In late March my husband, son and I sailed on Carnival Imagination for a 3 Day Baja Mexico cruise from Long Beach. This is a great weekend getaway, especially for anyone within easy driving distance of Long Beach, California. We were guests of Carnival Cruise Line and this was our first cruise as a family.

It was a super fun way to spend a weekend and what my husband and I found out, is we truly had a vacation. Because of the teen club, which my son loved, we found we had lots of time to relax and enjoy the cruise to Mexico as adults. 

Below you’ll find some helpful tips for cruising and some of our favorite moments on our 3 Day Baja, Mexico cruise from long beach to Ensenada.

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Cruise to Mexico on the Carnival Imagination

As vacations or weekend getaways go, a cruise is a much simpler trip compared to any other type of travel. One of my favorite things about a cruise is once you board, you have arrived at your home away from home. Simply unpack and you are done!

Unlike a road trip or a vacation to Europe where you are moving from location to location–  on a cruise, there is no need to constantly unpack and pack again, change hotels, or drive from place to place.

So if you’re interested in a fun cruise for a weekend getaway, and are interested in what Carnival Imagination has to offer, this post is for you!

Long Beach Cruise Terminal

Long Beach Cruise Terminal

When you cruise out of Long Beach with Carnival, you’ll depart via the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, which is the busiest port in North America with ships docking five days a week.

The 146,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Long Beach Cruise Terminal has been totally renovated and is beautiful. The palm tree-lined terminal, is huge and allows for quick and easy embarkation.

To enter the terminal, you’ll need to provide a boarding pass and a passport because it’s an international cruise.

Fun Fact: The terminal encompasses the world’s largest, free-span geodesic dome, which was originally built for  Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose plane. I’m probably dating myself here, but the Spruce Goose was located here in Long Beach until the mid-1990’s when it was then moved to Oregon.

Our Mexico 3 Day Cruise on Carnival Imagination Itinerary

Carnival Imagination is a Fantasy-class cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Line. We departed on this Mexico 3 day cruise from Long Beach and visited Ensenada, Mexico. Our cruise itinerary:

  • Day 1 – depart Long Beach
  • Day 2 – fun day at sea
  • Day 3 – Ensenada
  • Day 4 – arrive Long Beach

This is a fun itinerary for a weekend getaway, but after experiencing a 3-day cruise, we all agreed that we’d love to try a longer cruise. Between the teen club for my son and all the fun things to do onboard, there just wasn’t enough time to experience it all plus enjoy some downtime.

Boarding The Ship (Embarkation on Carnival Imagination) for our Cruise to Ensenada

The Imagination cruise to Ensenada sets sail at 5:30 PM and everyone must be aboard 60-minutes before sailing. Staterooms are ready at 1:30 PM, so, make your first day onboard more fun by arriving at the earliest boarding times!

Guests who are scheduled to arrive before 1:30 PM can check their bags curbside so they can be free to enjoy lunch, which will be served on Lido Deck 10 until 4:00 PM.

Tip! Bring a Carry-On Bag: When you first board your cruise ship, it can be a few hours before your luggage is delivered to your stateroom. Pack a few essentials like swimwear, sunscreen and a change of clothes in case you want to go to the pool or water slides.

Carnival Imagination Staterooms

Stateroom on Carnival

There are three stateroom categories on the Carnival Imagination; Interior, Ocean View, and Suite. There are two types of suites; junior and grand. We had an ocean view room, which is listed as sleeping up to five people.

This would be an extremely tight fit. Our room was set up with a king-size bed and a Pullman (a bed attached to the wall — like an upper bunk– that can be pushed up for more space when it’s not being used for a bed).

We found we spent very little time in our room and used it mostly for sleeping and ‘getting ready’ for the day or dinner.

There is so much to do on the Carnival Imagination and with a three-day cruise, we found we spent very little time in our room and preferred lounging at the pool to the stateroom.

Planning Your Day Onboard

Each day on the cruise you will receive a “Fun Times” itinerary that includes everything there is to do onboard. It shares sections for “top entertainment’, “food”, “drinks”, “spa”, “music”, “movies”, “casino”, “shopping”, “kids & teens” as well as a schedule for everything happening with the times and locations.

It’s your cruise ship bible and we carried it with us and constantly referred to it throughout the day and evening.

Sailing With Children or a Teenager

Teenagers on Carnival Cruises

The Carnival Imagination offers three clubs for kids; Camp Ocean for 2–11 year-olds, Circle C for 12-14 year-olds and Club O2 for 15-17 year-olds. Our son had just turned 16 and loved the teen club.

It opened around noon daily and closed at 1 A.M. As I shared above, my husband and I found that our son wanted to hang out with the other teens and for the most part planned his days and nights around the club.

The teens in Club O2 hung out in the club room, went to onboard shows, the video arcade and met for meals. Our son had a great time and loved connecting with other teens and my husband and I found we were on our own for most of our cruise — having dinner on our own and enjoying many of the onboard shows.

I’m sure if we did a longer cruise, there would be more family time, but with just three days my son opted to hang with the other teenagers on board.

So you know: The kids and teens clubs are all included in the price of the cruise.

Food On Board the Carnival Imagination

Carnival imagination

There are lots of eating options onboard Carnival for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late-night munchies and snacks including these options incorporated in your cruise price:

  • Main dining room
  • Blue Iguana (Mexican Cantina)
  • Guy’s Burger Joint
  • Pirate Pizza (24 hours)
  • Carnival Deli (24 hours)
  • Lido Restaurant (Buffet)
  • Soft-serve ice cream (24 hours)
  • 24 Hour Room Service

The most notable of the restaurants is best-selling author, restaurateur and Food Network personality Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint which strives to bring all the authentic appeal of a roadside burger shack as the cool poolside spot for hot burgers and hand-cut fries.

The busiest spots for lunch seemed to be the Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Mexican Cafe, both located on the Lido Deck. These two are quick and easy and located near the pool.

You can also head inside on the same deck to check out made to order pizza and deli sandwiches as well as the Lido Deck buffet.

Dinner has many options as well, but we opted for the dining room each evening, which includes a three-course meal. You have a choice of two seatings– 6pm or 8:15pm.

If there’s one thing about cruises, it’s that you have lots and lots of choices and you’ll certainly never go hungry! You can eat at all these places on Carnival Imagination.

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