Barcelona and Transatlantic Cruise 2008 – Day 11 – Tenerife, Canary Islands

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Today we had another port of call in the Canary Islands. Today’s stop was the island of Tenerife. The Canary Islands are part of Spain. Our stops in the Canary Islands have been busy with other cruise ships. Today, there were three other ships in port when we arrived: Aida Bella, Thomson Celebration and Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas.

Tenerife is in stark contrast to Lanzarote. While still formed by volcanic activity it does not have current active volcanoes and is quite green in color. There are many micro climates here and the island boasts the largest mountain in Spain at almost 13,000 feet. We didn’t really get a good look at the mountain today as it was overcast with occasional light rain showers.

We docked in the capital city Santa Cruz La Palma, a city of about 300,000. This is a very densely populated town fit into a postage stamp area with the mountains and ridges of the area.

We had planned a simple walking tour of the town with stops in a couple of museums. I would have been better served to have stayed on the ship as the town was weathered and not especially very pretty, plus I am not a fan of museums.

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The first museum we went to was the military history museum of Tenerife. There was a couple of interesting things here but unfortunately most of the displays and text were in Spanish and my translations were not nearly good enough to understand everything.

They did have one nice vignette that depicted the famous Battle of Tenerife where the English, led by Horatio Nelson, attempted to capture the island from the Spanish. This huge miniatures display of the battle complete with lights and sound (with English option) told the complete story of the battle and how Nelson lost his arm in the battle and the Spanish defenders were victorious giving Nelson is only real defeat.

Also on display was the cannon, El Tigre, which is said to have fired the shot that cost Nelson his arm. The rest of the displays were military hardware that had been used at one time or another on the island. There was also a few interesting paintings on exhibit. The cost of the museum is free, so one cannot argue and the kids and Suzanne did find it interesting. The problem here is simply my problem with museums.

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The second museum we visited was the Canary Islands Natural History museum. This one was even less interesting because of the language problem. It was a very nice and modern museum, housed in a three story building. They used very nice audio and visual displays to show how the islands formed, the various archaeological history of the islands as well as how animals and man came to and survived on the island. It would have been more interesting if we understood Spanish better. The highlight of the museum was the mummy display. They had several mummies that had been unearthed on the islands. Again, Suzanne and the kids enjoyed the museum better than I.

We also walked the tourist district of the town and did a bit of souvenir shopping. Sean got a very nice t-shirt for a mere $4 Euros. Suzanne continued to fail in her quest to get a flamenco dress or accessory. The price continues to be higher than she wants to pay and thus far, hasn’t found a vendor willing to negotiate. All in all, I would estimate we walked 4 or 5 miles around town on our tours.

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It was not an impressive town or a must see as far touristy things go. The scenery of the hillsides were very nice. Many other passengers though have reported differently, but they took ship based tours that went out of the city to more remote, interesting locations. There is a cable car that goes up the mountain, there was bus rides to fertile valleys with wonderful views and even more. But, we had already done our big, costly excursion on the island of Lanzarote so opted to stay in town on this one. Next time around, we would venture to the mountain or the outer reaches of the island.

Back on ship, we again grabbed a late lunch and prepared for the sail away party. We had a 6 PM scheduled departure, but the ship refueling for the crossing was delayed and took more time than planned. Of course, making the crossing next, it’s a good idea to make sure you have plenty of fuel. It was almost 10:00 before departed the port.

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The pre-dinner entertainment tonight was a crew talent show. It was fun and interesting and there was definitely some talent in the crew. The only drawback to the show was that it was very traditional in the talents presented – mostly singing. Some previous crew talent shows included very country/culture specific talents that you normally wouldn’t see.

For dinner, we tried something different tonight. We decided to go our separate ways – boy’s night out and girl’s night out. The girls took the dining room for the traditional dining room and had a wonderful time. They got a little special extra attention without the boys. Sean and I opted for a pizza dinner and a movie. We ourselves had a great time together.

After dinner, it was another traditional entertainment show, the Newlywed – No So Newlywed game show. This is always a funny show styled after the game show of the same name were they get passengers of various marriage lengths to participate. The Cruise Director hosted and did a great job of interjecting some comedy into the show. The kids always like attended this show and get a good kick out of it even though I think (maybe hope) half the jokes go over their head. It was also nice of the Cruise Director to come over before the show and make sure we knew the show would contain some adult type humor, which we of course already knew. It was, as usual, a very enjoyable show.

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After the game show, the entertainment shifted to a power karaoke hour. Suzanne sang another three songs and there were some other good singers too. After karaoke, we again adjourned to the Martini Bar with our new social mates, the English couple Roy and Jennifer for a couple of nightcaps. We ended up talking away the morning with them and finally retired about 2:30 am. Its quite amazing how quiet and empty the cruise ship is at that hour of the morning.

Tomorrow, we make our final stop in the Canary Islands before beginning the Atlantic Crossing. The stop is at La Palma. We have already decided that we likely will not get off the ship except for perhaps a quick souvenir shopping run.