A few months ago, we explored Naples on a cruise stop, and the Amalfi Coast beckoned. With just 10-11 hours in port, we had to make the most of our time to explore both Amalfi and Naples before heading back to the ship. Here’s a breakdown of our experience and some crucial advice for your own adventure. If you’re planning to visit this stunning destination, especially on a cruise ship stopover, be sure to watch this video and read on for essential tips.

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Planning Your Amalfi Coast Excursion

Tip #1: Choose the Right Tour Guide, Book in Advance

If you want to explore the Amalfi Coast independently, book tours or guides well before your cruise arrives. Cruise ship excursions tend to fill up quickly. A good tour guide makes all the difference and we lucked out with our local guide Luca. He played a crucial role in making our tour of the Amalfi Coast a memorable experience. He was punctual, informative, and helped us navigate the region efficiently.

Tip #2: Capture the Beauty of the Amalfi Coast – Bring Your Cameras

The winding roads on our drive to the Amalfi Coast showcased breathtaking scenery. This goes without saying, but make sure you have your camera or phone handy to capture the beauty of this Italian gem. Even in the early morning, the sights are worth documenting, providing lasting memories of the coastal drive.

Tip #3: Cash and Spending – Credit Cards vs. ATMs

I personally prefer to use a credit card when spending on a cruise stopover. If you need cash, however, the cruise ship ATMs or physical banks are your best options. Beware of sketchy ATMs out in the open or connected to small convenience stores. Parking in coastal areas like Positano on the Amalfi Coast can be expensive, so plan accordingly based on your budget.

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Exploring the Amalfi Coast

Tip #1: Beat the Cruise Ship Rush

Our guide Luca recommended visiting Amalfi early in the day to beat the rush of cruise ship passengers (who typically show up later in the day). Thanks to Luca’s advice we had the freedom to explore for about an hour and a half before it got really crowded. Don’t miss the cathedral, Duomo di Amalfi, which offers a captivating experience. Luca’s local insights allowed us to make the most of our time.

Tip #2: Be Sure to Check Out Positano

Positano, 45 minutes away, was our next stop. Luca’s recommendations for parking and dining were invaluable. Despite its reputation for being a bit pricey, Positano’s charm and breathtaking views make it worth every penny. We discovered a delightful restaurant, Restaurant Lilant, with a fantastic vantage point of the sea.

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Tip #3: Navigating Traffic and Parking

Traffic and parking along the Amalfi Coast can be challenging at the best of times – having a private tour guide like Luca was essential for navigating the coast in our tight schedule. Luca’s expertise ensured a seamless experience moving from site to site, allowing us to focus on enjoying the moment rather than worrying about logistics.

Final Thoughts

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Exploring Naples in a Short Time Frame – If you have limited time in Naples, consider a driving tour instead of extensive walking, especially if you’re feeling tired from your Amalfi Coast excursion or have limited time before the cruise ship departure deadline.

Local Guide, Unsung Hero – A massive thanks to Luca for being the unsung hero of our Amalfi Coast adventure. His knowledge, suggestions, and warm hospitality made our day truly special. We don’t do sponsored posts or ads on this blog or our YouTube page, I only recommended services I have personally used and paid for myself in past trips. If you’re planning a cruise to Naples, consider reaching out to Luca for a personalized and memorable excursion.

Luca’s Phone Number +39 333 325 7567 Send him a message on WhatsApp and tell him that you saw Alex & Erika’s video for our stop in Naples.

If your Caribbean cruise ship itinerary includes a stop at the Costa Maya Cruise Port, you’re in for a treat! From duty-free shopping and beach-front dining to sun-kissed beach-resorts, Puerto Costa Maya (as it is locally known) is a delightful slice of paradise that offers relaxation, exploration, and a touch of adventure.

Here are some insider tips for an unforgettable day exploring Costa Maya from someone who experienced the delights of this Mexican resort town with his wife and three young children in October 2023.

Alex’s Costa Maya Cruise Port Guide #1: When You Arrive

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As you disembark from your cruise ship at Costa Maya make sure you bring the following items with you: a towel to dry off after a dip in one of the many resort pools and photo ID for reboarding the ship. The walk to the terminal from the cruise ship is stunning – you are surrounded by the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea and can see fish swimming around the jetty. That being said, if you have mobility issues or just don’t feel like walking, there is a free tram next to the ship waiting to pick you up and transport you to the terminal.

Costa Maya Travel Tips: Photo-op in Front of the Ship
There is a wonderful photo op in front of the cruise ship as you walk the jetty to the terminal. You won’t find many cruise ship docks as picturesque as this anywhere in the world, so be sure to take advantage of it!

