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Cruises to Gibraltar

Gibraltar (Photo:Alex Tihonovs/Shutterstock)

About Gibraltar

Gibraltar may well be a British Crown Colony but geographically it's an isthmus of Spain (you can walk across the road, though you do have to pass by some pretty tough customs guards). This proximity over the years has caused no end of irritation on the part of the Spanish government. In fact, during his reign, Ferdinand Franco (who served as dictatorial prime minister until the 1970s) was so upset by England's refusal to cede the territory to Spain that he closed the border and cut off telephone communications.

Did you know the Rock, that famous promontory in the Bay of Gibraltar, actually faces Spain and not the Strait of Gibraltar leading into the Mediterranean? Once any cloud cover clears, and the entire enormity of it is revealed, though, it's an amazing sight visible from the cruise ship docks.

There is an ongoing, off-and-on quarrel between Britain and Spain about who owns Gibraltar. The Spanish believe that because it's attached to Spain, it should belong to Spain. But the locals have voted twice to stay with Britain. As far as they are concerned, they are British and do not want Spanish citizenship.

The 1,400-foot-high "rock" is a limestone formation, riddled with as many as 140 caves. Remains of pre-Neanderthal humans have been found inside the rock and in areas surrounding it, but the territory's more recent history is both turbulent and inspiring.

Over time, populated by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Moors, Spanish, Dutch and finally the British, the town of Gibraltar was formed in the 11th century by North African Islamics. The city is said to be "British Colonial built on Spanish Colonial built on Moorish." And that is exactly what the charming city resembles, with all of the influences present in its architecture.

Owing its current status to Lord Nelson (who protected it during the Great Siege in the late 1700s), there are several monuments honoring the admiral, and museum exhibits explain the most recent history of the region. The strategic location of the territory has caused it to be used over the centuries as a fortified battlement, and in fact, the Rock itself has over 30 miles of roads within it.

Traveling to the top of the Rock is almost mandatory and is easily accomplished via land tours or a quick cable car trip. At the top is a splendid nature reserve, and along the way, you can visit with the Barbary macaques (usually referred to as Barbary apes even though they are monkeys), the only free-living primates in Europe, and the Barbary partridges. Both creatures are unique to Gibraltar.

Beyond the Rock and the handful of museums, the old town of Gibraltar consists of a main street jammed with tiny shops and a handful of famous British chains, such as Marks & Spencer, BHS and Dorothy Perkins. For North Americans, however, there are few bargains because prices are in the Gibraltar pound, which is equivalent to the British pound sterling.

As for the future of the territory, it is claimed that as long as the Barbary apes inhabit Gibraltar, it will remain a British colony. You can bet that the apes are prized and pampered and coddled, and have no plans to leave the Rock anytime soon.

--By Sarah Holt, Cruise Critic contributor

  • Why go to Gibraltar?

  • Gibraltar Cruise Port Facilities?

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Celebrity Edge
Living room of the two-story Edge Villa suite in Celebrity Edge (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Oct 24, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex in the Bahamas (Photo: VitaminSea53/Cruise Critic member)

14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Oct 29, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Marina
Marina

7 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Oct 11, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Wind Surf
Wind Surf

12 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Apr 11, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Oceania Cruises

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8 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Azamara
Sep 9, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Nov 18, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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15 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 27, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Oct 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Apr 6, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Nov 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Nov 21, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise To GibraltarDetails

Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Apr 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Why go to Gibraltar?

Pros:

Excellent seafood; duty-free shopping; fascinating military history

Cons:

The High Street is tacky and overcrowded

Bottom Line:

Gib, as it's colloquially known, is a unique mix of history and heritage, fiercely British but with a strong Spanish influence

Gibraltar Cruise Port Facilities?

Ships dock at Gibraltar Cruise Terminal just a mile from the center of town.

The cruise ship terminal is small but offers international telephones, a snack outlet and a couple of touristy trinket kiosks for souvenirs. There are counters for taxis and tourist information.

Good to Know?

The crime rate in Gibraltar is low, but like everywhere else, it makes sense to look after your belongings when out and about.

When close to the apes, do not touch or feed them -- after all they are wild animals. They are looked after by the government, and veterinarian care is provided by the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic. The apes are fed a daily supply of fresh water and vegetables, fruit and seeds as supplement to natural food resources -- leaves, olives, roots, seeds and flowers.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Gibraltar covers about 4 square miles, so you theoretically could do everything on foot, but it's impractical because of the vertical geography of the Rock. The town center is just a mile from the dock and is a relatively easy stroll.

By Bus: Public buses are an easy way to get around this small region. There are five bus routes in Gibraltar (numbered 1 to 5), and buses run to most areas of the territory apart from the Upper Rock. Take Route 2 from Line Wall Road south of Casemates Square if you want to head out to Europa Point, the bottom tip of Gibraltar. You can buy single tickets or day passes for a few pounds or euros.

By Taxi: In town, taxis are readily available but fairly pricy relative to the short distances traveled. If you want to share a mini-bus up to the top of the Rock, you're looking at a cost of about ?15, and you'll have to pay the Nature Reserve entry price on top of that.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Currency is the British pound, though banks issue their own notes and coins. British pounds are accepted everywhere, and euros are accepted almost everywhere. For updated currency conversion rates, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

Ask for change in British pounds because it is hard to exchange Gibraltar currency outside the territory. ATMs dispense either British pounds or Gibraltar pounds. A Gibraltar 5 pence coin makes an unusual souvenir because it has a monkey on it. Shuttles at the cruise dock accept U.S. dollars. Gibraltar is a VAT-free jurisdiction.

Language?

English is the official language in Gibraltar, but most locals also speak Spanish. Other languages are Berber, Arabic and Hindi because of the varied ethnic groups who live here. Hebrew is spoken by the Jewish community, and Maltese is spoken by some families. Locals sometimes speak Llanito, unique to Gibraltar and based on Andalusian Spanish.


Gibraltar Cruise Reviews
we had a very good time in Gibraltar we went to the top monkey are funnyRead More
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poupou10
enjoyed the nature preserve on gibralter. we did self tour and bought the pass online prior to leaving. We took bus to cable car and enjoyed the whole day walking across the mountain and seeing the sights. So much Read More
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JBEAS11
Walk off ship into town 10mins walk straight up Main Street 15mins to the rock and cable car to top to see monkeys. Some got charged 30euros to get back down on cable car one way as he was dropped off by taxi. CheapeRead More
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tillytiah01
Walking to Park and ZooRead More
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Mogcruiser

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