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22nd December, 2013


The twenty four hour run southwards was in ever decreasing swell condition and quite fine weather, I noticed a few of the elderly chaps even donned their shorts. By evening time folks were getting thin on the ground, the bars were a little quieter than normal and room service was in demand. The final of ‘Strictly’ was on and we had a signal coming through the satellite receiver, good for most of the time, but we were on the ‘edge of the footprint’. There was the odd period of blackness while our tech guy sat busily trying to ensure the sat dish stayed pointing at the right satellite.

I had advised the guests about the possibility of the swell increasing as we made the approach into Casablanca, and it did, quite dramatically for a few minutes, a long slow roll that seemed to increase and linger, but then we were inside the breakwater and the mast returned to the vertical, along with everything underneath. Our allocated pier was on the end of the finally completed container terminal and unbeknown to us the port had brought in some new security rule that prohibited coaches from parking next to the ship. Passengers would have to walk to the dock gate……almost a mile away. Needless to say my patience was running a little thin by the time our local agent came round the corner. He was politely asked to take whatever steps were necessary to have the rule rescinded and after a rather loud mobile phone conversation which, in the Arabic dialect, is a trifle harsh to a Western ear, the problem was solved. Normality resumed again.

The first tour off were those folks going to have a night in Marrakech followed by the remaining few hundred who had decided to enjoy the essence of Casablanca within the security of our own local guides. Those who went ashore on the shuttle bus had, I believe, a slightly more ‘raw’ experience of everyday life in this busy Moroccan city.

Meanwhile on the berth opposite a large bulk carrier had arrived in preparation to loading phosphate. The roof of the shed from where is was being extracted had a massive hole and the dust emanating was like a fog, the light wind blowing the choking substance our way, covering the decks with a fine layer and making our bridge wing departure position a tad uncomfortable for a while.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.