Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, December 31, 2012 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Partly Cloudy – 81F

Distance from Puerto Quetzal to Puerto Vallarta: 1016 Nautical Miles

We have a short day in Puerto Vallarta so we will walk around the area and search for WiFi and maybe a health spa.  The ship is docked right in the city with both a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club a few blocks from the pier.  There is also the Vallarta Mall, which is just like all of the big malls at home.

We began our walk in a direction away from the mall and toward the hotel zone.  The main street - which runs along the water - the Malecon, is in this direction.

  20121231_Welcome to PVallarta (Small) 20121231_Puerto Vallarta and E (Small)

Locals (short ones at that) welcome us to Puerto Vallarta

We picked up an unsecured WiFi signal coming from a very nice hotel – the Hacienda – and sat in their lobby and checked e-mails.  While we were there, we got a Skype call from Noah, Ari, and Eliana (they dialed it up themselves).  The connection was so fast that Skype actually worked – it has never worked before on my phone.

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Lobby of the Hacienda Hotel

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Stone heads lining entrance to Hotel

The Malecon was still a couple of miles away so we decided to head back to the Vallarta Mall.  As we got closer, it was as if we were back home – standing before a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club back to back – parking lots full as expected.

20121231_Sams and Walmart PV (Small) 20121231_Just like home Walmart (Small)

Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart Stores

It was tempting to go into the stores to see just how similar they are to US versions but we headed to the Vallarta Mall.  The mall was very nice with upscale stores – they even had a spa offering massages but the prices were not competitive.

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Vallarta Mall, Puerto Vallarta

From the front steps of the mall, we got a great view of the Celebrity Century.

20121231_Century from the Mall PV (Small)

As we walked away from the Mall, the neighborhood turned into more of a local residential area.  One interesting site was the bullfighting stadium.  It looked like it was still in use.

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Good luck, El Toro

On our way back to the ship, we passed the local vendors.  Also there and only a short distance from the ship was a spa offering massages for $30.  Can’t pass up such a opportunity.  Great service including hot stones and hot towels.  While hovering between sleep and wakefulness, I remembered not calling in our RSVP for the Captain’s Table.  Once done, I ran to the ship and called in the RSVP (it was due at 11:00 AM and it was now 12:30 PM).  The woman handling the dinner was happy to hear from me and said it was no problem and she would see us tonight.  There was also a voice message from her at 11:08 asking us about the dinner.  Nice to be wanted.

The open deck afforded some great views of Puerto Vallarta (below).

20121231_PV from Ship (Small) 20121231_PV Sams WM and Vallarta Mall (Small) 20121231_Puerto Vallarta from Ship 1 (Small) 20121231_Harbor and Vallarta Mall (Small) 20121231_pirate ship in pv harbor (Small)

Puerto Vallarta from the Century

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the deck and watched the scenic sail away (not many sail aways during daylight hours).

20121231_PV Sailaway 1 (Small) 20121231_PV Sailaway 2 (Small) 20121231_PV Sailaway 3 (Small) 20121231_On Deck Sailaway (Small)

Top 3: Puerto Vallarta Sail Away; bottom: Our view of the Sail Away

At 5:45 PM, we went to the Rendezvous Lounge to meet up with the rest of the Captain’s Table guest.  A section with “Reserved” signs was set up for us.  I was able to procure a nice jacket from Tenisha in the Dining Room so I was all set.  The other guests soon arrived along with a bar waiter – on the house so we ordered a Mojito and a White Russian.  Galyna, our hostess, appeared around 6 PM and led us to the far rear of the Dining Room.  There were a total of 6 couples including the Staff Captain, Georgios Tsilouchas, and his fiancée, Nicole.

We found out that it is quite the coup to be invited to the Captain’s table – it is done just once a cruise.  I think we got an invite because my presentation series was popular with the passengers (including Nicole who attended most of them).  Many of the passengers recognized me and a lot of the chat around the table had to do with the talks.  The Staff Captain was a terrific host.

The food was great (Ahi Tuna Steak), the wine was great, and Baked Alaska was served for dessert.  It was a terrific evening all around.

It was also captured on “film”.

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At the Captain’s Table

One of the guests was celebrating a birthday.  I took a picture of them with the Captain and will send it to them via e-mail.

20121231_Staff Captain and guests (Small) 

A photographer on the upper level of the Dining Room got a very nice group picture commemorating the occasion (delivered to our room later in the cruise).


Soon, the evening was over – totally great – soup to nuts.

Showtime tonight was “A Touch of Broadway”.  We had seen this show before (even on the Century).  Lots of high energy singing and dancing.

20121231_You cant stop the beat (Small) 20121231_YCSTB 1 (Small) 20121231_ABBA Dancing Queen (Small)

Above: “You Can’t Stop the Beat”

20121231_Touch of Bway FInale (Small)


At 11:15 PM we went up on the pool deck to join the New Year’s Eve Party.  The band was playing and the crowd was already a bit juiced.  A 2012 Ice Sculpture was placed near the pool.  John Grantham had joined the band and was playing the guitar and singing.

 20130101_New Years Eve on Deck (Small) 20130101_New Years Eve on Deck 2012 ice (Small)

2012 Ice Sculpture

20130101_New Years Eve on Deck John G singing (Small)

John and the Carousel Band

A “Times Square Ball” was lowered from the top of the radar bridge as the countdown began.  We made it all the way to midnight at which time the “2” on 2012 was smashed and a new “3” joined the ice sculpture. 

20130101_New Years Eve on Deck 2013 ice (Small)

Happy 2013   

A great day in Puerto Vallarta.

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