Cruising the Pacific…

Posted in Fun Stuff, Main, outings at 1:54 am by carrie

We left on this cruise having no idea what we were doing… we took advantage of a last minute deal and were quite newbies to the vacation at sea. Okay… I’m practicing my HTML so these little thumbnails will open up a photo gallery on another page. You can click on each one as you see fit or just look at the entire photo album here, it’s up to you :)

This was the Carnival Mexican Riviera 8 night Cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit. No, we didn’t see Kathy Lee.

Day One – San Diego, California

We left San Diego at about 4:00 pm. It was so neat to sit in our own little balcony and sail out of the harbor as the sun was setting. We haven’t had a lot of time to go and explore San Diego, we usually head straight for the theme parks. We were at sea for that night and two full days. We arrived in Acapulco the following day at 1:00 pm.

Day Four- Acapulco, Mexico

I felt a little like the Griswolds heading out to Wally World. We pulled into port and I got my walking shoes on and got our tourist hats ready to go. We had high hopes of Acapulco being breezy, beautiful and worthy of Frank Sinatra’s Nod. Alas… we got off the boat to explore on our own. BIG mistake. We were hounded, propositioned (I’ll keep this version G rated!), followed, talked to, talked at and basically your run-of-the-mill harrassed. After being herded to a crappy jewelry store which had armed guards at the front door we RAN back to the ship. On the way we saw an open-air truck spilling over with armed men with very large firearms. Even while power walking the vendors approached us aggressively and matched our speed to try to get us to follow them…my spanish popped back into my head at this point (Thank you Nonee and Mrs. Conway!). I may have made up words but hey… be crazier than they are and you’ll have a fighting chance! (learned that with the crazy bracelet lady!). We got back to the ship, caught our breath and marched right to the purser’s desk. We told them about our terrible experience and urged them to make this clear during the “excursions talk” that Acapulco is for excursions ONLY. Honestly, Nathan was ready to go home at this point and was being more than persuasive that we should get on the next plane, go home and try to salvage our vacation.
The acting manager at the purser’s desk was not apathetic or sympathetic. Mind you we were really upset (perhaps overly so), but she actually hid in the back and let the other employee help us. Seeing as I wasn’t about to get off the boat with my belongings and try to find the airport, we stayed on the ship… but it was a rough night. We felt a tad trapped and annoyed that Carnival’s staff wouldn’t listen to us. I relayed this to a customer at the shop the other day and she said… “Didn’t you know Carnival Cruises were the K-mart of the sea?” Ugh. No, I didn’t know that… but even K-Mart had (or still has?) Martha Stewart everyday!!! Redeeming graces!??!!!

If you are en-route to Acapulco, please check the news first, I just checked wikipedia and got this quote:
“There has been a lot of violence in Acapulco lately, both between rival drug gamgs, and also towards tourists. On February 6, 2007, gunman killed about 6 or 7 people with guns. Tourists are not immune from the violence, either. Beatings and shootings have been directed against them as well.” I also read in a lonely planet travel journal that Acapulco is the “older diva past her prime”. Are you listening Carnival Cruise Lines??? eek! :) We should have gone to see the famed cliff divers, especially if they were wearing these shorts… meeowww.

Day Five – Zihuatenejo/Ixtapa, Mexico

We went to bed disappointed and missing home… but… as the sun rose, we slowly pulled into the little fishing town of Zihuatenejo. I almost cried. It wasn’t overly populated, the shore was gorgeous and it looked tropical and inviting. We couldn’t dock because this port was so small so we took smaller boats to their tiny pier. It was the most welcoming sight… sandy clean beaches dotted with little boats and pelicans. Palm trees, sea shells and a little walkway that ran along the coast. There were vendors here but they were delighful, selling beautiful items and completely respectful. I want to go back. I can’t say how delightful it was in just one paragraph!!!

