NCL Epic - Transatlantic 2019 - Part 1 Barcelona - Palma Mallorca - Gibraltar

Day 1 Barcelona

The Norwegian Epic - often referred to as the marmite of cruise ships she is certainly one of a kind and indeed  only one was built before NCL moved on to the Breakaway Class. Everyone around us in line at the cruise terminal seems to have traveled on her before. However  all agree that this year's westerly transatlantic itinerary is just to too good to miss regardless of her reputation.

16 days at sea from Barcelona to Puerto Rico with a whole host of places in between. Its also a late crossing: November to early December taking a southern Atlantic route so hopefully a chance of some decent weather along the way.
This will be our third Transatlantic crossing but our first on this more southern route - previously we have used NCL Jade to New York (via Iceland, Canada and New England) and Celebrity Eclipse to Miami (via Boston, New York & Bermuda).
It will also be the first holiday ever where we have arrived at the airport minus one suitcase which appears to have mysteriously vanished, so a visit to the Swissport desk is required who seem to be expecting us as our missing bag never made it on board the plane and is still sat in Manchester. AARRGGHH

Not the greatest start then but the show must go on. We stop in the Modern Quarter of Barcelona at The Gates, Diagonal , a modern new hotel opposite a large collection of shops and restaurants at Glories Tower. As we eat a fantastic Italian dinner there &we get the first automatic update on the state of our luggage - it will be flying out at 6am tomorrow on an Easyjet flight.

We had pre arranged transfers booked with From2- the problem with these type of companies is that that you spend an hour or so driving around the back streets of Barcelona picking up from a multitude of hotels. In future I would  just take a taxi. We also awake to another update from the airport telling us our luggage has arrived and has been picked up by staff from the cruise company. So fingers crossed it goes to the right ship.

Barcelona cruise terminal today is a perfect example of utter chaos ( not the norm at Barcelona I must add). We have been here many times on various ships, some bigger than the Epic and never had any problems so what on earth has gone wrong today remains a mystery until we are finally inside the terminal building.  As this is a transatlantic voyage, the Spanish border control have decided everyone who does not hold an EU passport needs to be have further checks. The silly thing is they have split the terminal into two check in rooms one for EU and one for non EU and the EU area is totally empty - if they had arranged the outside line in the same way they would have solved half the problem before the line got so long.

We finally arrive onboard to find the  case we dropped off ourselves at the pier has already been delivered to the stateroom. Still no sign of the missing bag yet though so we unpack what we have and head for the muster. Everything has been pushed back a little time wise and by the time muster is finished we are ready to eat. We take a long leisurely and excellent dinner in the Manhattan dining room where we have an excellent seat at the window. As the throb of the engines increases and we slowly pull away from the port of Barcelona thoughts turn to the missing suitcase.

And so we find ourselves heading back to our cabin that night with everything crossed for luck - and there it is sat outside proudly covered in RUSH and Expedite tickets having made its own journey to catch us up. We do a little happy dance in the corridor and finally retire to bed.

Day 2 Palma - Mallorca

Tomorrow morning we arrive early into Palma. Its warm but a little cloudy today.

We choose to walk from the cruise terminal into Palma following the Harbour footpath which does throw up the odd challenge - especially if you're on the phone to mother!!!!! - Still it raises the heartbeat.

Having been to Palma quite a few times on cruise visits we decide to go on foot and head for a wonderful sanctuary. The Basilica, Monastery ( now a Catholic school) & Cloisters of St Francis in the Old Town area of Palma.

This little hidden gem is practically deserted today - we seem to have the whole complex to ourselves. The entrance fee was 5 euros.

The following morning is a sea day and a welcome one at that. We take breakfast in the room as we tend to avoid the madness of the buffet unless there really is something special happening.

Heading back to the Spanish mainland finds us in the unique position of having practically all the Epics upper decks to ourselves..  Whilst its not baking hot its certainly a hell of a lot warmer than late November in the British Isles so quite where everyone has disappeared to is a mystery.

Tonight we have reservations at Le Bistro where we will use the first of our Platinum level dining freebies. You get two of these - one for either Bistro or Cagneys and another that can be used in La Cucina or Moderno - add to this the perk of 5 specialty meals and free drinks that NCL already include means you can vary your dining experiences even on a relatively long cruise such as this.

The cavern still remains one of our favourite venues on any cruise ship.. Nice and intimate with great live music - its the prefect setting for the EPIC Beatles to do their stuff and feels so much more intimate than watching a show in the theatre.

Day 3 Malaga for Gibraltar

The following morning sees us heading to Gibraltar from here we take the simple coach trip "Gibraltar on your own" from the ship and then share a touring taxi with fellow ship mates from Honduras.

Neither of us have been to Gibraltar before and we are keen to explore the Big Rock especially as Jacks Father spent some time stationed here during his time in the Navy.

Watch out for those pesky Monkeys

And that breeze. From here we can make out the mountain ranges of Morocco. If you only have a day in Gibraltar I highly recommend the private taxi tours. The rock itself is not an easy place to get to (even if you use the cable car it only takes you to one spot) and there is so much to see on top, inside and around. The tours include all access fees to all the sites as well.

Tonight we set sail for Cadiz.

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