Cruise to San Diego

Tuesday, February 19 — Marina Turistico de Paracas

Both of us woke up refreshed after a great night’s sleep. Neither of us slept well in Cusco and if what Barbara googled about high altitude is correct, poor sleep may be related. We had a leisurely morning and then took the complimentary shuttle to the Marina Turistico de Paracas that was about a 20 minute ride from the ship. Tours today were in General San Martin, Peru, but we didn’t book any as we wanted to recover from our Machu Picchu trip. It was a pleasant walk along the beach in Paracas and we took photos of the shops, restaurants and other sights. There were many shops selling souvenirs and we bought a few things. The sellers were great—it looked like they were using their laptops as they didn’t interact with us until we had our money out. The temperature was about 80 but very comfortable and there were several musicians singing and playing. We came back to the ship and worked on our blog until we went to trivia at 4:30. Our team has fallen apart since Jim and Larue left. Some Canadians were also missing players and asked us and Grace to join them. The Canadians told us that a second passenger has died. The captain announced we would be delayed in port because another passenger was waiting to be evacuated in an ambulance. It’s very sad but probably not unusual because of the large number of people who are probably 80+ years old on the ship. One of them, Larry from Huntington Beach CA, was at our table for dinner. He came to the table with his walker and had two pillows from his sofa with him that he put in the chair before he sat down. He was sharp and said the sound level at the shows was too much for him, too, and he showed us his ear plugs. He looked to be about 90 years old but still lives in his own home. He asked us how we managed to downsize and seemed depressed when we told him getting rid of about half our stuff was a big project.  We played trivia at 7:00 with Grace and Bridget and had a good time. We went to the show featuring a comedian named Patrick Keane who has been on Comedy Central and other cable shows. He bombed—it was his first cruise ship gig and he didn’t seem to know his audience. We watched an interview with Andrew McCabe on tv after the show. It appears that Trump may have done even more horrible things than we’ve been worried about this far. Barbara got on the list for McCabe’s new book at the library. How depressing.

Ship from Marina Turistico de Paracas

Along the beach in Marina Turistico de Paracas

Along the beach in Marina Turistico de Paracas

Lunchtime for pelicans

Marina Turistico de Paracas

Marina Turistico de Paracas

Happy Day, not Happy Hour

Wednesday, February 20

This was an almost totally relaxing sea day as we caught up with our blog that we hadn’t worked on for days. It really challenges the memory if you wait too long. Thankfully Jay downloads our photos every night and labels them, otherwise we’d really have a hard time keeping things straight. Tonight was a Gala night (finally escargot for an appetizer!) and another couple joined our table for dinner. They are from Sudbury, Ontario, and love to sail. After having their boat in the Bahamas for years, they decided to take it back home, so they sailed for 60 days, up the east coast, through the Erie Canal, and back to Sudbury, although we don’t know the geography of the sail once they got into Canada. They were good company and we compared some of our travel experiences as they’ve sailed a lot on HAL, too. We skipped the show tonight as it’s the singers and dancers and the sound is way too loud. Barbara doesn’t want to get stares or she’d put her neon green earplugs in her ears and watch the shows. The gambling gods have turned against us, but we’ve still done pretty well for being on this trip for almost 3 weeks. We set our clocks back one hour before retiring so we’re on MN time.

Meanwhile, record snows in MN (Jamie in Minnetonka)

Anna and Fischer in Minneapolis

Thursday, February 21

This is the second of three sea days in a row. After a late breakfast today we went to the seaside pool at the back of the Lido deck for the King Neptune Ceremony. Its a funny 'crossing the equator’ skit that involves pirates (good guys?), polliwogs (crew members who haven’t crossed the equator before), King Neptune and his Queen, the judge (cruise director Justin) and the jury (the ship’s captain and staff). It was really hot out in the sun, although it was only in the low 80s. They had more polliwogs than we’ve seen in the past so the entire ceremony took about 45 minutes. The polliwogs have to kneel before the king and plead for mercy, then they are slimed and the jury, with a thumbs up or down, determines if they are thrown in the pool or left to bake in the sun. Whew! We were in the Crow’s Nest after playing trivia at 1:00 and a guy from a table nearby came over and said he heard us mention Fargo and asked if we were from there. We told him we live in Minneapolis but have a sister-in-law in Fargo who had sent us a picture of the path from her door that she had to shovel so her dog Ash could get out. We showed him the photo she had sent us and he showed it to his wife after saying a few “wows.” He left Fargo when he was about 18 and lives in San Diego.  Jay’s cough and cold are still going strong so he had a chance for a long nap today after trivia. Two other couples were seated at our table for dinner tonight. A man from San Diego looked a lot like Jesse Ventura (without the boa) and the conversation was good. After evening trivia we went to the show even through we’ve seen it before—Frozen Planet Live, a BBC and Holland America production with amazing videos of animals and birds in the Arctic and Antarctic. Musicians from the ship’s band provided live music with the one-hour movie.

