Ferry Cruise Cádiz – S. C. de la Palma (January 2018)

Tipps and Infos
as of January 2018 – my subjective take.

Booking
Such tours are a little bit harder to book than city weekends in London via Expedia. Although ferry booking portals such as Direct Ferries or A Ferry give a first overview, my booking requests on both sites only returned error pages. Booking directly with Trassmediterranea worked better althogh the exact itinerary with stopovers, cabin occupancy or the check-in info were missing in th efinal confirmation. The fact that the ticket price includes full board was not communicated either.

Overall the one-way journey from Cádiz to Santa Cruz de la Palma with three nights in a quadruple inside cabin (single use) and full board with three meals a day totalled 320,- € including all fees and taxes.

Itinerary
The ferry leaves Cádiz late Tuesday afternoon in the direction of the Canary Islands and after a day on the atlantic arrives on late Wednesday evening in the port of Arrecife / Lanzarote. From there it continues overnight  to Las Palmas / Gran Canaria, which is reached on Thursday morning. A scenic daytime crossing to La Palma / Tenerife follows. From there the ship departs at midnight for the last stage, terminatin ist ourbound journey at around eight o’clock the following Friday morning in Santa Cruz / La Palma.

Getting there
Cádiz is located in Andalusia in the south of Spain and can be reached by overland bus or regional „Media Distancia (MD)“ trains of the Spanish railway company Renfe from Seville. Those trains are fast, clean, comfortable, well equipped and cheap. For example, the journey from Málaga to Cádiz bought directly at the ticket office costs just 36 € including a seat reservation.

The nearest airport is Jerez de la Fontera, located directly on the Seville – Cádiz train line. Seville and the airports of Malaga on the Costa del Sol and Faro on the Portuguese Algarve are also well connected.

By the way, a handy website for researching bus and train connections to Cádiz from all over the Iberian Peninsula is www.rome2rio.com (as the URL says, it is also quite useful in other parts of the world).

Embarkation
Unlike the veritable odyssey through the port of Livorno on my trip from Livorno to Tangier three years ago, the check-in in Cádiz is quite easy to find, as you can see the white-red ship from the train station already. From there, however, you will walk another quarter of an hour, so with a lot of luggage a taxi could be useful.

Ferry“terminal“ in Cádiz port

The „terminal“ seems pretty makeshift. A small concourse which smells of wet dog and „German Exhausts“, which in addition to the everlasting pressure and the bad weather probably also left the exaggerated German standards for linen change and showers behind, a defunct coffe- and a working but overpriced snack machine complete the whole arrangemennt. The staff is consistently unfriendly.

NB: After receiving several, super-urgent, emails (in Spanish) about one week before departure, I did something which felt like an online check-in, generating something looking like a boarding pass. Nevertheless, an employee urged  me,to check in with him again at his deks. What the online check-in was for remains a mystery.

About two hours before departure an airport-based security line opens and everyone passes with all their luggage. In the process, I watch a small Drama unfolding as a traveling companion in his late forties, receding hairline, completely dressed in black with a long, black leather coat (island reverend, death metal fan??) traveling with two suitcases, a backpack, two bags and a folding stool laboriously ties these objects together with multiple straps and expanders for over half an hour just to have the security guard make him disassemble everything to pass through the baggage scanner.

The whole check seemed very symbolic to me, because identity cards were not checked and all the luggage in the cars also went through without inspection. At the ports on the Canary Islands, security checks were missing completely. Well…

After the security check, foot passengers and their luggage are shuttled in a minibus directly to the main deck of the ferry. From there it is only a few steps to the reception where you exchange your boarding pass for a cabin key-card.

The Ship

M/V Albayzin Docking in Santa Cruz de La Palma

With 185 M length, 25.6 M width and 6.6 m draft, the Ro / Ro ferry M/V „Albayzin“ is a rather smaller vessel that can accommodate a maximum of 172 vehicles and 949 passengers. Also, the 22 knots maximum speed are rather leisurely. The operates under Cypriot flag for the shipping company Trasmediterranea which is part of the Acciona group. 

Apart from flagging out ships and selling passports to rich Russians, Cyprus’s contribution to the EU is exactly what?

Provided with a dynamic white and red livery, the Albayzin, named after Granada’s oldest district, Looks dynamic and inviting. The good impression continues in the public areas inside the ship, all of which look fresh and clean.

 

The decks and outdoor areas, however, look neglected and were never cleaned during the crossing.

The „living quarters“ such as sleeper chairs and cabins are clean but old fashioned and worn. It is actually hard to believe that the ship was built in 2004, since the design of the cabins would have been pretty retro even back then.

Inside cabin aboard the Albayzin

Before the „Albayzin“ sailed on the Canary Islands route for Trasmediterranea, she was called „Golfo degli Angeli“ and „Maria Grazia On“ touring  the mediterranean sea for Moby Lines and was heavily used obviously. A full renovation of the cabins and outer decks seems to be due soon.

 

Life on Board
Facilities

With two bars, one self-service and one formal restaurant and a children’s area as well as duty-free shop and various sundecks, the facilities on the Albyzin are quickly outlined. In the evening there is even a DJ in the bar on deck 6 and tries to put on some evening Entertainment, but this fun package starves somewhere betwee tea dance in a retirement home and talent show in a North Korean holiday camp.

 

Outside area with sumptuos gardening on deck 7
Join the beercan-shuffleboard in the roomy outdoor areas

 

The covered deck 6 deck is quickly occupied by smokers and dog owners – both groups of people well-known for their cordial consideration for fellow travelers

Food & Beverage
During the crossing breakfast and a three-course lunch and dinner are included in your passage. The food is OK: Continental breakfast  with muesli and croissants, juice and coffee, and for lunch and dinner a salad or pasta course, followed by a main  of fish or meat or a vegetarian dish. Fruit, yogurt or packaged flans are available for dessert. Solid canteen level and adequate considering the price. These free on-board meals are also served during port aytime.

Only Water was hard to get on board, and is only available at fairly high prices in 0.5 liter bottles in the bars. Packing a few  bottles of mineral water can be usefull.

Costs of living
Everything is paid directly in euros or by ec-(debit) Card and there are no onboard accounts like on a cruise ship. With main meals included and relatively few additional offers you get by relatively little money. A café solo (espresso) costs 1.65 €, the café con leche (milk coffee) 1.85 € and the classic beer and chips combo sells for 3.50 €.
There is little need/ocassion for tipping either, except that you can always leave some change at the bar.

Clientele
Dominant group on board on this tour were German emigrants who wanted to return to their island after their christmas holiday and were joined by German low season holidaymakers and a large group of pretty freaky Italians as well as some locals.

Shore excursions
If the timetable permits, you can stretch your legs in the port cities for some hours. Each time you go ashore, check in and out at the reception and someone from the crew will drive you to the port terminal.

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