Spanish ship calls all aboard in Tampa

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Seeing a pirate ship in Tampa isn’t an out of the ordinary occurrence. The latest majestic boat docked by the Tampa Convention Center won’t be welcoming pirates anytime soon.

In fact, El Galeon has cannons to fight off such attacks. It’s a replica of a ship that sailed the Gulf of Mexico many years ago. Jose Vivero, the Honorary Consul of Spain in Tampa, is proud to have a piece of Spain in Florida.

“It’s a very proud moment because to be able to display Spanish heritage and history and make it known is very important,” Vivero said. “Florida has a rich Spanish history.”

According to Vivero, in the 1500s ships were too small to really sail the seas. That’s why the Spanish started building galleons. The replica has six decks. It’s 164 feet long. The ship boasts three masts, seven sails, and 10,000 square feet of sail area. El Galeón takes you through the 500-year story since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León in Florida. While tourists can check it out and leave, the crew gets much more committed. They stay with the ship for six months on tour. Sometimes using just half a gallon of salt water to bathe.

“I wouldn’t be able to do that for all the money in the world,” Vivero said. “They get so cramped. And most of these people are volunteers training for other jobs. They go with the ship six months then go back to Spain.”

Tampa resident Roy Collins, explored the ship with his wife and three little kids.

“I love the fact that you can appreciate and get an understanding of how these people live on the ship,” Collins said.

Little Roy was more interested in just trying to “fire the cannons.”

You can catch El Galeon by the convention center in Tampa until March 6. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12. Kids under 5 years old are free.

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