Crusing Day 2: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Drach Caves and the Lake

A few things you don’t want for your first proper vacation day:

  • Being ill
  • A terrible night’s sleep
  • A really early start the next morning

Guess what!

Yes, the morning of Day 2 was a tough one, but let’s be honest … if you’re going to be actually sick and tired, being on a cruise ship docked in Palma de Mallorca is not a bad place to do it!

Our early start was due to our first excursion, to see the ‘Mysterious Drach Caves of Palma’. This was the first excursion we’d booked back at the start of the year and we were excited to see them – as much as the early start was wrecking our sick, Covid-booster-side-effect-wracked and sleep deprived bodies.

One thing that helped was room service. Our room had some cards to hang from the door – collected at 2am – which would help spirit food to our cabin at a given time slot. The knock on the door was accompanied by a phone call, so we roused ourselves and feasted on scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and some hot tea which went a long way to making us feel a bit more human.

The excursion process was really well managed. When we arrived on the boat there was already an envelope filled with tickets for all of the excursions that we’d pre-booked. Each ticket had our meeting time and place – almost always Deck 4 in the Celebrity Theatre.

AJ had picked us a choice cabin – Deck 6 Forward, so it was a quick skip down the stairs (more like a lurch this day) to Deck 4 and the theatre. We headed down to the stage where the excursion coordinators stood, handing out small numbered badges depending on the excursion we had booked.

We took our badges and applied them, then waited for our numbers to be called. One by one the excursion groups rose and left the theatre until, in short order, it was our turn. We sleepily filed out of the theatre and down to Deck 1 Midship, where we queued to exit the ship.

This may be common on all cruise lines, but Celebrity gives you a SeaPass Card, which is your identity on board. It includes all the information about you, along with anything you’ve purchased (like the Premium Drinks Package – a must-have option for any good holiday). It also allows them to charge purchases to a credit card on file, meaning that whilst onboard you can roam about with just a single card to do everything.

They also use the SeaPass cards to scan everybody on and off the ship, to make sure that nobody is left behind – and nobody tries to smuggle themselves on!

We tapped our cards to the readers on the way out, officially ‘checking out’ of the ship for the day, and made our way out into … the rain?

Yes, the rain in Spain might fall mainly on the plain, but it also rains other places when it feels like it! The weather was pretty crap, but it was just warm enough and the rain light enough that we ignored it and filed off to our coach.

I made the idiot mistake of leaving my ticket in the Celebrity Theatre (AJ insisted on holding the tickets for the rest of the trip) so there was a panicky minute whilst they had to confirm that we had indeed purchased the excursion, but then we were off and on the road to Porto Cristo, home of the caves.

We had a very chatty tour guide, and he was a funny guy – his English was passable, but I probably got about 50% of what he said. The coach’s PA system was turned up a bit high so his voice became a little like nails down a chalkboard now and again, but overall it added some fun color to the proceedings. A guy sat in front of us was very unhappy – I think he had some tinnitus or other hearing issue and the speakers were causing him some major discomfort.

I can relate – my hearing isn’t what it was (that’s what getting old gets you …) and certain tones and sounds cause me discomfort, so I felt for him, especially on the return journey where he spent most of the time with his hands pressed to his ears. I hope it didn’t put him off doing other excursions.

It took us about an hour to get to the caves, whereupon we quickly descended down a staircase into the bowels of the Earth. As I mentioned above, this was one of the first excursions we’d booked, and I for one didn’t remember too much about what I’d seen – only that there was a lake at the bottom of the cave.

I was blown away by what we descended into.

Stalagmites rose up from the floor like tiny towers, and stalactites hung everywhere – in many places you couldn’t see the smoother rock of the ceiling at all.

They had threaded a walkway through the cave system and lit the area well, so everything was easy to see. The entire place was bathed in a yellow-ish light (it appears white on some of our photos, as it was so bright in contrast to the caves) that gave the entire place an ethereal feeling.

As we descended lower we spotted the lake and tributaries that fed it. The water of Lake Martel – one of the largest underground lakes in the world – was an incredible blue that stood out in contrast to the rocks so much that it almost didn’t look real.

We had been told that there was going to be a concert, which we assumed would be after the caves – no photos or video allowed! – but our guides were somewhat hurrying us through the cave system. AJ and I brought up the rear, as we were constantly awed by each new twist and turn, and wanted to take pictures and try to drink it all in.

Once we reached the bottom of the cave system, we found ourselves in a huge seating area by the lake and as we hurriedly found some seats, the lights began to dim, until we were all sat in pitch darkness.

A few nervous coughs broke the eery silence. A few murmured comments. A baby cried. (Who brings an infant to something like this?!)
Somebody tried to pull out a phone and start filming and was quickly shut down.

Then the music began.

From our right, a boat suddenly appeared, glowing softly with lights strung around it. On board, classical musicians had started to play, and were joined by three other boats as they sailed towards our gathered party. They played us a collection of classical pieces that were absolutely beautiful. The music would have been a joyful experience at the best of times but we were listening to it here, deep underground inside an incredible natural wonder.

