Back From Mexico

I know it’s been a while since I posted so this will be the first of many about our recent trip to Disneyland and the Mexican Riviera. Some of you that know me will be shocked but I literally did not even log into the work VPN since I left on vacation. It was tempting at times but I knew I’d felt compelled to answer e-mails and that’s not exactly a vacation if I did that. I also went the 7 days of the cruise without checking the Internet at all. On the last night I relented and used up my sister-in-law’s satellite minutes in the Internet center and caught up on my g-mail. Only 255 e-mail threads in 7 days. Whew.

A quick overview of the trip:

If you’re going to Disneyland, just pony up and pay for hotels at Disneyland. It’s easier. Staybridge was nice but using and trying to schedule things based on the shuttle system there is a definite let down after staying at Paradise Pier (next to the Disneyland hotel) the first time we went.

It’s cold the first two days of a Mexican Riviera cruise. Seriously. You don’t expect 60 degree weather and 60 degree water (which they use to fill up the ship pools) when you’re on your way from LA to Mexico. Who would have thought?

Mexico = LOTS of street vendors.

Zip Line Canopy Tours at Chico’s Paradise = LOTS of fun.

If you take a cruise tour to Mexico avoid the cruise ship ports if at all possible. The street vendors really come out of the woodwork there. Either just take the cruise ship tours or plan ahead to do something away from where the cruise ship dumps you.

7 days on ship = 3 lbs gained.

Ukrainian waiters named Stanislav are amazing dancers. Who would have known?

The dolphin encounter in Puerto Vallarta was pretty cool. Allie was totally fearless with them and let one of them kiss her and then shake her hands with its fins. The facilities at Cabo are pretty sweet, though. I would do it there next time probably.

I will probably not go back to the Mexican Riviera anytime soon unless I am going with folks that know how to avoid all the street vendors. I was going to scream if I had to say no gracias to another person offering me a water taxi to the beaches.

Seeing old world Mexico was actually the most interesting to me.

Seeing Home Depots and Wal-Marts in both Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta was a little strange to be honest. The fact they looked nicer than the ones by my house were even stranger.

Seeing my daughter go up on stage and dance with the Mariachi band was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Carnival’s going out of their way to tell you that only one of their ships in the fleet (and not ours) has their kick-ass waterworks attraction is shitty. Shame on you Carnival.

Things are not dirt cheap in Mexico. I knew that going in but seriously, don’t go there expecting bargains.

Interesting fact I learned: Mexico exports oil but imports gas. They have no refineries. Hence, their gas is expensive.

Carnival claims to like the environment by trying to get you to re-use towels (which I do anyways) but then they go out of their way to print every friggin’ photo in the world in the hopes that you’ll buy them. Why don’t they just have a system where they scan your ship card (your ID while on the ship) and assign the photos to them and let you look at your photos via computer kiosk and then just order whatever size you want them in? On top of that they could do a deal with ShutterFly or some other online vendor so you could order them after the cruise was over if you missed one. Then they’d only print what people actually bought and not every friggin’ photo. Seriously. Yeah, I believe you Carnival that you care about the environment.
*wink wink* The accountants at Carnival realized photos are their biggest profit center so they have gone overboard on photos. It was just stupid crazy overboard.

Carnival’s kid care program, Camp Carnival, is actually quite good.  I was pretty impressed with it.  The fact that Allie couldn’t wait to go there was also a plus in my book.  The 90 minute formal dinners were too long for her and the kids program has a kids dinner so she wanted to eat there most nights.  They’ll take the kids until 10pm with no extra fees other than what you paid for the cruise and then only $6/hour after that.  They seemed to have plenty of counselors for the number of kids I saw and they give you a pager or cell phone if they need to get in touch with you.  Thumbs up.

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