We found this cruise to be excellent!
What it is:
-Fun! If you were bored... it was your fault! There was plenty to do!
-EXCELLENT service from the Carnival Paradise staff (from the embarkation staff to the ship)
-GOOD food (this isn't a five star restaurant, but the food is good)
-CLEAN rooms and ship. People were always cleaning around the ship!
-Catalina is excellent! Beautiful city, good excursions.
-Ensenda blow hole tour is an absolute must. We booked with the ship on this one and are glad we did. The city looks difficult to navigate and work with.
-Affordable! Where else can you get room/board/entertainment/food for this price??
What it isn't:
-A "fancy" cruise designed for anyone used to 5 star service. You will be disappointed.
-A quiet environment. Yes, you can relax and find a quiet place to read, sleep, but many children are on this cruise. Be prepared for kids!
Beautiful balcony, spacious and comfortable for a family of four!
Refrigerator and walk in closet!
Decent bathroom (jacuzzi tub). Shower pressure was not much.
Very comfortable rollout bed for kids (13,15)
TV was excellent (flat screen)
Mini Bar if needed (we didn't use it).
Avalon is the port. You get off the boat using tenders (small boats that ferry you to shore). This is neat!
The town caters to tourists- golf carts everywhere!
Rent a golf cart if you don't like hills - there are a lot of hills.
All excursions are available on shore easily - don't book through the cruise line, you don't need to.
Submarine excursion is neat, as is the Canyon tour.
A dirty city... not one I would "walk" around in with my family.
Definitely book the blow hole (La Bufadora) excursion from the ship. This was EXCELLENT!
This tour takes off right by the boat port and takes you to the blow hole. There are several street vendors there to sell you trinkets and trash, they are "pushy" but once you say no... it is respected. The blow hole is incredible... well worth the price of the excursion. You have time to shop here and then get back on the bus (a nice charted bus) to go back into Ensenada (they will drop you off to shop more) or stay on the bus and go back to port.
For us, we took the 1:30 excursion and were back on the ship by 5.