As we begin to get older, we often realize that we may not have done some of the things we have always wanted to do in life. Such as, traveling. I have found myself in that same dilemma. On top of the fact that my kids often complained that they had never really been anyway exact to California to visit family and the occasional trip to Las Vegas. So as a result, I have a huge bucket list. Well, this past June, I was finally able to scratch one thing off my list, a cruise.
I was finally able to take my kids on a cruise. We sailed on the Carnival Imagination to Ensenada, Mexico. It was a 3 day trip and just right for us newbies. Not only was this our first real family vacation, but it was also our first cruise. So I will give you some do’s and don’t for all of you planning your first cruise.
I loved the booking process with Carnival. It was super easy. I booked directly on their site; no travel agent required. Since I had never been on a cruise before, I was really worried about motion sickness. I get sick on airplanes if I look out the window so I was certain this was not going to go well for me. So I wanted to do a short trip. A 3 day trip was just the right idea. Their site will allow you filter on Duration, as well as things like Sail To, Sail From and Dates. Since we live in the South West, I wanted to also find the closest port which was Long Beach, Ca. So that also helped me to narrow down our choices. They also have ports in the Gulf and East coast for you to choose from.
They will allow you to make a deposit on the trip and then make later payments as long as the trip is paid in full 2 months before you embark. I booked my trip in February so I had to have it paid in full in April since we were sailing in June. Just something to keep in mind in your planning process. The trip itself was relative inexpensive and we paid an average of $334 per person. So it was definitely doable in the 2 months I had to pay for the trip, but would have definitely helped to book a bit earlier.
Ok, packing for the trip… definitely use a standard carry on suitcase or duffel bag. I’m sure most people already have these. For a short trip, keep it simple because the rooms are not that big. Cozy, but not big in terms of square footage (I didn’t get very many pictures of the room). Well, actually, we had an interior stateroom, so that probably would account for the size of the room. There is, however, plenty of storage to put the suitcases and bags in.
By the way, I did buy Dramamine, but I didn’t actually need it. But, I definitely could tell when the ship was moving. It does have a very gentle rocking motion and when you are looking out off the boat is when I felt it most. There were a couple of times where I felt like I had a little too much to drink and was drunk because it does cause you to stagger a little when you walk. Really quite and interesting experience.
Now, as for the overall cruise experience itself, it was amazing. I am totally hooked and can’t wait to go again. But, can I just say, I don’t plan to go with my kids anymore. My 26-year-old daughter thought it was a good idea to go to bed early at night and take naps during the day. Who does that when you are on vacation??? 🙂 My 16-year-old son found the teen lounge (Club O2) and I literally barely saw him the entire time. One night, he came in to the room at 3am. Needless to say, he had a great time. They have lots to do on all of their ships for all the kids and teens. I spent a bit of time wandering around the ship by myself, which was cool. I played at the casino, did some NBA trivia, ate, etc. The ship has plenty of things to do and I love that each day room steward will leave you a list of all the activities for the day.
Speaking of the food, there were endless amounts of food options. I tried to eat something different each time. We did the sit down restaurant dinner the first night and then plenty of the buffet style eateries, include Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina to name a few. I purchased the Bottomless Bubbles drink package (soda and water), but they do have some juice options that are available at no additional cost. I didn’t know in advance, but you can bring your own soda, but just be sure they are the right size cans. I bought a case of water, but they were the 16.9 oz. bottles so I was not able to bring them on the ship.
Ensenada was quite interesting. I didn’t plan to do any excursion because they were a little more expensive than I was able to do. If I had planned a little more in advance, I would highly suggest it. But, we took a bus to the main ‘downtown’ area and were accosted by people trying to sell you stuff. That was the theme of the day. The more we walked, the more people tried to get us to buy stuff. I just say, there were so many little stores selling so many varieties of tequila. They will even let you sample any one that you want. So after about 3 different stores and sampling about 3 different tequila’s in both, let’s just say I was feeling pretty nice. We made it to Papa’s and Beer which is a pretty popular place where we had a bit of food. We then paid some guy in a golf cart to take us to the nearby beach where we hung out for about an hour (it was pretty chilly there) and then made our way back to the ship. It was great to see a place that was so different from where we live.
Overall, it was a great trip and I would highly recommend it. I’m definitely going to check out other cruise lines as well, but Carnival is definitely a great option. I plan to do a lot more traveling now that I am living my fab life after 50 (just not always with my kids). 🙂