Fantastic Family Cruise Feb.11-20
The cruise was really great. There were a couple little things that were irritating, so I'll address those first. 1) The decaf on the Lido deck was NOT decaf. It took me 4 days to figure out why I was so jittery. I really enjoy a cup of decaf at breakfast, but I had to go without. 2) We had a jetted tub in our penthouse suite, which was awesome. The problem was trying to shower in it. There was no way to adjust the shower curtain to keep the water in the tub. After every shower, the bathroom floor was completely soaked. 3)This ship was smaller than others we've been on and there was a LOT more rocking. I was a little queasy for the first 2 days. 4)The dining room was very loud. My Mom is hard of hearing and we got tired of shouting at her over the din. 5) Two of our three closet doors were not working properly causing the closet light to stay on and they were very loud to open. Someone came to fix one of them, but it broke again in a couple days. Those are my only complaints. More
Our 5 year old enjoyed Camp Carnival well enough. He would have preferred to spend every minute with us, but he seemed happy when we dropped him off and picked him up. He did not resist going and always came back with some art project or face paint. He would often see kids he knew from camp around the ship and was always waving at them. We never left him there for more than 3 hours at a stretch and made sure he got a nap in the cabin every day. He ate pizza for lunch and chicken nuggets for dinner almost every day and he was happy. We brought him to dinner with us in the dining room 6 nights out of 9. He got his food when we got our appetizers, then we took him to camp around 7 while we finished our dinner in peace.
I used the exercise area 3 times, once for free weights, once for yoga ($12) and once for the 7 am free stretch class. It was fine, although the yoga wasn't worth it. We enjoyed walking on deck 10 several times, we played minigolf, and my husband played basketball. We also tried the waterslide. A little tame for me, but my 5 year old loved it. The pool was fine also, we swam 3 times. Hot tub was more of a warm tub, but adequate.
We went to two song and dance shows, I enjoyed them. We also saw a magician and a juggler and some comedians. Normal cruise ship stuff, what I expected. We wanted our son in bed by 10 every night, so we didn't really go to any bars or dance clubs. We are not party people. We brought 4 bottles of wine on board for 6 adults and I only purchased 2 other drinks.
The food was outstanding, better than ever. Loved everything I tried and a great variety. They make the BEST pastries and baked goods. I ate lots of fish and shrimp and too much desert. I did try the Spa Carnival options several times and they were all good. My pants still fit when I put them on to fly home, so I guess I did OK. We went to the Nouveau Steakhouse for Valentine's dinner. It was very good and a better atmosphere than the Empire room, but I don't know if it was worth the extra money. It was a splurge for Valentine's Day, we probably won't do it again. My husband has wheat intolerance so he avoids it when possible. They were extremely diligent in making sure everything he ordered in the dining room was wheat/gluten free. He said the gluten free pasta was the best he ever had.
We pretty much blew our budget on the penthouse suite cabin, so we tried to get by cheap in the ports. We didn't book any excursions. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
It is necessary to take a tender in Cabo, which is a pain. I really wanted to see Cabo, otherwise we would have stayed on board. After waiting about 20 minutes to get off the ship around 10 am, we took a water taxi to the beach for $3 pp. They advertise it at $2, but then they charge an extra dollar bc it's a private dock or some nonsense. I didn't mind paying the fee, I just get very irritated when I feel like someone is scamming me. The water taxi was fun. The beach was crowded, it seemed like there were almost as many vendors as there were tourists. They were not pushy, as soon as I said "no thanks", they simply walked away. My husband bought a Mexican blanket form a gentleman who swore his relative made it by hand in Pueblo, I guess we'll never know for sure! It's pretty either way. The one plus with the crowd was that there were a few other boys for my sone to play with, he seemed to have a lot of fun with his new friends. Since it was such a hassle to get there, we decided to break our rule and stay a little later. We had lunch (chips/salsa, shrimp tacos and a burger - again very good!!!) at The Office. It was a fun beach place. Another $10 water taxi ride back to the port and then tender back to the ship. Easier getting back on than getting off. The boy and I were very tired after our big day, so we slept through dinner and hit the buffet a little later. Hubby had dinner with the rest of the group.
It was raining when we got to Ensenada. At first we thought we would just stay on board, but I needed to purchase some gifts. We took our son to camp at 9 and got off the ship at about 10. There was a bus for $2-$3 pp. We went to the shopping area and looked around. There was a lot of water in the street, it had been raining for 24 hours. My feet were soaked in my sandals - very unpleasant as the water did not look clean. We got what we needed and got back on board. The sun came out later that afternoon and I sunned myself on deck for a couple hours. This was the only time we had less than perfect weather, so I can't complain.
This was my favorite port. We got off the ship and got on a free bus to Tecolote Beach. It was far less crowded and developed than Peurto Vallarta or Cabo san Lucas. There was just one main restaurant/bar and maybe a couple small ones, but I couldn't really tell if they were open. There were free palapas for shade, no chairs, but the beach was soft! We walked way down to the south (I think!) edge to where the beach ended. Again, our 5 year old loved playing in the water and we were able to relax! We had fish tacos at the restaurant, they were excellent. We ate raw fruits and veggies and used ice at several ports and never had any stomach upset. An absolutely perfect day!
My husband was not feeling well that morning, so we did not head out until after lunch. After taking the compulsory tram to the terminal, we got a taxi to Old Town for $6. We saw the cathedral and the town square. Our son enjoyed feeding the pigeons when some other children shared their rice with him. We walked on the sea walk a little bit and enjoyed the view. We then thought it would be a nice walk back to the ship. It was longer than we thought and we were hot and tired when we got back. We did see a couple of "tourist police" on bicycles and they kind of escorted us back to the ship, in a good way. We weren't unduly concerned with our safety, but it's always nice to know someone is looking out for you in a foreign country!
We walked off the ship and took a right turn. There was an information kiosk and they gave us directions to a nearby beach, Playa del Oro. We were able to walk there in 5 minutes. The public access is not clearly visible, you have to walk through Gate 8, then a little strip mall and across a cobblestone parking lot. There is a 10 foot barbed wire fence with a little gate, and there you are on the beach. We walked a little further down the beach and rented a palapa and 2 chairs for $10 from Hacienda Hotel & Spa. This also included 2 drinks and access to an adequate restroom and shower. Our son enjoyed splashing in the waves and we relaxed in the sun. The vendors weren't too bad. I bought a couple carved wooden lizards for $20. We were delighted to have a very pleasant day for very little money! I also used the internet cafe right at the port, I think it was $4 for 30 minutes or $5 for an hour. We always tried to be back on board before 3 so our son could have a nap before dinner.