Our recent cruise on the Carnival Paradise was my tenth cruise – we had booked so many #10 cruises and then canceled them for one reason or another – I began to wonder if we’d ever cruise again. We thought that when we lived in Florida we’d cruise all the time because it was so easy to get to a cruise port. True, but we were so caught up with the local beaches and Disney World that we didn’t feel we needed to cruise.
We also don’t cruise for some of the reasons others do cruise: for example, group dinners, food, shows. For one thing, we tend to socialize with people on a casual, one-on-one basis – not at a table for ten night after night. Oh boy, that drove us crazy and one reason we almost gave up cruising entirely. We also don’t cruise for food – gourmet or otherwise. We live in Las Vegas and have traveled to Hawaii and other fabulous spots that have a lot better food than found on a cruise ship. And the shipboard entertainment is never going to be as good as what we have here in Las Vegas. So why do we cruise?
We love to be at sea – especially after living the in the desert for three years. We also enjoy a self-contained environment where you can eat, drink, have a little fun and then wander back to your cabin without getting in a car and driving home or back to a hotel.
My first cruise was on Carnival (before I met Rich) and I loved it, but Rich was always a little – no, make that a lot – lol – reluctant to cruise Carnival. His first cruise was on Celebrity – supposedly the best of the mainstream lines (turned out to be our worst cruise) – and we’d tried the others – Holland America, Princess, NCL, and I’d also sailed RCI. But he never wanted to step foot on a Carnival ship. But when he heard about the 3-day Angels Fan Cruise to Ensenada, he changed his mind. How bad can a Carnival ship be for 3 nights, he thought. And at least the Angels would be onboard – surely, they could make up for a bad cruise.
The big surprise? Carnival is now his new favorite cruise line. Why? Well, they did several things better than anybody else:
- “Your Choice” dining (service didn’t suffer like on other cruises where we’d tried this)
- Cabin service (had the best service ever by a friendly and efficient stewardess)
- Photographer (for the first time, we found a ship photographer who knew how to pose us to get the best photo possible)
- Aft adult pool – we love an aft pool on a ship
- Bar service – maybe we could put it all under “service.” Carnival knows its customers – there’s a reason why they’re the most popular cruise line and it’s not just because of the price. The servers remembered our names, what we liked to drink, and our Sail & Sign card number.
What fell short for us:
- The food was hit and miss – some was very good, some not so good. But just as I remembered from my first Carnival cruise, the pizza is some of the best I’ve ever had.
- No wraparound promenade deck – a must for us.
- The bed may tie with NCL for being rather hard.
- The weather in January – we get a bit claustrophobic when it’s not quite warm enough to enjoy the outside space as much as we would like – kids underfoot more during the day, etc. – some ships handle this better than others.
We found this 3-day cruise to be full of fun, lively people but not the drunk crowd we’d heard about or you might expect from a short cruise out of L.A. Okay, so there was that one older guy during the lifeboat drill – he must have been drinking since he boarded the ship cuz he looked like he was about to pass out – lol!
But whatever cruise line we sail, one thing is still true – we love the shipboard life and the interaction of people onboard the ship – our way. It’s no wonder my first published novel Real Women Wear Red is set onboard a cruise ship that happens to be cruising the Caribbean – it’s not about the Caribbean – it’s about the characters onboard a ship.