PHOTO: Carnival Inspiration docked in Ensenada. (photo by Heidi Leppert)

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I ducked out of our normal lives for a quick getaway. We made the two-hour drive from San Diego to Long Beach to board a 3-day cruise onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Inspiration. This was a new ship for both of us, and the itinerary took us down to Ensenada and back, Friday-Monday.

We opted to stay on the ship for our only port day, having been to Ensenada many times before. After all, as one of the comedians in The Punchliner Comedy Club joked, Ensenada is Spanish for “stay on the ship.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a cruise this short, and I want to talk about the long-standing assumption that 3-day cruises, especially those over weekends, attract a party crowd and are commonly known as “booze cruises.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with a booze cruise! I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain just as much as the next person. But what I don’t like is the behavior of obnoxiously drunk people. We did encounter a bit of that. I do think it was still a relatively small percentage of the passengers, but that small percentage can sure get loud.

I wonder if it has to do with the Cheers! program. Carnival offers an “all you can drink” package of sorts. For $50 a day (or $55 if you don’t pre-book the package), you can order up to 15 drinks a day. I think my liver is pickling just thinking about that many drinks. But as a self-proclaimed bargain-hunter, I do see the appeal.

On this cruise, for $150, you can essentially drink as much as you want and not have to worry about the bar bill. You can order Grey Goose instead of sticking to house vodka in an attempt to pinch a few pennies. On a 7-day cruise, this package would cost you $350. I can see the appeal of a 3-day party for $150, but 7 days sounds exhausting and makes me a little queasy.

I think the rumors can be true. I think 3-day weekend cruises on standard cruise lines are going to skew more towards a booze cruise atmosphere. BUT:

Never let another person ruin your vacation.

I truly believe this. Sure, we all get annoyed by certain behaviors. For all I know, I was annoying people for being a fuddy duddy and not joining in on the fun. With some exceptions (safety, human decency, etc.), people should be free to have the kind of vacation they want to have.

You want to go to a particular bar, but it’s full of obnoxious drunk people? Get a cocktail to go and play cards in a quiet corner of the ship instead.

Seated by a group of people at dinner who are rambunctious and making it hard for you to have a conversation with your table mates? Ask the maitre d’ to be relocated.

But why should I compromise?

Because the alternative is to sit there and be miserable. Because you can’t always get exactly what you want. Because you paid $179 for your cruise.

If you are looking for something more upscale, my advice is to pay for something more upscale. Cruise during the week, cruise for 5+ days, choose a premium cruise line.

Oh, and for the record, my husband and I had a fantastic time. Despite some minor annoyances, I’d do it again!

Carnival Cruise Line will always be in our vacation rotation. There’s so much to love – Guy’s burgers and BlueIguana tacos, The Punchliner Comedy Club, the friendly and approachable staff, the great value, the Alchemy Bar, the trivia, and obviously the most important: the chocolate melting cake.

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