A Week in Orlando & Cruising the Caribbean

Donna Meredith on 04 April 2011
As the idea of Cruising became more intriguing I became quite concerned that I was hurtling towards middle age at break neck speed. Cruising had previously evoked images of the blue rinse brigade, sequins and ceremony. I could not have been more wrong and am happy to report that my first cruise this year was a revelation

As we are always looking for the next thing to explore on our Florida vacations it was inevitable that at some point we would investigate the many Cruise opportunities from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Tampa. On our trip to Florida last year (2010) we spent a lot of time in Miami admiring the Cruise Liners in port, it was then that we decided that 2011 would we the year we finally got our sea legs !!

We chose a two centre break with the first part of our Florida Vacation being in Orlando where we spent a week enjoying Disney World, Universal Studios and all of the other attractions in the Kissimmee and Disney World area. My personal favourite is Epcot as I love to explore World Showcase, where else can you enjoy lunch at a little French patisserie followed by dinner in Japan and then end the evening with the magical Epcot fireworks.....by far the best fireworks of all the parks. My favourite ride at Epcot is a multi sensory experience which simulates a hang-gliding flight over the Golden State of California – you can even smell the Orange Groves. Make this your first ride of the day as the fast passes run out early in the day.

After a fun packed week in Orlando we headed off to Miami to start our cruise adventure. It’s around a three and a half hour drive from Miami which we enjoy as we stop off en-route and make it part of the experience, however budget airlines fly frequently from Orlando to Miami. We took a 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Valor, which is a massive 952 feet long and has a maximum capacity of 3,700 passengers!!

Our cruise was over the Easter break therefore the ship was busy but not so much so that you could not find a lounger by the pool or a table to have lunch at etc. There was a great mix of people of all age groups with the main numbers being made up of family groups although there we lots of couples too.

The food was amazing with our favourites being the formal dinners each evening in the Lincoln Dining Room; however the Pizzeria was also a firm favourite as was the Mongolian food station. Every palate was catered for and food was available (and included in the cruise price) 24 hours per day. I am not sure if this was a good thing as we seemed to eat every couple of hours!!! Book in a week at the gym after your cruise ......you will need it!!

Another big hit on the Cruise was the Kids Club, our daughter is 10 and she loved the activities, especially the scavenger hunts, t-shirt painting and party evenings. We liked having a little time each day to ourselves too. The Serenity area is adults only with luxurious loungers and cabanas.....oh and a bar too in case you need a Margarita to cool you down.

The ports of call on the Western Caribbean cruise included Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. Our favourites were Grand Cayman where we went on a Snuba activity (cross between Scuba and Snorkel) and Cozumel where we swam with Dolphins.

I cannot recommend a two centre break in Florida highly enough. An action packed week in Orlando followed by a week cruising the Caribbean is a heavenly experience..... We are already looking at the Eastern Caribbean Cruise to tag on to our next vacation in Florida.