What makes Gibraltar a must-visit cruise destination?

Vijay Daryanani highlights some of the attractions on offer for every cruise passenger  

What makes Gibraltar a must-visit cruise destination?

Gibraltar Tourism Board

Gibraltar is an excellent destination for cruise passengers, offering an abundance of attractions to explore within four square miles

By Laura Hyde |

Located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula with Africa just 24 kilometres away, Gibraltar boasts a captivating blend of history and natural beauty, as well as an array of distinctive attractions and a well-equipped port. Together, these factors make this British Overseas Territory a popular cruise destination.  

Some of the highlights for cruise guests include being able to try paddleboarding or hoverboarding and also visit Gibraltar’s five beaches to enjoy the rare opportunity to swim in both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean on the same day.   

Visitors can also explore 35 shipwrecks, some intentionally submerged, which have been part of Gibraltar’s artificial reef project since the 1980s. This includes the 482, a Royal Navy cable laying barge which sits upright in a sand flat and is Gibraltar’s most visited dive site.   

Alternatively, wildlife lovers can take a dolphin-watching safari in the territory’s bays and strait area, which are populated by three species of the mammals. They can also head to the nature reserve to see the wild Macaques, which have lived on the island since the early days of the British garrison.  

Cruise guests who are interested in history can explore the 18th-century Great Siege Tunnels, the World War II tunnels that stretch for approximately 55 kilometres and tell the story of the island’s strategic wartime importance.  

“The compact nature of Gibraltar makes it an incredibly convenient destination to visit,” says Vijay Daryanani, Gibraltar’s Minister for Business, Tourism, Transport and the Port. “Cruise lines can almost berth the ship right in town and guests can see the iconic Rock from the ship and not have to travel miles by bus to get there. This accessibility means within minutes they can be strolling around Main Street for VAT-free shopping.   

“To experience the town’s charm, visitors can opt for a leisurely walk around the old town or take a cable car ride up the Rock to the nature reserve, where stunning views and the playful Macaques await. For a more immersive experience, private taxi tours provide personalised explorations, while the popular e-bike experience caters to those with adventurous spirits. Alternatively, travellers can use the well-equipped local bus system with hop-on-hop-off tickets to conveniently explore various attractions.”  

Gibraltar has been dealing with ships of all shapes and sizes for centuries. “Our port offers all the extensive services and facilities, and we are also blessed with adequate berthing for two deep-drafted cruise ships or four medium-sized cruise ships at any one time,” says Daryanani. “As one of the most important bunkering centres in Europe, it’s easy for us to arrange refuelling, stores and spares. It is also worth noting that Gibraltar is the closest non-EU port in Europe.”  

Despite already being a popular cruise port with both operators and passengers, Daryanani says Gibraltar Tourism Board is keen to continue developing and improving its cruise offering.   

“We are studying supplying shore power as well as supplying LNG and biofuel,” he says. “We are looking at the possibility of building a new cruise liner terminal. This is something we feel will enhance customer comfort on arrival and departure from Gibraltar. We are extremely proactive in wanting to grow the cruising industry and are regular attendees at the most important cruise conferences in the world. We are constantly trying to improve our product, make life easier for our visitors and help in every way we can.” 

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

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