Dear Cruise Diary — Day 14, May 4, 2013

Dear Cruise Diary

Day 14 – Gibraltar

May 4, 2013

I had forgotten to change the time on my iPhone the night before, so when I woke up I thought it was 6 and not 7 and went back to sleep. No worries – I didn’t have any schedule to follow. At breakfast in the Windjammer I saw that we had docked in Gibraltar and the weather was cloudy, with a forecast of about 65.

Gibraltar from ship

I grabbed by windbreaker, put my iPad and camera in my bag and left the ship about 9:30. It took about 20 minutes to walk to the walled entrance to the original city and the end of Main Street. Shops were just opening and people were sitting outside of the British pubs and restaurants having coffee and breakfast. My destination was just beyond the cable car terminus – the Botanical Gardens. I had been to Gibraltar about 17 months earlier and toured the “rock” – seeing the caves, the tunnels used during World War II and the famous Barbary apes. So this time I was relaxing and seeing more of the city. While most of the route was flat, it ended with a hill – the reward was a nice view of the Mariner below.

Main Streeet Gibraltar Mariner in Gibraltar

The gardens were quiet, well maintained and expertly marked with descriptions of the plants, trees and flowers. There weren’t many people, but the birds certainly were noisy. I also had brought along my sketching supplies, but knew I would be too frustrated trying to sketch vegetation – I never seemed to get it right. So instead I took lots of pictures.

Botanical Garden Grass Garden

Jo Gibraltar Garden enh Gibraltar Homes

After an hour or so I briefly considered taking the cable car to the top for the view, but the line was long so I headed back to Main Street. The clouds were parting and the weather getting warm. British stores such as Marks & Spencer lined the street, which was closed to vehicles, along with jewelry stores, pubs and souvenir shops. I picked a café advertising wifi access and sat down to a latte. Alas, the service was so slow that I could hardly download a single newspaper. So before long I moved along and saw an Internet café — actually, more of an Internet bar. It was after lunch, so why not? I ordered a draw of beer and then asked about the Internet password. Oops – no wifi, just public computers. So after drinking the beer, I tried a third time, ordering another latte at Burger King. I had checked first and it had a strong signal.

It was not to be – I never could connect, and neither could several people around me in the plaza. I guess their system was overloaded. But as I headed back to the ship, I remembered my pre-cruise wifi research had found some wifi spots near the Ocean Marina, a large development with high-rise apartments. Success! I sat at a small quiet floating café right in the marina, surrounded by pricey yachts, and finished checking email, following friends on Facebook and downloading recent Time and New Yorker magazines and the Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News.

Gibraltar marina

Back at the ship, it was time for sail-away.

Jo leaving Gibraltar

I ran into Robin and Helen on Deck 12, and after watching us leave Gibraltar, we headed down to Deck 3 and the Savoy Theater, where there was a special meeting for the 900 people on this cruise who were continuing on beyond Barcelona – the end of this segment. We learned how to get our new SeaPass cards (cabin keys, charge cards on board and identification cards when going ashore), how to skip the long lines when returning from Barcelona, and for passengers like me who are changing cabins, how to get our possessions from one cabin to the next. We also got first choice on tickets to the next cruise’s ice skating show, thus avoiding long lines later.

After trivia in the Schooner Bar (I missed happy hour half-price drinks), Robin, Helen and I went to dinner. The waiters and chefs put on a little farewell presentation; they must have expected that many passengers leaving at Barcelona would skip the main dining room the next night in order to pack. I begged off a late-night quiz show to come back to the cabin and write the day’s journal.

Tomorrow: Day 15 – Alicante, Spain