Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 Recap: 3 Day Carnival Cruise from Miami to Nassau

In attempt at getting my travel blog off to a good start, I am planning to recap the trips I've already taken in 2012.  Maybe, if I get adventurous (and really bored), I'll cycle back to 2011.  Lucky for me, even though I haven't been blogging, I have been journaling for the last 3 years and can easily retrieve enough details to spark my memory.  I also take a lot of pictures, so that helps.

I started 2012 off with a bang and a "free" trip from attending a timeshare presentation last fall.  I flew out of Boston on January 5th directly into Fort Lauderdale via Spirit Airlines and cruised with Carnival for 3 nights.  If you've ever flown Spirit Airlines, you know why I put free in quotations.  This has to be to last airline in the world that charges you for carry-on & checked bags.  Even if you are a light packer, like me, you still have to pay to bring a bag on board.  You do get a free (for real this time) personal item, but ladies, that would be your purse, not a roller bag. Not only do they verify your item is within the exact weight/height ratio, but upon boarding, they verify you have paid for it as well.  My bags cost me about $75 round trip.  The next part of this "free" trip was fortunately avoided, because I was required to fly into FLL and stay the night before at my own expense.  That was covered because I had friends and a home to crash in before boarding the next morning.

I would be lying if I said that I anticipated a smooth boarding process.  Even though we had our reservation and confirmed it through the Carnival website, you never know what's going to happen when booking through a third party.  I highly recommend avoiding this whenever possible, it just adds to your stress level.  During our booking process, we chose to forgo all extras and upgrades because I refused to be scammed!  Looking back on it, maybe I should have at least gotten a price quote.  Our interior cabin was really nice and spacious.  Even on the very far end of the boat, we didn't feel any rocking.  The only downfall was that I never knew what time it was!  Usually the first thing I look for when waking up in the morning is sunlight.  To be completely honest though, most of my time was spent on the lido deck out by the pool.

If you've never been on a Carnival cruise, they really do whatever they can to remove you from reality and just let you relax.  Anytime you want to buy something (drinks, souvenirs, bingo cards), you just bring out your handy-dandy plastic card and sign your life away.  On average, drink specials will run about $6-$8 and a cheap bottle of wine with dinner is closer to $25.  Coming from Boston, that's not too bad.  They also slide an itinerary under your door with activities listed for each day.  Some (deck trivia, shows) are free and others (bingo) are not.  Usually, if you are attending an activity, you get some kind of compensation.  I have even heard that you can sometimes sign up for timeshare presentations while still on the boat.  Sadly, my free drink did not make up for the $25 and 10 minutes lost playing bingo.  However, the bottle of champagne certainly made up for participating in a game show!

Our itinerary was a little rushed with only one day in Nassau, but it was a quick weekend getaway.  The last cruise I was only was 8 days through the Caribbean.  I think we had 5 different stops; it was incredible! Also, this was the very beginning of January, so the weather was still a little chilly in the low 70's.  That eliminated any potential water activity from my schedule.  I did dip my toes in the pool, but I didn't (and felt bad for) go to Atlantis for any water sports. I've also been to Nassau before, so I may have had a "been there, done that" attitude.  My day at port was spent walking about downtown Nassau and comparing prices from local vendors with those on the ship.  I am happy to say, the cruise ship was in fact cheaper, and as a result, I did not have to carry 6 rum cakes around with me through town. 

The last day at sea, I got suckered into attending an art show and was a hands raise away from spending $250 on a miniscule piece of art work.  Luckily for me, my better judgement prevailed and I walked out with two free glasses of Champagne and a 8x10 print of a lion head.  I have no idea where that is now...

Destination: Lifelong Memories

This is the first post in my new travel blog.  In the past, I've made several attempts to blog about things that I enjoy, i.e. books, movies, tennis, etc.  However, after several (or just one) posts, they went wayside to the land of forgotten efforts.  The truth is there was little to no benefit of having a blog of those such things, to me or to anyone else.

During my annual reevaluation process of goals, I mentioned that I wanted to "Travel, travel, travel (and start a travel journal".  Only now, almost half a year later, have I decided to make it happen.  Why, you may ask?  I am planning a pretty big trip this fall to Maui, and I have been searching the internet for websites on the best things to do, places to go, and deals to be had.  Commercial websites are good at getting information once you already decide what to do, but they don't give you an idea of what it's really like.  Next stop are the review websites like Frommers, Yelp, Travel Advisor, etc.  Those are little bit better, but still not the full picture.  My plan from there was to check out travel blogs.  I want the full picture of what other traveler's vacations were like.  Bingo!  This is what I want.

Maybe it's just a fear of bad karma, but I believe in paying it forward.  Maybe one day, someone like me will be searching blogs for the exact same thing and stumble across my travels.  I really hope so, and I hope they like what they find.