Carnival Radiance cruise with children

Ensenada, Mexico

Thing one and two, a carnival cruise experience for you

It has been a long three months of Hiatus not writing or updating anything on this website. Life happens, beautiful memories unfold and I have to be there to capture it, to write about it in full circle. The last few months my family and I have been exploring the world and culture aboard the Carnival cruise line out of Los Angeles California. Taking multiple drives from southern California to Ensenada made this an easy choice for my family. A great introduction to the beautiful Mexican culture for my family and the children. This is a three part series blog. We start by sailing along the Baja coastline and into the friendly and quaint town of Ensenada aboard the Carnival Cruise Radiance off of Long beach California sea port. A four day three night cruise to the beautiful Catalina Island and Ensenada Mexico. 

There are a few important layers of significance I want to mention about this experience. The expected layer of refined and ambitious laid back-pampered vacation coupled with generous serving of food, beautiful scenic panorama and the breathtaking ocean view. This blog is for families with children on their very first time to board a cruise ship. To get the feel of what it’s like before you embark on your own itinerary; a glimpse into your first family sail. This might be that little push for you to finally commit and take the leap aboard the ship. I will incorporate the beautiful Mexican culture into this travel blog and the diverse character(s) that we have met along the way. This particular cruise line, the Carnival radiance, is a twelve floor level ship, with levels one to eight for shops, rooms, dining. Levels  nine for the Lido dining deck and levels ten to twelve for sun, sports and sky deck for more outdoor activity and fun under the sun. 

You will always find yourself engaged with a thing or two of family activities to do on the ship. There is not a single hour to waste, not a single minute of bored kids even without cellular and mobile network. Only a little bit of walking, which you need, before you find yourself engaged in a different activity. The announcement on the intercom is always informative coming from the cruise director. Swayed in perseverance to explore one more level below and meet a wonderful staff eluding in generous smiles- you have yourself a vacation plenty of hospitality to spoil you. The captain and his well wishes and the cruise director that’s always giving you the upcoming events on the ship. This and coupled with the cruise line’s own app you can  download and you are set to plan for the days ahead. 


Download carnival cruise hub on any mobile device to see daily activities and book fine dining at your convenience. I don’t advise paying for wifi on the ship since you don’t need one to open the app. If you have roaming enabled on your device or network, you are able to pick up roaming network signals when the ship docks to a port. This is the perfect time to disconnect and reconnect with the family. Here is our itinerary we followed during our five day cruise. 

We have met people with hearts of gold and beautiful smiles coming from the different continents of the world. Take for example our wonderful cruise room attendant Mangko from the beautiful country of Indonesia. He’s one with a generous smile and will drop whatever he has in his hand to pamper you with the utmost comfort. He’s already made his round up and down the long hall towards the front balcony row on deck eight even before anyone is awake on this vessel. Very early into his shift he makes his very corner spotless. The beautifully decorated room decors hanging on many door frames celebrates a design to compliment the celebrants to his neat and welcoming animal made towel roll, exclusively clean, comfortable service- with a joyful charisma towards the children. He is our very favorite. Many on this ship share the same passion and dedication to their work. A value and integrity that radiate from the work ethics they show.

Iver is another joy to have during fine dining. He has a wonderful charisma, one that can light up the room. His team is an incredible part of this cruise line’s many success. One of the very key reasons why we keep coming back to sail aboard a cruise ship like Carnival cruise line.

The itinerary aboard Carnival radiance 

day 1 

If you are traveling from out of state or a few hours away, you can find parking space within the carnival port. You will need to pay a daily fee to park. During peak season when the parking spaces are full, the cruise line provides a few alternative parking spaces minutes away from the port with a complimentary shuttle to take you to and vice versa from the port. When you book for the cruise line they will provide you with boarding time on the ship.

Muster call

Once on the ship, set aside  a few minutes of your time to locate your muster station and learn a few safety instructions. The staff is always willing to assist you. Muster call is just as important as your very own passport and ticket to board this ship so make sure to set aside this time. It does not take long and many of the muster stations are located conveniently throughout the ship. 

Grab your snack at the Lido on your first day and the very first hour you board the ship. Getting here as early as twelve noon is my suggestion for any first time traveler to enjoy a free lunch on the ship, explore the many levels before the crowd and before sailing. This gives you plenty of time to find your way around and enjoy the upper deck when everyone else is grabbing food to eat.

Visit one of the children’s fun stations on deck nine for a fun activity on the rope course, a basketball game, foosball, waterslides and many more. You might want to enroll the kids in the camp ocean free of charge for fun activities while you and the wife enjoy a few uninterrupted time together.

