Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Vacation (Part 4 of 4)

On May 6, our ship arrived at our third and final sightseeing town, Puerto Vallarta (Pronounced: Porta Vayaartha).

I don’t have to tell that this a tourist town. Tourism is the only source of income here. There were several “tours” available for the ship passengers. But we decided to take a tour that is less frequented by the tourists. We took a Mexican jungle ride.

One of the best features of Puerto Vallarta is the vast jungle that surrounds it. Exploring this vast wilderness is an unforgettable experience.

After travelling for about an hour inside the jungle, we came to a place where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie Predator was filmed. That set has been converted into a restaurant. We had lunch there.

Here are a couple of video clips from Puerto Vallarta.

We were at sea on May 7 and 8. We arrived in Los Angeles on the morning of May 9.

We were sorry that the cruise vacation came to an end. Wanted it to go on for ever. But all good things must come to an end.

We disembarked from the ship. Came to the Immigration Counter and handed our passports. Even before taking our passports, the Immigration Officer said with a smile:

“Welcome Home Sir. Welcome Home Madam. How was your vacation?”

That particular moment made us so happy that we live in U S of A. More happy than our cruise vacation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Vacation (Part 3 of 4)

Our ship arrived at Mazatlan on the morning of May 5. We were very happy that we were in Mexico on May 5. That day is a national holiday. It is Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for May 5th) celebration.

Cinco de Mayo holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s upset and unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is the most important national patriotic day in Mexico. Many people in USA (who celebrate Cinco de Mayo) wrongly think it is Mexico’s Independence Day.

City of Mazatlan was founded in 1531. It is a thriving commercial seaport. It is a popular vacation and retirement destination for Europeans, Canadians, and Americans. It has 10 miles of stunning Pacific beachfront.

The city of Mazatlan arranged a special musical program for the passengers to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. (Please see the video clip.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Vacation (Part 2 of 4)

Our ship stopped in 3 ports for us to go on sightseeing. The first stop was Cabo San Lucas.

This city is known for its white sandy beaches and several scuba diving locations. This city has the perfect combination of great weather, exotic and spectacular scenery. It was once a base for pirate vessels waiting to pounce on Spanish treasure ships. It's more like an enclave of the US than part of Mexico.

We had a choice of several group tours. We chose the one that included a visit to a glass blowing factory, a village named San Jose and its church that was built in 1697, and the world’s biggest cactus farm. San Jose village has the old Mexico charm. Here is a slide show of our visit to Cabo San Lucas.

Here are a couple of video clips.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Vacation (Part 1 of 4)

We went on a 7 night Mexican Riviera cruise from May 2 to May 9. The ship’s name is Mariner of the Seas owned by Royal Caribbean. She (here I remember Insignia’s post on ships) is 1020 feet long and weighs 138,000 tons. She can take 3114 passengers. The ship has 1185 crew. There are 15 decks (floors). Our cabin was on the 10th deck.

This is our second cruise. Our first one was two years ago but only for 4 nights. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go again this year. On our first cruise, our friends advised us to take an outside cabin. They cost some extra money. But will have natural lighting and we can see the ocean from the cabin.

For this second cruise, we did not take an outside cabin. In our opinion, it is a waste of money. After all the activities, we come to the room only in the night to sleep. So, there is no need for natural light. At the same time, we are not going to be looking at the dark ocean all night. Here is a slide show of the ship.

There are plenty of foods available 24 hours. Everything is included in the ticket price except for alcohol. There is a main formal dining hall and an informal dining hall. You can choose where you want to eat. Formal dining hall does not mean you have to wear formal attire all the time. Formal attire required only on 2 nights. Waiters will serve food in the formal dining hall. There are 12 main courses to choose from each night. This includes 3 vegetarian courses including an Indian dish.

Informal dining hall has buffet system only. The cuisine includes American, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Indian dishes. There is a separate pizza parlor and a hamburger joint. Lots and lots of fruits, desserts, pastries, yogurt, and ice cream. If you are on a diet or a weight watcher, cruise vacation is not for you.

The ship has a swimming pool, a shopping mall, a gym, an auditorium (capacity 1200), a figure skating rink, video arcade, baby sitting facilities, children play station, a small hospital, and a chapel.

There are at least 6 professional entertainments each day and we can choose to attend any or some or all. They include music, dance, figure skating dance, and stand-up comedy.

As I said before everything is included in the ticket price. (Ticket price is also not that costly.) We have to pay onboard only for alcohol. If you don’t drink alcohol you won’t have to spend anything onboard.

Everyone should experience a cruise vacation on a luxury liner at least once in a lifetime. It is an unforgettable experience. With more than 4200 people on board, the ship looks like a small ultra modern town surrounded by water on all sides. Everybody is smiling and happy. Everyone leaves their worldly worries on the land before boarding the ship.

It used to be when relatives visit from India, they were taken to places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Niagara Falls. But the trend nowadays is to take the visitors on a cruise. Therefore, we saw lots of sarees and salwar kameez on board.

I have a few video clips about this ship. The quality of the video is not that good since it was taken in a digital camera (not meant for videos).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla

(I will write some posts regarding my vacation beginning this coming Wednesday. In my opinion, today's post is more important than my vacation posts.)

Today is Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla’s birthday. He was born on May 15, 1926 in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. If he was alive today, he would be celebrating his 84th birthday.

He was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1948. During the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War (or as someone might call “Bangladesh Liberation War”) he was Commander of INS Khukri. The ship had 18 officers and 176 sailors. His responsibility was to locate and destroy a Pakistani submarine in the Arabian Sea. On the December 9, 1971 night, INS Khukri was hit by torpedoes fired by a Pakistani submarine and sank.

Captain Mulla was calm and quiet. He asked his crew to abandon the ship. He organized the evacuation of the ship’s crew in an orderly manner. There was no confusion and no panic due to the Captain's calm transmitting itself to his men.
All the crew members were evacuated from the ship.

Finally his turn to leave the ship. There is an old tradition. Captains don’t abandon their ships. The ship was about to fully go under the water. The evacuated crew begged and cried for him to abandon the ship. He smiled at them. But refused to abandon his ship. He waved at them. Lighted a cigarette. Took a chair and sat on the ship’s bridge. Within a few minutes, Captain Mulla is gone under the water along with his ship, INS Khukri.

His action and behavior and the example he set have been in keeping with highest tradition of the Indian Military.

He was awarded Maha Vir Chakra posthumously for displaying conspicuous gallantry and dedication to duty.

Let us remember Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla today.