Day 1 AM Embarkation: Arrived at Long Beach Port -- handed 2 large pcs of soft-padded (with roller) luggage to porter - $2 tip per bag. Then, parked car at nearby Parking Building - $15/day. Hand carried 2 8-pack 8-oz soda cans in a 7"D x10"H x12"L soft-padded cooler, 12 300-ml (?) water bottles, and a 1 750-ml wine in a carry on-bag In line at 11:00 am, thru Security at 12:00 showing passports, in line to obtain our Sail and Sign blue cards -- had our names, assigned deck - Main, room no. and dining preference showed passports and credit card to charge purchases on ship. Had picture (about $12.00 -- don't have to purchase) taken of entire family (can't get away from this), and went thru another check-in with individual security picture taken before pushing Sail and Sign card thru machine. Forgot to ask for deck of cards from Information Center. Gratuity ($12.00) had been paid in advance: $3.70/day for stateroom service. (Gave addl tip in a thank you card + Sees candy), $3.70/day for dining service. (Gave addl tip to server in a thank you card + Sees candy + small tip to busboy at BB&Grill, $2.00/day for alternative service (kitchen/entertainment/guest services).
Cell phone roaming charges: $2.49/min (ship) + $0.79/min (AT&T); Text Msg: $10.00 for 50 text msgs, no more than 150 character per text message.
Tip: Use 2-way radios, esp. off board the ship, on board is hard to talk/listen esp. inside the ship. Walk around -- using stairs is better than elevator. Elevator buttons has deck names not deck numbers -- hard to read inside the elevator.
Deck 4 (R -- Riviera) has state rooms - noise from below incl. pulling of anchor.
Deck 5 (M -- Main) has State Rooms - cruise critic suggested getting rooms here -- I agree!
Deck 6 (U -- Upper) has State Rooms,
Deck 7 (E -- Empress) has State Rooms - not good, kitchen noise from above, Internet Cafe, Atrium Plaza, Art Gallery, Guest Services, Shore Excursions, Bar.
NOTE: This is where we embark on board and disembark off board.
Deck 8 (Atlantic) has Lower Paris Main Lounge, Mardi Gras Dining Rm, Carnivale Dining Rm, Shops, Rhapsody in Blue Piano Bar, Library,
Deck 9 (Promenade) has Upper Paris Main Lounge, Casino, Sushi by Photo Gallery (5:30-8:15 pm) Cafe Des Artistes, Dance Club, Video Arcade, Violins Bar, Chopin Cigar Lounge, Candlelight Aft Lounge, Serenity Adult Retreat, Avant-Garde Lounge,
Deck 10 (Lido) has the Pool, Brassiere Bar and Grille Buffet -- pizza, deli, salad bar, bar, Off-of-the Grill, Rotisserie, Mongolian Wok (order omelet here),
Deck 11 (V -- Verandah) has State Rooms -- forward not good, Waterworks, Camp Carnival, Observation Deck,
Deck 12 (Sports) has Gym, Massage, Fitness, Aerobic, Spa Carnival (for kids), and Deck 14 (Sun) hasMini-Golf, Jogging Track.
NOTE: Deck 3 is the Clinic and where we disembark for the tenders to Catalina and to Ensenada.
Day 1 PM: Was told to head for lunch at either the Brassiere Bar and Grille Buffet, Off-The Grille, Rotisserie, or Mongolian Wok (Lido -- Deck 10) (NOTE: Each day has different theme -- Italian, Mexican, and Mediterranean). The Grille has 2 buffets on each side. It also has pizza, deli, salad bar, self-serve coffee machines, self-serve ice cream and a regular bar inside Brassierre. It has a 24-hour coffee and ice-cream self-service. Behind both sides of Brassiere are outside tables, overlooking the sea, not everyone knows. There are stairs that lead below to the Serenity Adult Retreat. Outside Brassiere, by Lido stage, are the Off-The-Grill, Rotisserie, and Mongolian Wok to order meals from. At 1:30 pm, it was announced rooms are ready but our luggage did not arrive until 5:00 pm. Safety Drill was held at 4:30 pm -- we were shown 'how to' (didn't have to wear our life jackets) on stage at Lido Deck (we didn't have to leave since we were assigned Muster Station F (Lido Deck). Immediately after the drill, we went back to our room and waited for our luggage. As soon as they arrived around 5:00 -pm, we went to the Observation Deck to look at Long Beach while ship is sailing away around 5:30 pm.
