Summer of 2016: Disneyland Birthday Trip: Saturday, Part 2: DCA

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Anaheim
What: Kathy’s Birthday Trip
When: July 8-10, 2016
Why: Kathy’s Birthday

We headed out to the shuttle stop and I realized I’d forgotten my wrist wrap and it was a bit hot out – it seemed too early to return to the park. So we returned to our room to relax for a bit and considered doing the DD valet park thing again, even though they’ve tripled the rates. In the end, we decided to stick with the shuttle.

The bag check wasn’t as annoying this time – everybody was sent on to the metal detector, which worked better we thought. Less confusion. The crowds were low, of course, so maybe the morning’s are just too busy for that. We entered DCA and I started recording the walk to Carthay Circle.

We continued on to Golden Vine Winery where we were planning on grabbing a glass of wine before our dinner reservation. Oh boy, do we love this part of the park! It reminds us so much of our San Francisco days with trips to Napa/Sonoma and even Livermore just a couple of years ago when we were living there again. We love wineries!

The seating at Golden Vine was full and the parade was about to begin. So we got our wine and stood in front of the Trattoria restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous elevated view of the parade.

Our wines were:

Kathy: Casa Vinicola Zonin Proseco (Italy)
Rich: Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis (France)

The “Play” parade was so much fun. This is just a small part of the beginning:

By the time the parade finished, it was time to make our over to Carthay Circle for our dinner. Naturally, the crowds were all headed our way. Great timing, huh? lol!

Next: Birthday dinner at Carthay Circle – can it get even better than Valentine’s Dinner, 2015?

Summer of 2016: Disneyland Birthday Trip: Saturday, Part 1: Disneyland

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Anaheim
What: Kathy’s Birthday Trip
When: July 8-10, 2016
Why: Kathy’s Birthday

We woke up to overcast skies, which surprised me because I’d only seen sunny skies on Periscope the day before. But the clouds were expected to burn off soon.

We hopped aboard the Hilton shuttle at about 8:40 and arrived about 10 minutes later. After going through the bag check line, we were a bit confused about where the entrance was but then Security pulled us back and made us go through the metal detector. Of course, that annoyed me because I didn’t even have a bag – just my cell phone. As the Trackers mentioned on their Disneyland vlog, it is so annoying that Disneyland does not have a bag free line the way WDW does.

I get it that security is heightened but it was all rather confusing. Eventually, we made our way to the ticket booth and the Disney magic began with the friendly CM at the ticket window who chatted with us about me growing up nearby. We still weren’t sure if we wanted a 1-day single park or a 1-day park hopper. But faced with only getting to do 1 park, we got the 1-day park hopper.

I took a video with my iPhone and Rich started up the GoPro in front of the 60th Anniversary sign in front of the Disneyland park entrance.

Then we entered on our favorite left side and stopped to record Pluto hanging out with some of the guests. The skies were still a bit overcast.

Then we walked down Main Street and Rich captured it on the GoPro.

We’d just learned that Rancho del Zocalo now serves breakfast so we headed over there. You can order from the American breakfast menu or the Mexican breakfast menu and we chose the Mexican breakfast. Rich got the breakfast burrito and I got the tamales. It was huge but it would also serve as lunch.

IMG_7082

Breakfast Burrito

IMG_7080Tamale Breakfast

Enjoying our breakfast in our favorite spot next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we were inspired to jump in line and see how we fared. Actually, every ride we rode was a walk-on. We couldn’t believe it – on a Saturday in July? But we must have hit a slow weekend in-between two very busy weekends (4th of July and Disneyland’s birthday).

We were happy to note that BTMR now has the cushioned seats like at WDW, along with the new effects that WDW is now just getting.

The sun was also out by now and we had a blast, jumping on Pirates of the Caribbean next, Haunted Mansion, and Pooh. We stopped it at the bakery by Pooh and got a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie and a Snickerdoodle and then browsed in some shops in Frontierland. We then headed for Toon Town (we’d heard a rumor it was going away but discovered later that was no longer true). We were just about to get in line for It’s A Small World but it was shutting down so we kept walking.

We stopped in at a Five and Dime in Toon Town to pick up some sunscreen we’d forgotten in our car, which was hanging out in valet parking back at the resort. We sat down for some relaxation and to enjoy the atmosphere.

IMG_7086

We continued to capture Toon Town with the GoPro and then walked back through Fantasyland. Ah, this is where the crowds were. Peter Pan had a 45-minute wait and we decided to skip it.

