Cruisin’: Short but oh so sweet

Listen to this article

I can’t even tell you why this happened but it surely did. One day I just blurted out to my beautiful bride: “Hey! Let’s take a cruise.” To my utter shock she instantly replied “YES!” Well now that is all fine but we had both limited time and resources. We were in the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas and have the great fortune of residing in Southern California where great weather is the norm even in late November so I began my search.

It wasn’t long before I found the perfect package just right for us. It would be a short four day excursion offered by Carnival Cruise lines, one of the biggest in the industry. We would visit Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico and spend a lot of time at sea which was perfect for our needs, which were centered on relaxation. Best of all the cost was extremely reasonable. So we booked the cruise and off we went.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination

We arrived at the dock in Long Beach, California a wee bit before boarding would begin. Just looking at the ship The Imagination was a thrill unto itself. She was absolutely gorgeous, far far better than my first cruise out of Long Beach many many years before aboard a U.S. Military troop transport ship. The Imagination was long and tall and glistening bright white a true gem of the sea.

Soon we boarded and sorry but I just couldn’t help but to salute the ensign [flag] and request permission to board which earned me a quizzical smile. We were briefly diverted to the main topside dining area to enjoy a free snack if we wished while the bags were being taken to our cabin. Soon we were invited to go to our cabin which was absolutely fantastic. It was on the port side amid ship and well above the water line. We even had our very own balcony where we could and did sit and enjoy the sea and setting sun.

We walked about the ship and were literally mesmerized by its nonstop almost overpowering beauty inside and out. The pool was basically top center surrounded by scores of comfortable lounge chairs. The inside center was truly spectacular, a virtual sea of bright colors and intriguing forms. We eventually found ourselves in the main dining room where we sat down for our very first and always free meal of the day.

The sun was rapidly setting and as the meal service began we could see the ship was moving. There was no feeling just obvious movement visually observed but not felt. How utterly graceful. By the time our meal was done we headed back to our cabin and enjoyed our balcony. Now it is only 26 miles from Long Beach to Avalon but the good ship Imagination was in no hurry. We would arrive in Catalina early the next morning. No rush, just pure joy and total relaxation.

The captain of the Imagination with crew members and guests, including Ron Irwin and his wife

After our simply delicious breakfast we disembarked and walked about Catalina. Several shore tours were offered but we opted to just enjoy Catalina on foot. So many beautiful yachts, the magnificent Casino and the very pleasant town of Avalon all made for a great day but then it was time to get back on board and wait for the Captain to hoist anchor and sail off to the south for Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.

Upon arriving in Ensenada we once again opted to simply go into the town and enjoy our own private walking tour. Other passengers took advantage of a wide variety of shore tours. That is yet another piece of cruising joy, everyone can simply do their own thing. At one point we even got briefly off of the main tourist track and wandered into a local grocery store. That experience for my wife was especially enjoyable because she hails from the Philippines and found the Mexican grocery store very familiar. Like I said, one of the beauties of cruising is the ability for everyone to do their very own thing.

That evening we hoisted anchor again for a full night and day at sea. If you have never been on a cruise you really should do so for only when you are far from shore can you sea millions of stars igniting the night sky far far more than anything you can see on shore. It is simply pure magic.

Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

Eventually we did find our way back to Long Beach Harbor. We were thoroughly and completely relaxed and ready to return to that dull boring work a day world. But now we knew how we could escape that world even if only for a few days and enjoy pure relaxation and pleasure and at a cost that darn near anyone can easily afford making it just that much more pleasant. Should you want to look into a Carnival Cruise just click HERE.

Photos by Ron Irwin
Top photo: Avalon, Catalina Island, California