Posted by: Jerry Garrett | April 26, 2012

Day 11: Adventure of the Seas Trans Atlantic Cruise

The Port of Arrecife welcomes you - with a rusting shipwreck (that's its severed back half, partially submerged), pipelines, storage tanks, and condo projects. (Jerry Garrett Photos)

ARRECIFE, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

I want to know why this lonely, desolate, strange island has an IKEA – and Las Vegas doesn’t?

The IKEA is just one of many odd things about the island of Lanzarote. It is one of the seven main Canary Islands, and according to economic data, the fastest growing, population-wise. It was our latest stop in a 13-day Trans Atlantic Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Malaga, Spain. (I am a paying passenger, not a freeloader.)

Lanzarote may still be growing not only in population but in size too, geographically; it reportedly continues to rise out of the sea at the rate of an inch or two a year. The whole island is comprised of a swarm of about 100 volcanoes; they emerged from the ocean floor a few tens of thousands of years ago, spewing lava. The inhospitable landscape (often reminiscent, geographically, of Hawaii’s Big Island) remained largely uninhibited until modern times, when condo developers arrived. They will, apparently, build on top of anything – including active lava floes.

Think I’m exaggerating? Steam vents are all over the island, from seething magna just below the surface. Careful where you walk, lest the soles of your Nikes melt. Dig down a few inches in the rocky volcanic stuff that passes for “soil” on Lanzarote, and you can have yourself quite a wienie roast.

The port here is large, and one of the busiest in this part of the world. But it is not exactly pretty. Visitors are greeted by a rusting shipwreck, miles of gas pipelines, storage tanks, industrial buildings and of course endless rows of condos with a view of it all. Beyond the port itself, the city of Arrecife ranks a couple of notches below Ensenada, Mexico, on the charm scale.

Let's go! Full speed ahead to Madeira!

Perhaps it was just a bad comparison, after being in enchanting Tenerife the day before. But having seen Lanzarote once is enough.

The prospect of being in the storied Madeira Islands tomorrow looms large.

So it was back out at sunset, heading northwest through rolling swells, again into the high, er, well, wait a minute…

That brings me to today’s final point. Our Capt. Ole-Johan Gronhaug would like to correct a maritime misconception – or perhaps it is merely a literary one: There is no such thing as “the high seas”.

“No,” he said, “they’re all sea level.”

Jerry Garrett

April 26, 2012

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