Grandeur of the Seas 2011
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Grandeur of the Seas alongside in Malaga, Spain
Itinerary Show Map = ports at anchor
Sunday 19th
- Fly Gatwick to Palma, Majorca
& embark Grandeur of the Seas
Monday-Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday-Ibiza, Spain
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday-Malaga, Spain
Saturday-at sea
26th June
-Palma, Majorca
disembark and fly to UK

The five of us (Andrew, Stella, Lesley, Peter and me!) who couldn't wait util October for the next cruise, chose this 7-night "Quickie" to satisfy our addiction! Then being advised on the day before departure that we had all been upgraded, proved to be an additional bonus!

The photos of Grandeur of the Seas & all the ports visited on this cruise can be found on my account at Captain Martini >>

Click the link to follow our adventures as posted on-line, or read on....

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Sunday 19th June 2011
London Gatwick to Palma, Majorca
With no option but the charter flight provided, it was quite a job getting a week's luggage into one 20kg suitcase and one very small carry-on bag!
(left) View of Palma Cathedral, taken from on board the ship

I was not looking forward to the flight but apart from having to leave home at 1.30am, it wasn't that bad; and in any event, the flight itself was over in less than 2 hours. Immigration in Palma was easy, so within another 2 hours, and aided by Priority Boarding, we were aboard by 11.00am.

Our Upgraded Accommodation
It was a pity we all had so little luggage because the suites we had been upgraded to were really rather nice; mine seemed particularly lavish, especially for one person!

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Welcome Back!
I like being a Diamond!
Junior Suite 8520 (Deck 8) My Bathroom

My Junior Suite on Deck 8 came with a flat-screen TV and coffee-making tray, as well as a large balcony and far more wardrobes and drawers than I had "stuff" to put in them! Apart from a strange column in the middle of the room though, the decor was perhaps a little "tired" and I was reminded that the ship is now 15 years old and it had been 8 years since Andrew & I had last been on board.

Show Picture Full Size Having enjoyed the loyalty privileges of Celebrity & Cunard in recent years, it was nice to still be a "Diamond", although on Royal Caribbean, this didn't include my usual bottle of bubbly!

A Grand Suite (Deck 8)
The others though, had been upgraded to Grand Suites, with even more "extras" - including that missing bottle of bubbly!
(left) Grand Suite 8512 on Deck 8 and its spacious, marble-topped bathroom (right)
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Sunday 19th June 2011
Palma, Majorca
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After the usual Boat Drill, there was a delay to departure and Captain Espen Been explained that he had feared a possible medical emergency. Then the ship left and we thought we were on our way but no sooner were we outside the harbour, than we turned around and went back again. Evidently, the medical emergency had occurred after all. We left port again, a few hours later.

Grandeur of the Seas
Having cruised on her in 2003, the ship seemed quite familiar and it was reassuring to note that all my favourite features still remained. While she lacks some of the facilities of the newer giant ships of Royal Caribbean, she's big enough to be impressive and spacious, without being intimidating.

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The 7-deck high Centrum
Suspended "Dragonfly" sculpture & "Wallclimber" lifts
Schooner Bar
(Deck 6)
A stylised 1920's theme
"The Great Gatsby" Dining Room

The "Great Gatsby" Dining Room
With a 1920's theme to its decor, this is suitably understated but elegant. Set on 2 levels with a "Grand Staircase" at one end, the upper level of the room faces onto the glass-walled Promenade, bringing light into the room and affording spectacular ocean views.

"My Time Dining" in the Main Restaurant
This is a kind of "Open Sitting" option for those not wishing to be bound by the times of either of the two main sittings. We chose it this time because we had been led to believe that on this cruise, 2nd Sitting would be at 9pm, which was too late for us. However, it soon became clear that 2nd Sitting was actually at 8.30 (as is more usual) and we had earlier been misinformed.
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"My Time Dining" is not really suitable for those who, like us, prefer to have the same stewards each evening; although with persistence learned from experience, we managed to get what we wanted most nights, our stewards, Roshmann and Luciano, providing us with excellent service.
(left) Two Typical Dinner Menus and (right) An alternative typical "Healthy Option" Menu
(NB. Although "Black Angus Top Sirlion" was on the menu, there was no steak on board all week!)
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More pictures and a more detailed report on Grandeur of the Seas can be found in the Grandeur of the Seas Gallery >>
Alternatively, an extensive set of photos all around Grandeur of the Seas can be found on my account at Captain Martini >>

We eventually departed Palma for the second time. Whatever the earlier emergency had been, we had no idea but it wasn't going to affect the ship's schedule, because with only 136 nautical miles to Barcelona, we only needed to maintain about 10 knots to get there by tomorrow morning!

