February 24, 2009
After almost a year at looking for a cruise for 2009 or 2010 that either began or ended on the West Coast...without a long flight and not during November or December...the choices have been reduced down to one. The Regent Navigator (above), the smaller of the Regent ships will be doing a Panama Canal Crossing in May of 2010. Although I have been on 2 previous Panama Crossings, this cruise is a few days longer (21 days) with stops in 3 new ports. This will shortly after the ship comes out of dry-dock, so everything should be shiny and new.
Today, the call went in to Candi Deem at Travel Leaders in Aberdeen, SD to book the cruise. I had already decided on which cabins I would like, and was able to get my first choice (Cabin 731).
I am already looking forward to the cruise, and will update this page as it gets closer.
October 6, 2009
Usually you are not allowed to book excursions until you are at 180 days away from your cruise, however, I was able to book today.
This year, Regent began free excursions on their cruises. Here is what I chose:
GEORGE TOWN: GRAND CAYMAN SNORKLING
Depart the pier aboard your boat for the cruise to The Cali, one of Grand Cayman's renowned shipwrecks. Upon arrival, your guide will provide you with safety instructions, snorkeling techniques and details of the ship's history. You will then begin snorkeling, and the crew will be on hand to provide you with assistance in the water.
Afterward, you will proceed to another popular dive site to see some of Cayman's
beautiful reef formations, and an abundance of fish that include sergeant
majors, parrot fish, angel fish, turtles and more. Your dive masters will feed
the fish to bring them closer to view in the crystal-clear waters. Masks, fins,
snorkels and life vests are included, and complimentary ice water will be served
Take a stroll through Cartagena's past during a scenic walking and driving tour through this historic city.
Depart the pier for the drive to the San Felipe Fortress, the largest Spanish fort in the New World. This fortress defended the city from several attacks, and withstood a bloody assault from British Admiral Vernon.
After a photo stop at the San Felipe Fortress, you will proceed for a visit to the Old City, which offers lovely views of the ocean. Upon arrival, you will take a stroll down its beautiful Colonial streets adorned with breathtaking balconies overflowing with flowers. Because this tour places a special emphasis on walking through the city, you will have an opportunity to visit most of the main plazas and streets that connect them. Along the way, you will see San Pedro Square, Custom's Square, Slave Square, or Coches' Square, Bolivar Square, and Santo Domingo's Square. By taking this route, you will understand how the city functioned during Colonial times.
Your tour will conclude with a visit to the modern area of the city. A stop will be made at the Pierino Gallo Plaza for a bottle of water, and an opportunity to shop for Cartagena's finest emeralds, jewelry, coffee, handcrafts, and leather goods.
PUERTO LIMON: CARIBBEAN TRAIN, ECO CRUISE & COUNTRYSIDE
You'll board a historic but newly restored cars of the open-air train that will give you an exclusive opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica's storied Caribbean region. This train gave birth to Costa Rica's banana industry and passes through incredible landscapes. Stops are frequent so guests can enjoy the intense wildlife, such as sloths, monkeys and other colorful creatures that live along the tracks. The next part of the tour will take you to the Tortuguero Canals, where waterfowl, whiteface and spider monkeys and many other animals are easily spotted. You can enjoy fresh fruit, ice cold water and beer throughout the boat journey. Upon return to Moin's dock, your journey continues as you travel by bus to visit a banana plantation and packing plant, to get an up-close look at this delicious tropical fruit.
PUNTARENAS: ON MY OWN
Arriving at the downtown area, you'll have approximately one hour to independently discover the city's notable highlights. This might include the historical Saint Augustine Church, located just across from the Miguel Hidalgo Central Park, the art deco culture house (the former city hall) which features some marvelous large stained-glass windows, or the Soconusco Archaeological Museum, which houses some impressive displays of ancient artifacts, such as stone sculptures, pottery and other items left behind by the Aztecs during their short foray into the region.
You won't want to miss Miguel Hidalgo Central Park, also referred to as "La plaza de la Música" (the musical square). This lovely haven is considered the soul of the city because of the different mariachi and marimba musicians who gather there daily to play traditional Mexican music. The park has become a popular gathering spot and a place where visitors can enjoy shopping for handicrafts as they listen to the traditional melodies that identify this unique region of Mexico. There is also a flea market and several bars and restaurants nearby. For your convenience, a tour guide will be centrally located and available to answer your questions or provide assistance.
HUATULCO: ON MY OWN
ACAPULCO: PIERRE MARQUES BEACH GETAWAY
Relax and unwind in an elegant tropical setting during this splendid beach getaway at the 5-star Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel.
Depart the pier for the scenic drive through the main avenue, then turn onto the highway en route to the Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel. Along the way, a photo stop will be made at Lindavista Restaurant for exquisite views across Acapulco Bay. Next, you will drive along the scenic highway past Puerto Marques Bay and the Black Lagoon, where the first Tarzan movie was filmed, before arriving at the Fairmont Pierre Marques Hotel.
The Fairmont Pierre Marques was the recipient of the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award in 2005, presented annually by the California State Automobile Association. That same year, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the Fairmont Pierre Marques as one of the 100 best hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the best in Acapulco.
With the soaring mountains of the Sierra Madre on one side and the crystal blue Pacific Ocean on the other, this splendid tropical paradise provides the ideal setting in which to relax, bathe in the sun, take a refreshing swim or stroll along the seemingly endless stretch of beach. A buffet lunch will be served during your stay.
PUERTO VALLARTA: CITY HIGHLIGHTS
This mainly panoramic tour allows you to experience Puerto Vallarta in all its glory. Starting off from the pier, you will first travel along the main highway to Old Town. Making your way along the city's cobblestone streets, you will make a photo stop at City Hall and at the Cathedral of the Lady of Guadalupe. You will also see the main plaza, seahorse statue and the seafront area. Then you will head to Mismaloya where another photo stop is made overlooking Los Arcos Water Park. Your tour also takes you past the elegant area of Conchas Chinas.
A refreshment stop will be made at a charming local restaurant where you can quench your thirst with either a bottle of water, a soft drink or a beer before heading back to Old Town for some shopping. You will be dropped off for some free time in which you can further explore the town on your own or pick up some souvenirs.
