After some research (and quite a bit of indecisiveness on my part. I hate making decisions) my hubby and I decided to spend this year's vacation on a Norwegian Cruise. Neither of us have cruised before; I was raised backpacking and tent camping and he was raised beach camping, so we didn't know what to expect but figured it was an experience we should add to our growing list of adventures together. I chose the Mexican Riviera cruise on the Norwegian Star for both price and convenience. The Star left out of the San Pedro port instead of Long Beach, which saved us about 45 minutes in ugly freeway driving.
We left for our cruise on Saturday, approximately 12 hours after the fires broke out in Sylmar, California. Many of the freeways were closed, but we managed to make it to the port in San Pedro on time. We opted to check our baggage; not wanting to drag it onboard ourselves. Check in was quick and painless. After some confusion with our keycards (they didn't work and we had to get new ones) we were placing our luggage in our balcony stateroom and heading up to the pool deck for cast off.
I took this picture of the sunset surrounded by the wildfire smoke. Layers of ash continued to fall on us until we were a few miles out to sea. I don't know how anyone enjoyed the buffet they had set up on deck. Maybe they didn't notice the ash topping. Back in our room we had champagne and strawberries waiting. This was part of a very reasonably priced "Romance Package" I ordered and was the perfect way to start the trip. I highly recommend it. Dinner was in "Aqua", one of the ships main dining rooms, and it squashed any worries I might have had about 'cruise food'. The servers were professional and friendly. The steak and salmon was amazing. With NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" we didn't have to sit with strangers (unless we wanted to) and could show up in jeans and a tshirt. Stress free and perfect for us more relaxed travelers. After all the excitement I crashed pretty early, in a very comfortable bed.