Carnival Cruise Mexico Re-Cap

Have you heard this song?

I see us on a beach down in Mexico

You can put your feet up

Be my senorita

We ain’t gotta rush

Just take it slow

It’s named after Bryan and I.

Now for the meat…the CRUISE!

Carnival Spirit

Our cruise disembarked out of San Diego on Friday, March 2nd. Since our flight was out of Salt Lake City at 8 am, that meant a 1 am wake-up time for Bryan and I. Crazy? Perhaps. After we made it to SLC and parked our car at a nearby Fairfield Inn, we hopped on the shuttle and easily made our flight to San Diego. Arriving in San Diego was great. We decided to take a bus to the marina because the airport is right next door to the airport. I was on cloud nine because the weather was sunny and there wasn’t a flake of snow in sight. I was actually giggling with excitement.

Guess Bryan was Excited Too

Boarding a cruise ship is really painless. These peeps have it down to a science. According to the website, each passenger is allowed to carry-on a six pack of soda and a bottle of wine. For any cruise virgins out there, soda pop  is NOT free on most cruises. The reason? To cut costs? Or maybe because they are the devil, I’m not sure.

As we checked our bags and made our way to the ticketing counter to pick up our nifty “sail and sign” cards, Bryan panicked because he realized we had foolishly left our two bottles of champagne in my suitcase, which was sure to be searched and thus confiscated. We asked the woman behind the ticketing counter if there was a way to save the champagne we so desperately wanted and she assured us it wouldn’t be a problem. We both found her non-nonchalant attitude to be odd, as the website as well as numerous blogs and forums strictly advise against smuggling on any kind of alcohol in a suitcase. But after safely boarding the cruise and checking into our stateroom, we found our bag to be untouched and our champagne safely inside.


Our cruise schedule looked like this:

  • Leave from San Diego
  • 2 days at sea
  • Manzanillo
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Cabo San Lucas (2 days)
  • 1 day at sea
  • Ensanada

After saying “Bon Voyage!” to San Diego and toasting with a glass of champagne, we headed down to our room to get ready. Our room was located on the 6th deck, or the “Empress” deck. It was so nice that Carnival named the whole floor after me!

And this is when I began to feel it.


Yes, contrary to popular belief cruise liners DO sway. Even the big ones like the Carnival Spirit. Even now, more than week after being on land I still sometimes feel like I’m still at sea. Especially when I’m on the treadmill, go figure.

We opted for the late dinner at 8:15 and were ushered to our table in the Empire dining room which was a 6 top. We were so happy to discover that our table mates were four of the most awesome people you could ask for. Each night in the dining room was such a pleasure getting to know Justin, Katie, Jeremy and Amy. If you’re reading – hi guys!! The dinners were always tasty and the kitchen was flexible about making little changes.

Each day we received our Cruisers itinerary which was chalked full of the days happenings. These tri-fold letters reminded me of the little newsletter at my grandmother’s old-folks home. But instead of titles like, “Gertrude Wins at Bingo!” or, “Bus to the Grocery Store Leaves at 10!”. It was “Bean Bag Toss Tournament on the Lido Deck!” and “Musicals Trivia at the Fountain Cafe!”.

And just in case you’re wondering, of course I went to musicals trivia. The woman played a small portion of 20 different Broadway songs and we had to guess which musical it was from. I came in second place next to two woman in their 50’s who obviously were both fellow lovers of musical theater. I actually was a little ticked when I found out the winners received a little trophy. I want a trophy goddammit.

The first days at sea were a little cold with the wind chill but by the afternoon it would warm up enough to lay out on the outer decks. Bryan and I took full advantage of the lounge chairs and I read while he studied to our hearts delight. I brought along this number which I thoroughly enjoyed.

And now I kinda want to be Amish. For real.

It’s no secret that cruise passengers are well-fed. However well-fed is an gross understatement. It’s true, room service is free and available 24 hours per day. And yes, aromas of pizza, ice cream and other deep-fried delights are wafting through the air any time of the day. I’d say about 3/4 of our fellow Spiriters gladly partook in these indulgences and often. Let’s just put it this way, if you are ever feeling bad about your body just go on a cruise…enough said.

That being said, which needed to be said by the way – there is also a plethora of other delicious (and nutritious) eats available as well. I frequented the salad bar nearly every day we weren’t out in port and also had fro-yo. The rotation was only chocolate, vanilla and strawberry but coupled with my kiped boxes of cereal from the breakfast bar and it was better than a trip to Pinkberry!

Our 3rd night at sea, Bry and I went to the “fancy” steakhouse at the top of the ship and had an unforgettable meal. But fancy dinners always require a little pre-funking in the room.