CABO SAN LUCAS: ART DISTRICT OF SAN JOSE DEL CABO
Explore the Old World charm and beauty of San Jose Del Cabo during this tour of the Art District, and a visit to a renowned French restaurant.
Depart the pier with your guide for the scenic drive along the Cabo coastline to San Jose, one of the oldest communities in Southern Baja. En route, you will see exclusive resorts and golf courses, and your guide will explain the traditions, stories and history of this wonderful desert oasis.
San Jose is located just 20 miles from the town of Cabo San Lucas, and your cruise ship. This provincial Colonial Mexican community features sophisticated art galleries and interesting shops around El Centro, the town square and site of the original mission of 1730. Upon arrival, some free time will be made available for you to relax on a tree-shaded bench, or browse the galleries and shops.
Your guide will then accompany you to a renowned restaurant owned by French Master Chef Jacques Chretien. Upon arrival, you will be served a choice of premium coffee selections, juice or other non-alcoholic beverages accompanied by a selection of desserts prepared by Chef Chretien and his staff. You can observe the pastry chefs creating these delectable treats through the kitchen's large glass window. As you sample your treats, you can take in fabulous views of your ship and Cabo Bay.
SAN DIEGO: VISITING WITH MY FRIEND GARY
November 13, 2009
Just found out that Paul Reynolds (from the Hawaii/Tahiti Cruise) will be the Cruise Director on this one. I am SO EXCITED !!
January 21, 2010
Flight arrangements have been made. As in past years, will be
leaving out of Sacramento around Midnight, and after a short layover in Houston,
will arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 11AM. That works out great as I will have time
to get my bags, then a taxi to the pier in time for the Noon boarding.
February 28, 2009
Received an e-mail from Phil and Janet (from Missouri) who have been on 2 of the cruises I have been on. They have decided that they are also going on this cruise. Will be great to visit/cruise with them again.
April 10, 2009
Upgraded cabin choice to Cabin 829 (see photo page). This puts me on the same deck as the laundry rooms, and on the level above the tenders. In fact, the laundry room is just 2 doors away, just across the hall.
April 13, 2010
Documents and Tickets have arrived.
May 1, 2010
Here are a few of the players that will appear in my daily log:
May 6, 2010 - Fort Lauderdale
Vintage Limo picked me up in one of their SUV's at 9:20PM (May5) and arrived at Sacramento International Airport at 10:00. As you know, I hate the "hurry up and wait" game, but the flight was not until midnight, so did a bit of reading until we left.
The Continental flight was 3 hours long and I just could not get myself into a comfortable position. I know it is First Class seating, but the seats only do so much. At least there was a snack. While coach received a soda and pretzels, we got a plate of deli meats and cheeses, celery with ranch dressing, a cup of fresh fruit and a chocolate cookie.
Arrival at Houston Airport was 5:00, 25 minutes early. That meant waiting 2 1/2 hours for the connecting flight. A bit more reading and a lot of walking of the airport. The flight to Fort Lauderdale left at 7:23. At least the seat here not only reclined, but also had a foot rest. Too bad the audio/video system kept breaking down. Breakfast was served. I think it was an egg that was between 2 country biscuits. There was also yogurt, fresh fruit and a stale cinnamon roll.
Arrival was at 11:00AM. Getting the luggage was quick, then an 11:15 taxi to the Port. Once inside, I ran into Phil, Janet, Janet's sister and Janet's Parents. We chatted for a bit, then it was time to board the Navigator. I went to the pool deck. It was a bit humid and I kept hoping for a breeze. I got a cheeseburger, fries and a salad, then moved to Phil and Janet's table.
The rooms were ready shortly after 2PM and I went down and
unpacked and then ran to the laundry room, which is just across the hall (so a
short run) and ironed my shirts (you know how I am about that). I then met
Carlo, who will be my steward. He is hoping to find me Mountain Dew for my
Back to the room and up to the sail-away party at 5, even though we were delayed until 6 in sailing. I grabbed a foo-foo drink and ran into a new crew member. He looked familiar, so I read his nametag. It was Willie Aames of "Eight Is Enough" fame. He is learning to become an assistant cruise director for Regent. I then ran into Paul Reynolds, the cruise director, who I first met on my first Regent Cruise 4 years ago. We chatted for awhile and have made plans to meet at 7:30 for dinner in the Compass Rose, which is the main dining room.
I met Paul at the "Stars Lounge" and he told me that he had a surprise. We were going to be eating in the Prime 7 Steakhouse. A wonderful meal including French Onion Soup, Salad, Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce, Cream of Spinach, Onion Rings, Green Beans with Onion and Bacon and French Fries. Desert was a slice of Banana Cream Pie. Better yet, was catching up with Paul. What a nice evening.
I made my way to the casino to check out what they had. There are several Blackjack tables, a 3 Card Poker Table, Roulette and several slot machines. I picked a one dollar "Jacks or Better" Poker Machine and put $20 in and got $250 back within a couple of spins (including 2 4-of-a-kinds).
Back to the room to call it a night. We turn the clocks back one hour tonight.
May 7, 2010 - At Sea
After a good night of sleeping, awoke at 7:30 and decided to have a light breakfast by the pool. Today is the first "sea day", so it should be a relaxing one. This morning also brings on the parade of walkers on the 11th deck. (see photo page). It is almost like New Years Eve when everyone makes the resolution to be more fit. This takes place on the 11th deck, and as the cruise progresses, there will be less and less of them.
One of the small "problems" with the Navigator as a ship, is that it has a vibration to it. According to all that I have heard and read, there is a lot less vibration than it had before it went into drydock at the beginning of the year. I must say that it is certainly vibrating. It is stronger at the rear of the ship, which is where more of the public spaces are located. There were times at dinner last night when things shook quite a bit. One of the factors seems to be the speed of the ship. Because we had left Fort Lauderdale an hour late, the Captain is making up the time by going a bit faster and that seems to increase the vibration. I am told that it is something you get used to as the cruise goes on.
Sat in the sun from 10AM - 11.
Ran into Willie Aames again (as I did last night on the way to the casino). Had a passenger take a photo of the two of us (see photo page).
