Showing posts with label Grand Princess Mexican Riviera Cruise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Princess Mexican Riviera Cruise. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Grand Princess Sea Day

Hello from our last sea day of this cruise!

Well, the encouraging word money pockets made it to the Wake Show today. All seven of them were read aloud, and I found out that the dollars will be going to charity. Double score! I’m going to continue adding one each day to their comment box for this upcoming cruise as well.

Tomorrow we’ll be back in San Francisco and we will find a new bunch of cruisers showing up. There are only 20 of us in transit passengers staying on for the next voyage. I do believe that’s one of the smallest numbers we’ve seen. We originally were planning on heading home tomorrow, too. But when we realized that once we got home we’d have to shovel snow and get groceries and Christmas shop and wrap presents and put up our tree and then take it down two weeks later it all just didn’t seem worth the effort. We’re basically skipping the pre-Christmas junk this year. As long as we’re home for Christmas day (per our daughter’s orders) that’s all that matters.

As for blogging during this last cruise of the year, I think I’ll be skipping it. I’m calling it a Christmas present to myself. I spent way too much time this past year blogging live from the ships. It takes more time than you could imagine making sure I had experiences to share, searching out answers to readers’ questions, writing informative posts, and taking photos other cruisers would find of interest. While I loved every minute of it (well, most every minute of it) I’m desperately in need of a cruise where I can relax and enjoy it as a cruiser and not as a writer, reporter, blogger, or photographer. (Thanks, slow Grand Princess internet, for making that decision an easier one.)

However, if anything new or exciting comes up I’ll come back here and write about it. I will also do an end of the year wrap up sometime next week. I’ve already started on that post and let me just say this: Oh. My. Goodness. What a year of travel it was.

Just to give you an idea, here are the numbers I’ve figured so far:
11 cruises
7 different ships
90 nights at sea
12 flights
19 hotels
7 National Parks
2 NASCAR races
2 Major League Baseball games
3 road trips

Whew. Like I said, more to come on that in the next week.

Tomorrow we have San Francisco, then three sea days on our way back to Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas. Then two sea days, a day in San Francisco, then home to cold and snowy Boise, Idaho. As said in Frosty the Snowman...busy, busy, busy.

For me that’ll mean busy being a cruiser, not busy being a blogger. At least for 10 days. See you soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Grand Princess Sea Day

We have a sea day today so it’ll give me a chance to share more about the ship:
  • Crafting sessions are held twice a day when at sea. They did do one crating session (quilling) while we were in Puerto Vallarta but it had a slim turnout so was repeated twice again today with much better participation. So far all craft sessions have been in Sabatini’s.
  • The bar staff is a bit stressed at the moment and their stress level will only get worse. They have been undergoing training this week in preparation for the bar menu changing next cruise. It’s a huge change. New cocktails are being introduced and new alcohols will be found some of the standard drinks. Wines are changing, too. Bar staff aren’t quite sure how they will be balancing (and storing) old stock and new stock at the same time. It’ll be an adjustment for passengers and personnel alike. 
  • The ship is looking old. Like I’ve said before, furnishings are worn and carpets are badly stained. The calking in the cabin and public bathrooms is looking pretty black, almost mold-ish looking. And just the other day at the pool I noticed dozens and dozens of missing tiles. It’s like they have just given up on deep cleaning and repairs. I’m guessing they are waiting for dry dock (which is several months away), but some of these things could have been better maintained than this.
  • I’ve been dropping off the encouraging word money pocket each and every day in the Wake Show comment box. It was mentioned once on the Wake Show early on in the cruise but I haven’t heard a word since. Just like every other one I place somewhere, I hope the person who needs the encouragement in that very moment is the one finding them.
  • I heard that on the Sapphire Princess unused internet minutes weren’t rolling over on back to back cruises. I checked with the internet manager here on this ship and was told they would not roll over for us, either. She even said it was always that way – you lose your unused minutes. Uh, no. We’ve done plenty of back to backs and have found they usually roll over automatically. Only when I pushed a bit about losing so many minutes did she agree to adjust it for us. Once the next cruise begins we will have to visit her again and she will add the minutes to our new cruise, but only if we had, in her words, “a significant number of unused minutes”. I don’t know what she is considering significant. 30 minutes? 100 minutes? I’m not sure if this is a new policy Princess is implementing or not, but it could potentially be a big pain. Since the internet sucks so bad on this ship, it could be an even bigger pain over the next week for me. I already blew through my allotment in the first few days of this cruise so hubby has graciously allowed me to tap into his minutes today to be able to publish this blog post. If we don’t keep a “significant” number of minutes to roll over, there may be no blog posts next week. And no photos uploaded for the rest of this cruise, for sure.
  • They are still showing holiday movies on channel 27. We’ve watched several so far, most with titles that escape me. White Christmas must be a singalong version because when the songs begin, the lyrics pop up on the screen. 
  • This morning we saw dining room waiters marching through buffet cheering with pompoms, dressed in sleeveless tuxedo tops and shorts. It looked like some kind of party but we didn’t figure it out until later. There was an interdepartmental tug of war competition at the pool today. I was at the craft class and missed it but it looked like it was going to be a fun activity to watch. Next cruise, I guess.
  • As we’ve been leaving port, they’ve had live music on the Horizon Terrace at the back of deck 14. It’s nice to have that as a secondary sail away celebration location.
One more sea day tomorrow!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Cabo San Lucas

Hello from Cabo San Lucas! It is another beautiful day.
Most of the time when I come to Cabo, I go snorkeling. While the snorkel by zodiac raft is the best of all the snorkel excursions (believe me, I’ve done them all several times over), for the first time ever here I decided to go with a non-snorkel tour.

I cleared it with hubby last night. He felt comfortable enough on the ship with me going off and doing my own thing. So I did.

Whale watching it was. I’ve enjoyed whale watching in Alaska year after year and in Hawaii as well. But I do have to say, today beat them all. When you are partaking in a rum punch before 9:30 am as you pass by El Arco the day can only get better.
And by choosing to sit downstairs by the large open windows, you can avoid the 100+ other people piled on top of each other upstairs and not have to fight for a spot to see all the creatures.
Plenty of open windows and clear views.
Just hitching a ride.
Wait, me too!
The dolphins were nearby, too.
I could describe everything I saw in terms of whales, but I’ll just leave you with the pictures. You can add your own words. But boy, they sure make a big splash and a loud noise when breaching.

If this was the last port of our cruising year it would be a great way to go out. But we have one more of these cruises. Two more sea days to get us to San Francisco and then we’ll be starting this same itinerary all over again.
Life is flippin’ awesome.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mazatlan, Mexico

Hello from beautiful Mazatlan, Mexico.
We’ve been here several times and sometimes I call it beautiful, sometimes I call it exhausting, and sometimes I call it just too stinkin’ hot. But today it is definitely beautiful.

Take a look forward.
And aft.
Off the starboard side of the ship. (Although in our case today, the starboard side is where the port is located.)
Out the port side of the ship. (Which is water, not port today.)

The port in Mazatlan is a working port. You cannot just head off the gangway and walk your way anywhere. You must take a shuttle (I call it a trolley) to get from the pier to the area away from the pier.
How close do you get to the containers? Like, really close.
There is shopping, a restaurant and bar, massages, and taxis and tours. You can even walk to town from that area using the blue line. The blue line is actually painted on the road to guide you to the safer touristy areas. If you want to venture farther for some sun and sand, head to the beach. Just a heads up – people can be aggressive in hawking their wares. You may need to tell them, many of them, no more than once.

But there is no better place to relax.
 Just be sure to watch the water conditions. Go in during a red flag day and you might get beat up by the surf. I learned my lesson years ago on that one.

What about a visit to the cliff divers? I could tell you some stories on how that works, but you’ll need to see it for yourself. It’s all about the money and not nearly as awesome as it sounds when you are being hassled for tips. I’ll just leave you with a picture instead of a run down our past negative experiences.

But today was about the crew. Some crew head off to the place that will provide them the kitchen (for a price, of course) and allow them to spice up their fish just like at home. Another spot is where you might find crew who are short on time. That’s where you would have found us today, with our "son" and his friend.

After getting off the trolley shuttle, take just a few short steps through the hallway and you’ll see this place.
The Green Bar is close enough for crew to stop in, grab some food and drink and sit for a visit, and then head back for duty. The drinks are strong and cheap. Food isn't bad either.
We ate, drank, and chatted the afternoon away. It was a good day. Off to Cabo tomorrow!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Grand Princess in Manzanillo, Mexico

Hello from Manzanillo, Mexico. That is, from a ship docked in Manzanillo, Mexico. They have the front portion of deck 15 closed off so this is the closest picture we’re getting today.

We’ve been to Manzanillo before, spending our days walking through the town. Walking to the colorful Manzanillo sign.
Making our way to the giant sailfish statue.  Manzanillo is the sailfish capital of the world.

Having lunch at a restaurant on the marina.
Taking photos of the street decorations. Manzanillo is probably the closest thing to real Mexico you will find in a cruise port.

