Cruising in the Caribbean on a much larger vessel than normal.
Since I lived on a sailboat for over a year with my family when I was young, cruising the Caribbean waters is in my second nature and honestly when I feel most at peace. Being a travel agent, I was offered a Seminar At Sea with Carnival Cruises (travel agent trips where we learn about new destinations) with my coworker, Jess. We obviously accepted and sailed away towards paradise! Our ports of call were Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. We had a blast scuba diving, swimming with sting rays, and laying on the beach.
We sailed on the Carnival Magic.
This was my first time on a Carnival cruise and my coworker, Jess’s, first cruise ever! We sailed on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston on a 7 day Western Caribbean sailing. The first two days of the cruise were spent at sea and then when we woke up on the third day, we looked out to a sunny and lush Montego Bay. After Jamaica, we tendered into sunny Grand Cayman, and then after that we docked in rocky Cozumel, Mexico.
Our ship left on my birthday weekend, so Jess and I drove from Fort Worth to Galveston really early on Sunday morning and made it to the Galveston Port about 2PM. Which was perfect because we had signed up for check in with the ship at 2:30PM and we had zero trouble with wait times, people, security or the check points.
Travel tip #5: Choose this itinerary over the one with Roatán and Progresso.
This western itinerary out of Galveston is much better than going to Belize and Mexico twice. The ports of call are without a doubt better on the route we took.
First stop: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jess and I just walked off the ship and paid for an excursion at the port. We did a hop on, hop off bus pass and got off at Doctor’s Cove Beach
Travel tip #6: Don’t do that hop on/hop off.
I DO NOT recommend doing the hop on, hop off tour if you only plan only going to one of the stops. Also, make sure you know whether your tour guide is going by ship time or island time. We missed the last bus because I was going by ship time, and the buses were going by island time.
Travel tip #7: Be warned about the craft markets.
You will get hounded. You will get asked personal questions. You will get touched. But you just have to be forceful and say that you are here to look and you will get around to their stall. They rely on your money to feed their families. You can find awesome stuff here, but you can also find junk here. Just be aware that it can be a whole ordeal just trying to find local souvenirs.
Onward to Grand Cayman
The last time I was in Grand Cayman was over Thanksgiving when I was in my middle school awkward years. It rained the whole time, and when we did get in the water I got stung multiple times by jelly fish. Then when we went shopping I found this great sweatshirt (obviously didn’t prepare for cold weather when going to the Caribbean), and my dad bought the same one… now, I look back and I think it’s hilarious, but back in my middle school years I was mortified. Angsty, teenaged Christy was not amused. so my first experience with the Caymans was not the best. my second? the best! And one good thing did come out of the Grand Cayman trip. I got a snorkel from the dive shop by our resort that I still use and love today.
This trip to Cayman was much different. It was warm, sunny, and freaking beautiful.
I chose Epic Divers Grand Cayman to take me on a two tank dive for my excursion at this port.
Once again; ship time came into play at this port, the locals are used to it and there is really not much the cruisers can do, unless you have wifi/internet to constantly be checking your email… and I don’t believe in constant technology on vacation.
I had a freaking blast on my two dives off the shore of Seven Mile Beach. I dove with Jaxx and Caitlyn and they were fantastic, plus it was like a private dive because only 3 of us went down at a time. I went down to 104 feet (my deepest yet!!), went through some amazing swim throughs, and became pretty good friends with a mutton snapper who chose to follow me around my whole dive. On the second dive was not as deep but definitely was more abundant colorful underwater sea life. I saw wild lion fish, and at one time we saw five at a time in a small cave in the coral. I also saw this massively incredible black and blue parrot fish. and those are my all time favorite fish. This guy was absolutely majestic.
I came up with this new happiness that can only be felt from exploring underwater.
After I finished with the dives, (Jess doesn’t dive or snorkel) Jess and I were dropped off at Subway to grab a quick lunch before part two of our day on the island. So onward we went to swim with sting rays at Sting Ray City! This sand bar jasno enclosure for the sting rays and the habitats are unchanged by humans, other than the enormous amounts of octopus given to the sting ray population in exchange for gooey kisses and hugs, and of course photo ops.
Travel tip #8: Use Epic Divers in Grand Cayman! They are awesome people, knowledgable islanders and great dive instructors.
Finally to Cozumel, Mexico.
Again, with the crazy amount of travel I did in 2015, I also was in Cozumel earlier this year. I went down for a work trip with another coworker in May 2015 and so we chose to not do an excursion. Instead we just went shopping. There is an incredible store at this port called Cariloha, and everything in the store is made out of bamboo, which is the softest fabric ever. When we got back on board, I went back to the cabin and grabbed my yoga mat and was able to watch this stunning sunset from the serenity of my mat. And yes, it is easy to find places to be alone on cruise ships!
Travel tip #9: Deck 5 is quietest.
Deck 5 on the Carnival Magic was my favorite for sunsets, yoga and star gazing.
Cruising is a lot of fun! There are a ton of things to do onboard, and the Caribbean is always so beautiful. Take the chance and take yourself, your lover, or your family on a cruise, you’ll love it.
onward and upward,
traveled during November of 2015