We made a last minute decision to go on the 4 Carnival cruise to Ensenada and Catalina. My husband and I are both retired so we can travel any time. The price was right we had a casino offer for a free inside cabin and only an hour drive to the pier. He said lets go on a cruise, I am tired of cooking. It was a short one hour drive to from our Southern California home.
We have been on approximately 30 cruises over the past few years Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. We had previously cruised during March, spring break on Norwegian. We were not happy with our experience on Norwegian. So it was good to be back on Carnival. Carnival is our favorite cruise line. This was our 16th cruise on Carnival.
We are Platinum so we have priority boarding. We arrived at the port around 11 am and we had a smooth boarding process. We were the first ones on the ship. We sat at the Atrium Bar and watched all the people board.
Food: The first day we had lunch on the lido deck. The cocktail server had remembered us from our cruise in February. I was surprised. The food was actually great and the menu changed daily. Norwegian Cruise Lines could get a few pointers from Carnival. Norwegian had the same food every day.
We ate in the dining room for breakfast and dinner. We had 8:15 dinner seating. – We don’t like anytime dining because you always have to wait and you have a different server every night. The menu was new from the last time we cruised in February. The food was very good. The service was outstanding. We also provided the waitress an extra tip for her hard work..That’s because there were no specialty restaurants on this ship. The food on Norwegian is so bad in the dining room and buffet you are forced to spend more money at the specialty restaurants.
Serenity Retreat: spent the day lounging in adults-only retreat. It was nice in the back of the boat. There was no swimming pool, however, there were two hot tubs that we really hot. Not many people back there it was a nice quite place to spend the afternoon.
Casino: We spent sometime in the Casino. I do not understand why they allow smoking in the Casino. They would have more customers if they eliminated smoking. Also, in the afternoon they did not have any entertainment. On other cruises at 3:00pm there was a band and or Karaoke. It is fun to watch Karaoke and dance in the afternoon. As a result the Casino Bar was dead in the afternoon. The Karaoke was in the lounge in the back of the ship. Don't understand why.
Children’s Club / Entertainment: We don’t have children so we did not use the facilities and we did not go to any of the shows. We had so much fun (sun and drinks) during the day that we were in bed by 10:00 pm.
Fitness Center: I usually workout daily however, this trip I decided to take a break from the Gym.
Disembarkation: Being priority members we walked off this ship quickly and were back home by 10:00 am.
In summary Carnival is the fun-ship. Yes there is lots of drinking and etc. .. going on, so be read y. If its not for you then take Holland America. We had a great time and will cruise with Carnival again soon.
Catalina: We decided not to get off in Catalina as we had been there many times took tours from Carnival and waited to buy tours on the pier. It is a great port to see. It is worth the time to spend the afternoon on the island.
Ensenada: This was the 5th time we had been to Ensenada so we did not take any tours. You can walk to town or take a bus roundtrip for $5.00 dollars. We took the bus into town and walked back. We made up our own walking tour of the town. We went in a lot of the shops looking around. We felt safe and had no issues. It is Mexico so don't expect too much. Ensenada is a party port. Tequila!!! and lots of it. The beer is reasonable – we found one bar across from Papa’s and Bear that sold 2 bears and 2 shots for $8.00. On the way back to the ship we stopped at Mariscos El Guero. This is the place to go for fresh seafood.