Day 264 – Carnival Splendor Day Eight and Embarkation (Day 9)

deckI am so tired, who knew a vacation could wear you out so thoroughly.  It is our “extra day” – a day at sea and they have added a bunch of stuff to the schedule to keep us all entertained for an extra day.  But, I’m done, I’m so tired, I really don’t want to play too hard.  A little food, a little football, a little more food, I’m starting to get a little energy, so we are going out for the night.

Bingo is being played one more time in the Spectacular lounge, we didn’t win big last night, so we are back again.  Kayla and Lindsey are here, and we have all decided to play.  When K and I went to buy our Bingo cards, her Carnival card had been shut off, so I bought all the bingo cards and let them pick which one they wanted to play.  The only stipulation I put on it was if either of them win, we split the pot.  The pot was $1199.  Imagine our surprise when Lindsey WON!  What a nice way to end a great cruise, it wasn’t enough to cover our cruising costs, but it did cover the girls – yay for them!

Finally docked back in Long Beach, we learned a lot about cruising this week, so here is my list of advice.

  • Get involved, get active, participate – remember you don’t know these people so you can’t be embarrassed
  • If you have a shell, break out of it – it can be so much fun
  • There is food available all the time, stick to some kind of schedule so you don’t spend all your time in line or worse, in a food coma
  • If you like to drink alcohol, go ahead and buy the alcohol package – we didn’t think we could run up a $600 bar tab in a week’s time, we were wrong – it’s not too hard at $8 to $10 a drink
  • Tour the ship regularly – things change, other things start happening that you might miss, check it all out
  • Get outside
  • Don’t get uptight – by the end of the cruise we had found a number of a**holes, mostly people who weren’t enjoying the company they were keeping – try not to be one of these
  • If you can’t be in love with the one you are with on a cruise ship, you might as well pack it in – what a romantic vacation
  • Cruises are a true vacation – no travel to worry about, no meals to worry about and for the most part, you don’t have to worry about money either
  • Talk to the people around you, you might make some great friends

We are already planning another cruise vacation, thinking we might need to plan a “racers” cruise with spouses and classes, who knew it could be so much fun, I’m glad we finally discovered that.

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Day 265 – Carnival Splendor Day Seven

thriller-dance22It’s a beautiful day at sea, a little choppy out there and the temperature has dropped as we started heading north, but it’s still at least 60 outside.  We played a little bingo this morning and then found our way to the sports bar for the football game.  Rich is a huge San Francisco fan.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Giants or the 49r’s, he is a tried and true fan.  We had to squeeze in to the bar during the Denver game to be sure we could find a seat.  Turns out the ship figured out how many football fans were onboard and put the game up on the giant screen at the Lido deck pool, but by then, we were ensconsed in the bar.  We met some great football fans and watched San Franscisco win, then I was off to the Spectacular to learn how to dance Thriller.

My daughter, Haley, is a dancer and singer.  Well, she was never a dancer before college, but she is now.  She can pick up moves super fast and one of those was the Thriller dance back in November.  She and her crew were the hosts at a party for the Canadian Railway and they did a flash mob of Thriller for the guests.  When she told me about it, she said the liaison had taught it to them and it took minutes, so I was feeling pretty confident about learning the dance.  I mean, really, if a bunch of dancers could learn it in minutes I should be able to learn it in a half hour or so.  Yep, no.

Samuel was teaching again, we learned a little salsa from him earlier in the week.  The moves aren’t terribly hard, but there are a bunch of them and they come on fast.  I think if they slow the music way down for me, I might get it after another hour of trying.  The only good thing, my kids were there laughing with me.

After that we played our last game of bingo and then we were in the house for the Free Cruise raffle and the free bar tab raffle.  At one time in my life, I won every raffle I entered, my luck was phenomenal.  There was one Relay for Life event I went to that I won 9 of the 12 raffles I entered.  Last year, at Jeepers Jamboree, I had the numbers on either side of the giveaway for the Jeep.  So, of course, I was right in there for the free cruise.  The numbers I held were 485426 through 485430.  The winner was 485425.  One number.  I told Rich that I used up all my luck when I got him, so I don’t win anything anymore. Bummer, although I wouldn’t trade him in for anything.

