Sunday, 2 July 2017

Spanish nights: A cruise along the Iberian Spine

For anyone that hasn’t experienced Spain, leaving from Southampton to ride the spine of the Iberian Peninsula is an experience you will cherish. For many people, cruising is misunderstood as what happens on this kind of travel is not known to the masses. Even films don’t do this kind of journey justice because the culture cannot be felt unless you go through it yourself. Cruising to and from the UK especially is such a great pastime, as this nation is by far known the most around the world for it's great ship history. The Mediterranean is perhaps the best choice for the first-time passenger on a cruise ship as the waters are almost always calm and the warm breeze makes you want to come up on the deck more often. This not only makes it easier for those that feel seasick, but you get to experience what it really means to cruise the waves in style. You’re on a large ship that rides the bumps and dips with great ease and yet, you are dining with great menus, the decor you’re surrounded by is equal to any 3, 4, 5-star hotel. One of the best journeys for someone that wants 7 nights of cruising and sightseeing on land, the Aurora trip named ‘Spain to Guernsey’ is an excellent choice.

Your vessel

The operator line of P&O Cruises is a British cruise ship line based in Southampton itself like so many others. It has a current fleet that comprises of medium to large cruise ships, all varying in features, designs, styles and tonnage. The Aurora is a medium-sized cruise ship with a gross tonnage of 76,152. The ship carries a maximum of 1,950 passengers, along with up to 850 crew members of all kinds. Built in 2000, it went through a brief refit in 2014 and it planned to go into a new refit in 2019. The operator is constantly updating the decor, features, capabilities and quality of the experience for passengers. It's new livery is just 3 years old, which makes it stand apart from other ships that dock alongside it. Reaching a top speed of 28 mph, or 24 knots through the water, the Aurora is pushing out almost 79,000 horsepower. However, since it's a city-hopper kind of cruise ship, it gently rides through the English Channel and whatever norther Spanish waves have to offer.

Sunny Santander

If you thought you had to go to the south of Spain to get any kind of beach experience, you’d be wrong. After a day and a half at sea, you arrive bright and early in the city of Santander, northern Spain. The average temperature here is around 24 degrees Celsius, but the north-western winds coming in from the Atlantic Ocean perform a gentle breeze across the beaches. You have 8 hours to play with, so you can do pretty much anything you want in that timeframe before the Aurora is set to leave to it's next stop. Try the Sardinero beach which is 1,300 metres long and around 80 or so metres in width. There are also plenty of casinos nearby if a little gambling thrill is what you desire. Of course, you can go sightseeing all over the city, and dine in one of the restaurants as to your leisure.

A little like Venice

The city of Gijon, has a resemblance of another port and marine city in Italy. Much like Venice, the still turquoise waters are mesmerising as you approach closer and closer into the harbour. Some cruises might skip this part of the journey along the Iberian spine, but if you book a cruise & stay with Bolsover Cruise Club, you can find many journeys that take their sweet time. Even if you’re just looking for a destination that is close by such as in France, Germany, Scandinavia or Spain, you can find just the right kind of cruise you want. Almost every single major cruise line and route is in the club, and cruises for any month and week can be booked using their simple online system.

Thankfully Gijon is your second stop, and you get a full 12-hours to enjoy at whatever you fancy. Go trotting down to Cimavilla, which has painted it's buildings in pastel colours, and has some of the best seafood in all of northern Spain. There is a large railway museum that charts the history and development of modern Spanish travel by rail. There’s also an aquarium if you would like to see the local fish swimming around.

A little rest bite

After you visit La Coruna, you will be nearing the end of your cruise. The last stop that shall be made is in Guernsey. This little island is just north of the island of Jersey. Both are just off the north-eastern shoulder of France where the most notable cities are St-Malo and Lannion. Here you stop for 10-hours, docked in St. Peter Port which is a 13th-century fortification. This tiny island is a self-governing state with a British Crown dependency. It's known for its beaches, stoic architecture and military history. You will depart from the port at around 6 pm, and look set to arrive back in Southampton early in the morning around 7 am. All in all, you’ll have 7 days of sailing through the English Channel and hopping to three different cities along the north of Spain. This is a cruise that introduces you to the Iberian Peninsula and heads to cities that have great shipping histories, as well as being cultural hotspots in their own right.

If you’re new to cruising, the Spanish nights journey is going to be brilliant for you. The seas are not rough, and travelling well below even half the top speed of the Aurora, you gently waft down the waves enjoying your food and lounging on the ship. Be prepared and plan your own sightseeing tour for each of the cities, or you can book ahead and have any experience you want ready and waiting for you when you get off. Bear in mind you usually have at least 8 hours to yourself, so you can cram in a lot of activities in that time.

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