A Quick Visit to Ensenada, Mexico via the Star Princess Cruise Ship
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A Quick Visit to Ensenada, Mexico via the Star Princess Cruise Ship

Recently I took a 7-Day California Coastal cruise on Princess Cruises’ Star Princess, sailing round-trip from San Francisco.

The only international port call on this cruise was Ensenada, Mexico.

Ensenada, Mexico from the Star PrincessHere is the view from the deck of the Star Princess as we were pulling into port. I didn’t have high expectations for my visit to Ensenada.

Located on the Baja California Peninsula, Ensenada is only 78 miles south of San Diego.

We had visited twice before, both times on a cruise ship. Our first visit was on a 3-day weekend cruise from Los Angeles, with Ensenada as the only port stop. This was the first cruise that I convinced Mr. Jones to take with me. It was the 4th of July holiday weekend, and the ship was one of Carnival’s older ones in its fleet, and it was packed with people of all ages, and many, many children.  After we got to out to sea, they announced that when we were in our one port stop of Ensenada, not to expect any alcohol, as it we would be there on an election day so all alcohol sales were banned.  That didn’t seem like such a big deal to us, but much of the crowd on the ship was angry, and that made for a rough cruise.

A few years later, we visited Ensenada again during a weekend Royal Caribbean cruise. This time, we took one of the ship’s tours to a winery and bullfighting ring, and our visit was more interesting.

For this visit, I simply wanted to get some walking in, enjoy a margarita or a cold beer and try one of the famous fish tacos.

Ensenada, Mexico cruise pierWhile there is a shuttle from the pier (I think it cost $2 US dollars each way), I was happy to walk.  The Ensenada Cruiseport Village has good sidewalks, and it’s about a 20-minute walk to the main shopping/dining/drinking area of Ensenada.

Hussong's Ensenada, MexicoI made it all the way to Avenue Ruiz, home of the original Cantina Hussong’s, which dates to 1882 when it was a small coach stop and restaurant offering beer for a nickel and whiskey for a dime.

Hussong’s is most famous for its bartender Don Carlos Orozco inventing the margarita in October, 1941.  Mr. Orozco concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass, for Margarita Henkel \, who was the daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico, and who frequented the bar.

Unfortunately, when I visited around 11:15 am on a Monday morning, the bar doors were still locked.  No original margarita for me, although I can always try one in the Las Vegas Hussong’s in Mandalay Bay.

Papas & Beers, Ensenada, MexicoDown at the end of Ruiz Avenue, many folks where enjoying a drink and/or food at the Papas & Beers. As I was ready for a rest, I headed to the bar and ordered a beer.

The very friendly staff served it up cold, with fresh limes and salt. Plus, the code for free Wi-Fi.

I decided that I was staying for a while.

Papas & Beers, Ensenada, MexicoSince I was staying for a second beer, I decided food was in order. And when in Ensenada, Mexico, food is all about the fish tacos. The Papas & Beer version did not disappoint.

I especially liked the “add-your-own” toppings of cabbage, pico de gallo and creamy dressing.

Later, I learned that Papas&Beer was founded in 1983 with a focus on ice cold mugs of beer, large plates of French fries and free bumper stickers. The idea was conceived over a few beers and plates of potato skins in San Diego, hence the name Papas&Beer.

Ensenada, MexicoNow I was ready for the walk back to the ship. The walk was scenic and pleasant.

Ensenada, MexicoThere are two security checkpoints to get into the pier — before the ship security checkpoint that is after some in-port shops.

Ensenada, MexicoBack out on deck of the Star Princess, I enjoyed the view as we departed Ensenada, sailing away to Long Beach, California.

My key take away from my day in Ensenada: it’s a terrific place for a good walk, delicious fish tacos, and cold beer, with friendly bartenders.

Have you visited Ensenada, Mexico by cruise ship? What’s your favorite thing to do while in port? Please share in comments below.

Do you like to travel by cruise ship? Check out these posts on other cruise ports around the world:

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