Friday, May 3, 2013

NCL'S EXCLUSIVE HAVEN and MATARO, ITALY

Living room of our villa
Fabulous master bathroom

Haven private Dining Room 














On April 20, we boarded Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Epic, in Miami and sailed for Barcelona. The Epic is one of the new mega ships capable of handling almost 5,000 passengers.  There were only 3,000 on this sailing – still far more crowded than we prefer.  

Fortunately, just days before embarkation, we were given the opportunity to upgrade to a 2 bedroom villa in the exclusive Haven Courtyard.  (When not full, ships often offer upgrades at the last minute for much less than the original price.) The Haven consists of 75 suites with access to a private pool, gym, sunning area and dining room.  It made all the difference in the cruise being enjoyable and not just a means of crossing the Atlantic.  The weather wasn’t great but the food was excellent and we met a terrific couple from southern California.   

Bill & Kay, our new California friends
Funchal, Madeira was the only stop the ship made during the crossing, and on May 1, we disembarked in Barcelona.  We took a taxi to pick up the car we had leased.   A little research had shown this to be far more reasonable than renting a car.
Our Citroen chariot
Hotel Atenea Mataro, Spain


Our Citroen was brand new, platinum gray and had plenty of room for us and our  luggage – a duffel and carry on each.   It came with  automatic steering (not so common in Europe), a GPS and insurance coverage. Not wanting to go too far the first day, we drove to Mataro, about 30 miles north of Barcelona.  Mataro is a small city with long, lovely beaches along the Mediterranean.  

View from our room
Fishing boats along the beach
We were very happy with our  room at the beautiful, new Atenea Hotel.  It overlooked the marina and included breakfast and dinner.  As Spanish restaurants typically open at 8:30 pm, we opted to take late lunch instead.

City center Mataro


We spent 4 nights here enjoying glorious weather and long walks.  It was a perfect place to catch up on emails and create this blog. 

Now it is on to France.