Sunday, November 26, 2023

November 5, 2023 – San Pedro, CA – Heavy Fog – 60s

We are back from our double Mexico cruise combo.  It is so foggy outside that I couldn’t see the pier from our porthole.  

Up in the Oceanview Café, the ship was totally blanketed by dense fog – couldn’t see the pier or other ships that were there.  I don’t know how the ship navigated through the soup.  I had my usual breakfast – an appropriate farewell.  Even though it was disembarkation day, I brought Ellen her usual meal. 

Nancy told us that she was in no hurry to get to our room so we stayed in there until 8:45 PM – our group is scheduled to depart at 9:00 AM.  We had a few pesos left and Nancy gave them to Nancy along with an additional tip.

We hung out on Deck 5 and our number was called right on time.  We scanned out and made our way to the Terminal.  The World Cruise Terminal used facial recognition in Immigration and we both passed through the scanners with no issue – very fast and efficient. 

We found our luggage pretty quickly and our bus to LAX quickly as well.  The bus waited a while before departing to LAX.  The ride took about 25 minutes – traffic was light – and Southwest is the first stop for this bus.  We tried to check our bags but the kiosk said it was too early to check bags and we would have to wait until four hours pre-flight.  That would mean about an hour as our flight was departing at 3:10 PM.  There are no real seating areas pre-security in this terminal so we wound up in an area for handicapped individuals – it was like a corral for passengers.  There were seats for us so we were not taking any seats from someone with issues. 

Right at 11:10 AM, I checked us in at the kiosk and printed out our luggage tags.  The bags would be checked through to Chicago.  We went to TSA Pre-Check and I was randomly picked to go through the scanner.  I did that successfully and we headed to our gate, which was the last one in the concourse.  We wound up sitting a few gates away where it was less crowded, quieter, and had working chargers. 

We shared an airport Diet Coke ($4.50 or so) and had the sandwiches we made from stuff from the ship’s buffet along with Pirate Booty from the hotel.  It made for a very tasty lunch. 

Flight 278 – a 737 Max 9 – was at the gate at boarding time.

Not a big fan of the Southwest “no assigned seats” process and even though I tried to check in on the microsecond, I still wound up in with C2 and Ellen had B35.  She boarded before me and got us seats in the way back of the plane – window and middle (the aisles go right away).  That would be fine.  We already have B group numbers for the connecting flight so maybe we’ll do better.

The flight was very bumpy especially on approach to DEN, when the plane got wacked sideways, which in my opinion was the strongest turbulence I can recall.  The plane managed through it and we wound up just a few gates away from our connecting flight which was already lining up.  This plane was a 737-800.

We wound up getting window and aisle bulkhead on the port side because the woman who started to take the seats opted not to.  It might have been that the guy in the aisle looked like he might cross over into the middle seat airspace (which he did).  In any event, we had lots of legroom even though I had to scooch closer to the window seat to avoid being used as an armrest. 

This flight was also bumpy but we got to Chicago on time.  We got our bags and I texted American Taxi that we had arrived.  My pre-arranged cab came a few minutes later and soon we were back in our condo.

An interest pair of voyages combined with an interesting flight home.

November 4, 2023 – At Sea – off the Coast of Mexico – Cool and Windy – 70s

A not so good night.  

We moved clocks back in anticipation of the end of Daylight time (happening tomorrow). We had moved clocks one hour forward for Puerto Vallarta and then moved them back the next day and then again for “falling back”. All that did was mess with my sleep so I was up several times and am pretty tired today.

I had a real nice breakfast today – the cottage cheese did have to be brought up from downstairs but it came quickly. I also had some corn flakes and Special K and milk along with the waffle and fixings. I had a little more time this morning.  I brought Ellen her usual special room service breakfast.  

I am in the Theater again at 11:15 AM for “The CSI Phenomenon: Forensics and Television”. This was the first time that this talk was not the opening talk in the series.  The turnout was down a bit but OK and the audience was interactive but the talk just didn’t have the impact as a closing presentation.  Very few people sit in the front center section - there are more people in the balcony than in the prime viewing area.  

I never checked and no one ever told me whether these talks were broadcast into the staterooms.  I don't think they were.  

As a change of pace, we had lunch in the Dining Room because a Tuna Melt and Fries were on the menu – the Tuna Melt Panini (trace amount of tuna) and the fries were good and so was the Key Lime Pie.  The Dining Room was crowded (perhaps by people leaving my talk) so it took a while to get our meals.

The most important task for today was to check in for our Southwest Airline flights from LAX to ORD.  The timing was a little wonky because of the end of DST (which affected the 24 hour before check in time requirement).  I checked in using the Southwest Airlines app on my phone and got us our Boarding Positions (not the greatest). Doing so also checked us in for our connecting flight from Denver to ORD. 

