What with the economy being the way it is, and my husband losing his job, a vacation didn't seem like an option this year. So when I saw a 4 day cruise for under $200 for California residents? I jumped on it.
The Carnival Paradise departs from the Long Beach port, so we decided to head down a day early and see the Aquarium of the Pacific and stay on the Queen Mary, something we've been trying to make time for since we met 4 years ago.
I bought our Aquarium tickets online, and saved $5 a ticket. Very nice. I would recommend visiting on a weekday to avoid crowds, as I have done in the past. It was VERY crowded, and a special Native American event was going on which only added to the chaos. Bring your own bottled water and drinks in. My husband spent $4 for a Coke.
The jellyfish exhibits were my favorite. The touch-tanks where you can pet rays and shark was my husband's.
We could check in to the Queen Mary at 4pm. The signs in downtown Long Beach are fairly user friendly, you just have to pay close attention. We opted to park our own car and save the $4 on valet. Nothing special about the valet lot.
Thus began our night aboard the Queen Mary Hotel, which I also got online at a discounted rate. I was not expecting much. It's a ship, and an old ship at that. They have made renovations to the touristy areas; the shopping galleria, the decks, the hallways. All very good attempts at preserving the historial significance. They have not made it into the staterooms. We had a "first class stateroom" facing the harbor and city. 2 portholes gave us a fairly nice view. The room is small, with some original details like light fixtures and tile. But the carpet is torn and soiled, the bed was one of the most uncomfortable I've ever slept in, and they only gave us one tiny pillow per person. The walls are super thin, which is to be expected, but our neighbors slept with the TV on full blast. I didn't sleep a wink.
We did the Ghosts and Legends Tour at a discounted price for guests. Cheesy and hokey with way too much Disneyland-like overdramatization and special effects, but gave us a nice trip into places like the old pool that are not open to general visitors. We dined at the Promende restaurant which was tasty if not a bit overpriced. Did NOT see any ghosts. All in all I it was kind of fun to stay here, but I won't be doing it again.