It's a beautiful morning for my little stroll on deck. I'm even getting used to waking up at 5.30 am!
A quick breakfast of croissant and Danish pastries in Cafe Promenade, which is always a lot emptier in the morning than in the afternoon where it's impossible to get a seat. Then disembarkation, which has been a very speedy process throughout this week. We are actually docked in Souda port, but there are local buses literally a minute's walk from the ship to take you into Chania. You buy a return bus ticket which is only 3 euros. It's a quick journey (15 mins approx) through the countryside and you are dropped off at the Agora (Market building).
Shopping here is like a hassle-free version of Turkey, although they share many of the souvenirs on sale: seemingly Turkey does not have the monopoly on 'evil eyes' souvenirs nor on Turkish Delight - I buy a Cretan version here to take back home for my workmates in the office.
After leaving the market it's not long till I find a CD store where, in the absence of any in-depth Greek music knowledge beyond everyone who's ever represented Hellas at Eurovision, I buy a Minos CD compilation which seems like a Greek equivalent of "Now That's What I Call Music", and which on later listening I discover that it contains Greek language "EDM" for want of a better description. Is nothing sacred? Happily there's also more traditional bouzouki-type stuff on it though :)
Some more shopping and then time for a Greek coffee stop at one of the coffees at the stunning Venetian harbour. I decide very quickly that Chania (pronounced Hania) is already my favourite of all the cruise stops, although in retrospect have revised my decision slightly, placing it a very close second behind Sicily. Anyway Chania is a very beautiful place which I fell in love with straight away. And of course there is the small matter of some very hot men (mostly waiters), most of whom are unshaven. I'm not usually a facial-hair fan but am seriously making an exception today!! :)))
Let's do lunch! Greek cuisine is another thing which shares a lot in common with its Turkish counterpart, like chicken kebabs, for example....
Despite only having 4 hours or so in Chania, we make the most of our day with shopping, coffee, sightseeing, lunch, more shopping and then, finally, getting lost (in the streets of what turns out to be a larger town than we thought) but eventually find our way back to the Market and the bus back to Souda.
Where there is a very long line to re-board the Navigator!
It's an early departure from Crete - 3.00pm - which is a pity as we would like to have spent more time there. But the ship has a sailing schedule to stick to, so that's the reason for sailing away so early. However we make the most of our extra time on the ship, including a trip to the Windjammer for mid-afternoon snacks, a stroll on deck and a coffee stop.
It seems no time until we're getting ready for dinner again. Tonight is the second of the two formal nights on this cruise, so we're going to the Windjammer for dinner, where "suggested attire" doesn't apply. Unlike the first formal night, where we felt as if we were in a very small minority, there are many more like-minded, anti-formal night people in the Windjammer, although there is a more relaxed atmosphere than at the free-for-all at breakfast and lunchtime. There is a massive selection of food for all tastes in this buffet, and I would particularly single out the Asian buffet which is of a high standard.
After dinner, Boleros (Latin bar) awaits, and another people-watching opportunity to watch the formal night brigade pass by, many in very recognisable outfits being repeated from the first formal night.
Before going on this cruise, I had visions of late-night strolls out on deck, under the moonlight, in the calm Mediterranean night air...but the reality is very different, as it's very windy out on deck again tonight. We're making our way to the cheesy cabaret of the Cosmopolitan Club once again. The 'Italian Duo' are playing, although there is only the occasional Italian-language song. Cocktail time! Here is a Torched Cherry Sangria, which was very good at the time.....although I would regret it on Saturday morning. But in the meantime it's Friday night, and tomorrow's a sea day. Which in retrospect I would be very grateful for!