Olivia Travels: A Guide to Cruising from North America
This blog was so fun for us to write as we love to travel and authored a book just for children called Olivia Travels: A Guide to Modes of Transportation. It is a rhyming book about different ways that we travel.
Olivia Lauren (whom the character is based) has taken the following modes of transportation mentioned in the book: car, bus, train, tram, shuttle bus, plane, horse, elephant, camel, hover board, ferry, and now cruise ship! Her first cruise was the Carnival Cruise Sunrise. We had an amazing time and hope you will book a cruise for your next family vacation.
Take a peek inside Olivia Travels: A Guide to Modes of Transportation.
The best thing about a cruise ship is its all-inclusive, transportation to multiple destinations with comfy and convenient accommodation, dining, and 24-hour entertainment! And you only unpack once and can do laundry before heading home if you choose to!
But what are the benefits if it isn’t actually ALL inclusive or the dining and entertainment are substandard? This blog goes over the pros and cons of traveling by cruise.
- Destination: you visit 2 or more ports depending on the length of your cruise.
- Entertainment: 24 hours of nonstop activities and entertainment including casino, dancing, DJ, karaoke, live bands, piano bar, mini golf, shuffleboard, pool, hot tub, night clubs, comedy shows, and off-ship excursions such as petting animals as sting rays or dolphins, water sports such as jet ski, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, etc. Kids have their own camps and clubs. You never have to see them!
- Food: planes don’t usually include ample food with an array of options! Cruise ships offer a buffet and sit-down dining of many cuisines. All-you-can-eat hamburgers, fries, and pizza for kids.
- Fitness: cruise ships offer a gym, jogging track, basketball courts, ropes course, and personal trainer. No need to skip workout training.
- Meet new people: so many people yet you may see the same people over and over and eventually learn names and have conversations! You’ll hear so many different accents from around the US and the world.
- Organization: I found the level of organization remarkable! Lots of things were automated and communication was effective. Weeks before we boarded we received emails asking us to upload vaccine cards and passport information, complete health assessments, share travel info, and book airport to cruise port transfers. Our check-in was seamless. We had facial recognition, room key cards that worked as boarding passes, payment, and IDs. The intercom blasted announcements and there were meeting places to discuss safety protocol, where to go for excursions, and how to disembark. It was incredible.
- Price: More economical for a family when you think about the cost of hotel, food, taxi, or rental car.
- Raffle prizes: enter all raffles you might get lucky. I won a spa treatment of my choosing and chose a 50-minute massage and my kids got free silver bracelets.
- Room service: it felt good to have someone else make your bed, clean your shower, and replace the towels. And let’s not forget those cute towel animals!
- Safety: I felt safer on the cruise than on the plane regarding health and property. There was tons of space to isolate and avoid crowding. There were security guards for people who got too drunk and there were safes to store passports.
- Sea breezes: fresh clean air daily.
- Shopping: go crazy with duty-free shopping for perfumes and liquor. Alcohol is also 33% larger in volume, and perfumes are up to 40% cheaper.
- Spa: cruises offer several spa options such as facial, manicure, pedicure, massage, even teeth whitening and skin tightening.
- Space: Planes have really tight seating even if you select a business or first class, whereas cabins are bigger and decks have plenty of space to social distance. You get a whole bed!
- Sunrise and sunsets: never miss a sunset or the sunrise, if that's your thing.
- Stars: at night you can see the whole galaxy away from the busyness and the brightness of the city.
- Wi-Fi: not having Wi-Fi can be a great thing to allow you to disconnect from everything and connect with the people you are traveling with.
- Control: if you like being in control, cruises aren’t right for you. You have zero control over when you leave, how long you stay, and where you go once it’s booked. You have no control over how quickly you get on or off the ship.
- Destination Time: ships leave between 3-5 pm so you don’t experience the country’s nightlife or catch a sunset while on land for that instagrammable or Pinterest-worthy photo!
- Entertainment: there may be lots to do but it doesn’t guarantee it will actually be great. For example, your DJ may not be that good or the playlist may be repetitive. The performances may be entertaining enough but not Broadway quality.
- Food: The more expensive options (restaurants) taste better than the free options (buffet) as you’d expect. Just kike the entertainment there may be plenty but it may not meet your taste as they are catering to many different palates and we prefer or are accustomed to more spice and flavor.
- Location: I prefer land to sea any day. The ocean blue is gorgeous but there is nothing to see. I didn’t see any dolphins, whales, or flying fish. Just egrets and seaweed.
- Price: Be prepared for hidden fees or fees you didn’t prepay like gratuities of $20 pp per day. On the Carnival cruise ship, soda, alcoholic beverages, fine dining, gratuities, and photos are not included. However, on the Princess cruise, everything was covered except alcoholic beverages and photos.
- Travel time: boats are slower than planes.
- Weight: Also the average person gains weight on a cruise.
- Wi-Fi: not having Wi-Fi to connect with the people you are traveling with and family not with you can be scary, so if you really need it to pay the additional price of $20 pp per day. Your phone service may work on the island though. I have T-Mobile and we used it for navigation.
- Quiet time: there is an adults-only area but it was right next to the water slides with screaming kids. With over 2000 passengers, sometimes the only time you can find a spot on the deck to be alone is before 8 am and after 11 pm, especially on sea days.
So would I do it again??? It depends! There are definitely more pros than cons. I would have to consider the following:
- How many countries? 3 or more!
- Which countries? No repeats! Bucket list countries: Antigua, Bonaire, Curaçao, St Lucia, St Vincent.
- How long is the cruise? No more than 3 days for family and no less than 5 for the couple.
- Are kids involved? For a family plan, yes if is it less than $400 pp! For couples plans, I wouldn’t go cheap. I recommend leveling up to the gold or platinum plan to experience what VIP treatment feels like!!!!!
Popular cruise ports are:
Find the closest one to you using the map below:
Here is some advice on which port is best to embark...
Best cruises in the US
According to Times Travel, the top ten cruise ship lines in order are:
- Holland America Line
- American Queen Voyages
- Royal Caribbean
- Disney Cruise Line.
- American Cruise Lines.
- Princess Cruises.
- Norwegian Cruise Line.
- Virgin Voyages.
- Carnival Cruises
To learn more, visit this link...
In the comments, tell us what you thought of this post OR share your experience cruising. What's your favorite cruise ship line?
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