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It all started here...

It all started here...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sea Day and Debarkation

Sea Day--Carnival Inspiration Day 4, January 23, 2014
 
This was our last full day on the ship to enjoy all the amenities provided on board. Inspiration started serving sea day brunch in December of 2013 and we were determined to take the opportunity to enjoy it at the Mardi Gras. We got to the restaurant at around 9:30, and were seated immediately even though the place was quite busy.
 
Everything on the menu looked delicious, so we ordered multiple items to satisfy our curiosities.
 


We used our complimentary drink coupons at this time and ordered the non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri. Delicious!

Fresh fruit plate

Steak and eggs

Egg-white omelette--I had to transfer the omelette onto my steak and egg plate and put the extra plate under because the waiter just handed me the plate even when he saw that the table was full.  This was a first at any restaurant on any cruise. Later on we found out that our dinner tablemate went to guest relations and complained about the non-service at the brunch. She said they were ignored and were treated badly the whole time there. I am hoping that it's just a matter of not having enough experience with the new service on the crew part. When the same waiter came back to collect the plates later on he just stood there across the table and said "Miss!" motioning and wanted me to hand him the plates. I know they were busy but that's no excuse to treat customers in such a manner. We are low maintainence and usually things don't irritates us, but I was irritated. I did talk to the person in charge afterward and she said that should never have happened.

Mac and Cheese with beef
 
grilled salmon

Blueberry pancakes

Dessert--some kind of cheese cake

cream pie
Mind you that I did not eat all these, they were things that were ordered between the three of us.
 
The amazing thing that happened during brunch was that we saw this guy walking past our table and it was Bill (Zedecruiser) whom we met on the two inaugural Splendor cruises in 2008, from Genoa to Dover and then the Baltics. We were also on the same tour for two days in St. Petersburg. It was scarey because we were just talking about how he knows about everything Carnival and then a few minutes later he appeared. He was totally shocked when we went up to say hi. The reason that he was there was to see how the Sea Day Brunch was working out on Inspiration and also getting the old menu one more time before the new menu is being implemented on the Inspiration.

After brunch we just enjoyed a relaxing day around the ship.

more people were enjoying the Serenity


lots of empty deck chairs










We played some golf here, totally fun!
 
We did not plan on going to the sea day afternoon tea but when we went past Mardi Gras in the afternoon, we just went in for a peek. Unfortunately, we were the last ones in and they were already cleaning up the place. So we just had a cup of tea and some soggy cucumber sandwiches. Blah!
 
Our last dinner was uneventful and both food and service were fine even though it took a long time to finish. As always we were one of the last groups to get out of the restaurant.

sushi-good

crab cake--OK

cream of mushroom soup

mahi mahi, not as good as I expected it to be

Banana Split from the kids menu. Should have ordered that more. But I guess the sugar level probably exceeds what we are allowed.
 
 
Debarkation--Carnival Inspiration Day 5, January 24, 2014
 
This has to be the slowest debarkation ship that we have been on. We were not in a hurry and planned on enjoying our morning on the ship. The problem was that they wanted eveyone out of their cabins by 8:30 and breakfast was done serving at 9:00. So people would just be waiting in various locations with not much to do unless you want to get a drink from the bar. After breakfast at the Mardi Gras, we found a spot at the library and waited for our turn to get off. I think we were group 15, which was scheduled to get off between 10:30~11:00 but at 10:45 they were still disembarking the self-assisted passengers. Now we understood why we had to wait so long for boarding on the first day.


We waited here at the library. It was empty at first but slowly got crowded with people sleeping on the couches.

Constantly long line--some people claimed that they were in line for an hour. And these were supposedly self-debarking passengers. The line did not stop here, it went past guest relations through the hallways on the left of this picture.

Not sure who those people up on the stairs were, possibly passengers with Priority passes.


Mardi Gras

Rhapsody in Blue--could be a good spot to wait for debarkation. There were only two people waiting in there.

Inside Rhapsody in Blue



 
The line actually got better after all the self-assisted passengers got off. When we saw that the line was almost gone for one number before they called another number, we went ahead and exited the ship. It was already 11:15 by then. The line on the gangway to the dome was still incredibly long because of the immigration/custom process. They only had four counters opened for all the 2,000 plus passengers which caused the delay in debarking. By the time we got out of the terminal it was close to 12:00. A call was made to Hotel Maya for a pick up as soon as we were outside and we were on our way home soon after we retreived our car from the parking lot.
 
