Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada Roundtrip
What: Carnival Inspiration
When: November 26-30, 2015
With little vacation time and 4 days off, we feel that Thanksgiving is a good time for us to get away. We thought about Disneyland but knew it would be way too crowded, especially this year – it’s insane. Having such a blast in Mexico on 2 previous cruises this year, we decided to book a third – a 3-day cruise to Ensenada, which Carnival offers year ’round. That availability and the unbelievable affordability, especially with Rich’s travel discount, is hard to resist.
The Imagination would sail on Thanksgiving Day and the Inspiration would sail the day after. The Imagination was a few hundred dollars more than the Inspiration so we booked the Inspiration. Besides, Rich could take Monday off, providing him with 5 days off from work. And the cherry on top was the name of the “Your Time Dining” dining room on the Inspiration – the Mardi Gras, which was Carnival’s first ship and my first cruise back in 1982.
Still, we were in the mood for a little holiday time at Disneyland so we decided to travel the day before the cruise on Thanksgiving, eat Thanksgiving dinner at the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, do some Christmas shopping at World of Disney, pop into the Grand Californian, maybe have a drink in Hearthstone Lounge, and stay offsite at the Residence Inn – the highrise officially in Garden Grove but just down the road on Harbor Blvd.
As it got closer to the trip, though, I started thinking less about food and more about the parks on Thanksgiving. So we checked the crowd level on one of those sites and it said, “Forget about it!” So, that was the end of that. Also, thinking about how crowded everything would be, including Downtown Disney and the GC, and then driving from Garden Grove to Long Beach on Black Friday, well, we shifted our plans to staying on the Queen Mary. The QM is within walking distance of the ship, and, as hotel guests, we could also park our car there and retrieve it after the cruise.
Besides, the regular Jazz Kitchen menu would be very limited, with the focus on a 3-course turkey dinner. We are rarely in the mood for turkey and were really craving some seafood overlooking the water, if possible, similar to our first Florida Thanksgiving in Tampa Bay. So Rich booked the Queen Mary and made reservations at Chelsea Chowder house for Thanksgiving dinner.
I’d stayed on the Queen Mary decades ago and had a terrible experience: 2 single beds and the room was so hot (no A/C), we ran the water in the shower all night long to provide some cooling relief. I’d hoped things had improved, recalling that since my experience, Disney had owned it, and had done a refurb of some kind. So Rich booked a nice king room with a harbor view, and we hoped for the best.