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Ensenada - 1997

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  Date:                                   August 11th, 1997
  Length of Cruise:               4 Days
  Ship:                                    Viking Serenade
  Cruise Line (Princess #):  Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
  Embarkation:                     San Pedro, CA
  Ports of Call:              Santa Catalina Island, San Diego, Ensenada         
  Final Destination:               San Pedro, CA
  Total Days At Sea: 04 days

This is our first cruise. Rosalee was the instigator and so we decided to 'give it a try' to see if we would enjoy cruising. I think that it was about the second day that we looked at each other and said "What's NOT to like?" We met new and interesting people. We met a few people that were less than interesting. LOL.

The adventure started by our boarding a plane in the SF Bay area and flying to southern California, where a person met us and directed us (along with a couple dozen others) through the airport to a bus that took us directly to our ship. We entered the Los Angeles - San Pedro Harbor property and pulled up alongside a huge white hunk of iron that we were going to spend four days on, floating across the water. We have no expectations... this is a completely new experience for both of us.

We had made enough plans to select an "outside" cabin so that it would not be buried within the bowels of the hull, unable to know whether it was day or night. Looking up at the side of this big white boat I could see that there were many "port holes" that were a lot larger than the tiny round piece of glass we always see in the movies about people on boats. We recall Lucy trying to squeeze through one and getting stuck. So we were not sure what we would find when we got to our cabin.

Once inside the ship we located our 'home' for the next four days and it was very nice. Not large, but how much room do you need to sit and read or sleep? It was about 250 square feet in size, had a small efficient bathroom (head), and two single beds along each side of the cabin (bulkhead). Pillows made the beds serve as couches and our porthole... wow! It was about 4 feet by 5 feet... very nice.

When we came aboard, we were told that there is a Buffet lunch in the Aida Dining Room on the Main Deck. OK... so, where is the Main Deck? LOL. You can be sure that we found it. LOL.

Embarkation was schedule for 5:30 pm (1730) but we did not move. A half hour passed... another passed... and another... then we heard what we were waiting for... the largest air horn that I have ever been this close to. We felt movement. We had to get busy and get going, because after all, we had places to go and people to see. Our next destination... and we had to be there by 0800 hours tomorrow... was Santa Catalina Island. You know... Twenty Six Miles Across The Sea... So... what was the hurry? LOL. I suppose we needed to get out of the way so another ship could come into that port that we were occupying... I suppose.

Dinner was coming up... our first of what we have been told is the GOOD part of cruising. We had been assigned to a table in the Aida Dining Room. At least we knew where that was from our lunch buffet. Our travel agent had suggested that when we select the number of people we want to have at our assigned table we choose a larger table. She shared that when you ask for a table for four, you may be 'stuck' for four days with another couple that are just not someone that you want to spend that much of your life with. So we selected a table for ten... that should give us ample choices.

We went to dinner at our assigned dinner time and met our table mates. There were only six of them, so we had two empty chairs. That worked out well. We enjoyed all six of our mates.

When the menu came around, there were half a dozen main courses to choose from. Like two of them? Order them both. Like a special type of salad? Ask for it. They can probably pull it together for you, or they may offer it on different nights so it can come together fairly quickly. Dinner was very good. The company was great. Again... What's Not To Like!?

We had entertainment after dinner. With several night clubs and theaters on board, you had to make choices. We enjoyed it all. After the show we had heard that they were going to be offering a "Midnight Madness" display in the Magic Flute Dining Room on the Pacific Deck, with carved ice figures, carved goods, etc. We attended... of course... and I cannot believe that I actually took a lovely banana with me back to the cabin. Never know when a man might need a snack, right? On a cruise ship? Are you kidding? LOL I ended up tossing it out when we returned to the home port.

When we returned to the cabin after the show, our two beds were pushed together in the center of the cabin, and made up as a double bed which we had told them we would prefer. We slept in and it was very nice. At first light I checked out the window and I could see the entire town of Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California. We had traveled a whole 26 miles.

We had to ride in small boats from the shore... they call them 'tenders'... and we had signed up to ride over to the opposite side of the island. We rode in an unusual rig... a short wheelbase ford cab-over-engine tractor pulling a trailer via a fifthwheel and it had been converted to a coach with windows and seats, including one up over the top of the cab. When the truck turned very tight corners, those passengers were literally in the front of the rig.

We stopped at the Catalina Airport. Yes, there actually is an airport. An old one. We also stopped at a ranch house with outbuildings. We were challenged by the driver... he said in one building there was a photograph of an old car that had been hanging for about fifty years. He would quiz us when we return to the truck on the maker of the vehicle. It was an easy one for me. When we returned and he asked if anyone knew it I hesitated, but no one else knew the name brand. I offered "Scarab" and he said it was correct. He was amazed that anyone had known it...  he seldom finds anyone that can identify it.

Back to town and we enjoyed a nice lunch and then walked through the shops in town. Back to the ship which means we had to get by the photographers. On cruise ships it seems they are always taking your picture with something in the background so you will buy them and have them for keepsakes.

