Dysart Mexican Riviera “Spring Break” Cruise in Review
How it all came together!!
Sunday, March 13th Aboard The Queen Mary
Hey cruise fans; I had the distinct pleasure of staying, touring, sleeping, and writing to you from the fabulous Queen Mary Hotel, in Long Beach California, while escorting a group of school district employees on a Carnival “Spring Break” Cruise vacation.
Even though I anticipated that this might be a really cool thing to do (pre night hotel) at this particular property (actually it’s like already starting our cruise). Most everyone on the QM waived Bon Voyage to another cruise ship as she departed from the adjacent pier, which by the way is the mere distance we will need to travel in the morning to catch our own cruise ship. The Cruise ship terminal building is just about as close as our cars in the parking lot are. How cool is that?
As for hotel staff, I must say that absolutely everyone we had contact with from “Michael” and the Front Desk crew, to “Brian”, our bartender (a most important person) in the Oyster Bar, and the absolute superb service afforded us by “Angel” who waited our table in the enchantingly splendid (both food and views) Chelsea Chowder House and Bar. Has made for a truly extraordinary stay and visit! Yet we are only just getting started.
There is so much to see and do here at this marvelous floating hotel, so whether you are staying a night or two as a pre or post cruise visit, or merely coming to stay with this marvelous lady for the experience, the journey is certainly well worth what you will find when you get here.
While here, I took a delightful self paced tour of the ship, which has been so painstakingly and meticulously preserved and restored to her glory days of the thirty’s, forty’s, and fifty’s. Not being born myself, until the mid 1950’s I would have never had an opportunity to view such a vintage vessel, if not for the efforts put forth by the City of Long Beach. Did you know that the Queen Mary had been pressed into military service during World War II, (as so many ships were) carrying over 800,000 troops, for an almost equal distance of miles, which affectionately won this graceful lady the nickname “The Grey Ghost”. Her maiden passenger voyage was in 1936, with her final retirement from passenger service occurring in 1967.
I must say in all sincerity, for me being such an avid cruiser, seeing and walking the hallways, promenades, and actually dining and sleeping on this wonderful ship, (just as she was in her glory days) has felt like a true step back in time. To be able to experience certainly what was considered one of the Grandest Ocean Liners ever built, has just been an indescribable experience.
While staying at this delightful destination and maritime marvel, I experienced the food at several places. First, no self-respecting tour taker could even embark on such an undertaking without a stop in the Ice Cream Parlor for an indulgent authentic shake. (You know to get you through the tour). I had dinner in the Chelsea Chowder House, which was totally delicious. I had the crab cakes while enjoying an absolutely stupendous view of the Long Beach Marina area, as the sun began to fade into the ocean. After dinner I made my way (trying to walk it off) to the Red Bus Station Stop, for a free shuttle ride into downtown Long Beach. It also should be noted that this shuttle stops at the local links for the transit system as well. And the best part it was completely free. How Cool!
The next morning I made my way to the Promenade Deck (Starboard Side) and saw the delightful Starboard Bakery Shop that had all sorts of baked fare, coffee and juices, with a quaint seating area which overlooked the Marina. I decided to actually go to the Promenade Café where I met Mary the Hostess, and enjoyed a wonderful powdered confectionery (French toast) delight. It was most filling, and quite tasty.
After breakfast, I had a little time to walk around and met some more employees. Like Timothy at the Main Desk, who filled me in on some of the missing facts I had not thus far ascertained. Another, who I had the pleasure to meet and chat with, was Bill who was just a wealth of information and details on this fabulous vessel. I can’t say enough just how nice everyone is here. There is just so many wonderful things to see and do, aboard this “golden era of sailing” and true time machine called the Queen Mary Hotel. A Definite Must See and Do, for anyone cruising out of Long Beach, or even to come and experience her just for the experience alone is well worth the trip for sure!! See all my pics of the Queen Mary (view them here).
Monday – March 14th Cruise Day One
After enjoying a hearty breakfast, walkabout, and checking out of the Queen Mary Hotel. We all (as a group) make our way over to the departure terminal and dropped off our checked bags with the porters (all but our hand carried items) which will stay with us until we get access to our staterooms. Then we proceed back over to the Queen Mary (aft wharf area) and go inside to perform early check-in. Once completed with that process we all return over to the terminal pier to begin our ship’s boarding process.
