I had a BIG summer last year. In June, I went to Disney World in Orlando, then immediately after drove to Miami with three other family members to depart on my first cruise. Then in July I spent three weeks in Europe. I have to say, the easiest of all three was my Carnival cruise. Yes, you know, the famous cruise line that pretty much everyone knows about? I, like most first timers, was apprehensive considering I am an explorer when I travel. But now, almost a year later, I can reflect back and say I truly had a great time and my cruise judgments were broken. I promise to give a 100% honest review of the good and the bad, but mostly the good.
Boarding the Ship
I, being the impatient person I am, was worried about the boarding process and the crowds, but it was smooth sailing! We arrived, rolled our luggage in, checked in and got our ID cards, then were ushered to a comfortable waiting area. In not too much time our number was called and we boarded the ship along with a good amount of others, definitely not too crowded. We walked up the ramp into the grand lobby of the Magic ship. It was gorgeous. Our luggage was taken from us to be dropped off later in the day. If you need anything from your suitcase, grab it! Then we were free to roam around and get comfortable with the layout. You can check out your room or grab some food on the lido deck.
You have many different options for rooms when you book a cruise. I was with three other people and we had a large bed for my parents and me and my brother had a bunk bed. As an awesome bonus, we had a gorgeous balcony that gave us an ocean view. Honestly, I wouldn't stress about the room too much! There is only a small amount of time you will be in it. Book early so you have more options.
I am a super picky vegetarian, so if you can relate then be prepared to have less options than most people, but still quality food. Now if you aren't like me, then don't worry! You will have tons of food options. For breakfast and lunch everyone eats at the lido deck buffet. And no, it's not the kind of gross buffet I imagined, it is so nice. There are so many options of great quality food in a modern and updated serving area. Pro tip: get there early to get a good seat and plenty of options. While sleeping in or staying in the pool longer is nice, you're going to miss out. If you have little ones with you they will love the soft serve ice cream machine. The biggest meal is dinner. There were two serving times for us, an early and later one. Everyone dresses nice for dinner, so bring some formal clothing. There is a nice menu with a variety of choices and a mouthwatering dessert menu also. The servers are so friendly and work hard to give you the best experience. Take this time to unwind and spend time with family.
Photos from My Cruise!
Nice photos that sum up my trip from the beach and on the ship.
Entertainment and Fun
You will never be bored on your cruise, especially my ship, The Magic. While I am weird about public pools and never got in there or the water slides, my family loved it. My little brother could be entertained for hours playing in the pool with his new friends. Now, if you are like me and are not fans of the pools, have no fear, there are activities at every minute of the day! You can have a drink and dance to music, wander around the ship, play games, and pretty much anything else you can imagine is going on all the time. In the evening there are fun shows with singing and dancing, dive in movies, and comedy clubs. If you are bringing younger ones they have "clubs" for kids and teens where they can hang out. Even a casino! I went to the midnight movie and saw one of my favorites, La La Land, on the big screen with snacks and blankets under the stars. It was memorable. Carnival works overtime to keep all its guests happy and entertained.
Ports and Excursions
I embarked on a Caribbean cruise so we stopped at Nassau, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk. While excursions are pricey, book them! You are on your glam vacation right? Always book in advance though. Go onto your Carnival account weeks, or months, in advance to get the best excursions. The reason I swear by these is because wandering around an unfamiliar island is not a great idea, especially when most of them are run down outside of the boring tourist areas. This is not the place to be an explorer. I did that in Nassau and didn't have as much fun. In Amber Cove we took a lovely ride to a white sand beach where a large catamaran waited. We were greeted by friendly islanders and lots of food. I sat in the net at the front of the boat and felt clear ocean water splash my face. We did snorkeling in the stunning Caribbean water and made some fish friends. If you go on the catamaran snorkeling trip with a guide who calls himself "sugar daddy" you will have a great time! We did a similar thing in Grand Turk also, and the only bad thing was a fellow cruiser getting stabbed in the foot with a conch shell. OUCH!
Okay, I will admit, a big part of cruise stigma is the people who are on them. And I promise you, you aren't going to be surrounded by sunburned hillbillies the whole time (someone had to say it!). I was surprised to find plenty of people my age (teens) and nice kids my brother's age (10) and a lot of normal, lovely families! Now you can't avoid the random odd person or group but guess what, that's with anywhere you go, that's life. So don't let that worry you or hold you back as it did me in the start!
If you have made it this far, congratulations. Now you know the truth about modern day cruising, and how a Carnival cruise was for me: way better than I expected. So I suggest you book a cruise for next summer, or if you already have one planned soon, to not be stressed about it! Cruises are way more than the stereotype that surrounds them. Have a fantastic summer everyone!