May 2015 - Carnival Imagination to Mexico
I was pretty excited about this cruise because it would be our first one. We booked the 4 night cruise (Catalina and Ensenada) as opposed to the 3 day cruise (just Ensenada) because we felt like it was a better deal and we would get two ports instead of just one. WRONG. We received an e-mail at 11:30pm the night before we were due to embark telling us that the swells were too high to dock in Long Beach and we would be docking out of San Diego and getting shuttled from Long Beach. It also said that due to the large swells, we would not be able to dock in Catalina and would have an extra day at sea because of it. This wasn't what we signed up for. Our original check-in time was between 2:00pm and 3:00pm. The e-mail stated that the new check in time frame was between 9:30am and 1:30pm. Well, I didn't get the e-mail until noon the next day as I checked it before we left to make our original check in time. For something like this, wouldn't it be wiser to call everyone (at least with an automated message) instead of e-mailing to insure the message was received? Not everyone checks their e-mail 24/7, especially right before embarking on vacation. When I called Carnival, the guy I spoke with had no idea of this change and put me on hold for 45 minutes before getting back to me. By then, we were almost to Long Beach where we discovered that the new check in time frame was not strict and we would not miss one of the numerous coach buses shuttling people down to San Diego.
Once on board, we were directed to our room immediately and received out luggage a few hours later. We were not greeted by one of the infamous towel animals and did not receive one until the 2nd to last day of our cruise, which was rather disappointing. The ship didn't leave San Diego until about 9:30pm and the mandatory safety meeting was at 9:45pm, which didn't seem very organized. They didn't even check everyone in so if you were to "accidentally" miss the meeting, no one would have known. The food was decent. We only went to the sit down restaurant twice (once for breakfast and once for the formal night). We got a full day in Ensenada, which was nice and got back to the ship around 9pm. We didn't do any of the Carnival sponsored shore excursions because they were overpriced. We opted for the ziplining in Ensenada and thought it was a pretty good deal $52 got you transportation to the zipling place (there were 5 ziplines and 5 hanging bridges, which were not my favorite) as well as transportation to La Bufadora. The marketplace area was cool but you couldn't walk 5 feet without being handed another sample of Pina Colada or churros. They also wanted $40 for a straw sombrero. No thanks. The best fish taco place was right by the buses (I forget the name). $1.50 fish tacos and $2.00 carne asada tacos. There were also some places closer to La Bufadora that had these amazing grilled clams with tomatoes and cheese on top.
Back to the ship, there were lots of activities on board. We did the comedy club, night club, champagne art auction (pretty much everyone was there for the free champagne), game show, mini golf, shuffleboard, corn hole tournament, Mongolian BBQ, and water slide. The water was cold in the pool and the jacuzzis were barely hot. They also had something on the schedule called a "Hairy chest contest". Not sure what that was about but we never made it out to see that. We pretty much did all the activities on-board that we wanted on our first day at sea so by the time our second day at sea came around, we were over it. The tv schedule lied and said that we'd have a 2nd day in Ensenada to make up for no Catalina but we left Ensenada the next morning at 8:00am so that was not true. Overall, we had a fun time but felt like we were given the short end of the stick by getting 2 days at sea and 1 day in port when we paid for the other way around (2 days in port, 1 day at sea). Would I take another cruise with Carnival? Maybe. I might not go on Imagination since the ship is pretty outdated but next time we'll book the shorter cruise so we won't get ripped off again.
What is this towel animal supposed to be?