Working isn’t really that hard when you have a job that you love. Like travel blogging.
Oh sure, there’s the every day stress of traveling, like security and delays and missing the comfort of your own bed. But overall, it’s not a bad gig at all. Especially when you’re invited on a press trip to spend 6 days on Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship, the Carnival Vista.
As a member of the press group, I was invited to bring one guest with me. I ruled my husband out because someone had to stay home and cover parenting duties. I called a few close girlfriends and none of them were able to get away last minute.
I ended up asking my Facebook friends (who really are real friends) if anyone wanted to be my travel buddy for a week.
WOW. Want to know how many friends you really have? Just put out an offer of travel!
But it was my friend Stella, who always has a passport at the ready, who didn’t raise her hand. She simply messaged me and said, where are we going?
And the next thing I knew, Stella was booking her flight to Miami and preparing for a week long cruise with me.
The funny thing is that Stella and I don’t know each other that well. We met on Twitter a few years ago and subsequently met in person several times when I’ve made my way up to her home city of NYC.
But I knew Stella was an experienced traveler and would push me to have fun. Just what I needed in a travel buddy. And it turns out that a girlfriend getaway was exactly what I needed. And we have the selfies to prove it.
1. The BEFORE Selfie
Don’t we look ready for a week in the Caribbean? Stella flew in from New York and I flew in from DC. We met up at baggage claim and set off on the airport shuttle to take us to the Port of Miami. I love to take a “before” selfie because I like to see the difference a week makes!
At this point, we were just settling into the cruise. It was the first night and we met all of our other press trip attendees at one of the specialty restaurants on board, Cucina del Capitano. Little did we know that our big plates of pasta were the start of our downward spiral of delicious food and drink!
We got sucked into the idea of a “free makeover” at the Ladies Pampering Party during our first day at sea. We washed our faces, took our creams, and then headed out into the sun anyway. What’s a cruise without a good tan?
After a day in the sun, Stella insisted we “mask” ourselves. She claims she’s currently obsessed with Korean skincare so that’s what we’re using. I couldn’t read the writing or else I’d tell you what it was. Let’s be honest though. It looks like the Jason mask from Friday the 13th.
First port: Ocho Rios, Jamaica! We opted for a shore excursion through Carnival called the VIP Bamboo Beach package. Our welcome drink was just the start of an amazing day.
If you forget your camera (but really, it’s on your phone so how could you?), there’s no shortage of photographers. Just for fun, we had them take our pictures at every port and even stopped in one of the on-board studios. The photos were HILARIOUS and we could view them almost right away either on the Carnival HUB app (for iPhone or Android) or at one of these giant kiosks on the ship. We often would check our photos and then leave them up so everyone else could observe our wall of awesomeness.
Somehow, a port (Grand Cayman) got lost in our string of selfies, but we managed to make up for it in our third port, Cozumel. Leave it to us to make our first stop a Mexican grocery store called MEGA. I could write an entire article about the goodies we found and the things I purchased hoping my Spanish was good enough to know what I was buying. But the coffee, spices, and hot sauce we bought? BARGAIN!
Shopping was our primary activity in Cozumel so we spent a lot of time in the shops and markets of San Miguel. Lots of photo opps but we knew not to stand too close to anything that would look good in a photo or we’d be expected to pay!
Wow – look at how close we got to the Mayan Ruins! Okay, that was just another statue in San Miguel but it was the closest we got to the ruins on the island.
We actually hired a taxi driver for a few hours to take us all over the island and he assured us this rocky beach on the north side was the perfect photo opp because of the Mexican flag planted on the beach. The scenery was actually breathtaking and well worth the stop.
After we made it back to the pier, we headed to a locally recommended taqueria and ate lunch for $5. The only thing we were missing was a nice cold beer. So we stopped into a nearby convenience store and grabbed a Mexican cerveza and chips for $2. Now that’s what I call KLASSY!
The last day on the ship was Cinco de Mayo. And even if it wasn’t, we probably would have partied like it was. The vibe on the ship changed on the last night because everyone is trying to squeeze every last drop out of their vacation before it ends. Us included!
All good things must come to an end. Sometimes, an abrupt end. Early on Saturday morning, we were up and out and on our way back to the airport. So I insisted we take our official “after” selfie. What do you think? How do we look?
I haven’t really done a girlfriend getaway before. But it wasn’t just Stella and me alone together for the the entire cruise. We were with a large press group and had so much fun not only with each other but with so many new friends.
I’m not sure if I would have been as outgoing if I had been on the trip with my family. I had some much needed adult time – at the adults-only section of the ship, at the spa, at many of the bars on board – and came back refreshed (and yet exhausted) and excited to see my family again.
Have you done a girlfriend getaway? Have you done a cruise? Tell us your tips for getting your groove back.
Carnival Cruise Lines provided a complimentary 6 night cruise package for me and a guest for this press trip. All opinions are my own.