Cruise Ship

Bucket List: Go on a Cruise

My first time cruising was a 7 day Carnival cruise to the West Caribbean.  We caught the Dream Carnival cruise ship in New Orleans with port stops in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. On a scale from 1-10, I am rating this cruise a solid 6.

Our First Time Cruising

On the Ship

{All opinions are my own} For this specific 7-day cruise, we were on the water two days in a row before we ever arrived at a port, and then again on the final day. Those days on sea can be spent laying out, swimming, shopping (if the stores are open), or drinking – really not much else. For two people who enjoy being active and busy, these days were long. For those of you who are going on their first cruise, I recommend trying a shorter cruise to get your feel of it before you try something longer.


Our phones were turned off the whole time we were on board, because we didn’t want roaming fees to stack up without knowing it. If you are going out of the country, long distance charges are a thing. Plus, not having our phones made us force ourselves to interact with each other, as well as with other people we came in contact with. You can purchase Wi-Fi to use while on the ship, we just chose not to. Although, what bugged me the most about this is because I did not have Wi-Fi, I could not check our bank account total. For someone who finds too much pleasure in finances and knowing how much money we have at all times, this drove me crazy. Yes, I could have kept all of the receipts and totals of what we were spending onboard. But what if something random came out of our checking account while we were away and drained us? (I realize I am crazy) So, purchase the Wi-Fi if you are like me.

The Shows

At night, I highly recommend the shows! They’re a little cheesy but so much fun. For example, one of the shows we attended was a mashup of American rock hits. Professional dancers and singers performed songs by Queen, Kid Rock, and other big hits. Light-up necklaces and bracelets are thrown to the crowd to encourage engagement, and confetti will sometimes fall from the ceiling. A different show goes on every night, so pay attention to the lineup of events that is left at your cabin door nightly. On the other side of the ship, comedians take the stage each night. A few shows are PG for the kids, and other shows do not recommended kids, so just be aware of which show takes place at which time. I rate the comedians a solid 9/10. They keep you laughing for sure, and it’s not the fake-laugh-because-I-feel-sorry-for-this-guy kind of laugh. It’s a straight up belly laugh.

Food Options

The Buffet

The buffet was only open from 6am until early evening, closing down around 2 or 3. When we got back from our excursions at each port, we wanted to shower and then go eat dinner. Yet, the buffet didn’t open again until 6pm (We’re the early dinner-type people). We were stuck waiting around, usually filling our time with candy from the candy store($), alcohol ($), or a piece of chocolate cake being served at the coffee shop ($). This would fill us up, and then we wouldn’t be that hungry when the buffet was finally open. This wasn’t a big deal, but we had been told by other people before the cruise that the buffet is 24/7, so that is what we expected our first time cruising. So when people tell you the buffet is 24/7 on the Carnival Dream, know that I warned you first.

The Dining Room

The dining room was our favorite option for breakfast, because of the vast variety of fancy foods to choose from. I had egg benedict and lox one morning – fancy. They sit you at a table with other people, allowing you to get to know more people onboard. This is great, if the people you’re sitting with are talkative and wanting to be social. Otherwise, it just makes for an awkward meal and forced conversation. The same goes for dinner in the dining room. But the only difference between the buffet and the dining room is the dining room serves you, while the buffet does not. When you’re in the dining room, you can still order however much you want of anything you want, not limited to the menu.

Other Food Options

The other food options onboard included Mongolian, Mexican, Indian, BBQ, and a few others. But I can’t tell you how they tasted or rate their service because they were only open from 12-2:30pm! What if I want an early lunch? What if I’m at an activity during those hours? And don’t even get me started on the fact that we’re at ports 3 of those days and not returning to the ship until 4pm or so. I’m sure those places were delicious nonetheless – try them for me the next time you go on a Carnival Cruise.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Our first port was Montego Bay, with an excursion planned for Dunns River Falls and Ocho Rios. We literally got to climb up a waterfall. It was so neat and our tour guide was so much fun. He kept us laughing, and encouraged picture taking. For example, in the picture below he told us to get as close as we could to the falls behind us, even though the water was freezing at first touch! The falls is over 600 ft. and when you think you’ve made it to the very top, think again. When you look up you’ll see even more rapids to wade through.

The worst part about this excursion was the two hour drive to the falls, and two hour drive back. Our bus driver commanded we answer every question he asked with “Ya mon!” and we got to listen to Jamaican music the whole way there and back. Driving through Jamaica was an eye opener. Whenever someone says Jamaica, the first thought that has always come to mind is “paradise.” Little did I know that Jamaica relies on tourism as its largest source of foreign exchange. Which makes more sense why workers beg you for tip money any chance they can.

