Monday, October 26, 2009

The Vacation

For the longest time Anton and I had said over and over again that all we needed was a break, a vacation, time away. So when vacation prices started dropping at the end of the summer, we decided to ignore our joblessness and go on vacation. We chose a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Norwegian Star. So a couple weeks ago, we left the kids in the capable hands of Grandma, and headed off for some time off.

I won't give you all the minute details of everything we did. That would bore you to tears. But you are still going to have to wade through quite a few photos. Though I have to admit, I left the big fancy camera at home for this one. I just wanted to relax. And lugging that brick of a camera around is not my idea of relaxation.

We left from L.A. Harbor and it was bright and sunny and warm.

That's our ship.

Watching the ship pull out of the harbor.

You would not believe how entertained we were this whole trip just by watching the ship pull in and out of harbors and be tied up to docks. It's crazy that a ship that big fits in some of the places it did.

We spent the first afternoon just orienting ourselves and eating food. I'll come back to the food later. I have a bit of something to say about it.

That night it was Mexican in honor of our ports of call. That mango salsa there at the bottom of the picture was divine. It saved what otherwise was a mediocre meal.

Day 2 was at sea. We wandered the ship. Spent lots of time hanging over the railings. We saw flying fish, a hammerhead shark, a sea turtle, and lots of birds whose name I don't know. We partook of some of the entertainment options. Just a lot of hanging out and relaxing. No pictures to prove it, though.

Day 3, Cabo San Lucas. We were really eager to get off the ship that morning and hung out on deck staring over the railing. We also took a bunch of pictures.

This is one of only a few pictures with us actually together.

The boat behind me in the pictures is how we got to shore. They were hot and crowded.

We only had a short time in port, so we were forced to book an excursion through the ship. We chose to go snorkling in Chileno Bay. But first out boat swung by the infamous Cabo landmark, El Arco, The Arch.

And now I can say I did everything there is to do in Cabo.

And look, another picture of us!

We were on a catamaran, and they actually put the sail up, but then never used it. It was all for looks. Oh well, it was fun anyways.

They gave us our snorkel equipment and pointed us towards the fish and off we went.

(I look thrilled.) Anton got sea sick in the water so he didn't stay out too long, but I swam as long as I could. There were some fun fish to see and some coral, but it wasn't anything spectacular.

The ride back was fun because the spray kept coming up through the netting we were sitting on and we were soaked when we got back.

We had just enough time when we got back to go check out a taco place I had heard about, Gordo Lele's.

The guy is obsessed with the Beatle's and the walls are covered in paraphernalia. And the tacos, well, I wasn't hugely impressed. I ordered the carne asada, and they were out. So I got chicken instead and it was just so-so. And the guys after me ordered 6 carne asada tacos and somehow they got theirs, so who knows. Also, I got to eat mine while hurrying down the road to get to Hard Rock Cafe so Anton could get one of their souvenir glasses he collects. Not the best way to enjoy eating anything.

After that it was back to the ship. I honestly don't remember what we did that night. I'm sure we saw a show and ate food. You know, typical cruise stuff.

Day 4, Mazatlan. We planned a more low-key day in Mazatlan. It was blasted hot there. Plus we had gotten a little sunburned the day before, so we tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible. In an effort to do so, we bought some really tacky hats that just screamed, "Hey! We're tourists!"

I felt like a dork, but at least the sun was off my face.

We wandered the town a bit to see the sights that I had read were the sights to see, but when we got to the various locations, we didn't know enough about any of them to really know why they were sights worth seeing.

We stopped at a church.

It was pretty inside.

We stopped by a theater which we only took a picture of because we wandered forever to try and find it and when we finally did we thought, "That's it?"

Then we gave up being tourists and headed to the beach. We took a water taxi over to Stone Island, pulled up a chair under the grass huts, and just kicked back and relaxed.

It was a really pretty beach and the water was nice and warm.

We ordered smoothies and garlic shrimp that was DIVINE! And they were huge. Mazatlan is a big shrimp port and I wasn't going to go there without getting some shrimp.

It was nice to sit and do nothing.

In the shade.

The place we went to was called Victor's in case any of you ever want to go.

