Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (https://www.fodors.com/community/)
-   Cruises (https://www.fodors.com/community/cruises/)
-   -   COVID Cruising Mexican Riviera January/February 2022 (https://www.fodors.com/community/cruises/covid-cruising-mexican-riviera-january-february-2022-a-1704564/)

mlgb Jan 29th, 2022 03:19 PM

COVID Cruising Mexican Riviera January/February 2022
 
This willl be an abbreviated Report of TWO cruises from the port of San Pedro along the Mexican Riviera.

Cruise #1 NCL Bliss January
Day 1 San Pedro embarkation, Sailaway 4pm
Day at Sea-Jersey Boys
Cabo San Lucas half day- "Whale Watching Coasta Cruise" aboard the catamaran Cabo Mar
Ensenada full day- Bufadora, LIdia's Tacos and Santo Tomas Winery
San Pedro (am)

Background
I had sailed for 3 weeks back in November 2019 on the Bliss (Los Angeles to NYC via Panama Canal). In December 2021 there was a Amex rebate for NCL bookings. I also had a $250 Cruise Next Certificate left on the books from November 2019. Looking on the NCL website I saw that this 5-day cruise did not have the normal punishing solo surcharge, so I booked a Sailaway inside Cabin which after deducting my certificate topped out at just over $500 including taxes, or $350 net of the rebate. A day later the price dropped and after several trying phone calls I was allowed to upgrade to a balcony. The price was reduced by a meager $35 net. Prices dropped again before sailing but another attempted upgrade was rejected. The CSR said that none of the available cabins cost more than my origingal booking "It's a revenue issue." Appeal to a supervisor went nowhere. I went ahead anyways, expected low occupancy and knew the ship well enough that if I felt it was COVID-unsafe, I would grab Indian food from the buffet and sit on my balcony.

I drove myself to the pier ($100 for 5 days) and had one of the earliest testing times at 9:30 am. NCL required that everyone be tested by their vendors (no charge) just prior to embarkation. The tests were rapid antigen and results were ready right away but there was a system failure to upload to the PC stations so several hundred people were crowded around waiting. To make matters worse in terms of superspeader potential, there was a crowd control "contractor" who kept pulling his mask down and yelling to the assembly. After jamming into the mandatory shuttle vans we were transferred from the testing at Pier 91 to the checkin terminal at Pier 92. That part went pretty well but it still took about 2 hours from the time I parked until I boarded. Fortunately I never caught the 'Rona although 3 days later, I overheard one passenger discussing a couple who was in isolation due to a positive test.

I went straight up to the Buffet first, for the first pass at the Indian Buffet, some salmon and a slice of roast.
https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...CQ&oe=61FBAEB8
I then down to the Observation Lounge "OL" on 15 which has light refreshments and drinks and looks out over the Battleship Iowa. It was nearly empty. I chatted with the passenger seated next to me, and we exchanged room numbers as she had not been picked up at Long Beach Airport so I offered her a ride back at the end of the cruise. There were some tasty chicken empanadas and a guava danish on offer up in the OL.

https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...e2303bdd1f.jpg

https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...-Q&oe=61FB8618

Evenually I figured the room must be ready (never heard an announcement) and went to my 9th floor cabin. It had a good location, with cabins above and below, near the forward stairs and elevator. The basic balcony category on this ship is very nice (as long as you get a good location). Much nicer than the basic Princess Royal class cabins. Size is reasonable, includes a small sofa, shower has a glass door instead of curtain and room to turn around. Most importantly there is a cabin coffee maker. The lighting, storage and charge stations are well designed. Everything worked fine and the cabin was spotless. Balcony had two chairs and small table. Bed was comfortable. I saw my steward later that night and asked for coffee service, a robe and for anything in the minibar to be removed. Muster Drill is just a required checkin at your station when you board, and to rewatch a safety video in your room.

After dropping and upacking, I walked a few laps around the ship before it got busy, including a pass through the Atrium, few laps around the Waterfront and jogging track, ending up at Spice H20 for sailaway. The sunset was beautiful.

