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When picking a cruise, there are many things to consider.  Future passengers must consider cost, itineraries and ports of call, cruise lines, sailing dates, state room options and more.  Sometimes, figuring all of these things out can be daunting.  This can be even more challenging when there is a sale, shortening the window of time to make a decision.

Not long ago, we were planning a trip over Christmas break.  This is the most expensive time of year to travel, but my work office closes for the entire week!  This makes it almost impossible not to seize the opportunity and sneak away somewhere.  We had exhausted many options until we finally found a sale on a very affordable west coast cruise out of Long Beach, California.  While the itinerary on this 3-day cruise wasn’t thrilling, it worked.  And, it would get us out of our dreadful Rocky Mountain winter for a few days, allowing us to enjoy some time in the Mexican sun.  We booked the cruise, and planned a few additional days exploring Los Angeles.

This cruise gave us two days at sea!

We were fine with having two days at sea for the reasons mentioned above, plus we just wanted a few days to relax, snooze on the ship’s deck, and recharge our batteries.  Most of the time, we are very active when we travel, but sometimes it is nice to just chill for a bit.

While this ship’s pool and deck area was a bit small, it was still very nice.

 

We took Uber to the Port of Long Beach, and on our way there our driver asked us where all our cruise was going.  Our only stop on this cruise was Ensenada, Mexico.  He quickly stated, “Ensenada is boring”.  We both glanced at each other with a slightly concerned look, but brushed it off.  Regardless, we were still excited for our laid-back vacation.

Looking out our port hole window at Ensenada, Mexico.

 

We elected not to go on any excursions for a few reasons:

  1. We don’t always do them because they are expensive.
  2. There is an economic issue when booking these straight through the cruise line.  If you want to learn more, I have a great post on my blog where you can learn about this!
  3. Sometimes we just want to explore port cities and the surrounding areas on our own.
  4. On this particular cruise, none of the excursions looked the least bit fun.

 

Not long after we disembarked in Ensenada, we discovered how right that Uber driver was!  We walked multiple laps around the town’s streets just killing time.  Most of that time was spent politely refusing constant offers to braid my hair for $20.00.  There was a hint of desperation in these offers.  Still, we continued to endlessly wind our way up and down all of the streets.  As our blogging buddies over at Travel Latte told us, “Ensenada.  My mom always used to say it was Ense-nada… because there is nothing there!”

We walked up and down the main street in Ensenada again and again.

 

In all honesty, this is one place I can easily say that I would never return to.  Ensenada just really didn’t float my boat and I can say our time there was less than exciting.  But, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about this cruise and this sleepy little Mexican town.  I wondered what would happen to Ensenada if cruise ships no longer visited here?  Sure, there really isn’t much of anything to do here and I could easily see cruise lines pulling this stop off their itinerary.  But, what would that do to the locals who depend on the floods of visitors to make their living?  I also had to wonder – are Ensenada’s daily cruise ship visitors spending money here, or are they wandering around as bored as we were?  Many other cruise ports are bursting at the seams with daily passengers.  Little places like Ensenada get a fraction of the traffic.  More passengers visiting and spending money here would bolster the economy for all.

These are the types of things I ponder since getting my degree in Sustainable Tourism.

While we generally enjoy the port cities on cruise itineraries, this just wasn’t the case with Ensenada, Mexico.  I often find myself wondering if others who have stopped here, but gone on to other ports like Cabo, Mazatlán, etc. maybe enjoyed their cruises more than we did?  Can Ensenada learn something from these more popular ports?  Perhaps focusing efforts on Ensenada could even help with some overtourism issues in these other hot spots.  Regardless, I guess there is a first time for everything.  Ensenada was my first time going to a cruise port which I did not enjoy whatsoever.

If you’ve ever been to Ensenada, Mexico tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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20 Comments

  1. One thing you mentioned really caught my attention: Maybe Ensenada could help overtourism in other areas by offering more. Of course, there are a host of issues – political and otherwise – that have kept Ensenada from being developed. And, for some, that is exactly the attraction. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been there, and, while I enjoyed the history museum and the Malecon, even then it seemed a little quiet. Thanks for the shout out, by the way! 🙂

  2. I like your perspective in your summary, especially as over-tourism is an issue, but it certainly sounds like Ensenada doesn’t have to worry about that despite it being a cruise port. It would be a shame for locals in a small place such as Ensenada to loose their income if cruise liners stopped going here. Interesting to see what ideas they may inject to keep people coming. #feetdotravel

  3. I live in San Diego, so this isn’t too far away, but I’ve never had the least desire to visit. Your post is helpful, because I like to visit places with lots to do. The sticky point is, as you say, tourism helps sustain the economy. Hmmm. . . .

  4. It’s and interesting read as so many cruise ports get overcrowded and feel like shunning tourists away, like Venice and Dubrovnik. I guess Ensenada could benefit from this or maybe become one of those ‘relax for the afternoon’ towns.
    #FeetDoTravel

  5. I have never done cruising before, just only few hours one only. I sometimes also think to take excursions on our own instead from the cruise ones. I loved how you explored Ensenda by walking up and down the main street in Ensenada again and again.

  6. I have never been to Ensenada, but I have been to some ports that don’t have a lot to offer. Usually I like it when this happens, as I wonder around like you did and then head back to the ship to enjoy the peace and quiet when everybody else is off somewhere touring.

    1. We usually like ports that offer tons to see, do and experience. Maybe we should have just gone back to the ship and enjoyed the hot tub and pool while everyone was doing whatever it is they were doing in port!?

  7. I have never visited Ensenada, but I have been to other areas similar to what you are describing. This is an unfortunate circumstance. It does make me wonder why the cruise line would choose to port here if this is the experience of all of their guests?

    1. If they offered more, I think it could be great for the community. Time to start thinking outside of the box!

  8. This is really helpful! We live in CA and have often thought of taking this short cruise. Now we will choose something different, or at least with more ports!

  9. I’m not sure how much of an impact the cruises pulling this stop would have. Considering there is nothing to do, where are these tourists spending their money when the cruise docks anyway? The cruise line should really be working with the local tourism board on sustainable ways to offer an experience to guests. I’m very surprised that this is an area to port!

  10. I always wondered what disembarking with a few 1000’s of other passengers would be like, especially if there are immigration checks. I think the biggest cruise I have been on was on a 180-berth 1950’s post ship in Norway, so I’m really curious.

    1. Sometimes it really can be a zoo getting that many people off a ship, but they tend to do a pretty good job overall. It’s the worst when you can’t dock at the port and have to take the small boats in.

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