Sand, Sunshine and Swimming, Soreness

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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On the beach

Flag of Spain  , Canary Islands,
Friday, April 15, 2011

Its been a very up and down past several days. Long days at sea, as well as trying to experience every port to its fullest, really wears you down. I can admit I had done a lot more than I had expected in some of the ports and was was also disappointed in a port or two along this cruises itinerary. We touched down in Casablanca and also Agadir in Morocco. The first time I had gotten off the ship for both ports. This was due to being on port play and also having no local currency at the time. Also payed visit back to Las Palmas the Grand Island in the Canary Islands as well as Funchal, Madeira Islands of Portugal.

Starting off with work, it's been fairly smooth. I've been assigned to the 2-5 yr old age group to run activities and its been a little rough to get back into it. Some of the activities that our YPS (youth program supervisor) has scheduled are ridiculous in the sense that they are dragged out too long or the activity itself is not set up to run properly. It gets to be quite a pain when you either don't have the materials, or a proper description of what the activity is. For instance, Teddy Bear Picnic, SHOULD have the cartoon clip of it or a book on the ship in the playroom, well we don't. The best children's books on the face of the earth are Dr. Suess, it is an obvious fact. We do not have a single one on this ship. Like honestly NCL, spare $2000 dollars and buy the whole series of the books and send them fleet wide. Who doesn't want to hop on pop or count coloured fish? God knows I do, and so do the children. Also just want to mention, that we have like 9 spanish speaking YC's on our team when we only need 3 maybe 4. No point in having this many when we need other languages like Italian, Russian and especially German. Head office is straight off their rocker.

My promotion finally took affect as of the 8th of April. So I am happy to say the pay increase will be seen come salary payday at the end of the month. I've taken the time to start looking at the policies and procedures further in depth to be able to ask for less assistance, and just to stand on my own when needed. I am going to wait until my contract commencing probation period to end before I attempt to shake up this whole youth program.

Well Morocco, what to say about it really, if you're rich and have a lot of time I am sure you can do a lot in the ports. Casablanca was a huge let down, from where we dock, its a 30 minute walk to get into town, and it just did not do it for me. There was no shuttle for the staff and crew either, wtf? I wish I had the time and money to check out the famous cafe's and area's from the movie 'Casablanca' yet I did not. my whole experience was getting yelled at walking through a local market area, grabbing a bite to eat at a shady hole in the wall cafe, which was nice, and wandering around the lower end of the city near the port. When I had returned back to the ship I was speaking with an Indian housekeeper and he had told me about the fact that they had some travel restrictions and were not able to get off the ship in Morocco. I simply told him I would have much rather slept in all day than had been off the ship in hot weather walking around wasting my time. A few of the cast members from the Jade told me they had an amazing day checking out Rick's cafe and that end of the city. Congrats, you spent nearly 700-1000 Dirhan that day to do so.

Now Agadir is something else all together. And thank the lord I speak french, to a degree. Makes touring in Morocco much simpler being able to speak a local language when traveling. Now unlike Casablanca, the port of Agadir has a shuttle running for us to take us to the coastal end of the city for free. After boarding the shuttle bus, we got dropped off in a large open city square which separated the beach area and its restaurants from the core of the coastal city. We decided to grab some lunch and test out the WIFI in one of the restaurants. As idiotic as our little group is we decided to go to Little Italy in Agadir. I have to admit they do know how to make a good thin crust pizza and a lasagna. Even though we did not get the internet smoothy we took off to wander around before heading to the beach. We took a look around at some local shops just trying to take in the sights, then wandered on down towards the beach. The day was warm but in and out with sun and clouds.

As we walked towards the beach we passed through a free zoo. Yeah, free. Now this was not the worlds biggest or best zoo. It was called Village des Oiseaux, yet it was not disappointing. other than the most random birds I have seen, there were Lamas, Gazelles, Koalas, and a few other interesting animals. To be honest it took us 15 minutes to walk through at a quick rate, I can see other cities across the world charging a nominal fee. 

Finally we reach to the beach, vastly large and the sand was nice. The sun was starting to peak and it was getting to be early afternoon, quite warm. For some reason my iPhone was picking up free wifi, probably from a restaurant close by. The signal strength was good so I popped a quick check in to brag about where I was. I never went swimming that day but had a beer on the beach, 'Casablanca Beer'. It wasn't like any other kind that is for sure, and it wasn't terrible. Terrible is still Coors Light in my opinion. After having a few laughs and lounging under some umbrellas we took off just in time to make it back to the ship before it set sail.

Now roughly three weeks ago a few of us wanted to rent a car when we were in Las Palmas in the Grand Island of the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, due to ridiculousness of siesta we never made it in time to rent the car for the day. Well this time, we did. Seven of us hauled ass to get to the rent a car place before siesta starts at 1:00pm. We only get into port for 12 noon and have to wait for the majority of the passengers to get off the ship before we can disembark ourselves. It becomes quite a pain waiting for them. So slow and disorganized passengers are when on holiday. When we reached the rent a car we ended up grabbing an Opel Van for 65 Euros, put in 15 Euros worth of gas and took off. Our plan was to go to the southern part of the island as we know is NEVER cloudy, approx. 3-6 degrees, and the beaches hot. I can even admit that we knew of a nude beach or two in the area we were heading to. Maspolomas, and the Playa del Ingles was our final destination on the trip. It is located at the very bottom of the island where most of the higher end resorts are. It took us an hour to drive down and as we had left the cloudy north east side of the island as we approached the south each 10km it got more clear and sunny and the warmth could be felt in the air. As we parked two of the dance cast members were in shock that it was as we had predicted; hot, breezy and not a cloud in sight. After they bought the bathing suits they forgot, we walked down the beach to find the "good spot". Halfway between the crowdy area and halfway to the nude beach we chose to stop. It took me about 10 seconds before I was running into the ocean. I forgot how much fun I used to have when I swam in the ocean. The waves were the perfect size for body surfing or just floating around in the deeper water. We were at Playa del Ingles for just under 3 hours and I was in the water for about 10 minutes less than our full time there. The only times I was out of the water was to take some photographs with the group. Now let me tell you as I write this blog a few days later, I am in pain. I put sunblock on my face and on my hands yet being the stubborn Canadian that I am, I did not put any other SPF on my body. I am more red than a post cooked lobster. I didn't bubble due to my burns but on my third day of being burnt the colour has not subsided. On the drive back my buddy Loco, and yes his name does represent his character, did not get off the correct exit and we ended up taking a last second tour into the mountains of Gran Canaria. This would have been great but he was freaking out as we only had a matter of minutes before we would have been late for our crew embark time of 6pm.  Good thing I have humour and my exceptional foreign navigation skills we made it back by 6:00pm on the nose and had fun doing it. The day in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria was by far the best day I have had off ships on this contract so far. Simply because I was able to relax and have fun and do what I wanted instead of rushing through sites and landscapes simply to just take photos. It was a day for me to just let loose and I did. Let this sunburn be the reward for it.

Now the day after Gran Canaria, I had the opportunity to get off the ship again and visit Funchal, Madeira in the Portuguese Islands for the second time, yet I simply got off to eat at a restaurant and buy some aloe vera. I was too burnt the following day to even imagine spending a full 6 hours out touring the city with a backpack on my shoulders.

We have one more 12 day cruise with the usual itinerary of Barcelona, Italy, Greece , over nights in Turkey, and Malta. Afterwards a repositioning cruise then our new 7 day itineraries. This coming Barcelona I am hoping to get off the ship and go check out Barcelona Stadium, the future UEFA Champions League winners of 2011.

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