Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Days 5-6: Boarding the Ship, and a Visit to Mijas

We took a bus from Granada to Malaga (about 90 minutes), and then a taxi from the Malaga bus station to the pier to catch our ship.  One problem--when we got to the pier (2:00), there was no ship!  In fact there was just one guy sitting in a chair in front of the spot where we were supposed to board the ship.  The cab driver asked him what was going on, and he said that there was a mechanical problem and the ship would arrive at about 5:00.   The good news--the cruise line made arrangements for us to spend the next few hours at a bar at the local yacht club.

View of Malaga from the yacht club

Eventually the ship did show up, but we were informed that we would have to spend an extra day in Malaga so they could install a new turbine.  This was a bit of a problem, since we were supposed to arrive in Casablanca the next day.  So they wound up cancelling our stop in Casablanca and the next stop in Agadir, Morocco.  Fortunately, we have already been to Morocco, so I wasn't as freaked out as I would have been had I completely missed a new country.  To make up for it, they arranged for a shore excursion to Mijas, Spain while they were repairing the ship.  They also gave us free internet for the entire cruise (which turned out to be a $500 value based on what I used), and they let us eat in the fancy 5-star French restaurant on board without the normal $40 per person surcharge.

Our ship was the Silver Cloud, which is the oldest ship in the Silversea fleet--built in 1994 and refurbished in 2012.  It accommodates about 300 passengers, but there were only about 200 on board for this sailing, which might have something to do with why the fares were so low--West Africa might not be a hot cruise destination after Ebola.  It was nice having fewer people, but at times the ship seemed really empty.

All of the staterooms on the ship were suites, with a separate sitting area.  The best part of the cabin was that it had a walk-in closet, which we didn't come close to filling.  We originally booked a cabin without a balcony, but they upgraded us to one with a balcony.  Each cabin is assigned a butler (really!) whose job seemed to be periodically knocking on the cabin door and asking you if you wanted anything. 

Here are a few shots from around the ship:

From the front

From the rear

Brenda on our balcony

Our suite

The pool area--no shortage of deck chairs!

Pool bar

One of the lounges

Well-stocked library

There were two gift shops on board.  They were selling Armani blazers for $995, and t-shirt dresses for about $2,500.   I opted to not make a purchase.  The common areas (front desk, shore excursion desk, etc.) were pretty understated, and empty.  There was no huge atrium like I've seen on other ships.

The elevator lobby

The theater was nice, and the shows were very good.  One night they even had a rock guitar concert, which was something I've never encountered on a ship.  They made up for it the next night by having an opera singer.

They also used the theater for lectures.  They had two lecturers on board--a historian specializing in West Africa, and a former U.S. Ambassador (Edward Peck).  The capacity of the ship was small enough that we were constantly encountering the lecturers and members of the crew in the bars, and we also had a chance to have dinner with the ambassador.  
The theater
Rock on!
They had a (very) small casino on board, but I don't think I ever saw anyone in there.

There was one main dining room and two "specialty" restaurants--French and Italian.  Also the pool bar was converted to an outdoor grill at night where you could cook your own steaks on hot rocks.   (More on our experience at the French restaurant later). 

The main dining room

There were several bars and drinks were free(!).  The first night on board, we went to the bar for an after-dinner drink and I ordered a Frangelico.  The next night we went back, and the waiter brought me a Frangelico even before I sat down!  Fortunately for him, that's what I wanted.

At the bar

Wednesday, November 11

While they were repairing the ship, they offered us an excursion to Mijas, a town in the mountains of southern Spain.  We had been there on our trip in 1989 and loved it, so we were happy to go back.

Central Malaga, on our way to Mijas

More of downtown Malaga

Mijas is about 45 minutes west of Malaga and is one of the "White Towns" of southern Spain, so called because the buildings are all painted white.  We took a walking tour and then spent the rest of our time strolling around the town.

Central Mijas

View of part of Mijas from the middle of town

A church built into the rock

Inside the church

A typical street in Mijas

That was then (1989)
This is now

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Exterior of the bullring

Plaza de la Constitucion

After wandering around Mijas, we returned to the ship in Malaga.

Torremolinos, between Mijas and Malaga

Next: Days 7-10: At sea, and a Visit to the Canary Islands

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