Thursday, September 24, 2009

Last port of call, Puerto Vallarta

We didn't schedule anything formal for our last port of call...we wanted to just enjoy relaxing.  So we woke up, put on our bathing suits, and headed out to explore.  (Picture above is the sunset, obviously, from Puerto Vallarta.  Picture below is of the city/beach from the ship.  We sat at the beach by that pink hotel on the left.
Right when we got on land (there was just the ramp to get off need for any tender boats) there was a little market square filled with little souvenir shops.  They really know where to position themselves to sell you those trinkets!  We decided to shop on the way back, so we didn't look around much.  We walked down the reminded me a lot of Waikiki, Hawaii actually.  There were lots of big hotels and we just ducked into one and went through the lobby, out the back door, and on to the beach.  
We found some nice chairs under canopies and we set up camp.  After we slathered up with sunscreen, we headed to test out the waters.  Nick found that he liked the water more and more this trip; he is becoming a better swimmer and really starting to enjoy the ocean.  I like it moderation.  I am not as great of swimmer as he is and I still like my feet to touch. :)
The beach was pretty rocky in Puerto Vallarta once  you got close to the water, but after a few feet it got really soft and sandy again.  I experienced this the hard way when a big wave came and knocked me down while washing me to shore; I landed on the rocks and took a fair amount of skin off of my knees.  There is nothing like salt water in a fresh wound...guess that is where that saying comes from, eh?  Also during this same spill my sunglasses were knocked off and were gone for good.
We each took a stroll up the beach and then decided to head out.  We found a shower thing to wash our feet off at, and then wandered around until we found our way back to the ship.  We stopped and looked at a few souvenirs and even bought a few...even though we kind of got ripped off on one of them.  Oh well. :)  We headed back to the ship to wash up and head to dinner yet again.  Now it was just us and the boat for a few days while we sailed back to the great U S of A.  We were happy to have some time to enjoy the ship, but sad to know that it meant our vacation was coming to a close.  We had such a great time and can not wait to do it again!  Viva las Mexico!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Next Port of Call - Mazatlan

The second port of call was Mazatlan.  This time it was deep enough to pull right up to land and drop the bridge/ramp thing.  Nick and I were able to secure our bike trip somewhat last minute on board, and so we were excited to get up early that morning and try it.

We met our guide, Rudy, and jumped in the back of a truck to drive through the city to the other side where our hilly terrain lay.  (Side note: Our driver was the little old man who obviously had made an "American" tape for when he had tourists...we rocked out to Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and the like in the back of the S-10 all the way!)  It was fun to drive through the city and see a bit of how real Mazatlan-ers live.  It was definitely more of a city than Cabo.

Once we arrived at a little shanty in the middle of nowhere on the other side of town, we were fitted with mountain bikes, helmets, and gloves and given a few bottles of water.  We followed our two guides up and down hills, through woods, and around bends.  We spotted cows and saw lots of the Mexican countryside as well as caught some great views of the city, beach, and ocean.  Nicholas and I enjoyed the biking more than we initially thought we would.  We definitely had a lot of fun and would be happy to try it again someday, somewhere.

When we returned back to our little shanty, we were given an apple, banana, Pepsi, and Mexican cracker/cookie thing...all in a giant ziplock bag with a napkin.  We took some time to relax and eat our snacks as we waited for our driver to come back and pick us up.  I found a hammock and jumped right in!  

Our driver came back and we piled in again and he proceeded to take us back to the ship.  A few members of our group wanted to be let off at a beach they knew of, so we took a different route and it again was interesting to see the city and how people really live.  Right before we got on the ship we bought a few souveniers in a little market close by.  Neither Nicholas or I like to haggle, but I think we did a pretty good job bargaining.  

We were very excited to get back to the ship and shower- we were filthy!  Most of the trails we biked on were dusty and/or muddy and we had sweated all needless to say, we really needed those showers!  

