Cruising Mates Forum: Cruise reviews, chat, answers and information. cruisingmates.co.uk • View topic - MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 25 Jun 2020 08:21

Day 44 – Tuesday 14th May 2008 - Disembarkation in Los Angeles

The “Sapphire Princess” arrived in Los Angeles and, after breakfast, together with Arne and Sue, we collected our hand luggage from our cabins and made our way to the gangway and left the ship. We were quite sad to be leaving her as she had been a good home for us for 31 nights, but we looked forward to the next few days in Las Vegas, our first visit there.

We had to queue a short time to get a taxi, but were soon in one and heading for the Avis Car Hire Depot at Long Beach (we had chosen that Depot as we did not want to get involved in the Los Angeles rush hour traffic). At the Depot, we were given a Chevrolet Uplander LS utility vehicle which had plenty of room for the four of us plus our luggage.

Image
Our hire vehicle.

We left the Depot with Arne driving and immediately got lost – we had not set the vehicle’s Sat. Nav. Correctly, so we did a quick U-turn, corrected the settings, and were soon heading in the right direction. It was quite an interesting drive from Long Beach to Las Vegas (282 miles), mostly semi-arid desert, with little sign of civilisation. We noticed that some of the distant hills still had snow on their peaks.

Image
Semi-arid desert.

Image
Snow on the peaks.

We entered Las Vegas, driving down the famous ‘Strip’, seeing all the famous hotels and casinos that we had seen on television and in books – they really were a bit ‘over the top’! The Sat. Nav. Took us directly to our hotel, The ‘Marriott Renaissance Hotel’. We had chosen this hotel very carefully as it had no casino, was a non-smoking hotel and was at the end of ‘The Strip’, so quiet, but right by a monorail station.

Image
Our hotel.

Image
Our room with two large beds.

Image
Not luxurious, but adequate for a few days (and quite big after 31 days in a cabin).

After booking in and refreshing ourselves, we walked the short distance to the monorail station and purchased tickets to cover us for travel over the next couple of days. We took the first monorail train to arrive and, as it took us along a route parallel to ‘The Strip’, we got sight of all the famous themed resort hotels. We got off the monorail at the ‘MGM Grand’ station and decided to walk back along ‘The Strip’ towards our hotel, passing ‘MGM Grand’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Excalibur’ and ‘Paris’ hotels and others.

Image
A monorail train.

Image
Approaching ‘The Strip’ from the monorail station

Image
Lion statue at ‘MGM Grand’. There were real lions in the hotel.

Image
Statue of Liberty at the ‘New York, New York Hotel’.

Image
The ‘Excalibur Hotel’

‘The Strip’ is very wide, with multiple lanes of traffic and so impossible to cross by foot. To cross this wide road you have to take a lift or escalator up to a footbridge, cross the road and then take another lift or escalator down on the other side.

Image
Going up……

Image
Looking down from the footbridge.

Image
Chris and a friendly M&M!

We went into a couple of casinos and I spent a massive 75 cents (3 tries at 25 cents a time - last of the big spenders!), but we found them far too smokey and noisy and were glad that we were staying at the hotel we chose.

Image
An interesting ceiling in one of the hotel-casinos.

We stayed on ‘The Strip’ until it went dark and, if anything, the sights were more spectacular.

Image
‘Paris’ at night.

We stopped off at the Bellagio Hotel’ to see the ‘Dancing waters’ – multiple illuminated fountains ‘dancing in time to classical music. We really enjoyed it and it was a fine way to end our first day in Las Vegas.

Image
The dancing waters……

Image
…….synchronised with classical music.

Image
Still cameras cannot do it justice.

We caught the next monorail train back to our oasis of a hotel and slept like logs that night.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Continued tomorrow ..........................
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
User avatar
judgegeoff
Powder Monkey
Powder Monkey
 
Posts: 4442
Joined: 23 Mar 2013 12:58
Location: New Romney. Kent
National Flag:
United Kingdom

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Gillzajoker » 25 Jun 2020 10:31

Yes, Sapphire is a wonderful ship and I'm gald we have the same thoughts on that. I had a 3-day
pre-cruise stay in Vegas prior to an Hawaiian cruise. I was really looking forward to it, as I always
a little flutter in the casinos onboard, after the Show and before bed. Almost all my cruises were
21 days and above, so I allowed myself a 'ceiling' of $5 dollars on the slot machines, and $20 on roulette.
Sometimes that was gone in a couple of days, sometimes it lasted me the whole cruise, but I was very
strict with myself and stuck to it. I thought I would LOVE my say there, so I was surprised to find that
I didn't like Las Vegas! We stayed at the Luxor - pyramid-shaped hotel - which was really at the wrong
end of the Strip, and to get anywhere you always seemed to be directed through another hotel casino -
dark, smoky, and NOISY!. (We eventually managed to find a way to escape that trap and wander up
and down either walking on the pavements or using the monorail). The highlight of that stay was a
light plane trip over the Grand Canyon, but since that time, I never had the urge to go there again! :D
Image
User avatar
Gillzajoker
Admiral
Admiral
 
Posts: 16781
Joined: 03 Mar 2011 16:07
Location: Costa Almeria, Spain
National Flag:
Spain

Re: MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Camela » 25 Jun 2020 11:12

We visited over 40 years ago and Vegas seemed huge then, I would like to revisit. We also drove from Long Beach and enjoyed the drive but long haul travel was still a novelty and the though of Las Vegas was so exciting. At the hotel (the newly-opened Tropicana)and shops there were vouchers everywhere for ridiculously cheap meals, establishments vying with each other to get customers in. We did eat cheaply!!
"Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise"
User avatar
Camela
Commodore
Commodore
 
Posts: 1653
Joined: 09 Feb 2013 18:21
National Flag:
England

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby rdw123 » 26 Jun 2020 07:56

Gillzajoker wrote:Yes, Sapphire is a wonderful ship and I'm gald we have the same thoughts on that. I had a 3-day
pre-cruise stay in Vegas prior to an Hawaiian cruise. I was really looking forward to it, as I always
a little flutter in the casinos onboard, after the Show and before bed. Almost all my cruises were
21 days and above, so I allowed myself a 'ceiling' of $5 dollars on the slot machines, and $20 on roulette.
Sometimes that was gone in a couple of days, sometimes it lasted me the whole cruise, but I was very
strict with myself and stuck to it. I thought I would LOVE my say there, so I was surprised to find that
I didn't like Las Vegas! We stayed at the Luxor - pyramid-shaped hotel - which was really at the wrong
end of the Strip, and to get anywhere you always seemed to be directed through another hotel casino -
dark, smoky, and NOISY!. (We eventually managed to find a way to escape that trap and wander up
and down either walking on the pavements or using the monorail). The highlight of that stay was a
light plane trip over the Grand Canyon, but since that time, I never had the urge to go there again! :D


Snap Gill. My friend and I stayed the other end of the strip in the Stratosphere hotel. Easy for the monorail etc. Like you we found it nearly impossible to find your way out of the casinos and hotels. I suppose they want a captive audience. Judging by some of the customers they seemed to have one. They were to be seen like zombies pulling the handles on the machines all day and everyday. Like you I had a spending limit, 1 dollar! That was all I was prepared to feed into the machines. I came away with a profit of 50 cents! You can tell I am not a gambler. The view from the top of the Stratosphere Tower was fantastic, you could see for miles. Passed on that ride that shoots you off the edge though. Like you I have no yearning to go back, once was enough.
rdw123
Commander
Commander
 
Posts: 467
Joined: 31 Jan 2013 18:04

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 26 Jun 2020 08:04

Day 45 – Wednesday 15th May 2008 - Las Vegas

Today, the 4 of us (Arne, Sue, Chris and myself) decided to visit the famous Hoover Dam (aka Boulder Dam), so we got into the car and went off to find a diner for breakfast which we soon found. The dam is 37 miles from Las Vegas, about a 42 minute drive.

