Carnival Sunshine | 04.09.2016

Carnival Cruise out of Port Canaveral, FL | Stopped in Half Moon Cay, Nassau, & Freeport, Bahamas

In August, my mom sends me a text saying, "Hey, I booked a cruise!" We had been talking about it back and forth, but I had not heard much more about it. This was definitely a sweet surprise for my college graduation. I initially assumed it was during my college spring break-- but game changer-- it was during her teaching spring break. So for a whole semester, we crossed our fingers that my professors would be kind enough to let me play hooky for a week. The big guy upstairs delivered! This was a much needed vacation and a wonderful bonding time for my mother and I.

Our first stop was to one of our favorite places. We are both "seasoned cruisers" with the fancy gold room keys. Half Moon Cay is one of those places so worth the stop. It's quiet, it's beautiful, and it's quaint. It's the kind of place you get off the boat super early to go to and load the last ferry when they make you leave.

This time, there was a sweet little wedding happening and I was DYING to get a peek. Y'all, I literally hid behind a bush with my camera to peek into this little pink chapel (see above).

Behind me was a family of four, trying to take an infamous selfie. I stopped, and asked if I could take their picture for them with their camera. I instantly went into family portraits mode. I asked the dad to remove his sunglasses and posed them. The mom was so giggly and happy to finally be in a family photo! She then asked if I could follow them around and take pictures for them the rest of the trip. I snickered and said I would totally tag along on their next family vacation and be their personal photographer for a free vacay (dreams!)

So you see the little aqua seahorse shack? I've decided that will be my "tiny house" and I will be Half Moon Cay's wedding photographer. I hope Lola and Jasper like the beach.

Next, we went to Nassau. It was a overcast with some unpredictable weather, so we made our trip quick, but efficient. We walked around to the shops, especially the little holes in the wall. My mom is a sucker for old pharmacies (I blame her medical background) so we stopped in neat little places like that. Then we went to the straw market. You can see in the picture above (bottom right), it's all the bright and colorful bags and trinkets with "Nassau" sewn on. We were determined to find more of the authentic souvenirs.

Then we came across these two men. One was hand carving wooden sculptures and the other was painting on old cardboard boxes. We were absolutely inspired. They weren't worried about anything else, just using their gifts to create mementos for tourists. I bought a neat wooden carved fish from the first fellow and it now adorns my bathroom. Meeting these two was definitely my favorite part about Nassau.

We finished up the day with a horse and buggy tour around Nassau. A sweet man asked to take a picture with my camera and after much editing, I revived them to the best of my ability. These pictures are proof that a great camera doesn't make a great photographer. When people look at photos and say, "Man, they have a great camera!" That's like looking at a handy-man and saying, "Man, they have a great wrench!" You have to know how to use your equipment to be great at what you do.

Our last stop was Freeport. Freeport is VERY industrial and much smaller than Nassau. Typically, we choose one day at port to stay on the boat and enjoy the sunshine by the pool with the best seats. Everyone else gets off the boat, so the best kept secret is to choose the place you're least interested in, sleep in a little, and stay on the boat and get waited on hand and foot.

On that note, here's a few random tips for your next Carnival Cruise:

1. I had no idea, but they now have wifi on cruise ships! It's not terribly slow (Dahlonega wifi was worse lol) and you can still read your favorite blogs/news during your downtime and check on friends & family. For about $40, you can have unlimited wifi on your device. Sure, cruise ships are about unplugging, but this chick wanted to know how my sick grandmother and pups were doing on their first week ever without me.

2. The coffee was terrible. I just can't sugar coat this. My mom brought her own powdered sugar-free creamer so she was able to semi-enjoy it, but I drink my coffee black. I was a little SOL. I am not sure how to solve this, but for next cruise, I'll have my plan of attack. Who can go a day without java?!

3. When packing, bring a sweatshirt and sweatpants. To keep germs to a minimum, these ships are COLD. My mom and I are both cold-natured, so we always bring plenty of warm clothes for the late-night shows. On this note, you think you will dress up nice-- that's a joke. Bring comfy clothes to run around in. I never pack enough track shorts and tshirts.

4. You have to check your luggage on like an airplane. So pack a small carry on with all your first day essentials. I wore my bathing suit onto the boat with a dress/cover-up and had my book, hat and sunscreen ready to go. We also packed a lanyard or keychain bracelet and a carabiner to put our "sign and sail" card on. You use this card for everything, so it's nice to slip it on your bag for easy access.

5. The night before you leave, don't check your luggage in for them to carry off the boat. There are elevators and it's so easy to just roll your luggage off yourself. If you choose to check your luggage in, you have to hunt it down in a warehouse of other bags. It's a nightmare when all you want to do is get in the car and head home.

If you have any other questions, comment below and I will try to answer them or help you find the answer! Happy Sailing!