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 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 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.