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Unread 1 Jan 20, 03:49 PM  
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mitch84
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Marella Flavours of the Caribbean - Jan-20

Cast Me Mitch, 35 year old travel nut.



Im actually very happily married, but I get 5 weeks paid holiday a year, and DH is self employed with 2 businesses, one of which involves animals, so it is very very expensive but also disruptive for him to take leave. We are hoping to both upgrade our house, and potentially try for a baby this year, but for now, I tend to try to use some of my annual leave, and cruising is my drug of choice. Travelling solo I find it safe, and Im not a sit around type of person, so I like waking up in a new place each morning.

I did the Norwegian Fjords with P&O in June 19, but then I started my new job end of that same month. Im now permanent and they were pushing me to book my 19 days leave in (part year) as it is a use it or lose it scenario. The house we are hoping to buy is taking a while, and so DH encouraged me to book another cruise.

Im leaving DH home with our child our 18 month old black Labrador, who is my absolute baby, and I miss them terribly, so a week is my absolute limit.



I looked at the cruises leaving the UK, but needing to go in Jan/Feb or March, nothing was really floating my boat. Similarly the Europe based cruises all tended to be canaries orientated, which also just didnt float my boat (pun intended). Ever since I was young, I had always fancied a Caribbean cruise, but as I have got older and wiser, I realised that the traditional Caribbean cruise ports, which are very hot and beach orientated may not be for me.

I have cruised before with Thomson/Marella/Tui (whatever they are called today) twice before, P&O once and NCL twice. I do like a drink, and I want to know how much my holiday is costing, and so AI, or an affordable drinks package, were an absolute must. My favourite is NCL and they had some cracking itineraries, but I would have to arrange my flights to say the US, and it was coming in extortionate. I was also worried about flying in/out the same day as embarkation/disembarkation in case of flight issues. So I had to discount NCL. I also discounted P&O as there just wasnt the itinerary for me.

Thomson/Marella/Tui however had some great sounding itineraries, and because they are a package holiday operator, I can fly on a TUI flight and be bussed to the ship for an all inclusive price. I found an itinerary called Flavours of the Caribbean leaving on the 21st January.

Day 1 Montego Bay Jamaica
Day 2 Georgetown Grand Cayman
Day 3 At sea
Day 4 Havana - Cuba (inc overnight)
Day 5 Havana
Day 6 Cozumel Mexico
Day 7 At Sea
Day 8 - Montego Bay Jamaica

This seemed ideal to me, I have always wanted to go to Havana but not really interested in a weeks AI there, and similarly Mexico. An overnight in Havana sounded like a great idea too.

The flights are included, Manchester to Montego Bay, and the flight doesnt leave until 16.15pm on my last day, so I may get a chance to see something of Jamaica. The cruise is AI, but for 7 a day I can upgrade to premium AI, which includes the fancier spirits and cocktails etc. I dont think Ill need to do this, but Ill taste the house wine on arrival minute 1 and make my mind up, could be worthwhile as it includes bottled water too.

I contacted my normal consultant at Cruise.co.uk, who was able to give me a discount on the online price. I then had a tense 24 hours as we kept missing each other as I was driving for work, and I could see that the last inside cabin had sold out online. When I got hold of Tom first thing Saturday he was able to honour the price he gave me the day before, but I got an outside cabin. So that was a nice little perk.

I normally never do cruise ship excursions as I find them expensive and a bit herdy. But I did want to make the most of my day in Cozumel. I debated very hard about Chichen Itza, being a wonder of the world and all, but a good friend of mine who had travelled to Mexico independently told me it was very touristy, it would also be a lot of time on a bus. I therefore ended up going for Tulum, it is much closer, and so allows some time to hang out by the beach there, also the setting is apparently stunning. We have to get the ferry across to Playa Del Carmen, and so apparently there will be some free time there too before catching the ferry back to Cozumel, so allows me a bit more time in Mexico I guess. I dont find TUI excursions TOO DEAR either, so it was 72 for the day.

I may also check onboard as to anything happening in Montego Bay on my last day, see if I can do a short morning tour somewhere. I think this may be possible.

Havana I will try to do DIY. Just debating if Im interested In one of the shows, Club Tropicana etc.

Grand Cayman Im debating trying to find a boat to take me to see the Stingrays.

Ive treated myself to an airport lounge both ways, the Aspire at Manchester T2, and the Mobay lounge in Jamaica.

Under 3 weeks to go...
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Edited at 03:52 PM.
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Unread 4 Jan 20, 11:42 PM  
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Melanie R
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Stingrays definitely worth doing if you can - amazing experience ♥️

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Unread 5 Jan 20, 12:04 AM  
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Stingray trip is great but if they give you the option to cancel because its choppy - cancel. Weve done it twice now and the first time the sea was quite choppy and a few operators had cancelled but ours was still happy to go out. It was so choppy you couldnt keep still and neither could the stingrays. It wasnt a pleasant experience.
Looking forward to reading about your cruise.
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Unread 5 Jan 20, 07:02 PM  
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Thanks Mel and Tracey.
We cant book any animal/wildlife trips with Tui. I think with Grand Cayman Im going to turn up, see what the weather is like, and try to get on a tour at the port if a nice day.
I am very keen though
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Unread 5 Jan 20, 08:00 PM  
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Very jealous. Love Marella cruises. We did the Dream the last two summers in the Mediterranean and the house wine is very nice indeed, as was the prosecco, so we didn't bother upgrading our package. Have an amazing time.
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Unread 6 Jan 20, 12:29 PM  
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Originally Posted by mskitty View Post
Very jealous. Love Marella cruises. We did the Dream the last two summers in the Mediterranean and the house wine is very nice indeed, as was the prosecco, so we didn't bother upgrading our package. Have an amazing time.
I dont think Im going to bother either, will see when I get there but on paper sounds enough for me x
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Unread 6 Jan 20, 07:51 PM  
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Originally Posted by mitch84 View Post
I dont think Im going to bother either, will see when I get there but on paper sounds enough for me x
We paid out of pocket for the odd can of coke or upgraded drink but it still didn't come anywhere near the upgrade price. I think you have a couple of days grace to decide and if you upgrade you get a refund on anything you have spent on drinks so see how you get on maybe.
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Unread 6 Jan 20, 09:19 PM  
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Originally Posted by mskitty View Post
We paid out of pocket for the odd can of coke or upgraded drink but it still didn't come anywhere near the upgrade price. I think you have a couple of days grace to decide and if you upgrade you get a refund on anything you have spent on drinks so see how you get on maybe.
I dont drink coke at all, or any real soft drink except water. I like a nice coffee but can only drink almond milk, and I have been told thats unlikely.
I find it useful for the water, but I drink a lot of water, and Im worried about my plastic waste to be honest, I did a CB P&O cruise last year and I must have got through 5x little bottles of water a day.
Ive treated myself to a swanky new water bottle, and Im going to try it at the airport/flight too. Take it empty, fill it airside.
Biggest thing for me would be whether the house wine is nice. But with Prosecco/cava included too, I think Ill be just fine.
Thanks for your help x
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