Celebrity Mercury
9 night Mexican Riviera cruise
February 9 -18 2007
By Philatsea

Mercury in Zihuatanejo - Norwegian Star behind her.
Celebrity Mercury  in Zihuatanejo and Norwegian Star behind her

 

This cruise was booked back in late November after I cancelled a transatlantic cruise schedule for March. 

I decided to book an inside (8109) as the cruise was rather port intensive. 

I booked air from Seattle to San Diego arriving the day before the cruise about 11:30 AM. I also booked a hotel using Priceline. I bid $100 for a 4* hotel and received the Omni Hotel across from the convention centre and entrance to the Gas Light District. Normally when one books on Priceline they don’t always get the best rooms and are normally restricted to checking in at or after the check-in time. This was not the case. We arrived at about noon with the hope of at least storing our bags till our room was ready. Upon checking with the front desk our room was ready. Our room was on the 14th floor. This allowed us to change and head out to the San Diego Zoo. 

Dinner special we had.We decide to eat at a Mexican restaurant called La Fiesta in the Gas Light District to start off our Mexican cruise. The waiter told us about three different specials and where they came from in Mexico and how each was prepared. We decided on the first one which was smaller dishes from different parts of Mexico served on a large platter for 2. The meal was something out of this world. The dish had prawns, fish baked in a banana leaf then grilled to give it some different flavor then topped with a sauce. Then 2 small filet mignon steaks marinated for 24 hours in Mexican spices then grilled to your liking (rare). There was also 2 crab cakes on the plate. There was also a basket filled with flour tortillas that went with the last dish of fried beans and guacamole. When seated we were offered taco chips with a spicy sauce. Salad was served prior to the main course. There was no room left for desert. 

The next morning we woke around 10 and lazed around. We checked out about 11:50 and took a taxi to the pier. The taxi arrived at the pier at 12:02 and at 12:09 we were on the ship!! I have to say this was the fastest check-in I have ever done. In fact the check-in would have been faster if we had all our documents out and ready as well as out credit cards. 

When we boarded we were greeted with a Glass of Champagne and told that our rooms would be ready at 1:00 and we could proceed up to the Palm Springs restaurant to eat. We proceeded up to the Palm Springs Restaurant/Buffet and found a table and left our carry-on there. We went to the buffet and found the variety of food to be vast with different stations for specialty things such as Pasta or Mexican. We sat back down and started to eat when we heard the older couple next to us talking. The wife was looking at the schedule of ports and was puzzled as to why we weren’t going to Acapulco. As the conversation continued between the two they had no idea where the ship was going other than Mexico. They booked this cruise 1 year prior and as I said had no idea other than Mexico where it went. I guess shore excursions had not been explored either. 

Cabin 8109 Inside Deck 8. At 1:00 PM rooms were ready and an announcement was made. We proceeded down to our cabin shortly after this. We opened the door to find a much bigger cabin than we had expected. There was lots of room with 3 closets which included 1 for long dresses and the other two had 3 drawers each with one having a half closet for shirts and the other with shelves. The desk and mirror have 6 drawers; one pulls the large mirror out to find the safe plus shelves to put things on. There was a further 2 drawers in the beside tables. The is only one 120 volt plug located under the mirror. 

 

 

 

Bathroom 8109 The bathroom was a pleasant surprise as the shower was a rectangle shower that didn’t mean one would do the shower certain tango. The bathroom had shampoo in the shower and soap bars. There is also a glass container in the bathroom containing cotton balls and Q-Tips. There is also hand lotion on the wall in a self dispense container. One should note that while there is a hair dryer on the wall it is very poor in the ability to dry longer hair. Bring a hair dryer if you have long hair. There is a bathroom plug as part of the hair dryer. Shortly after arrival our Cabin Steward Kawsara arrived to see if there was anything else we needed as well as introduce himself. Since I use a CPAP machine and need Distilled water which was pre-ordered free of charge and it wasn’t there I asked about this. This was dealt with by Kawsara right away. I also needed a extension chord which was also dealt with at the same time. I would also like to add there is a night light as part of the plug by the mirror that gives off enough light so that in is not annoying. If someone has more than one item needing plugging in bring a power bar. 

