Head for the beachfront for a walk
Las Palmas city's main feature is just ten minutes walk from the cruise dock. Head to Santa Catalina Square and then walk down the newly-pedestrianised Luis Morote street at its north edge. Once you get to the promenade turn left to get to the surfy end of the beach and Las Arenas shopping centre, or right to see the prettiest part of Las Canteras beach. There are restaurants all along the front.
Vegueta and Triana: The old town
Vegueta old town is five minutes from the cruise dock by taxi. It's a classic Spanish colonial town with a twist. Columbus stopped here (he had to, his crew sabotaged his ships) and the city was attacked by the islands original stone age inhabitants. Vegueta is small enough to see in a couple of hours with a museum or two thrown in leaving you plenty of time to head over the road to the shopping district of Triana.
The two main museums in Vegueta reflect its history: The Casa de Colón museum is all about Columbus and his journeys across the Atlantic, while the Museo Canario has the world's best collection of prehistoric Canarian mummies and artefacts.
Another highlight of Vegueta is the Santa Ana Cathedral and square. By the front door there's a booth selling tickets up to the roof (stairs and lift access) but we think the best thing to do is to go into the silver museum (door on the south wall). From here you get into the cathedral and see its gorgeous modernist ceiling. The last chapel on the right by the altar holds a surprise: The bishop who founded the cathedral is kept in a glass box. He's mummified in his original robes.
Just over the road you have Triana with its huge shopping street and cobbled side streets lined with restaurants and cafes.
Shopping in Las Palmas
The El Muelle shopping centre is right by the cruise dock but Las Arenas at the south end of Las Canteras beach has a wider range of shops. Mesa y Lopez street about 15 minutes walk from the ship is home to the huge El Corte Inglés department store.
Tours of Las Palmas & Gran Canaria
Most tours available in Las Palmas are advertised on the cruise ships. There's little point booking a Las Palmas tour unless you want a detailed guided visit of Vegueta or a more intimate local tour but they are the best way to see the rest of Gran Canaria.
Lots of people whizz down the motorway to Mogán resort with a stop at the Maspalomas dunes. Another excellent option is the coach tour to the Arucas rum distillery and Agaete valley wineries.
A closer option is the trip to Bandama caldera and the Jardín Botanico gardens.
A Few Notes on Las Palmas city
Las Palmas is safe and you are not going to get mugged for walking down the wrong street. It's best not to leave your camera lying on the beach when you go for a swim though.
The food is perfectly safe to eat in all the bars and restaurants. The best lunch deals are in restaurants displaying a "Menu Del Día" sign in Spanish. You get three courses and a drink for less than 10 euros. The cigarettes and booze get cheaper the further away you get from Santa Catalina Square. Head to Big Ben on Calle Sagasta street for the best prices and range of tobacco and spirits.