If you missed it back in April, I surprised my mom with a cruise vacation for her birthday! You can watch the super fun video here, and the post also gives you some background as to why I gifted her with something so incredible. My mom and I just returned from our cruise (I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying), so I wanted to share some photos and details with you all 🙂
On Wednesday May 31, mom and I headed to Tampa Bay, FL. We flew first class, which was incredible in itself! We stayed at the Barrymore Tampa Riverwalk hotel that night, and it was a 10 minute drive from the airport and 10 minute drive to the cruise port. Ultimately it was the perfect hotel decision. I’ll further review the hotel in an upcoming post.
Mom and I chose to cruise on the Carnival Paradise. It’s a mid-size cruise ship, holding about 2,700 passengers and 900 crew. I had never been on a cruise, so I didn’t know what to expect, but thankfully the ship didn’t feel too crowded. We boarded the Paradise around noon on June 1, and the process was amazingly easy and organized. In fact, all of our travel was easy. I booked our trip through Travelocity, and I would definitely recommend it and book through there again.
Cruise Day 1:
Little did my mom know, I had one last surprise for her when we boarded the Carnival Paradise. I purchased a birthday package for our room, so when we arrived in our stateroom it was decorated. The packaged included birthday decor, champagne glasses, a towel, picture frame, sparkling cider and personalized note. My mom loved it and it made the beginning of our adventure extra special.
On day one, we mostly relaxed before and after our mandatory safety drill. We bought a delicious tropical rum drink and enjoyed it on the pool deck. We ended up finding the Serenity Deck, which was for adults 21+ years old. It was quiet, and perfect for relaxing. Any time that we wanted to soak up the sun, we headed to the Serenity Deck. For dinner we enjoyed delicious all-you-can-eat buffet food, a delectable choice for any meal.
Cruise Day 2:
Mom and I purposely chose a cruise where we only had one stop. The point of this vacation was to rest and rejuvenate, so we mostly wanted to stay on the ship.
On day two we soaked up some more sun before taking an afternoon nap. We wanted to be well rested for our elegant evening. Mom and I got dressed up in some fancy attire and headed to an unforgettable dinner. We enjoyed a high-end meal in the Elation Dining Room, which included lobster tail and filet mignon. The staff even entertained us with some music and dancing, which had the entire dining room singing and smiling. It sure was a blast!
After dinner we made our way to the casino. I lost some money but I had fun! I even got a free drink from one of the waiters 😉 We caught the tail end of a poppin’ 80s show before calling it a night. Saturday was the only day we had to get up early for our day in Cozumel, Mexico.
Cruise Day 3:
Day three was our day in Cozumel. It was fun waking up and seeing bright blue waters, dense vegetation, and civilization! I had purchased a snorkeling excursion for us, since mom said that she really wanted to snorkel. We were to meet our party on the pier at 8:45am. After donning our swim suits and packing our beach bags, we were off! We walked right off the ship onto the pier (again, a super easy process) and headed onto the shore of Cozumel. I saw some adorable drug-sniffing dogs that I really wanted to pet before meeting with our group to go snorkeling!
Once we checked in with our tour guide, we took a taxi about five minutes down the road to Sky Reef. It was an outdoor restaurant where the general public could also walk up and rent equipment to snorkel. Our excursion group was about 30 people of all ages. Mom and I kind of did our own thing because we weren’t scared and had snorkeled before. I was proud of us because we never got tired despite being under water and swimming the whole time.
So, did we see fish?! You bet we did! We saw lots of gorgeous tropical fish, a large puffer fish (which was my favorite), a pregnant sting ray, and we held a sea urchin! Afterwards we enjoyed the most delicious chicken fajitas that I will probably ever eat in my life, as well as homemade guacamole. Yes please! Instead of participating in the tequila tasting, we spent some leisurely time in the ocean after lunch.
When we returned to the port, mom and I did some shopping before heading back onto the ship. We spent the perfect amount of time exploring and enjoying Cozumel. I would definitely recommend it as a vacation destination and I can’t wait to return!
Cruise Day 4:
Another day at sea! Mom and I slept in on Sunday since we were tired from our spectacular day in Cozumel. We enjoyed breakfast on the patio in the morning before checking out all of the shops on the ship. Then we showered and put on something other than our swimsuits, then headed to Bingo! That was my first time playing and it was SO much fun! It was a packed house so a lot of money was up for grabs. We didn’t win anything but it sure was a blast. We relaxed the rest of the day since we had to get up early the next day to disembark.
On Monday we woke up bright and early to leave the ship and catch our flight. The day was exhausting, but worth all of the fun and relaxation we were able to enjoy on our cruise.
This recap was an extremely general one, but I will also be reviewing our cruise ship in a further post. Although it’s not animal related, I figure someone may benefit from it! Overall, I would absolutely cruise on a Carnival ship again. It was fantastic!
Want more cruise pics? Check out all of the fun ones I took on Instagram, @travelerpepe.