How to get there: At Verandah -- Deck 11, walk through the entrance that says Verandah cabins, take a left. Walk as far forward through the cabins. There will be a door with porthole. Open this door, walk up the stairs and then open another door. The deck is right on top of the bridge, it has wings that extend further out on the side of the ship. The deck isn't so secret anymore, as it's on the deck plans as an "observation deck". It gets pretty busy out there during sail away. Great view, but windy and cold.
Missed the Sail-Away Dinner at 5 pm -- a 5 course dinner. Although, we were assigned Late Seating, we had it changed to Open Seating. Was assigned Mardi Gras DR (Atlantic -- Deck 8, accessible via Atrium). We were told it has better food than Carnivale DR (Atlantic Deck 8, accessible via aft elevators) -- can order 2 appetizers and 2 entrees -- tried Chocolate Melting Cake (order 2 scoops ice cream it's it's rich), cappuccino is free.
'Welcome Aboard' entertainment around 10 pm at Paris Main Lounge (Atlantic -- Deck 8) -- be there early to be able to seat the first 3 rows -- however comedians may call you. Good coffee and pastries at Cafe Des Artistes (Promenade -- Deck 9) -- extra charge but reasonable. Cocktails at $7.25, beers at $5.75 plus 15% automatic tip -- a tip: 25oz Fosters at $6.75 (good for 2).
There's 1500 ml (?) water ($6.75?) water in the room along with enough blue beach towels. Asked steward for ice in our cooler -- he'll supplied whenever we have the cooler open. Back to our room, the room steward left the Fun Times for Day 2. Fun Times shows, what goes on in the ship and what to do off shore.
Day 2 AM Catalina Visit: Woke up and saw lots (I mean LOTS) of dolphins jumping from the ocean
Breakfast at Brassiere Bar and Grille Buffet. Hubby and son headed on board the tender and explored Catalina Island. Stayed on board to explore. Nice reading a book at Serenity Adult Retreat (aft of Promenade -- Deck 9). Pool on Lido -- Deck 10 had less people at this time. Few people played mini-golf (Sun -- Deck 14).
Day 2 PM Formal Night: Lunch at Brassiere Bar and Grille Buffet. Had sushi at Promenade, next to Photo Gallery -- Deck 9 (5:30-8:15pm). Formal night, almost 90% were dressed formally (we wore our "church" clothes) -- had dinner at MardiGras DR -- ordered lobster, prime rib, steak. Ship Captain and his staff stood by Cafe Des Artistes -- shook hands and talked to cruise passengers who walked by, some had pictures taken with staff. Back to our room, the room steward left the Fun Times for Day 3. Fun Times shows, what goes on in the ship and what to do off shore
Day 3 AM Ensenada Visit: Breakfast at Brassiere Bar and Grille but ordered omelet from Mongolian Wok
Headed off board. Walking out of ship, went past 2 ladies dressed in Mayan outfit and Pirate outfit (we know it will cost us to have picture taken with/w/o them). When walking out of small market there were several buses who will shuttle you downtown for $3 to town. Cost $2 back to ship. We walked with several folks, turned left, then left again at end of pier. Main shopping/eating/drinking area is very close to the ship ~1 block past the huge Mexican flag/pole. Walk the short distance to shopping area in town. There are horse and carriages ride at $5. We found all the shops in town to be fun and friendly, and non-threatening Walked to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (bought some items from their gift shop), about 2-mi wall one way, even used a bathroom in nearby gas station. Had lunch at Papas and Beer, asked for a canned soda (don't trust their water) and bottled beer. Had coffee and pastry at Starbucks on the way back to ship. Walked quite easily along the touristy, scenic, safe waterfront walk. We did not sign up for any tour except the ship's tour during Sea Day. We didn't take the La Bufadora (blowhole excursion in Ensenada 45 min away) - $15 per person direct with bus tour or $30 thru Carnival since we saw one in Hawaii. We didn't do the Baja wine country visit either - $35 per person since Napa Valley is not too far from us
Day 3 PM: Lunch/Dinner at Mardi Gras DR. Went to Comedy shows at Candlelight Aft Lounge at 10 pm for family comedy and at 11 pm for adult comedy. Back to our room, the room steward left the Fun Times for Day 4. Fun Times shows, what goes on in the ship and what to do during Sea Day.
