that one time i went on a cruise (part one)... and ten tips for going on carnival cruises!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

a couple weeks ago michael and i flew down to florida to meet up with my family. we were all going on a cruise together! all 8 of us. we spent a day in ft. lauderdale before driving down to miami and this was actually awesome. we spent the day shopping and i was able to find two swimsuits for forty bucks. so i guess next time you need a super cute suit for super cheap... go shopping in floridia!

our cruise was a carnival caribbean cruise that left from the port of miami. and no... there were no CRAZY issues. we did not sink, get stuck in the middle of the ocean or catch on fire. we actually had a fantastic time. you guys--- there is unlimited soft serve ice cream on board! i literally cannot even begin to guess how many ice cream cones that i ate, but it was a lot.

our ports of call were a carnival private island, st. thomas, puerto rico, and grand turk. each one was fabulous and had something unique to bring to the table. at the carnival private island the water was out of control beautiful. at st. thomas we trekked over to meghans bay which is one of the most beautiful places i have ever been. it is a calm quiet bay with the best environment. i even saw a turtle while snorkeling! in puerto rico i didin't get off the boat, but my family did and they had a blast exploring old ruins and doing a little shopping downtown. grand truk was the best place for snorkeling. TONS of really amazing fish right on the beach. we brought our own snorkeling gear and it was really fun to be able to snorkel every where we went.

during then entire trip i didn't pull out my camera once and it was pretty liberating, but here are some iphone photos for you. more coming in a follow up post because there are a lot!

<<They dug that hole so deep that he was actually buried sitting up!>>
<<My favorite place from the cruise. Meghan's Bay in St. Thomas>>
<<this is carnivals private island. WHOA right?>>

since this wasn't my first cruise (we also went on one for our honeymoon) i feel like i have some advice that might be useful.

harley's carnival cruise tips:
1. get a room with a window. just trust me. in the back of your head to save a couple hundred bucks you may consider a windowless room, but let me tell you IT WILL NOT BE WORTH IT.
2. lots of ships offer excursions- they may or may not be worth it to you. sometimes it is so nice to have everything completely planned. you get off the boat, meet a tour guide, he takes you to swim with sting rays, and then drops you back at the boat. and you pay for that convenience  on the other hand almost every excursion that is offered on the bought can also be bought in the port for most likely less money. but then you have to get of the boat and deal with the stress of figuring it all out. so it is totally up to you what is most important.
3. don't buy a soda card- on the ship all drinks are not free. you can have all the water and juice you want but when it some to soda you have to buy a card for $35. now that doesn't seem like a lot for unlimited soda, but it is the getting the soda part that takes forever. you have to go to the bar, wait for a bar tender to pay attention to you (this is for kids too), then he fills a glass completely full of ice, and pours like half of a can into it. so you get like half a can of watery soda. no thank you. i would recommend just bringing your own soda on the boat. they sell it in every port. also bring a case of water on the boat, because having extra water bottles on hand is never a bad idea.
4. use sunblock- more than you ever have in your whole entire life. sunblock yourself BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE BOAT. not when you get to the beach. and then re-sunblock yourself every 45 minutes. no body wants to spend their vacation burnt to a crisp and the sun is just a lot harsher down there by the equator.
5. take advantage of kid carnival. you can drop your kids off here, they have a blast and you get some quite time. it costs like 7 dollars an hour or something, but trust me, in that kind of 24 a day confined space situation you are going to love it.
6. when sitting down to eat dinner you don't have to order only one meal! if two main course look good to you order them both! you want two lobsters instead of one, fine! just ask. the food is yours for the taking.
7. tip the people that clean your room and serve your table. seriously plan on bringing like 150 bucks to tip all of the people that are going to help you. they are fantastic and work incredibly hard to make sure your experience is a positive one and they really deserve a little extra. tips will be including in everything you buy, but it is also nice to leave a little extra.
8. you don't have to get off the boat if you don't want to. my favorite pool side days are the ones when everyone else gets off the boat to go into the port and i stayed behind.
9. there is delicious free pizza all the time and the burrito bar is to die for.
10. when going on a tropical cruise bring your own snorkeling gear. buy some or chances are you can borrow from. it will save you tons of renting fees and often there is plenty to see when snorkeling on the beaches that they just drop you off at so then you save money on a snorkeling excursion as well.

and that is all i have folks! if you have any other questions feel free to ask in the comments or email me at

1 comment:

  1. I was watching a news segment recently about all of the cruises disasters that have happened as of late and they said a cruise is still one of the safest vacations you can go on. Like, only on a every 4 million people who go on a cruise die. Or something. Anyway, Scott and I often talk about going because it seems like a pretty cost effective vacation and I love everything about the water and the beach. Also, we love soft serve ice cream like whoa!

    On a separate note, I just bought a plane ticket for Chicago next month! So excited to visit the city!