My daughter goes to college in Boston, and I am a 50 y/o career momma from AZ. We both needed some downtime - from school and harsh winter! (she:) and from work (me :).... This cruise fit the bill. It was short enough, yet far enough to be able to just relax and not spend a ton of money.
We flew from PHX to LGB. Got there at 12noon. We took a taxi (cost $45 + tip) one way. Easy peasy. I would recommend LGB over LAX if you are flying in for your cruise. The airport is small so it is easily navigated without much drama.
It did not take long at all. Plenty of staff to help you and they ensure you keep moving. Note: There would be staff there (porters) who will take your luggage off and assist. Politely say 'no, thank you'. And of you go. You can carry your luggage through the maze. It's not that difficult at all, provided you are physically able to walk and pull your luggage :) We waited no more than 30 minutes after check in. Our room was ready upon arrival. We were greeted by our cabin host, Rodrigo, and off we went. We were dining at the Piazza - a delicious thin crust cappriciosa by 1:30pm. Vacation has begun.
I sailed the Alaska princess cruise last year, and made note of the decks to book, should I sail again. I am glad I picked this deck - Plaza. It was close to everything. No noise. Barely noticeable ship swaying. I only took 1/2 pill of Bonine the whole time. Cabin was inside/ starboard. Good enough for us. Nothing to complain about. We knew it would be small, but it was adequate. There is a hairdryer. Refillable bottles of soap and shampoo/conditioner combo. We brought the latter. I think the soap smelled of Neutrogena.
Rodrigo - our steward host - was impeccable. Cabin was always clean. The last couple of times, I purposefully left the 'privacy please' door hanger so he didn't have to keep cleaning our clean room... Geesh. Give these guys a break! And yes, we tipped extra - on top of the mandatory tipping.
3 stars. Not as good as the Alaska cruise, but then again, that was 7 days - versus 4 days here :) There was no lobster night, boo. Nor filet mignon. Last sea day was a so-so sirloin cut steak.
We liked the chicken fajitas at Santa Fe Dining. (It's their specialty). I liked my dinner there the best - braised leg of lamb with mint jelly. I devoured it. My daughter liked their southern fried chicken. Hahaha.
Buffet. We only went up to the lido deck for breakfast. We are not big eaters. So so. Again.
I just want to say a tiny bit of comparison about the service. The workers looked overworked. I think this 4 day voyage takes a toll on these guys. Compared to the 7day cruise I took last year, where we were able to engage and chat and got to know our waiters, etc (therefore, extra tips given) and heard about their life at sea, etc. They were cajoling with each other on that ship, but with this one, they seemed like zombies. They were still very polite and gave good service, but there was definitely a difference noticed.
My daughter liked the juggler - she said he was the one who engaged the crowd the best. I agree.
I was laughing my pants off with Oscar, the Puerto Rican comedian... omg. He studied his crowd -- women in their 50's who love to shop! Without giving out too much, go watch him. Even the old men were laughing!
Billy London > the cruise director. OMG. Get him off this job. He is not funny and quite condescending, actually. He spoke of how much people ate and he professed to reveal who ate the most (by the weight of their poop). Gross. Not funny at all...
We watched their 'show' every night. Ho hum. Sing and dance show. Not a total fan. We did the Bingo to win an iPad. 2 people won/ shared a $500 prize. Do not buy the dawbers - those markers that were marked up so high it's not even funny. Just use a ballpoint pen. Honestly, save your money and go buy yourself a capuccino with it.
We were up at the Lido deck and watched a little bit of Stevie Wonder concert. and watched Mamma Mia, the movie. It was nippy! Most of us were bundled up in beach towels. There were plenty. Also plenty of lounge chairs - no gouging and reserving for a dozen people. That's just rude, in my opinion.
Music? We were laughing - my daughter and I - because she is 19 y/o and do not know any of the songs the piano man was singing :) Think 60's, 70's... It was still a lot of fun. We loved watching the old folks dance and enjoying themselves. They look like they are having a happy retired life!
We were diverted to Catalina Island at the last minute due to Santa Barbara harbor not accessible by large ships due to dredging... I was bummed out at first because I really wanted to see SB. But, not for long. The sun was out and it was a very calm, sunny, 80's that day - we lucked out! We tendered out for about 1 1/2hr and strolled along the harbor. It was a great day. $3 single cone ice cream at Olaf's :)
Don't buy the excursion from the ship. It's $39 pp. Instead pay 2 bucks to those shuttles that go downtown. On your way, you will be given plenty of choices from the Mexican tour shuttle buses. We took this. $15pp. Round trip to El Bufadora (blowhole). It will take approximately 4hrs of your day. Once at the El Bufadora, you will be swarmed by all the Mexicans offering a taste of pina colada, etc. Just politely say, no thank you, and you will be fine. They will not touch you. Just relax. Oh by the way, you haggle everything here. Even the coconuts and the pineapples :) I bought a very nice pair of flip flops/leather - down to $7 :) My daughter - not so much. She went off on me on how they make so little money and did I have to haggle down so low? I said yes...because that is expected in their culture. I bet I was the only 1 who bought a pair from him that day.... I did not see any other passengers with a similar flip flops. Now I will get off my soap box.
You must be out of your cabin by 08:30. Last buffet upstairs for breakfast. Some people even brought their luggages up there. Geesh. Our 'assigned' disembarkation time was 10:30. We were done eating by 0830. By 9am, we looked around where the gangway was, found it on deck 7. No lines whatsover. I asked the guy if we could disembark and he said yes - he checked us off our card one last time. And off we went to the immigration area. No lines. Out the door into a taxi by 0920am back to LGB.
Very, very relaxing 4-night Coastal Getaway cruise! We would do this all over again next time!