15th January – Tenerife

Day Five – Santa Cruz, Tenerife – 15th January

WARNING: THE LEGS ARE OUT. I REPEAT THE LEGS ARE OUT. 21 degrees in the shade? I’ll give that a go. Shorts. Oh yes. It’s time. Toes painted. Legs shaved. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Look out Spain, here come my legs. Sunglasses are advised, however overcast the sky. I’m not sure a shade of white this bright even has a name.

Today has had quite an annoying start. Announcements blaring from 7 in the morning and continuing as the crew drills began at half nine. Every announcement means you are deafened by being shouted at from the speakers and don’t even try to watch tv because that is automatically muted by every announcement. It’s like some kind of audiovisual hell. You are forced to hear what you don’t want and denied the ability to listen to what you do.

Bizarrely, the arrival in Tenerife has precipitated a sudden religious conversion from whomever makes the television decisions. Breakfast viewing alternatives consisted of that recent Noah film on one channel and the Moses/Exodus: Kings and whatsits film on another. Is this Old Testament country, Tenerife? I didn’t think so before, but now I am starting to wonder what it is that I have missed. There must be something. Yesterday was Law and Order and New Tricks.

Went ashore and spoke to the Hop On Hop Off Bus people. There are three cruise ships in Santa Cruz today: the others are the Aida something and the Mein Schiff 4, parent company unknown. The big eye on the front of the Aida creeps me out. Bleurgh. Anyway, the bloke was quite good at plugging his tour, and his German sounded excellent, but only one girl was taking money and the queue of people waiting for a bus was about 30 metres long. When I suggested three cruise ships might merit more than one bus every twenty minutes, the response was, and I kid you not, “But buses cost money, madam”. And yes, how do you expect to MAKE ANY if you have no buses to put all the people on?! They hadn’t even made any provision for people to sit while they waited. And still wanted eighteen euros a head. Maybe not.

Instead, we got a taxi to the Meridiano shopping centre, so that mum and I could go to C&A. She bought a skirt and I bought two tops in the sale for a fiver each. Her other favourite shop, Punto Roma, also has a branch there, so she was quite content. Then we went up to the roof terrace and had lunch in McDonalds, just so that I could have a gluten-free Maccy D’s. So enjoyable, it almost makes me weep.

Simon and Guy couldn’t meet us, due to a plumbing crisis at home (I’m pretty sure a foot-wide hole in the outside wall of your home counts as a crisis), so we just went to the Mercado (a food and flower market which, although not very old, has been designed to look like an old Moorish/Spanish building – medina-style shops around two interlocking courtyards, with a fish market below – where I bought a cheap little backpack (could have sworn I packed one, but apparently not) for port days/laptop movement, and we had a drink and watched the sellers closing up for the day. Then we pootled back to the ship, but the taxi took us a very long way round, which entailed some confusion as to intended destination, but resulted in us getting quite a nice, cheap view of the town that did not set us back anywhere near the 45 quid the tour bus would have.

Then mum had a rest, while dad and I had ice creams up on deck. The sun was by now so fierce, we had to retreat to the shade! No pleasing some people! After about an hour, we spotted the Entertainments Team fiddling with the outside PA equipment, and then the music started to get louder. This meant the sailaway party was due to get going (BOB was 4.30 today), so we beat a hasty retreat to our respective cabins for a bit of peace and quiet!

At quarter past six, the Assistant Housekeeping Manager turned up. I pointed out that I had asked to see the Housekeeping Manager. I was told she was “ill” and that he was standing in her place. So he came in and we discussed whether leaving footprints on a bathroom floor qualifies at clean. At first, he seemed to agree, and said he would redo the whole cabin, but then he seemed to change his mind and started arguing. He said that he had personally checked and there were no footprints. I said that they did not match the tread of any of my shoes and that, whilst the cabin is clearly jinxed, it isn’t haunted, and even if it was, ghosts do not wear shoes. He got more and more uppity and said there was no need for me to raise my voice. There is nothing more guaranteed to make me angry than being called either unreasonable for making a complaint or, as in this case, essentially, a liar, so, yes, I had a right to raise my voice.

He walked out.

I shit you not.

The man who is supposed to be ensuring my problems are solved and I am happy. Walked out.

I shouted down the corridor after him “Don’t you dare walk out while I’m talking to you”. He kept going.

So I locked the room and went to Reception, where I asked to speak to the Purser. I chose the word specifically, because it isn’t used any more, and therefore shows that a passenger has been travelling a LONG time with P&O. The Hotel Manager, as she is now known, came straight out to see me. She was not happy with the service I had received. She promised to re-sanitise my cabin and clean the carpets again, while I was at dinner. She agreed that the footprints did not insinuate that the place was clean, and certainly not as clean as was being suggested. She said that the room would be cleaned with Virox, which kills, and I quote, “Everything, including HIV”. HIV?! She told me to leave out all the shoes and slippers that I had been wearing, so they could Virox the soles of them all, so I could be absolutely sure that everything was as clean as possible. She will come tomorrow to inspect the cleaning job herself. She did not apologise for the Assistant Housekeeper’s behaviour, but she was clearly not happy with it.

So I went back and put out the shoes, found another pair to wear, and then went to dinner. Late. Dinner was very nice, and everyone seems to have had a nice day in Santa Cruz, but we are all clearly very tired. Mum was unhappy with her fish dish (the batter was so hard, you could hit it like a drum – there was no way she could cut it, it was rock solid), so it was replaced with a large salad. And when I say large, I mean HUGE. Ten or eleven inches in diameter and maybe four inches deep all the way across. She made a valiant effort, but there was no way she could eat it all!

I am so tired, I’m no longer sure which way is up. I think I may have to have a very VERY early night (like, now – 9pm). We got back after dinner to find an invitation to a coffee morning tomorrow for all those going all the way around, so we can meet each other. At 10.30am. I’m not usually upright by then when I’m on holiday, so it constitutes an early start for me. Might as well, though. And it would be nice to meet some of the others who are in it for the long haul. Having been told there are over 400 of us on board already, I think I’ve met two, so meeting a few more would be nice.

I’m wondering if this level of fatigue is partly due to the fact that we are finally starting to unwind. We all seem to be utterly shattered. Even typing this seems like hard work. Gnite.

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