All In on Cruising

I think it should come as no surprise when I say that I love cruising with Carnival Cruise Lines. I love to travel and I have found that the easiest and most economical way to see as many destinations as possible is by cruising! Cruising really offers the entire package when it comes to a vacation: the opportunity to visit multiple destinations on the same trip, fantastic food, fun and games onboard, and of course, a sweet place to rest your head once the day is done. On a recent cruise on the Carnival Freedom, Angeline said, “A cruise is like an awesome hotel that takes you places!” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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When planning a family vacation (or any vacation, for that matter), there are four price components you have to keep in mind: travel (airfare or car/gas/tolls), lodging, food and entertainment. On a cruise, the lodging, food and entertainment are built into one price, making it an extremely affordable vacation option!  And with so many close-to-home embarkation ports, many people can drive to board their cruise, getting to and from your vacation more affordable than ever, particularly for families.

Let’s focus on the food on a cruise, shall we? I am a total foodie and look forward to the dining options every time I cruise. I am sure that I am not the only one who considers the food one of the best parts of a vacation!

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The Dining Options are Limitless!

Take JiJi Asian Kitchen on the Carnival Sunshine as an example. Served family style, a meal cost $15 per person and you have the option to choose as many menu items as you’d like. My favorite meal included pork belly, spare ribs, an assortment of rice and veggies as well as dessert – a meal like this would easily cost you $50-$70 in a restaurant back home!

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Some of our other Carnival favorite specialty dining experiences are  Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina. If you consider the price you would pay for a gourmet burger or burrito in a local restaurant, you will realize just how much you are saving when it comes time to chow down on that juicy cheeseburger!

We pay about $12 for a cheeseburger and fries at our local eateries (I am not counting fast food because Guy’s burgers are nothing like fast food!), for a family of three, that’s $36 plus a tip if we went out to eat…if you have a larger family, your savings are astronomical! You can also go back for seconds…or thirds…if you like, and you will never pay a cent out of pocket.

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Just about every cruise line has a steakhouse. For a fee of around $35, you are treated to a five course meal that would easily cost $75 at a local steakhouse – if not more! While I always order the filet, there are different options available including roasted chicken, rib eye, etc.

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Plan a getaway

At cruise line steakhouses, the waiter or waitress will come by and present a selection of meats and explain your options before you place your order to ensure that you are ordering the perfect meal.

Tip: If you are too full for dessert, order it to go! They will happily plate your dessert to take back to your stateroom for later.

While not all cruise ships offer a wide number of specialty dining restaurants they all have a buffet, deli, pizza station, and main dining room, which offers at least five appetizer, salad and entrée choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and all included in the price of the cruise.

I bet your mouth is watering and your stomach is growling now, isn’t it?

The value of the dining options on a cruise is just the beginning!

Treat the Family to a Laugh at No Additional Cost

My husband and I have been fans of live comedy for years. An evening at the comedy club is a great way to kick back, relax and belly laugh the night away. However, entrance fees and two-drink minimums at the local comedy club can quickly add up to an expensive night out!  At Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs, there is no entrance fee, no drink order required – and the laughs are guaranteed!

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There are family-friendly shows in the early evening, which are perfect for the entire family, as well as adults-only shows later in the night. A night at the comedy club is a great way to share a laugh with the family and introduce your children to the art of the live performance – at no cost!

Did Someone Say FREE Childcare?

Long past are the days when I had to worry about what I was going to do with my daughter when I needed down-time on vacation. Cruise ships offer fantastic childcare programs, such as Carnival’s new Camp Ocean program (formerly known as Camp Carnival). The cruise camp programs offer a wide array of activities throughout the day to keep the children entertained and having fun – and of course they can always spend time with the family at the pool or dining, then go back to the camp for fun and games with their friends!

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Most children’s programs are available for children ages 2-17, and are broken down by age groups. Angeline falls into Carnival’s Club O2 program, which caters to teens ages 15-17. Yes, my teenager goes to camp when we cruise! She loves the activities and parties that the program provides, the directors, and making new friends from all over the country.

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There is also the option to bring your child to the program later in the evening after the daytime program ends for a nominal hourly fee. This is a great way to share a little alone time with your significant other while the kids are happily playing with their friends and well taken-care of.

The Club Has No Cover Charge!

While my clubbing days are long behind me, I do like the idea of getting all dressed up and dancing the night away with my husband. Living in Miami, the clubs of South Beach are close…yet so far away! One of the biggest draws to a club on a cruise ship is that while I can still dress up and have that “club experience,” it’s low key and there are no lines at the door and no cover charge to get in!

Hit a Broadway Show at Sea!

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a show on Broadway. I always look forward to the Broadway-style shows on cruise ships because they are completely free of charge and based on the opinion of friends who HAVE been to a show on Broadway in NYC, the quality is just as good.

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We have seen musical routines centering around different musical genres and I am always blown away by the caliber of the dancing and the accompanying music. It’s a great way to catch a high quality show without the price tag that accompanies shows you would see back home – because like every sort of entertainment on a cruise ship, it is all included in the price!

There are also fantastic interactive game shows with no admission fee, like the Hasbro Game Show! It’s great fun for the whole family and only available on Carnival Cruise Lines!

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If you are looking for a way to get outside with the family and have already spent an entire day at the pool , many of today’s larger ships feature mini golf courses allowing you to enjoy a fun round of golf…seaside!

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There are so many things to do and see on a cruise that are completely complimentary, and while shows are a lot of fun, there are small things here and there that are equally enjoyable – things that most don’t consider until they step foot on a cruise ship.

For instance, have you ever been to a Dive-In Movie? Each evening on the top deck, you can take the family to enjoy a complimentary movie presented on the big screen. Say goodbye to high movie ticket prices and hello to free popcorn and ice cream!

If you’re a trivia fan, there are several trivia games throughout the length of a cruise, and of course, there are no entrance fees to pay! You can even win a trophy to take home as a memento!

If you love live music, then you are in luck, because there is live music aplenty on today’s floating resort ships! With soloists playing around the Lido Deck on bright and sunny days, free karaoke in the lounge, to performers in the Atrium serenading you during happy hour – there is never a shortage of music on the high seas.

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect vacation? Check out Carnival.com and find a great deal on a cruise – and remember, all of this fun is included in the price!

This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.