Last weekend I went on my first cruise ever! I'm so proud that I get to check off one of my New Years Resolutions - Travel via Road Trip or Ship! I went with a group of friends and only 1 of us had been on a cruise so it was definitely an experience.
Cruise: Carnival Cruise
Length: 3 Days (Friday through Monday)
Ports: Long Beach, California -> Ensenada, Mexico -> Long Beach, California
Room: Ocean View
Extras: Purchased the "Cheers Plan", an unlimited alcoholic beverage plan @ $50/day
I’m not quite sure how to start writing this post since I came off the boat not loving the experience. I even surprised myself with that one! I completely understand that people are die-hard cruise fans and while I can see some aspects as to why, it just wasn't my cup of tea. Maybe my expectations were too high or it’s just not my style of travel but I couldn’t wait to get home! Disclaimer: just because I didn’t enjoy cruising, that obviously doesn’t mean it's a bad experience or way to spend your vacation! I also understand that the cruise I was on is also known as the "booze cruise" where people go strictly to drink.
As a first time cruiser, I didn’t know what to expect. Growing up in Japan, cruising was completely foreign. We don’t cruise and have no exposure to it. Once I moved to the states and found out people obsess over cruising, I knew I had to try it at least once.
Embarkation Day - Long Beach, California (Day 1):
The boarding process of the ship was kind of like boarding an airplane. You check in at the ticket counter, go through security and board the ship. Luckily I got upgraded into a porthole room, which ended up helping me with the claustrophobia I later experienced.
The ship is HUGE and I know this one isn’t even the largest ship in the fleet. I don’t know how else to explain it. As someone that’s never been on a cruise ship (other than the retired Queen Mary), my mind was blown. For example, from my room in Deck M to the buffet, it took several flights of stairs, elevator rides and a 5 minute walk. God forbid I wanted to go from my room to the adult-only pool, it would have taken about 10 minutes!
One thing I appreciated about the cruise is that everything is included in the price (with the exception of gift shops, photos, etc). You can hop into any bar or restaurant, even order room service and you don’t have to worry about the price. As mentioned above, I added the Cheers package which gave you “unlimited” access to alcoholic beverages. I quote ‘unlimited’ because it’s technically 15 drinks within a 24 hour period. I was with some heavy drinkers and we still couldn’t drink 15 drinks a day over the weekend - sounds easy but it’s not!
There’s several restaurants and bars to choose from. Most are open long hours, some 24 hours. There was a Casino in our ship, two theaters, three swimming pools, a spa, gym overlooking the ocean, mini golf and a running track. Crazy, right?
Carnival is famous for their towel animals. Unfortunately all 3 of our towel animals were unidentifiable so these pictures are from my friend’s room - thanks, Kelly! Adorable!
Port Day - Ensenada, Mexico (Day 2):
The second day was spent in Ensenada, Mexico. I obviously failed to do research because it wasn’t at all what I expected Ensenada to be. I envisioned something along the lines of Cabo or Cancun but I was wrong. It’s a cruise port town. The ‘downtown’ area is strictly in business for cruisers to shop and eat during their short time there.
The first thing I noticed were the children chasing after tourists selling pieces of gum and other trinkets. We were cautioned not to buy anything from them as it deters them from attending school.
Another interesting thing was all the “Happy Pharmacy” shops. I’m certain almost a third of all the shops were pharmacies. I was shocked to learn that you can purchase medication without prescription in Mexico, which is why there were so many pharmacies. You can get a hold of things like Xanax, Oxycoton, Viagara, etc.I was surprised to see how many fellow cruisers were in there buying who-knows-what!
We ended up grabbing some tacos and nachos in town, shopped at a candy shop (I’m obsessed with chili-anything and tamarind-anything), bought some delicious junk food and jamaica juice at 7-Eleven and got back on board.
Day at Sea (Day 3):
The third day was a “Day at Sea”. I slept a lot, drank a lot and ate a lot. I attended a couple of comedy shows which were just ok. The weather wasn’t that great so laying out was out was sadly not an option. This is when the claustrophobia really started kicking in; full-blown cabin fever.
Disembarkation - Long Beach, California (Day 4):
When we got back to Long Beach, I have to admit I was pretty excited. I couldn’t wait to get off after suffering through motion sickness the entire cruise even with the help of wrist-bands and dramamine pills. Even as I type this, I’m still feeling dizzy. Supposedly this is normal where your body still thinks you’re out at sea. It feels like the world around you is moving and lasts for up to a few days.
Have you been on a cruise? Are you a cruise lover? If not, is there a reason why you haven’t tried? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Next stop: Seattle, Washington