Visitors can take a stroll on Huelva’s old trading dock, Muelle de Riotinto
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Christopher Columbus and the shipping world go way back. In 1492, the Italian explorer set sail with three ships (Niña, Pinta and Santa María) from the town of Palos de la Frontera in the southern Spanish province of Huelva. Over 500 years later, the provincial capital still remembers this momentous event.
Today, the Port of Huelva prides itself on the range of local and unique excursions it can offer its cruise guests, particularly those relating to the founder of globalism himself. The port’s main attraction is ‘The Route of Columbus’, an excursion which treats visitors to insights into Columbus’s activities in the region.
Guests can also visit La Rábida monastery, where Columbus stayed while waiting for financial support to visit the New World; the Convento de Santa Clara in Moguer, where he pledged his allegiance to the Spanish crown; and the Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cinta, where he prayed to Huelva’s patron saint for safe travels.
But Columbus isn’t the only tourist attraction in the Andalusian city. The region’s gastronomic heritage also entices people from all over the world. The port has created a new tour honouring the local cuisine which takes guests to Jabugo, a village in the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve.
Guests can discover all there is to know about the world-famous Iberian ham, learning everything from how an Iberian pig is raised and fed, to the history behind the production methods. Following a taste of the delicacy paired with wine, guests can take a guided walk through the town to the Center for the Innovation and Promotion of the Iberian Pig where they can top off their knowledge to become experts in the dish.
The port has also made significant infrastructural changes to better accommodate cruise guests, including a new maritime promenade named Paseo de la Ría. Built in 2016 and recognised with the Andalusían Award for Urban Planning in 2017, it has united the city and the port.
However, there is more to come. Huelva’s next project is a leisure complex called the Marina Port of Levante Wharf which will feature shops, restaurants and other amenities.
The port is also making significant efforts to become an environmental hotspot. It is recognised by the Port Environmental Review System as a ‘green’ port and it is also able to supply ships with LNG. In addition, cruise operators using the cleaner fuel can receive discounts on port taxes and nautical services.
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