The Port of Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the two largest cruise ports in the Mediterranean and is used as an embarkation port as well as a popular port of call. The city is a modern and historic place with a number of iconic neighborhoods and attractions. If you are cruising out of Barcelona do not miss the opportunity to spend a couple of extra days visiting this vibrant city.

 

The Port of Barcelona

Where You Will Dock – The entrance to the Barcelona ports is at the foot of La Rambla, which runs through the city centre. Generally there are three major port areas. Most cruise ships are docked at Adossat Quay Terminal which is the farthest out and is serviced by a shuttle to the La Rambla area. This includes terminals A, B, C and D.

 

 

Barcelona Harbor

There are also 3 terminals at the World Trade Centre pier called North, South and East terminals and are much closer to the Columbus Monument on the waterfront at La Rambla.

The third terminal is Sant Bertrand, and it to is near the World Trade Center (refer to our cruise terminal map). Sant Bertrand is usually used for ferries to the Balearic Islands.

Transportation – The T3 PORTBUS (the “Blue Bus”) runs a circuit from all cruise port terminals to the monument of Christopher Columbus. The tickets for the T3 need to be purchased with cash on the bus itself.

At this writing the tickets cost:

Single ticket: €3.00

With Return ticket: €4.00

Many of the cruise ships also provide a shuttle bus to their passengers for free or a small charge (usually about $5 to $8).

Walking – The nearest cruise terminal to La Rambla is about a 15 minute walk away. However the major cruise terminals, which are furthest from La Rambla are about a mile and a quarter (2 Km) from the Columbus Monument. From Christopher Columbus monument to La Rambla is about a 1 minute walk, and the nearest Metro is Drassanes (Green Line, L3), which is another 5 minutes walk.

Barcelona Metro – Barcelona has a good transit system that is excellent for getting around the city. The Barcelona Tourist Travel Pass (also known as the HolaBCN card) is a transport pass specifically designed for tourists. Once purchased it enables you to have unlimited journeys on the Barcelona public transport system which includes the TMB buses from Barcelona Airport to the city centre, the Airport metro from both T1 and T2, the Airport train to the city centre, the entire metro underground system in the whole of the city, the TMB buses that run in the city centre and the suburban tram system. Barcelona Card gives you unlimited transport on the Barcelona transport system (metro, bus, tram). It can be purchased in advance of your trip. The Transport Card can be purchased for 2 to 5 days. ()

The Gothic Quarter

Taxi – A taxi from the port to the city centre is normally less than 10 minutes with a fare of about €20.00. A Taxi to Barcelona airport from the cruise port should take about 25 minutes with a fare: of €30.00 – €35.00.

What To See – Barcelona is a city steeped in culture and history and many think it is the city itself that is the main attraction. From great food to an exciting night life, from the old Gothic quarter to the modern shopping districts this is truly a remarkable city.

The Sagrada Familia

Barcelona is famous for the fantastic architecture of Antonio Gaudí, whose buildings can be found scattered around the city. The most famous can be found along Passeig de Gràcia where you will find La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. There is also the Parc Güell which is a incredible park designed by the Gaudí himself. The most notable of Gaudí’s works is the Sagrada Familia, the huge, still unfinished Basilica.

The Gothic Cathedral in the heart of the Gothic quarter is a must-see as is a walk up Las Ramblas. Make sure to save time to explore the winding side streets with their shops and restaurants.

There are also a number of great museums in the city. The MACBA (museum of modern art) and the CCCB next door are worth an hour or two. The Picasso and the permanent Dalí exhibition in the Gothic Quarter are always worth a visit. The Caixa Forum is a museum which has different art exhibitions every month. It is just off Plaça Espanya, on Avenida Marques.

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The Cruise Port of Barbados

               * Distance to Bridgetown

General – Barbados is in the Lesser Antilles, the eastern most island in the Caribbean. It is an independent British Commonwealth nation, bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Caribbean Sea.

