I’m Victoria, a fourth year (last semester!) architecture major and travel and tourism minor at Clemson University. In addition to architecture, I enjoy photography, traveling, and sharing my experience with others. This is my sixth photo review on Cruise Critic – you can find links to my other photo reviews in my signature below. And if you enjoy my review, you can read more travel writings on my travel blog, victoriaonvacation.blogspot.com.
I feel the need to start every cruise review with a little ‘disclaimer.’ This review will be told in a journalistic style with lots of photos. With the exception of this first post, there won’t be a lot of posts with paragraphs and paragraphs of text – I rely a lot on photos to tell the story. I also don’t take myself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either. There will be a lot of fun-poking and maybe a little sarcasm, and you’re all invited to join in on the fun! I encourage you to post comments to share your thoughts and experiences, or just tell me who you are!
My Traveling Party
My dad, Boyd, is a funny guy - if you aren't laughing at his jokes, you're laughing at how bad they are (and I am told by my boyfriend that I have the same sense of humor)! Dad is a nuclear licensing engineer who is always in need of a vacation.
My mom, Sharon, is always trying her best to bring order to this group of crazies. Before leaving for vacation, she straightens the house - "In case someone breaks in while we're gone."
My sister, Rachel, brings along even more laughter. She has an outgoing personality and will do crazy things just to make people smile. Rachel is a civil engineering major at Clemson University.
Choosing the Cruise
Since 2009, my family has left the Christmas tree and stockings behind (and taken miniature versions with us) to celebrate Christmas on a cruise in the Caribbean. What started as a rather last-minute cruise deal five years ago has evolved into a family tradition. This year, we wanted to spend our holiday doing a cruise out of Florida so that after we could go to Walt Disney World after, since we had purchased annual passes when we were at Disney in October. We like taking longer cruises – our first few were 8 or 9 days, and last year, we took a 10-day Panama Canal Partial Transit on the Island Princess. However, this year, there wasn’t much available in the way of 8 or 9-day cruises. The Independence of the Seas has an 8-day itinerary which I had my eye on for the longest time, but it seemed rather overpriced for a balcony stateroom and never really dropped. We thought we could find a better value, so we started to consider other cruises which we narrowed down to the Celebrity Reflection, Norwegian Epic, or Royal Princess which all sailed 7-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Of these, we ultimately chose the Royal Princess because though we loved the Norwegian Epic and would love to sail on her again, the Royal Princess included a stop to Princess Cays which we had never been to before (Reflection was Coco Cay and Epic was Nassau… meh).
Cruise Route by vshingl, on Flickr
Choosing the Cabin
We were first considering an obstructed view balcony on the Royal Princess. We were going to book a forward-facing cabin until we realized that you couldn’t go on it unless the ship was in port (and after this windy cruise, we understand why!), so it was essentially a glamorized oceanview stateroom. We were twiddling our thumbs and debating on whether to select the obstructed view balcony or upgrade to a standard balcony when my dad found a promotion on an online booking site which allowed us to secure an aft balcony for about $200 less than we were going to pay for that forward-facing balcony (with onboard credit) – hoorah!
Ha! What pre-cruise planning? The benefit of visiting ports that we have already sailed before is that we already know what’s there. We are beach people (and when I say 'we,' I mean Rachel), so I knew that for Princess Cays, we'd just find a nice spot on the beach. In St. Thomas, we'd go to Sapphire Beach, and in St. Maarten, we'd head to Orient Beach. No excursions for us this cruise - just cab rides!
My Camera Bag
For about two years, I've owned a Nikon 1 J1 and the 10-30mm and 30-110mm Nikon 1 lenses.
I have been planning for a long time to upgrade my camera body and lenses, but I didn't have the time to purchase until a few days before vacation. So I did one-day shipping through Amazon and got everything Thursday evening (we left on Saturday) thanks to the hard-working UPS and FedEx holiday workers.
Nikon D7100 by vshingl, on Flickr
So in addition to my Nikon 1 J1 and Nikon 1 lenses, my camera bag includes the Nikon D7100 camera body, Tamron 17-50mm lens, Tokina 11-16mm ultra wide angle lens, and Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight, as well as a MeFoto Backpacker tripod and a wireless remote.
I thought there would be some situations in which I would want to use my Nikon 1 J1 over my D7100 either because of size or in risky shooting scenarios. However, I actually only used my J1 two times during the entire vacation - in the hotel room the morning before embarkation and at Epcot shooting the Candlelight Processional because I needed the longer focal length of the 30-110mm Nikon 1 lens. For the rest of the vacation, it stayed locked in the safe.
Travel Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
My Photo Reviews:
Independence of the Seas Eastern Caribbean
Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean // Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean
Royal Princess Eastern Caribbean // NCL Epic Western Med // NCL Epic SOLO Med
Island Princess Panama Canal // Monarch of the Seas Bahamas
Adventure of the Seas Southern Caribbean
Read my reviews without the comments here:
Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean // Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean // Royal Princess Eastern Caribbean // Adventure of the Seas Southern Caribbean
2016 Norwegian Epic [Christmas], Western Caribbean
2015 Pacific Princess [Christmas], Panama Canal Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale
2014 Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas [Christmas], Eastern Caribbean
2014 Disney Fantasy, Western Caribbean
2014 Carnival Breeze, Southern Caribbean
2013 Royal Princess [Christmas], Eastern Caribbean
2013 Norwegian Epic, Western Mediterranean (Rome Roundtrip)
2013 Norwegian Epic, Western Mediterranean (Barcelona Roundtrip)
2012 Island Princess [Christmas] Panama Canal Partial Transit
2012 Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas, Bahamas
2011 Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas [Christmas], Southern Caribbean
2010 Carnival Dream [Christmas], Exotic Western Caribbean
2010 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas, Southern Caribbean
2009 Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas [Christmas], Eastern Caribbean
2008 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas [New Year's], Western Caribbean
2007 Carnival Inspiration [New Year's], Cozumel
2004 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas, Eastern Caribbean
2001 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas, Alaska
2000 Disney Magic, Bahamas