Cruisin’

Upon arrival in Miami, I took the initiative of checking into the hotel and returning to the airport to greet my aunt and cousin who were coming in from L.A. All that went pretty smooth and they arrived on time and my having checked in made things a little smooth for them. We had agreed to meet in Miami to take a cruise prior to Christmas and we would fly back to L.A. together to celebrate the Holiday.

This was the second cruise with them this year. In May we took a Western Caribbean cruise and this time we were taking a Southern Caribbean cruise, both with Royal Caribbean. First, I want to say that I like Royal Caribbean. It’s sort of middle of the road as far as the age groups you see onboard. I am a single, middle aged woman and I don’t feel like there are too many kids, too many seniors, or too many single, rowdy partiers. I think they have good service and would recommend them. Having said that, I would like to try something like a Virgin Voyages cruise to meet other single people cruising and hope it’s not just a party boat. I like to have fun but I also feel the fun should be kept to the public areas and not near the staterooms. Yeah, I like my quiet after midnight! The reason we revisited Royal was that my aunt and cousin are members of the Casino Royale club which allows you to gain points when you are playing at the onboard casino on any Royal Caribbean cruise. One of the perks is that you get free cabins on select cruises. You can get an interior, ocean view or balcony cabin depending on your tier in the casino club. For this cruise we had the opportunity to get an ocean view cabin but we upgraded to a balcony. I’m not sure i’d upgrade to balcony unless I was on an Alaskan cruise? It gave us a little extra seating space and this might be desirable if you like hanging out in your cabin. For me, I only like retreating to the cabin post after dinner drinks. It was about the same size as our Ocean View. There were 3 of us in the cabin on both ships. Both of these cabins had ample space for all of our needs.

Oranjestaad, Curaçao

I am not a big cruising fan. I had a lot of fun and we spent some great quality time together at meals and a few activities but there are a couple of things about cruises that assert my love of land travel. For me, the mega ships with over 3,500 passengers and about 1,500 crew members; and fairly short port stays are the negative aspects of cruising. Given that, if you want to find some quiet time away from hoards of passengers all you have to do is stay away from the pool areas and the buffet! 🙂 The positives is that you unpack once and it’s easy to figure out your per night costs but there are also a lot of hidden costs such as the upgrades, drink packages and excursion costs. We decided to upgrade our dining package which made dinner and some lunches very pleasant. Not only was the food excellent but the specialty restaurants are quieter, less crowded and, because of the intimacy, they also have a more personal service level. But, spending about 8 hours in a country is no way to see it, connect with the people or sample some specialty cuisine. You arrive early into a port – small shopping mall and you either go on an excursion or try to spend some time on your own near the port. I’ve been to Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba, but I haven’t seen them. Also, Given the distance from Miami to these islands, 4 of our 8 days on the cruise were at sea. Some would say this is relaxing, and it is, but spending more time at ports would be great. Alas, the cruise line has to make money and alcohol is where that is easily done. A full drink package is really expensive, about $75 per day. Given this amount of money, your mind goes into, “I better get my money’s worth” mode and, just like going to the buffet, you always over do it. I think next time I will see how a pay as you go method works. Ultimately, I don’t plan on taking another cruise any time soon, but if my family continues to enjoy them I will take another one.

Do you have ideas on how to save on alcohol on a cruise ship? And not drinking will not be accepted! 😉 Give me some advice in the comments below. Thanks!

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