We had lifeboat drill at 4:15 which we attended. Celebrity does it a bit different in which you proceed to a muster station in a lounge/theatre on the ship then you are told to proceed to in groups to different lifeboats. 



We attended sail away at 5:00 PM and the ship did sail promptly at 5:00 PM. 

We had 2nd seating dinner (8:30) at table 645 on deck 6 starboard side by the stairs. Our table was a table for 8. We all arrived within a few minutes of each and introduced ourselves to each other. We had Jim and Shirley from Delta BC and Christian from Germany and Don and Patty from New York and Louise from England and then ourselves. Our table Waiter and Assistant waiter were Alexander from Serbia and Ebby from Indonesia. 

Saturday - At Sea 

Our first day was at Sea and we didn’t wake up till much later than planned, we were to attend the Cruise Critic meeting in the Navigator Club and then the Anniversary meeting 15 minutes afterwards. We choose to have breakfast instead and then go to the anniversary get together. 

The rest of the day resulted in lying around and playing cards. The weather outside was still rather cool so lying around the pool was not a option. We did see some whales as well as a few pods of Dolphins. 

I would like to say that we did not attend any shows on this cruise as they were at 7:00 PM for late seating guests. I have always liked the time before late seating to relax and have a snooze if coming back from shore or having a drink before dinner with friends. The show at this time doesn’t allow for this. 

Sunday - Cabo San Lucas 

Cabo San Lucas and Los Archos just visable.



Prior to our arrival at Cabo San Lucas several pods of whales were spotted. We arrived at about 10:00 am as planned and we were the only ship in Cabo San Lucas. The weather was warm with a light breeze. We had no shore excursions planned for here other than try to find a beach. I was last here in 1985 so much has changed since then. There is no longer a tent village for people selling their trinkets. It is now all built up. We went ashore around 11:30 and proceeded up the dock where we were met by a line on Mexican people asking us if we wanted to go on a boat tour. Taxi cab drivers offering us tours. The nice thing is in the dock area they have to remain behind a roped off area so not to be in your face. This is not the case once you leave the dock area. This was where the fun began. We had everyone from very young kids to moths to time share and even drug dealers trying to sell us things. We were headed around the far end of the marina when one guy wanted us to take a boat trip over to Lovers Beach (Los Archos) to $10 per person. When we said no thanks he lowered it to $7.00. We still said no thanks. We walked about 50 feet farther down the dock and another guy offers us a boat tour for $15.00 per person. We said no thanks but he just would leave us alone. We said we could get it for $7.00 from the other guy. Well this was the wrong thing to say. This guy lit into us how we made $100,000 and we were cheap American’s and we were not being respective of the Mexican people. He called us cheap and continued to follow us down the pier. Finally Sandra turned to him and said no matter the price we would not take a trip with him with the way he was continuing on. He got the message and left. We decided shortly after this that we had enough and headed back to the ship. 

Celebrity does something I have not run into on my 15+ cruises. Upon arrival back at the tender we were greeted by a person handing out frozen wash clothes to wipe you down. Now this felt good in the heat. There was a bin just before boarding the tender to return them to once you were done. This was a big plus to us. 

Tonight was formal night and all went well. I had expected to see more tux’s than I did because I had been told Celebrity was more upscale than my past cruises on Holland America and Princess. This was not the case. I have to say that the food for the most part was excellent. If one wanted their meat rare it came rare. This has always been a problem on past cruises. I ran into one night where I ordered the NY steak and it was tough. The waiter wanted to get me something else but I just could be bothered at this point. I have found that our table mates have become some of the best table mates one could hope for. 

