Marv and Carole Feldman Sail to Spain

Sailing to Spain


In May, 2019, we boarded the Emerald Princess for a 15-day sea voyage, taking us eventually to Barcelona, Spain.  The reality is that the sea voyage itself on the re-positioning Atlantic Ocean crossing was the focus of this Great Adventure.

Our long sea days were a supreme, yet simple, pleasure.  All that reading material which (at home) we never get around to reading, all those chores which absorb our at-home days; all those dental, medical and pharmacy visits, home and car repair projects – all in another world.

At sea, we relaxed on our balcony, watching the ocean pass, made interesting new friends, were “enriched” by lectures and entertained with movies and Las Vegas quality shows.  Although we ate too much, we were at the gym regularly and at the pool, swimming laps.  The long sea journey was more important to us than the port calls.


LAND HO!!  After a week at sea, we saw birds flying over the ocean (mariners know when birds are sighted at sea, land must not be far away), and later that day, we saw the Azorean volcanic island of Pico, majestically rising some 6,000 feet above the horizon!  Our journey continued, and the next morning, we arrived at our first stop – the port and Azorean capital city of Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel.

Sailing to Spain

Marv Feldman and the Emerald Princess in the Azores.

We were warmly welcomed by local friends who gave us a fantastic driving excursion of the stunning emerald green island of Sao Miguel, treated us to a delicious local lunch (no foreign tourists here!) and even organized an interview with a journalist and photographer from Portugal’s oldest newspaper who were eager to hear Marvin’s story from his USAF Azorean posting at Lajes Field nearly 50 years ago.


It was love at first sight – and indeed, this was our first visit to Madeira!

A beautiful, sunny sky awaited us with a breathtaking view from the ship of Madeira’s capital city of Funchal.  Our visit was two-fold.  Up at dawn and off the ship at first opportunity, we were the only ones in the center of Funchal’s old town on a quiet, Sunday morning.  With a small cafe open on a back street, we treated ourselves to delicious coffee and two “pasteis de nata” (our favorite Portuguese tarts) as well as a shot of Madeira (wine) each.  While there, many Portuguese military veterans with medals and soldiers with flags passed us, en route to a magnificent church nearby for a special service in honor of the veterans of Portugal’s African wars (e.g. Guinea-Bissau).  They showed us photos and invited us to come along, which we did.  After that, we explored the magnificent main street, filled with many Sunday market stalls and with dazzling floral displays of every color and description – it was Madeira’s Festival of Flowers!

Sailing to Spain

Marv Feldman with Portuguese vets

In the afternoon, we joined an organized excursion out of town, taking us to various parts of the island.  The winding road on which our bus traveled was not for the faint-of-heart (Carole had taken anti-nausea pills, just in case…).  The scenery was fabulous, the flowers gorgeous and the steep mountains took our breath away and after a delicious English afternoon tea (scones, jam, cream and Madeira cake) in a mountain top cafe, we continued even higher for more dramatic views before returning to Emerald Princess.

No wonder the rich and famous, high society, politicians and deposed monarchs of the past came here.  We were delighted to have experienced lovely Madeira, as they once did.


Our next port call was Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city.  Dusty, dirty, sprawling, noisy, traffic-choked and rather run-down, although there was a ton of cranes and construction going on, we were not impressed.  Indeed, the ship’s excursion director warned us against venturing out on our own.

Sailing to Spain

Carole Feldman at the Royal Tomb Rabat, Morocco

As a result and following her advice, we opted for a ship’s excursion to “the Imperial City of Rabat” – Morocco’s capital, on the coast about 90 KM north of Casablanca.  We had been promised a tour of the Royal Palace in Rabat but because our tour departed late from the ship, it was already closed – a great disappointment.  We did visit the Royal Tombs of Mohammed V and Hassan II, in lavish marble coffins guarded by soldiers in colorful exotic uniforms, and moved on to the Casbah (Fortress) for sweeping views and discoveries on back alleys (and dozens of stray cats and kittens, too!).  A stop for mint tea and Moroccan pastries was a nice, welcome, and relaxing break.  Viewing gardens and beaches were, however, not so exciting.

We were happy to return to the comfort of the ship.  Next stop – Spain.



Ahhhh Spain!  As our ship docked in the port of Cadiz (so close to Naval Station Rota which we have visited many times), we saw the familiar sights of the Cathedral, the ferry to Rota, etc.  We have been to the Andalucia region of Spain countless times (via Space-A air) and know it well; however, there are parts of this wonderful country we have not yet explored.

Sailing to Spain

Marv and Carole Feldman in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain