Day 1: Boarding Costa Pacifica
If you asked me if I would take a Costa mini cruise in May in the Mediterranean, I would say: Hell yeah! Surely it is not a cruise in the style of Silversea, Windstar or Oceania, but having done over 41 cruises in total so far, I would almost go on any cruise and on any ship when I have the chance. Because in the end, they all float. Some a little more luxuriously and some in disco style, yet the feeling to be close to the ocean remains the same.
It might be a little loud, a little 80´s and a little simple in some ways, yet it is a great way if you are looking to hop on a boat, but you are not planning to spend a fortune on it. And Costa offers these short cruises on a regular base throughout the year.
So I did not have to think twice when thinking to visit beautiful destinations such as Valencia or Cagliari in Spring, the perfect time of year to get those Summer vibes on and to cast away the last remaining thoughts of the never-ending winter months.
Starting in Barcelona, it is also one of these ports in the world where you can conveniently transfer to the ship from the airport with public transportation. It is cheap, safe and all happens in a short amount of time.
The only letdown on the day of my arrival was Lufthansa. While the flight was seamless and very comfortable as always, there obviously had been a change in the airway of the final approach. I had been so much looking forward to catch the ships in port on my camera from up above, that was why I had selected a window seat on the right hand side all the way in the rear of the aircraft. Normally, the planes sail into El Prat airport over the water, leaving everyone on the right hand side of the plane with a gorgeous panoramic view over Barcelona and the port during the final approach. But on this day, we completely flew over land. Gosh, was I dissatisfied!
But it is a waste of time to grumble over things that cannot be changed anyways, so I decided to cheer up and enjoy this beautiful and sunny day instead.
Bags were already delivered on the carousel when I arrived and the next stop was the Aerobus stop on the lower level. The buses leave seemingly every five minutes and you can either buy tickets (5,90€ per person one-way) at the blue ticket machines or with the bus driver directly. Final stop is Placa Catalunya downtown, right at the upper end of the Ramblas.
From here, I always enjoy walking along the side streets down to the Columbus statue. But of course, you could also take a taxi. Down there, the blue Cruises Bus departs for all the cruise ship terminals and cost 3€ per person one-way.
As I had taken the 9:00 am flight from Munich, it was only noon when I arrived at Terminal A. If you have never cruised with Costa before, it is good to know that they do boarding by numbers like Cunard or Holland America and generally do not start before 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon. So if you would like to be one of the first, it is better to arrive early. That is why I checked my luggage outside the terminal, obtained my boarding number and made my way back over the bridge again (you can take cool snapshots of all the ships in port from there) towards the marina.
I did not waste the time to check-in already as I could board with my number anytime should they have already started when I would return (and I was not in the mood to stand in line at that time either). So I enjoyed the view, the sun and a coffee on one of the benches in front of the massive Maremagnum shopping center right at the marina, about 20 minutes by foot from Terminal A.
At three o´clock, I took the cruise bus back to the terminal where they had just started to call the boarding numbers. I passed security (no lines anymore), swiftly checked in and was 15 minutes later already on the ship.
My balcony cabin had seen better days, but I was very happy with the location on the rear starboard side. Even though the bed was a little saggy, I absolutely loved the view from the balcony right from the first moment on. And being just a stone´s throw away from the rear staircase, getting around the ship was fairly easy! I will cover an entire blog post about Costa Pacifica later with pictures from the cabin and all the other spaces onboard.
My keycard and suitcase were both already waiting for me as I entered the room. Other than on competitor cruise lines, Costa only checks the travel documents and your passport upon check-in. Another validation takes place before entering the ship where your photo is taken by a crew member with a mobile device. Registration of your payment/credit card is done on self-service kiosks located around the main atrium and key cards are always placed in the designated stateroom. Once you have done it this way, you get used to the procedure quickly.
At 6:00 pm, Costa Pacifica started a horn battle as she slowly sailed past the other two ships in port. Shortly after, the colossus was already at sea heading towards my first stop, Valencia in Spain.
I had received the first seating at 6:30pm inside the My Way restaurant in the center of the ship on decks 3 and 4. Costa differentiates in general cabins by Classic and Premium. Classic cabins do not allow to choose a dinner time or to enjoy breakfast in the room. Room service is possible, comes at extra cost though and the cabins generally lie on the lower decks. Worked fine for me though for this cruise!
One thing that I identified as an advantage of the early seating was the fact that I could easily squeeze a workout into the evening. That means, if I chose not to take advantage of the show program or a relaxed sundowner on my private balcony.
Today, I was way too tired though to push my limits on the weights. So after I had met my fellow table neighbours for a decent meal and chit-chat, I retreated to the privacy of my balcony from where I witnessed the most spectacular sunset over the Catalonian mainland. What a grand finale to this day. And this natural beauty looks the same from every ship, literally.
Exhausted and sleepy, I darkened the cabin while the other passengers had just begun to explore and enjoy the entertainment program that was on schedule. And while the ship sailed the calm seas into the night, I was already off to dreamland…