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...8dc92f6ce9.jpg
Atrium chandelier
https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...43db9059db.jpg


My past experience with MDR dining was poor and I love the Taste of India station (B,L,D). I usually added a few items from the salad stations and tonight there were grilled veggies to add. A blueberry lemon meringure tart was my dessert of choice and there was a big display of chocolate bark and nut brittle. I do prefer the self-serve buffet style and was pleased that NCL was still allowing DIY. They require everyone entering the buffet to use the handwashing stations before entry.

https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...961191e85d.jpg
First night's dinner
https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...jQ&oe=61FAC444
https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...Dg&oe=61FB8E66
One night there was Caribbean themed food, which included a mango-based salad and rice and peas. Seafood options were very limited in the Buffet, even for the so-called seafood extravaganza. Just shrimp, salmon and tilapia. The carved beef and turkey in the buffet were fine when offered. There were several stations which I never used (pasta, pizza, burger, and Asian). Breakfast offerings were decent if not spectacular including the Indian station (recommend the uppadam pancake). My typical combo was Indian breakfast, smoked salmon, yogurt with berry puree and a breakfast pastry.

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...d9bc97c089.jpg
Uppadam for breakfast


https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...96aa00fe19.jpg
Rice and peas and Oxtail stew

mlgb Jan 29th, 2022 03:41 PM

First Port Day, Cabo San Lucas. After a full day and a half of cruising, we reach Cabo San Lucas around 11 am. It was nice sailing into port during daylight, as often this is not the case.

At sunrise you could see the coastline

https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...Mw&oe=61FA2B42

I was on one of the earlier tenders


https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...9A&oe=61FA1D04

The Whate Watch Cruise was booked with NCL . It was on the Cabo Mar with an open bar. Great service and many sightings of humpbacks with their young. No breaches but sooo many whales. Who remembers Tequila Sunrises?



https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...QA&oe=61FB6F7B

Back on board in time for sunset and a strawberry cheesecake in the OL to fight the alcohol
https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...vg&oe=61FB23C4

https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...aw&oe=61FB666D

mlgb Jan 29th, 2022 04:39 PM

9 Attachment(s)
Second Port Day Ensenada

While having Indian Breakfast this morning, the famous donut ladies made the rounds in the Buffet with fresh beignets. I couldn't say no.

Attachment 6334

https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...Bg&oe=61FAD30B

As we reached the harbor, we saw Oceana Regatta, one of the crew COVID ships. NCL is offloading positive crew onto other ships in their fleet. Ensenada does not have an attractive waterfront, but you can walk out and to the left to a small promenade along a park, which I did later.

https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...ug&oe=61FA58EF



Attachment 6335

The excursion for the day was a bus tour to La Bufadora, south of town. Not especially impressive today, especially after seeing Halona in Oahu during a Kona wind!
We had to run a gauntlet of churro and pina colada vendors, I am all about the free samples.

After a while I just ripped of my tour tag and a few of them laughed. The highlight was crispy shrimp taco's at Lidia's

https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...OQ&oe=61FB07B2

After the Bufadora part of the excursion, we stopped in town at the Santo Tomas winery for a sampling of three of their least expensive wines, as well as olive oil and cheese. I bought a bottle each of port and EVO and neither were confiscated. Rumor has it that sometimes multiple bottles of tequila make it back on board.

The bus dropped us off at the ship and I walked back out to look at the gulls and shorebirds at low tide outside the port complex.

\https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...1g&oe=61FA98AE

Dinner in the buffet was a seafood "extravaganza" which wasn't so extravagant but had some cute fruit and veg carvings on display
https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...mQ&oe=61FB0039



https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...AA&oe=61FAB839

Another nice sunset from the ship before we left
Attachment 6336

The next day we would arrive back in San Pedro so I packed and watched movies on the TV. I also dropped off Alleve for my Day 1 friend and confirmed that we would meet by the elevators at 8 am to walk off together.

Disembarkation was a breeze, They did facial recognition for those of us with passports. Day 1 friend had extra screening since she was travelling with a Driver's License and not a Passport. This was her first time ever out of the country as well as being a newbie cruiser. Got her to the airport in plenty of time.

A few days after I returned, I saw equally good fares on a 7-day cruise on Majestic Princess. I'm booked on one next month, we drop Ensenada and add Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta as port stops, plus extra sea days. Main complicating factor is that we have to procure our own rapid COVID antigen tests. I have a Binax proctored kit on the way as well as a CVS Minute Clinic appointment. Hoping that with an equally low occupancy (less than 900 passengers on this week's sailing!) we all stay safe.

baldone Jan 29th, 2022 07:28 PM

Thanks, mlgb. Coincidentally, a Mexican Riviera cruise was our first exposure to Mexico in the late 80's. PV, Mazatlan & CSL. Carnival. We had signed up for tours, but in the end canceled the tours and opted to rent a jeep in PV and a vocho in Mazatlan. It was the beginning of a love affair with Mexico. You know how it turned out.

schmerl Jan 30th, 2022 05:59 AM

Thanks for taking the time to share.

mlgb Jan 30th, 2022 02:23 PM

baldone, exactly two years ago I finally traveled to the OTHER parts of Mexico. The crellstons and I were all talking about how much we are inspired by your off the beaten path reports and would like to return. For now, the west coast will have to do..

schmerl, you are welcome.

