Elope to Mexico Anniversary on the Love Boat, Day 1: Embarkation

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Coastal California Cruise (Los Angeles, Catalina, Ensenada, Mexico, Los Angeles)
What: Ruby Princess
When: September 25-29, 2015
Why: End of Summer Sea Escape

After another hot, dry summer in Las Vegas, we needed to run away to sea. The May cruise seemed like a mirage. So when we noticed a 4-night cruise on the Princess Ruby, we booked a balcony cabin on the Caribe deck. Ironically, embarkation day would be a day forever etched in my brain: the day my parents eloped to Mexico. What a perfect day to set sail for Mexico! How romantic! Even if they weren’t celebrating, we certainly could.

We’d cruised the Grand Princess back in 2002 and one thing we didn’t like that much was how the balcony cabins stair stepped along the side and you could look down on everyone. So we booked a lower cabin, which gave us a better view of the sea and only the Mini-Suite cabins. This also gave us a much deeper balcony. Overall, this was a terrific location.

We also decided against driving the 4 hours to the Port of Los Angeles on the day of the cruise. So we left our home in Las Vegas at around 3 p.m. the night before, arriving at the Huntington Beach/Fountain Valley Residence Inn at around 7 p.m. We brought mini bottles of wine with us so we could relax a bit once we arrived.

Unfortunately, the bed was just as uncomfortable as before so we both woke up with sore backs. After showering, getting dressed, and having a quick complimentary breakfast, we drove to the beach to watch a few waves before proceeding up PCH to San Pedro.

We arrived at the port at around 11:50. We’d been instructed not to embark until about 1:30 but we also heard that it really doesn’t matter. We parked the car in the open lot, noticing that Long Beach has a parking garage, which we prefer. But when we arrived inside, we noticed how organized Princess was. Unlike Carnival in Long Beach, where all waiting is done outside, San Pedro felt more like Florida ports with inside seating and organized by number.

There was no line at check-in and the Princess staff was very friendly and helpful. We found our sitting here for group #8 and waited for half an hour or so before we were called. The seats were comfortable and we sipped some water while we waited.

Finally, our number was called and we were onboard by 12:45. We dropped our carry-on bag in our room and headed to the Da Vinci dining room for embarkation lunch. This is not widely publicized but is definitely one of the pluses for Princess.

We were seated at a long row of tables for two and our friendly water took our order promptly.

Rich: Antipasti, Beef Tenderloin, Apple Tartin

Kathy: Shrimp and Avocado Salad, Salmon with amazing sauce, Apple Tartin

Lunch was delicious. In fact, we’ll go ahead and say that everything onboard was delicious. Princess has the best food! It’s probably too good – lol!

We returned to our stateroom and our suitcase had arrived so we unpacked. Our muster drill was at 3:30 and we were so disappointed it wasn’t as short and sweet as our last Princess cruise. Last time we just sat in one of the lounges. This time we stood in a hot, stuffy hallway and waited for like forever until we were able to leave. It was painful and we were all sweating.

Afterwards, we toured a bit of the ship and returned to our stateroom for the anticipated sailaway at 4 p.m. We waited and waited and waited. We finally sailed at 5:30 p.m. We had planned to drink our remaining mini bottles of wine for sailaway but we were facing the sun and it was way too hot. In fact, this whole cruise was too hot. We were having a late September heatwave and didn’t escape the heat like we’d hoped. Sailing this time of year was too warm and sunny – we’re used to more winter sailaways and cruises, which we prefer.

Because we’d had lunch in the dining room, we decided we’d have dinner in the buffet. So at 6 p.m. we went to the Horizon Court for dinner.

Kathy: Shrimp cocktail, Scallop ceviche, Alaskan crab cake, Shrimp & Mussels, Paella. (I really stocked up on seafood on this cruise.)

Rich: Ceviche, Ham, Mussells, Pasta, Smoked Salmon, Bread

Dessert: We shared apple pie and fruit tart.

We then walked the Promenade Deck. But one thing we noticed on the entire cruise – we’d never seen the Promenade Deck so crowded. But, actually, all public spaces were crowded. The Ruby carries 3000 passengers, 1,000 more than the Grand Princess, but doesn’t have any more public spaces. We really noticed the crowds on this cruise.

Embarkation day is always tiring so we returned to our cabin and sat out on the balcony sipping a glass of wine until bedtime. And then the ship rocked us to sleep, although we were barely moving since we were on our way to Catalina Island, 26 miles across the sea.

A few photos from the day taken from both our camera and our cell phones:

IMG_6016Red Jeep in the foreground; Ruby Princess in the background

IMG_0225San Pedro

IMG_0226Looking down on the Mini-Suite

IMG_0228Carry-on bag in our cabin

beefRich’s Beef Entree, Embarkation Lunch

salmonKathy’s Salmon Entree, Embarkation Lunch

tartTart Tatin, Embarkation Lunch Dessert

IMG_6025Rich on our Balcony

KathyatSeaKathy at Sea

IMG_0230Sunset at Sea