THE FINAL PORT CALL: TENERIFE
DAY 100 - 21 APRIL 2023 (SHIP'S date)
ENROUTE TO SOUTHAMPTON
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
THE FINAL DAYS
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2
Welcome to the Canary Islands
Final Port of Call – Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a port city in Spain’s Canary Islands. Tenerife, like the other major Canary Islands, Grand Canaria and Lanzarote are Spanish but also very much have their own identity, the Canary Islands.
Tenerife is volcanic and many of its beaches are comprised of gritty black sand. The South and North of the island are very different. In the South, one-time small fishing villages like Los Christianos and Play de Las Americas, have expanded into full scale international tourist resorts. The North of the island has beaches but the main city Santa Cruz does not feel so much tourist as an authentic and well establish local community. Spanish is the predominant language and even the shopkeepers, do not tend to speak English which they do further South.
Mount Teide in the South is the world’s third largest volcano and after winding up steep mountain roads, a cable car to the summit and an 8-minute ride whisks travellers to enjoy spectacular views of the whole island and beyond. From 11,660 feet above sea level, on a clear day, the other Canary Islands can be seen. The cable car passes through Canadas del Teide National Park and through the scenic Esperanza forest.
As a bonus when travelling from the UK, Tenerife has one great advantage. The weather. In the first months of the year, the island offers a beach holiday with flights not too far distant from home territory.
Family holidays are also well catered for and water sports are available all year round. Whale and dolphin watching offer opportunities for adventure aboard luxury catamarans. Guests from Queen Mary 2 who choose this shore excursion at sea, came back with differing stories. One friend was disappointed not to have seen a whale which had been her expectation, though there are never any guarantees of wildlife sightings. She admitted, a couple of dolphins did perform acrobatics around the sailing ship.
On the other hand, one very happy couple declared their whale watching trip, “the best thing about the world voyage. The whole 102-day journey was worth it to see a pod of whales leaping and diving around the boat. We cruise regularly and it has always been us ambition to see whales. Now we have, and just a few days before as we arrive at the end of our journey. Paul and Ruth Smith, at least two satisfied customers as we approach us home port.
Now I am to going to make a confession. In dozens of cruises including round the world, I have never seen a dolphin. Maybe I do not stay still long enough out on deck. Hardly ever sit down or bathe in the sun. But, it seems that other guests do see them. “You just missed the dolphins,” is often the joyous message as I arrive on deck.
Santa Cruz the main town in the northern area of Tenerife, and it is here QM2 berthed within sight of the rugged mountains and an ever-expanding commercial waterfront with corporate signs high on buildings declaring business enterprises and banks.
Santa Cruz has many well reserved buildings in its old town and this includes the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The 1700s Palacio de Carta has baroque and neo classical features. Over the last 50 years, the city has grown and increased its population with new developments going up higher and higher on the mountain face. A tram service travels to a transit point from which town and sea are visible. The ride up the mountain passes a varied collection of housing and new and ancient buildings. On some streets, the buildings look worn down and are painted with graffiti, in others, modern apartment blocks have panoramic views of the mountains and down to the town and sea.
The trams carry mostly working people. Ladies with shopping bags, students with backpacks and mothers with toddlers. There is also an extra entertainment treat, not universally enjoyed by the tram passengers. A middle-aged man carrying a guitar, jumps onboard. He stands by the doors strumming and singing and, then, with practiced timing, walks swiftly through the carriage holding out a pot. Several travellers make donations.
As the tram pulls into a stop, he jumps off, runs across the platform and jumps on the next transiting vehicle. All in all, I watched him, change direction of travel, four times as the tram worked its way up and down the mountain. Singing and strumming all he way.
My journey took me back down to the town and as in so many Spanish towns, the road was steep. Up one side and down the other, passing beautiful flowering gardens and packed squares, with outside tables , such as the central Plaza de Espana, I visited some of the better-known global brands.
Zara, of course, a spectacular Spanish fashion success story, is always dominant on international high streets. Ale-Hop, a gloriously eccentric pocket money shop for knick-knacks and children’s toys, as well as stylish, cheap fashion sunglasses, sun hats and flip flops. It almost does not need to be said that Mac Donald’s makes an appearance as does women’s lingerie, brand, Intimissimi.
Tenerife has styled itself a city of arts and culture. Beautiful old churches feature Masters’ craft studios and the Muse de Belle Artes displays classical painting and artefacts. Modern sculptures and statues, appear all over the city and work by world famous, British artist and sculptor, Henry Moore, is on display.
There is an architecturally spectacular ocean facing auditorium devoted to classical, music, opera and dance with a conference centre and exhibition hall. Reminiscent of the iconic design of Sydney Opera House, the concert hall portrays a crashing wave and full-blown sail.
To revisit Tenerife after many years of absence, it felt good to be back at its heart, visiting an old friend, after the turmoil and sadness of recent years. Tenerife is our first taste of Europe and the familiarity of the culture and a city which over the years, I have visited regularly, was as welcome as a home-cooked meal. After a wonderful adventure and months away from home, it feels good to be a European, even if Brexit severed many ties with our nearest neighbours.
Walking back over a passenger bridge into the port, a wonderful sight. Queen Mary 2 docked and glorious, proudly showcased in a prime position in the port town.
Happy Sailing... Ellen
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Current position of Queen Mary 2: Under way from Sta. Cruz (Tenerife) to Southampton
Departure was 1 d 19 hrs 42 min ago. (at 18:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 1 d 16 hrs 18 min. (at 06:00 h local time)
Traveled distance since Sta. Cruz (Tenerife): 804.82 nm (1,490.53 km)
Remaining distance to Southampton: 741.61 nm (1,373.47 km)
Traveled distance since Cape Town: 5,535.64 nm (10,252.00 km)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.