It was getting close to noon now and we were ready to catch the shuttle back to the resort for a bit of rest and a nap in preparation for our dinner at Carthay Circle at 6:10 p.m.

We might have spent some time in the pool but I forgot my swimsuit – oh no! We took a nap and relaxed instead. After our nap, we ate our cookies and washed them down with a diet coke to wake us up a bit and to tide us over for dinner. This was, basically, lunch.

F&W Festival Pool Home 2016 Plans

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Orlando
What: F&W Festival Pool Home
When: October 22-28, 2016
Why: 20th Wedding Anniversary Celebration Finale

We made ressies for a cabin and cancelled them. We made ressies for a Kidani Village studio but may cancel them for a pool home once we feel pretty sure we’ll make the trip.

Not sure what we will do when but these are on the top of the list:

SATURDAY

Fly from Las Vegas to Orlando, check in

SUNDAY – EPCOT

  • F&W Festival in Epcot
  • Lunch/Dinner at San Angel?
  • Soarin?
  • Test Track

MONDAY – ANIMAL KINGDOM (check early park entry schedule)

  • Morning Safari (second at twilight?)
  • Lunch at Yak n Yetti
  • See the animals on the trail/train
  • Mount Everest?
  • Dinosaur

TUESDAY: TAMPA DAY

  • Drive by old house?
  • Sand Cay?
  • Dunedin Causeway/Honeymoon Island?
  • Lunch at Tijuana Flats at West Chase?
  • F&W Festival evening

WEDNESDAY: MAGIC KINGDOM/AKL

  • Pirates
  • Splash
  • Big Thunder
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Peter Pan
  • People Mover
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Dinner at Jiko

WEDNESDAY: COCOA BEACH/KISSIMMEE/DISNEY SPRINGS

  • Swim/lunch
  • Explore Kissimmee
  • Summerport?
  • Dinner and Evening at Disney Springs

FRIDAY: EPCOT/FLY HOME

  • F&W Festival
  • Fly home pm

 

 

 

17 Year Anniversary of Our First Trip to WDW Together

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of our first trip to WDW together 17 years ago (actual date was the 22nd, which is Sunday this year) in 1999. We left San Francisco on  Saturday and returned the following Saturday, allowing us a 3-day weekend to recover. This is a preferred time to travel for us. And, this trip, in particular, was  a pivotal trip for us – it really changed our lives.

We were living a hectic life in the San Francisco Bay Area 3 years after our wedding, still trying to figure out where to make our home (other than apartment living) when we decided it was time to visit WDW together.

I’d been to WDW twice before – once in 1982 for the opening of Epcot when I stayed at the Contemporary and again in 1987 when I did a Disney cruise (ala the “Big Red Boat” with characters onboard) and a trip to WDW.

For one of my classes in my Technical Communications Certificate program, I wrote a report about WDW resorts – lol! The conclusion I’d reached in the report was that we should stay at the Grand Floridian. I received an A for the report.

Well, one of my co-workers had just returned from WDW back when the “Institute” was still around (they’d stayed there and taken several classes), and she recommended the Yacht Club for us. She could really see us there.

After much discussion, we decided to give the Yacht Club a try and loved it. She was so right about it. And while sitting out there on our balcony overlooking Crescent Lake with the sounds of Stormalong Bay, we said, “We must live here.” That began the journey we’ve traveled ever since that moment with two moves to Florida with thoughts of a final move for retirement.

So in honor of that important day, I thought I’d post a link to our trip report from that very first trip – Our First Trip to WDW Together (the trip that inspired our moves to Florida) – 17 years later! Where did time go?

Fort Wilderness Cabins

The reality of starting off with a Disneyland AP and winding up with a Premier with trips to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World would be quite a stretch for the vacation budget. We’ve already had a big cruise this year, celebrating our 20th anniversary.

So… over the next couple of weeks, we must decide if we’re going to do the Disneyland AP or skip it and do a Fall Food & Wine Festival Disney World trip. Just in case, we’ve booked both.

For one thing, by the time we added up the cost of a Disneyland AP with numerous trips throughout the year, we can do WDW instead. (Rich just sent me the cost comparison and the DL plan would actually be $1,000 more than the WDW plan.) Albeit, that would mean one trip instead of several so the question is, “Is it worth it?”

