Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Cruise Journal - Day 3

Today was our first day in port! Well, we didn’t actually dock in a port – instead the cruise ship just hung out and we ferried back and forth between the boat and shore. But still, it’s the first time we’ve been able to get off the ship since we got on it! Our first city was Cabo San Lucas, the beach town famous for being the ultimate spring break spot. As we were pulling up to land, the view from our balcony was really quite beautiful.

The view from our balcony upon reaching Cabo.

My senior year of high school, I remember a group of about 20 girls vacationing in Cabo together and now that I’m in college, things really aren’t any different. Cabo is without question, the single most popular destination for spring break. So popular, in fact, that we ran into several sorority and fraternity groups while walking around the city. As we were sitting by the beach, we heard this boat go by as the announcers said, “are you ready to party USC?”

The USC party boat.

It was actually hilarious walking around Cabo and seeing all the different sorority girls: drunk sorority girl, crying sorority girl, desperate sorority girl, ya know, the usual.

Anyway, we didn’t have very much time in Cabo because we docked at 12 and departed at 7. Because we weren’t actually docked, we had to wait a couple hours for our ferry so we didn’t really get into Cabo until 2 pm.

Finally getting off the ship!

As expected, Cabo is a very touristy town. As soon as you get off the boat, you are accosted with people trying to sell you stuff and bars with all day “happy hours.” There artsy little statues scattered throughout the town amid the shops. It’s all very Mexican-themed like how you’d expect the Mexico section of a theme park to be decorated. I’m not sure how authentic to the true Mexico experience it is, but it makes for good tourism.

Preksha and the statue

Once you get past all the shops and people trying to sell you things, the beach is really quite beautiful.

The Cabo San Lucas beach.

It’s obviously a very popular destination for cruise ships, because there were four cruise ships (including ours) hanging out in the harbor.

The cruise ships.

Even though I’ve been to the beaches of Los Angeles fairly often, I never actually get in the water. The Pacific Ocean is really cold, yo! Figuring that it’s a lot warmer in Mexico, I figured I’d give the water a try. Turns out, the water is cool but definitely not cold. After a few seconds getting adjusted to the temperature, it was actually quite nice!

Sarah and I messing around in the water. 

One thing that I noticed in Cabo was that there seems to be a whole lot of pelicans! Even though the pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, I've never actually seen that many of them together. In Cabo, there were whole groups of them flying around and begging the fisherman for fish. They seemed really comfortable with all the people.

A fisherman teases the pelicans by offering up a fish.

Not all of the tourist traps were your traditional party boat. We saw this triple masted square rigged sailboat offering tours of the coast. It would have been 100 times cooler if it were actually sailing though. They never even opened up the sails and the boat was 100% engine powered. A little disappointing for a true sailor but a whole lot less work for the crew.

This cool looking ship has a Pirates of the Caribbean vibe to it. Too bad it’s engine powered.

Of course, we didn’t want to be left behind by the boat so we had to make it back by the 6:30 pm all aboard time. Our room being on the left side of the ship, however, had a beautiful view of the sunset as we were leaving port. We watched comfortably from our balcony as the sun set behind the cliffs.

The view of the sunset from our balcony.

Roommates! Happy to be traveling together :)

To conclude our evening after watching the sunset, we got dinner in the on-board restaurant which I like the most, Versailles. The decorations are a cheesy, movie-set take on the real Versailles, but the food is the best of the five dining options, in my opinion. We decided to get a bottle of wine to go with dinner. Preksha and Sarah left the wine selection up to me, and I picked out a Reisling from Washington State. I’ve been getting really into Washington wines lately, so I had high hopes for this selection.

The reisling from Washington that we had with dinner. I highly recommend it!

Turns out, I was not disappointed! The wine was absolutely delicious and complimented my chicken nicely. After the main course we had a cheese plate and oh my goodness the reisling paired perfectly with the sharp blue cheese. All in all, I was very pleased with my wine selection.

Anyway, night three was another night we tuned in early for movies and catching up on sleep, because the real reason we college students need spring break is to catch up on sleep!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Cruise Journal - Day 2

Today was the first full day on the ship! We spent the entire day at sea which means we had plenty of time to explore the boat and check out all the dining options.

All three of us are fairly athletic, so we started the day out by heading to the fitness center. As I’ve posted before, I’m currently training for a half marathon. I’m currently in week 10 of 16 of training, so I can’t afford to slack too much on my runs. There is a track on the ship, but it’s on the top deck and it’s so sunny and hot, I figured it’d be more comfortable to run on the treadmill even though I definitely prefer running outside. The interesting thing about running on a treadmill is that I hadn’t noticed the ship rocking side to side until I was on the treadmill. As I said before, the ship’s floor has a ~10 Hz constant vibration to it, but I hadn’t noticed any rocking. The treadmill that I was on was perpendicular to the length of the ship so that I was looking out the window at the sea. When I first got on the treadmill, I felt like I was running downhill, so I increased the incline a bit. Next thing I know I feel like I’m seriously running uphill. Finally, I figured out that the boat was actually rocking left to right making my treadmill feel like I was running up and down hills. It was kind of a surreal experience. It seemed like the left to right rocking of the boat was a second-order, long period (phugoid) type oscillatory motion with a time constant of ~5s (yeah, that’s how I think about things…sometimes I hate being an engineer).

Trying to maintain that girlish figure!

In spite of the constant swaying to and fro, I somehow managed to get in a decent 4 mile run. I’m not really following my training plan this week; I’m just trying to get in enough distance that I don’t lose any aerobic fitness. The break will probably actually be good for me since my shins had been hurting lately which was likely the result of an overuse injury.