Lunch at the pool grill today is "Fish Al Fresco", which I passed on. I picked up a few small sandwiches and some salad instead.
The Captain just made the daily announcement. We are 10 miles off the shores of Cuba. It is 86 degrees outside (at noon) and we are going the same speed and direction of the wind, so there is no breeze on the ship. Tomorrow, the temperature should be around 82.
Back out to the pool for another hour of tanning and listening to the band playing Dixieland music. Met a few new passengers, grabbed a bowl of chocolate ice cream and then went to the casino to play "Three Card Poker" and drop off some of my money.
I changed into my Tux for "formal optional" night and headed down to the "Stars Lounge" to meet with several Cruise Critic members. Cruise Critic is an online message board for those of us who like cruises and chat about the different itineraries and ships. There were 7 of us that met.
Then it was off to the Captains Cocktail reception in the Theater. Quite a line to get in, but then met the Captain, took the "Bill with the Captain" photo and continued down the reception line of all the department heads.
I left the reception a bit early to get into the Compass Rose dining room before the crowd arrived. Now please indulge me once as I go through the choices I made. Photos are on the photo page. I have never taken photos of a dinner before and was asked to do so this time. I promise not to do it again on this cruise. Here are the courses.
I skipped the Appetizer and went for these courses: 1. Veloute of
Green Asparagus Soup with Chervil Cream. 2. Citrus Avocado Salad with Romaine
Lettuce, Citrus Segments (grapefruit and orange) and Honey Lime Vinaigrette. 3.
Freshly Cooked Pasta with tomato sauce. 4. The intermezzo: Champagne Sorbet. 5.
Pan Fried Veal Tenderloin with Black Eye Bean Fondue, Vegetables, Mushrooms,
Aged Balsamic Vinegar and Arugula. 6. Chocolate Trilogy: Chocolate Raspberry
Mousse, Chocolate Cherry Sorbet and Ginger Ganache.
The wine steward poured the evenings white wine, but I saw the table next to me order the Riesling that I love. I mentioned to the steward that I originally had that wine on the Mariner and loved it so much that I now order it by the case. She immediately took away the original wine and poured the Riesling.
After dinner it was off to the casino and then ran into Paul, who
invited me to join him at the "Stars Lounge". We met up with Willie, Brandi (who
headlined the show this evening), Randy (comedian/juggler who will headline
tomorrow and Florian, the food and beverage manager (who happened to be on the
Hawaii/Tahiti trip with us).
May 8, 2010 - George Town, Grand Caymans
Awoke at 7:30 and went out to the Pool Grill for breakfast, watched us put down anchor here in George Town, then back to the room to get ready for this morning's excursion.
Phil, Janet and Judy were also part of this excursion, and as Phil and Janet are very experienced with snorkeling, they made it very easy for me. We gathered at 10:00 in the "Stars Lounge" and then proceeded to the tender and within a few minutes were in George Town. We loaded onto a catamaran and went out about 5 minutes to our first of 2 snorkeling spots. It was an area that included both coral reefs and sandy dropoffs. The sea was very calm and visibility under water was great. I took to snorkeling quickly, but was so busy looking straight down that I missed the fish that were swimming beside me. We stayed in this area for about an hour before moving another 5 minutes over the sunken ship "The Cali", In 1933, it was The rice got wet, expanded and split the ship in two. In the 1960's they decided to sink the entire ship (using dynamite) and that is why she is here today. As you will see in the photos, you can still see the ship quite easily as it is only about 12 feet down. We stayed here for about 30 minutes before going back ashore.
We did a bit of shopping, then headed back to the ship in time for a late lunch.
I went out by the pool for more sunning. There were only a few of us laying out. Most were in the shaded areas.
I met up with Phil and we exchanged snorkeling photos, then it was off to dinner.
It was back to the casino. I played "Three Card Poker" and got 3-of-a-kind for $150 and then went over to the video poker machine I won on on the first night and put $20 in and in 4 hands, won $200. Not a bad way to end the evening. (I am sure they will get it back by the end of the cruise).
May 9, 2010 - At Sea
I received a nice e-mail from Marsha and Cheryl, who will be doing this cruise in 2011. They asked that I post photos of my cabin, which is the main type of cabin on this ship. Those are now on the photo page.
I awoke at 8AM, and as the great food seems to be adding a few pounds, I went to the "Pool Grill" to have a healthy breakfast of fruit and orange juice. There is a special Mothers Day breakfast taking place in both the Compass Rose and La Veranda.
Had a wonderful conversation with David Burnett (the Guest Lecturer on Photography) and his wife before changing and laying out by the pool.
Today brought the first waves and the rocking of the ship. It is not at all bad, but one does notice it.
I also received an e-mail from Bob, who has been on 2 of the cruises I have been on, asking me to compare the Navigator to the Mariner. Of course Navigator is smaller. The public spaces are all towards the rear of the ship, so you notice the vibrations in Compass Rose, the Theater and the lounges. As far a food, they are quite equal. The staff is as friendly, if not more on this ship. I think it is because of the size of the ship and the number of crew that they are more like family. The crew runs double or triple duty (as they do on the Mariner), but you notice it more here. For example, I will have Suke as a pool waiter, then as a server in the Casino.
I do like the extra 25 feet or so of space in the cabin. I am told that couples notice it more. The balcony chairs (as well as the lounge chairs by the pool) are metal, not the plastic that was on Mariner....although I don't know if that has changed on the Mariner since it's drydock. The table and chairs on the balcony are left out, not folded up and brought inside, as they did not the Mariner.
So far, most of the games during the day (Baggo, etc) are played indoors. The ping pong table is in an alcove just off the elevator on the 9th deck. There is not tennis area here, but a nice putting green.
The one thing I do miss is the coffee area with the nice tables and chairs. There is no real place to sit with the laptop (indoors) that has a table and chairs. I either do my logs by the pool, in my room at the desk, or I have to have the laptop in my lap (which I guess is why they call them laptops).
The casino has several blackjack tables, a 3 card poker table, roulette and craps table. On the other side of the hallway are the slot machines.
