Archive for December, 2009

Mexican Riviera Cruise & Our 5 Year Anniversary

December 18, 2009

In 2007, Erik and I went on our first cruise/vacation together and had a blast. Since then, we’ve made it a tradition to go each December to celebrate our anniversary and enjoy some time off. This year, for our 5th anniversary, we did a Mexican Riviera cruise to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas!

Day 1: December 5 (Saturday)
The cruise was departing out of Long Beach, CA which made me a little leery about flying in same-day. What if the flight was delayed and we missed the ship? I used this worry as a great excuse to fly in a day early and hang out with some friends. We landed at LAX around noon local time and Steve (my good friend from when I used to work at Garrett Turbos) picked us up in his (finally running) swapped S13. Steve now works for SpaceX, an independent space exploration company, and our first stop was a tour of their facilities! They had some very neat stuff and it was a little overwhelming seeing it all up close.

We then headed to In N Out so Erik could get his Animal-style on. From there we went to the Los Angeles International Auto Show and wandered around for a while looking at the new models and concepts. For dinner we hit up a dope all you can eat Koran BBQ joint and stuffed ourselves silly. Later we met up with a LA-based coworker of mine at PinkBerry (Erik wanted to try it). We crashed at Steve’s apartment that night for some much needed rest!

Day 2: December 6 (Sunday)
It may sound strange, but I absolutely love California fast food; I convinced the boys that we should do breakfast at Yoshinoya and it was so worth it. Afterwards, Steve drove us down to Long Beach so we could board our ship but first we stopped at the Long Beach Convention Center for a large motorcycle show that was going on. I’d love to have a bike, but I have a feeling I’d wind up getting pretty hurt so I keep sinking money into my car instead. 😉

We boarded the Carnival Splendor around 3pm and set sail that evening. The ship is their second largest/newest and it was really awesome!

Day 3: December 7 (Monday)
Our first day at sea we spent mostly just relaxing and exploring the ship since a cold front had moved in and the weather was kind of icky.

Day 4: December 8 (Tuesday)
Our second day at sea was much of the same – eating, relaxing, exploring. Luckily the weather had warmed up a bit by then and we spent some time hanging out in one of the ship’s many hot tubs. Dinner that night was very, well, interesting. At one point all of the servers came over to our table with a piece of cake and a candle. I thought they were going to sing “Happy Anniversary” to us like they’ve done each year so far but instead they started singing “Happy 15th Birthday” to me! It was neither my birthday nor am I 15, but I wanted the cake so I played along and enjoyed it. Very random but highly amusing.

Erik and I at Las Caletas Beach in Puerto Vallarta

Day 5: December 9 (Wednesday)
This was our first port-day and we docked in Puerto Vallarta. We had booked an excursion with our friends Susie and Rick to go to a private beach and have a sea lion encounter. First of all, our tour guides from Vallarta Adventures were absolutely hilarious. At one point during the boat ride they decided to reenact a “classic Mexican movie” for us, complete with pink wigs, fake boobs (they were all guys) and dancing. What was the movie? Grease! And yes, they put on a wonderful performance. Also on the boat ride over they decided to stop and have us go whale watching for a half an hour. Apparently the bay is a prime Humpback Whale migration destination and they have just arrived the day before. Typically they travel in smaller groups of about 2-3 but we lucked out and spotted a group of 8+ whales close to our boat. We watched them splash and play and flash their tails around for a while; it was absolutely incredible! I was so glad we got that “surprise” added to our trip!

Later on we arrived at Las Caletas beach where we ate lunch and relaxed for a bit. After, we were given wetsuits and swam a little ways off shore to meet our new friend, Littiboo the very friendly sea lion. We got to swim with him, watch him do tricks (he’d do anything for a fish), go for a ride, give a high-five and get a “kiss”. I’d never seen a sea lion up close before – they’re huge!! When we were done “playing” we decided to go snorkeling and watch some fish. All in all, this excursion was amazing and definitely the highlight of our trip.

Being that this was also the day of our 5th anniversary, we decided to have dinner on the ship at their special fancy steakhouse. It was very private and the food/service were excellent. The ship wasn’t leaving Puerto Vallarta until 10:00pm so we had a great view of the city while we ate. Erik also got me a gorgeous Everlon diamond necklace. He’s the best!

Erik, me, Rick and Susie with Littiboo the Sea Lion

Day 6: December 10 (Thursday)
For our second port-day we stopped in Mazatlan and I was surprised at how smoggy and industrial it was. We boarded a somewhat sketchy boat for a ride over to Deer Island where we spent the day kayaking and hiking. The island is an uninhabited nature preserve and we got to see a ton of pelicans just hanging out. The views from on top of the island were stunning; the cliffs and rock formations were definitely worth the hike.

Instead of going back to the ship afterwards, however, we “escaped” the tour and opted to hop a tiny boat to cross the bay to the mainland where we had lunch with some people we had met during the day. It’s always fun exploring new towns! We also had been seeing a lot of Mexican military/army personnel at the ports who were all carrying very large automatic rifles. While most normal people would avoid contact with them at all costs, I am not “most people”. I walked right up to one guy and asked if we could have a photo with him. He smiled and immediately put his arm around me. Gracias, Mexico!

Thanks to my braces I’m finally able to smile after 10+ years. I love us!

Day 7: December 11 (Friday)
For our last port-day we stopped in the harbor at Cabo San Lucas and took a quick tender ride to the docks. Erik and I wandered around looking at the vendors and stopped to enjoy a beer. There were a few people who had canvas bags literally full of iguanas. I absolutely adore reptiles and had an iguana for 15 years who thought she was a dog, so of course I couldn’t say no when they practically forced them into my hands. I felt bad because it was obviously a “take a photo and give us a dollar” type thing and I didn’t have any cash on me, but it made me smile to cuddle the cute little green lovelies again.

For our excursion we had chosen to do a Sea Trek helmet dive. It’s basically a 75-pound helmet that sits on your shoulders (thanks to buoyancy it doesn’t feel like much underwater) and contains an air bubble which allows you to breathe normally, even when 30 feet under water, without a regulator or dive mask or anything. We were the only two people signed up in our time slot and therefore we had a “private” session which was pretty neat. The water was clear and we were surrounded by thousands of fish. They say the feeling is similar to walking on the moon. At one point a wild sea lion even came by to swim with us and see what was going on. Unreal!

Erik and I enjoying our underwater Sea Trek in Cabo San Lucas

Day 8: December 12 (Saturday)
We spent our last day at sea mostly just sleeping and recovering from the week’s excitement. We had a great time with our friends and met some wonderful new people. I’m already looking forward to next year!

The beautiful sterling silver and diamond necklace Erik got me

Day 9: December 13 (Sunday)
Nothing much to say here except that we got back home around midnight and were so pooped that we immediately went to bed. We had a great anniversary vacation!

If you’d like to see more fun photos from the trip, you can view the whole album here: