Open seas, white sandy beaches, clear blue sky…this trip was exactly what I needed in the middle of winter. If you’re thinking of going on a cruise to the Caribbean, I hope this helps!
We cruised on MSC Meraviglia for 7 nights, 8 days. We sailed from Port Canaveral in Orlando, Florida. Our Western Caribbean cruise had 4 port stops: Nassau (Bahamas), Ocean Cay (Bahamas), Belize city (Belize) and Cozumel (Mexico), with 2 full days at sea. There’s plenty to do on the cruise ship, including an arcade, bowling, 4D cinema, shows, water park and pools, so you won’t be bored. You can also grab a drink, a book and soak in the sun!
We flew down the night before and stayed at an AirBnB. We were traveling with our friends and their babies, and thought it best to fly out the day before our cruise was taking off. If you plan on flying the same day, just make sure you leave enough room to get from the airport to the port (~1 hour drive) since checking in can take some time. They will give you a time slot for checking in. We ended up reaching early, dropped off our luggage (they’ll deliver it to your room once everyone is checked in), and it took a few hours until we reached our rooms.
How to Book?
We booked the cruise through Flight Centre, where we got the best deal. I don’t see the exact deal anymore, worth calling directly. Kids sail free, we just had to pay taxes for our 4yr old son. You can also book directly on the MSC website.
Our package was all-inclusive, with food and drinks. We added the Easy Plus Package (more drink options) and internet (albeit, pretty slow). We upgraded to the balcony room, and really glad we did! As a hijabi, there was a lot of privacy and I could enjoy the outdoors from our room. Waking up to the open waters was one of the highlights for me! But if you don’t need that, you can book inside staterooms and spend more time on the deck. There are a lot of good deals around!
How is the Food? Is it Halal?
Food was all included with our package. For breakfast, we could either order room service or go to the breakfast buffet. The buffet has more options, but room service was also great! For lunch, we had the buffet with loads of options! I found the kids section useful, great options for Z. To top it off, the buffet is open 24 hours! For dinner, we went to their restaurant. It was a proper 3-course meal every night, including a starter, entrée and dessert. But there’s no limit to how many things you can order (I love appetizers, so we pretty much tried all of them!).
Now we didn’t go in expecting this, because they don’t guarantee it upfront, but we were very lucky that all the food on the cruise was halal! We first heard through friends who sailed with MSC that the food was halal. When we called to verify, they said there is no guarantee, but we made sure to request it. We only found out once we got on the ship that it was halal. I’ll assume it’s because a lot of the crew on the cruise are Muslim, who were super helpful to advise us if any dishes had alcohol or pork.
I still don’t know why they can’t confirm it ahead of time, I don’t know if all MSC cruises serve halal, or maybe it’s not something they want to highlight because most of their audience won’t care? Still, I’m glad it worked out for us!
If it came to it, we knew an all-inclusive cruise would have seafood and vegetarian options. I personally liked their shrimp dishes over fish.
When you’re at port, there’s different excursions you can book. You can choose to do it through the MSC app – it can be on the pricier side, but you know they’ll take you there and bring you back on time – or take a chance on finding a good vendor at the port.
In Nassau – we took a taxi to the beach, rented chairs and an umbrella, hopped on a jet ski for 30 minutes, and took a water taxi back to the port.
In Belize – we walked around the port and booked a 90-minute city tour.
In Cozumel – no excursions, just walked into the city to eat food and get souvenirs.
Here is a breakdown in CAD:
Airbnb, taxi, food, excursions (these were split as a group, this cost is per family) ~700
TOTAL ~$5000 for family of 3 (2 adults, 1 child)
• When boarding your ship, pack your essentials and an extra pair of clothes in your backpack, it can take a few hours for your luggage to get to your room
• Research ports in advance to figure out what you’re going to do. For example, Belize didn’t have many options, whereas Cozumel has a lot more things to do.
• You’ll need the cruise card with you most of the time, lots of people used lanyards, we used a fanny pack 🙂
• Unpack your clothes and belongings, get comfortable because you’re in the same room for a week. Easier to use their closets than living out of your suitcase.
• Pack medicine for sea sickness (gravol), Tylenol, and allergy meds. Who knows what you might need…
• Check the weather, pack an umbrella/raincoat, if needed
• Don’t forget sunscreen!
• I found the cruise to be perfect for groups and traveling with kids! Having your own rooms helps for nap times for the little ones, and when you need a break from everyone else.
2 thoughts on “Travel With Me – Caribbean Cruise”
Thank you for sharing in details Tasnim. Now that will make it even more easier for me to book a vacation for my family. Before that i was so confused as there are so many sites. However, your article contains most of the information i was actually looking for. Thank you so much for sharing your good memories with us🙂
My pleasure Yusra! I’m so happy you found it helpful.