At Sea

January 28, 2023

First the very good news, we were tested for covid yesterday after day 5 of quarantine and we both tested negative. They tested us early in the morning and when the nurse called us with the results I did a happy dance in the hall. So we could now be out and about with masks on for 5 days.

It was a day at sea today and I got out for my walk, we ate in the terrace cafe for lunch (breakfast was still room service) and I was back at the blackjack tournament where I won both games!! I don’t think my fellow players (we call them the “usual suspects”) were very happy to see me back.

Tonight we had the first of two Oceania Club cocktail parties. As has become pretty standard, they need to do two because there are so many guests who are repeat Oceania travelers. We have reached the highest level, the President’s Circle and there are 19 of us on board with 11 including us reaching that level on this cruise. Pretty impressive loyalty. We enjoyed the party with friends Marilyn and Charlie. One of the singers, Laura Pachnos, entertained us during the party along with the Insignia band who are simply amazing. No matter who our guest performers are, the band just gets a short rehearsal with them and plays all of their music flawlessly.

After the party, we continued to dinner with Marilyn and Charlie. It was the second of two Mexican theme nights in the terrace and as usual, Farid, our chef, outdid himself. Beautiful presentation and delicious food.

After dinner, Norm relaxed and I played a bit of blackjack and then went to the show. It was a group called Jared and the Vagabonds. Jared played Jerry Lee Lewis on Broadway in the play Million Dollar Quartet. They were simply amazing and they got a standing ovation. They will perform again in 2 days.

Tonight at around midnight we will cross the equator and tomorrow we will be in Manta, Ecuador where we have a tour of a coffee plantation and then relaxation at the beach. This is the place that Panama hats are made and if you want a good handmade one, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $1000. Good thing I don’t wear too many hats!

Posted in At Sea, Food, January, World Cruise #4 | Leave a comment

Acajutla, El Salvador

January 26, 2023

We arrived here in darkness this morning just before our scheduled port time of 6 AM. This is El Salvador’s principal port and handles a large portion of its coffee, sugar and balsam exports. Not too many cruise ships come here. It is interesting to watch the trucks coming and going all day, we assume with products to be loaded and exported on the many ships.

It has a privileged geographic position because it is located outside the Pacific ocean’s coast and has protected beaches and coral reefs.

Here is a picture of the port area.

About 90 minutes before we were scheduled to depart at 2 PM, this rig pulled up on the pier and what looked like a group of high school musicians got out and set up their instruments to play for us as the tour buses got back.

It did get some video but the WiFi was apparently not fast enough to load it.

Tonight we move 1 hour forward and we will be in the US eastern time zone. We have 2 days at sea on our way to Manta Ecuador on Sunday. There are two Oceania Club parties on the next two nights and we hope our quarantine will be over.

Posted in Central America, January, World Cruise #4 | 1 Comment

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

January 25, 2023

Well, there isn’t much to write about. The room looks about the same as it has since Sunday! I did watch The Woman King yesterday and am still watching a lot of Australian Open tennis even though my favorites are out of the competition already🎾.

We were both up and about to see the beautiful sunrise this morning as we sailed toward the port.

There isn’t much interesting to see from our balcony on the starboard side of the ship today. It is mostly industrial. Here is one picture.

We really enjoyed Guatemala on our last visit here. It is a small country, about the size of Ohio, and as I posted yesterday, it is a very important producer of coffee. Honduras now produces more than Guatemala but this country is still the second largest coffee producer in Central America.

Norm continues to feel better each day and I am still feeling fine. On Friday we will test negative and will hope to join all of the ship activities and our tours.

Posted in Central America, January, World Cruise #4 | 3 Comments

Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

January 24, 2023

We are into day 3 of our COVID quarantine and are feeling pretty good. I am fine and Norm is feeling better every day. The medical people check on us twice a day and we get any food we went from any restaurant – delivered of course. The only thing I really miss is exercise. Reading books and watching Austrailian Open tennis is keeping me occupied. Maybe I will try to see one of the movies today. We do love to sit on the balcony and watch the sights.

Here are the pictures of last night’s sunset and the quintet dessert from Polo – a sample of 5 of their desserts. A bite of each was great.

Today we arrived in Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. There was a pretty narrow channel into the port and a beach with MANY birds waiting for us. Lots of my favorite – pelicans. Here are some pictures of the port, all we will be seeing of this place is from our balcony!

We got word last night that all stops in Peru are canceled due to the political unrest there. We weren’t surprised. We had tours scheduled in all 3 ports but have been there before so it is not too disappointing. They are adding two days in Guayaquil Ecuador. I am sure that the people who were planning to go to Machu Picchu were unhappy but that’s the way the world is. No guarantees.

This area is second among Mexican states in the production of cacao, the product used to make chocolate. We were scheduled to visit a place that makes it today. I love chocolate, so will miss that, but perhaps one of our friends will bring some back. The area is also responsible for 60% of Mexico’s coffee output.

Tomorrow we will be in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. When we were here before, we visited a coffee plantation and learned a lot about coffee beans and how they go from the plant to the product we all know. And the guide had a belt on that I admired. She made it herself and when I mentioned how nice it was, she took it off and gave it to me. The world is full of wonderful people even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Travel is eye opening, you never see things through the same lens again.

