April 14, 2017

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Cruising Mexico 2017 – Day 2 / Sea Day 1 – At sea exploration

At this point in time we’re somewhere off the coast of Los Angeles. The only way you could really tell was the location displays and the heavy smog, otherwise we were in a world unto our own. Unfortunately the morning started a little earlier than planned due to my poor understanding of how Cruise room service works. The night before we decided to try out the breakfast room service option and selected the 8 to 8:30 delivery window… which resulted in a knock at the door fairly promptly at 8am. While not a lot of options (breakfast sandwich, fruit, coffee, some breads), it was tasty. Next time I’ll remember to order for when I’m actually planning to be awake. But at least we were off on our first real day!

The biggest frustration of my day was realized fairly shortly after getting started… the time had changed. For whatever reason I never thought about the fact that we might be crossing timezones and in fact by the time we stopped in Mexico, we were 2 hours ahead of SF. Resetting the computer wasn’t a problem, nor was the cellphone (turning off automatic/network time), but my fitbit was the devil. Having a watch on a cruise is good, having a “Smart watch” that requires internet access to synchronize (which includes time sync) is not so smart.

I found the mornings around the ship to be very nice and peaceful. Most people who are up are eating and few are in high energy adventure mode. So I spent a bit of time relaxing at the aft end of the ship watching the waves, quite serene. It also helped that so far most people I’d met had been quite friendly. Unlike say in a hotel, everyone on a ship who isn’t in uniform, is on vacation and paying good money to relax and enjoy themselves.

The wifi is fairly flaky but not really a surprise there. If you think you have wifi problems at home, imagine living in a giant steel box. We’ve been using the [email protected] “app” because it has built in messaging capabilities (handy for us digital natives). However keep in mind the “app” is just a webpage, so there are no push notifications. Also with the wifi coming and going, sometimes it could take a bit of effort to get onto said app. [email protected] is useful for meeting up, but don’t treat it like SMS for up-to-the-second updates. Treat it like email, send the message and hope the person checks it soon-ish.

While the app is good enough, it’s a shame it isn’t more fully featured. It has a responsive design, so it works on all platforms (computer, tablet, cell). It does provide access to a list of amenities, which includes a map of your current section of ship however not a fully accessible map of the ship. There are TVs around the ship which show the current location, but not in the app (like a plane). Though you can see your room charges and place a breakfast order, so that’s nice.

It didn’t take long to realize we stood out a little bit from the typical demographics of this cruise. The average age of other passengers appeared to be significantly higher than our own. There were some families with kids, some 20-30s (like us), but mostly it looked to be the retirement crowd. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing and should come as no shock. Princess is a “nicer” cruise line (again, their target demographic) and it’s also off season.

Today we looked at the picture package. It’s $200 for the entire trip which seemed steep at first, however it included all prints and digital copies of everything on a silly souvenir USB. When we were at Disneyland they offered an equivalent package that was digital only for ~$70/day. Normally we’re not big on pictures of ourselves (as opposed to things around us), but we’re on vacation and we simply planned to attend every possible photo station (which turned out to be a lot).

The oddest incident of day was during a brief stop at the Explorers Lounge for an attempted game of putt-putt (in which Mary made some friends when she leaned over for her turn to putt). While there, we ordered drinks (which was our 2nd round for the day, at least 6 yesterday) which is what you typically do everywhere you go on the cruise. However this time when the waitress came back with the drink, she then asked if Mary was 21. Mary said yes to which the waitress asked if we had any ID. Of course we didn’t because we’re on the boat and one theoretically doesn’t need anything beyond their Cruise Card, ever. Not to mention all information is on said cards — including our unlimited drink package. After that the Waitress wandered off (don’t worry, she gave us the drinks). Very strange.

We also learned to be wary of the pushy sales techniques that can be used. Mary ended up with a $200 massage (which was nice, but maybe not exactly what she wanted) because they were overly forceful about it. Never feel uncomfortable saying “No” or asking how much something is on the cruise. Be extra suspicious if they don’t specifically state that something is either free or the cost involved. This is something one should doubly watch out for in a tourist trap area of Mexico, but we thought the Cruise ship would be safe.

As our first real day at sea, it was also our first real dining room experience. Even with anytime dining you can make reservations — which seems to be a faster line — not that we did. We ended up at a shared table with 6 others which was actually nice. The food was delicious albeit the portions rather small. Shrimp cocktail was 4 shrimp. Pork belly dinner was 4 spears of potato and 2 pork belly strips. Fortunately went to Horizon Buffet later so it was all good. You can also ask for more of anything and they will happily bring it to you.

The day ended with a comedy show. We had tried to get into 8pm comedy show, but it was packed. The 10pm show was more reasonable and we showed up 45mn early just in case (we spent the extra time drinking!). The comedian was Carlos Oscar who I had never heard of before, but he was Hilarious. Time very well spent and a great way to cap off the first day’s adventures.