Barcelona to Dubai Cruise

We decided to join Jen’s parents on a 16-day cruise from Barcelona to Dubai on a new Royal Caribbean ship called the Spectrum of the Seas. This was a good way to spend some time with them and relax. The Spectrum was a brand new boat and our portion of the trip was considered the inaugural trip.  The full journey was destined for Singapore where the boat would be stationed to serve the Asian market. 

Although this was a long cruise, it only stopped at the following ports: 
  • Barcelona 
  • Civitavecchia (Rome)
  • Naples
  • Athens
  • Aquaba
  • Dubai

The rest of the time we kept busy with multiple activities. Here are a few that we enjoyed: 

  • Progressive Trivia: Every day, we participated in a trivia contest that tested random knowledge. We learned a lot about South Africa (since that's where the trivia host was from), a lot about different phobias, and what random groups of animals are called.  Did you know that a group of owls is called a parliament?

  • Flow Rider: Yay

  • iFly: Nothing better to dry your gums 

  • Fencing: Yep, they really had fencing. This was their first attempt at this activity on a ship, and the experience was pretty short. But it was fun to give it a try since neither of us had tried fencing before.. plus there is nothing like being equipped with a sword and saying, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" 

  • North Star: The North Star is a big bubble on top of the ship that gives you a bird's eye view of the ship. It seemed like a silly idea at first, but in the end, we were surprised at how impressive the view actually was.

  • Morning Yoga: Every other day they had free yoga classes :)

  • Comedy, Music Shows, and movies on the top deck: At night we had a variety of entertainment opportunities with semi-known performers.

Jen's parents stayed on the boat for another journey all the way to Singapore. But we had to go back to work after Dubai. 

Final Port: Barcelona

We've been to Barcelona before, but only for a couple of days, so we were looking forward to spending more time exploring our final port.  In particular, Jen was excited to shop at her new favourite store, Desigual.  She isn't exactly a shopaholic, but we've probably visited at least one Desigual in every European city we've been to since our gap year!  We rarely buy anything because it's a bit expensive, but since Barcelona is where the store originated the prices are significantly cheaper here!  ...we finally purchased a few items for Jen :)

We were working during the week but on the weekends we did a bike tour, checked out the beach, and most importantly: drank sangria! ;) 

We also happened upon a festival where local "Castellers" where doing human pyramid performances.. it was really amazing to watch, especially because some of the little kids climbing to the top were so young! 

Lastly, we stayed at a really cute B&B called Ally's Guest House.  The room we were staying in had red furniture and decor.. we left for lunch one afternoon, and when we returned in the evening the entire room had changed to blue including all of the furniture, the decorative pillows/bedding, and even the paintings&frames!  We had a good laugh as it was quite the surprise.

Working on a cruise

It's been on our wish list since we began our digital nomad lifestyle - working on a cruise ship.  

Until recently, the internet on cruise ships was so painfully slow that it was impossible for us to even consider.  Last year, Royal Caribbean came out with a new ship boasting internet speeds fast enough to stream Netflix.  With a little help and convincing from Jen's mom, we decided to book our tickets and put the new ship to the test.

Here is the Quantum of the Seas, the most technologically advanced boat on the seas today:
Robot bartenders:
80 inch virtual balconies:

We flew to Newark, NJ and spent the next 11 nights floating toward Barcelona, Spain.

..but hey, wait.. weren't you already just in Spain?  

Right.. yes we sure were, but since Jen’s parents and their friends were taking the cruise and celebrating their 65th birthdays, we decided to join in on the fun :)

Dom had done 1 cruise in the past and found it fairly... boring.  Taking a cruise while working at the same time was quite a bit more hectic with trying to juggle everything in around work hours...

Activities: Bumper cars, ping pong, napkin folding class, iFly, FlowRider, volleyball, the shows (Mamma Mia, the Beatlemaniacs, Star Water, Sonic Odyssey, and Claire Vinkesteijn).

Plus 3 ports: Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Cartagena, Spain
Mallorca, Spain

And lastly all of the food, drinks, and socializing

It made for quite the busy trip, but overall we really enjoyed ourselves.

So, did the internet speeds stand up to the challenge?  Sadly, no... it seems the technology is still new and they've still got a LOT of bugs to work out of their system.  The internet wasn't anywhere close to what they claim - we think they must have tested Netflix when there was only 1 person on the ship!.  If you just need to surf the internet and you have patience, it is much better in comparison to other cruise ships out there.  However don't expect to be able to do any kind of streaming or have decent Skype calls.. we got lucky once or twice and managed to connect our calls, but often times we could barely even sign in.