Every person that goes on a cruise is on it for a different reason – relaxation, to getaway, spend time with family and friends, meet new people, entertainment, exquisite food, or shore excursions. I would like to think that my experiences on cruises have been for all of the above.
My grandparents would take the whole family – aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents – on a trip each February. I was three years old when I went on my first cruise. For many years after, this became a tradition. As I approached my mid-teenage years, various reasons restricted my family’s ability to go on a cruise every year. Though, I was young when we experienced most of the cruises, I cherish those trips. I have now been on 12 cruises, on a few different cruise lines. Generally, my family’s destinations revolved around the Caribbean area. Though, we did travel to the Mexican Riviera one time.
The days were filled with several different activities. If it were a day at sea, lounging by the pool was the most frequent option. When I was younger, ‘lounging by the pool’ consisted more of me jumping in and out of the water keeping my family on edge. But that’s every child’s job, right? Luckily, my older sister was prompt about getting up at 7:00am just to save our family a spot on the upper deck to beat the crowd. Do note that you do not have to be awake to save spots. She probably slept a solid four hours outside by the time our family reconvened on the upper deck. Depending on the port of call, we would spend time going through the shops located right off of the ship. We would also try to participate in a couple shore excursions on each cruise we went on. Some shore excursions I experienced were swimming with dolphins, visiting a turtle farm, swimming with sting-rays, lounging on a private beach, visiting historical monuments, snorkeling, renting out a sail boat, and riding on a catamaran, amongst other adventures. Out of all of the shore excursions, my two favorites were swimming with the dolphins in Roatan and snorkeling in Dominica. When I was younger, my favorite animal was a dolphin. I had always dreamed of being a marine biologist just so I could be around dolphins all of the time. Though this goal changed as I grew older, the memory of swimming with the dolphins in crystal clear blue water is one I will never forget. I went snorkeling when I was in high school in the location where part of the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. We took a catamaran to the reef. Though, I got more burnt in that one day than I have in all of my years combined, I had never seen such a beautiful reef in my life. I would really enjoy going back to this destination.
The days were gladly exhausting, but the nights were occupied with wonderful entertainment. As a child, I would participate in the children’s club in the evenings. I was so excited to go to the children’s club that I wouldn’t even want to finish my dinner! What kid wouldn’t want to color, win prizes, and play games all evening?! I was in heaven. Leaving the children’s club to go back to my cabin and sleep was always a struggle – probably more of a struggle to my mother, than myself. I eventually outgrew the children’s club and started to attend the comedy shows and musical performances on the ship. This is when the real fun began. Some of the comedians could have you laughing so hard you would wake up with abs the next morning!
Now, for the most important entity – food. You will not go hungry on any cruise ship. If you do not gain weight while cruising, you are doing it wrong. Breakfast: choose from a buffet of pancakes, waffles, toast, donuts, bagels, eggs, and fruit or you can make a reservation at one of the cruises restaurants and eat there. Lunch and dinner: various food options ranging from American food, to exotic cuisine. Both are available via a buffet or with restaurant reservations. Duly note that each of these meals has approximately three courses. If you are on a diet, I suggest taking a week off and resuming when you return home – you don’t want to miss the delicious dessert served after dinner! Or, my favorite when I was younger – the soft serve ice cream cone available at any time of the day. And perhaps that is still my favorite… you’ll never know! Take advantage of the multiple food options. You won’t regret it!
My cruising experiences have opened my eyes to a completely different way to travel. If you have not cruised before, I would definitely recommend it! The Caribbean is not the only area that allows for cruises – you could travel to Alaska, through the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, Southern Pacific, he Arctic Circle, even Antarctica! There are a range of different cruise lines and cruise ships to fit your budget, wants, and needs too. What are you waiting for?!
Katharine Moustakes attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. By graduating a semester early, she will obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management this December. Katharine started with the intern program at C&A Industries working as an Administrative Assistant, and has recently transitioned into the position of a Travel Consultant Assistant, both within the AurTravel division. Outside of work, you can find Katharine spending time with friends and family, working out, baking goodies, and seeking adventure.