Monday, February 11, 2008

Cruise to Ensenada

Bobby's baby sister turned 18 last week, and to celebrate, we all went on a cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. One of Bobby's good friends, Jon, shares that birthday, and since he's part of the family too, he joined us on the cruise, and brought some of his pals along too.

This was my first cruise, and only my second trip to Mexico as an adult (I went with my mom once when I was young - our church was building an orphanage and I helped by putting the little Ts between the tiles to space them properly for the grout - but I don't really remember very much). My only other trip to Mexico was an evening in Tijuana with my siblings. I just remember it being dirty, and making the mistake of giving a couple of the kids some spare change and being overhwelmed by children.

Although I'm a planner by nature, I always seem to leave packing until the very last minute possible, and this time was no different. Everyone was meeting at our place at noon, so at around 10am on Friday I started my packing.

Like I said, this was my first cruise, so I wasn't sure exactly what to bring. I'd learned that morning that one of the dinners was going to be formal attire, so I needed to pack something to wear to that, but other than that - what should I bring?

I did my best, and since Bobby was working, trying to make sure his guys knew what needed to be done while he was gone, I packed for him too. I was told that we could bring a certain number of wine bottles with us, so I pulled some nice ones to bring along.

Once we made it onto the boat, we all checked out our rooms, and headed to the restaurant. We'd all had a minimal breakfast, and only snacked for lunch, so when confronted by the buffet we all piled our plates quite high. We weren't really thinking about the fact that our scheduled dinner was in just a few hours.

Bobby and I wandered the boat for a bit, checking out what there was to do. I found that there was a spa onboard that offered massages and facials. I was tempted, but the prices were fairly high so I passed, and after the emergency drill we met up with the family at the restaurant we were scheduled to have dinner at. Dinner was lovely each night, and I especially loved ending each meal with desert, a glass of port, and a cup of tea. I also enjoyed that the meals came in smaller courses and took about 2 hours - it makes the meal more of an event, and I find I enjoy the food more.

At dinner that first night, Bobby and I bought a bottle of wine for the table. The most I've seen his parents drink before this cruise is a glass of champagne on one of their anniversaries, so I selected a light Pinot Noir that I thought would be very drinkable. It was a good choice - they liked it a lot. Bobby's mom surprised us all by ordering a Courvoisier at dessert - we had no idea she liked cognac.

Bobby and I were pretty tired, so we meandered a bit after dinner, but we turned in relatively early. When we returned to our room, we found our covers turned down for us, and what looked like a dog folded out of towels looking back at us. We crashed fairly hard - we both passed out and the next thing we knew, it was pitch black (we had an inside cabin), and we were checking the time to find it was nearly 8am. The ship was already docked in Ensenata.

I started looking through the ship schedule for the day, and was disappointed to find that they had a yoga class. Not disappointed that they had one, but that I was unprepared for it. I had no idea there was a gym onboard - if I had known I would have happily brought some clothes to work out in and joined both the yoga and pilates classes each morning. But alas, all I had were jeans and a dress. So instead I made an effort to take the stairs each time I went anywhere on the boat.

After breakfast we washed up and met up with everyone for a little excursion, and at around 11am, we all went to Pappas & Beer together and ordered big margaritas and some snacks for lunch. After a bit, most of Bobby's family left to shop around while we stayed with Bobby's friends. The music was good, but bars like that aren't really my scene, so after a few hours, when I could tell Bobby had had more than enough tequila, I suggested we head back to the boat. It turned out that I was right, and many of the locals on the way back to the boat smiled at Bobby and said "Tequila!"

When we made it back to the boat, I gave him some water and let him take a nap before dinner. When his brother and Jon made it back to the boat a few hours later they came to check up on him. I had been just about to wake him up, so I let his brother do it instead. He surprised us by mumbling "Linkin Park," to which we both burst out laughing. He doesn't remember any of this.

The eventually left us so I could wake Bobby up and get him up and ready for dinner. Again a lovely meal (lobster!) and a was extra pleased when the desert menu included a Grand Marnier Souffle - one of my favorite deserts! (I must learn how to make one of those)

After dinner we went to one of the Las Vegas-style shows. Although I can say the band and performers were all quite talented, Bobby and I agreed later that that style of show is not really our thing. We gathered together again after the show to take a couple group pictures (some of which came out very nice), but again we were tired and turned in early (this time to find a towel bunny rabbit on our pillow).

Sleep wasn't as easy this time around, and Bobby and I both found ourselves tossing and turning. (Strange that we slept the same each night.) In the morning we all decided to have a more formal breakfast, rather than the buffet, so we met in the room we had been having dinner in. We sat next to a window with a view of the ocean, and had a lovely breakfast.

We spent the day wandering the ship, played a little mini golf, met the family for lunch, sat in a jacuzzi. Soon it was dinner yet again. I found myself wishing I had brought more dressier clothes - I had enjoyed dressing up for dinner the previous night. Bobby and I don't often have an excuse to wear our nicer clothes, but I really enjoy when we do. I mentioned this to him and he agreed. We decided we need to do things more often that require dressing up - even if it's just going out to a nice dinner more often.

I did what I could with what I brought to look nice, and since it was the last dinner on the boat, we brought the wine we'd packed with us to dinner. We spent less on the corkage for the two bottles we brought than we did on the bottle of wine we bought the first night - and the bottles we brought were better wines too! The meal was lovely, and I had the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake for the second time... with a glass of port... Mmmmm....

After dinner we saw another Las Vegas-style show, and though this one was better than the previous night, it still didn't do it for me. We played blackjack for a little while, but I was losing so I gave Bobby what remained of my chips and went up to our room to read. He wound up doubling our initial money, and came up to bed.

We woke in the morning to find we needed to be off the boat by 10am, so we packed up and got in the line to get off the ship. I'll admit I was a little irritable going though the customs line - I wasn't really looking forward to going back to the grind.

Overall it was a good time. I think the next time I go on a cruise I would choose a different destination, and preferably a longer trip. I'd bring clothes to work out in, and would budget for some spa treatments. And I'd probably go with a much smaller crowd - sometimes with that many people it seems like you spend a lot of time hearding cats.

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