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The following morning, I woke up before my alarm. I could feel the boat docking and couldn’t wait to get off. I had an excursion booked and had to meet at 8am to collect my baggage and get the party started.  Our flight back home was several hours after the 8 am dock and to fill the time, I booked a Miami Bus Tour Excursion.

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Once we retrieved our bags, we boarded the big red bus and had the company hold our bags. Part of the excursion price covered luggage storage and airport transportation. For $50 per person, we each got two 90 minute tours on the bus, luggage storage, and an airport shuttle. Great deal. We hopped on the Downtown Miami tour and took in the sights. It was a nice way to eat up 2 hrs.

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When it was over, we wandered the Bayside Market terminal and found a latin Café. After days of cruise food, BR had a serious hankering for rice and beans. We sat near the water (where I kept asking him if the place we were seated at was floating- it wasn’t) and proceeded to have the most awful latin food I have ever tasted.

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The rice and beans were OK but the steak was leather y and bland and the tostones were odd. The bill was nearly $70. What a waste.

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We decided to take the Miami beach tour which was my favorite. Amazing art deco! And our tour guide provided a lot of great history and all those “useless” random facts. By the end of the tour, I was more than ready to head home.

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Touching ground in New York City was amazing. And then, when I went to pick up my doggy from my parents’ house, I nearly fell over when I stood up to hug them. I proceeded to have intense waves of nausea combined with the feeling that the ground beneath me was swaying.

It lasted 3 days.

BR was an amazing pillar of strength during this roller coaster of a vacation. I held his hand and thanked him so much for being my rock. We talked about what went wrong on our trip and I started to talk about what we should do in the future if we book another cruise. He squeezed my hand and said “If you book another cruise, I will see you when you get back” and kissed me on my forehead. We had a good laugh because even though he made the best out of our not-so-great getaway, he clearly doesn’t want to do it again. At this point though, I would have to agree with him. The sight of the boat just makes me queasy.

To recap, I wanted to drive these points home. If you take anything away from these cruise posts, I hope my experience helps you plan your perfect getaway.

Booking:

– Be an EARLY saver.

– Upper/Lower means bunk beds!

– Middle of the boat is best if you get sea sick.

– If you enjoy a nap midday, spring for a balcony. It makes all the difference. And if you are an early saver, you might even qualify for a room update.

Packing: I was given a few tips on what to pack. Now, having lived on a boat for 5 days, I can say that only a few items remained unworn. For my 4 night cruise, here is what I packed and made most use of.

– Two swim suits. When one was wet, the other was drying. The indoor cabin made drying very impossible.

– Flip flops, walking sandals, and one pair of nice shoes

– 1 pool cover up and 2 summer dresses (one for captains night)

– 2 pairs of shorts

– 3 shirts

– Mousse/Gel (if it’s hot and humid- don’t waste time straightening your hair)

– Hat and sun glasses

– Lots of sunscreen

– A plastic bag.  For any wet clothing you have to pack

Excursions: You don’t HAVE to buy an excursion as the ports have a good amount of things to do.

– Don’t be afraid to NOT book an excursion. The best time on the boat was when I got back from Nachi Cocom to an empty boat. This is a good time to book a massage or enjoy the pool as most people are off the boat.

– Read all the reviews of the excursions before you book. I chose the Miami bus tour instead of the everglades tour and heard the latter was a stinker. The reviews don’t lie.

– Don’t want to do an excursion with your cruise line? There are alternatives. TripAdvisor is GREAT for that as well as blog forums with advice from seasoned cruisers.

Booze: This was a difficult one for me. I envisioned my vacation with me on a lounger with a frosty margarita in my hand. What I did not envision was being sea sick for the entire time. Carnival has 2 programs called “Cheers” and “Bubbles”. “Bubbles” is an unlimited soda program. For about $7 per person, per day, you get unlimited soda. The drawback? You have to go to a bar or restaurant to get your soda. Each transaction requires you to swipe your room card and sign a receipt. Really good idea if you love ginger ale. A la Carte, Soda costs $2 per can.

Now, the “cheers” program is the closest thing to all you can drink around. Out of fear of people becoming piss drunk and falling overboard, carnival caps the program at 15 drinks per person, per day for $50. With each drink ranging from $5-10, it seems like a good idea if you plan on having 8-15 drinks a day. I thought it would be feasible and smart until I got seasick and already signed the receipt to purchase. After getting sea sick, BR and I consumed a combined total of 6 drinks MAX on just one day. Most of those drinks were $6 apiece.

– Drink a lot of soda? Get the soda package. Splurge on some fancy schmancy souvenir cups since those aren’t covered by the Cheers program. Some might recommend sneaking booze on board but I don’t recommend it. They go through great lengths to check your belongings for booze.

– Wait a day before you make a huge purchase. See how sea life treats you. I was so anxious to start drinking my ass off that I neglected to see how well I could handle the waves. Because BR and I shared a cabin, we were each enrolled in the program (they discourage sharing). $50 per person, per day= $400. And they added gratuity. $457 for booze I didn’t drink.

Cruise Cash: The cruise doesn’t accept cash of any kind. Everything is paid for with your hotel key. Either set up a credit card to absorb all your cruise charges (like booze, goodies, and souvenirs) or set up a Visa Gift card that you gradually fill up with spending money.

Activities:

– Between mini golf, parties and comedy clubs- there is something for everyone to enjoy, even if you decide to go to your room, order everything on the room service menu and watch a movie.

– For me, if I ever cruise again, I will make it a group trip. You gotta have partners in crime! 

Hope this helps!

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