Gibraltar -- Ship Tours

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#1
Atlanta, GA
4,157 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
We will be stopping in Gibraltar on our TA next Year. I am looking forward to this port most of all, and chose the ship mainly because of this port.

Does anyone have experience with the ship excursions? I was wondering if they were worth it, or is Gibraltar small enough, and easy enough, to do on our own? I mainly want to see the top of the Rock and the Barbary Apes. I also will most likely not have any Pounds with me when I arrive, so I am not sure what kind of hassle exchanging money would be on our own.

Thanks.
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#2
Staten Island NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Taxi's will be waiting at the pier. For the cost of the cable car they will drive you to the top, drive you to the apes, stop at the viewpoint to Africa and then back to the ship. Euros or dollars are ok. You don't need the ship's tour.
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#3
New Cumberland,PA, USA
28,086 Posts
Joined May 2000
One lesson we learned a few years ago is not to get Gibraltar Pounds (if we can help it) as they are useless anywhere outside of Gibraltar. Doing the place on your own is quite easy..especially if you like to walk. We love to take the long walk from the pier to the cable car (you walk through town) and then take the cable car to the top station. From there we walk down to the midpoint station where we again catch the cable car back down to town. Taking that walk gives us the opportunity to see monkeys, get fantastic views (both sides of the rock), and even visit the cave if we are in the mood.

As to Gibraltar, thrity years ago it was a sleepy place with some excellent shopping. Today, it has become the St Thomas of Europe with mostly liquor, jewelry and electronic shops (we can get better prices and quality at home) and has become a condo haven for many Europeans. We certainly would not shed a tear if we never returned and never visit when we are in the area on a driving trip. That being said.....its still a pretty neat place to visit ONCE.

Hank
#4
Romsey England
11,566 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by sitraveler
Taxi's will be waiting at the pier. For the cost of the cable car they will drive you to the top, drive you to the apes, stop at the viewpoint to Africa and then back to the ship. Euros or dollars are ok. You don't need the ship's tour.

Yep, that broadly sums it up.
Share a taxi or van with others on the quayside, the tour is of the Upper Rock & also includes visits to St Michael's Cave & the Great Seige Tunnels. Steal some fruit from ship's breakfast buffet for the apes, but please don't feed them junk food. Beware - they have no morals, they'll steal what they want so hang onto hats, cameras etc. Driver can return you to the ship, or drop you at Casemates Square, at the bottom of Main Street, where you can find a snack & a beer & explore the shops & a few sights such as the governor's house & the little Trafalgar cemetery.
From recollection, around 25 euros per person for the tour?

Don't bother getting sterling for this one stop, euros will do fine - in fact, most goods & services are dual-priced.

Re Hank's post - the mid-station on the cablecar is no longer open during the summer season, to reduce lines. And if you want to take the cablecar as an alternative to a taxi, get there early to avoid those lines. (can't figure why, but lines to come back down are normally short)
Hank's right about the tax-frees. Especially electronic stuff such as cameras - Gib is a dumping-ground for last year's models. So if you're planning to buy, be sure you know exactly what you want, & what you'd pay at home.

JB
#5
New Cumberland,PA, USA
28,086 Posts
Joined May 2000
Hey JB,
Interesting that they shut down the mid-station. When we used it last (about 3 years ago) it was only open on the downward leg (it did not stop on the way up). But if they are trying to speed things up and reduce lines that is a good thing

Hank
#6
Bavarian Forest, Germany near the Czech border
2,022 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Originally posted by Hlitner
As to Gibraltar, thrity years ago it was a sleepy place with some excellent shopping. Today, it has become the St Thomas of Europe with mostly liquor, jewelry and electronic shops (we can get better prices and quality at home) and has become a condo haven for many Europeans. We certainly would not shed a tear if we never returned and never visit when we are in the area on a driving trip.
I completely share your view. I was there many years ago, and I enjoyed it, so last year I convinced my DH to come to Gibraltar with me on a side trip from Malaga. I could not believe what we got into. Tacky cheap tourist junk, complete with a certain clientele (tacky cheap tourists). DH was saying all the time "what is so special about this place?". If you happen to be there, go and see it, but it is no longer worth the trouble to especially organise a trip there.
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#7
Romsey England
11,566 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by Hlitner
Hey JB,
Interesting that they shut down the mid-station. When we used it last (about 3 years ago) it was only open on the downward leg (it did not stop on the way up). But if they are trying to speed things up and reduce lines that is a good thing

Hank
Yes, Hank, closed April-September.
Faded memory I know, but I'm sure there didn't used to be apes at the top, though there are now - perhaps introduced there as well as the original den when they decided to limit the opening of the mid-station.