One other difference, is that here, they have placed deck lounges on the 11th deck (the running deck). This only allows people to run or walk in single file.
There is no "Observation Lounge" here. To get a view forward, you either need to be in the spa/gym, or on the 11th deck, outside, in front of the spa/gym blocking their view. We will see how well this works going though the Canal. I just can't see the Alaska cruisers enjoying having to be outside to view things in front of the ship.
Also, the pool deck is smaller, making less distance between the lounge chairs and the eating tables. There are also less tables set up to eat at, so sharing a table is the common practice, especially at the specialty lunches.
Ok...back to the cruise:
Spent an hour in the sun before the special Caribbean BBQ with great ribs and chicken. I shared an outdoor table with guest lecturer Lt. Col. Brenden Hollis, former Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Regiment and his wife. He used to be in both Radio and Television in Bermuda, so we had a great time talking about that and about cruising in general. One of the stories that he told me that while working for the TV station there, a CBS Affiliate, he was asked to cover the Queen of England's visit to Bermuda. As there were 2 airplanes available, he booked one, and by knowing people, blocked the other from being used. He was then able to beat the Queen to each city she visited. When the visit was over, he took the film to the military base and had it sent to the United States. By doing this, he was able to beat the other networks by a day.
It looked like we were going to have rain, but we missed it and the sun was back out within 15 minutes.
Back out in the sun for another hour before trying my luck in the casino. Things did not go as well this afternoon, but Atanas, one of the Casino managers made me feel good about losing it. I told him that I had a complaint that although I was ahead, I had just lost my money. He told me that he would take it under consideration and may pay me back in person on the 27th. (The cruise ends on the 26th).
By then, it was getting towards dinner time, but first came the "Block Party". At 6PM, an announcement is made to come out of your cabin with an empty wine glass in hand. This way, you meet all of the passengers around you. The crew is on hand with wine and finger food.
Dinner was once again in "Prime 7". Phil, Janet, Judy, Jake and Donna invited me to join them. So here is the dinner story. When booking dinners online, you are only allowed one reservation for "Prime 7". I did the online booking for May 24th (San Diego) to have dinner with Gary McGuire, who will be coming onboard for the afternoon and evening while in port. That was approved by Regent. They don't really like to allow visiting guests in the special dining room, so this is very special. In the meantime, Janet made reservations for 5 for tonight. The day we boarded the ship, she asked the maitre'd for me to be included, and it was approved. Later, I went to the maitre'd to confirm my 24th date. I was told that it had been changed to the 9th and that the 24th would have to be cancelled. I told him that I would skip the 9th and keep the 24th, as that was important. As you may have read earlier, I went to "Prime 7" with Paul on the first evening. That came about as the Captain of the ship was going to have dinner with Paul that evening in "Prime 7". Once the Captain learned that Paul had already made plans with me for dinner, the Captain told Paul to "use his table at Prime 7". Once the maitre'd saw me with Paul using the reservation made by the Captain, he stated "we look forward to having you 2 more times". This falls under the who you know category.
So far, there have only been 2 minor accidents. The first was at the Captains Reception. A lady fainted, but was fine after a bit. The other was earlier today as a gentleman walking at a good pace in La Veranda dining room, walked into an automatic sliding glass door that did not have time to open. After some icepacks, he was fine and stayed and had breakfast.
I finished the evening in the casino where on "3 Card Poker", I got a 3-of-a-kind and a straight flush (the best had you can get) and came out $550 ahead.
May 10, 2010 - Cartagena, Columbia, South America
Awoke early to watch us come into Cartagena with narration from Terry Breen, our Destination Specialist. She does a very good job of giving a bit of history of the areas we are in and what we are seeing as we come into ports.
Our Captain backed us into port (for easy exiting). He is better at parking the ship than I am with my car. Shortly after 8AM, a Carnival Cruise ship also pulled into port, so it is going to be a bit crowded on the streets of Cartagena during the tour.
I noticed during our arrival at how much the "New City" has grown in the past 2 years. I have posted a photo of the new city on the photo page.
At 8:50, we gathered in the theater and it was off to the buses for our tour. It is 86 degrees with 95% humidity, so a bit unpleasant. We started with a quick stop at San Felipe Fortress, then to the "Old City". I have been before and saw many of the same things. The photo page shows a few of the stops. There are a ton of vendors trying to sell sunglasses, cigars, t-shirts, drawings and more. They do not leave you alone and it is best if you do not make eye contact with them.
My goal was to find the gentleman who paints on small mirrors. I saw him 2 years ago. He puts botches of paint on a small mirror, then spreads with with the side of his hand, then finishes the painting with a brush. The whole process takes just over a minute. You can see him at work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYKoaF1KgCo I was afraid of smearing or breaking the mirror, so did not buy any, and kicked myself after for not doing it. All during this tour, I was on the lookout for him, but did not. When we got to the final "mandatory shopping stop", we had 30 minutes of free time. It was in the last 10 minutes that I asked our tour guide about the painter. He directed me to another guide who told me that he should be a block away on another street. I made the dash and found him. He had a group from the Carnival Cruise in front of him, but I butted in, pointed out the 2 paintings I wanted and paid my money. I told him that I had waited 2 years to find him again. He smiled and told some of his friends while he was wrapping them up. I made it back to the bus in time, so I am a happy camper. (Photos of the mirrors, although a bit blurry, are posted).
Back to the ship for a quick lunch with 3 of the female dancers who will be in tonight's show, then a swim in the pool to cool down, and some tanning time.
Dinner tonight was in the Compass Rose. I had the Ostrich Medallions. First time trying it, and (note to self) not one of my favorite fouls.
Tonight was the first of the Production Shows in the Theater. It was "On Broadway", featuring Broadway songs. There are 6 dancers (4 female, 2 male) 2 lead singers (one male and one female) and 2 specialty dancers (a husband and wife team). As this is the smaller of the Regent ships, once they get all 10 performers on stage along with the 8 piece orchestra and the conductor, there is not much room for them to dance. It was a nice show, but, as it is the first time they have ever performed it, there was a lack of spark.
I then went to the casino and again received a straight flush on "3 Card Poker" and came out ahead $300. Somehow, I know this won't last and when that happens, I probably won't mention it here.
