Carnival Splendor Again: Todos Santos (Etc.)

Previously: The First Sea Day

(With no greater excuse than "the Fun Times were a bit out of reach behind the sofa for reference," the travelogue finally continues.)

Todos Santos - Tour Tickets

Todos Santos awaited us! We were selfishly pleased the stop in Mazatlan had been cancelled. The second day in Cabo meant we'd stay later the first day, which meant the Todos Santos tour was available. Usually it's only available when you sail on Carnival Spirit.

By this cruise we felt like old hands at Cabo if not the entire "Mexican Riviera," but this was our first time to share a port with a Norwegian ship. Here's the Norwegian Star:

Norwegian Star

Morning tours in Cabo (booked through Carnival) meet onboard to make sure everyone gets on the tender and to their tour on time. (If you book with someone else, always make sure they have a backup plan if the ship is delayed, or a refund option if the water is too rough for tendering.)

We waited in El Morocco lounge, not a space we usually visit during the sunshine hours.

Carnival Splendor - Waiting in El Morocco Lounge

Tours were called in groups of twos and threes. I ended up wishing our tour had met closer to the central steps; after we called and started walking the length of the ship, the pace felt a bit competitive as everyone vied to be first. Yes, first to the tender that would take us all at the same time. I think a few non-tour people fell in with us, too - maybe that should be the next Cruise Critic flame war. "Unauthorized Queue Zippering," we could call it.

Anyway (she continues, a month or so after typing the above - I'm not only a lazy diarist but a lazy typist as well), we got the big catamaran for our tender, a nice change from the little "doll eyes" as we call them. (Long story. Inside joke. Hamster related, of course.) The size of it, though, just heightened the usual problem of small families claiming an entire bench for themselves, disregarding the "move to the back, slide all the way down" directives, and then leaving was delayed because the last people were milling around, trying to find a seat.

I think I've mentioned (not sure, as - like I said - it's now been awhile since I started this post and the last thing I want to do is be all professional and reread what I've said so far) that on this cruise Mike and seemed unusually sensitive to people being people. Someone in an Amazon review of our "book" (if you don't know, don't ask - it was just a trip report) said that I claim to not want to complain, but then I complain all the time. My reaction?, "I said I didn't want to complain?" Ha! I love to discuss minutia and ponder why things are the way they are. (Which, to some, does sound exactly like complaining, I admit.) But if there's bitching to be done, may as well enjoy the camaraderie of it. Gripefest at Bring your own sour grapes. We'll make smoothies!

Anyway (trying this again), here's Mike on the tender:

Carnival Splendor - Mike on Catamaran Tender to Cabo

Our group met on the pier, crossed the street together, walked through the bus depot, queued by twos in an orderly fashion, and finally boarded a bus with excellent windows:

Bus to Todos Santos - Great Windows

Later on the ride home all that sun made me feel kind of faded, burnt, and oogie, but for sightseeing, they were great.

The restroom was tiny, though. Astonishingly so:

Tiny Toilet on Bus

Maybe it was bigger on the inside. I don't mean like a TARDIS, but just bigger than I realized. (Or maybe like a TARDIS. May have missed a chance there.) Putting the microwave and coffeemaker right above it just added to the errrgh.

To this day I wonder if this is wordplay or a typo:

Motel la Roca - Dive Inn (Cabo San Lucas)

A bunch of ATVers:

ATVers - near Cabo San Lucas

It's funny; I was on the bus thinking, "How awful - to come all the way to Cabo and just screech around in the dirt." Someone down there may have been thinking, "How awful - to just sit inside an air-conditioned bus and be driven to sights instead of playing in the sunshine." Travel: We're All Doing It Right.

After several "that must be it"s that weren't it, we approached Todos Santos.

Welcome to Todos Santos

As we rode along, Mike and I kept looking at street signs, trying to remember the name of the street with the restaurant we'd routed out on Google Maps before leaving. But then we thought there wouldn't be a TS tour, so we didn't write it down. Oops. Hotel California - where the tour meal was planned - didn't have much to offer Mike's dislike of seafood/mushrooms/etc. and my vegetarianism. We preferred the idea of wandering off on our own anyway.

