Another day, another beautiful port and we have made the journey from Lisbon, Portugal to Malaga in Spain. The weather had picked up slightly as we approached the Straits of Gibraltar just before midnight on Thursday evening but our transit passed smoothly and before long we were into the Mediterranean and making our way towards Malaga.
There was one of the Italian Costa Cruise Ships due at the Pilot station for the same time so I set our ETA for a little earlier in order to ‘jump the queue’ if you will which worked a treat and we were all fast on the berth shortly before 8 am.
As you sail in you can’t help but notice what an idyllic setting the city has on the famous Costa del Sol and what a marvellous contrast the city presents. To the east of the capital, the coast along the region of La Axarqua is scattered with villages and sleepy fishing hamlets, the epitome of traditional rural Spain. To the west is a bustling metropolis that has helped the area become famous and easily recognisable as the Costa del Sol.
Three tours went ashore in Malaga today, two in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first tour to leave was the ‘Granada’ tour. This tour let our passengers discover the most romantic parts of Spain’s colourful history as well as learn about its glorious and Moorish past, which can be seen in almost every corner of this fascinating city. This was an all day tour and returned to the ship just before we sailed. The length of the tour really allowed our passengers to spend time taking in the port, the history and the local culture and gave them a chance to really immerse themselves in what the country as a whole has to offer.
The next tour to go ashore was the ‘El Torcal’ tour. El Torcal is a natural park and a fantastic world of limestone formations, flower filled valleys, rugged canyons and fragrant pine forests. Millions of years ago, this part of the country was under sea and the fossils of many marine animals have been found here and are still being found here with each passing year.
It is a magnificent spot for nature, with over seven hundred recorded plant species, as well as large populations of mountain goats, wild cats and Iberian foxes, in addition to snakes and lizards. The area has been designated as a special zone for bird protection on account of the numerous species that nest here and the unusual stones and vegetation are a sight to behold.
The third and final tour went off in the afternoon. This one was the ‘Malaga Highlights and Flamenco Show’. Flamenco goes back to the 16th century and is thought to have developed from local gypsies who performed the dance around their campfires as a form of entertainment. Our passengers had the opportunity to enjoy refreshments while watching one of the most traditional and exotic pastimes that combines dance, song and music with exciting movements and colourful costumes.
Prior to departure our Agent called to ask if I minded sailing a little later than scheduled, 15 minutes or so, to allow the Costa ship to sail first as she had a high speed run to her next port. I thought it the least I could do having slipped in ahead of them in the morning.
A full evening of entertainment awaited our passengers once they had returned from ashore, and after enjoying a scenic sail away with the Cruise Staff on the open decks, and another culinary delight in the restaurants from our food and beverage team, our passengers were able to test their grey matter with an evening trivia before enjoying the vocal talents of international artist John Parton, father of our Cruise Director.