Hey guys! I am so so so excited to share this post! It took me a while to get it finished (okay maybe 2 months lol) but I wanted to make sure I didn't leave out any parts of our trip :) We had such a blast on our cruise and we can't wait to take our next one. Where to, we still aren't sure haha. We've heard people rave about the Alaskan cruises, plus Jeremy's mom has always wanted to go on one, so that might be our next one. Anyways, this post is going to be all about our trip and then I am going to do a second post with all the tips and tricks we learned during our cruise and advice we got from other cruisers.
We chose to do a cruise for our two year anniversary trip because we had originally planned to go on a cruise for our honeymoon, but the timing of things didn't quite work out. Then last year with our exchange student, we couldn't leave him on his own, so we decided this was the year we were going to do it :) The cruise line and ship we went on was the Carnival Magic and it was a beautiful ship. The main lobby looked so elegant with tons of lights and glass elevators. It had the pool/water slides on the top deck which easily could be spotted from the dock. We left out of Port Canaveral in Florida and was a 7 day cruise. The ports we stopped at were Amber Cove in Dominican Republic, Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas USVI, San Juan in Puerto Rico and then Grand Turk in Turks & Caicos. Ahhh, just typing out those places takes me back to the salty, humid air and 80 degree weather :)
Don't ask me to rank these places because it is so hard to do! Each island was different in its own way and we had a fun, unique experience at each port. However, I will say Amber Cove in Dominican Republic was probably my least favorite out of them all. We didn't do a shore excursion and made the mistake of letting a taxi driver take us into town where people were pushing us to buy a bunch of stuff :/ I'm sure other parts of DR are super fun, but the port we went to just didn't really impress me. The beach was amazing though, and the food was INCREDIBLE! Probably one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. I had what was called Mofongo, which was mashed fried plantains, mixed with garlic and pork. Absolutely to die for! Jeremy ended up ordering pork grinds and they still had HAIR ON THEM, lol!! It was pretty funny. We also had our first rum punch of the trip.
For those who don't know, Jeremy is a sports FREAK. Like, seriously a freak. He knows everything about a sport and knows all the rules and skills, who played where for college, and just everything haha. So while we were in DR it was hilarious, because he kept asking all the guys we met if they played baseball. Baseball is the main sport in DR and everyone plays it, haha. And everyone we asked did play! Those we talked to knew who the Seattle Mariners players were, too! That was pretty cool :)
Since we didn't have a shore excursion here we kind of just did our own thing. We had our taxi driver take us to the beach so we could get in the water and play on the beach. It was super pretty, but not the best place for swimming. Plus it was kind of windy that day. Once we were done at the beach we had our cab driver take us back to the port where we walked around a few of the shops, and then took our picture next to the famous Amber Cove sign! I'm kind of bummed we didn't go to the water park there, that would'e been more fun I think. But we made the most out of it!
(( Me learning how to roll a cigar! Annnnnd then Jeremy ready to smoke it lol. Look at that cutie! ))
After DR we made it to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. This port was like out of a post card! So much green and sail boats and bright turquoise water. We both were really excited for this port because we actually had booked a shore excursion and had a plan for the day (very important tip!) We decided to do a half beach half shopping excursion. The beach we went to was called Magen's Bay and it is actually on Trip Advisor's Top 10 Beaches in The World! And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It was the perfect beach. Soft sand and the water was so warm and clear. They had snorkeling gear, chairs, and floaties to rent, too. The bar had some awesome rum punch and we split a delicious burger!
(( YOU GUYS! Like seriously. How was this place real?! ))
This was such a fun beach day. We snorkeled and swam the entire time. We even saw a turtle! We were having so much fun we almost missed our bus ride into town, lol! We were the last ones to get on and everyone was sitting on the bus just waiting...lol it was a little awkward. But honestly, does that surprise anyone that we were late? ;) After Magen's Bay, our tour guide took us into town for us to explore and do some shopping. This was where I got my hair wrapped! *SIDE NOTE!* If you are going to do this, be prepared to spend 15 minutes taking out the string from your hair lol. When we got home I didn't realize she did a bunch of little knots! So I had to cut them all out...not as fun as it was getting it done thats for sure lol.
Anyways! We just walked around and explored some of the shops. A lot of touristy type stores, kind of like in Dominican Republic, trying to sell you jewelry and stuff, but you gotta stay on the main road. We found that out quick lol. Once we kept walking down a bit we found the cutest stores and restaurants! We ate at The Greenhouse Bar & Restaurant and had THE MOST AMAZING "Bang-Bang" shrimp, EVER! Seriously, we devoured those babies. We also got crab stuff egg rolls. So yummy! Jeremy felt the need to take two tequila shots here, haha. I tried to get our waitress to take one of them with him, but that didn't work out, haha. After we grabbed a bite to eat we headed back to the tour bus that took us back to the port. We had a little time to kill we stocked up on some souvenirs. Then it was time to say goodbye to St. Thomas.
When we weren't out exploring and had to be on the ship we definitely ate, sun tanned and gambled haha. We love to play Craps and Blackjack so almost every nigh after dinner we would hit up the casino. We learned real quick which Blackjack tables to go to and which ones to avoid. You definitely want to go to the tables where the dealers have to shuffle by hand. The table we went to where they had the automatic shuffler ended up being a short, unenjoyable time lol. Just a quick tip for you all ;) We did other things besides gamble, so don't worry haha. One night we hit up the comedy club which was fun! Another night we just sat in the lobby and had some drinks while we listened to probably one of my favorite entertainments on the ship. It was a group of three violinist and they played all kinds of songs from oldies to todays hits. They were incredible!
Our next port was Puerto Rico, Jeremy's most anticipated stops! For this port we booked outside the cruise line to do a food & city walk tour of Old San Juan. I'd definitely recommend this tour because the meet up spot was easy to find, the instructions were simple, and the tour was so much fun! We met up with our tour guide and one other couple, so it was a more intimate experience than it would have been with a large group.
At the beginning of the tour is started to POUR rain, haha so we had to go buy two cheap umbrellas because we did not dress for rain lol. Thankfully it only lasted for about 20 minutes. The first stop we hit up was Cafe Cuatro Sombras for a breakfast croissant and coffee! The croissant had ham, cheese and guava butter! It was definitely an interesting combination. But the sweetness of the guava butter tasted great with the ham. The coffee was undeniably too strong for me haha, but I tasted it! The cafe itself was super cozy and even had an outdoor terrace seating area in the middle of the building which was pretty cool. We also had a seat next to the kitchen and got to watch them make pastries.
(( The streets are all brick and they've turned BLUE over the years! They were so pretty. Got a little slippery after it rained though! ))
The next stop on the agenda was a homemade popsicle shop! Señor Paleta is the #1 spot to get popsicles in San Juan. Our tour guy said the owners used to be doctors and decided to open up this shop instead! I thought that was pretty cool. I honestly can't remember what flavor we got. I want to say it was mango or guava lol. Either way it was delicious! Mine melted faster than I could eat it so I tossed it early. On the way we walked past the Guinness Book of World Records "Narrowest Apartment." It is only 5 ft wide! My wingspan is wider than that lol. He said the owners are going to be turning it into an Airbnb, soooooo the next time we visit Puerto Rico I know where we will be staying!
(( Look how cute it is!! ))
Before we made it to Señor Paleta we stopped and hid from the rain under some buildings for a bit since the streets get pretty slippery. While we were waiting, there was the biggest flock of pigeons I had ever seen! The tour guide obviously knew we'd be coming across them because he took out a plastic bag full of bird seed. Jeremy and the other guy in our group threw the seed and held some in their hands for the birds and instantly they started to have birds land on their heads and hands for food lol! It was kind of gross but so funny lol. After we were done with the popsicles we were headed to our next food destination, which was ceviche! On the way we passed by the coolest street that had a ton of umbrellas hanging from wires above us. Which came in handy with all the rain!
(( Below are just some pics of the different architecture in Puerto Rico. Like I said, SO MANY COLORS! ))
We ended up eating our ceviche too fast to get a picture, haha but it was yummy! After that we went to the main course, and I can't remember what the restaurant was called, but it SO GOOD! It was kind of like the Mofongo we had in DR, but we actually got to mash it up and prepare it ourselves. That was really cool :) The last place was of course dessert :) The place was called Pasión por el Chocolate and we had Puerto Rican hot chocolate and little chocolates. WEIRDEST THING they have with their hot chocolate is a piece of cheese...lol ew. I wasn't really diggin' that but I at least tried it. I think I'll stick to my normal marshmallows lol.
Once the tour was finished, we had about 2 more hours of exploring we could do, so we walked to the El Morro fort, which is a historical landmark in PR. It was built in the 16th century to protect the city from enemies coming in from the sea! This place was MASSIVE. It was right on the edge of the island so you had a great view of the ocean. There were little caverns where I'm assuming soldiers slept/stayed in, and they even had old cannons! It was beautiful. The fort is surrounded by a ton of grass and this was where we saw the cute little stray kitties lol! After El Morro we just walked through the city admiring all the beautiful colored buildings. Seriously, this city spoke to me! I just fell in love with it. We definitely want to go back and do more exploring of the island :) One day!
The next day we made it to our last destination, Turks & Caicos! I had Thomas Rhett's "Vacation" song stuck in my head when we got there, haha. But for real, guys. THIS PLACE! The water is unreal! The color is so turquoise and beautiful and clear. This was definitely the most "Carribean" stop we made. It is the epitome of an island lifestyle! We were on Grand Turk for this stop.
At this port we booked a snorkeling and sting ray encounter excursion! I was SO excited. We had snorkeled a little bit in St. Thomas but this was definitely the spot you didn't want to miss out on. After we met up with our excursion group we headed out toward the docks and got on our tour boat. They equipped us with life jackets, masks & snorkels and flippers. A quick 15 minute trip around the island and we were at the reef! Instantly when we got there they pointed out the nurse shark that you could EASILY see from the boat, and I thought Jeremy wasn't going to get in the water haha. He is TERRIFIED of sharks. As he should be! They're scary! But we did our research and nurse sharks are basically bottom feeder-like fish that are harmless. I got to admit I was a little freaked out about getting into the water because it kept swimming near where we were supposed to jump in at, lol!
After a quick safety briefing it was time to get in the water! The shark had swam away so the coast was clear to jump in. Jeremy went in first and I followed after. Looking down in the water you just see thousands of colorful fish, coral and shells! It was so awesome :) We bought these waterproof phone cases so we were able to record our snorkeling which was really cool :) Jeremy got some good shots of all the fish.
Now, this place is known for the local nurse shark and something else...a freaking barracuda...lol. I was NOT about the barracuda at all. Jeremy spotted it first and pointed it out to me. I instantly swam in the other direction and got close to the tour guide haha. It was harmless but just looked freaky! I continued to swim close to the tour guide lol, just to be safe haha. We snorkeled there for about 45 minutes and then it was off to our next stop.
Once everyone was back on the boat we headed out to another little island where we were going to meet the stingrays! They were totally wild stingrays. The tour guide had some treats for them for when they showed up and once he got a hold of one we were able to hold them too and get our picture kissing one, haha! They were so slippery lol. We got to hang out there for about another 45 minutes or so, but had to take off kind of in a hurry because a storm was coming quick. Within 10 minutes it had gotten so windy and cloudy. The waves on the way back here HUGE! But in a fun, non-scary way haha.
(( As you can tell from my picture I was thrilled to give it a kiss lol! ))
When we got back to the dock we had some time to kill before having to get back on the ship, so we did a little more snorkeling ourselves just off the beach and swam for a bit. We actually saw another mini stingray! We then got some lunch at this little beach shack and tried conch! It kind of tasted like calamari. It was good :) Jeremy loved it haha. After a couple hours on Turks & Caicos it was time to get back on the ship and venture on back home. We had a whole day at sea the next day, which we spent laying by the pool, hot tubbing and hitting up the buffet and casino one last time ;) I will say the first day at sea when the cruise begins is a lot more fun than the last day at sea, haha. The last day you are just kind of like, "okay lets get there already" lol.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'll be doing a separate post on all the things we learned as first time cruisers! I'll also go into a little more detail about our ship and what all there was to do on it. I'd highly, HIGHLY recommend taking a cruise! They are super affordable, you get to see so many different places and its a fun way to meet people, too! They're great for kids, family reunions, honeymoons, anniversary trips, or just vacations.
Overall we had such an amazing anniversary trip on this cruise! We made some unforgettable memories and got to see some amazing places. No better way to celebrate 2 years of marriage with this amazing guy. I love you Jeremy with all I have! Again, thank you all for being so patient on this post! It was a lot to get written down while juggling with life and other blog posts haha. If you have any other questions about our trip just comment down below! :)