I've just booked a cruise on the Monarch of the Seas going in March 2006. I'm traveling with my mother and sister. Neither one of them are beach or snorkle people. I'm looking at several excursions through RCL and was wondering if anyone had gone on any of them and what they thought. For Catalina Island they are: The City Tour of Catalina Island (takes about 3.5 hours and looks like it goes to just about everything) and maybe the Glass Bottom Boat. In Ensenada I'm looking at either the Fox Studios tour, the Wine Country tour, or the Mexican Folkloric tour. Any feedback would be appreciated.
In Catalina, the glass bottom has got mediocre reviews in my time here. The city tour would be fun, but you can book it much cheaper on the island. They have a kiosk on the Green Pier, or you walk a couple blocks in town, and there is another one. I paid $15 for a city tour that was about 1.5 hours long. You could also rent a golf cart, which is lots of fun, and they give you a map. That would cost about about $50 for 2 hours.
In Ensenada, my lender took the Fox tour, which she said was pretty interesting, with a lot of displays, be in the movies, etc. Great if you have seen Titanic (which was filmed there). The wine country tour is an *excellent* value -- the drive out is very pretty, and you tour two wineries, do some tasting and get a free bottle of wine. You could also go out to the Bufadore for $13 a person (you will just take the van from the ship area, but it's not booked on board).
I have two articles under "ports" here, as well as a lot of photos Here are links"
I love the glass bottom boat in Catalina, have done it several times. There is also another undersea excursion called the "Undersea Tour," where the boat looks like a submarine (but is really just a boat) and the passengers go down below and view the sealife from side windows. This gives a better view than the glass bottom boat (where people are on the deck and look down at the sealife). But for some reason, the Undersea Tour costs about 3 times the price for the glass bottom boat. The difference is not worth the extra money, so I recommend the glass bottom boat.
Like Harry said, in Catalina, don't book your excursion through the cruise line, just go to one of the offices on the pier or in town and make your arrangement. Or you can book it ahead of time by going to http://www.catalina.com/main.html and then find to Discovery Tours.
I've never taken a cruise to Catalina, I live in Long Beach and take the local ferry over to it all the time. I usually stay several days. I have also taken the city tour, which is a tour bus where the driver tells interesting stories along the way. Both these tours take about an hour each, so you could probably do both if you wanted to.
Avalon is charming, but very small, you can easily see the whole town on foot. But if you want to go up on the hill to look around, you will need transportation.
An alternative to the city tour would be to rent a golf cart to put-put around town the way the locals do. If you decide to do this be sure to take in the botanic garden.
Have a nice trip.
Thanks Tom. We definitely want to see the botanic garden, the Casino and maybe get inland to see the Buffalo. The tour the RCL offered covered all of them which is why I was leaning toward that. I will check out the on island tours you mentioned. It sounds like its pretty easy to get around on your own there.
You can walk to the casino (about a half-mile along the harbor), and they have regular tours ... runs about $10-$12 a person (and it's very cool inside -- very art deco, etc. Lots of history you will hear, too)
The botanical gardens is too long to walk too (steady uphill walk). but you may take a golf cart, or Avalon has a tram that will take you up there for about $2. If you can, do walk up to the monument/former tomb of Wrigley. The view is incredible, as well as the details on the building.
I would really think of renting a golf cart ... you will see so much.
Never have hit the buffalo, because I seem to recall the area is restricted from the golf carts.
__________________ Harry Martin
Moderator - Mexico and G/L message boards
Thanks for all the grat information..two questions for Catalina
How many people will the golfcarts hold ??
Can we get a tour to see the inland areas at the pier..I read about one that takes folks by jeep..see flora, fauna and the "airport in the sky". How much and how many people will the jeeps take,the one I read about was 6 people price based on the lenght.
I took the trip to the airport a few years ago, and it was a huge bus, but I guess it would depend who you booked with. The ride to the airport takes a while and will take up most of your shore time. I think your time would be better spent seeing the sights in town, so that you will have time to shop and wander around.
By the way, if you are hoping to see buffalo, they are pretty scarce. I never saw any buffalo on any of the tours I have gone on over the years. I did see some wild pigs on that trip to the airport.
The only buffalo I ever saw on Catalina, was when I rented a motor boat and cruised along the coast. There was an old bull walking along a beach, he looked like he was beachcombing!