Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Cruise (Page 2 of 4)

Wordless Wednesday: Belize Sign

Harvest Caye: A Day at the Beach

With 4 port days in a row on this cruise, we knew we were going to need a day to just sit back and relax. Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new private island off the coast of Belize, was the perfect port for that!

Like many private islands, Harvest Caye is full of beach chairs. They also rent kayaks, paddle boards, and small boats that you can take around the lagoon. They also have a zip line that is housed in a lighthouse (above). You can see Macaws and Toucans as well as butterflies and Belizean flora in the nature center. I had never seen a Toucan before so that was pretty cool. They also offer a ferry to mainland Belize (Placencia) for guests to do excursions on their own or arranged through the ship. One way that Harvest Caye is different from Great Stirrup Caye, Norwegian’s other private island in the Bahamas, is that the ship docks at the island so you don’t have to take a tender in. Because of this, you can go back to the ship to get food and drinks. Your ship card does not work on Harvest Caye.

One thing I had heard about Harvest Caye before sailing is to be careful in the beach because jellyfish are prevalent. The purple flag in the photo on the right means dangerous marine life is present, so I stayed out of the water. If you want to avoid jellyfish, Harvest Caye also has a pool. The chairs fill up fast though, so if you want a spot around the pool, get there early. Since we had a $50 per port shore excursion credit, on Harvest Caye we were able to rent a clamshell on the beach for free. It was a nice way to have a designated, shady spot on the beach.

Harvest Caye was very much like what a Caribbean cruise port would look like if it was designed by Americans. Everything was very clean. There were no pushy salespeople. The restaurants are all a part of the Margaritaville brand. There’s nothing wrong with this. Its just very inauthentic. Would I seek out another cruise with a stop at Harvest Caye? Probably not. But, I enjoyed our day here as a way to relax and spend time in the tropical sunshine!

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.

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Wordless Wednesday: River Rocks

Wordless Wednesday: Cozumel from Breakaway

Cruising Through Spring Break: Cozumel

Docked Punta Langosa pier in Cozumel

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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Spider Monkey

Cruising Through Spring Break Trip Report

Evening on the Norwegian Breakaway

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 1: New Orleans (New Orleans Museum of Art, Hop on Hop Off Trolley Tour)

Day 2: Embarkation Day

Day 3: Sea Day

Day 4: Cozumel, Mexico (Chankanaab Beach & Snorkel)

Day 5: Belize City, Belize (Cave Tubing through Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve)

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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Wake

Cruise Planning Tips

Ship at Sunset

Sunset on Norwegian Gem

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?

Gem in Nassau 19/100

Norwegian Gem in Nassau, Bahamas

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.

Evening on Deck

Evening on Carnival Valor

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.

Skyline Sailaway 14/100

Sailing out of New York Harbor

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.

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Choose Your Cruise

Carnival Valor in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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!

Atrium on Carnival Valor

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.

Towel animal on Carnival Valor

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.

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