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The morning has finally arrived where we have to get off and go home. We arrived alongside at just after 5:00 this morning and left the cabin at 8:00 and headed for the buffet instead of the dining room as planned. As there are some 200 passengers who got on at Malaga we thought that there is no way they would shut the buffet.
So just to use up some of my remaining internet minutes I will post a couple of photos from this morning.

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Arrival at Barcelona

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A chilly Barcelona

So until the next one…….

Last nights entertainment in the theatre was a fantastic show combining several of the acts and it was called Elements, It featured the illusionists, the acrobatic duo along with the ships cast and was a real visual treat which depicted the elements such as fire, wind, rain etc… It finished with the usual crew gathering on stage and I have to say it was all put together really well.

On our last day of this cruise we were finally treated to some sunshine. We have had virtually clear blue skies all day and if you could find a spot out of the wind then it was lovely. Better late than never, its just a shame the skies weren’t like this is the Canary Islands as it would have been perfect.

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Blue Skies for breakfast

We finished the afternoon off with some coffee and cake at The Cafe in the atrium and then a couple of laps of the lovely wrap around prom deck that this ship has before heading back up to the cabin for the dreaded packing.

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We have been given the option of carrying our own luggage off which is something we did last time on NCL in Barcelona and this will hopefully buy us a little more time on the ship before our transport is due to arrive at 10:00. According to the daily programme the absolute last person must be off by 9:30, the downside is the buffet and restaurants will close at 8:30. Our plan is to use the restaurant an stay until they chuck us out.

We arrived at a sunny Malaga at 9:00 this morning and were sat on a coach by 9:15 ready for a tour organised by one of the members of our Cruise Critic Roll call to Granada and specifically the Alhambra Palace. The journey took around 2 hours and when we arrived we were met by our guide Danny who was waiting to give us our two and half hour tour of the complex.
Once again the clouds followed us but this didn’t bother us too much today as there was plenty to take our minds off the weather. All tickets to Alhambra have to be pre booked as there are no tickets available on the day. There were 16 of us on the tour which made for quick and easy navigation of the site.
The Alhambra Palace for want of a better description is simply quite stunning and the detailing is simply amazing.

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I have taken so many photos today is extremely difficult to select just a few to post here, I would try and post a few more but every time I try and upload more than 3 the process throws a wobbly and also it is quite difficult to try and piece together a quick account of our tour so at this time I am not even going to try and attempt to.
All aboard by 6:30 and our tour had us back at the port for 6:00 and tonight we have actually felt like we have done something worthwhile with our day.
Suffice to say this has probably been the best day of cruise so far and we have a really good day. A sea day tomorrow followed by disembarkation on Saturday morning so all of a sudden the cruise is nearly over.

This was our third sea day on this cruise and the first on our return leg back to Barcelona. All of a sudden time seems to have flown by and it only seems a few days ago that we were embarking.
The clouds have continued to follow us but we did get some brief sunny intervals around midday when were able to sit up on deck. The prize areas being those out of the wind of which we were lucky enough to find one.

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Blue skies over the ship

The weather even held out long enough for a poolside BBQ at lunch time which was relatively well attended,  however the weather had the last laugh as soon after 1:30 the clouds took control yet again and even produced a few showers for us.
Because of this we ended up watching the Crew Talent Show in the theatre which was almost full, nice for the performers to play in front of a full house but not the way I intended to spending my afternoon. The talent included several singers, a guitarist, one of those swirly ribbon dancers, a Salsa dancer and a drag queen who mimed two songs!. Two other other acts were made up from the entertainment staff.

As with all of the NCL fleet there are various speciality restaurants on board along with the complimentary ones. The free ones for want of a better name are called Windows & Garden and both are located on deck 6, the larger of the 2 (Windows) is located at the aft while the other is midship. We have so far favoured Windows as this one at least requires the gents to wear trousers in the evening and we have always like to put something smart on when going out to dinner. All of the restaurants are what NCL call Freestyle Dining which basically means you can turn up when you want. We have never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table so from our perspective it works quite well. The food too has been good but a little inconsistent, some of it being exceptional while others very lacking indeed. The service too has been excellent and NCL have obviously fine tuned this style of eating to perfection and it is really fascinating to watch the tables being reset ready for the next diners. We thought they must have been influenced by formula one tyre changes.
For the speciality restaurants you are advised to book and the one that everybody seems to be favouring is Teppanyaki ($25 cover charge) which is Japanese style cuisine prepared in front of you. The other restaurants include Sushi, La Trattoria (Classic Italian cuisine with a $15 cover), Shogun which is described as an Asian fusion ($15 cover), Le Bistro ($20 cover) French Gourmet, Cagney’s ($30 cover) American Steakhouse. None of the following have been able to tempt us as we are more than happy with the complimentary food.