We’ve always wanted to stay at the Fort Wilderness cabins and now that they’ve upgraded them with a Queen bed, instead of a Double, we’ve decided to go with that. We still don’t like how the bed is up against the wall, making it hard for that person to get in and out (my side of the bed), but we’re hoping to manage it. There’s always the bunk beds – lol!

This is a very attractive choice for us because we’ll have access to the MK resorts and we love to hang out at Fort Wilderness. We also like the DVC features but it’s a standalone, which makes it even more attractive and, even better, it’s priced as a Moderate.

fort-wilderness

Here’s a video tour from All Ears:

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 7/8, Day at Sea/Disembarkation

Friday/Saturday, April 15&16, 2016

After leaving Cabo yesterday afternoon, we almost immediately ran into high seas — 16-18 feet, and they lasted ever since. It’s been a pretty rough ride.

We slept in a little this morning after not getting much sleep last night with the rough seas.

Around 7:30, Rich went to the IC to get 2 large coffees, 2 raspberry beignets, and 2 chocolate donuts (with that amazing chocolate!). We enjoyed these in our room. We needed a morning nap to recover from the near sleepless night.

We finally got ready about 11:45 am and went to the dining room to be seated for lunch. Because of the Noro virus, the buffet lines were reported to be very long and slow because the servers had to serve the passengers, instead of the usual serve-yourself situation.

Since we arrived a little after noon, the tables for 2 were already taken, so we had to sit at a table for 10 with other couples – a Chicago couple, a Canadian couple from Niagara Falls, a Mexican couple, and an ex-Long Beach couple living in Washington state. When the Long Beach couple said that last night’s seas was an “E Ticket ride,” we smiled and agreed. But the other people at the table looked confused so he had to explain it to the rest of them.

Kathy had bean soup, a muffuletta, and a piece of chocolate pecan pie. Rich had pasta as an appetizer (they served the wrong pasta), the muffuletta, and the chocolate pecan pie. The conversation was unfortunately dominated by the stupid Chicago couple. Excruciating. And the dining room was very weak again — serving the wrong items, not refilling empty water glasses, etc.

After lunch, we stopped in the atrium to listen to a great 7-piece band play music with a saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, drums, and a guitar.

We did a quick run through the shops for any last minute items, but found nothing.

Tired, we returned to our cabin to rest, pack, and eat a room service dinner with 2 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2 club sandwiches with chips, and milk & cookies.

We watched another movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on our cabin TV. And spent another sleepless night with the ship knocking around constantly with 18 foot waves out there. It was quite unnerving, and our internet wasn’t working. We felt quite cut off from civilization.

Tomorrow we are in Walk Off Group #5 that meets in Club Fusion at 8:00 am tomorrow morning (we set our clocks back an hour tonight). Then it’s off the ship, through customs, to our car in the parking lot, and our 4-5 hour drive home.

The weather today was super windy with high seas, knocking us around.
The best thing today was watching a movie together snuggled in bed.
The worst thing today was the high seas.
The funniest thing today was realizing that those who enjoy larger tables are those who love to talk about themselves.
Today we tried a large table.
And the result was service was all mixed up and the passenger interaction was draining. We’d had many wonderful conversations with other passengers earlier in the cruise, but by the end of a 7-night cruise, we’d had enough of that.
The most magical moment today was the 7-piece band in the atrium – especially after that lunch. Prefer to be with musicians than gabbing passengers talking about their businesses.

Disembarkation

Disembarkation went rather smoothly, as did the drive home to Las Vegas. It had been a wonderful celebratory adventure (we are so hooked on Mexico), but we were glad to regain more control of our life once we were away from the rather constrained shipboard life, but, still, dreaming of a future cruise. Cruising is addicting.

Like all cruise ship lines, Princess has its pros and cons. What it does well, it does really well. What it doesn’t do well is just the reality of the cruise itself, so big with with so many passengers. We walked at least 3 miles a day and, while we walk at home, usually not more than a mile a day. That was a good thing with all of the yummy food we ate and Rich only gained 1 pound on the cruise. Kathy isn’t weighing yet. 🙂

We’re both still recovering from our vacation.

Cruise ships are getting too big for us –  we prefer smaller ships (under 100,000 grt) with only 2100 or fewer passengers. We don’t need all the bells and whistles onboard a ship. Give us a nice cabin, an aft pool, and a wraparound promenade deck and we’re pretty happy.