I would like to add that there are 2 dinning options. There is assigned dinning in the Manhattan Dinning room and Casual Dining in the Palm Springs Grill. Casual dinning is Sushi Bar from 5:00 PM till 10:00 PM and Casual Dinning 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The dress code is casual everyday. Suggested tip is $2.00 per person. 

Monday - Mazatlan 

A view of Mazatlan from the Mercury



We had no plans for this port other than a possible beach or drinking somewhere. We decided on the later at the small market place near the exit of the pier. Now looking around the market one could get everything from prescription drugs to Rolex watches (fake). Now we sat and had Margarita and beer. Now note Corona beer can vary in price in Mexico. We say it as low as $1.00 a bottle to $3.00 a bottle. After a brief stay here we headed back to the ship. 

We just found most tours offered by the ship way over priced and thus one of the many reasons we didn’t take any. 


Tuesday - Puerto Vallarta 

Puerto Valarta and para sailing note the Mercury in the distance.



This was supposed to be a port where we were to dock at but instead it was changed to a tender port. This did pose one small problem for us as we were to meet my Dad (he winters here) ashore at 8:00 AM. With the first tender not being till 7:15 this would pose a small problem for us as Celebrity said the process from getting a tender ticket to getting off takes about 50 minutes. Shore Excursions also get priority. A brief stop at the tender table and talk to the crew explaining our problem got us on the first tender. We arrived just past 8:00AM. Now the fun was trying to find my Dad among all the people. We finally located him down by the Diamond Princess gangway. 

View from our table having coffee. We then grabbed a taxi back to town where we went with my Dad to where he sits every morning on the beach to have coffee. 

 

 



After coffee was done my Dad suggested we head to Mismaloya via bus. Okay this should be interesting I thought, having never taken a bus before in Mexico. I would say it didn’t disappoint in this aspect. Having been a bus driver for 17 years before I can tell you that driving with the doors open or a driver’s seat that was a metal frame and mesh and stopping on corners would not have done. 


Mismaloya



Now on the way to the bus we passed 2 older ladies looking in a store window of bathing suits. I stopped and looked and they were looking at a micro bikini on a model in the window. The one lady turned to the other lady and said what is that and the other turned to her and said it is a bikini. The other lady replied what for a child? Oh no said the other lady it is for an adult. The other lady now horrified at this said what does it cover? Not much the lady relied. The other lady said it wouldn’t even cover my nipple. The other lady said that is the idea to not cover much. I had to leave at that point and can not report on what more was said or if they entered the store to make the purchase. 

Mismaloya is at the end of the line for the bus and about 20-25 minutes south of town. Hey it was all a part of the true Mexican experience. Did I feel safe on the bus, yes I did. Once there one descends about 100 stairs to the beach area. 

Mismaloya Beach - I am sitting at the red umbrella lower right Once there we found a table and chairs and an umbrella and had some drinks while talking and watching everything going on. We saw a boat being loaded with red bricks headed around the corner to Los Archos. Next we saw people getting into water taxi are headed there to the beach. We watched jugs a gas being loaded into a boat headed to the same area. What surprised us the most was a guy who walked by us carrying a full size fridge on his back towards a boat. I couldn’t the camera out fast enough to get the photo. Next the guy returns with a stove/range on his back headed for the boat. Next a queen size bed with the mattress on it being carried by him and another person. We then watch as they carefully load the small boat with these items. Mattress and bed frame in first, Fridge on top and the range loaded up front. The boat then left and headed off around the corner of the bay. At last sighting it was still upright and not taking water on. 

During our stay here we discussed eating upon our return to Puerto Vallarta. We agreed to eat at a place my Dad normally eats at right on the beach. We walked down to the restaurant and got a table right up against the wall over looking the beach. We ordered nachos and fish and chips along with drinks. The food drinks and company was good. 

We then went back to the place my Dad has been staying at for years and see what it looks like. It is a hotel uptown about 5 blocks from the beach and on the 3rd floor. He gets daily housekeeping and this includes a different towel animal in the bedroom and bathroom. 

We left my dad shortly afterwards and headed back to the ship via taxi. 

Once again arriving back at the port and waiting for the tender we were offered frozen face clothes again. 

Tonight we arrived at dinner to find Don and Patty had stayed in town to eat as we were in port till 11:00 PM. We all talked about what we all did and the funniest thing was listening to Christian telling us about his visit to Hooters. It appears that there is no such place in Germany. A good time was had by all. 

Wednesday - Manzanillo 

Manzanillo downtown as we got of the bus



Lets start of by saying this was a interesting port. First off being met by a gunship from the Mexican Navy as we entered Mexican waters was interesting. 

Next instead of docking downtown at the cruise ship dock we docked at the cargo dock. Not sure why this was done because the dock remained empty all day. I can only guess that maybe if the ship docked downtown they would smell the pollution and not get off. I also wondered if it was a make work project for bus drivers. 

All I can say is we paid $3.00 return to go via bus to town to get off the bus downtown and the smell of car exhaust was something else. We lasted about 30 minutes and had to go back to the ship. 

We never heard anyone that went into town say anything good about this port. 

There is a power plant south of the town pumping out so much junk it hangs over the town trapping the car exhaust. This does not help at all. 

This port could easily be dropped no problem unless things change. 

Today was Valentine’s Day on board and boy did Celebrity do things up. There were hearts all over the buffet at lunch as well as a special centre piece done in chocolate. During Dinner the Assistant Matre’d presented all the ladies with a rose. 

Since today was our Anniversary we were presented with an Anniversary Cake after dinner. Patty’s Birthday was today as well so there was a cake for her as well. We had enough cake to feed more than our table. We didn’t get out of the dinning room till almost 11.We had a great evening with great friends. 


Thursday - Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa 

 

One of the many beachs in Zihuatanejo Bay.



We arrived early in the morning and the Norwegian Star arrived shortly after us. 

We went ashore about 830 AM and proceed to the market at the end of the pier where we found the friendliest people we have met on this cruise. There was no hard sell from anyone no one offering us time shares, gums etc. We bought several items here without the hard sell. 

La Ropa Beach from the Mercury




We then took a taxi over to La Ropa Beach across the harbour from the ship. We stayed here noon and enjoyed our time here sitting on the beach under the sun. We were only bothered briefly by 2 young girls selling stuff. 








We did not go to Ixtapa as I had been their twice before and wanted to try La Ropa beach for a change. 


One really has to pay attention to when the ship will leave port. It appears that 2 people missed the ship here and the next port was the home port of San Diego 2.5 days later. 
We left Zihuatanejo at 2:00 PM which allowed us to sit in the sun for the rest of the day. 


Friday - Sea day 

Passing Cabo San Lucas north to San Diego
Cabo San Lucas Northbound



Today we attended a Culinary Mixology demonstration. WE learned about 2 of the different Martini’s served on board the Mercury. We were told that basically there was 12 main Martini’s but Celebrity served more than that. In fact one might be surprised at how many different Martini’s can be served on the Mercury. We were told that over 8400 different Martini’s can be served on board. If we wanted we could buy a DVD that shows them all. We were treated to Apple and a Chocolate Martini. 

We then watched them make Filet Mignon "Celebrity". After this we were given a sample. 

The rest of the day was in the sun playing cards. 

Tonight brought the final formal night along with the Baked Alaska event. We were in the dinning room late again tonight and had to leave because tonight was the Grand Buffet in the lower dinning room. 

The Grand Buffet was fantastic. I got to see larger Ice Sculptures than I had seen before and food done in different ways. I have been to buffets where the food doesn’t look eatable after it is done. This wasn’t the case. 

