Shady’s back! Tell a friend.
Just kidding, it’s Missy, not Slim Shady. But I can see how you would mistake the two of us. We are both thin, pale, and have an unmistakable penchant for rapping and driving hella fancy cars.
But no worries, I don’t murda people.
So as most of you know we just got back from a fabulous spring break, one for the record books (in more ways than one) and I have had several people message and text me and ask how it was, and specifically, how we liked taking a cruise because they are thinking about taking one or thinking about using the cruise line we did for their next cruise. So I decided I would write a blog about our trip to help all y’all out cause I am real lazy like that. So without further ado… wait, there is further ado. Before I get started let me write a disclaimer.
This is my experience on a cruise ship, specifically the MSC Divina. This may be different than your experience on a cruise ship. This may be very different from Royal Caribbean or Carinval or Celebrity. If you have had different experiences I welcome you to comment about them on the comments section of my FB post so friends who are shopping for cruises can benefit. But please remember this is how I feel, not how you feel. How in the hell would I know how you feel anyway? We haven’t gotten drunk together and cried over REO Speedwagon songs while we slip into a coma of nostalgia and regret together. Or have we? Doesn’t matter. Just remember, my thoughts and opinions, not yours.
Okay. Let me start off by saying right out of the gate that if I EVER decide to take a cruise again (very unlikely) it will most definitely be with Royal Fucking Caribbean! I don’t know if y’all know about RFC, but those ships look like the fucking BOMB! One of them pulled into every port we were at and the three of us were all like, “HOLY SHIT! You think they would notice if we snuck on?!” Also, shout out to my girl Kelley who was on one of these ships while we were on ours and I was seriously looking at her pics of her husband zip-lining and her kids climbing a rock wall and I was all, where the hell is Kelley? Turns out she was on a RFC ship! The Oasis of the Seas to be exact. GD man. GD. It looked nioce!
Anyway, let me start with the things we liked (sort of a compliment sandwich, if I may). We liked: Our stateroom. It was a balcony room. It was much bigger and had more storage than we anticipated and there was a king size bed and a couch that folded out into a queen bed. It worked great for us. In fact, it was more than we needed.
The particular package that we chose also had free wi-fi (well, 900 mb of it for free, of which I used only 700mb the whole week), it was free wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and we each got an extra 12 drink coupons to use on anything! So Jackson could get milkshakes or juice with breakfast, and Jerimiah and I could have mixed cocktails. Now this was all included in our particular package. So this would be the first tip I would tell people who are cruising for the first time. Look over the packages and really consider them. Jerimiah’s mom booked our through the government’s vacation site because she is military, so we may have had different perks, but searching on my own led me to seeing that different packages offered different things.
My first disappointment was the parking situation. Parking was not included in our package, and from what I understand it rarely is. So we drove to Miami, only to leave our car for a week in a real sketch, gravel parking lot and be shuttled to the port and back. We had to pay for this of course, like $100 I think, and then we had to pay for the shuttle. We also had to pay, on top of the cruise fee, $200 in tips the day we left. So when it was all said and done we spent more on this cruise than our trip to Disney last year (and we didn’t even pay for Jackson’s cruise, my MIL gifted his ticket). So, yeah. My first thought for anyone who has never been on a cruise or to Disney is GO TO FUCKING DISNEY! You will have a much better time and you may, depending on how you do it, save money! (But that is a whole other blog post!)
My next disappointment was the “Kids Club”. It seemed pretty hectic and disorganized, and the first and only time Jackson went he had an awful time, citing kids arguing with each other over Legos and them basically just being made to watch a movie the whole afternoon. Now, I have heard marvelous things about the kids clubs on other cruise ships, so I am gonna chalk this up to a “MSC Fail” , but be aware that the kids clubs may not be all that great, especially if you have a kid who plays specific games or likes certain things or is shy or gets anxious around crowds.
And dear God, the crowds. We went to the pools only one time. There were never open chairs. The day we did go we only got some because it was Bahamas day and we were over the Bahamas in like three hours (Nassau kinds sucks, definitely pay for Atlantis) and we high-tailed it back to the ship. The water was cold, it is salt water and from what I can tell it is pumped into the pools everyday, so if the ocean is cold, the pool is cold. Pretty simple rule of thumb. We don’t mind salt water, but some people were very surprised by this.
Now some silly things happened that can be expected anywhere you are, like our shower head fell off and needed replaced. But it took them three hours to replace it. Again, I can only speak to my particular cruise ship for that, but it seemed absurd to wait three hours for someone to come and screw on a new shower head. Also, I had to call them five times during that three hours, so I was cranky.
But something that was a big surprise to us was the “Medical Help” on board. On day number five Jerimiah lost his footing going up the stairs of the theater and his toenail caught the top of the step and sort of stayed there when his foot came down. There was major blood because, why not, and we had to schlep all the way down to the fourth floor for medical help. It isn’t really marked very well, and we had to find someone to help us find it. When we got there they were “closed”. Apparently for lunch or something, so I had to go in search of a phone to call the “Emergency number” then they seemed agitated that we had an emergency on their allotted lunch break, then we had to wait for them to get there.
When they did get there the first thing the nurse said was, “We have to cut it off. It will cost a lot of money, okay? Follow me.” So Jerimiah, who was sort of in a blur of confusion, followed her and I was all, wait a minute. How much is “a lot of money” for cutting off a toenail. Turns out it is $400 US dollars. Okay, so as you can imagine J decided (I decided) J would get it bandaged up and come home Sunday and have Urgent Care remove it for $5 US dollars. But we wanted to make sure that we filled out a form, an “Incident Report” so that our insurance would cover the “Bandage fee” of $300. US. Dollars. Not kidding. But in order to fill out an “Incident Form” to submit to your insurance you have to have a consultation with the Doctor on duty, which costs $125 US dollars. I wish I were making this up. But I am not. So we could have paid $825 on the ship or we could do what we did. Go back to the room, bandage it up, and wait till Urgent Care opened at home on Sunday and have them cut it out. Of which they did and our co-pay was $5 US dollars.
Hmpf. So, don’t get sick or hurt on a cruise. Best case scenario. Or maybe take your chances with a hospital at a port. Which is a good reason to always have your passport when you exit the ship! Just FYI! In case of injury or in case you murder someone and they put you in a jail. Both would require a form of id.
Well. So. Did we have fun? You bet! We have fun wherever we go and whomever we go with because that is how we live our life. In fact, the day that our shower head went out and Jerimiah just really wanted to wash the blood off his dangling toenail we found ourselves drinking alcohol in our “regular coffee” we ordered (because no one on the ship was from America, so they didn’t really understand that we didn’t want Bailey’s in our coffee everyday) and laughing about how absurd life is sometimes, and how we would most likely live forever in St. Maarteen!
Which leads me to the ports! The ports! Oh my!
The Bahamas was a necessary evil. Look. It is what it is. We had a nice time at this real sketchy beach, we endured the homeless people, the people trying to sell us beads, and the people trying to braid my hair! But we found a Dunkin Donuts, Score! And Jackson learned how to play a Conch Shell! We bought it for $5 and he’s been playing it ever since! I always knew his musical talent would blossom at some point!
Puerto Rico was on my bucket list, so I was so excited the day we pulled into Old San Juan. It was everything I had read about. It was clean, it was nice. There were police everywhere, not because of crime, because they wanted to assist you and help you have a great time. There was so much history. The city is so vibrant. The people so polite. And bonus: It’s like being in the US! You can trust all the post offices and police stations. Everyone knows English and they all commiserate with you about how awful Trump is. It was a great day! We saw the two military forts, walked about 15 miles, and took some amazing pics! We even had authentic Puerto Rican food, which you really can’t beat.
St. Maarten. Whew. Y’all this place is like a magical land I never knew existed. I know there are better beaches in the world, but I saw the best one I have ever seen in St. Maarten. We first took the water taxi over from Philipsburg, where you dock at. Then we took a taxi (which are all government owned) to Maho Beach, AKA “Airport Beach”. You’ve probably seen it on the Travel Channel. It is the beach that butts right up to an International airport. It is unusual because there isn’t much island to the “island” so the landing strip has to start right after the beach, which means when the planes take off and land they do so about 100 feet above your head. It is pretty cool. Not at all the “relaxing” beach, but fun to see and experience one time!
Our taxi tour continued to the French side of the island. One half is The Netherlands and they use Gilders as money, and one half is French and they use Euro as money. Pretty cool and a little strange. Sort of like Kansas City being split down the middle! Orient Beach on the French side is the place to be. You can see islands (British Virgin Islands) in the distance. You can rent jet skis, you can parasail, you can buy fresh $5 coconuts from a man with a machete on the beach. For $10 he will put rum in it after he cracks it open. We had one coconut and Jackson jumped on a water trampoline! We relaxed and swam in the warmest, most crystal clear water you can imagine. I could have stayed there forever.
Alas, one downside to cruising is when you find the perfect spot, you still have to go. We were glad to leave the Bahamas, but oh so sad to leave St. Maarten. That is one of the reasons we don’t think cruising is for us. We needed more time. Less time finding stupid ways to fill our days at sea, and more time exploring the lovely ports we get to visit.
So I would say that my biggest takeaways from our cruise are this: If you like structure, if your idea of relaxing is sitting by a public pool, if you prefer to play card games and waste your days away on a boat in the middle of the ocean drinking a bunch of alcohol, if you like to have specific times to be somewhere, including dinner, if you enjoy meeting new people and learning about strangers, if you don’t mind crowded elevators, then cruising is for you! If you prefer to be on your own schedule on vacation. If you like to pack a lot of experiences and places into a short amount of time. If you don’t like to have a lot of “downtime”, if you want to linger at places you like, and leave places you don’t, then cruising is not for you.
Also, gamblers and shop-a-holies would REALLY love cruising! Those are the two main things to do on the ship and off, besides drinking, and people take pride in doing it. I wanted to strangle most of them, but hey, to each their own! I did learn to play Roulette and I got pretty good at it! 😉
Hope this helped and entertained! See y’all around. But on land!