We recently took a cruise on Carnival with our 2 kids. My wife and I have been on a couple of cruises before and decided we wanted to take our kids on one to see if they like it. We chose the 3 day cruise that leaves from Long Beach and goes to Ensenada and back. It’s the cheapest cruise any of the major cruise lines offer. Depending on when you book it, the prices can be as cheap as $15o a person. Most are going to be in the $250-350. We booked ours only a few weeks before. Our price was $320 a person. By the time you add in taxes, fees, tips for the employees, it came out to just under $500 a person. We chose to drive to Long Beach. Gas cost us around $140 vs air fare for 4 people, plus a taxi or shuttle.
The cruise leaves Long Beach around 6 pm on a Friday and returns around 8 am on a Monday morning.
On Saturday morning the boat docks in Ensenada Mexico by 8 am. There you can get off the boat if you choose and explore Ensenada. There are a variety of activities there that you can do including horse back riding, going to the beach, going to the see La Buffadora (The Blow Hole) and the flea market there. The blow hole is one of only 3 in the world. The other two being in Hawaii and Australia. It’s nothing more than a rock formation near the ocean and when the tide comes in, water spouts up from crevices in the rocks much like a geyser. It’s a 45 minute bus ride to see it. The cost is around $15, depending on where you catch the bus. Booking tours on the ship is always more expensive than booking it after you get off the boat. During your trip to the blow hole you can also experience the flea market there. They sell lots of goods there. There are some restaurants and taco places. We stopped and had tacos at a place called Lidia’s Tacos. They were excellent.
The cruise leaves Mexico by 6 pm and slowly heads back to Long Beach. It takes 13 hours to get from Long Beach to Ensenada the first night and then 36 hours to get back to Long Beach. The boat stops at various times during the return trip. Sunday is a day to spend on the boat. They have a lot of activities during the day to keep everyone occupied. They also have a pool, couple of spas and a waterslide area.
The great thing about a cruise is all your food is included and there is always food available to eat. They have buffet style eating for all 3 meals or you can order off the menu. They have pizza open 24 hours a day. Alcohol and sodas are not included in the price, Carnival offers various programs where you pay a flat fee and it includes your drinks.
For dinner you have the option of eating in the dining rooms and order off the menu or the buffet. We ate all 3 nights in the main dining room, The food was excellent. Every day it was a little different. Choices usually included fish, chicken, meat and pasta. There were plenty of appetizers as well. Dinner was served in 2 shifts. One at 6 pm and the other at 8:15 pm. You choose which time you want when you book your cruise. We chose the earlier time.
There is a lot of entertainment on the cruise. There is music every night. They have comedians on board that do two shows each. The first show for each one is for all ages and there is no cursing. The later shows are typical shows and kids are not allowed. We were lucky on our cruise to see two really good comedians. One was excellent. His G rated show was very funny and the R rated one was even better.
The ship also offers a running track on the top deck with a 9 hole mini golf course in the middle. The track is about 140 meters, so 3 laps is roughly 1/4 mile. There is also a large gym with weights, treadmills, elliptical, and bikes. There is also a sauna, locker room and spa services as well.
The service on the cruise is excellent. They come in and clean your room, turn down your bed in the evening. The ship is kept very clean. There are over 900 members of the crew on board.
If you’ve never taken a cruise and want to try it or want to take your kids on a cruise and not break the bank, then this is the one for you. The Carnival 3 Day Ensenada Cruise is a good value for the price. If you want something a little bit longer, Carnival offers a 4 days cruise that stops in Catalina Island before heading to Ensenada. That cruise leaves on a Monday afternoon and returns Friday morning.