Category: Cruise (Page 2 of 2)
While planning our cruise, I was really torn with what to do with our stop in Belize City. All of the options were very outdoorsy or consisted of laying on the beach. I knew we were planning to relax the next day when we were at Harvest Caye, so I really wanted to get out there and explore the Belizean jungle. Cave tubing seemed like the perfect way to do that, so we booked it through ShoreExcursioneer.com to save a little money.
Belize City is a tender port, meaning there is no dock so to get ashore, people have to take smaller boats, called tenders, to take them from the ship to the cruise terminal. For whatever reason, it took a while to get the tenders started but we followed the directions on our ticket and took the first tender off the ship. Once we made it to land we went inside the shopping area, called the tourism village, to meet our tour. We were only the second group in line for our tour when we headed out to the buses.
After a little bit of drama with broken seats and another bus filling up and heading out, we made the hour long drive to the Nohech Che’en Archeological Preserve. During the drive our guide, Barry, told us a lot about the Belizean culture and the economy.
Once we made it, we got our life jackets and helmets and began a short walk through the jungle with many stops along the way to check out the local flora. I was excited to finally get in the water and begin our journey through the caves. Our other guide, Carlos, was handy with the flashlight, pointing out formations in the caves and telling us about the history. The water was moving very slow and frequently our guides had to get out of their tubes and pull us or swim to keep the group moving. It was kind of a strange experience, almost like being pulled by a human horse.
The ancient Mayans believed that the caves were the entrance to the underworld, called Xibalba or Place of Fright (MyBelizeExperience) and after floating through them, it is understandable why they thought that. It was a little eerie! I was glad I had my headlamp to see the cave formations and several bats.
After we got out of the water, they took us back to their office area where they had lunch of beans and rice, a Belizean specialty, waiting for us. Af this point, we were cutting it close to making it back to the port for the last tender. In the end, we made it back 15 minutes early. We didn’t have time to shop like some people were hoping, but I was just glad we didn’t miss the ship!
Overall, I am very glad we did this excursion. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever done! If you are cruising to Belize City, I highly recommend you check it out! To read more about our cruise, click here. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
After spending a day at sea, we arrived in Cozumel. While it wasn’t my first time in Mexico it was my first time in probably almost 20 years and I was in awe of the turquoise waters. The Bahamas and other Caribbean ports we have visited lately just don’t compare. I was glad that we had planned a snorkeling excursion to spend some time in that beautiful water!
Our excursion left early so shortly after the ship docked, we got off and made our way down the pier to meet our group. It was a short ride to the park and shortly after we arrived, we got in the water. For shore snorkeling, I was surprised at how much we were able to see. We saw a lot of different types of fish and even three stingrays. Honestly, this was some of the best snorkeling we have ever done! It was great!
One thing that surprised me about the NCL excursion was just how organized it was. Even though it was crowded, I was glad we did the snorkeling as a group, because our guides were able to point out things I would have missed otherwise. But, beyond that it was very structured and we didn’t have much time just to relax on the beach. I really didn’t need the guacamole demonstration. There was the option to stay later but then we would’ve had to get our own transportation back to the ship and it sounded complicated to we opted to just relax back on the ship.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much going to Cozumel but it blew me away. I was expecting it to be like Nassau, but it was much cleaner and there was a nice little shopping area right at the end of the pier. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back to Mexico and spend time in that amazingly blue water!
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
One of the reasons we chose this cruise was because it sailed out of New Orleans, and even though I had been to Louisiana several times, I had never made down to the Big Easy. We only had one day to explore the city and there really is so much to see.
We got up early (not early by our standards, but early by NOLA standards) and headed to the French Quarter. The line at Cafe du Monde was already around the block so we decided to try Cafe Beignet instead. The beignets were pretty good, but I didn’t really get the hype. After getting off the ship, we went to the Cafe du Monde in the river walk, which is right by the cruise terminal, and I understand it now. You really have to try them to get it!
