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cali-croozer

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  1. After 10 cruises, I have started to pack a lot less. Found out I don't need a lot of the extras. What I do bring is a "puff" for the shower (works the best with shower gel), conditioner (only shampoo is provided), a set of workout clothes for the gym, a fun lanyard for my sail and sign (found a "pearl" one at hobby lobby, it looked quite nice!), dollar bills for room service and luggage porter tips, slipper/socks for wearing around the cabin. I stopped bringing a water bottle and coffee cup so I don't have to lug it around (I purchase a 12 pack of water to be delivered on embarkation day). Found out we can manage without the power strip (phones charge pretty quickly and I don't travel with other electronics). I use the provided plastic laundry bags for dirty/wet clothing. We use the top drawer as our "junk drawer" so don't need another catch all bin. The steward will provide extra hangers if needed. I unpack only our regular toiletries and there seems to be enough room in the bathroom for those. Any "as needed" medications, etc. stay in our carry-on, so no need for the shoe organizer. Of course, this is just what works for me. You need to decide how many extras you will need. If you are running out of luggage space for the extras, my tips might come in handy.
  2. Just got back from our cruise. There is a public bus in Catalina. There is a stop near the dock, but closer to where the Catalina Express docks; or just look for the benches in the downtown area. It has several stops around town, and goes up to the memorial garden. It is $2 per person, per ride (every time you get on, you pay $2, driver doesn't have change). We actually just stayed on the bus and took the entire loop; it is not a tour bus but we were friendly with the bus driver so he pointed out things for us. If the weather was warmer, I could see taking the bus up to the memorial garden and walking back down to town, taking in the sights along the way (bird aviary, nature center, etc). One note: in the off season, there might only be one bus running, so if you miss it, you might have to wait up to 40 minutes for it to come back around. We waited at the bus stop for awhile, thinking maybe it wasn't running, but then it showed up.
  3. We arrived at Long Beach one hour before our appointment (we drove from Northern California, hard to predict exactly when we would arrive based on traffic, etc). We were prepared to wait but hoped we would be let into the terminal to sit. There were 2 queues, "on time" and "a little early/a little late". We were directed to the early/late queue, but since there wasn't anyone in either of the queues we checked in immediately and were off to board the ship. It's like the fast pass line at Disneyland. The regular line (early/late) will wait until the fast pass (on time) people get through their queue and then they will be let in as space permits. So, your experience may vary. You take a chance going early. I didn't like the idea of staggered boarding when it first came out but, having gone through it, it really works. Even if we had to wait for our check in appointment (1:30), it is more than enough time to put our things down (cabins aren't ready until 1:30pm anyway), get lunch and explore before muster and sail away. I guess the only thing we miss, getting on later, is the chance to participate in the spa tour. I will take stress free boarding over than any day!
  4. We really didn't take many pictures on this cruise, since we've done it before. There was another recent post/review with lots of pictures. Also, Scott Singer cruises on you tube has a series of videos he did on the Inspiration about a year ago. He does a good job showing the ship, foods and ports. Not sure if the pour you own beer is included in the cheers package; you have to swipe you sail and sign card; that's all I know (and that it's not a deal...lol).
  5. Sounds like experiences will vary. We arrived at Long Beach about an hour early (less traffic on the road than anticipated). This was around 12:30 and we had a check in time of 1:30 to 2:00. We were prepared to wait, but were hoping to at least get into the terminal to sit as the weather was not very nice. There were 2 entry ways into the terminal: on time and a little early/a little late. We went to the little early/little late queue, but there wasn't anyone in either of the queues so we were directed to a check in podium and from there directed to the ramps/escalators to board the ship. We were on board around 1pm. So, if you are early or late at Long Beach you go to that queue where you will wait while they serve the on time people (kind of like the regular queue and fast pass queue in Disneyland). In our case, no wait.