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 6, Cabo San Lucas

Thursday, April 14, 2016

We were up at 7:30 am when Rich went down to the IC and brought back 2 large Cappucinos, a chocolate donut and a custard beignet for our breakfast.

At 8:00 am, we called the dining line and made reservations for DaVinci Dining Room at 7:30 pm for dinner. It’s formal night, and we will have them celebrate our anniversary when we give them our anniversary message card.

We were in Cabo on the Ruby Princess last fall and had a great time, but this time we decided to stay onboard and enjoy the adult aft pool while most passengers were in Cabo. Besides, after 2 excursions 2 days in a row, we needed a relaxing day. We’ve noticed a 5-night cruise to Cabo on the Ruby this fall so you never know…

We were out by the aft pool by 9:45 am where we got some loungers right at the aft of the ship with a fabulous view of Cabo San Lucas.

After our first dip in the pool, we each got the drink of the day, a Raspberry Margarita, and enjoyed them as we lounged in the sun and drank in the view. We overheard the couple next to us saying how much they loved Cabo because it wasn’t humid. And that’s why we’re not big Cabo fans – it’s the desert by the ocean and we already live in the desert. We prefer Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. But there’s a lot of activity in Cabo – parasailing, kayaking, etc.

We took another dip in the pool, sat out long enough to dry off and then headed back to our cabin, where our cabin steward Frankey was busy cleaning our stateroom. We wandered off until he was finished.

Back in our cabin, we ordered room service lunch, 2 cheeseburgers with fries, Cokes and cookies. After lunch, we enjoyed our nap.

We got ready for formal night and went down to Explorers Lounge at 6:30 and ordered 2 glasses of Merlot while we waited for the comedian/singer Steve Moris (toured with the Beach Boys) to start his show at 7 pm. He sang a lot of great songs, including several Beach Boys songs, taking Kathy back to her childhood growing up near the same beaches the Beach Boys sing about.

We left at 7:25 to make our 7:30 anytime dining reservation at DaVinci Dining Room. We gave the waiter our anniversary coupon and he looked puzzled. This was just the beginning of his incompetence.

Kathy had a Tian of Shrimp, Crab & Scallops with caviar, an appetizer portion of Fettucine Alfredo, and the lobster and prawns entree. Rich had escargot, appetizer Fettucine Alfredo, and beef Wellington.

(Kathy: When I saw the man to the left of me receive such a beautiful portion of lobster and shrimp and the way the waiter attentively removed the shells, well, my expectations were set high. But when mine arrived (and the man to the right of me), I noticed the lobster was very small and the shell on the lobster and shrimp was only half-removed. Btw, the 2 couples to our left arrived at least 15 minutes after we did but were finishing dessert as we were eating our entrees.)

The portions and taste of the entrees were weak. The service was atrocious for us and the other tables for 2 that were seated at the same time as us. Others around us with different waiters got much better service. We got up before dessert (along with another couple) and spoke about the issues with the maitre’d. He took our cabin numbers, so we’ll see what happens. (Nothing happened.)

We stopped back in our cabin to change out of our uncomfortable clothes and changed into smart casual clothes. Then we went back out to Crooner’s where we heard some wonderful music by Tommy McPhee while sipping on our Dino Dirty Vodka Martinis (they were a little strange, but OK). They sounded better than they tasted.

We left just at the end of his set with the Frank Sinatra medley and turned in for the night.

The weather today was perfect – sunny and warm out by the pool.
The best thing today was the two of us sipping Margaritas, while enjoying the aft pool with views of Cabo.
The worst thing today was service at dinner.
The funniest thing today was watching all the boats zip over to a private beach without refreshments while we sipped on our Margaritas.
Today we tried the anniversary card in the dining room.
And the result was our waiter was confused by it (Melanie and Johnny, who were also celebrating, said it was a special dessert) but we left before dessert.
The most magical moment today was the aft pool time.

Cabo

caboshipclose

aft3

raspeberry

Cabo1

lovers_beach_1

Cabo-San-Lucas-Arco

parasail

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 5, Mazatlan

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We pulled into Mazatlan this morning as we got ready for our Mazatlan City Tour. We made our way to the Wheelhouse Bar by 8:30 am and were directed to sit in the Princess Theatre where we were finally escorted to our buses for the tour. Because cruise ships dock in the cargo area of the port, you must board an excursion bus or shuttle to take you off the pier and into the City. We were on the 4th bus of our group.

