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Set Sail for Family Harmony

Set Sail for Family Harmony

I was wrong.

For over 30 years I have traveled the world utilizing all modes of transportation yet avoiding cruise ships. Why would I pay to be confined to a floating vessel with thousands of traveling strangers? The older I get the easier it becomes to admit that I made a mistake.

Most vacations have me returning home wishing for just a few additional days for “a vacation from my vacation”. A recent escape aboard the Carnival Elation was just what my family needed to beat the winter blahs – we returned home rested and willing to patiently await the arrival of spring.

Perhaps you, too, are a cruise cynic. There is the misconception that cruises are for retired people, the non-adventurer, or people that live for the endless buffet. I beg to differ. I’m thirty six years young, have plenty of energy and zest for adventure and prefer fine dining over buffets!

Skeptics, allow me to convince you…

1. The Price

Especially off-season, is affordable. Our five-night adventure out of New Orleans to Mexico set us back only $400, not per person, TOTAL cost! Keep in mind, I am very cost conscious, we stayed in an interior room with bunk beds. Balcony rooms and ocean view will add significantly to your cost.

2. Camp Carnival!

If you’re traveling with children, this is the greatest concept ever invented. Supervised, educational, fun activities are free of charge ten hours per day. It allows them to meet other children from all over the world. Your kids are HAPPY and you are getting a true vacation to enjoy quiet time with your spouse or serenity by the pool!

Water Fun 2

3. Peaceful Meals

You want to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a well prepared, flavorful dish. The kids are whining that they can’t eat that. Your husband wants meat and potatoes. That entire ordeal is enough to ruin a vacation. A culinary genius trained in the psychiatry of eating must have been behind the scenes creating a way to please everyone! Carnival never disappointed at meal times. There were even evenings that Camp Carnival counselors hosted kid-only dinners leaving you free to enjoy a date night.

On the evenings that you choose to take the children to the dining room, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to etiquette (just in case they have an aversion to fine dining, a children’s menu is available). Room service is available, also free, but I do suggest you tip the waiter! There is a gigantic buffet on the Lido deck, featuring a Mongolian Wok, a Deli, a Grill and anything else you can imagine! Did I mention Ice Cream 24 hours a day?

4. Awesome Entertainment

Although Camp Carnival has the kids covered, I do suggest you spend some quality time with them on your vacation. Take time out for a game of mini golf up on the ship’s deck, enjoy a show after dinner in the Mikato Lounge, or get your dose of laughter at the family-friendly comedy hour! There is a great gym on board the ship. When was the last time you worked out overlooking the ocean? There’s a sports bar to catch the latest action for those who are anxious on vacation if they are unable to keep up with their favorite teams. Perhaps you are one who enjoys the Casino – you never know you could get lucky and even pay for your cruise!

The ship offers endless activities: spa services, trivia games, karaoke, a disco for teens as well as adults, a piano bar, poolside games, a basketball court, a walking trail, a pool with waterslide, shopping on board, wine tastings, chef dinners, behind the scenes tours…something for everyone!

So much to do!
So much to do!

5. Culture Without a Passport

Sometimes you may find yourself or your children without a passport. As long as your cruise begins and ends in the same U.S. port you are able to travel without a one. (For more information visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.)

The opportunity to see how other people live is priceless. I highly suggest doing a scavenger hunt with the kids at one of these ports. Our cruise director, Willie, provided my son with a “Mission Impossible” scavenger hunt! It was a fun idea and a great way for us to build a lasting memory together. There are boundless shore excursions available. For the novice, book them directly through Carnival or the adventurer could rent a car and explore the island. The time before last, we were with a group of 10 and rented a taxi driver for the day who took us to parts of Cozumel we may never have visited otherwise.

A cruise is one of the most restful, stress free vacations that I take with my family. If you are concerned because you are traveling with someone that has special needs, you may be interested in the info they have about guests with disabilities.

