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Copyright 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman

 

Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Lisbon to Barcelona ~

Wind Surf Bistro Restaurant
Wind Surf - Bistro Restaurant

Marbella, Spain

May 1, 2002 - What a glorious day! By mid-morning when I headed ashore, the mist was beginning to burn off and the day promised to be sunny and perfect. Although it was a national holiday (Spain's version of our Labor Day) and many stores were closed, the shops and cafes along the seaside avenue were open by early afternoon and the sidewalks were thronged with residents and visitors alike. It's nice to be in the Med this time of year before it really gets crowded.

I joined friends to tender ashore and we consulted the Marbella map and directions provided by Kimberly at the shore excursion desk. We walked first to one of the city's new attractions, the remodeled "Avenida Puerta del Mar" park, which stretches from the sea upward to the center of Marbella. Fascinating sculptures by Dali are interspersed with fountains and colorful flowerbeds. Reaching the top of the park, we crossed into the old quarter of town. The heady scent of orange trees permeates the Plaza de Los Naranjos and patrons of the cafes that fill the square enjoy their meals beneath a canopy of fragrant green. We pressed on through lanes and alleyways between the whitewashed buildings, enjoying the cool shade and splashy floral arrangements that spill over delicate wrought iron balconies. 

Plaza de Los Naranjos

Everywhere we looked there were picture postcard Mediterranean scenes. The sky and sea were incredible shades of blue and it was quickly apparent why Marbella has grown to be one of the Costa del Sol's most popular and exclusive resorts. Even the trash bins are constructed of varnished wood and fancy iron hinges. The area around the 9th century Arabian Walls was just as neat and tidy as the many formal squares in the old quarter. We were completely taken with everything we saw.

After making our way to a seaside cafe for refreshments, we contemplated returning to the Wind Surf and possibly heading ashore again after a late lunch. Our shore tender bobbed around quite a lot so I decided to remain on board and check out the watersports marina. It was there that I discovered we might have a problem--the marina was being closed early because of high waves. No problem. I didn't really want to water ski anyway. Instead of going back ashore, I decided to unwind on board and enjoyed a solitary stint in the huge coed sauna, followed by reading in a shaded deck chair.

Ship Happens - Oops. The wind really began to kick up mid-afternoon when I joined some friends. By tea-time Captain Boylin announced tender service was suspended. He then announced we would be sailing immediately for Malaga where tour busses were diverted to meet the ship. Anyone left ashore in Marbella would be met at the dock and directed to shuttles for the 40-minute drive. The arrangements were swift and impressive.

Passengers at the tender pier when service was suspended reported that they saw boats larger than our tenders being towed into harbor by the Spanish coast guard. Some took quite a beating from the high wind and waves. Rather than feeling stranded, the passengers I spoke to were in high spirits for having experienced an adventure. Two busses of passengers on tour to the Alhambra were delivered to Malaga where they had the opportunity to explore for an hour before the ship docked. A nice touch were the mimosas they were given upon re-boarding in Malaga. By 9pm all passengers were accounted for, even the independent golfers and beach-goers.

On a somewhat prophetic note, while I was waiting to go ashore earlier, Security Officer Nick Riccio demonstrated Wind Surf's security scan card system to me. Boarding cards are scanned by each passenger when they debark and re-embark. The computer system can sort information by cabin number and name to determine who is on board and what time each passenger left the ship and returned.

What about the occasional passenger who is left behind? It happens now and then, but not without the knowledge of Wind Surf's officers. When departure time approaches and passengers are missing, first their cabin is called. Then they are paged over the public address system. When it's determined they aren't on board, the ship contacts the Port Agent who checks with police and local hospitals. The Agent stays at the dock to assist the wayward passengers and provide follow up to the ship. The ship can't wait, but it's not because the bridge officers don't care.

There's no chance of anyone going astray tomorrow. We'll be at sea and in good hands--taking full advantage of being pampered by the Wind Surf's accomplished staff.

Day Four -> Sailing in the Mediterranean

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