This is a continuation of my cruise post you can find here on Petit Elefant.
Our first cruise embarked on Jan 28, 2011, it was a nine-day Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit. We loved that ship’s set-up. We booked two cabins. On the Carnival Spirit, on decks five through seven there are six interior cabins that connect to balcony cabins. What that means for those of you that haven’t cruised before, is that you get a phenomenal deal, due to the fact that interior’s are less than balconies. We chose this option so that our girls could sleep in the interior room, and we’d have the balcony, but because the rooms connect, we’d leave the door open and our living space was much more comfortable. For nine days the cost was $67 per person, per night, all inclusive.
Sadly the Carnival Spirit was moved to Australia in 2012 with it’s sister ship the Carnival Legend. However, they have two other sister ships with that sweet set-up, the Carnival Pride which sails on the west coast, and the Carnival Miracle which sails on the east coast.
What does that mean, all inclusive? First of all the food, taken care of. My favorite part? I didn’t have to think about meal planning, or do dishes, or anything if I didn’t want to. Also, room service. It’s free. You should tip your room service person a couple bucks when they deliver, but it is free, and if you sail Carnival you should order that chocolate cake off the room service menu, and throw in some veggies while you’re at it. That room service chocolate cake is better than the molten cake they service in the main dining room. Trust me.
Basically, all inclusive means you get all the activities, entertainment, dining, youth programs, and accommodations covered for your cruise price. For us, on that first cruise, the price tag was $268 per night, with tip it was $316 for a family of four. We had two rooms, an interior room connected to a balcony for that price.
My daughters love water. They will stay in the pools all day, and into the evening if we allow them. They took advantage of the water slides, the pools, and the kids club aboard the ship. Then when we hit the ports we’d do our thing, return to the ship and swim some more.
The only things you would need to pay for, would be the tips, and extras you want. Always do the recommended tip amount each cruise line establishes, which is usually $12 per person in your cabin, per day. They then divvy up the $12 a day between your dining servers, and room steward. Why do the recommended tip amount? The people that work on a cruise ship work their tails off to make your experience lovely. They come from countries that struggle, and I admire their hard work ethic. Most are on a cruise ship, away from their families for upwards of 7 months at a time, and we’ve always had great experiences with them. What kind of extras would you spend money on? Port excursions, specialty restaurants, shopping, specialty drinks/liquor.
We had never been to Mexico before. We visited the following ports on our nine-day cruise; Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Esenada. In Puerto Vallarta we purchased a seven-hour excursion through Carnival for whale watching, snorkeling, beach time and lunch. We were a bit worried at first, because some of the message boards said we wouldn’t see any whales in Puerto Vallarta. Luckily, the message board was wrong. The whales were amazing, and the manta rays. We even saw dolphins swim outside our balconies aboard the Carnival Spirit. We didn’t get off the boat in Mazatlan, La Paz or Ensenada. The year we went there was some violent unrest in those areas. In Cabo San Lucas, the best place to be is at an all inclusive resort. Our friends had a time share there, so we enjoyed the day at their resort. Otherwise the area was very arid, and not terribly impressive. Our opinion after visiting Mexico? Once was enough, at least for these locations. It’s not our favorite. I know some people love Mexico, but we prefer Hawaii. Our opinion of cruises on the other hand, we love them. We were surprised how much we enjoyed our first cruising experience and it made us eager to go on more.
In 2013 my husband’s employer had an incentive trip on the Carnival Inspiration for three days to Baja Mexico. Since the only port was Ensenada, we stayed on board and let the girls enjoy the pool. However, we realized exactly why these short cruises were called booze cruises.
We were in line one day on the Lido deck and one of the women aboard was wearing a poncho over her suit. Sadly the poncho didn’t quite cover up her ample backside. Sadly her swimsuit bottom had decided to hide from view. So my daughters, who were just about eye-level with that backside, had a very startling scene before them. We all laugh about it now. Needless to say, we learned we needed to be much more careful when deciding to take our daughters with us on certain trips.
One of our favorite cruises was our 12-day Mediterranean cruise for our 10-year anniversary, aboard the new, at the time, Carnival Breeze. In fact, we were on her second sailing. That’s my next post, so stay tuned.
If you can’t tell from the photos, we love cruising. We do know that choosing the right ship, to the right location, on the right cruise line matters. The research pays off, so do your due diligence, and enjoy the view.