We had a wonderful tour guide, Lety, who told us many things about Mazatlan. We were quite impressed with the area. We stopped at a picture stop first by the lighthouse, and then made our way to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and spiritually powerful! This is one reason we’re glad we’re practicing Eastern Catholics compared to Eastern Orthodox. We retain the Eastern (Byzantine) beliefs that drew us to Orthodoxy but, as Catholics, we get to experience both lungs of the church.

Then it was time for a tour of the Golden Zone where we stopped to have a snacky lunch at Margaritas. We each had a Margarita and shared Extreme Nachos with chips and yummy salsa. Mazatlan is known for their shrimp and Kathy loves shrimp but we were only hungry for the Nachos and not a big Shrimp lunch. We chatted with the Oregonians next to us, and the woman, who also loves shrimp, shared a shrimp with Kathy. We’ve met such nice, friendly people on this cruise.

Then we visited the cliff diving area and watched a diver dive from a 48 ft hill into 6 ft of water.

We returned to the ship around 1 pm after doing a little shopping at the port. If we weren’t full from our Nachos, we might have sat down and enjoyed a shrimp taco. It was a really fun area. We’d love to visit Mazatlan again.

We rested in our cabin until afternoon tea time at 3:30 pm. We had tea, sandwiches, cookies, scones w/jam and cream, and desserts. We walked a bit and visited SkyWalkers and wound up in Vines. Kathy had a glass of Domaine Chandon bubbly and Rich had Carnerara from Chile. They served us complementary sushi, which included hamachi, tuna, salmon, and California roll.

We enjoyed our Vines experience while listening to the fabulous sounds of Las Brillantes, the on-board Mariachi band.

We returned to our cabin for the evening where we had room service dinner, garden salad, lasagna, and chili with tortilla chips while watching a wonderful romantic movie, Fred & Elsa.

The weather today was cool in the morning but warm in the afternoon.
The best thing today was Nachos and Margaritas at Margaritas in the Golden Zone.
The worst thing today was waiting for our tour. This size ship is too big for us with too many people – everything takes longer.
The funniest thing today was when the Oregonian offered Kathy one of her shrimp.
Today we tried Mazatlan for the first time. And tea in the dining room.
And the result was we really enjoyed it and would to go back. We’ll do tea again, too. Excellent service and tasty snacks.
The most magical moment today was visiting the Cathedral – so special!

mazatlan

IMG_0359

cliffdiver

Cathedraloutside

cathedralinside

GoldenZone

Margaritas_Mazatlan

Cabo5

sushi

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 4, Puerto Vallarta

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What we forgot to mention is that the day before while sitting out by the aft pool, enjoying our Tequila Sunrise, we wrote a song together. Kathy had written one the night before and we started expanding on it until it became a separate song. As you may recall, she wrote “Palm Fever” on last year’s cruise to Puerto Vallarta just as we were pulling into Banderas Bay, watching the dolphins frolic in the sea.

On this cruise, we arrived in Puerto Vallarta early in the morning so there was no approach like before. Knowing that we would have a long excursion, we chose a more substantial breakfast. From room service, we ordered a bowl of Raisin Bran for each of us, and we shared a breakfast sandwich with coffee and juice. We took our coffee out on our exposed verandah. Before booking a mini-suite, verandah visibility was a concern for us. But we found we were so busy enjoying the ocean, we were unaware of the 3 decks of cabins above us.

Except then one morning the woman in the cabin directly above us called down to say, “Hey, I see donuts. Bet you didn’t know I could see you, did you?” Actually, yes, we did. So we said, “Oh yeah, we were in your cabin on our last cruise.” What we really wanted to say was, “Sure we did. We just didn’t expect some moron to actually talk to us.” Thankfully, we never heard from her again. 🙂

We sipped our coffee, took photos, and enjoyed the Mariachis and the parrots.

Then we were off on our PV excursion. We met our excursion group at the dock just off the ship for the Viva Tequila, Mariachi, and Beach Lunch excursion. It was hot, humid, and we were thirsty. We waited too long for our trolley, but when we boarded, they offered us each a bottle of water. We sat next to an Asian couple from the Bay Area, and enjoyed our chat with them. People always ask, “Why did you leave the Bay Area for Las Vegas?” Long story.

We headed off for a thorough tour of PV via an open-air trolley, especially Old Town where we passed interesting sites such as Fiesta Americana where Kathy stayed in 1981. It still looks good, although the area around it is so crowded, you can barely notice it unless you were looking.

