First, confession of one major screw-up before I begin: I did not take enough pictures, nor enough of the right ones. I got a little lazy–like totally into vacationing and totally into lazy. The blog wasn’t top of mind awareness and I just didn’t pick up the camera with blog in mind. This is not like me…but lately, since I retired, a lot of not-like-me’s seem to be happening. I shall proceed, however, as best I can with a brief travelogue of our recent cruise.
Oops, there is one other thing I need to discuss before we launch…and that’s my opinion. My opinion (which many say I should keep to myself) is that a cruise is mainly about the ship, eating yourself silly and sitting on your butt. If you really want to visit a city or some other location, you need to fly there and stay at a hotel for a few days. That’s the only way to really tour someplace. A cruise, to me, is superficial when it comes to touring. There is simply not enough time to leisurely take in all that a specific location has to offer.
The cruise does have “excursions” that you can sign up for and these will take you to various locations but you need to be back at the ship at departure time. This is usually 6-10 hours from arrival time. The excursions, meanwhile, are expensive. They run anywhere from $50 to $150 (U.S.) per person. They can add up. The other option is to skip an excursion and simply get off the ship and stroll the harbor area. Here you will usually find a gazillion shops and people who want to sell you souvenirs, jewelry, pottery or senseless trinkets. A sign of the times is the local hotels or restaurants that offer free Wifi. Many passengers flock to these locations to check their e-mail since WiFi on the ship is costly and often dysfunctional.
Okay, I think we’re ready. Slip into something cool and put on comfortable shoes. You there, the person in the back of the room, please dim the lights and when I click my clicker, change the slide. Okay, here we go! ClickClick
We left Los Angeles, California in the late afternoon; it was not a pretty sight. We were docked at a warehousie-looking building in an industrial area. A better picture to start off with would be one of the few nice sunrises we had off the port bow (like my nautical perspective!). We had a lot of cloudy days and didn’t have much sunshine until we hit Central America. ClickClick
Our first stop after two days at sea was Cabo San Lucas on the western coast of Mexico. Our ship anchored off the coast and we took a tender into the port. A “tender” is simply one of the many small boats you see slung ont he side of the ship–lifeboats for the most part. The harbor area here was a large u-shaped basin with many small boats moored everywhere. Most of these were for hire if you wanted to tour the coastal beaches or see the dramatic rock formations. Shops along the docks consisted mainly of restaurants and souvenir places. If you are a first-time cruiser, all this is fun and you will be inclined to buy Mexican blankets, maybe a sombrero and a few t-shirts with silly sayings printed on them. It’s all good touristy stuff. I was advised to have a bottle of Corona and not to drink the water (including ice cubes). I forgot my hat which would have been okay if I had more hair. ClickClick
Further down the coast the next day we landed at Cabo Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. A few of the town musicians were gathered at the port to welcome us. As was the case everywhere, you could have your picture taken with someone in traditional garb. There was a small crafts market inside the fenced-in area assigned to our ship. Here you could buy leather goods along with the usual fare of trinkets and gifts representing the local artisans. We walked the beach area for a short time. There was a “decent” beach, but remember, I live in South Florida within a short ride of some of the best beaches in the USA so my beach assessment is tainted at best. The town itself was depressing, poor and certainly not “resorty.” We didn’t stay long. Here is where an excursion to someplace interesting may have been worth the extra bucks. ClickClick
Now came the part of the trip we were looking forward to: Puntarenas, Costa Rica. I had actually researched this area about ten years ago as a possible place to retire. We would be there for only about eight hours but we did have the excursion of a lifetime lined up—zip lining! It wound up being almost everything we had anticipated, with a few disappointments. First, despite being told to bring a backpack with water and snacks along with a camera, I was told to leave this behind when we arrived at the hotel launch site in the rain forest (above). It would be too much to carry, they said, and they were right.
We had a long, very vertical hike up the mountain to get to the starting point of the zip lines. The path was a bit treacherous, steep and the heat had sweat pouring off us in no time. We did, nonetheless, have a blast. My wife and I rode six zip lines. The first was a bit intimidating but after that, it was zippity dodah! I was glad I did not have a backpack to lug along because it would have been a major problem….but I was very very very disappointed that I had to leave my camera behind. Hence, I have absolutely no picture of my wife and me zip lining. Bummer.
The other disappointment was not seeing any animals in the rain forest (no rain either), though we did sidestep millions of those ants you see on nature shows–the ones carrying little pieces of leaves. But, nary a bird, a sloth or a monkey was on hand to mock us as we zipped. Second bummer. ClickClick
In addition to zip lining, which I advise anyone to do if they have the opportunity, we went on a river cruise in a shallow boat. We saw lots of exotic birds and some napping crocodiles which our guide was inclined to join in the water, awaken and offer up a piece of fish and his hand if the croc was fast enough. ClickClick
I don’t want to wear out my welcome. Vacation slide shows can be soooo boring…and I didn’t even offer you any popcorn. So let’s take a break and we will finish up on the next blog. As you leave the theater, you can stop off in the lobby and purchase any of the leftover souvenirs I brought back…except the Costa Rican coffee…that’s mine.
– to be continued –