There are only two reasons why anyone who doesn’t work nights should ever be awake at 4.00am on a Thursday morning; either you are only just rolling in from a particularly big night on the tiles or you are off to the airport. Having learned my lesson long ago when it comes to drinking on a school night, I fell into the latter category, rising early to make my way to Barcelona to visit Holland America Line’s recently refurbished MS Westerdam.
After an early flight and a short transfer, our group arrived at the Hotel Eurostars Grand Marina, which perches right on the edge of Port Vell. To our left was the Meramagnum Shopping Mall, to our right were several ships in port for the night, including MS Westerdam. Straight ahead was a red Ferrari, with ‘TRY ME’ written on a card in its window. We never did give it a go but as far as hotel transfers go, that would be right up there with the best of them.
Check-in is from 3pm, so we were asked if we would like to store our luggage whilst we had a wander into Barcelona to pass the time. With our hands free, we walked the five minutes from the hotel to Las Ramblas, the beating heart of Barcelona’s tourist centre.
When it comes to where to stay when cruising from Barcelona, the location of Hotel Eurostars Grand Marina right inside the port makes it unbeatable. Everything you need to spend a day pre-cruise here is on the doorstep. Las Ramblas is a five-minute walk away, as is the Meramagnum Shopping Mall for those last-minute necessities. The waterfront around Port Vell has plenty of restaurants and bars to help you slip into the holiday spirit with Sangria on tap. L’Aquarium Barcelona stands right beside Meramagnum, minutes from the hotel, and is a really fun start to family cruises to the Mediterranean from Barcelona. Daredevils can even become a scuba diver for the day, getting under the surface with the aquarium’s sharks.
After trying our luck at 2.30pm, we were told that rooms would be a little while longer and given a voucher for two complimentary drinks in the hotel bar. The house speciality cocktail was a rum-based concoction finished with dried orange and cloves and went down a storm under the cream canvas umbrellas of ‘The Corner’ in Barcelona’s 30-degree temperatures. We had eaten in Barcelona itself, but the food served here looked fantastic and seemed very popular. Those with a sweet tooth should save room for the marshmallows and ‘penny mix’ sweets on offer as you leave the restaurant, too.
The well-known cocktail Dry Martini is our recommendation for December. Legendary, elegant and never old-fashioned, it is the perfect long drink to star the weekend! #TheCorner#magiceurostars#eurostarshotels#eurostar #maitai#eurostarsgrandmarina#bar#thecornerJDLM#hotel #bartender#cocktail #cocktails #friday#relax #food#drymartini#summer
My room was ready at 3pm on the dot and it was worth the wait. Spacious and cool, with a large balcony and an even bigger bed, it was the perfect haven from the heat before dinner on MS Westerdam. The mini bar was stacked and the room service menu was extensive, albeit quite expensive. One minor gripe, which was shared by others in our group, was the lack of plugs at mid-level. There were three plugs by the bed but all of them were right by the floor, underneath the bedside table, meaning time spent on all fours if you had anything to charge!
After spending the evening aboard Holland America Line’s MS Westerdam, we headed back to the hotel and up to the Black Marina Terrace. This relatively new establishment is considered one of the best rooftop bars in Barcelona, showcasing 360° view of the sea and the city. If you are spending time in Barcelona before or after a cruise, this is the place to head for sunset views, great tapas and some of the best cocktails anywhere in the city. The rooftop terrace also hosts live music both day and night on most Friday, Saturday and Sundays.
Nothing sets you up for a good night’s sleep quite like a 4.00am wake-up call and nothing sets you up for a day of sightseeing quite like a good breakfast. I enjoyed both at the Hotel Eurostars Grand Marina, leaving my luggage with the porter afterwards and heading into Barcelona for a day in the sun before my evening flight.
The Hotel Eurostars Grand Marina promises a five-star start to your cruise from Barcelona. The only thing that could have made my time there any better would have been to have followed it with a week or two in the Mediterranean, rather than a Ryanair flight home!