Decided to do something different this year for my birthday. Thought I would try to take a cruise for the first time. We decided on the Carnival Cruises. Had a few others friend recommend this cruise for starters. It's a 4 night cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mexico with a stop at Catalina Island.
So away we go!
Treat yourself? Don't mind if I do.
Thanks for the free drinks SWA.
First drink to start the vacation.
We flew into LAX. Carnival's website recommend that we fly into LAX or Long Beach airport. From LAX to Long Beach was about a 30 minute ride without traffic.
We grabbed an UberSUV and headed to Long Beach.
Carnival said their boarding times were from 12 noon to 4:30 pm. We were quite early so we stopped off at a restaurant nearby for lunch before we boarded.
We went to The Attic
Ordered a few drinks while we waiting for our table.
I think this is the Southern Lemonade.
Everyone was talking about the Mac & Cheese with Hot Cheetos. So we had to try it out.... and it was as good as everyone said it was.
Diane amateur photographer....
Fried pickles were also very good.
I believe this was a scarmble of some sorts.
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Fried Steak Benedict.
Machaca Breakfast Burrito
After lunch it was time to board the ship.
There is staff standing everywhere telling everyone where they should go, based on your stateroom number. There's a Captain's Lounge where premium stateroom guest are to check in. Which was where John & Robyn were suppose to check in, but the staff sent them to the wrong line and they had to wait for the long process of checking in, only to find out that they could have cut down their check in wait time by going to the Captain's Lounge. Well it's too late now, so that's one minus on the score sheet for Carnival.
John and Robyn was sent to the line inside the building to check in.
We were sent to a line outside to check in. There weren't that many people in line, but it took forever to check in.
The reason it took so long is because they had nobody working the station. Look at all those unmanned terminals. It took us about 30-40 minutes to finally get helped. This was a sold out cruise and I can't believe that they were understaffed. Ashlie went on the same cruise 3 nights, that was over the weekend in May and she said that check in was way faster. Another negative mark for Carnival.
When we finally got to the terminal they just snapped a pic and handed us our sign and sail card.
After checking in, you go through a metal detector and luggage x-ray.
The whole check in ordeal took way longer than expected, but we're finally on board. We were on board around 4 pm.
The room was larger than I imagined. We each had our own bed
John and Robyn got me a bottle of Champagne for my birthday, but there was no card to inform me who it was from so I was quite confused. I had to call the reception desk to ask about the champagne and flutes. When I spoke to Robyn later she asked about the decorations..... What decorations?... another mistake on Carnival's part. So far Carnival is not doing so well in my book.
You are allowed to bring a 750 ml bottle of Champagne or Wine. Nothing says happy birthday like a bottle of Ace of Spades Champagne.
We tried to hit the bar to get a few drinks in before the safety orientation started. So we headed to the pool/Lido deck.
All the bars were closing down due to the mandatory safety orientation that was about to start. So we headed back to our room to grab the bottle of champagne.
Our small bathroom. I do recommend you bring some type of air freshener. The restroom just had a weird odor. I highly recommend for any traveler that shares a room with other to purchase the One-Drop Powerful Bathroom Deodorizer. You put 1-2 drops in the toilet before you do your business and it neutralizes the odor. Trust me you won't regret buying these. You can usually find it at your local Japanese Supermarket also.
We ended up visiting John and Robyn's room. Compared to ours it was a mansion.
Popped the champagne just for starters, but when we finished it was time to head to our designated areas for our safety orientation.
After about 30 mins our so. It was finally time to party. Our first stop was to the closest bar we can find and get on the Cheers Beverage Program.
The Cheers program is about $50 + gratuity. Supposedly everyone in the room over 21 is required to purchase the program, and you have to purchase the program for the entire trip.
The program inculdes: up to 15 drinks every 24 hour, from 6am-6am, but you're not allowed to have anymore than 15 drinks. You can't even buy it at full price. Someone else would have to buy drinks for you. You get unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, minus the novelty/speciality cup drinks. You're allowed all alcoholic drinks under $10. Belvedere or Grey Goose is about $7.50 and Hennessy VSOP Privilege is $9.25.
John and Robyn didn't get the cheers program and was buying drinks individually. Hennessy XO was going for $12.25 a shot. That is amazingly cheap.
Our goal was to max out our Cheers Program every day!. Round 1
After a few cocktails we wanted to purchase the Zip Line shore excursion at Catalina Island.
On a side note. If you purchase drinks while docked on land, you required to pay taxes, but once you're out at sea you don't have to. So if you want, you can wait to depart before getting drinks.
I did a bit of research and Carnival Cruises had the cheapest price. Cheaper than the Zip Line website. It was $112 on Carnival and the website wanted $125.
