Saturday, March 30, 2024

Living Four Months on a Cruise Ship - Winter 2023-24

Land ahoy! 

Whew. We're finally back from spending our entire winter on the Discovery Princess. From the day we flew out on Thanksgiving (the best morning to fly!) until we left the ship in March (spring break, not the best day to fly) we had a great time. After this past summer's Deb's Super Sensational Solo Summer Adventure I knew I needed a relaxing winter and boy, I got it. 

Since I'm finding it a little difficult to wrap up an entire winter I'll just jump right in so I have a list of things to remember for next winter and you have something to read for a few minutes...

*The Discovery Princess is the largest of the Princess ships we've been on. At just two years old it was even the newest of the fleet for most of our trip. (Sun Princess is the newest as of last month.) The Discovery is shiny and clean and the colors are a welcome change from the older ships. It's just a downright beautiful ship.

Discovery Princess docked in Puerto Vallarta

While the size was fine for me as I had my scooter to run back and forth everywhere I needed, Ed's mobility limited him greatly. Even with his cane if he had to walk from one end of the ship to the other he'd have to sit and take a break before going on. As for the crowds, it depended on the cruise. We had several cruises where it was the regular sized cruise crowd, but over the holidays and for the shorter four and five day cruises the place was packed with the third and fourth berths being filled with kids or party goers. While I didn't do any swimming on this trip since the pools only had ladders and no steps, there's no way I would get in during some of the super-busy cruises.

I'll be passing on the kid soup.
*Thanksgiving Day's breakfast could have been a precursor to what kinds of decadent things we would be eating during this trip. We had the first flight of the day out of Boise and we were at LAX early and at the hotel in San Pedro early, so we splurged on a special Thanksgiving Day breakfast at a local diner.
Can you say churro waffle? Oh, my.

Once on the ship we ate just twice a day. We always breakfast and then either a late lunch or early dinner. We went mostly to the dining room, ate once a week at a speciality restaurant, used room service, and made some stops at the buffet. We ate just once at the pizza place and hamburger place on deck, just once at Gigi's (AKA Alfredo's pizza on the other ships), once at 360° and just a couple times at the International Cafe. Our go-to is usually the buffet but we found this one not to be the strength of the ship with all the brand-new, barely-trained, don't-really-care crew members not being that helpful. They did have nightly themes with the last night being Mongolian stir fry. The assistant manager helped Ed get his plate when we went those nights.

Everything but the kitchen sink

We ate at the steakhouse, Crown Grill, just once. We found it was noisy, crowded, and rushed. And honestly, the steak wasn't the best. The best steak could be found at the new seafood restaurant, The Catch. We LOVED The Catch.

Best steak on the ship - Poivre Perfection at The Catch 
Just look at all that pepper!

Everything was delicious at The Catch, and we should know as we tried about everything. You can find their menu here.

We had balcony dinners included with many of our bookings so we frequently had surf and turf while anchored in Cabo San Lucas or docked in San Diego. Week after week got a little tiresome, so some weeks we decided to skip the dinner or have something off the regular dining menu. One time we even had pizzas delivered and had the balcony dinner waiters join us for dinner! 

Balcony dinner in Cabo at sunset 
Who knew steak and lobster every week
would get boring?

We also enjoyed Sabatini's, although there was one point where brand new cooks - with no galley experience - were plopped in and the food declined for a few weeks. They brought in a chef from another venue and he took pity on us (as folks onboard forever) and started preparing our meals. I know we'll never have an experienced Italian chef hand preparing our Italian meals ever again. We saw photos of others’ dinners later in the cruise and their food definitely did not look as good as ours did.

Thanks to the chef's touch, the best Osso Bucco ever. Like, ever.

As usual the Most Traveled Guest Luncheon had some tasty food. My favorite was the sea bass and I went cruise after cruise with the hopes it would be on the week's menu. That lasted only a couple months as we really got tired of the how many days do you have? conversation. We were set with folks of similar days onboard so the tables we were at were all over 800 days. So why should I tell you exactly how many days I have? And why do you think you need to bully me to get the number? While I never said those things out loud, I wish I could because I did seem to be the easy target. Maybe it was because I was always the youngest passenger at the table, sometimes by 20-30 years! We had enough of all of it by the end of January and never went back to the luncheons again. We saw the officers around the ship enough so we could talk to them without all the other stupid stuff anyway. I did miss the sea bass, though.