This is perhaps the funniest part of the whole trip.  I was absolutely parched and we weren't sure where to find me a drink and so Nick decided while I was in the shower he would order me a drink via room service.  All they had was coffee, tea, and he ordered me one milk.  We were in a hurry to get ready for dinner and the milk never came.  Then, right as we were going out the door for dinner, and thus getting something to drink, room service came and brought us one tiny carton of milk (like you get in elementary school) on a big tray.  At that point it really wasn't worth in and I was dying laughing, but I opened the milk and chugged it before we went out to dinner.  Nick felt so bad and I thought it was so point for his efforts.  The worst part of the story is that we realized a couple days later that there was a fridge in our room that had drinks in it that I could have had if I was so parched!  Oh well!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Port of Call - Cabo San Lucas

The picture above is of the very tip of the Baja peninsula from the dining room on the ship when we were pulling out.  We had hours before paddled to that very spot in a kayak and snorkeled for our first time. 
Nicholas and I on "Lover's Beach".  We exited the ship via a tender boat that took us to shore.  There we found our guide and they took us in another charter boat (glass bottom) to a different beach.  We got a crash course in kayaking and fitted for snorkeling gear.  Then we were off.
Nick and I were a good kayaking team.  We were in the lead of the pack the whole way.  We stopped on Lover's Beach, put on our snorkeling outfit and headed out to a big rock about 10 yards or so from the beach.  There we saw lots of tropical fish, starfish, and crabs.  It was nerve-racking at first to put my face under water and try to breathe, but after a few times of freaking out I got the hang of it.
Please notice our ship in the background of the above picture.  One thing we found interesting was how it was parked.  The port of Cabo is too shallow to just pull up to shore and thus we had to stay out in the water and take tender boats to land.  The interesting part is that they do not drop an anchor because they don't want to destroy the delicate sea life so close to shore.  They put the ship where they want it, turn off the engines/propellers, and then push a button and a GPS sensor keeps the ship within one meter of where it was "parked".  
After our kayaking and snorkeling, we decided to walk back and meet Nick's family instead of take the water taxi back to the tender station.  It was further than we thought, but we made it!  We met the rest of the family and decided to head back to the beach.  We lost a little steam as it was pretty hot and also lost Grandma Lyndy, Spencer, and Cora before we got to the beach (they turned around...we didn't actually lose them!)  Cadey and Camilla were determined to go to the beach and we eventually found where we were trying to go.  We only had a few minutes to splash in the water, but the girls loved the waves.  We took a water taxi back to the tender station, took a tender boat back to the ship, and called it a day.  After that, we hurried and showered and got dressed again to go to dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening aboard our ship.  We watched the coastline drift away during dinner and were on our way to stop #2, Mazatlan!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And finally....a cruise update!

Koshka did not want us to leave!  She was very interested in the packing process and made it hard for us to get excited to leave for our week away.  We managed to get everything packed and headed out bright and early to the airport on Sunday, August 2nd.  My parents dropped us off at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and we had a nice direct flight on Continental.  The best part of the flight was not only the breakfast (Continental still serves meals at mealtime) but the individual tvs we had in the headrest of the seat in front of us.  They were touch screens that allowed us to listen to over 100 music albums, play games, or watch over 50 tv episodes or 50 movies, past and present.  
When we arrived at LAX, we got a Cinnabon and made our way to baggage claim where we were greeted by the Royal Caribbean shuttle.  We started seeing family right away and even rode with some on the shuttle to the pier.  There we were greeted with family everywhere we looked!  We checked in and waited to board the Mariner of the Seas.


One of the first things we had to do onboard was find our life vests and find out meeting stations to go to our life boats, in case anything were to happen.  The life vest was quite comfortable and we contemplated taking one for the plane ride home as it made a great neck support!  
We had a lot of fun on the cruise- eating great food and being by family almost everywhere we went.  It was so fun to have a vacation and a family reunion all at the same time!  We had a couple certain occasions where we gathered as family, but most of the time we were on our own.  We enjoyed many features of the ship including the ice rink, the rock wall, the track, the Dragon's Lair ballroom dance classes (we didn't participate, I was just curious to peek in and see what they were teaching!), the theatres, the pool and hot tubs, and definitely the Windjammer cafe!  
We a great time dressing up for the formal nights.  We also loved going back to our room each evening to see what Slyvino (our stateroom attendant) had folded our towels into!  I have included a few pictures of a couple of our favorites!

The sunset was beautiful each evening.  We tried to get up to see the sunset, but we slept in too late every morning!  It was some of the best sleep I had ever had; the rooms are so dark and there wasn't even a clock in there.  We loved sleeping each night!