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Mexican Riviera Cruise 2006

Julie and Linda D., Patty's friend from high school, had never been on a cruise before and Patty and Craig hadn't sailed on this class of ship. Therefore a lot of the fun was in investigating the ship (and comparing it with others we had sailed on). The Island Princess is one of the newer ships and is organized to make things easy to get to. In the map below, note the 4 story atrium where much of the activity is centered. Besides, this was our first Christmas Cruise.

Patty, Julie, Craig on balcony

Patty, Julie, Craig off Cabo San Lucas

Linda D. and Patty

The Island Princess 

Patty & Craig on formal night

Patty and Craig on 1st formal night.

Linda D. and Patty get
into the Christmas spirit.

The Island Princess is the largest cruise ship able to pass through the Panama Canal.

Island Princess

She is sleek and seems more elegant than other, larger ships. The floor plan shown below has many things centrally located and it does not take long to get anywhere on the ship. Most shopping and ship's business is conducted around the panoramic elevators in the atrium.

Spa entranceCraig on heated stone bed

One of the first places we headed to was the Spa

The entrance is pleasant, but...

...the heated recliner stone beds demanded daily use. Craig was the most frequent user.

The recliner beds look out on 2 showers (1 shown on left) and 4 saunas with different aromas (2 shown on right).

There was no way to spend less than an hour here - another reason for late dining.

spa interiorspa interior

Cabo San Lucas

Arriving in Cabo San Lucas after rounding the southern most point of Baja California, we anchored in the harbor and ferried people ashore using the lifeboats.

Julie flew down to Cabo and met us there (she had to teach school for the first 1 days of the cruise).

She wasn't there when we first arrived so we wandered around the waterfront, putting up with all the vendors hawking the same tourist trinkets. Of course we stopped for a huge, overpriced margarita.

On the way we came across this sign - and did a double take.

Finally Julie arrived and we headed back to the ship.

As the sun set we weighed anchor,
leaving Cabo San Lucas behind.

Mazatlan

Since we were in Mazatlan for the entire day, the first order of business was personal service - in Julie's case this was getting her nails done.

Craig and Julie self photo

Self photograph of Craig and Julie at the top deck of the ship.

Others spent the time in the spa, as shown above.

The pictures below were taken from the ship.

Mazatlan from the ship

Looking north over the peninsula toward the golden zone shopping area.

looking southwestlooking southlooking south

Looking south from the ship, the city quickly turned into farmland with the entrance to the harbor on the right.

Julie and CraigBayou Cafe SteakhouseJulie, Craig, Patty outside Sabatini's

Upon our return from town, we prowled around the ship - visiting the Bayou Cafe Steakhouse and other comfortable places.

That evening we enjoyed the Universe Lounge, one of two major theaters, in the stern of the ship.

The Princess Theater in the bow. Both are accessed from deck 7 (Promenade Deck).

This is really an elegant, two story show lounge and the stage could be set up in three different parts.

Puerto Vallarta

Upon arrival we looked out our window and saw this 'commercial' pirate ship.

When we taxied into Puerto Vallarta we could see our ship from the beach.

The beach also sported tourist statues that we dutifully took pictures of.

Puerto Vallarta beach statuesJulie and Patty had to get their email fix

Julie and Patty had to get their email fix.

Julie and Patty in Banyon Tree roots

As we travelled south, toward the equator, the foliage got more and more exotic. Here Julie and Patty stand under a Banyan Tree getting most of its nourishment from above ground roots.

No trip to Mexico would be complete without the obligatory purchase of alcohol. For us it turned out to be Controy, an orange liquor used to make Gold Margaritas. This is just as good as the best triple sec, is half the price, and is not available in the U.S.

Christmas 2006

Rasul room

The day in Puerto Vallarta was 24 December 2006. Patty and Craig decided to start Christmas Eve off with another visit to the spa, having reserved time in the Rasul room -- a private sauna area for couples.

Rasul room entranceRasul room showerSpa Christmas Tree

The idea is to apply ointments and a mud bath to each other and use the two person sauna or the shower room to complete the treatment.

The spa Christmas Tree was prominent as we left.

Patty, Craig, Julie, Linda D. at Sabatini's

Next it was time for dinner and we had made reservations for the four of us at Sabatini's.

Sabatini's is the multi-course Italian restaurant that everyone should visit once in their cruise life. The courses are varied and impeccably served. Vegetarians, be prepared to make exceptions this evening.

Since this was Christmas Eve, the girls had to wear their Santa hats.

pool on Christmas EveJulie in jacuzzi Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve ended with us in the indoor/outdoor jacuzzi at midnight, watching for Santa's sleigh.

Ok, so these pictures weren't taken at midnight, but you get the idea.

Christmas morning in the cabinJulie and Patty opening presents

Christmas morning opened with a tree in our room and presents under the tree -- almost under the tree.

Craig played Santa while Julie and Patty argued over who would open their present first.

Craig playing SantaPatty shopping on Christmas Day

After opening the presents Patty went shopping in the 4-story atrium -- yes the shops were open.

This area was really beautiful and featured panoramic elevators and lighted stairs.

looking up the atrium
holiday decorations

Besides the Christmas lights, there were extensive decorations. We had our Christmas Card picture taken in front of this one.

Finally, we concluded the holiday with a formal dinner and photo.

formal family photo at Christmas

Patty, Julie, and Craig

Returning Home

Passing Cabo San Lucas on the way home

During the final part of our voyage we again passed Cabo San Lucas.

Judy, Julie, Linda at our final dinner

Our final dinner was a festive affair.

L.A. harbor in the early morning

Early morning 27 December we arrived in L.A. harbor.

We hope you have enjoyed our vacation pictures and story. We loved every minute of it. When we docked, Julie had a new boyfriend, Matt, waiting for her. What we didn't know then was that he would become our son-in-law in seven short months. That is another story, however, and you can see Julie's wedding pictures on our events page.

This was our last real get-together with Linda D. as she passed away a couple of years after she joined us on this cruise. We are glad we were able to spend this time with her.