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Iberian Cruise, Oceana July 2014

This was a 12 night cruise on board P&O’s ship, the Oceana, docking at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga and Cadiz in that order. We chose this cruise because we rarely visit major cities while out and about in our motorhome. This was our second trip on the Oceana and we once again chose the adapted cabin D315. This note is intended to convey our views on the ports of call, for our views on the Oceana and the cabin click here. In advance of our departure P&O provided a much welcome port guide pack for wheelchair users which included details of any tours suitable for the disabled.

Lisbon – Our third visit to this port and not one we particularly enjoy but this time the visit was made much better in that the ship docked closer to the centre and while a shuttle service was available to the City centre via a wheelchair friendly adapted vehicle, we chose the easy walk of about half a mile along the level sea front to the main square and shopping area. It is relative easy to get about this area but stray too far away from them and the terrain becomes more difficult. There is a wheelchair friendly hop on, hop off tourist bus service available which would enable travel further afield but we did not use it. We also noticed the availability of the Indian style “Tuk Tuk” taxis which may offer some with collapsible wheelchairs the opportunity of a bespoke tour further afield. P&O offered a wheelchair friendly tour in this port which we did not use.

Lisbon main streetLisbon sceneLisbon side street

Gibraltar – One of our favourite ports of call and again a third visit for us. It is about a mile walk from the port to the town centre but it is level with dropped curbs. Stray too far away from the town centre and the coastal areas and the terrain can become rapidly steep. We again walked the mile into town, made our duty free purchases and headed away from its hustle and bustle of Main Street to the Queensway Marina where we sat and enjoyed a couple of drinks and enjoyed the tranquillity of the waterside and marina views. There is also a very good Marina side area with restaurants and cafes on the left as you walk into town which we also visited on the way back to the ship. There was a shuttle service available into town for a small charge and taxis are readily available at the dockside should you wish to visit other areas of the Rock. A wheelchair accessible tour was available but we did not use this.

Rock of Gibraltar

Barcelona – Our first visit so we booked a 3 hour morning tour of the city. The port has a well equipped cruise terminal and aircraft style gantries provide for easy acces for visits ashore. No steep gangways here to worry about! The City centre was a little further away than I had imagined but there was a wheelchair friendly shuttle service available to Las Ramblas should it be required. We thought we might use this after the tour but as it transpired we felt the tour was long enough ashore and we settled for just the morning ashore. A wheelchair friendly coach was provided which took us to all the major sites commencing with a visit to Mount xxxxx for an impressive view of the City. This was followed by a drive by some of the major sites, the Olympic Village, the football stadium, impressive architectural buildings including those designed by Goudi and the main squares of the City. A guide provided a commentary. Further stop offs were to the cathedral and the old town where at the latter we had free time to wander. We thought the tour expensive but worth it for an overview of Barcelona.

View of BarcelonaGoudi AritectureEntrance to Goudi's Barcelona Cathedral

Valencia -The ship docks some way from the city centre but there is a wheelchair friendly shuttle bus available which drops you off and picks up near the old town. This a delight to wander and we appreciated its historic buildings and streets far more than those of Barcelona. Its not difficult for a wheelchair user with a carer to get around and where there were occasional steps there was usually an alternate route available.

Valencia SquareValencia FountainSouvenir stall

Malaga -Not at all what we expected, at least where we wandered was really quite pleasant. The ship docks against a long jetty which gives quite a level walk to the sea front. Instead of going into town we ambled along the sea front away from the centre taking in the sights along a long promenade before settling in at a beach front cafe for a drink and a rest before ambling back to the ship

Malaga Beach near the docksMalaga beach cafe

Cadiz -One of our favourite ports, the old town is a delight to wander and it is not too difficult to get around with a wheelchair. The ship docks along side the town and Cadiz old town is an easy walk from the port plus there is a hop on, hop off bus available immediately outside the port gates which is wheelchair friendly and which we have used on one occasion. The bus travels around the perimeter of the old town and out to Victoria Beach and back. On this occasion we did not use it being quiet content to walk to Caleta Beach. This a pleasant stop to while away the time even if you don't fancy a swim. Here we sat for a while in a cafe enjoying the sunshine watching life go by over drinks and ice cream before wandering back through the old towns' narrow streets and squares past the many cafes and restaurants to the ship.

Cadiz Beach near the docksCadiz Market

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