Another dinner... each evening they seem to emphasize a different country... French Cuisine... Italian food... whatever.

Early the next morning I awoke and looked out our window... we were coming into port and two fire boats were shooting huge crossed arches of water as we were entering the harbor. Very impressive. We were in San Diego. We did not go ashore so we explored the ship. We were up on deck when a women mentioned that her friend was not aware that we were going to stop in San Diego, and she had driven from San Diego where she lived to Los Angeles to get on the ship... to ride to San Diego. LOL. So she left the ship for an hour and went home to water her plants and cat. LOL

The next morning when we awakened, I looked out the window and I saw no fireboats. No large sea port. No Aircraft Carriers. I saw a breakwater that was covered with old tires, with half of them in the water and half out. I saw half a dozen bales of straw, scattered on the breakwater. I saw two smaller boats, both rusted beyond recognition with one of them sitting on the mud... she had sunk long ago. We were in Ensenada.

We had arranged to be on an excursion through the excursion desk on the ship. That way we did not have to deal with the 'locals', trying to speak the language and not having to worry about not getting back to the ship in time to sail. We traveled through the town and down through the country to the south end of the large bay (Bahia Todos Los Santos), and around onto the peninsula to visit "The Blowhole"... a place where waves smash into a small cave and shoot out the top to make a geyser-like plume of water shoot up into the air.

To gain access to the ''hole'', we park the bus at the top of a long slope and walk down the slope, with tents lined along both sides, hawking any number of  'tourista goodies'. The sights were worth the trip. While there I stepped into the restroom and it was nice and clean... large and clean... only two others in there... a guy at a urinal and a gal... mopping the floor. um... ok... sure, why not. I line up to a urinal and tried to ignore the woman with the mop. No big deal to her. LOL. Talk about your 'bashful bladder'.

We walked back up to the busses and were the first on our bus. A couple joined us that were in their seventies probably, and had a girl maybe 9 years old with them. Granddaughter we were thinking. She was talking to all of us about how the young Mexican children that were no more than five would come up to you trying to sell you some of their Chick-lets, a boxed chewing gum. The girl on the bus was so cute. She just could not get over the fact that those little kids were being "used" to sell things. "Have these people never heard of Child Labor Laws?" LOL. Where did she get THAT comment? What is her home like where she was aware of such things? I said to her "Welcome to Mexico!"

The ride back to the ship was good. What we enjoy when we do an excursion like that is see a lot of the 'back' country, out and away from the 'tourista' sections. We noticed a lot of the homes were in "almost finished" condition... just a little corner here or there not quite finished. I spoke to someone later on and they mentioned something about in Mexico they did not re-evaluate your home and raise your taxes until you were completely done with your addition. When we did our addition, they were evaluating our addition and charging us by the percentage of completion.

We are on our way back, with a day at sea. These boats don't exactly get in a real hurry. The ship has some age on her and she is not quite half the weight and size as the average cruise ship. But it was comfortable and pleasant. Certainly a nice "starter" cruise. And we will definitely be doing more of these.

Our last dinner is a "Formal Dinner" and it was fun. People just plain act differently when they get cleaned up and dressed up. The gents all look so slick and debonair, and the ladies look so pretty. And the dinner choices are a bit extra also. Pictures were taken at the table and we all had the feeling that we would like to get together again. I kind of doubt that will happen, but we did have a nice, friendly four days.

Disembarkation is an experience... searching through all of the luggage in the terminal to find ours. Of course they ALL look just like ours. Note to self: Get luggage that is painted RED!

We got on the bus that takes us to the airport for our trip to the Bay Area. It was crowded and so Rosalee and I were split up. She sat next to a gentleman that was friendly and cheerful. He disclosed that it was him that caused that delay in disembarkation of more than an hour. They were flying in from somewhere around Chicago on a Princess-arranged flight... part of a package deal. The plane had some mechanical problems so they had to take it back home. They changed over to a second plane and after a delay they started out again. Trouble... one passenger was causing a real problem so they had to set it down again.

They removed the jerk and tried for number three. Third Time's Charm, right? Nope. A passenger died. By the time the couple made it to the airport in Southern California there was a limousine on the tarmac, waiting for the plane to roll to a stop. The couple were the first ones off the plain (by request of higher ups) and the limo was waiting with an open door... the driver? The president of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Priority traffic and they were ship-side in half the time our bus took to get there. Had they been on an airline that Princess had not arranged there is no way the ship would have waited that long.

There was one problem... the only luggage that made it to California with them after the plane changes was their 'carry-on' which only had a minimum of clothing. They had given them a couple hundred dollars in shipboard credit so they could get a change of clothes, but that was it. On the Formal Night, their room steward found out that they were not going to go to dinner. It was because they had no "Formal" wear. Well, that was not acceptable to the crew. They polled the crew and found a fellow with an extra tux that was the man's size and found a female crew member with an extra formal gown and the couple made it to dinner on the formal night. Now THAT is a fantastic crew.

We had a good flight home. Yep. We DEFINITELY will be doing that again. Soon.





















































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