In the interest of full disclosure, when Carnival offered to take my family on an 8-day cruise, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” at first. We were in desperate need of a vacation and traveling to the eastern Caribbean seemed like the best idea ever.
Then I started to worry.
I’m hardly a cruising veteran, so I wondered if this was a good idea after all. Being stuck on a ship for eight days in the middle of the ocean with my two wild children? I started to think this would end badly. After a few deep breaths, we decided to go for it.
I’m extremely thankful that I did because it ended up being the best vacation we’ve ever taken in our lifetimes. It also helped me to debunk a bunch of cruising myths that I believed prior to setting foot on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine.
#1 – There’s so much to worry about!: I think I lost about a month off from my life stressing about packing food, clothes, games for entertainment, etc. I was a complete mess…until I arrived on the ship. I realized that everything I needed or wanted for family was already on the Sunshine. Memo to self: On the next cruise, I need to pack less stuff.
#2 – Limited food options: My kids are picky eaters. What if I couldn’t find something for them to eat? Needless to say, that was the least of my worries. Carnival doesn’t mess around when it comes to food options because there is literally something for everyone. If I had to attach a percentage to it, I’d say that 75% of the time we were awake on the ship, we were putting some yummy goodness into our mouths.
#3 – Getting stir-crazy on the ship: On sea days I erroneously thought we would just sit in our room and watch television. I couldn’t be more wrong. Carnival ships are just like floating cities. After walking around for a little while I realized that we would actually have more fun on the ship than visiting the exotic locations we were traveling to (and that’s saying a lot, trust me). More on this later.
#4 – Nothing for kids to do: Wrong again. There were so many options that I thought my kids would explode from excitement. There was a video game arcade, an amazing waterpark, a Seuss At Sea breakfast where their favorite Dr. Seuss characters came to life, interactive game shows, 24-hour ice cream and pizza, etc. My daughters absolutely lost their minds due to the amount of fun they had.
#5 – Nothing for adults to do: Okay, that’s great for the kids and all – but what about if the adults want to take a break from the tiny humans and have some childless fun? Yep, there are plenty of options for that. There are sports bars, comedy shows, a spa, live music, dance clubs, karaoke, and stage shows, just to name a few. Again, Carnival comes through with diverse entertainment choices to please every grown up on the ship.
#6 – No childcare when it’s time for adult fun: Thankfully there’s Camp Carnival to help with that. It’s like a summer camp and the kids are divided into different groups (2-5 years, 6-8 years, and 9-11 years) to engage in age-specific activities ranging from art, movies, games, reading, toys, and more. Not to mention, they even offer nighttime care as well. It’s the perfect option for parents who need a quick getaway (and let’s face it, all of us need that every now and then).
#7 – It’s expensive!: Again, full disclosure here – Carnival paid for my cruise, but even if they didn’t, I’m happy to report that cruising is extremely affordable. When I think back to a recent family vacation to Hawaii, I cringe at the costs we endured. After the hotel, the rental car, and the food – my wallet was significantly lighter. The best part of cruising is you don’t have to worry about a hotel or a rental car – and the meals are included. That’s a lot of money that’s being saved right there. Based on what I’ve seen, cruising is much less expensive than a traditional vacation.
#8 – Lackluster customer service: Of the ten items on this list, this is the item I was most wrong about. No hyperbole here – the customer service I received while on the Sunshine was the best I’ve ever received anywhere. The crew members knew my name (and how to pronounce it properly, which adds extra bonus points), they knew my family members’ names, they were attentive and timely whenever we had an issue that needed to be addressed, and they even displayed a sense of humor by creating little frog towels and leaving them in my room. The word “epic” wouldn’t even begin to describe how amazing these folks were.
#9 – No time to see the sights on port days: There was plenty of time to view the wonderful places we visited. Whether it was taking in a Segway tour in Grand Turk, zip lining in St. Kitts, or enjoying a tour of old San Juan, I never felt rushed. It was the perfect compliment to the great features that the Carnival Sunshine provided us.
#10 – I don’t like crowds!: I was extremely concerned about the ship feeling claustrophobic. If I feel cramped in my own condo, how would I handle cruising? Well, that wasn’t an issue at all. As mentioned earlier, I had more fun on the ship than I did in the actual spots I visited and I didn’t feel crowded at all. Carnival does a great job of spacing everything out and I never experienced a long line/wait for anything. It’s the perfect little floating city.
#11 – I could get seasick: I have a weak belly, so I was worried that seasickness would get me. Nope, that didn’t happen either. Sure, there was a moment or two of getting used to the rhythm of the ocean, but it was hardly a blip on my radar screen. As a matter of fact, the only time I felt sick to my stomach was when it was time to end our wonderful cruise. Which leads me to my last point…
#12 – My family is going to be so excited to go home after the cruise: Do you want to know what the worst part of this cruise was? The end. My oldest daughter was devastated when I told her we would have to go back home and deal with the hustle and bustle of life back in Southern California (which to her, means preschool and Daddy’s cooking). I promised her that we’ll go on another cruise in the very near future because there’s no way we can duplicate that kind of fun at home.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.