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Carnival Paradise - Margaritas, Horses, Slides and Chiclets (and a Halter Top)

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This is a Journal of our recent Cruise on the Carnival Paradise out of Long Beach, California. For those of you who may have read the Journal of our 2008 Carnival Freedom Cruise you will know that we don't leave much to the imagination. We don't mind laughing at ourselves or with others. Numerical Conclusions will resume where we left off on the Carnival Freedom.

 

As expected we had a great time and would not hesitate to do this itinerary again. Hope you enjoy.

 

The Why?

 

Because of our January, 2008 Carnival Freedom Cruise Dee and I had put a $100.00 limit on our Christmas 2007 spending for each other’s gifts; with this in mind I booked the Cruise Critic Team Splendor Mexican Riviera 2009 Cruise in early December 2007 using the $25.00 per person deposit for Dee as part of her Christmas Gift. After booking the Team Splendor Cruise I mentioned it to a few of our friends and before I knew it we had 18 others who had booked on the ‘Team’. Conclusion # 43: As Sally Field might say “They like us, they really like us.” Due to a wide variety of reasons only 11 of our friends ended up sailing with the ‘Team’ on the Carnival Splendor which as it turned out was more than enough Canadian content.

 

After having a great time on the Carnival Freedom and having a pretty good idea of what we were in for on the Team Splendor Cruise when it came to our friends we decided to book the Carnival Paradise for some R&R before the craziness started. Conclusion #44 – After Team Splendor: We know them, we really know them. On February 25, 2008 we contacted our PVP and booked an OV Guarantee and utilized the $50.00 Welcome Home Discount we had received by email upon our return from the Carnival Freedom.

 

The Why Not?

 

Because we enjoyed our Balcony on the Carnival Freedom so much we contacted our PVP on March 12, 2008 and switched from an OV Guarantee to a Category 12 Suite and selected Cabin U90. Because of the relative strength of the Canadian Dollar vs the US Dollar at the time we decided to pay off the Cruise and pre-pay our Gratuities. With the eventual rebate of the Fuel Surcharge and a price reduction that we received when we noticed a price drop for the Cat 12’s we ended up paying $11.39 more Canadian than the actual US amount for our Cruise and Gratuities.

 

On March 15, 2008 we booked our Flights and began the 13 month wait all the while becoming more and more nervous about the idea of flying in on the day of the Cruise. Once the excursions became available on-line we booked the ‘Baja Bandidos Horseback Trail’ through Carnival which as it turned out was the ‘breast’ excursion. More on that (those) later

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A Carousel, The Flights and the Ride to Long Beach

 

We decided to have our own early evening/late night pre-Cruise Party on the night of April 18th with the thought that we would be able to go to sleep early on the 19th in anticipation of our early wake-up on the 20th. Confused? We weren’t, we had an alcohol induced plan. Conclusion #45: With a plan we are evidently ‘Party Planners’ .We loaded up the car on the evening of the 19th and set the alarm for 3:30am. We hit the snooze button once, got up at 3:39am, dressed and left for the Airport at 4:00am.

 

We boarded our Air Canada Jazz flight and settled in to Seats 5Dand 5F for the short flight to Vancouver. It was an uneventful flight and we arrived in Vancouver on time. Headed to the luggage carousel to pick up our luggage and stood there until the carousel stopped turning without our luggage on it. I didn’t dare make eye contact with Dee at this time – her not being the biggest fan of Air Canada while at the same time the memories of our luggage fiasco from our Carnival Freedom Cruise swirled around in my head. Conclusion #46: Even if we don’t have luggage we have baggage. Eventually an Airport worker came over to us and asked ‘if there was a problem?’ We told him ‘we were flying to LA and needed to get our luggage before clearing Customs.’ He said ‘to proceed to the US Departures Terminal, clear Customs and then retrieve our luggage on the carousel behind the Customs Agents.’ “Well that’s simple” we said. “You wouldn’t believe how many people end up standing here just like you two” he said. Conclusion #47: We believe

 

We had a quick trip through Customs, a quick stop at the Duty-Free Shop for smokes, picked up our 4 pieces of luggage from the carousel, transferred them to the outgoing conveyer and then headed to Tim Horton’s to get Dee a much needed ‘double/double’ to sip on as we waited for our boarding call.

 

We boarded Flight AC550 to LAX and departed on-time. We eyed up our friendly Bar Cart as we boarded and decided that we were on vacation and would have a drink or two on our flight down even if it was only 7:15am but the Flight Staff did not stock the Cart with any alcohol prior to the in-flight service so our plan was not to be.

 

It was a beautiful flight to LA and we had stunning views of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood on the way down and then a great view of the Santa Monica Pier as we made our descent into LAX. We arrived a few minutes early, debarked and headed into the terminal.

 

A gentleman in a 2 piece suit, shirt, tie, black shoes and white socks was waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator with a sign with our names on it and a luggage cart. I hoped we would not need a baggage cart as well. Conclusion #48: Check my luggage a soon as it is delivered to our Cabin to ensure I have my black socks. He was our Driver from GoSedan which we had pre-booked to take us to the Cruise Terminal. We retrieved all of our luggage, left our baggage at the Carousel, headed to the car and hopped into the extended Chrysler 300, and headed towards Long Beach. Conclusion #49: Heh, heh, heh says Jim as he is finally able to make direct eye contact with Dee.

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Day 1 – Welcome Aboard the Carnival Paradise – Our Home for the Next 4 ½ Days

 

On Friday April 17th I had scheduled myself to work a 6am – 2pm shift at work and as I had been doing for the previous 400 days I looked at the Port Cam and the weather forecast for Long Beach. As I had done hundreds of times before I typed in http://www.krooz-cams.com on the computer, clicked on the Port Cams tab, clicked on United States Cams tab, clicked on the Long Beach CA tab, saw the webcam picture of some of the race cars practicing for the Long Beach Grand Prix, clicked on the ‘View Current Weather’ tab to be greeted by a ‘Severe Weather Warning’ in red font. “Crap” I said. Conclusion #50: I know what a synonym is. This vacation, including Team Splendor, had involved 18 months of waiting and it was almost here and now we have a weather warning. With a little bit of trepidation I clicked on the ‘Severe Weather Warning’ tab and was informed that many areas in Southern California would be experiencing ‘unseasonably warm temperatures’ from late Saturday, the 18th, through until Wednesday the 22nd. I immediately checked the Port Cam and Weather forecast for Catalina Island and was greeted by the same ‘Severe Weather Warning’. Shortly thereafter an email with the Subject ‘Severe Weather Warning for Long Beach and Catalina Island for Monday and Tuesday’ was sent to Dee’s work email address. This email would be waiting for her at 8:45am as she began her workday. The text of the ‘Warning’ was copied and pasted into the body of the email. At 8:46am, my office phone rang and after answering it Dee informed me that I “was a ******.” Conclusion #51: Dee seldom uses synonyms.

 

The ‘Severe Weather Warning’ for Monday was right on the money. It was hot, hot, hot and we loved it. The anticipation was building as we headed towards the City of Long Beach and the smiles on our faces were ear to ear as we crossed the bridge and saw the Carnival Paradise and the ‘Bubble’. We arrived at the Port of Long Beach at 11:00am, handed our luggage and a $10.00 bill to our Porter, a $10.00 tip to our driver and headed to the VIP Embarkation area. They ‘Welcomed Us Back’, gave us our S&S Cards, a VIP Boarding Card, a printed schedule for the day, swiped our Credit Card, told us where to go for boarding and had us out of there in minutes. They told us they ‘hoped’ to begin boarding at 12:30pm.

 

We went off to a park area, took a few pictures of the bow of the ship and the port area before heading into the VIP area to await boarding. We waited a few minutes for an older gentleman, who was taking his 88th Cruise on the Paradise, to arrive so he could lead us onto the ship. After having our Embarkation photo taken and our S&S picture taken it was into the Atrium at 11:30am for our first of many Fun Ship Specials that day. A couple dollar tip had the bartender topping up the FSS’s nicely as we were well on our way to a typical ‘Dee and Jim” day on a Carnival Fun Ship. Conclusion #52: We are on Vacation WooHoo!!!

 

On our information sheet it informed us that our Suite would be ready at 12:30pm so we grabbed a couple more Fun Ship Specials and headed towards the Upper Deck to check out the Suite and drop off our carry-ons. Sure enough Suite U90 was ready. Inside the cabin were the Bon Voyage gifts I had ordered for Dee; 2 Champagne flutes, a Deluxe Flower Arrangement, 2 orders of Chocolate Covered Strawberries, a few things I had ordered for myself; a bottle of Crown Royal and 2 of the ‘Just Chillin’ Soda Packages’, and a bottle of Champagne that Guest Relations had us select in response to a letter we sent in after our last Cruise.

 

Conclusion #53: The Suite was Sweet. The Category 12’s had been upgraded during the recent dry dock and it far exceeded our expectations. It was spacious, had a King-sized Bed, a flat screen TV, a Bar set-up, a Bathroom with a tub and shower, a Living Room area, a good sized Balcony and most importantly – Us

 

Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter so we unpacked, got organized, had a quick shower before heading out to explore. Realizing we were going to need something to soak up all the Fun Ship specials and not having packed a ‘Sham-Wow’ we headed up to the Lido Deck for some lunch. On our way there we purchased a Wine Package for our dinners. Conclusion #54: We are conscious of saving money. A cheeseburger and some chili for me and a Chicken Burger and Nachos for Dee were all we needed to create a thirst.

 

A smiling waiter by the name of Ferdy seemed to read our minds and a couple more Fun Ship Specials were in our hands immediately. For the rest of the afternoon Ferdy was everywhere we were with tray in hand – we kept looking over our shoulders to see if we were wearing Ferdy as a ‘Backpack’ which is what we nicknamed him. Sometimes he didn’t even read our minds – he just made our minds up for us. He had our Folio Numbers memorized in short order. Conclusion #55: Timid waiters will have skinny kids.

 

We headed to the Lido Deck Aft with a drink in each hand and the Backpack strapped on to take in the views, hydrate and take some pictures. Even being relatively new cruisers we have done enough research to know that most 1st time cruisers don’t discover the Lido Deck Aft until well into their Cruise. The Main area of the Lido deck was beginning to fill up however we had this area almost exclusively to ourselves. The Backpack told us he would visit often. Conclusion # 56: Backpack is a waiter of his word.

 

We relaxed in the sun on a couple of loungers, soaked up the heat, took in the views, took pictures and just enjoyed the moment. We then heard an announcement that stated it was 93 F - nothing like ‘Severe Weather’ to start the Cruise. The deck was so hot you couldn’t even walk on it in your bare feet. Thankfully the Backpack was wearing running shoes and the refreshments in the yellow cups just kept coming and coming and coming.

 

Around 2:00pm we looked over the side of the ship at the gangplank and it was obvious that the Boarding Process was well underway. We heard many people talking throughout the Cruise about how Carnival had called them and told them ‘not to show up to the port any earlier than 2:00pm’. It appeared to us that some of the passengers looked a little ‘off’ from the heat and long line-ups by the time they got on the ship. Conclusion #57: It is possible that it was our vision that was a little ‘off’.

 

At 2:30pm there was a ‘Brightstar’ call to cabin 192 on the Main deck. We didn’t hear anything else about it but do hope that everything turned out for the better.

 

About this time I realized that I had consumed too many Fun Ship Specials so I ordered a Bucket of Bud. We moved over to the elevated, circular pool to cool off. We sat on the edge of the pool with our legs in the water and realized that it does not get much better than this. Conclusion #58: These 4 Buds are for me.

 

We chilled there for a while before a couple of women who we called ‘The Girls’ for the rest of the cruise came and sat around the pool with us. We called them ‘The Girls’ for 5 reasons- 1st; these 2 ladies were inseparable the entire Cruise and were always laughing and having a great time and 2nd – 5th; their 4 ‘Girls’ were always predominantly displayed. Mount Hood, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, which we had seen earlier in the day, are sometimes obscured from view by cloud cover – there was not a cloud in the sky when it came to these 4 ‘Girls’ and the tattoo on the ‘Girl’ that was 2nd from the left or 3rd from the right was as tall as Backpack to give you a reference point. Conclusion #59: The Paradise had 4 mountains in it’s mountain range. Speaking of 4; another Bucket of Beer was in order and it was delivered quickly.

 

We chatted and laughed with them for quite a while and found out that they were having a ‘Girl’s Only Cruise’ - Conclusion #59: None; too many options – without their husbands and their main goal on the Cruise was to have as much fun as they could and to go down the Water Slide at least once. ‘All 6 of you?’ I wondered to myself. One of the Girls (of the 2 not the 4) told us she had just returned from a trip to Hawaii a month ago and that her friend was jealous of her travels so they booked this Cruise as a last minute thing. As she was telling us this she reached behind her and pulled up what looked like a miniature guitar case and then reached inside the case and pulled out what looked to us like a miniature guitar and started strumming. I wondered to myself if the guitar was indeed smaller or just looked that way with the mountain backdrop. Concluding my vision was not playing tricks on me I asked her “If by accident she had put her guitar in the dryer?” She just laughed and said “No, it was a Ukulele”. “How long have you been playing?” we asked “bout a month” she said. Conclusion #60: Don Ho was not reincarnated as one of the ‘Girls’.

 

We ordered another Bucket of Bud from the Backpack and gave him a nice tip for all the great service he had given us all afternoon. The great service from him continued throughout the Cruise. We headed into the main Lido Deck area by the water slide and watched the ‘activities’ there for a while. There was a large group of Frat Boys having a great time drinking and joking around. We would run into them many times throughout the short cruise and they provided us with many laughs. A man sitting at the next table next to our’s, who was travelling with his sons, commented “Ooooh, she’s a pretty one!” about Dee as she was passing his table heading to the Restroom. We seemed to see this man and his sons everywhere we went on the ship and he always had a Bucket of Beer within arm’s reach.

 

As it was getting close to Muster Drill time we grabbed our Bucket of Buds and headed down to the Suite. We met our Cabin Staff, Andi and his assistant Anjar, who both hailed from Indonesia. We hit it off with these two immediately. Conclusion #61: We were very happy. Our being ‘so happy’ may have contributed to the ease of breaking the ice with these two and speaking of ice, we gave Andi and Anjar $10.00 each to ensure that our Ice Bucket and the 2 Coolers were filled twice a day. They asked Dee if ‘she wanted a Towel Animal the first night?’ “Yes” she said and asked if they ‘knew how to do the hanging monkey?’ They did and they did. Andi and Anjar were awesome the entire Cruise. Without a doubt they were the best Cabin Staff we have had on any of the four Cruises.

 

We waited until the final call for the Muster Drill and then took a leisurely walk down to our station. We ended up sitting in the front row and when we were told to do so ‘attempted’ to put our life jackets on per the instructions. Conclusion #62: Adjustment to Conclusion #61: We were very, very happy. After a few minutes of almost lynching each other with our life jackets the Carnival Staff Member walked up to Dee and I and said we could take them off. We asked him ‘In the event of an emergency could we count on him to take care of us because we would likely have these same motor skills for the entire Cruise?” He laughed and said ‘he would’. After he returned to his seat Dee was examining her life jacket and asked me ‘what this thing was?’ I said ‘That’s your beacon but don’t turn………….” I was too late as the strobe of the beacon began to flash. The look on Dee’s face was the same as the look on the face of a child caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar. She attempted to cover the flash of the beacon by cupping it in both hands until the ‘Dee and Jim Personal Carnival Rescue Staff Member’ came over with a smile to turn it off for her. Conclusion #63: At that particular time the beacon would be considered the ‘brightest light’ in a competition between Dee, Jim and the beacon.

 

We headed back to the Cabin to put our life jackets and the ‘Dee and Jim Personal Carnival Rescue Staff Member’ back in the closet, poured a couple of drinks and headed out on the Balcony to soak in the sun and enjoy Sail-Away. At Sail-Away we held our drinks high and toasted BSQ from Long Beach who would be part of the Team Splendor Cruise. Dee and the Police in the escort boat were waving back and forth and we snapped a few pictures. We finished our drinks and thought this was good time to explore some of the ship.

 

We headed up to the Promenade deck to have some sushi and had a drink to wash it down. The Casino opened at 6:30pm and Dee’s first Entertainment charge on the S&S bill was at 6:34. My first charge at the Casino Bar was at 6:27pm Conclusion #64: Jim was running 3 minutes fast while Dee was running 4 minutes slow. I had to go to the restroom and asked her ‘if she was going to stay at the machine she was at’, she said ‘she was’, so I put my drink down beside her and headed off. Upon my return – No Dee at the machine she said she would be at. I could not see any beacon flashing anywhere in the Casino and the Dee and Jim Personal Carnival Rescue Staff Member was nowhere to be seen so I wandered around looking for her for quite a while. I ended up going down to our Suite – No Luck – wandered through the Casino some more to no avail.

 

Eventually I found her at a machine in the corner of the Casino with a big smile on her face. “I won” she said. “I’ve been looking all over for you” I said, “You said you were going to stay at that machine and then you leave my drink unattended.” Dee said “ ”, to which I said “Well someone could have put something in my drink” and Dee said “ ” Conclusion #65: Jim needs a life jacket or a Personal Carnival Rescue Staff Member.

 

We (I) quickly dropped the ‘drink issue’ and asked Dee ‘how she was doing’. She proudly stated that she was up $431.00. I suggested she cash out and thanks to the lady sitting next to her the two of us were able to convince Dee to do just that. We went to the Cashier and got her money and headed up to the Suite to get ready for our first dinner on the Carnival Paradise.

 

We headed to the Elation Dining Room for our 8:15pm seating and just inside the entrance we found Table 204. It was a table for 10 but only two other couples joined us at the table throughout the Cruise. We ate in the Dining Room on the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Both couples were from California – 1 couple were cruising for the second time and the 2nd couple, Tim and Vickie, who were from Lancaster, CA were first time cruisers. We all got along great during our dinners.

 

Quickly we were introduced to our Dining Room Staff, Ayu and her assistant Pocholo, who were both from the Philippines. We were extremely lucky with both our Cabin and Dining Room Staff on this Cruise; both teams making the Cruise all that much more memorable for us.

 

We had ordered the Wine Package and selected a Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. We liked it so much we didn’t try any other wine throughout the Cruise. I ordered a ‘Double Crown and Coke in a tall glass with lots of ice’. For some reason they could not accommodate this drink on the Paradise – anytime I ordered it I would get either two singles and an empty larger glass that I could pour both drinks into or as was the case of the Dining Room they brought me a glass of coke with lots of ice and a small wine glass with a double-shot of Crown that I could pour into the coke. Conclusion #66: With every drink I was ‘poorer’ and ‘pourer’ Conclusion #67: Tasted great.

 

The conversation at the table flowed freely as we all got to know each other. Tim asked Dee ‘How long we had been married?’ and before she had a chance to answer I said, “We are not married. Dee is renting me for the week.” There was a few seconds of silence before Dee and I started laughing and put the other two couples at ease. We had a great dining experience each night we went to the Dining Room. The first night Dee had a Shrimp Cocktail, the Grilled Chicken off the SPA Menu and the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. I had the Shrimp Cocktail, a Caesar Salad, a Medium Rare Flat Iron Steak with Steamed Vegetables and the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. Everything was awesome. At the end of dinner I thought I saw Tim, who was sitting next to me, strapping a prosthetic leg on. That leg would provide many laughs for us as the Cruise progressed.

 

After dinner we headed to the Photo Gallery to purchase a couple of our photos from the first day and then headed to the Suite for a nightcap out on the Balcony. Upon entering the Suite we were greeted by our Monkey Towel Animal hanging from the ceiling. We headed to bed around 11:00pm as it had already been a 20 hour day.

 

It was a great sleep except I leapt out of bed in the middle of the night to see who was knocking at the door. No one was at either the Hallway or the Balcony door. It is possible that Dee’s laughing scared them away. Conclusion #68: Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Dee! Dee Who? Dee laughing her azz off at Jim cause there wasn’t a knock at the door.

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Day 2 –Catalina Island

 

Cactus, Wrigley, Carts, Glasses and a Stranger In Our Picture

 

Knowing the routine already I leapt out of bed at 7:00am Conclusion #70: Practice makes perfect (Conclusion #69: is saved for day 4) - and headed out to the Balcony. We were sailing up to Catalina Island and it was beautiful. Dee got up shortly after me and we stood on the balcony and just admired the scenery. We anchored at about 7:30am and after showering we headed up to the Lido for a couple of made to order omelets and the Breakfast Buffet.

 

After eating we headed back to the Suite and packed our knapsack before heading down to the Riviera Deck and tendering to the Island at 9:00am.We got off the Tender and had our ‘Welcome to Catalina’ picture taken. As it turned out there was a tall oriental gentleman who was as happy to be in Catalina as we were so he posed with a big smile on his face just behind Dee and I in our picture just as if he were travelling with us.

 

We headed to Island Rentals and rented a gas powered golf cart for 2 hours with the 3rd hour being free in order to tour through and around Avalon. After a quick orientation on the workings of the Golf Cart we headed up Clarissa St. to Tremont St where we turned right. We took a left on Avalon Canyon Rd and passed Las Casitas, the Golf Course, Stables and Picnic Grounds before reaching the entrance to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden. We parked the Cart, paid a small entrance fee and bought some water. It’s a definite uphill walk from the entrance to the Memorial and the lady at the gate did mention to keep an eye out for Rattle Snakes. So back in the Golf Cart we go (just kidding).

 

In 1935, Ada Wrigley wife of William Wrigley Jr., commissioned a horticulturist to plant the garden today known as the Desert Plant Collection. In 1969, the Garden was expanded and reconfigured to emphasize plants of the Channel Islands and those that are endemic to Catalina Island, meaning they grow on Catalina Island and nowhere else in the world.

 

At the summit of the Garden is the Wrigley Memorial which honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr. who lived from 1861 – 1932. Although best known as the owner of the largest chewing gum company in the world, he also played an instrumental role in the history of Catalina Island. Conclusion #71: It’s 2009 - if he lived from 1861 – 1932 he couldn’t help but be part of the history.

 

We headed up the pathways checking out the Cactus and Succulent Areas, the Catalina Island and California Channel Islands Endemics before having a seat on a bench at the foot of the Memorial. A couple from the ship came down the stairs on the left side of the Memorial and said to ‘not make the same mistake they made and to take the stairs on the right side up to the Memorial.’ We thanked them and wondered aloud if ‘Misery loves Company’ once they were out of earshot. We put our faith in ‘mankind’ and began our trudge up the left hand stairs. In hindsight they were good people. Conclusion #72: We wished William Wrigley Jr. had been the owner of the largest escalator or moving sidewalk company in the world. ‘Two, two, two steps in one.’ With heavy legs we dragged ourselves to the top and were met with some amazing views from the top of the Memorial and some amazing architecture and workmanship from within it. The Marble and Tile finishes were amazing.

 

We took a ton of pictures on the trek up, from the summit of the Memorial and on our trip down. As we passed tourists on our way down we ‘passed it forward’ and told them to take the stairs on the left hand side of the Memorial. We exited the Garden and hopped back in the Golf Cart and headed aback down Avalon Canyon Rd before hanging a right on Country Club Rd. The scenery was beautiful as we continued our tour. We had beautiful views down into Avalon from this vantage point and we stopped a few times to take pictures. We continued on to La Pas Rd which turned into Stage Rd and then Chimes Tower Rd where we pulled off on the side of the road by the Chimes Tower and took some amazing panoramic pictures of Avalon and the inner harbor area with the Carnival Paradise anchored in the background.

 

After just sitting and taking it all in for a while we continued our trip travelling along Veudelou Rd to Crescent Rd past the landmark Casino to the Descanso Beach Club where we stopped for a refreshment(s). As we walked up to the bar at the Beach Club we saw the ‘Frat Boys’ and could hear that the Party was well underway. It was approaching 11:30am and we were thirsty so we pulled up a couple of stools under a Palm Tree on the beach and ordered a Mimosa for Dee and a Pina Colada for myself.

 

We sat and watched the ‘Frat Boys’ perform as they interacted with the female Bar Staff and other Descanso Beach Club patrons. For some patrons the Frat Boys were too much or maybe just a little too loud so they went elsewhere – we thought they were fine and enjoyed watching and listening to them have a good time. Conclusion #73: One man’s party is another man’s parting. We took some pictures and after a couple more drinks to stave off the 94 F heat we were ready to head back into town.

 

We drove back along Crescent Rd and turned right on Metropole Rd, left on Beacon St. - Dee did not flash anyone - left on Clarissa St. and then back to Island Rentals to drop off the Golf Cart.

 

We walked along the waterfront, ran into Tim and Vickie who were getting ready to go parasailing and did some shopping for about an hour before making our way back towards the Tender Dock. As we were standing having a smoke on the causeway a lady walked by and said “Hi Jim and Dee”. She must have realized by the blank look on both of our faces that we did not recognize her so she laughed and said “Muster Drill. Remember?” Conclusion #74: We remembered the Muster Drill – the lady who said ‘Hi’ to us; not so much

 

We tendered back to the ship shortly before 2:00pm having thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Catalina Island, changed and headed up to the Verandah Deck where we grabbed a couple of loungers on the opposite side of the entrance to the slide to enjoy the sunshine and the views of Catalina and waited for the Backpack to appear. As always he was there within minutes. The Carnival Paradise set sail at exactly 4:30pm and shortly thereafter we heard some screaming and laughing coming from the entrance to the slide - It was ‘The Girls’. The first 3 went down and then the next 3 went down. They had all done it and we laughed and gave them a ‘2 thumbs up’. They must have enjoyed the ride because they continued going down the slide a number of times. Conclusion #75: Girls just wanna have fun. In total we laid out for the better part of 3 hours and made our way through many Buckets of Beer and Pina Coladas before heading to the Suite to get ready for the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party Reception and the Cruise Elegant Night Dinner.

 

After showering and getting ready we headed up to the Promenade Deck to have some Formal Pictures taken. I wore a suit and Dee wore a beautiful black cocktail dress. The photographer positioned and manipulated us to the point where we needed help getting unhooked at the end. Conclusion #76: Twister is our new favorite game. We were extremely happy with the final results and purchased several of the pictures in both color and black and white. Conclusion #77: Unlike our Catalina photo it was nice to have a picture with just the two of us as Wong Pik Chur was nowhere in sight.

 

We headed to the Normandie Lounge for the first Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party Reception that we have attended. We met Jeff Bronson the Cruise Director and Captain Vito Garuccio before settling into our seats for the introduction of the Senior Officers. I managed to have 2 Screwdrivers and my first and last Whiskey Sour while Dee had a couple of glasses of white wine.

