We embarked in Long Beach heading for a 4 day cruise to Catalina/ Ensenada. After getting herd from one stop to another we were on the boat. Luckily, for us we were on the main floor and easy to locate. First impression, the décor is oh so tacky 80's like wow, but whatever we were going to have some fun.
First day we settle in, check out the activities in the itinerary, we were just soaking it all in being it was our first cruise. The workers were kind and everyone we met said hello, I did notice may passengers with "bitter beer face" I felt like saying smile you're on vacation. First day we got to check out everything on the itinerary. We played miniature golf, went to the casino, saw a comedy show. Then headed to our room for some rest as we anticipated Catalina island in the morning.
Second day, around 10am we hear the Captain’s message due to weather there would be a change in plans instead of the island we would wait till the next day to dock. So we had our "At sea day" which was a bummer but it happens, can't argue with mother nature. Again, we looked at the itinerary not much to do during the day besides eat and sleep, they had some lame gift shops so we checked those out . Later that evening we hung out at the violin room for some live music, went to a comedy show, casino, played outside (miniature golf, corn hole) it was a cold windy day for June but we made the best of it. I could tell you that for most of the day time we were bored not much to do. The boat has many activity rooms that weren't utilized I think there should be different things going on at once. I wanted to Karaoke and it was sad only about 5 people in that evening. I will say the thing that got us by was the hot chocolate and sitting watching the beautiful ocean views. Get used to it because they'll be a lot of down time eating, and sitting.
Finally, the third day we dock in the Catalina island. They boat us in, kind of a bummer because this process takes a while and cuts into the excursion/ exploring time. We get to the island and off we went on our search. This gave us about an hour before our excusion began. We headed to some shops and found a few overpriced souvenirs. Finally, it was time to take our “glass bottom tour” we went around the island looking at fish. It was relaxing, maybe a bit too much because I was falling asleep. There isn’t much to say about the boat, it’s a boat ride and you see fish. That was over and we were hungry, you’d think cause we’re near the ocean we’d find some seafood spots. I spotted a Mexican restaurant called "Mi Casita" from the outside it looked okay, we get seated. They bring us chips and salsa, the salsa is not homemade looked and tasted from a can. Whatever so we decided since we were so short on time to ex the food and order some drinks. We ordered Margaritas, they bring out the bring and gave us some dirty napkins. The drinks we nothing spectacular and expensive. We paid and off we went for some real seafood. Let me tell you this place of course is very touristy beautiful views but everything is overpriced. Avoid this place, it isn’t authentic Mexican food, but more half-assed microwaved Americanized-Mexican.
We ended up eating some fish and chips by the boat so mediocre. About this time it's back to the boat. Time sure flies when you're looking for things to do and eat. We get back on the boat, look at the itinerary and the same things to do and eat as the nights before but we made the best of it. Again, we did the same ol’ thing comedy, casino, and ate pizza since it’s open late night. We’d grab our hot coco and head outside for some cool sea gazing. That evening I decided to order breakfast for the following morning.
That morning bright and early as requested our breakfast had arrived. Unfortunately, not what we expected the orange juice was watered down and the salmon looked old. This wasn’t gonna damper our good times of relaxation. We got dressed, waited for the Captains daily message and off to Ensenada we went. We decided to do the “La Boufadora” excursion. Our guide was a very nice woman, she guided us to the bus, on our way to “La Boufadora” a fire truck almost crashed into us. Luckily, it was quick and nothing happened, our guide lady told us about the city and we enjoyed the hour or so drive up. We get there, step off the bus and were told we have an hour to see La Boufadora and then we can go to the market which we passed on our way to our walk to the location along the way sellers are trying sell you things, offer drink samples. Once we get to the location the anticipated Boufadora is nice, nothing spectacular but the ocean is beautiful that lasted about 20 minutes if that. Then we were released and told to meet up at the bus in 45 minutes. We started up the market looking and bargaining with the sellers, some spoke English fortunately for us we spoke their language too. We were able to find a few treasures, I think this was my favorite part of the trip so far minus the animal rights issue. Time flew and again not enough time, we got back on the bus and headed to our next destination. It took about an hour to reach “El Centro” this place is beautiful a great historic place, inside our guide gave us a quick tour, and your choice of sample size Margarita/ beer/ or soda. We grabbed our drink and headed to the atrium where we found a few vendors. The prices were okay, some cheaper than our previous stop. About this time it was time to get back on the bus, we hopped on and our guide told us the next time you can stay and explore the shopping strip or they would take you back to the boat. We decided to stay and explore, you have the option of walking back to the boat or taking a taxi but walking is okay since you can see the boat from your location.
Let me tell you a bit about this place. It’s like the center of town, streets full of shops, street vendors, restaurants, “happy pharmacy’s” unfortunately all the vendors sell the same crap. Street after street and so much to see, after a while we got tired of everyone’s one liners all we kept hearing is “my turn” one lady said, “Come see me, I’ll rip you off for less” funny that is until someone else said the same thing. We started wondering if they have a school of how to talk to tourist, because it got old quick. Around this time we were getting hungry and asked around looking for a taco called “el gobernador” the restaurant was all the way down the strip and worth checking out the salsa and chips are authentic. The taco was okay not what we expected but it was decent. We worked our way up the street again heading towards the boat, when a taxi flagged us down so we thought he said to follow him and he lead us to his poor, tired horse. The horse didn’t want to walk, looked hungry and his feces bag was full. I didn’t want to contribute to the abuse of this beautiful animal. Finally, we reach the boat again and go straight to our room. The thing I enjoyed was the towel animals we got daily, it’s the little things. That was going to be our final night, we rested up and got dressed for a good time. Again, we did the usual boat activities and called it a night around 2am.
The following morning went quick we had packed the previous night and at 8am we cleared out, only to find out that we were each charged a $15 fee, plus a $48 gratuity fee which was never specified all this time we were tipping left and right, what a rip-off. Well, we paid and finally on our destination back home.
Pros: Lots of leisure time, lots of mediocre buffet food, stir-fry (limited hours), the cleaning staff, towel animals, laundry facilities.
Cons: Hidden fees, not enough time off the boat (always feeling rushed), water is turned off at times, so you get brown water in the faucets, not enough variety when it comes to the activities.
Next time, we will ex the excursions and head out solo, rent a golf cart and cruise around town. Out of a 10, I give it a solid 7.
Not much of a "oceanview" the windows aren't that big and kinda dirty but you get a view. The rooms are okay nothing mind blowing, they service their purpose.