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Looking for thoughts on the Catalina Island / Ensenada itinerary

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I was thinking of doing this itinerary through Carnival because it would be nice to do out of LA for a 4-5 night cruise. From what I've seen, this itinerary seems to be very underwhelming. Thoughts from anyone who has done it? Where would you rank it?

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It is a teaser cruise- to get you interested in cruising. It can also be a booze cruise. Yes, the ports are nothing exciting, but it is still several days on a ship.

 

We did it on RCI, not Carnival. A long time ago.

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We do it yearly. It's mostly about a nice quick cruise. The ports are OK. Nothing super exciting to rave about but a great get-a-way that is economical for us.

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DH and I did this one 24 years ago for our honeymoon, it was our first time cruising. I just booked it again for this fall! I'm adding a couple nights to our stay in LA, to make it a week long vacation. Going to do the Queen Mary pre-cruise, a day at Disney and a day at Universal Post cruise. Can't wait!!

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I loved the ports on this cruise.  I'd so rather go to Catalina Island and Ensenada than Cabo.   Have taken 3 cruises on this itinerary.  Enjoyed the Casino tour, and another cruise did the Wrigley Botanical Gardens.  If you enjoy botanical gardens its worth seeing.  Ensenada, usually book a massage at Massage & Facial care, then stop by La Guerrerense for some incredible fresh seafood.

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At Catalina just a walk to Descanso Beach around the casino is beautiful.....you'd think you were in Europe.  In Ensenada we love to walk to El Correlito restaurant just in town only 20 minute walk from ship.  Tell Larry your server The Q's sent you .....fabulous food and margaritas.......can't go wrong.

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If you enjoy cruising and don’t care so much about the ports, then this is a nice little cruise.  Good dining and good entertainment (including one of the best shows I’ve seen on any cruise, “Epic Rock”). The ports aren’t the most exciting, but there is a wide variety of activities on Catalina—hiking, snorkeling, historical tours, mini golf, shopping, and ice cream!  We stayed on the ship in Ensenada and had a lot of fun while everyone else was ashore. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

My wife and I were not overly impressed with Catalina.  Found shops very expensive and much prefer the change to Santa Barbara on California coastal cruise out of Vancouver.

 

Edited by Perkins52

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This cruise is about enjoying a quick getaway. Weve done it several times. We went to Catalina as part of our Honeymoon, so it brings back great memories for us. While youre there, you can rent a golf cart for an hour or two to tour the island. Theres some fun excursions, we enjoyed a trip on the ocean for a couple of hours cruising with dolphins. We usually grab a bite to eat at Antonios on the beach, but the quality isnt as good as years ago. Grab a few cheap drinks at one of the places in town, have a chowder bowl at the pier. Theres lot of little shops to see while you walk around. 

 

In Ensenada, weve done the wine tour through the ship, which was not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Weve also rented an ATV and just drove all around town. Visited Papas and Beer for a quick bite and entertaining people watching,  stopping at the beach to see the sand dollars afterward. We ended that  at a little bar within walking distance of the ship with super cheap beers and shots. You can also stay on the ship and enjoy the quiet. 

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Posted (edited)

We've done several of these... Catalina Island:  we've done the submarine boat thing (wouldn't recommend), drove around the island in a golf cart wandering aimlessly (would recommend), and walked around the shops and restaurants (would recommend).  In Ensenada, we walked around on our own, went to a museum ($2/person), and walked further up in search of the best tacos (would recommend all of this 🙂).  Helps if you speak Spanish (I don't) because the further you walk away, the more local it is (not catering to tourist)... but fish tacos were like 33 cents each!  I'd also recommend La Bufadora to do one time.

Edited by boltnut55

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It's a nice beginners cruise to get your feet wet.  With that said, we have done this itinerary 3 times as the port is near and the price is usually right.  I would just point out, if you're not from the area, we do get overcast along the coast and the cloud cover usually does extend to Catalina so there may not be sunshine while you're there.  Also, Ensenada is really only a 3-4 hour drive from Los Angeles so it usually does share the same weather as Los Angeles.  As the saying goes, a rainy day on a ship beats a sunny day in the office.

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I just got off the 4 night and would not recommend this cruise. I cruise about 4 times a year and have never been on a ship that offered so little in the way of activities (other than things that made them money like shopping events or bingo). The cruise director is funny and very lively but the cruise itself was very lackluster. Catalina was fine but Ensenada is dirty with not much to do unless you like to shop for junk. We stopped at a restaurant called Queens (suggested by someone down the street). They offered a margarita that could be ordered with a double shot; it tasted like it was all mixer. The waiter offered to "fix" it and when we went inside we caught him repeatedly dipping a straw into the glass to taste it. The chips were disgusting and dripping with grease, to the point that we told them we were leaving and didn't want the drink or the chips. They chased us down and threatened to call the police if we didn't pay for the everything. It was a terrible experience that made us vow we would never go back to the area.

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If you live near LA, then it is a cruise, but they rank as my worst. The ports are ok and easily have something to do for a visit or two. I only recommend them to people who want to try a cruise, since the money commitment is less.(if you can drive there). I will be on one next month because it still provides a cruise experience, but keep in mind they use the oldest ships and just okay ports. You are better off flying elsewhere or doing the week version further south into the Riveria ( vs Baja Mexico.)

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The ships are fantasy class, which aren't my favorite either.   But the ports have decent activities if you do your research.   As in don't book bufadora and expect anything more interesting than a blowhole.   Activities / excursion choices on my last cruise that ported at Amber Cove DR had little of interest to me & seemed far less hospitable to walking around unless I stayed right in the cruise area off the ship.  Nassau even worse imho.

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Catalina and Ensenada are fine, it is Carnival I'd have an issue with. I took a Carnival cruise last year because it was convenient to board and the timing was right. It was, to say the least, a learning experience. The food was subpar, in my estimation, so was the entertainment and because of the price point, attracted a crowd very different from the usual cruising set (read much younger and given to much exuberance). It felt like a floating frat party.

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I think the shorter & less expensive the cruise, the more the atmosphere can suffer.  My 3 or 4 day Nassau cruise on the Imagination was so bad, had it been my first on Carnival likely it would have been my last.

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We did the 4-day Long Beach/Catalina, Ensenada, at sea cruise in October while I was recovering from neck surgery. Having done Windstar 13 times, this was our first experience Carnival.... we got what we paid for. Booze Cruise. It's kinda like spending 4 days in Laughlin Nevada, it ain't Vegas- same crowd and vibe. 

 

We had been to Catalina a bunch of times, so we didn't get off the ship, in Ensenada we did the wine tour, that was okay- you can get some cheap wine ($6 a bottle) that is still drinkable.

 

Lots of kids and families. We bought the booze package (which was more than the cost of the cruise) but it was worth it.

 

Tim

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5 hours ago, Cometman said:

It's kinda like spending 4 days in Laughlin Nevada, it ain't Vegas- same crowd and vibe.

 

Perfect analogy, wish I'd thought of it.

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