We did the magic,. last year, and we stayed at the Catalonia Berna Hotel in Barcelona. It is one of the Carnival sponsored hotels, that you can book directly with Carnival. It is in the center of the city, and only a few blocks from many of the world famous buildings designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. You are also in the center of of many shops and restaurants and a great area to walk around and get to know Barcelona. Carnival will pick you up at the airport and take you there, and also take you to the port terminal when you are due to go. If you like to walk, the world famous food market, La Boqueria, is several blocks away and something to see. There are plenty of different ways to get around if you do not want to walk, taxis buses, tours. When you get to the hotel there will be a Carnival spokesperson there to give you any information about sightseeing and will have maps and tell you whatever you want to know. I think this is the way to go. If you stay at a place down by the port or the airport, you will not be near very much to see or do.
We did not stay at a hotel in Venice so I cannot help you there. From the ship, you will want to use their people mover to get to the entrance of Venice, which is a reasonable price each way, and will save a lot of walking. The water taxis are very expensive, so beware. The water buses are the public transportation on Venice called Vaporetti, are inexpensive and will get you anywhere in Venice that you want to go, I recommend that you buy a card that will give you unlimited use of the service for a certain amount time. The prices are:
- 16 € - 12-hour travelcard
- 18 € - 24-hour travelcard
- 23 € - 36-hour travelcard
- 28 € - 48-hour travelcard
- 33 € - 72-hour travelcard
- 50 € - 7 days
Also beware of the gondoliers., they are not all the same. You could be disappointed by someone who takes you on a short ride and will not sing or any of that stuff. If you don't sign up for any other excursions, sign up for the Carnival evening gondolier ride. It is great and worth every penny. Venice by night, is beautiful.