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Boat Trip

by on August 6, 2012

You want interesting experiences, we got ’em:

When planning the trip, getting from Barcelona to Italy was going to be a bit tricky… the choices were very long train ride or expensive flight.  But some of the freight ferry lines have discovered that passengers like going between the same ports that truck drivers like to go, so they’re adding passenger service to their boats (and designing new boats to support that).   So I thought it would be amusing for us to take a “cruise” to Italy…. knowing full well that it wasn’t going to be anything like a Disney cruise.

Guess what…. it wasn’t.    As always, the pictures tell the story:

For perspective, here’s the ship… the “Ikarus Palace”.    It’s a serious ship… larger than most cruise ships.

Their marketing said “the Ikarus Palace is a well-equipped luxurious cruise ferry that can carry up to 1500 passengers, 300  trucks and 800 personal vehicles. Onboard facilities include a choice of cabins, disco, cinema, internet cafe, shop, restaurants, bar, nursery, children’s play area, swimming pools, slot machines and a shopping arcade.”

Here we are at the glamorous port of departure, at midnight in Barcelona, waving to the crowds shouting “bon voyage”

Here’s the elegant grand staircase

and the multi-story atrium

And everything in the marketing is true… or at least not false.   The Ikarus Palace has a Disco with live music:

(Note the tired Moroccan truck drivers rocking out to techno-Moroccan music)

a Casino:

A cinema with large screen

Internet Cafe

(to be fair… the marketing said nothing about actually having computers or Internet in the Internet Cafe)

A Shopping Arcade:


Hot Tub

(to be fair… the marketing said nothing about cleaning the hot tub.  I’m amused to see that even in their marketing photos on line, the tub is empty)

And count-em, two gourmet restaurants:

And yes, we had a glamorous, well-appointed stateroom perfect for family of four

with a special feature that when you’re sitting on the potty, you can wash your feet in the shower.  A bidet for your toes I guess

To top it all off, the boat had so many great features that they didn’t have room to mention in the marketing….

The Library

(Yes, that truly is wallpaper of books, and they truly called the room the Library)

Your personal Steward who comes at bed time to make up your bed

(only trouble is, he sleeps in your cabin too)

A strong culture of rules and regulations that provide for the ultimate in safety and traveling pleasure

(Not that the truck drivers followed the rules of course…)

And finally, it even had an exciting display of your favorite animated characters… “Hey Disney, you got nothin” on us, we’ve got Tweety Bird on our ship!”

(We had absolutely no idea why they had this display… there was no context for it at all)

As you can tell, we pretty much spent the trip making fun of the whole thing.   The trip was 26 hours door to door, 10 of which we did sleep, and two of which were spent in a holding pattern off our final port due to “ship traffic control”.  It was a smooth but boring ride across the flat, featureless Mediterranean, the food was horrid and we were very hungry and a bit queasy when we got off, but the kids did swim in the pool… which they couldn’t have done on a 24-hour train ride.

Like our Amtrak trip to Denver last summer: this was a whole new experience, we got something to blog about, we got what we paid for, and…  next time we’ll fly.


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  1. Uncle Phil permalink

    Worth the wait!!
    (I was going to post a conjecture that since Jer and ‘Lene were with you, that there was no need to suck up to them by updating the blog, and to heck with the rest of your loyal followers, but I can see that this one might have taken a little time, particularly posting all those fotos in a country with no interwebs…)
    Very Nice!

  2. Wow, that cruise ship really does look terrible!! Well, except for the best feature- the hot tub!!!!
    Have fun,(as always)

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