Royal Caribbean 3 day cruise – Long Beach to Ensenada

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Itinerary: Los Angeles to Ensenada

Cruise Length: 4 nights

Accommodation Level: Balcony

In my book, west coast quick cruises, meaning less than a week are great for a few reasons: First, if you haven’t been on a cruise before, they are a great introductory opportunity to get your feet wet so to speak in the cruise lifestyle.  Second, the waters off the west coast tend to be a bit smoother if you are a first-time cruiser or a bit unsure about getting on one of these big boats. Third, If you have cruised before, they are usually pretty cheap compared to other cruise itineraries. If you don’t care about being in a balcony, a few hundred dollars per person and a plane flight from your location can net an affordable vacation. Bot how is it to cruise if your have low or no vision? Let’s talk about it.

The basics

First things first, if you are new to cruising and you or someone you are traveling with has low or no vision, check out our cruise basics page which will give you all sorts of information around food offerings, entertainment and getting on and off the boats. You can find the link below.

Ultimate guide to cruising blind or visually impaired

The itinerary

We are fans of the quick Mexico cruises from Los Angeles. The family and I have taken several of the cruise lines itineraries, especially around the holidays because the boats are always decorated nicely, and everything is very festive. 

This cruise is a four-day adventure that starts in Los Angeles (Long Beach actually) then visits Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico before returning to Long Beach. The few times we have taken this trip, the seas were generally smooth year round, and getting on and off the boat is little hassle even at the Mexico stops.

The cruise line

For this trip, the boat we sailed on was the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, which offers many included food options and lots of entertainment offerings. We found the staff very personable and attentive, but somewhat unaware of how to help guests who are visually impaired. If you are a cane user, I recommend spending some time getting to know the layout of the ship because in general, the staff aren’t great about asking if you need help finding a location. This isn’t unusual on a cruise, but if you approach them and ask for help they are always warm welcoming and helpful, with the exception of tending to point you in a direction rather than telling you. A quick explanation that you can’t see where they are pointing generally had them much more aware of how to interact with a vision impaired guest. They see a lot of passengers on a short turnaround, to take the opportunity to be an educator rather than getting upset by their lack of knowledge.

I appreciated the choice of premium food amenities and fun themed bars onboard. My guide appreciated the adults only swimming area. She tolerates getting splashed by kids having a good time, but it can get exhausting having to dry the dog off after a trip to the pool and of course there is the wet dog smell in the room after that. I was able to park her by a lounge chair close to the pool stairs and easily navigate my way into the pool.

Of particular interest to me was the Bamboo Room tiki bar.  Tiki drinks are a favorite of mine especially if they are made well. We purchased the drinks package, and The Bamboo Room offered a variety of drinks to choose from. If you haven’t tried good tiki drinks, this is a great chance to experiment. Do be aware that not all of the offerings are included in the drinks package. I was disappointed that some of the better drinks were a premium upcharge so stuck to the ones that were included. This was the only bar we went to that had the upcharged drinks. The other bars gave you a menu and everything was included in the drinks package even spirit heavy drinks like old Fashioned and Sazarak. Each bar did offer food selections that were an upcharge, including some really great Poke’ nachos at the sports bar. 

The entertainment

Just like an all-inclusive resort, there is always something goin on on a cruise ship. When you look at the itinerary and see “day at sea” you might think that it will just be a lot of sitting around bored waiting to get to port, but that could not be farther from the truth. They offer games on the pool deck, movies, ship tours (which are an additional cost), and a host of other things to do while you relax in the sun on deck. Each night, the nightly entertainment begins shortly after dinner service. I recommend getting an early dinner reservation time when you book your tickets to make sure you don’t miss the entertainment. These shows range from music, to comedy, and are a fun variety show type format.

Later in the evening the room where the nightly entertainment is help usually starts karaoke, so if you like to get your sing on, the people running the event are friendly and always have a great selection of songs to choose from.

If you like to hang out in the pool. You have the family friendly area or the adults only pools, each with hot tubs. The Riptide waterslide is a lot of fun, Of course my guide could not go on the slide so I had a family member hold her and meet me at the bottom of the slide. Getting to the slide was a bit confusing because you had to navigate a combination of inside and outside areas, but once you get to the area in the back of the ship where the waterslide is located there are just a few steps to travel to get to the area where you load into the tube. They require a mat, and the person monitoring the slide was very good about telling me where to put the mat and when to go down the slide.

