Trying to find the perfect cruise can take a TON of effort, but guess what? I’ve found the most amazing cruise out there for you!
I must say I cannot take credit to finding this amazing cruise–that’s all thanks to my hubby! We traveled with our best friends on this cruise & it made it all the better because they are so great to travel with. Our cruise was from October 20th – October 26th, 2019 & the weather was absolutely gorgeous!!! Every day was sunny and in the 80’s-90’s (my fave weather).
A couple years ago we took our first cruise through Carnival with my husband’s family for New Years & my college graduation & we fell in love. Cruises are SO easy because literally everything is taken care of—really!!! There’s NOTHING to worry about other than a sunburn!
This cruise we just got back from was also through carnival & is called the 7 Day Southern Caribbean Cruise From San Juan. Click the link to book our exact cruise!
Travel Day 1: Flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico
Blake & I boarded our Southwest plane in Kansas City to head to paradise mid-afternoon with drink tickets in hand, cheers! After a very short layover in Fort Lauderdale we boarded our last plane to Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico airport isn’t anything super fancy, but we did book a hotel room there at the San Juan Airport Hotel that is connected to the airport. We had to walk through an abandoned terminal to get to the hotel (it was pretty sketch), but once we checked in & got to our room it was pretty good. Of course, being an airport hotel it was a bit pricey for what it was, but CONVENIENCE. I could (barely) see the beach from our hotel room! Rooms start around $200 & breakfast is included.
Staying at the San Juan Airport Hotel was very important for us because our shuttle to the cruise ship left from the hotel the next morning.
Book your stay at the San Juan Airport Hotel here: https://airporthotelpr.com
Day 2: Boarding the Carnival Fascination
If you’ve ever taken a cruise before, you know that every ship boarding day gets easier than the last! This was our second cruise, so things went a little more smoothly because we were prepared.
Pro tip: Leave from the airport to your cruise ship by taking the Carnival shuttle. You pay for this in advance while booking your cruise, and you’ll seriously be glad you did! They handle your bags for you and make sure you get to the ship on time (taxi’s def won’t guarantee that!!).
Boarding at the port in San Juan was so much better & more organized than Galveston’s port (sorry, TX).
When embarking onto the ship be sure to have these ready to go:
- boarding pass
- passport / citizenship documents (including any necessary visas)
After going through the embarkation process on the pier, we were surprisingly in our room by 1:30pm. We had a little bit of time to explore the ship before our room was ready.
Definitely make sure to pack the necessities in your carryon because there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be receiving your checked luggage until the evening.
Click here to check out my blog post on how to pack the perfect cruise carryon bag. It includes links to all my favorite travel products!
Day 3: St. Thomas
Sorry to spoil it for ya, but this was probably my favorite destination out of the 5. They truly spoiled us by giving us one of the BEST excursions first!
Blake & I went to Meagen’s Bay Beach and I am not kidding when I say this is the most stunning beach I’ve ever seen! The water was blue green and I could see my feet and the ocean floor even in very deep water (people who are scared of the ocean, this place is for you). Pretty sure we saw the Kardashian’s yacht in the distance . . . haha no joke.
Sadly, we only had a couple hours to spend at this beach, but we def soaked in every second! This beach is nice bathrooms (considering), picnic tables to use for free, and a bar (you better believe I bought some Truly’s!!!). The water seemed to be super salty, so it was very easy to float!
To get back to the ship we got back on the open air bus that brought us to Meagen’s Bay Beach & it dropped us off at the sky ride–we got an amazing view of the island and the gorgeous water.
I think Blake & I agreed that the ship could’ve happily left us at this beach for the entire week!!! But really–if you ever get a chance to come here, DO!
Day 4: St. Maarten
We had the most amazing excursion planned for St. Maarten, but sadly it ended up getting cancelled. Our original plan was to go to Maho Beach (the airplane beach), but our water taxi was blocked by a yacht & couldn’t get out. Carnival credited our account for the cancelled trip.
Blake & I were supposed to go on the excursion with our friends who travelled with us, so we found other plans and took a water taxi from our pier to Great Bay Beach (behind us in the photo above). The water taxi was $7 roundtrip & we could clearly see our ship from the beach! There are lots of little shops & places to get food / booze.
There are chairs & umbrellas available on the beach to rent–you rent those from the sketchy guys walking around on the beach haha! All of the guys have their own section of chairs & you should definitely haggle with them. They wanted $20 to rent a set of 2 chairs & an umbrella, but I talked one of them down to $5 for the whole set up!! A STEAL!
The water at Great Bay Beach is so amazingly clear and clean. The beach itself is also somewhat clean. Definitely save your money by taking the water taxi to this beach instead of booking an excursion. You will have much more time to relax & have fun by going to Great Bay Beach!
Day 5: St. Kitts & Nevis
Blake & I did Jeep Wrangler off-roading to a black volcano sand beach. We drove through St. Lucia’s mountainside & a jungle & I am so glad we got to have this experience.
The funniest / scariest part of this excursion was that there was a bar at this beach & some of the people drank quite a bit in the 50 minutes we had there (which was SO not long enough for me). We thought we were taking a bus back, but our leader said EVERYBODY GET BACK IN YOUR CARS. LIKE WHAT!!!!! Omg it was wild–keep in mind everyone still had to drive on the opposite side of the road!
I will warn you: if you get motion sick at all DO NOT DO THIS EXCURSION! The off-roading was quite a bit rougher than I thought it would be for a cruise excursion. What was crazy was never did they once check to see if any of us even had a driver’s license. They just loaded us up in Jeeps & started going! In St. Lucia they drive on the opposite side of the road & the driver drives on the opposite side of the vehicle. So another note: if this would freak you out to drive in traffic going the wrong way around a roundabout on the wrong side of the car, probably avoid this excursion lol!
The beach we went to after we got done with our drive was a black sand volcano beach. If you have never experienced this, I promise this will be the hottest sand you’ll ever feel in your life!!!!!! The water was absolutely gorgeous, but getting to the water from your table was another story. Needless to say, I think that was the one & only time I need to go to a black sand beach.
Our friends we traveled with took a taxi to to a private little beach club & they said this is the place to go in St. Kitts. Friars Bay Carambola Beach Club is gorgeous & romantic. If you’re looking for something a little more low key to do in St. Kitts–this is it!
Friars Bay Carambola Beach Club’s Facebook page is @carambolabeachclub. This page has their phone number & address!
Day 6: St. Lucia
Blake & I had the North Beach Getaway excursion planned in St. Lucia, but this got cancelled. We were actually glad it got cancelled because we found an excursion that was a lot better! Funny how things work out, right? I even had so much fun here that I didn’t take a SINGLE pic!!!!
We boarded a bus (omg that had NO air conditioning & it was easily 80-90 something outside & a long ride) that took us through the mountains & past banana fields to Glittering Sands Beach. The beach we went to was so nice & had chairs / umbrellas you could rent for $3, & lunch came with our excursion. I spent 3 hours basking in the sun just loving life!!!
Day 7: Barbados
I can’t decide if I liked Barbados or St. Thomas more–they were both absolutely amazing!!! The beaches in Barbados are serene, clean & STUNNING. Blake & I went to Pebbles Beach & Rockley Beach in Bridgetown on our excursion.
We rode to the beach on an open air bus, seeing the city. The driver took us by the Barbados Turf Club & George Washington’s old house. I bet you didn’t know George Washington had a house in Barbados!
Rockley Beach was incredible! The water was bright turquoise & crazy clear. We rented chairs & an umbrella for $10–yeah, we’re luxurious and rent chairs everywhere we go haha. Rockley Beach was tied for my #1 beach on this trip, along with Meagan’s Bay. Pebbles Beach was the second beach we went to on this excursion & it definitely was not as good as the first. It was much busier & not as serene. We got an hour and a half at each beach, but I really wish we could’ve had all 3 hours plus the driving time at Rockley Beach!
The port here in Barbados has a ton of shops to walk around & look at if you like that kind of thing. You can get food, drinks, souvenirs, toiletries, etc. at these stores, but it’s mostly the kind of junk you would expect at port shops.
Day 8: At Sea
It was so nice to have a more low-key day where we could rest & just enjoy each other’s company without worrying about getting on & off the ship & making excursions on time.
We spent the day laying by the pool from 10am until 3 or 4. This ship only had 1 swimming pool, so it got pretty packed (standing room only–the hot tubs were XXX with drunk girls wildly twerking like they were in a music video! *yikes* haha I’m all for fun, but come on there were children!!!)
Pro Tip: Eat at the Mexican station in the main casual dining room! It was close enough to Chipotle for me & was absolutely DELICIOUS! I’m so sad I didn’t try it until the last day. Taco bowls are the way to go.
That night after dinner we packed our bags (so sad) so that we could get as much sleep as possible in the morning before our big day of travel. Definitely don’t wait until the last minute to get your things together!
Day 9: Travel Day
We got up at 6am to finish packing the things that had to wait until the very last minute & we grabbed some pastries to try to fill our bellies before travel day craziness ensued.
The debarkation process was pretty simple, but I felt like it could’ve been a little quicker (I guess this was a smaller ship than the last one we were on, so that one had more elevators). We had to wait in lines at the elevators to leave the ship, & once we got down to the ramp they scanned our sign & sail card & I ATE S**T coming off the ship! It was pouring rain; I was pushing a 50 pound bag ahead of me, pulling a 50 pound bag behind me AND carrying my purse & backpack (yeah, I don’t pack light) down a ramp that was at least at a 30 degree angle. My shoes had no traction & went flying down the ramp expecting it to end with a broken leg. The only thing I got LUCKILY was a little embarrassment ha!
Blake & I took the shuttle back to the airport, & I HIGHLY SUGGEST paying for the shuttle. It will save you lots of anxiety & panic!!!
Pros & Cons of this Cruise
- HUGE PRO: Getting to see so many different beautiful countries! It would take so much more money & time to see 5 different islands planning it yourself.
- Amazing weather in the Caribbean during October. Always sunny and 80’s-90’s. We never had rain.
- Cruise ship was newly renovated.
- The Alchemy bar was literally Abby & I’s PLACE. Shoutout to Marco the bartender! Marco, if you’re reading this I hope we meet again!
- Delicious food! You’ll gain at LEAST 5 pounds.
- The Carnival staff is always so amazing. They always feel like family by the end of the week which makes saying goodbye so much harder.
- Late dinner. You have plenty of time to get all gussied up & cute for dinner & hit up a bar for some pre-dinner cocktails.
- This ship (Fascination) was much smaller than the previous ship we cruised on (Freedom). We were used to many more bars/night clubs, wider variety of food on the menu, more amenities/pools, larger casino. All of these sacrifices are totally worth it though for the destinations!
- Getting off the ship every day at 7am for 5 days to go on excursions can really be exhausting. This isn’t necessarily a con, but if you tire easily you may wanna take a rest day every couple days & not do anything crazy.
- Late dinner. This shift was like 8pm I believe, so by the time our formal dinner was over it was around 10pm & we were BEAT. Going on the late dinner shift also means you miss out on a lot of shows & cruise activities if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you take this cruise, I hope you fall in love with it like we did! I think between the two of us we’ve decided we’d definitely go on this cruise again. If you have any questions about my experience, I’d love to chat–shoot me an email!