walking tours much more enjoyable.

Anthony gathers guests for the walking portion of the tour

Our guide tells us that if we decide to leave the guided tour and go our own way, to meet back at the bus at 4:00pm. Rickee and I decide to do just that, as do a few other guests. We switch off our Quietvox systems, and head off toward some interesting little back streets. Barcelona is a great city to explore on foot. It seems that there is something interesting around every corner.

Rickee stops for a photo in front of Barcelona Cathedral

Our impromptu walk takes us down a small street where we come upon a tapas bar that looked interesting. We have been wanting to find a place to enjoy a local favorite, Pimientos Padron. We were introduced to these mild, blistered peppers on our last trip to Barcelona and loved them. We went inside, and placed our order. Rickee had a local beer and I had a glass of wine. Soon, the peppers arrived, and we enjoyed a mid-afternoon snack. Tapas are one of the best reasons to visit Spain!

Pimientos Padron

After our snack, we began walking back to the meeting point for the bus. Along the way, we heard music and stumbled across some street performers that were excellent. Another appeal of large European cities is that you can be entertained just by walking around. It seems there's always something going on around every corner.

Excellent band performing on the street in Barcelona

We board the bus for the short drive back the the ship and, once back on board, we begin getting ready for our 7pm dinner reservation at The Chef's Table. The Chef's Table is one of the two restaurants on board Viking Sea that require advance reservations. We arrive right on time and are quickly shown to our table for two.

Rickee outside of The Chef's Table

The Chef's Table is a much larger restaurant venue than we were expecting. However, the venue appears to only be about half-filled with guests when we arrive. Our waiter introduced himself and explained how the evening's menu included a wine pairing with each of the five courses. An optional "premium" wine pairing is available for $25 per person, but we chose to stick with the house wines, which are complimentary. Each course was preceded with an explanation of the dish and the accompanying wine. This evening's theme is Asian Panorama and the main course is Peking Duck.

Peking Duck served at The Chef's Table

As with all restaurants on board, we will be preparing a detailed review of The Chef's Table posted to our Cruise Ship Dining blog soon. After a filling meal at The Chef's Table, we make our way forward to the Star Theater on Deck 1 where we are greeted with champagne for the Captain's Welcome Reception.

Waiters greet guests with champagne at Captain's Reception

The Star Theater is Viking Sea's main showroom/lounge and is very well designed with great sight lines. When we arrive, two of the ship's entertainers are performing 50
's and 60's songs on stage. Soon, Heather Clancy, our cruise director, takes the stage and introduces Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal. The Captain welcomes all of us to Viking Sea and brings his Senior Staff on stage for introductions.

Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal

After the introductions, we all toast to a safe and enjoyable cruise, then it's on with the show! Heather introduces us to the ship's entertainers, each of whom perform a sample for us of what we can expect in the coming days. There are three male and three female singers, and all were excellent. There are two ballroom dancers on board, and they too were excellent. But everyone was blown away when Heather ended the show with her own operatic performance. Rickee's comment says it all: "Wow! All I can say is Wow!"

Heather Clancy shows off her opera chops for Viking Sea guests

It was a great day aboard Viking Sea. Tomorrow is our first day at sea. Time to relax?
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One Comment
Barcelona is one of my favorite large cities - beaches, mountains, alleyways, charm, history. You can spend days walking around, which is what we did. The on/off busses there are "famous" and very popular for locals and tourists. A great way to see a very large spread out city!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:00 AM  
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