Seabourn Sojourn November 2014 Barcelona - Africa and Asia
November 12 to 19th We had a smooth on time flight from New York JFK to Barcelona on Delta Airlines. A driver arranged for by our hotel was waiting for us and our room at the Le Meridien was ready for us.
This was our 3rd visit to Barcelona. The first was in May 2009 at the conclusion of a cruise with Wind Star from Lisbon. On that trip we also stayed at the Meridien for several days before setting off on an extended driving trip through Spain. Our second visit was in April 2011 for a one day port stop on the Seabourn Legend.
Because of our previous visits, on this trip we primarily used our time to walk about the city. We found it to be extremely clean and the people friendly and helpful. Thankfully for us English is generally understood and spoken. We had absolutely no problem getting around other than a couple of times when we discovered we made a wrong turn, but there was always someone we could ask for directions.
Temperatures were in the 60's during the day and a bit windy. Great for walking the city! We ate at several restaurants we remembered from 2009, and found lots of new ones. We tried to pick local tapa and Spanish restaurants, all of which we found reasonably priced.
My Photos are inclusive of our three visits to this wonderful city
November 19th Boarding the Sojourn was straight forward. The Barcelona Cruise Terminal was extremely well run, and there was no waiting in lines, etc. We were surprised by the number of crew members and guests that we remembered from previous cruises. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch while waiting for our room to be cleaned. All of our luggage was waiting for us in our room and we began the process of unpacking. At dinner in the we both felt the quality and presentation of the food was even better than we remembered.
November 20th This was a sea day and we continued unpacking and getting organized.
November 21st Our port for the day was Malaga, a place we have visited on several previous occasions. We rode the shuttle bus to the entrance of the old city and then casually walked back to the Sojourn. The temperature was in the low 60's with a brisk breeze.
November 22nd Saturday we were docked for the day in Gibraltar. We remember being in Gibraltar on two previous occasions. During 2009 we took an organized tour from the Marriott we were staying at which was an extensive tour. This is a link to photos of Gibraltar, Cadiz and a number of other areas in this general area that we visited in 2009. This time we were docked about a mile from the town center and had an enjoyable walk into the old town.
November 24th & 25th Our next ports were Casablanca and Tangier. We chose to stay on board both days as we toured Morocco extensively in 2001. A link to those photos follows. We enjoyed our time on board and I took these PHOTOS from the ship.
November 27th We docked at Arrecife in the Canary Islands for the day. This was a new port for us and a shuttle bus was available into the city. We enjoyed walking along the water front and through the shopping district. It is obvious that this is a Spanish city as it is very similar to the small Spanish towns we have visited in Spain.
I have been reading about the early Spanish and Portuguese explores and was trying to visualize what it must have been like for them to stop in the Canary Islands on their way around Africa and to the "New World" A far cry from traveling on a modern luxury cruise ship!
November 28th This was our second visit to Gran Canaria Island and the port of Las Palmos. This is a link to 2012 PHOTOS I took in April 2012 on an all day tour of the Island. Our visit this time was confined to a walk through the shopping district. The concept of "Black Friday" has spread to the Canary Islands and the stores were having lots of sales. The day was overcast with an on and off drizzle.
November 29th We were docked for the day in Santa Cruz De La Palma on the Island of La Palma which was a new port for us. We enjoyed a tour to the Calandera De Taburiente and stopped at an old Manor House on our return to the port.
November 30th/December 1at Sea Days on our way to Cape Verde
December 2nd and 3rd We were in Cape Verde in April 2012 on the island of Santo Antao for a day. Here is link to 2012 PHOTOS I took on an all day trip around that island.
On this trip we visited two islands - Ilha de Sao Vicente which is a small island adjacent to Santo Antao where we took a half day tour from Mindelo and Ilha de Santiago where we were docked in the city of Praia. We found Mindelo to be much more scenic and modern than Praia. The people of Cape Verde are extremely friendly and helpful. The port area in Praia is very industrial and we just rode the shuttle bus to and from the city center.
The weather was excellent with a nice breeze and sunny skies.
December 4th to 9th Sea Days on our way to Bom Bom Island
December 10thBom Bom is a tiny privately owned island next to the larger Principe which in turn is part of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. The Soujourn anchored and used tenders to reach the shore. We were among the very few passengers that decided to stay on board and essentially had the vessel to our selves for the day. These islands are in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea which is an area where piracy of the large oil tankers is a serious problem. We were under heightened security precautions, but cruise ships are not in any danger as the tankers are the primary target. Because of the value of the tankers and cargo the shippers typically promptly pay a ransom to get the ship back.
December 13th We docked in Luanda Angola for the day. This is said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Angola has very large deposits of oil, diamonds and other valuable commodities, but very little in the way of infrastructure. There are lots of new high rises in the downtown area of Luanda which have been built with the oil money since the civil war ended in 2012. It is apparently relatively save in the downtown area of Luanda during the day as long as you don't wander off into any of the side streets or slums. There really wasn't much of anything we were interested in, so once again we just stayed aboard the ship during the day Passengers that did take tours, or walked about along the shore line told us there was no tourist infrastructure, so even buying a post card or t-shirt was not possible. I have included the safety instructions we were given in the following photo album.