Sunday the 11th, we left the house at 6:00am, drove about 7 1/2 hours to the Long Beach pier, and checked into our tiny room on our enormous cruise ship. Then we stuffed ourselves at the buffet lunch (stuffing yourself is essential because, A: you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth, and B: a full tummy means no sea-sickness). After that, the ship set sail. We unpacked (the rooms may be small, but there was plenty of storage space for clothes and other stuff), walked around the ship trying to get familiar with the layout, took a tour of the gym and spa, and we ate soft-serve ice cream cones on the deck at sunset (I ate more than my fair share of that ice cream during the week!). Then we went to the nice sit-down dinner, which was delicious, but we were alone, since the other couple at our table wasn't there. After dinner, we went to karaoke, and I sang a couple songs. Then we did Game Show Mania, and watched some fellow cruisers win plastic ship trophies. The evening show was the welcome aboard show, where we saw the same exact song and dance routine that was on our last Carnival cruise to Ensenada two years ago, followed by a pretty funny comedian. Then our cruise director, Mark Price, came out afterwards, and talked to us for a while; he was hilarious. After the show we finished off the day with the late night buffet (which we did most nights).
Monday after a quick walk/run on the treadmills in the gym, we went to a seminar called “Secrets to a Flatter Stomach” where we learned that we were leaving out an essential element of weight loss: detox. Then we went to the In-Port Adventure Talk to learn about fun excursions. After lunch, we went to our personalized Body Composition evaluation (Chad was dragging his feet, but I told him this was what I wanted instead of a spa treatment). It was really informative. We got hooked up to a machine that told us our metabolic rate, our body’s fat weight and lean weight, and our body water weight. So, we’ve been told by a professional that I need to lose 10.7 lbs, and Chad needs to lose 17.6 lbs (we both need to get our body fat percentage down). So, after that informative session, we had some ice cream, and relaxed by the pool for a couple hours. We dressed up in our formals, and ate dinner at the reservations-only Steakhouse, which was delicious, but we decided not worth the extra $60. Then it was time for some more karaoke, and then a musical revue with singing and dancing.
Tuesday after breakfast, we walked around the deck, and then we went to an Austin Powers dance class (okay, so I learned the dance while Chad watched). We ate lunch, then sunbathed on the deck (this was temporarily interrupted by the hairy chest contest). Then we hit the Jacuzzi and the steam room. After getting showered, we went to the Love and Marriage show (AKA the Newlywed Game). I really wanted to get picked, but we were a little late, so we didn’t but it was hilarious to watch anyway. Then we went to tea time in one of the lounges, which was a fun little snack time complete with a selection of herbal teas and little cakes. After a delicious dinner, it was time for me to try out for the Carnival Legends show. Each night during karaoke, there was a tryout for different parts in the big finale show Saturday night (James Brown, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Elvis, Britney Spears, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Garth Brooks, Madonna, and Frank Sinatra). So, I tried out for Britney, and the audience chose me! Chad also sang karaoke for the first time ever, and tried out for Elvis! I was so proud of him, but the competition for the guys was really tough. Maybe next time! (Chad says there won’t be a next time!)
Wednesday was our first port: Puerto Vallarta. We took the Tropical Jungle tour, which took us through the town, past the beach overlook to Los Arcos rock formations, and up a dirt road to a secluded restaurant in the hills. We took a short beautiful hike through the jungle (we had to cross through a stream barefoot), and then we ate a small lunch at the (overpriced) restaurant. The scenery was gorgeous. Then we took the bus back to downtown, and walked around the shops and the beach, and ate a second lunch at Si Senor Restaurant, which was recommended. The food (enchiladas and quesadillas) was delicious, even if it was geared towards tourists. I loved the authentic feel of Puerto Vallarta and its buildings. We did stop at Walmart, which was across the street from the marina, to get a few essentials. It was fun to try and shop for allergy medicine when the packages were all in Spanish! And we bought some Dr. Peppers, which they sell in single cans on the shelf, which is weird. After we got back on the ship, we sunbathed and I practiced my Britney Spears song. We ate dinner, and finally met the other couple at our table, a nice Philipino couple who were expecting their first baby. After dinner we sat down to watch the Mexican Folkloric Show, but it turned out to be a mariachi band, which neither of us can stand, so we left. That evening we did karaoke, then saw a comedian who was pretty funny.
Thursday we were in Mazatlan. We took a taxi to the “Golden Zone” to do some shopping. We bought a little pink sombrero for Bree, a blue swim cover-up for me, some candied nuts, and some random shell jewelry. It was my second experience with bartering, and I think I really hit my stride this time. We got some great deals. Mazatlan was not that pretty, but the shopping was good, and there were some great beaches. We stopped by where the cliff divers perform on our way back to the ship, but since we didn’t time it when a tour came by, we would have had to pay $15 to see them dive. So I snapped a picture of the tall cliff, and we got back in the taxi (open air this time, which was fun). We didn’t eat in Mazatlan, because why would you pay for food when you can eat on the ship for free? We cleaned up and ate dinner, then went to a great show by cruise standards, we thought. We saw Barry Van Wie play an amazing electric fiddle and guitar. He was SUPER talented. Then we listened to the hilarious comedy of JeROME.
Friday we arrived in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, which was such a picturesque resort city. It looked exactly like the gorgeous pictures I saw before going. We did a little shopping around the pier, and I bartered myself a couple deals on jewelry (I know it’s fake silver, but if the price is good enough, I don’t care!), and took a picture with a couple iguanas (yeah, it cost me $2, but those guys have to make a living somehow, right?). Then, we went on our Santa Maria and Chileno Bay Snorkeling excursion, which was amazing. We went out on a speed boat, and passed Lover’s Beach (picture below) and Los Arcos and a colony of sea lions (at this point my camera battery died. Apparently the indicator is totally useless. The waterproof case I bought to take photos under water did not get used. Oh well.). Then we went out into the ocean and saw humpback whales come up out of the water—we got pretty close! Then we went to two different bays to snorkel. It was a first for both of us, and it was a blast! Our guide dove down and brought up an anemone, a blow fish, and a puffer fish for us to touch and hold. The water was like 75 degrees, which was warm enough because the weather was so hot, and the visibility was awesome. We had to get back on the ship after our excursion (I wish we had more time in this port). We had a snack (again, we were cheap and didn’t eat in Cabo), showered, and then went to dinner (I know, we ate a lot). Showtime that evening was a pretty gay revue of 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s music and dancing. Apparently it is possible to make the Village People even more gay than they originally were. Then we did some karaoke (we were all friends in the karaoke circuit by now), and listened to a comedy act.
Saturday was a quiet day at sea. I am apparently allergic to Mexico, because my sinuses were totally blocked Thursday through Saturday, which really sucked. So on Saturday I had a rehearsal and costume fitting for the big show. We ran through where we were supposed to stand on stage, and sang our songs while the dancers practiced their choreography. I was so messed up with allergies, I didn’t sound all that great, but it was so much fun! Saturday afternoon I napped, then we ate dinner. I had to report to the dressing room an hour before the show with my makeup done, and I got into costume. The performance was a blast! By this time, I was friends with most of the people in the show, and everyone did really well. We took pictures afterward, and they gave me an 8x10 photo and a DVD of the show, in addition to my little plastic ship trophy as a prize. It was fun being an on-ship celebrity during the week (I wore the flashing pin they gave me to wear, and people would say, “Hi Britney” all the time), and to hear my new friends in the audience cheering for me that night.
Sunday we woke early and debarked (I almost forgot my Britney mementos, but Chad thankfully remembered them at the VERY last minute!). We were tired, and I think ready to get off the ship, if not ready to come back to reality. The drive home was uneventful, but we were looking forward to seeing the kids again (whom my parents watched all week, bless them!). The first thing I noticed was that Bree’s hair seemed longer, and Mason’s huge cheesy grin had been replaced by a less intense smile. I’ll miss that. It’s amazing how much he changed in only a week! So, no, we didn’t miss the kids while we were on the cruise, but we were happy to see them when we got home. It was the best vacation we’ve ever had!