And when we were all tired out from resting and relaxing, we headed back to the ship. Where we spent the night at shows and eating food and so on.

Day 5, Puerto Vallarta. This was our favorite stop. The town was really pretty and our activity was the best ever! We went zip lining.

There were 15 different zip lines, and the longest one was over a quarter mile long and 500+ feet above a river gorge.

We both also got to hang upside down while crossing at least one of the lines.

There's Anton defying death.

Lots of fun that was over way too soon.

The company was Los Veranos. They did an excellent job. And we ate at their restaurant afterwards and I got bacon wrapped shrimp with a mango dipping sauce, and it was pure heaven. I could have eaten 5 plates of the things if the budget and time would have allowed. Yum.

We wandered along the boardwalk in town for a while afterwards.

Of all the ports we went to, the only one I think we would ever go back to on purpose would be Puerto Vallarta.

Our last two days were at sea, and we did a lot of what we'd done before, saw shows, ate food, hung over the railing, etc. It was nice to have the sea days at the end when you're all tired out from the port stops.

We did karaoke one night. I made Anton get up and sing Summer Nights with me even though he hardly knew the song. He did great. I love karaoke.

(Waiting to sing our song.)

We had an inside room on the ship, and I really think that next time we go we'll have to get a balcony because we spent so much time looking over the side of the ship.

The extra money would be so worth being able to sit and read books and see the ocean from the privacy of my room. Though our room wasn't bad.

That's the doorway where you come in.

That's the bed with the TV off to the left.

Good sized bathroom and shower.

The public areas of the ship were nice too.

That's the Grand Atrium. The main central area of the ship.

And that's the main dining room. Speaking of dining, let me tell you the greatest disappointment from this cruise, the food. I felt sick after every meal. Everything was heavy and overly rich, and the use of leftovers was far too apparent. Plus, they put diced carrots on every pasta dish I ordered. Carrots. On pasta. Yuck. There were a couple of highlights, some of the desserts were great, and the sushi restaurant was FANTASTIC. Soooo good. And it was all you can eat, and we ate all we could.

The entertainment on the ship was pretty abysmal too. The musical productions were high school quality. The magic show was pathetic. But the juggler and Chinese acrobats were pretty cool.

Thankfully the ship made it easy to be self-entertained by their choices of signage around the ship. Let me show you what I mean:

Example #1:

This picture was on a white box out on deck. A box of fishhooks, right? Or maybe snakes for the snake charming show? Okay, it may be for the fire hose, but we wouldn't want to make that too obvious, now would we?

Example #2:

These were in all the public bathrooms. I think it might be kind of important not to put the paper towels down the toilet. I'm not really sure, though. It's just an impression I'm getting. Maybe they need to post a sign about it in the bathroom.

Example #3 (and my favorite):

When the ship is being attacked by a giant killer octopus and the ship just happens to catch on fire, here is where you find the plans on what to do. The plans might also work in cases of lightning strikes, but only when 6 bolts strike at once.

There was also another sign that I forgot to take a picture of. It was in our shower. It said, "Please test temperature." I wonder how many silly people managed to burn themselves in the shower before the cruise line had to put those up? And you know what? The water temperature was even written right on the temperature control knob. Sheesh.

But all in all we had a really good time, as evidenced by how tired Anton looks on our last morning:

While we probably won't be rushing out to book another Norwegian cruise anytime soon, we haven't written off cruising in general. And it was really nice to be away from the kids for a week. Though I guess they had all sorts of fun cross-dressing with grandma. I guess it's hard to tell 5 year old girl clothes from 3 year old boy clothes? At least it was only for a week.


Amy said...

Wow - I'm ready to book one now. Mazatlan's beach looked so relaxing . . . and the zipline looks fabulous. What a thrill!

Chapman Family said...

glad you had fun in Mexico!! Fun times.

Andrea said...

WOW, cross dressing huh!! Whuahahhaaa!! That is hilarious!! Only Mom!! heehehehee!! The water is so blue and I still love that fire plans warning sign!! Someone who made the sign must have read 1000 leagues under the see 1 too many times!! oh hahahahahaha!! that is too funny!!!