24 years ago, DH and I did this itinerary on the Carnival Holiday for our honeymoon. Having just paid off our mortgage and celebrating our 24th anniversary, I thought a little celebratory getaway was in order. I chose this cruise based on sentiment and price, as well as proximity to home - being on the West Coast. We sailed as a couple, no kids.
Pre-Cruise - Dh and I flew into LAX a full day prior to the cruise. We took a Lyft from LAX to Long Beach, $39.00 plus tip, and checked into our Pre-cruise hotel, the fabulous Queen Mary. Having stayed on the Queen Mary before, we took advantage of the complimentary Red Passport Bus and headed to Long Beach to explore, shop and dine. While there are many great dining options available in Long Beach, if you find yourself craving comforting Pub food, the Auld Dubliner on Pine Ave in Long Beach is an excellent choice. Friendly staff and great food.
Embarkation - We literally walked across the parking lot in the morning from the Queen Mary to the Long Beach cruise terminal. We were a bit early so wandered about the shopping stalls set up outside the terminal then took a seat to wait. When it was our time, we entered the terminal, found no lines, breezed through security and customs and then were directed to have a seat to wait for boarding. We only waited 20 mins and then were cleared to board. The only issue I had was that our luggage was not taken pre-boarding, nor was there anyone around to give our bags to. I thought maybe I'd missed a drop off point or porter but I observed everyone toting their luggage onto the ship which was somewhat inconvenient, especially for those with multiple suitcases and bags
Ship - This ship is old; built in 1995 and it does show it's age however, it was well maintained, clean and had some updates. My only issues were toilets that would not flush and a strong, recurring sewage smell found in various places on outer decks. Also, I am not a big fan of this class of ship with no single deck that could be walked fully around outside but that is a personal opinion. I also was not thrilled that the only live band was stationed outside the casino and the only bar on the ship that allowed smoking - as a non-smoker, I found it unpleasant to sit and enjoy the band but that again is a personal opinion and others may not mind the smoke as much. Lastly, I really wanted to enjoy the ship's fitness facilities, but they seemed to be a well kept secret. I, along with other guests, spent a great deal of time just trying to find the gym.
Cabin - U17 Porthole Cabin - Loved it! First time in a Porthole cabin. Usually we have a balcony but I felt like this category would suffice for this short trip and I was totally right. I found the cabin to be quiet, spacious and comfortable. Toilet issues persisted in our cabin daily - the toilet seemed to lose pressure and would not flush. That said, we did not find the room to have any sewer smell or any other unpleasant odor.
Dining - We had anytime dining but actually did not visit the dining room on this cruise. With so many great options, we dined at the Lido buffet where we were able to get made to order omelets for breakfast, subs and sandwiches for lunch along with a vast array of buffet items. We also enjoyed Guy's burgers, freshly made Pizza from Pizza Pirate, as well as freshly made tacos, burritos and taco salads from the Blue Iguana Cantina. If you are a chocolate lover, the chocolate extravaganza is not to be missed!
Entertainment and Activities - The cruise director, Mel was quite pleasant, outgoing and involved. From the sail away party to debarkation, she was helpful and maintained a fun atmosphere. This sailing had the usual shows, Bingo, Comedy shows (very funny), Hairy Chest competition, ice carvings demonstration, Love and Marriage show, 80's Music party and trivia competitions. Lots of entertainment. Also, they had the usual sales of jewellery, t-shirts etc.
Service - Service was hit and miss - some staff seemed happy and friendly, while others were doing a bare minimum and made it clear they were tired and not in a mood to talk or smile. I actually had one server tell me that he was so tired and had had a very long day and just wanted to go to sleep... that was at lunch time. The bartenders in the Alchemy bar were amazing. Friendly, fun and made extremely delicious concoctions.
Ports and Shore Excursions - Excellent! This cruise went to Catalina Island which is part of California. It is a neat, fun little island with lots of great shops and restaurants. Water activities were available as well as many excursions. We opted to rent a golf cart for $50 an hour and do a tour of the island. This provided many photo opportunities and great views.
Our next port was Ensenada, Mexico. We opted for a ship excursion - a guided tour to La Bufadora. The entire excursion was well executed. Our guide was friendly, informative and fun. The 45 minute trip to the Blowhole was enjoyable in comfortable motor coach with air conditioning. The Blowhole exceeded expectations, and the market stalls lining the way to the blowhole provided lots of free samples, fun shopping options and banter with locals.
Overall, I found the value for money on this cruise to be very high, I got a great deal on the cabin. We purchased the Cheers package and felt we got our money's worth by starting each day with specialty coffees, bottled water and of course, alcoholic beverages. We never came close to our maximum of 15 alcoholic beverages per day. With so many great cruise options and destinations available, I would not rush to do this sailing again but I would consider doing it for a quick, inexpensive getaway again in a few years.
This cabin was the furthest aft of all the Porthole cabins on the Starboard side. It was spacious, quiet and clean. Our toilet seemed to have flushing issues, daily but these issues were found to be present in public toilets as well so not just confined to our cabin. The cabin was comfortable and I would recommend it.
We did not take an excursion but explored Long Beach on our own. Great little town!
We chose not to book an excursion and instead rented a golf cart to do a tour of the island. This was fun and provided a unique way to see the island. Following our trip around the island, we explored shops in town and walked to the Casino.
We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. Our guide was friendly and informative. She gave a great commentary all the way to La Bufadora. Our transport was a comfortable motor coach with air conditioning. We were given tips and demonstrations on how not to get swindled by vendors at along the road to the blowhole. We were offered free samples and had plenty of time for shopping.View All 82 Blowhole Walking Tour Reviews