Image
On the way we passed this mobile phone mast disguised (rather badly) as a tree.

Arriving at the dam we parked the car in a multi-storey car park, made our way down to the ticket office and purchased tickets for a conducted tour of the Dam. The tour was very interesting and took us into areas that are not normally viewable, like the Turbine Hall.

Image
Our tour group assembling.

Image
Inside the Turbine hall.

Image
A model of the construction of the dam.

Construction of the dam commenced in 1931 and the dam was opened in 1935. During construction 112 deaths were officially recorded, but the true figure was much higher. An additional 42 deaths were reported as pneumonia (and so were not counted) but these deaths were most probably due to carbon monoxide, due to petrol-fuelled vehicles being used in the diversion tunnels. These deaths were deliberately misdiagnosed to prevent compensation being paid!

Image
The massive dam…….

Image
…….and looking down.

Image
On top of the dam. Traffic still drove across the dam to drive between Arizona and Nevada, but work on a new bridge had been started when we were there.

Image
The new bridge under construction (started February 2005). The bridge was completed in October 2010 at a cost of US$240 million.

Image
A file picture of the completed bridge.

Image
Looking downstream from the top of the dam. The dam’s transformer and switching stations can be seen on each side.

Image
Looking upstream we could see how dangerously low the water level was.

Image
Chris and our hire car at Lake Mead. Hoover dam impounds this lake which is the biggest reservoir in the United States (when full). The water level was very low when we were there.

Leaving the Hoover Dam area we drove back to Las Vegas, got refreshed at our hotel and then caught a monorail train down ‘The Strip’ and continued our walk back towards our hotel from the point that we had left it the previous evening.

I found the ‘Venetian Hotel’ to be an amazing place. Reconstructions of iconic Venetian sights were amazing.

Image
The Doge’s Palace.

Image
Amazing detail on the reconstruction.

Image
The Rialto bridge makes an appearance.

Image
This photo was taken inside the hotel.

Image
Even the painted clouds looked real.

Image
The hotels are massive inside. The ‘MGM Grand’ hotel has no less than 6,852 rooms!

We had dinner in a very nice seafood restaurant that Arne and Sue’s son had recommended after his visit to Las Vegas. Chris and I ordered a glass of wine each but the waitress advised us that they had a special offer on the house wine – buy one and get three!. Chris could not finish all her wine so they gave her a wine ‘doggy bag’, complete with a straw!

Image
Our ‘three for one’ wine seafood restaurant (hic!).

Image
On our walk we came across Captain Jack Sparrow having a drink.

In the late evening we caught a monorail train back to our hotel and, thoroughly worn out (and full of wine), we slept very soundly again.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow…………...
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
User avatar
judgegeoff
Powder Monkey
Powder Monkey
 
Posts: 4442
Joined: 23 Mar 2013 12:58
Location: New Romney. Kent
National Flag:
United Kingdom

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Gillzajoker » 26 Jun 2020 09:01

Loved all the information and photos of the dam, Geoff - really interesting - OH would have loved to
visit that as he is an engineer :D
Image
User avatar
Gillzajoker
Admiral
Admiral
 
Posts: 16781
Joined: 03 Mar 2011 16:07
Location: Costa Almeria, Spain
National Flag:
Spain

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 27 Jun 2020 08:14

Day 46 – Thursday 16th May 2008 - Las Vegas

This morning, we had decided that we had experienced sufficient ‘American Bling’ for the time being and so, after a snack breakfast in the hotel’s ‘Starbucks’ cafe, we decided to visit the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, a few miles west of Las Vegas. The area is situated in 190,000 acres of the Mojave Desert and has some stunning and colourful rock formations and is home to some wild horses and burros (donkeys).

