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LandlockedCruiser01

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About LandlockedCruiser01

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Chicago metro area
  • Interests
    Baseball, board games, swing dancing, general aviation
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Carnival
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Royal Dolphin Swim at Cozumel

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  1. Yes, I can see the merit in that. BUT... under that logic, strictly theoretically, I'll catch less heat from US Customs if I cruise with a "stranger", putting it nicely, I met on Miss Travel (NSFW), than I would if I cruise solo. That just means that Customs's logic is more broken than our Congress.
  2. Yes and no. In hotels, the listed price is per room per night, no matter how many people stay there. So, you see the total price from the get-go, excluding taxes and resort fees. On cruises, the listed price is "per person double occupancy". So, you don't see the total price, until you mentally multiply the number by 2. It also means the cruse lines ass-u-me that "normal" people travel together in pairs. The difference is mostly psychological, but it doesn't mean that our gripes with cruise lines are invalid.
  3. I mostly agree. There are far too many unpredictable human variables. The other guy could be a snorer, and that's the most benign scenario I can think of. He might insist on falling asleep to blaring music. Or he might be a jerk, plain and simple. I can stand my ground if need be, but why put myself in that situation? The only situation I'd be willing to share a cabin is on an organized group cruise, like a singles' or a themed cruise. On those, people go with the same mindset, so they have a better chance of being compatible cabinmates. Snoring (out the mouth or the opposite end) might still be an issue, though.
  4. I stayed there the night before my Inspiration cruise. I was totally wowed by it. Outside the modern signage, the place looked totally original and unaltered. A lot of it reminded me of the Titanic, both from photos and the movie "Titanic"; they were actually built to the same specifications (minus the lifeboat count) and share many architectural elements. The only downsides were the excessively cold HVAC system and the obnoxiously high prices in the bar. Since I don't live anywhere near California, my pre-cruise activity of choice was trying In-N-Out Burger, and taking a water bus there to boot. Not as big of a deal as it gets hyped up to be, but it makes for a cool "bucket list" activity, and it gives me bragging rights back home. The "Day 0" portion of my review (signature link) gives a first-hand account of it.
  5. Straughn might get a pass as a female senior citizen, but me being in a "high-threat" demographic, I'd be very, very cautious about joking with a Customs officer. One false move, and I could find myself detained for days with no legal representation, followed my spending hundreds of dollars on a new plane ticket. All I'd give is terse, direct answers about my whereabouts, as well as respond to any side topics, like "What's that writing on your shirt?" ("It's an obscure rock band.") But like I already mentioned, the officer I dealt with after this cruise borderline ignored me. The most he did was hold up my passport next to my face. So all of it was irrelevant. I kind of wish Customs procedures were more standardized, rather than luck of the draw with who you get, but oh well.
  6. I just had a fish taco at the seafood place on the pier and a drink at Catalina Island Brewhouse. I found the prices comparable to what I see back home: high, but tolerable. And the fish taco was so much better. The grocery store is a Von's; I didn't go inside, though.
  7. Glad to hear you had a good time there. The tour guide talked about that. While there is no residency requirement of 10 years before buying a car, the waiting list to for a car permit can be 10 years long. Many residents want a car, but the number of car permits that get issued is very limited. But much of the town is very walkable. Come to think of it, it's not much different than Belgium or Germany, where people walk everywhere or drive miniature cars.
  8. Nice start to the review! I look forward to more. I'll be interesting to see how the cruises on two sister ships with the same itinerary compare. You said you didn't go ashore in Ensenada; what did you do in Catalina? The Imagination was actually my first cruise ship. I sailed out of Miami, to Key West and Cozumel. That cruise and the friendly people I met got my cruising addiction started.
  9. Go for it! You just might like it. Catalina is great no matter what you do, even if you just walk around (100% free) or rent a golf cart (inexpensive with 2 to 4 people). The quirky layout, with stairs standing in for streets in some hilly parts, is very fun to explore. Ensenada, you kind of need an excursion for. It's not the safest to wander around in by yourself, although if you're a young-ish man, you should be mostly fine. La Bufadora is pretty much the highlight, so I'd recommend that. My next review portion will have pictures of it. I don't know if the Panorama will be doing the same itinerary. It'll probably sail farther south to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. 4-day cruises are usually the prerogative of Fantasy class ships.
  10. Day 2, part 2: Elegant night Once back on the ship, I went straight to my cabin to cool off and relax a little, from half a day of walking in the sun. A towel animal was waiting for me. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing but uneventful. I had a late lunch in the buffet, sat in the hot tubs, and spent more time in the sauna. The dry sauna is nice and strong. But the wet sauna (steam room) was lacking in the "wow, this is hot, but I'll feel great later!" department, that you find in some land gyms or Turkish baths. It was like that the entire cruise. I don't know if it's just bad luck or they're making it American-friendly, but take note. Suddenly, the cruise director announced that there was a medical emergency, and the ship was heading back to Long Beach to debark a passenger who became ill. But because the distances on this cruise are so short, she assured everyone that there will not be a delay with getting to Ensenada. I stood on the deck, watching the ship pull into Long Beach, smirking to myself that it wasn't debarkation time just yet. They had a Captain's Celebration that night. The captain couldn't come, because he was handing off the passenger to local authorities. But all other high-level officers were there. They were warm and personable, but still maintained that "officer" vibe. I got my picture taken with them, of course. The cruise director later announced that the ill passenger and their travel companions were in good hands. Then came dinner time. The ship must have been going at double speed to get to Ensenada in time, because I really started feeling the movement. All the tablemates came, and everyone was dressed to the nines. We had good conversations comparing notes about Catalina. The menu, however, was kind of lacking. The lobster was eliminated, obviously, and the rest of the items didn't really appeal to me. I ordered grilled shrimp in tomato sauce, with mashed potatoes. The shrimp were good, but the potatoes had lumps. Ugh! Needless to say, I didn't eat them. (I should have gotten the blue crab ravioli.) The waiters were very friendly and quick, though. It was truly the best MDR service I ever got on a cruise. I went straight to the show afterwards, and enjoyed the dancing parts. The night was still young, so started looking for things to do. I briefly went to the nightclub, but found too many couples there. So I wandered into the piano bar. It had a very lively, boisterous atmosphere, with a group of people being in the center of the action. They kept making song requests and bantering with the pianist. At one point, while feeling brave, I joined in with a perfect comment. It made the pianist double over in laughter and got everyone's attention. The group's "ringleader" started talking to me, and complimented me for cruising solo. We all hung out in the piano bar until it closed; the pianist just wanted to go sleep, but us singers kept saying "encore!" As he closed up shop and the group dispersed, the "ringleader" practically insisted on me coming back the next night. I gladly agreed. This towel animal was waiting for me in my cabin. I think it's a brontosaurus. Me with the ship's main officers. I also have pictures with the First Officer in Command and the Cruise Director. Elegant night's dinner. This was one cutback I actually noticed and felt. I want the lobster back, and not the $20 Steakhouse Selections one. Studio VIP show. I was pleasantly surprised by the Playlist Productions shows. I was half-expecting them to be glorified movies. Looks like my cruise just went from simply "fun" to "incredibly fun". Ensenada coming soon. Stay tuned.
