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Photographer, self proclaimed foodie, blogger and regular contributor to The Disneyland Gazette podcast.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Cruise: Catalina!

Months earlier, I was perusing the Carnival website and looking at the excursions. Much to my surprise, I found a walking tour of the Casino for only $19 per person. I booked it immediately.

While we've taken this cruise itinerary several times before, we've never done a tour so we were excited to get to the island and begin our day.

Once on land, we checked-in with the tour operator and were told that we had approximately 30 minutes to kill before the tour started so we walked around for a bit just enjoying the old buildings.

When it was time for our tour to start, we were very surprised when we were told to get on a tram. In my head I was thinking, "Oh oh, did I check-in to the wrong tour?"

We followed the group and boarded the tram and the driver announced that we would first get to see the island from the hills and then we would go to the Casino. In actuality, we got much more!

First, we went through a few of the streets near the beach area and our driver was telling us all sorts of stories about the history of Catalina.

Then we drove along the water for a spell on our way up into the hills. Here is a nice view of our ship from the tram.

Now you can see that we've climbed up a bit...

Another cool view of our ship!

This was awesome and the picture doesn't do it justice. Keep in mind the big round building on the right... That's our ultimate destination.

We passed a pet cemetery and were surprised to learn that there are TWO of them on the island!

For you baseball buffs out there, these bungalows were used by the Cubs during spring training way back in the day. For more info on that, click here.

I'm glad that these buildings were kept and are now being used by the City of Avalon as offices, according to our driver.

Yes, I love trees but I wasn't shooting the tree...

I have zoomed in so you can see the deer. They just roam free. Pretty cool, right?

Back down by the water's edge and on our way to the casino!

I learned that the word CASINO originally was used to describe a place of entertainment.

As we approach...

Photo by Linda

This place blew me away. The details and craftsmanship are beyond compare. (Make sure you click on these photos to enlarge them.)

Look at these ticket booths. LOOK AT THEM! They are amazing!!

They let us go inside and wander around a but before going into the actual theater.

The details on the iron seat sides (I have no idea what they are called) are also incredible.

We watched a short documentary about the casino that was VERY interesting. The acoustics in this building are so good that when Radio City Music Hall was being designed, the architects from New York spent time in Catalina learning about the casino's design and construction so that it could be duplicated back in New York!

Back outside, I was amazed by the sheer beauty and intricacy of the lights that hang above.

What an idyllic view, just steps from the Casino!

Time to get back on the tram.

Once we were back on the main drag, we walked around a bit and decided to grab some lunch at Antonio's Pizzaria but just before walking in the door, I noticed this guy in the window. No matter where I go, I always find something Disney related!

The decor inside Antonio's is eclectic and fun. We opted to split a sandwich but for the life of me, I can't remember what we ordered and once it came, we devoured it before I thought about taking a picture of our food, LOL!

After lunch, we did quite a bit of window shopping and I spotted this shirt that I knew my Star Wars peeps would enjoy.

The weather was getting HOT HOT HOT so we went back to the ship.

When I was interviewed by Tommy on The Cruise Dudes, I said that we had eaten at Guy's Burger Joint after visiting Ensenada but when I was loading photos for this post, I realized that we had in fact, eaten at Guy's after visiting Catalina! (We really did work up an appetite after all that window shopping!)

So here I present to you my fully loaded bacon cheeseburger with jalapeños.

And here's what was left...

After that phenomenal burger, it was time to visit the Alchemy Bar which I had been dreaming about for months. I had a drink called the Antioxidant and boy was it strong.

I don't remember what Linda ordered but here are our drinks which we enjoyed while enjoying the view of the sea and sky.

Look at the colors in the sky! It was a great way to unwind, relax and pass the time away until dinner.

If you've never been to Catalina before and you are planning to cruise there with Carnival, I highly recommend booking the tour we took. It was very informative and fun. If you don't book a tour and decide to "wing it", you might end up like I did back in 2011.

Next time, we'll visit Ensenada...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Cruise: Early First Morning

Did I leave you hanging? It should come as no surprise that I hardly slept that first night. I swear it sounded like someone was rolling a bowling ball!

I crawled out of bed at six, got dressed and went in search of some coffee. As I walked up the stairs, I knew that even though I REALLY wanted coffee, it would have to wait because I also wanted to take some pictures before the ship was crawling with people. I'm so glad I put the coffee on hold.

It sounds corny but the ship looked so magical at this hour of the morning.

I used both my camera and my phone to take several shots. Here is one shot in Panorama mode on my phone.

The sun was starting to come up and the sky was an amazing color of blue.

Now, it was time to enjoy some coffee!

To my right, the sunrise...

To my left, Catalina.

I realized that this would be the perfect time to check out the water park area of the ship! As I approached, I was in awe of the tubular water slide.

And them...I was distracted by the unbelievebly beautiful sunrise!

OK, where was I? Oh ya, water park!

Look towards the backgrond and you will see the unique way they fill the splash zone.

Once again, that sunrise distracted me. It was just like something out of a magazine.

I walked all the way to the back end of the ship and fell in love with this view. I found out a couple of days later that the lower deck you see here is the Serenity area - adults only. I'm glad I got a picture of it when I did because when we actually visited the Serenity deck, it was PACKED with people and the vibe was more like a meat market. 12 people crammed into a hot tub made for 6 - Ugh!

This photo was taken only a minute after the last one. You can see that this would be a nice area to hang out in if it wasn't crowded.

Next, I went down to the indoor area of the ship to explore. I took dozens of pictures but if I add them here, this will be the longest blog post ever so if you really want to see the inside of the ship, you can find video by The Cruise Dudes here.

OK, here is one picture I took while exploring the ship, LOL!

I wanted a quick and light breakfast because in a couple of hours, we were taking a walking tour of the Casino on Catalina.

The inside of the buffet restaurant remined me of Ursula for some reason...

After breakfast, I was about to head back to my cabin but this guy caught my attention.

By the time I got back to the cabin, Linda was up and almost ready. I mentioned to her about not sleeping well because of the noise I heard all night. It was a big surprise to me when Linda said that she thought we were near a bowling alley because of all the noise going on throughout the night! I assured her that there wasn't a bowling alley on the ship - at least, I didn't think there was!

To be continued...