Hello all. I placed the following tips on a thread for the Splendor (shipping out on 11/29/09 myself), but thought I would expand upon the ideas in a general posting on tips for Carnival Cruises leaving Long Beach. General ideas on where to stay, what do do, etc. when leaving on a cruise from LB. The Spendor will be my 4th cruise from LB, and I live in LA and vist Long Beach on a monthly basis. Not only is it a cruise port, but it's really a nice place to visit in an of itself.
Places to Stay:
Hotel Maya: www.jdvhotels16-px.trvlclick.com/
This is a great 5 star hotel that is about a 10 minute walk (no joke) from the Queen Marry and terminal area. They offer a park and sail package (subject to availability so book early). It's a night say, 7 days of parking, and a breakfast for $239. This might seem alot but when you factor in the cost of parking at the pier ($110 for a week), and Breakfast (say $40), then it's about $89 for the room, which is a great price for a 5 start hotel right on the port, and sooo close to the Terminal. They also throw in shuttle service to and from the ship.
Queen Mary: www.queenmary.com
This is a nice experience, especially for first time cruisers, or people who want to wake up right next to their ship in the morning. You get to book a vintage "cabin" on the Queen for the night. It get's you ready for life on a ship (ship sounds, the size of the rooms, the feeling on being on the sea, etc.) and gets you in the cuise spirit. They are plenty of food options on board and a nive bar as well. It is pricy, and their is no "sail and stay" package meaning you'll have to move your car to the pier parking and pay for this the day of your cruise.
There are other places to stay, but in my experience these are the best options for a cruise, because they are close to your destination and give you nice value and a high quality stay. I have done the Maya 2 times (this year will be the third) and the Quenn Mary once, so this get's my vote.
Getting Around: Once your by the port, the options are endless. Long Beach knows it's life blood is tourism and embraces it. You can take the Passport Bus (Big red buses) for free anywhere around the port that a tourist wants to go. They also have a water taxi system that can take you places all around the port (for a nominal fee). Taxi's are also available if that is your preference.
Food: the options are limitless. From Bubba Gump (sea food), to Islands (Beach style burgers), Outback (steaks), etc. you cannot go wrong. Take
the Water taxi or the passport bus to Pine street (can't miss it) and you'll find all the options you need.
Suggested things to do:
Queen Mary: Duh! Right by the terminal, and lot's of things to see and eat. Great way to kill a morning or afternoon.
Long Beach Aquarium: www.aquariumofpacific.org
This is a great spot to also kill a morning or the afternoon. World class exhibits with a focus on providing an up and personal experience with sea life. A great place to visit, a must if you have kids.
Pine Street: As I said there is food, places to shop, things to see and places to play in this area.
Harbor Fun: Located close to the Aquarium, their is a port area with lots of options for day cruises, fishing, wale watching, sailing, etc.
Here are some thoughts/tips for the day of the cruise:
1. If you can get there early to see the ship come in it is worth it. Nothing more exciting then seeing your ship come in at sunrise, knowing your going to sail that day. You can actually get on the Queen Marry (even if you don't stay there), walk up on the deck athte bow and watch the ship come in. A special moment. The Ship usually arrives between 6am-7am on the day of sailing, so this is for the early birds.
2. I'm then going to have breakfast on the Queen Mary. They have a very nice buffet with a great view of the harbour and it's another great way to start the cruise.
3. After breakfast, it's early check in. It is so much easier to get this out of the way, it takes like 10 minutes if you go early, vs. 30-40 if you wait and do it at the mian terminal. The early check in is located at the bow (front) of the ship, but you need to enter on the dock (not on the ship). This starts around 9am.
4. After check in, I'm going to hold the fort in line, and send my DS and DW to see the sights for a few hours. Long beach has a great local bus line, that can take you to see the sights (the aquarium, shopping, etc.) on the other side of the harbor in 5 minutes. Then I can camp out and once things start moving tell my DW to come back. It's easier than having a crazed toddler (or teen) getting bored in line. Plus, I can relax, listen to the early football games on the radio, and meet some new friends in line.
Some other quick tips:
A. When you get on board, while everyone is going to the buffet take the time to visit the places you want a reservation. The SPA, the Specialty Restaurant (for those formal nights!), and stop by the dinning room if you need to change your table/time. These reservations/changes are easy to get early, but can be impossible if you wait to long to make them.
B. If your going to board early, make sure you wear or carry on swimsuits. Not only is it a great way to kill time before sailing to take a dip, since most people forget these in their luggage, the pools/spas can be very empty the first few hours on board.
C. Immediatly after the Muster drill, the ship will sail. Instead of going back to your cabin to drop off the life vest, take it with you to the back of the ship, for a drink of the day, and a great view of the city as the ship pulls away. Another special moment that says....We are on vacation.
D. There is no food close to the lines to board. If your going to be in line for a while, make sure you bring some snacks and drinks. There are vending machines for drinks close by, but the price is highway robbery.
Those are just a few tips from a frequent cruiser and LA local on the port and Cruising form Long Beach. Feel free to drop me a line with any questions. Happy cruising.