Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Star Trek: The Cruise VI (2 of 2)

Fun times on the Star Trek cruise!  Here are some highlights from the second half of the week.

After wandering around Mazatl├ín, we were back on board for another fun evening.  Of particular note, Armin Shimerman did a Shakespeare seminar.  This was a winner on a prior cruise, and we enjoyed another round of decoding the Bard.

The theme of the evening was "The Trekking Dead", so it wasn't a complete surprise to see a borg-ified Andorian and her zombie companion:

"The Devil in the Dark" got another interpretive reading.  Each cast puts their own hilarious spin on it, and this one did not disappoint.  Armin's wife Kitty played the Pizza Monster, with wheels this time:

A door decoration in our hallway... which someone (ahem) adorned with google eyes, because she couldn't help herself:

On Day 5 we parked at Puerto Vallarta.  We had a vague notion of getting off, taking a public bus downtown, and walking around, and in the end decided that a journey to the Walmart across the street would suffice.  Always interesting to see stores in other countries - I prefer grocery stores, but Walmart would have to do this time.

With spare time available, John and I took to the sports courts.  First a bit of basketball (it has been a while!) then our first foray with pickleball (fun!) and then some action-packed ping ponging.  An interested spectator:

Hey, we have a Guardian of Forever on the ship!  We decided not to jump through, just in case:

More hallway walking to look at door decorations - wow, an entire Deep Space Nine:

I should have brought John over here to get a picture of one of us in the tribble pile, very creative:

We went to peruse the Star Trek museum, where they bring real props and costumes every year.  This time it had a "Picard" theme, relevant to the show that is currently airing (the 3rd season is awesome so far, by the way!).  The plaque for the Titan ship lists a bunch of people working on the show, very cool:

The flute from "The Inner Light" and Spock's book from Picard season 2:

Not in the museum - but it could be!  A fan created this "universal machine" that appears in a bunch of Sci Fi shows, and she brought it onboard the ship.  Too funny!

Also very funny - a bunch of guys dressed up like Mormons, except they were promoting the Pah-Wraiths from DS9.  They got a bunch of doubletakes while we were standing to the side looking on:

Hello from the hidden booth on the pool deck!  This is a lovely place to sit and people watch:

Look who found us - it's JT!  Our most favorite cruise director!  We will miss you most of all:

We stayed up past our bedtime because there is one late night event you cannot miss - the Interstellar Overdub!  Denise Crosby outdid herself this time by inviting perennial favs Garrett Wang, Robert Picardo, and Ethan Phillips PLUS Todd Stashwick and Tawny Newsome (who was *finally* on board, yay!).  Todd and Tawny have improv experience at Second City in Chicago, and it really showed.  Wow, that was the best and funniest TOS episode I've ever seen, thank you all!

Why they schedule yoga with Terry Farrell the morning after the overdub, I will never understand, but I committed to doing both and it was so worth it.  Terry is amazing and we were all so happy to be a part of this session of group gratitude:

Another incredible tribble display:

Makeup artist Thomas Surprenant did a demonstration of Klingon creation, with Max Grodenchik and Robert O'Reilly as his subjects.  Robert has played a Klingon (Gowron) many times, but this was Max's first time - he's normally a Ferengi (just a different kind of prosthetics):

Gowron wanted to see what he looked like, so he got the cameraman to aim at his face, and we all got to enjoy the big head of Gowron on the screen:

It was a big day for dressing up - so many great outfits for Q's Costume Party!  I overheard someone comment that he had way underestimated the effort that people would put into this:

I got a big kick out of the guy with the mohawk, and he obliged by giving me the appropriate sign:

Is it possible there were two 3D models of Deep Space Nine on board, or did she use the one from the door decoration?

How do people even get things like this on the ship?  Crazy elaborate:

We happened upon the gathering spot for the costume contest finalists, notably Queen Arachnia (one of my favorite Captain Janeway moments), with a live Horga'hn statue (?) next to her:

The hawk people in full wings were the winners - not sure how (or if) it relates to Star Trek, but these costumes were amazing:

The captain orders everyone to enjoy their coffee (or tea):

Andrew Robinson did a reading from his new book "A Stitch in Time", a fictional autobiography as his character Garak - really good!  I hope the audiobook version is available soon.

