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Home > Member Reviews > lexmiller's Port Reviews of Nassau, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Gibraltar

lexmiller's Port Reviews of Nassau, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Gibraltar
Celebrity Equinox cruise in April 2013
Member Name: lexmiller
Cruise Date: April 2013
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Transatlantic
Member Review: lexmiller's Celebrity Equinox Review
Blue Lagoon Dolphin Swim Rating: Not Rated
We went to Blue Lagoon Island, booking the dolphin swim, not the dolphin encounter, through our ship, Celebrity Equinox, as a shore excursion. The cost was only $10 more to book it directly through the ship than it would have cost on our own, and it made the transportation piece to and from the island a bit easier for us this way. We had a fantastic day! Blue Lagoon's boat picked up our group at the cruise terminal. It was a relatively short but very scenic and enjoyable ride to the island. The mansions that are along the waterway are really something to see from the water! The staff at Blue Lagoon is friendly, informative, helpful, guiding us from the boat to the educational area where we learned more about dolphins, environmental concerns, and the plan for the day ahead. The swim groups are kept small, ours had only 10 people. Our daughter has mobility issues, and the staff was extremely helpful. We knew that she would not be able to do the foot push, but we still wanted to do the swim over the encounter. We were in the water with the dolphins for nearly an hour - it was absolutely fantastic, truly something that we will always remember. The foot push was a highlight, for sure, but simply being there, swimming with them, being "kissed" by them, holding their flippers and dancing with them , and so much more, it was truly remarkable.

After our swim, we viewed the video that was taken of our group and it was so good that we had to get it - and we never buy these things, but when will the members of my family ever do something like this again, and to have it all captured on a professional dvd - ya, had to get it! In fact, we ended up buying the whole package, the prints and the USB drive - that is great, because then we can download ALL of the photos that they took of us, and there were A LOT, onto our own computer, and add them directly to our personal vacation digital book. There was no pressure at all to buy any of this, we just wanted to, as truly, this was a very unique experience.

The shuttle boats back to our cruise ship left every 1 - 2 hours, so we opted to stay on the island and take one of the later shuttle boats. We enjoyed our time, playing baggo, swinging in the hammocks, getting some food - very relaxing, enjoyable! The beaches are lovely - I recommend the one that is away from all of the water toys, on the other side of the island from the water toys beach, still very close, but seems far away as it is very quiet and seems secluded. It's more of an adult beach, where you can experience the natural beauty of the island. Lovely day!

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Loro Park Rating: Not Rated
We booked this excursion through our cruise ship, Celebrity Equinox. What a fantastic afternoon at Loro Park - although the day for us did not begin so auspiciously - long story, but our daughter has mobility issues, and her ship-owned wheelchair was accidentally broken by a ship employee who was trying to "help" us off the ship - he thought he was stronger than he is and he lost control of the wheelchair heading down the gangway! She was fine, thank goodness, but the wheelchair broke, the plastic bending (I've never seen plastic bend like that!). We should have gotten a new chair from the ship immediately, but we were not aware of the extent of the damages until we arrived at Loro Park and realized that the chair was unusable! My daughter cannot walk at all on her own, so a vacation disaster was averted by our excellent shore excursion tour guide and the very helpful staff at Loro Park. They were able to get a power scooter for her - I don't know how they pulled this off as it was noon time, which means late by park attendance standards and it was quite crowded - so to have a scooter available, when you have to reserve one in advace - well, I believe they pulled something off on our behalf and we are so grateful. So, once we were finally able to go mobile, we carefully planned our afternoon, as after the mobility debacle, we only had 4.5 hours to see this magnificent park!

