April 15 - 30th, 2009
Tenerife, Canary Island; Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Malaga, Spain; & Barcelona, Spain
(stayed extra days in Barcelona - read on next blog)
Bob & Debe
It had been a while since we had been on Royal Caribbean and to our surprise, we had picked a great ship. At 140,000 tons, not near the bigger RCCL ship since Freedom of the Seas of 160,000 and the new Oasis of the Seas is 220,000 (coming out soon) but we had a cadillac ship. It had so much to offer. You will see in later pictures. Our itinerary begin in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We headed across the Atlantic for seven days finally reaching land in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Then we stopped at Cadiz, Portugal; Lisbon, Spain; Malaga, Spain; before disembarking in Barcelona, Spain - my favorite stop. As we take this 14 day journey on the ship - remember that 7 days was crossing the Atlantic. So come join us for life on the ship and off.
Arriving in Miami (only flights we could get) meant we needed to get to Fort Lauderdale. What little we knew was there was a train available from Miami making a few stops as it headed to Fort Lauderdale. So for our first time - we took it. A free shuttle took us from the Miami airport to the train and with only a few minutes to spare and $3 a piece, we were heading to Fort Lauderdale. The shuttle for Ramada Inn Hotel picked us up at one of the stations and we were checked in and starving. We ordered room service from New River Pizza. Absolutely the best Stromboli we had ever eaten. For about $8 for a 10"-12" Stromboli, well, it was more food than I could eat. Below you can see us getting ready to board the train.
After check in and getting our sign and sail card (also used for the room key) we were off to explore the ship. Below is my sign and sail card.
At 1:00 p.m. we were allowed to go into our cabin. We had an inside cabin on deck seven. Cabin #7525.
Royal Caribbean puts on a great "meet and mingle" for the Cruise Critics members so sitting on the dresser was my "meet and mingle" invitation, raffle ticket, and complimentary gift card. And of course our coupon books that everyone from gold level up receives. Bob wasn't to happy that they had me platinum and him gold considering we have cruised the same ships on Royal Caribbean. (well, he might have a couple more he took prior to our marriage.
The Cruise Critic group put together their own sail away get together so we had a good time just meeting each other. But the first day at sea, second day on the ship was the official "meet and mingle." We were also all given a magnet to go on our cabin doors saying we had attended the meet and mingle!
This ship also offered an ice skating rink. This was open for passengers use of ice skating but also was used for entertainment with a wonderful show at night. It was the same show but well worth going to. We only wished they had a couple more to watch on as long as a cruise as this was.
On longer cruises including transatlantics, you don't see many people using the Adult disco. Below are pictures of the "Dungeon" Disco that was two stories. The dance floor was on the bottom along with lots of tables. The upstairs had a bar and chairs but you had to be sitting next to the opening above the floor to see people dance. Don't' worry, it wasn't ever full so no problem sitting on the main floor (also equipped with its own bar for the drinkers).
Also on the ship was a movie room called, "The Screening Room." Since we always bring our own movies and dvd player, we never used it. But they did show movies a couple days in the three story Metropolis Theatre and Bob did go to onet. In the below right photo is the Internet Cafe. Bob did spend a lot of time in here and the $450 on board credits helps to keep him going.
On this ship, many eating venues were available for free or a cost. The buffet was called the Windjammer and did offer up many great foods. Located by the Windjammer were some "pay restaurants!" Chops Grille $25 pp fee, Portifino $20 pp fee and Jade which was at the buffet and free. Also, as you can see in the below right photo, Johnny Rockets was available for a fee of $4.95 per person. (of course if you got a milk shake or malt that was extra)
At no cost you could hit up the Promenade Cafe for self service coffee, hot tea and behind the drink station you found the pizza, calzones, sandwiches and desserts. 24/7
But when night time hits, the Royal Promenade Deck becomes the center of attraction. Here you can see the decorations for the sailaway party are up and ready for the big parade.
Our cruise director was young and so funny. His name was Simeon Baker and I have to admit, I found his morning shows so funny I looked forward to getting up and watching them on the tv. He would have the Entertainment Director join him and at times, I think the camera man and staff just left them for their gab sessions. Hilarious.
Below is the Royal Promenade Deck being decorated for formal night.
The first formal night also included the first Production Show. It was titled "Ballroom Fever" and was our least favorite show of all we have seen in the 38 cruises we have taken. The dancers did great but not our type of music or dancing so to each their own.
As we approached land, the Make a Wish fundraiser was coming to an end. It was called "Run Across The Atlantic" and the crew and passengers signed up to keep at least one of the treadmills going while we crossed the Atlantic. It would be 3,490 nautical miles and for a $10 donation you received a t-shirt. All money went to Make a Wish Foundation. Below you can see the captain as we landed on the Canary Island and the fundraiser came to an end.
As we continued, down the volcano we went by areas were movies like The Ten Commandments, parts of Star Wars, and many B Western movies were shot. It was like being on the moon. We finally came upon rock formations formed by the lava flow of years gone by. All given a different name like, The Bear, Two heads, etc... The air was still very thin but Bob and I was able to climb one area and take a picture with Mount Teide and the rock formations behind us. It was so beautiful. As we continued down the other side of the Mountain, we came upon the Rock Formation that was named The Rose. As the natural design of the rock formed what looked like a Rose.
At the bottom we finally made it to Puerto La Cruz, the older side of the Canary Island. Our stop was at Loro Parque which had so much to offer. A beach, fishing, salt water ponds (looked like swimming pools to me) restaurants, internet, shops, you name it. We had about one and one/half hours there and of course, we needed internet time. lol
So many things to see here. First the April 25th bridge, sister bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge which gives access across the Tagus River. And also, the Christ Statue which is huge & awesome with those outstretched arms.