Good plan, and one we set into motion as soon as Mike caught up with guide Libby, who was almost all the way to the Hotel California down the street before everyone disembarked. (Except for the restaurant, the visit to TS was meant to be self-guided. However, she was doing a tour of the cathedral and cultural center for anyone interested. Anyway, we wanted to tell her our plans.)

Libby didn't know our chosen restaurant from the description, but she made some suggestions for other places we might like.

We parked a little past the Jill Logan Galeria:

Todos Santos - Jill Logan Galeria

"Tequila's Sunrise" is across from the Hotel California. Hyuk hyuk.

Todos Santos - Tequila's Sunrise (Across from Hotel California)

I was disappointed to see that the tour company brochure on the cruise ship promoted the lie that the Hotel California had anything to do with the song, but at least no one on the tour or in the town brought it up. This would've forced me to become Boorish Person Who Cannot Let Some Things Go. (Become? More like "stop suppressing.") I think the rumour that hotel = song subject (soundly shot down by Don Henley) only survives now because of shoddy copying-and-pasting or sleazy tour operators. Yes, the HC gift shop plays a twinkly version of the song in the airy background, but that's almost tongue-in-cheek and easily forgiven.

Todos Santos - Hotel California Lobby

(Hotel California, lobby.)

We started in the gift shop, looking around a little and noting the culinary sea salts created by the hotel chef. Libby had mentioned them in her well-informed spiel. The shop was a little crowded, not only with our tour but other tourists (no other buses, though), and the salt didn't have prices, so we decided to look at it again later after sorting out our restaurant.

Todos Santos - Hotel California Sea Salts

Having a delicious, leisurely meal somewhere scenic while taking in the atmosphere seemed like a great start to our too-brief time here.

(Much better than trying to peer around people queueing up for blinged-out baby-Ts with the hotel logo. Also of interest to many were the damiana-based liqueurs. I remember when I first learned about damiana as a neopagan teen, wearing out a copy of The Herb Book. And no, I didn't go straight to the "marijuana" entry - I was a late bloomer to pot and it never really took. Yes, I just admitted to the entire internet which includes my father that I tried then-illegal-and-currently-sorta-illegal drugs. Sorry, Dad! It was only a few times and I was so bad at it that I honestly don't even know if I inhaled. Smoking? Ew! The control freak in me prefers carbs. You can still drive. Anyway, I was far more interested in entries on things like damiana. "You mean there are plants that promote... that?" Never would I have foreseen that 25 years later I'd be on a pier looking at signs saying, "Damiana Vodka! Made with Nature's Viagra!" Meanwhile, did you catch the name of the book's author?)

Todos Santos - Place That Sells Beer

Right away it struck me how clean and casual Todos Santos is. I mean, I wasn't expecting the filth of Acapulco (jab, jab), but even when we walked past dirt, there was no connotation of grime. (And definitely no machine gun-bearing officers on prominent duty.) The closest we've come to this before may have been Comala, also a designated "pueblo magico" of Mexico, but Comala doesn't have the "charm on every corner" that TS has. You get a true "artist colony" feel without having that HI! WE MAKE IMPORTANT ART! AND TAKE VISA! vibe. (Remember when Hank Hill visits the artist colony in the strip mall? Or was it Peggy? Is there not a King of the Hill allusion for every occasion?)

Todos Santos - Cathedral

(The cathedral was plainer than expected.)

Todos Santos is tidy, but there are ruins:

Todos Santos - Ruined Building

But even the ruins seemed tranquil - places biding their time until the next idea comes along. Not evidence of poverty and neglect. Todos Santos is much more like what I expected La Paz to be: relaxing, no pressure, pretty.

We decided that maybe the restaurant was called the Cafe Todos Santos. (Or maybe someone suggested it was, I forget.) We asked for directions as we walked around. One woman said it was two blocks away. (I barely heard her because I was so pleased with myself for addressing her using the "usted" form. Eighth-grade Spanish, represent!) No luck. Mike asked at a real estate office. They didn't have any ideas. He asked a New Yorker who now lives in La Paz. The man didn't know, but he could suggest another place on the next street, which we kept in mind. Meanwhile, I peeped into shops and other hotels:

Todos Santos - Hotel in Passing

One street had different saints above each door:

Todos Santos - Manos MexicanasYou could make several lunch-trips to Todos Santos and still not visit all the little hotels, galleries, eateries, and stores:

Todos Santos - Inside a Shop

Not our restaurant, but I liked the sign:

Todos Santos - Tre Galline Restaurant Sign

Coming around a bit in a circle, we found "Caffe Todos Santos," just steps from where ten minutes before we'd turned a corner and decided to try elsewhere. But when we went inside, we discovered it was truly a cafe of the "coffee first" variety, and not the establishment we'd been seeking:

Todos Santos - Caffe Todos Santos Menu

Pretty menu, though.