If you are a gambler, the Casino will open as soon as the ship gets far enough offshore. Usually after dinner service is a good bet for starting to get your gamble on.

A fancy steak dinner on the deck of a cruise ship.

The food

The Navigator of the Seas offers a few options for food included with your ticket price as well as some premium offerings that cost extra. The buffet has a different theme every night, but as a visually impaired person I have trouble with buffets for obvious reasons. There is no braille or large print signage for the dishes, and the staff tending the area behind the food lines are of little help when it comes to identifying a dish. This is not just a Royal Caribbean issue; buffet navigation is a systemic issue anywhere. The buffet is a casual dining experience but guests do need to wear closed-toed shoes and of course shirts and shorts. The buffet offers a variety of dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The main dining room offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner but at restricted hours. Information about the hours for food service in the dining room is available from your cabin steward. While there are no options for braille or large print menus the servers were good about reading the menu options to me.

If you find yourself out on the pool deck looking for something to eat, check out El Loco Fresh. They had a variety of burritos, tacos nachos salads and other grab and go type food which we found perfect for lunch. They are open for lunch and dinner service.

Not all the food is included with your ticket price. Onboard there is a Starbucks, which you can easily charge to your room just like the other premium offerings. If you fancy something higher-end than the dining room Jamie’s Italian by chef Jamie Oliver is an option. We found that this required a reservation, so if you want to try this place make sure to book early in the trip because you might not be able to get a reservation for the same day. On the pool deck opposite El Loco Fresh is a Johnny Rockets Express burger bar. They have good burgers, chicken strips and a variety of shakes and fries. We didn’t partake because the 18 dollar al la carte chicken strips was more than we wanted to pay.

The rooms

If you haven’t been on a cruise ship, the first thing you will be shocked by is how small the rooms are. I would consider them about half the size of a regular hotel room, even if you upsize to the junior suite level. We had a balcony and found it nice to sit outside when coming into port, as there is a table and a couple chairs right outside the door. The railing was high and there was no risk of falling unless you were careless.

The night life

There are a few bars available, The lime and Coconut bar on the adult swimming deck closed early but the Bamboo Room tiki bar was open late as were the other bars. There was even an opportunity to take part in some tequila tasting in the onboard duty free shop. The adults only pool area with two hot tubs is also an option after dinner to soak away all those calorie rich dishes.

Navigating the ship

Navigating cruise ships can be a challenge. I recommend putting a list of locations in your phone and carrying it with you if you are not able to read the signs. All the floors above and below the main decks and below the pool deck look and feel the same. The floors are not well marked, and it is easy to get turned around and lose track of which floor you are on. The elevators do announce the floor numbers, but they don’t tell you what amenities are on that floor, which is why I suggest making a cheat sheet to refer to until you get used to where everything is. Just like any hotel, the rooms are well marked but I always find myself counting and memorizing steps to each location on the ship.

The decks where the pools are located are packed tightly with lounge chairs and many other obstacles. If you have the option to have a sighted guide help you learn where things are it will go a long way to successful navigation of the ship for the rest of the cruise. Be aware that lounge chair legs do stick out and can be a hazard to navigate near the pools.  In the dining rooms and bars the seating is also very close together so taking things slowly so you don’t trip or run into other passengers while navigating those areas is a must. In general there is little room to swing a white cane even in the halls to get to the rooms. I use the hand on the wall trailing method so I don’t kneecap anyone with my cane. Remember that the boat will be moving so always take care with your balance. 

 The ports

Catalina Island

After a day at sea, you will arrive at Catalina Island. The boat will not dock, as there is no infrastructure for the big cruise ships. Instead, you will take smaller tenders to get to the dock. The disembark areas are on the lower decks and an announcement informing you when to head to the tenders will be made that morning when you are pulling into the island area. Boarding the tenders was straightforward, there were a few steps to get down to the boat from the ship but they had rails to hang onto. The dock on the island was a different story, after exiting the tender, there are no rails until you get to the part of the dock that has a ramp up. I would suggest a sighted guide or asking a crew member for assistance. Once you exit the dock, all the shops, restaurants and other attractions are close by and just to the right as you exit the ramp. There are quite a few souvenir shops but be aware that many of these are older shops and very packed with goodies and trinkets to buy. I found it easy to bump into things and risked knocking things off the shelves without a sighted guide. If you want to learn more about the island and it’s cool history with the film industry, I suggest taking a guided bus tour. You can either book ahead of time or when you get to the island, and locating the shops where you board your tour bus is easy because it is just off to the right as you exit the dock area before getting to the shops. There are a ton of other fun things to do on Catalina Island, if you would like more information check out our in-depth review below. 

