We live in Southern CA and have been to Catalina many times--its basically a walking island. The shops and restaurants are a few steps from the pier. There are also golf carts that you can rent to explore farther inland. We took one tour (all tours are available right on the pier also) that took us all around the island, even the half that is basically untouched except for a buffalo and wild boars.
The bus tour was very nice because it brought us high up the coastal mountains and had spectacular views. We also just got back from the Monarch Ensenada crusie and took a wine tour there which was just so-so--sure not Napa Valley let me tell you! The main hub of Ensenada is only about 5 minutes from the ship or a 2 dollar cab ride. Don't bother with the blow hole tour--we saw that a few years ago-
a real waste of money! Have a great time though!
The weather was really nice too!
Thanks for the info ParrotTops! I'm sure we'll have the best time possible, We just can't wait!
Catalina will be our excursion Port, Ensenada will just be a quick look at the culture, and mabye a Cerveza or two!
When you are on the Monarch do not miss the dueling pianos as the guys really put on a fun show. Use the Jade Room when you have lunch in the Windjammer Cafe because few people use the Jade Room (the Jade Room is part of the Windjammer but it is far less crowded.)
Deck 7 is the boat deck and it is very pleasant to get a deck chair on this deck, or to take a long walk.
Take your time getting off the ship in Catalina and Esenada and this means that you do not get nervous if you do not get off the ship right away. You will have plenty of time to see both places if you are not in the first wave off the ship.
Plan to walk off your luggage because you will get off the ship much faster. However, if you are in no hurry, then have breakfast in the dining room and then leave the ship.
Boleros and the Schooner Bar are very nice places to have a drink and listen to music.
You will have a great time but do not expect a first class cruise in terms of food and service.
Thanks fruby for the tips. Thru this chat room I think I am well prepared to have a Great Time. Thanks to all those Fine Cruisers who have assisted me in the past few months, you're a great group! I'm glad to be among such wonderful people. 48 hours and counting!
Well everyone, It was a WONDERFULL Cruise!
The Weather was fantastic (72F) in San Diego, calm seas from LA. Getting onboard went smoothly. Our stateroom 6028 was just right for the 3 of us. My 11 y/o loved the extra top bunk.
The counter was a bit small, but the drawers were adequate for our stuff. The closet was much bigger than I had imagined, it held my Tux, a couple of heavy coats (we are from Denver)that stayed in the whole cruise, a few dresses, and slacks and dress coats. There was also shelf space to store the Lifejackets. The bathroom was cozy, the Shower made up for it, Great water pressure. We chose to eat in the Windjammer, food was mostly OK, and the Formal Night, we had second seating @ 8PM. The waiters seemed to rush us thru our dinner, the portions were small, and the exact same items were served in the Jade area that evening. Formal night was a disappointment. The 11th deck was our favorite, the pool area, hot tubs, Band and entertainment were all delightful. I lost the "***y legs" competition, but I won a game of Bingo on the last night in the Sound of Music area that more than made up for it! The ship was very clean, the staff was excellent (especially our stateroom attendant!!!) He was SO courteous and attentive, our room was pristine each evening we returned. Gotta love those towel animals! Viking Crown Lounge was a great place to relax. The staff here were very friendly and attentive. This area had fresh flowers and was quite clean. Catalina was perfect, (68F) Calm waters and easy to access. The Monarch was an Awesome sight from the shoreline, sitting in Avalon bay.
Ensenada was, well, as we pulled into the port, the smell was, mmm terrible. There was a shipwreck that housed several Sealions and the smell seemed to eminate from that area South of the port. The wind shifted, as we approached the Pier and a Northerly wind carried the smell away. We only visited the "New" shopping area on the the Pier, it was quaint, and that was all we wanted in this port. The last evening at Sea was a little rough, made for for some fun walking down the passageways, but easily tolerated by all. The drink prices were high, I expected this, but OVERALL, I would say we had an enjoyable experience. Some passengers onboard the last day were a bit rude, but most of them were quite pleasant. We are hooked now. I'm planning our next Cruise to Alaska. Any suggestions?
Glad to hear that you had a nice time on the Monarch. As for Alaska you have many choices of ships, itineraries, and so on.
Just for discussion purposes here are some ideas...
Consider cruises that round trip to Alaska from Seattle and San Francisco. I recommend this because of the costs associated with air travel. Vancouver is a wonderful port city but the cost of air travel might be more expensive than flights from american cities. Also consider driving to these cities (and Vancouver) from Denver.
I have been to Alaska twice and the second time we went with our children ages 16 and 21. We rented a car in Juneau and Skagway and this allowed us to save money and see much more. My son and I hiked the East Loop Trail which allows you to see the Mendenhall Glacier from above the Glacier. Try and find a cruise that gives you as many hours as possible in Juneau and Skagway because there is a lot to see in these ports. The other ports such as Ketchikan and Sitka can be seen on foot.
Although there may be deals on early and late season cruises (May and September) Alaska is generally expensive in terms of the price of cruises. This is because the demand is so high. So do not be dissuaded by the cost because each of the cruise lines will have some sort of reasonable price sooner or later.
Check Vacations to Go, Cruisecritic, Expedia, and each of the cruise lines for prices, dates, ports, and then contact your travel agent. Tom Ogg and Nancy Norris are outstanding.