Following on from her recent voyage across the atlantic, Cruise Miss is back to tell us about her adventures in Morocco and Spain aboard Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral. Here’s her account:
I recently returned from a 14-night Mysterious Morocco and Seductive Spain cruise aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral and I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. Our ports of call were: Cadiz, Cartagena, Malaga, Gibraltar, Melilla, Casablanca and Lisbon. I had visited all the ports previously, except for Melilla, but it was still a wonderful voyage.
Our first few days were spent at sea and it gave me the perfect opportunity to explore and meet new people, but before I knew it, our port days arrived and it was time to explore.
Morocco and Spain Aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Our first call was to Cadiz, a place I have visited many times, and one that I always enjoy. I love all the narrow streets and the architecture in Cadiz, but if you want to venture further, then a visit to Seville is a must!
Next, we arrived in Malaga and I left Balmoral behind for my tour to Marbella and Puerto Banus. The weather was miserable and most places were closed because it was a holiday that day, but it was still a new adventure, but I would like to go back and explore another time as I feel like I missed out on a lot of picture opportunities.
Melilla was next and this was the one port that I had never visited before. I strolled through the main city centre and done some shopping before walking through Parque Hernandez, which is right in the middle of the city. I highly recommend that you take a walk through the park if you ever visit as it is a wonderful slice of tranquil paradise in the middle of a grey city. Before heading back to the ship, I explored the Historic Centre which too was impressive and again, something you must see. The views across the rocky bay below from the top of the 14th century fort were like something you would see in a holiday brochure. As we sailed from Melilla, I enjoyed dinner in The Grill, Fred. Olsen’s speciality steak and seafood restaurant. I had an 8oz fillet steak with a small lobster tail and sides of chunky chips and asparagus, and it was delicious. The meat was perfectly cooked and the presentation of the dish was superb. The cost is £25 per person and if you enjoy your steak and seafood, it is a must!
Cartagena and Gibraltar would be easy days of people watching and shopping. I really like the marina in Cartagena as it provides the perfect place to sit and enjoy a drink while watching the world go by. The fact the sun was shining and it was quite warm was an added bonus. Gibraltar offered up a whirlwind shopping experience – I officially started my Christmas shopping!
After 2 easy days, we arrived in Casablanca where it was time to hit the tour bus again. I had opted for a Casablanca city tour and a visit to the Hassan II Mosque. The Hassan II Mosque was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so beautiful. It cost $3 billion to build and offers space for up to 105,000 people to pray at any one time. It also has the tallest minaret in the world. The Mosque was the highlight of the tour for me, but I did also enjoy our very brief walk through Habous. At the end of the tour we were taken to a store in the United Nations Square where we could do some shopping. Fred. Olsen do offer a shuttle bus service from the ship into town, so after my tour I made my way back into the city and into the Old Medina for more shopping.
A much-needed sea day followed our time in Casablanca and then we arrived in our final port: Lisbon. I’m not a huge fan of Lisbon, so I booked a tour to Sintra and Cascais. The tour was very pleasant indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sintra is a very small mountain-side village and although our stop there was only brief, it was long enough to snap some pictures, venture up some narrow streets and enjoy an obligatory Pastel De Nata. Cascais is a charming seaside town and offers some wonderful views across the bay. You will also find a wide variety of restaurants here and there was a wonderful traditional carousel right in the middle of the town. It was very picturesque.
The last 2 sea days allowed for packing and one final evening of drinks and laughs with my new-found friends at the Lido Bar. I had the all-inclusive package on this cruise – something I always purchase before my Fred. Olsen voyages if it is offered – so I saved a small fortune on drinks. There is a specific all-inclusive menu, but those who purchase the package can also take advantage of half price cocktails (excluding champagne cocktails) and premium spirits.
On our final day, I enjoyed a traditional Afternoon Tea in the Observatory Lounge. I do like afternoon tea on Fred. Olsen! The cost is £7.95 per person and it offers a little extra special touch to the voyage. Who doesn’t like a warm scone with fresh cream and jam? Oh, and cakes and sandwiches!
The Fred. Olsen Balmoral is a wonderful ship. She offers a wide variety of accommodation options, the food onboard was superb, as it always is with Fred. Olsen, and the crew were brilliant. I must say that I do believe Fred. Olsen has some of the best crew members at sea. Would I recommend Fred. Olsen as your next choice of cruise line? Absolutely! I can’t wait to do it all again.
Do you fancy exploring the best of Spain and Morocco for yourself? Check out our page dedicated to the Fred. Olsen Balmoral page to find out about upcoming sailings, or call our friendly sales team on 0808 274 6777.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons