A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a five day Caribbean Cruise with my family. I jumped at the opportunity, as this winter has been completely horrid, and I don’t know anybody who would say no to passing some time in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, I was a bit skeptical of the idea of a cruise, as this was to be my first one. I’m very used to budget travel, usually either staying in hostels or camping wherever I go, and a cruise is the opposite of budget travel. I wasn’t sure what being on a cruise with Spring Breakers and retirees would really be like. I am happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised by the entire experience, even if it wasn’t the most authentic of travel experiences.
We took Princess Cruises for this experience, as my parents have gone with Princess in the past. We sailed the Ruby Princess to Nassau and Princess Cays in the Bahamas, and Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. Each day, we only got a few hours in port before we had to leave again. I did try to actually see each of the ports, doing tours of the islands in both Princess Cays and Grand Turk. However, I did wind up leaving feeling like I really only managed to see the frontstage of perceived culture, rather than the backstage, where real culture exists. However, I had an enjoyable time and I managed to see places I otherwise never would have. There were no beach days for me!
The first day on board, I basically ran around the ship in awe, as it was nicer than anywhere I had ever stayed before. I felt like I was on the Titanic (you know, before it sank). I think it was the food that got me – we ate in the dining room every night, and could have as much food as we desired. It was probably one of the first times in my life I have ever had a four course meal, with three deserts as the final course. I felt very fancy, and constantly full.
What probably surprised me most was how much there was to do on the cruise ship itself. My dad and I got pretty into the constant trivia games that were happening. My mom and I played slots at the casino (I won, but she constantly lost – I guess I have all the luck!). My brother and I went to a deck party one night where we danced along to YMCA and Car Wash. I actually had to plan my time while I was on the cruise. Each day, I’d read the schedule of events and make my own schedule about where I wanted to be.
I wound up loving the cruise I was skeptical to take. Although I don’t really believe it was an ‘authentic’ travel experience, it was probably one of the only true vacations I’ve taken in a very long time. I managed to relax, leave my cell phone and the internet behind, and just enjoy it. I can’t wait until I get to take a cruise again.