Last May, I set out on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean with my boyfriend and his wonderful family. I had never been on a cruise before, and because I’m prone to motion sickness, I was a bit wary. (Pro tip: get the Transderm Scop patch, and you’ll be fine.) Not to mention, that Poseidon movie kind of scarred me for life when it comes to cruising. Plus, I’d heard the horror stories about cramped staterooms and the feared norovirus. Needless to say, I was very apprehensive about this trip.
We had to drive to Galveston, Texas to board the ship, and while the embarkation process was a nightmare worse than trying to get through security on a holiday weekend at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I was pleasantly surprised when we finally got on the ship. I was amazed because the interior didn’t look like a ship at all. (Mind you, my only other experience on a ship was the USS Alabama.) We stepped into the magical atrium that was filled with chandeliers, lights, a band, and a modern-looking bar. Can you really ask for anything else?
But then came the moment of truth: the staterooms. We had eight people in our party and booked two interior staterooms. Based on what I’d heard, I had pretty low expectations. When we opened the door, I was, again, pleasantly surprised. While the room was not overly large, we still had plenty of room for four of us to hang out comfortably, and the bathroom was no smaller than most of the hotel bathrooms I’ve been in. Another perk is that the cleaning crew leaves you a cute towel animal on your bed every day!
Since we obviously didn’t want to spend all our time in the room, we unpacked, then ventured out to explore the rest of the ship. It was massive. There were more restaurants, pools, and bars than you could ever need or use in seven days. There was absolutely no room for boredom. Our first stop was (obviously) to grab a drink, but we were appalled that there wasn’t a single drink on the menu under $10. We begrudgingly paid it anyways, and as I sipped my Mai Tai on the pool deck, I realized after three sips, I was tipsy. $10 well spent.
Cruising to Cozumel
Our first port of call on the cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Most people booked excursions for this stop, but my boyfriend and I didn’t, thinking we could just hang out on the beach. This, however, was a big mistake. His family had a great time swimming with dolphins, but we found that even the guides at the port will lie to you about where the free beaches are and how much a taxi costs. Long story short, we ending up spending $100 to hang out on a crowded, tiny beach for a couple hours. We might as well have paid to swim with the dolphins.
Another interesting thing about Mexico is that you can buy literally any prescription drug over the counter. We went into a pharmacy for some Pepto-Bismol because my stomach was hurting, and we saw everything from testosterone shots to heart medicine on the shelves. It was crazy, yet I wouldn't recommend it because you never know the quality level of the medication. We did see one guy from our ship carting off an armful of codeine cough syrup, so I bet he had a fun time going through customs when we arrived back home.
Onward to Grand Cayman
Our next stop was Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, which is home to one of the most spectacular beaches in the world: Seven Mile Beach. Unfortunately, we arrived in the middle of a tropical storm, so we were soaked to the bone the second we got on shore. I still persuaded everyone to at least go to the beach since this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m so glad we did.
The rain cleared up after a while, and the beach was absolutely breathtaking. Seriously, I’m ruined for beaches for the rest of my life! The sand was pure white and looked like it never ended, and I had never seen such bold, beautiful turquoise water in my life. Put it on your bucket list. Really. Grand Cayman probably would have been my favorite if it hadn’t stormed.
Last Call at Montego Bay
Our final stop on the cruise was my personal favorite: Montego Bay, Jamaica. For this one, my boyfriend and I booked a day at an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. There were free unlimited drinks, food, snorkeling, kayaking, zero kids running around, and authentic Jamaican jerk chicken that was so good I probably would’ve paid $100 just for that. The Jamaican bartenders were hilarious, the weather was perfect, and it was a flawless almost-end to our cruise.
The final two days of the cruise were “sea days,” which were packed full of activities (like the George Lopez comedy club where we spent all our nights), but my favorite part was the Sea Day Brunch. You can order filet mignon, eggs benedict, or any other gourmet brunch food you desire. Two things astounded me on this cruise. First, the food is absolutely fantastic. All of it. I had some of the best meals I’ve ever had on this cruise, like their to-die-for spicy tomato soup. (I know you’re thinking that you wouldn’t ever die for tomato soup, but you haven’t had this tomato soup.) Secondly, you could have as much of it as you want. One night they served lobster, and we saw a lady order and literally eat three of them, no questions asked. It’s ridiculous.
A Successful Adventure
All in all, this one trip has definitely convinced me that cruising is one of the best vacations you can ever take. Unlike heading somewhere by plane or car, there’s no boring travel time, and you get to visit some exotic destinations that you would never otherwise be able to plan into a single week. I would suggest taking a cruise in the off-season (fall or winter) because the Caribbean destinations are still warm and sunny, and the tickets are dirt cheap. We’re already planning our next cruise to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I cannot wait to see what else is available.