May 03, 2024

Thur May 2 - Cartagena, Spain

What a difference a day makes. The skies are sunny, temperatures about 70, the winds are gentle, and our tour guide is deligtful, knowledgeable, and competent. 

A guick breakfast in Chops and then off to  the theater to get our bus stickers. Again I sneak out early so I can get to the bus on time.  The tour description says there will be only 100 yards of walking over mostly even surfaces. I always heed such descriptions as I recognize limitations on my walking ability.

Our tour first takes us around different areas of the "old" and "new" city. Next we head to the city center area. Within the past few decades they discovered a roman theater that had been built over by residential housing over the centuries. During WWII a bomb shelter was dug into the theater, but still no one had a clue that the historic theater existed.  Today much of it has been uncovered and a museum built to allow easy, but controlled access.

The city center was nearly vacant when we arrived at 9:30. By 10:00 when all the shops and businesses opened it was very crowded, mainly by tourists from the ship. By the time we returned to the bus after touring the roman theater I had logged over a mile and a half. So much for the 100 yards in the tour description.

A few miles out of town had been a large mining area for many years. It was closed when Spain joined the EU. A condition of joining as the mines were dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste into the med.  The landscape reminded me of Arizona.

The next stop was a small lighthouse. Much difference in appearance than most lighthouses in North America.

As we head back towards the ship at the conclusion of the tour, the road is blocked by a military ceremony and parade. Neither the driver or the guide knew of this.  Fortunately the passengers heading back into town could walk from where we were stopped, and we were soon able to turn towards the pier.

Prime rib was my choice for dinner. The baked potato was very good, but the rib was tough. No dessert tonight.

The theater entertainment was 3 male tenors from the UK. Excellent voices.

The weather was perfect today. Many crew were able to get off for a few hours, if for nothing else a few hours of fresh air and sunshine.

The next day will be a sea day as we head to La Spezia, Italy our next port. 

For those of you that may be interested, I also have started posting images of my travels to my face book  "Steve Raiford".

Wen. May 1 - Malaga, Spain

We arrive in Malaga and the ship is cleared by 8:45. We have our first scheduled excursion today. "Malaga City Sights". Our meeting time is 9:00 AM in the theater, the tour should leave by about 9:30.

It is a long walk down ramps and back and forth across the terminal so I leave 15 minutes before our group is called so I will not be the last passenger holding up the bus. The strategy works well, I arrive at the bus just as the first of the rest of the passengers.

At the moment there is a heavy mist in the air, I really can't call it a rain, but it is enough that the spots collect on my glasses. The forecast for the day is showers in the morning with clearing skies by afternoon. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 60, and the wind is to increase all day to about 35 mph by the time the clouds clear.

Our bus is full, and leaves on time. By the time we reach our first stop the rain is coming down steady enough to get wet. It is a long walk back down the hill to an overview of the city. I elect to stay at the top by the fort for a more restricted view.

I'll try and be kind, but I must say this is one of the worst tours I have ever been on. The seats had a molded back, but only wide enough for a youngster. The parts that should wrap around at your sides pressed firmly on each side of my back. The roof AC which cooled the passenger area had a very loud high pitched bearing squeel the entire trip.

The worst part was the guide. She lacked knowledge, stuck the microphone in her mouth, and had the volume so loud that everything she said broke up and was unintelligible.  Despite several passengers trying to help her, she made no attempt.  The tour was supposed to be in English, but at best less than 10% of the words were. I have hever gone to the shore excursion desk after a tour, this will be a first.

By the time the bus returned to the ship, the skies had cleared and the sun came out. The winds never materialized, making the weather very pleasant for the rest of the day.

Lunch on the ship on port days is rather limited. The dining room and some of the normal venues aren't open.  We settle on a burger at the Pub.  Excellent choice. Not only was the burger hot and tasty, it came with hot fries. Something they don't know how to do on most of the ship.

There are several ferry boats moored nearby. They regularly cross to Africa. There also are severl megayachts. One, the Golden Odyssey. has a checkered history of Arab Sheiks, bank seizeure, and unknown bahamiam ownership.

Since it is a national holiday, no stores, bars, or restaurants are open and nothing is operating except tour busses.

At dinner everyone chose the steak diane. It was excellent. I run into the head of the Coastal Kitchen, and we chat for a few minutes. He was scheduled to disembark Saturday for the start of his few days of vacation, now Royal won't let him leave until part way thru the next cruise. He was an unhappy man last week, and now he is more so.

The ship was boarded  by some unexpected guests this morning just as we docked. Officials from the Bahamas, the country of registry for this ship dropped in to make an unscheduled surprise inspection. I had never heard of this before, but it makes sense.

Many crew had thier precious hours of shore time cancelled to correct deficiencies.

I'm not sure if I noted this earlier, but the captain also related that the passenger and the crew member that were taken off the ship in Bernuda had both safely been transported back to the US.

There were three choices for entertainment this evening, but the scheduling only permitted attending one.  Five singers from the cast performing a selection of songs. Not a normal scheduled performance for them, but a one off because of the length of the cruise.  The Book is showing again in the Two70. The third option is to listen to Bruno, the international ambassador, play in the Schooner Bar.  We choose Bruno as his concert piano skills are excellent.

He plays to a full house including the captain and his family that boarded the ship today, and several other ship's officers. Bruno does not disappoint.

With the 6 hours we have moved our clocks ahead and our change in latitude, the sun does not set until nearly 9:30.

Our next port is Cartagena, Spain with an expected arrival at 8:00 AM. The seas remain slight.