Natalie (excitedly) "Hey kiddo! We're going on a cruise over the holidays!"
Simon (more excitedly) "Oh yeah?!!"
Natalie (even MORE excitedly) "So you'll be on your own this year! Have fun kiddo!"
Simon (perplexed) "Ummm ... Whaaat?!!"
What Simon didn't know ...
Friends Gary* and Lynn Clark had asked us to join them on adventures before, but the timing was never quite right. This time was different ... and we said "Yes!" A holiday cruise along the Mexican Riviera was perfect for a long-awaited rendezvous ... and a respite from current times.
*The CliffsNotes version of how I know Gary goes like this:
- When I was 9 years old, I saw Gary when he was the drum major for the University of Idaho Vandal Marching Band. Here's an awesome picture of what the drum major does.
- Fast forward a few years and Gary was my 8th-grade math teacher. I was, of course, his finest student.
- During this time, he taught me, Mark Jonas, John Morgan, and a few other junior high studs the basics of rock climbing.
- Gary and friends traveled to the Alps the summer of 1975 to climb and they took me along. It was an eye-opening experience; the Alps are BIG!
- Over the years, there were other trips to climb rocks.
- In a very real way, I've known Gary most of my life ... and that's pretty cool. He has been, and remains, a true inspiration.
- Gary paid me to say these nice things about him.
¿Navidad en un barco?
¿Año nuevo en un barco?
¡Bienvenidos al primer blog de TourAlongWithTodd del nuevo año ... 2022!
Mis amigos ...
Put on your life jackets, pour a glass of your favorite tequila, and cozy up on a chaise lounge in the sunshine along the Promenade Deck because it's time to drive the big boat on the high seas in Picture-n-Caption format! ... Mexico Riviera Style!
Our mighty ship for the journey, built in 2002, the Zuiderdam weighs 82,000 tons, is 936 feet long and 106 feet wide, has 11 decks, accommodates 1,964 passengers hosted by a crew of 812, and can rip along at a breathtaking 27 miles per hour!
The best part of cruising on such a giant vessel is how smooth the motion is. Walking along the Promenade Deck is like floating along in a hot air balloon. Well, unless there's a raging storm with gigantic waves, in which case the humongous vessel can seem very, very tiny.
Hey! How about a video to soothe away your worries about cruising?
Let's get on the ship!
|Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas!|
After two years interrupted by COVID, the crew of the Zuiderdam was genuinely excited to see passengers come aboard; their enthusiasm was palpable.
Crew members, many hailing from Asia and Oceania, had been out of work during the pandemic and only recently have been called back to sea. To make this work, everyone coming aboard had to be vaccinated and then test negative within 72 hours of sailing. Yet halfway through the cruise, the captain announced that 28 crew members and 2 passengers had tested positive for the virus and were in quarantine. As a result, we were denied coming ashore at one port of call, Topolobampo, and spent an extra day at sea instead.
The silver lining was that our cruise news made U.S News & World Report!
There's no such thing as bad publicity! Right?
Every cruise ship has a bunch of these boats that can be lowered from the Promenade Deck for one of two purposes:
1. Used as tenders to shuttle passengers from the ship (and back) at ports of call that can't dock enormous vessels.
2. Used as lifeboats in case things go very wrong at sea.
Trusty #16 was the boat we were assigned to in case of times of trouble. In such an event, we would actually board Trusty #16 from the Promenade Deck, about 30 feet above the sea, and then be lowered into the water, left to bob up and down like a ping pong ball until help, or land, arrives.
Hey! How about another video to further soothe away your fear of cruising!
|Hey Junior Birdmen, Let's Fly!|
The happy adventurers are ready to take flight at Cabo San Lucas with Happy Flights Cabo Parasailing! The concept is simple enough: You put on a harness attached to a parachute, clip into a rope on a winch attached to the boat, the boat goes faster, and the parachute lifts you up off the boat as the winch lets the rope out! Easy peasy!
Each flight lasts about 10 minutes, but it's super cool and very much an experience you wish would last 10 times as long.
Parasailing really is fun! ... as long as the rope doesn't break. It's a good thing THAT never happens!
|Smile for the Camera!|
Gary and Lynn floating high above Bahia San Lucas! Yee Haw!
|I Can't Drive Anymore Because I'm 74!|
Nothing says "authentic Mexico" than 74-year-old American rocker Sammy Hagar screaming his 1984 hit "I can't drive 55" portside at Cabo promoting his local bar, Cabo Wabo! To the right, Gary (en mask) is contemplating if a shot of tequila would remedy his aversion to Sammy's screaming along the boardwalk.
Seriously, you HAVE to check out the I can't drive 55 video. It's hilarious!