After our workout, we spent most of the rest of the day lounging by the pool. It’s pretty cool sitting at the top of the ship and looking out to see nothing but ocean all around you. I chilled and enjoyed my magazines and Preksha and Sarah both got some good naps in. I thought I had been very thorough with my sunscreen, but somehow I missed a spot under my right arm pit and now have a stripe of sun burn. Thankfully that’s the only part of my body which seems to have been over exposed to the sunlight.

Apparently, the ship also has a small library. In addition to books, they also had a decent selection of board games. We hung out for a while in the library to play a game of Scrabble.

Preksha being a dork while playing Scrabble.

Messing around waiting for Preksha to move.

They also had a Monopoly board available but we knew there was no way we would be able to quietly play a game of Monopoly. So, we snuck the board out of the library and brought it back with us to our room.

Setting up the Monopoly board. This is where friendship ends.

Now – Monopoly is not a friendly game. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Monopoly, played properly, is ruthless. So, we put our friendship on hold in order to really, properly play Monopoly. I ended up having some very good luck during the game and landed on “free parking” – and winning all the money from taxes – at several points during the game. Once I had hotels on all of the green properties as well as the blue properties, the game was over. Yet another Monopoly win in the bank.

We had dinner at one of the on board restaurants, Aqua which was quite good. It’s so great getting to eat at actual restaurants on the cruise but not having to pay the bill at the end. It kind of feels like we’re skipping out without paying the bill. All the food thus far has been quite delicious and I’m looking forward to the rest of the meals!

Enjoying yet another delicious cruise meal.

Anywho, that's it for day 2!  After dinner we went back to the cabin for movies and an early bedtime.  Vacation is for catching up on sleep, right?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Cruise Journal: Day 1

Hello All!  I know I'm terrible at posting - but this time I have a legitimate excuse!  I've been out of the country with very limited internet access!  For my last ever college spring break, me and a couple friends went on a cruise down the western side of Mexico!  But - I kept a journal while on the cruise and over the next 8 days, I will be sharing my cruise journal with you!  So... here it goes!

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It’s finally spring break!! I can’t believe this is my last college spring break. While it’s exciting to be entering the “real world,” I’m definitely trying to make the most of what time I have left in college. So, what to do for my last spring break? Go on a cruise! Since we live in Los Angeles, it was fairly cheap for us to find a 7-day cruise down the western coast of Mexico. Now the time has finally come and to Mexico we go!

Here we are at the port of Los Angeles getting ready to board the ship!


Here we are after dropping off our luggage and about to check in! We’re sailing on the massive Norwegian Star.

Now, I’ve never been on a cruise before so there were definitely a few things that I’ve noticed. First, the ship has a very specific vibration. Obviously this is to be expected because the engines to move a ship this big this fast through the water are massive, but I was surprised by how consistent the vibration is throughout the entire ship. Our room is in the aft end of the ship, closer to the engine, but the vibration is equally noticeable regardless of where you are.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that you definitely don’t get the traditional “ocean waves” sound. Instead, there’s a consistent “water rushing by” sound which is rather soothing. It’s cool how from pretty much anywhere on the ship, you can look out and see the ocean. In fact, I’m sitting on the balcony of our room right now to write this, and since we are on the left side of the boat, it’s pretty much just ocean as far as you can see. I’m amazed by how much light pollution there is, even this far off of shore because I still can’t see very many stars.

Another note is that the ceilings are all very low. Again, this is to be expected since it’s a ship and they are trying to fit as much stuff into it as possible, but as a 6’ tall person, this can be slightly unnerving. Since I’ve been walking around all day, I’m starting to get used to it, but it was definitely a little weird at first. Being on the ship essentially feels like being in a weird hotel where the floor vibrates, the ceilings are low and the rooms are tiny. And I mean really tiny. We’re not even in the smallest size room since we upgraded in order to have a balcony. If I ever cruise again, I would definitely pay more to have a larger room. Our room is essentially just one big bed with very little room to walk around it.

I can already tell that I packed too much luggage. Obviously, having never been on a cruise before, I really wasn’t sure what to pack so I brought some clothes for everything. I’m realizing now that it probably would have been a lot smarter to bring less clothes and just recycle them throughout the trip. Especially since our room is so small, it makes it hard to search through all the luggage I brought along.

Saying goodbye to Los Angeles as we pass the harbor light house!

Anywho, the cruise so far has definitely been very relaxing! One of the first things we did was grab some magazines and go lounge by the pool. My goal for this trip is simply to relax. Honestly, the fact that I have to set goals for “relaxing” should be an indication of the fact that I pretty desperately need to let go a little bit.

The pool on this ship is pretty cool. Definitely very kid friendly with lots of slides and water games but also adult friendly with all the bars and hot tubs!

I mean, it’s vacation! Of course we had to acquire a beer bucket pronto.

Trashy magazine, check, alcoholic beverages, check, sunshine, check, alright I’m ready to cruise!

For our first dinner on board, we ate at the complimentary French-themed restaurant, “Versailles.” It’s got that cheesy, movie-set French d├ęcor going on, but honestly it’s kind of fun. The food was definitely delicious so no complaints there! I’m going to have to be sure to go to the gym in the mornings otherwise I am going to completely derail my two months’ worth of dieting!

After dinner, we came back to the room to get dolled up a bit before heading out to some of the ship’s bars. After a few drinks, we were having a great conversation about Boeing, work, and life post-graduation. So, overall, a very fun night.

Anyway – it’s only day 1! There’s still so much to come and it’s all very exciting! Day 2 is spent entirely at sea so we’ll be exploring the boat more tomorrow. But that’s all for now!