 

After the Reception we headed to the Elation Dining Room where a bottle of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay and a glass of Coke with ice and a wine glass with a double shot of Crown Royal were there to greet us at our table.

 

We grabbed our seats and shortly thereafter the other two couples joined us. The conversation flowed freely as we talked about what we all had done on Catalina Island and what our plans were for Ensenada and then Tim told us about his motorcycle accident which had cost him his left leg from the knee down. He had a great attitude about the cards that he had been dealt and it certainly didn’t hold him back from doing anything he wanted to do. He picked up the prosthetic and showed us the tattoo that was painted on it. Since we were playing ‘Show and Tell’ I then talked about how I was blind in my right eye and how it happened. I said “Since Tim has showed us his leg let me take my eye out and show you guys” You could feel the fear at the table as I brought my hand up to my eye before I turned to Tim and said “My eye doesn’t come out”, then I reached under the table, picked up his prosthetic and moved it closer to me and said, “I’m just pulling your leg.” The 6 of us all busted up laughing.

 

We had a great dinner – Dee had the Stuffed Mushrooms as an appetizer, and then the Lobster Tail which came with 3 Jumbo Shrimp and at Our Dining Staff’s insistence had the Prime Rib. I had the Shrimp Cocktail, a Caesar Salad, 2 Lobster Tails with the Jumbo Shrimp and a Medium Rare Flat Iron Steak. We split an order of the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

 

Just prior to dessert the Dining Room Staff danced and sang for us. Pocholo, our Assistant Waiter, seemed like the mildest, meekest man based on our first impression. However when the music started and Pocholo took his glasses off it was like he had an alter ego. It was no different then Clark Kent taking off his glasses and becoming Superman. We looked up to see Pocholo holding one of the support poles in the Dining Room and dancing and gyrating like we should be stuffing dollar bills in his pants. We all laughed until we had tears in our eyes and couldn’t believe the moves from our man Pocholo – It was like Polocho became ‘Pole-a-chacha’. The music stopped, we fanned our wives off, Pocholo put his glasses back on and then brought us our dessert. As he was putting our dessert on the table he looked at Dee and I and said, ‘My wife, she does not know I can dance like that or she would want more babies.” Conclusion #78: Polocho is Philippino for ‘I got rhythm’.

 

It had been a great day and a great night but we were tired so we decided to skip the Comedian and headed to the Suite to have a drink. Our 2nd Towel animal greeted us and it was an elephant. The Towel animals on this Cruise were amazing. We poured ourselves a drink and sat on the Balcony for a while knowing we would be in Mexico the next morning

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Day 3 – Ensenada, Mexico

 

Margaritas, Policia, a Halter, Chiclets and a $100.00 bill

 

As soon as the Shore Excursions became available on-line we booked the Baja Bandidos Horseback Trail excursion and we were very much looking forward to it.

 

I leapt out of bed at 7:00am and headed out on the Balcony with the camera and shortly thereafter Dee joined me. We were just pulling into the harbor in Ensenada and it was a little foggy but that soon cleared out and the sun appeared. As our Suite was on the Port Side, our initial view of Ensenada looked fairly industrial but as the Paradise turned ever so slightly the houses on the hillsides and the city came into view and we remarked that, despite what we had read and heard about Ensenada, it looked beautiful to us. Soon we could see the gigantic Mexican Flag and Pole on the Malecon.

 

We showered and headed up to the Lido for a couple made to order omelets and the Breakfast Buffet. After eating we decided to get off the ship and wander through the market at the port before it got too busy even though our excursion didn’t depart until 10:30am. We headed down to the Riviera Deck, down the gangplank, had our ‘Welcome to Ensenada Picture, taken and then a few more with people in Mexican costumes before heading over to the Market Area.

 

As we headed through the gate to the shops a woman who worked for ‘Papas and Beer’ came up to us and offered to sell us a coupon good for 6 Coronas and 4 shots of Tequila for $20.00 US. ‘Sounds good’ we said and I put the coupon in my back pocket and gave her a $20.00 bill. We headed over to the little ‘Papas and Beer’ booth and I bought a hat as the sun had come out and Dee felt I would need it for the horseback riding. Conclusion #79: Too lazy to go back up to the Suite to get a hat

 

We wandered around the shops for a while before heading back out to the sitting area to await our excursion departure. It was 9:15am so we had a little while to burn. I asked Dee if she was thirsty and she said she was so we headed back inside to the store we had noticed `had a beer cooler. We asked the store worker ‘if we bought a couple Dos Equis could we drink them inside?’ The fella said “Inside, outside, it does not matter”. Conclusion #80: We love Mexico.

 

We sat and had 3 beers each as we waited for our excursion to depart. When the call came we signed our waiver and boarded the 2nd of 2 buses and headed off to the Los Babdidos Ranch. Our guide passed on a great deal of local information on the way to the Ranch. After about a ½ hr bus ride we arrived in the hills of San Miguel. The Ranch and property were gorgeous and were owned by a lady who was born and raised in Virginia. We had a bathroom break before hopping on our horses. There were only a few English speaking Cowboys at the Ranch so it took a little while to get everyone assigned to their horses as we were in the 2nd group. The assigning of the horses was not without incident.

 

As mentioned earlier this was the ‘breast’ excursion we could have booked. We knew it was going to be hot this day so we dressed accordingly with Dee choosing to wear Capri pants and a halter top. As Miguel, our guide, was helping her onto her horse her halter caught on the horn on the saddle and her halter came down along with her strapless bra giving Miguel and a few other Cowboys a full view of her ‘Girls’. Conclusion #81: Miguel’s tip has been taken care of. It didn’t seem to faze Dee at all and I got a huge laugh out of it. It also provided for some moments of humor throughout our trail ride. At the beginning of the ride Miguel was riding along side everyone giving instructions to stay on our horses and that if anyone dropped a personal item just let him know and he would retrieve the item. When he got back to us he just looked at us, smiled and said “If anything falls just let me know” and rode away. All during the ride various Cowboys, who we had not seen before and were not part of our group, would ride up and have a look at Dee, all the while their horses were rubbing their right front hooves in the dirt over and over again, before heading off.

 

I managed to get on my horse and keep my pants on and they took a picture of the pair………….of us on our horses which we purchased after our ride. We headed off on the trail and had a great ride. We spent a little over 1 ½ hrs on the trail in 88 F heat with gorgeous views of Salsipueded Bay, the Todos Santos Islands, the Gold Coast and the hills of San Miguel. Conclusion #82: Some of the locals had enjoyed the views of the hills of Senorita Dee as well. The horses trotted more than we had expected they would on a trail ride but that may well have been the ‘Halter Factor’ All in all it was a great and memorable ride for all involved. It was very evident that these horses were very well looked after. They are ridden only two days a week and are free to roam the range for the rest of the time returning to the stable to eat. We got lots of great pictures and had a great time.

 

Upon our return to the Ranch we were able to purchase Beer – we did – and Margaritas – we did – to quench our thirst before our ‘authentic’ Mexican lunch. We also purchased our picture and a Los Bandidos Ranch tank-top, with straps, for Dee. Lunch consisted of Soft Tacos with homemade Salsa and Guacamole. The Salsa, Margaritas, Beer and Guacamole were very tasty; just what we imagined genuine Mexican Salsa and Guacamole would be like. The tacos however were made of Soy, we guess to accommodate non-meat eaters, and we were not fans. Conclusion #83: The tacos were ‘soy bad’. We did buy drinks to take on the bus for the ride back to try and get the taste out of our mouths so maybe there was a ‘method to their madness’.

 

Upon our return to Ensenada we had a choice to get dropped off downtown or return to the ship; we and one other couple decided to go back to the ship. We headed to the Suite, showered, put on fresh clothes and headed down to the Riviera Deck to get off the Ship before heading into the downtown area.

 

We hopped on a Port Shuttle Bus ($2.00 per person to head into downtown Ensenada and $1.00 for the return trip to the Port) and got dropped off at the Terminal downtown. Our initial plan was to do a little shopping and then head to a Restaurant that our guide from the bus to the Ranch had recommended for some authentic Mexican food. As we discovered on our first Cruise together; Plans and Dee and Jim don’t necessarily go together.

 

We first headed to the main street where all the action was and into the Hussong’s Store where we bought some shirts and souvenirs. We then walked a block or two towards the recommended Restaurant before it became obvious to me that Dee would rather do something else. Based on all the research she had done she had her mind set on going to Hussong’s so back up the street we went.

 

We went into Hussong’s and grabbed a couple of stools at the bar. Hussong’s was established in 1892 and from what we were told it hasn’t changed much since then. It wasn’t too crowded at all - there was a group of about 20 men who appeared to be locals at some tables in the back of the bar, a table of 4 Paradise Cruisers behind us, 2 other couples at the bar, a 5 member Mariachi Band sitting along the back wall and 4 Bartenders. Dee ordered a Lime Margarita and I ordered a Dos Equis. The request for a ‘Lime Margarita’ had us pegged as tourists immediately. He explained that ‘there is only one kind of Margarita’ to which we said “OK we’ll drink that one.” We watched the Bartender make Dee’s Margarita and you could tell we weren’t in Canada anymore. When he placed our drinks in front of us I asked “How much?”, “$6.00.” he responded so I gave him $8.00 and an unforgettable yet forgettable afternoon and evening began.

