Monday, November 06, 2006

First Ports of Call

There were two events that were handled badly by the ship and tended to put a damper on the respective days. The first was associated with our first port of call.

Puerto Vallarta

The ship caught up with the last vestiges of Paul that first Tuesday night, and the ship was really rocking and rolling. We fully understood that any trip will be at the mercy of the weather, so our very late arrival into Puerto Vallarta wasn't a real issue, especially since the Captain had been very good about communicating his decisions and our progress. Nor was the fact that we had to tender in because the big ol' Dawn Princess got in before and the second pier was being refurbished. We were even optimistic when we headed to the Mondrian Lounge to get numbers for the tender boats. The cruise director, Eric, informed us that we were further delayed because the port authority had not come out with the pilot boat, so the ship had to fetch him. That was another 30 min. delay. No problem. But that was when the communication stopped.

We happened to be sitting at the window and watching the tenders go out. The first tender left an hour after we'd assembled to get our numbers. It was a tender full of excursion-goers a special overview excursion organized (and I use the word loosely) at the last minute. Ninety minutes later, the first group assembled were called down to the A deck. I wondered if this was the normal (inefficient) process for tendering since an additional fifteen minutes had passed and we were still waiting, so went to ask. I used to work Customer Service, so I do understand that Kelly had to answer to a lot of disgruntled passengers, but I was also a paying passenger and asked politely if this was the normal process. Instead of a simple answer to the question, I got the full recitation of what led to the delay (and a terse "Please let me finish!" when I tried to explain that I knew about hurricane, etc.), but did not get an answer to my simple question till I asked again. My point of this rant is some simple communication would have gone a long way to relieving the frustration. I'm stepping down from the soapbox now.

We did take the tender to shore, but the "bloom" of the port was gone and the humidity was up, so we wandered the shops at the pier and then headed back to the ship.

The entertainment for the evening was Paul Dabek, a young British magician. He knew his magic, but wasn't really clued into the audience. Tom and I are probably a little jaded when it comes to magic having seen live shows by the likes of Penn and Teller, Harry Anderson, and a lesser known but excellent magician, Ian Kendall.

We returned to the cabin and a cute little elephant.

The night to Mazatlán was smooth sailing and we disembarked around 9am, wandered to the street and took a taxi to Old Town. We were glad we got taxi because, though all the literature said it was in walking distance from the pier, it would have been quite a walk. It was early, but the humidity was already up.

We made our first purchase on the trip at were two t-shirts Señor Frog's, but it was early so we didn't visit the bar.

Across the street I spied a fabric store! It was quite impressive. What really stood out were the beaded and embroidered cottons in some really lovely colors. I probably should have bought more, but I came out only with a wood beaded fabric to make a jacket for my mom and a pretty embroidered batik-y cotton to add to the stash &mdash all six meters for less than US$30.

We wandered the open market, then went into the Cathedral to admire the lovely stained glass.

The guide sheet I brought along touted Angela Peralta Theater, so we headed there. It was quite interesting, and located a few blocks away in a less frenzied part of Old Town.

As it heated up, we headed back to the ship for lunch and air-conditioning.

We decided to forego the show put on by the ship's singers and dancers and instead listened to Harmony Strings over tea and coffee.

The towel animal for the night was a peacock.

Check out more pictures
There are more pictures of our brief stay in Puerto Vallarta and day in Mazatlán on TheHudsons.