I just got back from a Western Caribbean Cruise this past week. I had a lot of fun and have had a lot of questions. Here are some of my thoughts:
Would you recommend a cruise to others?
Some people take a cruise and find that that is the only kind of vacation they ever want to take again. Although I am not of this mentality, I think there are some definitive advantages to cruising. 1) Convenience. Everything is basically taken care of for you when you arrive on the ship. You can eat whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about transportation issues. Activities are planned and available for you. 2) You can eat whenever you want. Enough said about that. 3) Relaxation. When you are at sea there is only so much you can do. I felt a little forced to sit in the sun and enjoy doing nothing. 4) Cruising can be very affordable. They often offer big discounts to get you on board (to spend money in other ways).
Disadvantages are you aren’t free to explore as much, there are a lot of people (thousands of people on one ship), some of the activities can seem a little contrived or cheesy. Also, if you like the extras, you could end up spending a lot more than you anticipated.
Which cruise line did you use?
We chose Carnival. We were looking for an inexpensive trip and Carnival is more budget and perhaps family friendly than some of the other cruise lines. If you aren’t looking for the Ritz on the high seas, I think you can have an enjoyable time. A few of our dinner mates on the ship had only bad things to say, but I think they had very high expectations.
Where did you go?
We sailed out of Tampa and went to Cozumel and Grand Cayman. I really enjoyed Cozumel. I forgot about the beauty of Mexico, the amazing SCUBA diving, the friendly people. Grand Cayman was also pretty but more built up and less friendly.
Did you book shore excursions through the ship?
The ship offers a wide range of activities you can book conveniently through them. However, these are often more expensive and crowded than private options you can book off of the ship. We visited Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman (booked through Orbitz) with Captain Marvin (highly recommend this operation) and I booked a private two tank boat dive trip in Cozumel while my companion booked a zip line tour through the cruise.
Did you get seasick?
There were times I could definitely feel the boat rocking. However, I’m not really very prone to seasickness (I think you can get used to it). My companion wore a scopalamine patch and did very well with that.
What kind of room did you stay in?
We got a great deal in an inner room (the cheapest rooms with no windows). We had two twin style bunk beds. We were very nervous about this arrangement but in the end were pleasantly surprised. We didn’t spend much time in our rooms except for sleeping and the beds (even my top bunk) were very comfortable. I didn’t miss the window. Our room was very dark which was great for sleeping, along with the gentle rocking of the ship. I think a balcony would be nice but if you aren’t picky I don’t think you need a super fancy room to have a good time.
How was the food?
Throughout the day they have multiple food options. For breakfast they have a buffet or you can visit the sit down restaurant. For lunch they have multiple buffets such as a sandwich line, dessert table, rotisserie, wok, grill, and rotating genres. The also have a pizza and grill option open all day, as well as ice cream available around the clock! At night there are a few buffet options but most people choose to do the assigned dinner seating where you get fancier meal choices like lobster, prime rib, veal, etc. The food wasn’t as good as I remembered from the cruise I took when I was a kid (poor memory or pickier taste now? or economic issues?), but most of the options were pretty good . You shouldn’t go hungry because there are so many options you should be able to find something you like. Occasionally they would have special midnight buffets or other dining options. There is also 24 hour room service. We didn’t try this.
Would you do it again?
I would be interested in trying another cruise line to compare. I wouldn’t cruise every time but I would be up for another one at some point, especially if Abe could come along! It would also be fun to do with a group of people.
If you have any other questions about my experience with cruising let me know. I’d also like to hear your suggestions about cruises you have enjoyed.
(also, these are not pictures I took during our cruise but were found online)