Now that my two adult children finally have current passports (who lets their parents book and pay for a trip without checking that their passport is valid?), I can begin planning what may turn into our last adventure as a group of four. Our family Christmas present for 2012 was a winter vacation: fly to Miami, spend a few days, and then take a four-day Caribbean cruise. With the constraints from various commitments, we chose a cruise based on the dates, rather than the destinations and the cruise-line’s reputation. We will be taking our first cruise on the Carnival Imagination, leaving from Miami and stopping in Key West and Cozumel.
As usual, I am the researcher for these trips and, as usual, Trip Advisor has been invaluable. We learned that the Imagination is going into dry dock at the end of this season to be refitted, so we`re not sure what shape it is in. Carnival Cruises is mentioned in one of my social media course’s recommended reading list books, Groundswell, for its application, Carnival Connections.
Our hotel room in Miami for the two days before the cruise and the one near the airport for the night we return from sea were chosen using TripAdvisor. Lately when my husband and I have travelled in the US, we have been staying in TripAdvisor-recommended Kimpton Hotels, and each stay has been very enjoyable. For this trip, I decided we would be better with suite hotels rather than trying to book into two hotel room. Looking for accommodations that offer an optimal mix of location, cost, services, and amenities, we chose the Mutiny in Coconut Grove for the first two nights and the Homewood Suites for the last night.
I compared TripAdvisor to the Carnival Cruises’ shore excursion lists to compile a list of potential excursions. We will decide which excursions once we meet in Miami and can then decide whether to book through Carnival or purchase online, depending on the difference in price.
For the onshore meals, I will probably bring a list of recommended restaurants, but given the ongoing challenges Tom and I have agreeing on dining out that I have itemized in earlier posts, I am not going to push my selections and will wait to see what happens.
Social media has made planning travel easier and significantly more enjoyable. Now I hope I can blog from the high seas.