For the week of Labor Day 2019, we decided to take a cruise. This would be our first (and hopefully not our last) cruise. My parents have been on many a cruise so far and had been trying to get us to go on one too. We finally caved in though and it did not disappoint! The cruise itself left out of Galveston, Texas and was on the Carnival Dream. The Dream is not Carnival’s biggest ship, but it is still quite large in my opinion.
The cruise was set to leave on Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd. We spent most of the day before making our way down to Texas as it is a long drive from Kentucky. We found a hotel for the night somewhere just across the border. The next morning we made our way to Galveston, at one point boarding a car ferry. Here are some of the highlights from before we boarded the cruise ship.
We were able to board the ship fairly early and wandered around before it became packed with a few thousand other people. It was kind of nice to be able to get to see the ship as it was without all of the craziness going on. At the front, in the interior, there is an auditorium that is used for the nightly shows; in the middle there is a casino; at the rear there is a comedy club, piano bar, jazz lounge, small arcade, and a dance club. Then there is rather large buffet area, a few restaurants, and other little eateries on a few decks. Up top, there is a basketball court, mini golf course, two small swimming pools, some water slides, spas, and a walking/running track. There is a fitness room too. The ship really has a lot going for it with many different options for things to do.
Our first day on the ship was spent lounging around and getting acquainted with our new surroundings. We were going to be living there for the next few days so we needed to quickly figure out how to get around the ship. Our room did have a nice balcony view though.
My parents were on the cruise with us too. Every day we were on the ship, myself and Andrea would wander around and find various things to do and then we would meet my parents for dinner in a restaurant at the back of the ship. It was considered to be semi-formal dining and, even though we didn’t have to dress up, most nights we did.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the food on a cruise is bad either. I’m one of the pickiest eaters that I know and I still very much enjoyed their food, as did everyone else. I even ventured out and tried new stuff just because I could. Most nights I was the oddball of the group while Andrea and my parents had some more mundane food. Some examples of what I ate are: fried calamari with grilled mahi mahi and chocolate melting cake; Chesapeake crab cake, teriyaki salmon and vanilla creme brulee; braised rabbit, steak tacos, and chocolate tres leche. Yes, every meal was three courses.
Also, there was some great entertainment every night too. At some point during the dinner hour, someone would say “Showtime!” over the PA. That meant it was time for the servers to prepare for their dance number!
The guy in the photo and the videos was part of the team that worked our table. We all thought he was by far the best dancer out of the group. And speaking of that team, all of them were amazing! They worked in concert, all of them making sure we had what we needed, while also being friendly and telling some great stories along the way too.
You may have heard, but most of the people working on cruise ships are not American and that was true of this team. There was a woman from the Czech Republic, a guy from the Philippines, and another guy that I cannot recall where he was from. Along the way we also interacted with more than a few people from Indonesia, various countries in central America, Africa, southeast Asia, and at least one more from Europe, a guy who picked on Andrea a few times for her superhero shirts. Our cruise director, Donkey (you read that right), was from Australia. He was quite hilarious and amazing to be around too.
After dinner on the sea days we would go back to the room, change back into our “regular clothes” and make our way to the front for the nightly shows. One night there was a Broadway-esque musical called “Flick.” Another night they ran a song and dance montage of ’80’s pop-music. All of the shows were great.
After that, there was normally a comedy show at the back of the ship. There were two comedians (I don’t remember the names of either one of them) that would switch off nights. Both had a family oriented show (meaning no cussing) and then an adults only show at midnight. We managed to catch both of the comedians adults only act at midnight. Both were hilarious…if you like somewhat perverted humor.
Now, the point of every cruise is to actually go somewhere, right? Cruises aren’t meant to just wander around the ocean (or in our case, the Gulf of Mexico) and then go back into port. Wednesday and Thursday were our port days for this cruise with both stops being in Mexico! It was our first time going to this country and will, hopefully, not be our last.
On Wednesday we stopped at the island of Cozumel which is just off the eastern shore of the Yucatan peninsula. We had many different shore excursions to pick from. What I really wanted to was to take a short trip to a beach and just laze about and swim some in the warm Gulf of Mexico. We ended up settling on an excursion that was cheap and that did just that. But, not enough people signed up for it, so Carnival canceled that plan. We quickly had to find something else to do while on the island and chose a culture/exploration/history tour of the island of Cozumel. It ended up being a good choice. Our first stop, after boarding a bus and being taken through the town, was a Mayan ruins site called San Gervasio.
San Gervasio was called Tantun Cuzamil by the Mayans. It was a place that many Mayans went to on a pilgrimage to the site to worship the Mayan god of childbirth and fertility.
After our short tour, we next went to a local restaurant to have a traditional Mexican chicken taco lunch along with a taste of some real tequila. We liked the chicken tacos so much that we have regularly made them at home since this trip. I’ll let you guess which photos show us trying the tequila.
Our next stop was a short drive to the east side of the island that faces the Gulf of Mexico. There was a lot of coral that had risen from the seafloor and hardened.
From here it was back to the ship where we met this guy in our room.
One of Carnival’s things is to make animals out of towels. They even sell a book on how to do it.
The next day was to be our second excursion day of the trip. The port of call was in Progresso, Mexico, at the northern part of the mainland Yucatan peninsula.
We boarded a bus for what would be a few hour ride to our destination: Chichen Itza!
Chichen Itza is possibly the most famous of the Mayan cities and it has the great Temple of Kukulcan at the site. This was a place that I had wanted to see for a very long time. My first view of the temple left me in awe.
The above pictures are just a small taste of what is in the area. I would really like to go back again some day to be able to truly explore the entire area. During our excursion we only had enough time for a short tour of the grounds and maybe 20-30 minutes of time to wander around on our own before we had to get back on the bus. There are a few hotels right next to the ruins which would seem like an ideal place to stay. Maybe one year we will get to go back, but there is still so much more of the world to explore too!
The next day, Friday, was to be a full day at sea. Carnival always has something small going on during the day, but we eventually ran out of things that we cared to do. At that point we just wandered around the ship and then settled down to get some sun for about an hour or so. Check out the below videos for some other cool things that we were able to see at sea!
With this being our first cruise we didn’t really know what to expect. Fortunately, as mentioned previously, my parents are seasoned cruisers and let us know what was going at every step of the way. If you do decide to go on a cruise for the first time yourself, try to go with someone with some experience if you can. Not only will you not be rushing into things blindly, it could be fun to have some friends along for the ride too!
After you sign up for the cruise, you will get a lot of emails asking you to sign up for the excursions. If you plan on doing any, do your research thoroughly. Look at reviews, look up alternate company’s at the port that do excursions, just look for more information. You don’t have to book before the cruise either. There is a desk on one of the decks of the ship where you can go and sign up for an excursion as well as ask any questions you may have about it.
And the most important lesson of all is: have fun! You’re on a cruise! Everything is taken care of for you (well, you still have to bathe yourself, unless you have your significant other do that for you too-haha). Relax, play games, gamble, go to shows, eat the food…do whatever! It’s your cruise and you shouldn’t have a care in the world…just have fun!
The cruise was a great way to vacation! We didn’t have to drive or fly anywhere in Mexico. Our food was prepared for us with no questions asked. We could have dessert whenever we wanted. There were many food options and it was completely OK to try new stuff without having to worry about anything at all if you didn’t like. It was such an amazing time that we wish we could do it more often. But, as I mentioned earlier, we want to see many other parts of this world too. With that being said, we still highly, and I mean HIGHLY, recommend going on a cruise.