Transatlantic Cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette
11/5/16 to 11/20/16

Due to the length of the review, it is in 4 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page. 

Page 1 - Pre-Cruise in Florence Italy
Page 2 - Ship and Entertainment; Ports of Call:  La Spiezia, Italy
Page 3 - Ports of Call:  Provence (Toulon), France;  Barcelona, Spain
Page 4 - Ports of Call:  Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Tenerife, Canary Islands

Ports

Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca was a port that we hadn’t been to before, so we were looking forward to seeing what was there.  Unfortunately, the medicine that the doctor had given Carol hadn’t helped and I was worried why she wasn’t improving.  She passed on the tour again.  I had organized a tour through Spain Day Tours (http://spaindaytours.com/Palma-shore-excursion.html).  We had used them several times in the last couple years and had been very happy with them.  They are a part of the Top Day Tours company that does tours under several names around the world.  We had used their Israel affiliate on the previous cruise also.  If you have a port that they serve, it is worth looking into what they have available.  The maximum number of people that were supposed to be on the tour was 18.  They ended up with 16 on the tour; but since Carol didn’t come there were only 15 of us.  I had assumed that we would have one of the large mini-bus type vans that hold about 20 people.  We were surprised to see a full size bus for just the 15 of us.  Needless to say, we had plenty of room.

Our tour guide for the day was Beverly, who was from England.  She visited Mallorca many years ago, and never moved back.  She loves Mallorca; and it shows.  She did an outstanding job for us and was a very pleasant person.  We had lucked out with tour guides in every port this cruise.

Our first destination was to Bellver Castle, which is one of the few circular castles in Europe.  It was built in the 14th century. 

   

The reason we were there was to get the panoramic view of the city; but I would have enjoyed being able to tour the castle also.  However, after returning home and looking at reviews, apparently, the highlight of the castle is the view from it, not the interior.  So, I guess that Spain Day Tours knew that it would be disappointing to waste time touring inside.

   

Our next destination was back down to the city to visit the Palma Cathedral.  We had to park a good distance from it; but there was no problem seeing the massive structure in the distance.

As we got closer to the cathedral, we came to a nice long fountain and an unusual and interesting statue.

   

The cathedral is huge and I was not able to get a photo from the front of it that showed the whole structure, so below is a photo from www.mallorca-spotlight.com, the local tourist site.  I normally don’t use other people’s photos; but this one is worth seeing.

Most of my photos are from the side of the cathedral which is worth seeing; but not as pretty as the front.

I was also able to get front photos, but they only show sections of the front, not the whole thing like the borrowed photo.  

When we entered the cathedral, we first visited rooms with gorgeous ornaments and relics.  It was most impressive and a preview of coming attractions.

   

   

   

I just loved the relief over the room entrance we had just passed through.

   

The main church was quite a sight.  Beverly was telling us about the different areas of the church while we were sitting down; but I had to get up and take photos before she was finished. 

   

       

The main altar has a decoration created by Gaudi.  It lights up intermittently and I didn’t want to miss getting photos of what was supposed to represent Jesus crown of thorns.  It was much easier to see when the thorns were illuminated.  It was a good thing I did take the photos then, since it didn’t light up again while we were there.

The church itself was very dark and made it difficult to get decent photos.  But they were well worth taking to remember what we had seen.

       

The cathedral had some gorgeous stained glass windows, including the huge rose window on the front of the church.

   

There were numerous richly decorated chapels around the church, including one by Gaudi.  It is pretty easy to tell which one is his below.

       

After we left the cathedral, we walked through the streets of Mallorca.  In addition to more churches, we got to see the exterior of the city hall.  Unfortunately, it was being renovated, but we could tell it was a lovely building.

   

At this point, we stopped for a break and personal time where shopping was available.  Beverly took us into a Mallorca pearl museum, which was connected to a pearl shop.  It was a popular place for some of the ladies on the tour.

In the square near the shop, Beverly showed us an 800-year-old olive tree.  The trunk was so large.

   

After our break and personal time, we continued down the pretty streets of Mallorca.  We stopped again along a street that had some souvenir items.  One store was packed with brightly colored merchandise for sale.

