Tuesday 6th February

Today we return home. After a late breakfast we waited in the hotel lobby for our limo transfer to the airport!


Our flight was scheduled for 16:35 p.m. and we were there early enough to see the Boeing 747-400 series arrive from London. There are only a few of these aeroplanes still used by major carriers. These planes changed aviation and travel since their introduction in the 1960s, but more modern materials and avionics have left these relatively slow and clunky aeroplanes behind.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fitting that as we taxied to take off we passed the 1950s Pan-American Airline’s Terminal and Control Tower with what was then a futuristic design. Now the Boeing 707s and 747s are not to be seen in its shadow.


We departed westwards turning over the Pacific, passing San Diego, to head northwest over the deserts of the southwest USA to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron before following the St Lawrence River to Labrador (Canada) and then to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunrise saw us to the northwest of Ireland with views of snow covered southern Scotland, landing at London Heathrow nearly 30 minutes early. This was because of the push from 174 mph winds.


We transferred to Manchester where we caught views of the Pennines close to Mottram. It was not the usual approach as traffic was light and we were allowed a shortcut. In 3 weeks we have travelled more 20,000 miles.

                

Monday 5th February

At 7:00 a.m. we awoke to a beautiful sunrise through the curtains, which was actually reflected by the windows of a nearby tower block.

  

After breakfast we met the Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus at the Convention Centre. We drove direct to Highway 101 to Hollywood. We saw the first 4 level highway intersection and a distant view of the Hollywood sign on the Hollywood Hills before arriving on Hollywood Boulevard near the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, famous for its celebrity hand and footprints embedded in the footpath. Adjacent to this is the Dolby Theatre, the venue for the Academy Awards presentations.

    
Los Angeles is such a big city that it takes five tour bus routes to cover all the sights, the hub being Hollywood Boulevard.

We returned to Downtown LA along Wilshire Boulevard to complete our tour around the art deco city centre. We saw the Frank Gehrey designed Walt Disney Concert Hall which is the home of the LA Philarmonic. This is one concert venue on Bunker Hill once the home of wealthy Victorians overlooking MacArthur Park (of ‘cake left out in the rain’ fame).

    

We continued to Chinatown with pedestrian friendly streets and decorated pedestrian crossings as well as the usual restaurants and food shops.

Nearby was Little Tokyo which celebrates things Japanese.


Next it was through LA’s original settlement of 1781 on Olvera Street known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Passing the Civic Centre, which at 27 storeys was the tallest building in LA at the beginning of the 20th century.

We drove through the Broadway Theatre District which we were informed is more like Broadway in New York City in its hey day. If a period film involves Broadway then this is where it is filmed. This part of the tour had art deco buildings lining the roads. Lots of the upper storeys have been converted into Loft Apartments for workers in the city.

   

In our hotel room is a book about Downtown LA and the following photographs show what it was like in the 1920s and 30s.

The trams of that time have long gone but have been replaced by a Rapid Transit System.

Some 3 1/2 hours later it was time for refreshment.

Sunday 4th February

We arrived in Los Angeles before sunrise and had to have an early breakfast in preparation for disembarkation. All passengers were divided into groups determined initially by those who had aeroplanes to catch or those that had independent transfer arrangements. We had to meet our car for transfer to the hotel at 09:30 a.m.

    

We arrived at Pier 93.

    

Whilst waiting for our disembarkation time we witnessed some of the 180 tons of food to be loaded as well as the removal of waste and the arrival of some new crew.

Our hotel is in Downtown LA which has been transformed in the past couple of decades and has been described as the “Wall Street of the West” with bank and other financial companies surrounding some of the original 19th century buildings like the Bradbury Building built in 1893. Many buildings like the Bradbury as well as suburbs and road names, call to mind films and TV programmes as one travels around the city. We are close to the 2.5 billion dollar LA Live Project which is the home of Staples Centre, the LA Lakers, the Microsoft Theatre, the Grammy Museum as well as other museums.

We have just had dinner and returned to our room. This is the view we got on entering the room.

So it is Goodnight from me and Goodnight from him!

 

 

 

Saturday 3rd February

At daybreak this morning we were still working our way northwestwards off the coast of Baja California.


By mid-afternoon we still had some 260 miles to go to reach Los Angeles.
This morning we took the opportunity to watch a cookery demonstration by the Executive Chef Antonio Constantino assisted by the Maitre d’Hotel Giuseppe Castino.