Ay! Champagne!

Bryan wisely decided to wear black and yellow because it was a romantic evening and well, it also commemorates our song.

Black and Yellow Black and Yellow

Stunna Shades on the Balcony

Bryan ordered the ahi for his starter, tenderloin for his entree and chocolate sampler for dessert.

Carnival Spirit Steakhouse

I had the crab cake, surf and turf and the apple galette.

This dinner was incredibly delicious and priced reasonably at $30 per person. Our only complaint (and one that Bryan almost could not get over) was the bellowing voice of the lounge singer from the atrium below, whose songs carried like a bird up to the steakhouse diners. I burst out laughing as soon as we thought his set was over and then he started belting out, “Cause I’m freeeeee! Free Fallin!”. Damn you Tom Petty!

The next day was our first stop in Manzanillo.

Carnival Cruise Manzanillo

Since Bryan and I didn’t book a “shore excursion” through Carnival, we were left to our own vices. So I went out looking for what any normal American gal would want.

Coke Light


As we strolled the streets of Manzanillo, Bryan decided it was time for lunch. We decided against any place that was laden with tourists, or was blasting that boom-chick boom-chick polka-style music. True to form, B decided on a complete hole in the wall. Too many Anthony Bourdain episodes I guess. As our server spouted off what I assumed to be the lunch options in Spanish, I was curious to know what Bryan would say. After muttering “pollo” and nodding a few times, it was clear that he had ordered food. When the food came, I stuck to drinking my Coke Light as Bryan sampled the various sauces that were sitting in small plastic bowls on the table. He has the Superman of stomachs.

After lunch, we continued perusing.

Street in Manzanillo, Mexico

Pretty sure the guy in the truck is giving us a half thumbs up. WTF.

Since the hour was easily past noon, we decided it was time for some much needed alcohol. You see, 12:00 is that magical time when drinking becomes classy and appropriate as opposed to trashy. You get it.

Once again, we avoided all the bars that were packed with fellow Carnival Spiriters. We were in Mexico dammit, and we wanted to drink our margaritas without feeling like it was a Friday night at Applebees. That was when we stumbled upon Bar Social. It was quiet, clean and had this kind of old-school charm about it. Bar Social kept the drinks simple and easy – 4 kinds of beer and small handful of tequilas and liquors. We immediately settled into two seats at the bar and ordered “dos cervezas por favor”.

As you can see, the bartender brought over a number of different bites for us to nibble on as well. We had chips and salsa, guac, mahi mahi ceviche, a potato salad and some kind of root vegetable (maybe yucca?).

We continued to sample the different beers.

I liked Corona the best, I think it’s the font.

After taking tequila shots and chatting with a few American couples who lived in Manzanillo we were off to the ship. Goodbye Manzanillo!

Manzanillo, Mexico

After a nice long siesta in the comfort of our stateroom, we made it down to dinner, scored some fro-yo, watched TV then went to bed. Easy peasy.

We woke up in Puerto Vallarta!

Carnival Cruise Stop in Puerto Vallarta

Once we had gotten off the ship and safely avoided getting another lame picture taken of us, we decided to walk around the city. Btw, do any other cruise vets despise the whole getting your picture taken a thousand times thing? Each time I just made my poses more and more gangsta and never ONCE did I smile. Jokes on you Carnival.

Obviously, we made an obligatory American visit to Starbucks.

The Classic Gary D. Point

The American in us was also tempted to visit the Chili’s next door for a sizzlin’ entree. But we resisted.

Then we shopped.

Hot pink sombrero


Sadly the only way I figured to get this home was to wear it, which of course I don’t have a problem with. However Bryan assured me I would be traveling alone.

After we walked around for a million miles it was time for a brew. Grabbing cheap drinks is a snap when you’re on a cruise. Vendors and little bars set up literally right off the boat so it’s easy to get yer drink on and then sloppily slowly make your way back to your room.

Now which place should we choose?


Bucket of Beer

Silliness ensued.



Bryan isn't amused

I believe we called it an early night.

The next day we arrived in beautiful Cabo San Lucas!

This will be the one AND only bathing suit shot you'll ever see on this blog so consider yourself lucky.

We made our way down to beach and settled into lounge chairs at the Mango Deck. Since it was spring break for the youngins, Bry and I got to experience all the wonder that well, happens to college kids on spring break. Including but not exclusive to:

A booty shaking contest. Naturally, I raised my hand to be a judge but then I figured out you had to pay. Psh! They should be paying me!

Mango Deck booty shaking

The Winner turned out to be a skinny white girl. REPRESENT.

There was also a beer chugging contest, customers versus employees. The prize was free tequila shots. Guess who won?

