I’ve booked a holiday! Back in November, I read an article by the lovely Jordon Cox from MoneySavingExpert.com, snappily titled 😉, ‘How to get 18 consecutive days off in 2019 for just nine days of annual leave‘, so booked the dates off at work and started thinking about where to go.
I know these are properly first world problems, but I feel like I haven’t been away for ages so have been desperate to see somewhere new and soak up the sun. I went to NYC on a press trip last year (which was amazing but work) and Vegas for a few days the year before that for my birthday, so wanted to do something special (I’ve saved up money for it!).
Deciding where to go on holiday
I was super close to rebooking Hawaii again. I went there for my 30th birthday a few years ago, and I often worry that no-where will ever compare. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world, but I tell you what, Hawaii felt like home (sounds ridiculous, but have you ever gone anywhere and felt like you had to move there?! ha).
My boyfriend bought me a beautiful book for my birthday this year, ‘Loney Planet, Where to go when‘, to help me decide. One rainy Saturday night, he was reading it and it said that St. Lucia was a perfect destination for April/May. It’s not really anywhere I’ve considered before because it seems EXPENSIVE.
Jack’s Flight Club
Then just as luck would have it, got an email from Jack’s Flight Club that said there were return flights to Barbados, with British Airlines for £300! So much cheaper than Hawaii, and only eight hours away. At the time of writing, I’m not seeing £300 flights to Bridgetown, Barbados – but lots of return flights for around £500.
If you can be flexible with where and when you want to go, signing up to Jack’s Flight Club email newsletter is a no-brainer. It’s also worth checking Holiday Pirates out too, who steal what Jack’s email says, and more, and then puts it all in one place. I don’t keep checking back to Holiday Pirate’s website every day though, so miss out on a lot of deals, whereas I check my emails daily.
There’s a free version, where you get emails whenever they find super cheap flights, and also a paid version (£12 for three months) which I think is worth paying for a few months while deciding on where to go. The deals are ridiculously good. Check it out.
I jumped on those flights. Now, as holiday goers, my boyfriend and I like to explore. We don’t really sit around a pool all day drinking cocktails – we like trips – so wanted to island hop, especially as St. Lucia was so close.
Discovered there used to be a ferry that would take you across the Caribbean which would have been perfect, but not anymore. So checked out flights. Even though the flight to St Lucia was only 40 mins, it was coming up at over £300 for a return flight. Like, OK – that’s doable, but not great.
Going on a Carnival Cruise
Then I had an epiphany. I remember chatting with a friend from my old job who was obsessed with Carnival Cruises. He said they are cheap as anything but are brilliant. I took a look and discovered the 7-day cruise on the Fascination.
The trip consists of:
- Day 1 – Picking us up from Barbados
- Day 2 – Day at sea
- Day 3 – San Juan
- Day 4 – St. Thomas
- Day 5 – St. Maarten
- Day 6 – St. Kitts
- Day 7 – St. Lucia
We paid (with a rubbish conversion rate at the moment!):
Cruise rate – $509 (£393.14)
Taxes, fees & port expenses – $97.88 (£75.90)
Tips (paid them in advance) – $97.93 (£75.95)
Total – $704.70 (£546.45) per person.
It’s cheap, right?
To me, that’s incredible value for money. That’s £78 per person a day, which covers unlimited food (there are some many restaurants!), drink (not pop or booze, where you would pay extra for a package), shows and entertainment – plus it cheaply takes us to a load of islands we’d like to go to, which would cost us an arm and a leg if we bought flights for.
It’s a REALLY nice ship too. I used to say I’d never go on a cruise, ‘I’m just not a cruise person’, and when I booked it, I said ‘this is really just a cheap way to get from A to B’, but the more I look into it and research – the more excited I am for the cruise bit.
Of course, they are going to do what they can to upsell and make their money back – but I’m not paying out for much if everything I need is free. Well… they may get a few cocktails out of me!
That’s all that I’ve planned. If you’ve done any of this trip, please do give me tips! Where should I stay in Barbados (have 10 days there outside the cruise)? If you only have a few hours on the islands, what should we do?