Once again we were bound for Mexico, this time aboard Carnival Imagination

.. By Joe Hilbers

It was time to get aboard a cruise ship again and this time it was Carnival Imagination for a four day cruise to Catalina and Ensenada.

For This Writer these cruises, and almost everything else we do, is considered a writing assignment for "Vittles, Vintages & Voyages" so there were appointments at both Avalon on Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico as well as seeking story opportunities aboard the Imagination.

And now we must give attention to our new blog 'vittlesvintagesvoyagesblog.blogspot.com as well. Then there are postings to be made on Facebook to show that we are working and not loafing. But then we must not complain.

This was our sixth cruise on Carnival, each on a different ship so we set out to learn what we could about Imagination. It had just completed a sixteen day voyage from Miami through the Panama Canal to Long Beach.

One of the first activities once aboard is learn where all the events and places you wish to attend are located. Generally where the food is being served rates top priority. Each guest is provided with a map for this purpose but for many, this Writer included, true orientation occurs about the time the voyage is concluded.

Next comes a study of what opportunities present themselves at the ports of call. For This Writer this meant meeting Gail Fornaisiere, media director, at the Santa Catalina Island Museum. We had met Gail on previous occasions and this time she greeted me with the news that a new building is being erected in the center of Avalon that will be the Museum's new home.. The new building will allow the Museum to extend its exhibitions in many subjects since the floor space with be over triple what it now enjoys. Our story on the Museum rates a Vittles story in a future issue.

If you decide to remain aboard ship while in port, and many people do, you are guaranteed a restful, leisurely, relaxing day away from the usual bustle. We finished our shore assignment early, returned to the ship and had the Imagination Library all to ourselves during the afternoon. The library is elaborately decorated with spiraling gold pillars and furnished with overstuffed chairs with windows looking to the never ending sea. We admired the carpets and thought how nice one would look in our office. There is an excellent selection of books in locked cabinets requiring an attendant to check books out.

In talking with other passengers we learned that many consider time aboard ship much more important than the ports of call. And some never leave the ship. In short cruising is about being pampered and served in ways most people do not experience on shore.

In Ensenada my shore excursion to Baja's wine country is in in a separate story. Our day at sea was made to order as far as the weather and conditions were concerned. A cloudless sky, a smooth sea, an actually warm sun kept many on the open deck and pool play areas. A meeting of veterans aboard took place in the morning which I attended and we all enjoyed our informal gathering. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were all present and accounted for. There was a lot of gray hair. Meeting one of my newly met comrades later he remarked it was one of the things he enjoyed most on the cruise.

In the afternoon it was English Tea time an event which I always attend on every cruise.

We used Spirit dining room at every opportunity and again was impressed with menu and service aboard Imagination. There were new items each evening and a brunch has been added. The "Dd You Ever Try' appetizer changes daily with offerings like Escargot Bourgeoise, cured salmon, sushi or alligator fritters.

Some of our entrees included a memorable Flat Iron Steak which was a marvel for its flavor and tenderness as well as our lobster tail and grilled shrimp one evening.

Using the same Southern California Restaurant Writer evaluation as on shore we gave Imagination five stars for its Spirit and Pride dining rooms.

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Last Update:2/23/14

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