Embarkation is a breeze in the port city of San Pedro where even the casual observer can't help but be both impressed and a little horrified by the containers numbering in the thousand that choke this industrial port.
A well trained staff quickly gets passengers from curb to cruise; our embarkation time with 4 adults during peak time was less than 45 minutes.
Once inside we were shown our stateroom, a mini-suite with balcony where we were welcomed by our room steward, Julietto. His understated, efficient housekeeping kept us organized and well attended.
The weather in Southern California can be tricky in the winter- windy and cold on occasion (not by North Dakota standards) but it can be jarring for a Canadian looking forward to a warm breeze. Still, our party was prepared (a little thing called The Weather Channel) and bundled up we walked the outside decks and enjoyed the sunset.
Once afloat, our sea days were spent pursuing relaxation (reading, massage treatments, yoga and movies) cheesy cruise ship standards (Bingo, Line Dancing and an Art Auction of some unforgivably tacky (and expensive!) art and on one afternoon, back to back episodes of Captain Stubing, Julie, Issac and Gopher in my stateroom.
The port cities of PV, Cabo and Ensenda make you crave a safer Mexico... the people are warm and wonderful and it made me think about the complex relationship between tourists and the people who make their living from them. The progress in Ensenda from 2004-2013 is remarkable... though you will be tempted to give money to the sweet children who are trying to sell you trinkets and trash, try to remember that the Mexican government is trying very hard to message to their people that all children belong in school. When tourists give them money, it makes it hard for these families to justify sending their kids to school. And their sweet faces are hard to refuse. Pack some candy in your pocket and when approached, give them a piece and a big smile. Let them know that you see them...
Back on board, the food on the ship is, if anything, uneven. You will likely have meals that you enjoy and others that you would just have soon skipped. One vegetarian meal, a veggie burger was laughably bad and quickly replaced with something else.
If you are a first time cruiser come with an open mind and be prepared to communicate your preferences clearly and politely. If you are a return cruiser then you sort of know how it goes.
I enjoyed this particular ship quite a bit... smaller than others I've been on making it easier to get around.