   

We also passed by the parliament building.

On the way to the bus, we got some more views of the cathedral across the pond.

   

The second main destination of the day was to the town of Valldemossa.  It is a popular destination due to the beauty of the area, which we were appreciating on the drive there.  As we approached the town, we could see the terraced gardens in the city; and part of the city in the valley.

   

Since it was getting close to 2:00 PM, everyone was most anxious to stop for lunch before continuing the tour.  Beverly recommended a small restaurant that most of us went to.  We did kind of overload them with orders; but everyone was fed.  After lunch, we had some free time to look around before meeting up with Beverly.  The town was quaint and in a lovely setting.  At one overlook, I could see the tower in the valley, we passed on the way into town.

   

   

When we all got back together, Beverly walked us up the hill to the Royal Carthusian Monastery.  It was kind of a plain building from the front; but it had been a royal residence.  In 1399, it was converted into a monastery for monks.  It is now mostly a museum.  The first part we entered was a church that is still active.

   

   

We then went into the monastery section, where there was a strange oversize statue of a man and a woman.  They were supposed to represent composer Frederick Chopin and writer George Sand, who lived in the monastery in the winter of 1838-1839.  She took on a man’s name to be accepted as a writer. 

The monastery had many interesting rooms, including the pharmacy.  The different colored bottles and bright roof made it quite a pretty room.

   

The halls in the monastery were very cold, since what appeared to be windows were just openings to the outside.  The halls would not be the place to be in the winter.

   

We passed by a monastery memorial chapel, but were not able to enter it.

   

We next came to series of cells (rooms), the first of which was the library.  It was a fascinating room with so many old books and decorations.

   

The next rooms of the museum contained artwork, historical documents and letters.

We were all attracted to the window in the room, where we could look out on the veranda view from the monastery.  Beverly told us that we would be going outside to get a better view soon.

Beverly then showed us one of the monk’s cells, which was much larger than I expected.  Close by was a display case with artifacts.  I’m not sure why a human skull was in it.

   

We next walked out to the veranda with the awesome views into the valley.

We went back into the monastery to visit two adjoining cells that were once occupied by Chopin and Sand.  We weren’t allowed to take photos in the cells. 

The last part of the monastery tour was a piano concert.  The pianist, of course, played Chopin pieces.  He was quite good and it was most enjoyable.

   

We then had free time to explore the lovely town on our own.

   

When we came into town, I had seen the monastery bell tower; but hadn’t been able to get a good view of it while we had been there, so I started looking for a site.   It didn’t take long to find a view of the back of the monastery with its bright aqua roofed tower; but I wanted to get closer.

   

There wasn’t a straight path to the monastery and I had to take several turns to get there.  On the way, I was able to go through a lovely monastery gardens that had a bust of Chopin.

   

I was able to get closer to the monastery itself; but as I was taking photos, the sun moved behind clouds.

After we left Valldemossa, we took a quick stop at a place called Sa Foradada.  It is a viewpoint, where we could see an interesting rock formation that stretched out into the sea.  At the end of it was a 30-foot hole that had been created by nature.  It was a pretty place and the surrounding area was quite nice.

   

It had been a most enjoyable tour.  We could understand why so many Europeans come to this beautiful island for a vacation; as well as why Beverly made her vacation destination her home.

The next day was the first of two sea days.  The daily information bulletin had said that we would be passing by the Rock of Gibraltar at 7:45 PM the next day.  The previous year we had passed by it at around 11:00 PM in the dark.  I had hoped that this year we would see it in the daytime.  I was disappointed.  The next morning during the 10:00 AM announcements, Captain Peppas said that we would be passing by the rock at 5:45 PM, just before sunset.  That was great news.  In talking later to one of the officers, I asked him about our arriving at the rock two hours earlier.  He told me that the Captain instructed them to increase the speed so that the passengers could see the Rock of Gibraltar in the daytime.  I told him to let him know how much it was appreciated.  He didn’t have to do that and I am sure it used up more fuel because he did. 