Cruise #2 with the "Majestic Princess" is set for Saturday, if I can procure the required negative antigen test. I have a CVS Minute Clinic appointment and ordered a 2-pack of the proctored tests (still waiting for delivery). It sure was nice having NCL cover the testing at the port.

PS I am chagrined about all of my typos. Nearly 20 years since I stopped working for pay and my proofreading skills are shot. I probably need to start spell checking.

jacketwatch Jan 31st, 2022 06:09 AM

Great pics! Now i am hngry.

Will follow!

mlgb Jan 31st, 2022 10:54 AM

Hi jacketwatch. I know you are an avid cruiser.

Part 3 preloading before departure without excursions booked at this point. End times are my planned all aboard time, 1 hour before the ship leaves.

Cruise #2 Majestic Princess February
Day 1 San Pedro embarkation, Sailaway 4pm
Day 2 at Sea-most likely "Formal Night"
Day 3 Cabo San Lucas half day- 11am to 7pm (last tender).
Day 4 Mazatlan 8 am to 5pm

Day 5 Puerto Vallarta 8 am to 5 pm
Day 6 at Sea Probably the "Gala Dinner", if not tonight then next day.
Day 7 at Sea
Day 8 San Pedro 6:15 am, plan to walk off.

Background

The only times I have sailed Princess were 3-day repos on Island (LA to Vancouver). It didn't make me a big Princess fan. My fare for this trip is labeled as "Spring on Sale" and has only a 9% solo supplement, plus $100 OBC. Yesterday I looked at the deck plans more carefully and moved my room to the aft. I was booted off the function before chat was finished. Princess website reveals an outstanding payment due of $13 or I am cancelled! Whew, good that I checked. The fare comes in at under my threshold of $100/day for a balcony.

Majestic is a big "Royal Class" ship launched in 2017 for the Chinese market and then based part year in Australia. It came to the west coast for the 2021 Alaska restart. More about the vessel when I am onboard, but I look forward to the skywalk, open decks in the back of ship, and some better MDR dining than offered in Bliss. I already am prepared for inferior cabins and buffet offerings vs Bliss but hope that the outdoor aft decks and better MDR food will compensate. For those interested in a preview of the ship, there is a great "Live From" for the January 22 sailing on Cruise Critic. I don't think you need to be logged in to see this https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topi...2-live-report/

Two other preliminaries involve getting my "Medallion" set up, and arranging my own COVID testing within two days prior. I managed to set up the Medalliion. Two rapid antigen testing appointments with CVS are a little sketchier, as they have been known to cancel. I ordered a 2-pack of the proctored home tests as a back up, which are on the way via Fedex.

I need to pack and decide what I will do in the ports.

More after testing!

jacketwatch Feb 1st, 2022 02:36 AM


Originally Posted by mlgb (Post 17328368)
Hi jacketwatch. I know you are an avid cruiser.

Part 3 preloading before departure without excursions booked at this point. End times are my planned all aboard time, 1 hour before the ship leaves.

Cruise #2 Majestic Princess February
Day 1 San Pedro embarkation, Sailaway 4pm
Day 2 at Sea-most likely "Formal Night"
Day 3 Cabo San Lucas half day- 11am to 7pm (last tender).
Day 4 Mazatlan 8 am to 5pm

Day 5 Puerto Vallarta 8 am to 5 pm
Day 6 at Sea Probably the "Gala Dinner", if not tonight then next day.
Day 7 at Sea
Day 8 San Pedro 6:15 am, plan to walk off.

Background

The only times I have sailed Princess were 3-day repos on Island (LA to Vancouver). It didn't make me a big Princess fan. My fare for this trip is labeled as "Spring on Sale" and has only a 9% solo supplement, plus $100 OBC. Yesterday I looked at the deck plans more carefully and moved my room to the aft. I was booted off the function before chat was finished. Princess website reveals an outstanding payment due of $13 or I am cancelled! Whew, good that I checked. The fare comes in at under my threshold of $100/day for a balcony.