  11. The story continues... Day 2, part 1: Catalina This was my first time ever in a tender port, in the town of Avalon. (I will not embrace the term "water shuttles"; they're tenders.) Which I already knew meant long lines to go ashore. But I had an excursion ticket, which meant I'd get priority tendering. So I wasn't too worried about getting in line early, and instead took my time to get ready and pack my backpack. I went upstairs to try Blue Iguana Cantina for the first time ever. I got arepas and huevos rachneros, with pico de gallo and watermelon. It was really good, almost as good as an authentic Mexican restaurant. (Although I think arepas are more Central American.) And of course, coffee. With food in my stomach and caffeine in my brain, I grabbed my backpack from my cabin, and made my way to deck 3. The tender line was very short; I was in my seat in under 10 minutes. The tender ride was a lot of fun, and I really liked seeing my ship anchored at sea. I met my excursion bus, and we started heading up the mountains. Having lived my whole life in a city that's as flat as a pancake, and doing my other cruises out of a state that's equally flat, it was quite a shock. I even had my ears pop from the altitude change. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and the semidesert terrain was more scenic than I imagined it. I can totally see why Catalina is so popular and expensive. We briefly stopped in front of the William Wrigley estate. It was really cool. I knew that he sponsored the Wrigley Field, but I didn't know that he lived in Avalon or that the Cubs once trained there. We headed back down to the sea level for the rest of our excursion. The tour guide explained why there are so many golf carts: there simply isn't enough room for normal cars, with the streets being old and narrow. Which I'm sure isn't a problem in the local climate. The highlight and final stop of the tour was the Casino, which is actually an old movie theater. (The word "casino" historically meant "entertainment complex", until it was co-opted by gambling venues.) History is one of my biggest passions, so I really liked this part; the architecture was amazing. I spoke to the tour guide for a while, and she told me that the Cubs play a noticeable role in the local culture. There were even celebrations when they won the 2016 World Series. After the excursion, I spent a few hours wandering around Avalon, checking out local shops and art galleries, and stopping for snacks. I had a swordfish taco in one place, and a beer and pretzel in another. One souvenir shop had, wait for it... Cubs merchandise. So of course I got my picture in front of it. The salesgirl wasn't surprised when I told her where I was from. With time to get back on the tender getting close, I sat in a city park for a little bit to enjoy the scenery for one last time, then made my way back to the dock. Avalon, as seen from the ship. I really like the mountains. Aperas and huevos rancheros. My best breakfast on this cruise. The Inspiration, as seen from the tender. It's not often that you see a cruise ship up close and not docked. They usually look small at sea from the distance. One of Avalon's major streets. It runs along the oceanfront. I did much of my shopping there. The Inspiration, as seen from a Catalina mountainside. Again, it's not often that you get to see a cruise ship from a mountain, with a possible exception of Hawaii. The entire town of Avalon, seen from the entrance to the Wrigley Estate. The flat terrain is only a few square miles in size. Golf carts on city streets, standing in for cars. Getting a permit for a regular car in Avalon is very difficult and lengthy process. The Avalon Casino, as seen from the outside. No gambling takes place there. It was built to provide entertainment of good moral value and divert people from unsavory pastimes, like the actual gambling. The inside of the movie Casino's theater. We watched a short historical film. The picture quality was quite decent. This is one of the shops I visited. Go Cubs! This ends my day in Catalina. Elegant night is next.
  12. I've done both CA and FL cruises, with my latest one being a 4-day to Catalina and Ensenada. I'd say people partied harder on the CA cruise. The FL cruises stopped in ports like Cozumel and Nassau, that have touristy bars right by the dock (*cough* Señor Frog's *cough*), and it stayed late, so people did a lot of the partying onshore. The CA cruise port stops were daytime only, leaving people with enough energy to party on the ship every night on and on the sea day. I was one of the partiers, so I know.
  13. Thanks. Come to think of it, the poor sleep the night before kind of sapped my energy, so the lonely moments felt stronger than they would otherwise. It did get better for me the next night, when I went to the piano bar and got "adopted". I'll cover that part in the Catalina day's review.
  14. D'oh! You're right. I confused the two. Then again, I don't like either, for the most part.
  15. What you're describing sounds like the Comfort Kitchen section of the Lido buffet. I know Breeze has it. Sunshine has it too; it's part of the Lido buffet. Pig & Anchor has its own recipe of mac and cheese.
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