It was the best of times it was the worst of times…
I kid, I kid. Just being dramatic.
But it’s not for the faint at heart.
I have been on three cruises with adults; never with kids. So it was unchartered territory for me but it was the option that’d allow me to travel and not worry about an itinerary. This has been a busy school year for me and my energy is depleted. I didn’t have it in me to plan morning to night activities. I only knew we had to get away.
I searched Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. While I know the kids would’ve preferred Disney, I chose the Carnival Breeze for a few reasons.
1- The dates matched my availability.
I didn’t realize cruises are in such high demand they sell out if not booked 3-6 months in advance. I started searching in January and by the end of the month there was so little inventory available.
2- It was reasonably priced.
At roughly $2000 for a balcony room I was fine paying that for the convenience of everything being included from the jump. I chose a room with $500 onboard spending (which I used for our shore excursion, arcade games, drinks, and a few of the additional cost food items). I chose a 4-day, 3-night cruise which stopped in Cozumel. I’ve been to this destination on 2/3 other cruises, but the kids had not been. So it gives them a chance to say they’d been to Mexico.
3- Departure cities matter.
I looked to see which cities each cruise ship departed from and Galveston and New Orleans were the cheapest for my budget. Then I skimmed hotels bc I needed to be by the beach. And last I looked at rental cars. Texas was the most affordable all around.
And last – it wasn’t Disney World / Land. Bless y’all who have the patience to book the rides n such then walk miles and miles for the kids. I did go when I was ten and I know I enjoyed it but as an adult it seems like too much. I started looking into what it takes to DO Disney and it just didn’t seem like my idea of a good time. At least not the way I travel – just me and the kids. Maybe with an extra adult I can fathom it but this spring break it was a no. I wanted to relax for this trip. Not be on the move nonstop.
The Carnival Breeze suited my kids interests. There’s a basketball / soccer area as well as a workout area that they enjoyed. The mini golf was a big hit too. My daughter loved the two large water slides and both kiddos had fun for hours in the pools and hot tubs.
Now for the pros and cons.
First pro: Nonstop food!
-on board credits … I booked a cruise with $500 placed on my account. It was used for the excursion, mama’s massage, the arcade, drinks…and probably could be used for more.
Q: Tiffany, how’d you get a massage without an adult to help with the kids??
A: Pro #3: CAMP OCEAN!
This cruise line has a whole daycare situation in place! I don’t remember ever hearing about this. I’ve had parents asking me about it too (like parents on my cruise wondering what it was like) so I’m not sure if this is new or what but I know it’s new to me. But then again though I’ve been on several cruises I have never been with kids or even noticed kids (purposely I’m sure lol probably avoided them like the plague). But it had to be about 150 kids cruising with us ages 2-11. I know because at the camp they had name tags written for the kids already whether parents use the service or not.
And they had full fledge activities! Kids were separated by age so the activities suited the age group well. Even Sebastian, who isn’t my super flexible / socializing kid was fine to go into his age group alone by the second visit. They let Bailey go in to the lower age group (2-5 even though she’s 6) to make Sebastian and mama to be more comfortable. I was like “y’all better have eyes on each other the whole time”… but I had nothing to worry about as they have a super secure check in / out system so I felt safe leaving them. It was like a babysitter.
-Increased technology with the Carnival app. I was last on a Carnival cruise in 2017 and this wasn’t a thing. You reserve your spot with the app, can keep up with your group through the app, and can see and save activities for the day. It will also remind you with a notification when the event is about to begin.
-My kids hardly needed the iPads. They didn’t even ask for them. We watched tv a few times in the room, but it was never on longer than 30 minutes because we weren’t in the room long enough.
-Thanks to the onboard credits I didn’t spend any extra money but I did get a refund of unused funds!
As a transparent reviewer, I can’t in good faith only share the positives…
My only con is my kids need to run and play. The rooms are small of course and don’t leave much room to move around (but that’s also why I booked a balcony…I needed the extra square footage for my peace of mind). They could run a bit from one golf course station to the next, or between the workout machines, but because the basketball court – which also had soccer goals in the middle for short passes – was ALWAYS packed or often closed, they didn’t get to enjoy that chance to run at all. It would always be too many older kids or adults on it, so my kids weren’t interested. But I could tell they were restless a few times.
-photo ID or birth certificate…my kids and I all have valid passports BUT that wasn’t necessary. Check the US gov’s site for updates on cruise related info! Per Carnival’s site: “If you take closed loop cruises (meaning your trip begins and ends at a U.S. port), you can sail to a variety of dreamy destinations as a U.S. citizen without a passport.” Read about places you can cruise to without a passport here.
–towel clips for the lounge chairs. These ships are crazy windy at times. I didn’t even consider these but saw the professional cruisers with them. But don’t waste precious space on beach towels. Carnival will provide these over and over again, even for the shore excursion.
-comfy walking shoes / sandals. We easily put in 10k+ steps a day.
-floatation devices for kids. They have a few but not enough in small kid sizes.
–Dramamine for kids. Mine were fine and we’ve been on much shorter boat rides before several times, so I figured they would be…but they sell it, so I bought it!
-The fine print states parents traveling without the other consenting parent must have a letter if debarking into Mexico. I called to verify the specifics, and you should too.
-I noticed parents with young, barely walking children being told they weren’t allowed in the pool. Check on swimming policies if you want to travel with a child under two.
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All in all, I am ready for the next cruise.
I was a tad hesitant because of their negative news in the past few months as well as due to being confined with nasty, germy people. But we did our best to stay in our own bubble and were able to have an enjoyable time because of it! My kids tell everyone we encounter about it so while they might not remember it years from now, in this moment, I can pat myself on the back.
Head to my Instagram for more pics because this here website platform was being janky with my uploads. @mnrtv