Monday, September 29, 2014

Starting A New Adventure

We were up at O Dark Thirty on 9/25 for a 7:30 flight to Los Angeles.  Terry picked us up, God bless him, at 5:30 am and delivered us in plenty of time to the airport.  For some reason I was once again not allowed to register online so we had to go to the counter.  Surprisingly we were given TSA Pre Check and bypassed the long security line for a less thorough inspection.  No pat down for me!  I have no idea why.

Our flight was uneventful and way more comfortable than our last flights on KLM.   The exit row was empty and we were allowed to move to those seats.  We arrived a half hour early which added to the time we had to wait for our transfer bus.  I called Gerre and told her where we were so they had their hotel shuttle bus drop them off to join us.  We had coffee and split a bagel since we were given nothing on the plane for a 3.5 hour trip.  We could buy M&Ms or chips though.  For breakfast!

Eventually the bus to the port arrived and in a half hour we were able to board our ship.  First up was lunch because it was now mid afternoon and that half bagel was not going too far.  We familiarized ourselves with the ship, met at the Sky High bar for the sail away, then left to get dressed for dinner.  We have two tables for the 14 of us and we are changing seats to mix it up.

We forced ourselves to attend the nightly show because we knew if we went back to our cabin we would conk out.  We gained two hours flying out and another hour this morning when we woke up.  The show was three different acts that will have longer performances later on.  It was sort of a preview. We headed to bed afterwards.

The next day we slept until 7:30 which put us on a good schedule.  We joined two couples for breakfast then played Trivia and Scattagories in addition to doing the ship sponsored one mile walk.  After lunch we attended a presentation on the building of the Panama Canal.  This is going to be a big treat sailing through.

We eventually joined the others for dinner and then attended the evening song and dance group performance.  We returned to our cabin afterwards since the show starts at 9:15 and ends close to 10:30.

Saturday morning we played our second game of Progressive Trivia.  We have 28 points out of 40 so far.  It is tough beating a group of USAF doctors on anatomy!  We did our walk again, looked at the photos that have been taken of us so far and just whiled away the afternoon.  We met again for dinner where Ted was presented with a small birthday cake and was sung to by the waiters who sang "Happy  Birthday dear Robert" which cracked us all up.

The show that night was a comedian who had us all laughing so hard we lost our breath.  He is terrific, using the audience as props and his quick quips are pure fun!

Today we docked in Matzalan.  Our itinerary called for Cabo San Lucas but last week's hurricane devastated that port.  Four couples joined up to rent a tour van and driver to show us around.  It was extremely hot so the A/C in the van certainly felt good as we visited the highlights.  We stopped at a jewelry store that had nice bathrooms, free beer, margaritas, pop and water but by the time we left it turned into very expensive water, etc.

Our last stop was at a restaurant right on the beach with great coconut shrimp but no tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc. on the menu.  What we eat at home is Tex-Mex and not eaten by real Mexicans.

It was a great day and we sailed away for Puerto Vallarto shortly after our return.

We decided to have dinner at the buffet early and see the earlier show. It was a hypnotist who was OK but I have seen the same sort of program done better.  Afterwards we listened to a Neil Diamond legend singer and then moved on to the martini bar to listen to Oldies.  It was a pretty late night considering we had to spring forward another hour as we sailed back towards the east.

Our day in Puerto Vallarta was a hoot!  Rhonda had arranged a tour guide and van for the day.  The A/C worked great, the cooler was filled with beer, pop and water.  Our driver Carlos was a terrific driver and guide.  We spent over six hours with him.  We visited old town with cobblestone streets, the Romantic District (but I don't know why it is called that), the pedestrian boardwalk along the water, Gringo Gulch and way up and out to the area where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor lived.  There are many condos and homes tucked up in the forested hillsides.

We eventually ended up way, way out at a Tequila Distillery.  By the time we left there a few folks were feeling no pain.  Ted, Gerre and I just observed except for one swallow of a nut creme flavor.  At $37 a bottle we passed on purchasing anything.

We ate lunch at Chico's next to the river where we could watch divers and zipline riders.  It was a nice lunch and we enjoyed another group meal together.

In the previous pictures the diver is ready to enter the water below the falls and he is still curled up above the water in the next.

After lunch we came back to the ship.  I am sure there were a few naps taken before dinner.

Tuesday was another day at sea. We fell one more point behind in Progressive Trivia because my five team members did not believe me when I said I Feel Pretty came from West Side Story.  They said My Fair Lady!

We played a game of Shanghai which I won because I got Shanghai catching Ted, Irene and John in Round Five.  For dinner we all went to the Brazilian Steakhouse to celebrate Ted, Gerre, Rhonda and my birthday.  It was great and we all were sung to by the waitstaff.  Twice now we have received chocolate dipped strawberries in our stateroom from the ship staff after telling them how much we are enjoying the cruise.

