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Cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico

| The usual suspects are aboard the Carnival Inspiration for a four-day cruise with stops in Catalina Island and Ensenada Mexico, followed by a "fun day at sea" before returning to Long Beach.

Late Monday morning we piled into the Prius for the drive to the cruise ship terminal in Long Beach, which is actually inside the big dome that was built to house Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose (the huge airplane made of plywood), which happens to be right next door to the Queen Mary.

We descended from the second floor of the parking garage, ready to check in, when I discovered that I didn't have my passport or boarding pass! What is it about me and passports? Actually it was back in the car, having fallen from the "secure" location where I had placed it for the trip, into the wastebasket! Whew! As they do with little kids' mittens, I need to pin it to my apparel.

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After boarding, we descended to steerage to stow our bags in the stateroom and then headed up to the Lido Deck for lunch. After lunch we sat out on the deck for our pre-cruise cocktail (actually a beer, since we were a bit appalled by the price of the "special" cocktails being hawked persistently all over the ship). There are said to be 900+ crew on board, and it seemed that at least 750 were on duty as bar steward on the Lido deck. They circled sharks around a wounded sea lion, each of them asking if we wanted another round. If they had not been so annoying we probably would have drunk more, but as it was, we confined our consumption to a single beer each.

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Soon it was time to report to our "muster station" for the mandatory safety briefing. Little did we suspect when we started up the stairs that our muster station was on deck 9 in the Paris showroom! And that at the conclusion of our "briefing" (it has to be in quotation marks, given the minimalist nature of the information conveyed) we were then forced to march up two more levels to the "lifeboat embarkation stations" where we were lined up, scolded for using our cell phones or cameras, or talking, and then dismissed. With a Carnival ship under tow in the Carribean after a disabling on-board fire, you would think they might give a more fullsome briefing. You might think — but you would be wrong.

The other really disheartening thing about this mustering was the huge number of people who showed up at the wrong muster station and had to be redirected. This was almost as disheartening as the woman at bingo later that evening who thought she had won when she covered a single number on her card. You can't make these things up; no one would believe you if you did.

After an all-night cruise we awoke to find ourselves at anchor just off the village of Avalon on Catalina Island. This is really something of a mystery cruise, because we departed Long Beach at 5:30pm Monday to arrive at Avalon at 7:30am Tuesday. The ferry boats which ply the waters between Long Beach and Avalon make the trip on approximately 2 hours. Since we were under way, at a rate fast enough to generate a sizeable wake, all the time until we went to sleep, the question of the day is Where in the world did we go all that time?

Schools of dolphins were at play in the waters around the ship and provided amusement during and after our breakfast. Seals (sea lions maybe?) were also bobbing in the water, and one of them was perched on an anchor buoy in the harbor as we tendered in.

Avalon, itself, proved to be exceedingly charming. The street were all exceptionally clean and all the houses were obviously well-maintained. We truly enjoyed walking around town. I'd like to come back some time and spend a couple of days.

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Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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