We looked at the show schedule and the map and planned our time strategically. We saw the sea lion show, the dolphin show and the orca show! WOW, all were fantastic!!!! There is a synergy between the sea creatures and their trainers, a mutual respect, you can just feel it. The Penguinarium is like nothing I have ever seen - snow falls from the ceiling; there is a snow slide for the penguins to slide down; the walkway for the people moves around the huge penguin enclosure so all you have to do is stand on it and it takes you around so you see everything, even under the water, so that you see the penguins swimming beneath the surface! The entire park itself is very very clean and exceptionally well maintained. We loved the enclosed bird area as you walk in, climb high, as though you are Tarzan walking in the upper branches of the trees, but on walkways - you get within inches of beautiful colorful birds!

When you enter the park, a photo is taken of your group with two huge birds on their perches - it only cost 6 Euro, and it turned out beautifully, so we had to buy it! We highly recommend Loro Park, we would love to return and spend more time there!

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Timanfaya National Park Rating: Not Rated
We visited Timanfaya National Park as a shore excursion through our cruise on Celebrity Equinox. The landscape is like nothing I have ever seen - volcanic lava floes frozen in time, so hard to describe! We have Lanzarote artist and apparent Renaissance Man, as there was nothing that he couldn't do, Cesar Manrique, to thank for the design of this park - the building of the roads and the caveat that only buses can drive on them, thereby restricting access and preserving the natural beauty of this very fragile environment. The park center building is beautiful - love the demonstrations, including the chicken cooking on the volcanic grill! The images, the history of the eruptions, the rugged unique beauty of the desolate surroundings - will stay with me always.

The camel ride itself was great fun! It lasted about 25 minutes. We were very happy that the guides took photos with our camera for us, for everyone, which is very helpful - a small tip was appreciated. Also, and I don't know if this was only because it was a cruise ship excursion that we were on, but there is a man along the camel route that takes photos with his camera - then, back on our tour bus later in the tour after we visited a winery, the photos that he took had been printed and they were distributed on the bus at a cost of 5 Euro per photo, if we wanted them. They were actually pretty good, not the best quality, but since this was such a unique experience, not something we do everyday here in Boston, I was happy to buy one of the shots. The camels seem to be treated very well. Later in the day, we were lucky to see them all heading home, led in groups by their handlers - they walk "to work" mid morning and "walk home" mid afternoon, their days are not too long. Though they seemed not unhappy to carry us on our tour, they seemed jubilant when they were walking back home - light on their feet, at almost the pace of a jog! Who isn't happy to go home after a day of work?

Timanfaya National Park cannot be missed on a trip to Lanzarote! And be sure to make time for the camel ride!

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City Tour Rating: Not Rated
We had one day to experience as much as possible of Lisbon on our Celebrity Cruises day in port, so after much research, I contacted Filipe of Different Portugal Tours, and we are so glad that we did! From our first warm email exchange which made me feel like I had always known him, as if we were old friends, I knew that we were going to experience a fabulous day. Filipe picked us up at the port and our adventure began. There were four of us in my family doing this private tour, our adult daughter having physical challenges. I had told Filipe about this of course in advance, and he told us that we could easily bring her walker and wheelchair with us in the tour van, and he even planned out in advance which walking aid would probably be best for her at each stop. He always got us very near the entrances, and was very helpful in general supporting her needs.

Throughout the day as we toured, Filipe kept up a running commentary about cultural and historical facts, as well as interesting friendly conversation. Not only did we visit national highlights but we also went to several cafes sampling local delights. One of our first stops was in Sintra at Cafe a Piriquita where we fell in love with the local pastry called travesseiros - a MUST if you visit, but most surely, Filipe will take you there! Warm "big pillows" of creamy, flaky deliciousness! We also went to a local cheese/wine shop where the shop keeper gave us several samples of cheeses, chorizo, port and liqueurs. We went to the Pena Palace in Sintra, spending nearly two hours there - so beautiful, remarkable, memorable. We also went to Roca Cape, the western most part of continental Europe - scenic, and on this day, extremely windy! There wasn't much time for lunch, with so much to see and so little time, so Filipe stopped at a food truck and got us chorizo calzones, though I don't think they were called calzones - delectable! Food trucks here in the USA are very popular, the new gourmet venues, but I have had nothing like this. The bread is baked fresh daily from scratch, on the truck, and the sausage, wow, so tasty, fresh, no gristle or nasty bits. The bread itself was dense, almost like sourdough but not exactly, crusty on the outside, baked perfectly - rustic, unaffected, just plain delicious! Once he determined that we had no food allergies or restrictions, Felipe always did all of the ordering - he knows his food!