When in Rome?

Don’t judge ok? I thought they would hand them out in little shot glasses, but when I got up there it was just me and a bottle.

Feelin It

After while we got hungry and decided to head next door to the Office for lunch. We had steak nachos and our favorite Diablo Blanco cerveza. I thought it was just meh compared to our last time in Mexico.

We crashed early again when we got back on the boat. Maybe there’s a theme going on here?

Our second day in Cabo included a trip to lovers beach. The first water taxi vendor quoted us $15 per person. Then we overheard another group tell a different vendor that he had promised them a rate of $3 per person, each way. Bryan and I made our way over to that guy and literally jumped on his boat. Sucka!

Lovers beach was gorgeous per usual.

Lovers beach

When we got back to the marina, Bry decided to grab some lunch while I hit the nearby flea market. Overwhelmed (kinda like when you haven’t been to Forever 21 in a while), I ended up leaving with only a little yellow sundress and was able to meet Bryan at the restaurant.

You can't really see it here, but trust me, I'm wearing it

As we got back on the boat, Bryan said that his throat was a little sore and he had a cough. We ended up taking it easy that night but ended up getting some amazing pictures of the famous Cabo arch as we pulled out of port.

Cabo San Lucas Arch

The next day was another full day at sea. This ended up working to our advantage, as Bryan was feeling even worse. Even after taking Day Quil, he still felt sick. Also note that the Day Quil he bought at the Cruise gift shop was $18. So. Effing. Expensive.

We had a little movie/nap/reading fest in our room almost all day. I surfaced for dinner and procured his and hers turkey sandwiches and a few cookies. Then it was lights out in hopes of a healthier next day.

Our next and final stop was Ensenada! Bryan felt a little better and the sun was shining so we decided to go for a walk and buy a nice bottle of sipping tequila for back home. Ensenada isn’t much to look at but it was a beautiful day.

Statue in Ensanada

Weird statue

After we purchased said bottle of tequila Bry turned to me and said, “What they hey, how about one more margarita?”. I obliged. We found a nice outdoor table at a Carnival-approved restaurant called Mango Mango and ordered a beer for me and a marg for Bryan.

Bryan with our new bottle of tequila

Mango Mango

After our $10 tab came (a little steep for Mexico) we ventured else where. We noticed a sign down the street for a 2 for 1 margarita deal, done and done. Again, Bry ordered the marg and I a beer (didn’t want to chance it with the ice). After a few minutes, a couple of fellow Spiriters sat down across the aisle from us and they ordered a bucket of beers. In Ensenada, a bucket included 10 beers. Their eyes widened in shock and then they happily offered us two of their beers. We ended up joining tables and had great conversation about the trip. A few beers deep and we noticed another couple from the cruise. We invited them over and they also ordered a bucket-o-beers. Well, beers turned into shots and conversation turned into shouted slurs. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Started Out Innocently Enough

The Double Fist Rears its Ugly Head

Bryan is Keeping it Cool

We Have Chiclets!!

New Friends!

And the Money Shot

We ended up spending the better part of the day at this bar and when the clock read 3:30 we had to scoot. A quick shuttle ride later and Bryan and I were safely back in our stateroom. We ended up passing out taking a nap until almost 9 o’clock. Thank God for the late night pizza buffet.

The next day we were back in sunny San Diego and one looooong travel day later, back in Jackson. The cruise was awesome and I can’t wait to take another someday (maybe Caribbean?).

When I arrived back at work, I was greeted with this.

Justin Bieber Doll

Justin Bieber Singing Doll

Viva Mexico!


6 thoughts on “Carnival Cruise Mexico Re-Cap

  1. Kim Schultz says:

    So this “some kind of root vegetable (maybe yucca?).” you speak of is jicama!!! It’s delish with hot sauce! I ventured out and tried it in Mexico!!!


    • Natalie says:

      Ah yes! I have actually tried jicama before but not with hot sauce. I’ll have to give it a whirl! Thanks for the tip Kim!


  2. Kailey says:

    Two unrelated things:

    1. I’ve never really wanted to go on a cruise…but now I do! But how tiny are the rooms? That might bother me.

    2. I have a feeling we are the same height!


    • Natalie says:

      Hey Kailey – Thanks for reading!

      1.The rooms are definitely smaller than a standard hotel room. However, my biggest and most important tip for a cruise is to upgrade to a balcony. I would have felt SO claustrophobic otherwise. Plus, the balcony rooms are usually bigger.
      2. I think we are the same height too. I am a little over 5’11” (my family calls it 6 foot denial).

      Let me know if you ever book one! I can give you some cruise clothes tips too :).


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