Our Boarding went smoothly, and everyone was excited to get-underway on our “Spring Break Mexican Riviera Cruise”. All of these school district employees have been bottled up, without a break since Christmas time, so they are ready for a week-long “recess” period for sure. Lunch in the Casual Dining area was delightful and certainly filled the bill (and our bellies), while we awaited access to our various staterooms.
We have just finished up with the Mandatory Life Boat Drill – which for many of my group was a definite eye-opening experience for them. But I must admit that in many ways I am having just as much fun observing them, as they are experiencing life aboard ship!
Once underway (my personal favorite part of any cruise) we will be making our way slowly towards Santa Catalina Island which will be our destination by tomorrow morning. AHhhhhh! The very best part of any cruise, is getting underway. We cast off right on time, and made our way to the open waters of the Pacific. Sunset was absolutely gorgeous. We witnessed Purples and Oranges the likes of which were never seen before picture opportunities, that had most everyone on board snapping plenty of pictures.
Well it was off to Dinner. What a treat. Our Group was Seated, and everything was already in place for us, our group wine packages, and I forgot to mention the lovely Champagne and Chocolate covered Strawberries and petit fours, that greeted us in our rooms (which were to die for).Turns out our Wait Staff is an absolute joy. Our Head Waiter “German”, from Peru (pictured Left) is a wonderfully mannered and truly delightful gentleman who saw to our every need. Great Service! His able-bodied assistant “Newman”, (pictured center) was also very attentive, and quite the talented entertainer as we got to witness first hand when the dinner dance (that’s right) the dinner dance began. (check out the video).
I must say that not only were our first time cruisers in our group taken aback at the evening’s entertainment, but the impressiveness of both the food and the service was totally top-notch!! I can’t imagine how it could have possibly been any better. Great Job! to our Head Maitre ‘D, “Stan the Man” from Mississippi (pictured above right), for putting together such a finale to our first days’ events.
Now with contented stomachs and attitudes we creep off to the lounges, casino, and for some, the peaceful tranquil solitude of our staterooms (for a much-needed blog or two). We get back to our staterooms, open the doors and OMG!……Whalrus!………….Seals!………….and Stingrays!……Oh My! Our Stateroom Steward “Arnold” (see pictured left) displayed his awesome talents. It has taken me this long just to get over our being greeted by so many sea creatures and animals in our staterooms each night! Here’s the best part. When on a Carnival Cruise, they will even sell you the “How-To” book on making towel animals to take home with you in order to be able to start your very own towel creature aquarium, or maybe just to impress your family members and guests who stay with you back home. Pretty Neat Huh!
I can’t begin to describe just how impressive the crew of the Carnival Paradise has been so far. We are all truly looking forward to our coming days of cruising. It’s been a real treat for me to be able to see the expressions on so many of the faces within our group, as most of them have never sailed on a cruise ship before. I must say what a joy it is to be able to witness my folks not only having fun, but a whole new world of experiences never before seen by many of them. What a Great Day it has been!
March 15th –Day Two – Catalina Island
Well here we are on Day Two and we have pulled into Santa Catalina. Everyone is off the big ship onto the “Tenders” (smaller vessels) and partaking in all of the various sites to see, and fun-filled activities to experience. Let’s see our Dysart Group could partake in many things like Shopping, Sightseeing (in groups) and some on their own, Para Sailing, Zip Line(check out the video), Diving, Horseback Riding, Kayaking, Fishing, Glass Bottom Boat, Golfing, Whale Watching, Segways, Snorkeling, Wildlife Tours, just to name a few…. Please feel free to Check out all of our Santa Catalina pictures at http://www.flickr.com/cruisewithmike/sets/72157626198353741/ .
Dinner time was something we had already been looking forward to since yesterday with much anticipation as it will be our only Formal Night during our Five Day Cruise Itinerary. We had Lobster and Prime Rib (Yummmmmmmmmm), with a host of scrumptious deserts to choose from. I myself had the Chocolate Melting Cake. The Ship’s Captain, and his senior officers mustered in an area adjoining the dining rooms just for us before dinner , BUT the highlight of the evening (besides the delectable food) was being entertained by our very own head waiter “German” (which is his name, and not where he’s from). We were all treated to some very special Peruvian serenading, and our better parts enjoyed an extra special treat when he danced with the ladies. It was certainly one of the most memorable formal nights I can recall. As you can see, the pictures tell the whole story.
