Summer vacations. Do you love them? Are you a beach person, mountain person, cruise person? A lot of times, we are a beach vacation family. This past year though, we opted to go on a cruise, and I couldn’t be more happy with the time we had. It was so nice to HAVE to unplug and relax. We booked a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise through Carnival that left out of Port Canaveral, FL. So….let’s go, I’m excited to tell you all about it.
Day One: Travel Day. This was a long day for sure, but we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time in case of a flight delay, which meant we scheduled our flight for 5:10 am. We landed in Orlando at 7:20 a.m. and had to just hang out until the bus company we were using to get over to the port opened. Let’s talk about that for a minute. We looked at several options to get us on to Port Canaveral which is about fifty minutes from the airport. Ultimately, we ended up choosing Go Port which worked out really well. Their counter is located inside the airport by the car rental companies. Just check your group in, get tags for your luggage, chill in the waiting area until it’s your turn, and hop on the bus (think tour bus). They run daily from the airport to the port from 10 to 1. I believe it was $15.00 per person one way (we were doing something different when we returned which I’ll tell you about later). Once we arrived at Port Canaveral, our luggage was unloaded for us (we did verify all of ours had been taken off the bus successfully;)), and all we had to do was board the ship. We were at the port before our scheduled boarding time; however there were lines for early, late, and on time arrivals, and Carnival did a great job of getting everyone through quickly.
Once on the ship, we had to wait a little bit for our rooms to be available so we grabbed some lunch. Most of us grabbed something from Guy’s Burger Joint (delicious, you’ll probably want to eat there more than once).
Our Rooms: We had two rooms on the ship since we had a total of 7 in our group. One room was a deluxe ocean view, and the other was an interior room that slept four. The deluxe ocean view room had four closets, a vanity area, a queen size bed and a couch that served as a twin bed. It also had two bathrooms, one full with a shower, sink area, and toilet and the other with a sink and tub/shower combo. All in all, it was very spacious for a stateroom. The interior room had four twin beds (one upper and one lower on each side), three closets, and one full bathroom.
We opted for late dining so we could spend as much time ashore as possible, so after dinner in the Blush Restaurant, we called it a night.
Day Two. Fun day at sea. Our first full day on board. We chose to eat breakfast in our dining room (Blush Restaurant), rather than at the Lido Buffet. This seemed to be a less crowded breakfast option most days. After eating, we hung out on one of the decks and soaked in the sun. Some of us had lunch/snacks at BlueIguana Cantina, while others ate at Pizza Pirate. One thing I was really excited about doing onboard was playing bingo! ( I know, I know…we were going to all these fantastic places and I was excited about bingo). No one won, but we had fun. We also purchased the pass for the Thrill Theater. At the time of our cruise, it was $5.50 per showing or $14.95 (adult) and $11.95 (12 & under) for the unlimited pass. Since most of us wanted to take in more than one show, it made sense to buy the pass. I think my favorite was the Level 1 show. This ship has a video arcade that we checked out this first day and added some money to the boys’ sail and sign cards so they could play throughout the week. Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle C (ages 12-14), and Club O2 (ages 15-17) are the club options onboard for kids, so we checked the two for older kids out the first day. Nate (17) took advantage of hanging out in Club O2 a few times during our cruise. Before changing into our “fancy” clothes (this night was one of two elegant dinner nights), we took in the Jodi White PG comedy show at The Punchliner Comedy Club. After dinner, we were down for the count again.
*Side note: Dan and I opted to dress up both elegant nights because…why not?! I mean when else do you get to dress up? I wore a dress both nights, and Dan wore a tie and suit jacket. Some were just as dressed up as us, and others were a little more casual.
Day Three. Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. We were up and at ’em early this morning so we could go ashore quickly. We did not do an excursion at this port since there is a large pool area, two waterslides, a lazy river, a swim-up bar, and several lounge chairs. The Coco Cana Lounge is located right at the port as well if you’re hungry. We did not eat but we did buy some non-alcoholic drinks from the restaurant. Of course, we had to buy some souvenirs before getting back on the ship. Not to worry, there are plenty of stores to shop in.
