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Donna Sherf

Age: 70+

Occupation:Travel Writer

Number of Cruises: 20+

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Splendour of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 13th, 2004

Itinerary: Barcelona to Tampa Bay

My husband and I wanted to sail transatlantic on a ship that offered several days at sea. The repositioning itinerary of Splendor of the Seas sailing from Barcelona to Tampa Bay was perfect. We live across the bay in St. Petersburg, Florida. Another plus for booking this cruise, was being able to board the ship the day before it sailed. This eliminated flying to Barcelona a day early and overnighting in a hotel. From the airport, we hailed a taxi to transfer to the ship. The eighteen mile trip cost us $20.00. The check-in at the pier was just as speedy as the taxi ride!

Before entering the Atlantic Ocean, three ports-of-call were visited. Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga. Shuttle service from the ship to two cities was offered by the cruise line. In Malaga, we could walk to the main shopping area. In both Barcelona and Malaga there is a two hour hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus with narration's in several languages. Good value for for both time and money. As we watched Malaga disappear, late in the afternoon, the buzz on the deck was about the ship sailing past the "Rock" that evening. Someone said the best view will be from the windows of the Windjammer Cafe. That someone was right! The Rock of Gilbraltar was lighted with spotlights and easy to see from the windows of the buffet restuarant. It was a sight to behold! The last port before six days at sea was Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa. Again, shuttle service was offered from the ship to the main area of the city. As we departed Tenerife, we realized the next land we would see was seven days away. The words "what if" spun in the windmills of our minds. "What if" we encountered a hurricane? Would we be tossed about like Dorothy in Kansas? "What if" boredom set in? "What if" we ran out of food? Well, the sea was calm, with no waves over four feet. We forgot about a storm spinning off the coast of Africa. The temperatures were in the mid-seventies. Cruisers walked and jogged the track wearing shorts and sleeveless tees. Others played twelve holes of minature golf. A few people climbed the rock wall. It must have given them a rush to look at the expanse of water from the top. And then there were the swimming pools and whirlpools. The adult-only indoor pool has machine made waves, that by the end of the day became quite strong. The card room and library were always in use and in the public rooms, you could hear bingo numbers being called, or the sound-track of a first run movie, or the auctioneer's voice selling an original work of art. There were cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and poolside contests. No time for boredom to rear it's ungliness. And for the last "what if". "What if" the kitchens ran out of food? If you could have seen us disembarking in Tampa, you would know the kitchens never closed. We looked like bears coming out of hibernation!

A friend told me, many years ago, before we had cruised, that getting off at the ports was incidental, it's the fun you have on the ship that makes cruising so special. So six consecutive days at sea is not boring, is not tedious, is not gloomy. When the ship docked in Nassau, nobody kissed the ground. Now that's cruising.

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