Chances are excellent that if your next cruise falls under the Western Mediterranean flag, Barcelona will be one of the major ports you’ll visit. In fact, there’s an even greater chance your cruise will start or finish in this city, which is great as like most major European cities, there’s so much to see and do here that it can’t be done in one day.
The city is the second most populated in Spain behind Madrid and one of the major centres in all of Europe. Founded during Roman times, some of the history on display today dates back to these times and proves an enticing attraction. Barcelona regularly hosts major conventions and expos, is home to one of the most successful soccer teams in the world and is still remembered for successfully hosting the Olympic Games back in 1992.
Barcelona enjoys a fairly palatable climate year-round, with mild winters and summers which can get quite warm and which entices crowds from further north to soak up some Iberian sun. The city is quite simply set up beautifully for cruise travellers, which makes sense as it’s one of the busiest sea ports, for both leisure and freight traffic, in all of Europe.
How can I get to Barcelona?
One of the major cities on the Iberian Peninsula, Barcelona is well served by airlines from across Europe and around the world. One stop flights via Asia or the Arabian Peninsula are readily available from Australia any day of the year.
If you’re in Europe already, there is no shortage of full-service or low-cost airlines able to get you there from anywhere on the continent throughout the day. The airport is extremely modern & efficient, and will have you on your way to your hotel or cruise ship in no time at all. There are even a number of services which will transport your baggage directly to the cruise terminal to save you having to lug them around yourself.
Where can I cruise to from here?
Barcelona is one of the major setting-off ports for cruises around the Western Mediterranean, further to the Eastern Med, north to the United Kingdom or in some cases, for Trans-Atlantic voyages across to North America or even into the Caribbean.
Cruise lines are present in Barcelona year-round, with many of the major brands operating regular (often week-long) laps of the Western Mediterranean to Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, Rome, Sicily and back, while others head further east to Rome, Athens and even around to Kotor, Dubrovnik and Venice. Depending on the size of your ship, you may even visit ports such as St Tropez, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terre and Cannes, among many others.
There are literally dozens of possible destinations you can reach by sea from Barcelona and dozens of cruise lines with whom you can reach them. You’ll find Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and many of the luxury smaller ship operators all regularly setting sail from here.
Where should I stay before or after my cruise?
Las Ramblas is the main tourist strip in Barcelona and as such, there’s no shortage of hotels catering to travellers who like to travel in style and luxury through to the more budget conscious. Like much of Europe, rooms are quite small in most properties, however in a city like Barcelona, why would you be in there for any reason other than to sleep?
Try and stay between the Plaza de Espana and Ronda Litoral which runs along the waterfront near the cruise terminal. This is where most of the tourist areas can be found.
Taxis are plentiful, quite affordable and when cruise ships are in town, they know their way to and from the cruise terminal quickly and easily. Sometimes, there will even be a price cap on your fare between major centres, such as the airport to terminal run.
What can I see and do before setting sail?
Around the city, nearly every corner is lined with historic buildings, churches, cathedrals, monuments and sites worth photographing. Barcelona has a fast and efficient underground metro rail system to help you get around if you’re feeling more confident and comfortable with your surroundings, however walking the city is also a great way to find things.
Sport, particularly football, is beyond the levels of passion in Barcelona – it’s a way of life. If you’re also fond of the game, you might like to try and catch a game or find somewhere to watch it. The whole city gets into it and the energy in the town is palpable.
On a more family-friendly line, there is a cable car line near the cruise terminal which will give you a bird’s eye view of Barcelona. There is an aquarium and a plethora of museums and historic sites worth exploring.
What should I expect in the cruise terminal itself?
Owing to the amount of sea traffic the city attracts, Barcelona is well set up for cruise travel and operates at least four terminals next to and near to each other. Depending on where your hotel is and how hot it may be on embarkation day, the terminal is reachable on foot however you should allow the better part of an hour to do this.
As previously stated, there is no shortage of taxis which can take you quickly and in comfort to your ship. Terminals are well set up to deal with the influx of taxis, which are quickly shepherded in, unloaded and sent on their way in an almost military-like process.
We suggest arriving well ahead of your stipulated embarkation time and to allow 1-2 hours to proceed through the terminal. Once inside, there is plenty of space and many queues staffed to get people through and onto the ship with minimal fuss. Baggage drop desks are easy to find, security procedures are robust yet efficient and while there is a shortage of seats inside the terminal itself, you’ll be onboard in no time.