With the current stay-at-home orders in full swing in most places of the world, I’m sure many, like me, find themselves daydreaming of traveling to a beautiful and warm place to escape. While it’s true that most of us are stuck at home and forbidden from traveling, that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning (even if only in our heads) for our next getaway.
One of the increasingly popular methods of vacationing for Americans are cruises. We all at least know someone who’s been on a cruise and seen their pictures on Facebook.
I had always thought that while it looked like fun for some people, it probably wasn’t for me. Getting on a crowded ship with thousands of other people to be sailed off to somewhere only to turn right back around again seemed equally pointless and boring.
Then, my mom came to me asking if I wanted to go on a cruise with her as a birthday/Christmas/graduation present. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose and it would be nice to spend some time together, just us girls. So she booked us a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico that would stop in Key West, Florida.
My first impression when we arrived to the port was that I hadn’t any idea how absolutely massive these cruise ships actually were. In that moment, it began to sink in that my preconceived opinions might not have been very accurate.
As we boarded the ship, we checked our luggage to be delivered to our room and we headed to one of the bars (pretty sure there were, like, 20) to get our first drink. My mom splurged and got us the drink package for our trip, so we managed to try a lot of fun, new cocktails.
Then my mom began showing me around the ship. This was her third cruise at the time, so she was a pro and taught me all the things to know. Our ship was the Carnival Sensation, equipped with a large pool with a DJ playing music, a water park, a spa, gym, mini-golf course, a hundred different bars, a night club, a comedy club, cafes, a casino, a fine dining restaurant, and several other smaller quick-bite places. There were also some hot tubs in the “over 21” section which is a quiet place where we spent most of our time.
I was completely shocked at how much space there was on this ship. I never once felt claustrophobic or like it was crowded and there were plenty of things to do. After we set sail, we were out at sea for only one day before arriving at Key West.
Mom and I planned to go on a bike tour, but there weren’t enough people signed up and it was canceled. We were disappointed, but Carnival gave us some credit to use at the spa to make up for it. Instead, we just walked around the streets and made our way to the southernmost point buoy to take some pictures. I had been to Key West once before with my family when I was very little, but didn’t remember much of it, so it was really nice to see it all again.
Then, after one more day of sailing, we arrived in Cozumel. This was my first time in Mexico and I was really excited for the experience. One of the best parts of taking a cruise is the excursions you can go on. My mom let me pick our activity in Cozumel and I was honestly overwhelmed with how many choices there were. You could swim with dolphins, go sailing on a private boat, zip-lining, travel to some other private island, take a bar crawl tour, and pretty much anything else you could imagine.
I chose to go see the Mayan ruins in Tulum. This excursion took the entire day because we had to take a ferry to the mainland (Cozumel is an island), then a 2 hour bus ride to Tulum. All of the travel was definitely worth it because we got to see more of Mexico and the ruins were beautiful.
The Tulum Ruins are known for their gorgeous surroundings as they perched on the side of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. We also had a wonderful tour guide who was extremely knowledgable as he had Mayan ancestors. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this tour. I highly recommend this to anyone traveling in the Quintana Roo area.
After our long day of exploring, we headed back to the ship and had another day and a half of relaxing before we arrived back at the port in Miami.
Overall, my experience was a very positive one. I was surprised that I didn’t find myself feeling bored at any point while on the ship (something I was a bit worried about). There were multiple different activities happening at any given moment, such as karaoke, bingo or trivia. If none of them seemed appealing, you could head to the pool, or grab some ice cream, or catch a show.
I think the best part about a cruise vacation is that you can truly make it into the perfect vacation for you. Between all of the choices on the ship and for excursions at the ports, each person’s vacation will look different and exactly tailored to them.
Another great aspect of a cruise is that everything is included. If you’re hungry or craving anything, at any time, it is available to you immediately and you don’t even have to think about the price or having your wallet with you. You can literally do whatever you want, whenever you want for one pretty affordable cost.
FYI- the cost of the excursions at the ports is not included in the overall price, but I think the prices are reasonable and I strongly believe there will be an option that’s perfect for you, even if that means saving the money and just exploring on your own, like we did in Key West.
After my experience, my opinion is that cruises are worth the money and time. Between all the different cruise destinations and options of activities, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for an affordable vacation that is both relaxing and exciting, consider taking a cruise in the near future.