We caught up with Irish fashion blogger Martina’s Mark to hear all about her recent honeymoon in the Caribbean.
When most people think of a cruise they picture elderly couples playing shuffleboard wearing Hawaiian shirts on the deck so what made you decide to go?
The main reason my husband Barry and I decided on a cruise was that we both wanted to see as many places as possible without the hassle of constantly moving hotel rooms. We’ve both done heaps of travelling and a big pet hate of mine is packing and unpacking your backpack! Something always gets lost in the move and your bag magically gets heavier with every city! So after some research, we decided that a cruise in the Caribbean was the way to go.
Where did you go?
To start off with we flew into Boston from Dublin and then got a connecting flight to San Juan in Puerto Rico.
In hindsight we kinda wish we’d stayed a few days in Boston and then flew down to break up the travel time. I’ve been Boston before and it’s a great city to check out for two or three days but that’s for another time. Puerto Rico come at us!
The Central American oasis was the departure port for the Cruise so we spent three days here. We then sailed (our ship was an Adventure of the Seas by the way) to St Martin, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados. All these islands have been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember! All were totally fab and as you can imagine had pristine white beaches, crystal blue water and were the perfect setting to chill out to. And I needed to chill out! Life previous to the honeymoon was hectic, organising a wedding and moving house within the same month was fairly full on and I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint hearted!
In a nutshell, what was the cruise like?
Both my husband and I had an amazing experience and can’t wait to do it all again. The staff were so friendly and helpful and everything ran like clockwork. The sheer size of the ship means that there is literally something for everyone. The ship hosts a meet and greet night for honeymooner’s, lone travellers, retired patrons and so on so meeting people is very easy. The cruise is also family friendly with kids clubs and daily group pool activities. There was even a 70’s line dancing class!
St Lucia was definitely my favourite place to visit. It was one of the main reasons we chose this cruise and it did not fail to meet my expectations. One particular excursion, as part of our cruise, consisted of a boat trip around the island followed by snorkelling which was fantastic. The snorkelling was on Sugar Beach which is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited.
Old Town in San Juan was like something out of a postcard. Every street was like a painting with the houses, streets and shops painted in bright colours. It was so pretty and made for some great photos!
But probably the biggest highlight of all was winning another cruise whilst on the cruise! Not to ruin my street cred or anything but on the last night of our cruise we were playing bingo and we won the top prize! We learned that every cruise ship has a final day bingo session with some deadly prizes so we decided to give it a go. It was good craic anyway, as some fellow passengers got a bit too into it, but when we got through to a knockout round against another couple we were buzzing! I couldn’t believe it when Legs Eleven got called out and I screamed Bingo. And so another cruise in November is on the cards, delighted!
Any lowlights? Can’t have been all good!
You’re in a part of the world where you’re at the mercy of tropical climate. It was rain season so the weather was unpredictable. There were patches of rain and it was fairly cloudy the odd time. However, we still managed to catch plenty of sunshine (the most important thing for any Irish person I think we can all agree) and the temperature was 30C every day.
One particularly bad experience was boarding the ship itself. The ship boards for 6 hours on departure day. If I could offer one bit of advice it would be to wait for an hour or two to let the main crowds dissipate before heading down to the port. Your main bags are also taken and delivered directly to your room. This might take several hours and unfortunately, Barry packed the sunscreen in our main luggage which meant we had to spend our first day in the shade!
Top tips for anyone thinking of cruising it?
Check the daily itinerary on the ship to find out daily activities. A leaflet is delivered to your room every day and it is important to keep this handy as there are so many activities continuously taking place. We definitely regretted not going to more shows which were on every evening in the auditorium and checking out more of the restaurants onboard. Also definitely budget for hidden extras. Wifi can be costly but it’s a good incentive to plug off from the outside world completely. If you didn’t buy a drinks package from the start drinks can become expensive so do a bit research on that front.
Was it good value for money?
Honestly, I think cruises are great value for money especially when you utilise all the facilities available. All the food is buffet style and even if you attend one of the bill paying restaurants there is a reasonable set cover charge and the food is limitless. The drinks can be pricey but with a drinks package they work out quite reasonable.
Average age group on the group; was it good craic?
The age group was extremely mixed. We were fortunate to meet another couple on their honeymoon who we got to socialise with. There are countless bars and even a nightclub onboard. I’m ashamed to say that the bar men in The Duck and Dog bar knew us on a first-name basis.
What did you for entertainment whilst onboard?
There was so much entertainment on the ship. From a reggae band playing while you were lying by the pool to comedy acts at night time you can be entertained how you like. There was even an ice rink on our ship where shows took place! The Mr and Mrs show was absolutely hilarious hosted by the Irish cruise ship director Clodagh. The Karaoke bar got a visit when the cocktails took over, absolutely gas craic.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a honeymoon on a cruise?
Make friends. We made great friends on the cruise. I love my husband but it would have been a bit boring the two of us the whole time!
What was the fashion like on the cruise/islands?
The brilliant thing about the cruise ships is that they host formal and casual nights. The formal nights are a perfect excuse to wear your finest get up. I had great fun packing for the holiday as you don’t tend to get to wear formal wear on holidays. Most people on the ship take the formal night seriously too. However, it is by no means compulsory for those wishing to stay casual. During the day on board, everything is casual and similarly on the islands. I did pick up some lovely items in local markets.
What accessories (fashion or otherwise) could you not do without while on a cruise?
My sunhat and kindle were my ultimate cruise essential. My Canon DSLR camera wasn’t too far from my sights as well. You can never take too many photos and I want to remember the honeymoon for many years to come so I went to town with the camera!
Would you recommend a cruise holiday?
Absolutely – there is something for everyone and I am a big believer in trying anything at least once!
If you’re interested in any cruise or honeymoon packages find out more here