Hiking | Lifestyle | Travel

Catalina & Ensenada, Mexico Carnival cruise

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Chances are, you either know someone who has been on this cruise, you’ve done it yourself, or you want to.


The Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico Carnival Cruise is one of the most affordable cruises and vacation options out there! When I say affordable, I mean VERY VERY affordable.

We drove from Utah to California, hopped on an all-inclusive cruise ship for 4 days, and came out under $1,000 total for the BOTH of us! (That includes gratuities, excursions, AND spending money!)

My (now) husband and I had only been dating for a few short months when I bought him this cruise as a surprise for his birthday. <br><br>

…..Either I saw a future with him, or I was crazy. Either way, you’re welcome.

Cruise Itinerary – Day 1: board the ship

The cruise ship departs at 5:30 P.M. from Long Beach, California. Expect to wait in line to board and also in-port as other people are loading.

Good news! Everything is included in your trip. (Unlimited drinks included for an additional fee. Click here for details) So feel free to relax, grab some food and explore the ship. You won’t be able to check into your room until later.

I love that they make these cute towel animals in your cabin!

Fun fact: we end up getting sunburned and had to buy the only lotion we could find onboard. The lotion was from the spa and cost us $80 for one bottle. EIGHTY-DOLLARS. Hence the photoshoot. I laughed uncontrollably when I took this, so if you don’t laugh, I can’t help you.

towel animal with bottle of lotion on cruise ship

Cruise Itinerary – Day 2: Catalina Island

You’ll cruise through the night and arrive at Catalina Island at 7:30 A.M. and depart off the island by 4:30 P.M. You’ll take a small boat from the cruise ship to the island shore.

There is so much to do in Catalina. Even if you just decide to walk around the cute little island, there’s beautiful beach views, tons of shopping, and amazing places to eat!

Beach view of Catalina Island harbor

They have some adorable shops with hand-made items! We bought a bunch of real starfish for a bathroom renovation that we planned to do (but never did, now that I think about it.)

Aaaaaand….my favorite part of our experience……

Parasailing in catalina

Full disclosure here: I’m absolutely terrified of heights. Considering my fear, I’m pretty damn proud of all the height-related activities I’ve done in my life (like climbing sketchy mountains, for instance) and this one is one of those proud moments.

There are a lot of excursion options! Like going in a submarine, glass-bottom boat rides, and even an island scavenger hunt! Click here to see all the options!

cruise Itinerary – Day 3: Ensenada, Mexico

You’ll cruise through the night, arrive at Ensenada, Mexico at 8:00 A.M., and depart Mexico at 6:00 P.M.

You’ll take another small boat from the cruise ship to the shoreline of Ensenada.

You have so many options to explore here! ATV rides, wine tours, horseback rides, and more! Click here for a full list of activities to choose from!

La Bufadora Blowhole

We chose to do the La Bufadora Tour. This tour includes a 4-hour guided tour of La Bufadora from Ensenada, a chance to see the sea geyser of La Bufadora, shop for the perfect gifts at a large crafts sidewalk market, and taste food and drinks of the Baja California region (at your own expense).

Warning: I don’t know if I’d trust drinking any of those drink samples. The people at the flea market shots will also try to get you to do shots of Tequila with you. I wouldn’t recommend that either, but who am I to say. You do you, boo. Just don’t blame me if you end up puking your guts out later. It’s about as safe as drinking Mexico tap water.

Their Piña Coladas and churros are AMAZING!! Buy one of each. Or multiple.

Right past the flea market, you’ll get an amazing, 360- view of the ocean!

Not only will you see picturesque views, but there’s also plenty of photo-ops along the way! Like this super cliche, and super amazing gem:

Man and women posing and smiling in front of the La Bufadora ocean
Man and Women sitting in front ot the "Ensenada" sign overlooking La Bufadora, Mexico

La Bufadora Blow Hole

This blowhole is an amazing natural marine geyser that is capable of shooting water well over 60 feet in the air. La Bufadora is considered to be the second-largest marine geyser in the world.

La Bufadora Blow Hole, Mexico

This marine geyser phenomenon is caused by ocean waves being forced into a partially submerged sea cavern, causing large amounts of air and water pressure to build. The air and ocean water is expelled through the only exit, launching it several stories into the air.

Cruise Itinerary – Day 4: Day at Sea

There are tons of on-board activities for everyone! Shows and entertainment, bars, lots of yummy food, an entire water park, an amazing spa, and even a game show!

Man and woman smiling and hugging on cruise ship overlooking the ocean
Man and women enjoying cruise vacation

What our relationship is really like…

view of cruise ship at night


Since I did book this cruise as a birthday gift, there was plenty of birthday festivities. I also planned ahead when I did the booking and had them decorate our cabin, including a birthday cake!

Formal night

All cruise lines also offer at least one formal night. You get to dress up and go to dinner!

We keep it real classy.

cruise itinerary – Day 5: Back to port in LA

No matter what you decide to do on your excursions, this cruise is sure to be a great time. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to do this budget-friendly cruise! You won’t regret it!

Ocean view from a cruise ship

Have you done the Ensenada/Catalina cruise? What did you do at each port?


2 Responses

  1. It is a really good post. I love how you included images to show exactly what you were doing. I’m Mexican and I can proudly say that most of our beaches are gorgeous. I’m so glad that you enjoyed your cruise in companion with your husband. I bet it was a very enriching experience. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments! Mexico is a beautiful place! Thanks so much for reading ❤️