Sunday, January 15, 2006

2006-Jan. Cruisin' to Baja California-4 nt Carnival Paradise: Catalina Island, Ensenada

Carnival Paradise 4 night cruise:

After the winter meetings for the company I work for (Prestige Portraits), my sister joined me and we headed off on a 4 night Carnival cruise. She had never cruised before, so we did a short one to see if she could handle life on a boat.

Our journey actually started the day before our cruise. We had to make our way from San Diego to Los Angeles. That didn't turn out to be much of a problem, though. My sister flew into San Diego and I rented a car from the hotel I was staying in in San Diego and we drove on up to Los Angeles the day before our cruise. We tried to pull off at some of the beaches along the way, but were surprised to see most of them charged a day use fee, so we continued on to LA. We did take the slower Hwy 101 instead of Hwy 5 and enjoyed going through the little towns and catching glimpses of the ocean. We ended up actually in Anaheim and spent the night in the Worldmark resort, Dolphins Cove, there. It was a really nice condo---too bad we were just there for 1 night.

The next morning we headed to the car return place in Long Beach, returned the car, and were quickly on our way to the port by taxi. There was the usual line to check in, but it went pretty quickly and soon we were on the ship. It was around noon, so we were sent to the Lido buffet for lunch. We also spent some time exploring the ship.

Here is the atrium of the Paradise:

Decorations in one of the lounges:

Here's the main stage:
Finally we were able to check out our room--an inside cabin for about $250@ for the 4 nights. Not a big cabin, no love seat to sit on, but the way the beds were arranged made it roomy enough.
By the time the ship was heading out of the port, it was getting dark fast. Here is a glimps of LA while we were pulling away.
The next morning we tendered into one of our 2 ports of call.
This one was Catalina Island.

We did a ship excursion that took us up to a botanical garden and also a tour of the town. We both enjoyed the tour and wouldn't mind going back there some day.
Here we are at the Wrigley Memorial which honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. Although best known as the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, largest manufacturer of chewing gum in the world, he also played an instrumental role in the history of Catalina Island. He truly loved the island, and with undying enthusiasm and energy, he brought numerous improvements: public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, The Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers. William Wrigley Jr.'s greatest legacy was his remarkable vision and plan for the future of Catalina Island -- that it remain protected for all generations to enjoy.
We even had this view of our ship from atop the "mountain" on the island.
Back on board the ship, we enjoyed the nightly entertainment. Actually found the Carnival entertainment to be better , in my opinions, then the Disney, RCI, and Holland America cruises I've been on. I would also say their food was better then most, too---although I'm leaning toward Holland America as the best food right now.
They had lots of costume changes and stage changes. Made it visually more interesting.
Speaking of visually interesting!!! So was the Lido buffet.
We really enjoyed the lido buffet.
Our 2nd port was Ensenada, Mexico--- the third-largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California. While there we did the ship excursion to the Museum of history, a winery, and shopping. Ok excursion, but definitely not worth the price the ship charged!

Other then the colorful store fronts, shopping was rather disappointing, too.

But, as I said before, entertainment back on the ship was good each night.

That first sisters' cruise left us wanting to go on more. So we have made it on another one (Holland America 7 night Mexican Riviera in 2008) and plan to do many more.

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