Majestic is a big "Royal Class" ship launched in 2017 for the Chinese market and then based part year in Australia. It came to the west coast for the 2021 Alaska restart. More about the vessel when I am onboard, but I look forward to the skywalk, open decks in the back of ship, and some better MDR dining than offered in Bliss. I already am prepared for inferior cabins and buffet offerings vs Bliss but hope that the outdoor aft decks and better MDR food will compensate. For those interested in a preview of the ship, there is a great "Live From" for the January 22 sailing on Cruise Critic. I don't think you need to be logged in to see this https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topi...2-live-report/

Two other preliminaries involve getting my "Medallion" set up, and arranging my own COVID testing within two days prior. I managed to set up the Medalliion. Two rapid antigen testing appointments with CVS are a little sketchier, as they have been known to cancel. I ordered a 2-pack of the proctored home tests as a back up, which are on the way via Fedex.

I need to pack and decide what I will do in the ports.

More after testing!

Looking forward. Your TR's are vey good!

We are scheduled on the NCL Star in June out of Iceland for 11 days. It has stops in three Icelandic ports, and Norway and Scotland as well.

Iceland is on the bucket list. :)

Sassafrass Feb 1st, 2022 06:47 AM

https://www.travelmarketreport.com/a...estic-Princess

Very informative article. Nice to know what to expect.
We did Regal and it was very nice, but I am one of those who prefers the older, somewhat smaller ships with “wood.” LOL
I don’t care for some of the newer ships with Brown and beige decor. It just looks cheap, uninteresting and not pretty.
At least, the new Princess ships are light and airy. The atriums are always beautiful on Princess and afternoon music there is always lovely, with usually some of the best performances on the ship.

i wonder if some of the food issues are due to supply shortages of specific things like lobster or other seafood. That would be a challenge for chefs.

I think you are going to have a fabulous time!

mlgb Feb 1st, 2022 09:18 AM

My cruise buddy (a 30-something military guy who got started with his mother) was looking at that Iceland cruise. He lives near the east coast ports.

Re food, NCL has never been known for quality in the buffet (or in the crew mess, apparently). The Indian station and scooped ice cream in the buffet are enough to make me happy! I hope Star has that station on your cruise, jacketwatch.

The captain on Bliss said they have a central sourcing program which likely contributes to the food quality issues, everything goes through Miami. I imagine the 'Rona messed up the supply chain for the less flexible lines. When we sailed Sun around Cape Horn the MDR had steaks from Uruguay and they were great. We became friends with the contract lecturer on that cruise and got a lot of inside scoop. He was only allowed in the MDRs when with the guests.

Thanks for that article, Sassafrass. Recent reviews of the Harmony and French place are less than encouraging. Not sure I like the Majestic room finishes which look like '90s kitchens. Maybe it will look better in person. I do remember being really annoyed with the showers on Island. Anyways I'm sure I will figure out how to enjoy the ship, even if it means spending a lot of time outside. I switched cabins to aft in order to be closer to an outside deck and one of the MDRs. On Bliss, I was glad I was assigned to a forward location, near Waterfront and under the buffet and OL.

I had been on at least one ship with some of the real wood in the cabin, maybe it was Zaandam? I liked that ship, but they keep "freshening" the rooms so who knows what it is like now.

Bliss is like a modern hotel, inoffensive. Walk through the Observation Lounge. Sure was nice to go up and grab a front window seat with the low passenger loads, and so many people in their first ever balconies due to the fire sale fares.


jacketwatch Feb 2nd, 2022 05:34 AM

We have been on one Norwegian Cruise before and I do have to say that the quality of Indian food was OK. My wife is Indian so of course she prefers that and all in all it was pretty good.
The itinerary for this cruise is amazing and our travel agent got some incredible perks so the deal is fantastic. We have gratuities, drink package, dinner at three specialty restaurants, a generous amount of free WiFi time, credit at each port for excursions, balcony cabin and for 11 days it was around $4800.00 for the two of us.
Cant say no.

mlgb Feb 2nd, 2022 08:41 AM

Yes especially since Iceland isnt't a cheap place to visit.

I think OK would be a good recommendation from your wife!

jacketwatch Feb 2nd, 2022 11:17 AM


Originally Posted by mlgb (Post 17329040)
Yes especially since Iceland isnt't a cheap place to visit.

I think OK would be a good recommendation from your wife!

