random thoughts & reviews
At only $468.00 per person for a 7 day all-inclusive cruise to the western Caribbean, would you say, “No thanks?” What does all-inclusive really mean? How much cash-on-hand do I need to bring? What costs will be incurred, other than room, food & airfare?
I recently went to the exhaustive trouble of researching an
all-inclusive vacation in order to bring you a list of all your necessary expenses, right down to the $15.00 bottle of sun screen, that although isn’t considered a necessity, try having fun in the Caribbean sun without it.
$468.00 Sunday to Sunday cruise on Carnival Glory (pp) Ports of call: Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Grand Cayman
$370.00 Airfare from New York to Miami (roundtrip-pp)
$60.00 Taxi from airport to port – roundtrip
Make sure to pack light… for two reasons. First, it will cost you $25.00 for each bag of luggage you check on the plane, as well
as a hefty fee for luggage that weighs more than 50 lbs. Second, you want to save room for the gifts, clothes, novelties and JEWELRY
you will buy while in International waters, where everything is duty free! Side note: On full flights, 9 times out of 10 they will make an announcement shortly before boarding that they will check your extra carry-on bags for free, due to the lack of space in the overhead compartments since, because of the cost, many flyers are carrying their luggage in lieu of checking their baggage.
$50.00 One suitcase - roundtrip
A few items you will want to purchase when you get off the plane (no matter what Florida port you depart from), because they are less expensive in town: tanning lotion and sun screen! Australian Gold is a favorite brand and since its bottled in Tampa, you can snag it for about $9.00. Bathing suits are always in abundance and less expensive, even at the plethora of tourist shops. Side note: It is less expensive to purchase your underwater camera and simple snorkel gear at home.
$9.00 Sun screen
At less than $500 per person, for a staff that pampers you as if you were the only person on board, along with the ample variety of food that is at your finger tips 24/7, how does Carnival make enough money to run the $500 million, 110,000 ton, 952 foot long
Glory for an entire week?
All the extras:
Photos -It’s not as easy as you think to walk away from all the professional photos that the ship’s staff are constantly taking. Almost
guaranteed that you will say to yourself, "how can we leave without at least ‘one’ photo?" They also offer a ‘voyage video’ DVD of your weeklong adventure at sea, for about $30.00.
$21.99 One 8x10 photo
Alcohol – Your Caribbean concoction, garnished with fresh fruit and an umbrella is moderately priced at around $9.00 per drink. Try a fruity rum punch, tropical pina colada or my favorite, a BBC (Banana, Baileys & Coconut). Side note: If you plan your trip well enough in advance, purchase drink coupons on the Carnival website before you board!
$126.00 14 drinks
Gambling – If this is your game, make sure you budget wisely, since the casino on board is open all day and all night while in International waters. Side note: The casino and all on board stores close while stopping at the ports of call.
Spa Treatments – The spa treatments are a bit overpriced, even coming from a New Yorker, but while on board, if you find an overwhelming need to pamper yourself, be aware that you will spend about $140.00 for an hour treatment.
$140.00 One hour at the spa
Gift Shop – A lanyard is very helpful since you have to use your ‘sail n’ sign’ card for every purchase and when leaving and returning to the ship at each port.
$20.00 Key chain/tshirt
Tips – Although the gratuity is already added to your final bill at 15%, which you will see on your statement at the end of your trip, it is still customary to tip the staff for a job well done. Feel free to have breakfast delivered to your stateroom every morning in lieu of a wake-up call, but don’t forget to tip the cabin steward.
$98.00 15% gratuity total
$20.00 Additional tip to cabin steward
$20.00 Additional tip to dining staff
$14.00 Tips for room service
Ports of Call
Remember to keep cash on hand when shopping off the ship. Everything you want to buy is negotiable in price, except at the major chain surf shops, such as Ron Jon Surf Shop. And everything has two prices, one for cash and one for credit.
So why does Cozumel attract over 2 million tourists per year? Easy… a tropical island with sparkling waters, powdery white sands and endless sunshine!
I recommend a visit to Bob’s Cozumel! Owned by our friends Ken and Tobin (originally from Texas), and not far from the port. With 41 rave reviews on Trip Advisor, 4.5 stars, and ranked #12 out of 160 restaurants in Cozumel, they are certainly worth checking out! Find BOBs Cozumel on facebook or read their article in Connextions Magazine, Issue 4.
$30.00 Lunch and a "few" beers
$6.00 Taxi to Bob’s Cozumel
$30.00 Novelties & gifts
Costa Maya, Mexico
Costa Maya has the highest concentration of Mayan archeological sites and fantastic excursions that you can feel safe booking on
your own, although Carnival prefers that you book your excursions exclusively through them.
I recommend checking out Maya Chan Beach Resort. Mark, Owner of the resort says: "We have been on 88 cruises and have 4 booked in 2012. We are cruisers that decided to build a resort for cruisers, by cruisers. We know what we want in an excursion, and that was our market." Aquafest Beach Party was held at the Maya Chan Beach Resort in November 2011 and Mark states: "I was
honored to officiate my first same sex wedding. It brought tears to everyone's eyes. A very special day for Maya Chan Beach."
Isla Roatan, Honduras
The 33 mile long island of Roatan is an untouched Caribbean paradise, with their pristine turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and picture perfect palm trees. Depending on your interests, I have two recommendations for this port that are worth checking out. Tabiana Beach was my personal favorite. Relax in a lounge chair that sits atop the white sand, but partially under a coconut palm. Listen to the Caribbean band play in the background, enjoy a tropical drink and rest your eyes a bit. There’s also Maya Key Beach for the curious. Maya Key has a beach as well as a pool, check out the Mayan ruins museum, monkeys, sea lions, parrots, alligators and even a jaguar. This excursion also offers a swim with the sharks and stingrays for only $25.00 per person.
$25.00 Shark swim
$30.00 Novelties & Gifts
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Blessed with sun-kissed beaches and waters gleaming with gold flecked fish, the Cayman Islands offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. Grand Cayman specializes in exquisite shopping, especially if you’re looking for a deal on watches, china and crystal, perfumes and fine jewelry.
A must-see on Grand Cayman Island is the sensational Tiki Beach, the newest beach club on the world famous Seven Mile Beach. After your stroll on the powdery white sand beach, join the party at Margaritaville and don’t forget to sign a dollar bill and tape it to the bar!
$10.00 Taxi to beach and back
$30.00 Lunch & drinks
$30.00 Novelities & Gifts
The Bottom Line:
Now remember that cruises are based on double occupancy and all the prices we have listed are per person. Not all costs will be doubled for your partner, such as: sharing a taxi, sharing your lotion, and sharing photos purchased.
Connecting is always FREE! If you are looking to meet new people during your travels, possibly make friends you can relate to, you’re in luck! Each night at about 7:45pm there is an LGBT meet for Friends of Dorothy.
$1,942.49 per person
Although the bottom line dollar amount is much larger than what you might have expected when you see "all-inclusive" for only $468.00 per person, I would most certainly give Carnival a thumbs-up for all that the "Fun Ship" has to offer!
As featured in Connextions Magazine, Issue 6.
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