Hands up all of you who have returned to a very good and newly discovered restaurant, only to be utterly disappointed and left wondering why you bothered? The same principle applies here, except in a nautical sense.
We enjoyed our first two-hour trip with Cruceros Cormorant from Camp de Mar, Mallorca. This was a lively and seemingly well organised short boat trip in a large bi-decked glass-bottomed catamaran which firstly visited a number of local resorts to collect passengers before dropping anchor just off a quiet cove. Guests were invited to jump in to swim amongst the local fish population which the crew were feeding from buckets; contrary to personal expectations, a very large number of nicely sized fish suddenly appeared; I recognised several types of fish as I'd seen many of them lying still on a bed of ice, and others equally inert on a bed of rice. This included the promised Barracuda, who, we were assured, were not seeking more than the leftovers being delivered by the handful by the crew.
The water was calm and glassy, which helped those patrons consuming beverages from the onboard bar. Of particular note was the Sangria, mixed in front of you to the sound of a ships bell. I can forgive the somehow expected yet annoyingly flippant commentary from the well tanned and muscled crew; at all other times, the amplified tannoy was put to work playing loud party music.
We enjoyed this trip very much, which explains why we booked ourselves onto their 5-hour special trip to the nature reserve island of Dragonair, with the extremely courteous and timely help of their resort representative, Eileen. This trip started well, albeit in a different single hull boat, until it was filled to the gunwales with numerous Teutonics (no gripe here, just that when I say full, I mean crammed). The bar was opened immediately, and the PA system was warmed up with the sound of very loud and incessant beat-intensive music, interspersed with irritatingly disrespectful (and politically inappropriate) crew comments.
So, how does one make a two-hour boat trip last five? The answer is to include two cove-diving-come-fish-feeding-frenzy stops (one on the way there, the other on the way back). If you don't abandon ship for a swim, you will absolutely be subjected to music played at the same volume level as when the boat is in motion. Next came the visit to the nature reserve island; this is a one hour stop over for which you must pay a landing fee of €1, and you are encouraged to leave the ship to explore this large and very arrid island, populated by millions of lizards and a few keepers. The so-called beach lies within the harbour. It is rocky, woody, lumpy, sharp, and small, but it's water is as crystal clear as a mountain stream. There are some outbuildings and essential facilities nearby, and several rocky paths lead away from the harbour, all of which look at least an hour long. This I can tell since I am the worlds foremost expert on doing as little as possible when my personal thermometer enters the red zone.
Some of the ships crew were wearing "I survived the Ponta Ponsa 2009 Booze Cruise" and "left-hand drinking rules apply" t-shirts, except for the one crew member who lying asleep and unashamedly topless across our four seats. He twitched when I deposited my walking stick nearby (his head). He simply did not move, whereas I needed to sit in order to raise my bad leg. When I approached the Captain (he too survived the PPBC), he feigned any understanding of my plight or recognition of his fellow crew member, and he entirely misunderstood my motion to remove said crew member. We resorted to sign language, but I elected simply to sit it out before we escalated into the International language of gesticulation. The second that the clock completed its one hour rest-stop revolution, the crew member magically awoke, moved over to his buddies, shared the joke, laughed, and got to work, still topless, presumably for the benefit of the ladies. It takes more than an empty six pack to impress me.
It was a long, hot trip, made hotter and longer by my impatience to get off, and by the rather delicious pint of Sangria which helped focus my thoughts into this considered narrative. Food was available, but to help you gauge the quality of this, I will leave you with the thought that whatever food remained in the large and well-used tuppaware buckets that guests had previously dined from, was fed to the hungrily appreciative fishes during the last fish'n'swim stop.
A consideration for you to Ponta Ponder over is whether such a crew will have the training, vigilance, attitude, communication skills, and manifest aptitude to conduct themselves appropriately should a real emergency occur. My wife tells me that one crew member was drinking beer, though this I didn't notice, and if I had, I perhaps would have attributed this to the notion for our general relief that he was a guest of the crew; with their uniform code, it was kind of hard to distinguish cast from crew. Should the Spanish economic situation further deteriorate, I am hopeful that our motleys might find work, as cast or crew, with Captain's Barbosa or Sparrow, but like any sequel, would it truly be worth the experience of finding out how good it is?
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