I think so too. Actually many of the chefs on all cruise lines are Indian. You can request Indian food every night which we have done many times. its usually very good.
I found an Indian cook book for like $4.00 at Homegoods one day and have made several dishes from it.
She likes them too .Make my day. :love:

Yes Iceland is quite high. Indian friends of ours went there and found some Indian restaurants which they recommend but looking at the menu prices are close to double what we play here. We do plan to stay there 3 nights before we cruise.

mlgb Feb 2nd, 2022 02:27 PM

Congratulations. I used to watch Madhur Jaffrey on PBS and have a few of her cookbooks. Growing up in the Caribbean my tastebuds are blunted so a lot of Princess food tasted bland to me. I just packed a sealed jar of a Peruvian spice mix in case of emergencies.

jacketwatch Feb 2nd, 2022 03:33 PM


Originally Posted by mlgb (Post 17329160)
Congratulations. I used to watch Madhur Jaffrey on PBS and have a few of her cookbooks. Growing up in the Caribbean my tastebuds are blunted so a lot of Princess food tasted bland to me. I just packed a sealed jar of a Peruvian spice mix in case of emergencies.

True. I can see that.
May I ask where in the Caribbean you are from?
I love the Caribbean, been there many times. Jamaican jerk is my favorite.

mlgb Feb 2nd, 2022 04:09 PM

The country where scotch bonnet is king. Sounds like you've been there.

jacketwatch Feb 3rd, 2022 02:16 AM


Originally Posted by mlgb (Post 17329192)
The country where scotch bonnet is king. Sounds like you've been there.

Yah mon. :love:

mlgb Feb 5th, 2022 11:15 AM

Ubered to Port of LA. Easy security check-in with Medallion, then to Princess desk where I showed Passport, Negative Test result and Vaccination Card. Rooms were ready at noon. But I am in Alfredo's with a bad table by the line of people wanting to get in. Seems understaffed.

mlgb Feb 5th, 2022 01:20 PM

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...cc0212f959.jpg
Pizza was good but what a Cluster #$_& Well don't need to eat there again. Room is ugly as expected. Not as nice as Bliss. I have a covered balcony but have to turn the chair sideways.
Off to explore

jacketwatch Feb 5th, 2022 01:27 PM

How unappetizing that pizza looks. :td:.
Glad it tasted ok but wow that’s a sloppy presentation.

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 11:13 AM

3 Attachment(s)
So on to my review. I moved my balcony cabin to the very back corner starboard of Baja Deck ( Deck 11). I wanted to be under the buffet (called World Marketplace) and the Wake View Bar (an open deck at the back of the buffet ) and a straight shot down to the Allegro Dining Room . I wanted to avoid the busy central elevators. Starboard puts you on the sunset side sailing southbound and on the land (Baja) side sailing north when you are closer to land. I liked this side better. This sailing had 1287 passengers out of 3560. On my aisle most of the inside cabins were empty and balconies 40% empty. You can count because of the electronic door locks, which display your names. My Medallion worked for unlocking the door and for checking in at restaurants, or to tap on one of the big screens to make a reservation (instead of typing in your name). I could not get the smartphone ap to work on the ship.

As expected for an aft cabin, there was a LOT of vibration at night, but no noise from other passengers. I don't get particularly bothered by that or motion but others might. I think I posted photos of the cabin and balcony. I found the bed lumpy but the pillows were great. There are only two US-type plugs (and some for other countries) but there are USB ports next to the bed so I did not have to use a power strip.

The standard balcony cabins have only a single chair for seating. The balcony is very shallow. Also you do not get a full width window, just the width of two standard sliders. The decor in my opinion is not very modern. The bathrooms have a shower curtain but at least there was good pressure and a handheld shower head. You get a tube of body lotion and a bar of soap, in addition to the dispensers in the shower stall. The cabin design sacrifices space from the bathroom in order to provide a large walk-in closet with hangers. There is mini refrigerator and a desk, but no sofa unless you upgrade.

Attachment 6357

Attachment 6358

Attachment 6359

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 11:34 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Tour of the ship:

It is easy to find your room since the carpets are color-coded
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...e083dc201d.jpg

The Central Piazza is the "hub". My niece called it "a middle of nowhere Hilton & the Cheesecake Factory had a baby".
https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...wQ&oe=62113926

The International Cafe is at this level. Apparently the one on Majestic is extra big. It is a good place to get a pastry or snack without braving the buffet. The snacks are free but the espresso and coffee here are extra charges. Many people buy the coffee package.

