Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I go on a Barcelona cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Cruises that depart from Barcelona generally visit ports in Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Itineraries that depart from other European cities and include Barcelona visit these same ports, as well as ports in Western Europe and sometimes Northern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
How long does it take to get there?
Barcelona is accessible via an eight-hour flight from New York City.
When is the best time to take a Mediterranean cruise?
The high season stretches from April to October, but cruises are available here year-round. Visitors can avoid summer's sizzling temperatures and surging tourist crowds by traveling during the "shoulder seasons" in spring (April and May) or fall (September and October). Temperatures are still comfortable during these months -- the high in Barcelona is in the mid to high 60's in the spring and in the 70's in the fall -- and there's less competition for the beaches and top historic sites.
How long do Barcelona cruises last?
These trips typically last seven to 21 nights, but there are a few longer sailings.
Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all international visitors.
Is English spoken?
English is not widespread but most resorts, shops and restaurants connected to the tourist trade will have some English-speaking staff. Catalan and Spanish are the official languages in Barcelona, so visitors might want to learn a few basic phrases before setting sail.
What is the time difference?
Barcelona is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
The local currency in Spain is the Euro. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.
Is tipping a common practice?
Tipping is customary almost everywhere, but be sure to review all bills before handing out gratuities. Many restaurants in Barcelona tack a wait-service charge of 15% onto their meal and bar tabs, so 3% to 5% tip is adequate. For coffees and snack foods, just leave a few coins or round up to the nearest Euro.
What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions, sturdy walking shoes for guided tours and a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining. You can check your ship's dress codes for options suitable for nighttime, but most restaurants encourage slacks and nice dresses during evening meals.
Many churches and cathedrals in Barcelona, and elsewhere throughout Europe, require some degree of modest attire for visitors. You may not be permitted to enter if wearing "too short" shorts, and women may be asked to cover bare shoulders (it's a good idea to tuck a lightweight scarf into your purse or tote).
What should I pack?
Most excursions in Barcelona involve some sort of sightseeing with a minimal to moderate amount of walking, although some tours may include extensive walking, climbing or biking. Think about the kinds of activities you will want to try – biking in Barcelona, or visiting the Gothic Quarter, for example -- and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and swimsuits if traveling in summer; protective hats, good walking shoes and windbreakers are advisable no matter when you travel. Also, remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag you can keep with you as needed.
Is the water safe to drink?
Most resorts and restaurants filter their tap water, though bottled water is available almost everywhere.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots aren't usually necessary for visitors from North America, but it never hurts to check with your health care provider and discuss the countries you'll be visiting.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters; these same devices come in handy for U.S. citizens who plan to overnight in hotels at some point during their vacation, as much of Europe uses the 220-volt outlet.
How do I make a telephone call from Barcelona?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Most hotels in Barcelona have air conditioning. If recycled air is important to you, make sure to consult your travel counselor before booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay.
What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy? Can I haggle over prices?
As a large city, Barcelona offers several different areas for shopping. Las Ramblas stretches from the waterfront to Placa de Catalunya and is a popular spot for shoppers. Considered an international fashion center, Barcelona is known for leather, jewelry and Lladro. Give haggling a try if you feel comfortable, but don't press your luck with a flustered shopkeeper.
How do I get around?
Barcelona is a tourism hot spot, overflowing with experienced guides offering bus, boat and scooter tours. As with most European cities, Barcelona has taxis readily available and a great Metro system. Bicycle rentals may also be available, and many tourist areas of town are pedestrian-friendly. Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line highlight top attractions and include transportation and a guide.
Can I rent a car?
Car rental is available in Barcelona but generally not recommended due to the congestion and lack of parking. Most sights are within walking distance of one another and most tourists rely on the city's sprawling Metro system to get around town.
What can I do there?
Barcelona is a major cultural center and Spain's most popular destination. Walk the medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, browse the shops and side-walk cafes of Las Ramblas or visit the unfinished La Sagrada Familia. And, you won't want to miss the Picasso Gallery, which houses over 2,000 of Picasso's works.
Do you have any photography tips for Barcelona travelers?
There's plenty of historic beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is recommended). If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. Make sure photography is permitted before shooting in museums, churches and cathedrals; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.