We got onto a very nice bus and headed to Ixtapa. There, we got to swim with 2 wonderful dolphins! You were allowed to pet them, give them a kiss and then you got TWO rides from them! One where you hold onto their front fins and the dolphin swims backward and one where the two dolphins swim in tandem, each little nose pushing on a foot and they push you across the pool in the air! Those guys are STRONG! I got the most welcomed foot cramp. I have to say, they are magical. After our horrid day in Acapulco, this experience officially turned the fiasco into a “vacation”. Check out Delfiniti, Ixtapa’s Website… you’ll want to go, too :)

There were armed men in Zihuatenejo, but they were dressed nicely and wandered around in two’s, not dozens. But that size gun was standard. Imagine if LAPD carried these around!
Mucho feliz campers at this point. That would be the famous “I’ll hold the camer and hope for the best” shot.

Day Six – Manzanillo, Mexico

Ahh… Manzanillo… Carnival DID warn us that we wouldn’t want to just wander off the pier into Manzanillo, so we made a reservation for an excursion to a beach resort, Barcelo’s Karmina Palace, for the afternoon. On the ride there I saw a wild iguana and the little shops reminded us of Key West. Very welcoming and quaint. The resort was amazing. I wanted to stay there! We swam in the ocean in their own little cove, which had rocks in the shallow areas so be careful! We saw all sorts of fish, birds diving to get to the fish and a first for me… a little fish found his way into my bathing suit. Again, “G” rated, but we named him “Cleve”… you do the math :) At first I was like… I found nemo, he’s so cute! He swayed back and forth with the current… then it hit me… what if he bites! What if he… gulp… TOUCHES me!!! So, with minimal panic we showed Cleve the exit, my hair got wet and we exited the ocean to wander around the resort. Tropical, lush and away from everything… I want to come back here.

I took this picture, got up to change and get us an ice blended “Monkey” drink…

and he took the EXACT same picture while I was gone…

As we were leaving Manzanillo’s “in box”, we crossed a section of residential homes and apartments. The locals were outside, sitting on benches watching us leave. Sweet little voices shouted “adios…. hasta luego!” as they ran down the shore, prompting all the neighborhood dogs to bark. Then people from the ship started yelling back in spanish “Adios… goodbye… Hasta… Muchas Gracias”. it went back and forth for about 5 minutes and it was so touching! I’m still not 100% sure it was sincere since I heard a few things that sounded like obscenities from gruff deep voices… and “Viva Mexico!”. So… all I know is that I wanted to scoop up one of those sweet little kids and I could take or leave the groups of men and their potty mouths, even though it was effective in espanol. I did my fare share of shouting… I thanked them and… just for kicks… I yelled “Gooooaaaaallll”. Perhaps that’s why the men started shouting the not-so-endearing sentiments. I was in the moment, what can I say.

Day Seven to Nine – At sea

At sea… we went to the “disco”, gambled, walked around the upper deck, were kareoke voyeurs, took in a comedy show, avoided the hypnotist show (we heard later he got a housewife to take her blouse off) and played in the game room… and although he won one or two games of air hockey, I’m still the reigning champ ;) Many have asked about the food… well…

The food was “okay”. We ate at the dinner club one night and it was an extra $100.00 but well worth it. A seven course meal, including “surprises” from the chef. Filet Mignon, french onion soup, salad, odd salmon things that I didn’t eat, and the most amazing chocolate dessert I’ve ever had. ever. I wish I had a picture but I didn’t want to be snapping pics in this restaurant. We ate about 4 or 5 nights in the nightly assigned seated dining hall. We skipped the formal debutante ball (I exaggerate) nights and had the pizza bar those nights. Every single day consisted of caesar salad… at the pizza bar, formal dinner club or regular seating… always that darn caesar salad. I had a steak one night (ick, dry), quail one night (surprisingly good), skipped the rabbit night, had chicken and pasta the other nights. Even though we requested a table for two, it wasn’t our cup of tea for some reason. That dinner club though… really was awesome.