Tonight, we turn the clocks back one hour, so will once again be 3 hours ahead of West Coast time.
Forgot to mention earlier, that we are running with a full ship (approx. 460 passengers, 100 of those from England).
May 11, 2010 - Sea Day
The extra hour of sleep was most welcome, other than, even though I am a single passenger, the guy in my room kept snoring and waking me up. Hate when I do that.
Got up around 7 and had my usual Pool Deck breakfast before checking e-mail, etc.
It is a muggy day outside and overcast. One of those days where you wish they would turn the humidifier down.
I attended the first half of Terry Breens' lecture on the History of the Panama Canal. After the first half hour, it was still not to the part where the canal was being built, so I left. The lecture will be on television all day tomorrow, so I will catch the rest of it then. They record all of the lectures and repeat them all day long the following day. This is very nice for those who have other things to do, or just don't care to attend live.
I talked with Lynn Madsen, the Cruise Consultant this morning. She has been CC on other cruises I have been on. I had a quick concern and once again, she had it taken care of within minutes.
I got caught up on Phil and Janet's blog (www.medary.com). Phil takes care of the photos and posting and comedy, Janet writes up the "what we did and when" part. If you want a different view of the cruise, check it out.
I attended the "Titanium, Platinum and Gold Members Reception". It is a get-together for those who have been on Regent for 75 or more days.
Lunch today was the "Hamburger Grill" featuring different style burgers. On deck during lunch was an ice carving demonstration and a game of shuffle board featuring guests teamed up with crew (including the Captain).
I went to the casino and tried both 3 Card Poker and Roulette, with no luck at either. In fact, I was betting on the middle black numbers and on every spin, it came up a red number, and quite a string of them at that.
Dinner tonight was with Lyn, Pat, Emil and Halina in the Compass Rose followed by another go at gambling.
May 12, 2010 - Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Awoke early this morning as we were coming into port. Went out to the pool deck and found that it was raining. It is the start of the rainy season in this part of the world. Guess the umbrella will come in handy on today's excursion.
Grabbed a quick breakfast and chatted with Jeff, another solo passenger.
The excursion I chose was "Caribbean Train, Eco Cruise and Countryside". It began at 9AM. The rain had just stopped (not to return) and we took a bus ride to an open air train that has been converted. It was originally for the transportation of bananas. The ride was about an hour and a half with a few stops to view a sloth and to see the ocean beach. The train passes many "squatters" who have set up little more than metal sheds in the rain forest. As we pass, kids wave at the train. I asked our guide "is this because of the friendly nature of the country, or is the train going by a special event?" He answered "Both". We then drove to the Toruguero Canals where we were first serenaded (waiting for the boats to return from other excursions), then boarded and spent about 45 minutes cruising the canals looking for wildlife. Back on the bus and to the Del Monte Banana Factory where we watched the process from arrival of the bananas through to the packing. The entire tour lasted just over 4 1/2 hours and our guide Daniel was one of the best guides I have had in all of the excursions I have taken.
We arrived back at the dock and I took a walk into the city to try to find some local crafts. I did find a young man who was painting onto feathers. There were several vendors that had these, but his were framed and signed.
A bit of history. Costa Rica (Rich Coast) was founded by Christopher Columbus (what didn't he discover) in 1502, when he anchored in front the Island of Uvita. The country abolished it's armed services in 1949 and used the money saved to improve social, medical and educational facilities. To this day, there is no armed services. A quarter of the country is designated as National Parks and there are over 8,000 species of plants and 859 species of birds.
Back to the ship and an hour by the pool before getting ready for dinner.
Was invited to the "Cruise Directors Table" this evening and joined 3 other guests and had a wonderful evening.
Of course, went to the casino and was down quite a bit until I hit a straight flush and ended the evening $175 ahead.
May 13, 2010 - Panama Canal Crossing
Awoke around 5:15 to hear announcements being made regarding our entrance into the Gatun Locks. These are on the Atlantic Ocean side and take about an hour to go through.
I went up on deck with my laptop and, as I did last year, connected to the internet and the Canal webcam and showed passengers who wanted to view it, the live feed of our ship going through the canal. Photos are posted.
What I learned new this year is that the gates which open and close each section of the locks weigh up to 730 tons. It cost the Cruise Line approx. $100,000 to use the Panama Canal this morning.
We were the 14th vessel to go through the canal this morning. We were through the Canal (both sets of locks) by 2:30PM. The day was very warm (near 90) and VERY humid. Shortly thereafter, we had a heavy downpour that lasted 30 minutes. It kept the pool staff very busy trying to collect up all the towels, pillows and lounge covers, as the rain gave no advance warning. As we continued on to the Pacific Ocean, the humidity dropped and a nice breeze came up. We can only hope that it holds.
I uploaded the rest of the Canal photos before changing and going up to the casino. I will learn that afternoon gambling has not been good for me.
One story I forgot to add yesterday. As you may know, when asked to describe the passengers on the ship, I jokingly say that: "the average age is death". Yesterday as we were all gathering in the theater for the excursion, I was standing near the back of the theater and a lady entered and said: "I am looking for a friend of mine...she has grey hair." I just held out my hand and scanned it over the theater and said: "Good luck".
Enjoyed a very nice dinner by myself in the Compass Rose dining room.
Back for another evening of Casino. Because we are now in the Pacific Ocean, I am losing.
May 14 - Sea Day
Today is another sea day and I started it with a 7:30 Breakfast from Room Service. Each night, a card is placed in your room to order breakfast to arrive in a 30 minute time frame between 6:30AM to 10AM. Of course you can call room service anytime.
I asked for a 7:30 - 8AM arrival and the door rang at 7:25, which makes for great service. On the card are choices of chilled beverages, fresh fruit, yogurts, cold cereals, hot cereals, eggs, omelets, sides, pastries, breads, toasts, sweet treats (pancakes, waffles or french toast), preserves, salmon, cold cuts and hot beverages. Just fill in how many you want of each and check the arrival time. When breakfast arrives, they will pull out a tabletop (stored behind your couch) and set up white tabletop service. I just have them place their tray on the rooms' small oval table (that the tabletop fits over).
