Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Okay, I know it hasn’t been that long since my last cruise, but we were no sooner off of that cruise on Freedom of the Seas that we started thinking about our next on Carnival Sunshine. Yes, we are addicted. I’m hoping that Carnival will match Royal Caribbean’s offer of free internet during the cruise so that I can blog daily like I did with Freedom of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. If not, I’ll review the ship when I get back and post on my Facebook page.
Trying someplace new
We’ve been to the same old ports so many times that we decided to see what else was out there to see. We’d love to go on an Alaska cruise, but since we’re on the East Coast it would be too expensive for us right now. We looked around, and decided that Aruba and Curacao sounded good. We’ve never been to either of those ports, and they do look beautiful and picturesque. Next step was to figure out which cruise lines went there, which month we wanted to cruise in, and then which cruise that we could afford.
We finally ended up booking a November cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. We’ve been watching the Sunshine for years, ever since it started sailing out of Charleston, SC. It was the first ship to have the rope course and Guy Fieri’s Burgers. By the way, those burgers are SO good. One of my favorite restaurants on a ship to eat at. You’ve got to try it!
Less than 90 days!
And now we’re under the 90 day to Carnival Sunshine countdown mark! And there’s plenty left to do to get ready for our cruise. First thing that I need to do is finish paying off my cruise. After the deposit, I never pay the rest till the last minute. You just never know what’s going to happen, so no use having more money tied up on the cruise until the last minute. I’ll pay it on my Carnival Credit Card, that way I’ll get points towards onboard credit.
If you don’t have a Cruise Credit card, and you’re responsible with credit, you may want to get one. You can often save $100 on the first cruise you use it on. Just make sure that there is no yearly fee. Now, we charge the cruise, but pay it off right away before we acquire finance charges, so we’re getting free money from the credit card company. Sometimes you just have to play the system. Right now I’m sitting on almost $300 on my Discover card rewards which is going to take me to Magic Kingdom in a few weeks!
I already filled in all my cruise documents online. We’ve decided to go with Your Time Dining this cruise. We love having the same waiter and table mates throughout the cruise, but we weren’t sure what we’d be doing our Aruba day since we’re there till 11 pm. If we find a table and waiter we like, we can request it for the remainder of the cruise. We won’t be able to print anything out until we actually finish paying though.
And then we use Insure My Trip to get trip insurance. That will be the next thing that I do. With Insure My Trip, we can compare side by side different trip insurance companies to compare prices and dollar amounts that everything is covered for. Then I can choose which companies covers my needs for the best price. I always buy trip insurance because of Murphy’s Law. If I buy it, I won’t need it…right? And vice versa. And if the worst should happen, I’ll have coverage. I think that the best deal this time will be with Nationwide.
Where to stay and park
After that we decide on where we want to stay and where we want to park during our Carnival Sunshine cruise. We always drive to our cruise, and we’ll have a few different options. We can stay at a Snooze, Park, and Cruise motel. We would stay the night, then leave our car at the motel, and they would provide a shuttle to…and sometimes back (check the fine print) from…the cruise terminal. You can find widely differing prices for these, and be sure to read the reviews. They are not all the same, and some are better than others.
You can find a motel near the port, and then park at the port. Port Parking is the most expensive way to go, but also the most convenient and the easiest. Once the cruise is over, you can hop in your car and you’re on your way home. Or you can park at an independent parking lot. Those are cheaper than parking at the port, but slightly less convenient. They will have a shuttle to get you to and from the port. We normally either book the snooze, park and cruise package, but occasionally will book a motel on Hotwire, then reserve our parking somewhere near the cruise port in an independent lot. I still need to do some research on that. We’re sailing out of Port Canaveral, so there are a lot of options.
After comparing our options, we finally decided to do the snooze, park and cruise option at LaQuinta Port Canaveral on Atlantic Avenue. By using them this time, we’re actually going to save money. We’ve stayed there multiple times, and have never had a problem. Roadrunner is the shuttle company, and we love the driver. She’s so sweet.
Ready to explore new ports
I don’t think that we’re going to do any shore excursions this time, so I won’t book them. Normally I would book a shore excursion, though. The ship’s excursions can be good if you can find one that interests you. They guarantee that the ship will wait for you if anything happens to delay you if you’re on a ship excursion. We’ve taken private excursions also, and we’ve been lucky enough not to have a problem. Also, we’ve taken taxi’s to the beach or to town, and not had a problem with that.
I think in Aruba we’re going to get an Arubus bus pass, unlimited for $10 US, and do a little exploring on our own. We’re there till 11 pm, so we should have plenty of time. We want to explore the town of Oranjestad also. Also in Curacao, we want to explore the town. They are both beautiful in the pictures, can’t wait to see them in person.
And now we start the wait for our next cruise. It seems like forever, but the next think we know, we’ll be on the way to Port Canaveral and the Carnival Sunshine! Can’t wait! And we’ve already booked the next cruise after this one…we’re going to Cuba on Empress of the Seas!