2019 Jan 27 | Norwegian Gem cruise to Mexican Riviera
SNL had a skit on a woman stuck way out in the middle of the ocean; hope that's not foreshadowing.
Pretty window at the hotel.
I think almost everyone there was also going on the cruise.
Last meal on land.
We stayed at the Best Western. They had a shuttle to the ship. Except the shuttle was full for every time slot.
Lots of taxi cabs.
A big ship, but not ours.
There it is.
Since we couldn't take the shuttle, the plan was to drive to the ship, drop off Ogii and the luggage, then I'd drive back, leave the car at the hotel, and the walk back to the ship. It was only a mile, so not too bad.
Although the neighborhood was not the best.
I passed the shuttle van.
Some fountains at a park near the cruise area.
They moved to music.
A lot of people waiting to get on the ship.
Even more inside.
This couple had matching shirts.
Us with the ship.
Loading luggage below us.
Ogii walking on.
A bar on the floor just above.
We settled in here.
To watch the playoff game. The Saints fans were on the other side of the bar.
You can buy big packs of water.
A piano player.
It can take a while for your luggage to arrive. In fact, they had left one of ours in front of the wrong room.
Rams fans celebrating the win.
Listening to the safety lecture.
In our room.
A library. I can imagine some nerd spending the money for a cruise with all of its activities but just sitting here reading the entire time. If I find some good books, in fact, I might end up doing that.
A game room.
A lot of Asians play Mahjong, but they brought their own sets.
And away we go.
A giant chess set.
A basketball court.
A climbing wall.
A restaurant at the back of the ship.
A water tower with "Welcome" in many different languages at the port.
Us with the port behind us.
The pool area.
Some hot tubs.
Ogii ready to eat.
More free food.
Ping pong tables.
Back in our room, and the second football game is on.
Looking over the pool.
Pretty stained glass.
You could buy all of the professional pictures they staff takes of you here.
Free drink samples.
Watching the game.
The Patriots and Chiefs fans were all sitting close to each other. The guys in back were Chiefs fans.
Patriots fans watching intensely.
Even the staff was watching the game.
Back to the Chiefs celebrating.
First time both playoff games in the same day have gone into overtime. Fun way to start the trip.
It was also a lunar eclipse that night. It hasn't started yet, though.
An art auction.
I like this, but it's way too expensive.
Info on the cruise.
Now you can see the lunar eclipse.
Lots of people watching it.
This group had been on ten cruises already.
A giveaway at the jewelry store.
Ogii all dressed up outside.
The lounge at the front of the ship.
The kids zone.
With an arcade right next door.
It's after 9:30, but the buffet way out at the back of the ship still has food.
Kind of scary, though; don't want to fall off.
Ogii wanted some cake but we couldn't find a plate. You can stick it in an ice cream cone and carry it that way, though.
In the lounge.
My favorite part of the trip: they put a list of the next day's activities by your door every night. I love planning out the next day.
Ogii's already claimed all of the drawers.
Up early the next day to for breakfast.
Checking out the arcade.
Checking out the ping pong tables.
Whoops, I missed.
A weight room.
Lots of treadmills.
They had Angry Birds on some of the machines.
Although the levels were very hard, especially when you're trying to walk.
Ogii played Mahjong.
Most days the time changed over night, so I always checked the clock to set my phone to it.
Lots of shoes.
Lots of free places to eat.
Tips on photography.
The poker area. Nobody playing right now.
Fixing a slot machine.
One of the TV stations shows how full the restaurants are.
Lunch time by a window.
A huge buffet.
Sitting by another window.
A seminar on makeup.
They had a poker tournament at one.
You only start with 20 big blinds, so it's a very fast tournament.
Ogii got knocked out and went to a wine and chocolate tasting. I got knocked out a bit later and went to join her, except the room it was supposed to be in was closed.
They were having a staff meeting in there instead.
Turns out the tasting was in a secondary room in the area, but they had closed the door.
Ogii with her wine.
People playing shuffleboard.
Looks pretty boring; just a bunch of open water.
Although lots of data to watch.
Me in front.
The bottle they christened the ship with.
Time to hang out by the pool.
Soaking up the sun.
Ogii under her hat.
A giant shower.
Chairs at the front of the ship.
Looks like a private area.
A horse race on TV.
It's in Mongolia.
A long ways.
The riders meeting with some locals to change horses.
A more upscale restaurant at the back of the ship with some nice views.
Back to the front of the ship for a show.
Then up a level for a game show.
The chapel next door.
There was always live music here.
They had movies in the atrium.
Watching arm wrestling on TV and Ogii wanted to try.
A painting class.
Getting the grills set up for lunch.
And it's ready.
Eating on the back deck.
Ogii stuffing her face.
Glancing into a suite with a balcony.
Dance lessons near the pool.
Art set up for an auction.
Lots of stuff.
Some of these were neat.
More modern stuff.
About to reveal a bunch at once.
Although all out of our price range.
Free champagne, though.
A ton of people lying on the deck.
Upstairs as well.
Ogii all wrapped up.
Ogii had to reduce the weights slightly when she went on the machines after this guy.
Although I did, too.
Watching from the very front of the ship.
Might be a bit of a storm coming.
Everyone ran away from the weather.
That's OK; plenty of things to do inside.
Some restaurants, like this one, you had to pay to eat at, but we just stuck to the free ones.
Music in the atrium.
They had info on the next day's port here.
Including a map.
Better remember the departure time.
80s dance party.
Learning the Thriller dance.
A staff member making hand animals with the projector.
It's easy to forget the rest of the world if you don't turn on the TV news.
Our first port: Puerta Vallarta.
We can use our phones again. That'll be really useful for Google Maps.
Another cruise ship and a very big yacht.
A shopping center and a Walmart. It's almost like we're back home.
This part of the ship was closed for refueling.
There's the tanker truck.
Lots of little canopies set up to sell you thing right outside the boat.
A soccer field.
Some tall hotels and condos here.
The crew going through a safety test before they can go ashore.
Kids playing Mario Kart on the big screen. Maybe I'll just stay on the ship with them.
Following the exit arrows.
Better check the ship's time because that's what they use for when they leave.
A map of the area.
Some massage tables.
A big promenade.
Ogii by a statue.
They had lots of very Americanized restaurants.
Me in the middle of the giant Puerto Vallarta letters.
Ogii with some buskers.
Ogii walked right by this guy thinking he was a statue.
Guys in sand.
A big resort.
From the other side; pretty.
Protected turtle area.
Ogii helping the statue kids push their burro.
Various shirts. I liked the "You are on the fun side of the wall" one.
A resort with its own pool.
Funny statue; the bird and the cat are trying to steal their fish.
Us along the beach.
We walked to the end of the beach and sat down under the shade of a palm tree.
Some nice houses up on the ridge.
Ogii ready to relax.
Running into the ocean.
Uh oh, our shade moved. Easy fix, though; just move the towel over.
And back in the shade.
Everyone likes to bury people on a beach.
Statue of a kid riding a seahorse.
Where are all the women? Ah, it's a gay resort.
This guy found a fish washed up on the beach, so he threw it back in.
A parasailer coming in.
Tons of umbrellas rented out.
And even more.
Lots of little shops, too.
A volleyball court.
One bird on top of each umbrealla.
This lucky bird gone some left-behind dessert.
An Irish pub.
A statue with a ladder people climbed up to take a picture.
You don't see payphones in the US any more.
With a skeleton.
With some wings.
A casino and a McDonald's? I could stay here forever.
We decided to try this little restaurant.
They had lots of seating out on the beach.
They said the ice was purified, but we drank out of the cans to be safe.
Guys riding in the back of trucks.
Giant bumpers on the dock.
Going through security to get back in.
Are condoms medical supplies?
The medical center.
A towel animal waiting for us.
We have three possible times between our two phones; which one is right.
Everyone watching us leave.
I hope those people are just watching the boat leave and aren't late.
A gigantic yacht.
With it's own helicopter and lots of jetskis.
It's the Attessa IV and worth $150 million, owned by Dennis Washington, worth $6 billion.
By a coast guard ship and a pirate ship.
All of which were by another cruise ship.
Ogii waving to them.
We just had Mexican food for lunch; why would we want more for dinner?
People watching it.
And it's down.
Nice blue lights.
Even the screens on the ship run Windows and crash at times.
Info for our next stop.
I like the "fast cool" option just in case it's really hot in your room.
At the casino.
Sticking to the penny slots.
Then playing poker. Ogii won with AA.
There were some huge pots throughout the night.
Checking the time again.
Although the sunrise time on the info sheet doesn't match up with the real time. The sheet says 7:39 and it rose around 6:56, way earlier. That's too bad for someone using this to plan to watch sunrise because they'd miss it.
One nice thing about our room was nobody was on either side of us; they were staff storage rooms or something.
The first sight of Mazatlan.
The sun in the other direction.
Lots of shipping containers.
And lots of cars.
The guy waiting for the ship looks tiny.
They had these little shuttles to take us across the port.
It was a short ride.
At the cruise terminal.
Little shops inside.
Always a pharmacy.
There were lots of volunteers to guide us in the direction of the main square.
They had a map.
Although all you had to do was follow this blue line.
A friendly cat.
They said to walk in the middle of the road because the sidewalks were in bad shape.
More volunteers at the corner.
At the square.
A nice open area.
Lots of drinks.
The Angela Peralta theater.
I thought $20 was a bit much to get in, but it was actually 20 pesos, which is like $1.
Dancers practicing inside.
A little art gallery.
A mosaic QR code.
A big church.
Nice statue outside.
A shopping district nearby. It feels like downtown LA.
A bicycle tour.
A funny painting outside a restaurant.
Real estate. $220,000 for a pretty nice house.
Only $50,000, but it needs work.
Bus with funny bodies painted under passengers.
At a beach.
A few surfers.
Huge mansions on top of the hill.
Is that a big stone slide?
It looks like it actually is, with a stone pool on the edge of the ocean. Very cool.
The slide and pool from farther north with a beach in the background.
The Devils' Cave, used in the past to hide soldiers guarding ammunition.
Some kind of bridge? But it's just ground on either side.
Ogii at the top of some steps.
A man fishing below.
He caught one.
With a nice view from the top.
Some cliffdivers in the distance on a pillar similar to the one we're on.
Ogii down by the water.
A little pathway out to some rocks.
With a mermaid statue at the end.
The steps up to the other pillar.
A guy about to jump.
There he goes.
Some big waves to swim back through.
The area with the cliffjumpers had a lot of other street vendors and tourists.
A statue of a couple.
Some condos being constructed.
What it's supposed to look like when it's done.
It will be right by a park that's being built.
It's very modern looking.
Maybe we should buy one; let's check it out.
$160,000 for a unit; I wonder if that's a good deal.
A little beach right across that nobody was on.
A lizard down there.
Me checking it out.
A brightly-colored crustacean.
And a coconut.
I wonder if we can bring this on the boat as a souvenir.
The condos on the right, the park in the middle, and the beach on the right.
A beach right by this one as well.
Ogii by a cannon.
A much longer beach.
A guy feeding birds on a stick.
So he can give tourists the stick to feed the birds, too.
Hats and a bag on a beach.
Guys setting up umbrellas, canopies, and chairs for tourists.
Some food under some canopies.
Some people eating.
Palm trees and the ocean along the promenade.
Another set of condos being built up the road a bit.
This one is selling for a little less than the ones we just saw.
Most of them along here go for a similar price. We thought maybe we could get a good deal, especially if buyers don't know about the nearby park and little almost-private beach, but they all cost about the same and all rent for about the same, so I guess we'll pass for now.