This was followed by a tour of the Galley. Everyday a grand total of 385 crew members, including 179 waiters and stewards in the dining rooms, prepare and provide the wonderful food that we have eaten three times a day whilst we have been on board. Each dish is hand made from the 180 tons of food loaded onto the ship before departure. This food is kept in cold rooms which maintain the temperature at +2C unlike a home refrigerator the doors are only occasionally opened and so the temperature remains constant so that the food and ingredients will last the voyage. Pasta, pizza and bread are cooked freshly each day. We saw the massive and spotlessly clean preparation and cooking areas, in fact we saw the carrots that were available to eat as part of the salad only 30 minutes later. The statistics of food preparation is amazing. 700 kilos of fish, 1600 kilos of meat and 4 tons of vegetables are cooked each day. It takes 28 gallons of detergent a day to wash all the crockery and utensils used.

    

Tomorrow upon arrival everything that has not been used, apart from the alcohol, will be offloaded and replaced with fresh food for the next voyage. They will have to replace the Cotes du Rhone as we had the last bottle 3 days ago!!

After lunch we went on deck for a short time and just before we left we saw 2 whales, probably Minke, off the stern of the ship, but out of camera range.

We have just returned from our final evening meal where Baked Alaskas were paraded around the restaurant and everyone the friends made on the cruise.

   

   

Friday 2nd February

Shortly after sunrise at 07:30 a.m. we were offshore from the Mexican port of Puerto Vallarta and the mouth of the Sea of Cortez which is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the long peninsular of Baja California. The sea is the mouth of the Colorado River that has carved its way across the southwest of the USA through for example the Grand Canyon. There were occasions in the recent past when the river water never reached this sea because of the intensive use of its water in Arizona for agricultural irrigation.

        

This is the northern end of the Mexican Riviera close to which we have been for two days. Centuries before the Spanish arrived the tropical forested lowlands and the more temperate highlands supported ancient but advanced civilisations such as the Aztecs. At the time of the Spanish conquest around the 1520s this coastline was farmed and fished through important ports such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. These waters were used by very strong ships known as Manila Galleons. They could resist cannonballs but the superstructure was vulnerable to fire. These ships dropped anchor in this region and transferred silver, silk, precious metals and porcelain to land and to ships that used the northeast trade winds to sail to the Philippines.
Pirates used to lay in wait for the heavily loaded ships. One pirate, the Englishman Thomas Cavendish, was renowned for taking over the galleons and plundering their cargo.

  

At lunchtime we crossed the Tropic of Cancer which meant that we would soon be within the subtropical desert biome. The southern end of Baja California is called Cabo San Lucas where erosion has created arches and rock pillars with close by steep granite cliffs. All of Baja California is about 18 miles from the starboard side of the ship.

As it was a formal evening meal tonight in our dining area we ate in the Horizon Restaurant  above the Bridge. The Bridge informed us this morning that they had sighted whales and again later in the day but we did not see them. However, during our meal tonight we saw many dolphins at the front of the ship. unfortunately we didn’t have our cameras with us.

We are continuing northwestwards with some 750 miles to go to Los Angeles.

Thursday 1st February

Today is another day at sea so we thought that we would take this opportunity to show you around the Coral Princess. At the start of the tour which lasted an hour, we are off Mexico and have had a rain shower during lunch.

         

The ship is owned by Princess Cruises which in 1977 played a role in an American TV show, a soap opera, called ‘The Love Boat’. This introduced the public to cruising. The ship has more than 700 rooms with balconies, can carry more than 2000 passengers and is built to PANAMAX standards. There are 15 decks in total. Our cabin is on Deck 5 – low down but more comfortable in bad weather as this type of ship has a shallow draught but is very high. The higher one goes the more the movement. Hence we felt nothing of a storm but those on Deck 10 upwards certainly did.

Let’s take you on a tour.

Our cabin is the first one on the left of this picture.

This news sheet keeps you informed of daily events.

Deck 7 known as the Promenade Deck. A good place to sit and watch the world go by.

Into the lift to Deck 15.

Deck 14 has sports facilities and at the bow is the Horizon Court Restaurant where it is self service throughout the day.

Decks 12 to 8 have the Staterooms with balconies. In the centre of Deck 8 is the Atrium – the heart of the ship which goes down to Deck 5.

Into the glass lift to go down to Deck 7.

On Deck 7 are bars, restaurants and theatres.

Deck 6 is a shopping mall.

Deck 5 – The Front Desk and Coffee Shop and one of the two formal restaurants.