Its the second month of 2018 and I have officially launched my international travel schedule! We kicked off the year with a 5 day Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Paradise ship. We stopped in Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. This was only my second cruise, and I think I am officially a cruiser!
By now, you all should know that I love traveling on a budget! Unlike booking vacation packages with air/hotel, there really aren’t any secret tricks to booking cheap cruises. (Check out tips for booking your dream vacation under budget) The price won’t be lower if you book a cruise on a specific date or months out. However, there are deals to be had. Some cruise lines will run specials for onboard credit, provide incentives for booking early or multiple rooms, or provide upgrade opportunities. We booked our cruise on a special that allowed for a $50 deposit and a suite upgrade. This worked because we booked a year in advance and had the option to make payments as opposed to paying a lump sum in full. You can use a site like Cruise Direct to get access to specials/ deals on multiple cruise lines. If price is a factor, Carnival is almost always going to be the cheapest option.
Carnival Paradis is part of the Fantasy line by Carnival. It is an old ship that was built in 1998. Apparently, there have been some renovations and updates made to the ship, but none were noticeable to me. Upon on-boarding, you quickly see the age of the ship throughout the outdated decor and design. We had a suite room that was located on the 11th deck of the ship. The location of our room was extremely convenient to the Main 10th, 9th, 8th, and 7th deck. Our room was admittedly disappointing as it was small for a suite and there weren’t any noticeable updates. Our view was also obstructed by a life boat. Our stateroom steward was very hospitable and offered amazing service!
Dinner was hit or miss. Some nights it was amazing and other nights it was just okay. Each night the dinner menu changed to reflect our geographic location and the native food. Lunch was only available buffet style and that was actually pretty good. There is a Mongolian Wok station that was my favorite ! I also enjoyed the burger and cheese fires. Breakfast was amazing as well. We had the option of a dinning room or buffet style. Either option works.
(Worn to the Captain’s dinner. Dress code: Cruise Elegant.)
There were activities throughout the day. The casino was always an option for the high rollers! During the day, there were art shows, trivia, music, game shows, tastings, prizes, auctions, etc. Night time was more or less the same with the addition of the comedy club and the night club. There were even gym classes and yoga sessions. I actually did yoga and worked-out in the gym. I stayed pretty busy!
Our first stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We arrived at 8am and we were to be back on the ship by 2pm. If you are not an early riser, then this is hardly enough time to truly take in the island. We were up by 8, dressed by 9, then by the time we had breakfast and waited for the ferry to transport us it was already noon. So we actually only had about 2 hours on the island. We found a taxi and headed over to Seven Mile Beach. Along the way, the taxi driver gave us fun facts about the island which was truly insightful. The entire island is only about 20 miles long! The beach was beautiful. Pure white sand and crystal clear water. We enjoyed the views while sipping on Pina Coladas!
The next stop was Cozumel Mexico! We arrived at 10am and were able to stay until 7:30pm. Cozumel offers a Mayan tour, but most of us have already been on the tour so we opted for a different option. We found an all inclusive private beach for $51. It included, food, drink, and water sports! There were was a blow-up obstacle course in the ocean, jet skis, canoes, and a bike! We spent our time eating, drinking, and enjoying the amenities! It was a long day in the sun but definitely worth it.
5 day cruises offer a condensed way to explore more than one cearribiean island in a short amount of time. While some ports offer less time than others, you’re still able to enjoy most of what the island has to offer. Sometimes, it is difficult to find flight deals to smaller less accessible islands, a cruise offers a more affordable, practical, and fun option.
Second Picture: Cruise Elegant- blue wrap dress from Asos.
Third picture: Bikini from Asos Tall Collection.
Fourth picture: Pink Dress from Dillard’s. (It was a very random find a few months ago!)
What are your thoughts on cruises?
— Esquire in Love