Today was supposed to be our last day on the cruise, I’m so glad we get one more.

Day 266 – Carnival Splendor Day Six

tailSo, it’s day three in Puerto Vallarta, we are allowed to get off the ship beginning at 8 this morning, but we have to be back on by 4 – new departure time out of PV is set for 5 p.m.  We’ve been watching the repairs, they seem to be going slow.  There are a lot of grumbly people on board, folks who think we should have repaired in Long Beach before we left, others who are insisting to get off the boat NOW.  Carnival has offered $200 to anyone who needs to change their departure flights; the airlines aren’t charging any change fees and we get an extra day aboard with no charge, hell, they are even picking up the gratuities.  But, no, some people think they have to be home for Monday, I’m really glad, I’m not one of those.  In our world, it just really doesn’t matter.  We watched hundreds of people get off the ship to fly home.  Carnival made it right for all of them, not only did they cover the change fees, but they also covered the hotel rooms for them.  Now, I’m thinking about the hotels for the departing passengers, what about all of those coming in for next weeks cruise, Are they covering the hotels for those people too?  That could be another 3000 people, just because a repair didn’t happen fast enough.  Wow, that’s a cruiseline who takes care of it’s guests.

We’ve been bouncing from activity to activity today, we went to the Love and Marriage show, hoping to be on it, but they picked the newest married and we’ve already been married for 21 days, they also picked the longest married, now they were funny.

We met the girls up on the spa deck for some swimming with the grandson, he is fearless with his life jacket on.  I loved when he led the train and swam all around the pool with Kayla and I hanging on making choo-choo noises.  We got a bunch of smiles from the adults during that one.  Dressed for dinner we met the whole crew again, Jimmy (Kayla’s father-in-law ) has been quarantined.  Turns out he stopped down at the infirmary for some immodium and they threw him back in to his room for 24 hours.  No one likes the thought of an epidemic of any kind on a small floating city.

Another comedy show and a little time in the piano bar, it has been an awesome day and we are underway again. The ship is repaired and we set sail a little after 7:00, just a bit behind schedule, but not bad.

 

Day 267 – Carnival Splendor Day Five

pinnacleSo that whole tired thing has caught up to me, we are in port at Puerto Vallarta and I have no desire to go anywhere.  I know there are about a billion things we could be doing in the city, but five days of play has created the need for a day off.  Swimsuits on, we are headed to the aft lido deck for the day.  In and out of the pool and the hot tub, it was a great relaxing afternoon.

Highlight of the day:  the Pinnacle restaurant.  We attended a cooking demonstration back on Monday held at the steakhouse on board, the food was magnificent, so a reservation at the Pinnacle seemed completely in line.  We got to dinner at 6:15, it wasn’t over until well after eight.  A squash soup, a bleu cheese salad, 10 ounce lobster tail with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli followed by a chocolate sampler dessert that included tiramisu, banana pannaceta, and two other delicious desserts.  Oh, I am a happy girl.  Every part of the meal was exquisite.

Our ship was set to set sail today at 11 p.m. – yeah, that didn’t happen.  We had gotten two days in PV because of a repair that is being made on the seals around the propulsion shaft.  From our cabin, we’ve been watching the goings on near the repair site.  After dinner, it sure didn’t look like they were wrapping up.  Not long after, they announced we would be staying in PV another day.  What that meant though was that the cruise was going to last a whole nother day.  Staying in Puerto Vallarta meant we couldn’t get to Long Beach on Sunday, the soonest we could arrive is Monday.  Oh, darn…we have to stay an extra day.  This is our second vacation in six months that we couldn’t get back on time, I’m lovin’ it.

Not everyone is happy about this change, but it’s awesome for us. An extra day is awesome, we are having such a good time, and who cares where we spend Sunday, in town or out doesn’t really have an impact on our world.

Day 269 – Carnival Splendor Day Three

caboCabo San Lucas, the tip of Baja, a small spit of land at the end of Baja CaliforniaSur.  We actually spend a lot of time in Baja, but we rarely get to Cabo, it’s just a little too far down the tip past La Paz, and everywhere else we go in Baja provides awesome views and entertainment, as well.