There are several items that can be rented and activities to participate in that do not have to be booked through an excursion. WiFi, kayaks, zip lining, and cabanas to name a few. Prices ranged from $5 (pool noodles) to $1,170 (grand cabana).
Back on the ship, we ate a late lunch/snack and got ready for our late dinner time. This was the night that Terrick decided to start trying all the crazy food options. I was both impressed and disgusted. After dinner, some of us watched the Motor City show, and a few of us took in the over 18 comedy show afterwards. If you are easily offended, just skip this.
Day Four. St. Thomas, USVI. Excursion time! We took an open air bus to Sapphire Beach. The water there was absolutely beautiful. While there, you could relax in the chairs that were provided or take time to snorkel. The snorkeling equipment was provided as well. Four of us (I’ll let you guess who) went snorkeling, and three of us relaxed on the beach. Those that went snorkeling were able to see a huge (10-12 feet, no joke!) stingray, among other cool creatures. Unfortunately, the underwater camera we had purchased broke, so no pictures. Sounds like a big fish tale now, right? But I promise, if you go and ask the snorkel shop gentleman, he will tell you the stingray exists and has a name! We had about two hours on the beach before it was time to head back to the ship. On the way back, our bus made a stop at a spot that overlooked the port area. Once back at the port, it was souvenir time again so we ran to some of the stores that are located close by. Dinner and the Love & Marriage Show wrapped up the evening.
*If you care about connecting with anyone back at home, your phone will work on St.Thomas since it is a U.S. Territory.
Day Five. San Juan, Puerto Rico. We weren’t sure we were going to get to stop in San Juan with all the political protests going on at that time, but we did and what an historical day it turned out to be with the governor resigning the evening we had been there. I’m not going to lie, there were a few times we felt just a little uncomfortable seeing the grafitti, boarded up windows, and some protestors, but never really felt unsafe. We walked around Old San Juan, went to several of the shops (which felt a lot more authentic & not so touristy), and just took in the sights. We stopped for lunch at El Jibarito, after asking for recommendations from some of the locals, and grabbed an iced coffee at Cuatro Sombras just before getting back on the ship. My only wish is that we had had a little more time to explore. Not really sure what we did back onboard, other than it was the second elegant evening of the cruise.
*Your phone will work in San Juan as well 🙂
Day Six. Grand Turk. This was an all day beach day for us. We had read that the chairs were free, despite the numerous people that will insist you pay for them. We tried the tactic of refusing to pay, until Dan went and asked the port attendant who confirmed that only a certain color of chair was reserved for the Carnival ship. Who knows? Maybe she was in on the scheme too. 🙂 Regardless, we negotiated a price that seemed fair and enjoyed the day! The water is beautiful and crystal clear. There are several places to shop before or after relaxing on the beach. We wrapped up the day back on the ship with dinner, the Cowboy Comedian comedy show, and the Country Road production.
Day Seven. Fun Day at Sea. More like sad day at sea. 🙁 We tried to squeeze everything in that we hadn’t done or wanted to do one last time. That included participating in several of the trivia games, going to the Thrill Theater a couple more times, and playing miniature golf to name a few. Oh! We also attended Tea Time. Other than that, the day was spent packing everything up.
Day Eight. Travel back home day. We were up early so we could eat breakfast in our dining room which was served from 6:00 am – 8:00 am. I haven’t mentioned it, but if you eat breakfast in the dining room, make sure you try the pineapple juice. Yum! We kept our luggage with us so we could immediately leave the port after disembarking. We took a short shuttle ride (Enterprise shuttle, just tip the driver) over to Enterprise to pick up the van we had rented since our flight back home wasn’t until 4:40, which was the only reason we did not use Go Port like we did at the beginning of our trip. From there we headed to Disney Springs, had some lunch, and spent some time looking around before heading to the airport.
*If your group is on two different decks, make sure you communicate your plan well prior to the debarkation morning. It got a little hectic for us just making sure we knew where everyone was.
Overall it was an amazing cruise with a great itinerary. There wasn’t a single destination that we wouldn’t want to go back to and explore even more. If you have any questions, I will most definitely try to answer them, just leave them in the comments!