A Travellerspoint blog


Day at Sea and Formal Night.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Started the day photographing the sunrise. Massive clouds blanketed the horizon and overhead there were layers of different cloud types. Because the sun didn't rise until 07:24, I had a late breakfast and arrived in the cabin just as Jenny was getting ready to visit the medical centre for another check-out. I went off to the Theatre for the Destination Lecture for LA. It provided me with some ideas of what to do next time we visit on the Coral Princess in seven months time.

Caught up with Jenny and the news from the doctor is not great, she needs some IV treatment and has three sessions booked with a nebuliser. These treatments should have her sorted out by the time we arrive in LA. At this stage it looks like she'll be healthy enough for us to continue as planned.

Met up with some of the people from the morning coffee group for a lunch in the Da Vinci dining room. It was most enjoyable and the dishes I chose were excellent. Afterwards Jenny and I attended a talk by the Third Officer and the Staff Engineer who provided descriptions of their departments and afterwards answered questions from the audience.

Back in the cabin to prepare for the last 'dress up' for the cruise. Off to diner with lobster tails on the menu. Don and Mary were there but many of the tables remained unoccupied. We decided to skip the 'production show' as we've seen it recently. Back to the cabin to write this up and wait for for Jenny's medical appointment at 21:00. Jenny's back with a nebuliser to help her breathing overnight. She has another appointment for tomorrow morning.

Clocks go back an hour overnight and we start the last full day aboard. We'll have to start packing tomorrow for disembarkation on Saturday.

Have just received our disembarkation documentation and they've ignored our requested time again. I'd asked for a 09:00 time slot and they've allocated us an immigration interview at 09:45 after which we'd have to wait our turn to leave the ship. I, along with a long line of other disgruntled passengers approached the Customer Services desk to be told that their only solution is for us to do a "Walk Off" with our own luggage. This is NOT a happy way to end the cruise.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:03 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Magic Day In Puerto Vallarta

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

View 2015-02 South America on greynomadm's travel map.

We were treated to another beautiful sunrise as the ship sailed into the port. After a brief breakfast we prepared for our Shore Excursion. We assembled in the Wheelhouse Bar and were quickly allocated the standard coach worth of numbered stickers. 'Yellow 1' was our number and should indicate that as a group we would board a coach displaying that code. Not this time !! For reasons unknown, the Mexican tour operator decided to ignore the ship's arrangement and started issuing his own tags on a first come basis. This didn't go down well with a number of passengers and there was a virtual riot as three buses worth of passengers had their expectations dashed.

Eventually cooler heads accepted that there would be a mixture on each of the buses. To Jenny and I it doesn't matter but larger groups had made an effort to travel together also the attitude of the tour company representative was a topic of conversation for at least the first 10 minutes. Our tour guide did his best to quell the bubbling ill-humour and eventually won over the most aggrieved of the passenger. The last excursion after a long voyage was off on a shaky start.

First stop was a comfort stop at a fancy jewelry store. The speciality of the region is SILVER and the store was filled with many objects, trinkets and other forms of silver jewelry. The other local ingredient was 'Fire Opals' with deep and brilliant colours. Jenny indicated she preferred GOLD and in a twinkle of an eye there was a tray of exquisite opals set in gold. As a special bonus, because we were the first bus for the day, they were prepared to offer significant discounts. After a few expressions indicating that she liked the pendant but couldn't come at the price it dropped from US$1200 to a mere US$600 -done deal. But wait, it needs an appropriate gold chain. Some resistance, some hints at a package deal and the chain went from US$550 to US$350. Can't even imagine what that will be in AU$.

