Silversea Spirit Bridgetown, Barbados to Monaco April 2012
April 8, 2012We decided to spend the night at the Fairfield Inn at JFK in preparation for our 8 AM flight to Barbados. Because it was Easter Sunday the traffic was light and the drive to JFK uneventful.
April 9th to 12th Our Marriott Awards Account was sufficient to redeem 3 nights at the Courtyard by Marriott in Bridgetown. The hotel was new and extremely well laid out. It is not ocean front, but had a small lap pool, and access to a nice private beach across the road. The restaurant was more of a snack shop, but had a fairly broad menu. We ate there a number of times and the food quality and service was excellent. There is a TGIF restaurant on the grounds where we had dinner on two nights and we did walk several blocks to a new boardwalk along the ocean front where we found several restaurants and had a very good lunch at one named Tapas.
We stayed in Barbados about 25 years ago - I remember well that we arrived on November 20, 1986 which was the "Great American Smoke out" and was the day I finally quit! We stayed at one of the major resorts which we have forgotten the name of on one of the famous beaches. This time we stayed in an older part of the island which is undergoing restoration. While we didn't venture about, there were a couple of old buildings that I found interesting for photographic purposes. I'm sure they will be torn down and replaced in the near future.
Everyone we met in Barbados was extremely friendly and helpful. Our biggest disappointment with the location of the Courtyard hotel was its location on a busy road with very narrow and difficult sidewalks to get to the beach areas along the new boardwalk. PHOTOS
April 12th Boarding the Silversea Spirit was extremely smooth with no delays. This was our first cruise with this company so we were not sure what to expect. The Spirit is larger than any of the Seabourn vessels we have sailed on with a capacity for 540 guests versus about 440 for the larger Seabourn ships. On this cruise segment the ship was carrying only 230 guests. We will be interested to see what it will be like with a full ship once we reach Lisbon.
April 13th Our first port was St Lucia. Many tours were offered, however we chose instead to stay on board. We did walk a short distance to a pharmacy to pick up a few supplies that we neglected to pack. The port area was very crowded and not at all attractive. We had a beautiful sunset and I was able to photograph the "Green Flash" as we departed. PHOTOS
April 14th to 18th The next five days were sea days and we were fortunate to have sunny skies and calm seas on our way to Cape Verde off the coast of Africa. We enjoyed the lectures which were given by a variety of lecturers. The food and service we felt was very comparable with Seabourn. The larger ship offered more dining options and space. The waiters and room attendants on the Spirit are primarily Philippians and Indians from the Goa region of India, versus primarily East European and South African on the Seabourn vessels. We also had a butler with Silversea which was a nice touch. Our shoes were always shined and he was available for any special requests.
April 19th We enjoyed a 7.5 hour tour of the island of Santo Antao which is the northern most and second largest of the 10 islands comprising Cape Verde. It is also one of the least developed and most scenic of the islands. The inhabitants are a mixture of Portuguese and African heritage and are generally tall, lean and attractive. They all speak English with varying degrees of skill as it is a mandatory language in school along with French and Portuguese. The literacy rate is in excess of 80% and roughly 90% of the population is Catholic. CAPE VERDE PHOTOS
April 22nd After another two days at sea we arrived at Las Palmas on Grand Canaria Island which is the largest of the Canary Islands. With a population approaching 900,000, Las Palmas reminded us of many of the cities on the southern coast of Spain. It is modern and very clean. The island had experienced an exceptionally dry winter and was not as green with colorful flowers as would normally be the case at this time of the year. We took an all day tour and as luck would have it rain finally arrived, so our tour into the mountains was enshrouded in clouds and the views were obscured during much of the day. Outside of Las Palmas the roads were very narrow and several times the bus we were on could barely get by a bus of tourists traveling in the opposite direction. Here is a link to my PHOTOS of the island.
April 24th Tuesday we were docked in Casablanca, Morocco for the day. We had been in Casablanca on two previous occasions which more than satisfied our desire to visit this very large and busy city, so we stayed on board for the day. A number of passengers took all day tours to Fes, Rabat and Marrakech, all of which we stayed at during an extended trip to Morocco in 2001. Most were exhausted when they returned as most of the day was spent driving to and from these cities.
April 25th Portimao is located in the Algarve area of southern Portugal. We enjoyed walking around the city which we had visited extensively during a trip to Portugal in 2009. Silversea ran a shuttle bus to the beach area. PHOTOS
April 26th Lisbon marked the conclusion of the first segment of our cruise. There were about 20 of us that continued on the next nine day segment from Lisbon to Monte Carlo. The atmosphere on board changed significantly with a near capacity guest load. We took advantage of the pleasant weather to stroll around the city which we had previously enjoyed during a visit three years earlier. Here is a LINK to the commentary and photos of our visit in April 2009.
April 27th The Spirit remained in Lisbon overnight. We enjoyed a half day tour to the beach resort of Cascais and the mountainous village of Sintra. We enjoyed both and would enjoy staying in Cascais for several days on our next visit to Portugal which will hopefully include a river cruise offered by Viking Cruises out of Porto. PHOTOS of our time in Lisbon and Sintra.We departed Lisbon for Cadiz, Spain shortly after lunch.
April 28th We were up early for an all day trip to Seville, which departed from Cadiz by bus. We found Seville to be easier to get around than the Alhambra which we visited in the spring of 2009. The day started off overcast and rainy, but the sun came out just as we arrived in Seville, and we had a very enjoyable visit. PHOTOS
April 29th It was raining when we docked in Malaga. We stayed near Malaga during a land trip through Spain during May 2009, and were there for a day on a previous cruise, so we just stayed on board and caught up on reading, etc.
May 1st After day at sea we arrived at Palma De Mallorca. This was our second time in Mallorca and we enjoyed a morning tour which included a train ride to the mountain village of Soller. A very scenic and pleasant day! PHOTOS
May 2nd Our port was Mahon on the island of Menorca, a first for us. We participated in a morning tour of the southern part of the Island and enjoyed the afternoon strolling along the waterfront. We spent a couple of hours and a small cafe that offered free Internet and we were able to download our magazines and papers from the past couple of weeks to our tablet computers. PHOTOS
May 3rd We anchored near Alghero on the island of Sardinia. We had toured Sardinia on a previous trip (PHOTOS) so decided to relax on board and avoid the ride to shore on the tender.
May 4th Our last stop was in Corsica which we had visited on several previous cruises. This time the port was Ajaccio which was a new one for us, and is also the birthplace of Napoleon. We enjoyed walking around the city. This was also the day to pack our bags after 23 days on the Spirit.
May 5th Disembarkation in Monte Carlo was extremely easy and smooth. Because we were still in the EU it was not necessary to clear customs or immigration. Our travel agent arranged for our transfer from the ship to our hotel in Nice which also went smoothly.