I am not one to do activities onboard, but a regular sea day morning includes: "wake up and walk", body sculpt, Enrichment lectures, Shuffleboard contest, Bridge lessons, slot or blackjack tournament, mah jongg, art lecture and more. Also daily are the popular teatime, trivia contest and bingo.
TV channels include: The Cruise Directors channel where he talks about upcoming events for the day and interviews entertainers or crew, a channel pointing out from the front of the ship, a "future cruises" channel, a channel describing excursions in the next port, a destination services channel, a channel which replays the previous days' lectures, CNN (international in our case), Fox News, TNT, ESPN, Explorer Cousteau, a "CSI Las Vegas" channel, a "24" channel, Blue Planet Documentaries, an "evenings menu" channel and 3 music channels. Also as part of the interactive TV are close to 200 movies on demand (all free). There is also a DVD player in the room should you bring your own or wish to check some out from the library.
Still overcast this morning, but hoping for sun sometime today. Even though overcast, I did manage an hour of sun before a light rain at 11.
There was a quick break during lunch, which today was Italian Day at the Pool Grill with 4 types of pasta and 4 different types of pizza.
I took a few minutes to play in the pool with Jakob, the 10 year old onboard.
Two more tries at the sun during the afternoon, and 2 more episodes of light rain.
Yesterday, we received our certificates commemorating our Panama Canal Crossing. I have given mine to Paul to take to the Captain to have him sign it for me.
Chatted with a few passengers before dinner and spent 2 hours after dinner doing laundry and ironing.
Went to the casino. Enough said on that tonight.
May 15 - Puntarenas
We arrived in Puntarenas at 8AM. The "Sea Princess" ship was already in port. My only goal here is to find Yalila, who has the carved pottery. I told everyone that she has the first market stall on the left as enter the market at the end of the pier.
I walked there and she was not there. I did, however, find her further down and told her that I had made purchases 2 times before and was back. She was very happy that I returned. I ended up buying 3 of her vases. I continued walking into town to the church/town square. I did not go into the church as there was a mass taking place.
It was back to the ship, some photo taking of the spa/gym (see photo page) then laying out, a light lunch and more laying out. Although it was sunny (and humid) in the morning, the afternoon became overcast and a bit less humid.
I had a lovely dinner tonight with Paul Reyolds, Carmen Marlewski (the Assistant Purser), Rodi Alexander (our current guest artist, who will be doing an evening as Barbra Streisand tomorrow night), her mother and 3 other passengers.
Up to the casino. Ceaser, a passenger who is 99 years old and loves playing blackjack, decided to play 3 Card Poker. He said that he has not played it in 100 years.
As I head to bed, we are going through a thunderstorm. Watching the lightening out the window is amazing and the thunder is VERY loud.
May 16- At Sea
We moved our clocks ahead an hour last night, as some parts of Mexico are not on Daylight Savings Time. This now puts us ahead of California time by 2 hours. Good news is...we will put them back twice more (for more hours of sleep).
Today should be a quiet day. It is still a bit humid out, but when I awoke at 7, there was only partly cloudy skies, but it soon became overcast, then cleared again to make for a nice day.
I went out to the pool around 9AM and stayed there off and on through 3PM.
It was Tex Mex day at the grill and the ribs were quite good. I took my desert to the back deck of La Veranda where Phil and Janet were. She saw someone with a glowing green desert, so I told her that I would go and get it. I did not tell her what it was at first and I am not sure she would have tried it if I had not. It was a pistachio pie. We are still not sure what the black things were in it, but she did manage to take 2 bites before pushing it away.
I found Rodi at the lounge with her mother this afternoon. We exchanged more information on Disney. I hope we will be able to stay in touch.
Tonight was the "Seven Seas Society Party" for those who have cruised with Regent before. We have 475 passengers on this cruise. 262 have been before (62%), which is pretty low compared to our other cruises. There are 4 passengers who have Titanium status...400 or more nights with Regent.
Spent some time on the phone with a delivery company and chewing them out, as they promised a delivery for me to a special person on Friday (one ship-to-shore call when not delivered), then promised Saturday (and another call when not delivered), then promised for today. I am NOT a happy camper. I hope we finally have things straightened out for the next delivery date.
After dinner, attended Rodi's show, then off to the casino where the "Pacific Ocean Curse" continues, then joined Rodi, Paul and the singers and dancers in the lounge.
May 17 - Puerto Chiapas
Puerto Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico. The pyramid terminal building for the port was opened in 2005. As this is a small port, only about 10 cruise ships a year visit. The town comes out for the welcome with marimbas playing and dancing. We arrived shortly before 8AM.
Today's excursion (if you want to call it that) is a bus ride into the town of Tapachula, which is about 30 minutes away. Phil, Janet, Jake, Donna and Judy were all going, but Jake, Donna and Judy decided to stay on the ship, so Phil and Janet were nice enough to let me tag along with them. Our bus left at 9:45 and we made a 30 minute stop to see a modern cathedral and walk around. Really not much to see here. Phil and Janet wanted to get some pesos, so we found a bank and that task was done. Back to the bus and a one hour stop at the main makket area of town. This was great. Streets lined with vendors, a huge building (at least 3 levels) filled with restaurants, stores, food vendors (including several with chicken laying out). Those vendors were shooing away the flies with not-so-clean towels. I have a feeling that with the heat in those buildings, the chicken was cooking itself laying on the tables. Thank goodness for Foster Farms! It really gave you a flavor of local life, as we were on our own and you really never saw any of the other passengers. Our guide was not the greatest. She was talking at the front of the bus and many in the back said we could not hear her. She kept talking. It was not until we were in the city that she decided a microphone might work better.
I loved one of the characters they have there. It is a man who represents a pharmacy company. I have photos of him on my page.
We noticed that the market area was VERY crowded and busy. I asked the guide if it was a holiday, or if this was normal. She said normal and that on Sundays it gets much more crowded as people from Guatamala come into town looking for jobs.
Back on the bus and to the ship by 1:30. It was time to lay out by the pool, although it was quite warm. Stayed until 3:30 and out to my balcony (where this part of the log is being typed). Oh yes, I have freshly made Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce at my side.