As we couldn’t video it, there’s no way to share it, but I firmly recommend that you visit the caves if you’re ever in Palma de Mallorca. It was a beautiful and unique moment that I’ll remember forever.

Once the concert was over it was time to leave. We had the option to walk back over a short bridge, or take a boat ride back to the exit. Obviously, we chose to queue and get on the boat.

Boating through the Drach Caves

It was a short two-minute boat ride, but another experience that we couldn’t say no to. Floating serenely through this incredible underground lake, underneath the jaw-dropping rock formations was really special, and made the early start worthwhile. We were still feeling under the weather, but the majesty of what we had seen made us forget, at least for a short time.

Once we’d gotten off the boat we had to hustle back to the surface, as we didn’t have long before the bus was due to depart. Hustling 25 meters back to the surface when you’re getting over an upper respiratory virus is not the easiest, but we managed it and burst into the sunlight – thankfully the weather was starting to improve.

After grabbing pictures with the ‘Drach’ himself (the dragon) we headed back to the bus.

Our next bus ride was startlingly short, as we drove out of the car park and parked up outside the House of Majorica, where pearl jewelry is formed. We had hoped we were going to have a tour of the factory and see pearls going through the process from extraction through to finishing, but it was just a brief video, very small ‘museum’ type tour, and then into the shop. Neither of us was much interested in buying pearls (though some of the pieces were very nice) so we left to take some pictures of the surrounding pretty flowers, and go pick ourselves a magnet to commemorate our stop from a nearby tourist hut.

After this we headed back to the boat – honestly a relief at this point, as our bodies were starting to require more energy and more sleep! Back on the bus our indefatigable tour guide kept up his narration, and we enjoyed the passing scenery.

As we headed back to the dock I grabbed a few pictures of an incredible looking cathedral. We had the opportunity – and time – to head back out into the city on our own, but we just weren’t feeling up to it.

Fancy schmancy cathedral
Back to the Constellation

In the background of the image above you can see the Celebrity Edge, the first of Celebrity’s newest Edge class of ships. We’ve been wanting to go on this ship since we found out about it, and it was cool to see it berthed right next to us in Palma. Of all the Celebrity ships, the Constellation is one of the oldest – most of their ships have been ‘Revolutionized’ (i.e. upgraded) in the last few years, but the Covid pandemic put a halt to the work on the Constellation, so it got a new exterior paint job but not much else. All that being said, our time aboard was absolutely wonderful.

Once back on board I think we stopped by the Oceanview Cafe for a snack, then went to get some sleep for a few hours.

Waking up in the early evening we made ourselves decent and then went for a walkabout. The ship was quiet – the entire cruise was only at 50% capacity due to Covid protocols – and we headed back to the Oceanview Cafe for some dinner.

For those that haven’t cruised before, let’s talk about food. In short, the food is excellent on Celebrity.
The Constellation had a number of ‘specialist’ restaurants which require reservations, cost extra and in some cases are off-limits to certain passenger classes. We were just regular passengers, so did not have access to the ‘Blu’ or ‘Lumiare’ restaurants.

For everyone else there is the ‘San Marco’ restaurant which has a set & partially-changing menu, as well as the Oceanview Cafe, which serves buffet style food that also changes throughout the cruise (Italian themed food comes to the fore when the ship is sailing from Italy, French from France, etc.)

Some people might turn their noses up at the idea of a buffet, but the food is really great – especially when you consider the variety, availability, and the fact that it’s free! (Well, built into the cost of the cruise.)

Something we found during this quiet time was a sneaky design feature of the ship – portholes on the floor of the dining pods that protruded from the side of the rear of the ship! It was actually pretty cool to eat and look down to see the sea scudding by … but I’ll admit that they kind of freaked me out once the sun had gone down and you couldn’t see anything at all …

I didn’t mention this in my previous post, but on Night 1 we stopped by the Celebrity Theatre at the front of the ship after getting some dinner. It was just one floor down from us, so we popped in to see what was going on, and it kick-started our ‘live music every night’ cruise experience which is one of my favorite things about the trip.

On stage that night was ‘The Ultimate Boy Band’ – four young guys who belted out all the 90s boy band classics. We perched ourselves on some stools right at the back of the fifth floor (the theatre spans floors 4 and 5 at the front of the ship) and had a brilliant time. It was a great way to cap off what had been a very trying and difficult day!
Knowing what fun we’d had we made a point to check out the entertainment options for Day 2.

It did not disappoint. As I write this, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t keep a copy of each day’s itinerary sheet (or screenshots of the app) because I don’t remember who this was! Harry something … I think. Either way, he was really good, playing a mixture of jazz, blues, and pop – on and off the piano and with the backing of the Celebrity Constellation band – probably the people I applauded most for throughout the cruise as they were ever-present.

Afterwards we were still buzzing, so decided to go up to the Reflections Lounge up on Deck 10. Not feeling up to mixing with the masses – yet – we found a nice seat at the back of the bar and enjoyed a few cocktails. It finally felt like the vacation had begun properly – we were starting to feel a bit better, we’d just been in another country and seen some amazing things, and we were sipping on free delicious alcoholic beverages. Everything a good holiday needs!

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