Diff'rent folks, diff'rent strokes, but we've discussed the taxi/van vs cablecar before:
- cablecar is a 30-35 min walk or a taxi ride from the ship, or the Number 4 bus from outside the coach park about a 10 min walk from the ship. Versus a taxi/van on the quayside - and the taxi/van can bring you back to the ship at the end of the tour if you choose.
- cablecar often involves long lines, esp after about 09.30, tho' some posters have said they've not experienced long lines. (number of ships in port is fairly irrelevant, thousands of day-trippers cross from Spain, mostly by coach)
- cablecar service is suspended (pun intended) in moderately high winds.
- cablecar involves a long walk if you want to visit the Great Seige Tunnel/Galleries, or to visit St Michael's cave when the mid-station is closed.
- taxi/van is ideal for those nervous of the apes, since you can remain in the vehicle if you wish (they'll climb onto the vehicle)

conversely,
- cablecar allows you freedom to choose where to go & how long to take (altho' taxi/van allows the right amount of time at each stop for the average tourist)
- cablecar is ideal for those who want to exercise their legs, tho' they don't have to.
- cablecar goes to the very peak, taxis only go to a lower part of the ridge (though with views over the Atlantic & Mediterranean from that ridge)
- occasional taxi log-jams at the stops, though you can walk up the line to the stop (eg apes den) & your taxi/van will join you there.

Cost is about the same, taxi/van can drop you at the bottom of Main Street & cablecar lower station is only a short walk from the top of Main Street.

Hank is pro-cablecar, I'm pro-taxi/van, many others on CC have a preference for one or the other.
No right or wrong, each to their own

JB

ps - Earlier this year we visited the WW2 tunnels (not to be confused with the Great Seige Tunnel). Quite disappointing, not a lot to see & no serious attempt to turn it into an experience
#8
New Cumberland,PA, USA
28,086 Posts
Joined May 2000
JB is correct that we are pro cablecar. We do agree that it is a lot easier (and faster) to simply hire a taxi at the port and drive up the rock. But for us it comes down to the fun and amazing views from the large cablecar vs. simply driving up a windy road. When we have been in Gibraltar for a full port day we have followed somewhat of a traditional itinerary. Once the ship is cleared we walk off the ship and stroll into town...usually stopping for a capuccino. We then head out the other side of town to the cablecar station where we catch the cablecar to the top. Once at the top we start our nice walk down towards the mid-station. This walk is really fun with wonderful views, interaction with some of the monkeys, etc. As I previously mentioned, it is possible to visit the cave while on this walk. We eventually reach the mid-station where we catch the cablecar back down...walk into the heart of town....stop at a cafe for a well-earned brew and some lunch. For us its a perfect day except that now JB has thrown a monkey (no pun intended) wrench into the mix with the news that the cablecar does not stop at the mid station during the summer. So, I suspect we would now walk the entire way down to town (need the exercise after spending a long time on cruises).

Of course there is the lazy way of hiring a taxi at the port and simply driving everywhere. Guess that does suit those who do not want to walk (or who cannot walk since they spend too much time riding .
Hank
#9
U.S.A.
1,032 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Anyone know:

1. How long is the walk from the port to town (Main St.)?
2. Road/traffic condition okay for the walk?
3. How much is the taxi ride from the port to town?

Thank you in advacne for your answers.
#10
Romsey England
11,566 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by chubbypiggy
anyone know:

1. How long is the walk from the port to town (main st.)?
3/4 of a mile, 15-20 mins to casemates square/bottom (north) end of main street.

2. Road/traffic condition okay for the walk?
flat & easy, all or nearly all with sidewalks.

3. How much is the taxi ride from the port to town?
don't know, theoretically mebbe €5 to 7. But drivers may be looking for a longer fare.

thank you in advacne for your answers.
jb
#11
U.S.A.
1,032 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by John Bull
jb
Thank you JB.

15-20 minutes is not too bad. Do you happen to know where I will be able to find "walking" map/route from the port to town?
#12
England
1,265 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
Originally posted by chubbypiggy
Thank you JB.

15-20 minutes is not too bad. Do you happen to know where I will be able to find "walking" map/route from the port to town?
You won't need a map for that. Just straight down the road!
#14
Timonium, Maryland
3,943 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
You can walk to town and there is a shuttle, which we used. The town itself is flat and manageable and there are lots of shops. We ended up hiring a driver to show us around. He wanted $100 for an hour tour.

Long story short- it wasn't much of a tour and he goes on to tell us he has been up all night because his wife just had a baby. Whether he was wanting a big tip or not I do not know but we had three small children in the van and I didn't like hearing about his lack of sleep.

The tour was only 45 minutes and we did see the Barbary Apes. Part of the $100 was he was to take us back to the ship after. When we got back to town he said- oh it's only a short walk and I stood my ground and said "No that was the agreement up front". So he angrily drove us back to the ship and because he was so rude about it, I only gave him the $100 no tip. He gave me the finger and drove off-

I should add that our ship tour was cancelled though because of winds. And the cablecar can get cancelled because of winds. It was really windy when we docked and sand was blowing in our faces.

I would do a ship tour if I went back because I didn't get very good treatment from the taxi driver to say the least.
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#16
Washington State
23,063 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
There is nothing wrong with taking a cable car (except the long lines and chances of cancellation)..... however, you need time to see the apes, go into the incredible caves (not to be missed!). When we were in Gilbraltar, we shared a van -- went early (before the crowds from the ship(s) and had a fantastic time.
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#17
Romsey England
11,566 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by rebeccalouiseagain
You can walk to town and there is a shuttle, which we used. The town itself is flat and manageable and there are lots of shops. We ended up hiring a driver to show us around. He wanted $100 for an hour tour.

Long story short- it wasn't much of a tour and he goes on to tell us he has been up all night because his wife just had a baby. Whether he was wanting a big tip or not I do not know but we had three small children in the van and I didn't like hearing about his lack of sleep.

The tour was only 45 minutes and we did see the Barbary Apes. Part of the $100 was he was to take us back to the ship after. When we got back to town he said- oh it's only a short walk and I stood my ground and said "No that was the agreement up front". So he angrily drove us back to the ship and because he was so rude about it, I only gave him the $100 no tip. He gave me the finger and drove off-

I should add that our ship tour was cancelled though because of winds. And the cablecar can get cancelled because of winds. It was really windy when we docked and sand was blowing in our faces.

I would do a ship tour if I went back because I didn't get very good treatment from the taxi driver to say the least.
Great shame, RebeccaLouise - and certainly a tip of zilch was correct.
But far from typical - in fact the drivers have a great reputation for their tours and their demeanour.
Guess you picked a wrong-un on the wrong day.

JB

Piggy - here's a map of the route, but not really needed
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?saddr=...sz=15&t=m&z=15
The town is flat, but don't be deceived - the upper Rock is steep-sided so difficult to sus on a map.
#19
New Cumberland,PA, USA
28,086 Posts
Joined May 2000
Originally posted by Travelcat2
There is nothing wrong with taking a cable car (except the long lines and chances of cancellation)..... however, you need time to see the apes, go into the incredible caves (not to be missed!). When we were in Gilbraltar, we shared a van -- went early (before the crowds from the ship(s) and had a fantastic time.
We have been hearing about these "long lines" for many years. But on our 4 visits (we used the cable car each time) we never waited more then 10 min to get on the cable car. Guess we were just lucky. The reality is that most excursions (and many visitors) use vehicles to go up the rock so the cable car is often not very busy. We really enjoy this cable car because of the wonderful views as you go up the hill.

Hank
#20
PALM SPRINGS
203 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
I was in Gibraltar several years ago and did not book the ships tour. We were able to catch a bus to the city center for about 4E return. The cable cars were not working because of high winds. At the bus drop off point we went thru the gate and about 1/2 block into town there was a square where vans were lined up offering tours. 8-10 per van. If I remember correctly it was 40E per person for the tour(less than 1/2 of ship tour) which took us around the seashore, stop for photos of a mosque and shipwreck, up to see the Barbary apes and for a tour of the tunnels, plenty of stop for photo ops and back to city center. If you are doing a TA East I would recommend getting up early to see the "Rock" as you come into port, you might be lucky to be escorted by dolphins. City center is quite small, giving it a touristy feel with all the passengers in town. However, nice and clean and plenty of places to stop for a drink or lunch. The best part was seeing the Barbary Apes which was on my bucket list and I never regretted it.

Valerie
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