Sunday, May 14, 2023

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Welcome to Puerto Vallarta! 

My breakfast view. Almost there!

I really had only one task today and it wouldn’t need to happen right away so I hung out on the Promenade Deck watching all the happenings. I listened to the Mariachi band play and waved to the painters at they used the boom to touch up the ship. I saw the food dog sniffing - and catching - people who were trying to take fruit off the ship  (Big no-no.) I saw the paramedics come onboard and take a gentleman off on a stretcher. He was propped up, so hopefully it wasn’t too too serious. Crew members wheeled the ill passenger’s four suitcases and five boxes behind them, making me think they may have been part of the world cruise. Bad way to end their travels. I saw about a dozen new crew members boarding. Four new passengers boarding tells me they probably had flight issues in Los Angeles. 

After all the throngs of tour groups headed off, so did I. I was on a reconnaissance mission today. Ed and I will be spending the winter on the Discovery Princess as she goes up and down the Mexican Riviera. Puerto Vallarta will be a stop again and again so I was tasked with finding a go-to lunch spot. I had planned on taking a taxi down to the Malecon but the more I watched the taxi cars and vans, the less sure I was of the plan. My scooter complicates things and so does Ed’s mobility. Anything low (like a car) is out, and anything too high (like a van) is out. 

But I found something super simple. Super close with no taxi required. We never go to the flea market so we’ve missed it in all our visits to Puerto Vallarta. Before you even go into the terminal building you can see the flea market building to the right.
restaurant by flea market in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Taken from my table. You betcha it’s close. 
Strawberry margarita before 10:30 AM? Yup.

The restaurant is called El Bucanero. They do have more drinks besides what’s on the menu. Prices are in pesos but they do take US dollars.

I went with the beef tacos. Tasty, albeit a little gristly but I won’t hold it against them because I’ll definitely be back to try them again.

Puerto Vallarta cruise ship flea market in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Inside the flea market.
After I ate I went into the new terminal building. They’ve added colorful umbrellas since the last time we were here in February.
colorful umbrellas inside Puerto Vallarta cruise ship terminal
I also picked up my first piece of bling for the scooter today. Can you guess what he’s making for me?

Back to the ship by early afternoon and with temperatures in the 80s there was only one place for me to be.

We have another sea day tomorrow as we make our way to Huatulco, Mexico. I may just not move from this spot.
Tonight’s sunset

Saturday, May 13, 2023

A Couple of Sea Days on the Island Princess

Heading into this cruise I originally figured the first two weeks would be my settling in time where I could get into a routine and stick with it for the rest of the summer. But with this being a hot itinerary and the next ones being cold ones, I quickly realized I needed to take advantage of the super steamy weather while I could and spend every moment I could outside or in the pool. 

Except somehow I forgot the weather the first day out of Los Angeles can be a bit cool. Uh, yeah. Cloudy and windy, and with temperatures in the 50s there would be no sunning for me.

But by afternoon the sun came out and my wind-protected balcony cabin came in handy. Sit outside long enough looking at a view like this and you’re ready for a nap. (Yes, I took one.)

The second day as we got farther down the coastline of Mexico the weather held some promise. Temperatures in the 60s and scattered clouds.

My view at breakfast

The lap swimmers were out in force early (you know they are serious when you see swim caps), but they weren’t the only ones braving the still-cool weather. Chair hogs, anyone? Staking out their territory before 8 AM.

These weren’t the only two

Since we might not hit 70 today I wasn’t getting myself in the outdoor pool. The indoor pool is still closed so I didn’t head there, either. Thanks to a cabin on the starboard side of the ship, I camped out on the balcony for the afternoon sun. Tonight is formal night and since I’m not partaking I ordered pizza through the app and had my own little outdoor party on my own little outdoor patio. Great food, great views, great weather, and great company!

With real Parmesan
Oh my heavens. Oh so good.

Tomorrow, Puerto Vallarta!

Setting the clocks ahead last night makes time zone changes 2 so far.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Island Princess - Embarkation Day

It’s embarkation day! Today is the day I check into my new home for the next 106 days. 

Island Princess entering coming into San Pedro port at seen from Crowne Plaza
6 AM view from my hotel room

Embarkation day is always exciting, and today was no different. The Island Princess was completing her World Cruise today and while many passengers already disembarked in Fort Lauderdale, many of them disembarked here. The ship also had to undergo a mandatory Coast Guard inspection today as well. Thankfully the hotel extended their shuttle times until 2:00 so we all weren’t standing around at the port waiting. Some just couldn’t wait and had to get there early (the old hurry up and wait game) but since I have plenty of time (and many days!) to enjoy the ship I held out and went on a late shuttle. 