Alex’s Costa Maya Guide #2: Exploring the Terminal

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You can could spend the entire stop without leaving the cruise terminal and have a great time! The terminal boasts numerous bars, restaurants, spas, duty-free shops, multiple pools free for all cruise ship passengers and a swimming-with-dolphins experience. You can get all your eating, drinking and souvenir shopping needs met without ever leaving the confines of the terminal. There are also changing areas by the pools and rentable lockers for passenger convenience.

The only downside is that when several cruise ships dock at once the terminal can get crowded with passengers shopping, swimming, dining and drinking – which is not necessarily a bad thing if you prefer a livelier party atmosphere in your cruise ship stops!

Costa Maya Travel Tips: Pick the Right Swimming Pool in the Terminal
There is more than one pool available for free to cruise ship passengers in the Costa Maya Cruise Terminal. During our stop-over the main swimming pool area was quite busy – there is a second newer pool near the taxi stand that had fewer people and would be a better option. The second pool also had an in-pool bar and shallow areas for younger kids – a better option, in my opinion.

Alex’s Costa Maya Guide #3: Exploring the Town

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The more adventurous among you will want to venture beyond the port to discover the charms of Costa Maya proper. Outside the terminal you will find even more shops and restaurants, beach clubs, and various local attractions. Some of my favorite things to do in Cost Maya include:

  • Golf Cart Tours: When you leave the port and enter the large parking area you can find golf carts waiting to pick up tourists. We rented a golf cart in advance for our tour of Costa Maya. Mayahaul Red Shirts Golf Carts provide a great service and is our preferred golf cart tour company.
  • Miniature Mayan Temple: As you drive out of the port, keep an eye out for the miniature Mayan temple replica. It’s a unique sight that adds to the magic of Costa Maya.
  • Mahahual: This small town with a laid-back vibe has plenty to offer visitors. There are many local shops and sea-front restaurants to explore. The famous Costa Maya lighthouse is also worth a visit. The area is traffic free, even in peak tourist season.
  • Visit a Beach Club: There are many beach clubs that cater to cruise ship tourists in the area. Think of them as mini beach-front resorts. Our favorites are the Krazy Lobster Beach Club off Mahahual’s main boulevard and the Chunky Monkey Beach Club.

Costa Maya Travel Tips: Watch Out for High Prices Outside the Terminal Area
A lot of the stores and restaurants in and around Costa Maya cater exclusively to cruise ship passengers and the prices in some can be considerably higher than what you might find inside the terminal. Compare prices before spending money in shops, restaurants or beach-clubs and check online reviews.

Alex’s Costa Maya Guide #4: Departure Tips

When it’s time to leave Costa Maya, remember to show your cruise ship cards to the guards at the terminal entrance to re-enter the port area. You will also need to show your photo ID to get back on the ship. The embarkation points on the ship can get crowded when all the cruise ship passengers return at once. The elevators to your cabin may have a queue, so for a better experience walk to the next set of elevators a little further away – those tend to be less crowded with returning passengers.

Final Thoughts on the Costa Maya Cruise Port

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Costa Maya is a hidden gem that offers more than just port-side amenities of the cruise-ship terminal. Embrace the adventure, explore the town, and create memories that go beyond the souvenir shops and resort pools. This guide covers only the places and things we personally had time to experience ourselves on our brief stay in Costa Maya – there’s much more out there that we didn’t have time to explore.

I hope these tips piqued your curiosity about Costa Maya and gives you the urge to discover the hidden charms of this vibrant Mexican cruise ship port.

Carnival Cruise Line has consistently proven to be a fantastic choice for family vacations, especially for those with young children. One of the standout features that keep us coming back to Carnival Cruise is their Night Owls program – an on-ship childcare program that stands out from the competition. It has been a lifesaver for us as parents travelling with three young kids, including one under 3 years.

What is the Carnival Cruise Night Owls Program?

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The Night Owls program caters to children aged 6 months to 11 years old, offering a unique group babysitting service from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. each night of the cruise. What sets Carnival apart is their inclusivity – most cruise lines mandate that children must be at least 3 years old and potty trained to qualify for their youth programs. Carnival breaks the mold by welcoming even 6-month-olds into Night Owls. For parents with toddlers, this is a game-changer. The program allows parents and guardians to enjoy the cruise’s nightlife worry-free, knowing their little ones are in safe hands. Older kids, like our 9-year-old Aiden and 7-year-old Ethan, can also participate, but the big selling point here is that they also welcomed our toddler Emma, who was under 3 years old at the time we used their service.

