Saturday, October 19, 2019

Is it Over Yet?

As I was eating dinner in a hotel restaurant in Seattle tonight (grilled cheese sandwich, please) I had to stop myself. A horrible thought came into my mind. A terrible thought. A less-than-appreciative thought and one counterintuitive to my I choose joy and Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life tattoos.

I can't wait for this year to be over.

I’m sure it came about because of our travel this year. We’ve spent:
  • 69 days in elevators full of pushy, rude, and downright obnoxious passengers. In all my years of riding elevators in real life, I have never, ever come across the kinds of behaviors I see in cruise ship elevators. 
  • 55 days cruising on the Royal Princess where we walked a minimum of 2 miles every single day. It's a big ship! But these old joints need a break.
  • Way too much time going through airport security. Despite having TSA precheck, I complicate things by having knee replacements. Even though they tell me that's not what is showing up on the full body scanner, 10 times out of 10 I get patdowns. During those full body patdowns every inch of every single body part is touched. And sometimes places they have no business touching. So not fun.
  • Too many days of seeing too many out of control kids on cruise ships. When kids are running around and screaming - and running into other people - it's probably a pretty good time for someone (a parent maybe?) to step in.
  • A three hour flight sitting next to lap infant just a few months old. One mom couldn't manage. Ear plugs would have come in really handy today.
  • Too many minutes standing in line (or on the phone) trying to get other people's mistakes corrected. Things would run so much more smoothly if businesses looked for ways to be proactive instead of reactive. If I hear one more I'm sorry. It's not supposed to be this way. I'm going to scream.
Traveling for long periods of time can do that to you. While it's exciting and fun at times, it can also be frustrating and exhausting and even monotonous. It can wear you down. Make you want to hide in a cave, never to be seen in public again. 

But we can't do that right now. 

Our travel year is far from over. In fact, our biggest, baddest, most adventurous adventure is coming up soon. One which will test our strength, stamina, and patience. We'll be traveling to a part of the world we've never been before, doing and seeing things we could never have expected. It'll be a former history teacher's (ie hubby's) dream itinerary. It's a bit scary to go all out like this, in a bit scary part of the world, but as J, the blogger at Yellow Fish cruises frequently says, "We are not getting any younger, the flights are not getting any shorter and the world is not getting any safer."

So we must suck it up, push on, and put on a brave face. 

I'm sure there is so much more to add, but I'm tired, in an airport hotel, and don't have my luggage with me. Tomorrow will be my third day in the same set of clothes so I'm a bit grumpy and a bit spent. A good night's sleep will hopefully clear my head a bit.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Royal Princess 10 Day Mexico Cruise Catch-Up

I haven't been doing a "live from" this week but figured I might as well stop by and give an update on things.
10 day Mexican Riviera cruise on Princess Cruises 

While our turnaround day in San Pedro started as a beautiful one
Morning view from our balcony
the in-transit process was a pain in the you-know-what. Head to CBP, go outside the terminal, walk down the sidewalk, back into the security tent to line up behind all the new embarking passengers, then head back into the terminal to sit and wait. Not looking forward to next week for sure.

We did have to switch cabins again. Three weeks, three cabin changes? Yep, it seems to be our pattern. Staff do a great job of making the move, though. We take everything in the drawers and toss them into the suitcase and keep the things on hangers. The steward arranges with their supervisor to get things moved without us having to move it down the hallway ourselves.

We're in a handicap accessible mini suite cabin this week so hubby can again take a shower. Woo hoo! It's actually a Club Class mini suite so we've been having dinner in the Club Class section of the dining room every night.
This itinerary has another overnight in Cabo. We considered going out after a special Sabatini's dinner with friends, but the couple who invited us are much younger than we are and we knew we couldn't keep up. They left on a tender at 11 pm and wound up returning after 4 am. We're too old for that.
There they go, on their way to a wild Cabo night.
We spent our night time sleeping (like normal old people) and spent our days admiring the views, including this one from deck 7. I had to use of of those somewhat-secret doors I've talked about before in order to get this picture.
We also have Loreto on the itinerary.
We've never been to Loreto before and didn't really know much about it. It's a tender port so it makes it a bit of a pain, 
but so many people on the ship - the guy working the Guest Services Desk, the server out on the Horizon Terrace, and even the ladies sitting next to us in Club Class - raved about the town. After visiting we can see why.
They only have three ships visiting this year, so you can probably figure out how non-commercialized the town is. I did a check for next year and found they have 20 ships visiting. If you are considering a visit to Loreto the time to go is now. 

In Puerto Vallarta we were thinking about going out with someone but there was a crew drill and so she was delayed. We waited on her I'm done with drill and off duty until _ o'clock call but it came late so we just stayed onboard. It was so very hot and humid in Puerto Vallarta. Whew.

We had thunderstorms after leaving port.
Manzanillo was another port, but we woke up and felt like someone had played a dirty trick on us. 

