This often happens to us: a simple trip to take a cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona has grown and grown into a back to back to back cruise extravaganza. This will be our seventh trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) an organization we have come to love for many different reasons. Part of our travel fee is donated to the less fortunate in the communities we visit, less important on this trip than on previous adventures in India and Africa. An encounter with real people living their normal lives as opposed to mass tourism is another appealing feature. We like the mix of planned activities and time to explore on our own. Most of all we have liked the small groups with 12 - 16 travelers, where we had a chance to really get to know one another and our guide. We were able to visit places where we could blend in better than you can on a fifty passenger bus tour. On this trip there will be about one hundred of us, split into four groups. Supposedly the smaller groups will make touring easy and we will be able to meet and mingle with the large group on the ship. This cruise on the Corinthian, which only has 48 cabins will be able to dock close to downtown areas, unlike the bigger cruise ships, which often berth in ugly, commercial areas. We are hoping that we like this semi-small group organization plan since we have booked another one to visit Israel next year.
Unlike our last trip in Australia, this one will involve only one flight from Miami to Lisbon; this makes us very happy. A few days after our first cruise ends in Barcelona, we will board the Symphony of the Seas, currently the largest ship afloat, for the twelve day sail back to the United States. On the Corinthian we will stop in a port every day; the Symphony will only make one stop before crossing the Atlantic. We have sailed on her sisters and love all the activities and entertainment on board. It will be quite a shock to the system to move from a ship with one hundred passengers to one with 6,500. But our past experiences being on these behemoth Royal Caribbean ships is that they are well oiled machines and we rarely have to stand in lines for anything. Generally, on these repositioning cruises the passengers are pretty much like us: gray haired with lots of cruises under their belts and displayed on their waist lines.
The final cruise on a medium size ship, the Mariner of the Seas, will begin in Miami immediately after the Symphony cruise ends and sail to the Bahamas for three days. We will join about 90 other people who are combining these two cruises and have heard that we will be shuttled between the ships. I had visions of schlepping our luggage from one to another in the cruise port. This Bahamas cruise will last only three days and this ship should be full of much younger folks, partying and carrying on. Again the contrast could be stunning.