Let me start this blog by saying… We were first time cruisers. I am not really sure why I have never cruised before, but this is my story… and I am stickin’ to it. Typically in my prior travels, I have always experienced sickness at the start of the trip – the plane ride. The thought of getting motion sickness on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean was quite overwhelming to me. My husband and I flew into Houston the day before our cruise departure and hung out with family. (As a destination specialist, I have witnessed too many passengers missing the boat to delayed or canceled flights, so I did not want to risk missing our vacation – As a matter of fact, 1,000 passengers missed this specific cruise due to winter weather conditions in the Dallas metroplex. *Sidenote – travel protection is a great investment, as these 1,000 passengers were most likely out of luck without protection.
We arrived at the Port of Galveston at about 12:30 on Sunday afternoon. We were immediately greeted by a porter, who received our luggage for us. WHOOPS I forgot to staple my luggage tags onto my luggage. No worries, he had a stapler. He promised me that he would not lose my bags… and low and behold… He delivered on his promise. Thank goodness. Luggage porters are not cruise line employees, and therefore, are only paid on gratuities. We gave him $2 per bag and proceeded to the check in desk.
The check-in process was relatively painless. The longest line was getting through security. It was as if people had never traveled before. I thought to myself “common people, you don’t even have to take your shoes off.” There was a staff member for Carnival every step of the way to help give us directions. Signs and arrows for those who do not listen or who do not want to ask are available through out the cruise terminal. Following simple and concise directions will help make the process even more seamless.
Upon checking in, we received our “Sail and Sign Card” (Room Key) which also serves as your form payment on the ship. We elected to put cash on our account, along with a credit card. The cruise line used our cash credit first then proceeded to charge our credit card after our cash allotment had been spent.
Our first sail and sign purchase was a tasty “Bahama Mama” drink. We also purchased the Bottomless bubbles sticker so we could have soft drinks without paying for them individually. You are allowed to bring 1 case of your favorite soda beverage or water on board per person. Definitely dually noted.
We spent Monday at sea. I started my week with a Hot Rocks Massage in the Cloud 9 Spa. It was WONDERFUL! In fact, I scheduled a second one for Friday. The same kind. It was WONDERFUL, again!
Tuesday, our Port of Call was Key West, Florida. We had a blast. There is a lot to do and see in Key West. For $130, we chose to rent a golf cart; we were able to see and do everything we wanted at our own speed. We saw Hemmingway’s House, and stood at the Most Southern tip of Florida, which is only 90 miles from Cuba. We shopped a little and ate the tastiest Key Lime Pie at the Blue Heaven. It was a fun little quaint place that had roosters and chickens roaming and live music. I can’t say I have ever eaten with roosters and chickens at my feet, but I would do it again. Duval Street was a happening place. Make sure to take a lot of money – there is a lot to buy!
Wednesday, our Port of Call was Freeport, Bahamas. There isn’t much to do in Freeport; I would definitely encourage a Shore Excursion at this port. There is a little shopping right off the pier, and I had a local lady braid my hair. They have the typical little straw huts with souvenirs, t-shirts and knickknack shops and live music. They were very friendly. Once we walked around this port, we boarded the ship and enjoyed our day relaxing on board. So many guests were still on land, so it was like we had the ship to ourselves.
Thursday, our Port of Call was Nassau, Bahamas. Nassau is very overwhelming. Once we got off the ship, there were many taxis and ground transportation waiting to take you anywhere you wanted to go. They have scooters to rent, but due to the traffic, I would not recommend renting a scooter unless you are an experienced driver. Traffic is crazy. We took a taxi ($4) over to Atlantis. Beautiful resort. You do have to purchase a day pass to be able to go out onto their beach or into their waterpark. They have the largest casino in the Caribbean, and while I normally deposit money in those machines, this time I WON… 20 dollars!
The last two days at sea were extremely relaxing! We enjoyed sitting on our balcony – there is something very tranquil and mysterious about the ocean, and listening to the waves is so peaceful. The rocking of the ship will put you right to sleep – and about that motion sickness anxiety I had before I embarked, I was okay, in case you were wondering. My doctor prescribed me a patch you can wear to prevent motion sickness. Those things work like a charm.
Disembarking our cruise was a breeze. All remaining charges to our room were charged to our credit card on file, so we were able to bypass the front lobby line. The cruise lines are very experienced in the disembarkation process so getting through customs was quick and efficient.
For all of you that have never cruised before, we really did enjoy our vacation. Give it a try. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. Please give me a call to discuss your cruise or other vacation plans.