Before I get to the fun part – food, drinks and style – I want to share my first cruise experience. Things I loved and things I felt could be improved upon. And, of course, did I pack appropriately? I’ll post the packing and style portion separately.
First and foremost, I LOVED our cruise! We are already talking excitedly about where we want to go next. There really is no limit – from the Chinese Yangtze River, trips around the southernmost part of Africa, the Mediterranean, Antarctica or Alaska – where in the world can you not go?
Yet, while a cruise can take you seemingly anywhere on the planet that’s accessible by water, you are limited in your time at each destination. However, a cruise gives you a taste of many places. You may decide these are places you’ll want to spend more time visiting on a non cruise vacation.
Because cruise boats port at touristy areas, there are an abundance of varying excursions from which to choose. I found this very impressive. For example, several boats may port in Cozumel on a single day, but there is something for everyone. From ziplining through the jungle, snorkeling in cave tunnels, relaxing on a beach, scuba diving or swimming with dolphins, no one will ever say they wish they had more choices! In fact, you’ll be disappointed you only have a day, and will want to find an excursion that incorporates as much as possible. Or not! You may decide you want to enjoy the beach, do some shopping and eating, and relax. That’s what we did on our last port day, which happened to be Cozumel. We had a big excursion planned, but at the last minute, decided we wanted to go to an all inclusive beach resort and just hang out for the day. While I’m sure the excursion would have been incredible, I definitely enjoyed our down time on the beach!
But the port days are really only half of the experience of a cruise! On the boat, we found ourselves on a floating piece of Las Vegas. Liberty of the Seas has a casino, an ice skating rink, pools with splash pads and water tubes and slides, beautiful restaurants, bars, pubs, a wine bar, shopping galore, shows, a spa, a fitness center bigger than mine on land, and things for all ages and stages – even an autism group, which I love because I have two autistic children. In fact, I felt most days, “Am I doing everything? What am I missing?”
We got the ultimate drink package (all you can drink under $12, automatic gratuity not included), the upgraded dining package (free entry into the three upscale restaurants).
The drink package is definitely worth the expense – about $300 per person for the week. This sounds like a lot upfront, but when you consider what bars, clubs and restaurants charge per drink and you’re on vacation for a week, that 300 gets spent fast. Remember also that we were NOT adulting, and so that factors in to the drinking decision.
We used our dining package for almost every dinner (there were 7 dinners total) and 3 lunches. Hubby went to either the cafe or one of the main dining areas for breakfast. Overall, we enjoyed the more intimate experience of the small restaurants, but loved the common dining areas also. Next time we will forgo this added package, as you can always pay per person to go in to the nice restaurants as you so desire.
I’m gluten and dairy free and try to eat mostly vegan. Additionally, I avoid carbs. While everyone was very accommodating with bringing gluten free bread or offering gluten free pasta options, vegan and vegetarian options for the the upscale restaurants were almost non existent. Again, they were accommodating, but picking apart menu options does get tiring. Most of the time I just went with what was offered. As a result, my tummy was NOT happy for most of the cruise. I can’t speak for the common dining areas, as we didn’t dine there for dinner. It would be nice if these upscale places offered at least one vegan or vegetarian main course dish.
But the service all over the boat? BEYOND EXCEPTIONAL! Truly, you leave feeling as though your servers are your new best friends!
Did we do everything on the boat? IMPOSSIBLE! But we enjoyed two couple’s massages, three different wine tastings from three countries, a chef’s dinner, swimming, the sauna, shopping, the casino, and, of course, taking advantage of our drink packages!
Our takeaway? Where in the world do we want to cruise to next?!
Thank you, Royal Caribbean, for a beautiful, exciting and FUN anniversary week in the Caribbean!