So much interesting architecture:

Todos Santos - Building

We decided to find the last person's restaurant, on a street parallel from the sort of main drag on which Hotel California and the Cultural Center are found and at the bottom of a hill.

I liked the steps leading up to this corner grocery:

Todos Santos - Grocery Store

(Not enough to correctly expose the snapshot, but you get the idea.)

Todos Santos - American Ice Cream and.. Nachos

I think those nachos are American as well... if we're defining "American" as "K-Mart cafeteria fare." Not the most appetizing sign, and a good reminder that just because it's "authentic" doesn't mean it's "tasty."

(But, one of the best plates of nachos I ever had was butt-ugly, and made in Utah, so who knows? But that sign? No bueno.)

We kept seeing twisty little staircases outside of small buildings:

Todos Santos - Minimart

And the small buildings we kept seeing now weren't restaurants. Hrm.

Todos Santos - Daniel Rope y Novedodes

(But what we did see was still pretty cute.)

We came to a park:

Todos Santos - Park

And to our left?

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes Entrance

Las Fuentes. Was this the restaurant we'd found online? No, but it had the rockwork, shade, fans, and courtyard aspect we'd been seeking.

(Why didn't I just turn on my smartypants phone and look it up? Because I live in mortal fear of three-digit cell bills... or worse. Yeah, I know you can arrange for special plans before you leave the country, but what if there was some misunderstanding? Also, they still make you ring up and talk to a human to get that done. Then again to get it undone. Easier to just explore and keep the world at bay.)

As we entered, the hostess was so still and oddly posed in the center of the room, looking at nothing, that we felt like intruders. (Actually, Mike wasn't even sure she was a real person. It was shadowy. Could've been a cardboard cutout.) But no, there was another small group here (also gringos), the restaurant was open, and we took a table for two near the back.

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes Interior

Mmm, chips.

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes - Chips

Mmm, two kinds of salsa.

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes - Chips and Salsa

Mmm, real Coke for Mike and blurry lemonade (carbonated, lightly sweet and tangy) for me.

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes (Unfocused, Heh) Lemonade

The hostess-now-waitress took our orders efficiently despite my poor but serviceable Spanish. Her English was limited, so if you go to TS, don't assume everyone is comfortable with English, and be sure to know all of the good tourist phrases, like "uno mas, por favor." (But at least mentally put an accent over the /a/ in "mas." It's too late/early for me to be looking up these things, but know that someone out there is holding you to a higher standard.)

Mike had the chicken enchiladas.

Todos Santos - Chicken Enchiladas at Las Fuentes

I couldn't decide, so I ordered plain quesadillas to share.

Todos Santos - Quesadillas (Plain) at Las Fuentes

Obviously this was not a tapas bar, and the appetizers could serve six. Oops. We nibbled, but they were a bit on the plain side (yeah, I know that's how I ordered them) and couldn't compete with our other food, which was fresh and delicious.

I had the potato tacos:

Todos Santos - Tacos de Papas at Las Fuentes

I want to grab another one (uno mas!) out of the photo right now, they were so good. Light but thorough seasoning on the non-greasy potatoes, cotija cheese, crema, a little lettuce for crunch and sprinkling of tomatoes for a juicy accent and.... happy slobbers...

All around us as we ate were little chickadee-like birds hopping up and down off the tables. We took pleasure in watching a plump one scout everywhere for cast-off tortilla crumbs. (But of course all of those photos came out too blurry. The birds were darling, though.)

Mike makes a delighted face:

Todos Santos - Las Fuentes - Mike Making Faces

Todos Santos isn't on a beach, but it is right by the sea. Many restaurants boast fresh seafood, including Las Fuentes.

