Hey all it’s been a while since my last post. I actually started writing this blog post when I returned from my cruise back in March, but I went on the same exact cruise in the past and didn’t want to be repetitive. I did a couple of new things this time around even though the ports of call were the same as my last cruise, so I decided to write a new entry. Its taken me so long to come post on my blog because I have been so busy. My son (who’s now 3.5) will be starting Pre-K soon, so I’ve been doing everything to register him for school. I just started working at a new place, so I’m trying to get my sleep schedule set up with my new hours. Its been a tiring but fun couple of months, and I’m going to try to never go that long without writing an entry on here again.
So let’s get to it, shall we? On this journey I was traveling with my son, mom, sister, and her boyfriend. We flew into Miami two days before our cruise to get a little extra sunshine. The day of our flight there was a bit of an overcast but luckily that didn’t delay our flight at all. The first night we stayed at the Best Western Premier Miami Int’l Airport Hotel & Suites, Miami. The Ultra Music Festival was going on at the time we were staying there and the hotel staff did an amazing job at making sure none of the festival guests we’re rowdy and obnoxious towards their other guests. This hotel was extremely nice with very clean, large rooms. The pool was a bit small, but the weather wasn’t the best anyway so we did not utilize it much. Since the hotel was on the main road, there were many restaurants within walking distance, and the area was safe, so walking wasn’t a problem. Breakfast wasn’t included at this hotel, but since I have status with Expedia, it entitles me to certain perks, so I was given free breakfast vouchers.
The next day we stayed at La Quinta Inn & Suites Miami Airport East. We chose this hotel because it has a free airport shuttle, and also a free shuttle to the cruise port (which I always look for when taking cruises). This hotel was extremely close to the airport and also within walking distance to restaurants. The rooms at this hotel were small, and outdated but it got the job done. Rooms were clean, the included breakfast was nice, and they had an outdoor pool around the back. I don’t really have too much else to say about this hotel being as it was the Ultra Music Festival this hotel was packed with Festival goers that wouldn’t allow me to give this hotel a fair rating. But overall I was happy with this choice for the one night. While staying at this hotel we decided to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant (I went to my handy dandy google maps to find a nearby place to eat). We decided to eat at Latin Cafe 2000, a Cuban restaurant. The prices were good, the portion sizes were filling, and the food was SO GOOD. We each thoroughly enjoyed out meal. I definitely recommend to try this restaurant if you’re ever in the nearby area.
Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for, the cruise. Cruises are amazing vacations for a family on a budget. You don’t HAVE TO book excursions to have a good time, and the price per person (usually around $300 for a quick trip to the Caribbean) includes your meals and entertainment aboard the ship. Whenever friends or family come and ask me “What do you recommend as a good vacation for a family on a budget?” I always recommend a cruise. Everything is withing walking distance and you don’t have to worry about spending money on the ship unless you want to buy extras..
Boarding the cruise ship in Miami was probably the easiest boarding process I have ever been through (for cruises). They divided the ship into different check in times, which meant it only took about 30 minutes to go through security and check in at the front desk, which was extremely efficient. Once aboard the boat they had food waiting for us on the Lido deck, which we took full advantage of. Our cruise director aboard the Carnival Sensation was Matt, and he was absolutely amazing! One of the other crew members, Orlando, was also equally amazing, and absolutely deserves a cruise director spot if it ever becomes available (Carnival are you listening?!).
This ship featured Carnival’s new “Water Works” section, which is a sprinkler park for the kids, and kept my son nice and cool while aboard the boat. The ship also had a mini golf course, an adults only section, a spa, restaurants, a casino, a piano bar, a library, and so much more. There was never any reason for you to be bored when on the ship. Also the kids camp was open until late in case you wanted a kid free night out (and trust me your kids will beg to go back to camp).
This cruise had 3 stops, Grand Turk, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay (an island owned by Carnival). If you read my last blog entry about my previous cruise, this entry may seem a bit repetitive because I did some of the same activities, so bare with me, but also take it as a hint that I loved these activities so much that I had to do them again.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos: In Grand Turk I booked an excursion I have previously done, with Papa J Tours. We booked the Stingray excursion, Erickson was our tour guide (for the second time), he’s absolutely amazing. My 3 year old at first was so scared of the Stingrays but Erickson made him feel comfortable enough to give them kisses. By the time we had to head back my son was upset that we had to leave his “stingray friends”. Absolutely amazing excursion, and I highly recommend booking through Papa J Tours. If you book through the cruise line you will be brought over with a group of 20 or more. Booking with Papa J Tours means you get a smaller group size (About 5 or however many are in your party), and you get to spend more time with the Stingrays, asking questions, and exploring.
Nassau, Bahamas: In Nassau we took a water taxi over to Atlantis. The beach over by Atlantis is extremely crowded but very nice. There will be a lot of vendors on the beach trying to get you to buy what they are selling, so if that’s something that bothers you, I would advise against this beach. While on this beach I purchased a banana boat ride, which was an extremely fun 10 minutes. As for alcohol, one of the vendors sells a coconut, which for $20 you can get unlimited refills, you even tell them if you’d like it strong or not too strong (I advise the not too strong because even that one is strong, haha). I thought this to be a great deal while out on the beach enjoying the sun. There are no free chairs or umbrellas on this beach, but you can negotiate with any of the vendors for a good deal, don’t settle for the first price they give you.
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas: This is my all time favorite stop. Whenever I book a cruise with Carnival I try to make sure this is one of the stops. This island is owned by Carnival, so Carnival provides free food for its passengers on this island. Also this location is not overcrowded because only your ship’s passengers are on the beach. I have done this island before, and decided that this time around I was going to splurge and rent a cabana. This was an amazing decision. Since I had an excursion at this port I was given a priority tender (meaning I was first to board a tender to the island). Once at the port, we were given a ride over to our cabana. Our cabana included a misting fan, lounge chairs, a table with chairs, an AC, chips and guacamole, fresh fruit, soda, water, a shower, rafts, and snorkeling gear. This was the best investment I could have ever made. If you’re going to Half Moon Cay GET A CABANA. This made the island feel like absolute heaven. I never wanted to leave.
Thank you Carnival for always giving me such an amazing experience.
If any of my readers have any questions regarding cruises, feel free to leave a comment below, I’m always happy to give my personal experiences and advice.
Until Next Time,