Before Christmas, I went on an impromptu trip with my friends and co-bloggers Jeff Wagg and justpaperskater. Jeff, who is the curator and coordinator for the marvelous College of Curiosity, ran across a special for a weekend cruise to the Bahamas, out of Florida. When the cruise lines don’t fill up, they offer very cheap rates for people who can travel at the last minute.
Jeff was able to score a suite on the ship, which was Royal Caribbean‘s Majesty of the Seas. We met up at the dock in Miami, Florida, and went straight away to check out how the rich travel on a cruise ship.
On my first cruise (also for something Jeff put together – it’s where I met him and co-blogger Oke), I looked at the prices and went for the least expensive option, which was an inside cabin on the bottom level. If you’ve seen Titanic, it’s there behind the locked gates, next to the boiler room. On this trip, we were in the one of the swankiest cabins on the ship. The cabin, which the three of us fit into quite comfortably, was bigger than my first two apartments. If you’ve ever been on a cruise, the standard cabins are all similar in size, within a few square feet. The upgrades come from having a window or a balcony, at extra cost. If you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all.
What do you get when you stay in the suites? We got a large room with a long balcony, equipped with two lounge chairs and a table with chairs. One side of the room, which could be divided with a curtain, contained the convertible bed (one king or two twins) and the other side had a sofa that made out into a double bed, two occasional chairs, a large desk/vanity area, and a minibar with a refrigerator. There was a closet that easily accommodated clothing for three people (mind you, it was a three night cruise). The bathroom was a real bathroom, with a full sized tub.
By way of amenities, we were offered a large plate of fresh fruit and a bottle of champagne, albeit a low-end champagne. In addition to the cabin attendant, a manager-level guy in a suit came to visit and explain to us all the extras. We had access to a special welcome event in the Viking Crown lounge (free booze). We had the option of a private dining room for suite level guests. When time to tender at the first port, we didn’t have to get in line with hoi polloi, we could go to Guest Services and be escorted to the front of the line. The staff is concerned about your every need. Witness breakfast. On a cruise, you can order room service at no addition charge, if you don’t want to eat in one of the restaurants or the buffet. We ordered three meals: two orders pf bacon and eggs, one order of Eggs Benedict, some smoked salmon, a banana, and a bowl of grits, along with juice and coffee. When the order arrived, the poor guy showed up with about eight covered plates. Each dish, including the lonely banana, was on a separate plate with its own cover. It looked like we were feeding a dozen people.
After our attendant left, we discovered that we had no utensils, so called down for some. While waiting, we found that we had FOUR orders of eggs and bacon, and no Eggs Benedict. No problem, there is way more food than we can eat. A knock on the door brings our knives and forks. A few minutes later, a knock on the door brings…the Eggs Benedict. Accompanied by many, many apologies, while we assure the poor guy we are fine, there is plenty of food, not to worry.
The phone rings. They are inquiring about our order. So sorry, we forgot the Eggs Benedict, we will bring them right to you. No, no, Jeff says, we are good. Everyone is happy, thank you. A knock on the door with more utensils. Another phone call, this time asking if we have our utensils. Yes, fine, thank you! The phone rings yet again, this time with the kitchen manager calling about the eggs, and apologizing. Again. Really, you can stop now.
One of the stops we made was to the island of Coco Cay, a private island leased by the cruise line for 100 years. Normally, travelers come here and sunbathe, snorkel, eat in the cruise-supplied buffet lunch, hike the islands, and sometimes participate in games or activity arranged by the cruise line. On this trip, Jeff secured a cabana for us. We had access to a private strip of the beach, had our own bar, towels, a cook-to-order buffet of kabobs instead of the buffet and lines, a cooler with bottled water and another bottle of champagne, fruit plate, and coupons that covered the cost of snorkeling gear. After taking a guided nature tour, we chilled at the cabana. I napped and read my book and drank Coco-Locos (something with bananas and rum, I think. It was very good). We stayed until the last tender left for the ship, after an altogether relaxing and beautiful day.
So how was the fancy trip? I had a great time, and very much appreciate that Jeff made this available. Any trip with good friends is a great trip. On a normal cruise, when you don’t have the last-minute price breaks that the cruise ships offer? Do you go for a suite? I’m not sure. The extra room was great, as was having a refrigerator and the huge balcony. We could have just as easily accommodated four people, but on a cruise ship you don’t get to add extra people for free. As nice as it was, a regular window or (better) balcony cabin has plenty of room for one or two people, and leaves you more money for tours, dining, and Coco-Locos. However, the cabana was a great way to truly relax and enjoy the beach, and get away from people. We all agreed that it was the way to go.
- Best Time of the Year to Go on a Cruise, Cheaply (epicatravel.com)
- Set sail with ‘wave season’ cruise deals (todaytravel.today.com)
- A crossing bonus from Royal Caribbean (o.canada.com)
- Cruise Ship Dining (thefoodielist.co.uk)
- The High Point and Low Down of the Caribbean Cruise (undertakingeverything.com)