The Night Owls program takes place inside Camp Ocean, the dedicated facility on Carnival Cruise ships for kids aged 6 months to 11 years. The atmosphere is akin to a slumber party, complete with movie time, arts and crafts, toys, video games, snacks, and more. Parents are encouraged to inform the Camp Ocean staff during the day if their child will be participating in Night Owls that evening. This helps ensure that the program runs smoothly, as it may be closed by midnight if there are no participating children.

How Much Does the Carnival Cruise Night Owls Program Cost?

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The Night Owls program comes with a cost of $7.50 per hour plus an 18% service charge per child, which I feel is reasonable. Any child left beyond 1:00 a.m. will incur additional charges, so be sure to pick up your little ones before then.

While not all parents may be comfortable leaving their children in a group setting, the Night Owls experience has received positive reviews from us and other parents who participated. Carnival’s staff has consistently proven to be fantastic, creating a comfortable environment for the kids. The program provides flexibility for parents with its sign-in and sign-out policy. Authorization for other family members or friends to sign in and out your children can be arranged, streamlining the process for those traveling in larger family groups.

One perk for parents with children under 2 years old in the Night Owls program is the provision of a cell phone throughout the cruise. This facilitates communication in case of emergencies, offering both peace of mind and convenience.

Is the Carnival Cruise Night Owls Program Worth It?

Carnival Cruise’s Night Owls program is a beacon of relief for parents traveling with children under 3 years old. The flexibility, inclusivity, and attentive staff make it a standout feature, allowing parents to strike the perfect balance between family time and well-deserved breaks during their cruise vacation.

For more up-to-date information on the Carnival Cruise Night Owls program, please visit their official page.

If you’re a fan of cruise ships (as I obviously am) and don’t mind splashing out for a good meal every now and then I strongly recommend giving the Carnival Cruise Chef’s Table a try. This video offers a brief overview of the highlights of our Chef’s Table experience during our recent marriage anniversary cruise.

Our journey begins with an exclusive invitation to the ship’s kitchen – or galley, if you prefer the nautical term. Walking through a busy cruise ship galley at peak dinner service was an exhilarating experience with the sights, sounds, and aromas creating a palpable sense of excitement. It was like being thrown into a reality cooking show (minus an angry Gordon Ramsay) or, if you prefer Hulu prestige dramas, the kitchen of The Bear.

Our Carnival Cruise Chef’s Table Journey Begins in the Kitchen with Champagne and Entrees

Our Chef’s Table dinner kicks off in earnest with a glass of champagne and a series of tantalizing single-bite entrees prepared especially for the occasion. Although not every entree was met with universal acclaim from the assembled guests (some were more intriguing than delicious), it was obvious to all that they were prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail, setting the stage for the culinary journey ahead. Our guide peppered us with facts about the preparation of each item and offered helpful advice on how to properly consume each piece and when to take a sip of champagne to heighten the taste. May sound like overkill, but trust me, it actually works to enhance the flavors.

At one point we had a pastry chef come in and demonstrate how they make the world-famous Carnival melting chocolate cake. By now it was obvious we were witnessing a well-choreographed culinary team in action – they were putting on a performance and we had front row seats.

8 Course Meal and a Magician

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Moving from the kitchen, we were ushered into a separate dining area with large windows overlooking the busy galley. The view gave us a window into a busy cruise-ship kitchen’s frantic energy while enjoying the intimacy of the Chef’s Table setting. A recurring theme of our Chef’s Table experience is that it was not just all about the food, it was the entire sensory experience.

Our gastronomic adventure begins with a series of meticulously crafted dishes. Each course is a mini art piece on a plate that looked as good as they tasted. From dehydrated mushrooms coated in mushroom dust to a lean fish marinated with salt, pepper, olive oil, and grated lemon lime zest, every dish showcases the chef’s creativity and commitment. At a certain point during the dinner a magician made his appearance, captivating the audience with mind-bending tricks. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this, but I was genuinely amazed at his “guess the phone PIN” trick,

Eye Popping Desserts to Top off a Great Carnival Cruise Chef’s Table Experience

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As dinner progressed, we made our way through the courses and eventually ended up with dessert. Since it was Erika and my anniversary, we really appreciated the specially prepared anniversary dessert and shoutout from the staff. It’s these little touches that make all the difference on a Carnival Cruise ship. The dessert items were somehow even fancier than the main course – from a pyramid-shaped chocolate with Bailey Irish cream ganache to a lemon meringue dusted with matcha tea powder, each bite was a joy.

The evening concluded with heartfelt gratitude from our intrepid host, thanking us for choosing the Chef’s Table. The entire experience left us feeling like royalty, appreciating the hidden gem that lies behind a seemingly random door in the cruise ship. We loved it, and I’m sure you will too!

Click here for more write-ups on our cruise-ship travels.