After manoeuvring the bus out of the narrow streets we headed out towards the hills to the Hacienda Dona Engracia where we were greeted with a delicious cold fruit drink and handed over to a local guide. Quite the character he was and kept us interested as he guided us through the process of making 'tequila'. From the history of the drink through its refinement to the polished product produced there. Next stage was the tasting and once again emphasising that the best tequila is the one that you like. We tasted three grades of the fire water, from the young rough stuff - you share with guests - through the slightly mellower style - you share with family - to the aged matured premium product that you share with no-one. He then produced three flavoured products, peach, vanilla and coffee/chocolate. These have a lower alcohol content and I liked the coffee/chocolate one best. Perhaps my alcohol free taste buds had reawakened after six shots.

We were then shepherded to our Mexican lunch featuring hand-made fajitas with an optional hot sauce bearing the warning 'add this at your own risk'. Altogether an interesting experience. We were then given 30 minutes to browse the many stalls featuring many uniquely Mexican articles. Hats, dresses, ponchos, shawls, carved items and a bewildering array of knickknacks were eagerly offered for sale. Finally back on the coach to our next destination back in the old city.

The "Tile Factory" was a mere remnant of it's former glory. Our guide had warned us that the days of these ceramic artists were numbered. He told us that this establishment was the last one remaining in the district. The range and breadth of styles and colours was bewildering and I happily browsed the two floors of stock on display while Jenny occupied her time procrastinating over the possible purchase of some locally made leather sandals, she didn't buy them.

Back on the coach the guide described the efforts of the authorities to preserve and restore the buildings in the 'old city' to recreate the look, feel and function of the colonial past. Sidewalks are being widened to encourage pedestrians and roads are being cobbled to recreate the character of the streets. The sections that have been made over certainly looked appealing.

On to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an impressive structure built of basic materials surmounted by an intricate and massive crown on the central tower. The interior of the church was delightfully simple and lacked the stained glass windows one expects. The austere interior contrasted with the elaborately decorated and gilded altar. There was some serious money spent on this focal point of the church. To me it seemed fitting that there be few distractions inside the church.

To round off the tour we walked a section of the Malecon. A waterfront plaza and boardwalk featuring beautiful sculptures, magnificent views and a reprieve from the ever-present vehicular traffic. By the time we got back on the bus, I for one was happy to head back to the ship. The tequila and 28 °C temperature had no doubt contributed to my dozy feeling. Jenny managed to find the energy to explore the dock-side 'Flea Market' and finally rounded out her purchases for friends and family.

There was time for a quick photo-shoot of the surroundings from the deck of the ship. There are some impressive hotels, resorts and apartment complexes. There is also a well-stocked marina with a significant number of very classy yachts. Our departure was delayed for some time due to the late return of one of the tour buses but we were on our way out to sea by the time we refreshed and went down for diner. Only two more after tonight, can't believe the time has passed so quickly. Don and Mary were not at the table but we caught up with them in the Theatre where we were entertained by Cary Long, billed as a "hilarious, observational comedian". He was probably the funniest 'comedian' we've had. Jemmy did observe that the acts must be sourced from the retirement homes.

It is getting seriously late as I tap my way through this. Puerto Vallarta was great and would go close to being the best destination on the whole cruise. Given the inauspicious start to the day's tour was a real highlight.

Tomorrow is the first of two sea days as we head for LA. It will be the last Formal night and we get to wind back the clock an hour as well.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:54 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Third Sea Day off Mexico

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Managed to upload yesterday's posts this morning despite the link dropping out twice. I've been frugal with my Internet use and now have some flexibility and can afford to restart the upload. The sunrise was scheduled for 06:50 which is unbelievably late for me. I'm expecting another time adjustment in the next day or so but even a 06:00 sunrise is fairly late.

Breakfast with Jenny after which we spent time at the International Café before I took the camera for a walk to capture some images of the St Patric Day decorations. The most impressive being the two huge cakes prepared by the pastry chefs.

Spent time in the cabin to catch up on some world news on the stateroom TV. The devastation of Vanuatu being the most frightening, not only for the immediate aid required but the longer term impact on a country that has so little infrastructure to start with. The BBC World Service provides the best coverage of events from around the world. The Israeli elections have been receiving a good bit of attention too.