We drove through Cascais, saw Guincho Beach. We visited Belem and spent time inside Jeronimos Monastery Cathedral. Our final food stop was Pasteis de Belem - oh, how can one describe these gastronomic jewels? The cafe is in the actual bakery built in the early 1800s by the monks - fascinating to see - you can watch the process of baking - there are labyrinthine rooms, all with beautiful old tile - a great visit, historic, amazing local pastries!

Our final stop was at the Discoveries Monument, which is truly breathtaking. It was on the cover of one of my textbooks in grammar school and I definitely never thought that I would ever get to see it in person. Filipe plans the day very well for cruise passengers, going to the furthest destinations first so that in case of traffic, there would never be any stress getting back to the ship on time. For instance, the Discoveries Monument is so close to the port that one could, if one had to, walk back to the ship!

Our day in Lisbon with Filipe of Different Portugal was fun, informative, delicious, memorable! We hope that someday he will visit us in Boston and we can return the favor!

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City Tour Rating: Not Rated
We had one day to see as much of Gibraltar as possible during our stop on our Celebrity Cruises day in port. Months in advance, I booked a private day tour for my family with Gib Tours, and I am so happy that we did! Elisa was our guide - born and raised in Gibraltar, a true life long local, and wow, did we reap the benefits of her intimate knowledge of the area. She picked us up at the port - her friendliness, her humor, her inner joy, were immediately apparent and we knew that we were in for a great day. I don't think there is much that we didn't see! The roads on "The Rock" are narrow, winding, blind - on some of the more treacherous roads, Elisa would play the theme from "Mission Impossible" on the van stereo to heighten the effect! She provided us with a running commentary the whole day, filled with lots of information and humor. Our adult daughter is mobility impaired and Elisa made sure that she always got us as close to the entrances of the attractions as possible. She physically helped load/unload, the walker and the wheelchair, bungee-cording them into place in the back of the van - she was incredibly helpful and empathic.

Elisa is plugged into the local scene - on the narrow roads, when you have to pull over to let another car pass - well, she knew everyone, all of the other taxi drivers, tour guides, sharing friendly exchanges with everyone - we really felt like we were a part of the local scene. She even knows the names of the most social of the apes on the island. She knows the primatologists that look after the apes and she has a way that she interacts with the apes, professionally, as though she is actually a bonafide trainer - she knows the proper and safe way to engage them - I can't tell you how many photos we have of them, one of which stayed on our daughter's arm for a good 5 minutes! One of the apes hopped into the van and sat on Elisa's lap for a time, looking down her shirt for seeds - it was fantastic!

We had a very individualized tour of the WW2 tunnels, only 5 people in the tour - such a moving experience! Hans was our guide within the tunnels - very very knowledgeable guide! There are more tunnels in "The Rock" than roads on the island itself. You must see the tunnels when you visit!

Elisa took us to St. Michael's Cave - breathtaking; the 100 ton gun; the highest point on "The Rock"; Europa Point - the southern most point of continental Europe; O'Hara's Battery; the Great Siege Tunnels. We also drove across the airstrip, very interesting spot though we wished that an airplane had been crossing the road at the time! She took us, pretty much, everywhere! She gave us a full tour, backroads, not always the main streets, different neighborhoods, beaches, telling us stories of her childhood, etc. She gave us a full history of the peninsula, going back to Pangea, discussing the breaking apart of "The Rock", the Atlantic spilling into what is now the Mediterranean Sea.

Gibraltar is an amazingly unique place, geographically, historically, politically, strategically - and in our opinion, the best way to experience it is with Gib Tours.

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