  • Room service – consisted of caesar salad, bagels, odd sandwiches, cereal and that’s about it.
  • The alternative dining – not as good as mall dining, but similar. Sandwiches, pizza, burgers in the afternoon (these were pretty good) and everything else was so-so.
  • Soda – You had to pay for sodas… we drank lots of iced tea, coffee and juice. “specialty” coffee was extra as was bottled water.
  • The gala buffet of nations – It was pretty, but odd food combinations. Lots of odd fish rolls, all cold cuts were held down with gelatin, peach rum cake with some odd jello-chocolate topping (ick), carved watermelon and lots of other things that I was not adventurous enough to put on my plate. Oh, and 5 devilled eggs that people were fighting over (one gentleman went as far as to pick one up off the floor and eat it) and 10 chocolate-covered strawberries that one happy little girl took all of.

All-in-all, it was a fun cruise… a very rocky start, but… most our vacations are :) Would we go again?? Perhaps. It really forced us to relax (although I’m sure I’ll freak out when I get my cell phone bill) and the balcony was awesome… I could just stare at the ocean for hours :) We were among a group of people aged mostly 50-70 and a smaller group of 18-22 year olds. So, we didn’t hear any of our popular music, the dj didn’t even have any of our requests… so, be prepared to hear such hit artists from Crystal Gale, Bette Midler, Grease the movie, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, lots of classic rock and Elvis. I heard the Alaska cruise is amazing… yet slightly boring. I think our next trip will be overseas… I really want to go to England and then over to Euro Disney… this time we’ll make the whole trip the excursion!!!! :)

**Quick Update – February 15th, 2007***
I just got my cell phone bill from Cingular for the month of our trip! Yikes!!! $100.00 extra to talk for about 20 minutes here and there and send a few text messages. On top of roaming rates you get international tax surcharges!!! We have a pretty beefy family plan… I never go over minutes or text message allotments so this was a huge jump in our bill. So, keep your talking at a minimum and tie up any loose ends at home before you leave! :)


  1. Graycee said,

    February 7, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Wow! What an adventure. The dolphins sound great . . . how fun. I’ve fed wild dolphins before, but we couldn’t hitch a ride . . . I want to swim with Flipper! Aren’t they beautiful . . . and they are so strong . . . it is quite a contrast to feel their silky skin, but also feel their hard-as-a-brick wall body. And the man who picked up an egg off the floor and ate it . . . classy. And cold cuts with gelatin . . . hmmm . . .(You knew the food descriptions would jump out at me!) But, it’s great you took some time to relax . . . especially relaxing on the beach . . . that’s the way to do it. :-)

  2. Babette said,

    February 7, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    What a wonderful holiday! It started out as the vacation from hell but turned out to be quite a swell experience. I am especially intrigued by the little towel animal scultures your cabin boy would leave you every night. Muy bonito!

  3. Gypsy Purple-Chamara said,

    February 8, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    What a stunning trip…thanks for giving us a peek…had a lovely time


  4. michele said,

    February 9, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for all these pics and details! We are leaving on Sunday for this trip and your post has been one of the most helpful things I’ve read so far!!

    Do you have to do the ships excusions in order to swim with the dolphins?

  5. carrie said,

    February 9, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, you have to do the paid excursion to swim with the dolphins in Ixtapa (it’s about $180 per person but well worth it). I would suggest doing the later of the two tours (the one starting at about 1:00 pm instead of 9 or 10 am). The first tour in the morning was packed and we had a smaller group of 6 in the afternoon so we spent more one-on-one time with the dolphins. Your trip could be different, but we found that we got lucky being in the afternoon excursion :)

    Also, try to schedule your excursions right away! The have a little meeting the first or second day at sea about the excursions… check it out and schedule your excursions then… we tried to get into two other excursions and they were sold out so be on top of it :) ESPECIALLY in Acapulco… it’s a scary city, make sure you take a Carnival recommended excursion :)

    Have FUN!!!!! If you have any other questions I’d be happy to answer!!

  6. Candi said,

    February 9, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    I was on this same cruise a year ago. I agree with you about Acapulco. We were fortunate, we found a suburban and driver to take all 8 of us around the town for the whole day for $80.00 he did such a wonderful job I got his business card so if I ever go back I can call before I go. I think you are correct that Carnival really needs to inform people how pushy they are there. I did listen to the shore talk and they did mention being very careful, but I think it should be a bit stronger. We loved Zihuatnejo. Manzanillo we went to the pyramids wonderful excursion. Glad you salvaged the rest after Acapulco. Thank you for posting this for future and past cruisers.


  7. Vie Lee Walter said,

    February 9, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for your review and pictures. We are going on this exact cruise on Feb 27th. This will be my first cruise without my Husband, my first cruise on Carnival, but my 15th cruise. I am going with a good friend of mine that is in our Red Hat group and this is her 1st cruise. That alone will probably make this cruise fun. It sounds like Acapulco hasn’t changed much. That was one of our ports when we went thru the Canal. We are doing a city tour/cliff diving tour offered by the ship. I would never, never go anywhere alone in that town. Do you remember what nights were formal? We want to eat in the Supper Club and we want to do it on a formal night and want to make reservations as soon as we get on the ship. Your pictures of the other two ports are wonderful. In both of those ports we want some beach time. We are from cold snowy Utah and are really looking forward to a sun break.

  8. Leah said,

    February 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for your review. We did this exact same sailing on January 10th. We booked in advance so I spent lots of time researching and knew about the pitfalls of Acapulco and Manzanillo, we booked private excursions via the internet. We *loved* Zihuantenjo too, it was the best day of the trip. We had a different demographic on our sailing, couples in their 30’s to 40’s were the most common (I’m 33) and we didn’t have any problems with food in the dining room, everything was wonderful, nothing dry or icky. We never heard any of that older music that you talked about, but then we like 80’s & 90’s rock, but there was a horrible county western guy in the casino that couldn’t carry a tune! It made me run out of that smokey casino laughing :)

  9. Rebecca said,

    February 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Hi There! I love your blog! Would you be interested in trading blogspot links? Thank you and hope to hear from you soon! ~Rebecca :

  10. lucy said,

    February 10, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I had similiar experience going to dominican republic and hondurus on a cruise. I was shocked to see the huge guns and militia guarding the beaches! On several trips though we had very good luck with taxi drivers giving us a tour and it was a lot more affordable. We’ve opted to do this on islands where we just wanted to do shopping or stay on the beaches, and taken one or two tours for the things that we pretty much had to do with a group like the swimming with dolphins.

    Beautiful pictures and glad you had a chance to take a break!


  11. Christy Wilke said,

    February 14, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    WOW! We are taking the EXACT same cruise in March. There are five in my family. I have been surfing the net trying to figure out what we will do. Your blog was THE MOST THOROUGH. I really enjoyed reading it. I could not register at carnival cruise because of my Mozilla brouser so I ended up finding out about the “swim with the dolphins” on the net. I called them directly and it is $160. After I realized why I could not register I went to Carnival.com through another brouser and found out it was $169 through Carnival. Not a big difference. One of my friends told me it is best to go through the cruise line in case you get injured or you are delayed and get back late. My husband had already reserved a bost to go fishing in Manzanillo. I speak spanish so I am going to try to get a good suburban driver like the one described above to take us around Acapulco for a set price. I do appreciate the warning though, I did not expect that.

  12. CaptainEdwardJohnSmith said,

    February 24, 2007 at 5:13 am

    It’s a pity you did not get to enjoy Acapulco, we have been there 7 times on cruises and always have had a nice experience.
    Yes, you will get hounded to death by all the vendors, but come on, they mean no harm and are just trying to earn a living, yes I know, it’s a lousy way to earn a living.
    If you missed the cliff divers, you missed Acapulco. From the ship it is all but a 10-15 minute walk, al uphill thru the old town square. Going back to the ship, being downhill, it’s more
    like 5-10 minutes! Another fun thing we have done a few times is to take the local bus from the pier all the way to the far end of Acapulco Bay, it’s only like 50c each. We then walk back to the ship on the beach, it is a long walk, like 9 miles or so on soft sand and takes the better part of 4 hours.
    We have always felt safe there, oh, I forgot, we don’t speak a word in Spanish.
    I hope you give Acapulco and the cliff divers a second chance!

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