First-time CRUISER (aka I was so wrong)

Those of you who follow me on my Instagram probably couldn’t miss that I was on a cruise just recently. I was lucky enough to be invited by Royal Caribbean to travel on the third largest cruise ship in the world, Allure of the Seas. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about cruising at all. Being still in my early thirties, I considered cruising as something fun for older people and not as a form of traveling at all. Cruising is not promoted in our market as it is in the U.S., England, or Scandinavia, so I didn’t even consider it as an option for my travels during the last decade. But here I was, going from Miami to Nassau (Bahamas), Cozumel (Mexico), Roatán (Honduras), Mahahual (Mexico, branded Costa Maya by cruising companies and tourists), and back to Miami. A whole week spent cruising… Let me summarize this experience into 10 short findings.

1) Cruising is not terribly expensive. If you don’t mind having an inside room, it can actually be so much cheaper than a vacation on Miami.

2) You don’t get bored after two or three days. To be honest, when the cruise was arriving back at Miami, my wife and I agreed that three or four more nights would be just perfect.

3) There are no immigration processes involved at the destinations, at least not at those we had been to. What a time saver this is!

4) You are not forced to take tours organized by a cruising company in any way. Tours are comfortable and safe in terms of arrival back on the ship. But if you are traveling on a budget, feel free to go for a bit of an adventure with the locals. We actually mixed up official tours with going it on our own and found it to be a perfect combination.

5) I have some issues with not being capable of relaxing. I usually need a week on my holidays to “turn off” my head in order to start enjoying the vacation. It took me fewer than 48 hours on a cruise. That combo of staring into waves mixed with a laid-back atmosphere and a few cocktails did the trick.

6) As a frequent traveler to exotic destinations, I’m quite used to having my itinerary ready weeks in advance. Well, no need for excessive planning while on a cruise. You can pick some tours weeks or months in advance as well as the day before. You don’t feel like going to the main restaurant for dinner? Well, then you can just hit a specialty restaurant for a reasonable fee or head to the pizzeria for a free of slice pizza. This vacation is exactly what you make out of it.

7) You may do the cruise without any extras. However, paying that little bit extra can change your cruise from nice to incredible. We paid for an alcohol package that didn’t only include booze but also fresh juices, which we enjoyed a lot. Surely there is a cheaper package for juices and soft drinks, but that fresh juice from mixed fruits enriched by a glass of rum just works. And that applies for dining options as well. I paid $100 a person for a special package of four entries to specialty restaurants while on the ship, and every single cent was worth it.

8) You pay some decent money for gratuities while aboard, but trust me, on the second day of the cruise, at the latest, you feel like it is well deserved.

9) There was so much entertainment on the ship that I’m not afraid to say that young ones were enjoying the cruise at least as much as older cruisers.

10) Everyone was telling me that I had to try cruising as it is an experience you must try once in your life. Well, it is exactly a week since we have returned to Europe, and I’m browsing for Southern Caribbean cruises already.

BONUS: That shopping spree at Dolphin Mall in Miami, just a few miles away from the airport!

60 countries visited (and 3 new galleries published)

Hey, it is no sprint in any way, much more like a marathon. My #100to40 challenge (100 countries before turning 40) goes pretty much as planned with 60 countries checked already. I’m still somehow on track, while I need to visit around six new countries a year. It is becoming more and more difficult and I’m slowly running out of European countries but there are still a few to add on the list fortunately (hello Vatican, soon enough Malta, how are you Bosnia?).

I have managed finishing some three small photo galleries of six pictures each from the recent four months so Senegal, Switzerland and United Kingdom (almost purely Scotland) are now online. No captions yet, but they will follow soon enough. More photos! Yipee!

Looking for a weekend getaway? Try Copenhagen

I was sincerely surprised by our quick visit to Copenhagen. We had only 48 hours there however with some 37 kilometers in our feet we’ve managed to see a lot. And taste a lot! We made it to the Michelin one starred restaurant 108 (fair enough), superb nordic restaurant Høst, local burger place Sporvejen, some random overpriced spot in Nyhavn plus many fast take-aways. The prices were a bit too high (except the Sporvejen burger bar) to our likings but hey, we only live once. All the places were very cosy and we have finally learnt what does the word “hygge” mean. Hey, google it for yourself, it is a large thing over there so you better find out before you leave your home airport!

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