Last day of the cruise... and time for our assimilation into the Cruise Collective for having sailed on a Star Trek vessel for 5 years.  Sad, happy, and assimilated all at the same time:

A nicely done door decoration (we like National Forest signs) with a nod to the Enterprise series:

You never know what will happen at Gorn's Gong Show, and this... balloon thing?... was on a whole 'nother level.  Tawny, Jeffrey, and Todd were incredibly good sports about it all:

A conversation with the Cardassians; Vaughn, Andrew, and Casey can tell some great stories:

Connor Trinneer is turning into a wonderful interviewer, and his conversation with Doug Jones was fun and full of interesting tidbits:

We always love cruise towel animals, so we started a collection this time.  Jana, our cabin steward, created a couple bonus washcloth animals  We added our Borg masks and a baby Gorn for good measure - quite the menagerie, as it were!

I posted a haiku on our door -- and I got a reply!!  I will forever be overjoyed and thrilled, thank you so much, Garrett:

Cheers to all the Star Trek actors, ECP folks, cruise workers, and fellow fans - bing bong!

And one quick diversion on our way home - a detour to Vasquez Rocks, the site of many Star Trek "away missions":

It was a nice day to roam the trails and admire the giant rock formations:

Just watch for gorns (or Johns) up above:

Iconic sloping rocks from many a Sci Fi alien landscape:

We seem to randomly run across long-distance hiking trails when we least expect them, the PCT in this case:

Thanks for following along on our big winter vacation adventure!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Star Trek: The Cruise VI (1 of 2)

Back again to one of our favorite vacation experiences!  As always, the Star Trek cruise did not disappoint, so much joy and fun from start to finish.

This year we were on our own, without friends to share the experience.  We missed them.  I took the opportunity to see absolutely everything I could fit in, spending free waking hours wandering around to really look at the door decorations this time, just soaking in the whole environment and "trying everything" that was at all interesting.

Because we knew this would be our last STTC, at least for a while.  It was fun to visit the west coast ports (not a fan of the Long Beach departure location, but western Mexico was a neat change).  I was excited to see Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) again, but she couldn't make it, along with several other actors I was hoping would be on board.  Enough things happened that solidified our decision to end the yearly adventure.  Sad but also good to know beforehand so I could really appreciate everything in the moment -- even more than usual.

Walking onto the Star Trek "bridge" (in this case the Deep Space 9 Promenade) on the first day is still an amazing and emotional experience, no matter that this is our 5th Star Trek cruise.  I will miss this!

It's always worth wandering through the buffet restaurant on the first day to see what kind of giant and crazy colorful cake they have cooked and decorated up:

We joined the 5-year "Cruise Collective" this time, which included a welcome mixer (with a free alcohol bonus, always appreciated).  Live Long and Prosper, everyone!

We've watched Amanda working hard to take great photographs every year on the cruise, and we finally got a picture with her.  My camera doesn't do justice to this setting, especially with the cold/rainy weather that kept most events indoors for the first part of the week.  Can't wait to see what the official photographers have in store (we'll be able to download those pictures later) - thank you Amanda!

Cheers to Lower Decks and Beckett Mariner!  Tawny Newsome would be joining us later in the week, and I couldn't wait!  I've started listening to her and Paul F. Thompkins on their "Star Trek: The Pod Directive" podcast and they sound super fun.

While we're near the casino, how about a picture with Quark - he's taller than I expected:

A space theme above the Promenade (and I think this is here all the time, not just for our cruise):

The cast introduction happened indoors this year due to rain.  One of my best pictures of that event happens to be of one of the people we were most happy about - Doug Jones!  He's a talented actor, and it turns out he's also incredibly sweet and genuinely nice.  He offered to hug anyone who wanted one, then hung out with the fans giving hugs - pretty much every day, I think, for probably hundreds of hugs in total.  I was so pleased to get a Doug Hug myself!  Thank you sir!

