Posts in Caribbean
Our Pullmantur Monarch Anniversary Cruise 2018

Beginning Our Baecation 2018

For months, my hubby and I had been looking forward to our 9th anniversary celebration.  Although we went about business as usual on our actual anniversary this year, we had an amazing trip planned for the following week. 

On October 14, 2018, my hubby and I flew from New York/JFK to Bogotá, Colombia, and connected in Bogotá to our flight to Curaçao. 

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What Can You Really Do On A 3-Day Disney Cruise?

Glad you asked! 

 

We have taken a 5-day, an 8-day, a 14-day, and multiple 7-day cruises, and with that experience, we can truly say that, during our 3-day Disney Dream cruise, from August 24, 2018 to August 27, 2018, we felt as if we received the value of a 7-day cruise.  Since returning from our cruise a little more than a month ago, I’ve been saying that we received the value of a 7-day cruise, and some folks have asked what I mean by that, wanting to know exactly what value such a short Disney cruise can offer. 

 

Here’s a glimpse into each day of our August 2018 Disney Dream cruise!

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Our August 2018 Disney Dream Cruise!

Today, September 1, 2018, marks one year since My Cruising Family, LLC went live online, and we hope that the experiences that we have been sharing with you have been informational, helpful, and inspiring.  In August 2018, with lots going on from summer camp to priority projects at work, we did not publish any blog posts; however, we did experience an amazing family cruise! 

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Video Recap: St. Maarten - Anguilla - St. Barth

This week, we got around to uploading our video coverage of our recent St. Maarten - Anguilla - St. Barth adventure!  We did not share every single moment in video or photo because we truly do believe in the full experience of getting away from the day-to-day and spending time together as a family, which means that we will not always have a camera rolling.  That being said, I hope that what we have captured and what we share with you here is inspiring and helpful.  

Here's our recap!  

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How To Island-Hop In The Caribbean

I had already visited a number of Caribbean countries, as well as Honduras, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany prior to making the decision that I want to visit all countries in the Caribbean before venturing back to Europe or elsewhere.  So, how will we island-hop around the Caribbean? 

It is, of course, no secret that My Cruising Family loves to cruise.  However, we do enjoy other modes of travel too.  In fact, our most recent family vacation was not our typical cruise, but rather, it was a land-vacation that, by the grace of God, and with intentional planning, we managed to turn into an island-hopping experience. With catamarans, speedboats, and ferries to many neighboring islands, St. Maarten/St. Martin is perfect for those who desire a land vacation, but also want to explore other islands.    

Cruising may seem like the most obvious answer to those who want to island-hop, but

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How We Packed "Carry-On Only" For A Family of 5

For our family's most recent 5-day vacation in St. Maarten, we were able to travel with carry-on bags, no checked bags, and it was great! Packing for our two sons, using one Rume Garment Travel Organizer ("GTO"), allowed their items to fit into one carry-on, which made it super easy to use only carry-on bags, and also helped us to organize in a way that made unpacking simple.

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Updates: The Whirlwind of Juggling as a Mompreneur

This blog post is yet another untraditional post in that it is more of a personal note to those of you who have been following My Cruising Family’s journeys thus far, and who have come to expect regular blog posts.  It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post as life has been feeling like a whirlwind.  Whew!  

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Our Stay At Canella Beach Hotel

It has been about two months since our family experienced an amazing 14-day Caribbean cruise from Guadeloupe.  As you may already know if you’ve been planning a trip between New York and Guadeloupe, finding flights can be challenging, depending on the time of year that you are seeking to travel.  We are thankful for Norwegian Air that flies non-stop between JFK (New York, USA) and PTP (Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe), seasonally.  Our flight to Guadeloupe this March was within Norwegian Air’s PTP season.  However, it was a bit more of a challenge to find return flights to New York because we returned after the season ended.  Thanks to Air Antilles and JetBlue, it worked out very well for us.  I have an entire blog post to assist in planning flights to and from Guadeloupe, here.  Norwegian Air flights from New York to Guadeloupe will generally arrive in PTP after 6 PM, which means that, if you’re planning to sail from Guadeloupe, you may want to fly in a day in advance, and that will then require a pre-cruise hotel stay. 

We flew into Guadeloupe on Saturday, March 17, 2018, and our ship, the MSC Fantasia, set sail from Guadeloupe on Sunday, March 18, 2018.  So, for one night prior to our cruise, we stayed at Canella Beach Hotel.  We arrived at Canella Beach Hotel within about 20 minutes of leaving the airport.  The front desk staff greeted us warmly, and spoke English quite well, which made check-in very easy.  For our family of five, our pre-cruise stay at Canella Beach Hotel, Duplex 322 and 323,  was comfortable and convenient.  

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ANNOUNCING OUR FIRST GROUP CRUISE!!!

Why cruise with a group?  Well, the answer is simple.  Many cruise lines offer amenities to groups, which usually include onboard credit or some other perk(s).  After much research – because, you know, I always RESEARCH EXTENSIVELY before selecting a cruise – My Cruising Family has decided on the cruise line, ship, and itinerary for its FIRST GROUP CRUISE!!!  My extensive research for our individual family cruises sometimes means changing my mind, and for this group cruise, that process was no different.  I had a number of other cruise lines and sailings in mind, but when looking at the VALUE received, Norwegian Cruise Line tops the list. 

We will be sailing onboard the Norwegian Dawn from San Juan, Puerto Rico, from March 24, 2019 to March 31, 2019!  Are you super excited yet? 

Did I mention the ports of call yet?  Oh yeah… Castries, St. LuciaBridgetown, BarbadosSt. John’s, AntiguaSt. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands… and Tortola, British Virgin Islands!  Excited now? 

AND, a wonderful perk is that it only takes a $50 per person deposit to lock-in the stateroom of your choice on this group cruise, as well as TWO PERKS of your choice AT TRULY NO ADDITIONAL FEE!  Of course, staterooms/accommodations, meals at complimentary restaurants, spectacular entertainment, and most shipboard activities are already included in your cruise fare.  However, with this group cruise, we are offering even more already included!  Every stateroom will be able to receive two of the following perks:

-        Ultimate Beverage Package *1st and 2nd Guests Only*

-        Prepaid Service Charges *1st and 2nd Guests Only*

-        Commitment Ceremony 

-        Internet Package Per Cabin 

-        $50 Per Port Shorex Credit Per Cabin *Maximum of 4 Ports*

-        Specialty Dining Package *1st and 2nd Guests Only*

-        Cocktail Party Per Cabin

-        20 Photo Package Per Cabin

-        $75 Onboard Credit Per Cabin

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Cruise Therapy?

If you know me or if you’ve been following this page, then you know I love to travel.  Even if you don’t know me, but you take a look at this website, blog, My Cruising Family’s Facebook page, or My Cruising Family’s Instagram page, then you will see that I love to travel.  In a recent conversation, what I’d been feeling inside for a while and what I’d been examining was called out when the person I was speaking with said that travel is sometimes just a band-aid for something deeper.  Have I been using my travels and travel planning as a band-aid or pain-reliever?  Well, honestly, YES, I have.

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A Shore Excursion Fail

On March 19, 2018, my mom, my husband, our 7-year-old son, our 3-year-old son, and I happily got off the ship at our first port-of-call on our 14-day MSC Fantasia Caribbean cruise: St. John’s, Antigua!  We thought that, on that day, we would experience the most amazing adventure to start out our cruise, but it turned into a disappointment. Of course, as in most disappointing life experiences, there is a lesson, and as such, I am writing this blog post to share the lesson with you. 

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CRUISE REVIEWS: OUR FAMILY'S MSC FANTASIA CRUISE

This was my second MSC cruise and my seventh overall cruise.  However this was the 1st time that we had booked a 14-day cruise!  Yes, FOURTEEN DAYS!  My mom, my husband, my 7-year-old son, my 3-year-old son, and I sailed together on the MSC Fantasia, from March 18, 2018 to April 1, 2018, roundtrip from Guadeloupe to Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Grenada, with multiple stops in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Kitts & Nevis.  We had two Fantastica balcony staterooms on Deck 10, right next to each other: 10208 and 10210.  We loved our clean and spacious staterooms!  We booked this cruise for the amazing itinerary!  I was a bit disappointed when a portion of the itinerary changed – the initial itinerary included Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Dominica; and St. Maarten/St. Martin.  After the damage caused by the 2017 hurricane season, those three ports were removed from the itinerary, and, instead, an extra stop in St. Kitts was added, as well as a stop in La Romana, Dominican Republic.  We made the best of it!  Truly, the itinerary was still FABULOUS!  We had a wonderful time!  The crew and staff that we dealt with the most, which were our room steward, wait staff and other dining room staff, and the photo team were consistently pleasant and really made this voyage GREAT! 

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Making The Best Of A Family Cruise To Cuba

On the 6-month anniversary of the existence of this blog, My Cruising Family has decided to share a blog post that combines our review and our tips/advice from our most recent cruise.  It had been my intent to share a review of our first Cuba cruise soon after our return to the United States, but those plans changed after the unexpected loss of my brother the day after we returned from that cruise. 

My Cruising Family visited Cuba for the first time in October 2017, via cruise ship.  The Norwegian Sky, to be specific.  After eventually sharing our photos and stories of the amazing time we had during our cruise, a number of people have asked us for recommendations on how to make the best of a visit to Cuba, especially with two young children.  Here are some of our recommendations. 

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My Cruising Family's Anniversary!

January 19, 2018.  Today marks 5 years since My Cruising Family’s first family cruise. 

Sidebar… It’s funny because my first cruise – not a family cruise – was in 2005, prior to becoming a mother and prior to meeting my husband, yet it was on Disney Cruise Line, which is probably the first cruise line that comes to mind when you hear the words “family cruise.”  I’ve got to let you know that Disney is loads of fun for adults without children, as I experienced it first-hand in 2005.  Nevertheless, I now say that that Disney Magic cruise, being my first cruise, was a sign that I’d be loving family cruising years later, and that I’d be a resource for all things related to family cruising. 

So, back to January 19, 2013.  My husband, our then 2-year-old son, and I sailed on the Carnival Dream’s 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary.  Little did we know then what we know now, and what we put into practice as we now usually sail as a family of four or five. 

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On Shore: Getting Back To Port On Time

I recently received a question regarding boarding times, distance to the cruise port, and recommendations for getting to the ship on time, and the blog post in response to those questions addressed these concerns for cruise embarkation day.  This blog post will address similar concerns about getting back to the ship on time when in a port-of-call. 

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Getting To The Port On Embarkation Day

I recently received a question regarding boarding times, distance to the cruise port, and recommendations for getting to the ship on time.  The general rule of thumb to address all three of those areas is to pay close attention to the documents provided by the cruise line.  Specific cruises differ with regard to the time that guests should arrive to “check in” at the port.   Keep in mind, that most, if not all, cruise lines require online check-in which will then produce cruise documents for guests to print and take along to the port.  So although I say “check in” at the port, what that entails on embarkation day is usually guests presenting their printed cruise documents, along with their passports, for a fairly quick process at the counter with an agent from whom guests will receive their stateroom keys and a number to be called to board the ship. 

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After A Rough Hurricane Season, Can We Still Travel To The Caribbean?

When traveling with a family, especially a family that includes young children, we tend to be very thoughtful about our travel plans.  That being said, given the rough 2017 hurricane season, some parents may be re-thinking their planned family cruises and others may be reluctant to plan Caribbean family vacations at this time because of the idea that the Caribbean islands are in bad shape right now.  While a number of the hardest hit islands have a long road to recovery ahead of them, there are many available options in the Caribbean that were virtually unharmed by the 2017 hurricanes.

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What My Cruising Family Packs: Checked Luggage Edition

My Cruising Family’s philosophy is that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially when cruising with children.  The below list should be repeated for each person cruising. 

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CRUISE REVIEWS: Our Family's MSC Divina Cruise

Although this was my 5th cruise, this was my first MSC cruise, and I loved it.  My mom, my husband, my 6-year-old son, my 2-year-old son, and I sailed together on the MSC Divina, from March 25, 2017 to April 1, 2017, from the Port of Miami to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Nassau.  We had two Bella staterooms on Deck 8, one room across the hall from the other: balcony stateroom 8251 and inside stateroom 8253.  We had a wonderful time!  The crew and staff were generally very helpful and cheerful.  Our stateroom steward, Lynyrd, was excellent in keeping our rooms in order and providing any requested services, such as

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CRUISE REVIEWS: Our Family's Southern Caribbean Cruise

Upon our return from this particular cruise, I didn’t do much of a review of the ship itself.  However, I can say that the ship was fine. We had connecting Promenade View Staterooms, which were very convenient because my mom and our two sons stayed next door, while my husband and I had some space to ourselves. It should be noted that Promenade View Staterooms are listed as double occupancy, but by calling Royal Caribbean and explaining our group’s dynamic, including the fact that our younger son was one-year-old at the time, and would have a Pack 'n Play to sleep in, Royal Caribbean was able to book three of us in the room given that one of three was a one-year-old.  It may not be an option on every cruise, but it does not hurt to ask.  After all, that’s how we learn things.  I know that, as a mom, I teach my children that it’s ok to ask questions.  I know that many other parents take the same approach, so if you’re one of those parents, let’s take our own advice on that.  Therefore, if you’re wondering whether or not this is a possibility on your cruise, I suggest calling and speaking with either your travel agent or the cruise line directly. 

This particular cruise was port-intensive, so our focus, as well as this review, was more on the ports than the ship.

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