Posted in Food, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 6 Comments

Acapulco, Mexico

January 22, 2023

Last evening we had dinner with Paul and Carolyn, the around the world host and hostess. They are from the UK. There were two other couples with us as well and it was a fun time. Very few people were in the dining room because our chef, Farid, did a Red Ginger dinner in the Terrace Cafe for Chinese New Year. They will do it again tomorrow night.

I had the lobster pad Thai. Delicious.

The sky just after sunset tonight was just beautiful.

Last night and then this morning, Norm wasn’t feeling well. So we both decided to do Covid tests as I have had a post nasal drip and a bit of a cough.

The bad news

As you see, we both tested positive much to my surprise (about me, but kind of expected it for Norm.) He had a fever and a lot of congestion since last night.

We called the medical office and they did a confirming PCR test, both positive. So now we will need to quarantine in our suite for 5 days at which point we will have another test, then we will need to wear a mask inside and out for 5 days.

We are very thankful for being fully vaccinated and for the antiviral meds they gave us.

So, you won’t see many posts from three upcoming ports – I will post what we can see from our balcony, and updates on how we are feeling. For the 5 days, we will miss one in Mexico, one in Guatemala and one in El Salvador as well as 2 sea days. Nothing we haven’t seen before! So room service, movies and books here we come. We are watching the NFL playoff game now and we get the Australian Open, so I am happy about that. We also get all the news channels but don’t watch them unless there is some really important news.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Food, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 10 Comments

Zihuatenejo, Mexico

January 21, 2023

We had a nice dinner in Toscana and met two new couples who are on the world cruise.  One of the men had lots of interesting stories – he is an engineer and has worked on geothermal energy projects all around the world, primarily government sponsored projects.

Today, we went on a sail and snorkeling tour on a 75 foot catamaran called the Picante.  This is a tender port (no dock for large ships) so they use the lifeboats to transport us to shore.  Once there, we boarded small boats to take us out to where the Picante was anchored.  Here are some pictures of the port area. We were greeted by music and local dancers and everyone there cheered as we came off the tender! Happy to see us, I guess.

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Weather wise, it was a perfect day.  Not too hot and nice breezes everywhere.  Carlos, one of the crew, told us lots of Mexico stories. 

This city is located in a protected bay and very popular with boat owners in the winter season.  There are a lot of American ex-pats living here. Carlos told us the name of the city means “Place of Women”.

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There is a replica of the Parthenon here – it was build by a drug lord and then abandoned – the government took it over and plans to make it into a museum.

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We motored out to the snorkeling spot and spent 45 minutes in the water.  The coral was not colorful (but it was big) but the fish were very pretty.  Unfortunately for some reason our underwater camera didn’t work.  The fish move pretty fast anyway.

On the way back to the town, the crew put the sail and spinnaker up and we sailed around the area and back to the harbor. Lots of interesting houses on the cliffs.

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They had a lot of drinks, fresh fruit, croissants, etc – for us to snack on and they played fun music.  It was a really fun day.

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I loved watching the many pelicans dive near the shore.  There was a boat with many of them on the top, just hanging out.

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I spent a little time walking around the town and Norm went back to the ship to rest his foot (for those who don’t know, he has a torn tibia in his right foot and wore a CAM boot for 3 months before coming on the trip.) The pain is much lessened but it flares up if he walks too much.

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I wanted to have lunch at a restaurant that the crew on the Picante recommended – fish or shrimp tacos and guacamole, but unfortunately it was closed.  It was probably siesta time – we got back around 2 PM.  So I had a quick salad on the ship. I wasn’t sure of the food safety of an unrecommended restaurant.

Tonight we are having dinner with the around the world host and hostess, Paul and Carolyn and another couple we met on board and liked a lot, Bruce and Karen.

Tomorrow we are in Acapulco which I could really skip – we have seen and done all we would want to in the past and it can be kind of sketchy.  One of our lecturers recommended walking to the fort which is in a safe area so we may do that with George and Eva.

Here is the picture Eva took of the group of us before the  Ensenada boat trip for (haha) whale watching.

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Posted in Excursions, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 1 Comment

Manzanillo, Mexico

January 20, 2023

Yesterday at lunch there was a fresh pasta station.  I also noticed that there was this Bloody Mary bar!

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We had dinner with two couples that we met on the 2017 world cruise, Mui and Erin and Sonia and Boris.  We are enjoying many tours with them on this trip and we had a nice dinner to catch up.

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Our cruise director is Ray Carr and we are delighted that he is on the world cruise with us.  He is so invested in the success of his team and always praises them all.  Last night he presented a birthday cake to a member of the string quartet that plays every night and also at the afternoon tea.  Everyone in the area sang happy birthday.

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We arrived in port around 11 AM this morning.  Here are some shots of the sail in, the colorful houses on the hillside and the fuel ship that will pull alongside and refuel our ship.

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We chose just to walk around town today – I needed a few things in a shop, which we found after a short walk.  It has warmed up nicely and as I write this in the afternoon, it is 81 degrees.  Feels good to me.  I could put the woolies away.

