As a combination 65th birthday present and the fact that my husband wrote "Political Science comes to Rick's" I decided that we should go to Casablanca and the Canary Islands. What really prompted me was an email I got with this itinerary at a great price for a balcony. Our air fare was actually almost as much as the cruise.
Anyway, we had been on NCL before, sailing to the Baltics, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. Morocco seemed exotic and I was told the Canary Islands were amazing. We knew how to take a ship from Barcelona and knew the lay of the land on NCL ships having been on the Jade and the Jewel. The Spirit, however, is smaller.
Before the trip I went on roll call and chatted with cruise critic members. We all decided to "Meet and Greet' at Champaign Charlie's the second night at Sea. When we arrived in our cabin we found our excursion tickets along with an invitation to a cocktail party for Latitude members with the crew at the Star Galaxy bar. It was also the second night at sea. We settled in to our usual routine of sleeping to catch up from the jet lag and the second day at sea we began our adventures on the Spirit.
Because the Spirit is smaller, it is much more intimate. We went to the cocktail party to find the crew lined up for a reception and they greeted the guests as you entered the lounge. There was music playing and waiters coming around with drinks and appetizers. Finally, the captain got up and introduced the crew. Because I was chatting (as usual), I didn't hear where they all were from and I decided I wanted to say hi and meet the captain.
When they all dispersed, I went up to a man whom I thought was the captain only to find out he was the head of hotel services. His name is Armando Da Silva and he comes from Madeira Portugal. Because I never met a stranger, I learned many interesting facts about Armando.
After chatting and drinking at the cocktail party, we went to Champagne Charlie's to find the cruise critic gang. That was also a blast. One of the folks who was in the lounge sitting beside my husband told him that they were staying on the ship the next day because they heard Casablanca wasn't great and they have more fun staying behind. This turned out to be true. Casablanca was a disappointment. It is an industrial town, poor, with only moderately interesting sights. We did a short excursion highlighting the city and then to the Mosque. The tour was just right because we were back on the ship in a few hours and we were able to enjoy the many amenities available to us as "guests."
And when I say "guests" I mean "guests". That is the way we were treated on this ship. That evening Armando had sent a complimentary bottle of wine and a fruit plate to our cabin because he enjoyed our company. He also invited us to dinner at the Le Bistro where we had an elegant time with him and two other fascinating guests. The food was spectacular.
Our excursions on the Canary Islands were wonderful. We both like to "Veg" when we go on cruises. It is my theory that we work so hard during the year taking care of everyone that cruises have helped us to get rejuvenated because we are now the ones being taken care of. We choose excursions that will give us the lay of the land but also won't wear us out. My absolute favorite was the excursion in Larazote where we were taken to the national volcano park and then on a camel ride. The landscape in the volcano park was like being on another planet. And the camel ride was such a hoot all I could do was laugh.
Back at the ship, I met "Vuk" who comes from Croatia was also a member of the crew. When he told me that he was in charge of food and beverages I told him everything was delicious except the coffee. Terrible coffee on board. He took me to the specialty coffee to try to convince me that the specialty coffee was better. He bought me a latte which I told him was still terrible. I told him that on previous cruises I brought my own coffee with me because the balcony rooms have little coffee pots. I didn't do that this time but should have. One of the ships we were on has Seattle's Best Coffee, that was the only time I didn't complain. We Americans are such coffee snobs. But Vuk thought I was funny so he invited me and my husband for dinner. Can you imagine. And here we had bought a wine package and hadn't even got through 2 bottles of wine because everyone was taking us to dinner.
Speaking of wine. The Spirit has wine tasting sessions. I was in absolute heaven. The tastings are on sea days. Sea days are unbelievable on the Spirit. There are more things to do than you have time to do them.
The wine tasting was $15 and led by wine experts. The tasting I attended was on French wines pared with cheese. There was also beer tasting in the pub one day.
Now lets talk about the spa. OMG. I had injured myself falling on the ice three days before we were to leave for the cruise. I was pretty beat up but I was determined I wasn't going to miss this excursion. So I went up to the spa and found the acupuncturist. David was his name and is was also from Madeira Portugal. David was such a delight and also very gifted. I had three treatments which would have cost me triple in the US. By the third treatment not only did I feel better but I actually looked better. Hard to believe! And the girls who worked in the SPA were also delightful. Between the gym and the spa in the ladies locker room there is a sauna and a steam room. I always seem to be the only one there, possibly because not many people knew about it.
The pool was salt water and heated. Four hot tubs around the pool. I loved going down in the morning before breakfast and getting into the pool and hot tub. One of my favorite things to do. When I think about it I could have spent the whole time on the ship and been happy. Every member for the crew were smiling and happy. The girls who spray your hands as you enter the buffet would sing. I wanted to know where the cruise line found these people. How did they manage to have such sweet, happy people taking care of me. The food was wonderful (except the coffee) and having a balcony room was being like the rich and famous.
As I mentioned, we have done other cruises to places so much more spectacular than Morocco but I have to say that this ship was my very favorite. I am going back to work tomorrow and I am going to tell the administrators where I work that they need to take lessons from Armando. Every member of the ship we asked said they were happy and they certainly seemed to enjoy their work.