“Hey Emily, want to come with me on a CarnivalLIVE cruise where we can see a concert at sea?”
*drops everything* YES!
My friend, blogger and fellow Disney Parks Moms Panelist, Ashley Forster asked me just that. It took me about 30 seconds to think it over. As the days got closer I got more and more excited. Yes, this was a press trip and certain luxuries would be given to us that I might not have done on my own, but that turned out to be a very good thing because it pushed me to overcome some fears, meet some incredible people and learn that my best dance move is still droppin it low. Counting it down, here are 7 things I learned while on a Carnival cruise.
7. A girls trip is a much needed getaway and every mom should take one.
Family vacations are great and I took my boys on a 7 day Caribbean cruise just last year. We had a blast as a family but there is something to be said about getting to relax by the pool without yelling at your boys to stop splashing the other guests. About dancing at night, and not to the Wiggles. About getting to stay up late giggling and by late I don’t mean 8pm. I came home refreshed and ready to take on the world, or at least deal with the afternoon car pool lane without yelling expletives. It was the perfect escape for some much needed downtime.
6. Seeing a concert with a huge and rising star in such an intimate setting is everything.
Sam Hunt. I can’t even say the name without fanning myself and feeling like I have dreamy hearts in my eyes. Not only is he one of Country Music’s biggest rising stars, he’s also had success on the Pop charts and is so down to earth and humble, it’s refreshing in this narcissistic world of music artists doing anything to climb to the top. In the Q&A we had with Sam before the show he showed a softer side, mentioning his friends and family are top priority for him right now and even answering a couple of questions from children in the crowd (His favorite color is red and favorite food is peanut butter in case you were wondering.) During the show, the high energy, connections with his fans, and his pure love for music and sharing his gift with others shined through. It was an experience I’m honored to be a part of. I’ve experienced shows in venues from someone’s house to huge stadiums and festivals. The CarnivalLIVE experience was one of my favorites. Having the crowd in “vacation mode” and the atmosphere of the ship and being in a tropical destination? The mix was perfect and I hope to get to experience this again!
5. Visiting other cultures really makes you appreciate everything you have and have accomplished.
I love traveling. I love seeing how women, and moms specifically, interact with each other, what jobs they have, how they dress, how they carry themselves, in a variety of settings, cultures, countries, etc. If I learned anything on this trip, it’s that Jamaican women are some of the strongest and most beautiful women I’ve met. They carry themselves with a sense of authority, kindness and love. Guiding groups of silly tourists like myself, to make sure we were in the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of pushing and perfect amount of smiles.
4. Along those same lines, apparently I’m a huge fan of people watching.
I mean, I always knew it but Ashley was the perfect compliment to my silliness and played along as we watch others enjoying the same cruise, trip, excursions as us, all while giving them nicknames and complete back stories. We met a few characters who ended up being exactly like our 3 second observation told us, and some that were extremely surprising that showed us you can never judge a book by it’s cover. We had the best time watching how groups and families interacted and even how the crew was always helpful and smiles, even when off-duty.
3. This trip helped me overcome a few fears I didn’t even know I had.
I don’t swim. I can swim enough to save my life, but snorkeling with stingrays swimming all around in choppy water? Going down a very fast bobsled track? Even something as simple as riding a chair lift… brought on new ways to overcome fears. One fear I wasn’t sure I’d overcome? Spiders. Did you know Jamaica has GINORMOUS ones. Everywhere. All over. That look scary and beautiful, but mostly scary? Banana Spiders are supposedly harmless, but with my arachnophobia, I was convinced they were waiting to jump on top of me. But I stayed strong and overcame each of those. I’m so proud I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. When given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this, I rose to the challenge.
2. I can meet, and become friends with, some pretty amazing people.
I always consider myself and Extroverted Introvert. I’m outgoing and loud and boisterous, but afterwards I feel silly. Did I say the wrong thing? Did I talk to much? Maybe I should sit back and be quiet next time. But being a bit outgoing can be a great thing when it allows you to meet new people. Whether it’s fellow members of our press group, some amazing crew members who go above and beyond, or even just other guests enjoying the same experiences, I’m so glad I wasn’t shy because I got to meet and become friends with so many diverse and amazing people. Most of the people I met? I met while cutting loose on the dance floor. I may be a mom of 3 boys, but I can still get low and cut a rug.
1. Ice cream and Pizza at all hours of the day/night is a necessity.
I really can’t say enough about the ice cream on Carnival Cruises. I’ve been on other ships and it was good, but this stuff was out of this world. Whether having a cone for breakfast (hey! Ashley says it’s like cereal. Grains = cone; milk = ice cream) or lunch, or an afternoon snack, or a post dancing refuel at 3am… The ice cream machines became my favorite feature on the ship. The pizza was a close second and with both being available 24/7? I’m honestly surprised I didn’t gain 20 pounds on this trip. See?! Another benefit to cruising… 3am pizza calories don’t count.
disclosure: this trip was part of a CarnivalLIVE press trip. all thoughts and opinions are mine and honest.