Catalina Island an accessible review

Ensenada, Mexico

After departing Catalina, grab some dinner on board and relax for the rest of the evening, because the next morning when you get up the ship will be docking at Ensenada Mexico. For this destination, you just have to go to the lower deck for your disembarkation and walk off the ship. Straight ahead away from the ship will be busses that can take you to the Ensenada city center for shopping and food for a few dollars. Do your shopping in the city center because there aren’t any shops with good souvenirs or goodies closer to the ship.

Depending on the time of day and the bus you get on, they will likely offer you some low-cost tours to La Bufadora, a blowhole and tourist attraction located on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico, about 17 miles south of Ensenada. Also offered is a Tequila tasting tour where they take you to a distillery which offers tours and tastings. We have done both of these tours and really enjoyed them both. You can find the in-dept review for La Bufadora below. . If you haven’t been to Mexico before, the sales tactics can be a bit aggressive, so I suggest reading the reviews below which have some strategies to help you navigate that situation as a sight impaired person.

La Bufadora an Accessible review

Homeward Bound

The ship will depart Ensenada around dinnertime, and it is always fun to watch the captain navigate the area out to open sea while you enjoy a leisurely dinner. Ask ahead for a window seat if it is available. The following morning, you will arrive back at Port Los Angeles and wait for your rooms to be called to disembark the ship.

You have a couple choices with your luggage on the last night of the journey. You can place it outside your cabin door and they will pick it up and bring it ashore for you or you can deal with it yourself. This is good and bad because getting off the ship can be a crowded and shuffling affair and having to drag your bags along with you can be a hassle. If you choose to have them take your bags off the boat for you, then you will be required to retrieve them before heading through customs. They are usually well organized by floor number, but if you can’t see then there is little signage leading you to the area your bags are located. This is aperfect opportunity to ask for help but be patient because the crew are busy getting the ship unloaded and redied for the next group of passengers. Even though it is a hassle, I usually opt to keep my bags and shuttle them down myself when we are back in port. Wait times for elevators can be long and if you pack heavy dragging those bags down the stairs can be tough so decide appropriately.

Pro Tip: If you opt to have the crew deal with your bags make sure that you have everything you need with you for the morning. I usually pack a small bag to keep toiletries, a change of clothes, medications and other essentials with me.

Guide Dogs

For the most part, when you bring a service dog onboard a cruise ship the staff will give you access to a relieving area with a box full of faux grass mulch or woodchips. This is a pretty tough skill to train your guide dog, other than ensuring they are willing to go wherever they need to go including concrete and asphalt. Keep in mind that the space is limited on a cruise ship and you will need to devise a plan to allow your guide to stretch their legs. I took mine on walks up and down the stairs and around the pool deck area. But as mentioned do be careful of the numerous hazards around. If you would like more information about bringing your guide dog onboard a cruise ship check the link below. My article covers all the basics and even information about the documentation needed for bringing your guide onshore in places like Mexico. Check out our ultimate guide to cruising with a guide dog below for lots more information. 

Ultimate guide to cruising with Guide Dogs


What do you think? Have you been on a cruise? Were you able to navigate the ship effectively? Drop me a message and let me know about your experience. Make sure to include the cruise line, itinerary and cruise length.  If you have any questions or would like to connect, feel free to drop me a message at the contact page here or on social media at the links below.

“Traveling, without sight, is an extraordinary journey of exploration. In the quiet footsteps and whispered winds, you discover a world painted in sensations—the warmth of sun-kissed stones, the rhythm of bustling streets, and the symphony of unfamiliar voices. Each tactile map, each shared laughter, becomes a constellation of memories etched upon your soul. In the vastness of the unknown, you find not darkness, but a canvas waiting for your touch—a masterpiece woven from courage, resilience, and the sheer wonder of exploration.” – Ted Tahquechi

About the author

Ted Tahquechi is a blind photographer, travel influencer, disability advocate and photo educator based in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of Ted’s work at

Ted operates Blind Travels, a travel blog designed specifically to empower blind and visually impaired travelers.

Ted’s body-positive Landscapes of the Body project has been shown all over the world, learn more about this intriguing collection of photographic work at:

 Questions or comments? Feel free to email Ted at: 

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