Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mexico on Vision Of The Seas, Dec. 7-14 '08

"Family Affair, Going With Sis On Her Honeymoon"
This is our 6th cruise, 3rd on Royal Caribbean. We booked in June '07 with DH father & his wifey because it happen to be an awsome deal at the time. Ended up with $175 OBC & prepaid gratuities! My sister decided to come along as part of her honeymoon with her redneck hubby. They booked with a RCCL WOW event, so received $100 OBC. Looks like this was going to be a "next to free--do nothing" cruise.

"3 AM!!" Since the redneck brother-in-law had the big 6-seater truck, we decided to carpool to the airport ParkNFly & split the cost ($28/couple) of the weekly rate. We crossed our fingers for no rain on the 80 min. ride in, even though we covered the luggage with a tarp. It spitted between Chilliwack & Abbotsford, but it was dry the rest of the way. After a quick check-in, free shuttle ride to the terminal, smooth security process, and a leasurely breakfast at the gateway cafe (& Kelly napping...again)....we were on our way to "do nothing". Everthing is done for us!! Yea!!

Following direction to the baggage claim was easier than anticipated. LAX is actually straight forward in accessability. We noticed our Royal Caribbean representative as soon as we turned the corner to grab our luggage. A cheery, chirpy old fella (I'm sure this was a retirement job for him) had much patience and understanding that helped in the smooth process of getting a group of about 25 of us to the transfer bus and on our way to the ship. Following our own tradition, DH and I put on our matching cruise shirts in preparation of our "boarding" photo. As per normal, the "set sail" check-in went smoothly. While waiting for our luggage to arrive in our room, we sent the parents & honeymooners to the buffet while we checked or dining arrangements, making sure we all were at the same sitting and hopefully with at least one other couple to get to know. But not was the case...only 6 of us at one table. At least it was next to the Captains table! Then went to talk with our room attendant about decorating the Honeymooner's cabin. We all had the same attendant, Terrasita from Indonesia, which happen to be an AWSOME person. After joining the rest, we all took in a drink on pool deck....

....then proceeded to our rooms for the call for "Muster Drill!!" Then back to our balcony room for all of us to enjoy.....Sailaway!! We decided to eat our first dinner in the elegant dining room to meet our Head Waiter, Waiter, Assistant Waiter. Liam, Hector, & Sherrad, all from Pakistan, were great. Couldn't ask for a better team! That evening, leasurely exploring the ship and its Xmas decorations was definately a "do nothing" momment.

Day 2 - At Sea
Making our way to breakfast in the buffet, I found a table for 6 while hubby started on the many choices that were spread out in different food stations. This made getting food a bit lengthly, so I soon learned to get different choices at 2 diffent times to have food at least warm when eating. The rest of the gang joined soon after. We had a chat on what each of us wanted to do and went our merry seperate ways until coming together at the organized "Cruise Critic" meet & mingle gathering @ noon in the Sky Bar. High above the pool deck...great place to ppl watch! Later, each couple mossied around the ship...with a "do nothing" attitude. We happen to see the Honeymooners on pool deck, in the smoking section (both guys smoke) and guys ordered up a 'Bucket of Bud' while girls had the 'girly drink'. Swear our waiter made them stronger each time!

That evening was "formal" dining, so I opted to have only 2 drinks then go get 'dressy'. Hubby came soon after, but Honeymooners were nowhere to be found. We went to the "past passenger" free cocktail hour with the folks and hoped to see the Honeymooners at dinner, but still...no-show. Too much "do nothing" exhausted them. We enjoyed the comedy show, then off early to bed we went.

Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas
Tendering started a half hour early due to the Captain abling an early anchor time. Mrs Honeymooner & I finished breakfast fast so as to get in line early for our tender number. We were surprised to get #10, even though we got to the Atrium only 15 minutes in from time they started to hand out numbers. We all took our time getting ready at our cabins when soon we heard numbers 7,8,9 being called. WOW!!! We were next allready. The captain was able to anchor in very close, so the tender was a short ride to pier.Three other ships were in our far distance, even though they were there before us. Does this make Royal Caribbean superior? (In my books they always have been, with Princess running a close 2nd.) First thing you notice is the many peligan's, then you notice the constant barter of vendors. They seem to have multiplied since last we were here. Mrs Honeymooner had to stop at most to see their wares, even convincing one to follow her down the peir if he wanted to grasp a sale from her...bartering all the way. Typical of her...LOL She also had to stop and say 'hello' to the iguana's....for a price of course. After wandering the waterfront & into the mall, it was back to the ship.....to "do nothing".

Day 4 - Mazatlan
The Honeymooners were off on an excursion before we even thought of breakfast. I had puchased a "Tequila & Saddle Crafting" tour online from a private guide for them to spend 'quality' time. Tequila for him, Saddles for her....appropriate. Each of us ended up spending the day with our significate other. We ended up hiring an 'open-air' taxi for $25 to show us the sights around town. Went along the Golden Zone, down the waterfront resorts inlet, through Old Town, up the hill to see what they interpet as 'rich houses' (one had a Canadian Veterans plate on its vehicle in the driveway), down to the shipping docks, and back to the ship. The parents came back to tell us of their same adventure. The Honeymooners came back with good impressions of the visit to a Blue Agave Tequilla Ranch, one of only two in this region that are 'legally' in existance to make certifiable Blue Agave Tequila. Mrs Honeymooner couldn't resist the offer of riding one of the owners horses through the Agave fields with him. He was impressed with how well she can handle a strange horse....typical of her.....again....LOL They tested the different blends of tequila and bought a bottle. Fun was had by all. The evening, after dinner, found us all going our seperate ways and basically......"do nothing". We took a nap in hopes of getting up to join the ever popular late-night adult game "Quest", but slept through it...damn!!

Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta
We all decided to meet for breakfast at our usual table in the buffet. Yes, believe it or not, we actually were able to secure the same table, by hook or by crook, by keeping an eye on it during load-up of our plates and sitting temporarilly at another table until we could scurry over to relenquish or table with superior service of Tasha from South Africa. This was our table each morning. Tasha knew we preferred real cream over the non-dairy creamer that was in the little creamer cups that looked like real cream. Since I had scoped out the internet beforehand, we knew our plan of attack for the day. Took a taxi van for $3/person to the Halceon Boardwalk that stretches along the main inlet bay, with its many statues, sandsculptures, and local pastimers. Mrs Honeymooner just happen to see a Staffshire Bull Terrier as we got out of the van. She greeted it with open arms, as did it towards her.....typical of her....LOL Near the end of this walkway, we ventured inland towards the Cathedral, then veared right to connect with Isla Rio Cuale. An island that locals use for cultural events, family outings, luscious walks, & tranquility. We spotted squirrels, colorful blackbirds, huge iguana, & heard other species that couldn't be detected. There were many vendors, not as pushy, which the Honeymooners bartered freely and found everything they wanted for gifts back home. We ended our trip there with a few brew and REAL nacho's at a quaint little resturant near the Culture Centre. A good ending to a good day. We then found our way back to aproximately where the taxi van's drop off was and back to the ship we went. Couldn't wait to "do nothing". Again, dinner was excellent and the service superb. The staff were so fun....and funny. Since we wanted to see the "Love & Marraige" game (which we hoped the Honeymooners would participate), a nap was due.....Damn! Missed another late-night fun!

Day 6 - At Sea
Well, the Honeymooners decided to "do something"!! We watched them Rock Climb on the back of the ship. It looked easy for both of them, but I'm sure its not. There were different levels, depending on which colored rock you used for the climb. Mr Honeymooner did 2 different runs.

Then again, as we were heading for lunch we got seperated and again did our own thing....which was "next to nothing". Watched some ppl play poolside games to win funky Royal Caribbean medals, then got prepped for the 2nd Formal Dinner. The ship crew had decked out the ship atrium with more Xmas decorations and the photo opportunities were endless. The Honeymooners took in some pro shots, while we opted for our amature expertise. Everyone was looking forward to the Lobster night, which my DH tends to ask for at least 4, each served at timely intervals on freshly exquisit plates, which the Head Waiter scurried from plate to plate because it was his job to separate it for you so you mess your duds. As they parade through the room, a roar of thanks to all the cooks (and chefs) finishes off a great dining experience. We all then made our way to the theatre for the "Boogie Wonderland" broadway entertainment. Not sure what the others did after, but we decided to forgo the snooze and try to get at least one night of late entertainment. Making our way to the SomeEnchantedEvening Lounge, the kareoke was well on its way. Good singers were refreshing. Then up to the Sky Bar to visit the DJ so DH could scope out the system. The DJ from Fiji was very responsive and liked our interest. He was very good at what he did! Now we are sad that we missed all the late-night festivities...for that is the norm for us on previous cruises. Well, this really was a "do nothing" cruise!

Day 7 - At Sea
As the day rolled on and we were contemplating when to start packing, the seas became uneasy. So did the Honeymooners. First him, then her. So, to their room they went. Rest was greatly needed...and maybe some motion sickness pills. They missed the treat of the Italian march done by singing/dancing waiters with the crowd joining in with the waving of the napkins. They emerged later to take in the "Farewell" show in the theatre, then picking out their best professional photos to take home. Back to the cabin to finnish packing, set out in the hall by midnight so it can be taken care for us till we get off the ship and onto our transfer bus to the airport. Remember...it's a "do nothing" cruise....it's all done for us. Good Night All........

The decision to have breakfast in the Diningroom was a good choice. The Buffet was a madhouse! We all leasurely enjoyed our last scrumptious meal and then proceeded to SomeEnchantedEvening Lounge to wait for our color-code to be called for disembarkment. During the wait, a cruise director was rattling off trivia questions for us to randomly answer to pass the time. With only a 15 minute wait, we were called and off we went. After the final check point, Mrs Honeymooner remembered their transfer & flight documents left in their cabin. A quick mention to a RCCL assistant and off someone scurried to retreive it. What service!! Right to the end!! Borading the bus was surreal, knowing all was taken care of throughtout this cruise, made you anticipate the next. Maybe do MORE than nothing next time! LOL
Bye Bye Vision Of The Seas

Since our excursion for LA sights was cancelled, going straight to the airport was going to be a lengthly day. Not being able to check in right away (no more than 4 hrs pre-flight time) made us drag our luggage around for 2 hours. We made our way to the Internation terminal and was surprised to see so many asians...and heavily armed guards! But once we were able to check in, all was smooth...minus the little availability of food choice in our little terminal. Amusement came from watching "robo-cop" race around on his Segway. We landed home to a dusting of snow...whoopie. Winter has arrived.