Markets, Cathedral and Beaches (of Course) in Fortaleza

Day 53, 2023 Grand South America and Antarctica

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023; Fortaleza, Brazil

With Brazil’s population of 200-plus million people, I shouldn’t be surprised that it contains some big cities. Today’s port of Fortaleza is another one, with three million people, give or take. Its long stretch of beach, backed by a skyline of tall buildings, provided a beautiful backdrop for our visit, especially as the sun set. Too bad a couple of moored ships photobombed the view.

A big city comes with big traffic. My four-hour tour stretched to five, and once I saw the route tracked on my Pocket Earth app, I realized that we spent a lot of time driving between stops that were only a few blocks apart.

Perhaps the better option would have been to take the ship’s free shuttle to the market and just walk to those sites. However, our Do Brazil Right guide did give us a good background on the country’s history and that of Fortaleza, his home town.

I didn’t hear of any street crime against passengers here, but I’m sure many people wore no jewelry and were very careful with their smartphones. I attached a strap I had brought mainly to make sure I didn’t drop it overboard when shooting pictures from the deck and balcony.

Our first stop was at the old jailhouse, now filled with vendors, which reminded me of a similar reincarnation of a prison in Recife, Brazil, in 2020. The colorful necklace I bought there draws compliments every time I wear it, but I was unsuccessful in my search for another eye-catching purchase. Most of the wares were beautiful linens and yarns – something I don’t need.

The nearby modern Central Mercado has five levels of booths with more variety and plenty of food buffets.

We admired the beautiful Theatro José de Alencar with its rows of caned seats. The Metropolitan Cathedral is huge with beautiful stained-glass windows, but not much other adornment.

Our final stop was the Futuro Beach, not too far from the ship. I think most of those in our small group probably would have been happy with a longer visit there instead of shopping – it is a stunning beach surrounded by lots of trees and beach cafes, a pool and play areas. If in Fortaleza again, I probably would just taxi here for a few relaxing hours.

During his sail-away announcement, the captain gave us the good – and somewhat unexpected – news that we will journey up the Amazon River, whose water levels have risen sufficiently. Our schedule will change somewhat, as we will need to transit the shallow areas in the daylight. His announcement, and the repeat by the cruise director at tonight’s show, drew cheers and applause.

Meanwhile, the Christmas decorations are starting to come out, and I expect during the next three sea days the ship will be adorned for the holiday.

Activities seem to be picking up, with a Barn Dance on the Lido Deck one evening and a third “Cake Me Away” display and dessert offering at noon one day.