Next we came upon the Discoveries Monument. This was built in 1960 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. (photo below left) On the right is a photo of the Belem Tower on the Tagus River. Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
On the left below you can see Jeronimos Monastery. What a massive building and those that toured it said it was fabulous (now we know what we will do next time there. lol) Here is a little history of it. In 1496, King Manuel I asked the pope for permission to build a great monastery in thanks to the Virgin Mary for Vasco de Gama's successful voyage to India. The request was granted and construction began on the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos on January 6, 1501. As for the monastery, it would be not only a thank-offering to the Virgin Mary but a lasting monument to the Age of Discovery and the mausoleum of King Manuel I and his successors. The project was completed around 1600. On the below right is the Royal Palace entrance and guards.
Once in town, we got off the hop on hop off and did my souvenir shopping along with buying my Hard Rock Cafe Pin for my collection. lol Then it was off to the Santa Justa Elevator. This is a "vertical" elevator and was built between 1900 and 1902 as a steam powered elevator. A few years later it was changed to Electric. It is a small fee of 2.50 euros pp for the round trip ticket. In the below right photo is Lisbon's prison. Nice huh.
The photos below are the front and back of the Campo Pequeno bullring . What an awesome building. The Campo Pequeno bullring is the bull ring of Lisbon, Portugal. It is located in the Campo Pequeno Square. Lisbon's bullring was built between 1890 and 1892. After a profound renovation, it re-opened as a multi-event venue in 2006, designed to be used for various events apart from bull fighting. It hosts a range of live acts and has seen many famous bands perform there. It includes an underground shopping centre, restaurants and a parking lot.
Below, I am looking into Commerce Square /Palace Square. If you look close through the archway, you will see the statue of King D. José I, who reigned the country at the time of the earthquake in 1755. We are in the shopping area, a long street with no cars. You also get to the Santa Justa Elevator in this area.
The next day it was up early for the port of Cadiz, Spain - the first of our Spain ports of call. Cadiz is very small and doesn't have alot to do. We had done the hop on hop off (below) while in port before and felt we had seen everything so today was an internet day for Bob to get caught up at work. We spent 6 hours on the internet at a cost of 1.20 euros per hour. Compared to the ship - what a deal.
Below are a couple more photos of Cadiz. The left is the gateway entrance from the port into town. While on the right is a photo looking between the buildings as we searched for souvenirs.
Below are a couple of huge tourist attractions. For a small fee you can visit the Cadiz Cathedral also known as the Holy and Apostolic Cathedral of Cadiz. It was built due to the poor condition of the old cathedral and work started in 1722. It took another 116 years before it was regarded as being complete and because of this, it incorporates a number of architectural styles. The other photo is the Town Hall in Town Square. It stands facing the port and was built in two stages, the first being in 1799 and the second in 1861. The Bells of the Town Hall play Fallas music called 'The three cornered hat' every hour. The square has been called a Royal Square and it was also used for a parade ground and market.
After a good night sleep it was up and off the ship to Malaga, Spain. A port we have visited a couple other times but the main attractions have been closed. This trip - we were lucky. The below photo I have taken every trip. lol The beach that you walk by as you leave the ship and enter town.
First stop - the Malaga Cathedral. Malaga´s cathedral was built between 1528 and 1782 on or near the site of a former mosque. The former mosque was the biggest centre of Muslim worship in the area, back when the Moors occupied southern Spain. But the building was deemed to small for Christain worship and was demolished.
And of course photos of the interior of the Malaga Cathedral.
But the highlight of Malaga for me was the Alcazaba Ruins. The Alcazaba is a Moorish fortification dating from the 8th century although much of it was built around the middle of the 11th century for King Badis of Granada and served as the palace of the governors of the city. Next to the entrance to the Alcazaba are the ruins of a Roman theatre dating to the 2nd century which is undergoing restoration.
I call these next four photos my "windows with a view!" I love taking pictures through a window just to see what the view was. The views into town (even looking at the huge Cathedral) and others looking at the ocean. Beautiful!!!!!
And our final dining experience with the tablemates we had shared many meals with. In the left is Sam and Pam from Colorado via California. And in the right photo is John and Pixie from Seattle, Washington. We truly enjoyed the wonderful conversations and getting to know these people. Sam and Pam filled us with their unique adventures in being clowns and spreading the gospel along with his busy work life. And also the sadness of losing not one, but two homes in the California fires along with many personal vehicles and treasures. And John and Pixie shared their life of Seattle, kids, and experiencing things they shared while taking classes abroad and working in their busy jobs. Thanks guys for being a part of our wonderful experience.
So our final night at dining, we take our final photo with our "new" friends around the US. May each life have been touched from this experience.
Now for Barcelona. The disembarkation was so easy. Of course, we just pull our own luggage off so we spend the morning, filling up on our last breakfast and taking our time getting off the ship. Makes for a less stressful exit. Below you can see that again, we planned the hop on hop off for our days in Barcelona. But with so much to see there - well, another blog is needed. So please, enjoy this part of the trip and watch for our final days in Spain in the next blog. TO BE CONTINUED
I do hope you have enjoyed the ship and ports of call on this cruise. But the best is yet to come. So watch for the next blog for the "land part" of this trip. As always, we thank you for reading our blog and taking this trip with us and hope you join us for more. Or of course, just join us for the next trip. lol