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Summer cruisin

Life with Pepe

Many of our readers know that Pepe and I have spent most of the 2021-22 winter months on Cruise Ship cruises along the Mexican Riviera. Sailing out of either Long Beach or San Pedro. Originally I had planned cruising would be a good way to spend some time during the winter months. I had great plans for spending the 2022 summer months doing something other than cruising. However, with the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, our cruising activity has continued. Royal Caribbean MS Navigator of the Seas has become our ship of choice this summer.

We have been cruising about once a month, usually on the same ship, and Pepe seems to enjoy the regular outings. He's use to the ships and has adjusted well to our routines. Our "life aboard" is much different than at home. Life aboard is a simple routine as I don't get involved in many of the shipboard activities that are offered: the casino, specialty restaurants, the bar scene, even the stage show entertainments are mostly avoided. Sounds boring? Not really. There's plenty of things for us to do.

I especially enjoy the gourmet meals that are formally served in the dinning rooms. Also the "adult only" area. To be sure, that area is often crowded on sea days and scoring a lounge chair can be challenging. Meeting with other fully vaccinated people, that are usually on vacation, is also a pleasure for both of us. The majority of the other "guests" aboard the ship are from the West Coast; however we've met people from other states and some from all over the world. Our contact with other people is always in an open area, except of course, during the dinning room hours.

To be sure, Pepe is a huge draw and gets most of the attention. If it were not that Pepe is literally tied to me with a leash secured to my belt I would most likely be ignored. The ship's crew especially enjoy our regular visits. They know that it is OK for them to give Pepe some warm loving with pets and perhaps a hug. (He has a note secured to the back of his special "Dogs for the Deaf" Service Dog vest. In large letters it reads: "My name is Pepe. It is OK to pet me.") People are not encouraged to give attention to Service Dogs in most situations. Aboard ship Pepe's only duty is to alert me to a knock at the cabin door. He's on vacation from his normal Service Dog routines and seems to be aware that being petted and loved by others when we sail is acceptable.

The Royal Caribbean MS Navigator of the Seas is not a high end luxury ship. Being an older, recently refurbished, cruise ship sailing 3-, 5- and 7-day excursions along the Mexican Riviera with occasional visits to Ensenada and Catalina Island. Many of the guests aboard are "regulars." Most are middle age, working people on a vacation or perhaps, like us, a break from their normal COVID life routines.

Social media, and some news reports, often portray cruising as a negative way to vacation. However; most of these reports are not based on facts. I spent several years in the U.S. Navy aboard smaller ships. All trash was thrown overboard; raw sewage was dumped directly from the toilets into the oceans. The ships engine boiler fuel was heavily polluting "Bunker Fuel." That was over 50-years ago. Things have changed. Some report that cruise ships are major polluters of the seas. Actually, cruise ships have high end waste treatment aboard. Trash - what little there is - is kept aboard and recycled when in port. Sewage - and other wastewater - is processed through state of the art on-board treatment plants. Solids are processed aboard ship with the remnants trucked to on shore plants for further treatment and disposal. And yes, you can drink the water!

As for being a "floating petri dish" - state of the art ventilation has been upgraded. The ships occupancy is about 60% of designed capacity. All passengers must wear a mask except when in open areas or while eating or drinking. All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated - booster shots are encouraged. The CDC requires that all guests sailing on cruise ships be COVID tested two-days prior to boarding the ship.

For me, one of the biggest advantages of cruising is that the prices have not increased during the inflation. Sure the cabins I choose are inside and small. Just a place to put our stuff, shower, change clothes and sleep. Except for sleeping and a mid-day nap we spend all of our time on the decks or at meals. This makes for a great way to get away from our sheltering in place routines during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also means that Pepe and I are continuing to sail, and we have cruises booked through October 2022.