South by Southeast late 2018 - early 2019 travel blog

the Harmony is much bigger yet

We are leaving Barcelona in the nick of time. The rain continues and the temperature shouldn't get much above 50º. The areas we toured the last few days have ice/snow warnings. Malaga, our next stop, is a a bit further south and somewhat warmer, too. Time to head back to Florida.

When people hear about how many passengers this class of ship can hold - 6,000+ they imagine interminable lines. We got on this ship faster than we did the Corinthian three weeks ago. Except for a short line in security, we literally just walked onboard. We had uploaded our photos for our ID's at home, the gate agent scanned our passports and we found the keys in our cabin. Even with a well staffed terminal, these formalities used to take at least half an hour.

Where we did get bogged down was in restaurant bookings. As cruise companies are always looking for ways to generate income, they have added more and more specialty restaurants with food that is supposed to be a cut above and an extra charge. Normally, we feel that the food in the regular dining room is just fine and what we have already paid for. Sometimes we have walked past the specialty restaurants and they were half empty, especially at the beginning of the cruise. So they sold us "buy one, get one" dinners in these special restaurants that had to be eaten the first two nights of the cruise. Apparently this appealed to all us bargain hunters and the queues were long and slow moving for making a reservation and deciding which of the restaurants to patronize. Since we are not paying for shore excursions on this cruise which does not stop anywhere, we've decided to give the special restaurants a try. With our "frequent floater" status with Royal Caribbean, we will be able to BOGO at four restaurants altogether.

Apparently the BOGO offer generated too much business. Chops, the first restaurant we chose, had an indoor and outdoor eating area and no one wanted to be outside on a chilly evening. This seemed to back things up and we waiting 20+ minutes past our reservation time and the service was quite slow. I don't know why, but this restaurant was so noisy we could barely talk to each other at a table for two. On the plus side the foot was amazing, the filet was juicy, tasty and so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. The mushroom soup was flavorful and the red velvet cake to die for. Score: food 10, ambience 3, worth paying a lot extra for 2

After dinner we saw Mos5aic, an a cappella men's group that flew out from Las Vegas to entertain us for two days and will leave again in Malaga. Even though some of the audience was jet lagged and exhausted, their energy and the clever sounds they made with their mouths, but sounded like instruments were amazing and had us on our feet and cheering.

Since our cruise only has one stop in Europe, I am including this URL, which is supposed to indicate where our ship is at all times. We hear there's some sort of storm out in the Atlantic somewhere that could make things exciting. Fingers crossed that we can avoid it.

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