JT, ever-awesome cruise director, loves to host game shows.  He gathered a particularly charming and hilarious set of actors to play the Match Game for our first evening show:

Door decorations are an annual "thing" and I started roaming the hallways early this year to ensure I had time to fully appreciate them all.  I recognized this theme from some fans of The Delta Flyers podcast that I love to listen to:

A really nice poster that almost looks like real stained glass:

This one personally has meaning to me -- "With great Beard comes great responsibility", and "The only thing better than a Beard are 2 Beards"

A guest makeup session, where you can pay a professional Star Trek makeup artist to transform you into the character of your choice, including a Klingon:

This picture is not particularly interesting, except as a placemark so I would remember to mention that "Admiral, there be whales here!" -- starting from the first morning sitting down to breakfast, we saw big splashes in the ocean that could only be that.  Eventually we saw several actual breeches, helped by the binoculars John had convinced me we should bring along (thank you John!).  Super cool!  One advantage to a west coast cruise in the winter, for sure.

The panel on "Infinite Diversity" was interesting and inspiring, as Star Trek ideals were compared to life in the current day.  Thank you to the SyFy Sista (I should have written down her name), Dr. Mohamed Noor, and Robb Pearlman:

Garrett, Robert, and Ethan are always hilarious, especially on stage together, and Chase had the easiest job of setting them loose and sitting back to watch.  Voyager will always be my favorite!

Todd Stashwick, a surprise last-minute addition to the crew, jumped in to perform the Renewal of Vows ceremony when John Billingsley got sick and couldn't make it on board.  Just a month ago we didn't know who Todd was, and now we're big fans.  Funny and highly likeable, he's completely unlike the captain he plays on Picard.  I should have gotten a picture of him.

Instead, you'll have to look at our faces again - at least there's a pretty cake in this one:

Waiting in line for our Deep Space 9 cast photo, just a random happening on the stairway:

What a wonderful group of people!  I'm not sure ECP knew there would be 10 of them when they gave us this complimentary photo for booking early last year.  Happy to celebrate 30 years of DS9!  And I got to sit next to Garak  :)

Getting a look at the scenery as we sailed into Cabo - that was as close as we got, as we opted to stay on board instead of dealing with the tenders, but at least we saw the arch from a distance:

Not to give anything away about season 3 of Picard, but...

It's almost as if everyone knew we were coming:

On a cruise without kids and with cooler weather, there were zero lines for the water slides.  John and I took that opportunity and did a few runs, whee!

One of John's daily bits of exercise:

It was Knights of the Holodeck theme night, and someone even brought his horse (I'm looking at you, Bogles):

The Rat Pack was back, yay!!  I love this show.  I always assume it's the last time I will get to see them, and then somehow I get to see them again.  And I always enjoy the whole thing.  Y'all are so much fun.

Even the Gorns got into the Renaissance spirit:

Breakfast at the port of Mazatlán:

We planned to get off the ship, but first!  We had a booking at the escape room.  They didn't open it last year, which seemed like a big error with the number of Trekkie geeks on board.  Better luck this year, and we joined a group of folks in this excellent puzzle adventure.  Super fun, well run, unique puzzles, and an excellent guide who helped us when we got stuck.  We were all so pleased to escape with time left on the clock.

All I've got to show for it is a poorly-lit picture, but I highly recommend this activity on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas.

Proof that we got off the ship at least once:

We took a walk toward downtown, where apparently we missed a big Carnival festival by about a week:

The lovely cathedral, built from light-colored stones and visible from the ship:

The north side of town has a wonderful walking path, where we came across a statue of Jacques Cousteau telling us which way to go:

A high diver just happened to leap from the cliff as we were walking by, and my goodness that doesn't look like the most obvious place to jump from:

A Mexican mermaid:

We enjoyed all the public art, including...I'm not sure who this is, but he's pretty cool:

Stay tuned for the second half of STTC:VI, our final voyage.