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.


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 268 – Carnival Splendor Day Four

jacobPuerto Vallarta, Mexico, a city of 225,000 people on the Pacific Ocean.  Beautiful ocean views off the port, a city surrounded by mountains, there is not a lot of room for more growth.  As you talk to people who have been here before, they talk about this quaint little city, it is not so quaint anymore, PV is a big city.

We pulled in to port early this morning, when we woke and looked off our balcony, we felt like we had parked right in the center of the city.  There is no movement on the boat and there are grass parks and streets outside. The sun is up and shining beautifully, 80+ degrees for a gorgeous January day.  I’m loving it.

We left the boat with two families in tow, including three little ones, approached by everyone and their dog to grab a taxi for $5/ea or a personal van that would take us anywhere we wanted all day long for $20/person.  There were also car rental places, all we really wanted to do was go to the Malecon and take a look around.  When Nathan suggested the city bus I had a moment of indecision, I probably wouldn’t have thought of that on my own, but I’m so glad we followed through.  The bus stop was right around the corner from the cruise ship, for a total of $8 for the day, that’s not each, that’s total, nine of us traveled wherever we wanted to go.  The bus was certainly an experience, they cruise the city streets at a fast pace, the suspension wasn’t so good, but the brakes worked awesome.  It was a good thing too.  At one time I thought I was going to get to talk about being in a bus crash, but no, we just had an exciting ride.

We spent hours in town, Jacob played on the beach as the waves crashed in, he loved the waves chasing him up the beach.  There is a little plaza with some brass sculptures, we played there for a bit too.  We found a little torta shop for some sandwiches and then we walked along the Malecon and viewed the sights.  Our final stop downtown was a great little restaurant on the grotto, then a walk through the gauntlet.  We walked the flea market on the way back to the bus stop.  Every little space is filled with a different vendor and they all want to sell the trinkets they have.  It’s like walking to the blowhole near Ensenada.  La Buffadora is an iconic place, but sometimes it  doesn’t seem worth it to be harassed by those trying to sell you stuff.

Back on the ship around sundown, we were too full to have dinner, but we stopped in for dessert.  Imagine our surprise when our table of twelve was completely empty.  Tip, our waiter was happy to see us and fed us dessert as requested.  We dropped in on the Spectacular theater for the local folklore show and then back aft to the Piano Bar to listen to some terrific music.  We spent hours listening to the piano, then a quick stop at the pizza bar before bed time.  I’m pooped, we are running fast and furious and loving every minute of it.  I don’t know why I didn’t start enjoying cruising before now.

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 272 – Wheelin’ California

johnson valleyJust two days ago we were north of the Phoenix area wheelin’ some virgin ground for a race course, today we spent the day in the California desert wheelin’ some space that is very well known.  Johnson Valley lies east of LA, between 29 Palms and Apple Valley, there is a nice little mountain range with a dry lake bed on it.  It is used primarily by people on motorized vehicles of some sort.  We saw everything today from motorcycles and ATV’s to 650 hp buggies out there.

We played in the sand a little bit with some guys that are testing their vehicles for the big event coming up next month.  The King of the Hammers is a race that happens every February.  It is an Ultra4 event, so we know a ton of people participating, from the promoter to some of the UTV stock guys and a lot of folks in between.  This is the race all aspire to be in.  We will be out there camped on the lake bed for a couple of weeks ourselves.  It’s a great time to spend time with friends from all over the country and to get acquainted with new ones.

Today was purely a social call, we were a little afraid of breaking the Jeep today, so we didn’t play on the rocks.  It just didn’t make sense with our next destination.  We are headed out on a Mexican Riviera cruise for the next week and didn’t want to miss the boat.  My goal is to write every day we are away, but not post until we get to port.  My Mexican Tel-Cel card will work there, and is so easy, even I can do it.  Besides, there will be too much to do to worry about posting too!  Have an awesome week everyone, bon voyage.