My wife and I went out on the Paradise on Sept. 4th (labor day) to Catalina and Ensenada. We have never been on a cruise before and wanted to test the waters before going on a long cruise tour to Alaska in the next year or so.
We arrived about 12:00 and Embarkation had already started. Well, kind of. The waters of the harbor were a little choppier than normal and all of us had to wait in a holding area to await our turn as they were only letting small groups of people in at a time. We probably waited about 20 minutes there.
No big deal. We went to our cabin to unpack and then go explore the ship. My wife was very surprised when she entered our cabin and found the Anniversary decor that I had ordered as well as the dozen roses. Started this cruise off on the right foot.
The Lido deck restaurant was open and the food was ok. Nothing special. We went to see the maitre d' to change our dining time from late to early. No problem. Just mentioned it was for medical reasons and he changed it right away. The only problem we had was a lost bag that we found later with the help of our steward. during handling, the tag had apparently fallen off. Now for the life vest drill. Luckily we went early up to our assigned area which was the best area to have.
The Lido deck. It was a very hot day and most of the seating was in the sun with those hot sticky (yuck) life vests. by getting there early, we stayed in the shade. All of the other meeting areas had to get up and walk up the stairs to the life boats. We just sat there and watched everyone parade by. The first night dinner and every dinner was excellent. The service was great as well. Unfortunately, you can't pick your table mates. We all tolerated each other as much as possible. Could have been worse I guess.
Part wo. We had heard so many negative things about cruising and the smoke that is prevalent on the ships. We are very sensitive to smoke and can't tolerate it all. My own belief is that if people are that determined to kill themselves, they ought to just put a bullet in their head instead of ruining the air that everyone else has to breathe. That said, it was no problem on this cruise. Even in the casino, it was at low levels. A pleasant surprise.
I will only mention the stops we made briefly as I don't have a lot to say that would be positive about them. Catalina and Ensenada are kind of places you would only go if you had to. Before the cruise I had wanted to see what Catalina was like. Been there now, done that, don't need to do it again (unless it was to go fishing there). We went on the Eco raft excursion which in concept was great, the raft was less than half full which was another plus, the guide was informative and pleasant. Unfortunately, all of the wildlife took the day off that day. No eagles, dolphins or anything but a few gulls were seen. That happens. My wife enjoyed the ride tremendously, while I just enjoyed it.
Ensenada. Interesting town. If you are going to buy Tequila, buy it on the way back to ship at the little shopping area where you disembark at. The prices are pretty good and the ship doesn't really carry anything but Cuervo. We didn't do any excursions there as this was going to be the shopping stop for my wife. We did a lot of walking (by choice) from the ship to the shopping area and then for several hours afterwards (until about 2pm) when we gratefully got on the shuttle for the trip back. The shops my DW loved. The local art work (some of it quite expensive) was excellent and was most of the cheaper items were as well. Most of the people were pleasant and informative. Just be careful crossing the streets at intersections because the drivers aren't that careful. After shopping we went back to the ship to stay. I guess Papas n beer got as decadent as its reputation say does, but we weren't there to see it. Just heard about it.
Part Three More on the food and the different dining areas. Dinners were excellent, breakfast were good and adequate and the lunch opportunities were better than I thought they would be. Inside of the Lido the sandwich area makes some really good sandwiches. As well as the pizza counter; the calzones were very good. Now for the best part of the cruise.
The entertainment. We went to everything that we could and enjoyed all of it. The first comedian was very good. The last comedian for the last part of the cruise was about the best act we have ever seen. His adults' only last night of the cruise was the funniest. I have seen many acts in Vegas and other places and he was the best. Very raunchy, very funny.
All in all, our cruise was worth the money, but, that was the only cruise we will ever go on. We realized that we like the freedom of the open road, going where we want to go when we want to. Glacier National Park and then Canada next year.