Looks like this little store is suspended for something, although I can't tell what. Don't think we'll go there, just to be safe.
So we decided to eat at this little place, with what looks like a possible delivery vehicle driven into the side.
The sign says its been there for over 40 years.
Very small operation with amazingly-good food. Also, the women didn't speak English and it was the first place we came across that didn't take pesos. It was actually kind of nice, considering how touristy Puerto Vallarta was; it's like you're in the real Mexico here. Ogii had to run to a store next door to exchange some money to pay.
A lot of little boats.
We got a ride from a small taxi...
... to get to this church. Although the driver didn't speak English and he couldn't understand where we wanted to go, and also we couldn't see the church through the other buildings once we started driving, so we just said
"left" and "right" until we thought we were close, then walked the rest of the way.
Walking back to the ship, which we can see in the distance.
They painted the bottom of the tree, too.
A dentist and optical shop.
"Examen de la vista;" I know those words.
Shoes on the telephone wires.
Lots of garbage stacked on the corners. I wonder if it's garbage day and they leave it out like this for pickup.
It was hot and we were getting a bit tired walking through local neighborhoods, so we were happy to get back to the cruise terminal.
Even though we had to walk through all of the tourist stores.
Stopping for a much-deserved Sprite.
I can see the ship, so we could walk to it, but it's off-limits; you have to take the tram.
With plenty of time before the boat leaves.
A pretty sunset.
Ogii's orange shawl matches the orange restaurant sign.
Still pretty empty.
Some good food.
A long line of people at the front. I think there was a problem with their computer because they didn't seat anyone for about 10 minutes.
Blazing Boots, a country music show.
Battle of the sexes, men vs women games.
Standing in the right order to makes numbers the host calls.
Seeing who can make the highest shoe tower. The women won, which the host said messed up their plans because the men always win this one.
Singing songs where you can't take too long to start and you can't repeat a song that's already been sung. The women destroyed the men, although the one remaining guy sung a bunch of great classic rock songs and the woman on the left had an amazing voice.
We were going to go to sleep but the noise from people dancing right above us kept us awake, so we went up and watched for a bit until they closed it down.
Next stop: Cabo San Lucas. We have to take tenders, little boats that take us to shore, instead of just walking off the ship.
Coming into Cabo while it's still dark.
All the fishing boats headed out around these huge rocks.
Ogii at sunrise.
They use the life boats as tenders; that makes sense.
It's pretty crowded inside.
The driver sits way up high.
We just walked around on our own in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, so we decided to try one of the ship-hosted excursions here. They had a lot of different ones. It's cheaper to find one on your own, but it's a little riskier, too, because if it's through the ship and you're late, they'll wait for you, but if you do it on your own and you're late, they won't.
We had a little time before our excursion left, so we checked out the area.
Drinking with a shark.
Cabo is like Puerto Vallarta, and unlike Mazatlan, in that it's very touristy.
Lots of pharmacies.
Discounts for cruise passengers.
A pretty stone turtle.
Lots of guys trying to get you to go on their tours.
An armed soldier guarding the cruise ship dock. I guess it is similar to a border, especially if someone can get onto the ship. Although they verify your identity at security when you arrive on the ship itself.
Headed out on our excursion on a speedboat.
A guy flying a hang glider trike.
Lover's Beach, where the two sides of the ocean touch each other at high tide.
The southernmost point of the rocks.
Our cruise ship.
Boats lined up farther out.
Thar she blows!
We hadn't planned on seeing whales, but it was a nice bonus.
Lots of apartments farther along the coast.
And some more.
A new one being built.
Our excursion was snorkeling. Ogii about to jump in.
Lots of fish.
Some down near the bottom.
Our guide found a sea urchin.
Ogii holding it.
Ogii watching the fish.
Me diving down.
Almost petting a fish.
A bunch of smaller ones.
We snorkeled there for 45 minutes, then went to check out another area.
There were fewer fish here.
But there were some.
