We have also been looking at a CCL either to or from Hawaii. We have been trying to figure out if you either depart from or arrive in Ensenada, how do you get to Ensenada or back from Ensenada from the USA? We found no explanations for that.
Bus service is provided by Carnival. It is part of the cruise fare (or was at that time). We made the trip Hawaii to Ensenada. From Ensenada we were taken by bus to the San Diego Airport. There was an expedited border crossing.
It is my understanding for the reverse trip you check in at the San Diego cruise terminal and then are taken to the ship by bus although I have not personally done this.
Here is the latest from Johns blog on this...
The following embarkation procedures are for guests sailing on the Carnival Spirit from San Diego, California to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Passenger Service Act / Jones Act
Please be advised that you will be boarding the ship in Mexico instead of San Diego. This is a result of the Jones Act; an act of Congress dating back to the 19th Century. The act, called the "Passenger Service Act", but commonly referred to as the Jones Act was intended to protect American flag vessels from foreign competition. It states that a foreign flag vessel, such as the Carnival Spirit cannot transport passengers between two U.S ports. Therefore, in order for you to disembark in Hawaii, regardless of your nationality, you are required to embark in a foreign port, such as Mexico.
Cruise Registration for all guests will be processed at the San Diego Cruise Terminal at 1140 North Harbor Drive. You will be transferred by motor coach to Ensenada, Mexico with an approximate travel time of 2 hours including a brief inspection at the border. Please have our travel documents in your possession along with any medications that you may need before you arrive in Ensenada.
Note: Transfers to Ensenada, Mexico will not begin until approximately 5:00pm.
We encourage guests with early flight arrivals to take advantage of their afternoon in San Diego as if it were a port of call. Complimentary shuttles will be available from the cruise terminal to Seaport Village, a local attraction located along the San Diego Harbor.
Guests residing in the San Diego area: If you are a resident of the San Diego area, we strongly recommend that you do not arrive at the San Diego Cruise Terminal prior to 3:00pm for your own comfort and convenience.
Transportation Arrangements for Fly-Aweigh and Cruise-Only Guests
Complimentary motor coach transportation will be provided on day of embarkation from the San Diego or Los Angeles International Airport during specific hours. For Cruise-Only Guest: Transfer arrangements will be scheduled based on the flight details (arrival and departure information) which the guest provides via FunPass.
Guests arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): Motor coach transportation will depart from the lower level between Terminals 1 and 2. Service begins at approximately 10:00am and ends no later than 1:00pm.
Guests arriving at San Diego International Airport (SAN): Carnival Representatives will be located in the baggage claim area and will direct you to your motor coach. Service begins at approximately 11:00am and ends no later than 3:00pm.
So, as you can see there is good news and bad news there but at least you know what you have to do and that Carnival will be there to help you throughout. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.
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I will be on this cruise also, from Ensenada to Hawaii on April 11. Will arrive in San Diego on April 10 and sure hope that we don't have to wait all afternoon to get on the bus to Ensenada. Would like to get on the Spirit early. Really looking forward to this cruise.