Well were now making our way for our next port of call which will be Ensenada, MexicOl’e!
March 16th – Day Three Ensenada Mexico
You may not know this……..but Ensenada remained in Spanish control until 1822 (a full year after Mexico had won her independence). In 1887 (some 65 years later), the Mexican peninsula was divided into two separate federal districts. The first capital of the newly formed “Northern” Baja District was Ensenada, and remained as such until 1931, and subsequently later the district became a sovereign state of Mexico in 1952.
So here we are in sunny Mexico. There is so much to do, that not everyone in our group has been able to make up their minds yet, as to what they will take in. (I guess it’s a good thing we are a late departure today huh?)
There are as I said, a plethora of things to do, see, and experience here. For the adventurous at heart there is the Jeep Tour, or the Horseback ride Tour which meander through much of the Mexican backcountry.
For those who wish to opt for a less rigorous experience, you might wish to visit La Bufodora (a natural Blow Hole) that shoots water spray 60 to 100 feet into the air. There is also a Scenic Coastal Tour, a Winery Tour, and there is a tour which offers a Taste of Ensenada, (which involves a good deal of eating, and sampling the many varied tastes of the region) No that’s more like it! Or you can take a shuttled ride downtown to the suggested (cruise ship certified) shopping sites to take in some serious “shop till you drop” bargains. Oh yeah, I almost forgot….for our golfers, they too get to have it their way on a host of well manicured Mexican courses. So don’t worry about them, as they have truly found their nirvana! (see more Ensenada pics here).
With a much longer port stay today, there is ample time to be able to “do your thing” and still be able to soak up the Mexican lifestyles, as well as drink in the social scene offered in this wonderful port city, as we do not depart until 10 o’clock tonight. So with today calling for so much to see and do, along with a lot more time in which to “get ur done”, I shall “SEA” you tomorrow, once we are again underway and riding the waves.
March 17th – Our Final Sea Day
For the Kids Camp C (ages 2-11) in addition to their normal daily activities will feature a bear cuddly event where participants will actually make their very own bear creation to take home with them. While Circle C (ages 12-14), will feature their very own farewell party. Like Club 0 2 (ages 15-17) will also have their very own farewell extravaganza as well.
For the older kids (ages 18 and above) there are planned a host of things to busy ourselves. Certainly the daily Bingo session with guaranteed prize pots increased. There will be a Think, Draw, Guess competition (where your teammate has to quickly guess the person place thing or phrase the other is drawing) and the first one wins a prize. Naturally what self- respecting cruise would be without the obligatory “Hairiest Legs Contest” where the women get to be the judges for the winners here! There will also be Ice Carving, and Towel Folding demonstrations, as well as the infamous champagne live art auction. Then for later it’s get your groove thing on with Piano, Jazz, Calypso, Sing Along, and Dance Parties which will go into the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Some of us got to enjoy a “Behind The Scenes” Tour of the inner workings of the ship, complete with a tour of the bridge conducted by the Captain himself. I sure hope everyone got a good night’s sleep last night to be able to just make it through all the way!
All of the on-board shopping venues are featuring extra special discounts and sales today, even if it’s getting your cappuccino on (for less) today, so for the bargain hunters, you will want to be sure that you check it all out today in the shopping arcade, as well as the various specialty shops throughout the ship.
Well here we find ourselves at our final dinner on-board this Carnival Fun Ship, and we are beginning to feel the effects of sadness, at the impending thoughts of our five days coming to an end, and having to return to home and our own lives of making our own beds, and meals once again.
Certainly the Ship’s staffs are well aware of our woes, as they have planned the ultimate desert of the high seas. “Baked Alaska”. Most every cruise line serves up this delicious dessert on the final night’s menu, complete with the appropriate amounts of fanfare and fudge toppings! Be sure to check out not only our photos, but (see the video of the Baked Alaska Pomp and Circumstance), which we enjoyed on board this cruise adventure.
As dinner winds down, we bid farewell to our wonderful dining room staff and make sure to appropriately thank them for their hospitality and wonderful service they have rendered during our voyage.
This brings us to a close of what has been a wonderful and memorable “Spring Break” Cruise aboard the Carnival Paradise!! Thank you for coming along with us, on this fun-filled journey.- CruisewithMike
For more information on Crusing, Group Cruises and/or “Spring Break” Vacations, contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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