Dawn arrived just as we were pulling in to Cabo, we cruised past the Arch and Lover’s Beach and dropped in to the port stopping right in the middle of the port.  We anchored there and then took tenders over to the beach a couple hours later.  We immediately walked past the tourist section until we found a taco shack.  We love taco shacks.  A little al pastor, Camerone and Pescada and we were in business. Great little tacos, we moved on down the beach with our tummies full and a plan.  We were headed to The Office, based on a recommendation from a friend.  We stopped at an info booth and looked at a map, the guys there were great, Rich bs’d with them for a bit and then we headed out following the map.  We turned at the big wash and headed down the beach.  The sand was soft, very soft, we felt like we were working out with every step.  We continued down the beach, step after step after step.  Along the way, Rich stopped a local and asked where the Office was?  It turns out, we were going the wrong way.  After the local went along, we smiled at each other and made the turn.  It was even longer back the other way.  So, our work out done, we stopped at the Mango Bar and drank beer.  That seemed the smarter way to spend the afternoon.

The Mango was fun, lots of contests on the stage, from beer drinking to booty shaking, the staff was fun and kept us entertained.  When it was time to return to the ship, we caught a water taxi back, no more trudging through deep, soft sand for us.

Back on board, we found a sandwich, then Rich had an acupuncture treatment and I had a massage.  The Cloud Nine spa is a beautiful area, very peaceful and the therapists are awesome.  We went back to the restaurant and grabbed some dinner, then off to the Dive In Theater for a little Captain America.  Follow that with a late night comedy act and then I ran off to babysit for my grandson.  I love Jacob, he is an enjoyable three year old.  We read and played, he tucked me in and then he fell off to sleep, I wasn’t far behind him.  When the girls came home, they surprised me, I was drooling in never-never land.  Babysitting chores done, I joined Rich at the last comedy hour.  This is so much fun.

I am loving this cruise ship life, but I’m so not sure when I’m going to catch up on my sleep.

Day 270 – Carnival Splendor Day Two

elegantNo rest for the wicked on our little cruise.  Late night last night followed by an early morning.  As soon as the sun was up, Rich was up too, I sent him to breakfast on his own before I got up to shower, our plan was to meet up before 11.  I headed out to the Scrapbook session, it turned out to be just a meet and greet with a bunch of professional scrapbookers.  These ladies totally knew what they wanted, I was just a wannabe.  Too much pressure, I can’t compete with that, so I bailed and went back to the room, in time to meet Rich and go to an acupuncture seminar.  It was interesting how much information we got from Victoria regarding Chinese medicine in general.  I volunteered to be the acupuncture “victim” to prove that it didn’t hurt, that was a first for me.

At noon we made a great discovery, we attended the cooking demonstration held at the Pinnacle Steakhouse.  Not really sure what to expect, we found some incredible food.  The chefs demonstrated a Mushroom Cappuchino (soup), blue cheese salad, awesome chicken stacked on macaroni and cheese and potato wedges, and tiramisu for dessert.  They served all of the above in small portions to everyone at the demonstration, it all tasted incredible.  The macaroni and cheese was all done with white cheeses with truffle oil added.  I love truffle oil.  Following the great, unexpected meal, we stopped by the Lido deck because our grandson was swimming.  We got to dance and watch the various contests being held.

Following that we found the jazz band, then were lucky enough to find some people we had met the night before.  One of the best things about cruising is the people that are on the boat.  You can be as friendly as you want to be, fortunately for us, we make friends easily.  We enjoyed a couple of hours with Beth and Brian from Oregon and then ran off to get dressed for the Elegant dinner.

Dressed in our best, we made a quick stop for a consultation with the acupuncturist before dinner.  The meals on the ship are always so good, our head waiter, Tip, is friendly and remembers all of our names.  We followed it with birthday cake for Jimmy (that is part of why we are here) and then we headed out again.  The Spectacular theater hosted the Las Vegas themed nightclub show.  Lots of singing and dancing, then we moved to the aft of the ship and took in the comedy stylings of Seth Buchwald.  A quick stop in the Nightclub for a little dancing at the 70’s night, we went back for more adult comedy and then hit the pizza parlor for a late night snack.

