Cruises are wonderful. You get to go to different places around the world, they drop you off at the ritziest spots, give you tips on what to do, and even organize excursions for you. But taking a cruise isn’t all about the places you go to; it’s also about the cruise ship itself!

As you know from my previous post about Acapulco, I went on a cruise to Mexico during my freshman year of college. Of course, the places we visited were amazing, and I have a few more stories about them up my sleeve, but I don’t want to brush aside the ship. After all, I actually spent way more time on the ship than on the shore, and it was pretty amazing, as well.

My cruise was through Carnival Cruises, and the first thing to know about the ship is that it was HUGE. I mean gigantic. It was much bigger than the other cruise ships whenever we docked, and it looked a like a floating city on the water. I’ll never forget first seeing it in San Diego, craning my neck so far back it hurt just to see the top row of windows. Stepping onto the ship, we were led into the center room, where a glorious staircase spiraled around a stained glass pillar up to the bedrooms, flanked by two glass elevators.
(Our cruise ship from afar.)
(This was the stair case leading up to the bedrooms. The girl is my sister, Lonie.)

My room, which was also my brother and sister’s room, was tiny and in the center of the ship, so we didn’t get any cool views. We did however, have a very nice shower, two comfy beds on the bottom, and two that pulled out from the ceiling, which was pretty neat. The housekeeping found time to come in every day and set out clean towels on the bed, folded into a different shape each time. One morning it was an elephant, another it was a swan, the next it was a crab. It was really impressive, though it made me feel bad that they had to clean up the room after my sister threw up in the middle of the night. (She threw up and then went straight back to sleep. What the heck?) We had a mini fridge stocked with some soda, but mostly lots of tiny bottles of liquor. My grandmother promptly requested that the fridge be locked, even though none of us would have tried to drink anything. (Unlike my uncle and his girlfriend, who emptied out their mini-fridge one night, all on my grandparents’ tab. Let me warn you, those tiny bottles are NOT cheap.)

(An example of a towel animal. I guess this one is a swan? Source.)

The adults were the ones to get the nice rooms, with big king size beds, huge soaking tubs, and a balcony to look out on the expansive ocean. I was a little jealous, but I didn’t really mind. I was just happy to be there.

(A picture of a sunrise from off my grandparents' balcony.)

Eating on the ship was different for breakfast and lunch versus dinner. For the first meals of the day, we could help ourselves at any time to the food court in the center of the ship. They served cuisines ranging from Mexican to Asian to American, with dessert bars and various drink options. We could eat our meal at one of the booths inside or take our meal to a table outside to enjoy the ocean breeze. The food was pretty good, but I really don’t recommend trying the sushi. My grandmother and sister did, and they were quite sick afterward.

Dinner was served in a grand dining room, where we sat with our party and were presented with 3 options, different each night, for a starter, main entrée, and dessert. My favorite dessert was the rich lava cakes, oozing with warm chocolate sauce. Some nights they had a mariachi band, complete with gold trimmed sombreros and rolling trumpet notes. Perhaps a bit stereotypical, but nobody could deny they were talented musicians.

There was plenty of entertainment on the ship as well. They often had special shows in a little auditorium, such as magic shows, dance performances, and comedians. The ship had a few gift shops that sold clothes, mini Carnival ship toys, and even books teaching how to fold your own towel animals. There were two decently sized pools, although they were always very crowded and not very deep. More importantly, they had twisting, swooping waterslide that my siblings, my cousins, and I could not get enough of. They also had a room with a dance club, a small arcade, and a pretty big casino.  They also had the big public deck, covered with beach chairs, where you could spread out your towel, read a nice summer book, and watch the waves. On this deck, I actually saw dolphins playing in the bubbly swell behind the ship.

The ship was one of the best parts of the whole cruise, and worth the trip on its own. If you haven’t tried a cruise, I highly recommend giving it a go.

Have you ever been on a cruise? Did you enjoy the ship as much as the places you visited? What kinds of entertainment did they have? Let me know in the comments!

(All photos were taken by my grandpa, Dennis Graue, and used with permission, unless otherwise noted.)


05/02/2013 9:38pm

Oh, wow, Candace, your post just took me way back to my first (and last) cruise experience! It was the summer of 2008, and I had just graduated from high school. I remember feeling so incredibly overwhelmed by the abundance of food and entertainment on the ship. I got very little sleep. Oh, and I also remember I threw a message in a bottle overboard. No one ever wrote me back, so I have no idea where that bottle went...maybe it's still adrift at sea?

Candace Graue
05/03/2013 2:47am

Maybe somebody did write you back, but their bottle is still getting to you! Where did you go on your cruise?

05/07/2013 9:26pm

I have never been on a cruise, but you make it sound so fun! Kind of like Vegas smushed with an all-inclusive Mexican resort, floating on water! Question: was it crowded? That pic of the pool makes it seem like it would be hard to get away from the constant crush of people...


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