First Port Stop
We were onboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic on a repositioning cruise from
Port Canaveral, FL to Barcelona with various stops along the way - the first stop
being Ponta Delgada.
Ponta Delgada is 3,198 sea miles from Port Canaveral and 914 sea miles southwest of Portugal and it is the largest municipality (concelho) and economic capital of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in Portugal. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the Azores archipelago.
Ponta Delgada is the largest city on São Miguel Island, which is 290 square miles in size. The island has a population of 68,809 which is a population density of 760 per square mile. The island has been populated since 1444 and Ponta Delgada was started in the year 1450.
If you have never been to Ponta Delgada & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;
The ship's scheduled arrival was 12:00PM and the assigned docking location was alongside the Molhe do Porto. This entire pier is also occupied by a series of shops, bars and restaurants so it was an interesting stroll into the city. No need for a taxi here, the walking distance into town was brief, the weather was nice, and it was great to be ashore after 7 days at sea!
As an ex-Navy sailor & a boat owner for many years, I was repeatedly impressed with the manner in which the Norwegian Epic was manuevered by the ship's Captain, let me explain; If you look at a map of the harbor you will be able to see that the harbor, although compact, has a long combined dock & breakwater named "Molhe do Porto", which is where the Norwegian Epic was going to tie up. Now because this is a compact harbor, without sufficient room for the Epic to turn around for departure, the Captain/Pilot backed the ship into it's berth along the dock. This is technically interesting, but once I read that the Norwegian Epic has bow & stern thrusters I knew that docking would not be difficult. The ship was brought into the vicinity of the Molhe, the bow was swung about, and the ship was then backed into it's berth easily without any tug boats being required.
Now to put the above into perspective and to further explain why I found our docking so interesting, the Norwegian Epic size; 1,081 feet in length, 133 feet in width, over 155,000 tons & over 200 feet in height (keel to top). And yet the ship was maneuvered next to the dock without a pause!
The above pictures may give you some idea of the shops and bars on the Molhe do Porto. All we had to do to walk into town, was to walk past the shops and exit onto the city street that parallels the harbor.
As you can see in the third image above, all of the cruise ships would "back into" their docking locations because there is no "turning basin" in this harbor to allow them to turn around. So having the bow aimed at the departure direction allows them a simpler/faster exit.
Ponta Delgada is a small city and therefore easily walkable. We had no specific destination in mind, so we decided just to explore and try to find some interesting places and maybe some pastel de natas,
The street that paralled the harbor had a series of shops, restaurants and various other businesses and some of the sidewalks and streets had a nicely artistic appearance due to the manner in which the tiles were laid out.
We decided to have lunch have lunch at the Restaurant Palm Terrace Cafe. The weather was beautiful and we were able to sit outside. We ordered a cheese plate for our appetizer and Celeste had their fish stew and I had shrimp in a garlic sauce. We had a small bottle of Vinho Verde which complimented the sunny day. The prices were reasonable and the food authentic to the region.
The restaurant is a part of the Hotel Talisman (located immediately next door to the restaurant) and both are located next to a beautiful small park named Jardim Padre Sena Freitas.
This large square had several large trees ("metrosiderus tomentosa" originally from Australia) that looked like banyan trees. The trees had "support poles" holding up the enormous tree limbs that spread out over the area around the tree. The square was surrounded by several interesting buildings, including a pretty church named Santuário do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres.
The fort is located just to the south of the Campo de São Francisco square, and since it looked interesting, it became our next exploration goal.
The fort's role has now become a combined military museum and place of interest for tourists. As Portugal has had a series of military adventures in their prior colonies, the museum contains artifacts & images from those adventures.
The ship required all passengers to be back onboard prior to 7:30PM, so we decided to head back to the ship at approximately 6:15pm and find out what was on the menu for dinner! This would allow us to be at the dinner table during the ship's departure, which is always entertaining.
- The Norwegian Epic Trans-Atlantic Cruise Overview & Guide This is a large ship; 1,081 feet long, 155,873 gross tons in weight, and 133 feet wide. We cover the ship from end to end in our overview page, click here to read more.
- Ponta Delgada Portugal: 3,198 miles from Port Canaveral. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. 137,856 (2012) island population and 62.1 kilometers in length by 15.8 kilometers in width. Click here to view our Ponta Delgada page.
- Funchal Madeira Portugal: 599 miles from Ponta Delgada. Population of 267,785. The island is 35 miles long and 13 miles wide and has 99 miles of coastline, but the shore is all rock and cliffs. It's a mountainous island; the highest peak is 1862 meters/6,100 feet high. Madeira is all mountains, no beaches. Click here to view our Funchal Madeira page.
- Cadiz & Seville Spain: 659 miles from Madeira. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, with archaeological remains dating to 3100 years and was founded by the Phoenicians. Click here to view our Cadiz/Seville page.
- Malaga Spain: 141.5 miles from Cadiz. With a population of 571,026 in 2018, it is the second-most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth-largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean. Click here to view our Malaga page.
- Cartagena Spain: 199 miles from Malaga. With a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the Region’s second-largest municipality and Spain’s sixth-largest non-Province-capital city. Click here to view our Cartagena page.
- Palma de Mallorca Spain: 334 miles from Cartagena. The capital and largest city of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Population of 409,661. Click here to view our Mallorca page.
- Barcelona Spain: 153 miles from Palma. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits. Click here to view our Barcelona page.
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