10 Steps for the Perfect Cruise Vacation

I love to travel and oddly I love the planning process of the vacation also.  Step one of any vacation is the planning process, in between there is a waiting period then sadly the cruise comes and goes.

This blog will take you through the brief process I use to prepare for a cruise vacation.

This time I will be going to the Western Caribbean aboard the Carnival Freedom. The  Freedom will be making stops at Key West, Florida,  Ochos Rios, Jamaica and the Grand Cayman Island.

BeachStep 1: The first thing that needs to be accomplished is to come up with the destination.

  • Where would you like to go?
  • Are you feeling beachy or more like a sightseeing tourist?

 

 

logo_cruise_line_logosStep 2: Which cruise line would you prefer to travel with.

  • This step plays a major part in your cruise vacation. It will either make or break your cruise experience.  Research your options and base you selection off of your personality.  For instance, young cruisers may prefer to cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines since it is known as a “fun ship” or party ship. Other more sophisticated cruisers, may choose to travel via Princess Cruises for a more quite and relaxed atmosphere.


Step 3:
Decide if you will execute the planning process for the cruise yourself or possibly get a travel agent to do all the hard work.

  • My personal preference is to plan my own vacation. This cuts out the middle man and fees paid to agents. Cruises are often very simple and easy to plan as compared to planning a vacation to Disney World or Europe.  All you need to worry about is transportation to and from the airport and ship. We typically have a shuttle van pick us up from our house to take get us to the airport. Then we arrange cruise transportation through the cruise line. This year a few members from my crew have decided to fly to Ft. Lauderdale a day before and check into a hotel. When I booked the hotel, I made sure that the hotel provided transportation to the cruise terminal. We decided to stay at Marriott’s Fairfield Inn and suites and will pay a small fee to travel from the hotel to the dock.


Travel-Agent-CartoonStep 4: Booking your cruise

  • This step is crucial. If you don’t book the cruise, you won’t be going on a cruise. Once again, decide if you will book through an agency or directly from the cruise line. My first two cruises I booked through agencies, and ended up paying needless fees.  All other cruises that followed, our group booked directly from the cruise line. When booking directly from the cruise line you have more control over your vacation, but may not have access to some of the deals and discounts that agencies offer. However, from my experience, it is far better and cheaper to book directly.  You can either book over the phone or oftentimes the company’s website. You can have a more customized booking if you call and speak to a live person, afterwards you can manage your cruise online.

Step 5:  Make travel arraignments

  • As previously mentioned, you will need a way to get from your house to the ship. You may want to take a road trip to your ship terminal. If you don’t feel like driving, possibly explore other options such as flying, taking a train or even a motorcoach depending on the distance from your departure location to your destination.  Ask yourself if you need transportation from your home to the airport or train station. How will you get from the airport to the cruise terminal? These are some of the questions you will want to ask yourself. ultimately you want to get on the ship before it sails off.

planning-1Step 6:  Have a meeting with the group that you are traveling with

  • This is helpful for large groups. I am traveling with over 50 people and my cruise coordinator hosted several meetings so all travelers are aware of what is going on and to clear up any confusions. Take time to talk to fellow cruisers about their plans.  Possibly plan excursions ahead of time. Plan group events.  This year my cruise coordinator has set up a time for all of us to meet on the ship, she reserved a room, where we can play games and just spend quality time together. We also planned to order group shirts and wear them during our game night.

images (4)Step 7:  Prepare Cruise Documents

  • During the planning process, you will need to determine which travel document you will need for your trip. Ask yourself these questions: Will I need a passport?  Do I need a birth certificate? Is my documents expired ( passport, state ID, etc.) .  If you are traveling with minors, what documents will I need for my children?
  • Research the travel policy for your cruise and make sure you get all of your needed travel documents months/weeks in advance. Give yourself time to order documents if needed such a marriage certificates, passports, birth certificates and/or IDs.

images (5)Step 8: Shopping for necessities

  • Make a list of all the things you will need for your travels.
  • Check your inventory to see if you need to purchase things you may not already have at home.
  • Make a list of the items you need to shop for, and give yourself time to acquire all these items.

This year I needed to purchase new luggage, but waited a little late to order it. Now I am a little delayed on my next step which is packing.

download (1)Step 9: Packing

I take this step serious. I am not the type to get a suitcase the night before and just throw some random stuff in it. I like to carefully plan what I need/want to take with me. This usually happens a month before I am schedule to depart.

  • Make a list of items you need
  • Plan your outfits to avoid over packing. Most cabins are tiny and over packing can cramp your stateroom.  Consider the activities you will be doing on the cruise. Will you be doing a lot of water activities, make sure to pack at least two swimsuit. Always pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Will you be attending the captain’s ball? If so, then you will need formal wear. Depending on the length of your cruise you may have more than one formal nights for dinner.
  • Research the cruise line’s dress code.
  • Take your time and plan what you will pack. This will help you avoid leaving important items behind.

waitingStep 10: Waiting

  • This is the one step that occurs during the entire process of planning a cruise. From the time you decide you need a vacation up until the time you step foot on the gangway. But the question is what do you do while you wait? While waiting make sure you follow steps 1-9 with the addition of other steps you may add to accommodate your cruise experience.
  • During my waiting process I decided to write blogs and reviews about vacations and post homemade videos from past trips. This sometimes help me with the anxiousness of cursing. However, sometimes it makes me ship-sick and has an adverse affect.

