My husband and I eloped in April of 2017 at Vegas Weddings chapel, in Las Vegas, NV. We had (mostly) planned a wedding for that May, but the whole wedding was not feeling like it was “us.” So we did what any
normal stressed-out couple would do, we cancelled everything on our 24 hour drive to Las Vegas and called family & friends to tell them we were eloping!
We had not finalized any details for our honeymoon before our elopement. We knew we wanted to take a trip out of the U.S. that was affordable and worked with our work and school schedules.
It came down to affordability during the craziest time of year for travel. My job at the time did not allow for many vacation days, but closed for a whole week during Christmas. My husband, being a graduate student, also was able to have the same time off. While we were going to miss spending time with our families for the holiday, we were also ecstatic to take a trip with each other to celebrate our marriage.
Flight prices are extremely high during the winter, and especially pricey during holidays. After looking at all our options, we both decided that a cruise sounded fun and was in our price range.
Neither of us had ever been on a cruise. We were going to share a whole new experience together! There were many cruise options. The closest port was in New Orleans (NOLA), and that was the one we would take. I had a friend that told me about her own cruise experience that helped us make our final decision of which cruise line to choose.
We booked a 5 day cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. The cruise would make two stops, first in Cozumel and the second in Progresso. I love the ocean! So of course we spent a little extra money on a room with a balcony, and did not once regret it!
We spent some time researching the ports, and looking at excursions for our cruise ship, Carnival Triumph, on their website. There is plenty to do on the cruise, and if you are an experienced cruise taker you may have better suggestions for how to choose an excursion. However, my husband and I chose to go with the cruise line to ensure safety and accurate arrival before departure.
By the time December came, we had everything picked-out and paid for. All we had to do was pack. The weather was going to be a very warm welcome compared to the cold we would be leaving in Louisiana (I say cold, but it wasn’t below freezing here).
We were planning on spending a few days in New Orleans after we returned from our cruise, as we would have been living in Louisiana for over a year and never explored New Orleans. So we packed warm weather clothes for the cruise, and left a winter bag packed in our car for when we returned.
Going through customs at the port included very little stress. I had all our papers and passport ready. The line was long, and we did get held up at security because I packed a bottle of wine; which was fine to bring, they just had to check that the seal wasn’t broke. After that we had to go to a desk where the staff took our picture and gave us our room keys.
Upon boarding the ship there were staff members offering free glasses of champagne, but I rushed right past them. I had reviewed the ships map and was set on getting to our room to settle in. I immediately asked my husband to take my picture on the balcony (pictured below the Mississippi River in NOLA).
Casey and I were surprised at how big our room felt. We unpacked, quickly settling in to our stateroom, before deciding to explore the ship. We held hands, giggling and gawking at the ships’ features. We found there were plenty of dining options on the upper deck, burgers, pizza, taco and burrito station, and a cafe and extra dining court.
We grabbed some pizza mid-exploration on the back of the upper deck, then continued to make our way around the ship. The cruise ship was decked out in holiday decor since we were traveling over Christmas. This created an even more magical essence for me!
Before the ship could depart, there was a mandatory safety presentation that passengers had to attend. The crew showed us where the life boats were, and discussed what to do in the event of an emergency. After the meeting we made our way back to our stateroom to relax and get ready for dinner. There were plenty of food options, but most nights we ended up sticking with the scheduled dinner in the dining hall, and it never disappointed!
We had an assigned table for two in the dining area, which was our table for the whole trip. We had an amazing staff that attended to us. The dining menu always had a variety of dining selections, and we were excited to see vegetarian options on the menu!
Everything was included except any wine or spirits, or if you wanted to select any premium options from the menu. Which we never felt like we needed to, the food was very good!
After our first night dining experience, we swung by the sports bar to grab a few beers. The sports bar wasn’t too busy, so we enjoyed each other’s company as the ship sailed down the Mississippi River.
There was a daily itinerary delivered to our room each morning that outlined the ship happenings. There was bingo, an art gallery, comedy shows, karaoke, and other forms of entertainment. Literally, there was always something going on!
The first full day of the cruise was spent at sea, sailing to our first destination. I awoke the first morning to the most beautiful sight, sunrise in the middle of the ocean! The breeze was warm, and the memory still has a relaxing effect when I think back on the experience.
For our first day at sea we had scheduled a couples massage for the afternoon. We lounged around our stateroom before heading to brunch in the main dining hall. The brunch dining was not our regular assigned seating, and we enjoyed chatting with a couple other families.
The rest of our morning was spent playing games on the upper deck. We played a very intense round of mini golf, staying tied until the very end when I won by 1 point! Then we moved on to playing bags, which Casey dominated at.
Casey and I decided that we wanted to do a short work-out before our couples massage. The spa and gym on Carnival Triumph is located at the front of the ship (I could never get into the sea terms on the boat). I was surprised at how large and how much equipment the gym had. There was also a steam room and a sauna in the women’s locker room!
The massage was divine. We had two lovely ladies that took care of us. The mood and setting was relaxing. Afterwards Casey and I grabbed pizza as a late lunch snack. We did not want to ruin our appetites before dinner. We then enjoyed some Pina Coladas on the upper deck while reading and taking in the ocean view for the rest of the afternoon!
Reading made us sleepy, so we went back to our stateroom to take a brief nap before getting ready for our second night of dinner. On our way to dinner we stopped at the coffee shop on board and grabbed a drink. We enjoyed our coffee while watching the sunset, then made our way to another delicious dinner!
After dinner we went to the upper deck to watch a screening of Dunkirk on the outdoor theater screen. There were multiple movies playing every night. We brought an extra blanket from our room and snuggled close.
Casey reminded me that tomorrow was going to be Christmas, and wondered if Santa was going to be able to find us on the ship. Little did I know, Casey had somehow managed to pack Christmas presents for me into his suitcase. He surprised me the next morning with them!
Our third day on the Cruise was Christmas, and we were entering the port at Cozumel. We were excited, up early and packed all our necessary items for the excursion. We ordered room service breakfast to be delivered to our room to save us time. It was an enjoyable experience, but not as tasty as going to the dining hall.
We waited on the upper deck, watching our ship be escorted into the port. I noticed that the ship staff had made a zoo of animals poolside and had a little fun posing with them.
Before we could exit the ship, we had a meeting in the lower dining hall regarding customs and how we would need to return to the ship. We then lead off the boat, where we enjoyed the bright blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The excursion we had planned was actually in Mexico, so we had to take the ferry to Playa del Carmen, where we met our tour guide Mathiue. We had a full-packed adventure that day! It was just us and a family of 4 on this trip. We first took a shuttle to the jungle, where we explored a little over a mile of underground caves. We then went to a private lagoon with brackish water. Here we swam and snorkeled, and saw lots of tropical fish! It was very romantic! Afterwards we were taken to a private beach where we enjoyed a late lunch buffet and free time exploring the beach and swimming in the ocean.
I was very thankful for the private beach. Because it was Christmas, all the regular beaches were packed! So it was nice to have a quite area for us to enjoy the ocean. It made the whole experience more romantic!
Our tour guide had packed us snacks and drinks for our rides to each destination. He also managed to keep us on time for everything, including our return ferry ride to Cozumel. We had a little time to explore Cozumel before needing to board for departure. We were back on the boat in time to make our regular scheduled dinner.
Our fourth day was in Progresso. We had not heard of this place before we booked our cruise. Progresso is on the Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. Our excursion for the day was a “Beer Crawl.” Our first stop was Corona Beach. We then traveled to our next stop, where our tour guide kept us plenty entertained! We toured a local brewery, El Patito, where we had lite, local bites and tasted the whole flight.
Next stop was a local cantina, La Negrita, to taste local craft beers and food. The tour ended at a speak-easy, set up during Mexico’s prohibition period. Here we tried mezcal, which is distilled from the agave plant.
We had a blast on this excursion! Our tour guide was hilarious, and we made a lot of new friends! We actually spent part of the evening after dinner with our newly made friends singing karaoke, and then going to the ships’ dance club.
The next morning we were slow to get out of bed, as a long day and night’s festivities had worn us out. Luckily this was another day at sea, as we made our way back to New Orleans. We had received a honeymoon coupon for the spa and decided that another couples massage sounded fantastic. We were able to get in before lunch, and afterwards enjoyed burritos from the Blue Iguana on the upper deck.
We lounged around the pools for the rest of the afternoon. We began to feel the temperature drop as we continued to make our way north. An announcement was made to remind guests about the chocolate party in the cafeteria, and we quickly made our way to grab some treats. I enjoyed the down time to relax with Casey. Life gets crazy and moves so fast – it was wonderful to just “be” with each other.
After freshening up for dinner, we went to the Alchemy bar to grab a few drinks. We ran into our friends from the second excursion and found out that they also were going to be spending some time in New Orleans before catching flights home. We exchanged numbers and planned to meet up at some point for dinner after the cruise.
During our last dinner on board, the crew performed a song and dance to bid us farewell! It was fun, yet sad to think that this part of our honeymoon was coming to an end. However, I was beginning to be able to feel the boat rock (I think the captain had picked up speed to make it back on time).
We made it to our port early in the morning. Casey and I enjoyed breakfast in the dining hall before returning to grab our things from our stateroom. We enjoyed looking at the river from our balcony one last time before exiting the ship. We checked the room several times before leaving. It was only after I had made it on to the walk-way on the outside of the ship that I remembered I had bought pictures of us that were taken at the ports, and in front of the green screens one night. I had to dash back on board, where a crew-member had to reactive my room key. I managed to grab the pictures and get back off the ship in little time.
Casey and I then spent a few extra days in New Orleans before heading back to our home in northern Louisiana, but I will write about that in another post.
Our cruise was an amazing adventure! Casey and I loved the whole experience. We would love to go again with family or friends. It was nice that everything was taken care of and there was always something going on during the day and evenings.
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