In 2015, I went on my first cruise…and my second. Consider me ob-sessed. While this definitely won’t be the only way I travel in the future, it’s definitely an exciting new (for me, at least) way to see the world—and it has a lot to offer when it comes to group travel.
Most international group vacations start out with hours and hours on a cramped airplane, dreaming of your destination and the moment you can stretch your legs and breathe fresh air. But on a cruise, getting there is half the fun.
There’s something for everyone
You can never be too old or too young for a cruise—there is something to interest literally everyone. Whether you’re looking to have a fab girlfriend getaway or a laidback multi-generational vacation, you’ll find excitement. See a show. Play a game. Try some new food. The options are endless.
Music lovers rejoice. Live musicians and bands fill the small stages near the main bars so night and day, you can hear everything from acoustic jams to 80s power ballads. On both of the cruises I was on, the musicians were incredibly approachable and kind; one even let my friends and I pick an entire set list! As someone that has always loved music, that was a real treat.
There are also some quality stage shows with great music and pyrotechnics…pretty impressive stuff. The lounges have some pretty extensive karaoke lists and the piano bars are great for classy sing-a-longs. There’s even a nightclub so if you’re out with your girls, get some drinks and dance the night away.
For something the whole family can enjoy together, check out the comedy shows—they’re always a hit. During the afternoons, Carnival also hosts trivia sessions on pop culture topics like Harry Potter, Star Wars or TV theme songs. If you’re taking grandma or grandpa along, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to the on-board casino. We’re not big gamblers but we did stop by in the evenings to watch some others on the card tables. There is also an art gallery (and auctions with free champaign!) on the ship.
Foodies will be in heaven as the ships have endless dining opportunities and the food is included. Sure, you’ll gather together in the dining room each night for a delicious meal, but the cafeteria is full of buffets, Mongolian barbeque, sandwiches, pizza and more. The food is endless…and so is the dessert. One part of the cruise we really loved was The Taste, a nightly stand set up near one of the stages that offers samples of food from various different cultures.
Oh, and the photos! (I told you, there’s a lot to do.) Professional photographers set up every night with a variety of backdrops, ready to snap photos of you in everything from your fine dining attire to pirate costumes or Mexican sombreros. These are great tokens by which the whole group can remember the adventure.
A shot at serenity…and new friends
One of the most gorgeous spots on a Carnival ship is the Serenity Deck. Located at the back of the boat, this 21+ deck lives up to the name. Grab your girls, your parents or whomever else you’re with and relax in the Serenity hot tubs. Day or night, docked or at sea, the views are beautiful and waiters wander about with the Drink of the Day. This is a great spot to sit and chat, and also a great spot to meet others on the cruise. We met people from all over the U.S. and had some great conversations on the Serenity Deck on both of our cruises. Just make sure to take some sunblock if you’re out during the day!
Plenty of options for sleeping
The staterooms are extremely accommodating for large groups. Though they’re not the most spacious rooms, Carnival has cabins that can sleep up to five people, so you won’t have to reserve as many. With shampoo and body wash dispensers built into the shower, you can share toiletries without having to pack extra.
You get to experience new places too
While cruises are exciting for all that you get to do onboard, getting off the ship can be just as exciting. While mine just zipped down the coast to Mexico, I’d love to explore the Caribbean or Alaska on a cruise.
Both trips, we stopped in Ensenada. On-shore excursions, organized by Carnival, can be purchased prior to embarking on the cruise or on-board and they offer a variety of ways to see the local landscape. On our first trip, we went on the City and Shopping Tour, where we stopped at the Riviera Del Pacifico, a historical building that served as a resort and casino in the 1920s. It’s said to be the site of the first margarita so they’ll make you one before you head out. The tour also takes you wine tasting at a local non-working winery before dropping you at the shopping district for a few hours. In the shopping district, Garibaldi is a great place to stop for delicious tacos and cheap margaritas…and a whole lot of local fun. Other tours are offered for more adventurous groups or you can stay on the ship, if you prefer not to explore (a good option for the elderly who aren’t fond of walking a ton).
When it comes to group travel, the process of getting there is much more exciting at sea so definitely consider a cruise for your next group adventure.