I did not stay to eat as dinner was not long before this. 

Saturday Sea Day 

Today allowed us to sleep in for the last time. 

We attended the breakfast buffet in the Palm Springs then proceeded out to the Palm Springs pool where we ate. After breakfast we sat around watching the sea go by as well as played cards in the Palm Springs Pool area. We got to see a few pods of whales through out the day. 

Tonight at dinner was very tough as it was the last supper as a group. We all had a good laugh over what had happened over the course of the cruise. There were a few tears shed as we said good bye. We took a group shot of us. There was a group shot taken on Sandra and me with Alexandra and Sebby the pepper man. 

Sunday - San Diego 

We arrived at 7:00 AM as scheduled. We were scheduled to attend the Celebrity theatre at 9:20 to disembark. We arrived at the appointed time as we soon were off the ship. Our luggage wasn’t ready and we had a short wait before we could get it. After we got our luggage we proceeded to customs and then headed to get a taxi. There was no problem getting a taxi and we were on our way to the commuter terminal at the airport. Upon arrival at the airport as we were about to check in Sandra noticed we were missing our back pack. There was a short panic as to where we left it and it was determined that it was back on the ship. I left Sandra at the airport and returned to ship. We were able to retrieve it. It turns out we left it in the Celebrity Theatre. 


Conclusion 

Celebrity did little things that meant a lot. 

-They were able to solve our problem in Puerto Vallarta with the tender. -We were on the ship in 7 minutes. -cold face clothes when you return to the ship -waiters to carry your trays in the Palm Springs -roses for the Lady’s on Valentines Day at dinner. -very few announcements made -no announcements while getting off the ship -food cooked as one wanted it 

Our waiter Alexander did a fantastic job through out the cruise. No matter where we ran into him he always had something to offer us. We ran into him one afternoon getting off the elevator aft to go to the Palm Springs. He was there greeting people off the elevator. He asked us if we were going to eat and we said yes and he wanted to show us what was different today. He suggested the East Indian corner which we did. While it was very good it was not as spicy as we have had in the past. There was one morning we walked through the Cova Café where they serve Croissant and Danish from 8:30 - 11:00 AM. Alexander was there and he called us over and insisted we try something. We did and then he went to the kitchen to get a new tray of warm freshly baked goods. Alexander explained one night he was rated #1 on the Mercury for waiters and that is why he was offered a job on the new Celebrity Journey. We can see why. There was nothing that Alexander couldn’t do enough for us. He would always make sure we had enough before leaving the dinning room which I have said was as late as 11:00 PM some nights. I can not begin to Thank Alexander enough for making this cruise very special! The Assistant Waiter Sebby got to be known as the Pepper man as he was the one who brought the pepper grinder around every night. He also had our tea or coffee for us every night as we wanted it. 

Phil - Alexander (waiter) - Sandra - Sebby Asst Waiter
Phil - Alexander (waiter) - Sandra - Sebby (Assit. Waiter)



Thank you Gentlemen! 

I could talk about the shape of the ship such as seams in carpets in some lounges coming apart but this ship is 9 years old as well as it is headed for dry dock in another month to have carpet replaced. Did it detract from the cruise, no it did not. 

I could talk about the film on the glass tables from the spray they were using to clean them. It was very visible during the day in the sun. Not sure why they use a spray that does this. 

There were the very loud noon time announcements but this was only for a few minutes. The lack of announcements made up for this. 

The cost of drinks and wine on board has gotten so high one has to be careful how much one drinks. It can add up real quick after just a few drinks. Talking to one of the bartenders he said that shorter cruises are better for them because people drink as longer cruises cause people to watch what they drink as they have a budget for the most part. The rising costs of drinks on cruises have also caused people to drink less. At some point cruise lines may have to rethink this. You can not bring a bottle on board as they will take it and hold it till the end of the cruise. What you can bring is 2 bottles of wine or pop/soda or 6 pack of beer when in port. Saw lots of beer being brought on board and nothing was said. 

