Cruise Diverted by a Hurricane?

Hurricane Paul 2006 Got Us!

IMG_0877Have you ever been on a cruise that was rerouted due to a hurricane or tropical storm?  We’ve sailed with our traveling friends during hurricane season for years, without any problem until this cruise in 2006.  If you’ve cruised for long, you’ll remember how devastating the 2005 hurricane season was in the Caribbean.  Our group decided it might be safer to book our next annual cruise in 2006 to the Mexican Riviera in the Pacific.   That’s how we ended up aboard the Carnival Pride, sailing 7-nights roundtrip from Long Beach with an original itinerary to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta, but rerouted, due to the really brief Hurricane Paul, to Ensenada, San Diego, and Catalina Island

We flew into Los Angeles a day early on an uneventful flight on American Airlines, and we were looking forward to a meeting up early with our cruise friends. One of our friends, JR, who lives in the LA area, graciously met us at the LAX airport to give us a ride to Long Beach. We stayed at the beautiful Coastal Hotel in Long Beach, a nice hotel inIMG_0784 close proximity to the bay and the Passport shuttle, and with a great view of the Queen Mary

We all caught the Passport shuttle to the Yardhouse, where we had reserved the party room for our group of 34! The Passport shuttle picked us up right in the Coastal parking lot. The bus driver explained where we needed to change to another shuttle to reach our destination. We walked off one shuttle and right on the next one. This shuttle service was free and easy! Unfortunately, the Yardhouse wasn’t prepared to handle a group our size. Service was a disaster, and most of our group left this meal very unhappy. This would probably be an okay place to eat for individuals, but not for a large group. 

Since our body clocks were still on Central time, we awoke early on Sunday morning and decided to go to the Coastal Hotel restaurant to watch the Carnival Pride arrive in port. The restaurant didn’t officially open until 6 a.m., but the coffee was ready while they finished preparing for the breakfast crowd. We sipped coffee, checked our email on our wireless laptops, while watching for the ship to come in. We were so excited to see the Carnival Pride slipping into view in the fog from around the back of the Queen Mary at about 6:15 a.m.  Such a beautiful sight! 

Port Workers with our luggage - Tip!

Port Workers with our luggage - Tip!

We were so excited we just headed on over to the Queen Mary for the early check-in. The porters were still helping the previous guests disembark when we arrived at 8:30 am, so they asked us to wait for about 15 minutes. They took our piles of luggage, and we all walked briefly over to the Queen Mary for the early check-in. We had a nice breakfast on the Queen Mary, with an attractive hot/cold breakfast buffet for about $10 per person. We stayed there visiting with others in our group who continually arrived until about 11 a.m., when we went to the ship terminal to prepare to board the ship. 

One sign indicated the line for the VIP guests, and another sign indicated the line for the Group 1 folks who had done the early check-in at the Queen Mary. The wheelchair folks also entered with the VIP guests. There was very little shade, so remember your sunscreen, hat, and shades! But, we love waiting to board the ship, and we started meeting our fellow guests as we waited to board. A third line was also formed for the guests arriving who had not done early check-in. At about Noon, the VIP guests were escorted onboard, and then the wheelchairs folks were next. Our line of early check-in folks was next, and we were suddenly aboard the beautiful Carnival Pride. 

After the muster drill, our group met up on the Lido aft Poseidon Bar for sailaway. Along the way, a few others

Our Handsome Bald Men

Our Handsome Bald Men

 joined us as well. Several of the men in our group have shaved heads, and one of our new friends, Doug (& Stacy), chose to go immediately to the salon to shave his head as well! 

Our group had late dining with a nice table in the center of the lower level. Our maitre’ d Yusef was both attentive and entertaining, and Chef Leonard stopped by our tables almost every evening.  This was our first Carnival cruise with Chocolate Melting cake was on the menu almost every night, and our group loved it!  We renamed it OMG cake, and someone ordered it every night. Roger and I slipped out on night for David’s Supper Club, but the rest of the group ate together in the dining room every night, because that was where we reconnected each evening after our separate daytime activities. 

Halloween Togas!

Halloween Togas!

Thursday night was the Halloween celebration on this cruise, but, we hadn’t realized there would be a celebration, so we hadn’t brought any costumes.  Our group decided to beg our room stewards for extra sheets and dress for dinner that night in togas. I think that was the most fun we’ve ever had in a cruise dining room.   Yusef was particularly handsome in dreadlocks for Halloween in the dining room.

We were advised that our Captain was tracking Tropical Depression Paul and would advise us further if changes were necessary. So, when Paul was upgraded to a hurricane and slowed down right in our path, the captain and officers made the decision to revise our itinerary from Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada, San Diego, and Catalina Island. While we understood the need to revise our itinerary for our safety, the revised itinerary was not exciting to anyone. Many of our fellow guests took advantage of Carnival’s Vacation Guarantee, disembarking with their luggage in Ensenada to receive a pro-rated refund and their way home. I wish I’d taken pictures of this mass exodus from the sihp. 

Everyone in our group stayed, because most of us had flown in for the cruise, and we’d planned this group with our friends for a full year.  So, we decided to make the best of it, enjoying the ship and visiting these ports. In Ensenada, we took a bus roundtrip from the ship to the town for $3 per person. We shopped and then enjoyed drinks and lunch at a local restaurant. In San Diego, we took free shuttle buses to the Seaport Village, then back to the ship, where we grabbed a wonderful lobster meal at Anthony’s right next to the ship. In Catalina Island, we visited the stores, then had a nice Mexican lunch at Coyote Joe’s. 

Wee Jimmy was the cruise director on this sailing. At that time he was really an assistant cruise director, filling in for cruise directors in transit, until he was promoted as cruise director of his own ship. While I didn’t love his style in the shows, we enjoyed a couple of wonderful visits with him in smaller groups, where we thoroughly enjoyed him. We hope he does well with Carnival! 

Since we went through customs the morning we ported in San Diego, we had an easy disembarkation.  Many of our group had VIP disembarkation, and the rest of us received gray tags for early disembarkation. Unfortunately, many of our bags were disembarked based on the deck where they were picked up, even though they had gray or VIP tags on them, so our group nervously waited as our bags were finally located almost an hour later!  A not-perfect end to a not-perfect cruise, yet we were already planning our cruise for 2007.  You can check out all our pictures at this link, and I hope you’ll leave a comment.

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