I’ve booked us a holiday for Easter! I’d been looking at flight prices for a few weeks and on Friday Virgin were showing a 10 night flight to Orlando for £1502 direct from Manchester for the 4 of us! Everything else I’d seen at a similar price was from Gatwick and being from Derbyshire it’s a pretty long crappy drive (not too bad on the way down but coming home on very little sleep is no fun for Darren) Anyway to cut a loooong story short it’s booked! As usual when I book anything last minute we have a passport issue, Ellie’s expires on the 7th of April so I need to sort that out but apart from that we are good to go!
So with flights in the bag we now needed to think about what we want to do when we get there. This is a holiday on a budget so the theme parks were looking out of the question (Disney tickets are £380 pp and Universal £263pp and with hotels and car hire things were mounting up!) We looked at spending 6 nights in Orlando and the final 4 nights at the Gulf Coast as we have visited St Pete Beach for the past 2 summers and loved it there but it wasn’t really getting us excited so we decided to see what cruises were available.
I know that people can be total snobs when it comes to cruses, there is a stigma attached to them and if I’m honest up until 4 years ago I felt exactly the same! Why anyone would want to spend days cooped up on a big boat with all of the same people was beyond me but having taken our first cruise back in October 2015 (it was aboard the Disney Fantasy) we became total converts! Since then we have taken 3 more cruises, each one different to the last and each one leaving us wanting to book again! I started searching for Easter but some of them were asking ridiculous prices, Charlie is almost 14 and classed as an adult with some liners so we weren’t looking at any change from £4000… did I mention this holiday is supposed to be on a budget! I was almost giving up (and loosing the will to live) then Darren spotted an 8 night cruise heading to Aruba for a breath over £2000… BARGAIN!! Ok, now I’m just going to go back a bit to the beginning of this paragraph where I talk about cruise snobbery, even though I LOVE cruising I did still feel a little cruise snobbery about some liners and the trip he’d found was with one of the ships I’d always thought wasn’t for us, it was with Carnival.
Carnival cruises are known for being party ships and as much as I used to be a party girl the older I get I don’t really miss her! I like to read my book and relax by the pool not have a rep drag me off my lounger to join in Marco Polo! So when Darren showed me the deal my answer was a big fat NO.
I started pricing up other options for us, Seaworld tickets are good value (just over £100 pp with free parking) and you can also visit Aquatica water park and Busch Gardens which, if you enjoy a rollercoaster or two is in my eyes one of the best theme parks in Florida! But having done that last August it wasn’t appealing enough to make us commit and it felt like we were looking at ways to fill our time there… not really how you should be planning your holiday! So I decided I’d take another look at Carnival…. I’m really glad I did!
The cruise is on the Carnival Sunshine, a newly refurbished ship and it looks beautiful! It’s definitely aimed at families, there is a huge waterpark on the back of the ship (3 full sized slides and a children’s play area) a high rope assault course and lots of sports to keep the kids occupied (just what mummy and daddy need when they’re sipping their cocktails!) They have movies under the stars nights playing on the top deck, 2 formal nights which we love and as much food as you could possibly desire! So after watching lot’s of videos on YouTube and reading plenty of reviews we have booked! We’ve chosen a balcony cabin as we love being able to sit outside and watch the world go by but if we’d have gone for an inside cabin we could have booked the cruise for less than £1500! (we paid that PP on Disney!)
So now I’m in the I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!! panic stage (of course I do but it’s always nice to add something new to your holiday wardrobe) I’m Pinning chic holiday outfits and looking for inspiration so I can change up the styling of clothes I already have. I would like a new swimsuit, a couple of mine have either lost their elasticity or changed colour through suncream, a new pair of denim shorts and a couple of day dresses so I think I’m going to put together a little holiday inspiration edit in the next couple of days.
So what do you think about cruising? Have you ever done it? Have you been on Carnival?! I’d love to know your thoughts and any tips which might be useful!