This concluded our short but sweet Carnival cruise. Next up, Radiance of the Sea, Sydney roundtrip to New Zealand. Can't wait!
 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ensenada, Mexico

Ensenada, Mexico--Carnival Inspiration Day 3, January 22, 2014
 
We discussed about what we should do in Ensenada and we agreed that walking around town and enjoy a relaxing day would be the best for us. We just wanted to 'feel' the city and take in whatever comes around for the day. The port area is very nice, comparing to what I remember 20 years ago. They did provide shuttle services to town for $2pp each way but we decided to walk. It was a beautiful morning and the walk didn't seem that dreadful. I was stopped by some officials with a sniffing dog to check my bag as we were walking towards the port exit, probably thinking that I have food brought off the ship. Sorry, nothing! I guess my Disney World bag was too big and eye-catching for them to pass up.
 


The walk was well designed and marked, all we had to do was to follow the path.



Kept looking back at the ship.

Made a left turn here on the big highway. It is better to cross the street and walk on the other side.
Some women and kids were trying to sell their wares as we walked towards the street.



The city is actually quite pretty and clean.

We walked around a bit and went in some stores to check out their stuff, but nothing was of interest to us.

It was still early so the town was not busy.



 
There were two food stands that we wanted to check out, one was a stand that sells seafood cocktail and was on Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods show. The other one was La Guerrerense that was on Anthony Bourdain's. We did not have a specific location for the seafood cocktail place, and thought this stand could be it. The name resembled what was shown on TV. We are still not sure up to this day if we have found the right place.

The seafood cocktail place that we found.

This seafood cocktail was great, with lots of seafood (shrimp, oyster, clams, etc.) in a delicious juice mixture. Not cheap. A regular cup is $8 and this large cup was $14. It was very refreshing, but after we finished the cocktail then we started worrying if we should be eating street food like that. Fortunately, we were OK.


 
After the seafood cocktail, we went to look for La Guerrerense, which is a seafood tostada stand. This time we just had to look for the streets where it is located. We did not know how it works and just watched how they operated for a little bit. People just ordered their tostada, ate, and then pay. So we joined in and ordered what we wanted.

Uni sounded like a good choice, so we ordered the uni tostadas. It turned out that it didn't taste anything like the usual uni (sea urchin) that we are familiar with. All I tasted was a very spicy mash. I put some mango sauce on it trying to tone it down with no avail. Then we tried a seafood one and a fish one and they were excellent! I believe they were like $1.75 a piece. You can ask the guy to put some avocado pieces on top and that would make it even better with no extra charge.

Then we saw some people ordering the clam thing and we also ordered one for each of us. They opened the fresh clam, took out and chopped the meat, then mixed the meat with a salsa type of mixture. Very delicious!


The owner


Final product of the clam thing. Yummy! Sorry, don't know the official name. It was $2.15 well spent.
(I could be a little off on the prices, but shouldn't be too far off.)

After enjoying the food, then you go and pay. Don't know how they keep track but they did!

A popular food stand.

Christian found out that they have been around the world.

This is where they could be found.



We were going to get back on the ship after this food adventure.


 
As we were walking back to the ship, this building caught our attention and we decided to check it out. It is a museum, right across the street from the port entrance. It only cost $2pp to visit this place but we found that the whole time we were there it was just the three of us. I asked the lady if they have done any publicity with the port agency and she said they were working on it. It is a shame that with so many people coming through the port that this place is still unknown. This is really an interesting place with a lot of information about the history of Baja California.


 
 
Looking down from the museum to the casino downstairs.

Beautiful wood-carved ceiling of the casino.

After visiting the museum, we went outside and around to the entrance of the 'casino'.



This is like the ballroom.

The bar area of the casino.

 
This used to be a casino. Unlike the one in Catalina, this one was for gambling.






 


Some portraits painted on the ceiling.

 
Another angle of the ballroom.



Such a beautiful place!

There is also a small outdoor market/shopping area in the back of this building where they have stalls selling the usual souvenirs to tourists. Our tablemates said their tour took them there to shop but they did not get to see the museum.

After our visit to the museum, we decided to go back to the ship. We had a good day in Ensenada. Unless a person has mobility issues, I found that it was very pleasant just walking from port to town.

 
Dinner
The mango chilled soup that Christian had. He said it was really good.

Caesar Salad

Unfortunately, most dessert was melting by the time it got to our table.