King Neptune Ceremony - the ship’s captain

King Neptune Ceremony - polliwogs before the king and queen

King Neptune Ceremony - looks like thumbs down

Becky’s shoveled path for Ash in Fargo

Friday, February 22

We had a very lazy sea day today. At lunch in the Lido we talked to a couple from Bolingbrook IL about Machu Picchu. They’d been there awhile ago and said they’ve heard that they may stop letting people walk around the site. He mentioned an observation platform where you’d stay while viewing everything. We don’t know how many people would make the arduous journey there if you had to stay on an observation platform. It could be just a rumor but preserving the site is probably a very high priority and tourists do stupid things. At dinner tonight a couple from San Diego that we’d dined with before were at our table as well as a couple we haven’t seen before from near Toronto.  We barely made it in time for trivia and another mediocre score. The entertainment tonight was a repeat by the comedian Patrick Keane (he bombed again), and Andy Buenger, a musician whose show we missed because we were in Machu Picchu. He was very talented on a marimba, but the sound level was way too high.

Saturday, February 23 — Puntarenas, Costa Rica

After our Lido breakfast we got off the ship to walk around the area near the pier in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We’ve been here a few times so didn’t plan an excursion. The tours seem to be 6-8 hours because they’re a long way from the ship. We were ready to come back on the ship after 45 minutes, as the temp was in the high 80s and we were sweaty enough. We walked through the shops but didn’t find anything we needed. We did take some photos and enjoyed our short walk. There’s a Princess ship next to us at the pier so there are lots of tourists in the area. The Coral Princess had some black smoke coming out the back but apparently it wasn’t a fire. There wasn’t an afternoon trivia game today, so we started to take a long, nice nap. About 3:30 some drummers outside on the pier started playing for the dancers, so we had to give up on the nap. Barbara ordered a whole lobster for dinner tonight and it was just okay. Two couples were added to our table when we we eating our appetizers so the service was a little discombobulated. We could have skipped trivia because we weren’t very good. We skipped the program as it’s the singers and dancers and it’s too loud. Only bad luck at the casino and it was very warm there so we didn’t stay long. We tried music trivia at 9:00 at the piano bar—recognized most of the songs but couldn’t remember the titles. 

Puntarenas - the Coral Princess and the Volendam

The beach along the pier


Beach people

Complimentary fruit and entertainment in Puntarenas

Sunday, February 24 — Corinto, Nicaragua

The ship was scheduled to arrive in Corinto, Nicaragua at about 10:00. Since we had lots of time we had breakfast about 8:30 in the dining room and were glad we did. We were seated with two couples from Canada—one from Ontario and the other from Alberta. They were very nice and we had a lot of fun. The husband of the couple from Alberta came from a family of 12. When I asked how many children they had, the wife said 2, but she really hadn’t planned on a second one. They have huge families so they rent a hall and get together with his family on Christmas Day and hers on Boxing Day. Sounds a little like the Puchalski clan as they rent a hall for some holidays, too. They also mentioned the hard candies we’d been given when we were on the Machu Picchu excursion. Apparently they also contain some cocaine and you’re not supposed to take them out of Peru. Oops!!! If we had known this, Barbara would have asked for more instead of declining them when the guides were passing them out. We didn’t plan a tour today as were here a couple years ago and saw Leon and the botanical gardens. The gardens were very disappointing as there were almost no flowers. At about 11:00 we decided to walk around the commercial port where some shops were set up. It took us about 1/2 hour in line to exit the ship, probably because as many people were trying to get back on as were getting off. It was about 90 degrees then and may get as warm as 95 later today. We saw the musicians and dancers and some kids in costumes. Some people used pedicabs to get around—$5 for an hour with a young man providing the bike power. We knew we didn’t want to stay out long so took some photos and bought a few souvenirs before getting back onboard. We played trivia at 4:30, then went right to the dining room for a Gala dinner. The Oysters Rockefeller was tasty, as was the Filet Mignon Oscar. Instead of a show in the theater, the ship had complete coverage of the Academy Awards show. We didn’t go at 7:00 as we were playing trivia and then played slots for a while (Jay won a little tonight). Jay watched about a half hour of the awards, but Barbara stayed until the end. We loved Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song. The ship had a contest to pick the winners with the winner getting dinner in the Pinnacle. We haven’t heard yet who won, but it’s probably not us. We picked Roma for the Best Picture and a movie we saw, Green Book, won. I think we may have picked Spike Lee for the Best Director, but the director of Roma won that. When we get home in about a week we’ll have to watch some of the movies that have been on our list for some time. 