I have no idea what time we finally bailed for our room, like I said, no rest for the wicked, Rich keeps us moving constantly.

Day 271 – Carnival Splendor Day One

carnivalWe’re back!  Awesome week on the Carnival Splendor – this was our adventure from day one.

Cruising has not really been my idea of fun.  I’ve done it once before, with my sister and one of my best friends, we did an Alaskan cruise, and while it was fun, I didn’t think it was the end all be all vacation.  So going on a cruise this time was something I was just a little mediocre about.  My daughter, Kayla, invited us.  She got married earlier in 2012 and her family was going to celebrate her father-in-laws 60th birthday, so all of Lindsey’s family is here.  Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Sister-in-law, nephews and us.  We are here for Kayla.  Now, I love my daughter, but years ago, I vowed never to vacation with her again.  We joke when we introduce her that she is “Kayla Krehbiel, ruining vacations since 1987.”  She just gets stressed out about having fun and then wigs out.  But that’s another story.

So the cruise wasn’t really our idea, but we embraced it.  It’s been on the agenda for months, we just got lucky enough to call it a Honeymoon Cruise after we got married 15 days ago.  Rich is ecstatic, I don’t think he’s ever actually taken a vacation, so this is a brand new experience for him.  I didn’t recognize how ecstatic he was until we got to the dock.

I always let him make the plans when we are headed somewhere, whether by plane or now by boat, I would tend to stress him out because I don’t arrive as early as everyone else, so planning departures is always his job.  He said we were leaving Temecula for Long Beach by 10:30.  We were out the door by 10:10, a quick stop for breakfast on the way and we arrived at the departure port at 1:20.  Perfect timing.  Kayla and the rest of the family were already on board, we were standing in line.  Now for those of you who haven’t had this experience, try to picture it.  3006 passengers being herded onto a gangplank in less than three hours.  There is a huge dome that swallows all the people and spits them out where they need to be.  It’s pretty painless, they dropped us in to some lines and then moved our lines forward.  You can tell they’ve done this before.  We were through the lines in no time.  We had dropped our bags with the porter already and then moved through the line to get our room keys.  Of course, I hadn’t printed any documents to carry on, guess what?  It’s not a problem, we didn’t need anything except our passports.  So easy.

On board the ship, we checked out our room.  Just a standard space with a balcony, it’s probably comparable to our regular living quarters.  Kayla came by the room to check out ours, they are in the bowels of the ship in a small interior room, it’s perfect for them, not much sway down there.  We appeared for our mandatory safety briefing.  Don’t even think about skipping that, the stewards check all the rooms, including the balconies for stowaways.  The extent of the briefing was how to put on your life vest and where to go.  A worthwhile thing to know.  We visited with some couples around us and the time passed quickly.

After the briefing, we toured the ship as we left the dock, a rain squall came in just as we were leaving, so not many people were out getting pictures of the skyline as we left.  We had most of the exterior to ourselves.  Starting at the top, Deck 11, we toured the spa, the Pinnacle restaurant and moved down to Deck 10.  Lots of water structures there for playing on, then down to Deck 9, the Lido deck.  An indoor pool that was being filled, a huge movie screen and the food.  Huge spaces to feed those 3006 people more than they need to eat at any given time.  There are restaurants parked all over the Lido deck.

At six we appeared for the family dinner, our table captain appears to be fun, he made our grandson, Jacob, enjoy eating his dinner, and that is an accomplishment all in its self.  Dinner was good, Rich and I excused ourselves for the Ballroom Dancing lesson.  A little cha-cha and a little salsa dancing.  There were a few times we bumped bellies because I was going the wrong direction.  After the dancing, we stayed for the rest of the evening in the Spectacular, Spectacular stage.  I got picked to play on their game show.  Never done that before, I didn’t know many of the answers, but I had a blast.  I played with Matt and Moody and we laughed a lot.  It was fun, we followed that with Bingo and the night show and finally ended with the comedians.  There is so much to do, I didn’t think Rich would come to bed.  He’s a little afraid of missing something fun.  We had a great time on our first day, there is so much to do and so many people to meet.  We are enjoying that immensely.  I can’t wait to see what he wants to do tomorrow.