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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: per our review policy, this post was not sponsored or paid for in any way by Carnival Cruise lines.
Born in Germany, but raised in Huntsville, Melika Nixon brings a unique perspective to travel and culture. As a nurse practitioner and single mother to seven-year-old twin boys, including one with serious medical issues, she brings an even more keen perspective to traveling with children. She frequently writes about creative, cost-effective ways to introduce children to the world through the gift of travel.