Last weekend, a contingent of women from Long Beach Yacht Club celebrated the club’s 90th anniversary with a weekend cruise to Ensenada aboard Carnival Inspiration.

The ladies knew the weekend was going to be special when they spotted a lifeguard boat water salute as the ship left the dock.

Jacobson Port Pilot Bob Blair not only navigated the 855-foot vessel out of port, but he secretly shared with Captain Eduardo Ferrone that, “Most of the group actively participate in power boating and sailing activities and will be eager to learn as much as possible about your ship.”

Accordingly, the group was treated to VIP bridge tours, a captain-hosted round of drinks, and the LBYC burgee proudly flew from the bow of the ship as it left port and during the Ensenada port visit. In addition, the Captain presented LBYC Commodore Camille Daniels with an engraved wooden plaque featuring the line’s signature red and blue funnel, with an inscription congratulating LBYC’s 90-year history.

Chick cruise chairman Debi Lorbeer arranged a costume contest, pajama party at sea, and a dress to the nines dinner. Lisa Meier organized the miniature golf tournament.

Pradeep, the ship’s pastry chef, prepared a large Boston Crème style cake with a hand-drawn design of the club’s 2019 logo. This was the first year in the club’s chick cruise history that the Commodore attended — with Camille Daniels as the club’s first woman to serve in the top leadership role.

Often, the 3- and 4-day party cruises that leave from Long Beach are stereotyped as more of a “low brow” crowd. One review calls the line, “The K-mart of cruising,” while the Carnival corporate vision statement promises, “To consistently deliver safe, fun and memorable vacations at a great value.”

For many, the cruise line is the first on-the-water vacation they'll ever experience. The crew, from 62 different nations, remains steadfast in their professionalism and they seem to have a knack at spoon-feeding Joe Sixpack on the finer things in life.

Sure, there are hairy chest contests and self-serve beer dispensaries on board. And yes, sometimes the dress code makes one wonder if they are filming the pilot for a “Girls gone bad — at sea” movie.

None the less, I welcome more people learning about cruises and getting folks out on the water. As the Aquatic Capitol of America, we want to encourage swimming, sailing and rowing — but cruises play a major role for us in Long Beach.

One of the things cruises are known for is fine dining, and while on the Carnival Inspiration I met the ship’s Chef Wisdon Michael. With the average number of passengers on board exceeding 2,700, there are 103 cooks working three shifts around the clock to keep everyone fed in style.

Michael, with almost 30 years of service to Carnival, worked on the now retired ships — Mardi Gras (my favorite from the days she sailed out of Los Angeles in the ’70s), Carnivale, Festivale, Tropical, Holiday, Jubilee, and Celebration as well as many of the 26 ships in a rapidly growing fleet.

Carnival Panorama will join Carnival's fleet in December and will call Long Beach home. At 1,055 feet, she will be 38 feet longer than her neighbor, Queen Mary. Mary would carry about 1,900 passengers in her heyday while Panorama will carry more than 4,000.

They are dredging the sediment to deepen and expand the existing berth and the new large black Yokohama fenders are on shore awaiting installation.

The ship will embark on a three-day inaugural voyage to Ensenada before doing year-round 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises. Ports of call in the Riviera cruises include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta.

I’m looking forward to sailing on the new ship and getting more people out on the water.

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