Before we left on this trip, we decided that with so little time to explore the city, we wanted to take some kind of guided tour. There was only one tour that I found that took you around the whole city and that was the Hop on Hop off Trolley tour. The tour was very fragmented that day because of various events happening around the city. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if we were going to be there for three days, but with only one day to see the city, it was frustrating that the tour was cut short in the French Quarter because of the St Joseph’s Day parade. Apparently this happens a lot in parade season (January-March) so be prepared for that. The tour that we got was very interesting, talking about the early history of the city, Katrina, and Madrid Gras. Honestly, I’m torn over whether or not to recommend this tour. If you’re visiting outside of parade season or have several days to use your ticket, this may be a good tour for you.
We also made the trek over to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum is located in a beautiful building next to City Park. Their collection is relatively small, but they have a lovely sculpture garden that was beautiful at the end of March. I could’ve spent a lot more time there, but it was under construction.
Everything I read about New Orleans said you don’t have to rent a car in New Orleans. I’m going to take that a step further and say DON’T rent a car in New Orleans. People drive like crazy and the pedestrians are no better! I watched a lady walk in front of a moving bus! It is a very walkable city and there is a good public transit system. Uber and Lyft are all over too so you can watch a professional get frustrated with the traffic. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it.
I will have to return to NOLA another time because there was still so much we didn’t get to see. I wish we would’ve had more time to explore the garden district. I also would’ve liked to check out the a World War II museum. We thought about taking a riverboat ride, but then I realized we were going to be taking a large boat down the river the next day.
Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to come back next year as we board the Breakaway and head south to Mexico! To read more about our trip, click here! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
We are back from our tropical spring break cruise on the fabulous Norwegian Breakaway. It has been hard to come back to chilly, Michigan temperatures as well as eastern time. I feel like all I’ve done this week is go to work and come home and sleep. Anyway, we had a fabulous time and I am ready to start planning my next cruise! Cruising really is addicting! It is just such a relaxing vacation, especially compared to our last few years’ road trips. Here is a rundown of our trip and a preview of what is to come on the blog!
Day 2: Embarkation Day
Day 3: Sea Day
Day 6: Harvest Caye, Belize
Day 7: Costa Maya, Mexico (Chacchoben Mayan Ruins)
Day 8: Sea Day
Day 9: Disembarkation & Home
As you can see, this was a very busy vacation and we got to see and do many new things! We visited 6 different airports, 5 cruise ports, 3 countries, and one new U.S. City. We did some culture exploring, adventuring, historical exploration, and spent some time relaxing at the beach. I am so excited to share it all with you!
Thanks for stopping by! Make sure to come back next week to read about our experience in New Orleans! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
It is quite possible that I enjoy planning a trip as much as the trip itself. Planning and research makes the anticipation of a trip so exciting! Alright, you used my tips from last week to book your cruise. Now, what?
1. Buy trip insurance. Trip insurance is something I never really thought about before, but for a cruise it is incredibly important. If you get sick and have to be evacuated off of the ship, your health insurance will not usually cover it. You don’t want to end up with thousands of dollars of medical bills that could’ve been prevented with a $100 insurance policy. I really like the options on insuremytrip.com.
2. Find out what travel documents you need. Are visas required for any of your ports? Do you need to renew your passport? It can take weeks to get a new passport so you don’t want to put that off.
3. Set a flight alert on Hopper. I love that Hopper searches for flight deals for me and lets me know when is the best time to book. It frees me up to think about other parts of the trip that are much more fun!
4. Research the ship. Read about it on the Cruise Line’s website. Cruise Critic also has lots of ship reviews to help give you an idea about what your cruise is going to be like. Figure out what needs to be booked in advance. Can you book dining or shows before boarding? Is it necessary to book it in advance?
5. Research the ports. Cruise Critic has great port guides that tell you everything you need to know about your ports. What are the most popular things to do in each port? What currency do they use? What language do they speak? How safe are they? This will give you an idea about if you want to explore the port on your own or if you should take an organized excursion.