But Manzanillo, like other ports on the Mexican Riviera, is not easy for those with disabilities. Sidewalks are uneven and curbs steep. While we’ve able to make the trek through town in the past, this year it won’t be happening. While we might have considered taking a Princess excursion in this port, there is not one listed that sounds appropriate for someone with mobility difficulties. In fact, not one excursion offered by Princess on this entire cruise is wheelchair accessible. While hubby doesn’t yet need a wheelchair, he does need activities that don’t required standing, long periods of walking, or steps. Even beach options are tough. He can't sit in a lounger and needs a regular chair, and can only walk in firm sand. (Wow, when I look at that list our travel options are quickly dwindling, aren't they?)

So we had to be content staying onboard today. There was an all-crew drill today that took up a good chunk of the morning which, in turn, allowed me to stay in bed longer than usual because our crew buddies were busy. Add that to an early departure from port (all aboard is 3:30) meant right after my leisurely morning I had to get to working at tackling some emails and typing up the blog. How can it be that I have to come to Mexico to tap into my cell service to get internet? And with much better speed and reliability than the internet provided to the most traveled passengers on this ship.

Tomorrow we’re off to Mazatlan.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Grand Princess in Puerto Vallarta

I remember several years ago when our luggage was lost for the first time. We were headed home from Los Angeles and instead of the luggage heading to Boise, it headed to Puerto Vallarta. While we were waiting for its return (it took a few days), we kept joking about how our luggage got to go to Puerto Vallarta and we didn’t. At that point we didn’t even know where Puerto Vallarta was!

We do now. We’ve been back here several times over. Puerto Vallarta is usually one of my adventure ports. I typically leave hubby on the ship and go do my thing. Go to the beach, zipline in the jungle, swim with sea lions. But hubby is still struggling with even getting out of a chair so I can’t leave him by himself. While I thought we might at least make it across the street to the farmacia in the mall, we didn’t. I parked myself by the pool and alternated between floating in the water and sunning myself in a lounger. Who is lucky enough to be listening to Christmas music not from home where the temperatures are in the teens but on a cruise ship in Puerto Vallarta where the temperatures in the 80s?

I can’t complain. Puerto Vallarta was only seen from the ship on this visit and that’s okay.
We were docked right across the street form the mall and Walmart.

Staying on the ship also gave me the chance to get to yet another crafting session - quilling. I haven't seen it on a ship since our Alaskan cruise in May and I've been anxious to try it again. I tried so hard to find supplies during our mini road trip after the cruise, going as far as running from craft store to craft store in Wasilla and Anchorage, Alaska to find them. Geez, all I need to do was wait until Mexico! Go figure. So today I made my version of the Alaska state flower, the Forget-Me-Not.

Life has a way of working itself out, doesn't it?

Off to Manzanillo tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Grand Princess Sea Day

Hello from past the coast of Baja California but before Mexico.
 As anticipated, we did need to switch our schedule around today to make it to the Most Traveled Passenger Luncheon. Mostly it just required us skipping our late breakfast and me skipping the morning crafting session. It was just mask making for the Day of the Dead festival this afternoon. A celebration we planned on missing anyway.

The luncheon, as usual, was very nice.

Delicious steak

Even tastier dessert
Look how pretty it was inside
We had the Captain’s Circle host(ess) at our table and again, as usual, I asked a ton of questions. I almost think I need to start bringing my tape recorder everywhere I go. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has a story. A story that should be told. And who else better to tell it than me, right? I’d like to report I’ve been catching up on writing that book about the crew, but this trip is more about just visiting. While the interviews continue, the writing itself will have to wait.

Except for the blog, though. How can three sea days use up almost 200 minutes of very minimal internet usage? Ugh and double ugh. There are so many other things I’d like to share pictures of but just don’t have the minutes left to make it work. I hope to get some decent cell service in Puerto Vallarta tomorrow so I can access the internet and actually get to open those hundreds of emails that keep piling up. (I know, I know, first world problems.)

In the meantime I can talk about some other things that may be of interest:
*On the first sea day they had an “Independent Traveler’s Luncheon & Catch-Up” where the cruise staff organized lunch arrangements for the solo travelers.
*Holiday movies are still running on channel 27.
*Christmas music is playing around the ship.
*This cruise is obviously full of people who like to eat in the dining room because the buffet is empty at dinner time. No lines, no worries about finding a table. Makes me wonder how long those dining room lines are! Dining room early seating is at 5:00 and the buffet also opens for dinner at 5.
*Life vests are available in the pool areas. We’ve seen them on ships all year so it must be something standard.

Off to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow. I’m not sure what our plans are other than probably making a run to farmacia.