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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Monday, December 19, 2011 – Day 29 – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

JoeTourist: Cabo San Lucas &emdash; Land's End beach - empty in early morningLand’s End is beautiful in the morning light as Rotterdam sails into the bay. The beaches along Land’s End are devoid of the crowds at this early hour, and display their charms through my binoculars as the ship anchors.

I wait until the tenders are less crowded later this morning, and then go ashore to the Cabo San Lucas Marina area. The whole area is nothing but tourist shops and guys trying to sell boat trips to see Land’s End or the various scenic beaches. There is every tourist excursion known to man being hawked to the cruise ship passengers as they walk the marina area. There are surprisingly few hotels; instead there are thousands of condos lining the beaches and marina area. Some are even built up on the arid hills surrounding the town. I’m sure there are some beautiful views from those properties. I walk around about half of the huge marina area and poke through some of the shops and “flea markets” before getting fed up and return to the ship after about an hour.

The Carnival Spirit has just anchored beside the Rotterdam in the bay, so the boat excursion salesmen ashore will have a fresh batch of customers to work on. Eight shore-based tender boats immediately head to the new mother ship, ready to take the passengers ashore. The tendering business must be lucrative and steady in such a popular cruise port…probably a better business to be in than the excursion business, which is obviously oversupplied.

I feel sorry for all the excursion salesmen. They just don’t realize that the Rotterdam passengers are at the end of a 30 day cruise, and have been propositioned so many times over the last few weeks; they are immune to the pitches, and certainly not interested in any more boat tours. That said, Cabo San Lucas will roll on, offering a destination beach experience like few other Mexican Riviera towns. It is a spectacular setting.

The Christmas vacation crowd has already descended on the place as I discover when I scan the beaches with my binoculars from the ship. I’m sure all the accommodation is booked, and the flights down here are full. As I sit on the Lower Promenade Deck writing my journal, the little excursion boats are dashing back and forth, taking people to see Lands End rock and the beaches along the way.

People are drifting by parasailing, and little Seadoos are zipping by, squirting water in the air as they noisily slap the waves, going every which way across the bay. As the day progresses, the beaches near Lands End fill up with people who, I suppose thought they might “get away from the crowds” only to create their own crowd! The Seadoos swarm around the Rotterdam and become a bit annoying, but I guess they are having fun. I come inside to get away from the noise, and who do I see but Santa standing beside the big clock in the Atrium, being videotaped by the ship’s photographers. You just never know who you will meet on a cruise ship!

JoeTourist: Cabo San Lucas &emdash; Beachfront condos and hotels on the Pacific side of Cabo San LucasThe Rotterdam pulls anchor and sails around Land’s End and along the outer coastline where all the rich and famous retreat to – Solmar Beach, Divorce Beach, and the steep cliffs where the spectacular homes are built away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. We have a glorious sunset to enjoy on our second to last day aboard ship.

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Huatulco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – at sea

Saturday, December 17, 2011 – Day 27 – At sea

Today we are enroute from Huatulco to Puerto Vallarta, sailing up the Mexican Pacific coast. I go for breakfast in La Fontaine dining room this morning, and am seated with a table of veteran cruisers. They are all talking about their various experiences on ships. I am a two star Mariner in Holland America’s loyalty program, and most everyone else has either two stars or three stars. Nobody has achieved Four Star status yet, which is the top level for Holland America cruisers.

I am invited to the 11AM sitting of the Mariners Luncheon, where I see the captain for the first time in this voyage. He greets me as I enter La Fontaine dining room. They pour us some champagne, the captain welcomes us, and then Thom the Cruise Director makes a few remarks about Holland America’s ships and loyalty program. The lunch is nice, and I meet some interesting people at the table. One couple from Michigan has visited Hawaii 16 times. She was on an African safari to South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and really liked it. I share that I also did a safari in the same area a few years ago.

JoeTourist: Rotterdam, the ship &emdash; Christmas gifts around the Atrium antique clockThe ship is decorated for Christmas, with some impressive displays around the giant clock in the atrium, as well as a huge gingerbread house, and a sequencing Christmas sign stretched between the twin stacks outside. I understand there will be over 100 children boarding the ship when it departs San Diego in a few days, so their families’ Christmas aboard ship will be assured to be special, particularly when Santa shows up in person.

My friends and I go up to the Lido for dinner, and decide to sit on the semi-open deck around the pool, where we can watch the beautiful sunset over the ocean. We had hoped there might be a Green Flash visible tonight, but no joy since there is quite a bit of sea fog near the horizon.

Later, I go up to Deck 10 forward and do a bit of astronomical observing. Visually and with my Canon IS binoculars I see: Jupiter (2+2 moons) directly overhead, Venus near the horizon, Orion Nebula and constellation, M45 the Pleiades, M31 Andromeda Galaxy, Cassiopeia constellation, and Cygnus constellation. As my eyes adapt to the dark, I can also see the Milky Way.