Me headed down again.
Some little guys.
Headed back to shore, Ogii's all bundled up.
Uh oh, we circled around for something. I wonder what we lost?
Ah, the guide's hat.
A parasailor above us.
Ogii's hair blowing in the breeze with our cruise ship behind her.
Both of us.
Time for some food. We walked along the promenade to check out the restaurants.
This place has swings; that's way too cool to pass up.
And good food.
ogii chowing down on some grilled corn.
Lone Star and Wild Hooker boats.
Funny ad for Viagra.
Fish feet cleaning.
Cabo has some of the biggest fishing tournaments in the world.
Me with some surfboards.
We stopped by this street vendor to buy a few trinkets and our snorkeling guide was there as well, buying a carved whale from him. Nice to see our money going back into the local economy.
The line to get back on the boat.
A watch sale, 2 for $60, but we didn't see any we liked.
You could occasionally see whales from the boat.
Ooh, mini sandwiches and cookies.
Ogii at sunset.
From the other side.
Another shot with our wake on the edge.
It looks like our ship was made in Germany in 2007.
We got front-row seats, and they even soared above us a few times.
Ogii guessing the weight of a gemstone.
Everyone waiting for the winner to be called.
This is pretty, but not worth the price.
A funny couples show, with three competing couples, here moving an orange up their body.
The woman moving a lemon up, across, and down the man's pant legs.
They have this couple a pineapple to do the same as a joke.
Blindfolded and dizzy, trying to get the pole in the toilet paper hole. The younger couples took quite a while...
... but the older couple got it right in.
Then they had to pop a balloon between them by hugging...
... and coming from behind.
Prizes for everyone.
This couple has awesome matching outfits; white with splattered paint in preparation for the white party.
Lots of people dancing. We thought the white party would be mostly older people, but apparently a ton of teenagers came and the DJ played all young-people songs.
So all of the older people just sat off to the side.
Playing poker, and this woman flopped quad aces. I got a picture of it and sent it to her.
Lots of chips.
This slots machine was very popular; there were always people around it watching and cheering.
Last day to return your books to the library.
Last day on the ship means best day for savings, including at the $10 blow out sale.
Lots of stuff.
Sunglasses and more.
Necklace options. It looks chains in a hardware store.
Another jewelry give-away.
We only had one ticket; this guy had a ton. That's not very fair.
I was planning on dressing in only swim trunks the entire trip, but it was too cold on the boat for that. The last day I at least dressed down a bit.
OK, these are way too specific.
This was supposed to be the cheap art auction, so we went. We also each guessed at the weight of this piece of art, and there were a few other people who were closer than we were.
However, none of them were there, and you had to be present to win, so Ogii won!
More free champagne.
It was supposed to be a cheap art auction, but only a few pieces were cheap. They were auctioning an original Van Gogh for like $30,000, I was moving our bid card, and the auctioneer looked at me. No no no, I'm not bidding on that.
Ogii with some of her winnings.
And taking a little break.
You can get free drinks at the casino. I wish we would have know that before we bought some. Then again, we might not have played with enough money to qualify, and we only had a few drinks anyway, so not that big of a loss.
The elevators were always pretty slow. Half the time it was faster to walk than wait.
One more dinner at the nice restaurant at the back of the boat.
Invicta watch event? Invicta is an MMA organization; are they going to watch a bunch of fights?
Oh, it's a event for Invicta Watches. Nevermind.
The popular slot machine.
Poker again, last night, and we both did pretty well. There was a tournament on the days at sea at 1pm, although the structure was pretty bad, and then a cash game usually started around 9pm every night after the last show.
I had wanted to watch the comedian's full show earlier in the week, but we missed it because on the night there was supposed to be a variety show, which we skipped, they had technical problems, so they had him on that night. I was disappointed, but then I was happy this last night because they added a special late show with him only doing adult material. And again, we got to sit right near the front.
Pulling into LA early in the morning.
You can watch it on the TV in your room via the bow camera.