The weather has turned extremely hot and humid as we dock in Puerta Vallarta in the early morning.
The first thing that strikes me as I look out from our balcony, is the colour of the water.
Spoiled by previous cruises to the Caribbean, I had been expecting the same sparkling turquoise waters in the Mexican Riviera, but was disappointed to find it mostly a muddy brown. Granted, the previous week's hurricane had stirred up a lot of sand so that might have accounted for some of it.
I was also not expecting to see a Wal-Mart as soon as we docked!
Puerta Vallarta also had a lot of high rises, condos and hotels, with many more under construction, and coupled with the heavy workday traffic at 9 am, this port looked like a very busy, bustling city.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of the city at all, because our shore excursion took us out to sea again!
We had booked the Pirate Ship Adventure, and adventure it was!
We were met at the dock by a couple of very dubious looking pirates who ordered us to follow them to their ship docked nearby. Here, we were assigned our own "personal pirate" (named Eric!) who would look after our needs all day.
That he did, from getting us drinks, serving us food, making sure we were comfortable, and generally looking out for us.
Once on board the Margalante, an exact replica of the Santa Maria, we were seated in rows on wooden benches, topped with cushy life-preservers. There were approximately 30 passengers on this adventure, strangely enough, evenly divided between Mexicans and Canadians! A few passengers were asked by the pirates to participate in their "show" and a young boy and a young woman played important roles in the pirate drama to follow.
As we set sail past the docked Sapphire Princess, loud music from the Pirates of the Caribbean started up, and all the pirates, at least 16 of them, appeared. We felt like we were in the middle of a Hollywood movie!
The crew/pirates enacted a real pirate adventure story, complete with "aaarghs", "yo ho ho's", booming cannons, swashbuckling swordfights, climbing of the mast, walking the plank, man overboard, and the rescue of the beautiful maiden and young pirate boy, with a little slapstick thrown in for good measure. Music and smoke effects added to the drama - it was really quite entertaining!
I was glad to be so engrossed in the show, because that pirate ship was rolling in the waves something fierce! I'm surprised I was not sick.
When the pirate show was over (with a happy ending of course), we anchored just off a secluded beach, and our pirate hosts tendered us over to it in a small motorboat.
The beach area was small but beautiful, the surf not too strong, and there were chairs and umbrellas to protect us from the hot sun, and an open bar to keep us refreshed during our 2 hour stay.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the umbrellas, chairs, kayaks, boogie boards and banana boat rides were all included in the excursion - no extra charge!
Many passengers were trying the banana boat ride and it looked like fun, so I decided to be brave and try it myself.
I ended up the last one on the banana, and half-way around the bay, I was thrown unceremoniously into the drink, swallowing a gallon of sea water in the process!
The pirates in the boat circled back, rescued me, and I enjoyed the rest of the ride back on the back of the banana!
Sadly, our beach time came to an end, and we were tendered back to the pirate ship in the little motorboat.
Once back on board, we were ushered below deck into a large, rustic dining room full of long wooden tables and benches. Our "personal pirate" served us a magnificent meal of chicken cordon bleu, with fettucine alfredo and salad, and brought us all the Margaritas we wanted. I had no idea that pirates were such good cooks!
After lunch, it was back on deck for some music, dancing, contests, and another pirate performance.
Our pirate crew were all wonderful, helpful,and very accomodating. I was especially impressed with their service and attention to the elderly, handicapped and child passengers, ensuring that everyone was comfortable, and having a good time.
The only really scary part in my mind, was the pirate ship toilet.
As you entered the washroom, you opened the split saloon style swinging doors, and came face to face with the scariest skull over the toilet seat! Children on board were afraid to go in there!
When we docked back at the pier, all 16 pirates stood in line on the quayside to say goodbye and shake hands with all the passengers, reminiscent of the end of a playoff hockey game!
Everyone was given a souvenir paper pirate hat, and the kids were given paper pirate swords.
All in all, a very enjoyable excursion for all ages, and I highly recommend it.
Back on the Sapphire Princess, it was time for a late afternoon swim, hot tub, and watching our departure from Puerta Vallarta before dinner.
Our dinners in the International Dining Room all week were exceptionally good. Despite the sometimes slow and indifferent service, we enjoyed our dinners mostly for the company and stimulating conversations with Frank, Don and Shirley.
This evening's special activity was a Mexican Fiesta Deck Party, outside on the Lido Deck by the main pool.
We arrived just in time for the huge Mexican food buffet - straight after finishing our dinner!
Colourful leis were handed out, and the live music (pool band Axis), dancing, and games began.
I could kick myself for forgetting to bring my camera!
There were lots of passengers, crew, music and fun, and the evening ended with a huge conga line all around and up and down the levels of the deck, and with colourful streamers thrown by those on the upper deck. It was quite the party, with the energetic and crazy cruise staff, and we were exhausted after dancing in the heat!
Another late night off to bed.... Good Night!