April 17, 2014

What's all the Fuss: Caribbean Cruise Review

View from our Cozumel dive boat.
Gosh, when I was a kid and watched The Love Boat I thought cruises were only for the well-to-do. Fast forward twenty-five years, and I'm a bona fide believer... that I was wrong. In reality  cruises are affordable for almost anyone, and they often cost less than a cross country vacation to a theme park.

Earlier this week my hubby and I took our youngest son (12) and our nephew (14) on a spring break cruise with Royal Caribbean's Allure. After four semesters of online classes back to back, I really needed a break. It was our fifth or sixth cruise with this company; our first was with another company that went poorly. Luckily, I gave this vacation option another chance because we love sailing the seas and visiting different places around Mexico, the Caribbean, and even Alaska.
Cousins on the green.

So what's the advantage? Your typical vacation bill includes hotel, gas, food and entertainment. Just imagine if all you payed for was under one roof? Or in this case, deck. A typical cruise includes your room, room service, five star dining, entertainment, sports, classes, gym membership, and other perks such as pools, hot tubs and saunas. Not to mention, a glorious view of the blue horizon and visiting other countries for a day.  If it's done right, you are spoiled rotten. If you're not addicted to alcohol or gambling, a cruise can be a very affordable vacation indeed. A three or four day cruise runs about $100 per person per day.

He dressed up for dinner!
Now this doesn't mean you can't run up a bill by purchasing "extras." In the case of Royal Caribbean (and most cruise companies to my knowledge), soda and alcohol are additional costs. Other beverages are free and all you can drink. There are also specialty restaurants onboard besides the free dining room and other delis and eateries. These special places do have a fee. For example: Chops Grille and Johnny Rockets are popular additional restaurants on Royal Caribbean.

What else? It's important to know that if you take a tour or other adventure at a port, it will be an
Jamaican Breadfruit Tree
additional cost. Called "excursions," you are looking at about $70 to $200 for different thrill and leisure activities off the ship. This choice, however, is worked out with the ship's desk, and they are guaranteed for your protection, safety, and return to the ship before sailing.We always book our dives and tours through the cruise line, and it has been well worth it.

Other costs that come with cruising include transportation to the port. There is parking if you drive, but shuttles from the airport usually will take you straight to a cruise terminal. Additional fees include gratuities, which in the case of Royal Caribbean, they add onto your bill at the end of the cruise whether you like it or not. These cover your room steward and waiters in the dining room; if you wish to give them more, you can do so personally.

Labadee, Haiti
So, that's the low down on cruising. I highly recommend Royal Caribbean for families and couples that don't care for gambling or the bar scene. The ships are spotless and sanitary. The food is amazing and delicious. The shows and classes are super fun. So don't be surprised if you get attached to some of the staff and crew and don't want to leave. But that may just be because you never have to make your bed or wash dishes...
Our dining room staff, Mr. Al and Mr. Reymond; two of the kindest gentlemen you could ever meet.
 Stay Balanced!
~Danielle Thorne

Mr. T & Me aboard the Allure.

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Gail Pallotta said...

Looks like a great time. It makes me want to take a cruise!

B. J. Robinson said...

I've never been on a cruise. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sounds wonderful.

Danielle Thorne said...

BJ, I highly recommend it. It's quite close by for you!