My family took our first cruise in 2011. My dad passed away in May, 2010 and at the time I was still a nanny in the music industry. The group I nannied for was invited on a cruise and I was needed to help with the kids, so my mom and sister were able to go on a discounted rate as well. We flew (me from Nashville and my mom and sister from NC) into Miami and spent a couple of days together before leaving on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
For those who haven’t had the honor of knowing my mom She. is. gold. I mean, my sister and I NOT jokingly tell everyone we only have friends because our “friends” use us to get to our mom. Everyone adores her. WE adore her. But she is NOT the greatest packer. She will show up at my house in Nashville for a weekend and there is hardly room for her tiny body to fit in her car amongst allllllll the bags she packs to bring along on a two day trip. Needless to say, I explained to her before she left NC that she MUST consolidate into ONE suitcase and ONE carry on. None of us had cruised before but we had been forewarned that the cabins are TINY (we were not in an upgraded sized cabin) so we knew we wouldn’t have much space for stuff. I will include a picture below of my mom’s belongings….We’ll leave it at that.
Now, for the actual cruise, we left the Port of Miami and cruised to Belize, Cozumel and Costa Maya. None of the stops were our favorites after we got a little more cruise experience under our belts but all were enjoyable. Belize has these cute little “pyramids”, and tiki bars in all the pools (in 2011 this was not the norm), and Cozumel had dolphins! My sis and I swam with the dolphins at the local Dolphinaris and I decided I MUST have one – I fell hard. They were the sweetest animals! We also caught glimpses here and there of the Super Bowl, which happened to be played while were at sea. We hit up the local Senor Frogs (our first experience at one, believe it or not) while in Costa Maya. Mostly, we walked around all day, everyday, during each stop because none of us had ever been to any of the beautiful places and we wanted to soak in as much as we possibly could.
In 2012, we decided to try another go at the cruise life and this time we went aboard Celebrity Cruise line (2011 was Royal Caribbean, and overall, it is definitely my favorite, in terms of the boat, service, etc but Celebrity most definitely had better stops!) and visited St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St Maarten, St Thomas and San Juan Puerto Rico. I cannot even begin to list all my favorite things about each place but hands down, my favorite stop was Antigua. We ended up on the beach right by the Sandals resort and it was beyond stunning. We rode horses along the beach, rented jet skis and took a tour of the island, stopping along the route for pictures. It was beautiful! I also love St Maarten and St Thomas (St Thomas being my favorite of those two. I did love the food at the hilariously named Blue Bitch Bar in St Maarten, though!) In St Lucia, we were driven by the nicest cab driver all over the island and he showed us where Oprah’s place is! We also sampled extremely hot peppers and bananas grown right by the side of the road, that were delicious! The turquoise waters of Antigua are hard to beat, and the rain forest vibe of St Lucia was indescribable! I truly cannot say enough good things about that cruise. If you ever have the chance to do those exact stops on a Celebrity Cruise, DO IT!
IN 2014 we did one last cruise as a family, this time back on Royal Caribbean. We left out of Fort Lauderdale and visited Grand Caymans, Jamaica, Haiti and it was a fun time, as always. I have to say out of every Caribbean island I’ve visited, Jamaica is my least favorite BY FAR. I was not a fan, I didn’t think it was the prettiest and I encountered the one and only time I was ever frightened on a visit out of the country while I was in Jamaica – met by a presumed soldier with an assault rifle held out, pointing at me as he asked me what I was doing. Obviously I was terrified and high tailed it back to the safety of the cruise ship ASAP! It seems unnecessary to point out but I was simply walking around the town browsing the flea market area, along with many other guests from the boat. None of us were doing anything remotely questionable!
My now husband and I took a cruise to the Bahamas in 2017 and visited Coco Cay, Nassau and Key West. We loved Key West and ended up going back last year but I was otherwise unimpressed with the Bahamas as well. Maybe I just didn’t go to the right places? I haven’t heard too many good things about the Bahamas… I’d love to have my mind changed though! Caribbean spots definitely have my heart for now.