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A Weekend Getaway Guide: Carnival Cruise to Catalina Island & Ensenada

Carnival Imagination docked at port

If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to get away, a cruise may be just the ticket! Carnival offers an incredibly affordable and amazing 4-day cruise that stops in Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. It leaves from Long Beach Cruise Terminal so you won’t have to deal with the airport.

It’s a great option for an extended weekend getaway since lodging, meals and entertainment are all included in the cost. You won’t have to worry about driving anywhere and you can have fun all night long and be just a few flights of stairs away from your room.

There’s no point in worrying about getting bored on the cruise because there’s literally a million things to do. Since I don’t want this blog post to go on forever, I’ll only highlight my top 13 things to do on a Carnival Cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada.

Eat to your heart’s content –  On Carnival Imagination, there’s no shortage of food since there are dining options 24/7. There’s fine dining for dinner where you can enjoy a beautiful 3-course meal or a casual buffet, depending on your mood.

Beautifully decorated shrimp entree

Watch some great shows – Looking for something to do after an amazing dinner? There’s too many options to choose from! Enjoy one of the live musical shows, watch some comedy, sing (or just watch) at the karaoke bar – there are endless entertainment options.

Relax and treat yourself at the spa – The onboard spa is pretty amazing! I opted for the Spatopia treatment which included a full body massage and a full facial. It was so relaxing and my massage therapist also recommended a detox ritual that I’m currently doing.

Lounge by the pool – If you want to just chill, then enjoy lounging by the ship’s main pool. You can take a dip or hang out in the hot tubs. If there’s too many kids around, you can head over to the 21 and over area for a more serene environment.

Carnival Imagination pool deck

Shop ’til you drop – Looking for some retail therapy? The shops onboard feature souvenirs, fine jewelry, cosmetics, liquors, accessories and more! They have lots of sales and promos going on all the time, so make sure you drop by a few times.

Win big at the casino – You don’t have to go to Vegas to gamble! There’s a casino onboard and you’ll get to play your favorite table games and maybe even win a jackpot on the slots.

Explore Catalina Island – On this cruise, you’ll get to stop at the quaint town of Avalon. It’s a beautiful island town with lots of history and plenty of activities to do while the cruise is docked for the day. Make sure you book an excursion and make the most of your time at Catalina Island. Note: Excursions are not included in the cruise price and are an extra charge.

Many boats in the water with Catalina Island town behind

Go on a food tour – We are so happy to have booked the Taste of Catalina Food Tour! Our amazing tour guide was a local and knew so much about the island. We went to 7 different restaurants and had incredible tastes at each spot. I highly recommend it!

Travel to another country – The second stop on this cruise is to Ensenada, Mexico. If you’ve never been, this will be your chance to experience a little bit of local Mexican culture. There are many types of excursions available to book during your time here including horseback riding, ATV adventures, winery tours and more.

Eat local Mexican cuisine – During our time in Ensenada, my mom and I had an incredible lunch featuring fresh oysters, steamed clams, abalone pasta and a panna cotta to finish. I’m still thinking about that meal even now.

Dine at the Chef’s Table – For fellow foodies, I highly recommend experiencing the Chef’s Table dinner. This dinner is limited to only 15 guests and you will be personally escorted by the chef to the galley where you’ll see where over 20,000 meals are prepared each day.

You’ll enjoy some tastings and also meet the Head Pastry Chef who will show you how to make their delicious chocolate cake. The main dinner features a 7-course meal that is beautifully presented. During our dinner, we also had the pleasure of a magic show in-between courses – a true delight!

Gwen learning how to make Carnival delicious chocolate cake

Enjoy world-class customer service – If there’s anything I can really rave about the Carnival cruise, it’s the service! The crew is really service-oriented and will go out of their way to make your trip the best one ever. From our room steward, Ketut, who always made sure we had enough towels, to Ian, the senior maitre’d, and his assistant Rod, who made sure our food was always impeccable, the attention blew us away.