If you know my husband and me, you know that we LOVE cruises. We just recently got back from our most recent cruise vacation and we have already booked our next one for May 2020 in Europe! We love to travel, and cruises allow us to see so many different places in a small period of time.
To be honest, my husband would probably do a better job of writing this article, because while I love cruises, he might be on the verge of obsessed. Let me just say that he talked 12 different people into going on a cruise with us in 2017. Yes. TWELVE. He should probably work as a Carnival Cruise salesman and he would make so much commission. But, lucky for you guys, I hear his “Cruise Pitches” enough that I can pretty much tell you everything he would tell you…and that is exactly what I’m going to do, by answering questions that we get asked a lot.
What Makes cruising Such A Great Travel Option?
- You get to see multiple places (and usually countries) in a short amount of time without paying for multiple plane/train tickets. Your transportation is already arranged!
- All of your food is included.
- The crew takes AMAZING care of you. You never have to clean up after yourself, go hungry, or go thirsty.
- Constant entertainment. From shows, to trivia, to live music, to shopping, to the casino…if you get bored on a cruise, you’ve got your own issues you need to handle. 😂
- Multiple trip length options. A typical trip is 6-9 days. Don’t have a whole week? Take a 3-5 day one. Want to leave for two weeks? They’ve got those, too.
What Cruise Lines Do You Go On?
We have actually only been on Carnival Cruises. This isn’t because we don’t like the others – we do really want to try out the other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, etc. – but Carnival seems to be the most affordable, and we honestly love their cruises. We have no complaints, so it’s kind of like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ya know?
What can you find on a Carnival ship, and which ships have you been on?
Since we have only been on 6-7 day cruises, we have only been on the bigger ships, so I cannot really speak for the smaller ships. We have been on the Carnival Liberty, the Carnival Freedom, the Carnival Conquest, and one of their newest ones, the Carnival Horizon – most of which have been more or less the same, save the Horizon.
Entertainment + Shopping
The ships we have been on have a stage theater where they show amazing productions, a hilarious “Love & Marriage” game, and have Bingo. One level has “Fun Shops” where you can find souvenirs, necessities like medicine and toiletries, jewelry, watches, sunglasses, clothes, booze, gadgets like GoPros, and more. Close to the Fun Shops you the Casino for those that love – or want to try – gambling. There you can find slot machines, black jack, a cash claw machine (yes that is exactly what it sounds like) and so much more.
The ships also have several bars throughout the ship, so you never go thirsty. 😉 On top of that they have Carnival workers from the bars on the Lido walking around taking orders right from your pool chair. They seriously take such good care of you on these ships, I haven’t even gotten started.
Pools, Food, + More Fun
The Lido deck is where you find the main pool area as well as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. There is also an adults-only pool and hot tub section, which is nice if you don’t want kids splashing water in your face the entire time you’re just trying to relax and cool off. Oh, and it’s right next to the Seafood Shack and 24/7 Pizza Bar. You read right – 24/7 FREE pizza. Yes please! Of course, you can’t forget the water slide. A lot of the newer ships – like the Horizon – have more than one slide, but the other ships we have been on only have the one – but it’s still so much fun!
When it comes to food, the options are endless. On top of the giant buffets they have all day, there is a Mexican bar where you get burritos and tacos made to order along side a giant salsa bar. That is typically near the main pool on the Lido, as well as Guy’s Burger Joint, which has some of the best burgers I have ever had. Seriously. Len and I dream about the next time we’ll get one of those burgers. By the way, all of this is free (well, included in the cost of the cruise, if you will).
Every night you have a set time and place for dinner. You can choose the early dinner (6:00pm) or the late dinner (8:15pm), and you will always be at the same table. Mostly when Len and I go on cruises just the 2 of us, we get paired with another couple our age, and it works out really well. We have always loved our “dinner buddies” as we like to call them. You can always request to dine alone, though. If you book with a large group of people, you will get seated with them.
Dinner is fantastic. Every night the menu is different, with the exception of a few staple menu items, and it’s all delicious. But if you don’t like what you order, you can order something else at no additional cost. You can even order four apps, two entrees, and three desserts at a time, which is helpful if you can’t make a decision about what you want. When in doubt, get the warm chocolate melting cake. The waiters are always so great, and usually have a sense of humor. They also somehow remember EVERYONE’S name. I don’t know how they do it, to be honest.