Disney World In December

I haven’t posted in a while.  Mostly because I haven’t been anywhere new and exciting yet. I am trying to wait patiently for my summer fun to come. This summer, I have an upcoming Western Caribbean cruise, aboard the Carnival Freedom, planed for August  2013.  I also have a few beach days,  amusement park and water park days planned. Then in September, I will be going back to Canada for a few days to see the Niagara falls once again.  I can not wait. Then Hopefully in 2014 I will be doing a family cruise with Disney Cruise lines… But for now all I can do is wait and reminisce of past vacations.  Here is some of the fun I was able to catch on video while in Disney World December 2011:

 

Cruise Cuisine

I sailed with Carnival Cruise Lines aboard the Carnival Dream in July and had an amazing time. I make it a top priority to take photos of all the food I eat, especially the dishes I order from the dining rooms. I love showing friends the wonderful foods I have tried while on a cruise.

One reason why many people choose to go on cruises is for the FOOD. It’s a good thing there are gyms on most ships. You might have  to work off a few pounds from all the food you will consume.  The food on the ships are top-notch.  At the dining rooms they serve high quality foods. The buffet food is also made from fresh ingredients and are tasty. The room service on the Carnival Cruise line is limited to quick options like sandwiches for lunch and continental breakfasts. I tried to order a cheeseburger, but to find out that they no longer have that as an option for room service. I loved the sushi bar on the Carnival Dream. I can not wait until next summer when I cruise the Carnival Freedom; another chance to try foods I would not normally eat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Life on Deck: Carnival Dream Cruise Cabin

I had the opportunity to cruise the Western Caribbean seas to three great countries aboard the Carnival Dream July 21-28, 2012. One word, wonderful!

The First thing most people do when they board a  cruise ship, besides hitting up the buffet, is going to their staterooms. I actually like the cabins on cruise ships. I  make it an effort to take a room tour for  questioning YouTubers and other wondering minds of what different rooms look like. Take a peak…

So we had a deluxe ocean view cabin. Having a bathroom and washroom was a major benefit.

Unfortunately, I booked my next cruise for August 2013 and did not convince my family to book a Balcony. This time we have an ocean view but with connecting staterooms with my sisters and cousins. I am excited to see how fun connecting staterooms can be. My mom and older sisters booked a balcony for the 2013 cruise so in a way I will still be able to experience a balcony cabin.

Cave Tubing in Belize

Cave tubing in Belize was a great experience. To make it all better, our tour guide Suzette was awesome and hilarious!  I visited the crystal cave in Belize after taking a short hike through a forest/jungle. It was very hot out there and full of insects. I recommend drinking plenty of water before doing this adventure. Be sure to wear bug spray.  You are allowed to bring your cameras, waterproof of course. Since this is a water adventure, you are going to need water shoes not flip-flops. You will walk, tube and maybe swim through the cave (swimming is optional). The water was very cool and refreshing after the hot sweaty hike there. All needed equipment was provided with admission. I booked this excursion through Carnival Cruise line during my Western Caribbean cruise July 24, 2012. This was a very informative tour and is great for all ages. I really enjoyed this experience. Check out my video and some photos of this awesome excursion:

Top Reasons to Love Beach Vacations

I love vacations, any kind of adventure even if it’s not a 7 day cruise to a tropical location but just a trip to a close-by beach.  Beach vacations are a great way to spend your down time.

  1. Inexpensive-   Beach vacations can range from very affordable to very expensive. Unlike other types of vacations, you have a wide range places to choose from to accommodate your budget.  For example, This summer my family and I traveled to Rehoboth beach in Delaware (USA)which is not too far from where I live in Pennsylvania. We drove there so we didn’t have to pay much for transportation. We rented a beach house for less than $200 a person and was walking distance from the beach. The entire trip cost me less than$250, which included transportation, a huge beach house to play in, beach access, groceries, and other activities such as arcades, go-karts and much more. Many beaches have free or cheap admission rates. So it is possible to have a great vacation at a price that do not burn a hole in your bank accounts.
  2. Fun for all-   There is an array of activities available at most beaches. There is something for everyone at every age. You can just relax and read a book or choose to be more adventurous and take surf lessons. Beaches will very and some may not have many options when it comes to beach activities. Before traveling to a beach, find out what the beach and the surrounding area has to offer. I love beaches that have “lively” piers with shops, amusement rides, and etc. I love to travel to Wildwood, NJ’s beaches because I have the option to visit waterparks. Beaches in tropical locations are also fun, I have the choice of kayaking, or snorkeling. So each beach has its own advantages and disadvantages. Every member of the family is bound to find something to entertain themselves while on a beach vacation.

I love to visit all types beaches. I’m getting ready to visit a couple of Western Caribbean beaches on my Cruise Vacation that is coming up in the near future. There is so much to do; get my feet wet, take a dive, play with dolphins or just relaxing beachside on the soft sand.

 

A Day in the Big Apple

Sadly this is my first time “visiting” New York city. This was also my first time taking the Mega Bus, which was very inexpensive. I’ve passed by a few times on my way to another destination, but I’ve never spent more than 2hrs in New York. I’ve always heard of its greatness and Broadway shows. I had the opportunity to travel to new York and catch a Broadway show, “Sister Act”.

First things first, the city. I was expecting more. The streets looked no different than the street of Philadelphia. My first reaction was it looks similar to Philly just more crowded and smelly and philly do not have the colorful billboards. It is a very lively city even at eight in the morning. My review may be a little bias since I didn’t not experience the night life of NYC. I did however have a wonderful time. While there, a street festival/flea market was occurring. The festival was amazing and boasted an array of culture, food and merchandise. I will definitely be returning to New York for a longer visit so I can see all the monuments and learn the history of the financial centre of the US.

Now on to the details about the play, “Sister Act”. One word, phenomenal! Raven Symone played the leading role of sister Mary Clearance and as always she was stunning and hilarious. You have to see it for yourself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 339 other followers