 

Where You’re Docked – Cruise ships dock at the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal and free shuttles take passengers from the ships to the terminal building. There are lots of shops inside the terminal and WI FI is available but not free. A walkway into Bridgetown runs along the waterfront. The distance is approximately one mile. Most stores are open during the week but close at noon on Saturday and are not open on Sunday.

Transportation – There are lots of taxies available from the cruise terminal area. The fares are regulated by the government so it is important to agree on a price before the trip. The Georgetown Bus Terminal is located two blocks outside the port area, behind Pelican Village. Exact fares must be paid for bus rides and tokens can be purchased at the bus terminal. Rental cars are available but the rates are fairly steep, driving is on the left side of the road and, once you leave the city areas, many roads do not have name sig

Money – The official currency is the Barbados dollar (BBD) but US dollars (not coins) are widely accepted. The current exchange rate is US $1.00 = BBD $2.00.

 

 

Nearby trips:

There are many beautiful beaches in Barbados but the easiest one to get to is Boatyard Beach on Carlisle Bay. It is about a 20 minute walk from the terminal or an inexpensive taxi ride. A fee of $20.00 is charged to use the facilities which include a beach chair, shared umbrella, one cocktail, WIFI and free transport back to the ship.

Mount Gay Rum Distillery in Brandons, St. Michaels offers tours Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday. The current fee is $20.00 which includes a presentation on the rum’s history and a tasting. Tickets can be booked online.

Harrison’s Cave in St. Thomas is a network of caves, waterfalls, lakes and streams approximately 170 feet below ground. Tours are offered daily for a fee. The area above ground is a good place to spot green monkeys.

Earthworks Pottery is located mid island in St. Thomas Parish. It is an opportunity to view local potters at work and purchase some hand made souvenirs. Closed Sunday.

George Washington House in Bush Hill welcomes visitors Monday through Saturday. It is the only place outside the United States that George Washington ever visited.

Bathsheba on the rugged Atlantic coast (eastern shore) is a great place to see surfers and enjoy a lunch at one of the local restaurants.

Black Pearly Party Cruises provides a 4 hour trip on the Jolly Roger which includes a buffet lunch, swimming, snorkeling, dancing and unlimited house drinks. The price is just under $90.00 with discounts for online booking and groups.

IMPORTANT – Do not wear camouflage clothing as it is illegal in Barbados; Only smoke in designated areas; Avoid touching or standing under the big shady Manshineel Trees as they are poisonous. Most of these trees are marked in red or banded in red.

 

Dublin Gardens in the Spring

For several days this May we visited a number of gardens while in Dublin, Ireland. The weather was mostly good with one morning of rain when we headed out for the National Botanic Gardens. By the time we reached the gardens the rain had lifted.

The National Botanic Gardens – This is a really beautiful garden with a number of greenhouses matching several environments. There were greenhouses dedicated to orchids, another to tropical plants and another to desert flora. The outside gardens cover a number of acres and feature several different styles. Admission is free, there is a restaurant and gift shop as well as a number of special programs including lectures and concerts. If you have time while in Dublin do yourself a favor and go see this garden.

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National Botanic Gardens
Glasnevin Cemetery

Backed up to the Botanic Gardens is Glasnevin Cemetery and Glasnevin Cemetery Museum. The museum’s web site describes it as “the guardian and storyteller for over 1.5 million people. From the ordinary to the truly extraordinary, these people helped shape the Ireland of today. We want to share their stories and times with you through tours of the cemetery, a visit to the museum or through a genealogy search for your family history”. While in the neighborhood stop in at the well known Gravediggers Pub for a pint.

St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephen’s Green is located in the heart of Dublin and is a focus in the area, and provides an oasis of green in the middle of this busy city. The Dublin Public Works web site describes this garden as “four centuries of history that are eventful and complex, involving such important figures as Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, and Countess Constance Markievicz. The park itself hosts a large number of important sculptural monuments to Irish history. Many species of birds and plants also call the park their home. Public facilities at St Stephen’s Green Park include a playground and a garden for the visually impaired”.