We purchased transfers to LAX (I got one as the speaker) and we are in Group 33, the last group off the ship – around 8:30 AM.  I took the easiest path since I didn't know where the Uber pickup area was at the Cruise Terminal.  

We ate the last dinner of the cruise up in the Oceanview Café – pasta station and pizza. Still good and the place was quiet.  There was a crew member carving watermelons and other fruit for displays and I got a nice picture of his work and one of him and Ellen. 

As a bonus, I also got a nice iconic picture including a beautiful sunset.

We went to the Theater to see Jonathan Scott Roth's second show.  Before the show, Nate and the Captain introduced the crew, who did their traditional march.  The show was good again.  

Ellen and I both packed – everything I brought was worn so I just threw it all in the suitcase.  I put our bags out in the hallway beyond the door (to make sure they get picked up).  

All set to go in the morning.

November 3, 2023 – At Sea – off the Coast of Baja Mexico – Warm – 80s

Another quiet night (the earplugs continue to muffle the whir and there is no guitar strumming late).  People are sleeping in today as indicated by the number of open window seats in the Oceanview Cafe.  Calm seas and blue skies grace my morning view.

My talk today, “Forensics and History: The Search for the Unknown Titanic Child” was scheduled in the Theater at 10 AM. 

Another good turnout – the talk ran a little long and I had modified it to shorten it.  I’ll have to check into that. 

Following me was the Captain’s Q and A so I finally met Nate, the Cruise Director, who seemed satisfied with my presentations.  The turnouts for the Q and A session, normally a full house, were about the same or maybe smaller than my presentations.  I guess the passengers know all they need to know about the cruise ship and its operation.

The entertainer tonight is Drew Pournelle, who is going to sing "Vintage Vinyl" hits from the 60s and 70s.  He had a booming voice and most of the songs were familiar – he is a polished performer and has all the moves on stage.  He’s entertaining if a bit loud. I took a pre-show shot of the Theater so I would remember the entertainer's name later.

It was already too cold to sit out on the open deck so we spent a little time in the Ensemble Lounge.  From there, we got some snacks from Cafe Baccio (no lemon tarts on this cruise) and off to our cabin..

November 2, 2023 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Warm – 80s – Partly Cloudy

After breakfast, we walked through the Puerto Magico Terminal – the snazzy new terminal built a few years ago (before that, you just walked from the ship through a security gate and onto the sidewalk) and then across the street to the Vego Spa.  

I had emailed the owner, Martha, to set up two appointments at 10 AM.  Martha and her associate arrived 20 minutes late (due to heavy traffic she said was due to the Day of the Dead).  We both had hour treatments for $35 dollars each.  We tipped them each $10 and then headed back to the Port Mall (adjacent to the Terminal).  I was hoping to buy coffee from Shekinah Coffee but now they are no longer selling whole bean coffee in bags.

I did get a picture of the Puerto Magico Sign.

We found a seat on the back deck for lunch. It was a beautiful day in Puerto Vallarta delivering a clear view of the city and the mountains.  

We could also see the Walmart, Sam's Club

and Galleria Vallarta Mall from the deck.

After dinner, we went to the Theater for Showtime.  Tonight, the Singers and Dancers are putting on “Broadway Cabaret”, the best show on Celebrity, where they sing Broadway and West End tunes.  All of the singers are terrific vocalist and the selections like “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, Les Miz medley, “One Day More”, Bring Him Home”

 a Carole King Medley from "Beautiful"

were wonderfully performed. And, of course, any show like this has to conclude with "Hairsprays" "You Can't Stop the Beat". 

It was great the last time we saw this show and it was once again wonderful 

and the cast deserved their bows and standing ovation.

This is our last port of call - next stop, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro.

November 1, 2023 – Mazatlan, Mexico – Warm – 80s – Partly Cloudy

Another nice breakfast - might have tried the eggs and pancake combo today.  Lots of people getting off today but still got a nice seat a little further back but still had a window - the view is not terrific, though.

We have been to Mazatlan several times and have seen the fresh seafood market, the Malecon, the statues along the beach, the divers, and the Golden Zone umpteen times so we are not taking any tours.  Our only plan for today besides eating was to take the bumpy tram to the terminal shops, take a picture of the “Mazatlan” sign, and browse the shops.  I sometimes go to the mini-spa at the end of the mall ("Beauty Shop") but opted not to today.  Quite a few spa trips on these cruises so far.  

The tram was indeed bumpy - all I can say is "ouch". The shops were pretty much the same and I did get a picture of the sign - this is not the official Mazatlan sign, which is somewhere in the city,  This will have to do.