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The dark clouds gather again at the end of the day

Tomorrow is Malaga and we have tour lined up regardless of what the weather does.

The weather on this cruise has certainly played its part in what we have done and today was no exception. On our sail in we had beautiful blue skies but were not surprised to see the island covered in clouds. The forecast the previous night was 71F and sunny but this I think was a little optimistic.

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Arrival at a cloudy Arrecife

After breakfast we decided to catch the free shuttle into town and go for a walk. Our shuttle bus stop dropped us a good 10 minutes outside of the town which I thought was really odd as there are loads of places where the stop could have been placed near the beach.

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Arrecife Beach

As we walked the clouds dissipated and for the first time on this cruise the weather was really nice, we managed to walk up to the Aqua Park before turning round to head back, stopping along the way for some liquid refreshment along the way.
A this point thought that we should go back to the ship and make the most of the weather and the fact the ship would be quiet but as we were making our way back the clouds started to appear again and by the time we arrived back at the ship it was overcast again.

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Clouding over on our way back to the ship

We spoke to a local man on our return leg as there were loads of huge puddles everywhere and we were curious as to when it had rained so heavily, he told us that the weather had been bad for the last 20 days or so and it was very unusual for it to be like this. I guess we have just been really unlucky on this cruise with the weather, it hasn’t stopped us enjoying it but it has had a major impact on what we have decided to do.

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Sailaway from a cloudy and miserable looking Arrecife

Tomorrow is a sea day and fingers crossed that the winds have died down and that we get a calmer passage back to the Mediterranean.

Picking up from last night, we agreed to go and see the show which I have to admit that I wasn’t that interested in. The show itself was a violinist called Gary Lovini who apparently won New Faces in the 80’s (I am sure we have seen him before and I wasn’t that impressed before). One of conditions for me agreeing to go was that we sat near the back in case I dozed off so we seated ourselves about 4 rows back and close to the aisle (just in case we needed to escape). Anyway an elderly looking Asian couple sat right in front of us and during the show he kept nodding off and when the house lights came up his wife would give him a prod to wake him up. This happened numerous times and we were spending more time watching them as it was hilarious, then about 10 minutes before the end of the show she just got up and left him asleep. He must have sensed she had gone and came to a couple of minutes after but the look on his face was something else as he tried to work out where his wife had gone.

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Again we were greeted by cloudy skies on our arrival but this time the sun did break through on the odd occasion and did provide us with several rainbows today. The photo above being the first one of the day.
We opted to walk to the city centre and just stretch our legs, there was a free shuttle service but we decided to make the walk instead. The weather held up for the most part but there was a torrential downpour at one point so we decided to seize the opportunity for some liquid refreshment and one of the many bars.

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After the rain had eased off we made our way back to the ship and spent the afternoon catching a few rays of sun in between the large storm clouds. When it did show it was really quite hot but this was in between the showers and darker moments. Its just a shame we couldn’t have had a full days worth of sun.
Sailaway was at 5:00pm and for the first time this cruise we had some Bing Bong people as we now like to call them.

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Tomorrow is Arrecife and we shall have to wait to find out if this cruise is to continue its cloudy, wet and windy theme………………………

Well last nights forecast was certainly spot on. After leaving the almost tranquil port area we were soon in the Atlantic and bobbing around like a cork.

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There has been hardly any let up since we left last night, in fact we got very little sleep because of the rocking and rolling of the ship. We both complained of feeling achy this morning which was probably the result of trying to relax but tensing up for the next bout of rolling.  It did seem to ease a little just after daylight and it was our first chance to see how the sea conditions looked. The prom deck has been closed since last night and the large swell has prevailed all day. We ventured out of the cabin for breakfast and lunch and although there are people about it is nowhere as near busy at it should be for a sea day.
The sick bags are out all over the place strategically placed in case of emergency. Don’t you just love the Atlantic!

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Dark skies just after daybreak

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The same view just before lunch

What you can’t see from the photographs is the size of the swell but they will at least give you some idea of what we are experiencing.  We are on deck 10 and the spray is coming in our open door and is all over the mirror, our cabin steward Jovel is going to love us.
Apart from what I have already mentioned today there is very little else to tell so I will keep the post short today and hope that when we reach Santa Cruz tomorrow things will have improved somewhat. Here’s for a better night than last night!

Last night we actually managed to see one of the shows in the theatre and it was some illusionists called Sander & Alison. The production was called Magika and was actually very good. I always chuckle to myself when the introduction goes along the lines of…..and they have performed for Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro.  The theatre itself is unusual itself as it is the first one we have ever seen at the back of the ship. It still faces forward and is totally disorientating when you first enter. More or less all on one level and it has a really lovely feel to it. We popped back today to try and take some photos and ended up staying to watch a film.

