So I've been living here for almost six years now, and ever since the first day I moved into my Bywater house, I was like: I am going to the beach! It's only three hours away!
But nope, I never went.
I went on a cruise, you guys, as I'm sure a lot of you have. The port of New Orleans is damn convenient. My friend, who went with me, had to buy a plane ticket from Ohio – while all I had to do was get dropped off by the boat, easy peasy. I almost felt bad about it. Almost.
I went on a whirlwind trip around Central America to Cozumel, Honduras, Belize and Costa Maya. Now that I'm back – and burnt to a crisp, I might add – here are a few things that I learned while cruisin' out of New Orleans.
• You might find yourself a cheap cruise like I did, but I was a naive little first-time cruiser. They will charge you for everything. They will charge you for the air that you breath and have a name for it – it's called a "tipping fee". They charge $12.95 every single day, whether you want to tip people or not. There is also an 18% gratuity added to anything you order, which I found rather insulting. As someone who has worked in the service industry, I understand when a restaurant adds a gratuity to a check if there's a party of 6 or over – or something along those lines. But when I'm sitting at a bar with my friend, and all we've ordered is Miller Lites, I don't need my hand held, and in fact, I'd probably tip more if they weren't so damn presumptuous about it.
• Prepare to feel really really young. Most of the time, I felt like I was in an episode of the Golden Girls, but that's cool, because I really love the Golden Girls. On our last excursion, we actually ran into a couple in their 50's and they were young by cruise standards. They actually kind of scared me. They said, "we're surprised no one has died yet. We go on a lot of cruises and usually people die." I was like … WHAT?! The couple went on to explain that many elderly couples just go on perpetual cruises and having someone die isn't that out of the ordinary. I was nervous for the rest of the trip, to be honest.
• If you are at all cynical, like I am, brace yourself. Most of the time, I felt like I was in an episode of "Saved by the Bell", from the cheesy dance numbers at the theater, to the cruise director calling himself "Dingo Dave". Dingo Dave was Australian, you see, and he'd get on the intercom every morning at about 8 AM to explain the days activities. These announcments always end with, "and as I say, having a hoppin' day!"
It got to the point where my friend and I would say it to each other constantly, "Have a hoppin' day!" We'd go around the ship and try to catch pictures with Dingo Dave. It was just us being us. We weren't even drunk half the time because we couldn't afford it. Which leads me to …
• Alcohol. If you go on a cruise, look for any kind of hidden package when you book, to make your experience cheaper. We didn't get a package because they hide that stuff. Even if it's something like $200 for unlimited alcohol for a whole week, it will still be better than what you see on your bill at the end of your trip.
This is an accurate representation of me and my friend as we looked at how much we spent on beer.
This is the first way a cheap cruise becomes not so cheap. The second way?
• Excursions. Or little trips you take off the boat. Some excursions are absolutely worth it, just do your research. Other excursions? No way, man. You can end up paying $150 on a bus ride to a tourist trap, when you could have paid $20 on a cab to the same place or to an even better beach/shopping area.
So what about the cruise is actually cheap?
• The food. But you have to be careful. On our cruise ship, there were six free restaurants from Asian food to Italian. And there were also the fancier restaurants that you could go to for a small fee. We decided to treat ourselves one night and go to the $15 dollar all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant, but the food wasn't anything better than you could get at the (rather impressive) all-day buffet. Next time? I'm getting fries and chocolate cake for every meal – because I can. Screw the fancy meals.
But enough about all the hidden fees and cheesy entertainment. I honestly had the time of my life. There's nothing like waking up and seeing that you're in the middle of turquoise water, and the only thing on your agenda for the day is to have fun and try not to get sunburned – seriously, that's it. You cannot check your email and there is no cell reception. Plus, an internet package costs several hundred dollars. So any emails from your boss? You'll never get them anyway. Just have fun.
Also, Honduras is the most gorgeous place I have ever been. I want to go back next week.
The beach in Roatan was stunning.
And on the way back home: the blue ocean, comics, chocolate cake, and fries – it doesn't get much better.
Sign me up for the next one. I'll just be getting the drink package up front to go along with my next booking.