Okay, home and rested!
So, this was my first ever cruise, and I
chose to go with the whole family, as well as with my father and
step-mother. We had fun.
Because it was our first cruise, and
because there were so many of us going, we decided to go with Carnival,
as it provided the best value and the timing was best suited for when we
wanted to sail. If you decide to go, check multiple lines (I looked at
Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, the latter of which did not
have anything in the Western Caribbean, at least not in the time frames
we were sailing), and different departure ports. I was able to save
about $800 by driving to New Orleans for our embarkation as opposed to
the same cruise out of Galveston one day earlier. Even factoring in
gas, lodging, and meals, that was still over
$500 less that we had to pay.
The cruise ship itself sort of
felt aged, decor-wise, but it was about 15-20 years old, so that seems
reasonable. I would say the food was decent to fair; not outstanding,
but with Carnival, I was not expecting 5 star dining. I did buy the
soda card, which was about $35 for me and $25 for my son - this gave us
unlimited soft drinks on the boat (normally $4 a glass), but I drink
soda pretty regularly, so I made out ahead by going this route.
Alcohol is not cheap, but there's so much to do that finding time to have more than one or two glasses would take real effort.
is plenty to do on the cruise ship, yet at the same time, we found
plenty of time where we were trying to figure out what to do "now."
We're not young, and I'm not exactly in beach shape, so hanging out by
the pool trying to tan was not really in the cards for me - mental note,
I need to drop about 25 lbs
before my next cruise.
The shore excursions were pretty cool -
we saw some Mayan ruins (Dzibilchaltun), which were impressive, and we
hired a private driver for our tour of Cozumel, which was definitely
money well spent. We took a tour of a tequila factory as well as a
chocolateria, where the kids got to grind their own cocoa beans for hot
chocolate. Definitely a good things for youngsters.
cruise, there are kid's areas - Camp carnival for kids up to age 11,
Circle C for ages 12-14, and O2 for 15-17. These areas are full of fun
activities for the kids, but there are limits on the hours of operation -
I think we managed about 2-3 hours at a time with the kids in these
areas. My 14 year old more or less just had run of the ship, but the
other two we kept closer tabs on. There were some kids who were just
left to fend for themselves, and in my opinion, shouldn't have been, but
that's a different
story. All in all, we had a great time.
One thing we did on the ship was a wine tasting/pairing, which was really good.
Carnival ships have had a rough go of it lately, with Costa Concordia,
Triumph, Dream, and Legend each having varying degrees of calamities
strike. Unfortunately, our ship also had some problems, however,
nothing so severe as to prevent us from getting to and from the various
ports safely. We had an issue with steering due to a malfunction on the
starboard azimuth (I don't know what it does, but it apparently affects
steering), which required a technician to be flown in to Progreso to
work on during our shore excursion.
We really enjoyed
our cruise, and I would be more than happy to do another one. I have
already tentatively started trying to plan a family cruise for Summer
2014, hopefully somewhere new - maybe Jamaica and Grand Cayman, or, if I
it, the Mediterranean. If you decide to take a cruise, sailing to
Progreso and Yucatan is an absolutely great first cruise.
I went on so long, but once I started recapping the cruise, I couldn't
find a good place to stop - there's a lot more to share, but this covers
the basics pretty well.