Mediterranean Enchantment – 2009
Spain’s Island of Mallorca
April 26 - May 10, 2009
Updated July 4, 2009
By LEWIS NOLAN
To view photo album of 128 pictures mainly taken by Betty Nolan, go to www.ritzpix.com and sign in under Lewis’ email name of firstname.lastname@example.org (password ln9876 with lower case initials). Under “My Albums,” activate “Rome and Mediterranean Enchantment” album and play as a Slideshow with longest offered delay in seconds.
Friday, May 4, 2009 – To Spain’s Island of Mallorca and Port of Palma
After an overnight sail of 128 miles from Barcelona, Spain, Holland America’s ship Noordam docked about 8 a.m. in a large harbor behind a breakwater at Parma de Mallorca. There were gently rising hillsides dotted with white buildings in the distance. Fodor’s Guidebook says, “Known as the garden isle, La Palma has luxuriant foliage, tropical storms, rainbows and black crescents of beach.”
We could see out our Superior Class suite’s floor-to-ceiling, glass double-doors several big car ferry boats in the harbor. But there weren’t near the number of big yachts we had seen in previous ports.
I had yet another great breakfast, this one of a ham omelet, several slices of bacon, tomato juice and whole wheat toast. A complimentary bowl of fruit had been left in our room, making for a healthy meal plus snacks.
The information the ship provided said Mallorca has a population of 420,000 and is 100 kilometers across and 75 kilometers long. It goes on to say it has mountains up to 562 meters high and is rich in pines, oaks, olive trees, almond and apricot trees and grapes. It was a shelter for pirates in the 11th Century B.C., then after Roman domination it was a province ruled by the Vandals, then the Moslems until the Spanish took it over in 1229. We vaguely remember being told by a charming couple who hosted us at a small hotel in Cornwall’s St. Ives in England several years ago that they had a “getaway” home on the island for vacations by the warm sea. Its mild climate and beautiful beaches make it a holiday destination for many Europeans.
Had I not been fighting off a debilitating cough, we might have taken advantage of an offered bicycle excursion (at $89 each) for 3 ½ hours involving strenuous pedaling to see the Marine Promenade and the Old Town. We also passed on a three-hour, bicycle tour of Barcelona’s waterfront (at $114 each) the previous day.
Holland America offers a great variety of tours in port ranging from walking to riding different conveyances at its major stops. Most seem to be a little pricey and range from “easy” to “strenuous” in activity. We took three of the bus tours and were disappointed in all of them, especially the 11-hour one to Florence and Pisa in a big bus without restroom facilities.
The ship also provides a “cheat sheet” listing recommended stores at major stops, which includes directions, descriptions and a limited guarantee of 30 days on purchased merchandise.
We didn’t take advantage of the ship’s offered Culinary Arts instruction classes on this trip, but on our previous Holland America cruise aboard the ship Ryndam to Alaska both Betty and I enjoyed classes we took. There are also a wide range of classes on most days at no or low cost in such things as mixing drinks, baking desserts, Internet skills, turning photos into slideshows, port attractions and various conditioning exercises.
On this day we visited the rather elaborate ship’s gym and spa on an upper deck that offered glorious views of the sea and harbor through walls of glass. I wanted to test my blood pressure on a “free” machine. But with a low reading of 99 over 66, I immediately went to the medical clinic on a lower deck where a nice American nurse in her early 30s tested my blood pressure with a standard cuff-equipped device. She found it was 110 over 84, well within normal range for me despite my illness and medication. She strongly suggested that I consult with my hometown physician before making any alterations in my prescribed daily dose of the Norvasc blood pressure drug.
With a pain in my lower abdomen from heavy coughing, we postponed our planned trip into Mallorca’s port town so I could take a nap. As I snoozed Betty read one of the books she had brought from home.
After a decent lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich with chips for me and a nice serving of chicken with rice for Betty in the ship’s Lido restaurant, Betty and I walked a good ways through the Port’s maze of passenger walkways to a central station for buses and taxis. We waited for perhaps an hour but no bus appeared – probably due to the island’s “siesta” time until 1:30 p.m. Several aggressive taxi drivers tried to recruit us to take their rather expensive tours of the island. It was just too much B.S. for us so we walked back to the boat.
For the record, the boat seemed to be perfectly managed by Capt. John Scott. Also meriting praise from this fairly experienced cruise passenger are the ship’s Hotel Manager, Rene Truinman; Culinary Operations Manager, Jonathan Lewis; Executive Chef Rob van Leeuwen; and Chief Housekeeper Metka Mocnik as well as several eager and polite room stewards from Indonesia and table waiters from The Philippines whose names I didn’t record.
Also for the record, here are some important statistics about the ship Noordam on this voyage: Power - 5 diesel generators and 1 gas turbine providing 84,000 horsepower; Fuel Consumption – 80,000 gallons per day; Water Production – 650,000 gallons per day; Dimensions – 935 feet long, 106 feet wide and a top speed of 23 knots; Population – Up to 1,934 guests and 796 crew; Distance Sailed – Round trip from Civitavecchia over 10 days was 1,611 miles.
It was probably a shame that we didn’t do a better job at scheduling our foray into the island away from the normal mid-day period reserved for siesta time. Mallorca looked from high up on the ship’s vantage point like a really nice place. And the couple we know – Ken and Glynnis Maidment with a significant hotel investment in Cornwall – had impressed us with their discernment. But in the absence of an affordable bus ride into town on this trip, I doubt that we’ll ever make our way back there again.
That evening, we had a very good dinner in the ship’s main Vista dining room with another mature couple from Reno, Nev. I had excellent lamb baked in bread that looked much like Beef Wellington. After eating, I retired to bed after taking several throat lozenges to quiet my heavy coughing. The ship left the dock shortly before 6 p.m. and started its 444-mile, overnight voyage across the Mediterranean to La Goulette (also known as Tunis), Tunisia.