Our first stop was Viva Tequila a tequila museum and showroom. We received a small complementary tequila. We purchased 2 more Margaritas for sipping on our tour. We then were led through the museum where we learned everything about the history and making of tequila, tasting a little on the way.

Then we had the official tasting in the theatre, where we learned how best to appreciate and sip tequila. Then we saw a fantastic live show with mariachis, dancers, singers, and rope twirlers.

At the end, we received our certificates as official tequila experts. Then it was off to lunch at Mangos Beach Club where we had rolled tacos, another Margarita with new friends who shared our table, Melanie and Johnny from Phoenix. We had an enjoyable time with them, and Melanie bought the drinks.

Then we walked across the beach to the water’s edge and waded into the beautiful water of Banderas Bay up to our knees. Thrilling!

It was then time to return to the ship via our trolley. We went straight to our cabin and rested.

We tried to order room service, but we couldn’t get through on the phone. So Rich went up to the Trident Grill which was serving the Smokehouse BBQ and got 2 brisket sandwiches with fries and a slice of pepperoni pizza.

We enjoyed our meal in our room and then watched a great movie, “33” about the rescue of the Chilean miners in 2010.

The weather today was hot and humid, reminding us of Florida.
The best thing today was the tequila.
The worst thing today was waiting for our trolley in the sun without water.
The funniest thing today was the photo of Kathy with a Margarita and a glass of tequila in each hand (those photos are private but friends can email us for the password).
Today we tried Mango’s Beach Club for the first time.
And the result was a great location and the Margaritas were delicious but the tacos were a bit cold. The beach and company was awesome.
The most magical moment today was Kathy seeing the town of Puerto Vallarta again after 35 years, and Rich seeing it for the first time. On our last trip, we were on a private island.

IMG_0321

IMG_0322

IMG_0324

IMG_0327

IMG_0334

IMG_0344

IMG_0351

IMG_6806

IMG_0352

Tequila

PVbeach

PVbeachumbrella

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 3, Day at Sea

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Up at 8 am. Breakfast from the IC: coffee, chocolate donut, custard beignet, and lemon Danish. We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony in our comfy robes. This is the first balcony we’ve without an overhead cover, meaning, the people above us could see us but we were too busy gazing at the ocean to notice.

Out of the cabin by 10 am, we walked the promenade and walked the ship until we arrived at the aft pool are and the Outrigger Bar where we settled into an aft-facing table and enjoyed a couple of Tequila Sunrises.

IMG_6770

IMG_6771

Around noon, we ventured into Cafe Caribe and feasted on a delicious Indian buffet with samosas, bean & potato salads, prom, beef, and kabobs, and other yummy stuff.

Another round on the promenade deck was interrupted by the Captain’s announcement that they have discovered passengers with the noro-virus and that they will be serving the self-service food differently, and that we should wash our hands thoroughly every chance possible (at least 20 seconds with soap and water), and use our cabin restroom instead of the public restrooms. We are resting now hoping for no infection.

Starting at 5:15, we got ready for dinner (smart casual night), and left the cabin at 6 pm. We stopped at the photo gallery to check out our pictures from last night’s formal night portraits and the Crown Grill photographer. A couple of the photos were very good — Kathy’s photo at Crown Grill and a photo of the 2 of us in a portrait pose. We purchased these 2 photos and an 8×11 for the picture of us together. The photo of Kathy came in 3 sizes, one for Rich’s wallet, one for Rich’s desk, and one for home.

We returned to the cabin to drop off our purchases and then headed to the Salty Dog in the Wheelhouse Bar. We were seated by a window and there was great music by Rumors playing. We started with bread sticks with cheese and beer dip. And then a salad with 3 dipping sauces. We enjoyed a couple of Seawitch Blonde Ale beers and ordered our 3 small plates apiece.

Kathy: lobster mac & cheese, calamari, and the Ernesto burger.

Rich: grilled cheese & soup, short ribs, and the Ernesto burger. For dessert, we had coffee and donuts, and a fabulous pot de creme with caramel popcorn. (We discovered the amazing chocolate onboard Princess is part of the partnership with Norman Love Chocolates. No wonder!)

We had a 6:30 reservation and it took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to eat because the service was horrid. The chairs were terribly uncomfortable as well.

We walked the promenade after dinner (we walked 3 miles today and most days) and then returned to our cabin for a pleasant relaxation on our balcony and then retired for the night.

