Monday, February 6, 2023

Searching for Joy in Mazatlan, Mexico

Hello from Mazatlan!

It was almost exactly three years ago on February 18, 2020, when I was last in Mazatlan. We had a day full of conversation and laughter and food and drink. And Jell-O shots and balloon hats. And joy. Pure joy. Life was carefree and fun, and I have a picture to prove it.
A face full of happiness in 2020

Then then the joy was no more. Mazatlan wound up being the last cruise port we visited before Covid shut the industry down. And sent us into our homes. Unfortunately, hubby and I never came back out and have been locked away from the world ever since. Shopping at the mall or grocery store? Amazon and Walmart grocery delivery takes care of that for us. Haircuts? Nope. I use the hair clippers to cut us both short. Going to the movies? Thanks to Netflix we’re just fine in front of our tv. Eating out in restaurants? Not until this week. Which makes this cruise our comeback tour and today's visit to Mazatlan our search-for-joy (and normalcy) day.

In the pre-pandemic years we did a lot of different things in Mazatlan. You can find that blog post here. But today we went to the place that kept us going through Covid, The Green Bar. It was the place we had held in our minds as the best last day we ever had. So today we ate, drank, had some Jell-O shots, and even got balloon hats.

While I think hubby found his joy, I struggled to find mine. Even though I left my assistant in charge of the business, a customer issue came up that needed my attention. (Can't have too much fun - or drink - when you’re trying to remain clear headed and professional!) Even after the issue was resolved I realized my mind - and old lady body - is just in a different place than it was back then. Hopefully the carefree joy will return someday. 

Guess today just wasn’t the day.
Still searching for joy in 2023

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Royal Princess in Manzanillo, Mexico

Hello from Manzanillo, Mexico! 

Hubby stayed onboard (he wasn't about to tackle the very long and hot pier) and I headed out and rolled around the waterfront area on my scooter. This is definitely a port that would have been inaccessible to me without one. Those poor folks with walkers and canes sure were struggling. I stayed within view of the ship because once you get very far away you encounter broken up sidewalks and those are definitely not fun on a scooter. In the waterfront area the cobblestones weren't fun either, and the wheelchair curb cutouts were so steep I had to get off the scooter several times to pull it up and down the ramps. But I still had a good time and was able to see some colorful additions to the area.
New sculptures line the waterfront
(Hubby tells me these were here before?)
Just one of the sculptures depicting the horoscope signs

Otherwise it doesn't seem like all that much has changed since the last couple times we were here.
Royal Princess today
The Grand Princess in 2018
Sailfish statue today.
The people walking by give you a sense of the size of this thing.
Sailfish statue in 2018
Did you know Manzanillo is the sailfish capital of the world?
Police presence today
Police presence in 2019

Did you know Manzanillo is the busiest cargo port in Mexico? Yep, the port handled roughly 2.68 million metric tons of cargo just in 2022. That's a lot of goods!
Cargo ship watching in 2019.
Cargo ship watching today 
Today's ship traveled the Hong Kong-Taiwan-China-Korea-Mexico route.

Being today is Sunday lots of locals were out and about, with many taking pictures in front of the ship.
How lucky am I that this is my home for the week?

See you tomorrow from Mazatlan!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Royal Princess in Puerto Vallarta

Hello from a hazy Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! 

I remember several years ago when our luggage was lost for the first time. We were headed home from LAX and instead of the luggage heading to Boise it headed to Puerto Vallarta. As we waited 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 sure do now!

We've been here many times since. Puerto Vallarta is where I learned to zipline in the jungle, rode a mule, and swam with sea lions. We've been to the beach, hubby has been to the casino, and we had a friend from Mexico City meet up with us for lunch and drinks while she vacationing here. Puerto Vallarta is where I used to get my prescription medications - without a prescription. We've made trips to Walmart to stock up on candy for the crew, and let's not forget how we followed the locals and learned the art of jaywalking.
So much traffic.
Now that we both have lost some of our mobility, we decided to stick close to the ship today. Puerto Vallarta has a new cruise terminal that we hadn't checked out before so we just wandered in it and looked around. Hubby did wind up buying a small pack of cigars he can chew on. (Yuck. But guess it's better than smoking them.)

Once we got back onboard, hubby got a lunch he's been craving since San Francisco. There we'd pass by food carts cooking up hot dogs, peppers, and onions. The smell was amazing. So he got a hot dog from the Trident Grill and grilled peppers and onions from Horizon Court buffet. Throw in some fries and the boy munched away as I sat on the Horizon Terrace watching the cars and people and birds go by.

Up tomorrow, Manzanillo!