The boat can be quite confusing at first, if you have never been but it took me about a day to figure everything out.
After purchasing our shore excursion, we were hungry and headed to the buffet to grab some food.
Since we were still docked the casino wasn't opened yet. They said that, they have to be out 12 miles before the casino can open.
This is the night club.
Pizza Pirate.. 24 hrs Pizza, but I heard they close from 4a-6a for cleaning.
Since John and I booked separate rooms, we had different dining accommodations. So we went to the Matradee to have our dining accommodations adjusted.
If you chose a specific time to dine, you're assigned a specific table for the entire trip. You meet at the same table at the same time every day for dinner, but the menu changes every night.
I saw a seagull at the outside dining balcony and wanted to see how close I can get. Took this pic w/o zoom.
The pizza wasn't bad at all. Not the best, but not the worst.
I went to the bar to grab another drink.
If you're on the cheers program you can have unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. So I would get sodas for John and Robyn since it was included for me. You're allowed to make one drink order every 5 minutes. So you can't get doubles or multiples drinks at once. You have to space them out 5 mins at a time. You can also find tap water and tea/juices (no sodas) at the buffet stations. I'm unsure if they are running all day though.
John's sister Diane joined us on the trip also, but had a horrible drinking experience a few days prior and vowed not to drink on this trip. Party pooper.
I had a bad seasick experience when I was younger on a small boat. So I was a bit concerned about the cruise. I got prescription seasick patches from my doctor. It's a small sticker you wear behind your ear and they last 3 days each.
While we were drinking, we didn't even notice that the boat had departed already. It was smooth sailing.
After a few more drinks we decided to explore the ship a bit.
At the back end of the boat there is a water slide. Not the best water slide and it's pretty slow.
There's also a lower deck at the back of the boat with two hot tubs and the area is for adults only.
John and Robyn's first cruise.
While we were walking around we just happened see a shuffle board set. I have always seen it on TV but never in person.
We had to play. Didn't know what the hell we were doing though.
They also had corn hole on the ship.
Eventually it was almost time for dinner so we went back to the room to freshen up.
I think this is bird or.... a pterodactyl.
So our dinner was at 8:15 and there were a lot of people waiting. From what I have learned, you don't have to get there that early. Waiting in this crowd is a waste of time, because everyone is assigned a table. Showing up 10 mins later would have avoided this situation, but I didn't know.
We had table 327 for the entire cruise. It was perfect. A small table that fit all 6 of us. If you're with a small group you get sat with other people for the entire trip.
If you really want lobster just hold off until tomorrow to save you on the $20 up charge. You can have all the lobster you want at the formal dinner. On the cruise they have one night for formal dining where everyone dresses up for dinner.
The menu for the first night.
Celebrating our first cruise & my birthday, minus Ashlie, this was her second cruise.
You can order as much as you want off the dinner menu. If you want all the appetizers, go for it. Won't cost you a thing.
I couldn't decide on the calamari or the duck pot stickers. So I got both.
Spicy alligator fritters.
Duck Pot Stickers.
Sweet and sour shrimp w/ fried rice. Jimmy swears that he saw the shrimp and fried rice available at the buffet. It was still good though.
John upgraded to the Filet Mignon. $20
I think this is the chicken.
The chocolate molten cake is amazing.
Strawberry parfait. This was not that great.
After dinner we decided to try our luck at the Monte Carlo Casino, but before that lets watch Jimmy do a hand stand push up.
Carnival had an awesome cover playing a great selection of songs.
but before that, lets get some drinks.
I loved this game as a kid. Kept me entertained for a bit, but still took money.
They have very low minimums. Craps was a $5 minimum.
We went back to Lido deck to play some more corn hole and to drink our night away.
They also sell Cigars at the bar too.
Then we hit the night club. Wasn't too busy the first night.
Jimmy cranking it out.
Jimmy got pretty drunk. Jimmy maxed out his Cheers program pretty quickly. After that he was dipping into Ashlie's driink stash.
We eventually closed out the place. Everyone was probably sleeping early so that they can get an early start on Catalina Island tomorrow. Not us.
Jimmy getting schwifty.
What are these medals for? I have no idea.
Guess who's drunk.
Jimmy and I decided to play a bit of craps.
Then we made our way for Pizza Pirate.
Soft Serve ice cream all day!
I don't remember what happened here, but it's hilarious.
That's it for day 1. Food was good, nothing fantastic, but the drink program is totally worth it, if you're a heavy drinker.. or a guy named Jimmy. So far we haven't done much, other than eat, drink and play games.
Day 1 and we all maxed out our Cheers program. So far so good. Tomorrow it's Catalina Island and Zip Line!