The Bay Of Biscay area explained – cruise ships do go there.

The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean. It is located south of the Celtic Sea, along the western coast of France.

The Bay of Biscay

Technically it can be said to run from the Point Penmarc’h in France, which is the extremity of a small peninsula in Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Let us suggest that is near the point of Brest where ships turn into the bay from the Channel Islands area. The Bay of Biscay area runs along the northern coast of Spain westward to Cape Ortegal, which is in the Province of A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. So, port-wise, it runs from the fishing port of Le port de Saint-Guénolé to a Coruña.

The International Hydrographic Organisation defines the limits of the Bay of Biscay as “a line joining Cap Ortegal (43°46′N 7°52′W) to Penmarch Point (47°48′N 4°22′W)” Many battles have been fault here and many sites have war time history as their features.

Point Penmarc’h in France

Campers will know Penmarc’h in South Finistère much better than cruisers. The nearest port is the port of Saint Guénolé, France’s 7th-largest fishing port, famous for sardines. The nearby wild countryside includes the Lescors marshes, a protected natural environment for many migratory birds: warblers, ducks, harriers and herons. It is located between the Pointe du Raz and Concarneau, not far from Quimper tand the area boasts three postcard-perfect beaches, turquoise waters, and some of the purest air in Europe. Ster beach is 4 km of white sand and sun all day long thanks to its southern exposure. Local tours go out to sea on dolphin and whake watching cruises.

There is a cruise port in Brest, the place the Romans referred to as the end of the world. It is a nice port with great sea food, and a version of French all of its own. Breton is even taught in some schools. Cruise ships dock close to the city centre, easy to walk into many of the city’s attractions but much of Brest is hilly. It hardly sounds a problem.

A Coruña

The first you see of a Coruña is its Roman lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules. We have a great view of it from the ship leaving Coruña in out port guide.

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Coruña is at the end of the Bay of Biscay, a port city in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. In the medieval old town, a short walk from where the ship docks, is the arcaded Plaza de María Pita. To the sound of bells from the cathedral people explain the statue of a 16th-century María Pita. The story is that her husband was killed by Sir Francis Drake’s pirates, and she took a group of soldiers and chased the invading drake out. The dead British lay at her feet. Old historians who still think Columbus discovered America may not agree that Drake was a pirate or that she did more than warn that they were being invaded. It is like changing broadcast news channels.

The Cruise Ports in Between – in the Bay of Biscay

Cruise ships regularly visit ports on this coast as well as cross it. Ports are many and include Orient, St Jean de Luz, Nantes, Biarritz, Brest, Bordeaux, Hendaye, La Rochelle, and Le Verdon. The Spanish ports in the bay include Aviles, Bilao, El Ferrol, Gijon, La Coruña, Mari1n, Santander, Vigo and Villa Garcia.

This bay is both charming and good food, and it is close so many appear on short local cruises, especially short cruises out of ports in the south of England. These often have titles like, Cruise France, Spain and Portugal.

So what is the problem?

Why the Rough Seas?

The sea can be fairly shallow because parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay. In general, crossing the bay, the average depth of the bay is 1745 meters, and the maximum depth is 2790 meters. The shallow bits are avoided.

Historically merchants ships have foundered here because it is subject some of the Atlantic Ocean’s fiercest weather, including abnormally high waves, but forecasting and navigation, and ships technical equipment has changed the face of the old dangers. However, no amount of modern technical can reduce the storms and it can get bumpy. The ship’s stabilisers may help, but these mainly help with rocking side to side, they do not normally help. as much with the front lift and drop on high seas. So, cruise ships avoid storms where possible. We have been on ships held in New York and Cape Town because of storms, and have missed ports like Santorini, Bar Harbor, and the Azores due to bad weather.

Timing, and Seasonal Differences

In the late spring, as world cruisers are returning and beginning to feel very relaxed, the area can be cool and cloudy. Large fog triangles fill the southwestern part of the inlet.

As the winter begins, the weather turns harsh and severe and there can be constant rain. Depressions can form and enter the bay from the west. As they dry out, they can rebuild again as thunderstorms that look like hurricanes. One such example is Klaus Strom.

What routes cross the Bay of Biscay?

The Bay of Biscay is noted most because it is a length of sea a ship must pass to get to the Mediterranean, to Africa, or go down to Madera to cross to Brazil or the Americas. So, you will pass it on any Mediterranean cruise, a cruise to the Canaries or Cape Verde. A cruise down to Africa or the Antarctic. A cruise to the southern Caribbean, the Americas or Brazil. It is hard to avoid some tricky places, but the Bay of Biscay is not alone, nor the worst. A gale force storm coming back from north Norway or Greenland can keep some awake at night. What makes the Bay of Biscay a talking point is that has to be done by so many cruisers to get to an abundance of places.

To get to many places you can fly cruise, even when it is not listed as an option. We have often met people who leave a cruise in Gibraltar rather than just sail home.

Plotting a Cruise Map

A map is a map, and many are daft. Like the Canaries are in Africa, but should be listed under Spain. Gibraltar should not be listed under Spain, but that is where it is. Why it Trieste in Italy and Corsica in France? Where ever they lie legally, putting them into a cruise route type map is very hard. The Azores is not near Portugal, it is on the way to Canada or the Caribbean. Our own ports list is a nightmare, a meteoric problem and some small places often appear in two or three places.

So, we have widened our Bay of Biscay listing to include all ports heading that way from a line drawn in the sand. Whilst drawing borders is the way many wars start, that is not our intention and we are not moving borders. We refer to routes that ships take, and our titles are cruise port titles not national borders.

We have listed ports south of Cherbourg, around the Channel Islands and Brest, to Coruña and up to Gibraltar as of Bay of Biscay collection plus – like an album with extra tracks. We start our Mediterranean Cruise ports from Gibraltar. Ports in the mediterranean we split into three. East med, mid Med, or Adriatic around Malta, and then put the far east, Turkey and Greece in a third Med menu we call Western Mediterranean. This is because these fall into cruise route areas.

So we include

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Now the daft bit is, as we end at Gibraltar, Spain reappears at the other side of Portugal, so this list includes Cadiz. That is why there is a SPY GLASS on our site. If you can see the spy glass just type the name of the port you want. Or, much easier, in any search engine type “Doris Visits + port name”

Along the way we are helped by other cruisers and some of our friends who work as cruise speakers like David Withington who runs how to cruise. He is the grammar editor and a very useful sounding board in the cruise novels we produce so that you can enjoy a cruise when sat in the armchair at home. The books are available on Apple Books, Google Play Books, and in print as well as Kindle on Amazon. Plus, put your legs up and listen to a section at bed time, with cruise films playing out on the big screen as the audiobook plays free. The Playlist is on our channel, where there are playlists of all the cruise ports. Cruise Ship Heist is completely free on YouTube.

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We also like to help out other guest artists on the ship, so on this website there is a section on some acts and a section on how to become a guest speaker or work at sea. If you like music, listen to a young lad we think should have a big hit with some of his songs – Laurence Murray.

Cruise Crime Makes the News as the FBI arrest two in USA

There are some suggesting that the novel on the crime ring stealing art from a theft may have inspired the recent art theft from the Carnival Legend for which the FBI have made arrests. Cruise ship Art Theft is the fourth in the series which hit number 1 in a few Amazon Best Seller charts. It can be found

Art Theft on Google Play BooksArt Theft on Apple Books, Art Theft on Amazon Books

News story detail is here.