Guest blogger Aurora Johnson is a writer with a passion for all things travel. She has over two years' experience in travel writing, and her favorite locations include Japan, France and the USA.
Cruise holidays always seemed a little bit fuddy-duddy to me, but my opinion has been completely turned around now. I went away on a girlfriend getaway with two of my best friends and none of us had ever been on a cruise, so it was a bit of an eye-opener for us. We went for one of the many cheap cruises to the Caribbean, mainly because the idea of being able to lie on the beach while sipping cocktails definitely appealed to us. There were so many to choose from that we eventually just picked one at random—we just wanted to get one booked!
The cruise boarded in New Orleans, and as a Briton, starting in that city made the trip even more exciting. We did have to arrange flights to New Orleans, which was obviously an added expense, but it meant that we didn't have to spend so long cruising once we were on board. We didn't have much time in New Orleans before cruising, however.
I'd really hoped that I wouldn't get seasick on my first cruise, but we were only sailing for about half an hour before I started to feel queasy. Suffice to say that I hadn't imagined my first night aboard a fancy cruise liner being stuck in my room feeling decidedly worse for wear. Luckily, on our third day on-board I was well enough to check out some of the ship's activities. Let me tell you—I'd never imagined that a cruise liner would have half of the activity options that ours did. For starters we decided to go ice skating—on a ship. It was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had, but it definitely tops skating on one of those run-of-the-mill ice rinks! There was also an inline skating track that my friends had a go on, but I was more interested in the rock climbing wall. I've always wanted to try my hand at rock climbing; I just never thought I'd get to do it while on a cruise ship. Throughout our cruise we were constantly trying out new activities—we even watched some live theater.
Our first shore excursion was in Falmouth, Jamaica, and was actually my favorite of them all. During the 18th and 19th centuries Falmouth was the one of Jamaica's most important ports, because this was where the majority of Jamaica's sugar was grown.
The Luminous Lagoon
This glowing lagoon is a true natural wonder. It contains literally millions of dinoflagellates, which give the lagoon a really eerie glow when the waters are disturbed. We went for a swim in the lagoon, surrounded by luminous water.
Dunns River Falls
The Dunns River Falls waterfall is 180 feet tall and we visited it as part of a tour. You can actually climb the natural steps of the waterfall and look out behind you over the stunning view.
George Town, Grand Cayman
One of the best parts about George Town for me was the climate. It was 80 degrees when we visited and was gloriously sunny—nothing like the weather you'd get at home!
We spent the entire day on the beach—rather than see any of the art galleries or museums we decided to take the chance to get some sunbathing in. We visited Seven Mile Beach (which isn't actually seven miles long), where we got to do some snorkeling and swimming.
Since we knew that Cozumel would be our last stop before it was time to go home, we decided to just get as much relaxation in as possible. We spent a lot of time lounging on the island's absolutely amazing beaches, and we also did some wildlife watching—we managed to spot some exotic birds.
After a bit more snorkeling and sunbathing, and once we'd tasted some of the most amazing food of the entire trip, we woefully headed back to our cruise ship.
Going on a cruise was one of the best things I've ever done, and going away with two of my best friends made it even better. Cruising is no longer fuddy-duddy, and I definitely need to go on more holidays!
Want to be a guest blogger for SmarterTravel? Read up on our Guest Blogger Policy, and then send your story pitch to email@example.com with the subject line "Guest blog submission." If we like your idea, we'll ask you to write the post!