Corinto Nicaragua

Corinto Nicaragua

Corinto Nicaragua

Corinto Nicaragua

Corinto Nicaragua

Corinto Nicaragua

Monday, February 25 — Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

The ship is at a pier in the commercial port of Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, and as we aren’t doing an excursion today we took the free shuttle to the cruise terminal. The bus looked like a school bus on the inside (painted red and white on the outside) and all of the windows were down. There were lots of shops and some performances and ceremonies involving local dancers and music in the shade of banyan trees at the cruise terminal. Boy, we don’t remember being so uncomfortably hot on our last visit to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala a few years ago. We remember that it was 100 degrees the day we went through the Panama Canal but not the 90+ degree temps and high humidity we’re experiencing now. We had a pretty lazy day back on the ship. Barbara is finally getting her 5 miles a day walked after not meeting her goal around the time we went to Machu Picchu. Jay is still fighting his cold and cough. We played trivia at 4:30, had dinner right after that, played trivia again at 7:00 and went to the show at 8:00. The entertainment was three young women vocalists named Unique 3. We thought we’d seen them before and liked them so we went and were disappointed. Too loud and not our kind of music.  We should get home a week from tonight and are ready to go back to some cool weather.

Puerto Quetzal Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal Guatemala

Tuesday, February 26

Today was a sea day and we didn’t do much. Our trivia team since the Unglaubes left is usually only Grace and the two of us. The same two teams usually win so we’re obviously doing it to give our brains some exercise. Tonight at dinner our waiters (whom we love) waited until the table was full (6 people) before taking any orders. One of the couples is from near Windsor, Ontario, and were with us last night, too. They’re nice and fun but they order so many courses that we can’t finish dinner in 2 hours without rushing things at the end. I don’t think they have anything important to do (trivia) like us, so they really take their time. Linda, the wife, orders a lot of food but doesn’t eat much. Tonight she started with an appetizer that looked delicious and she cut it into small pieces, and ate a few. Next she ordered a Caesar salad, and ate a few bites of that. Next was prime rib, and she couldn’t have eaten more than a few bites of a large slice of beef. When we left to get to trivia on time, she was still moving her dessert round and round in its bowl. Maybe she’s anorexic. We think we’ll talk to our waiters tomorrow to ask if they can start our service before others arrive or if we should ask for a smaller table. The entertainer tonight was Marc Yaffee, a Native American comedian. He was okay but Barbara is reading a book about Native Americans called There, There and maybe it colored how she felt about some of the things he was making jokes about. 

Wednesday, February 27

Another sea day. We had a light breakfast in the Lido and tried to watch some of the Michael Cohen testimony. A Mariner awards ceremony and special lunch started at 10:15 so we didn’t have much time to watch tv. We were shocked when they called our names to receive silver medallions celebrating our 300 actual days at sea. We had our picture taken with the captain and the hotel manager. We were surprised because we got them a couple years ago. At the luncheon a crew member was seated at our table and one of her jobs was the Mariner rewards program. She didn’t seem to be surprised that we got them twice and said they just want to keep us aware of the loyalty awards. Seems like a waste of time and money to us. The luncheon was good—we both had pepper steak. We played trivia at 1:00 but Grace never showed up so our score was pathetic. At dinnertime we went to our old table and asked our waiter for his advice and he found a table for four for us. Our dinner partners had just relocated from Rhode Island to Florida. They were interesting and it only took about an hour and a half for the meal. Jay had cobia (a white fish with a panko crust). Barbara had a shrimp and mahi maki skewer over rice. We enjoyed dinner but the star of the show was a delicious red velvet cake for dessert. We were able to sit down for about 15 minutes to listen to Adagio, a violinist and pianist that we really haven’t been able to listen to so far. Grace was there for trivia but we were still pathetic. There’s always tomorrow. There were no seats for the guitarist performing tonight but we’ll probably have another chance to hear him in a couple days.

