A Travellerspoint blog

Carnival Radiance - Catalina Island and Ensenada

sunny 26 °C

Embarked on Radiance, our first Carnival ship in over a decade. Same itinerary as the Royal cruise last week. The cruise port is next to the decommissioned - now restaurant - Queen Mary.


Carnival felt much cheaper than Royal. No tablecloths on the dinner table, fewer servers, no replacement of cutlery from the appy to the main course. Decorations on the ship were repetitive and every stateroom corridor was identical with the same repeated four beach pictures (unlike Royal, on which each deck had art that was unique and themed). The drinks were slightly less expensive than Royal $9 vs $11 for a beer. We were seated at a table for two, when we would have preferred a larger table and people to meet. As it turns out, we’d been on this ship as Victory before it was rechristened as Radiance. The public spaces seemed much different with a smaller theatre and everything seemed louder. Some of this complaint is likely due to me becoming older and more curmudgeony, but we remembered always being able to find a quiet place to relax and read, which wasn’t possible on this ship. After these two cruises, we are starting to question our desire to cruise.

On this stop at Catalina Island, Steve chose to stay on board while I spent the day hiking. Off early on the second tender, since we were all aboard at 3:45 and I wanted lots of hiking time. The trails were undulating, some very steep with slippery scree, but for the most part it was easy hiking on dirt roads and trails that covered the island outside of Avalon.

I stopped first at the Wrigley memorial. The island was once owned by William Wrigley jr, who also owned the Cubs. And the Cubs had spring training on the Island for many years. There’s also a botanical garden included for the $10, but not much to see in November. It’s possible to avoid the fee, but I wanted to see the memorial and start my hike nearby.


A few pics of Avalon, including the view from the bar at the end of the hike. The beer was cheaper and darker off the ship.

We decided to take a Carnival excursion in Ensenada - 10 best things in Ensenada, which was scheduled to include a tour of the former casino, la bufadora (natural cave/blow hole), a wine and olive oil tasting and (time permitting) a tequila tasting - the last of which didn’t fit in the time. Darn.
It was an enjoyable day, even without the tequila. And the excursion cost was lower than similar options on Royal.

The casino included murals of 6 of the 7 deadly sins, but it was hard to distinguish which was which.

On the way home, just waiting for our flight from YVR to leave. Looking forward to my own bed and pillow.

Until next trip…

Posted by Deb Godley 00:42 Archived in USA Comments (0)


28 °C

First time booking with VRBO. The condo was well appointed and exactly as advertised and pictured. We had a one-bedroom unit, clean, lots of kitchen appliances and utensils,etc. No problem cooking up a few meals in the unit. Had to kill a few bugs, but we were in the tropics, so I think to be expected.

View from our balcony

The weather was nearly perfect; only hit rain on the last day and it was warm; like walking through a fine mist. The condo had a nice balcony where I could sit in the shade and a rooftop pool, bbq and seating area, which we checked out but didn’t use. Lots of walking, including hikes up Diamond Head and to the Punchbowl cemetery. And lots of beach/boardwalk walks.

Loved the 5 days here.
Along the canal
As Amsterdam has for bikes, Honolulu has for surfboards; parking places everywhere

Magic Island, which is a lovely enclosed bay

Views around town

On the way to Diamond Head. I took the stairs!
And from the top

And walking up to Punchbowl, aka the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in the misty rain

Staying in Long Beach for couple of nights before embarking on the Carnival cruise tomorrow. The Best a western is comfortable with a good breakfast included, but there’s not a lot in the area. Walked to a couple of parks.
We tried to have dinner at Denny’s because it’s next door, but couldn’t get service after 20 minutes, so we walked down to Jack-in-the-Box for grilled chicken sandwiches and curly fries. First time at a Jack’s. Not bad.

Posted by Deb Godley 04:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Royal Caribbean Navigator round trip from Los Angeles

sunny 18 °C

We had credits to use by the end of 2022 from thwarted travel during the pandemic, so we used our Royal and Carnival cruise credits on 4-day cruises out of LA and a Hawaiian Airlines credit for a round trip to Honolulu from LA, so -
- flight to LA
- one night hotel in Long Beach (Royal Hotel)
- 4-night Royal cruise, stopping in Catalina and Ensenada
- flight to Honolulu & 5-night stay at a VRBO condo in Waikiki
- 2 nights in Long Beach (Best Western)
- 4-night Carnival Cruise (same itinerary as the Royal)

So starting with the Royal cruise...

After a night's stay at the Royal Hotel in Long Beach - very low budget :) and a hassle to get in (they closed) that involved almost going elsewhere, we set sail from the Long Beach cruise port on Navigator of the Seas with stops in Catalina Island (California) and Ensenada, Mexico. We hadn't been on a Royal ship for a number of years and were interested in any changes and the differences between the Royal line and Princess that we had taken to Greenland in August.

The comparison favoured Princess, especially in the area of service (see previous posts re the Medallion app for ordering drinks and such); food was similar, but seemed less varied. We've travelled on Royal several times and have "diamond" status, so we have access to a special lounge that's open from 5pm-8pm. On past cruises, we were allowed 3 drinks outside of the lounge and unlimited drinks within the lounge during that 5-8pm period. That has changed this year. Now we are allowed 4 drinks at any time and that includes any drinks we have in the lounge - so no unlimited drinking period. As a result, the lounge is MUCH less busy, but that also means we aren't meeting people the way we have in the past. The four-drink limit wasn't really an issue, but the change to the lounge was disappointing from the socializing aspect.

I would also say that Royal appears to be short-staffed (like many businesses around the world) and that has impacted the service.

In addition, we had saved a few bucks to allow Royal to pick our stateroom, and I would say Never Again. We were immediately above the Star Lounge, which featured loud pounding music in the evening and also some afternoons. The best night was when they did a "Hush" nightclub, which means everyone wears headphones and otherwise there is no music broadcast - that was fantastic. We had to time our getting to sleep when bands were between sets.

Another difference I noted between Royal and Princess was the push by Royal for feedback on their service. I would wager a guess that staff are paid or receive bonuses/promotions based on the feedback from guests. This results in the service staff pushing for positive feedback. It becomes annoying after a few days.

Having said all that, other than the lack of sleep, we did have a good time. We walked around the ports and I am looking forward to more of those ports - especially Catalina Island on the Carnival cruise next week.

Walking in Long Beach

Catalina Island, which was home to the Cubs spring training from 1921-1951

Ensenada - beautiful day. Spent some time at the old Hotel Riviera del Pacifico, which was very popular during US prohibition.

Steve and his friend in our stateroom :) and the sunset view from the flight as we left LA for Honolulu.

Posted by Deb Godley 04:12 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Caribbean Princess - Quebec City + 2 days at le Hotel Priori

sunny 22 °C
View Poland and Princess on Deb Godley's travel map.

The ship overnighted in Quebec City, plus we booked two nights hotel, so we had time to walk around and enjoy Vieux-Quebec, a city we hadn't visited since 1999. However, since it is 400+ years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, it hasn't changed :) and we still love it.

First day walk around together, including LOTS of stairs up to the Plains of Abraham site and churches, buildings and street art.

We were also lucky enough to catch several laps of the Grans Prix Cycliste de Quebec, a 14 lap (12.6km per lap; 201.6km total) race near the port and up to the Parc des Champ-de-Bataille. We saw laps both before and after our stair climb. Very exciting and a rider from France, Benoît Cosnefroy won, although I don't show him leading in my pics. He was rated the best climber and that must have been the difference. The pics are in order we took them, from the port area, then the Parc; from our vantage at the INOX bar, and then stragglers :)

Subsequent days we saw the Parliament, a church turned library and more city pics.
Site of talks between Roosevelt and Churchill.
Church turned into the Biblioteque Claire-Martin

Plus a cool antique car and motorcycle festival, including a vintage Hummer (which doesn't really fit here, IMHO). And one for sale - it might not be too late!

As usual, I also took longer walks - this one by the Riviere Saint-Charles, with some path views and art along the way.
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Hope you enjoyed my pics from the Poland & Princess trip. Back home now and settling in again. Starting to wish for pillows like we had on the cruise; unfortunately Princess' bedding website is sold out, but we are missing those comfy feather pillows!

Posted by Deb Godley 14:09 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Caribbean Princess - Charlottetown, PEI

sunny 23 °C
View Poland and Princess on Deb Godley's travel map.

Not our first time in Charlottetown (we've toured all the "Anne" sites), but we enjoyed walking around town and the waterfront, including Victoria Park, St Dunstan's Basilica, and some quirky art and stores.
I like how the Basilica looks like a façade and as if you can see right through the windows.
Loved these hand towels in a store called POSH! (funky things for fussy people) - Hope you all seize the 'right' days!

Posted by Deb Godley 13:50 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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