Manzanillo is known as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” thanks to the excellent sport fishing here. When you come to this port, you will never forget the huge statue of the Marlin – Manzanillo’s “official fish”.  Norm is in the picture for perspective!

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There is also a smaller one near the ship.

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The town is a pretty busy and important port town and we saw lots of container ships coming and going.

The downtown plaza (Zocalo) has recently been renovated and all along the waterfront are sculptures depicting the signs of the zodiac. by the artist Sebastian.

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Here are the ones for Norm, Adam, Mark and me.  This exhibit is new since we visited in 2019, in fact it was set up in 2021. They are colorful and interesting.

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Tonight we are eating in Toscana, the Italian specialty restaurant on board – I love that one. 

Tomorrow we are doing a sail and snorkel trip in Zihuatanejo.  Happy that it will be very warm and the seas are calm.


Posted in Food, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 1 Comment

At Sea

January 19, 2023

I am recovered from the rock and roll minus the whales excursion.  I really never get seasick on cruise ships but this small fishing boat which was just tossed around in the huge waves was something else! One of the people who was with us took a group picture but I haven’t gotten it from her yet.  I will post when I do.  Thankfully she took it before we went out, not after.

We are on the second of two days at sea along the coast of Mexico.  Two days ago when we were in  Ensenada, our chef, Farid, shopped for fresh mahi mahi and grilled it in the terrace cafe.  It was terrific.  Here is the display and also Farid doing the grilling (and showing off for the photo!) The sauces were as amazing as the fish!

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I have been getting my blackjack fix. On the first sea day, January 16, I finished third in the tournament.  The top two get prize money!  But yesterday, I finished second and the casino manager asked if we wanted to play a second round, and I won that one.  We will see what happens today.

Yesterday at lunch, Farid was at it again.  He was making fresh crepes with all kinds of toppings available from berries to chocolate and chocolate chips to whipped cream.  I didn’t sample them (maybe it would have been OK after dinner, but too rich for me at lunch.

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We have had two time changes in two days, moving the clock forward.  We are now on Chicago time.

Here is the sunrise this morning.

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After I did the post mentioning one of the BEST TOURS ever, I thought I should have added the link to that post.  So here it is:

One of the best tours ever

Tomorrow we are docked at Manzanillo Mexico. We didn’t book a tour this time and we will see what adventures the day brings.

Posted in At Sea, Food, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 3 Comments

Ensenada Baja Mexico

January 17, 2023

We arrived in Ensenada this morning around 8 AM and it was 47 degrees!  Brrrr. We brought lots of layers, thank goodness. 

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Ensenada is the third largest in Baja and is only 78 miles south of San Diego. 

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Today we booked a whale watching excursion with 3 other couples.  Well,  it was to be a whale watching tour but it turned into a 12 foot swell, rain shower and puking tour and of course no self respecting whale would be showing up in THAT! It was a cold and miserable 3 hours but, hey, you win some and you lose some! There were some nice fountains on the walk back to the ship!

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When we returned it started to rain so we just went back to the ship, changed our wet clothes and had a late lunch. I guess this would have been a good day to do a wine tour in the northeast region where vineyards were first planted in 1703!  Some friends opted for that so we will compare our adventures later. 

Tonight our executive chef, Farid, is grilling fresh fish from the market here out on the terrace cafe deck.  We are looking forward to that and to the show, Matt Marcy who is a comedian and magician with 20 years of entertaining in Hollywood and around the world.

We have two sea days now before reaching our next port in Mexico, Manzanillo on Friday.  We were there in 2019 and if you wish, use the search function to read that post about the BEST TOUR EVER! I don’t know how we will top it.  We didn’t book anything here and will probably explore on our own. 

Posted in Excursions, January, Mexico, World Cruise #4 | 1 Comment

First day

January 15, 2023

All of our suitcases arrived! We did track some of them with airtags which let us know that the ones sent via luggage forward in late December were in California waiting for us. We traveled with only one checked bag so the forwarding worked well as it has in the past.

When we arrived on the ship, we were directed to the Insignia Lounge where we were served drinks, small sandwiches and sweets. When our room was ready we started the organizing.

It took us pretty much the whole afternoon to get our stuff unpacked and organized. Those who know me may remember that when asked how to pack for 6 months, I said ” put all the clothes and all the money you want to take – on the bed. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” Well the clothes part didn’t work out – we will see about the money!

We had a nice dinner in the Terrace Cafe, met many friends and crew from previous trips. Norm skipped the show but I went and saw all of the entertainment team and musicians. Still on east coast time, so it was an early night. There are 394 around the world travelers, 180 of them are first time cruisers on Oceania. It seems like a large leap of faith to book a 6 month cruise without testing the line for a shorter one, but we know they will not be disappointed!

Here are some pictures of the Bay Bridge and from when the ship went under the Golden Gate Bridge about 10:30 PM enroute to Ensenada Mexico.

Picture courtesy of fellow passenger Younga Craddock
Picture courtesy of Younga Craddock
Posted in January, North America, World Cruise #4 | 6 Comments