The dinner tonight was one of the best. A rigatoni pasta that was cooked perfectly and had a great sauce. I even wrote a note to the chef complimenting him on the great meal.
A bit of gambling, up to the Galileo's Lounge, where I had a drink with Paul and the Captain. I thanked the Captain for signing my Panama Crossing Certificate. He is around the ship all the time. Not something you see from all of the Captains.
May 18 - Huatulco, Mexico
Trying hard to become the new Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco just does not match up yet. It has not changed over the 3 years I have been here. This time around, I went off the ship around 8:30AM, walked the 2 or 3 main blocks and came back aboard the ship. It is still a very hot day.
One of the advantages of staying aboard is that the laundry room is empty and I was able to get caught up in that area. I did meet the "guests from hell", the couple who complain about everything and I don't think there is anything Regent could ever do to make them happy. They complained that the laundry room opened 15 minutes early and they did not get the machines first. They complained about going to the dining room 5 minutes before closing time and being turned away (even though another dining room was open, plus the pool grill, plus room service). I think if the salt shaker was moved 2 inches to the left on a dining table, they would complain about that. Too bad they can't relax and enjoy a cruise.
By noon, I was ready to grab a sandwich, visit with a passenger, then get in some sun time. It does not take very long before you find yourself in the pool.
By 3PM, I had enough sun for the day and actually took a quick nap.
There was a sale on the Regent Navigator branded merchandise, so I picked up a polo shirt.
Then it was dinner, casino (where after a few nights of loss, ended up $100 ahead) and then spent a few hours in the lounge chatting with Paul. On the first day he told me that it would take a few days for me to get to like the Navigator and he was correct. I do like this ship very much. It is different from the Mariner, but has very nice qualities. One of them is that you get to know the crew and the passengers quicker.
A very nice relaxing day.
May 19th - Acapulco
Awoke just before our 8AM arrival in Acapulco. I have been here twice before and decided to make it another lazy day with the excursion to the Pierre Marques Hotel. After a quick breakfast, got ready for our 9:50AM departure.
Took a bus to the Hotel, which is about 45 minutes away. We were given a quick overview of the Hotel and its' three pools. I went with Janet, Judy and Donna. Janet and I first took a walk around to see each pool, then checked out the Hotel Gift Shop, then walked down to the ocean beach. We decided to lounge at the far end of the "quiet pool". It was nice to be able to swim in a fresh water pool after 2 weeks of the salt water one on the ship. A buffet lunch was served at 1PM, back out to the pool and departure at 3PM, arriving back at the ship just before 4PM.
The pool deck is closed and is being decorated for a special BBQ party at 7 followed by a "Mexican Folklorico Festival" at 9, featuring a 20 member dance troop and mariachi band. They did a wonderful job and their performance ended at 10.
Everyone went up to the Galileo Lounge for the "sail away". A breeze came up, which made for a very enjoyable evening. The Acapulco lights are night as you leave the city are beautiful.
The casino opened at 11:30 (as they have to wait until a half hour after the ship leaves port) and came out $300 ahead for the evening.
May 20th - Sea Day
Ahhhh...another sea day. It is so tough on a person knowing that, as you get up, you don't have to do anything. No yardwork, no house cleaning. My biggest fear when getting back home is that I will go to a restaurant and upon finishing the meal, I will just get up and leave (without paying) just as I do nightly here.
It is a partly cloudy morning with nice calm seas and less humidity. Breakfast by the pool and a quick chat with the Captain. When he is out and about, which is quite often, he makes sure to stop and talk with everyone just for a minute or two.
By 9AM, the skies had cleared and a clear-sky day is forecast. I was out by the pool tanning at 10 and at 10:30 they held the semi-finals of the shuffleboard competition...one crew member and one passenger per team. The Captain is still in the competition and he was out today in his kilt, but also had a t-shirt on and was wearing a baseball cap backwards. Oops...his team lost. Hope he does not get angry and take us to some out of the way island and just drop us all off.
It was a "Curry" lunch at the pool grill, so I just passed on that and had a bowl of ice cream and a pear from the fruit bowl in my room.
One of the items in the showcase in the spa area is a mink necklace. I have taken a photo of it. Price...$750. For extra, you can get the matching bracelet and earrings. Just can't imagine how this would look if it ever got wet.
Decided to do a bit of gambling in the late afternoon, and although I have not been able to get ahead in any of the afternoon sessions, I managed to come out $250 ahead today.
It was then time for dinner, catching half of the Production Show and then casino (don't ask).
May 21st - Puerto Vallarta
Got up in time for the 7:30AM arrival in Puerto Vallarta. A quick breakfast and then it was time to go on a City Highlights tour.
Traveled along the main highway to the Old town with it's cobblestone streets. A stop was made to walk the Boardwalk, see the City Hall and Cathedral of the Lady of Guadalupe. There were also performers on a tall pole. They wrap ropes at the top, tie themselves to the rope and hang from them as they spin, which unwraps the ropes and they end on the ground. We then made a shopping stop before heading to the area known as Mismaloya, where we overlooked the ocean. Another quick stop for refreshments before heading back to the ship.
I made two purchases today. One was a small watercolor painting by a local artist of the top of the Cathedral on a orangish/red background. Asking price was $38, I got it for $30. The other was a shirt. The asking price was $25 and I said "will you take twenty for it?" She said "yes" and I gave her $20. She stood there staring at me and said "you said 24". I then realized what I said and how she took it. I gave her the "24 it"
I then spent a few hours by the pool, gambled (broke exactly even) and then back to the room to get ready for dinner. Got a call from Janet saying "lots of dolphins"....and there were. Watched them for several minutes as they swam in our wake.
At dinner, other than the main course (a full turkey dinner), I seemed to have picked the wrong choices. A salad that seemed to have no dressing, a chilled lime soup that had nothing but cream, a mascarpone sorbet that left a lot to desire and a coffee fudge ice cream that did not thrill.
