People don't seem to review the shorter cruises out of Long Beach, so I wanted to write one for last week. This was our third Imagination cruise from Long Beach, and it was great!
Pre-cruise: Got to Long Beach the day before the cruise, and spent the day at Cabrillo Beach (San Pedro) relaxing in the sun. Stayed at the Golden Sails in Long Beach, which was a fine hotel 20 minutes from port. On Sunday morning, we left the hotel at 10:20, with zero traffic, we were parked in the garage at 10:45.
Embarkation: This is the easiest embarkation port of the many we have used. We were completely checked in and waiting to board before 11 am. FttF was called at 11:11 (good luck!!) and we were boarded very quickly. Straight to our stateroom (E90 - right off the atrium) to drop bags, and we were at Guy's Burgers before 11:30.
Stateroom: Excellent choice (E 90) for access to everything. No problems with noise, smell or stateroom steward. Received twice-daily cleaning as requested. Room was in excellent shape, with comfy bedding and everything in working order.
Dining: Had Anytime dining, which worked great. Ate all breakfasts in the MDR, and avoided the buffet completely. Lunch was Guys, Blue Iguana or Deli. Sea day brunch was awesome as ever---steak and eggs was great. All dinners were good, with many choices, and we ordered double appetizers or entrees more than once. Brought case of Coke Zero and two wine bottles in carryon, so we brought our own glasses to dinner each night. Worked beautifully.
Day one: Bags were delivered before 12:30, so we were quickly unpacked, and headed to an empty Serenity deck. Relaxed until muster drill, then off to get dressed for dinner. Yes, we dress for dinner each night. Not over the top, but I wore a dress, and my husband wore button up shirt and slacks each night. Comedians were okay this trip, and we enjoyed family and adult shows most days. Did a little dancing in the nightclub. Funniest thing was "80's hour", which was from 10 to 10:15 pm one night! Dance floor was packed for those fifteen minutes!!!
Day two - Catalina: Breakfast in the MDR, then ready to tender to Catalina. Expected a crowd, but easily caught a tender with no wait. Didn't even use FttF tendering. Rented a golf cart for about 90 minutes for a nice tour. Walked around a bit peeking into shops for a little while. After that, we lounged on the beach by the dock for a few hours before returning to the ship for a late lunch. Short but fun day.
Day three - Ensenada: This was a weird day. We had breakfast in the MDR again, and got off the ship easily at approximately 10:30. Nice walk into town along the new Malecon. The streets, stores, bars, restaurants were EMPTY. It was amazing how few people we saw in Ensenada. Nothing like our past visits. We walked along the main street looking in a few stores. Had a quick (unsatisfying) lunch at a street restaurant, then hit our favorite Ensenada store that sells stained glass, and headed back to the ship. In the two years since we've been there, prices across the board in Ensenada have skyrocketed. Maybe that's why it was dead. Returned to the ship for Serenity deck and relaxation around 2:30.
Day four: Day at sea started with sea day brunch, and consisted mostly of the Serenity deck! We went on this trip to relax, and relax we did! Got front row in Serenity, but it was packed by 10:30 that morning - don't dawdle!
Disembarkation: So quick and easy! They started self-assist at 7 am. Started calling zones at 8:45, and did a last call for everyone to disembark by 9:05!!! Short wait for customs, and we were back in the car by 10 am.
Overall: An excellent cruise for first-timers looking to try cruising, or for seasoned cruisers looking for a relaxing few days. We don't gamble on ships, and didn't drink too much. The ship was oddly empty for the most part (considering this was Holy Week/Spring Break). Never a wait at a bar, easy to get chairs on Lido and Serenity, no long lines at lunch locations. It was downright weird!!! For the price, it is an excellent value cruising experience, and keeps us satisfied between longer cruises. Next up for us a the Legend Transatlantic 2020!