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19th January, 2015

Agadir, Morocco

Arrival into Agadir is normally a busy affair for us up on the Bridge. There are usually small unlit fishing boats darting around and certainly not paying any attention to the likes of a big cruise ship, so we have to have our wits about us. This morning was no different so I was on the bridge early to assist the bridge team in bringing the ship to the Pilot Station. I like to mentor the chaps so, as always, I allowed my Chief Officer Dan Wright to take the ship into the pilot station and pick up the pilot. I then took control to take the ship into the port.

This morning we knew there were going to be very strong winds blowing the ship away from the berth, and at the last minute we were given a different berth which made the manoeuvre even more difficult as the wind was right on our beam. But I felt this would not be a problem as we had confirmed one of the port’s big tugs the day before so we were well prepared. As we approached the berth I couldn’t see the normal fluorescent lights of a large tug only a small, what looked like, line handling boat. When I asked the pilot where our tug was he pointed to this little boat and said that was it as all the other tugs were drydocked! I did say to him it would have been nice to have been told, but hey ho. Anyway we approached the berth with winds gusting over 25 knots. With my Bridge team, and Officers fore and aft sending lines as soon as the ship was close enough, I was able to bring the ship alongside with this little Tug boat, and I use the term loosely, pushing away. But anyway everything worked well and we were all fast by 0700 this morning.

Our guests were once again up early getting ready for another exciting day in port. Many had booked to go on an organised shore excursion today and there were plenty to choose from. The ‘Imouzzer Paradise Valley by Jeep’ tour departed in a 4x4 vehicle for a scenic drive to Paradise Valley. The varying landscape, which is ever-changing, highlights traditional local houses, set amongst the Argan trees, with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Passengers continued through the countryside and the rocky ravines of Paradise Valley beyond the steep limestone walls of the gorge. They were able to walk into the valley with the guide who talked about the local flora and fauna before making a stop at the botanical garden to see a wide variety of plants, some used for production of essential oils. Whilst there, our passengers enjoyed local refreshments.

Another popular tour was the ‘Moroccan Culture Show’. ‘Taroudant – A Taste of Morocco’ gave a flavour of traditional Morocco with a visit to Taroudant. Passengers visited this old walled city, surrounded by bastions and its historic red-ochre ramparts, which lies within view of the High Atlas Mountains. Once our guests departed the port they headed east, journeying inland through the Souss Valley, where the produce from citrus groves is exported worldwide. They passed the region’s famous Argan trees, cornfields, and other rural scenes before arriving at Taroudant. The Saadians made Taroudant their capital during the 16th century, and our passengers enjoyed a guided tour around this old city and its tiny souks, a centre for silver jewellery, medicines and spices.

During the afternoon our Classical String Quartet, The Rosamunde Quartet, performed a recital in the Drawing Room, and the Food & Beverage Team organised a special Chocolate Afternoon Tea in the Britannia Lounge.

This evening our entertainment programme began with our Classical Music Lecturer Professor George Pratt giving a pre-dinner presentation entitled ‘Music from Lands of Fire’. After dinner the Cruise Team hosted a very well attended Grand Quiz night in the Britannia Lounge, which gave everyone the chance to be a little competitive and test their General Knowledge by playing in teams against one another.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

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