Attachment 6360

I tried one of those mango cheesecakes in the upper right. Looks better than it tastes. However I did like the "Island spiced vegan pie" in the lower left below. It was lentil-based. I had hoped it would be blazing hot like a Jamaican patty, but the hottest you get on Princess is "mild". Bring your favorite hot pepper sauce!!

Attachment 6361

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 11:50 AM

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...189e0a8647.jpg
This is Alfredo's which has the pizza I posted above for lunch. Also the salad
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...05a5fa471b.jpg
And Tiramisu

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...8ae9aaabeb.jpg

Food was good, service not so much. It seemed mostly empty other than embarkation lunch.


mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 11:57 AM

I walked around on the upper decks a bit before dinner.
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...8827e7fd55.jpg
Skywalk, a unique feature on a few Princess ships

https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...6b77cf3188.jpg
Noodle Bar near the pool, unique to Majestic and retained from the original design. I ate there three times, only the Miso was any good.

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...f1f6ce9b28.jpg
Pool at Night



https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...187580e46e.jpg
Basketball court, nearly always empty

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 12:11 PM

Dinner for Day 1 I had at Allegro, the secondary MDR. I was lucky and found my happy place with a great waiter, toward the back and 4 out of the 6 nights I was pretty far from other diners. I liked the sparkly chandelier.

https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...9e77c7bcfe.jpg

The other MDR is Concerto. Same meals but Concerto is open for the other meals, At lunch my favorite waiter worked there also.

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...96a4fce4a9.jpg

The food in the MDRs was okay, with a few misses, This first night I enjoyed the "cocoa spice rubbed pork tenderloin, sweet potato green chili mash, grilled veg" and the dessert which was a pistachio creme brulee with raspberry macaron. I saved the macaron for later.
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...2dee1bc492.jpg

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b525afab6c.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 12:14 PM

I forgot to mention we had a treat at sailaway, The Fire Department put on a show for us, and the ship plays the theme song from the Love Boat.
https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...GQ&oe=6210BF30

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 12:33 PM

Day 2 is at sea, so more time to explore the ship to try to get in my 10000 steps. I attempted room service breakfast but it wasn't very good so I went up to the buffet for an egg white omelet and the coffee was better from the machines.
https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...743f9c2c95.jpg

The Hollywood Conservatory and Pool are at the front of the ship, and also unique to Majestic. It used to be a fee club but now it's free. Many people complain about the chlorine smell but I figured it would help kill the Omicron. I used the hottubs up here twice before dinner. I don't like it as much as the NCL Observatory Lounge. the windows are kind of dirty and not so easy to take photos through. Not a very good design for Alaska IMO. Lots of little private cabana type seating areas.

I never got the Ap to work on my smart phone so I'm not sure if you would be able to get food service up there.

https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...20ba953769.jpg
https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b1d1c04d1c.jpg
https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...04a17b85dc.jpg

https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...9c59be5d51.jpg
.

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 12:54 PM

The MDR Lunch menu is a combination of brunch and very limited lunch options. But it is also the only time you can get a variety of scooped gelato/yogurt/sorbet and the James Beard French Toast.

I had my soup starter from the Noodle Bar on the pool deck : Miso soup
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...0f70869ec1.jpg

Then the shrimp from the MDR
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...457947427b.jpg

I tried just the lamb chops from the pub lunch but they were thin and dry so I went straight to dessert with a side of the French Toast

https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...8070991fbd.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 01:09 PM

There really was not much to do on board during sea days other than to watch TV, read and try to get some steps in despite the very poor setup for walkers.
https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...Hg&oe=62105C8D

One of the pop outs near the wake
https://scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net...4w&oe=6210C130


So I was looking forward to dinner, it was mostly "OK" but the dessert was excellent
https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...ebc70d8029.jpg
fish with soggy sweet potato chips
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...845f5b8793.jpg
hazelnut chocolate bar
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...30d33b0e3a.jpg
Some kind of tapioca and fruit salad as the cold appetizer

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 01:34 PM

Finally a Port Day coming up in Cabo San Lucas. We saw a few whale spouts, lots of dolphin following the wake and some Masked Boobies as we approached land at about 9 am.

