Last month, we went on vacation on a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean - much needed and I managed to take some pictures to share. We went to Miami the day before (It's best to arrive the day before a cruise just in case you have a flight issue!). While there, we stayed at the Ritz Carlton and I fell in love!
We were welcomed nicely, upgraded and impressed with literally everything (this isn't sponsored, I just really loved it). They had these cute bikes that guests could take along the bike paths.
We had a balcony with stunning views and sunsets/sunrises!
This cute restaurant was in the hotel and we went for happy hour, dinner and breakfast the next day before leaving. This is the inside part.
But the outside is really the stunning area!
Dinner at the Bal-Harbour Ritz Carlton does not disappoint.
We ate mountains of food and fresh seafood with an ocean view steps away!
And wrapped it up with a killer dessert.
And pretty cocktails of course, too!
The next morning, we headed to the cruise - we sailed on Carnival and booked a Havana Suite in the back of the ship. It's a private area that only people in those rooms can have access to the 2 hot tubs, pool and bar in the very back of the ship and it was WELL WORTH IT! Prior to this, I have never even been in a hot tub or pool on a cruise because they are tiny with way too many people to even consider it. But this was exclusively ours! Drink times were quicker too.
Only the two newest ships have the Havana rooms (the Vista and Horizon) and we sailed on the Vista. We opted for an extended balcony on this trip too, which was a new treat that I cannot not have now! We also purchased the CHEERS! program, which means we each got up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day plus all the specialty tea, coffee, soda and bottled water we wanted - I don't think I would ever do a cruise without a program like this because it makes it worry-free knowing you don't care what you're spending/drinking because it's now all included.
I won't lie you guys, the towel animals are basically my favorite part. I am the worst and took ZERO pictures of our room or the ship haha the worst. But I managed to take towel animal pictures. So I will leave you with this and hope that you visit their website if you want to see the ships lol. There are dozens of bars and restaurants, shops, a spa, a casino and basically everything you could ever want on the ship. Plus room-services, a room steward who cleans your room constantly and 1500 other ship crew members who are the friendliest people ever.
On this trip, we visiting the Alchemy Bar, the Bonsai Sushi (yum!) the Steakhouse (also- yum!), the Seafood Shack (totally worth it for fresh crab legs), the spa for a 75-minute Swedish Massage, the casino- I love the quarter machine, all of the shops and of course, the Dining Room for nightly feasts.
For dining, you can chose early dining, late dining pr Your Time dining and this was the first trip we did the latter. I loved it because we were able to go when it worked for us and it didn't matter. Everything in included in the dining room and they have formal nights and fantastic food with a plethora of choices - the other places mentioned above, were an extra cost but we went all out this trip. The dining room still services lobster one night and filets/steaks and an abundance so you by no means need to splurge. There are even fun extras you've always wanted to try like alligator bites, frog legs, escargot, ox tongue and other wild things you don't usually see - accompanied of course but the standard things like pasta and chicken.
Our first port on this cruise in the Eastern Caribbean was St Maarten. It was pretty but also sad because you can tell it was hit hard by hurricanes recently. We didn't book any excursions on this whole cruise (you can only snorkel so many times) and chose to just leisurely get off the ship at each port when we pleased. We visited Maho Beach at this port and watched the airplanes fly on our heads to land and the nearby airport.
St Kitts was gorgeous and the next stop. I loved it here but it was dreary this day so we didn't do much aside visit the touristy port shops and buy a shirt. It was beautiful though with homes in mountain sides and full of color and little monkeys! I would look into coming back here as a separate all-inclusive trip potentially.
Our third stop was Grand Turk and my favorite part were all the dogs on the beach! They are strays so it did make me sad, but there were many tourists petting them and giving them bites of chicken. We went to the beach and visited Jack's Shack for some drinks, but I spent my whole time here in the sand with the dogs - to stay cool, they dig holes under your beach chairs and nap in the sand <3 be still my heart.
Our 4th and final stop was Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and it was my favorite! It was stunning. Absolutely gorgeous and where we spent the most time wandering around and taking the most pictures. There was certainly hurricane damage, but it was not devastating in the part we were in.
I have always been more of an all-inclusive and on land type person or an adventurous (by eating and shopping) type of vacationer so cruises are newer to me and this was my third one. My whole in-law family are professional cruisers though and have shown me the light! I like them now too, I don't think I do more, but it's pretty even among the beach vacation category - for the record, I would choose an eating/shopping vacation in temperatures below 80*s over anything!
The pros of a cruise vs an all-inclusive though are that if the weather is poor, you can reroute. We were on this cruise with multiple hurricanes and tropical storms in the ocean surrounding us and we would have never known. They switched our port schedule so we would miss it all and it only drizzled a few times while we were sleeping and once when we were at St. Kitts for a few minutes - that is it!
This was really not that thorough so if you have cruise questions, I am happy to answer :)