After a fabulous (!) eight days of honeymoon vacation, we are back safely in Des Moines. We kept a pretty busy schedule the second half of the week and we were ready to come back to normal life. It’s a great feeling to get enough vacation that you are eager to get back, versus those trips that are too short and end too soon and you go back to reality kicking and screaming 🙂
There will be many more pics to come – we took well over 300! At one point I uploaded a bunch to Page’s laptop to make room on my camera – I still have to get those from him and will post more. Here are a couple faves from the second part of the trip.
We got into Orange County Saturday evening and had just enough time to swing by our hotel and check in and make a late dinner run to In ‘N’ Out Burger, and Trader Joes and Target to pick up bottled water and our allowed two bottles of wine we could take on board (sooo much cheaper than buying it on the ship!)
Sunday, we took a shuttle to the cruise terminal and thanks to a HUGE bump-up in reservations, our VIP luggage tags let us cut in front of the two hour long waiting line to board the ship. We were whisked into a little VIP only office, checked in immediately and were sent right onto the ship in no more than ten minutes! Talk about celebrity treatment! Our room was an executive suite on the back of the ship on the highest deck – we are so spoiled for future cruises! A separate living room and bedroom, a decent sized bathroom, walk in closet, and a little vanity room for doing makeup that was wonderful! Our balcony stretched across the back 1/3 of the ship and wrapped around the corner so you could see down the side of the ship as well. We spent lots of time just lounging in the deck chairs and taking in the views. We were told immediately upon boarding that our itinerary had changed due to the Santa Ana winds and Tropical Storm Kiko, so originally the plan was to go to Ensenada on Monday…
We were awaked about 6am on Monday to an announcement over the PA sytem saying that the storm had shifted and Ensenada was closed. The upside was that we had resumed our original itinerary and would arrive in Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday as scheduled but for now, to go back to sleep and enjoy the day at sea. We were relieved and went back to sleep for several hours – gotta love sleeping in on vacation! Later, I got a pedicure and my hair done for that evening in the salon. That night was the Captain’s Ball and we had so much fun at the complimentary cocktail hour (dangerous haha) and getting all dressed up – our dinners were wonderful and spoiled every night – lobster, filet mignon, prime rib, shrimp cocktails every night and incredible desserts – yum!
Tuesday was our second day at sea and by this point, we had learned our way around the ship and were getting anxious to dock and explore Mexico. We managed to fill the day though by laying out, checking on the shops and exploring the casino – I am proud that I can now say I am married to a fellow Roulette lover! 🙂
Wednesday was Puerto Vallarta! We didn’t have to be off the ship until 11:30 to meet our excursion group, so we slept in late and ate an early lunch. We met up with our canopy tour group and had no idea the commute we were in for. First, we were transported by motor boat to the other side of the bay. There, we climbed into the back of a huge Mercedes safari type vehicle – not as glamorous as you would think when you hear "Mercedes" 🙂 About an hour of riding through the Mexican countryside was a real eye-opener. Life is so simple and basic for people living outside the cities of Mexico. Very few cars, makeshift homes, and lots of bare feet. A pretty sharp contrast to the area where we docked each day. We arrived in the foot of the mountains and we all though the driver was joking when he turned to what seemed to me like a completely VERTICAL dirt road up the side of the mountain. Nope – no joke. Going about 5 mph, we drove UP a small section of the mountain to get to the start of our tour.
