Updated: Oct 23, 2022
Sail away with me honey I put my heart in your hands
Day 4 on the prison ship ironically had us docking into Albania before breakfast. This was a place that intrigued us both when we switched over to this cruise. A place neither of us had been and had never expressed any desire to do so, yet seemed full of mystery and intrigue. The only things we knew about it was that they loved Norman Wisdom (and who doesn’t), had a capital called Tirana, were once ruled by a King Zog and were renown for selling dinghies to cross the English Channel.
Looking out from our docking position though town of Salanda looked less than inviting. Grim and half-finished was our first verdict but hopefully it would be better than that.
Today was our first stop whereby we would need to get a tender to shore as the dock was not big enough to take the ship. Karen kept referring to the fact we would need to ‘tinder’ today which I had to keep telling her meant something very different. We were not sure how frequent the tenders left or whether there would be a large queue to do so. Therefore, Karen was keen to get into breakfast so we could start ‘tindering’. She was also worried that getting off the ship and, onto the tender, may involve climbing ladders for some reason, which she reasoned would be impossible to do with a broken arm. I tried to reassure her that a ladder would preclude 75% of the passengers getting off and if the worse came to the worse I would ask that they put her on a zip line instead!
Breakfast was really good so much so that the scrambled egg was possibly the best I have ever tasted. I would have had more but Karen was itching to leave.
We collected out tender tickets. There was no queue and we walked straight on over a level stable gangway onto the tender. It was a smooth 10 meeting journey across the bay before we set foot in Albania.
Setting foot was actually the highlight of our visit. The place was grim and derelict. There was a promenade of sorts to walk along which we did. The walk was nice for being off the ship but not one we have any desire to redo. We heard lots of other people also grumbling and wondering why this was a scheduled stop.
We thought we should bring Barry an Albanian souvenir back as he had been most excited, we were visiting here. The shops were full of worse than tacky stuff. I thought he might be amused by a handmade pipe in a rack but Karen said the 100 Euro price tag or however many Leks that worked out to be (the currency) was too expensive just to be amused by something. It was a nice pipe though and got me wondering what happened to both the pipe Dad smoked for a year in the 70’s and a pipe rack I think I made for Uncle Wally at school.
So, todays cruise trip is that if you are ever thinking of going to Albania – don’t. If you are on a cruise don’t bother getting off. Contrary to popular belief there are now statues to Norman Wisdom on every corner, the men do not wear flat caps in tribute to him and not one person called me Mr Grimsdale. All very disappointing.
After a brief sit down, we decided to cut our losses and headed back to the ship for lunch, followed by cocktail outside by one of the pool areas. We were on our third Bohemian of the afternoon (our new favourite cocktail) when the Kiwi couple we had spoken to before came by. We invited them to sit with us and happily spent an hour talking about trips and places in the world. It was all rather jolly; well, it was for us but they weren’t drinking.
Our fellow cruisers really are a mixed bunch. They are predominantly Americans with a real smattering of Aussies (and Kiwi’s). There are so few Brits that when you hear the accent you take notice. The age profile is easily over 65 – 70’s. There are fewer people on disability scooters than I would have imagined though. Many of them are loud and overbearing. Some though are not. I overhear many conversations comparing this cruse/ship with the dozens of others they have done. Some people even know the crew from previous times. We felt that was all a little bit sad.
Just before 4pm we made our excuses from the Kiwis as Norwich were about to kick off away at Blackpool and I was keen to try and to try and watch it on back in the cabin. The shocking WIFI did allow me to see about 30 seconds of the match every 2 minutes. Annoyingly Karen got the alert on her watch about the goal 4 minutes before I got to see it. Nevertheless, I was happy especially with the result.
There was then an announcement over the tannoy about the fact we would be crossing a time zone shortly. We then couldn’t hear the next bit for some reason. About 30 minutes later our watches and phones went forward a hour. We were unsure what time it was though still on the ship. We had to go and ask and were told that despite already being in a new time zone, the ship time didn’t change until midnight.
For dinner we headed again to The Dining Room. Tonight, we were seated in what we thought was the posher section – it wasn’t any different though in reality. My crab cake starter was to die for as was my chicken. Karen had the prawn starter followed by Red Fish which she said was immaculately cooked.
We then headed to the Main Stage Theatre to see 'Triptonic' who were 3 guys from the West End who promised fantastic harmonies. Their song choice left much to be desired. Karen soon fell asleep and so we left after 20 minutes. They needed someone to direct their show as although they could sing their performance and chat was poor.
Given the time change and the fact we wanted to be up early tomorrow we headed back for an earlyish night and were soon sound asleep.
We are still very uncertain about all of this cruising malarky. Today has not been great and it has started to feel like Deja Vue all over again. I am staring to feel like I am in Groundhog Day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better for many reasons otherwise I am not sure I will last another 8 days onboard.