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27th December, 2014

La Palma, Santa Cruz

We arrived at the entrance to Santa Cruz, La Palma at 0700. Our pilot was just finishing berthing a container ship so we were asked to sit off the breakwater to await his arrival. Once he was onboard I carried out a marine “three point turn” and reversed the ship astern into our berth. We were all fast at 8.00am.

The city of Santa Cruz de La Palma was founded by Alonso Fernández de Lugo on May 3, 1493. It is near a river which is situated by a cave named Tedote (now Cueva de Carías, located north of the city). The city, originally called Villa del Apurón, served as a port that connected routes to the Americas, exporting goods from the island such as sugar cane. The city was sacked by pirates in the early 16th century and was later reconstructed and fortified against future pirate attacks. Famous fortifications include the Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de la Virgen. The coastline and the valley areas of the island are made up of mainly farmland, with the remaining area around Santa Cruz de la Palma and the east central core being made up of urban areas especially hotels, apartments, towers and colourful homes uphill to the northwest. Santa Cruz de la Palma has a port serving ferry routes to the nearest large Iberian port of Cádiz in Spain as well as some of the other Canary Islands. It is the only port on the island of La Palma.

La Palma, the island, is known as the green island, and holds two world records: La Caldera del Taburiente is the world’s largest volcanic crater, with a diameter of 9 kilometers and a depth of 770 meters. From the view-point Mirador de la Cumbrecita this terrific natural monument can best be overlooked. On the other hand you will find at La Palma the greatest elevation compared to the diameter. The island’s highest mountain, Roque de los Muchachos, with an astronomical observatory at its peak, measures 2423 meters. La Palma appears from space like a giant stone axe. The north of the island is dominated by the giant Caldera de Taburiente, from which the Cumbre Nueva and Cumbre Vieja ridges run due south to the sea.

Our Shore Excursions team, Jacquie and Laura, offered three exciting tours for our guests. The first was Taburiente Tour which was an easy walk around the town plus a stop for tapas and wine; the other walk was the not so strenuous Forest Walk; and the last tour was The La Palma panoramic tour - the very relaxing way to explore the town.

Our sailaway was straight forward, basically letting go the ropes and driving ahead.

Opening tonight’s main show by vocalist Paul Fredericks, were the Explosive Singers and Dancers, however Cruise Staff Andrew Galler, the son of banjo player Steve Galler, compered the show because tonight I, along with John, Resty and the rest of the officers and staff not on duty, had a special duty to perform and that was to serve our crew their special Christmas Dinner. At one point in the evening John went away to put on his Snowman’s outfit. He obviously wore it years ago but, how shall I say this politely, John has expanded a little but the costume hasn’t, so he looked decidedly uncomfortable in it!! But what a hoot he is, always game for a laugh and a jolly nice chap for entertaining the crew with his humour.

Captain Alistair McLundie

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