I’m completely at home in the air. On the road, Siri and my TomTom app can conquer most challenges. The high seas, however, are a mystery to me. So when my good friend Christina, an 8-cruise veteran, invited Amy and I to join she and TK on a cruise to Mexico, I thought I’d give it a shot.
Our cruise was aboard the Carnival Triumph, which made stops at Progreso and Cozumel Mexico.
Before I get into my experience, let me be clear on 2 things:
- The friends I traveled with were amazing.
- Without Christina’s expert knowledge, I might have flown home from Mexico.
Overall, the experience was mediocre. The cruise wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good. Everything had that, “ehhhh” feeling. The room was tiny; big for a cruise ship, but tiny. The weather was ok; cooler than ideal, but the sun was out most of the time. The food wasn’t as AHMAZING! as advertised, but it tasted fine. The casino was ultra small and open strange hours, but it was a casino. You get the picture.
Here are 5 things that I think you need to know:
- Turn off your phone and iPad when you get on the boat. Data cost $19.97/MB. While I was gone, I had 10 e-mails in one conversation that totaled 61MB. Those 10 e-mails would have cost me (or Pace) $1,220. If my iPad were on, that would have jumped to $2,440. That’s just 10 of the ~500 e-mails my accounts received while I was on the boat.
- The cruise activities fill up FAST. The minute you board the ship, find a list of on-board activities for the week, go to the activities director and sign up for everything. No one cares if you don’t show up, but you will get left out if you don’t. The “mixologist contest” participants were signed up the day prior. The poker tournament only had 10 spots available. The bingo game (yes, we were that bored) cost $40 and was full. The comedy show ran out of seats 30 minutes prior. Etc.
- Be careful what shore excursions you sign up for through Carnival. We didn’t sign up for any excursions in Progreso and found a guy selling an all-inclusive resort deal for $45. He showed us pictures and we went for it. We traveled there on a bus with people who paid $90 through Carnival for the exact same thing. On the flip side, we booked the “Twister to Isla de Pasion” early because Christina knew it fills up fast. Sure enough, it was full and people who waited to book were out of luck. Do some research ahead of time and you can learn a few things about each excursion and port.
- When they say there are 2 destinations, they mean you get 5-6 hours on shore at 2 destinations. You’ll kill about an hour getting to an excursion and another returning, so plan for about 3-4 hours per excursion. Suddenly that all-inclusive offer doesn’t look so enticing.
- Not that I really cared, but the big “first day sale” at the spa offered a 50 minute massage for $270. It was offered for $99 on last day of the cruise. For the best deal, do the spa thing off the boat, while at port.
Top 5 Favorite Things:
- Diversity. I met staff from 6 continents. They were all very friendly and happy to talk about their home country and the ship. They work ridiculous schedules, but most love what they do and are quick to converse.
- Cruises are a good way to test out vacation destinations. I think the best cruise would be a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean. If you can hit 4-6 islands on one vacation, it would be a great way to research where you want to spend a week. I learned that Progreso is not a destination to recommend to anyone for anything, while Cozumel is pretty freaking awesome.
- The Twister boat ride was amazing. A jet boat that takes you to a private island, seats 20, goes 60 mph, then does 360’s like a jet ski? I’ll have 3 please.
- …well, I guess there were only about 3 things that really stand out.
I think after all was said and done, the worst part was returning to an overflowing inbox and several more fires at work than I expected. If you are a manager, handle any accounts that need constant attention, or don’t have someone who can fill-in for you really well, the 5 days of no e-mail may make you regret every bit of fun you had.
Despite warnings from friends, I decided I needed to experience a cruise for myself. I’m glad I did, but I’ve now confirmed that land and air are for me, water…not so much.