 

We had heard Jeff Bronson, the Cruise Director, warning passengers about the Tequila in Ensenada being 186 Proof and to be careful how much one consumed. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ as Dee would say. Conclusion #83: TEQUILA!!!

 

About this time a couple, who were locals, sat at the two stools beside us. About halfway through our 1st drinks the Bartender put another Margarita and another Dos Equis in front of us to which we thought ‘Works for us’. We asked about a food menu but were told they did not have a kitchen Conclusion #84: Limes are food. We finished up our drinks and the Bartender asked ‘if we’d like more?’ “Yes” we said but reminded him ‘we still owed him for our 2nd drinks’, he thought about it for a minute before he laughed and said with a big smile “No, 2 for 1” to which the lady of the couple sitting beside us said with a Mexican accent “Eets Appy Our!” We responded “It’s very Happy Hour!” and ordered ‘2 for 1’ Margaritas for each of us.

 

After a few more ‘2 for 1 Margaritas’ I paid the Mariachi band to serenade Dee and we had our picture taken by one of the Bartenders which we purchased in a Hussong’s frame. The camera he used was an old Instant Polaroid that looked like an accordion. ‘This is so neat’ we thought as he shook his hand to dry the picture. After the Band played for us the table of Cruisers behind us got into the fray and the band played for them. One of the husbands had an artist, who must work in the bar, sketch a ‘charcoal’ picture of his wife and it was excellent. We started bantering back and forth before the same man jokingly asked Dee “What in the Hell is a beautiful young woman like you doing with an ugly, old, bald man like him?” What I really wanted to say was ‘You wouldn’t ask that if you saw what was hanging down between these legs earlier today. Youda thought you were looking at a horse.” But still being of somewhat sound mind and knowing that they weren’t with us earlier in the day I took the high road and responded with, “Be nice. She’s paying big bucks to rent me for the week and as far as my hairline, grass doesn’t grow on a busy street”. Dee and I, the couple on the stools beside us, our Bartender and 3 of the four at his table laughed Conclusion #85: Majority rules - Jim 2pts vs Man at the Table behind us 0.

 

We had a great afternoon at Hussong’s before we decided to go ‘try’ and find something to eat. We headed down the street towards the recommended restaurant and planned to get something to eat. We ran into Tim and Vickie, our tablemates, chatted with them for a while and did a 180. Off to Papas and Beer was now the new plan for 6 Coronas and 4 shots of Tequila. As we walked up the street we ran into a number of young Chiclets salespeople. We had read about the kids selling Chiclets on the streets of Ensenada and for some reason we pictured a small package of Chiclets where the kids would take out one piece of gum at a time and try and sell it to you. This was much more organized and heartbreaking than that. They had Halloween type boxes of individually wrapped Chiclets and, while their Mom sat off to the side, they asked and asked you for money to buy Chiclets from them. There were dozens of these kids and they were persistent. As were making our way towards Papas and Beer we stopped to shop at a few booths and at a few sidewalk vendors. It was like being in Jamaica all over again as we haggled on prices. We bought Dee’s boys a couple of ‘Lucha Libre’ Wrestling Masks and my daughter a Straw Corona Cowboy Hat while Tim and Vickie purchased a few Silver Rings – all the while our little ‘Chiclet salespeople’ were tugging on our arms.

 

Eventually I asked one of the vendors to give me 10 $1.00 bills for a $10.00 bill and I gave each of the kids surrounding us a dollar each and Tim did the same. It was heartbreaking to see the kids doing this and we knew full well that the kids were not getting to keep the money as they quickly ran the money over to their Moms’ who put the money in their fanny packs. In some ways it wasn’t as bad as we had expected and in others it was far worse.

 

We arrived at our destination and headed up the stairs into ‘Papas and Beer’ where the party was in full force. The crowd was fairly young and inhibitions had been left at the door. We settled into the back area which was a little quieter and traded the Coupon for a Bucket of 6 Coronas and 4 shots of Tequila. We chatted with Tim and Vickie and they asked if ‘we had gone to see the Comedian on the ship the night before?’, we said ‘we had not’ and they proceeded to tell us the story of how Tim’s prosthetic ended up on stage with the Comedian Seth Buchwald. They had us in stitches as they told us all that happened after they chose their front row seat and Tim unstrapped his prosthetic at the ‘R’ rated Adult Comedy show the night before. Conclusion #86: Seth Buchwald had a leg up on all other Comedians the night before. To say that these two were comfortable and accepting of all they had been through after the motorcycle accident and subsequent amputation would be an understatement. By no means has it stopped them from doing the things they want to do – they parasailed while in Catalina even though the Tour Operator was apprehensive, they kayaked to the La Bufadora Blow Hole earlier in the day and have made a commitment to each other that they live and will continue to live everyday to the fullest. Vickie told us stories of some of the things she does with the prosthetic for laughs, for example; Tim does not drive with the prosthetic on so she will reach over, pick it up and begin scratching her nose with it in full view of other drivers on the Freeway, running shoe and all, or they will ‘trap’ it in the window in angles that cause other drivers to take a 2nd look.

 

Tim bought a 2nd Bucket of Coronas and then Vickie reached into her purse and pulled out an ice tea bottle which was full of a gold colored Tequila and we did several more shots. About this time a waiter was giving some guy a free shot before pulling down his shorts and underwear. After doing so and seeing this patron’s equipment the waiter gave his girlfriend a ‘2 Thumbs Up’ before flipping her upside down, giving her a shot of Tequila and taking her bra and top off. He then placed a Papas and Beer bumper sticker across her chest. She went ‘bouncing’ past us on the way to the restroom to freshen up. Conclusion #87: Silly kids - I got a Bumper Sticker earlier in the day and all I had to do was buy a hat. We weren’t really into this scene so the four of us headed out and Dee and I suggested we go to Hussong’s.

 

‘Welcome Back’ the bartender said and we soon found the longest ‘Appy Our’ in the world was still going strong. We had a seat at the bar and everyone had ‘2 for 1’ Margaritas. Eventually we asked if there was a smoking section and we were directed to the proper area. It ended up being a long counter fastened to a brick wall with 4 stools in the back alley where they stack all their empties. Conclusion #88: Worked for us. The Margaritas continued to fly with Vickie topping up everyone’s drink with the contents of her ‘Ice Tea’ bottle. We have no idea how long we were there but we did end up being the life of the party in Hussong’s that evening. Eventually the non-smokers moved to the smoking section as did an 8-man Mariachi Band. An Ensenada Police Officer came walking up the alley and within seconds Dee had the ‘Policia’ charmed and dancing with her to the sounds of the Mariachi Band. Conclusion #89: After seeing his gun we thought we were back in Papas and Beer. We had a great time and laughed and danced and drank some more before Tim and Vickie announced they were going to go do some more shopping. As it turned out they headed to a coffee shop to try and sober up without success and headed back to the ship.

 

Dee and I think we had another drink or two before making our exit. In all honesty the next thing we remember is being back in our Suite. Conclusion #90: Jeff Bronson was right. We consider ourselves experienced when it comes to having a few drinks – even more than a few drinks – but neither of us has ever experienced the results we had after an afternoon of drinking Tequila in Ensenada. Conclusion #91: TEQUILA. We ‘think’ we took a taxi back to the ship but can’t be sure. According to our Sail and Sign Bill we ordered Room Service at 8:16pm so it was not a late return to the ship. According to our pictures we met up with our Cabin Staff and took some pictures with them in the Cabin. They seemed to be getting quite a laugh out of us. Our 3rd Towel Animal was already in the Cabin and it was a Crab. The Towel Animals we got on this Cruise were the best. After seeing the Towel Animal again the next morning it was like getting a ‘bonus’ Towel Animal. We do remember counting the remaining cash we had left from the day to see how much we had spent and to get the tip ready for the Room Service delivery. I counted the money, counted it again and then once more and became a little upset as it was apparent that ‘we’ were missing a hundred dollar bill. Conclusion #92: ‘We’ before ‘I’ especially after ‘T’- equila. ‘We’ were convinced that ‘we’ had given one of the kids a $100.00 bill for a Chiclet. Our paper money is different colors depending on the denomination so the US money always takes a little getting used to for us and a little more concentration is always necessary. Dee did her best to make ‘we’ feel better. Conclusion #93: ‘Ensenada big deal!’ she said. Conclusion #94: Chiclets like Soy Tacos leave a bad taste in my mouth.

 

The Tequila then decided Dee needed to have a nap so she laid down on the bed. The Room Service arrived shortly thereafter and since I had ordered enough for the two of us I did my best to eat as much as I could while Dee had Soy Taco and Margarita Dreams. It was close to Sail Away so I poured a drink, grabbed the camera and headed out on the Balcony to take some pictures before joining Dee for a nap.