After a quick visit to the gym to weigh myself I decided that I didn't need lunch. Even allowing for the weight of clothes and the fact that the scales were not totally stable I've put on a fair bit of weight. All my initial intentions regarding exercise and portion control have not been carried through. I'll have to get back into my regular routine as soon as we get back home and see if I can drop some of that weight before ANZAC Day.

After lunch I attended what was advertised as a "GoPro Seminar - Explore some of the features, functionality and the plethora of accessories of this unique new camera". The presentation was badly organised and did little to encourage me to lay down good money for what appears to be a gimmicky gadget for thrill seekers. I must admit that some of the captured video they showed had an interesting if quirky feel to them.

One of the group of us that meet for coffee most mornings is trying to organise a 'lunch' for us. He's undertaken the task of getting in touch with each of us. The plan is to meet at 12:00on Thursday 19 March which is less than 48 hours before the cruise ends. Amazing where all those days have gone. Another 'member' has collected contact information which he is planning to share so that we can remain in touch. This tends to happen during longer cruise but doesn't last long when we return to the 'real world'. There are two or three I'd like to stay in touch with.

Jenny has gone off to listen to the 'Pop Choir', a group of dedicated passengers who have taken time out to practise and present a concert of songs. I elected to stay back and finish my latest Kindle book and write up this lot.

Made our way to the dining room and found our regular waiter, Jigger, dressed up as a Leprechaun, very funny an Irishman from the Philippines. Service was a bit chaotic with a temporary waiter taking over from Jigger. The confusion showed itself when I received Chicken Broth after having ordered a Clam Chowder. Despite the mix-up we had a better than average diner.

Tonight's entertainment was provided by "John Bressler", a better than average pianist, a reasonable gravel voiced singer and mostly funny story-teller. His take on Rod Stewart was excellent and he certainly packed lots of energy into his performance. He's no 'spring chicken' claiming to be from the 'Woodstock Generation'.
Tomorrow we arrive in Puerto Vallarta for a relatively short visit 08:00 to 15:30. We have a ship's excursion booked and will be out on that for most of that time. Despite my luck at uploading yesterday's posts I've no way of knowing when this will be posted.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 03:58 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

At Sea off the Mexican Coast

Monday, 16 March 2015

At 05:30 this morning I managed to upload my postings for the past few days. I was further rewarded by a beautiful sunrise this morning at 06:27. Shared a breakfast with Jenny and then sat outside the Future Cruises Consultant's office. At the Captain's Cocktail Party last night, Angela mentioned a 48 day cruise from Southampton, England to Sydney. We spoke to her and have decided to book as the cruise is selling quickly. The ship is due to sail on 28 September 2016. We are looking at spending a week or two in Britain before the cruise. Plenty of time to work out what we'll do. The direction of the AU$ may also determine what will eventuate.

Attended the Destination Lecture for our last port before disembarkation in Los Angeles next Saturday. It appears that Puerto Vallarta is a very popular destination for holiday-makers. It will be Jenny's last chance to find that elusive gift.

Stayed in the Theatre for Robert Schirn's lecture on Charles Manson. His voice acts as a sleeping pill, I was out like a light within minutes again. His material is fascinating but his droning voice and unreadable PowerPoint slides just puts me to sleep. A pie and some fruit for lunch and we will spend time having a quiet snooze back in the cabin. There's a good chance that afternoon movie could also put me to sleep so I may as well be comfortable.

Dressed for diner and joined Don and Mary. Once again there were many empty tables and staff with little to do. We were finished in less than an hour when normally it takes at least an hour and a half. Decided to take a chance on a "Production Show" in the Theatre and were greatly impressed. We've tended to ignore them as they are repetitive and have been known to be boring and loud.

The Internet connection is still unreliable. Another sea day as we sail withing sight of the Mexican coast. The BBC TV reports massive rains across parts of South America, we haven't had a wet day to upset any activity in the 20ports we've visited. As far as the weather is concerned we've had a dream run.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 04:20 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

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