Why oh Why — A Cruise. Or Why I Will Never, Ever Again Travel Further South than San Diego

A Day to Day Observation of our Cruise to South America. I was going to rewrite some of it because I was so bitchy, but decided to leave it as is. If we had a miserable time, it serves as an expensive lesson learned. But it does prove we need to try a cruise line with a slightly younger passenger list.

Day 1/Nov 16.  Went through the usual  to get aboard: put in the wrong line by uninformed employees. Part of the reason we got a suite was to check into shorter lines and board first. Finally got all that straightened out, hubby called me over and everyone around me in the long line wanted to know what was going on, where was i going? When I said I was in the wrong line, some asked if they were in the wrong line, too. ???? How should I know? Finally reached our cabin, very nice, as expected. We left at 4:30. We awaited our luggage and I unpacked mine and the extra bag, waited for Steven’s, finally he got a call from security, they needed him to come down and open his bag in their presence. ???? Apparently, his mini-fan was causing great consternation among the security folk. Finally he and the fan were released on their own recognizance. The guy with the six-inch blade was also released, sans blade. Time to rest a while. Went to Neptune Lounge for a light lunch, some tuna salad, candies, cookies. We ordered dinner in the room, steak sandwiches, shrimp cocktails and dessert. Went to sleep at 7:30! The seas are quite rough and sailing is like being on a pogo stick. The stabilizers are going at full force and it’s like walking on vibrators. The creaks and groans are akin to a haunted house. To sum it up, we are currently sailing down alongside Mexico on a haunted, vibrating pogo stick. Feels weird! Loooong day…

Day 2/Nov 17. At sea. Went to Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, a little perk, it’s their fancy grill, free for suites for breakfast. Went to casino, meh. Went to Crows Nest, I read a while, back to room where they finally showed up to clean and remove our 3 bags of laundry to press. It’s  getting a little warmer, still rough seas. We ate lunch in Lido, shared a tuna sandwich. Back to casino, sat on deck for a while, too windy! Ate dinner in room again, hamburgers.

Day 3/11/18. At sea and in Cabo.  Day started with a bang, clogged toilet and I have to attend to morning resolutions! So we’re out in the hallway looking for a bathroom, up two decks and found one! Ahhhh… They had it fixed before we even got back, great crew. It’s not even 0700 yet!  We ate in the dining room, I love the bird sounds in the trees over head.

11/19. Mazatlan. Got off the boat to walk around a bit and ended up on a van tour with 5 others from the ship. Very good choice. We spent 3 hours in an AC van, driving around, stopping occasionally, getting out when we wanted, or not! The driver spoke excellent English, funny guy, very proud of his town. Lots of hawkers along the way, Steven bought me a little wooden kitty. Very cute. Came back and conked out for a couple of hours, got lunch. We accidentally walked the length of the ship twice, accidentally because we got turned around and went to one end, then had to walk all the way back so we could go up to the Crow’s Nest, which was way crowded. Back to the room, dinner in dining room again.

11/20. At sea. Went to Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, then to listen to the captain give a virtual tour of the ship. Yawn, but Steven seemed to like it. Each day they give us a list of things going on on the various decks, the movie for the day, etc. From the looks of those lists, this is going to be even looooonger than earlier predicted. Went to a show, left as soon as the chanteuse started shrieking at us in French.

11/21. At sea. Another fun filled day, hot and muggy outside and everywhere else on this floating old folks home. I guess some of the old bones were COLD! So we spent a lot more time in the cold cave of our cabin. At dinner, Steven ordered fish and the waiter came and took away one knife and gave him this weird knife. We discussed it, decided it was a fish knife. Asked to be sure. Yes, it’s a fish knife but we have no idea how to use it, it looks like it’s for stabbing since there is no cutting edge. But that brings me to something that really bothers me about the big dining room. When they seat you, your square, little plate place is totally surrounded  by silverware, glasses and a little plate for bread. So I have a bread knife, a little spoon at the top, two knives on one side and two forks on the other. The waiters then spend the rest of the meal taking away unused forks and knives and putting my bread plate back in its proper place, even while I’m using it! They sneak a hand in and grab a fork and knife, or replace a knife with a sharp one. And THAT one is a story in itself. He brought a knife to Steven and balanced it blade down. Started to turn away. Steven picked it up, looked at it and put it back down. The guys picks it up and rebalances it before fleeing the scene. Thunderstorm tonight, fascinating to watch from the safety of the cabin, the lightning seems to fill the sky and go on forever.