 

Dee woke up at around 3:00am and proceeded to guzzle the large bottle of water that Carnival had in the cabin for purchase. She then decided she was hungry and ordered Room Service at 3:12am. We went back to sleep about 4:00am and slept until around 8:30am.

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Day 4 – A Fun Day at Sea

 

Shout and Shouting, Bets, Slides and a Shopping Bag

 

We woke up about 8:30am, looked at each other and laughed because it was evident we had been ‘spooning’ since about 4:00pm; not in the traditional fashion a couple might, as there was an actual spoon from her Room Service stuck to my thigh. Conclusion #95: I was ‘fork’in lucky it was a spoon and not a knife.

 

Once Dee got up she noticed the handle of a shopping bag peeking out from underneath the bed. “What’s this?” she asked, “Don’t know” I responded, while freeing a spoon and some skin from my upper thigh. She opened the bag and pulled out the most hideous dark purple lady’s Hoodie, a pair of men’s camouflage shorts and a tank stop with straps. They all had ‘Papas and Beer’ logos on them as did the large shopping bag and the tags were still attached to each item. “That’s not our stuff” I said, thinking we might have mistakenly grabbed someone’s purchases the night before off of the conveyer as we went through Security to get back on the Ship. Coming to my senses, I asked Dee to check the receipt and sure enough, at 6:52pm the evening before we had made an $80.95 purchase at the ‘Papas and Beer’ Official Gear Store and paid with a $100.00 cash. Conclusion #96: We went shopping and Oh! look a Towel Animal.

 

We showered before heading up to the Lido for Omelets and trip around the Breakfast Buffet. We felt surprisingly good considering how ‘happy’ we had been the day before. Conclusion #97: We felt like a hundred bucks. After breakfast we headed to the Photo Gallery to purchase our ‘Ensenada’ pictures and then to the Gift shop to purchase some souvenirs.

 

It was 10:30am so I grabbed a table on the Promenade to make some notes about the Cruise while Dee hit the slots in the Casino. Spent about an hour writing up some notes about the Cruise until the Music Trivia Game was about to start right where I was sitting. I was in a crowd all of a sudden so I headed into the Casino to find Dee. As we were heading out we ran into Tim and Vickie and sat and had a drink with them.

 

We headed up to the sheltered area around the Pool on the Lido Deck to see Backpack, have a smoke and ended up sitting down behind the Frat Boys who were all wearing their Carnival Robes as cover-ups. The ship was moving at a pretty good clip and it was not all that warm. The wearing of robes in public areas was something we saw far more of on the Carnival Paradise and then the Carnival Splendor then we saw on our Carnival Freedom Cruise.

 

All of a sudden there was quite a commotion coming from the Frat Boys table so we listened to what was going on. One of the guys jumps up and says “You have to do it in order to collect the money!” and pulls a wad of cash out of his robe pocket. He peels off a $100.00 bill and throws it on the table and then laughs and shakes hands with a couple of the other guys all the while yelling “You have to do it to collect. You have to do it collect”. The other 2 guys were eyeing up the slide and Dee, thinking she was gonna see some boys get naked, reached for the Camera. Conclusion #98: At times Dee is an avid photographer.

 

Two of the Frat Boys climbed to the top of the slide while all of their friends down below were hooting and hollering. The first guys takes off down the slide head first and on his back and about half way down you see him grab the sides of the slide and come to a complete stop. Before the Carnival Staff Member at the top of the slide could stop the second Frat Boy he takes off feet first on his stomach and comes to a rest on top of his friend. All the Frat Boys and many of the growing group of spectators were laughing and screaming as the two Frat Boys came sailing into the Pool in a position they had a name for but we will call a ‘70 minus 1 Slide’ Conclusion #99: Just being politically correct.

 

Now the fun started as the two ‘sliders’ came laughing and high-fiving back to the table and the argument started as to whether or not this ’70 minus 1 Slide’ qualified for the $100.00. The guy who had put up the money was beginning to have 2nd thoughts as to whether or not this had been a wise investment – after arguing the point amongst the group for a while they turned to us and asked if we thought that was indeed a ’70 minus 1 Slide’. Conclusion #69(saved from Day 2): ‘10 toes up, 10 toes down, pair of boys goin round and round’ qualifies in our book and we awarded the cash to the sliders. Dee then mentioned to them that we would have done it for free which left the Frat Boys as quiet as we had seen them all Cruise.

 

We finished our drinks and headed to the Mongolian Grill for lunch. It was awesome. We had the Shrimp and Chicken to go along with all of our vegetables. Dee had the Black Bean Sauce while I had the Schezuan Sauce. We had thoroughly enjoyed this ‘food station’ on the Carnival Freedom and it did not disappoint us on the Carnival Paradise nor on the Carnival Splendor. We did miss the Fish and Chips station that was on the Carnival Freedom but we certainly can’t complain about a lack of options on either of the ships.

 

After lunch we headed back to Cabin to change as it became clear to us that they had sailed north at a rapid rate in order to find a pocket of warm and sunny weather. We ended up spending the afternoon sailing at a speed of a few knots just off the coast of San Clemente Island. We headed up to the Verandah Deck around 1:00pm, found our Backpack and ordered some drinks. We ended up spending a couple of hours lounging and drinking Pina Coladas in the sun before heading down to the Suite to spend some time on the Balcony.

 

We were enjoying a few drinks on the Balcony before our neighbors decided to have a rather prolonged, loud and alcohol-fuelled ‘discussion’ on the adjoining Balcony. They agreed to disagree. Not wanting to let them know we were there we kept quiet during the initial ‘discussion’ before finally tiptoeing inside. One of the things we did learn was that the wife used a ‘water bra’ of some sort to smuggle quite a bit of alcohol on to the ship. Conclusion #100: She was breast feeding herself all day

 

The ‘discussion’ moved inside shortly after we did and quickly the subject turned to her gambling habits so we went back out on the Balcony to try and get some Peace and Quiet. Eventually they must have decided to head out for a drink or to place a bet as things seemed to quiet down. We had a couple more drinks before heading inside to get ready for the evening.

 

The show ‘Shout’ for ‘Late Seating Guests’ was at 7:00pm so we headed for Sushi and then a drink in the Cigar Bar before heading inside the Normandie Lounge. We grabbed our seats which were at the 2nd table in from the aisle and ordered a couple of drinks. Shortly thereafter a couple sat at the table closest to the Aisle and then told a few other couples who tried to sit next to them that they were saving seats for some family who would be joining them shortly. Just before the show started the rest of the family arrived - all 6 of them – and they proceeded to squeeze them all in. Why they thought this was OK was beyond us. It very much affected our enjoyment of the show as we were trying to be cognizant of not infringing on the space of those guests seated to our right while at the same time being resistant to the pushing of the 8 people squeezed into a space for 4 people, at the most, to our right. The show was good but we did come to the realization that we don’t cruise for the Vegas type shows – just not our cup of tea. As soon as the show ended we headed up to the cabin for a quick drink before heading to dinner.

 

We arrived at our table at 8:15 and were joined by our tablemates a few minutes later. My drink arrived shortly after we did as did the first of two bottles of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. We had a great meal; I had Asparagus Vichyssoise, Shrimp Cocktail, Flat Iron Steak and Apple Pie with Ice Cream while Dee had Crab Cakes, Short Ribs and Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

 

The Dining Room Staff sang and danced for us, we took some pictures with Ayu and Pocholo, gave then some extra cash for the extraordinary service we had received, gave Sudhir, our Maître’D, his envelope with some cash in it, said good-bye to our Staff and our table mates before heading up to the Cabin to pack and have a drink. All in all our dining experience on the Carnival Paradise was exceptional. We loved the food, our table and our Dining Room Staff.

 

Upon entering our Cabin we were greeted by our last Towel Animal – a Bear or an Eskimo – we are not quite sure which. We packed, put our luggage in the Hallway with our #3 Disembarkation Tags attached, finished our drinks and headed to the Queen Mary Lounge for the 11:00pm ‘R’ rated Adult Comedy of Will Marfoni. He began by explaining that he has Cerebral Palsy and he had no problem poking fun at himself, guests he picked out of the audience or other guests who were foolish enough to speak out during the show. He was hysterical and had us laughing throughout the show.

 

After the show we headed to the Casino and played the slots for about an hour before heading back to the Cabin for a nightcap. We knew this cruise was coming to an end but we weren’t as sad as we were on the last night of our Carnival Freedom Cruise knowing we had a 7 day Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Carnival Splendor coming up on Sunday and would be joined by 11 of our friends as part of Cruise Critic’s Team Splendor Group Cruise.

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Day 5 – Disembarkation and a ‘Canadian’ Day in Long Beach

 

Chili’s, Albertson’s, Pianos and a Cab Ride

 

We got up around 8:00am and were already in Long Beach. After getting ready we headed up to the Lido to eat and wait for our number to be called. Once our Debarkation number was called we headed down to the Atrium and off the ship. We got in line for Customs and Immigration and had about a ½ hr wait to get through. We grabbed our 4 pieces of luggage and headed outside to grab a cab to go to the Hotel Maya (formerly the Coast Long Beach). Conclusion #101: We packed way too much again

 

When asked by one of the workers if we needed a cab we said “Yes, but we were not going very far’ He said that was OK and hailed us a cab. The cab driver was not on the same page as the gentleman who hailed us the cab as he was not at all pleased that we were going to the Hotel Maya. He told us we should have walked the three blocks to get on the PassPort Bus because he had waited 3 hours for a fare and we were it. Conclusion #102: We think he has a relative who drives a cab in Miami. We told him that we would give him a good tip. However, the more he spoke the smaller and smaller his tip was becoming. Conclusion #103: It was lucky for him that we weren’t going very far as he would have talked himself out of a tip completely.

 

I had arranged a block of Rooms at the Coast Hotel Long Beach back in May of 2008 and had dealt with their Sales Manager – Beverley Holloway. This was the same hotel that many of those from Team Splendor would be staying at so we decided to do the same. From the time we booked until our stay the hotel’s name changed to the Hotel Maya and we were informed that while the updating of our rooms would be completed, construction would still be ongoing on at many of the facilities on the hotel property. They weren’t kidding but for the most part all of the construction was taking place away from the Guest Rooms. Our friendly cab driver dropped us off on the property as far from the Office as possible. We paid the fare and gave him a $10.00 tip. Conclusion #104: Will give him the benefit of the doubt as many people couldn’t find the ‘office’ area amidst all the construction confusion. Dee stayed with the luggage while I went to search for the office. Conclusion #105: We should have called the cab company, requested his cab and had him take us to the other side of the parking lot.

 

We checked in and headed up to our Room which was in Building 3 and was on the 5th floor. Dealing with Bev from the Hotel Maya had been a pleasure. We had decided to book outside the Team Splendor Group, in order to not take up too many of their rooms but we got the same rates as they did. She ended up reducing both our rates and those of Team Splendor a few times and took great care of us.

 

Our room was beautiful – Bev having upgraded us to a Deluxe Bay View Room. We had a beautiful view of Long Beach, the Queen Mary and the port area where we just got off the Carnival Paradise and we would be boarding the Carnival Splendor on Sunday. We sat out on the Balcony and had a drink while we waited for the first 7 of our friends to arrive from Victoria, BC.

 

One drink turned into two and then three before Dee phoned Nicole’s cell phone to see where they were. They had already checked into the hotel and headed over to Long Beach using the PassPort Bus as for some reason they thought we were on a tour that day. We headed down to the Parking Lot and hopped on the next PassPort Bus and headed off towards to Chili’s to meet up with everyone.

 

We walked into the restaurant and before the Hostess could ask us anything we heard the group we were supposed to be meeting. Off we went, following the noise, to see Mauricio (Mo) and Nicole, Joyce, Ray and Mary-Anne and Tammi and Karl. They were well on their way so-to- speak. We all ate and had a few more beverages before we hopped back on the PassPort Shuttle for a trip to Albertson’s to get our ‘supplies’ for the weekend.

 

A few of us (Dee, Karl and I) had to use the bathroom when we got there only to find out we needed a quarter to do so. Went and waited in line at the Customer Service counter and get some change before Dee went into the Women’s Rest Room and Karl and I got a 50% off deal and went into the Men’s Washroom. Conclusion #106: ‘2 for 1’ – peeing in Albertson’s is like drinking Margaritas at Hussong’s.

 

We grabbed 5 shopping carts and headed out. Our cart had one bad wheel so you could hear us coming from a mile away. Conclusion #107: The squeaky wheel gets the liquor. We loaded up our cart with 2 12-packs of Dos Equis, 4 bottles of Robert Mondavy Chardonnay, a what we Canadians call a ‘handle’ of Crown Royal (60 ouncer or 1.75 litre)), a ‘handle’ of Malibu Rum, a couple of 12 packs of Coke and some snacks. At the checkout we, as did everyone, purchased the re-usable cloth bags to get our purchases safely back to the hotel. Prior to paying, the lady at the Check-Out asked me ‘If I had an Albertson’s Card?’ I said with a smile on my face that “No, I did not but if she waits right here I’ll go to the Customer Service Desk and get one.” She smiled at me, looked at all the people in line behind me and remarkably was able to find a generic one at the register so we could get our discounts. We thought this would be enough for the weekend and the Cruise but ended up having to make a return trip to Albertson’s early on the Sunday morning to get another ‘handle’ of Crown to fill the Rum Runners Dee had gotten me for Christmas.

 

Between the 9 of us we made many friends on the way to the PassPort Bus stop with the hundreds of dollars of alcohol we were carrying. We heard ‘We want to go where y’all are goin’ more than once on our way to the bus stop. A quick and loud trip back to the Hotel where we had everyone on the buses we took laughing. The plan was for everyone to make a drink and then head up top to our room. When we got back to the room there was tray of ‘Tequila Coolers’, a Hotel Maya Bottle Opener in the shape of a dolphin, tickets to the Laugh Factory, chips and dip along with a nice card that Bev, from the Hotel Maya, had sent ‘with compliments’. It was a very nice touch that we appreciated very much. We phoned the front desk to see if another couple – Tony and Jeannie - from our little group had checked in as they had a later flight than the first 7 and they had so we called their room and told them to head up.

 

Tony and Jean came up as did the other 7. We called the room of Cruise Critics’ WeBeCruisin and tha sista and left a message on their Voice Mail. I had met up with Allan (WeBeCruisin) and Maria (tha sista) on the Team Splendor thread and we knew they were coming in on the Friday as we had set up a Limo Tour of LA for the Saturday with them, the two of us and Tony and Jean. They called us back a little while later so we invited them over for drinks.

 

We introduced Allen and Maria to the rest of our group and hung out getting to know each other. They are super people and we had an absolute blast with them for the next 8 days. Dee and Maria seemed like they had been separated at birth – they both had the exact same likes and dislikes. Dee had been a little nervous with the idea of doing a Group Cruise but now admits that the Cruise Critic Group Cruises are the way to go. She and I absolutely fell in love with Allen and Maria as we did with many others we met over the next week.

 

After a few hours and many drinks (although Allen only had 2) it was time to head out to the Laugh Factory. In emailing Bev at the hotel during the previous year she had recommended we go to the Laugh Factory on the Friday night. When Dee and I started planning what to do on the Friday night our 1st thought was to go to Sgt. Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar but most in our little group wanted to go the Laugh Factory. Conclusion #108: Should have gone with our 1st thought. Bev had arranged 13 VIP passes to the Laugh factory for us. Allen and Maria decided to pass as they had been up early and were dealing with a 2 and 3 hour time difference respectively. Conclusion #109: Good Choice

 

We were supposed to be at the Laugh factory at 9:15pm for a 9:45 show but not being familiar with the PassPort Bus system we ended up leaving about a ½ hour early. We arrived at the front entrance to the Laugh Factory at 8:45pm and because the early show was still going on we were told to come back in ½ an hour. They advised us to go up to Sgt. Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar for a drink - Conclusion #110: Canadians can take instructions well - and tell them we were coming to the 9:45pm show at the Laugh Factory and they would waive our cover charge. At this time we became aware of Tony’s tiny kidneys and the fact the he had to go ‘potty’ bad. They would not let him in to the Laugh Factory to go to the Rest Room. As we were getting our tickets validated for the 9:45pm show someone inadvisably told Tony to find some bushes to go ‘potty’ in. Well he did and the bushes were right next to the sidewalk on South Pine Ave. If he was hidden by the bushes this should not be a problem. Well not so fast; the bushes were only about 1 ½ feet high. As I walked up the sidewalk I could see that Dee, Jeannie and Nicole were bent over laughing and people were giving them strange looks as they walked by. Dee and Nicole had their cameras pointed at the knee-high bushes next to the sidewalk. Dee finally spit out that “Tony was peeing in the bushes.” I looked over towards the bushes and couldn’t see him. “Where is he?” I asked which started them laughing again as they pointed towards the bushes. I looked at the bushes again and still didn’t see him until there, just like Dracula rising out of his casket at sundown, comes the ‘Urinator rising out of the bushes.’ He had just laid on his side to go potty. Tony came dancing out of the garden onto the sidewalk as if he’d just ‘put one over’ on the rest of the world. Now it was my time to start laughing as I said “Urine trouble!” Conclusion #109: ‘Tony had Urine Trouble.’ He heard that as ‘You’re in trouble’ and proceeded to tell me that ‘no one saw him, everything was OK.’ I pointed at the top of his right leg and repeated “Urine trouble!” and as everyone laughed Tony looked down and saw the wet spot that went from his waist to his right knee. “Oh S**t” he said. - Conclusion #111: Tony was both confused and wet – “I thought I was going downhill” he added. Conclusion #112: Soon enough everything would be going downhill.

 

Ten of us went walking while one went squishing up towards Sgt. Pepper’s Dueling Piano Bar and inside we went. Conclusion #113: As long as Tony is with us we knew it would be a Wet Bar. It was packed but we managed to find a table. It was quite a struggle to get everyone seated as no one wanted to sit on Tony’s right side. The bar was rocking and everybody was having a good time. The two piano players were very entertaining and we were having a great time. After a few drinks it was time to head back down to the Laugh Factory. I asked Tony ‘if he had had a drink in there or was he ‘drying out’ which 10 found funny.’ Conclusion #114: P*ss on him if he’s not having fun.

 

We went into the Laugh Factory and found some seats. We were far too ‘hydrated’ to be going to a place that was not loud or that required any form of decorum. ‘Never leave a sure thing for a maybe’ as the saying goes was true in this case. We were all excited about the upcoming week and couldn’t stop talking. The material on the couches made a ‘farting’ sound as we sat down and soon enough there were 11 ‘mature’ Canadians shaking their booties back and forth on these couches – one even sounded like a ‘wet one’. We thought we were hysterical; others in attendance – not so much. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and in this case we all realized we should have stayed at the Dueling Piano Bar.

 

The first comedian had some good natured banter with us as we gave him plenty of material during his act. The 2nd comedian who came out said before starting his act, “YOU CANADIANS, SHUT THE F**K UP!” We realized pretty quickly that we shouldn’t be there so Dee and I told the others we were gonna take off and headed out for a smoke and then down to Bubba Gump’s for a late night snack. We had a couple orders of Dynamite Shrimp which were awesome and a couple of drinks before grabbing a Cab and heading back to the Hotel. There were very few from our little group who stayed for the duration of the show.

 

Once back at the hotel Nicole came up to our room for one last drink before we called it a night as we had a big day coming up. We slept great and got up around 8:00am. Headed down to the complimentary Continental Breakfast and got something to go for Dee and me to eat.

 

The last of our group of 13 arrived on the Saturday morning. Some of our group went to Disney; some rented Segways and toured around Long Beach, 4 went to the Mariners and Angels ball game in Anaheim while others just hung out. Dee and I had arranged a 5 hour (turned into 6 hours) tour of LA through Limo Land for Allen and Maria, Tony and Jeannie and Dee and I with a 10:00am pick-up. We had booked a 10-passenger white stretch limo for our tour and it was all we could have asked for and so much more. Our chauffeur for the day, Darryl Roberts was awesome and we would highly recommend using this company and Darryl in particular. We had a great day seeing the sights. The 6 of us told him where we wanted to go and he adjusted the tour and took us to the spots we requested plus some others.

 

Once back at the hotel we got ready for our Team Splendor Meet and Greet which ended up being held in the Courtyard at the Hotel Maya before the party moved up to our room. All in all we had a great time with the Team Splendor group. Our cruise didn’t turn out the way we had planned because of the Swine Flu but we made the best of it. We met some amazing people on the Cruise – the aforementioned Allen and Maria, Terry and Sue, Roy, Amy and Paul, Dr Jeff and Anna, Meredith and Matt and their son Ryan, and Host Randy and his gang to name but a few. We must mention that Randy was an awesome Host.

 

There are so many highlights and stories from the Team Splendor Cruise, some of which were the Limo Tour in LA, drinking Long Island Ice teas out of boxes from the Hard Rock at Universal Studios, the Meet ‘n Greet at the Hotel Maya, Embarkation Day where only 4 of our little group of 13 were ‘able’ to attend our Late Seating dinner (several were ‘unable’ by 5:00pm), the Piano Bar with Ron Pass, the Waiters on the Lido Deck Aft - Conclusion #115: Like Chair/Limo/Couch Dancer (Sue) says ‘We like in the Aft’ – The Supper Club where the VF’s were flying, getting ‘Low, Low, Low’ in the Disco, meeting Sue and Terry’s neighbors, the corner of Haight and Ashbury and BBBUUUBBBAAA GGGUUUMMMPPPSS on our stretch Hummer Limo tour of San Francisco, Sue and Terry splitting a Miller Lite, sailing under and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, Honey Bear, the Cabo San Lucas sail by, the Glowing Home Party, Dee being taught ‘Maria’s Rules of Black Jack’, Ruth and the Black Forest, Ruth’s cousin and his ‘glasses’, the Cabin Parties, the Balcony Parties, suppers in the Dining Room and our Dining Room Staff of Ivan and Vladimir, the Sports Bar, the free Cocktail Hours, Mo dancing the ‘Lawnmower’ or the ‘Car Wash’ or the ‘Tune-up’ in the night club or the ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’ in the Dining Room, Ken Byrne the Maitre’D, Karl being locked out of his Cabin daily, Tony drinking a bottle of wine while waiting for the Shuttle after disembarking, Roy being shocked over and over and over again, Mo and his endless T-Shirt factory, Jeannie eating her Pecan Pie thinking it was Baked Alaska, Nicole eating chicken, late night Pizza, and our friends; the ones we knew beforehand and the ones we met during the Cruise. We made a promise to ourselves and to many others that we would not do a daily Journal of the Team Splendor Cruise and will hold true to our word.

 

All in all we had a great 13 days away. Were we disappointed we didn’t get to go to the Mexican ports as we had originally planned? – Yes. Did we make the best of it? – Yes. And are we really looking forward to our January 2010 Cruise on the Carnival Dream? – More than you can imagine

Conclusion #116: We ‘have’ memories that will last a lifetime.

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This is the funniest review that I have ever read. My children think I have gone crazy because I keep laughing out loud! Keep it up!:D

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Love it!!!

 

This is the funniest review that I have ever read. My children think I have gone crazy because I keep laughing out loud! Keep it up!:D

 

Thanks Kurbanfan and artymis77

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I can't wait to read the entire review! Just got off of the Conquest, and your review brings back little things I had already forgotten about.

 

Still LOL @ "Sham-Wow".

 

Need to get back to work for now! :mad:

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Conclusion #117 - you are a great writer. Conclusion #118 - you need to go on another cruise and write another review - this was a riot reading it ,and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks for taking the time posting it.

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PICTURES PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:p:p:):)

 

Just booked for September 2010 (yes, a ways out but I wanted to take advantage of the $50 Welcome Back credit) and would love to see various areas around the ship. Thanks!!

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I can't wait to read the entire review! Just got off of the Conquest, and your review brings back little things I had already forgotten about.

 

Still LOL @ "Sham-Wow".

 

Need to get back to work for now! :mad:

 

Conclusion #117 - you are a great writer. Conclusion #118 - you need to go on another cruise and write another review - this was a riot reading it ,and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks for taking the time posting it.

 

Thanks Jamie and pe4all...we'll be Cruising again in January an will definitely be writing a Journal

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PICTURES PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:p:p:):)

 

Just booked for September 2010 (yes, a ways out but I wanted to take advantage of the $50 Welcome Back credit) and would love to see various areas around the ship. Thanks!!

 

Some pictures up for ya

018_18.jpg.e589af1815a2ab4a04f194d6f0679872.jpg

102_102.jpg.8bc3f0d371d2e7dd93aa35d9b9b11932.jpg

103_103.jpg.ce134d7e5993358652745c04de8a5f20.jpg

104_104.jpg.a22632340d2f37ab65cd3f0b4494d6cc.jpg

105_105.jpg.48d35d82bff0ebe2ddf09053f7887b6d.jpg

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This has got to be one of the best written reviews I have read in a long time.... I just could not stop reading awaiting the humor you included as well as the play by play action and "Conclusions" ! EXCELLENT !!!

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This has got to be one of the best written reviews I have read in a long time.... I just could not stop reading awaiting the humor you included as well as the play by play action and "Conclusions" ! EXCELLENT !!!

 

Thanks travelntreats.....as much as we were looking forward to Team Splendor we didn't want our Paradise Cruise to end

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Okay....BIG mistake reading this at work. From the laughing coming from my office? NOBODY think I'm working right now!

 

I especially loved "Conclusion #96: We went shopping and Oh! look, a towel animal"

 

ROFL

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Conclusion #117 - you are a great writer. Conclusion #118 - you need to go on another cruise and write another review - this was a riot reading it ,and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks for taking the time posting it.

 

if you think its a riot reading it...try living it...jim and dee are the best people you could ever hope to cruise with.....they made my splendor fiasco a fantastic cruise....

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Okay....BIG mistake reading this at work. From the laughing coming from my office? NOBODY think I'm working right now!

 

I especially loved "Conclusion #96: We went shopping and Oh! look, a towel animal"

 

ROFL

 

Glad you enjoyed it:D....and welcome to our Supervisors' worlds..think we spend too much time on CC before and after a Cruise

 

if you think its a riot reading it...try living it...jim and dee are the best people you could ever hope to cruise with.....they made my splendor fiasco a fantastic cruise....

 

We absolutely loved 'Splendor'ing with you Roy..we will definitely do it again and again and again;)

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Okay, Jim, where are the PICS of this cruise???

 

We just got them onto discs and started sorting through them all.....Dee will upload them to a 'hosting' site and then we'll post the pictures to go with 'most' of the stories;):D

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