It’s been 23 years since I’ve been on a cruise. And I went all by myself. Well, I was part of the Permission to Hustle Retreat at Sea, but I didn’t have a roommate. While I had wonderful friends that I spent time with throughout the cruise, I had the most amazing me-time that I totally wasn’t expecting. If you haven’t considered a cruise as the most relaxing, wonderful downtime that you can do on your own (or with a small group of close friends) you totally should! The Permission to Hustle Retreat was a mastermind retreat for professional bloggers and was limited to about 40 gals. It was intimate and, no exaggeration, the most important thing I have ever done for my business. As part of this conference, I was given a discounted rate on a 5 day Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Paradise. I’ll share more on the conference portion itself soon, but today I want to talk about the cruise. Because it was amazing.The Carnival Paradise was where I called home for 5 days as we spent two days at sea (and in our conference) and 2 days exploring Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Cruise ships have a tendency to look HUGE and overwhelming but I found the Paradise to be comfortable and manageable. If you’re looking for luxury, this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for an economical option for cruising, with plenty of entertainment, this ship might be for you.
Most people think of booking a cruise with a large group of friends or family. But I’m telling you, the quiet that you can find on a cruise, if you sneak off by yourself, is next level! While it might not be possible to take a cruise totally on your own (because you know your husband and children, and ALL your girlfriends, are going to want to go too), I’m going to share the ways to find me time on your next Carnival Paradise cruise.
15 Ways for Moms to Relax on the Carnival Paradise
What constitutes the perfect “me time” is different for everyone. But I think you’ll be able to find several ways to fit your needs!
1. Cocktails – It’s Always 5 O’clock
The moment I stepped on the boat I was offered a cocktail. It would be rude to say no, right? From the multiple bars on the ship, to the servers coming to you, you can always find a cocktail, beer or wine to sip. I’m not a heavy drinker and was not on this cruise to get lit (if that’s you, no judgment) but it was kind of a vacation (even though I was there for business) and it was fun to drink something tropical every now and then. Keep in mind, the ship is a cashless system and it is very easy to swipe that little card ($$$).
If you are on the ship to have lots of “fun” there are drink packages available!
2. The Views
After a super rainy day at sea, the sun came out and the sky was GORGEOUS! Although I was up kind of early, it wasn’t like I got up in the middle of the night. The mornings tend to be super quiet and I was able to enjoy my coffee, with this gorgeous view, by myself. It was soul satisfying to be out on the water, sipping coffee, being quiet and reflective. No matter what time of day, the views are incredible from anywhere on the ship.
3. Room Service
But sometimes you want your coffee in your room. A limited room service menu is offered 24 hours a day. And it’s included in the cost of your cruise. BOOM! I often had coffee and a croissant delivered to the room that I could eat while I was getting ready for the day, in my pajamas. Breakfast in bed is the ultimate luxury for a mom!
4. Getting Ready By Yourself
As a busy mom, it’s often a struggle to “get ready.” Sure, I get myself together to get the kids to school, or run to the store, but getting dressed up happens rarely at home. Because I was on my own, getting ready – hair done, cute outfits – was SO much fun. It’s crazy how different putting an outfit on can make you feel, but it helped me step out of mom life and be myself again.
If you are cruising with your family, I suggest you send your husband and kids out for an activity and give you the time to relax and get yourself ready without rushing.
5. PEOPLE COOK FOR YOU!
Food is always available on the cruise THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE YOURSELF! It’s probably my favorite thing about taking a momcation. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is part of my weekend unwind on Friday nights so I was excited to try Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint on the Carnival Paradise. IT WAS EVERYTHING! You grabbed your burger and bun from the staff (and the fries, you can’t forget the fries!) then you headed to the toppings bar to create your own masterpiece. Absolutely delicious. I had several of these during my time on the ship.
Then we found the tacos at BlueIguana Cantina. OMG. Like the burgers, you could have your tacos, burritos, salad, etc. anyway you liked it. That’s my favorite way to eat. There was also a pizza spot, buffet and a more formal dinner service. And you didn’t have to do any of the work. Food always tastes better that way, in my opinion.
6. Adults Only Deck
While I did see children on the cruise, I never felt like I was still in mom mode. Carnival is the “More Fun” ship and I think it attracts more fun-loving couples and groups, etc. than families. But if you really wanted to ensure that you were away from reminders of mom life, there was an adults only deck that you could escape to. With lounge chairs, 2 spas, shade (for when the sun finally came out!) and attendants, this deck area was quiet and calm and great to relax on.
Some gals need a little retail therapy. While there wasn’t a ton of options, shopping is available on the ship. From a cute little spot with candy and other yummy goodies, to high-end makeup, you can definitely find things you want to take home with you. Need some fine art, they have it. Need Carnival-themed items, no problem. A cute stuffed animal for the kid you left at home, done.
8. TV Time
Watching TV is my happy place. I was super happy to have a TV in my room. It keeps me company when I get ready in the morning, and puts me to sleep at night. While I would have liked to have more channels to choose from, I found several opportunities to sit, relax and watch some shows. *I also had downloaded Netflix shows to watch on the plane, so I did watch those on my iPad too. It was a good back up to have when I wanted to watch something other than CNN or the Carnival specific channels.
9. Movies and Entertainment
I like to have quiet time, alone, to recharge myself. Others may want to be out and about. There are several entertainment opportunities on the ship to keep you busy. From stage shows, game shows, a casino, and a place to watch blockbuster movies, you can always find something fun to do.
Easy Me Time Opportunities on Carnival Paradise
10. Friend Time or Meeting New People
Before going on the retreat, I had only met a few of the attendees online. Over the 5 five days, I developed deeper relationships with several gals. Whether you go on a cruise with a group of girlfriends, or go by yourself and meet people, a cruise is an awesome place for friendships. You can meet up for lunch, spend time in the ports together or see a show. Sharing the cruise experience gives you a chance to create memories with new people or deepen bonds with established friends.
Read their Cruise Experiences
11. Feel Like a Kid
I don’t get my hair wet (high maintenance) so I opted out of the water slide but it’s nice to know it’s there. :) Obviously, the kids on the ship loved this area, but adults did too! Audrey took her turn in this fun water area while we cheered her on. Across the ship, you can also find a mini miniature golf course. It’s great for families but fun for adults as well! On a cruise, your normal adult responsibilities are set aside and you can put enjoying yourself as your top priority! Everyone needs to feel like a kid again once in a while.
There’s a gym. I would never spend a moment of vacation time in a gym working out. Sorry, not sorry. But there is one if you wanted to sweat and get your heart rate up.
If you’re looking to really find relaxation on the Carnival Paradise, you should absolutely hit the spa! From massages to other beauty treatments, the spa is a quiet place where you can tune out the outside noise and be still. Who doesn’t love that spa vibe?
Exploring the cruise destinations is so much fun. While you can simply get off the boat and wander around, booking an excursion is a great way to experience the island and what they are known for. Excursions can be booked right through Carnival and they handle all the transportation, etc.
While in Grand Cayman, I did the Allura Catamaran to Stingray City (I stayed on the boat because I love being on a boat, far more than I like being in the water with huge stingrays and again, I don’t like wet hair.) After we got off the Paradise, we took a short drive to the local Yacht Club where we boarded a Catamaran for a few hours of fun on and in the water.
*This excursion was provided at no charge to me by Carnival. But this is the same excursion I did on my honeymoon 15 years ago and it’s a good one! In Cozumel, Clarissa and I booked the Elite Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel. While it also included snorkeling, we stayed on the boat, with our bubbly and enjoyed the views. It took us to several spots around the island and it was so much fun. We met great people, enjoyed delicious food and wine and listened to great music. The staff was excellent and I would totally recommend this excursion!
And if your “me time” includes shots, you can do that in Cozumel too.
While I probably wouldn’t have gone to the dance club if I was truly on the cruise by myself (because I like TV way more than dancing) but with a group of friends it was SO much fun! Some nights there was dancing in one of the l0unges, sometimes it was out on the deck, but it was always a great time. I can’t tell you the last time I was in a club and dancing. The closest I’ve gotten would be dancing at a wedding. Hitting the club was nostalgic and awesome and totally worth being up way past my bedtime.
The Carnival Paradise provided me with some many great self-care moments that really helped me feel recharged and ready to get back to my family! Being on my own let me sleep fully (without one ear open listening for the kids to make a noise), let me drink a few drinks and feel silly (without having to keep myself in check), let me listen to my inner dialogue and give it what was needed (as the top priority and not when it fit in with the rest of the family’s wants).
Turning the mom part off for a little while is something I think every gal should do for herself from time to time.
I hope these cruise tips will help you look at your next cruise a little bit differently. I never used to think that taking the kids on vacation should be called a vacation. But as the kids and I get older, I see that it’s ok to work in the things you want and need on vacation too. While I was able to go on this cruise by myself, the next time I’m on a cruise with my family it will definitely include me time as well.
I can’t wait to share more about the Permission to Hustle retreat. If you are a blogger, you NEED to know about this!
Thank you to Carnival for providing me with the cruise opportunity!
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