  6. Have a great time! Hope the weather is a little warmer for you.
  7. Screw Looze at the Punchliner was very good!
  8. Here's a review of my latest cruise, Inspiration 4 night out of Long Beach, February 4-8, 2019 Background: 8th Carnival Cruise (3rd on the Inspiration, 1st was out of Tampa, 2nd was the 3 night out of Long Beach), just my hubby and I Itinerary Change: we were supposed to have our last day at sea, but "due to congestion at the port in Catalina", they switched our sea day to Tuesday, Catalina to Wednesday, and Ensenada to Thursday (received a letter in our room when we were at dinner the first night). The weather forecasted rain on Tuesday anyway, so it worked out that Catalina was delayed. The captain did a good job finding some sun on Tuesday so people were able to use the outside decks. It did sprinkle at one point and was just warm, but better than rain and cold. Embarkation: drove to the cruise port from No. Cal, left home at 6am and arrived at the port at around 12:30pm. No trouble finding parking and no traffic at the port as the guests from the previous cruise were long gone. $20 per day to park. Tip for those driving the I-5 from No. Cal.....stop at Buttonwillow for the least expensive gas. We ended up spending $1 more per gallon getting gas near Magic Mountain. Our check in time was 1:30 to 2:00, but there were no lines at the terminal and we were on board by 1pm. We had lunch on the Lido (Blue Iguana) and then our cabin was ready so we went to check it out. We were in M56, close to the stairs/elevators (no issues with noise). Since it was our 3rd time on this ship, we decided to go to the welcome aboard afternoon show, instead of exploring the ship. Didn't win any prizes, but was good to see/meet our cruise director, Orlando. Muster was uneventful. Looked for the 1/2 price drink specials at the casino bar but there weren't any. Just the drink of the day for $1 less and "make it a double" for $3 more (available each day at all bars). Cabin: M56, oceanview. Good location, near stairs and elevator (some people shun being close to the stairs/elevator, but we have never had noise issues with it and like the convenience). Front of the ship so convenient to the YTD dining room, Paris Lounge and Spa/Gym. The last few cruises we have been on the Lido or Verandah deck, and I did miss being closer to the action, but really not a big deal, especially since I booked at the last minute for a very low price! Food/dining: we would have preferred early dining, but we booked this trip 1 week out, so were able to choose from late dining or waitlist your time dining. A few days before sailing we were confirmed to your time dining. We ended up eating pretty early each night anyway, lining up anywhere between 5:45pm (opening for YTD) and 6:15pm. We requested the same wait staff each night and had the same table 3 nights and the same wait staff all 4 nights so it was almost like set dining, except for the queue to get in. We noticed that when we were done with dinner around 7pm to 7:30pm, there were some cruisers with pagers milling about, waiting for a table. Most of the things we ordered were very good. We ate breakfast in the dining room 3 out of 4 days (hubby wanted to try the breakfast burrito at the Blue Iguana one morning). Most of the breakfast choices are the same as the Lido, although I was able to get a baked apple and cranberry juice in the dining room, both of which were not available on the Lido the one morning we ate there. Sea Day brunch was ok; my husband had the steak and eggs and I had the blueberry pancakes. I was surprised with the limited choices; I thought there would be the regular breakfast offerings plus some brunch ones. Food was good though, nobody is going to starve on this cruise....lol. For lunch, we didn't eat at the buffet except for getting some fruit or salad; we, instead enjoyed Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana, The Deli and Pizza. If the cruise was longer, I am sure we would have looked to the buffet for more variety. We did get room service each morning, just for coffee and a pastry. Pour you own beer (available on the Lido). It is 37 cents per ounce, but once tip is included (yes, 18% is applicable to the pour your own beer!), it's actually a little more expensive than just ordering from the bar. Carnival Hub: really don't like using the phone on vacation, but since we use it as a camera anyway, we are usually carrying it. The Hub was especially good for finding out what's happening (without having to carry around the fun times) and checking you account balance/transactions. Entertainment: The Motown Review was awesome and we enjoyed the comedy shows on 2 of the nights. Hasbro the Game Show was fun to watch. We participated in towel folding (making towel animals), groove for Saint Jude and Carnival Tower. Orlando was a very personable and fun cruise director. We didn't care for the entertainment on Wednesday night (Gender Battle or something like that) so we watched the Warriors/Spurs game at the Casino Bar. We thought it was the only place to watch the game, and then, later found out there was a TV at the coffee bar and the back of the Lido. Wish we knew because the Casino Bar is very smokey. But, the Warriors won so it was a good night! Gym: we worked out for an hour each morning in the gym, getting there anywhere between 6:30am and 7am. Never had trouble getting on a machine at that time; maybe 10-12 people working out early morning. Free stretch class at 7am daily if interested; we usually partake, but, this cruise, just worked on the eliptical, treadmill, cycle and weights. Catalina: took the public bus $2 per person, per ride, around Avalon and then walked around the "downtown". Ensenada: walked a loop around town (down the walk by the water, then over near Papa and Beer and down the street, back to the cruise ship) Debarkation morning: woke up at 6am and went to breakfast in the dining room at 6:30am (that's when they opened). Back to room to finish packing the toiletries and make our way down to deck 7 (around 7:30 they started calling decks for disembarking if you had all of your luggage with you). We walked off the ship and were back in our truck at 7:43am. If you wanted/needed to check your luggage you could choose from 2 times to disembark (8:45-9:15 or 9:15 to 9:45). Regardless of your choice, everyone had to be out of their cabin by 8:30am. If you have any questions, fire away.
  9. I always print them out in advance and cover them with clear packing tape to make them sturdy. Also put an extra copy inside the suitcase in case the tag gets ripped off.
  10. Thank you! Just finished packing. We are calling this cruise our Alaska Cruise out of Long Beach with stops in Ensenada, and maybe, Catalina.....LOL
  11. We are also on the next sailing. I think it's going to be cold.......hopefully there will be brave souls by the pool or else the indoor areas are going to be super crowded. Bringing ponchos and umbrellas in hopes that since I am prepared for cold, the weather will turn.....lol
  12. Thanks everyone for all of your responses and tips You do not have to be out of your cabin at a certain time. It's up to you. We like to get up early to exercise, then come back to take a shower and then go to breakfast. We will put the do not disturb sign up while we exercise so the steward won't be in there when we get back for a shower. They will be lurking in the halls and see when you leave so they can clean. Typically in the evening, they know if you have early or late dinner and will come in at that time. If you have YTD, they'll just keep an eye out.
  13. Thanks for the quick response!
  14. Has anyone taken the public bus in Catalina? Looks like an alternative to renting a golf cart if you just want to check out several places around Avalon. It is hard to get current schedule and information on line however. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
  15. I tried searching, but guess I am using the wrong terms so........haven't been on Carnival for awhile. Last time, the cabin was serviced twice daily. Then I heard they would ask you on the first day whether you wanted once or twice daily service. What is the current policy on this? We are sailing the Inspiration in a regular cabin, not a suite, if that makes a difference. Thanks in advance.
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