When it started to get close to when we could see the rock, Carol and I went out on our veranda, since it would be on our side.  It looked much different in the daytime than at night.  It was a shame that it was so hazy; but it was definitely better than if it had been dark.  Below is the photo I took the previous year, which did look kind of cool with the clouds above it to show what it looks like at night.

I like the new ones better, since I could get photos from different angles and actually see the city on the rock. Unfortunately, the other side of the rock is the famous side; but I was very pleased to see it in the daytime.

   

   

Tenerife, Canary Islands
We had come to our last port stop of the cruise.  Tenerife is a lovely island with lots to see and do.  The view from the ship was quite nice. 

   

Shortly after we arrived we were greeted with a lovely rainbow that ended in the main city of Santa Cruz.

Since this was our third year in a row to stop in Tenerife, we weren’t doing any tours.  I was able to convince Carol to go back to the medical center to see if she could get something that would help her cough.  This time she did get something that would help.  Two days later she was feeling much better; but she had not been able to get off in any of the ports.  She had been on the ship since she had first set foot upon it.

I had just planned to walk around Santa Cruz, since neither of the tours we had previously taken had spent any time there.  There was a free shuttle to take us to the cruise terminal.  It wasn’t a very long ride and for some reason, the bus stopped a good way from the part of the terminal, where you needed to go to get into the city.  The terminal is below street level, so I walked to the building where the stairs and elevators were.  You can see in the below photos, where the bus parked and how far away it was from the building that I was in when I took the photo.

   

When I left that building, I headed to the walkway along the waterfront that appeared to go to the city center.  It had been raining, but appeared to be clearing off.  The temperature was going to be in the 60’s all day, which was good walking weather.

A couple from the ship who were looking at their map, asked me if I knew where the hop-on-hop-off bus stop was.  I didn’t know, since I hadn’t planned on taking it.  I looked toward town and I could see the bus sitting at the side of the road not far away.  It seemed like a good way to get a quick overview of what to see and where everything was in relationship to the port.  So, I bought a ticket and went to the open upper level of the bus.  We passed by statues and got some nice views of the area.  

   

I had originally thought about getting off at the Parque García Sanabria, which is supposed to have some lovely gardens.  When a few rain drops started falling, my plans changed and I continued on the bus route.  The light rain did stop.  We passed by the large International Trade Fair and Congress Centre; as well as the unusual wave looking architectural symbol of the city, Auditorium of Tenerife.

   

In reviews of Tenerife that I had read during my research, people said there wasn’t too much to see in Santa Cruz.  I was starting to agree with them, since the bus route was almost completed and I didn’t find anywhere to go back to that wasn’t close to the port.  So, I got off at the last stop, which was in front of the Mercado.  The building looked inviting.  There was also a nice monument to fishermen in front of it.

   

After being at the Barcelona Boqueria a few days earlier, this market wasn’t too exciting.  It was much more of a local market than one that attracts a lot of tourists and was not crowded at all.  It did have a nice clock tower. 

   

The market also has a basement area where the fish markets were located.  I always like the colors and many varieties of fish at these types of markets.  The big eyes of the Alfonsino fish seemed to be watching me as I was taking photos.

   

   

Looking at the map, I would be able to visit the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Laguna on my walk back to the ship.  It was easy to find with its tall bell tower.

The interior was rather pretty with its multi-colored concrete block arches and dark wood ceiling.

I took some photos of the main altar, chapels and decorations, since they were photo worthy.

       

   

I didn’t stay long and headed out to the last place that I had seen from the bus tour that interested me, Plaza de Espana.  It was very close to where I had gotten on the bus.  It is the largest park in Tenerife.  It has a large fountain in the middle of it that wasn’t running.

The main reason I wanted to visit the park was to see the Monument to the Fallen, a war memorial to the members of the military that lost their lives in the Spanish Civil War. I had been able to see the tall cross monument earlier from the ship.  A single soldier statue stands out in front of the cross.

   

   

As I was taking photos, the rain started again.  I was so glad that I had brought an umbrella.  I knew that I was in walking distance to the ship, but didn’t have any way of knowing how to get back to the building that I had come up to street level from earlier.  I took a road that appeared to go into the port area.  It did indeed; but a different area for other cruise ships.  With the rain coming down pretty heavy, I had wished that I had been able to find where the shuttle picked up; but I was already committed to a different way back.  I could see the ship in distance, so I just toughed it out in the rain.  I was looking forward to some relaxing sea days.

When I got back on the ship, I was able to look out the balcony and see the road I had taken to get back to the ship along the breakwater.  I was fascinated with the breakwater.  With the waves pounding against it, it looked like the water was much higher on the other side, than on the ship side, even though they were both at sea level. 

   

Carol and I were fascinated with a ship that was docked close to the Silhouette.  It was named the Ramform Titan.  It was shaped strangely with a very wide back for that length ship.  It looked like a large triangle.  Later, I was standing on deck looking at it while talking to an officer.  I asked him about it, and he didn’t know anything about it, except that it did look strange.  I Googled it and found it described as “a new class of seismic ship that is easily the most powerful and efficient in the world.”  That was interesting.  I was glad I checked it out.  I told the officer and he appreciated knowing about it.

I enjoy being on the outer decks during sailaway.  It is one of my favorite things about cruising.  On one side of the ship, we could see the beautiful Tenerife landscape.  I liked how the homes seem to be climbing up the mountains.

   

On the other side inside the breakwater were some vessels used in oil production.  The large red one was a construction support vehicle that goes out into the ocean.  This one sleeps 500 people.  It was huge.

Behind it were two drilling ships.  Each of them had a helicopter platform on them.  This port had more interesting vessels than most. 

Sea Days
After we left Tenerife we spent seven days at sea to get to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I have provided the daily activities pages to let you see what the ship activities were while at sea for that long of a time.  The link to those pages is at the top or bottom of this page, or you can click this LINK.

Disembarkation
After seven days at sea, we were ready be on land again.  When we went up to the buffet for breakfast we could see six ships in port.  We would later find out that there were actually eight.  It was going to be a busy day at Port Everglades.  We had a 7:40 AM disembarkation time.  They called our number shortly after that time.  There were no long lines to get off, which is always nice.  Disembarkation had been well managed.  The terminal that we were to go through was quite a ways from the ship.  It seemed like we were walking for a long time to get there.  I was glad that Carol was on her TravelScoot.  When we finally got into the terminal, it was one of the smaller ones, but it was easy to find our luggage.  The immigration line was quite long; but an agent told us to go to a different line, since Carol was on her scooter.  We breezed right through and were quickly out into the bus area. 

We had rented a car from Alamo that we would pick up at the Fort Lauderdale airport.  We would then drive it home to unload our luggage and then take the car back to the Palm Beach airport.  Since Carol had her scooter, I was worried that with all the ships in port, the rental car pickup van might not have room for everything.  When the van came by, it was actually a large bus that is used for both Alamo and National.  There was plenty of room.  When we got to the terminal rental counter, the agent on the floor told me to wait in the long line.  I told her that I thought I was supposed to go right to the car.  She asked to see the email that I had received the previous day from Alamo about picking up the car.  She looked at it and said that I had to wait.  Twenty minutes later when I reached the desk, the agent looked at my reservation on the screen and asked me why I hadn’t just gone to my car.  Apparently, the email that I received wasn’t the right one that was supposed to have a bar code on it, so I could go right to the car.  This was my first time to use rental cars for a cruise rather than just parking, so now I will know better. 

Recap
It was enjoyable to be able to get on a ship in Europe after another cruise to come home, rather than flying.  We didn’t have to worry about how much our luggage weighed or getting to the airport on time.  A Transatlantic cruise is a great way to begin or start a vacation; but I won’t be doing another one for a while.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ports on this cruise; but seven sea days in a row is a long time.  Of course, Carol could say that fifteen days at sea was a long time! 

Fortunately, on this cruise, it gave me time to begin working on the prior cruise’s review on my MacBook. With our being retired and living in south Florida, we don’t go on cruises to relax and sit out in the sun.  We can do that almost every day if we want without traveling.  I much prefer to use vacation time to explore ports or other destinations, with relaxing sea days in between them.

 

        

 

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