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Oceania Regatta
Dover-Barcelona Cruise


ABOVE: Barcelona schoolchildren enjoy a visit to their city's waterfront, not far from the Estació Maritima.

Barcelona shore excursions

Continued from: Port of Barcelona

In addition to being one of the Mediterranean's leading ports, Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain and capital of Catalunya (an autonomous region whose native language is not Castilian Spanish, but Catalan). With a population of more than 2.8 million, Barcelona is too large a city to visit adequately in a day or two. So, if you're embarking or disembarking in Barcelona, you might want to consider staying a few extra days to explore the city and its environs.

If you have only one day in Barcelona, you'll probably want to join the crowds on Las Ramblas, a long tree-shaded pedestrian boulevard lined with newstands, florists, and outdoor pet shops. Stop in at the Mercat de la Boqueria, a roofed market with tempting foodstalls.

The Ramblas border the Gothic Quarter, where you'll find Barcelona's outstanding 15th Century Cathedral. (If there's a crowd at the main entrance, try the side door in the street along the eastern side of the church.) Chances are, you'll also encounter plenty of street musicians and perhaps a group of Sardana dancers in the cathedral square.

Be sure to visit Antoni Gaudi i Cornet's Church of the Sagrada Familia, which is still being constructed more than a century after its conception. Later, spend some time along the waterfront, where you can take an elevator up the Columbus Monument's column for a panoramic view of the city and harbor. For an outing, try a harbor-excursion boat or a ride on the Transbordador Aeri, a cable car that runs from Barceloneta (on the eastern side of the harbor) to the World Trade Center and on up to Montjuic Park.

On your way back to the ship, spend at least an hour (preferably longer) in the Maritime Museum, which is the best of its kind that I've ever visited. The museum is housed in the former royal shipyards, the largest commercial Gothic structure in the world, and the admission price includes a hand-held audioguide.

If you'd rather ride than walk, the double-decker Barcelona Bus Turístic offers an all-day "hop on, hop off" sightseeing tour with 26 stops.

Finally, your cruise ship is likely to offer shore excursions in Barcelona. Regatta's choices included a city highlights tour, a five-hour trip to the cliffside monastery at Monserrat, a half-day resort tour of Sitges and the Costa Dorada, and a flamenco show at the Spanish Village in Montjuic.

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Dover-Barcelona cruise: ports and sights

Dover Cádiz
Guernsey (St. Peter Port) Málaga
Bordeaux Palma de Mallorca
Oporto (Leixoes) Barcelona