Early in January, my husband and I were able to take a trip to Ensenada on a Carnival Cruise ship.
The trip was awesome, and here are some highlights as well as a few things I learned about to plan the next cruise for our family.
FYI: We purchased the $50 per person per day option for drinks, usually called totally inclusive. My husband and I figured that if we were able to drink five (5) drinks a day, that would make the purchase easily justifiable. Mental note for those who purchase this plan – you can only drink 15 drinks a day, and the drink cannot cost more than $10.00. This was easily do-able.
I’ll just let you know that we were able to meet that small goal. Hee, hee. Don’t be judge-y. We were without children you know.
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The cruise left from Long Beach, California. We took a photo in front of the Queen Mary, a ship that is permanently docked and is available for both dinner and nightly stays. I’m not interested in the whole “being haunted” thing, so I probably won’t be making a vacation to stay on that ship anytime soon.
My husband is standing at the very back of the ship in front of the Long Beach skyline as we left the port.
We picked a room with a king-sized bed and a window, and we discussed at length how we don’t know how people can pick rooms without windows. It’s less expensive though, and we could see how being on the ship is exciting enough. Other than sleeping or napping, you really don’t spend a whole-lot-of-time in your room.
The team of crew members treat you like royalty, and I personally love the small touches that cruises offer such as ‘all you can eat food’ at any time of the day. It’s an extremely gluttonous experience if you haven’t experienced anything like that. They also place extra towels on your bed each evening in the shape of animals. The frog was my favorite on this trip.
The first full day was spent in Ensenada, Mexico, and in the morning before we docked, I ran around the walking/jogging track as we came into port.
Note for any future joggers/walkers: If you use an app on your phone, the app may or may not take into consideration the movement of the ship.
This is my selfie as the ship parked into the Ensenada port. I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the enormous Mexican flag that ~usually~ flies on the pole behind me.
According to the run tracking app on my phone, I was able to do the first mile in 4.32 minutes. As I know that is not possible for me EVER, I knew the app didn’t take the speed of the ship moving into its calculation. This also made it difficult to judge how far I actually ran that morning. If I had to guess, it was probably about three miles, but I didn’t count the laps around the track. The track has a distance marked on the deck as 1/11th of a mile around. It takes 11 trips around the track to go a one-mile distance.
The shipped docked around 8:30 AM or so and cruisers were able to get off the boat for excursions and local shopping/touring.
We easily purchased a excursion that morning for a 10 AM departing time, to go see something called “La Bufadora” and wine tasting at an Ensenada winery.
This is my second (or maybe third, I can’t recall) trip to Ensenada, Mexico, and it was my husband’s third or fourth. We had both been on mission trips to Ensenada, but separately and thus this vacation was our first trip to this city together. Neither one of us had experienced “La Bufadora” and it was a spectacular site that was worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.
My husband is standing in front of La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico.
The cruise-ship provided tour guide said that there were only three locations of this type of phenomena in the world, and Ensenada is one of the three.
For me, one of the coolest things I experienced was seeing a rainbow in the occasional water spray after the water shot up from where the ocean meets the rock formation.
I wish I got video. It was quite beautiful, loud, and breathtaking when the splashes occurred.
A rainbow formed in the spray at La Bufadora.
The drive from the ship to the spot where La Bufadora is located is about 35 to 40 minutes on a chartered bus that was part of the excursion purchase.
The tour guide told us all his favorite spots along the shops at La Bufadora, and we were one of the first visitors of the day there. From the dirt parking lot where the bus parked, there is about a quarter-mile walk to the rock formation of La Bufadora where you walk in between local shops of clothing, purses, jewelry, souvenirs, and food of every kind imaginable.
If you haven’t been to Mexico before and you’re reading this to find out more about it, let me be the first to warn you about Mexican sales personnel.
They are VERY PUSHY.
And sometimes, just sometimes, if you know enough Spanish, you can tell they are not very nice when you politely say “no thanks.”
It’s just a hard day’s work for them and that’s how I like to look at it.
Also – The rumors about Mexican water are true – be very careful about drinking anything with ice in it as well, as that includes free samples of Pina Colada mix that the vendors push on you as you pass by.
Very few things are regulated in Mexico like they are in western countries, and water cleanliness is not a priority to them.
There were also people performing dances and singing for us, such as this fine gentlemen to allowed us to take a selfie with him.
We make sure we pack plenty of one-dollar bills for tips before we leave for any vacation, and this vacation was no exception. We gave him a couple of bucks as he was not only serenading us, but let us take a photo.
I purchased a clam shell the size of my head from a local vendor that was filled with crab meat, clam meat, seasoning, and shrimp on top. There’s no way to tell if something is undercooked while there, but I didn’t get sick so I highly recommend it.
We ate lunch at the taco shop closest to the parking lot. (This was also something that was recommended by our guide and worth every bite.)
Before we left we paid the 50-cent fee (each) to use the bathroom at the taco shop. Don’t forget about the water coming out of the faucet in the bathroom to wash your hands. It’s still a good idea to wash your hands, but ensure that you pack a small container of hand sanitizer to use AFTER you wash your hands with Mexican water.
The trip back was relaxing and I took a short nap on my husband’s shoulder in the bus.
There was nothing special about the wine tasting at the San Tomas winery, although it’s always interesting to hear history of places and the wine tasting room had plenty of history in itself. The wine we tasted was … well … it was … sweet, but it was not our preferred type of wine. I’ll just leave that comment for your own judgement.
That evening was our “elegant” dinner on the ship, and the waiters and waitresses sand the song “Celebration” to us which was quite a treat.
We finished off the evening with a “Diva’s” song and dance tribute, and then a comedy show. The day itself was exhausting, so it was easy to get some sleep the second night.
The second full day is on the sea, and we didn’t plan out much except to eat and play a few “what’s that tune” games.
We walked around before the games started to take photos on the ship and that’s where my Selfie Stick came in handy.
The cruise ships exhaust ports are in the background, along with one of the water slides.
My husband and I talked about bringing the kiddos on a cruise like this, and for now, we’ve convinced ourselves that it would be possible.
First, it would have to be warmer, as the pool and the water slides would be a big seller for our children. “Warmer” as in a daytime temperature of 75-degrees or higher.
Second, I think we would take grandma, or a friend to help be a sitter, as we would want to purchase three rooms and have the children in the middle. Even though we are adults, our experience with trying to sleep during the third night reminded us that we are older adults and do not care for the young adults waking us up at midnight, 2 and 5 in the morning with his/her conversations and antics. It was clear that one of our neighbors had a friend for the last evening, and I literally tried sleeping with my fingers in my ears. It doesn’t work well at all.
The walls in between cabins are seemingly paper-thin.
Note for next time: Bring earplugs.
Lastly, we figured that the children would have to get off the boat for an excursion of some kind. The bus ride was just the right length for us, but 40-minutes might have been too long for our kiddos. Perhaps something closer or more exciting would have to be planned out for them.
Maybe after a three day cruise with the kids we could take it up a notch and go on a four or five day cruise.
All I know is that I like going on cruises.
I like them immensely.
This is my third one in my lifetime and I hope to go on many in the future.
Thanks for reading!