The weather today was warm and sunny.
The best thing today was drinks by the aft pool.
The worst thing today was the Norovirus announcement.
The funniest thing today was the captain making this big dramatic announcement as if Los Angeles was having a Norovirus epidemic, instead of just on his ship.
Today we tried the Salty Dog for the first time.
And the result was really delicious food, but the service was terrible. We were not the only ones who thought so. We chatted with a couple sitting near us and later with a couple we met on our Puerto Vallarta excursion.
The most magical moment today was Rich on the bar stool ordering 2 Tequila Sunrises.

“Viva Mexico” 20th Anniversary Cruise: Day 2, Day at Sea/Formal Night

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kathy, here, starting off today’s diary.

Woke up at 7:30 a.m. to ocean and stormy skies. It’s too cold to sit out on the balcony, but the mini suite is spacious and the couch is comfortable. We ate last night’s turn down chocolates first thing when we got up. Rich is getting coffee and donuts at the IC (International Cafe). Our anniversary sticker is on our door.

When Rich returned to our cabin, anniversary balloons were tied outside our doorway. The sun was beginning to peek out.

Rich will take over writing our daily diary posts.

For breakfast, we had coffee, and shared an assortment of pastries, such as custard beignet, chocolate croissant, orange Danish, and hazelnut bread.

After breakfast, we headed out to tour the ship, order flowers, set up the Internet, bought our embarkation photo, shopped for a jacket, sweatshirt, Princess bear, and Christmas ornament. Kathy was trying to see how the jackets looked on her as she peeked in a mirror in the shop, and this nice older women smiled, moved over, and said to another woman, “She wants to see what it looks like.” That was just the beginning of sailing with such nice, friendly people.

We also checked out the new seating in the Wheelhouse Bar/Salty Dog. When we got back to the cabin, we made reservations for the Salty Dog for Monday at 6:30 pm dinner.

We returned to the cabin to get ready for lunch in the DaVinci Dining Room at Noon. Kathy had Mussels in Asian sauce, Carbonara pasta, and Cobb salad. Rich had Carbonara pasta, Philly cheesesteak with fries, and we shared a walnut, pear, chocolate turnover. We purchased a small bottle of wine that was on special, a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle was about a glass and a half apiece.

We sat next to a British couple who have lived in Delray Beach FL for 15 years. They were pleasant dining and chatting companions for lunch. We got to talk about Palm Harbor a lot. He’s lived a fascinating life and one of the highlights for Rich was when he told him, “That was before your time.” That made us both feel young. I’m now calling him “Princess Dad.”

After lunch, we enjoyed listening to the Mariachis in the Piazza area of the atrium. We walked the Promenade and then returned to our cabin for a nap.

Dinner is at 6:30 pm in Crown Grill. We snapped a couple of pics in our mini-suite.

IMG_6762

On the way to dinner, we posed for formal portrait photos. They will be ready tomorrow after 3 pm.

Dinner at Crown Grill was lovely. We each had a 007 gin martini straight up.

IMG_6768

Rich

Kathy had lobster cake, filet mignon (medium), and Captain’s Dependence (a sampler of all 4 desserts). Rich had the Black and Blue Onion Soup and the Rib eye. (Apparently, we just dug in and didn’t take any photos.)

We each had a cup of decaf coffee with our dessert.

dessert

The service was efficient and friendly, if not attentive.

(Kathy: I’m not a big chocolate lover but the chocolate on Princess is amazing!!! The best desserts were the chocolate ones.)

After dinner, we walked the promenade deck and stopped briefly in the Princess Theatre to check out a couple songs from the show MoTown. Then we stopped in a shop to buy a razor we forgot to pack. We then returned to our cabin for a relaxing spell on our balcony under the stars. We then came into our cozy cabin, wrote our notes, and checked out all the info for tomorrow in our Princess Patter.

The weather today was a mix of cloudy/sunny.
The best thing today was anniversary dinner at Crown Grill.
The worst thing today was the internet service.
The funniest thing today was the captain encouraging us to spend money in the shops.
Today we tried Crown Grill for the first time.
And the result was we really enjoyed the alternative restaurant ($25 pp) but the service was a bit more attentive at Sabatini’s last time on the Ruby Princess.
The most magical moment today was celebrating our anniversary with formal portrait, dinner, flowers, etc. (The flowers bloomed beautifully over the course of the cruise.)

balloons

IMG_6754

flowers2

IMG_0306

IMG_1177