Yummy, yummy sea bass
*We couldn't get the same cabin for the entire trip so we bounced around several times. The service and cleanliness and quality of cabin steward varied greatly between decks and cabin categories. The worst we wound up referring to as Motel 6 while our favorite we referred to as our condo. It was on deck 18 and called the Sky Suite. We felt so lucky to be able to snag it as it was absolutely amazing. With not only a living room/eating area it had two separate bedrooms. Our own little slice of paradise.
Sky Suite S309 on Discovery Princess

It was an accessible cabin (although not a lot of thought was put into it because there were plenty of non handicapped friendly things going on in there) but it did have an accessible bathroom.

The balcony was absolutely spectacular and since this was a warm weather cruise we spent most of our time out there. On the starboard side it had seating as well as a dining table and chairs. 

There was a tucked away section with a rounded lounge, TV, and mini fridge in the cabinet. The TV rarely got used since the glare was just too much.

Thanks to the suggestion made by our cabin steward I turned the round bed into a tent on our Cabo overnights and slept out there. So fun.
Shh...lady trying to sleep

The balcony also wrapped around towards the pool deck and Movies Under the Stars. It was a great spot for people watching - and Super Bowl watching.
Game time!
*Well, we stayed away from crowds so we can't speak much to what was happening around the ship. We got the Princess Patter every night but most of the time it was never looked at and just went in a pile we tossed at the end of the cruise. This trip was about doing what we wanted to do which meant spending most of our time outside in the warm, fresh air watching the waves. 

By staying away from the gatherings and buses full of people on tours we stayed healthy. Our dining room waiters got sick and started disappearing into a mandatory five day isolation one by one and we came away with a couple days of sniffles but our Covid tests were negative. We never went to the dining room after that - and we never got one little bit sick after that, either. Four months on a ship and we stayed healthier than we ever have on a ship. Crowd avoidance is the key, I tell ya!

I did go to the casino a few times but made sure to stay away from others - and all the smokers. I saw three separate people winning between $10,000-$19,000 on these penny machines so I had to try one myself.
Not too bad
It was mostly a Mexican Riviera trip with a Hawaii and California Coastal thrown in there. We visited...

*Ensenada four times. They've taken out the shops at the port so I only got off the ship once to look around and came back. Too much walking for Ed.

*Cabo 13 times with two of those overnights. It's a tender port and we never left the ship at all. It was our personal yacht day when everyone went ashore and left the ship empty. In Cabo we were able to do lots of whale watching just from our balcony. See all those little boats? Unfortunately when you see them you know they are chasing down whales. 

The whales couldn't be happy about it. They seemed much happier those times when we would be watching the water and randomly see this...

*Puerto Vallarta nine times. Last May I scoped out a place to eat that would be close for Ed to walk to. I went back and ate there several times this trip but Ed never left the ship but once to get a t-shirt. 

*Mazatlan nine times. Mazatlan was the last cruise port we visited before Covid shut everything down. At the Green Bar was the last time we had a day of laughter and food and drink. And Jello shots and balloon hats. And joy. Pure joy. It was the last day of life being carefree and fun before everything ended. So this trip Mazatlan became the port where we made the most of the laughter, food and drink, Jello shots, balloon hats, and pure joy. Just like the before times we went to Green Bar right in the port area. Margaritas for us? Nope. When they saw us coming, Marco would get our three shared Jello shots ready and Gabriel would make sure I had a rum and coke on my table just moments after I sat down. Wow, they go down easy.

That's what you call a generous pour of rum

*Kona, Hawaii for an overnight visit. I took the tender over to get supplies at the ABC store and get myself some shave ice, of course.

Oh so good

The fun thing about Kona is you can frequently see dolphins on the tender ride over and back. We also saw dolphins frequently between California and Mexico.

*Honolulu, Hawaii for an overnight visit. I had great plans for us but we had to wait for Ed to get some energy to head out - energy that never came - so we stayed on the ship. I'm sad about this one.

Only from afar

*San Francisco for one day. I was up early to get pictures as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. 
And bonus - I saw Pier 39 from the water!
It was another day of his energy never arriving so we stayed onboard. We've been plenty of times, even as recently as last year, so it's ok. I think.