Friday, February 3, 2023

No FOMO on the Royal Princess

It would be easy to have FOMO (fear of missing out) on a cruise ship. Each and every day there are so many activities to choose from there is no way to get them all in. Just check out today's listing all of the activities around the ship:

You’ll find trivia, games, and sports. Movies, dance classes, and arts and crafts. Seminars and lectures. Comedians, bands, and productions shows. Throw in meals and swimming and visiting with family and friends and you’ve got yourself a busy day. You won't be able to fit it all in, so just mark the activities you’d like to attend then play it by ear. Balance your activities so you don’t go home needing a vacation from the vacation. And don't worry about FOMO! 

As for us, I don't think we did anything on the list. Somehow we finished breakfast early and wound up with some time to kill before a meetup with a crew member. Hubby went his own way (probably to go BS with someone else) and I headed to a place I used to enjoy years ago - the casino. Not so much now, but it was a good place to play for a little bit. Then a few hours later we met back up and he again went his way (probably more BSing somewhere) and I headed to the balcony for some sun...

Straight on to Mexico, please!

and got more than I bargained for. I've been in Alaska enough to know that sound. And what produces the sound. Again and again (and again) I saw bursts in the water.
Moments after the bursts I'd see these fine ladies and gentlemen:
I spent a good chunk of the day just watching and listening. Dozens and dozens of whales appeared over the next few hours. What a way to spend a day. Hubby joined me at some point, but I was too busy just being I have no idea what time it was when he came back to the cabin.
Today was also the day we planned on afternoon tea in our cabin. We took advantage of the warm weather on the balcony to stuff our faces with scones, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Along with tea, of course. (Someone may or may not have eaten one or more items before I got the pictures taken.)
We're stuffed, we're tired, and our skin is a little bit tanner than when we started the morning. While we didn't attend even one activity listed on today's event list, we had a great day at sea. With no FOMO.

Up tomorrow - Puerto Vallarta! 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Living the Suite Life on the Royal Princess

After 80+ cruises with Princess this is the first time we’ve ever stayed in a suite. Thanks to the very-very last minute booking where the only handicapped cabin available was a suite, we are now lucky enough to enjoy the suite life on the Royal Princess. As today is another sea day, I thought I’d share the suite benefits we’ve been able to experience on Princess and show off our accessible cabin, R617. The cabin is located on the Riviera Deck and is close to the aft elevators and the Concierge Lounge. I’ll be adding a video later when the WiFi isn’t so sloooow.

As the door closes behind you, you can see there is a little entryway and closets on both sides. The mini bar area and refrigerator are there as well. As a suite guest you get one complimentary 20 piece mini bar set up. Then as an elite guest we get a set up so we’re running with two mini bar setups this cruise.

When we arrived in our cabin, we found an envelope with a couple of slimline wallets holding cards for access to the Concierge Lounge. You can read all about my Pre-Covid experience with the Concierge Lounge here.

As far as I can tell, all the benefits of it have remained intact since our last time there. Free alcoholic drinks from 5-7, food and water and coffee available all day (you can even bring things back to your cabin - and balcony), and a dedicated concierge to attend to all your needs.

We also had a letter outlining the benefits for suite guests.

Once you walk into the suite (or in my case, roll) you have a sitting area straight ahead. I park my scooter right in front of the desk area because I can plug it in there.


To the left of the seating area is the bedroom area. There’s a curtain you can close to divide the two rooms, if desired. As you can see, there are two doors out to the balcony. The door closest to the seating area is wheelchair accessible but the one closest to the bed is not. (If you want to know more about the mechanism that moves to make the balcony accessible or see another type of handicapped cabin on Royal Princess, check out my post here.)

The bed has several drawers on each side. The bed can be made into two twins if you’d like.

One side of the bed is closest to the balcony while the other is closest to the bathroom. We have a roll in shower…

as well as grab bars around the toilet. The bar nearest the shower can be raised and lowered.

Shelving in the bathroom is pretty high up for those wheelchair bound but the lower shelf is more easily accessible.

Probably the biggest problem area is the balcony. While long in length, it’s narrow in width just like all the other balcony cabins on the Royal Princess. Chairs have to be practically turned sideways to fit, and with four chairs and two tables it’s quite congested. It would be difficult to get a wheelchair out there without removing furniture. My scooter definitely won’t fit no matter how hard I try. But we each chose one chair and shoved the other chairs to the corners.


Along with the Concierge Lounge, we’ve been getting a nightly appetizer card. Each night we've been choosing the macarons. They might not look like much but they are a nice light treat before dinner and they sure pack the flavor.

We also receive menus for the next day. We don’t use the breakfast one as suite guests get to eat in Sabatini's at breakfast time (a super way to start the day), but we do order from the dinner and dessert menus.

With the weather warming up we’ve been enjoying dinner on the balcony each night. While the food is delivered all at once and not in courses, it works for us. And the views? You can judge for yourself.

We still haven’t discovered all there is to this sweet suite life, but we still have plenty of time to figure it out. I’ll update this page as I learn more.

See you tomorrow for yet another sea day!