There was a smaller Princess ship, Ruby already out in the bay. You have to tender from the cruise ships to the main pier. I got off a bit after noon. I don't really like the town and had recently been on a whale watch cruise in January there. One thing that Princess does not do is give a credit off of the shore excursions which are kind of overpriced. My plan was to walk to an ATM and then to Medano Beach. I passed a restaurant along the way that looked promising, Gardenia's Tacos. Very good! I didn't think much of the scene at Medano so walked back to town and out to the end of the jetty to watch the fishing boats coming back in.

https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...fQ&oe=6211042A

Along the way I saw a pair of Verdins, a cute desert bird

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...7ea2c1cfeb.jpg


At the jetty there were a lot of frigatebirds and "Pancho" a big sea lion that begs off the fishing boats

https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...65c55dafa0.jpg

https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...76d73ed375.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 01:45 PM

After sunset I went to dinner at Allegro. The main was a grilled seafood bowl with mango-lime salsa (and extra bowl of salsa). It was good but a small portion which was fine with me.
https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...28040bd763.jpg
Grilled salmon, red snapper, shrimp, sea scallop with bok choy and jasmine rice, mango-lime salsa

Dessert was sorbet and macarons (a custom job)

https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...69d91b3165.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 02:18 PM

I was looking forward to Mazatlan, which I had been to only once before, and had taken an excursion outside of town. So it would be a new place for me.
I went up to the buffet early (before sunrise even) for coffee, and to grab some smoked salmon and a yogurt bowl. Okay, okay I probaby had a croissant too.
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b2e2c7f174.jpg
Arriving into the harbor in Maz

https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...c54b9fd73e.jpg
Magnificent Frigatebird and El Faro Lighthouse


I decided to go to Stone Island first, before it got too busy. That worked out really well. I walked to the local ferry which is less than half a mile away. The "ferry" is a small lancha, and the locals take turns. The footing getting on and off requires decent balance, especially when they haven't bothered to tie the boat up!
https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...f11df896ef.jpg
These aren't the ferries but a collection of fishing boats nearby
https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...49f541d4ef.jpg
An example of the "ferry" disembarkation

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...97d25f211b.jpg
Going to work

I was happy to see the beach largely deserted when I got there at 9:30 AM
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...a19fb106c8.jpg

There were still a few shorebirds foraging, which I'm sure would have disappeared if I'd gone after lunch
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...9a2e06570b.jpg
American Oystercatchr

I was also delighted to see the endemic Sinaloa Crow right near the dock
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b8844ecb3f.jpg
Sinaloa Crow

I walked through the back of the town and along the beach for a few hours. Smelling sewage in the residential area behind the beach and not sure how much damage hurricane Pamela had done, I decided against eating or swimming there. So I made it back to the ship for a healthy lunch of guac and veggies, a shrimp and radish ceviche from the International Cafe, and a brownie or two.
https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...aab40ece57.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 02:25 PM

After lunch I "followed the blue line" from the port to the Old Town area, the cathedral and the central market.
https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...51592926ef.jpg
Cathedral

I didn't care much for the central market and that immediate area. I did stop and buy an empanada at Panama and a paleta (guayaba) just outside the market. I wasn't especially hungry so decided not to have a meal at either Panama or the comedors upstairs at the market. Maybe another time.

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...9a05ed6125.jpg
Pastelería Panamá de Mázatlán


Old Town has some restoration underway and is pretty quiet.
https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b55f1f2234.jpg
Old Town storefronts
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...816f2573d4.jpg
Old Town

Actually, VERY quiet

https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...7f02a748d0.jpg
Siesta Time

I ended at the Las Olas beach area and walked along the Malecon a short way, and then back to the ship.


https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...e7f2c0d91e.jpg
Malecon sculptures


Sailaway was right at sunset.
https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...f92dffa5f7.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 02:59 PM

Dinner was Italian Night.

The appetizer I had was a small portion of the mushroom lasagna
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...a535554f4d.jpg

And the main was sauteed shrimp and sea scallops, with garlic herbs. My favorite waiter added a few more sea scallops for me
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...bd3cbff39a.jpg

Dessert was an Italian Trio which wasn't very tasty, other than the gelato in the ice cream sandwich. The pistachio things were so dry I didn't have more than one bite.
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...87e2f1aa98.jpg
Italian Trio


After dinner I walked up to the pool deck for the water fountain show
https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...924bc42690.jpg

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 04:08 PM

Puerto Vallarta Port Day.