We usually see this cruise ship pier. The one where you can just walk off and go grab some food or do some shopping...
But instead we wound up at the cargo port. A cargo port that is a 45 minute walk from the town. 
A cargo port with a military presence. 
Right below our balcony
The alternative to walking was grabbing shuttle tickets starting at 6:45 am. Thankfully after the first few groups they abandoned the idea of having to get tickets first and let everyone head out whenever they wanted to catch the 15 minute ride to town. We chose not to go and instead remembered the good old days when we could easily get to and from town.
A previous picture of mine from Manzanillo when we docked right in town
Dolphins accompanied us as we left Manzanillo.

Here are some other random things about the week:

They did balcony maintenance one day so we got the chance to see all the balcony doors opened for a change.
We did laundry and yet again the token machine was out of order.

We have tried to see the Good Spirits show three nights in a row, but despite it being shown in the Patter, advertised on the TV, and having a separate special menu it has been a dud. It was even worse than last week's cruise. All I can say for this ship is, unless there is a personnel shift, don't expect to be entertained or see, hear, or learn anything about the special drinks during the Good Spirits hours. Now that's a waste of some money.

The sale in the dining room had a line to check out stretching all the way to the back of the dining room. No thank you.

In the middle of the night the other night right after my bathroom trip, our phone in the cabin rang. It was the guest services desk telling me the alarm in our bathroom was going off. Uh, no. That someone had pulled the cord or pushed the alarm button. Uh, no. They weren't able to turn it off from their end so it was up to me to turn it off. Uh, no.

Even after putting on my glasses I couldn't find anything that had been pushed. Anywhere. I knew there was an emergency cord in the shower but I was positive I hadn't even come close to it. I looked everywhere.
Knowing the loud beeping the guest services desk was having to hear (I heard it over the phone and it was LOUD), in a panic (remember, this is in the middle of the night) I started tearing the bathroom apart. Towels and toilet paper and tissues went everywhere.

And that's when I found it. 

Our cabin steward had replaced our tissues with a new box and had put that new box right over the top of the alarm button. I must have touched the tissue box when I was going to the bathroom and the tissue box in turn decided to press upon the alarm button. 
See the alarm button hiding there now that I've moved the tissue box?
One more thing worth mentioning is something that may be impacting my travel plans. This week I received a jury duty notice in the mail at home. (If you haven't signed up for USPS Informed Delivery yet, you should.) Thankfully the reporting date is on the outside of the envelope, but unfortunately those dates are during our month-long Rome to Singapore voyage. I was able to go online and request a jury duty postponement. If I'm approved, yay. If not approved, jury duty is a covered reason under my Princess Vacation Protection Plan. Either way, it is an UGH situation.
Update: I received a postponement. Barely. After almost 40 hours of flights, stop overs, and layovers as I make my way back from Singapore to Boise, I will be starting jury duty within hours of arriving back home. Yeah, double UGH.

One more sea day until... 
We're back to San Pedro.
Another beautiful morning in San Pedro.
Here we go with another turnaround day. More immigration and walking and security lines as well as a whole bunch new guests coming onboard. So I guess this blog post really became a cruise wrap-up.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Royal Princess Cabo Cruise - Last Sea Day

Here we go with our last sea day as we head back to San Pedro. We had a beautiful sunrise showing up outside our balcony this morning and even the Seawalk's colors got into the action.
We had our typical leisurely buffet breakfast out back on the Horizon Terrace, spent some time down at International Cafe, and made it by Princess Live just in time to watch Matt O' filming the Wake Show.

For those who don't know, the Wake Show is the TV show filmed every day that highlights the activities happening around the ship. Compared to the Wake Show filmed on other Princess ships, the one Matt O' films is in a league of its own. Matt is highly entertaining and the engagement and excitement he shows with his cohosts is just fun to watch. There is no script, and he certainly doesn't need one. If you are a passenger on a ship where Matt is the cruise director, definitely tune into the Wake Show!

Today's filming was for our first day of our next cruise. Here it is October 3 and he's having to get into the mood for October 5. We have a 10 day cruise coming up with several sea days and as we heard during the filming, the cruise is packed with activities. We also learned the passenger make up for the next cruise - 2,000 Platinum and Elites, 1,000 Ruby and Golds, and 800 newbies. 

We will be changing cabins tomorrow, heading from this regular mini suite to a handicap accessible one. There is this issue we've been facing. We had it last week on the Golden. We had it this week. And the cruise after this upcoming one we have it too. The issue is this:

Nice shower, right? Unfortunately it's a tub/shower combo and hubby can't get over the edge of the tub to get to the shower. So when we were on the Golden Princess for three days he couldn't shower. For the five days on this ship he couldn't shower. (Thank goodness we had one night on land in San Francisco where we had a stand-alone shower.) So to get 10 days out of 23 cruise days in a cabin where your spouse can actually take a shower? I am going to celebrate, for sure.

