What a great way to start a New Year….with a Cruise!!! We planned a New Year’s Cruise since June! When Lara arrived at our home in August and learned about it… she wanted to go along… and her parents allowed her to! So, it was a trip for the 5 of us and our good friend Kay! There was no doubt that we were going to have a lot of fun! We’ve been back home for 12 days and it took me this long to catch up on work and putting away Christmas decorations to finish this Blog Post!
January 2- We left the house at 6am to drive to Long Beach, California to hop on board the Carnival Inspiration for a 4-day Baja Mexico Cruise with two stops, Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico, and one day at sea! Our rooms were just 25 cabins away from each other so we could run back and forth to Kay and Lara’s cabin. We spent the day exploring the ship…like the huge WaterWorks Slide and the miniature golf course on the top deck! There was a stage and pool and hot tub and buffet on the Lido deck and despite how cold we thought it was…there WERE people swimming! For people from Canada and Minnesota and Denver, 70 degrees is warm enough to swim! Not us Phoenix folks!!! We had a late Dining for Dinner and were placed with a family from Sante Fe, New Mexico. They had two sons, ages 17 and 23, and one of their son’s girlfriends with them. Of course, after the first night of delicious selections from the Dining Room… we knew we were in trouble for the rest of the week!!! YUMMY! To see photos of our ship, go to http://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-inspiration.aspx?shipCode=IS. It really was amazing!!! Terry and I did this same cruise almost two years ago with our Wholesale Travel Club for $180 per person. It was a different ship but the same deck plan. Still… we were getting lost all the time! HaHaHa!
January 3-Catalina Island: We pulled into the harbor by Catalina Island at 7:30a…so we’re told! HaHa! We all slept in till 8:30a! We grabbed breakfast and took water taxis to the pier on the Island. Catalina Island is a rocky island about 22 miles off the coast of California. It’s 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its greatest width. The total population is about 3,700, with almost 85% living in the island’s only incorporated city, Avalon. That’s where we were. The second village of Two Harbors in the north, has a population of about 300. We chose to rent a 6-passenger Golf Cart to explore the Island and had a blast! The scenery was beautiful, the roads were winding and up and down hills! Then we walked through this quaint town. There’s a lot of history on this Island. You can learn more about it at http://www.catalinachamber.com/ I’d love to come back via a Catalina Express yacht ride for about $68 per person and stay in one of the Bed 7 Breakfasts spots!
When we got back to the ship, it was time to pretty up and get ready for the Captain’s Dinner. That’s the night everyone dresses up and enjoys Lobster for dinner! Yum! There were also photographers set up throughout the ship with different backgrounds. We were able to take advantage of as many backgrounds and poses as we wanted and the pictures made available to purchase. We had several family photos taken plus photos with Lara and Kay. For dinner, there was Lobster AND Prime Rib on the menu! Such a tough decision! Terry and Travis each ordered two Lobsters. You can do that on a cruise. If you like two appetizers, order two. If you like two entrees, order two. And if you can handle two desserts, order two! After dinner, we hit the variety show in the Paris Lounge with singing and dancing by the Entertainment staff.
January 4- Ensenada, Mexico: We docked into Ensenada at 8am but our excursion on shore wasn’t until 1:30pm so we took advantage of the time, slept in after a late night and hit the Breakfast Buffet. Lara and Brittany played miniature golf and Terry and I hit the gym. Our excursion was a tour bus ride to La Bufadora… The Blowhole. It’s an amazing natural marine geyser that can shoot water over 60 feet in the air. La Bufadora is considered the second largest marine geyser in the world… with the largest located at Makapuu Point in Oahu, Hawaii. Our guide said there’s also one in New Zealand. This phenomenon is caused by ocean waves being forced into a partially submerged sea cavern. That causes large amounts of air and water pressure to build. Then the air and ocean water are expelled through the only exit, launching it several stories into the air. Lara and I got hit by the falling water! I was taking her picture at the site when one of the geysers shot up and over us. When you look at the picture I took of Lara, notice all the people behind us are looking up (at the water spout)! It was pretty funny! On the walk to the Blowhole, and on the way back, there are Vendors selling all kinds of Mexican items, from clothing to purses to towels to hats to candy to jewelry and tacos! The funniest thing was how they try to entice you to see what they have. One man said to the girls, “Models get special prices.” Another man said, “99% off.” Another said, “Come look at things you don’t need.” The kids got a kick out of it! another thing they laughed about was paying someone to use the bathrooms! They are still talking about it today! I guess that’s all part of being in another country! After the tour, the bus would have brought us to downtown Ensenada for shopping but no one on the bus chose to get off. We thought that was interesting. The last time we were in Ensenada , we were with 220 people from our Travel Club and a lot of people went to town to shop. But with the drug problems in Mexico right now, a lot of people were afraid to venture on their own.
We were back on the ship around 5:30p, cleaned up, hit a sushi bar for a snack to tie us over till dinner, checked out our photographs taken the night before, had dinner and then hung out by the pool for the Mega Deck party with a band and dancing. Travis had the most fun at this event… dancing all over the place!
January 5-At Sea: This was our day of rest… at sea for an entire day! It was beautiful to look out on the water. The staff creates a full day of events to attend so instead of hanging out by the pool, as we thought we were going to do, we kept busy. To tell you the truth… it was a little cold for us to hang by the pool. Some kids went swimming but, again, they were obviously from cold weather places! Even the huge pool slide on the top of the ship was lonely… just too cold, especially with the wind! So, we hit the Bingo games and a couple of shows. Kay and I and Terry hit the Adults Only Serenity pool area and grabbed a short nap… but were too cold so we had to go inside! That night, Lara and Brittany took advantage of more photographers and had their pictures taken about 100 times! They were so cute! After dinner, we hit another show and Travis and I went to see a comedian before calling it a night.
January 6-Returning home: The ship docked in Long Beach at about 7am and we were off the ship around 9:30am. But it took us 2 hours to get into the United States…officially. We had to go through Customs and, since Lara is a German citizen, we waited in the line for Non-U.S. Citizens and it was very long! The Carnival staff said there are usually more non-US citizens on cruises around the holidays than any other time! We hopped in the car and took off for home. Terry drove and I spent 4 hours on the phone returning phone calls and taking care of business.
The best part about the trip was it felt like I was gone for a month. The worst part about the cruise was when we came back, the first week we were home felt like I had been back a month! Overall, we had a great time, we all bonded even more as a family, Lara got to enter another country and add another state to her list of states she has been too and we all got a much-needed vacation!
Enjoy the photos below!