THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN FOR A DAY AT SEA

For me started to be a tradition all the time when I’m in Canary Islands to book a private boat for a relaxing day at sea. My previous experiences in Gran Canaria with Juanvi and Canarias&Baleares Gay ( www.canariasgay.eu ) were fantastic and even in Tenerife with Blue Boy and Tenerife Sailing Charters ( www.tenerifesailingcharters.com ) the trip was somehow above my expectations.

Therefore, for my end of September trip to Lanzarote I decided to find something similar. Wasn’t an easy task taking in the account how much tourism was affected by the pandemic and the inclusion of Canary islands on the UK “NOT TO GO” list.

After exploring some quite unreliable options I decided to book with Chillout Cruises Lanzarote  ( www.chilloutcruise.com ) a half day tour on Margarita II sailing along the bay of Playa Blanca. And here is the verdict of the trip, a mixture of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” for a day at sea.

THE BOAT

Margarita II is a 16 metre ship which can accommodate a maximum of 12 passengers in different areas: in the back around a table with plenty seating, in the front where comfortable mattresses created a perfect place to take as much sun as you want or on the top deck where you  “supervise” the captain during the sailing. Plus you can access the indoor space where a lounge/kitchen, a large cabin and a toilet can give you the feeling of extra-comfort during the cruise. I hired the boat only for 3 of us so was plenty of space to enjoy the 5 hours cruise.

The boat needed a serious cleaning. Bruno, the Captain, was trying to explain me that after my cruise Margarita II will go in a drydock for some “much needed TLC”. I was totally fine with the fact that the pandemic didn’t give the crew the chance for some basic maintenance, but I still believe that some surface cleaning, some dusting, a mop and a bucket with water on the decks and in the toilet can’t be cancelled by any virus or pandemic.

THE HOSTS

Bruno and Sergio were fantastic hosts, charming, polite and extremely friendly, knowing when and how to jump in a conversation and giving us enough information without transforming a “chillout cruise” in a lecture about the island and the Ocean. Was fantastic to have the feeling that you are sailing with your friends not with a hired crew.

THE ITINERARY

When you read the website and the offers of Chillout Cruises immediately you start dreaming about a perfect day with “great music, plenty of drinks and Lanzarote’s never-ending sun. A great BBQ or a selection of tapas in the early evening, and perhaps a few mojitos to chill out while you enjoy the sunset” (www.chilloutcruise.com/)

I decided, as a treat, to pay an extra 50€for a sunset cruise with a departure at 3.00PM. After leaving Playa Blanca we sailed for 30-40 minutes and we stayed docked in front of Papagayo beach for couple of hours enjoying the clear water, the sun and the excellent company of our hosts. When we started sailing again I was excited to  experience a “very special evening cruise along the southern coast of Lanzarote, and contemplate a magnificent sunset from the sea with (…) freshly done mojitos as an option, a perfect drink while you relax listening to some music as the day comes to an end.” (www.chilloutcruise.com/). Unfortunately blaming some rebel clouds Bruno turn the boat towards the port after maybe 30 minutes of sailing and give us the chance to enjoy the sunset from the bus in our way back to the hotel.

THE DRINKS

Three thumbs down for the drinks on board just because I didn’t get what I paid for and the quality of what was served, was quite low. For this type of “holiday adventure” and for the price paid the “drinks department” plays an important role in gaining customer satisfaction. I discussed with Bruno before the trip that I am not a beer drinker and Cava, white wine and soft drinks will be perfect.  Reaching the agreement before hand didn’t mean that the reality was the expected one.

For the tapas a dubious Sangria was served. In touristic places Sangria is a mix of cheap alcohol, served in exaggerated quantities to be sure that the victims got drunk fast and easy. That was the case on Margarita II. Sergio was filling up the glasses with a Sangria which will make any real Spaniard to be ashamed. I can cope with one of two glasses of a “touristic authentic” Sangria but no more than that. The other option was … water.

For the BBQ Sergio opened a bottle of excellent perfect chilled local white wine. It was a chillout cruise and when the three of us finished the bottle in the middle of the BBQ and asked for another one, the reaction of our hosts was a little bit weird…trying to find excuses (“it is not the same wine”, “it is not cold”) to don’t open the second one. We didn’t dare to ask for more. And by the way the promised/paid Cava, Mojitos or soft drinks were fantastic … but only on the website not on board.

I do understand the during the pandemic the local businesses hit a hard time and sometimes they needed to cut corners in order to survive. But when you promise and charge for something which is not offered, this is more than cutting corners is a “business killer”.

THE FOOD

“Chillout cruises” offers different catering options. When booking your trip on their website you can choose

  • For €45 a selection of tapas (smoked salmon, local cheese, Iberian ham.) + drinks (cava & local wine) (15.00€)
  • For €18 a selection of local cheeses + Drinks (Lanzarote wine & Soft Drinks) (6.00€)
  • For €45 a BBQ (fish: fish of the day, prawns, squid) + Salad + Canarian Potatoes + Drinks (sangría & soft drinks)
  • For an extra €30 an extended BBQ (ribs, sausages & beef fillets) + Salad + Canarian Potatoes + Drinks (Sangria & soft drinks)

Being our anniversary, we decided for a “full option” with tapas & BBQ and I asked Bruno before booking to skip the beer in the menu and just go for sangria, cava wine and soft drinks, of course without changing the price. Which was easily agreed.

The “tapas” was in fact a delicious plate with cheese and ham which, to be honest, was more than enough to start our trip, especially that we board the ship just after lunch.

THE BBQ was an unexpected pleasant surprise, mastered by Bruno in just couple of minutes. Excellent quality meat, ribs and Chorizo sausages served with papas arrugadas and fresh salad. The only half thumb down was for the fact that before the ride I agreed (and paid) with Bruno for a mixed BBQ with meat and seafood (as mentioned on the website), but maybe the missing seafood wasn’t about cutting corners but saving the sea life!

THE EXTRAS

After anchoring in front of Papagayo beach I enjoyed the real dimension of a “chillout cruise”, because Bruno and Margarita II offer everything you need for a great day at sea: swim, snorkel, paddle surf, fish or just relax on the deck. Something for everybody on board.

Underwater Cam in Lanzarote

VALUE FOR MONEY

Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the day spend with Chillout cruises but, when I look back at the excellent experiences I’ve had with www.canariasgay.eu for a similar price (€600 last year for an exclusive modern yacht, tapas, unlimited drinks and a paella on the beach) and when I got the bill for €925.02(£881.96) for my www.chilloutcruise.com adventure I Lanzarote a bitter taste of disappointment labelled the folders with the photos from that day.

Chillout Cruise in Lanzarote

While I do understand the fight for survival of local businesses during the Covid-19 restrictions I can’t stop thinking why some of the local businesses don’t realised that return customers can be a solution for survival.

 I am going back to Lanzarote in November and of course I would love to take another private boat trip for a day out at sea. The question is:  “Do I choose Chillout cruises (www.chilloutcruise.com) without searching for another deal or not?” I am still thinking of the answer.

~ by leonard69 on October 7, 2020.

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