11/22. Hualtco, Mexico. Hell with humidity. We went to breakfast in main dining room, surrounded by two tables of golden oldies, engaged in their favorite past time, out doing each other with tales of past cruises. Occasionally, I will hear an interesting story, but most are so falsely self-deprecating and the resulting titters so patently fake that I usually end up tuning them out. Why can’t they talk about normal thing such as — HOW FREAKIN HOT IT IS!  The poor waiter says there were complaints about how cold the dining room was. I would help him hide the bodies. But back to this little town. We walked around the port until we looked like we’d walked through a shower fully clothed, then headed back through the sales people gauntlet. Took a real shower. No casino when we’re docked. Crap. They had Mariachi night at the pool side, the floor of which is right above our room. We got to listen to the flamenco being banged out on our ceiling for about twenty minutes, loud, but it was quite rhythmic.

11/23. same place as yesterday. We decided to stay on the ship today, as I went out onto the balcony at 0600 and the humidity and heat was already pretty evident. We had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, I had banana pancakes and Steven had a Dutch breakfast, some ghastly thing covered in eggs over easy. Ick. He seemed to like it. Went up to Crow’s Nest to enjoy a new sight: the front of the ship. It’s a lot more interesting seeing where we’re going out the front, versus over the sides. As we left this place, we hit a storm with winds >66 mph and I discovered I’m not a steady sailor. It was like being on a roller coaster on water. We went to dinner, but I  couldn’t eat, so we asked if we could somehow take the food back to our  cabin. Of course, yes. But that meant they put my plate on a tray, put a big silver dome on it and an unfortunate waiter was tasked with following us down through winding halls, where I bounced off walls, till we reached our cabin. We won’t be asking for that again. We missed the magic show, but I don’t imagine him being able to perform with the act rolling all over the stage.

11/23, 24. Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. We stayed aboard, read, played cards and walked around the ship. Too hot for much else, esp outside.  

11/25 & 26, 27th, too. At Sea. When will we get there? Spent a lot more time on the deck, because it was very windy, and made it almost chilly. I wore my hoodie outside. We saw 13 turtles, two dolphins and a manta ray going by, plus dozens of birds, catching the fish that jump from the water as the waves crash up on the sides of the ship. Went to see opals being sold extra cheap, the one I picked out was reduced to a reasonable $14000. Who can resist such a bargain? Me, I guess. Reduced to watching world weight lifting on the tv, those are some shapely young men!  We’re planning on eating at the buffet, then going to see some puppet guy. Which is worse, puppets or weight lifters.  Thanksgiving. Went to a nice dinner in the main dining room, where Steven got me to taste a micro-bite of pate! I knew that’s what it was, but  I thought, just maybe it might not be, but we asked and it was. Gross! it was creamy and weird and took a half a glass of water to wash it away. But we had a nice dinner and went back to the cabin. Went to breakfast for the first time at the buffet. it has its points, I don’t have to explain to “concerned” waiters why I don’t want a full breakfast and I can get what I want. So, it seems, does 3/4 of the ship load of passengers. it was crowded! We escaped back to the cabin via the casino, where the ship was having its Black Friday sale and that was where the remainder of the passengers were. If they’re selling a watch set for $19.99, I would recommend you check the case for any inner workings! 

11/28. Manta, Ecuador.  We got off and took a shuttle bus into town. Bought a couple of gifts, walked around the plaza, everything is closed. on a Saturday. We took the bus back, spent  a  few hours wandering around the ship, playing cards, grabbed lunch, left at 1630.

11/29. At sea. Breakfast in Pinnacle Grill. Steven and his inhumanly hot coffee again, the poor server took the cup and steamed the coffee. It was hot enough! I ended the day with a sore throat.