Blessington Street Park
Blessington Street Park

Half way from the River Liffey to the National Botanic Gardens we stopped at the Blessington Street Park or “The Basin” and what a find. Located near the intersection of Royal Canal Bank and Primrose Avenue this is a beautiful and well kept pocket park surrounding a lake. After walking thru this park we thought how lucky the neighbors are to live next to this gem.

Blessington Street Park

 

Piraeus The Port of Athens, Greece

General –  Piraeus is the seaport serving the city of Athens. This city is a major metropolis in its own right and the commercial area southeast of the port and near the sea has a number of excellent restaurants and attractions. While most passengers visiting this port for the first time will head out toward Athens and the Acropolis, if you have visited before consider spending some time discovering this area.

Where You Dock – Most cruise ships will dock along the northwest side of the port. There is a good walking sidewalk around the port and if you walk north and than continue around the port off to the east you will reach the central district in less than half a mile.

Transportation – There are a number of ways to go from Piraeus to Athens. If you want to head out on your own the best bet is the metro but you can also take a bus or taxi. Rental cars are also available.

The metro can be used to travel from Piraeus to central Athens. A trip to Athens using the metro costs <€1. Also a free bus usually operates in the port taking passengers from the ships to the metro station.

The metro station is about one mile away from the cruise terminal, or a 15-20 minute walk around the harbor. After that, you have a 20-minute ride on the metro to Athens. If the shuttle isn’t running you can take bus (number 843) from the cruise port to the metro station. The ride should take no more than 5 mins. The cost of the ticket is 1€.

To get from Piraeus to the Acropolis by metro, take the metro from Piraeus to Thissio (15 mins). At the metro station follow the pedestrian avenue towards the Acropolis. The walk is another 10 minutes to reach the Acropolis.

Traveling from Piraeus to Athens on a bus will cost roughly €0.80. Due to the usual heavy traffic, you should avoid the bus if you don’t have a lot of time.

Taxis offer more flexibility. To get to Athens one would spend about €15. This will get one to the centre of the city. If you plan to travel to the airport, the price price could be about €40.

Money – Greece uses the Euro and US Dollars are not readily accepted.

Nearby Attractions:

Acropolis -First and foremost there is ancient Athens and the Acropolis and if you haven’t visited before this is not o be missed.

In Piraeus take time to visit the Greek Nautical Museum and the Piraeus Archeology Museum with both walking distance from the port.

 

 

The Port of Lerwick in the Shetlands

Located in the North Sea one hundred fifty miles north of Scotland, Lerwick, the major town in the archipelago is the major Shetland port.

Getting Ashore -Cruise ships will normally anchor out and use tenders to reach shore. The tenders will dock right in the center of this picturesque town with its narrow streets and historic buildings.

Transportation – While there is a good public bus network (www.zettrans.org.uk) with its hub at Lerwick that reaches most points on the main island, and using ferries to other islands. The Lerwick bus depot is conveniently located near the center of town. Unfortunately schedules aren’t good for day tours from Lerwick.

Shetland has really good roads and renting a car is pretty easy. Rates average about £40 a day. Companies include Bolts Car Hire and Star Rent-a-Car located near the bus station.

Money – Scotland has now reverted to the English Pound. US Dollars and Euros are not generally accepted.

Local Attractions:

The Broch of Clickimin is a large, well-preserved but restored broch (a broch is an Iron Age stone hollow-walled structure unique to Scotland) dating to the late Bronze Age and is located just a mile north of town.

 

Fort Charlotte in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland, is a five-sided artillery fort, with bastions on each corner. The grounds and exterior battlements are open to the public and it offers good views of the towns harbor area. Today Fort Charlotte is managed by Historic Scotland, and is the base for Shetland’s Territorial Army. Visitors must call to get the keys to visit.

