Finery & Fun

The next day, after leaving Gibraltar, the Seven Seas Navigator sailed into the inner harbor of Cadiz, Spain. It was a bright, sunny day. The town is charming with lots of parks, trees and flowers.

After breakfast we boarded a bus and took a panoramic look at the city. It is one of eight that make up the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in Western Europe. It has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century.

In the old part of the city, the 18th century jail is now where people are married.

The waterfront was filled with sleek private yachts and the usual cranes for loading and unloading commercial ships. One block away, the city was historic and fascinating. Shade trees lined the streets, and it seemed every house had a flower box of red geraniums.

There are no tall office buildings. There is a shortage of land to be developed. Most buildings are three stories. Every now and then, there is a small “pocket” park in bloom. Being a bank holiday, there was little traffic and it was a sunny day. The narrow streets were charming and built that way to block the high winds, which are frequent.

Eighty percent of buildings use oyster rock, a composite of oyster shells, sand, sediment and stone, for construction

The Cadiz Cathedral is very grand. It took 116 years to complete! God forbid the Spanish should rush anything. It was built primarily in the 18th century in a High Baroque style with Neo-Classical flourishes incorporated later. It is one of the largest cathedrals in all of Spain.

They also have a ninth-century mosque that became a Catholic church in the 13th century. Near it, in 1918, a theatre/arena was discovered that could hold 20,000 spectators! Next to that was a statue of the man who eliminated slavery in the beginning of the 19th century.

Because of the bank holiday, we did not get to see the marble Phoenician sarcophagi from the fifth century B.C. at the Museo de Cadiz. The museum is filled with accidental finds of items from years ago. They also have a fine arts department featuring the works of Spanish masters. Oh well, there is always a next time. We went to see fabric being dyed with dye that comes from 9,000 sea snails used for each batch.

Some passengers drove 77 miles up the road to Seville to visit its magnificent cathedral, one of the largest churches in the world. This is also the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. The construction of this opulent cathedral began in 1402, and the church was ultimately consecrated over 100 years later. The extravagantly decorated central nave is the longest in Spain and rises to a staggering height of 138 feet. 

Flemish craftsman Pierre Dancart spent 44 years on the lavish gold altarpiece, arguably the finest in the world. Originally built in 1402 as a testament to Seville’s affluence, the Seville Cathedral is an architectural wonder and the pinnacle of Gothic design. Connected to the Seville Cathedral is a bell tower, La Giralda, originally designed as a minaret. La Giralda has become the most recognizable image in Spain.

The next day was a sea day and the ship sponsored its traditional ship’s auction to benefit the crew’s recreational and welfare fund. Proceeds are administered by a committee of representatives from all the departments on the ship. Guests are invited to donate an item to be auctioned off. This is always popular and well attended. It provides money for special events for the crew and financial aid for a crew member who must go home immediately for a family crisis such as a funeral and things like that.

Items up for bid included donations from the ship such as dinner with the captain of the ship, a tour of the ships galley, the ship flag, cooking with the chef one night, the captain’s dress uniform coat and such. Passengers donated bottles of champagne to be auctioned as one lot and any other items they had second thoughts about squeezing into their luggage. Over $32,000 was raised in a little over an hour.

The next day, we docked in Lisbon, Portugal. Our goal there was to revisit the Gulbenkian Museum. We think it is one of the finest private museums in the world. Friends went with us and were we disappointed! They have an enormous new, modern, elegant reception building. We went in to buy tickets only to be told the museum was closed on Tuesdays! We were crushed! It seems they are open on Mondays when all other museums are closed and closed on Tuesday! Bummer!

That evening, back on the ship, all the passengers got ready for the traditional “JIMBO’S DINER” dinner. That is a poolside barbecue event where passengers dress up in silly outfits as though they were attending a 1950s diner. We had great fun as everyone comes in some sort of costume and they are “make-do” costumes. We saw pirates, doctors, hookers and the like.

Jimbo is actually our delightful cruise director Jamie Logan. For the evening, his wife Dana, the ship’s assistant cruise director, was Bimbo. She is already beautiful, but when she augmented her figure with two water-filled balloons to complete the bimbo image, she was smashing. We have sailed with them for years and they are a major reason for the great pleasure on our World Cruises on Regent.

Dinner that evening was supposed to be comfort food, but it was really everything under the sun. From the grill came ribs, lobsters, pork chops, sausages, steaks and a whole roasted pig. Lots of iced shrimp and mussels along with an array of salad making goodies started off the meal. I don’t know where they find such good tomatoes that are so ripe. Then there was corn on the cob, onion rings and mashed potatoes. Who ever heard of three different flavors of crème brulee at a barbecue? That was just one of the many desserts served, but none were as good as our Louisville friend Suzanne Moeller’s bourbon crème brulee.

When we sailed later that evening toward Funchal, Madeira, you can bet it was not on an empty stomach.

As an aside, while we were docked in Lisbon, across the pier from our gangway was the S.S. Delphine. This wonderful motor yacht was built in 1921 by Horace Dodge, son of one of the largest motor car manufacturers. Now registered as a passenger ship, it was refitted in 2003 at a reported cost of $25 million. It has 13 cabins decorated by Tiffany and will service 26 guests with a crew of 29. It is 257-feet long.

Guests aboard the S.S. Delphine will enjoy her fantastic amenities: a swimming pool with jet stream, massage bath, Turkish bath, sauna accommodating up to six people, fully equipped fitness room and hair salon. Added to this, the extensive outside deck areas total 1,000 square meters of space to entertain and sunbathe.

The Delphine’s current owner is the United States Navy. Hmm. Wonder what they are doing with it? VT

Photos courtesy of Carla Sue Broecker.