On Monday, the biggest cruise ship ever to visit Sevilla docked at the newly revamped Muelle de las Delicias. The Braemar (spelt wrong, obviously, in the local press: Breamar, Braemas), a Fred Olsen liner, has a capacity for nearly 1000 passengers. She left Dover last week, calling at Barcelona and Gibraltar before arriving at Seville, via Sanlucar de Barrameda at the mouth of the river; her next stops were Portimao and Lisbon.
Ten coaches were on hand to ferry (sorry, couldn't resist it) the behatted pale ingleses (actually, who am I to talk) into the centre, for a whistlestop tour of the cathedral, Alcazar and barrio Santa Cruz, before being taken back to the air-conditioned comfort of their four-star vessel waiting on the Guadalquivir, where they are attended by a staff of 371.
The newly refurbished entrance lock in the port has made it possible for such large vessels (the Braemar is 195 metres, medium-sized for a cruise ship) to stop so close to the heart of the city - the Muelle is just behind the Pabellon de Argentina, from Expo 29, which is in turn located opposite the Parque Maria Luisa. In order for the cruise ship to enter, the Puente de Delicias bridge had to lift its arms, causing the traffic to stop between Tablada and Reina Mercedes.
The next such ship due to dock here will be the Azmara Journey, in October.
Meanwhile, it was recently announced that a new luxury mega-marina will be built in Marbella. This is being funded to the tune of 84 million euros by Sheikh Al-Thani. A circular design, which reflects all the new eighteen-star hotels in the Emirates, it will be able to accommodate three cruise liners (big ones, not bijou numbers like the Bramar), as well of hundreds of yachts and gin palaces of the super-rich. Obviously there wil be a five-star hotel (bit of a downgrade from those in Dubai etc), and lots of snazzy restaurants, chic boutiques, and exclusive bars for the international jetset to pose in.
It's great to see these two Andalucia cities opening themselves up to the cruise industry. I hope it's a mutually beneficial relationship, and that these new visitors, their appetites whetted by their brief trips ashore, come back for more.