After dinner the show was the juggler who made it further than any juggler on America's Got Talent.  He certainly was out of the ordinary and gave an amazing performance.

Wednesday we docked in Huatulca in rain.  We spent a bit of time in our ponchos in the dock area but  the prices were more like Rodeo Drive than a small Mexican village.  We just amused ourselves around the ship playing cards, listening to music, talking with others, etc.

After dinner the singers and dancers put on an impressive show that we all really enjoyed.  Proud Mary, Sweet Caroline, Let It Go, etc. were performed.  We spent some time in a lounge listening to Elvis songs and danced a bit.  We retired earlier because we were getting up early.

Our next port was Puerto Chiapas and we rode a bus into Tapachula.  It is a town of 400,000 but not really a tourist stop.  They did not accept VISA, some would take American dollars but the bank wanted passports to change dollars to pesos.  It was a local downtown and not too much of interest.  We didn't stay long and after using free wifi for a bit, we returned to the ship.

After dinner everyone was tired due to the early start so everyone retired to their staterooms.  Ted was happy because football was on TV!  The next day was another day at sea with another round of Progressive Trivia on the 80s.  We didn't do well because the questions were very specific like "what song won best single in 1984!"

Our next stop was Costa Rica where we went on a tour as a group.  Our first stop was to see the white faced capuchin monkeys.  I was standing aside watching others feed them when one jumped on my back and another ran up my leg!

They actually were very gentle, no scratching or biting and were cute when they didn't startle the heck out of you.  From there we went on the Tarcoles River for a crocodile tour.  Talk about up close and personal.  Our driver Jimmy got out of the boat and coaxed these huge, aggressive animals to within inches of his bare legs and feet!  One was over 18 feet long and I barely got him in the photo.  

After that we had a plate lunch at a Sports Bar that was quite good.  We continued on to a resort way up high where we could get great views.  Three scarlet macaws flew past right below us.  Neat!  A stop at El Jardin gave everyone a chance to souvenir shop, get a drink and use the bathroom.  It was a full, wonderful day and a great way to celebrate my 69th birthday.

When we returned, our room attendant had made me a towel birthday cake and included a bottle of wine.  At dinner the wait staff sang to me and gave me a birthday cake to share.  Ted bought me the robe available here on the ship.  My pink Royal Hawaiian robe has passed its prime.  Great, great day.

Sunday was a sea day and also the Texan/Dallas football game day.  We all gathered in O'Sheehan's Bar to eat lunch, play cards and watch the game.  It was a good game but Dallas won.  We have all been eating together in the evening and then attending the early show.  Entertainment has been excellent for the most part.

Monday was our 10 hour trip through the Panama Canal, a west to east full crossing.  We spent most of the day in the Spinnaker lounge watching the goings on.  What an engineering marvel.  

We had dinner and then saw a terrific show featuring the songs from Jersey Boys, one of the best shows yet.  Afterwards we all went to play Name That Tune where we did just okay.  Karaoke started and Ted, Linda, Irene, Gerre, Barry and I ended up being more of a show than the singers under Tony's tutelage.  He is such a character that Ted and Barry were in tears, Gerre and I were laughing so hard we couldn't catch our breath and Linda just shook her head at Tony's antics.  Such fun with good friends!

Tuesday was spent in Carthagena, Columbia.  We took a tour visiting the monastery high on the hill, the fortress, Our Lady of Candlemas Church, St. Peter Claver Church, Old Town, the Inquisition Museum, Bolivar Square and Boca Grande area.  The hotel in the news again about the Secret Service scandal was pointed out to us.  

Ted with St. Peter Claver SJ and a Columbian-African, the people he came to minister to.

We were gone six hours, missed lunch, so ate around 4:30 as soon as we returned.  We went to the early show which was another great one.  This has been one of the most fun cruises because of the passengers' camaraderie with the performers when brought on stage.  We have really enjoyed the games, performances and the folks we have met.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were final days at sea.  We played cards, ate, attended shows, participated in games, ate some more, etc.  I spent most of Thursday in bed nursing a cold but made it to dinner, the show and to the bar to watch some of the Colts-Texan game (another loss!).

Our last day was spent packing, filling out forms, buying photos, settling accounts, etc.  I learned they called my name Wednesday morning at the Emerald sale to win a small piece of jewelry.  Bummer!  I believe we were playing cards at the time instead of attending.

Saturday morning we were up early, dressed, finished packing, had breakfast and then proceeded to the gangway area to await our debarkation tag color.  I had reserved a bus to take all of us home from the Bayport terminal.  We arrived about 11 am and I spent time doing laundry, checking emails and going through our mail.  At 5:00 we went to church then to Linda's to play Shanghai once more.  Ted and I both came in second at our respective tables.

Today I need to get busy and back into a normal routine.  There are some things that need to be done around the house and we will finally be home long enough to get them done!

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