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Monday 20th June 2011
Barcelona, Spain
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My plans for an early swim were dashed by pool-cleaning and when I eventually got in, it was freezing cold! Unfortunately, things didn't improve!
(left) The Solarium Pool - freezing cold every morning!

With no organised excursions booked today, we all planned a lazy start; just as well, because aside from a delayed swim in freezing cold water, there was a mix-up over cabin-breakfast and I ended up improvising with the aid of the coffee-maker and fruit & nuts from the complimentary gift-pack!

After the ship's tours had departed, we took the shuttle-bus to the World Trade Centre, and then the "Hop-on, hop-off" Sightseeing bus as far as the Spanish Village, originally constructed for the International Exhibition in 1929, as a museum depicting regional Spanish architectural styles.

Today a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Spanish Village features cafes, bars, restaurants and shops, and provides studios and workshops for artisans specialising in hand-made decorative art.

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Poble Espagnol
The Spanish Village (1929)
El Tram
Grass Tram Tracks!
Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi (1904-6)

Following a break for "Hot Chocolate" in one of the cafes, we continued on the sightseeing bus, spotting the new "El Tram", built for the 1992 Olympics and the only one I've seen that runs on grass tracks! The bus also passes two of Antoni Gaudi's famous buildings, La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, the latter remodelled by him 1904-06 in his uniquely modernist style.

Here I left the others, Lesley & Peter for an afternoon rendezvous with friends, while Andrew and Stella returned to the ship. I meanwhile, transferred to the other sightseeing bus to the building that is considered Gaudi's masterpiece and life's work, Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia - The Basilica Church of the Holy Family
Construction of the building commenced in 1882 but Antoni Gaudi took over the design in 1883 and promptly changed it! Already an enormous project, delays were worsened by Gaudi constantly revising his designs during construction. He died in 1926, before the completion of his East Facade.

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The Nativity Facade (East)
Completed in 1935, truest to Gaudi's designs
Close-up shot >>
The Passion Facade (West)
Controversially redesigned after Gaudi's death

I had hoped to go inside but naively, I had not expected so many tourists, nor a half-hour queue in the hot sun. So I consoled myself with a "Wall's Magnum" in the shade of the adjacent park instead! I must remember for next time; try to get there earlier in the day!

Tuesday 21st June 2011
We were not due in Ibiza until 1pm today, so with only 155 miles to cover since yesterday, it was no surprise that the ship was drifting through the early hours, only picking-up speed after breakfast.

Show Picture Full Size For my morning swim today, I was joined by Lesley, although the water in the pool was just as cold as yesterday and I'm sure she only got in to prove to me that she could bear it! Mind you, none of the ship's 3 sea-water pools were heated and yet this didn't seem to deter passengers; later in the day, in the full heat of the sun, perhaps they enjoyed the chance to cool-off!

The others had invitations to an exclusive Grand Suites Party, so I indulged in a "Royal Coffee" from Latte-tudes; with Cointreau, Kahlua and Baileys, it was excessively alcoholic but spoiled by being served in a cardboard cup! But I discovered later, that the others had been sun-bathing and hadn't gone to their party after all, so they ended up jealous of me, when I thought I was the one left out!

With the morning "free" I took the opportunity to re-photograph much of the ship and I was pleased to find that all that sumptuous artwork I remembered from 2003 was still in place.

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"Swan Lake"
by Yolanda Sonnaband
(Main Stairway)
Where the heck?
by John Clinch
(Card Room)
by John Clinch
Mural & Cinematic Art
(Singin' in the Rain Lounge)

Show Picture Full Size As we approached Ibiza, I watched the unfolding panorama from the comfort of my balcony, as I recalled the last time I was here, 26 years and 39 cruises ago aboard the beautiful Vistafjord on the "Love Boat Cruise" in 1985!
(left) Flashback to 26 yrs ago and Vistafjord at anchor off Ibiza in 1985

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The Approach to Ibiza: the old town "Dalt Vila" on the promontory, MSC Sinfonia departing the port and Bleu de France at anchor

Tuesday 21st June 2011
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26 years ago, Vistafjord had anchored, much like Bleu de France today, tendering her passengers ashore; but for us there was now a new pier by the lighthouse across the bay at Marina Botafoch, although we still had to wait for MSC Sinfonia to leave before we could go alongside!

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Bleu de France
& MSC Sinfonia

(37,301grt & 58,600grt)
Flashback 1985
View of Dalt Vila from Vistafjord at anchor
Dalt Vila today
& the new cruise pier
"Martin i Soler" (2009)
Ferry to Palma or Barcelona

The advantage to tendering is that you are usually put ashore close to the centre of town but Ibiza's new cruiseship pier is quite some distance from the town, right around the other side of the bay; and while it does give you a great view of "Dalt Vila" (the Old Town), it was necessary today to queue for the shuttle bus into town for our "group walk" up into the citadel.

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The Entrance into the Citadel
Evidence of the Roman Occupation
of the Mediterranean?
The Drawbridge Market Hall
in the lower town

Founded in 654bc by the Carthaginians, the Old Town now makes an interesting, albeit a hot and strenuous climb through its cobbled streets and alleyways, providing a number of splendid view-points along the way.
(right) Taking a breather; me with Lesley, Stella & Peter, with our ship in the background (Andrew's photo)
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Show Picture Full Size The view from this terrace I rediscovered after 26 years and I took much the same photo as I did then but today, where Vistafjord had once anchored, our ship was now tied-up at a new concrete pier!
26 years! (left) View from the terrace & (right) The view in 1985
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The Cathedral of Santa Maria
& the view from the Old Town battlements

with Marina Botafoch & the cruise pier across the bay
Grandeur of the Seas
& the new cruise pier
Bleu de France
at anchor & tendering

Close to the highest point is the Cathedral of Santa Maria, dating from 1235 AD. Unfortunately, as is so aften the case these days, the church was closed but the view was still worth the climb!

Show Picture Full Size Bleu de France - a jewel in the making
I saw the striking Bleu de France (37,301grt) in Salvador in January, currently sailing for Crocieres de France but originally built in 1982 as the German ship Europa, one of the highest rated cruise ships of her day. With just 700 passengers, she is exceptionally spacious and will shortly join Saga Cruises as the new Saga Sapphire.

Having reached the top, Andrew & I somehow lost the others, as we found our way down through a "secret passage" emerging just inside the entrance to the citadel, where we had to wait for the others to find us, whereupon everyone was awarded a "Magnum"!

Back aboard, we dressed for our own "smart-casual" night this evening and I think our stewards actually quite enjoyed it too!
(right) A Late Departure: The floodlit citadel as our ship departs at 11.30pm
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Wednesday 22nd June 2011
A Day at Sea
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View Forward
From Deck 10
View Aft
Promenade Deck
Cooking Demonstration
The completed
Black Forest Gateau
The Captain
How not to do it!

The highlight of the morning's entertainment was a cooking demonstration in the Atrium, in which one of the chefs showed how to make a Black Forest Gateau, while the Captain and Hotel Director played silly fools and generally made a mess! The results, nevertheless, ended up being eaten by passengers - though not by me, I hasten to add!

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As the others preferred to sun-bathe and eat casually for lunch, I decided to try the alternative in the main Dining Room.

The concept is built around serving a quality 3-course brasserie-style lunch in 30 minutes. The menu is surprisingly extensive and the quality very good, although I confess that I enjoyed it so much that I failed to check how long it took!
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(above left) The 1920's elegance of The Great Gatsby Dining Room & (above right) A surprisingly extensive Royal Brasserie 30 Menu

In the afternoon, we all formed a team for the General Knowledge Quiz in the Schooner Bar; while we didn't win any prizes, we did come a respectable 2nd - by just one point!

Show Picture Full Size The first of two formal nights on this cruise, this evening was the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception, the only cocktail party for all passengers, held in the South Pacific Lounge.

While there was a reasonable supply of drinks flowing, it was noticeable that there were no canapes; in fact, in all the bars, we noticed that the stewards never gave you any nibbles with your drinks unless you specifically asked!
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(above left) Our Group: All dressed-up for Formal Night and (above right) Stella & Lesley at the ship's one and only cocktail party

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Schooner Bar
(Deck 6)
The aft-facing South Pacific Lounge
Location for the Captain's Cocktail Party
Palladium Theatre

Dinner being later than usual for us tonight meant that we did not get our "usual" table in the Dining Room. However, it was rather nice that Roshmann ("our" steward!) made a point of coming over to us to say "Hello!", rather proving that we had clearly made an impression!

We concluded the evening in the Palladium Theatre, for an excellent show by larger-than-life Scottish artiste, Brenda Cochrane, who gave a truly professional performance!

Thursday 23rd June 2011
Malaga, Spain
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Underslept and realised, too late, that I had forgotten to put out my cabin breakfast request last night! So after another very cold swim, reluctantly headed for the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast.

The Windjammer Cafe
I am no lover of self-service cafes on board ship, so I was expecting the usual crowds and mahem. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the relatively quiet and well-organised nature of this well-designed cafe with a spectacular 180-degree view forward over the bows. The food here though, is nothing special and being adjacent to the open lido deck, it can get very busy and unpleasant at lunch-time; but as I had already discovered, lunch here can be easily avoided!

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The Windjammer Cafe
(Self-service Restaurant - Deck 9)
P&O's Aurora (76,152grt - 1,868 passengers)
Also arrives in port

Out on deck, in the promising heat and early morning sun, I watched the arrival of P&O's Aurora, as she made her turn in the harbour and came alongside at the adjacent pier.

The others had taken the organised tour to Granada today but as Andrew & I had done that a number of times before, we decided instead to take the Hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus.

Show Picture Full Size However, the walk from the new Cruise Terminal was quite long and shadeless and the bus-tour proved disappointing, spending much of its 90 minutes at red traffic-lights!

Moreover, the city was suddenly enveloped in a thick sea-fog, blotting-out the sun completely!
(left and right) Before & After: Grandeur of the Seas in a sea-fog!
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Returning to the ship shrouded in fog, we enjoyed a pleasant lunch on our own in the Windjammer Cafe and consoled ourselves with a glass of wine, after which I nearly fell asleep on the balcony!

But hoping that the sun would finally break through, I decided to walk into town again; a mistake! Once was bad enough but the long walk from the Terminal twice in one day proved exhausting!

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Malaga Cathedral - built between 1528 and 1782 The hillside terraced gardens of the
11th Century Moorish Alcazaba Fortress

The weather did not improve unfortunately, but the Cathedral and Alacazaba Fortress are quite close to the dock entrance, so I at least made it that far!

The others returned quite late, having enjoyed their day in Granada and having enjoyed rather better weather too! In the meantime, Andrew & I had a "Repeaters Cocktail Party" to attend, where we had some hors d'oevres at last, from a self-service buffet in the middle of the room!

That evening, the ship left port around 7.30 but from 9pm until the early hours, we were drifting again - but this time in thick fog, with the fog-horn going at regular intervals throughout the night!

Friday 24th June 2011
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Barely another 70 miles sailing down the "Costa del Sol", we were virtually coasting all the way and we were already alongside by breakfast-time; and we hadn't lost that low cloud either!

Show Picture Full Size But our plans for today had already been laid, as we had a rendezvous with resident and newest Lynch Cruise Club member Frank at 8.15am. Today, he was to be our personal Tour Guide, for an "Insiders' tour of the Rock", commencing with an ascent in the cable-car to see the Apes!
(left) All aboard the cable-car; our "Tour Group" ascends the Rock!

But even before we reached the cable-station, there was a surprise in store, as we were unexpectedly joined by partner Sally, who no-one but Andrew knew was going to be here today!

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Mother & Baby
Barbary Apes
Against the Levante
Lesley, Stella & Sally
on the "Observation" Terrace!
Inside St Michael's Cave
A series of limestone caves including the "Cathedral Cave" (right)

Here we learned that the fog or low cloud that had dogged us these last 2 days is brought by The Levante, a moist easterly wind well-known in this part of the Mediterranean. It refused to reveal the view from the top of the cable-car today but there was still a great view at St Michael's Cave.

St Michael's Cave
In fact, not just one but a series of caves, "St Michael's Cave" is the most well-known of the many natural limestone caves known to exist inside the Rock. Artefacts and cave drawings have revealed that they were known and used by prehistoric man, while they are also known to have been used for military purposes since the Berber Invasion of 711AD. A thousand feet above sea-level, the largest chamber, known as Cathedral Cave, has such excellent acoustics that it is used as a concert auditorium.

The Greeks believed these caves to be bottomless and to be the "Gates of Hades" or the entrance to the Underworld and legend has it that the Barbary Apes, came to the Rock from Africa through tunnels that run under the Strait of Gibraltar.

