This is the second time I cruise out of Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, the first time being on the Ecstasy. This time I went with my best friend who is wheel-chair bound. Her father dropped us at the Long Beach cruise ... Read More
This is the second time I cruise out of Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, the first time being on the Ecstasy. This time I went with my best friend who is wheel-chair bound. Her father dropped us at the Long Beach cruise terminal, and we were directed by a very friendly employee to a different line. We bypassed the long line straight to a counter for passengers who required special assistance.
Our check in took only a couple of minutes and we were on our way. We arrived at the port at around 1:00 p.m. and were able to board the ship and straight to our cabin.
Cabin E65 is a handicapped accessible room on deck 7 (Empress Deck) where passengers board the ship. That was a big plus for us as we were literally a couple of steps away from our room . . . but, being right by the atrium is not pleasing at night when you're trying to sleep and are able to hear everything that goes on ouside your door, from the music playing in the atrium, the rambunctious crowd to people walking by your door talking loudly. It didn't bother my friend or me in the least, but I personally prefer the Riviera deck as it's much quieter, but Carnival has no accessible cabins on the lower decks.
It was always a bit of a challenge for my friend and I when trying to eat at the buffet. I would have to help my friend with her food, find a table, leave her there while I again got in line for my food, go back to the table with my plate, and then go back for drinks. By the time I was ready to eat, her food would be cold, and she hated to eat while I was still getting my food. On embarkation day we opted to eat out on deck, but it was uncomfortably chilly so we ended having all of our lunches inside.
Our room steward, Ronaldo, was the sweetest, politest steward I have ever met during any of my cruises. He knocked on our door before the muster drill to inform us that we should head on to our muster station, which happened to be the Paris lounge, before people started using the elevators and make it almost impossible to use them. When we got to our muster station there was a young lady going around making sure that all the passengers in the handicap cabins actually needed special assistance. My friend's name was on the list, and we were directed to stay in the lounge as everybody else was taken to the lifeboats. We were told that in case of a real emergency, someone would be actively looking for us.
After the muster drill we headed to our assigned dining room, Carnivale, for dinner and to meet our table companions. I'm not fond of eating with strangers, but our tablemates were very friendly and sociable.
The next morning we had the Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat breakfast which was really good and inexpensive. For a nominal fee of $5 per person you get to enjoy a really nice breakfast in the Carnivale dining room which is transformed to all things Cat in the Hat. The decorations are beautiful and picture opportunities abound. Although it's catered to children, my friend and I really had a nice time.
We had made reservations to eat the the Chef's table, and it was the highlight of our cruise. Our reservation was for the same day as our Dr. Seuss breakfast, our day at sea. I received a letter that was left underneath our door informing us of the time and place. We were to meet by the bar in the atrium and when we got there, there was a waitress waiting for the group. We were all welcomed with a glass of champagne, but I don't drink alcohol so she served me ginger ale instead.
If you've never done the chef's table and have some money to splurge, go for it! I did it once, enjoyed it to the fullest, but I'll never do it again. First, it's too expensive. I paid $172 for two people, which included a 12% gratuity. At first I said, "ouch" to the tip, but after everything was said and done, I realized that the people that tended to the group for 3 hours really work hard for their money. Second, you're fed so much food, you can easily go into a food coma. It starts in the galley where you're given some appetizers, all delicious by the way; then you're given a tour of the galley where you bump into the employees who are so very friendly. You are given a demo on how to make hot chocolate cake, but no sampling. I was extremely impressed with the service. I was ready to push my friend's wheelchair for the duration of the event, but little did I know that they had assigned someone to be her personal assistant. I wasn't allowed to push her wheelchair which made it so much enjoyable for me.
The group consisted of 9 people and we were escorted to the library, which was set up, oh, so beautifully. We took a group picture, and then looked for our names, sat down, and the feast began. I can't even begin to explain how delicious everything was. It was a total of 7 or 8 plates, all with small portions, but so filling. The champagne and wine kept coming, but I only drank water. If you decide to do the chef's table DO NOT EAT DURING THE DAY!!!! You'll regret it and it will be wasted money. We had a good, hearty breakfast with Dr. Seuss, but didn't have anything else to eat until dinnertime, and by that time, our stomachs were grumbling. Dinner lasted about 3 hours. . . it was too much food, but so delicious.
The shows in the Paris lounge were very good, and I especially enjoyed the last night's performance.
I can't say much about the ports visited because we didn't get off the ship, and it was nice having the ship to ourselves, so to speak.
Disembarking the ship was a bit of a hassle, but because my friend uses a wheel chair, we were able to cut the line . . . somewhat, but I know that there were unhappy passengers complaining about how unorganized everything was. It took us longer to disembark the ship than to board it.
All in all, it was my friend's first cruising experience and she loved it. It's my 6th cruise with Carnival, and I was given a bottle of water and two pins. It was an inexpensive Spring break vacation, and although we didn't leave the ship, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Read Less