Okay, so I don't care for Puerto Vallarta. Just too much of a Miami Beach vibe. I found a walking path along the Rio Pitillal which isn't too far away. I detoured first to the free Playa de Oro (the beach in front of the Hilton), swarming with tourists and vendors. It was a good birdwatching walk, I even saw a new life bird, the Mexican Parrotlet. I don't even know how I saw it, the same size as a leaf and just as green. The locals were all friendly and a few asked what I'd seen. One man told me about a tree further down that was swarming with orioles, and I managed to find that. It was crazy! Some great looks at Mexican species that I've seen before but not as well including a pair of "Happy Wrens" and two hawks.
https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...7a273dc479.jpg




It was starting to feel warm (one of the things I dislike about PV is the climate) so I headed for a branch of Fredy's Tucan nearby, following my Google Maps walking directions. It was about Panera Grill quality and pricing but I was happy to get a jumbo lemonade, and some ripe papaya instead of fries.

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...d533287fad.jpg

I walked back along a slightly different route and then out the river mouth at the beach behind the big shopping mall. There were some wading birds in the river and more Mexican species, then back to the ship to watch sunset and have dinner.
https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...ec46452d81.jpg
Majestic Princesss in Puerto Vallarta



https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...4be861ebbe.jpg
Marina Vallarta Sunset

https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...7eba7634a.jpeg
Day 5 Menu, Uninspired

I had the Tenderloin with mushroom-barley pilaf
https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...3857d278a8.jpg
Messy but Tasty Tenderloin Main

The dessert was some dry kind of tasteless cookies called mignardises. Maybe they were supposed to be dipped in alcohol but they were so boring I forgot about them.

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 04:31 PM

Two more sea days and then home.

I went up to the pool deck after coffee to use one of the hot tubs before breakfast! It was warm enough outside and I didn't have to share.

MDR Lunches are really sad but I made a point of having the ice cream assortment. I also had some tasteless gumbo soup with added pumpkin from the buffet

https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...62c94d403e.jpg
Cappuccino, key lime, strawberry daiquiri

This is the second formal night, the Gala Dinner was nothing great either, mostly tasteless and not properly cooked.
The lobster tail was pathetic, salty and tough. Wellington had a soggy crust although the tenderloin was good. The only thing that was worth eating was the chilled cucumber melon soup. Even the dessert looked better than it tasted.
https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...a8e94989d1.jpg
Pistachio Dome

I caught up on some movies I had not yet seen, such as Cruella. They do have a pretty good menu of movies and documentaries.

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 04:49 PM

Last sea day is a bit cooler as we get closer to California. I was on the side of the ship where you can see the Baja Peninsula as we headed north and there were quite a few sightings of dolphins and Masked Boobies near land.

I watched one of the outdoor movies on the big screen (The Greatest Showman) and tried the two street tacos from the Burger Bar. They were pretty good.

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...c7700e66ac.jpg

Of course I hit up the MDR for ice cream lunch
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b1007e7f5f.jpg


For my final night dinner I decided to skip the MDR and was able to get a table at the Crown Grill which has NZ rack of lamb (as two double lamb chops) on the menu. The room is styled as a brightly lit NYC steakhouse

https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...37099faa7c.jpg


https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...a21d0cf44e.jpg
Sea scallop appetizer

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...b1c0d1818a.jpg
Double NZ lamb chops

https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...664ac23008.jpg
Key lime bar


Overall the food and service were quite good, if not perfect. Worth the upcharge IMO which is only $29. Many packages will give you one specialty dining venue or some On Board Credit and this is the place to spend it, especially if the MDR meals are starting to wear thin.

mlgb Feb 15th, 2022 04:55 PM

I had tried to leave a hang tag for room service coffee but that didn't happen so I went up to grab a cup from the Buffet, I had already stashed my yogurt and fruit in my refrigerator, as well as a muffin from the International Cafe.

The next day, we arrived back in San Pedro before sunrise (a shame really) and I was out on the street by 8am and home in half an hour.

Overall I'd say I got my money's worth for 7 nights lodging and transportation, a few good meals and more mediocre ones.

It isn't my favorite ship ever but it works for a cheap cruise (without needing to fly to the port). I would not want to be on that ship with full passenger loads, but it was okay at 1300. They really do need to up their offerings in the buffet. And please let us serve ourselves again!

Since it is now about 3.5 days since I disembarked, I have likely escaped symptomatic infection with the Omicron... Fingers crossed.

Sassafrass Feb 15th, 2022 05:46 PM

Thank you so much for posting. I felt the same as you on our last cruise on Regal. It is disappointing when food presentation exceeds preparation, especially when presentation would not win any prizes. There is just no excuse for dried out pastries and tasteless desserts and improperly cooked fish. I do not get it. Even a quality mix can turn out a good lemon bar or wonderful, basic brownies.
Like you thought, the cabins were unattractive. I think we will be looking at other ships and lines for awhile.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:52 PM.