So You & Your Friends Want to Take a Cruise?

 

Something cheap,  something out of LA, something short (because you all have different work schedules), something fun, and lets face it, the boat is the best part so who really cares about the destination?

Trust me when I say you will wind up on the same cruise as me- a 3 day Carnival Cruise out of Long Beach to Ensenada= $300.

Sailing on an 80’s Bally style Walmart of America= Priceless.

This is actually the main dance club on the ship, and yes for whatever reason there was a Mrs. Potato head that wandered around the boat- wat?

The Ups:

  1. Parking was $19/day and easy, & check-in was quick and painless TIP-you can even bring your own bottles of champagne in with you
  2. The alcohol package didn’t make sense for us and it was cheaper to splurge on bottles TIP- it was only $45 for champagne bottle service by the pool
  3. The Grand Dining Room was very delicious and was all inclusive. There was also a Guy Fieri burger joint which was great for lunch by the pool
  4. There is lots of karaoke to be sung (this is V important if you know me at all)
  5. There is an 18 or older jacuzzi and bar  area which weeded out the kiddies and the jacuzzi there was not as crowded
  6. The public areas were very clean and well tended to
  7. There’s music everywhere (live bands and shows) and a small casino which is where most of the people our age tended to be
A real dancer at the Grand Dining Room on the last night of the cruise- amazing

The Downs:

  1. Drink packages were upwards of $200 total per person (it’s per day regardless and your whole party HAS to opt in) and they charge you a full day even though you don’t arrive on the boat until 6pm the first day (TIP- skip the drink package  and opt in to pre-arranged bottle service which is in your room upon check in- a fifth of Patron was $100 and lasted the whole trip for 3 girls).
  2. The entertainment was just barely hitting the mark (this is only because I have been on fancy ships with some of the best entertainment I have ever seen, like above the quality of Cirque De Soleil & broadway shows- TIP- definitely attend the comedy shows)
  3. The rooms were VERY small and dated- think airplane restroom- same size, same furnishings… ew
  4. The pool was so crowded with children, I think I counted 14 kids in one jacuzzi- you won’t want to be in there during or after the kids leave for that matter… ew
  5. Un-related to the quality of the ship, the water was very rough & if you are interested I can give yo my friends number so she can explain to you what happens when you mix a hangover with terrible sea-sickness- (TIP just wear those weird tight anti-nausea bracelets the whole cruise so you don’t even have to worry about rockin’ the boat)
Our very small cabin

 

If you book this trip as a quick getaway and don’t expect 5 Star experience, then you will have a blast. There was a point after we got over the shock of the terrible 80’s carpet and the fast food style main cafeteria where we all looked at each other and said “Just go with it.” I think we did about 5 outfit changes a day because it was just fun to walk around in nautical attire with our Patron margaritas and take pictures and eat endless food. The shore excursion we did in Ensenada was most likely barely legal as they had us kayaking 10 foot swells to get up close to the very rocky La Bufadora (and some of the participants had never kayaked before).

Moral of the story is that if you are booking with a good group of friends then you will love this trip. If you are looking for a classy vacation getaway with trendy clubs and fine dining, then splurge an extra $300 on a Celebrity Cruise. We had a great time, but 3 days was definitely long enough for us to appreciate that which we ended up calling the ‘Spirit Airlines of the Sea’.

The Rise and Fall of the Valley Bar Scene

I have been super happy about the new generation of lounges, bars and cool hang outs that have started to repopulate the boulevard- mainly in Sherman Oaks. Murphs, The One Up, The Woodman, Tipple and Brine, Tunnel Bar, Bow & Truss, to name a few. Actually all of these places are WONDERFUL, but as gastropubs only.

The Problem

What happened to the grungy, out all night, meeting fun people, going to a house after party, valley scene? For the most parts, these bars close down by 1am, sometimes even midnight. I talked to a manager at one of the spots who said that as soon as they have hit their goal profit for a night, or have had a good night- they close.

I get it, it eliminates the late night drunks and shenanigans that come with that (cops, puke, fights, yelling), but come one guys, what about the people?? Who remembers Smiles? That place was as close to Anything Goes as you could get… no wonder it got shut down.

The Pros

– A more mature crowd- less drunk idiots and creepers

– Delicious and well made food and drinks

-Parking that is more convenient than over the hill

-A slew of bars near each other for hopping

-GAMES! Most places feature games, either board games like at Bow & Truss, actual arcade games like at The One Up, or pool tables at Brickyard in North Hollywood

The Cons

-These places are catered to already formed groups, it seems harder to meet new people. Most bars are not set up for cross mingling and feature secluded tables or couches

-Early closing time- Most people don’t leave their house until 10 or 11 so that doesn’t give much time.

-Every bar is the same- same hipster look and same vibe (the majority)

-No dancing… forget about it- head to Skinnys for that

So boo hoo… now we have to settle for good drinks, and good food- and an early night. These hipster bars and speak easy’s that used to be a dime a dozen a few years ago now seem to be the norm. I guess we will have to get our kicks elsewhere- but I am also not 21 any more, so maybe I should just accept a more mature atmosphere and good conversation over a Moscow Mule and a Grass Fed Beef Slider Trio.

[PS This does not put an end my continual quest to find the best night adventures LA and the valley have to offer]