11/30. Salaverry, Peru. This is a primitive little town, the dock is part of a digging operation and it looks like they’ve torn the entire faces off the mountains surrounding the town. It seems to have a really nice beach, but I don’t think we can get there. The only excursions had to do with seeing various small archeological sites. We decided to stay aboard until we get to Lima, tomorrow. Steven put forth a theory that when everyone has purchased their passage, the company creates a bell curve, and at the top/oldest ages, then plays music from that era. I think the jazz/swing era is finally getting to him.

12/1. Lima, Peru. We went on a bus tour, whizzing around this majorly crowded city like crazy people, with a guide who has learned to talk without the need to stop and breathe. She did not stop talking for 4 1/2 hours. Some subjects: Aztecs, terrorists, the corrupt government, taxes, voting is mandatory and what happens if you don’t, earthquakes, pyramids, cats in the park, schoolchildren in uniforms,  or social security, no welfare, street vendors, the exchanged rate and price of gas. Oh, and how much sales tax they pay- 18%.  The list probably goes on, but we can’t remember them all. The driver must be deaf, because he maneuvered us through some of the worst traffic we have ever been in! Going from four lanes to one is like being squeezed through a tube of honking, aggressive drivers who have their kids on their laps and no seat belts! We saw a park where kitties live, someone feeds, fixes and vaccinated them, they just hang around and get petted.

12/2 & 3. Lima, Peru.  Took the shuttle into town, found a mall underground, a grocery store, where we bought deodorant, water, toothpaste, stuff I really didn’t think we would run out of! e walked around the mall, pretty upscale for being an outdoorsy place. Back across the street to catch the bus back, but we decided to catch a cab to the Inca market, another death-defying ride through the streets. We wandered around there for an hour or so, then decided to make our way the “few” blocks back to the cat park. As soon as we dragged ourselves there, I sat down next to a VERY weird individual, Steven had connuptions, but he wandered off to visit the kitties. The odd guy and I had  a bit of a talk, asked where I was from, I said US, he said oh, the greatest country in the world? (Alarm bells), I said no, he said why not, I said every country was great. He asked if I like Lima, said yes, asked why (more alarm bells-vibes) I said I like the people, they’re very friendly and polite, I liked the parks, and so on. So finally he left and Steven came back, and we noticed the kids were noticing him! They would stop short at seeing him, we finally figured out they thought he was Santa Claus. Steven thinks it’s funny! we decided to take a taxi back, the guy said it would be seven soles, we were like, only 7? which is about $1.25. Turns out we were only a few blocks from the Marriot. We caught the  bus back to the ship, ate a hamburger, took a nap, then got up for the next tour, Lima at night! Traffic is just as bad, but at least you can’t see most of the little missiles coming at you. We saw lots of beautiful old buildings and churches, then got out and walked through a water fountain park. A nice walk, leading up to a laser-light show. Finally, back on the bus and back to the ship. We are stuck with some Peruvian money, so we need to go out to the mini-Inca market set up by the ship to hopefully get rid of it. Tomorrow, no tours! No crazy drivers!   

12/4. General St. Martin, Peru. Stayed on board except for a brief visit out to the vendors. Bought a couple of gifts, then hurried back to the room and the AC! We went to see a show (a fiddler) and ate dinner in the dining room. Turned in early.

12/5. At sea. Awakened about 4ish in the morning by some insane person vacuuming the hallway outside our door. Woke up again at 0700 to the same thing. Turns out the cabin next door was flooded by a broken water pipe in the ceiling; at least it wasn’t a toilet! We thought we’d escaped any flooding until I walked over to the sofa, and squishy, sopping wet. Gross, I didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t a toilet until the guy came in and I asked. Yuck. They vacuumed up the water, then turned a huge blower on the area. Very noisy! We got to tour the lower deck, the freezers (including a morgue!) refrigerated areas, Steven went downstairs to see how the laundry is done, then we had an Indonesian buffet lunch. Spicy! Most of the crew is Indonesian, so it was very authentic. it was interesting, it’s quite a bit larger down there than I envisioned. Came back to the room, blower is still going like crazy, so I’m out on the deck doing this. One of the people on the tour mentioned that an officer told him that on the world cruises, they have an average of 5 deaths. This is definitely an older clientele! Saw another happy pod of dolphins. it’s hard to judge how big they are from way up here. But they sure are having a great time out there! I really want to see a shark, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