Still, I wish a had a dollar for every dollar Sammy made on that tune.
|The World Anchored at Cabo|
The World isn't just another cruise ship. It's a cruise ship on which you can buy a permanent residence and pal around with your new neighbors, Madonna and Arnold Schwartzenegger! One catch, starting at $2,000,000 per residence, plus hefty annual maintenance fees, The World's lifestyle might be a wee bit of a stretch.
Do you want to see where The World is right now? Or almost any other ship on the seas? Go to marinetraffic.com and enter "The World" in the search bar!
|Off the Tourist Trail: El Cañon Tabor! |
Loreto was my favorite port of call ... probably because it's a small town (pop. 20,000) and was seemingly well organized to host the crush of cruise goers. I'm guessing that's also why it's a popular spot for ex-pats.
We didn't spend time visiting the shops and restaurants. No ... being the manly men and women that we are, we heard the call of the mountains ... or at least the echos of the mountain canyon pictured here—El Cañon Tabor!
So Grand, Majestic, and Dominating!
Our ship docked at Mazatlan. But our ship is on the left. The ship on the right—the Norwegian Bliss—carries twice the number of passengers and crew!
|Dolphins and Palms|
Just a small section of the La Continuidad de la Vida sculpture along Paseo Olas Altas at Mazatlan, and just one of the stops during our private tour with guide José Luis.
Unlike the other guides trolling for clients near the dock that morning, José first gave us directions to walk to the cathedral area before making his pitch: An hour-long tour in his cab for $30. It was money well spent. He was nice, knowledgeable, and made any stop for me to take photos.
At one point, we were stuck at an intersection while a tour bus tried to make a turn from one narrow street into another. As the bus driver performed a record-breaking 1,000-point turn, José managed to reverse our direction and continue on. Five minutes later, we passed by a street from which we could see the tour bus ... still negotiating its ultra-slow-motion turn.
I hope they had bathrooms on that bus!
|Photo credit: Vegas Experience.|
Power Rangers at Mazatlan!
After lunch it was time to zipline!
We didn't bring phones or cameras to record our experience at Huana-Coa Canopy Zipline Adventure. So instead, above is a photographic illustration of Natalie and me flying as Power Rangers!
No!!! I'm not the pink Power Ranger!
|Photo credit: Wild Canyon.|
The Intimate Zipline?
Or maybe we flew more like this! Who knows? It all happened so fast! If you've never ziplined, you should. Most people survive the experience. In fact, most people say, "OMG, let's do that again!"
What's it like? Here's someone else's video of the first zipline at Huana-Coa!
So, what's better than ziplining? How about a couple of shots of tequila after the adventure! Huana Coa is a producer of craft tequila and they ensured we had opportunity to taste their fine product ... and we did ... and it was good!
New Year's Eve and my favorite guy on the ship is just getting started! Did we make it to midnight? We DID! But not partying it up with the revelers on the Lido Deck. Nope, we managed to make it by watching the classic James Bond movie Goldfinger in our cabin.
Spoiler alert! In the end, James gets Pussy Galore, Miss Moneypenny remains frustrated, and Q wants his groovy tech gadgets back!
And That's a Wrap!
Somehow, we managed to wait in airports, fly on planes, eat in dining rooms with hundreds of other people, and otherwise get around without contracting COVID or being delayed by storms or cancelled flights that plagued this winter's holiday travel!
About This Photo:
When first boarding a cruise ship, your picture is taken and becomes associated with your lifeline to the ship—your cruise ID card. That seems simple enough. But there's also a team of roving photographers employed by the cruise line constantly taking photos of you—getting off the ship, getting on the ship, and even eating dinner.
Using AI technology, those images are matched up with your cruise ID photo. Near the end of the cruise, you're invited to view the images and ... buy them! We declined to purchase any of our images except this one.
The cost of the image? $20.
The cost of Lynn photobombing the shot with bunny ears without us knowing until we saw the photo days later? Priceless!
Oh! In case you have lingering concern that Simon spent the holidays alone, weeping, huddled in fetal position ... He didn't; he whooped it up with my brother Marc and family in Seattle!
It turns out that mixing up how holidays are celebrated is something we should all do more often ... Especially when it's with friends who make offers ... and an offer finally works out.
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But WAIT! There's MORE!
It's time for the ...
MEXICAN RIVIERA CRUISE - BONUS PHOTO ROUND!
Click this link—Awesome Pacific Ocean Sunset—to begin viewing the photo album. There are a bunch of fun photos just waiting to tickle your eyeballs!
The best way to view the slideshow is when YOU control it! To do this, follow these easy instructions:
You are extremely lucky to have such cool friends as the ClarksReplyDelete