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The Stardust Theatre

This morning we arrived in Tangier following a bumpy night and heavy rains. When we arrived the temperature was quite chilly and after looking at the 4 ships tours on offer we decided to go for a walk instead.

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Early morning in Tangier.

First impressions of Tangier were not too clever which might be down to the dark skies which always makes places feel a little on the drab side. We  walked for a couple of hours along the front to the beach and then along it, roughly a 6 mile round trip and were back on the ship in time for some lunch. I noticed that there were lots of men dotted around all over, just sitting or standing on their own, its something I have observed in other countries too and find it all a bit strange.  The sun did show itself in the afternoon but the chilly wind was still there making it too cold to sit outside for any length of time.

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Do I win a prize for getting a camel and ship in the same photo?

I would imagine that Tangier is a completely different place when the sun is shining but today it looked all rather bland and run down.
The Captain has just come over the public address to announce we are heading for Tenerife but to be alert as the seas come become a bit rough, the original storms have eased somewhat and he believes that it just about safe enough to proceed.

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A weather chart on the Guest Reception Desk

This was on display at the guest reception earlier in the day so it looks like we could be in for some fun tonight………

The day started off really windy and overcast and didn’t really improve until late afternoon when the sun broke through. Breakfast was taken in the Windows Dining room this morning where the surroundings were a little more civilised than the buffet.
At 10:00am we went along to the Cruise Critic gathering so we could do one of two things, the first was make sure the other couple we were due to to share a lift with at the airport actually got the second car we organised and the second was to acquaint ourselves with some of the other people we are doing a tour with later in the cruise. The good news was the car was there and they managed to get to the ship without incident.
As the weather wasn’t really too clever we decided to make use of the prom deck which on the Norwegian Spirit goes all around the ship. We managed 4 miles before deciding to stop for some lunch which taken in the buffet, it was a bit drafty but it didn’t deter us from eating outside.

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P&O Oriana heading in the opposite direction

Afternoon activities included a spot of people watching and some coffee and cake in the cafe bar in the Grand Centrum.  We have really taken to this ship and have found our fellow passengers to be a good mix and very friendly and approachable, probably more so than any other ship we have sailed on.

We discovered the bridge viewing room too which is open from sunrise to sunset if you want to have peep and see where the captain sits. The area itself is full of mementos and plaques given to the ship on inaugural visits to ports, quite fascinating to see all the different styles.

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The Bridge from the viewing area

Late afternoon the sun came out to play and we enjoyed sitting on the balcony out of the wind.

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Not the biggest balcony but nice to sit on when the sun shines

I am posting early tonight so we can get ready for dinner, tomorrow we will wake in Tangiers and as yet we have no plans.

This is the second attempt at making this post, I had everything typed and set out last night and clicked on the publish button and the whole lot just disappeared, so starting a fresh here goes with a abridged version.
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A change to our itinerary meant we found ourselves in a port we hadn’t anticipated visiting so were at a loss as what to do. We arrived just before 8:00am slightly ahead of the Norwegian Jade so perhaps NCL’s thinking was all the tour planning was already there and it was just a case of increasing the numbers to include another ship. We however decided to just catch the shuttle into the old town of Valencia and just have a wander and see what there was that would take our interest. The cost of the shuttle was $12 and it took around 15 minutes to arrive at the drop off point just outside the old town.
From there we managed to grab a free map which was one of those with the giant landmarks plotted on it to make it easier to see what the points of interest were.
First stop was the cathedral which according to our map is the number 1 tourist attraction and if ever entrances were anything to go by then this one was up there with the best.

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Inside was was just as magnificent with high vaulted ceilings which seem to just hang there. I really is a stunning building and I can understand why it holds the top spot.

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From there we continued to explore and found ourselves at the Central Market which is a huge indoor market, it looks impressive from the outside but nothing prepared us for what was inside. Fresh produce of all description on display as far as the eye could see, from fish, to meat, to vegetables to fruit. It seemed you could buy anything and everything thing that was ever edible on this planet. The smell was incredible and I would love to have something like this back in the UK. The interior of the building itself was also stunning and the right in the middle of the market was a large dome with windows which just seemed to illuminate everything. If you ever visit Valencia this place is a must see.

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We eventually stopped for a liquid break before making our way back to the ship where we spent the rest of the day familiarising ourselves with the layout. I think we pretty much know what is where now and can get from A to B quite easily.
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The new itinerary gives us a sea tomorrow and the day after we will port in Tangier, Morocco before hopefully picking up the rest of the original itinerary which is to be the 2 Canary Islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote, however if the sea conditions have not improved I have no idea where we will go.

Fingers crossed this works this time…..

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