Showing posts with label Bahamas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bahamas. Show all posts

A Day at Margaritaville on Grand Turk

On our most recent Carnival Cruise vacation, we traveled from Baltimore to the Bahamas on the Carnival Pride with stops in Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Freeport.  While planning our cruise excursions we were torn on what to do in Grand Turk.  Traveling with a three and six year old meant that we needed a kid friendly activity to enjoy the beautiful island.  We had read prior to the trip that there was a free beach right at the cruise terminal, but then were drawn to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.  We decided to rent a cabana for the day and give it a go.  Without a doubt, this was a perfect day for us and I definitely recommend giving Maragaritaville a try!

Maragaritaville is a free, yes you read that right, FREE pool complex located right at the cruise terminal.  While it doesn't cost anything to use the pool there, you can "upgrade" your experience by renting VIP seating or a cabana for the day.  The cabana was advertised as an excursion on Carnival's website and we decided to go for it as this was the only port that we were booking anything so the cost wasn't prohibitive to us on this trip (I believe it cost $240 for the day for our whole party).  The cabanas feature indoor seating which includes a comfy couch, a refrigerator, and the ability to lock the door so you can feel safe leaving any belongings in there.  There are also lounge chairs on the covered front porch that you can use if you just want to get out of the sun for a bit, but still enjoy the warm outdoor air.  The cabanas also include wait staff that will take care of your eating and drinking needs throughout the day!  We loved having this option to go and cool off at during the day, but it's also a "luxury" at Margaritaville and I'm sure you can have a wonderful time without one too.  If you are looking for a less expensive option, they do offer free seating by the pool as well as some VIP seating.  This VIP seating option wasn't advertised on Carnival's website so we didn't know about it ahead of time and may consider this in the future.  With this option, you have chairs closer to the pool, a locked safe, an umbrella, and waitstaff.  Of course, there are free chairs around the pool area and on the nearby beach if you want to use them as well.
Inside of our poolside cabana

Margaritaville is also a restaurant and bar which offers restaurant seating and pool service.  With our cabana, we ordered food through out waitress and she delivered it directly to our cabana so it was waiting for us when we were ready to take a break from swimming and playing.  There was also a swim up bar so you could get your drinks without ever needing to leave the pool!  Drinks and food are expensive, but servings are HUGE - definitely consider sharing with others.  We ordered several appetizers off the menu and split them instead of ordering our own meals.  They also offer drink specials where you can save money by purchasing souvenir glasses that offer cheaper refills throughout the day and buckets of beer that can save some money.
Wasting away again in Margaritaville!

With our Faster to the Fun option, we were among the first ones off the ship in Grand Turk and were among the last to board in the evening.  Margaritaville was a perfect place for our kids to play, featuring a huge pool, zero entry option, and fun music as well as offering a relaxing place for the adults in your group as well.  If you have older kids, they may enjoy taking a turn on Flow Rider at this location too.  I would definitely plan to visit Margaritaville again on a future trip to Grand Turk or in one of their other destinations.  If you need me, I'll be looking for my lost shaker of salt!

Meet the Carnival Pride!

When it comes to cruise ships, bigger doesn't always mean better.  In 2017, my family and I sailed on the Carnival Paradise from Tampa to Key West and Havana and were very impressed with the Carnival experience and the small ship atmosphere.  For 2018, we decided to stay closer to home and sail on the Carnival Pride from our home port of Baltimore.  There was obviously a lot to love about sailing from just 45 minutes from your house, but it wasn't just the ease we enjoyed about our recent Carnival cruise.  While the Carnival Pride isn't the newest or largest ship in the fleet, it certainly has a lot to offer families and guests while on board.

From the moment we stepped on board, we felt right at home.  We purchased Faster to the Fun and were among the first to board.  A towel animal character greeted our children and helped build their excitement for all of the activities that were waiting.  When you have Faster to the Fun, your stateroom is ready earlier than others so we were able to head that way right away to drop off carry on items and check out our room.  Friends of ours had surprised us with the Bon Voyage package which added decorations and a few presents to our room.  We had a stateroom on Deck 6 which featured an extended balcony.  There was plenty of room for our family of 4 to spread out throughout the length of the cruise.