After dinner, I came back to the room and for the first time opened my sliding glass door all the way. It got stuck and I could not close it. I tried to pull on it, flip the handle several times, but it would not go back over the locking piece at the bottom of the door slide. I called Janet and Phil and they came down. Janet did her best, then Phil lifted the door over the lock system. I was on the phone with the front desk while Phil was doing his thing, but once he got it, I let them know it was taken care of. I went down to the front desk to apologize for the hectic sounding call and told them that they did not need to come up right away and fix it. I told them to wait until San Francisco day to tackle it.
Up to the casino and ended the evening ahead $400. They want to see me back tomorrow night.
There is a lady onboard who sits it the lounge each night and has seen me walk in and everyone saying "Hi Bill". She is convinced that I am "Bill W" and that I am so popular that I have a "Friends of Bill W." get-together every evening before dinner. I mean, it is listed in the daily passages.
Tonight we turn our clocks ahead one hour and will be one hour ahead of California time. We do the final time change tomorrow night.
May 22 - Cabo San Lucas
Awoke fairly early this morning and put a load of laundry in the washer. Then it was up to the top deck to watch us anchor at Cabo. Once anchored, we began swaying back and forth at a good pitch. The Captain came on over the speakers and said he was going to pull up the anchor, move closer to shore and anchor again. He did, and it was much better, although we still pitched back and forth most of the day.
A 2nd load of wash was done, and then my neighbors asked me to come to their cabin for a bit of help. Seems their sliding glass door was stuck open. I told them that "I know how to fix that now", but theirs only needed to be released via the handle. Easy fix. Ironing was next, then it was up to the pool deck to tan. I have been to Cabo twice before and did not need to go ashore again, and I am pretty much excursioned out.
Fun fact for today: Our Food and Beverage Manager mentioned today that we go through about 240 bottles of wine per day on this cruise.
We left Cabo at 5, then time for dinner. Phil, Janet and I were invited to join Paul. A very nice dinner.
Up to the casino where I was able to come out $100 ahead.
May 23 - Sea Day
Clocks were turned back for the last time last night, which puts us on California time.
Awoke several times overnight as we began hitting rougher seas and all the creaks of the room made themselves known. One is right above my bed that sounds like someone ripping velcro every time we move front to back.
Finally awoke for the final time just before 7 and at 7:30 had breakfast via room service.
Went up to the pool deck and found Janet eating her breakfast. We chatted a bit, but it was windy and cold by the pool, so we went in and watched as they emptied the pool. It was just sloshing and banging from end-to-end and shooting water into the air.
I shot a few more photos and posted those before going back out to the pool at 11. Although still windy, I managed to lay out for a few hours, with a BBQ lunch break thown in.
By 2, I had had enough and went to the casino and did not fair so well.
As I was getting ready for dinner, we started rocking even more and as I looked out the door, I noticed that the sea spray was getting up to my level, which is quite high.
Had dinner with Frank Galzy and 2 other passengers. Frank is the General Manager of the ship. If you think of the ship as a hotel at sea, Frank runs everything on the ship and the Captain steers the ship. He has been with Regent for 11 years and is the employee on the ship who has been with the company the longest.
After dinner, there was to be a Cirque production show, but due to the rocking of the ship, it has been postponed until tomorrow night when we are docked in San Diego. So...I went to the casino. They are getting their money back slowly but surely.
May 24 - San Diego
Awoke early and had breakfast with Phil and Janet outside La Veranda, then followed Janet around as she had a list of things she needed to do.
We arrived in San Diego at noon as expected, but Customs decided to move the immigration process from the terminal (where you would present yourself, then continue outside) to the theater (where you present yourself, then have to stay on the ship until EVERYONE is processed. This took close to 2 hours to complete. Meanwhile, my friend Gary was sitting in a parking lot waiting for me to come out.
Once cleared, I went out and Gary took me to "Mo's" for lunch. A great hamburger place in the Hillcrest District. We then did a bit of shopping and then Gary drove me through the Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park.
We came back to the ship where I gave him a tour, then we relaxed on my balcony, then went to Prime 7 for dinner. After that it was the Cirque show by the production company. What the plot to it was, nobody knows....but very different for a ship this size with flying, etc that most Cirque type shows do. The pulley system for the flying got stuck, so they had to stop the show in the middle, get a ladder out and fix it. Because the straps were hanging when things started going wrong, they had to cut bits and segments out until things were fixed.
Gary had to hurry off the ship, as guests needed to disembark by 10:30.
Phil, Janet and I discussed the show at length for a half hour, then it was off to the casino for a half hour of play...$50 up.
May 25 - At Sea
Awoke just after 7 and began the process of packing. You know your cruise is coming to a close when that is at hand. Finished quickly and ran up to the pool deck for breakfast and a nice visit with Lyn. It is overcast and is the first day that I have had to wear jeans and a sweatshirt.
Visited with Phil and Janet in La Veranda before heading back to the room and filling out the Cruise Comment Card.
Played slots in the casino and won $100 and then had a quick lunch by the pool. Janet joined me and we saw everyone running to one side of the ship. We went to the window and there were dozens of dolphins frolicking in the wake of the ship.
Tried to get a bit of sun (but it remained mostly overcast) until 2:30, when it became too cold to be out.
Went back to the casino and played cards and won $200.
Things have quieted down on the ship. I think everyone is busy packing.
Finished packing before dinner, then headed to the "Crew Kapers", a show put on by several of the Crew Members. A cute variety show.
Dinner was in Compass Rose with Josh and Eric (dancer/aerialist and the lead singer), then to the casino, where I graciously donated some of their money back to them.
It was midnight before calling it a day, as we have an early morning going under the Golden Gate Bridge.
May 26 - San Francisco - Disembark
Awoke at 5:15 for the viewing of the ship going under the Golden Gate Bridge from the top deck. Arrived up there at 5:30 and all we could see was the bottom of one of the anchorages.
We were able to see the bridge through the low fog just as we were going under (photos posted).
Pulled around Pier 39 (we dock at pier 35) at 6:15.
Total Distance traveled: 5,416 Nautical Miles
Left the room at 8AM and waited for our group to be listed as ready for disembarkation. That came at 8:45. Picked up at 9 and home at 10:30.
Got Corky home from my Brother's house and started the whole laundry, dusting and mail thing.
A wonderful cruise !!! Ready for the next.