We were there in time for early embarkation at Queen Mary, first time doing that in this port. Very fast and we grabbed our Zone 1 card and headed over to that area. Beautiful morning, sunny with little wind. We embarked and went up to Serenity area deck 9, but first a stop at the pool bar for a Foster's (a cruise tradition). Serenity was empty for a couple of hours, just to ourselves so we could enjoy the view of Long Beach and soak up some sun. Cruise Critic roll call was limited for this sailing and I went to where the meet and greet was expected but saw no one. Did run into one of the roll call people on Halloween night. Muster drill was ok, all went well and we then went up to Verandah forward to observation area for sailaway at sunset. We were able to switch our dining from late to Anytime option but decided to pass on dining room that night and just eat on Lido. Other than a couple of things, really disappointing food up there. Cabin was U15, went cheap on this cruise since it was just a filler till platinum. Stateroom was nice, could tell they did the upgrade and porthole worked fine for light and views. Bed comfy as always but wish this room had couch as it only had a chair.
Woke up in Catalina and could hear anchor dropping but not as loud as others have commented on. Grabbed early breakfast to catch tender before they get busy...........no problem. Weather was fabulous in Avalon so we followed our plans to walk up to Wrigley Memorial which is about 1.5 mile of steady climb. It's $7 pp to go into Wrigley and worth it for us. Hint: water there sucks, bring your own. We walked though gardens which are both indigenous plants and imports. This is not a lush garden like you might expect but since the islands are just about desert climate, suiting that they favor plants that do well in arid conditions. The Memorial was great and I won't go into details about that but it is impressive.
Hoofed it down the main road, even did the makeshift labyrinth maze someone laid out in a small grove of trees. Walked past the golf course where I've played before and replayed some memories in my mind. Got to town and things were busier than earlier along the main streets. Grabbed a quick bite at a walk up hot dog/burger place and then headed over to Descanso Beach area, taking pics along the way. Said hi to casino building and ended up at Descanso where they have been and continue to do upgrades from my past visits. One of them was the zipline tour that Roxanne did. It is 5 lines and she enjoyed it more than the 14 lines in Puerto Vallarta she has done (I don't do ziplining!). This has a eco component and history of island included. Since she had 2 hours for the ziplines, I zipped over to Luau Larry's and Marlin Club for a beer to continue previous traditions. Plenty of time to go back to Descanso (about a 10 min walk) and snap some pics of her coming in on last zipline. We spent rest of time walking around main beach area and stopped for a margarita before heading back on tender.
Elegant night was well done by carnival and saw others in tuxes as well. We did some pictures along the promenade and then went to eat. Anytime went well and we had a table with another couple. Food was much better than Lido from night before. Went to a comedy show which was good and although adult themed, pretty tame with language and content. The other comedian missed the ship due to Hurricane Sandy so this guy tossed in 5 shows in one night, all different per reports.
Ensenada was a sleep in morning and planned to have breakfast in main dining room but we arrived 5 min too late so off to lido for cooked to order omelette which prepared us for wine tasting tour. Grabbed the bus and was almost an hour to two wineries close to each other. One very small who used plastic cups for tasting, wines were not too good, and prices were too high. Then off to Cetto which is huge but better quality. Tasted about 6 wines, bought only one as we had packing concerns with airline, and they gave us a bottle each as a gift. Ride back not bad, dropped in town to walk around. Visited Hussong's (tradition again), did a bit of shopping, then a horse carriage ride back to ship.
Halloween night on a cruise ship was new to us and was good fun. I was surprised about half of the passengers dressed and some were fantastic. They do a meet and greet in crowded deck nine area and then some are picked for contest later in showroom. We were bumblebee and flower. Dinner in MDR earlier was "carnival dining lottery" which means don't pick the trick on the menu...........I did. Went with the pulled port/jerked pork loin. Thought this would be safe. How hard can overcooked pork be? Seems the chef's version is not like mine. The port was slices of well done pork roast with a good spicy sauce over the meat. Meat wasn't good flavor and almost too tough to cut with a knife. I am pretty tolerant but learned my lesson on this dish. I lusted for the guy next to me with flat iron steak, a previous lottery loser for me also, but looked great. Desserts were fixed as this was a special occasion. Nicely decorated puffed pastry with cheesecake filing that looked like a ghost and a slice of decadent chocolate cake with decorations for Halloween as well. This time I won the food lottery and Roxanne lost..............CCL really shouldn't call that stuff cheesecake. We shared mine, went off for a few pics and video of others. Long day, hit the bed earlier than should have given the festivities but I'm older than dirt.
Day at sea was the only time I've seen about 5 people around the pool and loungers, only kids in tubs and pool. It was cloudy but not too cool. Most everyone inside doing trivia or bingo so day was a bit boring in that respect. Played min golf (won by one stroke even though she had two holes in one), rested on Serenity and did some reading until getting ready for dinner. This time I had a tasty flat iron steak and all was very good including service. We were not in a rush to get off so decided to put one bag out and keep one for use in morning. Had debarkation zone 14 and had time for breakfast and relaxing. Off ship a bit past nine and then drive without any real traffic to LAX for flight back.
So points for me on this #9 cruise. Roll calls can be great or otherwise. Hope your karma is good with dining lottery or ask others what is good or not good. Don't even try the powdered eggs on Lido, pass or wait in line for omelette (but watch that 'cheese' stuff they use). Not sure how they get the bacon so thin it is see through, must have a laser knife. I commend them on how many days they can keep reheating sausage links/bangers. I wasn't expected great food, some was good though. This ship may have a problem with food? Haven't had similar experiences on other ships. Winery tour was worth it, but voting was close. Ensenada was as usual, I did see they moved Papas and Beer across where the old Mango Mango was, didn't go in, Halloween was a bit too wild for me. Love Catalina again including the memorial and zipping. Ship is in good shape and crew was always friendly and helpful.
One thing.............our day at sea was disrupted by a huge, I mean LOUD bang on the ship about midday. Everyone felt it and stopped what they were doing including the crew. It almost felt like something blew up or ? The Captain came on quickly and said they were investigating but everything was checking out fine. A few minutes later he said all departments reported no problems and he thought it was a sonic boom, possible from a military aircraft flying offshore. I've heard those as a kid and it made sense, but how the ship shook and how loud it was made my adrenaline surge. All in all, a good trip.