On April 23, Marie and I embarked on another sea adventure. The logistics of this trip were challenging, but it’s like anything else you want to do – you manage. On the 20th, Marie drove down to my house under the guise of picking me up. I think what she really wanted to do was make sure I packed right. To be honest, she is a lot better at it than I am. Marie has some OCD tendencies and I’m just the opposite. I remember when we took our first cruise without our husbands and she insisted on carrying on all of her luggage. And then there was the time when we went to our cabins right after we boarded to see if our luggage had been delivered. Mine was there, but Marie’s hadn’t showed. As we were walking out the door, the woman across the hall from us said that if she were Marie she would be worried. I said, “Oh, don’t tell her that.” Marie’s luggage came about thirty minutes later, thank goodness. A big fear is that we would have to wear the same outfit we came on board with through the whole cruise. At least Carnival supplies a nice comfy robe for the trip only. Marie loved it so much she had to buy a new one on one of our previous cruises.
On April 21 we drove to her house with a quick stop at Casa Ole Mexican Restaurant in Bryan, Texas. Had to make sure we had our quota of Tex-Mex because on the ship they rarely get that right. We got up on the morning of April 22 and went to Dallas Love Field to fly out to Los Angeles on Virgin America, our favorite airline. Roomy leather seats, no funky smells and Virgin has live television so a person can watch sports and news as well as Net Flix and On Demand movies. We sat next to each other and watched Bravo and the Real Housewives for the duration of the flight. It went by so fast.
We arrived in L.A. around 5 PM where we took a shuttle to a Hampton Inn near LAX. It really is easy using a shuttle service. The driver handled our luggage both at the airport and unloaded it at the hotel. He even took it inside the hotel for us. It was a very comfortable shuttle ride and because there are so many expensive cars in L.A., I was looking out of the bus windows to see if I could spot a celebrity. We pulled up to the light next to a red BMW convertible. Inside there was the driver who was male and a guy in the passenger seat and a girl in the back seat. The driver didn’t look like any celebrity I would recognize and I doubt that he was anyone other than a nose picker. It was so funny because he had the top down and was digging for gold. It’s always funny when someone picks while driving like they think no one can see them, but hey, this was a convertible. I imagine he thought he was cool in the red convertible and he might have appeared so if he wasn’t picking his nose.
On Saturday, April 23, we took another shuttle to the port in Long Beach where we boarded the Carnival Miracle. We were sailing to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. New scenery, new destinations, different ship.
We made it on board with no problem, hit the lounge on deck 2, and waited to sail. I love to see the deck where we board the ship. It is very pretty and each ship has its own theme throughout the ship.
We were supposed to sail at 4 PM, but didn’t depart until closer to 5:30. We endured muster which was tedious because our station was outside and it was quite hot and steamy. On the past three cruises our muster station was inside in one of the theaters which made it much nicer.
When we finally sailed, we had to wait for about 30 minutes for the casino to open. We sat in the casino and staked out a machine and waited not so patiently. Finally we were in business. Marie sat down at Kitty Glitter and I had decided before hand that I was going to concentrate on video poker and Quick Hit slots. I started with video poker and after awhile of no 4-of-a-kind, I gave up in search of Quick Hits. I somehow got sidetracked by Hot Shots and I do love those. I hit the bonus several times and the small progressive for $23.00. Not enough to do me much good.
We decided we needed pizza, that maybe if we ate, we would do better. I have always thought you couldn’t catch any fish on an empty stomach. We headed to Pizza Pirate. I had the Margherita pizza and Marie had the four-cheese pizza. The Pizza Pirate only has five varieties including pepperoni pizza, prosciutto and arugula, and mushroom pizza , but they are all good with really crispy thin crusts. Then it was back to try our luck on full stomachs.
Marie went back to Kitty Glitter and I decided to try my luck on Three-Card poker. Marie can stretch her money much better than me and usually stays ahead by playing the minimum bet. Her money lasts longer. She hits smaller pots, but she goes further, recycling her wins and building up her points and not spending much money. She did win a hand pay once on a 30 cent bet. I keep hoping for a jackpot but those don’t happen often enough. There were some loud people on this cruise, you know the ones that bang on their machines and scream at each other across the casino. One couple screamed “Honey!” at each other everytime one of them hit something or just wanted to communicate. There is a funny story about “Honey” I will get to in a minute.
I sat down at the poker table and bought in for $100. I noticed a man at the table had on a Huntsville Bearkats tee shirt and asked him about it. Huntsville is only 45 minutes from my house and the home of the Sam Houston University Bearkats. Of course he had heard of Iola. Crazy how you can go all the way to California and get on a cruise ship and meet a neighbor. Even crazier is that it’s not the first time it’s happened to me. Several years back Marie and I took a spur-of-the-moment cruise and there was a woman on the cruise who lives 15 minutes away from me and worked at a local restaurant I went to on an almost weekly basis. Then there was the time in St. Thomas where my husband and I saw our daughter’s boyfriend’s parents shopping. Also ran into another neighbor in Las Vegas at Harrah’s during Super Bowl weekend. When I was still working in sales, I saw a customer and his wife at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Marie and I met a couple on this cruise from Kennedale, only a few miles from Mansfield. So many coincidences.
Back to the poker table. I had pretty good luck. I hit several flushes, straights, and one three-of-a-kind. I cashed out $430. Maybe this would be my game this trip. I heard of some straight flushes, but didn’t get one. This was a 3 card bonus table where if you got a five-card winning hand and you bet the $1 bonus spot, the payouts were bigger. I hit that several times with a full house and the 3-of-a-kind. Fun game when you can at least get some winning hands. Plus it’s a really social game. People converse with each other and the dealers were all so outgoing. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for everything, and bonding with your slot machine can be very rewarding, but sometimes you need human companionship.
Sunday was an at-sea day and Marie went down to the casino early and played. She went to the deck to see the ocean, but it was not as pretty as the Caribbean. That warm breeze was just not there. The Miracle is a smaller ship than some other ones we have been on, and it was easier and faster to get from one end to the other. However, the casino was smaller, there wasn’t a Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant on the ship and the pool was tiny. But we are the Slotsisters and we had business to take care of. I had slept in and she brought me some coffee and yogurt from the buffet. I got dressed, headed down and went straight to the poker tables. This time I decided to try Texas Ultimate Hold-em. I didn’t do that well, so I ended up back at Three Card. I had another good day and cashed out $485. I was on a roll.
Marie switched between Kitty Glitter, Cats, Cleopatra and Hot Shots. There were very few of the newer style machines, only the Asian-themed slots were new. We saw several hand pays and we were holding out hope for one. It was early yet and we made sure we had plenty of opportunity. Sometimes I bet the minimum, but most of the time I bet the maximum. On Hot Shots, max was $2.00, and $2.50 on video poker, but on the Asian themed slots, the minimum was $.88 and the maximum was $8.88. That was just too much for me. I have heard of people hitting some good pots on these machines, but not me and I don’t think Marie has played them much. These machines were so popular that there were lines behind each machine waiting for one to come open……INSANE.
We had tried to get reservations for Sunday night in the steakhouse but they were booked so we instead reserved a table for Monday. We had requested Any Time Dining and decided to take a break and try out the dining room. Carnival must not change their menus very often because they offered the same items we had eaten on the last cruise. Marie had a Caesar salad, sautéed pork belly, pasta and Crème Brulee for dessert. I had a Caesar salad, fried oysters appetizer, lobster tail, and Creme Brulee. It all tasted really good and it was good to get the dining room experience out of the way early because if you eat there every night, it gets very tiring and unappetizing. I will share with you some pictures on the buffet one night. Marie decided to go to the Mexican buffet which was not that great, but the star of the dinner was the beautiful watermelon sculptures the chefs carved.
Monday we arrived at Cabo San Lucas. It is a big rock. All brown, no green. Can I say any more? We got off of the boat and decided to shop instead of going on an excursion.
We had a sunset cruise scheduled for Puerto Vallarta and couldn’t decide on what else to do in the other ports. In Cabo every store had tequila tastings in hopes of selling a bottle. At one table of tequilas, we heard one guy say “no thanks, that’s why I have to go to the meetings”. I purchased two bottles of Esperanto tequila. I can’t get it at Spec’s in College Station and I had bought a bottle on a previous trip to Mexico. It is better than any I have had because it is so smooth and has no charcoal taste. We wanted to go to Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo bar, but decided instead on Senor Frog’s since we didn’t know how far away Cabo Wabo was. We ordered chips and salsa and a Margarita. The chips were flour tortilla chips and very thick and the salsa was like canned tomato sauce. It was fun, though, watching the people take advantage of playing beer pong and doing tequila shots. We were only spectators, and never participants. I was so concerned because the hose and shot glasses were passed around without any cleaning. And it didn’t seem too hard for the waitresses to talk the customers into taking a shot. If you have ever been to Senor Frog’s, you know what I am talking about. If not, just check it out. Senor Frog’s is in just about every port you can imagine.
Thankfully the Cabo port was the only one where we had to take a tinder from the ship to the dock. It was horrible with an uneven step onto the boat as well as rocking back and forth. I was really afraid it wouldn’t end well, but it did and we all got back without drowning. I guess people in wheelchairs must miss out on a lot of sightseeing excursions. I am not very sure on my feet and even though I have had better experiences with a tinder, I still may sit the next one out.
Back on the ship we went back to the casino to wait for it to open. Off we went to play, Marie to the cat machines and me to find a loose machine. I played Hot Shots, Quick Hits, Diamond Fantasy and Pink Diamonds, but ended up back on the poker tables. I left the table even and went to find Marie. It was time for us to go to our dinner reservations at Nick and Nora’s Steakhouse. Nick and Nora were characters in the novel “The Thin Man”. In the movie based on the novel, they were played by William Powell and Myrna Loy. The restaurant had a New York vibe and offered a menu of beef and lamb entrees. Marie had Tuna Tartare, Spinach Salad and a Filet with Béarnaise sauce.
I had the pumpkin soup, lettuce wedge with gorgonzola cheese and bacon which I didn’t love because the gorgonzola was very overpowering. I also had the Filet Mignon with a peppercorn sauce. We each had Wasabi mashed potatoes but skipped dessert.
Actually, the waitress boxed it up for us and we took it to our cabin.
It was a very nice dining experience, excellent Kendall-Jackson cabernet, and attentive waitresses. We skipped dessert because we were anxious to get back to the casino. Every night the casino has a drawing for cash – Hot Seat and Big Loot. Our names were never drawn at night – more about that in a minute.
Tuesday we docked in Mazatlan and Marie decided to sleep in. I think she had a food hangover. Nick and Nora’s was delicious. It didn’t take any persuading me to sleep too. We rolled out of bed about 2:00 and managed to get dressed and grab something to eat. By this time we were sailing again and the casino was open. I decided to play the BAM! machine (the only one) and I was able to hit over $200.00 and quickly got excited about the slot machines again. It’s really disappointing to play and play and not hit enough to at least give a person hope, much less something to play with. I thought the machines were really tight and I guess certain machines were just due to hit. We just didn’t find any before someone else did.
Wednesday was Puerto Vallarta.
We were looking forward to our sunset cruise shore excursion. This was our late day in port and we weren’t rushed to get onto the dock. Stepping off the ship we found our excursion guide and we headed for the sailboat. But first I couldn’t help but notice this sea lion waiting to have his picture taken. Then after a long day of work he or she waddled onto a trailer and was put into a big truck. Oh the Life.
It was a gorgeous evening and even though the sail boat was not luxurious, we settled in with 18 other passengers.
The sea was a little rough, but I took a Dramamine that morning. Marie didn’t but she was fine. The crew mixed Margaritas and served cold beer, cheese and crackers, guacamole, salsa and chips. We were fine and it was a very enjoyable sail. And the sunset was gorgeous. Two male passengers however were not well during the cruise, in fact both had been in the casino every day, but we did not see them again until Friday. They say if you wait to take Dramamine until you need it, it’s too late. So I took it every day whether I thought I might need it or not.
We got back to the ship and I don’t know if I was a little loopy from sailing or the beer, (I just had a cup), but I was playing cards in the casino and went to the bathroom and fell as I was turning the corner to go into the bathroom. I went down pretty hard and I still have a bruise or two. I went to bed and stayed in our cabin until Friday morning. Even though my ribs were pretty sore I really enjoyed my relaxation time. What was so crazy was that Marie was coming out of the bathroom and when she opened the door, she saw me on the floor. Anyway it all worked out okay and I’m fine now. The really bad news was that on Thursday morning while I was in bed they called my name for the big loot drawing and I missed out on $1,100. So not only my pride was hurt when I fell, but so was my pocketbook.
Friday was our last day to play on the boat. We hit the casino running. Since I missed the day before, I had to make up for lost time and hopefully lost money. I tried to find a hidden gem in a remote corner of the casino, but not so. I did play some slots that I hadn’t seen earlier in the week and I did hit enough to give me money to play on but no hand pays. I played Slingo, Wolf Run, Buffalo Stampede, Triple Double Diamond Hot Roll, and Spitfire Bonus – all with little results. Played 3-Card poker, Ultimate Hold-em, and Let It Ride. When we went to our cabin that night, there was a letter under the door saying that Marie had received another free cruise from Carnival. So we will be off on another one soon, the next time out of Galveston. The last night the casino also gave away a free cruise and guess who won? “Honey”! Now first you have to picture a handsome gray-haired man with a neatly trimmed gray beard wearing a gold Lame’ shirt. He was with a pretty and well dressed lady, also called _”Honey”. When his name was called, he was playing right next to Marie and I. When he came back from getting his certificate, we heard him tell some other people that he was the “Most Interesting Man In the World”. Pretty soon other people were calling him that and he was really enjoying it. To be honest, Robert (his real name) did resemble the Dos Equis spokesman.
We met some other interesting people and saw some we didn’t get a chance to meet like the woman who wore a Ship Captain’s hat the whole trip and pulled a suitcase behind her. She also wore nautical themed clothes to match her hat. Then there was an Asian family we saw at the buffet. They were so sweet and cute. The mom reminded us so much of our mother before she died. She was thin with a new permanent in her hair and she smiled a lot. So did our mother. The couple had three adult daughters who were with them and took them on this trip. The daughters doted on them constantly and you could see how proud the parents were. Our parents had three daughters and seeing them together made us miss our mom and dad.
The next morning was check-out time and was pretty much a nightmare. We had to be out of our cabin by 8:30 and didn’t read our instructions and had filled out a room service request the night before for 9:00. It was to be our wakeup call. I’m really surprised at Marie that she did not have this under control. I had to go to one of the showrooms and pick up my tequila. Our stewardess Joanna started knocking at 8:30 and woke us up. She was ready to clean our cabin for the next guests. We finally left about 9:30, got to the dock and on our shuttle bus. We were headed back to Los Angeles where we were renting a car and starting on the second leg of our trip. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.