Day 2; Fun day at Sea

enjoying solitude with a cup of coffee while the kids are asleep and before the start of a fun filled day ahead.

Green eggs breakfast with Cat and the hat

A must thing to do with thing one and two. This fun dining and activity will surely bring many smiles and a wonderful appetite to go along. The activity starts with a wonderful breakfast (pre-booked before sailing) with the famous green eggs, a visit from thing one and two and a wonderful selection of fun and delicious serving of decorated sweets. A nice photo opportunity after breakfast with cat and the hat himself before the fun begins.

The activity then proceeds to a parade with cat and his crew across the ship. We then gathered for a nice story time with all of cat’s friends that bring the imagination to a whole new level of fun and engagement. Play and dance along during this intimate story telling time.

This wonderful breakfast with thing one and two proceeded with a fun parade with Cat in the Hat will surely make an impression with the kids and a memory to play for many years

Day 3; Beautiful Picturesque Catalina

The next day we prepared for our first port call early in the morning. Be ready to eat a nice breakfast before exploring the island.

Catalina island is a lovely island just off the coast of California. Santa Catalina, one of California’s Channel Islands, lies southwest of Los Angeles. The ship will anchor close  to the resort town of Avalon and a tender boat will take you to the port. 

from the ship a tender boat will take you to Avalon port (asterisk) and a walking distance to one of the golf cart rentals (1 and 2) as seen on the map

Golf cart tour

If you are looking for an adventure and don’t want to buy the excursion through the cruise line like we did, you can pursue your adventure and rent a Golf cart at one of the few convenient golf cart rental locations. If you have four or less people in your party, island rentals inc. has two to four seater golf carts and they usually have shorter lines and fewer crowds. Cartopia cart rentals on the other hand has up to 6 or eight seater golf carts but with a longer line. You can take a tour around Avalon with a provided map to enjoy this excursion for a whole hour all to yourself and on your own time. Make sure to bring the camera and a generous sunblock for the kids. This tour will take you to sweeping vistas and guided town maps. 

There are other activities you can book through the cruise line to explore Catalina Island so make sure to book these in advance.

you can also rent a bike in one of these rental places for a more intimate tour around the beautifully decorated island.

Day 4; Ensenada, Mexico

The quaint and friendly town of Ensenada in Baja California. A wonderful introduction to the Mexican culture of authentic food, friendly people, lush rolling hills of beautiful distant home sitting atop hillside and a short distance adventure walk you can do without having to use any transportation.

1. carnival cruise port, 2. Bandera monumental (food stand, fountain), 3, plaza Civica de la patria, 4 flea market, 5 la Guerrerense Carreta (Antony Bourdain’s favorite restaurant), then go back to 2 (Bandera monumental) and back to the ship. Click here to view the map in google.

This map will give you a quick guide to stroll Ensenada on your own without taking the shuttle from the ship that will drop you to Plaza Civica. Follow the few spots numbered and listed on the map to experience a beautiful side of Ensenada that can be done in just a few hours of an easy walk with the family. You can squeeze this time in after your excursion with the cruise if you have booked one. It is a walking distance within the port. Make sure to carry with you water for the whole family. We use a 1.2 L water bottle filled with ice water from the Lido restaurant on the ship.

After getting off the ship, turn left and head to Puente Peatonal Bahia bridge. Walk a little further down from this bridge until you find Bandera Monumental. Your first site to see. (Number 2 on the map).

Bandera monumental

Enjoy the atmosphere here. Make a quick stop along the few food stand but eat lightly, just enough to get by to store up energy before strolling along this route and the flea markets you will hit along the way. Save a nice appetite for a later tostada treat you don’t want to miss. The water fountain here is a beautiful display with the cruise ship in the background. Many of the restaurant here have bathrooms but anywhere else you will have to pay in one of the many public bathrooms. There is a free portable potty along Plaza Civica if you must.

This is a very short walking distance from the ship. make sure to wear comfortable shoes and a nice shaded hat for a fun filled day to experience beautiful Ensenada.

Plaza Civica de la Patria

The Plaza Civica de la Patria is Ensenada’s central square, buzzing with friendly locals and visitors. It is just a street across La Marina. A very short walking distance from the Bandera Monumental. Busts of some of Mexico‘s most important historical figures populate the plaza painted in gold that yell for attention, and rightfully so, along with vendors selling everything from jewelry to crafts, used books and street-food snacks that litter delicious aroma along many of the streets. A gigantic flag that gently sway in unison with the gliding seagull and, often, musicians make this a uniquely Mexican spot, perfect not only for shopping but also for photos and some dancing, if you must.

containing the busts of three historical figures: Benito Juarez (pictured here), Miguel Hidalgo and Venustiano Carranza.

