We wanted to visit the Canarys and Funchal without packing and unpacking several times. We are three in the cabin - parents and a college student. I could not be more disappointed. We thought being aboard ship for Christmas and New Years would be festive and fun and it was nothing like that. I understand you must appeal to the older folks who take this cruise but from food to music and port call timeframes, everything that could go wrong went wrong.
Port Calls: This captain wanted to save as much as possible when it comes to time in port - leaving us with little to none to really see the islands. We pulled in early enough - when nothing was open on the island, not even a coffee shop - and we'd leave often at 3:30 p.m.! With no shipboard entertainment to keep you busy, why would you want people on board? Just to buy expensive drinks I guess. All of the islands were nice enough - Maderia being teh best but Casablanca??? Don't even get off the ship. The ship is bad - Casablanca is worse!
Entertainment: The band "Souled Out" was not bad. Their chemistry though is not there. Seems the lead guy can't stand the lead gal from where we were sitting. They do one hour sets then leave for an hour. There is NOTHING going on for that hour. A DJ doesn't spin any music to dance. The staff don't come and do something fun. Nothing. So let's say you are enjoying the music - then there's a huge break with nothing to do!! I really was stunned by this. I've cruised before and a lot can be forgiven when you have entertainment you enjoy. This was the most board I've ever been on a ship. The music was appealing to ballroom dancers and they danced. Taking the entire dance floor so none of us non professionals could get a spot. Fun to watch but maybe at 10 p.m. you'd switch to something people under 80 would enjoy as well. PS the older folks enjoyed the popular tunes as much as the old stuff so why not appeal to everyone??
It was fine and our service was great. Fitting 3 into a small cabin is not fun but we never anticipated spending much time there. Sadly, because of a lack of anything else to do we spent more time than we had wanted there. Beds are hard so be prepared.
We did Barcelona on our own for three days leading up to the cruise. Take a Sandemans free walking tour if you are in town. We did two of them and got a great feel for the city. Tapas and sangria - what's not to love!!
Another cool town but the ship pulled out so early that our day was cut short. The Spanish do a break mid day, around 2 p.m. so you really miss out if you can't jam an entire day into the docking time and that hour. Food was great we just needed more time in town. Not sure why the ship leaves so early from all of these ports. I was told they are trying to save taxes and money as they have to pay more the longer they stay. It's a shame because other ships were often in port before us and left hours after us. One P&O ship was in port when we arrived and there when we left and still beat us to the next stop the next day! Shame.
If you want to be harassed by taxi drivers then harassed again in the market then do this port. It's awful!! The mosque is worth a visit. My advice is to take a taxi to the mosque, take the tour and go back to the boat. The boat is terrible enough, this port is worse. I have no idea why they choose to port here. Not one person I spoke to enjoyed this port. I do have to say, one lady did say the cruises trip to Rabat was great- so if you are going to pay big bucks for one of the ships tours, this would be the place to do it.
Taxis waiting on the pier will take you all over the island for anywhere from $100-$200. We had a larger cab and did not negotiate so we overpaid but our "tour guide" was amazing and took us to little hole in the wall places that we never would have found on our own. When you consider that the ships tour would have cost us $600 (3 people) we paid $150 and had a wonderful day!
It was a bit cold and rainy so the beach was out on this day, we did walk along the beach but it's outdated and the town is just so so. Shopping is nice and the old town has some historical places. I think it would be better in better weather.
Again we hired our own taxi to take us around and the lava fields was worth it totally! You go to the nature park and pay a small fee and they take you by bus around the park. Lots of great photo ops. You can't get out of the bus they are preserving this landscape from the humans. We left here and went to the beach La Playa del Carmen and enjoyed cheap drinks and half way decent food. Here you join the Brits who party here during their winters. It was fun and we met some fun folks along the beach and did a little shopping.
I enjoy Malaga - been twice now. Great food and an easy town to walk on your own. We spent a great deal of time in the cathedral and then walked about seeing the Roman amphitheater and fortress. Again the ship leaves port at 3:30 p.m. so we had to rush our visit and can't sit and enjoy the people of the town. With days cut as short as these were it's really a shame for the local towns because they lose the business and the tourists lose the opportunity to get to know a town.