The day finally arrived and Benidorm welcomed the first ever cruise ship this morning. The port was buzzing with excitement as the MS Amadea dropped anchor in the bay to a beautiful backdrop of a perfect sunrise. The press pack were out in force to capture the memorable event, along with Mayor Agustin Navarro and his Deputy Gema Amor, who were on hand to welcome the disembarking German passengers.
Despite the early morning start, many locals and holiday makers turned out to witness the arrival too. It certainly made an unusual photograph, a cruise ship docking alongside Peacock Island! The Town Hall had even printed welcome banners in German, which hung from the lampposts, especially for the occasion. Three coaches stood by near Dove Park to take some of the 600 passengers on pre-arranged excursions along the coastline... shame that they didn´t all stay to explore our lovely resort!
One left for the beautiful mountain village of Guadalest, a second headed down the coast to Alicante while a third went north up to Altea and Calpe. A further two coaches left slightly later and headed up to Javea and finally onto Denia. There the passengers picked up the ship, its next port of call instead of returning back to Benidorm.
The Old Town looked spik and span with the Town Hall maintenance department working all out over the last week, painting and fixing walls, furniture and sweeping till the streets gleamed.... they certainly wanted to create a good first impression! The Chief Officer, Alen Vugrin left the ship mid morning and headed to the Town Hall where he was officially welcomed by the Mayor - and an exchange of gifts took place to mark the memorable event.
Many of the shops, bars and restaurants opened extra early to ensure that the streets didn´t look deserted - good thinking on the Town Halls part to organise that otherwise it would have looked somewhat lack lustre! Tapas Alley went to great lengths, producing some special German themed tapas and pinchos with German flags and also displaying a beautiful flower arrangement in the colours of the German national flag.
More passengers disembarked throughout the morning to site see around the resort – with many taking photographs from the Mirador of the cruise ship in the distance. To mark the beginning of "Rice Week" the Town Hall organized some paella tasting at the port before the passengers headed back to the ship for the 1pm departure.
It certainly all appeared to run smoothly and without any hiccups – there were plenty of police and Town Hall personnel on hand. Depending on the feedback from passengers, the German operator Phoenix Reisen may choose Benidorm as a future destination instead of Alicante, which would be fantastic for the resort.