When you’re walking out of the falls location towards the bus to head back, you walk through a maze of shops where people tell you everything is “free!” Once you start to walk off, they demand a tip. I hate this because it makes you feel dirty and slimy, as if I’m in the wrong because I did not give you all of my money. Nevertheless, the excursion was fun and I would recommend it to anyone – especially if your cruise ship docks in Ocho Rios. That way, you’re not a two hour drive from the falls!

Grand Cayman

Our excursion at the port was supposed to begin around 8am, but was pushed back to 11:45am. This frustrated us at first, especially when we were told to meet 45 minutes early. Yet still didn’t move until 11:45am (It was a million and 1 degrees outside). Once we arrived at our destination though, the Deep Stingray and Barrier Reef Snorkel ended up being our favorite excursion. They drive you ten minutes down the road to be put on a boat. The boat ride lasted about 45 minutes with nothing but crystal clear water surrounding us. The two tour guides driving the boat were exceptional; plus, it isn’t too hard on the ears when they both speak with an Australian accent. Once we were anchored at our destination, they gave us a rundown on goggle fogging, slipping on our flippers, and how to approach wild stingrays if we were to see one or two.

Side note: Yes, Steve Irwin died from a stingray. No, this is not an often occurrence. Stingrays are harmless unless you approach them from above, where their stinger can easily swing forward and strike. Always approach them from the sides.

We prepared our gear, and jumped in the water. We had a good two hours to snorkel about, watch the fish, and admire at the coral reef below us. When a stingray was spotted, the tour guides would try their best to direct the stingray into their arms so we could touch it, pet it, kiss, whatever our hearts desired. Kissing the stingray meant 7 years of good luck – I wish we would’ve gotten a picture of this!! But the great thing about this excursion was the fact that it was out in the wild. Unlike other touristy excursions, there wasn’t a photographer standing there waiting to take your picture and sell it to you after the event. I highly recommend this excursion to anyone who wants to be adventurous and take a dive into the clear blue waters.


Our final port was in Cozumel, Mexico. We walked outside of the port area one block before we turned around and went back. It was all “BUY THIS!” “TRY THIS!” No thank you. At 1pm, our excursion Deluxe Beach, Catamaran Sail and Snorkel began. They took us 5 minutes out on a catamaran, gave us snorkel gear, and told us we can snorkel as far as the buoys. With a little more than 100 people, the buoys were so close to the boat that we resembled sardines in a can. Swimming around and looking at what was below was impossible, because the moment we did we would run into someone. Everyone was so close together, and the snorkel gear continued to fog, limiting what could be seen. If we ventured an inch from the buoy, “Hey mister! (Yes, I – a female – was called a mister) Get back inside the buoys!” Now I understand they have to have a way to keep structure and make safety a priority, but the previous excursion at Grand Cayman spoiled us. We were allowed to swim further than 2 inches away from the boat.

We only stayed to snorkel for around 30 minutes before the boat started back up to head 45 minutes further into the ocean. During the boat ride, the unlimited bar opened and the music cranked up. I will give the tour guides credit that they tried their best to get everyone up and dancing. It just didn’t work for most of us. The two choices we had at the unlimited bar were watered down beer and the worst margarita I had ever tasted. I couldn’t even hold my nose to get it down without wanting to puke. Water, please?

Once the 45 minute boat ride was up, we arrived at a private beach complete with lawn chairs, beach beds, hammocks, water blow ups, a grill ($), and massage stations ($). This paradise adventure only lasted an hour and a half. But relaxation, food, and fun were all bottled into one on this little island. My mood improved quite a bit here (I was salty due to the terrible snorkel experience and being called a dude). And more importantly, Curtis had fun pushing me off the water blowup obstacle course. But next time, I think we’ll look for a private beach on its own and skip the boat ride.

Whoops I accidentally caught that girl mid-wedgie, but here is the boat we traveled on


Check out Carnival’s website here to view their vacations and book your own! I hope this review of my first time cruising helps you when you’re planning your next vacation.


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Go On a Cruise
Article Name
Go On a Cruise
My first time on a cruise was not as glamorous as we expected. Read why on my blog
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Bucket List with Kait
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3 thoughts on “Bucket List: Go on a Cruise

  1. Loved the detailed post. We’ve never cruised Carnival before. Sad there wasn’t more fun stuff to do onboard the ship!

  2. Great post! Loved the detail about the dining, shows, and excursions. Sad there wasn’t more to do onboard the ship.

  3. Samantha

    wow! I’ve never been on a cruise but it looks absolutely wonderful!

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