6. Start looking for a hotel or pre-cruise stay. I think by now, you know I’m a huge fan of AirBNB. If you are driving to the cruise port, look for a hotel that offers free parking for cruise passengers. That could save you a lot of money!
7. Book your excursions. Finding the perfect excursion can be a little overwhelming. Do you want to book through the cruise line or do you want to use an outside company and save some money? For our upcoming cruise, we got a $50 shore excursion credit through NCL, but even with that, they were significantly more expensive than Shore Excursioneer on the cave tubing in Belize City. For our Costa Maya day, we booked through NCL because we have a limited time in port and I was worried that an outside company won’t get us back to the ship in time. If you book a shore excursion through an outside company, make sure you let them know what time you have to be back on the ship. Most of them have a guarantee that they will get you back to the ship in time, just like the cruise lines. This is how they make money so they will do everything they can to make sure you don’t miss the ship.
8. Book onboard activities. NCL opens up their dining reservations 60 days before sailing. If you are not planning on doing any specialty dining you probably don’t have to book anything in advance. They do reserve some times to be booked onboard, but to get a table at the busy times, it doesn’t hurt to book in advance. For the larger ships, you can even book your shows online ahead of time. This is my first time on a mega ship, so I will let you know how that goes!
9. Pack. Ok, you don’t want to do this too far in advance, but you can start planning what you want to bring before you actually start to pack. Maybe you have to go shopping. That’s always fun! Space is limited in cruise ship cabins, so you do not want to overpack. Think about how many formal nights there will be. How many swim suits will you need? What will you wear on sea days or in port? I’ve been trying to find a good Caribbean Cruise packing list and I haven’t been able to find one I like. I may have to post mine after this cruise!
Thanks for stopping by! Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
It’s the time of year where it’s hard to get the motivation to get outside and take pictures. It doesn’t help that this has been such a weird winter with its temperature fluctuations and winter storm after winter storm. Planning for our upcoming cruise is the only thing keeping me going right now.
Our cruise is getting close and I think we have everything booked. We have booked our flights and our pre-cruise stay. We’ve made our specialty dining reservations and booked our shore excursions. I think all that’s left is packing our bags but it may be a little early for that.
In all of my planning, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about picking and planning for a cruise and I thought it would be a good idea to share! Here are the steps I use to pick my next cruise!
1. Think about when you’d like to cruise. As a teacher, my travel times are limited to times when it is busier and more expensive to travel. If you have more flexibility, you can get great deals and avoid the crowds. Hurricane season tends to be the cheapest time to travel, but be prepared for itineraries to change to avoid storms.
2. Think about where you want to go. The Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise destinations and because of three availability of cruise ships in the Caribbean, it tends to be cheaper than other destinations. Cruises to Alaska are big in the summer months, as well as Mediterranean cruises. My absolute dream cruise is a Hawaiian islands cruise.
3. Think about what kind of atmosphere you’d like on your cruise. Are you looking for something formal? You may want to look at Princess or Celebrity lines. Are you looking for something more high energy? Check out Carnival. Do you want something more laid back? Check out Norwegian.
4. Think about the size of the ship. Smaller ships tend to be more intimate while bigger ships have more options in dining and entertainment.
5. Think about your stateroom. How much time are you planning on staying in your stateroom? If you’re only going to use it for sleeping, you can save money and go with an inside or oceanview cabin. If you plan on spending more time in your room, you should splurge for a balcony cabin or a suite.
6. Book your cruise. Typically, the best deals are found booking way in advance or waiting until the last minute. Of course, if you don’t live near a cruise port, booking last minute means higher flight costs, so keep that in mind. Cruise fares are typically the same no matter if you book them through a travel agent or straight from the cruise line. So, once you find your cruise, unlike airfare, shopping around is not really going to save you money.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week when I give more cruise planning tips! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.