I have a nice handicapped cabin on Deck 7 with a great sized balcony. All to myself! The balcony isn’t handicapped accessible because of a high threshold on the inside of the door but that’s what my walking sticks are for.

handicap accessible balcony cruise ship cabin on Island Princess handicap accessible balcony on Island Princess

A couple other things to note…the water in my minibar came from Abu Dhabi. Hey, I’ve been there!

I’m happy to know the Royal Princess communicated with this ship and made sure I was taken care of with the bath mats for the shower. No repeat of the fall I had there a few months ago.

The sail away party was high energy and well attended like in the before-you-know-what days. And honestly, I got chills when the Captain blew the horn and everyone on deck cheered. It took so much to get me here and I am so very grateful. 

So where are we going on this specific cruise? We’re heading to Florida by way of the Panama Canal. Why fly to Florida when you can take a ship, right?

Up tomorrow, a sea day. Bon voyage!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

An R & R Day

After not being able to sleep much last night I was still up early. I decided today needed to be a rest and relaxation day and I made the most of it. 

I went to the Happy Diner for breakfast where I had one of the best breakfast burritos ever. Chock full of eggs, bacon, sausage, two cheeses, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro with some mighty tasty salsa. Yum yum. It was so big I only could eat half of it, so guess what I had for lunch?

breakfast burrito at Happy Diner at San Pedro, California
I spent a chunk of the day at the hotel watching trash TV. Catfish, Maury, Hoarders, 90 Day FiancĂ©. Took a nap. Talked to kiddo. Headed to the pool to get some sun. Today was much too chilly to be swimming, but I camped out on a lounge chair in the sun for a while. 

Spied my room from the pool deck.
junior suite with harbor view at Crowne Plaza in San Pedro California
Like I said, it’s a huge room. The whole bank of windows are mine as well as another couple banks around the corner of the building. As for inside the room, there’s a little hallway when you first enter.
entrance to junior suite at Crowne Plaza in San Pedro, California
The hallway leads to a living room. I haven’t even sat down in there yet!
living room in the junior suite at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro, California
The living room leads to a desk area and the bathroom (door on the left).
Past those areas you find the bedroom.
bedroom in junior suite at Crowne Plaza in San Pedro, California
I’d definitely book this Junior suite here at the Crowne Plaza again. If the price is right, that is. Since this is the off season for cruise ships (I think?) I didn’t pay as much as I would at another time of year.
I also spent time watching marine traffic heading in and out of the harbor right from my room. I even caught the world’s first solar-powered car carrier, Emerald Ace, leaving on its way to Yokohama, Japan. If I’m lucky I’ll get to see my ship come in early tomorrow morning.

Island Princess, I’m waiting for you!

The First Glitch

Thanks to the first hiccup in my adventurous adventure it was almost 2 am before I got to the hotel in San Pedro last night. 

When I arrived at the Alaska Airlines counter to check in for my flight in Boise yesterday, I was immediately told the FAA had declared an embargo on mobility scooters on regional jets. Huh? There would be no way I would be allowed to fly with my little travel scooter. The scooter who would be with me for four straight months delivering me to places like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and Lithuania could not go with me.

It’s a recent ban, and unfortunately fliers like me were never notified. And also unfortunately for me, there were no other flights to LAX not using the regional jets today. We looked at larger planes on other airlines connecting through Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco. Nothing. They even looked into renting a scooter and sending it to the hotel for me while they held my scooter in Boise until I returned from my trip. Umm…I won’t be back home until September 9.

Southwest to the rescue. 

While I lost my business class seat on a non-stop flight to Los Angeles (boo!), Southwest Airlines was able to get me on a Boise to Los Angeles flight through Las Vegas. So Alaska refunded my precious great-priced ticket and I had to purchase a new last-last-minute ticket on Southwest. While I typically try and avoid Southwest for reasons I don’t care to mention right now, the agents worked hard at not only getting me on the flights, but getting me an extra seat so I had an empty one next to me. 

Boise, Idaho from the sky
Goodbye, Boise! See you in September!

Thankfully things got better from there. I had a fascinating chat with the person sitting on the aisle seat who was on his way to Vegas to do security at The Chicks (Dixie Chicks) concert. And his main gig is security in Las Vegas for Adele. Adele! So cool.

landing in Las Vegas, Nevada
Hello, Vegas!

I had enough time on my stopover to visit Wonder Woman. That gal was good to me. I hit three separate bonuses and walked away up $150. Imagine if I was playing the maximum.

Not even my biggest win!

A short hop from Las Vegas put me into Los Angeles much later than I had planned.
SoFi Stadium in LA, California
Ed, this one’s for you.

While it was a rougher-than-planned day, I made it safely to my huge hotel room, and after a wee bit of sleep it looks to be a glorious day. 

Good morning, San Pedro!

If yesterday was the biggest glitch of my trip, I’ll take it!

I’m going to keep track of time changes for this trip. Number of time zone changes so far: 1