Thursday, February 28 - Manzanillo, Mexico

We’ve been in Manzanillo, Mexico before, so we just walked around and took some photos. It’s a nice place and you can’t miss the sculpture of a sailfish that’s about 115 feet high. There are lots of shops but we didn’t buy anything. We had a pretty lazy afternoon back onboard and played trivia at 4:30 and again at 7:00. Dinner was good and it’s nice that we don’t have to rush. We went to the entertainment, a comedian and mentalist named Gabe Abelson. He wasn’t very funny, but his card tricks at the end of his show were impressive. Can’t believe tomorrow is March 1st.

"Monument to the Sailor"

Sailfish Sculpture (note Jay for size comparison)

Manzanillo, Mexico

Friday, March 1 — Puerto Vallarta

Today the ship is docked in Puerto Vallarta and it’s a much cooler day than than the last few. We had a light breakfast and hung out until 11:00 when we got a cab to meet Norma and Larry at Daquiri Dick’s in the old town. After a nice lunch we went to their condo and talked to someone about a rental for us next winter. We’re so glad we did, as we were able to put a deposit down on a new condo (only open for six months) for three weeks next January. We got to see the unit (see photo) we’ll be staying in and we think it should be just what we need. It’s only about a block from Norma and Larry and a few blocks from the ocean. There’s a very nice pool on top that looks perfect. There are a lot of condos going up in the area. Puerto Vallarta has a stable temperature that doesn’t vary much from the low 80s during the day and in the 60s overnight. We like that, as the heat was too much for us in Central America. Three couples from our condo in Minneapolis will probably be there next January so we’re sure to have some good times. We took a cab back to the ship and got there about 3:30. All aboard was 4:30 and we were late for trivia so Grace found another team. Tonight at dinner we had a table for 4 with Joy and Chuck from Pasadena. We’ve dined with them quite a few times and haven’t run out of things to talk about. Nobody has brought up politics, which is a good thing. Dinner was jambalaya again and it was good—a little spicier than the last time we had it. Our trivia teammate Bridget hasn’t shown up since Barbara told her we had been watching Michael Cohen testify before congress and that we were fans of Obama. Turns out she loves Trump, so maybe she decided she didn’t want to stay on the team.  We skipped the show tonight as it’s Unique 3 again and we weren’t crazy about them a couple days ago. We set our clocks back an hour tonight.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Trump and friends

Unit we looked at in the Pavilion Building (from website)

Roof-top pool, Pavilion Building (from website)

Saturday, March 2

We’re definitely ready to go home. We had a large breakfast in the dining room so after trivia we were looking for a snack instead of lunch.  We walked around the Lido and didn’t find anything that appealed to us. When we’re home we’ll wish we could go to the Lido and find something good. It’s much cooler outside on this sea day (high 60s) so we’re more comfortable. The cabin stewards have been very busy making towel animals and they were on display by the Lido pool. They were very cute. Tonight was a Gala night and we lucked out on dinner partners. We may have seen them before, but Doug and Linda are from Kasson-Mantorville near Rochester, MN and at the end of dinner told us they were DFLers. Us, too, we said and we were immediately able to talk about politics—the thing we’ve pretty much avoided at dinner on this cruise. Doug was involved in the Franken recount and Linda is a big fan of Ember Reichgott Junge, who lives at Grant Park. We set our clocks back one last time and went to bed pretty early. Jay’s cough and cold are better but now Barbara’s hacking.

Towel animals

Towel animals

Sunday, March 3

One last day at sea before we get back to San Diego. We spent some time packing and also saw the future cruise consultant to put money down on a cruise, although we haven’t picked an itinerary. The consultant told us there’s a rumor that HAL may do a cruise around Africa in 2020. We would definitely be interested in that because we haven’t seen as much of Africa as we have other continents. We played afternoon and evening trivia and kept our record perfect—no wins. We met Doug and Linda for dinner tonight and exchanged emails addresses in case we’re in each other’s neighborhood and want to touch base. We went to see the show as we’d heard the guitarist, Mario D’Andrea, was good. He was okay and the comedian/mentalist, Gabe Abelson, did mostly mental tricks which we thought were better than his comedy.

Monday, March 4

We stayed on the ship until about 10:00 and Grace, Doug and Linda stopped to say goodbye before we left . Our Delta flight was on time and pretty smooth. It took quite some time for our luggage to show up and it was cold in the airport with the nearby doors opening all the time. We took Lyft home and had a driver who didn’t say much of anything. Wer’re looking forward to getting back in our old routine, which includes watching Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert in the evening. Travel is wonderful but it’s always great to get home.

© Jay 2020