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.
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.
We elected not to go on any excursions for a few reasons:
- We don’t always do them because they are expensive.
- 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!
- Sometimes we just want to explore port cities and the surrounding areas on our own.
- 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!”
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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