The Shetland Islands Puffins. These islands are home to a large population of puffins, making them a good place for puffin-watching as well as other bird watching. Within the Shetland Islands there are a number of places to see puffins, with some requiring only a short hike.

 

Civitavecchia, Rome’s Cruise Port

General – Civitavecchia is a seaside city and major port serving the city of Rome. The city is served by frequent train service from Rome along with service to other Italian destinations. The Cruise port is only a short five or six block walk along the waterfront on Via Aurelia. Once at the port there are usually free shuttles to the cruise ships. How the shuttles run seems to change often.

The main entry to the port is marked on the map with a red 1 but the more likely location to catch the shuttle is marked with a red 2.

Where the Ships Dock – Civitavecchia is both a cruise ship embarkation port as well as a popular port of call and for that reason it can have a large number of ships in port from time to time. On one day we counted seven cruise ships tied up. Because of the size of the port it usually requires a shuttle to get out of the port.

Transportation – The best way to get into Rome is to take a train. From Civitavecchia a typical trip to S. Pietro (40 mins), Trastevere (50 mins), Ostiense (55 mins) and finally Termini (70 mins). Fare starts at €5 one way but can cost up to €25 round trip depending on ticket class. There is a manned ticket booth at the station along with vending machines.

Taxis are available but are famous for overcharging with the short ride from the port to the train station quoted as high as €10 or €15.

Civitavecchia Pedestrian Mall

Taking a taxi into Rome or to the airport can be an expensive trip with fares running from €150 to €300.

There are also shuttle services to the airport with an average price starting at €25 per person. It is recommended that reservations be made as schedules can vary a lot.

Visiting Civitavecchia – We have stayed in Civitavecchia a number of times. It is a nice city with a number of nice hotels and restaurants within walking distance of the port. The main business district is next to the port and there are a number of nice shops in the area as well as a pedestrian mall.

Cruise Port Antigua, W.I.

General – The sovereign state of Antigua & Barbuda is located in the middle of the Leeward Islands chain, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. In 2017, most of Barbuda’s infrastructure was destroyed by Hurricane Irma and the population was evacuated to Antigua. Rebuilding will be a slow and painful process as resources are extremely limited.

Where You’re Docked – The cruise ships normally dock at Heritage Quay or Redcliff Quay in the downtown area of St. John’s, the capital and largest city on the island. If there are a lot of ships in port, some may dock at the Deep Water Harbour Terminal approximately 1.5 miles from the city. It is best to take a taxi from this area as there are no sidewalks going into St. John’s from this location. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the Quay area although many are closed on Sundays and public holidays. There are also several spots that offer WI-FI for either a small fee or free with a purchase. The beautiful St. John’s Cathederal which dates back to 1845 is a beautiful historic site to visit right in town.

Transportation – There are lots of taxi cabs available from the cruise dock area. Many taxis have a fixed fare set by the government but you can try to negotiate your fare before agreeing on the trip. There is limited public bus service but it can be complicated to use and very time consuming. Rental cars can be expensive because, in addition to the rental rate, a $20.00 temporary driving permit is required.

Money – The official currency is the East Caribbean dollar (EC) but US dollars are widely accepted. The current exchange rate is US $1.00 = EC$2.70.

Nearby trips:

Antigua is said to have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. For tourists, one of the more popular ones is Dickenson Bay, approximately 15 minutes from St. Johns. It offers a lively atmosphere with restaurants, bars and resorts.

Best view of the island is from Shirley Heights which also offers a nice restaurant for a meal with a spectacular view. A visit can be easily incorporated with a trip to Nelson’s Dockyard, the only working Georgian Dockyard in the Caribbean.

English Harbor is the main town in the south and it is the heart of the yachting community.

A visit to Barbuda is possible via the Barbuda Express, a 90 minute ferry service operating from the ferry dock in St. John’s. The ferry runs 6 days a week (not on Wednesday) with one departure and one arrival daily. Adult r/t tickets run $85.00 and children’s are less. Advance reservations are recommended.