Advice on taking a cruise from Southern California
June 23, 2009 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Got any advice on taking a short cruise leaving from Long Beach, California (or thereabouts)?

I've never been on a cruise in my life. I was thinking of booking one for our 5 year anniversary. We live in Los Angeles, so if we left from Long Beach we wouldn't have to pay for a flight anywhere. Actually, leaving anywhere from the LA area would work, I just happen to know that some of the ships leave from Long Beach because I saw the staging area whilst visiting the Queen Mary a couple years ago.

So, if you have done this: Did you enjoy it? Where did you go? What cruise line did you take? What was the food like? What was the noise level like? Did you get motion sickness? Was there a good enough fun-to-relaxation ratio? Is it worth it to pay more for a room on the outside/with a balcony/with more space/with golden toilets/etc?

Any other specific tips or recommendations for a total noob?
posted by TheClonusHorror to Travel & Transportation around Long Beach, CA (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I took a Royal Carribean 7 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera from Longbeach--nice cruise, food, etc--balcony a plus--recommended!
posted by chaoscutie at 3:28 PM on June 23, 2009

Several years ago I went on a cruise leaving from San Pedro that had stops at Catalina Island and Ensaneda, Mexico. We left on a Monday and got back on Friday morning (one day had no stops).

The food was very good and there was a lot of it. There were a number of activities you could choose to participate in (both on ship and when docked) or just relax. I only got motion sickness once and that probably had more to do with drinking too much than being at sea. Definitely worth it to pay for an outside room with a view of the ocean.

My understanding is that there are incredible deals to be had on cruises at the moment, so you've picked a great time for this.!
posted by The Gooch at 4:06 PM on June 23, 2009

Went on a Carnival cruise out of San Diego to Cabo (a "weekend" one for 4 days, since then it has been discontinued, I believe) in December.

Food: I'd say fair to middling. The daytime food was okay, edible. Most of the desserts were fairly flavorless, but they had very tasty ice cream. Nighttime food in the dining room was pretty good, I think the only thing I actively didn't like was the lobster tail (bland), and I liked the desserts. The molten chocolate cake was the best I've ever had. I tried a little bit of most things, but didn't eat myself sick or anything.

Noise level: didn't really notice it as an issue. If you're talking about sleeping, well, I brought earplugs so who knows.

Motion sickness: not in the slightest, but I'm not prone to it. My mother is prone to it and kept herself Sea Banded and drugged up for 4 days and was fine. The waters weren't rough though, which may be a factor. I hear going to Alaska is a real vomit comet due to the waters.

Fun-to-relaxation: depends on how you handle it. They had plenty of events you could go to if you wanted to (dance lessons, sculpture demonstration, backstage tours, letting the cruise director do a Q&A (I'd highly recommend going to that), various times yelling drunk things out in the bar, folding towels into animals), or you could just skip them and lounge around if you so desired. I was actually pretty entertained when I did go to events.

Worth it to pay more: we had a window spot. I enjoyed it at the time, but I don't know how "bad" it would be to have one without. I did enjoy spotting other ships and the rocks of Cabo from the window.

I had a pretty good time. I will say that December, even down south, it was a bit too cold to go swimming on the boat. I'd probably pack less swimsuits if/when I go in December again. Cabo weather was nice, but to be honest it was the least fun time for me because I spent the day following around other people in my group as they bought tons of expensive jewelry. They recommend that you book an excursion rather than wander about, I wish I'd been able to talk my party into it. I suspect I'm just not a big fan of Mexico though-- I pretty much wanted to go on a cruise at all and everyone else wanted to go there, so fine.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:18 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are Carnival cruises that go from Long Beach to Ensenada. It's a weekend trip. If you enjoy cruises, and Mexico, then this should work.
posted by anniek at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2009

San Diego has some nice options also. A bit of a drive, but easily doable.

The last cruise I took was with Celebrity - good food, nice ship and rather quiet. I'd travel with them again.
posted by 26.2 at 8:08 PM on June 23, 2009

We did a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise in April with Princess. The ship left out of Los Angeles (San Pedro) which is right next to Long Beach. We really enjoyed the cruise itself, but Mexico was sort of meh. We splurged a bit and got a balcony stateroom which was totally worth it. It was on the port side, so we had great views heading south, and wonderful sunsets coming back. It was also a nice place to have room service breakfast. Our stateroom was very quite, just a couple of times we heard people out in the hallway. We only participated in a few activities, but there was no shortage of things to do on board - crafts, lectures, computer classes, a spa and gym, a library to check out board games and books, a movie was shown everyday in the theater, art auctions almost daily, and of course the ubiquitous bar/pool games, and a big production show every evening.

We did "anytime" dining which means we could have dinner whenever we wanted in any of the three anytime dining rooms, or at the buffet. Overall we enjoyed the food, but thought the quality on the buffet wasn't quite as good as the dining rooms. We skipped formal nights (formal wear required in the dining rooms, but not the buffet), but enjoyed the people watching. The pool area was always crowded during the day so we avoided that, but did spend time up there in the evenings to watch the sunset and play shuffle board.

Ports were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. PV was our favorite; we did a shore excursion to an old Mexican mining village in the Sierra Madre mountains. Tour guide was fabulous, and had a wonderful lunch at a family run restaurant up in the mountains away from the crazy throngs of tourists. We were not impressed with Mazatlan; the shore excursion there was really a big plug for shopping at "guaranteed" stores. Cabo seemed almost like San Diego to us....chain restaurants galore.

What we liked best was just relaxing on deck or our balcony with a book, watching the sea, napping and having leisurely meals. A cruise is a nice way to see several different places during one trip without having to drag your luggage around. And cruises are fairly inexpensive right now. Do be aware that cruises are not entirely all-inclusive, you pay for all alcohol, and they are always trying to get you buy photos taken on board. We don't drink and didn't buy photos but still ended up with a $900 tab at the end of the cruise due to 2 massages, a private golf lesson, one latte, and 2 shore excursions.

All in all, though, it's highly recommended. We are doing an Alaska Inside Passage cruise in August with Princess. Check out Cruise Critic for reviews about different lines, ships, itineraries, etc.
posted by socrateaser at 8:09 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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