So…. I’ve been on vacation this past week. I was hanging out on this beast:
That would be a cruise ship (the Carnival Imagination, to be specific.) We boarded on Sunday, June 8 and got back into port on Thursday, June 12.) We had stops at Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. We went with my mom, her husband, my brother and his family (3 kids and a wife) and my step-sister and her husband. Big crew, 12 of us in total.
I was worried about the trip for a multitude of reasons:
- I’ve gotten seasick on about every boat on the ocean I’ve ever been on. (I was on my uncle’s sailboat where it was so calm the sails were worthless… I still wretched over the side.)
- My husband gets motion sick very easily.
- I was taking my 21-month-old daughter, I had no idea how she would react on a boat.
- I worry about too much stuff all the time.
Well… I DID NOT get seasick. And Alex seemed fine on the boat too. My husband, on the other hand, well…. he didn’t handle the boat so well. He was not feeling very tip-top.
Alex’s normal bed time is 8pm. So she ended up going to bed a little late, and we went to bed super early each night. The stateroom on the boat was tiny. When you fill it with a king-size bed and a crib, we didn’t have much room to move around and if we didn’t settle in, Alex had a hard time laying down to sleep. So that was one huge perk of this trip, I got a lot of sleep each night.
We floated through the night and arrived in Catalina on Monday morning. Catalina is quaint… it’s a cute little town where the majority of people drive golf carts around. And the tourists drive rented golf carts around. Which makes it a scary little town too!
We did not rent a golf cart, we just pushed Alex around in her stroller. Which was great to get her to take a nap that day. But she got a lot of sun and ended up with a burn, and now she’s rockin’ a sweet farmer tan. (I say that tongue-in-cheek… I know the tan is skin damage and I feel like a crappy mom for damaging my sweet baby’s skin!)
To get to Catalina Island we had to take a little boat from the cruise ship. The boat anchored a ways off shore.
The little boats carried about 30 passengers, so we had a nice long line to wait in to get off and on the ship, but they moved pretty quickly. I would happily return to Catalina to run the Catalina Eco Marathon (or half… or 10k) someday!
Then we floated through the night to Ensenada, Mexico. I don’t know what to say about Ensenada… I can’t really figure out why it is a tourist destination or why they would take a cruise ship full of people there. To me, it was a kind of dirty city and I feel a little bit wrong that so much of their economy is based on people screaming at the tourists on the streets trying to get everyone to buy cheesy trinkets. And exploiting small children to sell tourists gum or just flat out sitting on the street with their kids along with a can for money. We got off the bus and paid $3 a person to take a rinky dink little shuttle bus into the shopping district, where the tour guide warned us we were not allowed to drink alcohol on the streets and that we shouldn’t buy silver from the people on the streets because it would not be real pure silver. Alex hated the bus, she clung to us for dear life. Due to that, there was absolutely no way I was going to pay for an excursion to some blow hole on the island where she would have to sit on a bus for even longer. A 3+ hour roundtrip on a bus and to a crowded area (with more shopping available) is too much for her. And after a little bit of walking along the shopping district, I decided I couldn’t take any more people screaming at me to get my hair braided and we went back to the boat.
Wednesday was “Fun Day at Sea” which I could describe as, “Crummy Day at Sea” or “Meh Day at Sea” or “Ok Day at Sea” depending on what elements I focus on. My husband really felt bad this day and spent the whole day in bed. That annoyed me at first, both that he felt sick and that he wasn’t hanging with us. But the boat rocking was rather disconcerting. And once I accepted that I was spending the day with Alex on my own for the most part, I was a little happier. I used this day to go try the track on the boat. 11 laps on the track equaled one mile. And it was rather nauseating to run around it with that rocking motion to me. But I can now say that I ran several laps on a track at sea. We also played two rounds of mini golf on the boat (yep, she had a tiny putter and a golf ball and tried to play golf!) We watched a goofy puppet show. We watched the chicken olympics. (Where they basically asked a group of passengers to do stupid tasks that involved rubber chickens, usually walking in some way with the chickens tucked between their legs.) We pointed at birdies. We watched people come down the water slides.
There were lots of activities going on all day long on the boat, so whether you get off in port or just stay on there are things to do. But most are not really toddler-friendly. They have Camp Carnival on the boat, which is basically a childcare program. But kids under 2 are not automatically accepted, you have to pay extra for them. The crew is super nice to little kids though, constantly saying hi and waving at her. Kids who are not potty-trained are not allowed in the pools. Overall I don’t think I would recommend a cruise for people with very little kids.
And having a couple of days without internet drove me crazy. You can buy internet on the boat, but the fees are outrageous. .75 a minute? Or you can buy a 60-minute or 120-minute package to bring your per minute rate down to as little as .44 a minute, which is still stupid-expensive.
I was super burnt-out by the food on the boat by the end of the trip. I was tired of the buffet, I was tired of the dining room. I just wanted to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, which could have been possible if they had a non-dairy milk available. So I basically had eggs and grapefruit every morning, which got old by the end. The best food I ate on board: an arugula-pepper panini and a “melting chocolate cake.” The rest was just kind of so-so. (I’m not a big fan of buffets, so there is that disclaimer.)
Right now I don’t really feel like I’m eager to do another cruise. Maybe if I went with the right friend(s) because the thought of going on one with my husband being all grumpy/sick doesn’t sound thrilling either. And the crazy vertigo I’m experiencing right now is not something I want to repeat.
The highlights came from experiences with my kid. She learned so many new things on this trip and it’s really funny having your kid wake you up in the morning asking to see the ocean by saying, “Water? Water? Oh-Shit? Oh-Shit?” (She wasn’t cussing, the way she said “ocean” sounded just like “oh shit.”) Watching her excitement at interacting with cousins was fun too. My 6-year-old niece was telling us a story about how her teacher adds “-poo” to the end of kids’ names to play with them, like Brookie-poo. Alex was listening to this story and she jumped right in with “Mommy-poo” and “Daddy-poo” and adding “-poo” to the end of every name she could think of. It was awesome.
After we got off the boat we went to Santa Monica. I took the baby to the pier, she rode her first carousel (she would not sit on a horse), I took her to the beach for the first time (she would not walk on the sand) and she spent about 30-40 minutes going down a slide repeatedly at a park near the beach.
If I think about the trip as a whole, I feel my blood pressure rising. (Not literally… but it does make me feel stress and anxiety.) But there were a few really good moments, and if I choose to just focus on those individual elements I can smile. But I may still need a vacation to recover from my vacation.