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Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

29th December, 2014

Las Palmas is very much like the service centre for many marine vessels. As we approached the port was full of semi-submersible oil rigs, drill ships, and supply vessels all waiting for bunkers or repairs. On top of that it is also a busy port for the inter-island ferries and also cruise ships like ourselves.

This morning there was a bit of congestion as there were a few of us waiting to berth. Although our pilot arrived at the ship 15 minutes late, I was confident we would get alongside in time. Our berth required us to squeeze in between two other cruise ships but, as there was quite a stiff breeze blowing for this tight manoeuvre, I used the other two Cruise Ships as a breakwater and wind break to shelter my ship from the strong winds - so berthing was easy!! We were all berthed just a few minutes after 0800.

The city of Las Palmas was founded on 24 June 1478 with the name “Real de Las Palmas” by Juan Rejón. He was head of the invading Castilian army and named the city before engaging in war with the local Guanches (the aboriginal people of the Canary Islands). In 1492 Christopher Columbus anchored in the Port of Las Palmas (and spent some time on the island) on his first trip to the Americas. He also stopped on the way back to Spain. Today a museum is named after him, Casa Colon in the Vegueta area of the city.

Las Palmas is today a cosmopolitan city. It has three beaches (Las Canteras, Las Alcaravaneras and San Cristobal) and a big sea-port (Puerto de la Luz harbour). The harbour benefited greatly from the closure of the Suez Canal during the Arab-Israeli wars as ships halted here on their way round Africa. Because of Las Palmas’ position and its importance as a tourist destination many foreign workers have migrated and settled in the city. Merchants and traders from Africa, China, Russia and the Middle East mingle with each other in the streets of the city’s business centres. The Korean and Indian communities are the largest, although the majority have acquired Spanish citizenship over the years.

According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University, the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria enjoys the best climate in the world. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a sister city to San Antonio, Texas. This is because the latter was founded in 1718 by 25 Canary Islanders who had decided to settle overseas.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also the capital of the province of Las Palmas and co-capital, along with Santa Cruz de Tenerife, of the autonomous community of the Canary Islands. The population of the city of Las Palmas was 377,056 (2006 est.) making it the largest city in the Canary Islands and the eighth largest in the whole of Spain.

Our first tour excursion that headed off was ‘Puerto Mogan On Your Own’ which enabled our guests to explore the smallest and most southernmost resort of the Gran Canria at their own leisure; the next tour was the popular “Essence of Gran Canaria” to discover the volcanic origin of the Canary Islands; and the last tour was ‘Sand Dune Camel Safari’ which took passengers to a ranch in Maspalomas where they rode a camel across the dunes and enjoyed the views from a completely different perspective.

On sailaway we slid aft out of the berth and once I was given clearance that the Bow had cleared the end of the dock, I used the Bowthruster to swing the bow to port, and we sailed out for our next destination of Lanzarote.

Opening tonight’s show were the very funny Pearly Shell Dancers; a few guys from the housekeeping and restaurant dressed up like hula dancers and you can probably imagine the fun they brought on stage as the balloons popped out of their chests while dancing. Our main show guest stars were the wonderful Explosive Cast who performed great hits from the Drifters including ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, ’On Broadway’, ‘Come Over To My Place’ and a lot more, followed by the SAGA Orchestra for listening and dancing pleasure. While in the Coopers bar, Martin Orbidans played guest request till late.

Captain Alistair McLundie

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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