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The view from the Rock
and our ship, just visible through the "Levante Cloud"
Highest point on the Rock
Lord Airey's Battery from O'Hara's Battery
1,398ft (426m) - photographed in September 2010

We then visited the highest point on the Rock at O'Hara's Battery, only recently opened to tourists and where we were able to take a tour of the underground chambers of the gun emplacement.

Show Picture Full Size O'Hara's Battery
Named after the eccentric General Charles O'Hara (Governor 1795-1802) who built a tower here, in order to see the enemy in Cadiz harbour, 60 miles away! O'Hara's Folly survived until 1888, when as part of a wager, it was used as target-practice by HMS Wasp and subsequently demolished! Last fired in 1976, the present 9.2" gun was installed in 1901 and has a range of 29,000 yds - enough to reach the coast of Africa!

Our next stop was the Great Siege Tunnels where, not content with the extensive cave system in the Rock, the British dug and blasted more tunnels during the Great Siege of 1779-83! Initially, the plan was to transport guns to "The Notch", an inaccessible ledge on the North Face, but the use of gunpowder required ventilation holes and so the idea of various gun positions came about. A number of dioramas today add a touch of atmosphere and realism to this informative museum.

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The Great Seige Tunnels
Built by the Marines during the Great Seige of 1779-83
The Moorish Castle
The Tower of Homage (rebuilt in the 14th century)
Grandeur of the Seas
Back in the sun at last!

The last stop on our "Insider's tour of the Rock" was at the World War II Tunnels where more than 30 miles of tunnels were created to house 30,000 troops in perfect secrecy, complete with their own power station, water supply and hospital. It is said that Gibraltar has more tunnels inside the Rock than roads outside and our exclusive tour, organised by our interpid guide Frank, was fascinating.

Finally emerging like moles, from the tunnels at Princess Anne's Battery, the sun was out at last.

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The view from Princess Anne's Battery, with the airport runway jutting-out into the bay & Grandeur of the Seas tied-up at the pier

After a well-earned Spanish lunch at the Marina, the ladies were "allowed" to go shopping while we guys relaxed with a coffee before we returned to the ship and made our farewells to Frank & Sally, after a fantastic day, made all the more memorable by our exclusive resident guides!

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on the Guns
Sailaway in the sun A Final Farewell Monkey
in my cabin!

Show Picture Full Size This evening was the 2nd and final Formal Evening of the trip and we were back at our favourite table with "our" stewards, Roshmann & Luciano, who were in fine form. Meanwhile, in my cabin my steward left me a reminder of Gibraltar, in the form of a monkey wearing my own swimming goggles!

(left) Our second Group Formal portrait

Saturday 25th June 2011
A Day at Sea
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A typically slow, lazy last day and, as this was such a short cruise and there wasn't a lot to pack, I decided to leave it until after dinner this evening! Mid-morning coffee with Andrew & Peter, while the ladies did their own thing; then later, met Andrew again for lunch in the "Brasserie 30", so much more dignified than the melee upstairs! The afternoon was rather a "snoozy" one!

The Viking Crown Lounge
One of the few extra "perks" we enjoyed from our Diamond Membership was a free glass of Champagne every evening in the Viking Crown Lounge at 5pm; something which Andrew & I tried not to miss! Today was no exception, with everyone meeting for drinks here on our last evening.

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A stunning view forward Multiple levels From the upper Disco-Bar The aft Sun-Lounge

Show Picture Full Size High atop the ship, with multiple levels and stunning views all-around, this feature has become Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's "signature lounge" on all its ships. Often a quiet haven by day, its Upper Bar and aft Sun-Lounge serve as the Late Night Disco and can also be used for private parties.

(left) Keeping Watch: The various life-size Viking scultures are by Walenty Pytel (b.1941)

After Dinner and the usual farewells to our stewards, Stella rounded-off the evening by winning $100 at Roulette, while Andrew lost everything! Otherwise, the last-night Show included a cringe-inducing "All Staff Together" routine, a rather self-congratulatory exercise designed to draw the applause, and one no doubt less costly to produce than the old Baked Alaska Parade!

It was time to pack and go to bed!
Sunday 26th June 2011
Palma, Majorca to London Gatwick
Disembarking at 7am, we were checked-in at the Airport by 8.30 and on our return flight, we even had Sausage & Mash for lunch; not bad really!
(right) Another view of Palma Cathedral, taken from the ship (on our first day)
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The photos of Grandeur of the Seas & all the ports visited on this cruise can be found on my account at Captain Martini >>

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 1,171 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 160,614 n miles

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