12/6. At Sea. We went for a walk after breakfast, and went to an out of the way bar to sit by the windows, mainly because it was really cold in that particular spot, uncomfortably so, course, Steven loved it! I mention the cold because they were setting up chairs for a speaker, and the women, mostly, began to drift it and sit around us and at once started bitching about the cold. A lot of them wore sleeveless shirts and no one carried a sweater. There are a lot of cold spots out and about and no one brings anything, they’d much rather bitch about the cold, get the temp raised and make the rest of us miserable. Oh well, the speaker told me more about gold than I ever wanted to know, so we left. Later we went to see a mentalist, apparently the guy who inspired the TV show. It was OK, he was an engaging sort. Lots of reading and hanging out in the room in between. Tomorrow is another day at sea.

12/7. At Sea. I’m embarking on a quest to get two blue HAL bags, which are supposed to be complementary. Supposedly obtained thru housekeeping. I have a few off-white ones at home, but must have a blue one. Supposed to go to the “gala” tonight, but I felt queasy again and Steven didn’t get to go, so I feel bad about it (so instead I’ll have a pity gala), but sometimes this tub starts rolling just a little and it goes directly to my stomach. We’ll have fun tomorrow in Costa Rica, going on a jungle ride. Hopefully, we’ll see a monkey!

12/8. Costa Rica. We left the boat around 0730, it was deceptively cool, boy were we in for a surprise later in the day! I haven’t commented on the buses we’ve been using, they are made for smaller people, and we look like a bunch of sardines. But they are nice, and ride these awful roads fairly well. About an hour’s bus ride later, we were on a boat down a river, probably wetter than the water, cause it was so stinking humid. I haven’t been in humidity like this since living in the South! We saw a little crocodile laying in the bushes, but haven’t decided if it was real or not. Lots of birds calling, saw a few macaws, herons and ibises. We later saw a much larger crocodile. Went to a train then, OMG, what a death-trap that thing was! It was like riding a mechanical bull on rails. A runaway bull. We finally got back on the bus and started back. Saw a howler money hanging out with its buds and a couple of iguanas (which they eat). Seriously, the guide told us there were so many iguanas running around because you’re not allowed to kill any wild animals in CR, they have iguana farm thingys where they raise the critters just like cows on the farm. Very weird. We didn’t get asked to try any, only pineapples. Finished up with dinner in the little Italian restaurant, free to make up for the days of having a high noise fan in our room to dry it out.

12/9. Corinta, Nicaraugua. No plans to go anywhere! Too freakin hot and wet. We’re pulling into the port, the ship is being turned around 180 as it “parks” so here comes the sun! We are gonna scurry back into the room.

12/10. Puerto Queztal, Guatamala. The first mistake was getting out of bed this morning.  Next, we got dressed and ate breakfast, and then decided to go ashore. I have never gotten so hot so fast, in my life! We walked around a beautiful park-like area with a few restaurants and lots of vendors.  By the time we walked around the area we were both soaking wet. Bought some stuff and again, scurried back to ship and into shower.  

12/11. Back to Huatulco, Mexico. I stayed aboard, Steven went down to the beach and puttered around. It is so freakin’ hot down there, I couldn’t take it again! Haven’t these people heard that it’s winter?? Went to a piano show, very nice, and called it a day.

12/12. At Sea.  Went to the ship’s “sale” what a goat rope! But I found a couple of Christmas presents. We went to a magic show, but it was bad, to say the least, so back to the room to watch another Poirot DVD and to bed.

12/13. Manzitilla, Mexico. What a trip; I mean that only as a child of the ’70s can. It was raining when we landed, but we decided to go anyway, figured what’s a few more degrees of humidity gonna hurt. So we wanted to go to the Market the ship indicated was a good place to go, but how to explain that to a taxi driver with no English. We ended up in the god-awful food place, with meat hanging from the rafters and dogs running up and down the aisles. I think they were there more in the guard/pet capacity than contributors to the rafters-offerings, but it was very weird. I am too Americanized to be able to handle that! We went back to the street in front of the pier, where I found a fabric store and the crochet hook I’ve been looking for for over 2 weeks. It was only 50 pesos. I should have bought a set! 

12/14 & 15.  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We decided once again to strike out on our own with a local tour, only to be stuck in a van with six others from the cruise. It wasn’t like the previous one, but better than what the ship provided (and a lot cheaper – $25 each), because we weren’t a huge busful of people on a huge bus, winding our way through the back roads. We stopped and had lunch in a nice place overseeing the shore, apparently a favorite of the Hollywood set. Ooh, that was the name of the place- Le Set, or something like that. Had chips and quesadillas. Pretty tasty. We then went to a tequila place and had some tastes, pretty nasty, I thought, but what do I know? The flavored kinds were better, they tasted like syrup. As we were making our way on up the mountain, we stopped at some vendors on the side of the road and there, at last, Steven found his ceramic parrot. He’d been looking for one similar to the one that hung in his Mom’s kitchen window for all his life. Guess she got it from Tijuana many years earlier. It does look a little like it. He got her down to $20. We were gone about five hours, not bad. And although our guide didn’t have as much English as I would have liked, it was a whole lot more Spanish than I have! The night was finally cooler and no humidity. Woo hoo! Since the port is directly across from a Walmart, and the addition of the parrot to the trip, we decided to mosey over there today (the 15th), to find another suitcase. So off we went. Boy, were they expensive! Nothing like back at home, we finally ended up with a little duffle bag on wheels for about $33. I got some baby powder and what I hope is gonna dry up my drippy nose. I went back to the pharmacist and sniffed at her; she took me to this stuff. I swear, I gotta learn some Spanish. By the way, just because the Walmart looks like it’s across the street from the 7th deck of the ship doesn’t mean that it is. That was some humdinger of a street! Plus we didn’t scope it out very well, went the wrong way and wound up doing double the walking. So we came back the shorter way and scurried back onto the ship. We leave tomorrow!  Woo hoo!! I hate to be stereotypical, but I’m gonna need time to recover from this vacation.

12/16 & 17. At Sea. Choppy seas– ooh, I’m talking like I haven’t done this before! Steven is out on the deck, hair blowing in the wind, taking selfies. We haven’t had to share our table yet at dinner, you’d think we were antisocial or something. We went to the main dining room for breakfast; the guy who brings around the tray of pastries (yum yums, they call them), had something on his playing the Muffin Man song. It’s an ear worm now for both of us, he keeps whistling it, driving me crazy. I think it’s defensible…  So, we’re dressing up for dinner tonight, Gala in the dining room. I only brought one dressy shirt, so I’ll keep wearing that. Tomorrow is last full day on ship… Yay!!! We had surf and turf in dining room, first time I’ve ever had lobster. It was pretty good, too bad it’s so expensive! Thursday. Time to pack and fit everything we bought off and on the ship into our luggage. We did pretty well considering we had a parrot, two rain god and a wooden warrior and one jaguar god mask to fit. Plus all the other knick-knacks. Bought more than I thought we did! But things were pretty cheap. It’s a lot cooler outside now. Can’t wait until we get back to the cold.

12/18. San Diego. This is the end of this blog. Looking back, I sure complained a lot, but I think I had good cause, cause I’m a spoiled American and it’s what I do. But I never complained about the poverty I saw, only the heat. The people were happy, if a little persistent, in trying to make a dollar… or a peso. They should be happy, most probably don’t carry a scary amount of personal debt, or live in a country that is over 3 trillion dollars in debt, don’t pay through the nose for medical insurance or medication. Most have free public college and very nice private ones. In a lot of way, I envy them. Except for the *^&%$ humidity and heat!  The ship was the usual HAL fare, identical in fact to the other two we’ve been on. The crew on this ship are happy, they smile and sing a lot and I feel it’s real. So…we’ll go back to the desert and be happy again. I’ll look back on this and we’ll reminisce, but probably forget about the humidity. But not the cat park, or the nonstop 4 hours of talking on one of the Lima tours, or the barren land that is being mined to death, or that it is illegal to kill animals in Ecuador. Lots of cool things.

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