Todos Santos - Langosta Fresca - Fresh Lobster

Sated but not stupidly so, with nothing but raves for Las Fuentes coming out of our mouths as eagerly as lunch went in, we continued to wander.

I failed to take a photo of an iguana as long as my arm, but here is a pharmacy on the opposite side of the street (and a non-sequiter - I'm not suggesting the iguana used steroids or anything):

Todos Santos - Farmacias GI

We thought about getting some Omeprazol (an OTC anti-reflux/acid drug that I've probably misspelled), as it's so much cheaper in Mexico, but the pharmacy we visited was cash-only, and we wanted to save our cash. Plus it just felt a bit dodgy. (The place, not the drug buying. I said OTC. Federales, stand down!) I'm sure the product is the same as in the cities with their clinical-looking stores meant to make you feel like you're at an open-air doctor's office (why do retailers in Mexico so often not have a front wall?), but it's also cheaper in the city, with all the competition, so we decided to wait. (The pharmacy shown above was closed, actually, but I didn't take a pic of the one we considered. We told the guy we were going to an ATM and would be back, and then we ran away. No, I don't know why I can't just say, "I've changed my mind." Lying just feels more polite at the time.)

Hmm, what is this?

Todos Santos - Brick Structures in Lot

It's behind this:

Todos Santos - Las Compas Building

The inside of which looks like this:

Todos Santos - Another Doorway (HDR Abuse)

(If you abuse the HDR settings in Photoshop.)

Next to the building were two shoes by the side of the road. Two! Truly this is a magic town, if roadside shoes come in pairs.

Todos Santos - Two Shoes

Oh look, the other side of the building... and the chimney-thing again.

Todos Santos - Pepsi Ghost Sign

More about soaking in the tranquility than shopping (we're not really art people most days anyway), we found ourselves back at the bus without any souvenirs.

Todos Santos - Our Bus

That wouldn't do! Even in La Paz we managed to find a magnet in the port terminal. Not being time to leave yet anyway, we walked on down to the Hotel California. I mean, it's not about the song, but it's an attraction in its own right. And we needed to buy something.

Todos Santos - Santo Miguel

Perhaps not that.

People seemed to be having a good time in the bar.

Todos Santos - Hotel California Bar

Do you ever find yourself wondering how many pictures are out there of you, in the background of someone's snapshot? I think Flickr already lets you search by tag + date taken? But I wish there was a master search engine that looks at tag, date, and lat/long, and gives you results, be they on Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, Webshots... (And why is Webshots still seemingly #1 with cruisers?) It would be even neater if it could look at your recent uploads and say, oh, it looks like you were at lat/long blah-blah at noon on July 14 - here are some other pics that match that description.

Neat, yes? So, venture capital: who has some? And programming skills? And a lawyer for when people start freaking out to see unflattering shots of themselves across the internet.

I talked myself out of the salt. No prices, and it seemed more exciting in theory than in reality. I saw some soap that caught my eye, as exotic bathing stuff always does, but I wanted to check out the set of shops across the street first. (There's a lot of first-person singular pronouning happening here. Mike is happy for me to be the bossy tour guide, although he can take over when the BTG is freaking out that we'll never find the restaurant and we'll have to climb back up a hill with post-pneumonia lungs and low blood sugar just to eat some butt-ugly nachos that aren't even Utah-good, which is only two steps away from dying in a ditch alone. With an itchy nose.)

The shops were mostly the usual souvenir mix of fire opals and leather sandals with embossed beer logos that we'd not seen much of elsewhere in town, but I did see a piece of stone art that spoke to my rodent-loving heart:

Todos Santos - Swingset Mice


But nowhere in Todos Santos did we get the hard sell until we came to this place. When I first admired the swingset mice, it was $120. (Yeah...) Until I heard the price, I was even half-considering it. So cute! A pain to schlep back, but cute!

But by the time the seller was suggesting $40, despite all of the awkward no-thanks'ing and excuses we made because we're polite like that (and also didn't want to alienate someone whose numbers were getting better by the minute, and everyone does have their price), Mike had pointed out all kinds of chips and missing parts to me. Drats.

Maybe for $15? Or $20? But then, the missing bits... the hauling... the fact that we don't have a house with a yard, or even a house. (I have been thinking about synthetic grass for the balcony. Now how can I turn the busy traffic into ocean waves?)

Oh, and there was also the moment when the seller said, "let me show you where I make them" and took us six steps away into a jewelry showroom, got behind a glass counter, and started talking about fire opals.

I'll make my own swingset mice someday. Put it on the list.

So, back across the street to the Hotel California gift shop to admire the locally crafted soap again, in its artfully distressed box:

Todos Santos - Desert Soaps

(I'm saying "artfully distressed" because I mostly believe it, and because Mike asked and they said they didn't have any others in better condition.)

Despite all appearances of having only remedial grooming knowledge, I'm a fiend for those bath products that manage to combine homespun earthiness with a little sophistication. We leave farmers markets as often with soap as with food, which is weird because I have this whole "soap scum bad, bath gel good" thing about the bathtub that I'm sure Mike will speak about at length when I'm dead, probably in the arms of his second wife who will never nag about housework because they'll have a maid, a maid whose salary will come out of the insurance settlement from where I was hit by the truck while wearing imperfect underwear* and left to die in the aforementioned ditch, but I digress.

(*I'm going to come back to the topic of underwear. I'm just saying this now so you don't go hunting all around this shoddily organized post looking for the follow-up asterisk.)

Wasn't one of these on Antiques Roadshow?

Todos Santos - Hotel California NCR CR

A better view of the Emporio:

Todos Santos - Hotel California Emporio

Mike waits to pay:

Todos Santos - Hotel California Register

Back on the bus, with the soap. It's all about the soap.

Todos Santos - Mike, Soap Model

Roadside fortress:

Building Outside Todos Santos

(Here I had to look up "crenellate" to see if it meant what I wanted it to mean to describe the building above. Would you believe that Merriam-Webster's site requires premium membership to see the definition of that particular word? The term "five-dollar word" has new meaning. will tell you for free, but I used my semi-stolen OED access instead. But is it really stolen if it's a taxpayer-funded institution that accidentally shared the password on the internet? In the end, I decided I didn't even want to use a word that is, frankly, too close to "crinoline." Are you also imagining a battlement made of stiff petticoats? And by the way, have you ever met Caroline, one of our dwarf hamsters?)

Irrepressible Caroline

Tagging. I hate it. Cabo is no Mazatlan, though. (And I like Mazatlan, but if the amount of tagging there has any relationship to the amount of crime, I can see why cruises are being rerouted. Does tagging = heavier crime? Wait, tagging is a crime, so duh. I really hate it. Overlapping balloon letters are so 5th grade, right? And the vandals who don't even try to make puffy letters - the ones who just scrawl their gang's initials - you just know they don't even have matching satin jackets.)

Tagging Between Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas

And that was our day in Todos Santos! We came back to Cabo, bought some acid reflux drugs like old gits, and felt pleased to have found another way to enjoy this port we can't seem to shake. (I realize that toward the end it seemed more like our day in the Hotel California gift shop, but all of my other photos are easily duplicated by using Street View in Google Maps.)

Speaking of Google, did we ever remember which restaurant we were looking for? Sure, as soon as we looked it up at home. It's called Los Adobes and is on this page along with Caffe Todos Santos (where we thought we were going) and Las Fuentes (where we ended up).

Hopefully we'll get to try Los Adobes sometime, but I wonder what will get us back to TS? I'd be happy to return, but when will we even vacation in western Mexico again? Those same-old cruise itineraries are getting pretty played out for us, and I have a long list of land-based sights on my wishlist ahead of our southern neighbour. Would we want to ride the bus again? (I'd rent a car, corruption worries aside, but why risk being an hour and half away from the cruise ship when you get a flat, knowing the ship won't wait?)

But who knows?

On the bus ride back, Libby - a former teacher - gave us a quiz on Baja California, covering topics from earlier. Part jokey, part serious, all multiple choice. Fun way to pass the time, and I could see she probably had no problems with classroom management in her teaching days. (Yes, I'm jealous.) At the end, when she gave out the comment cards, the two people with something written on the back of their surveys received prizes from the glassblowing factory. (Some day I should talk about the glassblowing factory.) Very sweet. Mike was a winner and got a glass heart.

This was all a neat experience, but we did feel tired from the sunny/bumpy drive back, so we decided against the spa - beloved spa! - in favour of naps and reading as it was only a few hours until dinner.