We've noticed something unusual on this cruise - there's a person walking around with a guitar who will just start playing and singing.  He mainly does his thing up in the Sky Lounge.  I thought he might be our next entertainer but they don't usually practice in the public areas.  I also figured he was our next door neighbor as we do hear someone playing a guitar and singing past usual hours.  The playing was so persistent that I actually wrote a polite note and stuck it in his Sea Pass slot in his cabin door in an effort to get some quiet.

As it turns out, he is neither an entertainer or our neighbor - just a guitar guy who likes to play in public.  We've seen random piano people do this but never a guitarist.  Besides, he just didn't look like an entertainer. 

Tried out some new camera settings for taking pictures in the darkened theater.  I took this when Nate came out.  Some improvement.


Tonight’s entertainer is actually Jonathan Scott Roth, who is a country singer from small town in New Hampshire and an entertainer we had never seen before.  That’s because this was his first solo performance on a ship – he came off 15 years as a singer in the ensemble. There's a man with both patience and a goal. 


He put on a great show – not too loud.  I didn’t recognize all the songs but they were all entertaining. 

He is also apparently our neighbor even though we have never seen him enter the room and he probably doesn’t know who we are.  He seemed like a real nice guy and I almost felt bad writing the note but sleep is important.  I never got a return note but it did get quieter.  

Saturday, November 25, 2023

October 31, 2023 – Anchored – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – very warm – high 80s – Sunny

Happy Halloween

No tender tickets needed for today.

After another nice breakfast (today including really tasty oatmeal), we went down to the lobby to get in line for the tenders.  The water was a bit rocky near the pontoon so it was a bit of a challenge to hop onto the boat.  Another short ride and we were in the Marina and the tender port.  Today, the marina was saturated with boats - things seem to be getting back to pre-hurricane levels.


It was pretty warm today (hotter than last week) so we scurried quickly to the Beauty Spa for a session with Jenny and Erika.  Not only were they there, but they actually remembered us; the sessions were once again very relaxing and lasted the full hour. 

Ellen had a great idea to exchange some dollars with the girls for pesos.  $3 got us 47 pesos (a bit less than the on line rate but no one will use that rate).  Because it was shot (and no shade) we didn't spend a lot of time strolling the streets of Cabo.  I did get a nice picture of Ellen outside of the Tequila Store.

I don't know if it was because of Halloween or something to do with Dios Los Muertos but one of the stores had a "grim reaper" prop set up - couldn't resist taking a picture.

We stopped off at a small Mercado before heading back to the ship and bought some large water bottles for 10 pesos each or 57 cents (last week, we paid between $1.50 and $2.00 for water.  What a deal.

It was clearly too warm to hang around Cabo and since it was around noon, there was no shade to be had.  We semi-sprinted to the tenders and soon we were back on the air conditioned Eclipse.  The water was still choppy so it took a bit of high jump to get from the tender to the pontoon surface. 

We had lunch in the Café (pizza and salad).  The ship had some Halloween decorations up such as creepy desserts on the buffet. 

We spent the rest of the day on the open deck which had a nice breeze. The ships that were here yesterday, the HAL Koningsdam and perhaps the Discovery Princess (too far away to make out the name) were still here (also doing the overnight stay).

The main stairway is decorated with pumpkins

and there are a lot of people in costumes around the ship – we did pass on the Halloween Party on the pool deck. 

We also passed on “Rock City” and once again, were in those comfy seats on the open deck for the sail away and into the evening. 

There also some other strange noises in the room – besides the whirring noise, there is something that sounds like a phone ringing.  It’s a haunted room and not just on Halloween. 

October 30, 2023 – At Sea plus late arrival Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – Warm – 80s – Partly Cloudy

A nice breakfast up in the Oceanview Café. Not as rushed as my talk is later in the morning.  

As I did on the last cruise I have my second talk scheduled in the morning before we get to Cabo.  “Forensics and History: The Search for Jack the Ripper” is at 11:15 AM in the Theater.  This was a very successful presentation with more attendees than yesterday and the feedback was very positive.  I think this was the largest turnout since I had those full houses on Celebrity Equinox years ago on a crossing.

Another mini-slam up in the Oceanview Cafe as lecture attendees all went to lunch after the talk.  We did eventually find a seat.  Tuna, egg salad and assorted side salads made for a healthy and tasty lunch.

It was beautiful - if a bit cloudy - on Deck 5 Forward so that's where we spent the day - listening to the Tender numbers being called and taking in the beautiful views.  There are two other ships at anchor here today - the HAL Koningsdam and the Discovery Princess.

We passed on Paulette Ivory this time around.

Instead we again found some comfortable seats on Deck 5 Forward Starboard Side (the non-smoking side) – there is just a gently breeze tonight and the air temp is comfortable – perfect for reading or accidentally dozing off.  The clouds had departed affording good views of Los Arcos and the ever brilliant Cabo Sunset.  

I also got a terrific panoramic shot of Cabo Bay.