First of all we stopped off at the Visitor’s Centre, where we saw some very interesting presentations and displays that gave us a good introduction to the area, its flora and its fauna.

Image
The Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area Visitor’s Centre.

Image
Colourful plants at the Centre.

Image
A display about the recommended scenic drive.

From the Visitor’s Centre we drove the recommended 13-mile scenic route, stopping occasionally to see the rock formations up close and take some photographs. It was a very welcome change from the hustle, bustle and ‘bling’ of Las Vegas, but it was very, very hot!

Image
The sparse foliage adds a little colour.

Image
Colourful rock formations.

Image
The hills on the right are called ‘The Wall’ and are up to 1,000 ft high.

Image
Over 2,000,000 people visit the area each year. It is a popular rock climbing area.

Image
Unfortunately we did not see any wild horses or burros.

Image
A prickly plant.

Image
Triffids?

When we left the area we were desperately in need of refreshment and were delighted to see a sign for the ‘Bonnie Spring Ranch’ that had a bar and restaurant, so turned off onto a dirt road and followed the signs. When we finally got there we went into their bar which had hundreds, possibly thousands of American dollar money hanging down from its ceiling.

Image
Sign at the ranch.

Image
Dollars on the ceiling. The barmaid told us that it was a tradition for customers to leave a dollar bill pinned up and, periodically, they were all taken down and given to a charity. Their beer was very cold and extremely refreshing on such a hot day.

When I went to use the restroom I was in for another surprise. The ‘Men’s’ and ‘Ladies’ toilet doors had underwear on them to indicate which was which.

Image
The restroom doors.

When I went into the men’s toilet, there was another surprise, one facility was a bath with a very unsophisticated flushing system. I had to take a photograph. Only in America!

Image
The facilities!

Now refreshed (and somewhat amused, we drove back to our hotel in Las Vegas, got showered and dressed and then decided to visit the Hilton Hotel that was on the monorail route, but in the opposite direction to ‘The Strip’. The hotel had a ‘Star Trek’ theme and, as we entered the complex, we were met by a man very realistically made up as a ‘Borg’ and there were life-sized models of some of the alien characters from the series.

Image
Quark’s bar and restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas.

Image
The ‘Borg’ doorman, great make-up.

Image
One of the models.

Image
Don’t ask, I haven't got a clue!

Image
A Ferenginarian, like Quark.

We decided to eat in ‘Quark’s Restaurant’ (Quark was one of the characters from ‘Star Trek’) and the restaurant looked like the interior of a spaceship.

Image

Our Maitre ‘d was a Vulcan (like Mr Spock) but our waitress appeared to be humanoid. Whilst we were eating our very tasty meal ‘Quark’ himself came to see if everything was fine.

Image
Quark.

Some customers at the bar were drinking from a large brandy shaped glass that was smoking!

Image
Smoking!!!

After our amazing dining experience we went into the ‘Star Trek’ shop and Sue, who had never seen the TV series, picked up a ‘tribble’, an alien lifeform, but assuming it was a kind of teddy bear. As she picked it up it started vibrating wildly and uttering a high pitched screech. Sue also screeched and dropped the tribble like it was a red hot poker, much to our amusement.

Image
A tribble.

We left the Hilton Hotel and returned to our hotel via the monorail train. Back at the hotel, we commenced packing as we would be leaving Las Vegas in the morning.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Continued tomorrow ………………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
User avatar
judgegeoff
Powder Monkey
Powder Monkey
 
Posts: 4442
Joined: 23 Mar 2013 12:58
Location: New Romney. Kent
National Flag:
United Kingdom

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Gillzajoker » 27 Jun 2020 09:32

Your usual excellent photos of the desert are very similar to the landscape around here (we are about
an hour and a half drive from the Tabernas (the only desert in Europe), where most of the Spaghetti
Westerns were filmed. I bet those guys in the costumes were hot and uncomfortable. You didn't
stop to 'freshen up' whilst in the bathroom, then? :D
Image
User avatar
Gillzajoker
Admiral
Admiral
 
Posts: 16781
Joined: 03 Mar 2011 16:07
Location: Costa Almeria, Spain
National Flag:
Spain

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 27 Jun 2020 11:40

Gillzajoker wrote:Your usual excellent photos of the desert are very similar to the landscape around here (we are about
an hour and a half drive from the Tabernas (the only desert in Europe), where most of the Spaghetti
Westerns were filmed. I bet those guys in the costumes were hot and uncomfortable. You didn't
stop to 'freshen up' whilst in the bathroom, then? :D


Thanks Gill. Whilst at the Hilton Hotel we could have dressed up in Star Trek costumes (at extra cost) and been taken to a mock-up of the bridge of the "USS Enterprise" (with actors) and experience a Klingon attack. Sadly we didn't, one of my life regrets!
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
User avatar
judgegeoff
Powder Monkey
Powder Monkey
 
Posts: 4442
Joined: 23 Mar 2013 12:58
Location: New Romney. Kent
National Flag:
United Kingdom

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 28 Jun 2020 07:51

Day 47 – Friday 17th May 2008 - Las Vegas to the UK

We had breakfast in the hotel’s ‘Starbucks’ cafe, booked out of our hotel, loaded the car and headed back towards Los Angeles. Our Sat. Nav. Took us directly to the Avis Car Hire Depot at Los Angeles airport where we dropped the car off and took the courtesy shuttle bus to the Departure Building.

We arrived at the New Zealand Airways check-in desk before it had opened, and had quite a long wait before the staff arrived – but at least we were one of the first parties to be checked in.

Our New Zealand Airways 747 took off on time and we had a reasonably uneventful and pleasant flight overnight to London Heathrow Airport.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 48 – Saturday 18th May 2008 - U.K.

We landed at Heathrow Airport at about 11:00 am and, having cleared Immigration, collected our luggage and cleared Customs, we went to the Avis Car Hire depot to pick up a Renault hire car. We drove from the airport to Arne and Sue’s house in Ashford, transferred our suitcases to our Honda car (which fortunately started at the first attempt), said our farewells to our best friends and then drove home to New Romney. Our house was fine (our next door neighbours had kept an eye on it) but we had a ton of mail to sort through.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

AND FINALLY …..

We had experienced the holiday of a lifetime. We had circumnavigated the Earth, flying a total of 16,120 miles (25,943 km) and had sailed a total of 10,933 nautical miles (12,582 miles or 20,262 km). We had met some wonderful people, seen some wonderful sights and eaten some amazing food. It was a fantastic way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

We enjoyed Australia and New Zealand so much that we booked three back-to-back cruises (circumnavigating first New Zealand, then Tasmania and finally Australia) aboard the Royal Caribbean ship “Rhapsody of the Seas” in February/March of 2010.

We are really glad that we went to Las Vegas for a few days, it is such an amazing place to visit. However, having seen it once, we do not feel the need to return to it any time soon. Our choice of hotel there, the ‘Marriott Millennium’, was brilliant, we would not have enjoyed staying in one of the casino hotels there – far too noisy and smokey!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I have really enjoyed writing this holiday blog, it has revived so many good memories and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. I would like to thank my wife Chris who has kept a diary of all our holidays and who took many of the photographs that I have posted. Also my thanks to Arne and Sue for being great friends and fantastic travel companions.

Thank you for your kind comments, tomorrow I will start a blog of another one of our cruises. I would be very happy if you choose to travel with me.
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
User avatar
judgegeoff
Powder Monkey
Powder Monkey
 
Posts: 4442
Joined: 23 Mar 2013 12:58
Location: New Romney. Kent
National Flag:
United Kingdom

PreviousNext

  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to Out & about - Photo stories



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests