I've been wanting to blog about my cruise - just haven't found the time to do it, but I will do as much as possible here.......
So Dan, Caydan, my sister Michelle, and her friend Michelle, and myself all went on a 3 day cruise on Carnival cruise lines down to Ensenada, MX. This was the first cruise for me, Dan, and Caydan, and the 2nd for Michelle and Michelle........and it was my sister's 18th birthday the day of our departure - so that added some fun to the trip :)
I would say that my biggest disappointment about the trip was that it wasn't very family oriented...I realize that some cruise ships are specifically focused on adults, while some like Disney are aimed towards the kids, and so I thought Carnival was going to be somewhere in the middle of that..............and I guess they try to be - but it wasn't successful.
The main thing is that I was looking forward to the kid's area called Camp Carnival...but upon our mini-tour there we were informed that it is a Parent's Free Zone....therefore, no parents allowed....even though my son is 3!
There isn't much else to do on the boat for kids, especially since it was really cold outside, and so in order for Caydan to have any fun at all, we had to let him go play in the kid's room...but that required just dropping him off and leaving him. So much for the "family vacation".
So I would have Caydan with us as much as possible, but he really wanted to go play - so I didn't want to take that from him...but then I felt like I was just dropping him off at daycare or something.
So that was a bummer.........
Secondly - Ensanada was a real disappointment....my apologies to anyone reading this who might happen to be from there or live there....but I was very unimpressed. I figured that since it was a little more south of the border, maybe it was a nicer area as all I've ever seen is Tijuana. I was hugely mistaken...I actually thought I was let off in TJ and was just told it was Ensanada.
We took the little shuttle bus to the downtown area...on top of it just being creepy...like downtown L.A. (the bad part) creepy....there just wasn't anything to do. We wanted to shop, but I wasn't interested in anything - and EVERY STORE had exactly the same thing...just like TJ.
We did go in a tattoo shop that was actually pretty nice, and Michelle and Michelle got henna tattoos of butterflies (I have pics that I'll post on myspace eventually).
Speaking of cameras - Dan didn't even want me to carry my camera around with me because it was so seedy there...so I had to put it in Michelle's purse as that was the only thing big enough we had with us to carry it.
The only other negative about the trip was that it was freezing outside...but that's obviously not Carnival's fault.
Other than that...the food was alright....dinner wasn't my taste I guess. They had a lot of seafood options which doesn't interest me, I don't really do steak, and there were minimal pasta options if any. The last night I ended up ordering the kid's mac and cheese because I just couldn't find anything on the menu I wanted....but the mac and cheese was wonderful. :) :)
And I am in LOVE with the classic Chocolate Melting Cake that was offered for dessert all 3 nights....that was heaven. I think it may have been my favorite part of the trip. :)
The buffet was alright....buffets are never easy with a toddler in tow, but I made it work....and I became hooked on iced tea. I would have been very disappointed to find out you had to pay extra for soda....but I've cut myself off of soda, so it was ok...and I love iced tea...sweet tea :)
We all pretty much hung out in the Paris Restaurant (buffet area) after hours since I wasn't drinking, the Michelle's aren't old enough to drink, and Dan was just with us and had a few drinks.....so we ate after hours pizza, sandwiches, and soft serve ice cream - which I became slightly addicted to on the boat because of the Michelle's addiction.
The rooms were a closet - but I was already pretty prepared for that...we didn't spend much time in them - but there were no tv stations (or very few at least) which was annoying for the time we did spend in the room.
I loved the towel animals....i realized after the fact that I didn't take any pictures of them!! But they were all awesome!
And I loved the whole service of the housekeeping staff....it was always nice to come back to a perfect room. :)
We did order room service one night...it took over an hour to get it...we actually fell asleep thinking they forgot us only to be woken up about 15 minutes later by their knock....and so I got myself up to eat my grilled ham and cheese - only to find out it was only grilled cheese...swiss cheese at that. not good....went back to bed.
It was fun to look for our pictures....we didn't do any of the extra picture scenes....but they took a bunch at our dinners and when we got on the boat and off in MX.
The shows both nights were both really good...although they had technical difficulties the first show night and so they cancelled the finale....kind of a bummer, but not a big deal. It was still a great show.
I was bummed by "Bingo"...i was expecting a full-on Bingo session, only to find out it was 1 game of Bingo...for $10.....total bummer.
I did volunteer the first night to be a participant in the game show they had on stage in the Normandie Lounge....so I got up on stage and stood behind a Jeopardy looking stand along with 2 other drunk people....I answered general trivia, mostly pop culture (my specialty)....and I won!! So i got me a boat on a stick as my friend at work put it. But that was kinda fun. :)
We also decorated Michelle's room the first night for her birthday, so it was very festive in there...people would walk by when the door was open and yell Happy Birthday to her. :)
We played some mini-golf the day at sea....well Caydan did...it was a little warmer that day so me and Dan just kinda sat on the courses and watched Caydan play with the balls. Then Caydan and I watched the dolphins swimming...very cool and peaceful. We played some shuffleboard....Caydan-style.....basically just having a war with the shuffleboard thingies....lots o fun. :)
And I did particularly like one moment on our last day where there were a couple of singers in the main/central lobby area where the bar is singing a bunch of sing-a-long type songs (Hotel California, Bob Marley, etc) and everyone would gather on all the different levels that surrounded the center area and just sing. So 4 stories of people, plus a bar full of people, gathered around the center of the ship singing....that was pretty fun. :)
So overall, here's my take:
I like the concept of cruising....I would definitely do it again. This particular cruise is obviously much more directed at the young, party-type...singles, college students, young couples (of which we are, but with a child as well)....basically the definition of a booze cruise. Had we not had Caydan with us, and were I a bigger drinker than I am, this would have been a BLAST.
But alas, I am an old fogie (or at least feel like it) and I would much rather have a nice family vacation where I could play with Caydan and draw pictures and play with legos and stuff like that.....so I probably would not take Carnival again....but I would LOVE to take the Disney cruise....
I did my research the other day and I want to take the 7 day Western Caribbean Disney Cruise with 4 ports (Florida Keys, Castaway Cay - Disney's private island, Cozumel, and one more somewhere down there I can't remember).....but including flights for the 3 of us, it'll be about $7000!!
I'd have to save almost $300 a month for 2 years to go on that! I really want to...and I'm starting to save....but it's going to take awhile. :( :(
So now - let me know how your opinion of the cruise coincides or strays from mine! You obviously went under different circumstances than I did with my family, so yours may be totally different. :)
JH: Aww, I'm sorry it didn't work out better for you this time around. I know what you mean about the family cruise experience with Carnival. The first one I went on was with my boss and her two children. It was supposed to be family oriented, but all they really offered was baby-sitting and an ice cream party on one of the days.
The second cruise I went on was for a birthday and was full of drinking, gambling and frivolity! Everything a cruise should be ;)
Mexico is so scary now that I wouldn't chance it anytime soon. I've never been to TJ, but I've been to Rosarito and Ensenada. I must say, Ensenada is WAY nicer than Rosarito, so it could have been worse! Smart to hide your camera though.
CH: I don't see the draw to these northern Mexico countries....if they look like TJ, Ensenada, or Rosarito....I must just not be going to the right places.....did you do that Blowhole tour in Ensanada? If we had more money to spend we would have gone...I think that would have been a much better experience...I think. Michelle and Michelle had gone there last time they went on this cruise..but didn't say much about it besides there were more places to shop...?
MX is sooo scary. I just watched a whole thing on Fox 11 last night where they were showing what's going on in Tucson, AZ because all the Mexico violence is spilling over into the U.S. now...and it's got the highest kidnapping rate in the whole U.S. or something like that....like hundreds of people this year or something ridiculous......it's so scary. :(