I wasn’t nervous, just very anxious, as was Page. We had a little class on how to use our gear, what NOT to do, etc. and got all dressed in our helmets and harnesses. We had a team of six guides that went with the 14 of us in our group. It seemed excessive to me at first, but by the end I realized just how necessary each of their roles was to successfully making it through the tour! The guides were hilarious but also very safety cautious – the perfect combination for calming your nerves throughout the tour! We hiked up to our starting point and Page and I were the last two in our group to go. Imagine standing on the edge of a rock, with nothing thicker than a clothesline connecting that rock and some infinite point out in the jungle that you can’t see because of all the trees. You look down and it’s a couple hundred feet to the floor of the forest. Someone in our group was saying something like, "it’s all about just having faith in your climbing gear" – yeah, no kidding. I was surprised at myself that I didn’t freak out at the last second before swinging across the zip line. It was so fun! The guide holds your harness then at the last second, says, "okay, sit down in your harness and go!" and that’s it, you just slide right across the line at maybe 25 mph, through the forest, seeing all this amazing scenery, you look down and for a sec are like "holy crap I’m high up!" haha, and then you’re back to not caring, because it’s so gorgeous and you’re doing this once in a lifetime thing, zipping through the rainforest. Okay…so it’s all well and good and fun for the few seconds I’m zipping along. The first zip line is about to end and I realize that it’s not like I’m going to land on a big chunk of mountain like how I started out. No no, we’re on the CANOPY tour now, meaning you’re up in the trees (translation: you land on a 3×3 square foot platform affixed around the trunk of a tree, some 200+ feet in the air) ***you can’t take a camera on this tour, but I tried to take a pic of the ‘sample’ platform from the ground afterwards back at the demo station – you can barely see it here – a testament to how small it is!!!***
You can see through the grid like platform all the way to the ground, and with 13 others up there with you, you have barely a square foot of space to yourself, without bumping the person next to you and potentially going over the edge. The fact that once we landed on the platform someone immediately hooked us to a a safety line that went around the tree did not matter to me – I was slightly panicked about losing my footing and, safety or not, falling over the edge and dangling there by one little line! Page was getting a kick out of seeing me genuinely scared but whenever he would try and pat my back or shoulder reassuringly, I couldn’t help but hiss at him not to touch me – he might make me lose my balance and go flying off the tiny platform! LOL. Poor guy. After a couple more stops along the zip line though, I got more comfortable with the whole thing and several more stops later we got to the grand finale – rappelling down to the ground from the final platform! This part didn’t scare either of us at all – I was getting ready to be back on solid ground again. You stand backward on the platform high up in the air and a guide pushes you out so your feet are no longer on the platform and you dangle there for a second before coming back down to the ground – but you control the speed of fast you come down – very cool. We hiked back to the starting point afterwards which was in itself a very good workout. Back into the safari SUV we went and finally back to the ship. SUCH an amazing day and experience!
On Thursday, we went to Mazatlan. Page was up early and got the below pic and a few others of the city while our ship was still pulling in. We were told the best shopping was in an area called the Golden Zone. We shared a taxi with another couple and found that unless you’re in the market for multi thousand dollar diamond jewelry, everything else being sold in The Golden Zone was…well, total crap. Sorry to everyone for not bringing any souvenirs, but trust us, you wouldn’t have wanted anything from here haha. It was still fun though to walk around and take in different parts of the city. We visited the original and famous Senor Frogs restaurant for lunch and a margarita and headed back to the ship.
Friday was our final shore excursion in Cabo San Lucas. This area had much more beach than the other two and was beautiful to look at. We only had a few hours at this stop so we walked around in the morning went to lunch on the ship and came back to rent a waverunner to take around the marina. There were lots of boats around so the water was very choppy, but we still had a lot of fun. The only downer of the day was that I had wanted to get some beach photos but we ran out of time – oh well, hopefully there will be several more beach trips in the future. The pic below is us, pretty wiped out, on the tender boat back to our ship after the wave runners. Later, we decided to brave one of the shows, "Vroom", on the ship that night, expecting it to be lame and cheesy at best. I will be the first to say, I was more than impressed – the show was way beyond what I expected for a cruise ship performance. GREAT music (the theme was 70s and 80s) awesome costumes and dancers, and a great theatre/stage. After seeing Wicked and Color Purple this year, we had pretty high expectations, but we were really surprised at how great of a show it was!
Saturday was our final day on the ship as we sailed back to California. We laid out on our balcony for a while, I did a lot of reading, and Page and I both went to a formal dinner and once more to the roulette table where, yes, we won BIG BUCKS – almost 12 bucks a piece! 🙂 We decided to continue our luck and participate in the cliche Bingo game going on that night – but alas, no $1000 jackpot for us. Maybe next time.(Okay, so for some reason, this photo will NOT rotate and I give up…you get the idea).
We docked in Long Beach Sunday morning and spent yesterday flying home. As I said, it’s good to be back and we can’t wait to see everyone and share more pics!