Today we went to the dining room for lunch. We typically don't go, but one of our crew member friends got moved from the buffet to the dining room so it's the only way we get to see her. I usually don't post menus either, but since we were there I grabbed a photo for you.

Nothing else too exciting to report. Maybe something will show up between now and bedtime. If so, I'll be sure to stop back and share.

San Pedro turnaround day tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Royal Princess in Cabo San Lucas Part II

Hello from our second day in Cabo San Lucas!

Today wasn't actually a full day as the last tender was at noon. We had tenders running through the night, but there was a lot of confusion about exactly how often they were running. Crew were under the impression if anyone (passengers included) were off the ship at 2am they wouldn't be able to get back until morning. Yet we also heard they were running every half hour every night. So who knows?We did hear them ever so often throughout the night, and boy was it a loud-loud-loud crowd coming back onboard. More than a few obviously had a great day (and night and morning) filled with some tasty libations.
Ship tenders, AKA orange party boats
The Patter did tell us the frequency of tenders/water shuttles would increase again at 7 am and by the looks of it, they were right on. We had five ship tenders and another three local tenders waiting just a bit before 7. 
For us, today was another stay-on-the-ship cruise with great morning and daytime views.
Such a beautiful sunrise
Not a shabby breakfast view, either
Before we left Cabo, I saw something in the water. This picture was taken almost straight down over the top of it from our cabin on deck 12. I saw it from several angles and although from this angle it looks like a dolphin it definitely was not a dolphin.

I want to mention a few things about this ship I haven't gotten around to yet.
  • I've said this before, but the Royal Princess has the friendliest crew onboard. And they want things to be right. For example, last night I grabbed a steak off the buffet for dinner. Once I cut into it, I thought I heard a moo. (Or maybe it was the wild crowd onshore in Cabo?) Just kidding, but the meat was raw. Like cold raw.
I got up from the table to go get a new one and someone stopped me and asked me if I needed anything. I explained about the steak issue. But I didn't have to take care of it myself - someone else went and got me a new one. Replaced it with a nice, hot, juicy steak. Oh so yummy!
  • The inconsistencies of service from cabin stewards across the Princess fleet continues, but this time it has swung wildly towards the good side. We have a great cabin steward who keeps our ice bucket full, prioritizes our cabin to be cleaned right away, and keeps things clean. Next cruise we are heading down the hallway but I'm not sure if we'll have the same guy or not so I may see another swing yet the other way. Or maybe not.
  • I turned in my free Elite minutes for the MedallionNet unlimited package. The WiFi here in Mexico is definitely an improvement over what we saw during our five weeks on this ship in Alaska.
  • Since this was a short cruise there was no Captain's Circle Party so we got the free drink coupons like we did last week on the Golden Princess. 
  • We went to the Good Spirits at Sea thingy tonight. It happens in the Piazza bar on deck 5 during certain times of the evening. It is described as, "the place where every drink is an experience and every drink tells a story. Indulge as our unique cocktails and the craftsmanship of our mixologist immerse you into the extraordinary culture of your chosen destination." Well, I'm not exactly sure what that is supposed to mean but I can tell you what we saw. A special menu is available only during those set hours. 
A bartender wears a headset and talks to the crowd while a camera films the drinks he makes. But only the drinks on the special menu.
If there are no people ordering the special drinks you either get to watch a blank screen or snippets of the Good Spirits TV show. That's it. That's all. We didn't see (and hear about) more than a couple drinks before we decided to give up.
Last sea day tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Royal Princess in Cabo San Lucas, Part I

Hello from a not stormy Cabo San Lucas.

The only photo of Cabo you'll get from us is one taken from the Royal Princess. While the ship is here for an overnighter, there is no way we'll be joining the tender ticket line. What craziness. Despite information posted in the Patter, discussed on the Wake Show, and shown on the portals around the ship, people didn't get it.

We had a few different things going on. 
*We had new passengers who have never sailed before who had no clue we weren't docking. They thought they could just walk off the ship. Didn't have a clue what a water shuttle (the new term for a tender) was. 
*We had other passengers who understood there were water shuttles being used but thought they could just go get on one.
*Experienced passengers thought they should just go to the dining room and get a ticket when they were ready to go ashore.
*Very experienced passengers thought they could just show their Elite cards and get on the next shuttle.

But this ship started handing out tender tickets at 10am for our 1 pm arrival. Much, much earlier than you'll find on the other ships. And Elite passengers went to an entirely different place for their numbered tickets.

It was quite the mess. We were down in International Cafe during the arrival time and watched swarms of guests who had not followed any of the instructions given. It was great people watching for sure, but the poor cruise staff!

Here we are at 3:40 in the afternoon and the ship is on water shuttle group number 92. Yikes. (Update: At 3:50 tickets were no longer needed. So that makes it close to three hours to get everyone who wanted to go ashore outta here.) Yep, we're skipping it to watch the view from our balcony instead. Not sure if we'll make it out tomorrow, but I'm guessing not.

You can find the Patters from this voyage here.