I also found photos very expensive at $19.95 for a group shot at dinner. 

One has to look at the little things and wonder why worry about it, all it does is stressing you out and ruin a very good holiday. 

There is always the nasty job of tipping at the end of the cruise. We elected to do the automatic tipping method. This bothered me because one could NOT reduce a tip to someone. You had to tip the suggested amount. You could also add more. Now something new was a tip of .75 a day to the Assistant Housekeeper who ever he/she was. Never did see them or have any idea who they were. Left their voucher in the Cabin. All the people that we had except the Assistant Housekeeper did a wonderful job 

The group I sat with nightly was the best group one could hope for. We had laughs at both dinner and other times on the cruise. This helped make it my best cruise in 15+ cruises.

 


Back- Christian -Louise -Sandra- Shirley - Patty
Front - Phil -Jim - Don

 

More photos

taken by Phil and Sandra

Phil at sailawayBon Voyage San DiegoCabo San Lucas bay to the rightLos Archos in Cabo San Lucas bayCabo San Lucas from the tenderfishing boat returning to Cabo San Lucas follwed by Seaguls and Pelican'sMazatlan from the shipview of Mazatlan from the shippool area on the Mercury as we leave MazatlanMexican Navy waiting for us to leave Mazatlanleaving Mazatlanafter leaving MazatlanSunset after leaving MazatlanSunset after leaving MazatlanDiamond Princess docking in Puerto Vallarta as seen from tenderMismaloyaMismyola BeachMismaloya as seen from our table.Guy carrying stove to boatguy on left just carried the fridge to here by himself on his back like the guy with stoveMismaloya - my table with red umbrella lower rightMismaloyaCanadian Flags at Mismayolaview of beach in Puerto Vallartaselling Mexican blankets on the beachselling hats on a beachselling shrimp on a stickview from our table at lunch in Puerto VallartaDiamond Princess from MercurySunset in Puerto VallartaSunset in Puerto VallartaSunset in Puerto VallartaSunset in Puerto VallartaManzanilloShips of the Mexican Navy in ManzanilloMexican Navy watching us in ManzanilloCarnival Sprit  leaving Manzanillobeach near cargo terminal in ManzanilloElectric plant pumping out junk that hangs over ManzanilloMexican Navy escorting out of Manzinillo to international watersMexican Navy escorting out of Manzinillo to international watersMercury with Norwegian Star as seen from La Ropa Beach in ZihuatanejoLa Ropa Beach as seen from Mercury in Zihuatanejoanother beach in Zihuatanejo BayNorwegian Star in ZihuatanejoPelican's on a small boat in Zihuatanejoanother beach in Zihuatanejo Bayleaving ZihuatanejoAlexander - Christian - SebbyPalm Springs PoolStairway mid shipsgrand buffetgrand buffetgrand buffetgrand buffetgrand buffetchocolate Palm Treesice carving of a Eagle about 6 feet acrosschocolate micechocolate micegrand buffetmeat tray at Grand Buffetgrand buffetchocolate birdchocolate boatchocolate cakebread harp and different breadsRoses in a bread basketmarshmellow swanbed turned downPhil - Alexander - Sandra - Sebby the pepper manbathrom 8109SD530447.jpg (66471 bytes)vegtable carvingtreespigflower centre pieceveggie Lobsterbread windmillPhilatSeacabin 8109Christian celebrating his birthday on Valentines day for the first time using Patty's Birthday CakeChristian celebrating his birthday with his own cake.cooking demoItalian Buffetone of the many displays at lunchItalian ThemeItalian BuffetIce Cream barfruit boatSandwich Station at lunchLobster nightBake Alaska - Alexander with his little finger on fireCabo San Lucas going northboundour table - back Christian -Louise - Sandra - Shirley - Patty - Front Phil - Jim - Don