By Steve White
contributing writer 

More adventures with Pepe

Life with Pepe


July 23, 2022

Pepe and I have spent most of the 2021-22 winter months with Cruise Ship cruises along the Mexican Riviera. Our ships sailed out of either Long Beach or San Pedro ... a short 3-hour drive from my home. Depending, of course, on traffic. Driving through the heart of Los Angeles during rush hour traffic can be challenging.

The last 4-months have been aboard the Royal Caribbean MS Navigator of the Seas which sails weekly around Baja, California for 3-, 4- and 7-night cruises. Sometimes the ship stops for a day at Catalina Island.

Since the cruise lines are still dealing with the issues of COVID restrictions, the guest and crew aboard is much less then the designed cruise ship occupancy capacity. I have to budget for driving to the pier, parking, tips and extras for each cruise, but I usually end up spending much less then the budgeted amount. We do either the 5- or 7-day cruise. I’m watching the internet for “specials” and book a cruise every 4-6 weeks. Next month we’re sailing on the MS Navigator for a 5-day cruise at a cost of less then $450. I can’t stay home for that. Pepe is use to the ship, has learned to deal with the “potty box” and loves the attention he gets aboard the ships. Of course the crew loves to see us. We’ve sailed so often on the MS Navigator that both the crew and the pre-cruise boarding staff recognize us on arrival and greet us by name...especially Pepe!

The cruise line requires that Pepe is with me at all times - or is attended by others. If I leave him somewhere to go for a quick meal or needed item passengers and crew will ask me, “Where’s Pepe?”

When we arrive at the pier on boarding day I check my bag with the baggage attendants then park the car. I am immediately pulled out of the “boarding line” and given special attention because of Pepe. Dogs on cruise ships are not common. The cruise line needs to make sure that all the paperwork is in order. We are then escorted through the boarding process all the way to the ship. We’re usually aboard within 30-minutes of arrival at the pier.

Cruising can be very boring for me as a deaf, older, solo cruiser. Most guests travel with a significant other or perhaps close friends. Sometimes I make acquaintances with other guests - especially at meals as we usually eat in the dining room. Our cruise last month had a real surprise for me however.

While going over the paperwork with the Special Needs pre-boarding attendant, Pepe alerted me that someone was trying to get my attention. I turned to see what he wanted and there was Alice, a lady from San Antonio that we had met on a previous cruise through the Panama Canal over two-years ago. We’d had several dinners together on that cruise and exchanged a few emails after returning home. The COVID pandemic set in about that time and our communication soon stopped. Alice would be making this same cruise this week. Since we would be boarding separately we arranged to meet later aboard the ship.

How nice it was to have cruising company with a friend. We shared a dinner table every evening talking about how COVID had impacted and changed our lives and the lives of families and friends. We also spent a few hours checking out the sights on Catalina Island.

Now that the summer months have finally arrived we will be staying closer to home. Of course I’ll still be watching for inexpensive short cruises. A great way to get away for a few days while enjoying meals and food prepared by someone else.

Pepe is a small, male Chihuahua mix, 8 years old, that accompanies Steve everywhere. Steve has a hearing disability that allows him to have an ADA Certified Service Dog.


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