*San Diego four times. We left the ship to wander and get him a little walk in (and an ice cream cone) but for the most part it was another day of an empty ship.
Discovery Princess docked in San Diego

*Santa Barbara one time. Since Santa Barbara was at the end of our trip and it was tender port with an early afternoon all aboard (which means crew were staying onboard like us) we opened our free Walmart to them. After four months we had tons of mini bar items, some extra things we'd been given as passengers, and some leftover toiletries to get rid of. We invited crew we knew to come up and take anything they wanted. They went back to their cabins with full bags and it cleared our cabin and packed our suitcases a little lighter than when we left.

*San Pedro 18 times. It was our turnaround port but other than for immigration formalities, we never went anywhere as the ship had an early 3:00 pm departure. For fuel savings, the Captain said.

Such beautiful sunrises off the starboard side

Other things:

*On Christmas morning we saw several families in matching pajamas opening presents in the Piazza near the ship's tree. I thought it was kind of cute myself, but I'm not sure what everyone else on the ship thought about it.
Before the craziness of Christmas Day
*Bridge tour. In the past when I've done a Bridge tour we'd have maybe 15 people in the group so you could ask plenty of questions, but this tour had close to probably 30 crammed in up there. I'm not sure what the new criteria is for attending, but they've clearly opened it up way too much. Glad I've gone in the past and didn't have to fight for a listening spot this time.
I'll just hang here and take pictures when
everyone else is being noisy and crowding in
*The survey. Ugh. Princess sends a survey after each cruise and even though we did a gazillion back to back cruises we got them as usual. We each got one per week and ignored most of them. About halfway through the trip, the moment I received the survey on turnaround day I went ahead and took that "few minutes time" (which really meant an hour) to go through each and every screen. I spent a lot of time on the specific crew commendations, saying great things about those who we wanted to recognize. Every week after I filled out the survey I spoke to the different crew members from the different departments about whether they had received the comments or not. Nope. Nope. Nope. Not one ever heard anything back. So disappointing.

Looking back at the pictures I took these past few months it seems all my time was spent watching the ocean - or eating. How can you go wrong with that? And no freezing temperatures and no need to shovel snow? Having someone else doing all the cooking and cleaning? Yep, sign me up for another year of snowbirding!

Sign me up for more cruises, too. I'm working on a solo summertime birthday cruise, and it's our 40th wedding anniversary this summer so we may make our way onto a ship to celebrate it. My solo South America cruise is coming in December and January which leaves the rest of January through March for another Mexico snowbird trip. It'll be a busy cruise season, yet again. And somewhere in there I'll probably go back to the day by day live from reports.

Until then...happy sailing. And sewing!

Can't forget to thank my business partner daughter for keeping the blog running and sewing and crafting tutorials going while her mother was away playing this winter. Thanks, kiddo!
Face to Face dessert at The Catch

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Learn How to Make Cupcake Coasters - A DIY Birthday Project

In today's tutorial, we will learn how to make a set of cupcake coasters. This quick and easy project is great for a birthday celebration or for a baker! 

For this project you will need:

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

Now available in my Etsy shop as a digital PDF download with step by step written directions, color photos, printable templates, and link to the tutorial video. Click to find out more!

Looking for other coaster ideas? Check out some of our other projects!

Otherwise, join us as we make these cute cupcake coasters:


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Learn How to Make Multiple Pocket Tissue Holders - Four Quick and Easy Travel Projects

In today's tutorials we are going to learn how to make four different quick and easy pocket tissue holders. These are great for Mother's Day gifts or for your upcoming summer travels. Whether you are using fabric scraps or strips we have you covered. 

Friday, March 22, 2024

Learn How to Make Fillable Fabric Easter Eggs - An Easter Project for Kids

In today's tutorial we are learning how to make these simple fillable Easter eggs made from fabric that you can reuse year after year. Fill them up with treats and hide them in an Easter egg hunt! 

fillable fabric Easter eggs

For this project you will need:

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

Now available in my Etsy shop as a digital PDF download with step by step written directions, color photos, printable template, and link to the tutorial video. Click to find out more!

Looking for other Easter ideas? Check out some of my other projects!

Otherwise, join us as we make these fillable fabric Easter eggs: