My twin sister Jeanine and I decided that we were going to take a cruise for our birthday this year. Our birthday is on January 30, which falls right into cold, yucky, winter weather. Every year, we do the same thing (dinner, get together, etc.) so we wanted to do something different and I have to say it was the best decision that we could have ever made. Our parents, our two best friends, our sorority sister and her girlfriend, and Jeanine’s boyfriend joined us on the cruise. We cruised with Carnival Cruise Lines on their ship called Carnival Sensation and it lasted five days. I personally feel that five days is long enough, but I have had people disagree with me (lol). I really enjoyed celebrating my 25th birthday by being in the sun, sand, water, and sights that the beautiful islands gave me. Want to know more? Keep reading as I give the highlights of each day and what occurred on this wonderful vacation.
SUNDAY JANUARY 28: GETTING TO MIAMI, FL
My two best friends and I drove to Columbia, South Carolina that Saturday night to meet up with Jeanine and her boyfriend since we were all flying out together early Sunday morning. Our flight was leaving at 6 that morning. We almost missed our flight since we were less than 30 minutes away from the doors closing. By the grace of God, we got through check-in and security swiftly and we made our flight. We had a layover in Houston and then we reached Miami, FL a little after 2 that afternoon. We took a Lyft to our AIrBNB that we were staying at and got settled. After that, Jeanine and I wanted to pampered before the cruise so we went to Venetian Nail and Spa. It was within walking distance from our AirBNB and the staff treated us like royalty. After that, all of us went to eat at this restaurant called Hurricane Grill & Wings. It was a nice eatery with a good outside view of downtown Miami. If I could recommend anything off their menu, get their BBQ Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice. I was impressed!
MONDAY JANUARY 29: EMBARKATION DAY-START OF CRUISE
Today was the day that we were embarking on the ship! I was so excited and I could not believe that the day was finally here for us to start the cruise! We were all dressed, packed up, and ready for the Lyft to take us to the port. We were only ten minutes away so we did not have to rush at all. When we arrived at the port, they took our luggage and told us that we would see them again once our cabins were ready. We proceeded with the rest of the check-in process. It was pretty fast paced and a little overwhelming, but exciting all at the same time. Once we finished that, we were able to get lunch on the boat and explore. My parents, my sorority sister, and her girlfriend all made it on the boat as well so I was definitely at ease knowing everyone was on board. I didn’t even feel the boat leave the port. That night, we brought in me and Jeanine’s birthday at one of the comedy shows that was going on and enjoyed our first night out at sea.
TUESDAY JANUARY 30: FUN AT SEA-MY BIRTHDAY!
Me and Jeanine’s Birthday!! This was also our first day at sea! We soon realized that there were a lot of activities to do on the boat. Jeanine and I just hung out with our friends doing various activities and exploring the boat some more. We had dinner at one of the fancy sit-down dining rooms on the boat called the Fantasy Dining Room. There, we were surrounded by our friends and family, had the staff sing Happy Birthday to us, and we were able to indulge in some yummy birthday cake. After that, we all changed clothes, went to the casino to try our luck, then ended it at the nightclub with drinks and dancing.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 31: OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA
Our first stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. When we got off the boat, I immediately breathed in the fresh, crisp air. It was so beautiful there. Seeing pictures of this beautiful place would not do it justice. All I wanted to do when I got there was climb Dunn’s River Falls, which is one of Jamaica’s famous waterfalls. To climb the waterfall, it is required that the group hold hands while working together to climb the waterfall. Everyone that I spoke to recommended it so me, Jeanine, and our friends decided that we would do it too and it was a blast! You really got soaked too so it was best to just have your bathing suit and waterproof cell phone protector with you. The guides never left your side and made sure everyone was safe while climbing. That was an amazing experience and I enjoyed that most of all. We were also able to partake in the local shops and have authentic Jamaican food from this restaurant called Reggae Ally Bar & Grill. The six hours in Jamaica flew by so fast that it was finally time for us to head back on the ship. After a good meal and nap, we ended the day by participating in the ship’s deck party that night which was so much fun.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 1: GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS
Our second stop was Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. To get to the Grand Cayman port, we had to get off Carnival Sensation and go on a smaller boat. (I’m going to assume Sensation was too big to get over there.) The Grand Cayman was another beautiful place that I found breathtaking. The one thing I liked about the Grand Cayman was that it really felt like you were at an authentic resort. It still had the comforts of home but you knew you were someplace different. Honestly, I could not tell who the natives were, it was a very diverse place! While we were In the Grand Cayman, we took a taxi to their infamous seven-mile beach called The Royal Palms. There was a $2 admission fee, but it granted you access to the resort overlooking the beach. The resort was very nice with a pool, DJ, bar, restaurant, and a remarkable view of the beach. Me, Jeanine, our friends, and our parents spent the day at the beach taking pictures and having fun. Then we went back to the port to do some shopping. Time seemed to fly by again and then it was time to get back on the ship. We ended the day by doing various activities on the ship and relaxing in our cabins for the rest of the night.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 2: FUN AT SEA-LAST DAY/NIGHT ON THE BOAT
This was our last day on the ship so we wanted to make sure we ended on a great note. We were able to sleep in a little longer since we did not have to wake up early to get on any islands. We had brunch on the top deck and the Carnival staff was hosting a program called Groove for St. Jude. They were raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee. St. Jude is a cancer center for children that thrives off 100% donations and works diligently to research and find cures for childhood cancers. A dance party was being held for the cause so my sister and I participated in that and it was a lot of fun. More activities were held on the boat that day and the ones we all decided to do were to try our luck at Bingo with the $5,000 jackpot and the Gender Showdown. Both of those activities were a lot of fun. Then, all of us had supper together again in the Fantasy Dining Room for our last dinner together. My parents also were able to celebrate the start of their wedding anniversary that night too which I thought was really sweet! We were all pretty tired from the week so we ended the night with some exploring, a comedy show, then back to our cabins to rest up so we could be prepared to leave the next day.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 3: GOING HOME
My birthday cruise has come to an end. We left Carnival Sensation with some great memories that will last a lifetime. Jeanine and I said goodbye to our parents as they were taking Amtrak home and we went off to the airport to wait for our flight to return home. When we reached Columbia, I drove my two best friends and myself a hour and a half back to Charlotte, NC. It was an amazing trip and one that I will never forget. This cruise just showed me that I really need to get out of the country more and see what else this beautiful world has to offer. Life is a gift and God created everything in this world for us to enjoy. I do not want to pass that up and from this moment on, I want to continue to soak in all of God’s beautiful creations and wonders. Until next time...
Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile,