Tag Archives: family travel

Carnival Breeze cruise

What is the Real Cost of Cruising? See What We Spent on our Carnival Cruise

Summer break starts in just over two weeks and I am starting to obsess about how we can possibly top our Spring Break vacation. Actually, we have an amazing trip to Arkansas planned, but that doesn’t involve the ocean, my all-time favorite thing and place in the world. Our two favorite local family vacation destinations include water; one a beach, and the other a lake beach. Both are within less than a 6 hour drive of Atlanta. Until recently I considered taking a cruise vacation to be a bit unreasonable mostly because I’d rather not spend $1500+ on flights just to get to the departure port. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that there are several cruise ports within driving distance of Atlanta and other southern cities. Carnival Cruise departs from Jacksonville, Miami, Charleston, Mobile, Fort Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral, all of which are within driving distance of Atlanta and if you don’t live near Atlanta, chances are there are cruise ports within driving distance of you too!  I might have just heard you think “but a cruise is too expensive even without flight tickets”. That’s where you’re wrong. I was wrong about that for years too!

A Carnival Cruise can cost from about $200 per person per night to well over $1000 per person per night. If you just want to get away and cruise to the Bahamas or Western Caribbean for a few nights, you probably won’t spend over $2000. If you are willing to forgo a room with a window or balcony, you’ll pay even less, giving you more money to spend on attractions, tours, amazing food, and souvenirs.

Below is an example rate for a family of four, taking a 5-day cruise from Jacksonville, FL to the Bahamas, in an interior stateroom that sleeps four.   Carnival’s rates include includes taxes, fees and port expenses, room, food and entertainment.  The only thing you’d pay for is gratuity, and food if you dine in restaurants that cost extra.  There are tons of dining options that are included in the cruise package though, so you really don’t have to consider paying for food.


Carnival Cruise example rate


Now let’s look at the same cruise but in a Suite with a balcony, instead of a interior stateroom.   The price went up substantially BUT the view.. oh, the view!   We sat on our balcony and read, watched the flying fish, dolphins, and even a sea turtle, and just relaxed.  Other than on our balcony, we spent very little time in our room.  Given that, if I had a lesser budget than the $2400 you see below, I wouldn’t hesitate to book an interior stateroom.  Between the pools, tons of lounge chairs, outdoor activities, indoor activities, entertainment, dining, port excursions and shopping, you’re not going to spend a lot of time in your room.  Oh, and there is no ‘status’ issue on a Carnival Cruise.  Families staying in an interior stateroom are treated just as great as those in a suite!


Carnival Cruise suite rates


 As I mentioned above, Carnival Cruise rates include the following:

  • Taxes
  • Fees
  • Port Fees
  • Room
  • Food
  • On-board entertainment
  • Ice water, lemonade, ice tea, coffee, hot tea, orange juice

Rates do NOT include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Port excursions
  • Special on-board dining such as sushi, or Green Eggs and Ham breakfast and other specialty dining options
  • Casino games
  • Shopping
  • Photographs taken by on-board photographers
  • Soft drink and water packages, starting at $3.99 for a 12-pack


Money Tip:  Bring cash! You can’t use a credit card on the boat and many banks charge an enormous fee for withdrawing cash in other counties, so be safe and take $1000+ cash with you.  You’ll want to divide the cash among yourself, your spouse or partner, and your older kids so one person is not in charge of all the money.   Once you’re on the boat the only form of payment accepted is your cruise card.  If one of your kids wants to buy a t-shirt, they’ll just need to present their cruise card, also their door key, to the cashier.  That means everything purchased on-board will be put on your bill.  I gave each of the kids $125 cash in an envelop the first night of our cruise.  Each time they purchased something on the ship (using their cruise card), they had to give me the equivalent in cash and I put that cash in an envelop in our safe.  That cash was how I tallied what our final bill was going to be.

During excursions, on a Western Caribbean cruise, you can use American cash.  Some larger vendors accept major credit cards, but not many.

Port shipping tip: Most crafty items and souvenirs at ports DO NOT have prices on them.  You will have to ask how much an item is then say how much you are willing to pay.  There were a few times we realized we were getting played and left a shop only to find the same item for 75% less across the street.  Sweet!  At one Grand Cayman shop, the seller told my husband a souvenir cost $65 then told me the cost was $9.

How much money did we spend during our 7-day Spring Break Carnival Cruise?

I probably missed a few things but below are all the things we spent money on that I can think of.

  • Parking at the cruise terminal ($20 per night) – $120
  • On-board souvenirs (Madelyn bought a beautiful glass paper weight and a bracelet) – $25
  • On-board medicine – $25
  • On-board soda – $15
  • Grand Cayman excursion – $350
  • Ocho Rios taxi ride, admission to beach, lunch – $75
  • On-board bottled water at dinner 2 nights – $8
  • Photographs taken by cruise photographers – $45
  • Sushi dinner for one – $15
  • Souvenirs – $250
  • Gratuity – $255
  • Total – $1183


So there you have it.  Taking a cruise doesn’t have to break the bank.   Many families we talked to during our cruise didn’t go on port excursions which can be very expensive when there are four or more people in your group.  You can get off the ship, walk around the port town, swim at a public beach, and not spend a dime!  A lot of families got off the ship in the morning, spent a couple hours walking around the town, then got back on the ship and enjoyed the less busy pools and on-board games and attractions.  Smart folks!

Stay tuned for the next post where I will go into more detail about our cruise. 

More posts in this series:


Connect with Carnival Cruise Line

Visit Carnival Cruise Line’s social media pages to watch ship videos, get the inside scoop on the latest cruise vacation deals, and see what passengers love above Carnival!

Carnival Cruise

Note to readers: Carnival Cruise Line provided our family with a 7-day cruise in exchange for providing our readership with information and honest opinions about our experience. No positive review expectations were set or required by Carnival Cruise Line.

Grand Cayman Western Caribbean Cruise

How to Choose a Western or Eastern Caribbean Carnival Cruise

Your guide to choosing a Western Caribbean or Eastern Caribbean cruise for your family

Summer vacation planning is likely at the top of your to-do list.  My kids, 16 and 9 years old, a boy and girl respectively, usually don’t have the same things in mind when thinking about a dream vacation.  My son wants to explore, go geocaching, and enjoy nature, while my daughter enjoys swimming, find native sparkly jewelry (ie – go shopping), and historical landmarks.  I enjoy it all.   I really do.  Well, I’m not a big fan of shopping actually.

We’ve gone to the beach for almost every vacation the last 15 years and will be going to the mountains in Arkansas this summer, so to balance things out, because I can’t possibly go 6 months without seeing the ocean, we planned a cruise vacation with Carnival Cruise line for our Spring Break.  I am really excited because I know both kids will enjoy the cruise since there are a lot of entertainment and activity options on board and at ports that cater to both of their tastes.

While your spring break has likely passed, planning your summer vacation doesn’t have to be difficult especially if you consider a cruise.     This will be our first family cruise and the kids are as excited as my husband and I are.  The most difficult part of planning our cruise vacation was choosing whether to go on an Eastern Caribbean or Western Caribbean cruise.

Below are scenarios I put together for those of you who are wondering which is better fro your family; a Western or Easter Caribbean cruise.    These scenarios take into consideration that we are departing from Miami but there are many other ports to choose from.  There are so many choices when it comes to a cruise, including departure ports, destinations, excursions, etc.  Carnival Cruise line lets you choose a cruise based on departure port and/or preferred destinations.  The ship below is Carnival Breeze and is the ship we’ll be cruising on during our Spring Break.

Carnival Breeze cruise ship

Whether you should choose the Western or Eastern Caribbean-style Carnival Cruise depends a lot on your personality.   They each have different flavors in the activities that you will participate in and places you will visit.

For example, if you choose the Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise and you start out in Miami, you will have the option to take a fun fan boat ride through the Everglades. The local wildlife, gators, Blue Herons and cranes, ensure a unique party location.

On the second day of your Western Caribbean cruise, you will experience a fun time at sea, and you will also have access to a sports bar that features big screen TVs. On the third day, you visit Cozumel, Mexico, a location made famous for its scuba diving, but that is not all that is available here. While in Cozumel, you can check out the amazing secret river or swim with the dolphins. There is also an all-inclusive beach day and sea lion show. While here, the ancient Mayan Kingdom of Tulum will also be available to visitors.

Carnival Breeze top deck

On day four of the Eastern Caribbean Cruise, you will be visiting Belize, which gives you the sightseeing privileges to some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet. The Mayan ruins of Altun Ha are also located here. It’s the perfect island paradise, and you can visit the famous Jaguar Cave or go on a ziplining adventure.Day five, you visit Mahogany Bay. You have a beach house exclusive getaway, but you can also visit the Mayan Princess, which features an all-inclusive bar.

On day six, the cruise takes you to Grand Cayman, the biggest of the Grand Cayman islands. Here, you can swim with dolphins or go kayaking. There is also a stingray and turtle swimming option.For day six, you enjoy a fun day at sea with the Twister Water Slide and Cloud 9 Spa. There is also a serenity adult-only retreat. On Day seven, you can enjoy a game of roulette or party it up with DJ Irie. It’s the perfect place to get your groove on.

Grand Cayman Western Caribbean Cruise

How does an Eastern Caribbean Cruise differ?

To start out with day one, you have a more relaxed vibe. For example, once you get off the plane, you can enjoy a hop-on or hop-off city tour of Miami. The is also the option for an Everglades tour.

On day two, you visit the exotic Half Moon Cay private island. A perfect location for a romantic getaway. You have sightseeing, snorkeling and horseback riding.

Day three, guests will enjoy a fun day at sea. There is the option for cooking classes from world-class chefs, which also includes enjoyable taste tasting. Another noteworthy thing about the Eastern Caribbean Carnival Cruise is that you have Hasbro, the Game Show. You have the chance at participating in Connect 4 Basketball, SORRY! SLIDERS or Yahtzee Bowling.

On Day four, you enjoy a visit to St. Thomas, the gateway to the Virgin Islands. Wet your palette with the best of St. Thomas rum testing.When day five hits, you have the option for a drive through the rain forest. You might also enjoy a canopy adventure.

Day six, you spend at the Grand Turk with sailing and snorkeling by the beach. You might also enjoy the all-inclusive private beach.


As you can see, the Carnival Cruise that you should choose will depend on the destinations you are most interested in visiting with the activities that suit your idea of a vacation.

Connect with Carnival Cruise Line

Visit Carnival Cruise Line’s social media pages to watch ship videos, get the inside scoop on the latest cruise vacation deals, and see what passengers love above Carnival!

Carnival Cruise

Note to readers: Carnival Cruise Line provided our family with a 7-day cruise in exchange for providing our readership with information and honest opinions about our experience. No positive review expectations were set or required by Carnival Cruise Line.

Before, during, and after our April Carnival cruise vacation we will update AtlantaMoms.com and TheMommyInsider.com as well as our social media pages, with blog posts about and photographs of our experience. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get a glimpse into our family’s Carnival cruise experience, a 6-day Western Caribbean cruise, sailing on Carnival Breeze, departing April 3rd, 2016.


Carnival Cruise for Family

Southern Families Can Enjoy a Cruise Vacation from these 5 Driving-Distance Carnival Cruise Ports

Families in the south east can enjoy a cruise vacation without paying for flight tickets to get to a departure port!

Here is your complete guide to Carnival Cruise Line departure ports within driving distance of almost any state in the south east.

Have you always wanted to take your kids on a cruise but the thought of paying for cruise tickets AND plane tickets, to fly to the departure port, gives you anxiety?  We understand.

Just look at this… wouldn’t you LOVE for your kids to see this view, to have the opportunity to learn about the history of Cozumel and Falmouth, or snorkel in Grand Cayman, or even just enjoy the on-board entertainment including water slides, dive-in movies, ropes courses, more?

Parents want to expose their kids to fun and educational travel experiences but often stop planning a vacation once they start adding up the numbers. If you could take your kids on a vacation where you’ll visit several countries or areas of the world, and not have to buy flight tickets, wouldn’t you? Carnival Cruise Line, founded in 1972 and headquartered in Miami, Florida, allows families just that.

Carnival Cruise to Cozumel

With dozens of cruises departing from ports within driving distance of Atlanta, there is a cruise for every family. The following port locations, all within a four to ten hour drive from Atlanta, offer Atlanta families a door to parts of the world they might not visit otherwise.

See all the driving-distance Carnival Cruise Line ports and learn more about the cruise vacations your family can take with Carnival here.

Win A 3-Night Vacation In A 2-Bedroom Oceanfront Villa At The King And Prince Beach & Golf Resort!

The King and Prince Beach & Golf ResortOne of my family’s all time favorite vacation destinations is right here in Georgia just a few hours from Atlanta.  A place where both adults and children can relax and enjoy life and take in gorgeous scenery, and savory Southern cuisine, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort is situated at the southern end of East Beach on St. Simons Island and offers true beachfront accommodations.

The Mommy Insider and Trekaroo are partnering to bring two winners a 3-night stay in one of The King and Prince’s oceanfront villas. Perfect for families, the villa features a full-sized kitchen stocked with cookware, and a washer and dryer. Families can enjoy themselves at the Villa’s private pool, soak up the rays at one of the five pools at the Oceanfront building, or walk the beach and splash in the Atlantic.

Each time we stay at The King and Prince on St. Simons Island we find something new to do and enjoy.   There are dolphin tours, trolley tours, a huge playground and park, a lighthouse, water park, horseback riding, and kayak tours.. just to name a few things.  Can you see how a visit to this beautiful resort never gets old?  There is always a reason to go back to St. Simons Island and stay at The King and Prince!

When you’re feeling adventurous during your stay at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, take time to explore St. Simons Island.  Our prize package includes one-day bicycle rentals for up to two adults and 2 children, ideal for adventuring around Pier Village or the 12+ miles of trails on the island.

Named “Georgia’s Favorite Beach Resort” by Southern Living Magazine, this posh yet comfortable haven will melt away your stress in no time.  Find out more about our travels to The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort here on TheMommyInsider.com and here on AtlantaMoms.com (see photos of villas and amenities).

The King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island

Win a 3-night stay in a Villa at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort!

  • 3-night stay – relax in comfort in a 2-bedroom oceanfront villa, complete with balcony or patio, full kitchen and living/dining area.
  • Start your day with a delicious breakfast in our oceanfront dining room for up to 2 adults and 2 children each day of the stay
  • Explore St. Simons Island by bicycle – one-day bicycle rentals for up to 2 adults and 2 children
  • Value: $2,122.00 each prize


  • The prize is non-transferable
  • Accommodations will be based on space availability
  • Not valid on holidays or special events.
  • May not be used in conjunction with group reservations or other special offers.
  • Reservations cannot be made more than 30 days prior to arrival.
  • The certificate has no cash value
  • Does not include airfare or airport transfer

Rules and Guidelines:

  • No purchase necessary
  • Two winners will be selected randomly.  One on TheMommyInsider.com and one on Trekaroo.com.
  • Winners will be selected randomly and your chances of winning are based on the number of entry points you acquired against the total number of entries for this giveaway.
  • Entrants must be 18 years of age and older
  • US and Canada residents only, excluding residents of the Provence of Quebec.
  • Winner will be notified via the email provided and must respond to the notification to confirm their prize within the time specified in the email.  (Usually 3 days)
  • After the winner has been confirmed, the winner will be announced on this blog post.

Entry Period: November 18, 2013 to midnight December 1st, 2013.

Special thanks our sponsor:

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort logoThe King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
201 Arnold Rd, St Simons Island, GA 31522

And special thanks to our giveaway partner:

Trekaroo - travel blogTrekaroo
Kids. Trips. Tips


Thanks to Online Sweepstakes and CashNet Sweepstakes
Value: $2,122.00 each prize

More posts about The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

  1. The King and Prince Beach Resort on St. Simons Island: About The Rooms, Amenities, and Fun!
  2. You’re not a tourist at The King and Prince Resort
  3. Family activities at The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island
  4. Make a trip to St. Simons Island even more fun and educational for your kids with a scavenger hunt!
  5. Shopping, Playground, and Restaurants at Pier Village on St. Simons Island
  6. St. Simons Islands Pier Village Has Fun For The Entire Family
  7. The King And Prince Beach & Golf Resort Was As Amazing On 4th Visit As It Was The 1st

Family Travel Destination – San Antonio, Texas

I recently visited the Embassy Suites Riverwalk-Downtown property in San Antonio, Texas.  While in San Antonio, I visited many of the city’s family friendly activities including the San Antonio River, The Alamo, the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, Market Square, Museo Alameda, and Witte Museum.

The first adventure our group embarked on was dinner catered by Rio Rio Cantina on a river barge combined with an amazing cruise tour down the San Antonio River.. which I learned is a real river.  Tomorrow we will visit The Alamo, Market Square, and Witte Museum to name a few.  It’s going to be a busy day!

Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk-Downtown Hotel
Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk-Downtown Hotel Accommodations and Amenities

About Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk-Downtown:

The Embassy Suites Hotel is located on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. From the steps of the hotel you can stroll around the San Antonio River and sample some of the best shopping and dining in Texas. If you prefer, take a guided boat tour of the river.

Families can spend free time at the outdoor pool and spa or in the state-of-the-art fitness center. While enjoying the outdoor pool take time to relax on the spacious deck and treat yourself to a cool beverage from the poolside bar.

When it’s time to experience some first-class dining head to Luke, Chef John Besh’s signature restaurant located in the Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk-Downtown. Chef Besh’s Luke is an authentic brasserie featuring old-world German and French cooking reminiscent of brasseries that once reigned in New Orleans. The view of the San Antonio River from the restaurant and bar will add to the experience and keep you coming back time and again.  Oh, and the two two 32″ flat screen televisions with cable and in-suite movies don’t hurt either! 🙂

125 E. Houston Street, San Antonio, Texas, United States 78205

Three Family Fun Attractions in San Antonio:

Alamo IMAX Theatre Rivercenter
What child doesn’t love IMAX films?  Currently showing is Born to be Wild narrated by Morgan Freeman (love his voice!).  The giant IMAX screen, large film frames and incredible sound system create The IMAX Experience.
849 E Commerce, #285, San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 247-4629 / Toll Free: (800) 354-4629

Dinosaur Quest
DINOSAUR-QUEST is an exhibition of Dinosaurs, displayed in brilliant lighting and sound, all complemented with high-end video animation.
849 E. Commerce St., Suite 759, San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 229-8888

Ripley’s Believe It or Not & Louis Tussaud’s Wax Works
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! allows you to discover one-of-a-kind oddities, curiosities and illusions gathered from all over the world by the famed cartoonist Robert Ripley. There are over 500 exhibits – one of the largest in the world!
301 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 224-9299

I’ll be posting more about my trip to San Antonio soon!

Disclosure: All travel expenses and accomodations were paid for.

Alicia Hagan, Mom Blog editor