Such laziness ended up extending to dinner. Tonight was Mike's favourite dish in the main dining room: jerked pork loin. But, everything else on the menu was same-old, especially for me, with that single vegetarian dish on the menu each night. It's not the same menu every night, of course, but it's the same set of menus every cruise, and we just eat too well at home to be excited any more. Maybe if we had amazing waiters like on previous cruises or Your Time Dining or just a table with a great view or a less noisy restaurant...

Anyway, I never thought we'd miss the MDR on JPL night, but the jerked pork loin happened to also be available on the Lido buffet; we decided to see if it tasted the same then decide from there. Sometimes the buffet items just aren't as good as what you get in the dining room. It's not just the presentation and pacing of the MDR experience; the way they can be served differently sometimes makes a difference. (Baked stuffed mushrooms? The same. Vegetarian pot pie? Doesn't even look the same let alone taste alike.)

Mike pronounced it good (and three months later promises he wasn't lying for my sake), so we kept it low-key and stayed on the Lido, with apologies to the Mike and Shari of a year ago who would be aghast.

Not that I'd remember to ask Mike about the pork loin now if I didn't just discover that I actually took some notes on this day. Notes! What else do these notes say?

Oh yeah, earlier that day unattended kids were cannonballing into one of the hot tubs on the deck above the pool/big screen. Grrr. No one was around. I asked the kids their ages to scare them into settling down (ha), then meaningfully said to one, "So you're the oldest?" After that I nodded and walked away as if I was going to do something official.

But what? Set myself up for parent drama for the rest of the cruise as soon as a kid outed me for telling them off? Or have the kids ignore me/be disrespectful and make seeing them later always be unpleasant? Why should I even have to deal with this?

But 1) what they were doing was dangerous in that little tub, at that angle, with the very slippery deck, on a moving ship, and 2) if I were an adult who wanted to use the hot tub, I'd be pissed off to find a group of pre-teens and younger treating the hot tub like pool/splash park. Unsupervised children aren't allowed. The sign is right there. It doesn't matter that adults get their own tub in the back (as some would argue) - this tub has rules.

The sign is also right here:

Carnival Splendor - No Unsupervised Kids in Hot Tubs

No jumping. No unattended kids. No horseplay.

Someone came up to mop the floor (like a small lake from the jumping kids), and I described what the kids were just doing and that they were alone. Alas, the person didn't seem to speak English. This is usually never a problem on the ships, but I think this person - nice though he was - also didn't want to venture outside the scope of keeping his head down and mopping, which may have been the real issue.

We went to a house phone, but these have no option to call anyone other than housekeeping, the steakhouse, etc. unless it's a 911-type emergency. Argh!

So. Trek down to Guest Services, queue up, and describe everything (while the kids themselves may have since moved on), or shrug and go back to the room?

Option two it was. Sorry, kids. If you break your necks, sue your parents.

One thing we missed while ashore was the urban myth trivia. That sounded original and interesting. I'd like to know what kind of questions they asked. (Especially since folklore changes as it goes along, so couldn't you just say, "Well, the version I heard from my aunt's brother-in-law's dentist, who was actually there...") Was it classic stuff like, "How much did the cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus allegedly sell for?" Did they get edgy at all? You know what I mean... the toothbrush one? *shudder*

Carnival Splendor - Mike at El Morocco

We really like how Carnival now has a comedy club with performances from two comedians most nights. El Morocco is a good space for this, too, although it has "wings" at the back where you can't see the stage so well, at least compared to the more straightforward (but more cramped) Versailles Lounge on Carnival Spirit. Each comedy set runs around 30 minutes with a break in between, with "family" shows on earlier and R-rated shows later.

So far no comedian has held much back at those later shows, and some of the topics are so out there you can't help but be entertained if only from the novelty. (If you're as filthy-minded as I am, at least.) On this cruise, one comedian even did a bit about "period underwear." (I told you I'd get back to the topic of undies.) Sir, men are not to speak of such things! Even Mike, who usually does our laundry, is expected to ignore the greying stains on what were once festive cotton prints. (His second wife - the one with the maid who probably makes jerked pork loin using authentic imported hand-pestled spices - probably doesn't even wear underwear. Or have periods. Hey, I hardly have periods either these days, but that doesn't stop nature's panty pranks.)

TMI, right?! So no, don't bring your kids to those late shows. (They aren't allowed, but then neither is doing cannonballs into the hot tub. At least the comedy they've probably already heard before on South Park.) Strong visuals may happen.

Shocking or barely R-rated, the comedy was much better than our first Splendor cruise, before the fleetwide launch of the "Punchliner Club," when all we had was some grouse miserably abusing the crowd. This time we saw Russ Nagel again - his show held up quite well the second time - and Merl Hobbs, who was also funny, but he needs a website. (MySpace doesn't count, mister.)

Two observations: One, it's odd how everyone clears out of the lounge between shows. The break is only 30 minutes. We preferred to keep our good seat (or find a better one). Maybe most people don't bother with seeing the late-late comedian?

Carnival Splendor - Punchliner Screen in El Morocco

Next, and here comes the whinge, the bar service in this room was as bad as it was the last time we were here on Carnival Splendor two years ago. Once they know you're a soda drinker (with a pre-paid soda card), you won't see them again. It would be one thing if they were busy (more drink sales = more tips, I get it), but several times we saw servers just standing against the wall, watching the show, or at least keeping their eyes averted . The dining room started out just as bad but was much better near the end. (But still, no one was as great as Maria or Denis on Carnival Spirit.) I don't think it's a ship thing, just bad luck, but I don't know? Maybe bigger ships promote that kind of work ethic? The room was only half full for the last show on this night, but we couldn't get anyone's attention - at the wall or on the floor.

I did try to talk Mike into getting a Shirley Temple - he's never had one! - but he couldn't handle the embarrassment of ordering something called that. Pft. (Remind me to get cherry juice at the store. We got a new "Ninja Warrior" immersion blender from - half off! - and it makes genuinely excellent smoothies and slushies. Don't ask how many frozen hot chocolates I've had this week. Anyway, wouldn't a frozen Shirley Temple be tasty?)

I see from my notes there's another moment to chat about. After boarding or after dinner, I forget which, we came back to our room only to discover that some rooms around the corner had their doors open so the occupants could yell back and forth to one another. Such a breach of etiquette in my spa cabins? Say it isn't so!

This happened more than once with these cabins during the cruise. On this occasion, we could hear a young boy tearfully screaming, "IT'S NOT FUNNY!" over and over at the top of his lungs while a bunch of adults laughed at him at the same volume. This went on for ages. I swear. No uptight hyperbole from me. It wasn't the kind of gentle laughter that's meant to calm a tantrum, either, but rowdy, boisterous laughing from people who sound as oblivious to the kid's feelings as to rest of the hallway's peace and quiet.

I wasn't figuratively elected Miz Passive-Aggressive 2011 for nothing. Eventually I stuck my head out the door and yelled, "It is TOO funny!" then let out a roll of over-the-top laughter meant to imitate the adults. (The kid I really felt for, and I regret that he may have thought my response was for him.) Not pretty. Not proud. I just wanted the adults to become shamefully aware that they were being idiots to a point where strangers were mocking them. (It did get quieter, but I think it was dying down anyway.)

Maybe it's time to sail HAL so I can be the one getting told off. (Is it true that you can't wear jeans in the public areas anywhere on elegant nights?)

I wonder if HAL has as much of this:

Carnival Splendor - Dead Ice Cream Cone Found in Elevator

(To be fair, what do you do if you drop an ice cream cone in the middle of the night? Maybe the person went down to guest services and help was on the way. I can't even say I'd go very far to let someone know. So, I apologize for the cheap shot that implies Carnival attracts a tacky breed of people who leave a trail of dairy-based crime scenes in their wake (or is soft-serve non-dairy?)... even with all of my grumbles, I don't really think that's the case. I still like the pic, though, so it stays.)

Towel Animal - Reclining Bunny

Reclining Bunny played us off to sleep. It looks like daylight in that photo because I actually took it the next day, details of which will come "later," but our second day in Cabo is best described by referring to my previous 1,001 mentions of the thalassotherapy pool. (The good thing about repeating a port for the fifth time? Giving yourself a vacation from that vacation and staying onboard!)

15 July 2011 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)