Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bilbo and Agnes's Marvelous Vacation: Part 6 - Odds and Ends

In an earlier comment, Mike wanted to know what it was we did for three days at sea. Actually, we spent five days at sea on this particular cruise, which is one of the reasons why we selected it. You can see in this souvenir photo that the first leg of the cruise was three days at sea from San Francisco to Acapulco; while the last was two days at sea from Cabo San Lucas back to San Francisco:

One of the nice things about a cruise vacation is that you can take part in bazillions of activities offered on board the ship and ashore, or you can sit in your cabin and do whatever you want. We did a bit of both, with the emphasis on sitting and doing not much. Each day the ship published a four-page newsletter called Princess Patter which outlined the activities occurring that day, advertised various tours and services, and gave a quick summary of weather, navigation, and other odds and ends. Here is the Princess Patter from our first day at sea, November 11th (click to see it full-size):

We reviewed the Princess Patter each day and marked the activities we thought might be interesting, as you can see. On this particular day, I went to the Fruit and Vegetable Carving Demonstration while Agnes attended the Port and Shopping Show. I think I had more fun:

I took seven books along to read on the ship, of which I only finished one (The Groucho Letters: Letters From and To Groucho Marx); Agnes took only two and had to resort to borrowing from the ship's library. I also solved a large number of crossword puzzles, wrote several letters by hand and, using Agnes's laptop, wrote our basic family Christmas letter (which is then edited for each recipient). I also continued my practice of keeping a handwritten journal during the cruise (which has been my source document for the last series of posts). By the end of the cruise, I had compiled 57 pages of notes!

Going back to the library, as a dedicated reader and writer, I was disappointed in the library on the Star Princess. Unlike other Princess ships we've cruised on, the Star Princess combined the Internet Cafe with the library, and while other ships had big, comfy armchairs in which to curl up and read, and small, intimate desks at which to write, this one had only small chairs while most of the space was dedicated to Internet stations (which, after all, generate much more revenue at their high Internet access fees). There was a fairly good selection of books, though.

Someone (I think it was Katherine) also commented on the apparent high cost of going to the bathroom in Zihuatanejo, referring to this picture I'd posted earlier:

This brought up an interesting tidbit we learned from one of our tour guides: in the United States, we generally use the letter S with two upright bars through it as the symbol for the dollar, while Mexico uses the letter S with one upright bar through it as the symbol for the peso. This led to some confusion, as we were often horrified at the cost of many things before we remembered to divide the peso figure by 12. Thus, in the picture above, the cost to go to the bathroom - 5 pesos - is actually about 42 cents...which can be a pretty good investment if you've really gotta go.

Going back to Acapulco for a moment, one of the things I forgot to mention was that our bus tour passed by (but didn't stop at) a very picturesque fishing village which is a major location for movie filming. It stood in for Africa in The African Queen (one of my favorite movies), for Devil's Island in Papillon, for Vietnam in Rambo, and for the habitat of The Creature From the Black Lagoon, among many others.

One last word about taking a cruise, for those of you who might be considering it: if you have the money, now is a very good time to take a cruise vacation. With the economy in the tank, the cruise lines are anxious to fill up their cabins, and there are a lot of deep discounts available. In addition, although the up-front cost of a cruise per person may seem high, considering that it covers your room and your food (all you can eat, 24 hours a day) for the period of the cruise, it's actually a pretty good deal. The key to keeping it manageable is to resist buying all the things that the ship tries to sell you while you're a captive audience...if you opt for an inside cabin and can steer clear of the boutiques, the duty-free shops, the offerings of the ship's photographers, the tours ashore, use of the Internet and satellite phone service, and the many bars and specialty cafes on board, you can sail relatively cheaply.

As for Agnes and I, we're now back into the routine of everyday life. I'm waiting for the bill to arrive from Princess for the overtime pay for the big, burly security folks who had to cut the chains we used to tie ourselves to our balcony railing, and for the cost of removing the black heel marks from the deck where they dragged us, kicking and screaming, off the ship.

We had a great time, though, and have already started saving up to take our next cruise to ... well ... wherever we decide to go.

And you can come along. Virtually, of course.

Have a good day. We're back to the usual random thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Oh I love the carvings! Those are adorable. Lovely pic of you and Agnes too!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The fruit carving is imaginative. I wish they had that on the cruises I went on.

Mike said...

So all these years we've been typing on Mexican key boards. $


Melissa B. said...

I'm still Officially Jealous! And Zihuatanejo has always been a favorite of mine. BTW, don't forget to tune in to Sx3 today...we've got the Holiday Spirit!

dancer said...

Sounds like you had a great time. It must be difficult to come back to this colder climate.

Amanda said...

57 pages!! WOW! Thats impressive. I don't know if I'd be able to do that but it must be great for preserving all the little details that fade with time.

Your enjoyment of the trip has really come through your posts. Glad that you've had such a wonderful vacation.