Flea Market

From the Plaza Civica, you will need to cross highway 1. Find the McDonal’s off Federal Highway 1 and you won’t miss Av Adolfo Lopez Mateos street that glimmer in bright colors of purple and green hues. Wonderful shops and stalls you can shop along for a gift or two to bring home. There are also pharmacy and shopping stores conveniently located along these streets,

La guerrerense

After shopping and finding your souvenirs, head south along Av Adolfo Lopez Mateos about two blocks down. You will find La Guerrerense food stand. It is a humble small food truck just off Alvarado street but serve incredible authentic ceviche. This is a must before heading back to the ship and one you cannot miss. The authentic tostadas are famous and they do live up to the hype. The service here is really fast and people are friendly. Head here early if possible and don’t be discouraged with the long line. They are very quick and you will find yourself going through multiple plate before leaving. It is that good.

From here you will head west to Alvarado street. It will take you back to Bandera monumental and back to the ship. If you have enough spare time, Centro Social, Cívico y Cultural, Riviera de Ensenada is just a few blocks away from the monumental and is one you want to consider.

Tour La Bufadora blowhole

We did not book an excursion to the famous blowhole because we have driven down here before from California which is just a little over 4 hours from where we live, and a couple of hours from the San Diego boarder. But this is one to consider if you get a chance to sail with Carnival cruise to Ensenada. These photos were taken during our road trip which I will be covering soon.

Pina colada and the enormous serving of grilled shells are the wonderful authentic taste and serving of the locals here in Ensenada.

Teddy bear making

Our second activity of the day was a very engaging and memorable experience making teddy bears from scratch with the kids. Here the kids had the chance to choose their special character bear, stuffed the bear with a heart button with the children’s very personality attached with them and added accessories to personalize the bears to their liking; and of course with that, a few hefty charges. Well worth every penny in my opinion. 

The finished product and the imprinted smiles that made our day

Dining and food

On any cruise ship you will never go hungry. Most of the dining on the Lido or the buffet open during breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the buffet is closed, they have fast food open most of the hours during the day.

Pizza is served as late as two in the morning. Coffee and beverages are open all throughout the day on the Lido deck. If you like a nice serving of food you should set your time and book a table on the Carnival hub. The app will notify you when your table is ready. It’s that simple.

Fine Dining is a great experience with the family and a great way to meet the friendly staff on the ship. The menu(s) are delicious and are different everyday.


There are plenty of activity on this ship. Find your way to up on the last deck for a nice dip in the pool or a fun slide with the kids. There is a section for adult only and a camp ocean you can drop the kids off for a few hours of uninterrupted date with your spouse. The staff here are wonderful the kids love coming back to.

There are plenty of family activities you can do outdoors or indoors. The ship we were on was packed with guest but everyone was dispersed in different decks that made this vacation incredibly private and intimate with my family.

What to bring with you on your cruise

Swim wear is a must. A blow up floaty can be an option to bring but the pool area have life guards and floaters for the kids free to borrow. Bring plenty of sun wear like sun blocks, sun glasses and hats. You do not need to bring bottled water since water is available on the lido deck and fill your water bottle at anytime 24-7. You might want to bring few packs of soda if you like and is allowed on the ship. There are limited choices of beverage from iced tea to lemonade but that is enough for my family to not bring any extra on board the ship.


Before I conclude this post, I want to make sure to express my utmost gratitude to the wonderful staff and crew of Carnival Radiance that took my family in like their very own. The experience during the fine dining was nothing short of a family bond and just a welcoming atmosphere of dedicated young men and women who left home for months at a time to dedicate their service with unwavering gestures of hospitality. 

My daughter turned six on this holiday and she was treated like a princes as she wore her birthday outfit throughout the day. It was a magical experience and one full of laughter and smiles. We have made our second cruise ship on board Carnival Miracle shortly after this trip. Surely we enjoyed the service and the lifelong memories created on this adventure. Make sure to come back and join me on the next blogpost as I write about our adventure and road trip to Baja California exploring Rosarito for a day, exploring La Bufadora and boarding our second cruise ship this year aboard Carnival Miracle to Cabo san Lucas swimming with the dolphins.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”― Dr. Seuss, “Happy Birthday to You!”

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