– pause for deep breath –
What Ports Have You Been To On Your Cruises?
It’s really amazing how different each island is that you go to on each trip. I’ll do my best to briefly explain each cruise.
On our first cruise we left out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and we went to Key West, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. Key West was less beach, more shopping and bars. Oh boy are there bars. Hundreds of bars within just a few blocks. It’s basically a bachelor/bachelorette party’s paradise. It’s also beautiful, and you can go to the southernmost point of the US, just a few miles away from Cuba. Unfortunately, we did not get to go to the southernmost point, but we want to go back and make sure we make it there next time!
Grand Cayman was also a lot of shopping (more shopping than bars here), but also has a beautiful 7 mile beach filled with beautiful resorts. We were able to enjoy the shopping, and the best part was going to Guy Harvey’s shop and actually meeting the man himself! Apparently he lives on the island and can be found frequently at his shop painting. We of course snagged a t-shirt, a signed copy of one of his paintings, and a picture! He was a really nice guy, and was more than willing to take a picture with us.
Cozumel was our beach day. We hopped on a cab that took us to a beautiful beach where we rented a chair and relaxed the rest of the day. Waiters brought us authentic chicken quesadillas and guacamole, and it was SO good. I mean, what else would you expect straight from Mexico?
Our second cruise was my favorite. We took this trip for our Honeymoon and it was perfect. We stopped at St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Each island was just as beautiful as the other. We got to see wild iguanas in St. Thomas, snorkel with sea turtles in Barbados (where the sand is like sugar), tour a beautiful rain forest in lush St. Lucia, hold a monkey while riding a donkey in St. Kitts, and hang out on Maho Beach in St. Maarten where planes fly in right over your head as they land. The water in St. Maarten was by far the prettiest color I have ever seen. My favorite color is now “The Water in St. Maarten.”
In 2017 we went to Nassau, Half Moon Cay (Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas), Grand Turk, and Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. Nassau is a LOT of shopping and then Atlantis of course is the big attraction there. Half Moon Cay was one of my favorites on this trip. It is literally just one big beautiful beach in the Bahamas. You don’t have to pay for a chair (unless you get one of the clam shells, of course), and your ship is typically the only one populating the island at a time.
Grand Turk I unfortunately cannot comment on. I had to miss out because I was sick (not a virus from the ship – just from my own bad decisions the night before 😅). BUT I can tell you this – my husband has been and he LOVES it. You have shops, food, and beach all right there at the port without having to take a cab and it is of course beautiful as well. Amber Cove is absolutely gorgeous and very lush and mountainous. We spent the day at an all inclusive resort called Riu Bachata. We had access to a beautiful beach, 2 amazing pools (including a swim-up bar), and unlimited food and drink. Please and thank you.
Western Caribbean (Take 2)
Last December we went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel again, and then to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Cozumel was a whole new experience this time because we sent to Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park, where we got to swim with dolphins, go zip lining, and try some delicious authentic tequila. I would 100% go back. In Ocho Rios, we went to an all inclusive beach called Bamboo Beach. They fed us some delicious Jamaican food (including of course some amazing jerk chicken) and we got to relax all day on the beach.
We are SO stoked to cruise in Europe in May 2020. It will be a whole new experience, as neither of us have been overseas.
If you have been thinking about cruising, just do it! Nervous about sinking like the Titanic, getting sea sick, or anything else? I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else:
- If you are prone to seasickness, get the patches. They work.
- These ships are built better and newer with newer technology than the Titanic…MUCH newer.
- There aren’t icebergs in the Caribbean 😉
- You can always start out with a shorter cruise.
- JUST DO IT.
I could go on and on…but I’ll spare you guys for now.
Make sure you check out my complete cruise prep + packing list if you decide to book a cruise vacation!
Have any questions about cruising? Drop them in the comments, I’m happy to answer them!
If you’ve been on a cruise, what’s your favorite part about taking a cruise vacation? Drop those in the comments, too.