Background.......My sons ages 21 and 17 and I sailed with a group of friends who we met through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. We all have had a loved one who was a firefighter die in the line of duty. There was a group of 15 of us. My friend Carol and I had a balcony cabin #6397 on Upper Deck, my sons were across the hall in inside cabin #6399. The boys and I are frequent floaters, this was Carols first cruise.
Pre Cruise....My sons Carol and I flew in from Newark Airport on the day before. (Most of the others in the group also flew in from other destinations too.) We stayed at the Best Western Convention Center in Long Beach. Enjoyed the stay. After checking in we walked a few blocks to grab the Passport C bus which is the free bus. We took it out to the Queen Mary where we took a self guided tour and then the Ghost and legends Tour which was so much fun. We got back on the bus and headed over to Shoreline Village where we ate out on the deck overlooking the marina at the Yard House. Back to the hotel for some much needed sleep as jet lag was setting in. We went to the Continental Breakfast and met up with the rest of the group and we walked to the Long Beach Central Fire Station for a visit and tour. In the middle of the tour they got a call so the tour was over early. Back to the hotel and Carol, the boys and I took a taxi to the ship terminal around 11AM, the rest of the group wanted to see more of Long Beach before boarding.
Embarkation......I had finally reached Platinum status so it was off to the VIP room, painless and now we had to wait. We met up with two of our group who flew in that morning. We boarded at about 12:30, we were literally the first ones on board...well almost until the line we got in for our sail and sign pictures, machine broke......A few minutes of working on that and then it was up to Lido for our first foo foo drink and lunch. We were able to get to our cabins at 2 so we dropped off the carry on stuff and off to tour the ship.
Ship.....Very pink but we had no problems with it. We found the staff to be very courteous and friendly. We spent most of our day time on the ship on Lido Deck at the Adult Pool section. Security was watching to tell the kids and their parents that they were not allowed in the pool. it was wonderful........Beautiful weather.....lots of foo foo drinks . We had cocktails before dinner in the sports bar once (very smoky) and then along the promenade. We went to the Captains Cocktail party and the Past Passenger Party.
Food....We had late seating in the Gold Pearl Dining room, we had 2 tables of 8, with wonderful waiters. Our table went to dinner every night, the other table came I think 3 times. I would rate the food about a B. I was disappointed in the sweet and sour shrimp and the lobster but they made up for it in all the other food. I was happy to see new songs and dances by the waiters. I ate all breakfasts and lunch on lido deck (loved the cheeseburgers). I am happy to report I only had two ice cream cones the entire cruise.
Entertainment........We did not make it to all the shows but did enjoy what we saw, we went to The Beat one (I think that was the name of it( it was OK.) Vroom was excellent and the Legends show was great. My son saw all the comedians and loved them. We played Bingo twice.....Cruise Director Goose was good but no one measures up to John Heald.
Ports of Call......In Puerto Vallarta we did the Sea Lion Snorkel at Las Caletas. It was a very nice boat ride (except for 4 obnoxious passengers who ever other word out of their mouth was not a very nice word). Eight of us from our group did this tour. We did a bit of swimming and then time for our sea lion part. We got a kiss, we got to hug him, feed him and go for a ride with him. We all loved it. We then had a very nice Mexican Buffet afterwards with more swimming and snorkeling and then time for the boat ride back. A+. Back to the pier for a bit of shopping, it was very hot.
In Mazatlan I made reservations on the internet for 7 of us to do Randi's Happy Horses. it was a very enjoyable. The excursion includes a "cab" ride to the "ferry" then another "cab ride to the horses. We were all paired up with the right horses and off we went. The guides took pictures of us with our own cameras. Back down the beach and to Victors for a drink and lunch if you wish. Vendors will approach you with their wares all you have to say is no thank you. Back to the pier. Randi and her assistant Tony were very nice. A+
In Cabo we did the Lands End Boat, Beach and Shopping. 8 of us from the group did this. We did a boat ride out to the arches, back to the pier and boarded buses for the beach. My boys were thrilled as I was such a nice Mom and I rented jet skis for them (their very first time) and they loved it. We sat at tables and had a nice lunch. Many vendors on the beach. At 12:30 it was off to go shopping, here we thought we were going to the arts and crafts market and they took us to a Mall.....Ugh!!! I can do this at home....very disappointed. We got back to the pier and had no time to go shopping at the arts and crafts market, the line for the tenders were very long and we were past sailing time. Rating... B. I would rate this higher had we not gone to the mall.
Debarkation.......We decided to do self assist and we were called off the ship and we were in a taxi to the airport at 8:15.
Post Cruise...... Carol flew home that day, the boys and I rented a car and drove down to San Diego for 3 days. We stayed at the Comfort Inn SeaWorld/Zoo Hotel Circle. We went to Seaport Village, did a harbor excursion, spent a day in Sea World, then the next day at the San Diego Zoo. We ended the trip with a drink at the Hotel Del Coronado before we headed back to LAX for our return flight home on Wed.
Other notes...... We experienced a thunder and lightning storm during one night. It was so cool to watch from the balcony.....The rain did cause some damage to the ship and some elevators were out of service for awhile. We saw dolphins and whales along the ship...what more could we ask for. We had a great time and we are thinking about Alaska 2011 for our next venture as a group.