The pool areas on board were our next stop as we were anxious to "jump" right into the fun!  There were two pools on Lido deck for the whole family to enjoy and another small pool in the Serenity "adult only" area.  If you're a fan of waterpark fun, don't miss the slides and play area above the pools.  Little cruisers will love the small slides and spray ground, while older children and adults will certainly enjoy the two water slides - yellow for milder fun and green for more extreme adventurers!  

Cruising on the Carnival Pride certainly features fun for all ages!  My littles were 3 and 6 on our most recent cruise vacation and had a blast playing in Camp Ocean.  Carnival Cruise Line kids club activities start at age 2 - the youngest in the industry!  Children our separated into appropriate camps by age and there is plenty of security while checking kids in and out of camp that you can feel safe having your kids play there.  It's great to have this option while cruising as our kids often were begging to go to the fun and games that awaited in Camp Ocean so mom and dad got to enjoy some adult time on the ship!  When the whole family is ready to play together, the Dr. Seuss at Sea activities like story times, parades, and the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast as well as Build-A-Bear at Sea will create many family memories.

One of the best parts of cruising though is the food!  In addition to the main dining room and Lido Deck Buffet, Mermaid's Grille, you won't want to miss Guy's Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina.  All of these are included in your cruise fare ensuring that you won't go hungry while on vacation!  If you're looking for even more flavors, you can also visit Bonsai Sushi, David's Steakhouse, and The Chef's Table for fine dining options at an additional cost.  Want to try some of these premium options without paying premium pricing?  Check out one of the cooking demonstrations!  I went to the cooking demonstrations for both Bonsai Sushi and David's Steakhouse during our first day at sea.  While I enjoyed learning about how they prepared some of their signature dishes, I enjoyed tasting all the items even more!  These cooking demonstrations are free, but fill up fast.  Check out your Fun Times on board the ship to find out when they take place.  And speaking of the the Fun Times, did you know that you can access all of these activities and much more for free on the Carnival Hub app??  Download the app prior to boarding the ship and then connect to the WiFi once on board.  You'll be able to access your Fun Times for free on the app without purchasing an Internet package!

The Carnival Pride is a great ship and the itineraries from Baltimore are wonderful options for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic area.  I can't wait to see what updates occur during the scheduled refurb in February 2019, because I'm sure this ship will only get better with time!  

What Carnival Cruise Line ships have you sailed?  Which are your favorites?  We can't wait to try more as a cruise loving family!  To check out more of the fun waiting for you on the Carnival Pride, see our You Tube video below!


Paradise Found: Carnival's Half Moon Cay

When you close your eyes and picture the perfect tropical paradise, what do you see?  Beautiful, soft sand?  Palm trees gently swaying in the island breeze?  Pristine blue water?  Well, when you visit Half Moon Cay on your Carnival Cruise Line vacation, you don't have to imagine paradise - you actually find it!  Whenever we cruise, my favorite port day is on the cruise line's private island and Half Moon Cay was no exception on our Carnival Cruise from Baltimore.  There's so much love about this perfect little island!  Here are some of my key points to make the most of your day in paradise:

Tendering - Despite having cruised several times, this was my first experience with tendering into a port.  The boats used for tendering were large, double decker vessels that helped to transport people pretty quickly.  We had purchased Faster to the Fun (FTTF) for our cruise and I think the best benefit of it was the priority tendering.  With FTTF, we were on the first tender over to Half Moon Cay allowing us to have first choice of where to set up on the island and maximizing our time there.  If you don't have FTTF, you need to go to Lido deck in the morning and grab tender tickets which will tell you which boat you take to your day in paradise!
The Pirate Ship Water Playground - Perfect for Kids!

The Beach - Simply perfect!  The sand is soft and there are lots of beach chairs available all along the beach.  When we got to the beach we turned left and went to the end of the row.  We were able to purchase a clam shell for $25 that was basically a tent that covered two beach chairs to provide shade.  We also grabbed the two beach chairs in front of it for our family.  If you are interested in grabbing a clam shell, go to the blue beach rental hut as soon as you arrive - qualities are limited and they can't be reserved ahead of time.  Our spot was great as it was right next to the pirate ship water playground.  With young kids, they were able to run to the playground, play in the sand, and jump in the water all with us watching from one easy location!  A favorite mom travel tip - purchase some sand toys from the dollar store before heading on vacation.  They are small enough to pack and will keep the kids entertained on the beach without breaking the bank and purchasing them while on vacation.  I have to say though my favorite part of the day was simply floating in the water!
A view of the clam shells available for rent.

Food and Drink - Carnival provides lunch included in your cruise fare while on the island during a set lunch time.  The food is served buffet style and features typical "cookout" food - burgers, hot dogs, chicken, chips, various salads, fruit, and an assortment of desserts.  Just like on the cruise ship, water and lemonade are included but you have to pay for sodas or alcohol.  It's also important to note that the Cheers and Bubble packages don't work on Half Moon Cay so you will be paying for each individual soda or adult beverage.  Prices for drinks were comparable to on the ship.

Smiles like this are what vacation is all about!
Excursions - We didn't book an excursion on Half Moon Cay.  In fact, I have never booked an excursion on a cruise line's private island simply because the islands themselves are usually so beautiful that I want to soak up the day enjoying the beach.  However, the option to book excursions exists if you're looking to add some excitement to your day.  There are also cabanas of various sizes available to rent if you want some more privacy while on the island.

This was probably one of my favorite days of the cruise and I hope we have the chance to visit again soon!

Nassau Port Adventure Review

When we visited Nassau on our 4-Night Bahamian cruise this past April, a beach day was not our original first choice.  However, when we found out that a lot of the food at the Graycliff Wine Luncheon was cheese and dairy based (not friendly to my husband and his food aversions), we decided to take it easy instead for the day and find a beach to chill on.  We ended up booking the Blue Lagoon Beach Day through Disney's Port Adventures page in the weeks leading up to our cruise. I was expecting Blue Lagoon to be "just another day at the beach," but Dan and I found ourselves having what can only be described as a fantastic experience that day.

We ended up leaving Nassau by boat to head to Blue Lagoon Island.  As you might expect from the title, Blue Lagoon Island is a private island that can only be accessed by about a 25 minute boat ride.  The boat ride was enjoyable and we even got to catch a glimpse of Atlantis as we zipped by on our catamaran.  When we arrived at the dock at Blue Lagoon Island, there were two options of where to go.  Some guests booked Dolphin, Sea Lion, etc. excursions and were directed to head to the aquarium side of the island to begin those activities.  We went to the beach area where there was ample seating spread out along the waterfront.  For an extra cost, you could purchase time in an inflatable water play area.  They also offered bars and stores to purchase drinks and goodies while at the beach.  Dan and I headed to the last beach chairs we could find at the end of the lagoon and enjoyed some peace and quiet away from all the hustle and bustle.




Lunch was included in the price of the excursion and the food was VERY good.  They had the typical burger / hot dog and fries as an option but also included a yummy teriyaki chicken with rice that I found wonderful.  While we were eating in the lunch pavilion, Dan noticed a trail on the other side that we decided to go explore after we were done.  When we followed the trail over the sand dune, we were treated to a fabulous surprise - a little private beach with absolutely NO PEOPLE!  This is like a hidden gem on the backside of the island.  We spent the next 4 hours on this beach and in that time only about 5 other people ever ventured over here and most of them quickly left.  For a couple looking to enjoy some private adult time - this was our own version of Heaven on Earth.

The view from our "private" beach.  Doesn't it look like a screensaver??

Overall Grade - A+:  We stayed in our own island oasis until the last boat back to Nassau.  This was an awesome day and far exceeded all of our expectations.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to enjoy a day at the beach on your next Bahamian cruise with Disney.