Monday, March 14, 2016

Cruisin' Part 5

sunrise at sea
Friday was the last day at sea as we made our way back north to Los Angeles. One of the (only) benefits of being a poor, light sleeper is that I got to see some incredible sunrises on this cruise. Above is what I woke up to Friday morning. We had breakfast at the buffet as usual, and then hit the morning trivia game where we came in second yet again. Always a bridesmaid... The trivia games were pretty interesting as they tried to mix things up. For example, in one you had to name not only the One Hit Wonder song that they played but also the artist who sang it. Really? My favorite variation was Majority Rules. Only Jim and I went to that one, so we joined another couple to form our team. After each question was asked you wrote down your answer and ran it to the trivia host, where the answers were quickly tallied. The answer written down by the most teams was the winning answer, whether right or wrong. "Name one thing that people do in an elevator that is annoying?" My first thought was "fart", but then I come from the Kubler family. Our team wrote down "talk on the phone." Winning answer? Fart. Go with your gut, people. Har, har. Needless to say, the answers were very entertaining, and it was undoubtedly the most fun I have ever had playing trivia.

After trivia we walked around the ship a bit, and before long it was time to eat. For the first time we decided to try one of the main restaurants for lunch. Normally we just ate at the buffet because it was fast and easy. We joined a table of four other women, three of whom were from California. The fourth was from Austin. The meal was very good, and it was fun to change up the conversation a bit.

Crown Grill
We packed a bit in the afternoon as the large suitcases had to be placed outside our cabin door by midnight. By then it was time for more trivia, and lo and behold we came in first! And I have the Princess chip clip to prove it. No champagne for trivia on the last day - boo. As we had reservations at the Crown Grill that night, we headed back to the room to shower and change. There were three restaurants on board that you had to pay extra for, and this was one of them. We were celebrating Jim's birthday that night, so we wanted to do something special. The service was exceptional and we all enjoyed our meals. The only thing that was off-putting came at the end. They knew it was Jim's birthday, so they brought a cute little special cake for him. And then several staff members came over to sing happy birthday. Badly. Very badly, and apparently on purpose as we heard them sing at another table later. I guess they think it is funny, and it might have been if done in one of the casual restaurants. But I did not think it was appropriate in the elegant setting.
Jim's birthday celebration
Jim and Paul hit one last trivia game after dinner, but I went back to the cabin to finish packing. We had our bags out before the designated time, and spent another restless night at sea as the water was again pretty choppy.

Saturday morning was so foggy in Los Angeles. I had no idea the city got that kind of weather. I always think of San Fransisco being shrouded, but not LA. I have to admit, it made for some fun and interesting photos though.
 Los Angeles Harbor
Vincent Thomas Bridge
We met the Corbins early for breakfast as they had a disembarkation time of 8:00. It was great to have one last meal with them before saying good-bye. We did not have to leave the ship until 10:30, though everyone had to be out of their rooms by 8:00. We were going to Katie's from the port and she had to work that morning, so we were in no rush to get off the boat. We spent time lounging outside and catching up on emails and other messages as we finally had Internet service for the first time in seven days.

Disembarkation went smoothly and quickly, and we were soon waiting for our Lyft ride outside the terminal with our luggage. We hit our first big snag of the trip when the driver could not locate us. I had indicated to him that we had just gotten off a cruise and were at Berth 93. I don't know where in the world he was, but after 20 minutes he gave up on us. When I contacted Lyft the second time, I actually called and spoke to the driver. I asked him if he had ever picked anyone up at the port before, and he said that he had. I told him that we just got off the Princess ship and we were at Berth 93. No problem, he says. Well, he did have a problem - the same one as the previous driver. A Princess employee told me that Lyft and Uber drivers were actually not supposed to pick up in our area (though I saw a couple of Uber pickups going on), due to the taxi contract. He said we needed to walk out of the port and get picked up there. So we schlepped all our bags a few blocks outside the port, and arranged for pickup there. It turns out that there are two Perth 93s in the area. Why? Why would they do that? Thus the confusion. At any rate, we were in a car and on our way to Katie's and ready to spend a couple of nice days with our girl.

My final thoughts on this cruise. This was our fourth cruise and the second time we have used Princess cruise line. This ship is smaller than many others as it was built in 2006. That has its own pluses and minuses. I like having fewer people on board, but that also means less amenities than the larger ships. The Crown Princess is due to be refurbished in 2016, and it will be interesting to see what they can do as they can't change the footprint of the boat. This was our first cruise on the Mexican Riviera, and I would not do that route again. Having only three stops in seven days equals too much time on the ship for my liking. Every other cruise has had four or five stops. I also do not think the ports of call are all that interesting.

There were over 200 kids on our ship! I have never been on board with that many children, and it was not an enjoyable experience. You could never get close to a hot tub as they were all packed with kids, they were running around wild, and the crying in the nice restaurants was just uncalled for, in my opinion. The folks in the stateroom above us had a toddler, and all that child did was whine. We could not sit on our balcony if they were out due to the whining. It certainly wasn't peaceful and restful out there. A woman who had done this exact same cruise back to back - again, why? - told us that the previous week there were 500 kids on board. Why these children, predominantly Americans, were not in school is beyond me. We planned the timing to avoid spring breaks. I sound like I don't like kids, and that is not the case. It is just when I am not traveling with children I don't want my vacation to be marred by other people's kids being obnoxious.

All that being said, it was wonderful to get away, especially with such great friends, and to cruise the Pacific Ocean, which we hadn't done before. Princess knows how to do things right, and the excursions were great fun. It definitely will not be our last cruise.

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