Day 4 AM Sea Day: Breakfast at Mardi Gras DR. Pool quite full (Lido Deck -- Deck 10) so go early for seats or chairs. Ship no longer allows reserving seats via towels. Security will remove them when left more than an hour. Serenity Adult Retreat, with 2 hot tubs -- was better. Missed Teatime at Rhapsody Blue Lounge (smoking -- Atlantic -- Deck 8, next to MDR) --good tea, delicious pastries, sandwiches -- be there early
Day 4 PM: Lunch at Brassiere Bar and Grill Buffet. We signed up and paid for a tour of the ship. I STRONGLY suggest doing this -- very interesting tour where one can see the workings of a cruise ship. I also learned where the ship captain lives - on land, that is. Limited attendance. Tip: Free cocktails 5 pm -- 7 pm at Paris Main Lounge. Dinner at Mardi Gras DR. Went to a great stage show at the Paris Main Lounge. Very professionally done -- almost as good as those shows in Las Vegas. After the show, went to the adult comedy show at Candlelight Aft Lounge. Back to our room, the room steward left the Fun Times for Day 5 along with blue tags for each of our luggage showing our assigned group number. We had to replace our assigned boarding tags with these blue tags. Also, the tour director gave instructions on how to disembark via the television in the room. We were asked to wait at the Lido deck, to have breakfast at either the MardiGras DR or the Brassiere Bar and Grill Buffet until our group number is called to disembark. We were assigned numbers in the last group since we're local. Those heading for the airport were assigned earlier group numbers.
Day 5 AM Disembarkation: Had breakfast at Brassiere Bar and Grille Buffet at 7:30 am and waited until our group was called. We did not avail of the Self-Assist luggage -- we didn't want to haul our luggage around. Our luggage was waiting for us in the building under assigned group number so it was easy to find our luggage. We went thru Immigration to show our passport for entry back to US and then thru Customs to declare purchases from Mexico or to get rid of any live plants or fresh fruit. Picked up our car from the Parking Building, paid $60, then thru a gate driving at the left-most lane to show the parking ticket to the attendant. Home at 10:00 am.
The following are suggested items to pack:
Important Documents and Necessities
Passport and Photocopies
Driver's License and Photocopy
Medical Insurance Cards
Credit card contacts
Membership cards (AAA, AARP)
Empty Gift card (for room safe)
Sweatshirt with Hood
Baby Powder/Hair Gel
Sweatshirt with Hood
Medications and Health
First Aid Kit
Sunscreen -- SPF-70
Motioneaze (behind ear)
Sea Band (Bill/Elfie/Bruce)
Surface Disinfectant Wipes
Salt (for sore throat)
Cough Drops/Throat Lozenges
Cell Phone Charger
Extra memory cards
Travel Alarm Clock
Insulated Coffee Mugs
Post --It Notes
Swiss Army Knife
Dirty Clothes Bags/Pop-up Hamper
Thank You cards (for cruise staff)
Candy/chocolate (for cruise staff)
Change ($1, $5, $0.25) -- tips/casino
1-750 ml wine
Soda (12 cans/person)
Extra Luggage Names
Foldable Tote Bag
Bug Spray/Insect Repellant
Candy, chocolate (for cruise staff