Mexico Cruise 2011

Sunday, December 6, 2010

Our extended family has set up another cruise, this time for just a week to Mexico. This will be our first on Carnival. The ship is the Carnival Splendor. This is the one that had an engine room fire last year and was out of service for a couple of months. Ship facts and deck plans are at the link.

Our itinerary is:
Day Date Port of Call
Day 1 12 Jun 11 Depart Long Beach
Day 2 13 Jun 11 At Sea
Day 3 14 Jun 11 Cabo San Lucas
Day 4 15 Jun 11 Cabo San Lucas
Day 5 16 Jun 11 Puerto Vallarta
Day 6 17 Jun 11 At Sea
Day 7 18 Jun 11 At Sea
Day 8 19 Jun 11 Arrive Long Beach

Sunday, June 12, 2011, about 1446 PDT, Long Beach, CA

It took some logistics and 4 carloads, but we are all on the boat. There are 18 of us here.

We got our lunch and when the rooms were ready, we found our room, cabin 1-440 on Deck 1 at the stern of the ship. It might be a little noisy here. Richard and Cara's room is the very last one. The rest of us are spread out in a row with Becky and Terry on the other side of the ship. We are getting unpacked and moved in.

Sunday, June 12, 2011, about 2020 PDT, At Sea

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_queen_mary_9623.jpgAfter we settled in, I went topside to take a few pictures and some video of the sailing. The Carnival Splendor was berthed at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal which is right next to the Queen Mary. There is another cruise port in the Los Angeles harbor that Carnival sometimes uses as well.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_cruise_port_dome_9624.jpgThe "Spruce Goose" dome has been repurposed as the Long Beach Cruise Terminal.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_stack_9625.jpgCarnival ships have a distinctive stack with "wings" on the sides. The exhaust is actually ported out of the ends of the wings so that it goes off to the side of the ship. This reduces the tendency for the exhaust stream to impinge on the stern as it sometimes does on other ships.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_elevator_lobby_9629.jpgI think that the decoration of the ship is kind of gaudy. This is the elevator lobby nearest our cabin. Every elevator and stairway in the ship looks like this one. The rest of the decor isn't a lot better. Overall, this is the least pleasing decoration that I can remember from any ship we've been on.

Everything on the ship is up from here. The dining room is on deck 4. The Lido (buffet) is on deck 9. The outside areas and pools are on decks 9 through 14. The theatre is way forward on this very large ship. The shops are deck 5 amidships. There are bars everywhere. Except to find booze (which I won't be doing) there is a lot of walking and stair climbing to get anywhere. I went about 5 flights on the first pass and finished the rest on the elevators, but by later in the day I was able to get from deck 1 to deck 11 on the stairs without serious difficulty. I need to get back into shape.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_tee_shirt_9630.jpgGrandpa Charlie had some shirts made up for the clan and we have been instructed to wear them tomorrow.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_our_cabin_9632.jpgThis is our inside cabin. It is set up pretty much the same way as any inside cabin we have been in. It is on Deck 1 and to the stern. We do get some vibration and low frequency noise, but it isn't really bothersome and I suspect that it won't interfere with my sleep.

110612_carnival_splendor_cruise_desk_9631.jpgThe desk is pretty typical too. Like most cruise ship cabins, it is really hurting for electrical outlets. There is a single 110 VAC outlet in the entire cabin. There isn't even one in the bathroom. There is also a 220 VAC outlet. Since all of my travel electronics has been selected to be compatible with 110 to 240 VAC, I can use it too. Some form of outlet extender is needed to deal with these toys.

We had our first dinner in one of the main dining rooms. It was pretty good. I have to be pretty careful about how much I eat or I will put on weight really fast.

I normally try to work off the calories before my body has managed to store the energy as fat. However, this ship doesn't have a good walking deck like other ships. The deck below the lifeboats (deck 3) is normally a good one and on most ships it wraps all the way around, but on this ship, it just goes along each side and there is really only one door out to it on each side. There is a jogging track on deck 12 but it is pretty short and it really doesn't have a good jogging surface, it is pretty slippery. The longest walking loop is around deck 11 in the aft to amidships area. Deck 10 is a longer loop but to do the full loop, there are stairs from deck 10 to the forward part of deck 11. It gets windy and cold up there in the evening.

Monday, June 13, 2011, about 1130 PDT, At Sea

We got a note in the newsletter last night that the ship's time will not be changing to local time for this trip so we will be an hour behind the Mexican ports.

110613_carnival_splendor_cruise_deck_14_mini_golf_9637.jpgUp on deck 14 forward, there is a mini golf course, about 9 holes. This area is above the spa and gym. I wandered into the gym and every machine was in use.

110613_carnival_splendor_cruise_deck_14_overlook_9638.jpgFrom that area looking astearn, a part of the waterslide is visible as well as the retractable roof over the midship pool.

110613_carnival_splendor_cruise_deck_12_water_slide_9641.jpgThe waterslide was a big feature of this ship. It loops around for 3 decks to a linear runout at the bottom. The bottom is also next to a small pool.

110613_carnival_splendor_cruise_deck_12_joging_track_9643.jpgThere is a 1/10 mile jogging track on deck 12 around the funnel. The surface is hard and slippery, not the best surface for jogging. Deck 11 also has the best (although not real good) walking area, it is perhaps 1/4 mile around. However the deck surface is the same, somewhat slippery. I prefer walking on a wood deck but the only wood deck is on deck 3 and it is just two strips below the life boats. There is walking on a good (sanded paint) surface on deck 4 next to the lifeboats, but it is just a large U shape and not too interesting. However, there is little traffic there.

110613_carnival_splendor_cruise_deck_10_atrium_9646.jpgMost cruise ships have an atrium of some kind, usually about 3 decks high. This one goes from deck 3 up to deck 10. Due to blockages caused by machinery areas, the galley and several restaurants it is hard to get through the ship from our cabin except on decks 1, 5, 9 and up.

Monday, June 13, 2011, about 2100 PDT, At Sea

This ship doesn't have "formal" nights like other ships we have been on. They call it an "elegant" night. Dinner tonight was an "elegant" night. I was elegant with a Hawaiian shirt, cargo pants and sandals. They didn't throw me out so I guess it was good enough.

Tomorrow morning, we pull into Cabo San Lucas, we'll be there for two days but we go out to sea at night. I suppose that this is so that they can open the shops and casino. Wednesday morning we pull back in to Cabo. We were originally supposed to make a stop at Mazatlan, but there have been crime problems there so that the cruise lines simply bypass the port.

The trip down has been smooth with only a very slight roll at times. The weather has been good for being outside.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011, about 1100 PDT, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

110614_carnival_splendor_cruise_cabo_san_lucas_9662.jpgAt about 0900 this morning, we rounded the point at Cabo San Lucas. It's clear and very warm here. The kids mostly took off to shore. This is a tender port so one has to get a tender ticket to get off and wait their turn. Around noon, the backlog will be gone and we'll be able to get on pretty much any time we want. Sandy, Grandpa Charlie and I will be taking a short trip to shore early this afternoon just to hit the vendor stalls right at the pier.

I met Katie and Dustin on deck and they had a while to wait for their tender so we played a round of mini-golf. Even though I didn't even make par, I smoked them.

I noticed that there was no line for the water slide so I changed into my swimsuit and made a couple of passes at it. The bigger guys can really cook in that thing. However, after the turn and a half before the bottom and I wasn't quite prepared for the runout at the bottom and got a mouth full of salt water. Most of the pools on the boat are salt. I think that the hot tubs are fresh water. I made only two passes because I got dizzy in the spiral and the deck and stairs getting back to the top were REALLY HOT. The non-slip black surface just soaked up the sun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011, about 1415 PDT, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

110614_carnival_splendor_cruise_carnival_splendor_at_cabo_9665.jpgThe ship anchored right outside the harbor entrance and we took some local tenders to the dock. This photo was taken from the dock.

110614_carnival_splendor_cruise_vendor_booth_at_cabo_9666.jpgThere isn't much at Cabo San Lucas except bars, a row of hotels along the beach, the marina and the Mercado Marina, a flea market. This is a vendor stall at the Mercado. I went in looking for clip on sunglasses and found nada. I did find some at a vendor stall and more at a pharmacy behind Senor Frogs but they wanted more than I can buy them for in the US. Sandy and Grandpa Charlie stopped for a beer at one of the bars, I had a bottle of water. It was pretty warm and humid ashore and after the beer, both Sandy and Charlie were ready for a nap. We caught a tender back to the ship to relax from the tough demands of a cruise ship vacation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011, about 1200 PDT, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

110614_carnival_splendor_cruise_cabo_san_lucas_downtown_cabo_san_lucas_645.jpgThis is downtown Cabo San Lucas, not much besides a marina and a string of hotels heading far to the east. The ship departed Cabo about 1900 last night and just cruised at low speed somewhere nearby all night. We could tell that the speed was low due to the reduced engine and prop noise.

110614_carnival_splendor_cruise_cabo_san_lucas_tender_644.jpgWe got back and forth between Cabo and the ship on these port tenders, They ran every few minutes all day long. In the mornings, the ship provided boarding tickets but when the backlog died, we just go on when we wanted to.

This morning, we took a tender to Cabo to find some internet. Sandy, Richard, Cara and I stopped by a bar that had WiFi, bought some nachos and drinks and surfed until we were done. Then Richard and Cara went to rent a jet ski and Sandy and I came back to the ship. The nachos counted as lunch. We're just going to relax all afternoon. The ship sails fairly early for Puerto Vallarta.

Thursday, June 16, 2011, about 1300 MDT, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico

110616_carnival_splendor_cruise_puerto_vallarta_flea_market_9668.jpgWe cruised across to the Mexican mainland overnight and docked in Puerto Vallarta at about 0900. The kids all have booked tours, either a horseback ride (Richard and Cara) or a Tequila factory tour and tasting (Katie, Dustin, Charlie and Zack). I had just two targets. One of was this flea market. I found good clip on sunglasses here but either in brown lenses or in black but too small. They were good quality and priced at $8 before haggling, but there was no point in bargaining for something I was not going to buy anyway.

110616_carnival_splendor_cruise_puerto_vallarta_wal-mart_9667.jpgThe next target was Wal-Mart. Sandy wanted another bottle of soda and I figured that Wal-Mart would have clip on sunglasses. Sadly, no. They did have the soda though. I guess the next stop is or a local department store.

The ship sails at 2100 tonight so I have all afternoon and evening to just lounge around the ship and wait for my somewhat drunk kids to return.

By now I've had the opportunity to eat pretty much all the ship has to offer. Generally, the food is good and there are spicy selections that other ships just didn't have. The various venues are:

Thursday, June 16, 2011, about 1930 MDT, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico

Katie, Dustin, Charlie and Zack returned from the Tequila factory tour and they actually made it to dinner. Zack reported that they got 12 small shots each in addition to a couple of unscheduled beers. I was amazed that all of them seemed to be more or less vertical, with Zack showing the most signs of latent inebriation. He made it through dinner though.

110616_carnival_splendor_cruise__tequila_factory_tour_agave_hearts.jpgThe kids turned in some photos from their Tequila factory tour. The only parts of the agave that are used to make tequila are the hearts.

110616_carnival_splendor_cruise__tequila_factory_tour_tequila_in_the_making.jpgAfter the hearts are roasted in a fire pit, they are chopped up and mashed and mixed with who knows what and left to ferment in these large plastic vats full of vile looking liquid.

110616_carnival_splendor_cruise__tequila_factory_tour_tequila_still.jpgThen the mash is distilled into bottles, eventually to be bottled into retail bottles. I never much cared for tequila as it has given me some pretty serious hangovers. Now I can understand why.

I spent the afternoon on the waterslide and in various swimming pools and hot tubs. I didn't stay in the aft hot tubs for very long as someone had turned them up to parboil. The water slide was good because there was almost no line, it was warm but not hot and the deck wasn't as hot as one time before where I had trouble walking on it. Sandy was fabric shopping but she didn't come back with anything.

Friday, June 17, 2011, about 1400 MDT, At Sea

110617_carnival_splendor_cruise_cruise_map_p1020708.jpgThis was a hard shot because of the glare, but this is the cruise map of our trip EXCEPT that we didn't stop at Mazatlan. After leaving Cabo, we went back to Cabo instead and then to Puerto Vallarta and skipped Mazatlan.

We passed Cabo San Lucas going north about noon. It has become noticeably cooler as we go north. It is cold and windy outside. I have switched from sandals to shoes and socks and put on a sweater.

Since the weather was less than ideal, I stayed inside most of the day. However, Dustin was busy, he got an award for a Karaoke performance last night, he was really good. However, he washed out of the chest hair contest on the first round today. I think he'll be back for Karaoke again tonight.

110617_carnival_splendor_cruise_dual_chocolate_melting_cake.jpgAt dinner tonight, both Zack and Sandy ordered TWO chocolate melting cakes for dessert. I sense some competition here. These things are rich, I could handle only a teaspoon full of one.

Saturday, June 18, 2011, about 2030 PDT, At Sea

Karaoke is a big thing on this ship. Thursday, Zack, Dustin and Dustin again did their performances and it came off very well. Friday, Becky and Brianna did theirs. Some of the singers did not do so well, some were very good.

We got our debarkation (walking) papers last night so the cruise is winding down. We have some logistics to work out to get everybody off the ship in a reasonable time frame but it is doable.

110617_carnival_splendor_cruise_escargot_p1020709.jpgLast night at dinner, Charlie got adventuresome and ordered escargot as an appetizer. He liked them.

110618_carnival_splendor_cruise_sandy_and_3rd_melting_cake_p1020717.jpgOne of the recent traditions at dinner is to order a chocolate melting cake for dessert. This is a pudding like cake with some vanilla ice cream. Last night, both Sandy and Zack ordered TWO of them so it was game on. They both finished them. Tonight, they ordered one each. Then the table stewards brought one more with lit candles for John's 16th birthday. As soon as Sandy realized that there was an unclaimed chocolate melting cake available she grabbed it and downed it in a hurry. Zack was then challenged so he ordered another and barely choked it down. Little did Zack know that he was up against a champion at chocolate consumption. Then Sandy ordered a 3rd one and knocked it back with ease. Zack was humiliated and gave up the game. Sandy "won" at a count of 10 for the week. Zack only did 9.

Chocolate Melting Cake
Chocolate 1 lb
Unsalted butter 1 lb
Fresh Eggs 10
Flour 5.5 oz
Sugar 4 oz

The recipe doesn't indicate how many servings that this makes but I would guess about a dozen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011, about 1330 PDT, Torrance, CA

110619_carnival_splendor_cruise_long_beach_cruise_terminal_img_0122.jpgWe're home safe and sound. The next crowd on the ship is eating their first meal aboard and waiting for their cabins to open at 1400.

The ship actually tied up at 0600 this morning. I was up and out on deck to get this photo of the cruise terminal as the ship was backing into place.

As soon as we were cleared to get off the ship at about 0715, both Charlies, Richard, Joan and myself got off the ship and we met Sara, who was driving Betty's minivan, at the curb. We then came home and waited for the rest of the party to be called so that they could get off. If you carry your own luggage, you can get off almost immediately. If they pack the luggage off, you have to wait for your debarkation number to be called. At about 1000, Betty called and said that they had been called. Grandpa Charlie drove his car, Joan drove Betty's minivan, Richard drive Cara's pickup truck and I drove my Yukon back to the terminal to pick up the rest of the crowd. Betty will drive her car back to Fairfield with her family. Charlie will drive Joan and much of the luggage back to Vallejo. Richard and Cara are headed to Ridgecrest and then back to Santa Cruz the next day with a horse trailer. Becky, Terry and Rachael took a cab to the Long Beach airport. Sandy, Zack, Katie and Dustin came back to Torrance with me. Then Zack ferried them to LAX for their flight back to DC. It's all done except for the wind down.

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© 2011 George Schreyer
Created Mar 25
Last Updated June 19, 2011