I have so much more to share from this experience, if you want to plan your first cruise or have any questions for me feel free to comment below or email me at


NOTE: per our review policy, this post was not sponsored or paid for in any way by Carnival Cruise lines. 


View Comments (16)
  • I think a cruise is the best option for a family vacation! We have always loved them! Look forward to my next one!

    • Rebecca, so glad that you have introduced your family to cruises. If you consider all the activities available, it is a more affordable vacation than going to the beach. We are trying to plan our next one as well!

  • You forgot to mention that you left your mom and dad behind to shovel the snow, weed the garden and water the plants while you were off having a wonderful trip. Glad to hear that you loved the vacation!

    • Dad, thank you for making travel a big part of my childhood. I enjoy passing those same experiences onto my boys. You and mom started my passion for travel!

  • Thank you so much for all the information! We have never been on a cruise and are wanting to go. Do you use a travel agent?

  • I’ve, casually, looked into cruises but have always found the cost “per person”. Could you tell me what site you used to get the price you stated?

    • Sonia, traveling off season makes a huge difference. I find my rates on the carnival website. We traveled in January this time and it was a great price, utilizing the Past Guest Rate! The website does list it as a per person price and also a grand total vacation price. Let me know if you need some help navigating the site or looking for hidden deals 🙂

  • Dena, I do all of my own initial research…after I have found the price I want and the itinerary that fits my schedule I call :
    Personal Vacation Planner
    Carnival Cruise Lines I 3655 NW 87th Avenue I Miami. FL. 33178
    800.819.3902 Extension 82451 | Fax 305.406.6829||
    Work Hours: 11:00am-8:00pm (Monday – Thursday) 9:00am-6:00pm (Friday) EST

  • Melika, love this post! You may have actually converted me. I am 34 and have never been on a cruise… and never wanted to go on one. This is especially surprising since my mother is in the travel business. She’s tried to convince me several times, but I usually don’t bite. Dare I say that Camp Carnival may have sealed it for me?! (I love my daughter, but a little alone time on the vacay is priceless.) The last hurdle for me to get over is the close sleeping quarters. I’m a little claustrophobic. But it looks like I may be calling my mom to book a spring break cruise with the kiddo!

    • Taralyn, I had a big fear as well before going on my first cruise. I get car sick if I am not driving and do okay on a boat as long as it is moving but not just bobbing on the lake. I was scared to death that I would be nauseated the entire time. My first cruise I only went for three nights because of that fear. I have done great, can barely tell the ship is moving and I was never nauseous. Did not even take a patch. Is it just you and your daughter? We had a upper/lower bunk bed room and there is plenty of room to move about with two people. The bathroom is a little tight but you can leave the door open and that helps.

      • I’m with you Taralyn. I think the camp carnival sealed it for me too! Thanks for a great post Melika! I’ve been thinking about making a cruise the next vacation for us as well – and you’ve answered a lot of questions.

  • I have only been on one cruise, but it was amazing! I’m really hoping to go on a family cruise at some point. Maybe this year? 🙂 I do have 2 questions. 1) What would you consider to be off season? 2) What age do they take kids for camp carnival? I know there are 3 different age groups/areas.

    • Ashley, usually the lowest rates are in Jan-Feb and Oct-Dec with the exception of the holiday weeks.. I check the carnival site about twice a month and just play around to see if there are any deals. Often times there are specials for Past Guests, Military, Alabama Residents…just familiarize yourself with their website and check it frequently. We pulled out of school for this trip, it just made sense financially. Here is a link to camp carnival to answer your question:

  • Melika, I enjoyed your article. It was almost like being there. Fantastic coverage of the cruising experience! I agree that a cruise is one of the closest “something for everyone” vacation ideas. A cruise offers many special memories

  • This is such a great article, especially since I wanted to take a cruise with my family. My husband and I went on a cruise last year to celebrate our anniversary and we left the kids with the in laws. I missed my kids very much but I did not know whether or not they would have enjoyed it. This really helped me to decide, thank you!

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