I went on my first Carnival cruise the week of Labor Day and it was my second time cruising ever. My first one was with Royal Caribbean five years ago. It was also the first trip my boyfriend and I took together. It was just 3 days to the Bahamas. I said I would never cruise again (because I got sick and prefer flying to my destination), but 5 years later, my boyfriend invited me on this cruise with him and his family. I didn’t want to pass up a good time, so I decided to go.
The cruise ship we went on is one of the newest and largest additions to the line, Carnival Vista. It has a water park, sky ride, movie theater, sports area, arcade, spa, gym and plenty of other attractions. We left from Miami, but this ship is actually going to leave from Galveston, TX from now on. We cruised from Sunday – the next Saturday.
If you didn’t know, alcoholic drinks and sodas aren’t free on cruises (unless it’s an open bar specific cruise, of course). You’re given a key card with your picture on it to get into your room and to use for your expenses while on the ship. You can load the card before and after you’re on the boat. They also have packages you can purchase that gets you a certain amount of drinks each day. But, that was more than we wanted to pay. You can pack wine/champagne, but you have to check-in liquor, and they won’t give it to you until the last night of your cruise. Like most people, we found a way around that. We purchased this “cruise kit” to put our alcohol in before boarding the ship. While it was a great idea, it only lasted us until Tuesday. We ended up buying two more bottles (we saved half of one to take home) and purchased a few drinks, but not nearly as many as we would’ve if we didn’t bring our own.
We were at sea all day Monday, so we did activities on the ship. Carnival has an app that you can download to see what’s going on at any part of the day. You can also chat with others you’re on the cruise with.
Our first stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica on that Tuesday. Once we docked at the port and got off the ship, there were people everywhere trying to get us to go on tours, excursions, catch taxis, etc. It was 17 of us so we had to find best option for small amount of time we had (from around 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.).
We decided to go on a city tour and talked our way to a pretty good deal. We had a van to ourselves and learned a little bit about Jamaican culture (it was my second time in the country). We went through a bit of the rain forest and stopped at the top of a hill for pictures and drinks, got some jerk chicken and did some souvenir shopping. We got a bottle of rum to take back on the boat, which I hid half of in a Jamaica souvenir cup. Our time in Jamaica was pretty short but it was a nice to get off the ship.
There were plenty of activities to do on the ship each day, though – from karaoke, to comedy shows, lip-sync battles, game shows, sports tournaments, the nightclub and more. And the food – there was sooo much of it! Some of the free options included Guy’s Burgers, the buffet and the dining room, which was open for brunch on “at sea” days and for dinner each night. The dining room menu changed each night and the buffet had a lot of good options everyday. There were also other restaurants that you had to pay for like a steak house, seafood shack, Italian restaurant, cafe, and sushi bar. We did check out the sushi restaurant one night since it wasn’t expensive at all.
Everyone knows about “elegant night” or the captain’s dinner on cruises, where everyone gets dressed up and takes pictures. The highlight of the night was the lobster tails, of course (who doesn’t like all-you-can-eat lobster tails!?). Also, on the other nights lobster tails are an additional fee, so we had to take advantage.
The next day we stopped in Grand Cayman Island. I was excited because I had heard how beautiful the water was. We left the port and took a short walk to the bus stop where we rode to 7 Mile Beach. The ride was only $5 and it was only a few miles to get to the beach. We spent all of our time in the Grand Cayman at the beach and I had no complaints at all.
There were a lot of excursions here to choose from but we didn’t purchase any. We enjoyed the beach and rented an umbrella so we would have somewhere to chill. The food here was also better than what we had on our tour in Jamaica.
Our last stop was in Cozumel, Mexico on Thursday. Mexico is always a good time! When you enter the port in Cozumel, there are plenty of restaurants, shops and excursion stands. They also have a lot of live entertainment.
We decided to go on a tour that included the Mayan Chocolate Factory, the Tequila Factory and a beach stop. We learned how the Mayans made chocolate and got to taste many different kinds.
At the tequila factory, we learned about the tequila making process and tasted different types of tequila from their factory. We bought a bottle of tequila that’s exclusive to that area.
I also learned that Cozumel isn’t as developed as other parts of Mexico which explains why it’s a popular cruise port – there’s not much to see there, it’s largely for excursions and the nature park.
Our last full day was Friday and we took full advantage of it. We ate a lot but also did some fun activities and went to the lounge/club at night. There was an area on the deck of the ship that was for 21+ only which was a nice getaway. We also checked out a simulation ride at the movie theater (for an additional cost) and went to a comedy show that night.
If you’re trying to decide if you should go on a Carnival Cruise, here are some things that may help you decide:
- Variety of activities – this is good if you’re with a group of people, too. Everyone can do what they’re interested in and you’ll can come back together whenever you want
- Port options – if you want to visit a lot of different places in a short amount of time, a cruise may be a good idea
- Unlimited food – with the buffet, dining room and other eateries, you can literally eat all day
- Expenses – everything isn’t included once you pay for the cruise. There are additional fees for a lot of things including drinks (water, tea and lemonade are free) and even some activities you may want to do
- Motion sickness – if you’re prone to motion sickness or getting “seasick”, this may not be for you. The ship rocked a lot throughout the week which was probably due to the weather. It was scary at times but thankfully nothing crazy happened
- Kids – many people bring their kids on Carnival cruises, so if you’re looking for an adult only getaway, you may want to look somewhere else, lol
Personally, I prefer all-inclusive resorts. I like going to my destination and knowing what I’m going to get. It eases my mind and I’m able to fully enjoy it. But, I wouldn’t mind checking out the newest Carnival cruise that will be debuting in 2019, Panorama.
I’m learning to never say never and keep my options open for any adventure that comes my way.