Rock of Gibraltar & Bay of Biscay

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain’s south coast. It’s dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the outpost was ceded to the British in 1713. Layers of fortifications include the remains of a 14th-century Moorish Castle and the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, which were expanded in WWII. Population about 30,000. We passed it at 2:00 am; I saw some lights on both shores.

Thursday, we are entering the Bay of Biscay and possibly the roughest seas that we have experienced but we’re all seasoned sailors.

In the meantime, Wednesday night, the crew put on a show of native dances, authentic costumes, and popular songs. Stunningly professional quality, compared to some of the ‘professional’ acts that have been booked on the ship. Their day jobs are cleaning our rooms, preparing and serving our food, maintaining the ship, washing our dishes, basically pampering us. Anything you asked for would happen.

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Odessa, our cabin attendant, with one of the two dance groups she was in. In this dance from the Phillipines, performed for royalty, it is considered disrespectful to smile. I have never seen her not smiling so she is bitting her lip most of the dance. (It was too dark without flash.)

In addition to the native dances, the engine room crew, in the sailor suits, did a really happy version of “YMCA.” The show ended with a Bollywood-style production of “We are the World.” The photo at the top was the finale. Between the crew and passengers, there are 25 nationalities on board. We met one other American, who was on board for one of the five segments.

Whatever annoyances we may have had involving this voyage, we have absolutely no complaints about the service we have received or the way any member of the crew has treated us. The division of labor was very traditional. The cabin attendants were all women. The dining rooms (there were three; the largest sat about 300 with about 30 waiters, assistant waiters and maitre d’s.) were staffed entirely by men. The deck and engine room crews were all men. The people serving drinks in bars and lounges were about 50-50. The captain’s crew of about a dozen had a couple women.

After the show, the kitchen staff had prepared a buffet that was not to be believed, which we really needed since we second-sitting people had gotten up from our standard five-course dinner about an hour earlier. I had had a melon plate, chilled vichyssoise, house salad, strip steak rare with gorgonzola and red wine sauces, and Baked Alaska, presented flaming with a parade of all the dining room staff plus some in chef’s hats with drums, tambourines, and “When the Saints Come Marching In.”

Here are about half the pictures I took of the buffet, without repeating myself. It is all edible. I didn’t bother with the ice sculptures or fruit carvings.

We didn’t touch a thing.

2 thoughts on “Rock of Gibraltar & Bay of Biscay

    1. They did seem to enjoy it, or maybe they are professional enough to appear to enjoy it. Like they enjoy getting us another towel. I’m sure some do have professional aspirations. Dining room staff even seem to enjoy birthdays and the Baked Alaska on Parade. Odessa was thrilled to see us in the audience, and I’m sure she couldn’t put it on. From all accounts, this cruise line treats their people well and it is lucrative enough they are willing to spend several months away from their families. And they do get time off in the ports; they don’t all get ashore in any port but they all do get some ports.

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