Just when we thought we may not be doing any cruises this year, we scored a bargain out of Barcelona.
We only needed to juggle one of our bookings to squeeze it in and we are so glad we did. The cruise was amazing and we again met lots of wonderful fellow travelers on board.
Starting and ending in Barcelona, the cruise had 4 ports of call: Casablanca in Morocco, two of the Canary Islands and Malaga on the Spanish coast. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on our way out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile, on board, the entertainment was outstanding. Every night we were treated to a high standard show in the ship’s theatre. The resident group of singers and dancers put on some great shows. On other nights we had aerialists, a comedy juggler, a magician and a funny group of talented string musicians. And then there was the late night poker game which again proved lucrative.
Casablanca gave us a good taste of what Morocco will be like when we return there soon. We visited the world’s largest mosque, featuring the world’s largest minaret. It has been built out into the sea on reclaimed land. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit so it attracts a lot of visitors. We wandered all over Casablanca, including a long walk along the seawall and an entertaining visit to the medina and all of its colourful stalls. The locals were surprisingly passive and friendly compared to what we had both imagined.
The Canary Islands also took us by surprise. The islands enjoy excellent weather for almost the entire year, so they attract a lot of tourists from all over Europe. The British can reach the islands in less than four hours, so they are a popular destination. We were quite surprised by the level of infrastructure on the islands. Apart from the obvious hotels and resorts there are impressive office buildings, churches, shops, parks and many of the things you see in other European cities.
Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife was our second port of the trip. We explored the city and caught a local bus to one of the most popular beaches on the island, Las Teresitas. There we walked the full length of the beach and out to the end of the breakwater. Next we walked around the nearby town of San Andras, with all its coloured buildings dotted across the hillface. Then it was back to Santa Cruz for more wandering around.
Our next stop was Lanzarote. We took the free shuttle to the downtown area and walked across a bridge to an old fort. Lanzarote has had a great deal of volcanic activity in its past, which explains all the black soil. It was where they filmed The Planet of the Apes. The resorts have solved the black sand issue by covering it with white sand. A lot of money has obviously been invested in resort developments, but the further we walked from the port area, the less successful they appeared. Probably victims of the economic downturn that has effected Spain and most of Europe. Still, a nice little place to spend a holiday, but not quite enough going on for a long term stay.
The final stop on the cruise was Malaga on the Costa del Sol. Malaga is a wonderful city with lots of attractions and you can see why it is a popular destination among the Brits, seeing they enjoy cleanliness and a nice bit of sun! We again just about walked our legs off. From the ship we walked all the way to the fort on the top of the nearby mountain. The Spanish have done a wonderful job maintaining the fort which is in two sections stretching almost all the way back to the downtown area. There was also plenty to see in the old town area, with many shops, restaurants, bars, etc. For those interested in gastronomic pursuits, you were again spoilt for choice. There are so many dining options and all seemed to be reasonably priced.
And then it was back to Barcelona, with the 9 days over all too quickly. But what a fantastic cruise it had been on the Norwegian Spirit!