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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Gibraltar

Nothing symbolizes permanence like the “Rock” of Gibraltar; however the history of this tiny nation has been anything but stable. The Phoenicians visited in 950BC but didn’t stay and neither did Romans who were known to be in the area in 400AD. It wasn’t until the Arabs arrived in 711AD that any claim was made to the strategically important area dominating the intersection of two continents and the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Over the centuries ownership of this tiny country (measuring only six kilometers) passed from Moorish rule to Spanish domination and finally to the Crown of Great Britain which claimed it "forever." Today’s Gibraltar is a montage of Spanish and English culture with a unique “Spanglish” language and bilingual population.  

Diversions 

The “Rock” itself dominates every view and no visit to Gibraltar is complete without a cable car ride up its sheer limestone face. From the top you can see all the way to Africa on a clear day. Mid-way up the Rock are the Upper Galleries, tunnels excavated in the 1780s to provide strategic defense. With stalactites and stalagmites of magnificent proportion, St. Michael’s Cave is a marvel of nature and has such wonderful acoustics that it is used for occasional concerts.  

The most famous residents of Gibraltar are the Rock apes. Not really apes at all, they are a species of tailless monkeys. Despite their playfulness and friendly appearance, they are wild animals and should be approached with caution. They are known to be fond of sunglasses and caps and many unsuspecting tourists have lost belongings to their thievery. By all means, photograph them but do not try to touch them—they will slap your hand or even bite it.  

Coming down the mountainside, the great square tower is all that remains of the Moorish Castle. The Arabs built the castle and city walls when they controlled Gibraltar, known then as the northern “Pillar of Hercules.”

Gibraltar’s history as a military fortress makes it different from other ports of call on the Costa del Sol. Evidence of batteries and fortifications and monuments to military heroes are everywhere to be seen. The most impressive is the Napier of Magdala Battery where a 100-ton gun can be viewed.

Ships tours include stops at major points of interest and drive by others. Gibraltar’s roads are narrow and winding and renting a car is not advised. Excursion tours are conducted on small van-like buses and just outside the cruise terminal there are taxis available to hire for tours. Tour information and walking tour maps are available from the Gibraltar Tourist Board at their booth in the cruise terminal. 

Before reboarding your ship, relax and enjoy a cup of local java from the coffee bar in the cruise terminal or purchase a phone card there to call home.  

Shopping

The only completely duty-free port in Europe, shops along Gibraltar’s bustling Main Street offer bargains on a variety of quality goods. Jewelry, glassware, porcelain, pottery, leather items, perfume, cashmere, silk, wines, and spirits are all good buys. Lladro figurines sell for half the United States price and 20% less than other parts of Europe. The official currency is the Gibraltar pound, but Euros and American dollars are readily and cheerfully accepted. Inside the cruise terminal is an exhibition area where local artisans sell a variety of crafts and paintings. 

Beaches

Closest to the cruise ship terminal is Camp Bay.On the eastern side of the Rock are three beaches, Catalan Bay, Sandy Bay, and Eastern Beach. The most popular is Sandy Bay.


Back to Mediterranean Ports of Call


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