|Date:||Port:||Flag:||Tour escort:||Comment:||05/11/2011||Southampton, UK|
|09/11/2011||Melilla, Spanish Morocco||(No tours)||Charming old city|
|11/11/2011||Tunis, Tunisia||(Discover the Berbers by jeep)||Late arrival into La Goulette|
|12/11/2011||Sousse, Tunisia||Pretty old city|
|13/11/2011||Valletta, Malta||Remembrance Sunday Parade|
|14/11/2011||Trapani, Sicily, Italy||Ancient Wonders of Segesta||Incredible Greek Temple!|
|16/11/2011||Algiers, Algeria||Tipaza & the Royal Mausoleum||Roman city and tomb|
|17/11/2011||Cartagena, Spain||La Manga & the Roman Theatre||Sunny city!|
|18/11/2011||Ceuta, Spanish Morocco||Sunny city!|
|19/11/2011||Casablanca, Morocco||City Tour||Wet and windy!|
|20/11/2011||Lisbon, Portugal||Sunny city!|
|23/11/2011||Southampton, England||Home by 10:30 am!|
This was a lovely cruise on Saga Pearl II. She's a delightfully small ship with only about 450 passengers on board. I booked this cruise specifically to visit Tripoli & Leptis Magna in Libya. However the Arab Spring intervened and we had to visit Trapani on Sicily instead. Well they both begin with "TR", have a "P" in the middle, end with "I" and consist of 7 letters! In the event we were lucky to have been able to visit the three Maghreb states of Tunisia, Morocco & Algeria, the latter being a first for me.
There was no dance instructor on board, so for the first time on a Saga cruise, I taught both the Line dancing and Ballroom / Latin American dance classes. The former included all the tired, old war horses like the Electric Slide and the Cowboy Charleston whilst the latter included the Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Social Rumba, Social Cha Cha and the Quickstep. It was too rough to teach the Rock Jive in the Bay of Biscay on the way home. Captain Wesley Dunlop wrote in his online web-log for Melilla: "Prior to dinner our dance host, Martin, hosted a well-attended ballroom dance class."
In the first port, Melilla in Spanish Morocco, there were no tours on offer, so I went into the interesting old city to take photographs. We were late arriving into La Goulette the port for Tunis, so the longer tours, including my "Discover the Berbers by jeep" trip, were cancelled, and I went into the city by shuttle bus instead.
No tours for me in Sousse or Valletta meant trips into these cities. It was only when I toured Sousse that I realised I had already been there back in December 2003! Unfortunately my brand new Samsung camera packed up on me in Sousse and so I had to fall back on my Samsung mobile phone camera instead. Nevertheless I took 781 photos in all!
The tour to Ancient Segesta on Sicily from the port of Trapani was exceptional. The Greek hill top theatre and temple are superb. Isn't it strange that all the best Greek temples are actually in Italy?
We were lucky to get tours in Algiers since only escorts could go ashore. The Roman town of Tipaza/Tipasa was extensive and largely unexcavated. The Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania was enormous and enigmatic. In Cartagena the tour of the concrete jungle of La Manga was of limited interest, but the new Roman theatre museum was tremendous. No tour in Ceuta meant two trips into town on the shuttle buses. John Lucas the Destinations Lecturer and I started panicking when the last shuttle bus didn't appear at 4 pm, so we started walking back to the ship for the 4:30 pm deadline. At 4:15 pm we flagged down the late shuttle bus and breathed a sigh of relief!
The City tour in Casablanca was rather wet, and being a Saturday meant we got to see the outside of the Royal Palace rather than the inside of the City Hall. The afternoon visit to Lisbon was in glorious sun. In the modern art palace I got told off for sitting on a stool which was actually a work of art!
Three passengers have since written to me saying: "I really enjoyed my time in your dance classes and am VERY grateful for your patience and perseverance with my inability and unwillingness to move my feet in the ballroom dancing!"; "Thank you also for all you did to make the cruise such fun. I really appreciated your willingness to take on the line and ballroom dance instruction, it made such a difference to the enjoyment of many of us" and "Many thanks for your very enjoyable company throughout the cruise, and also for some really good dancing - you really managed to get the party atmosphere going in the evenings with the Party Samba - not to mention YMCA..."