A peek into one of my favorite vacations I’ve had in awhile! Hopefully this will inspire your next trip. This is going to be a long post, too, so bear with me.
First of all, if any of you guys have never been to Miami, you need to go like now! It’s so beautiful and there’s so many cool places to check out!
We flew from Baltimore to Miami on Saturday and got in around the same time we needed to to check into our hotel. Our hotel was Downtown Miami and was perfect because it was right across the street from a Checkers and a Publix so we had easy access to anything we needed!
I’m a planner when it comes to planning out vacations or to-do lists so I had a loose outline of what we were going to do each day, so that we could make the most of our time!
As soon as we got checked into our hotel, we got a ride over to Little Havana to have lunch. If you like Cuban food, especially Cuban sandwiches, I would recommend going to Doce Provisions. It’s a small and authentic Cuban restaurant where we had our lunch out on their patio. It was such a relaxed dining environment and experience!
The food did not disappoint. We ordered the chorizo croquettes as an appetizer and I ordered a Cuban sandwich – these are definitely the basics that anyone should try! I highly recommend these menu items as well as the restaurant! All the staff were extremely friendly and everyone spoke English and Spanish.
We didn’t walk around Little Havana much because getting into the town, it wasn’t what I was expecting. All these websites told me it was a must-see when visiting Miami, but I would definitely just go for the restaurant. It wasn’t as touristy as I was expecting.
Since we arrived in the late afternoon, we didn’t have time to hit South Beach for the day but we made it for the nightlife scene. We decided to go to The Clevelander, which is one of the bars I went to a couple of years ago on Spring Break. The Clevelander was also one of the spots Bob’s parents recommended us going to. We each had to pay $10 cover to get in (a little bitter that ladies weren’t free like last time I was there but $10 isn’t bad!). The Clevelander is a hotel first and foremost and has a pool in the courtyard that they cover and use as a stage at nighttime. There’s a huge bar, bottle service, and a DJ on stage with some dancers.
Bob and I pregamed hard and had ourselves such a good time there! Our drink of choice is Red Bull Vodkas (horrible I know) so we got our fair share and made some drunken friends, who were previously trying to hit on me when Bob stepped out to the bathroom for like a minute (awkward!!). It was the same as I remembered it: busy, fun, wild, just a good time for an outdoor club/bar. There’s only a limited number of tables throughout and most are reserved for those fancy people that can afford bottle service. The rest of us peasants have to stand on the dance floor, dancing occasionally, to have some room to ourselves.
Once we got back to the hotel, we took full advantage of the Checkers across the street. This was the first time I had ever been and it was delicious!
We love to do brunch whenever we get the chance to, so I figured it was only necessary to do a brunch while we were in Miami. It was Bob’s choice since I had made arrangements for Doce Provisions in Little Havana the previous day. He chose Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables, another Miami neighborhood. It was open and airy on the inside which was a great way to enjoy the nice weather. The interior was unlike I’ve ever seen before here in Maryland. It was so nice to get into a different atmosphere!
First and foremost, Bulla Gastrobar caters to Spanish dishes; however, some of the Dulces (Sweets) on the menu cater to standard breakfast finds: waffles, pancakes, etc. I ordered their Hazlenut Waffles and Bob got a pork hash meal. Bob and I ended up sharing our entrees because his was so (unexpectedly) good that I had to have some, so in turn, I needed to share my meal. We also opted for Bottomless Brunch which was around $35 in addition to the entree. Their bottomless included mimosas AND sangria.
You’re allowed to stay for 2.5 hours with the bottomless brunch and we definitely pushed that boundary! The staff, especially our waiter, was so accommodating that he let us stay as long as we pleased. It was hard to leave with the good food, good drinks, good conversation, and even better atmosphere! I strongly suggest checking this place out!
After brunch, we got beach-ready and ventured back to South Beach. It was raining off and on for a little so when we finally made it to the beach, it was a little gloomy. Still fun though! We went to Nikki Beach, which was a nice bar on the beach. They had beds and cabanas on the sand where you could hang out with your drinks, where we ended up after sitting on the beach got too cold.
The rain cooled everything down so it was no longer warm I was curled up on the beach with a towel to stay warm – pathetic, I know. That’s when we decided to just chill on the beds until we were ready to leave.
This doesn’t sound like it was much fun but how can you go wrong with the ocean, drinks, no work (!), and your favorite person by your side? It was a win for me!
That night we weren’t feeling up to going out which was for the best since we had to catch our cruise the next morning! We walked across the street to Publix to get some wine, chicken wings, potato salad, macaroni salad, and beer for Bob to just have a quaint night in the hotel. Honestly, I fell asleep right after we ate at about 9:30pm.
I’ve been on a couple cruises on my day, on Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian, but have always wanted to try Royal Caribbean. I talked with Bob and we decided this would be a fun and different vacation to go on together, especially because Bob’s never been on a cruise before!
I decided a shorter cruise was probably better for a first-timer so we chose the 4-night cruise to the Bahamas and Key West. The cruise was out of Miami which is why we decided to go down a couple nights early. It left on Monday and returned on Friday, stopping at Nassau, Cococay (Royal Caribbean’s private island), and Key West.
Nassau can be a little intimidating if you’ve never been here before. Luckily, I’ve been here before so I knew what to expect. As soon as you get into the city, there’s a market with lots of different vendors trying to sell their touristy items as well as a few ladies who are just begging to braid your hair. Steer clear of getting your hair braided. If you’re not used to it, you won’t like it.
I would suggest booking an excursion if Nassau is one of your ports of call because then you will be taken directly to a nice beach for the day. We opted out of doing any beach excursions because I wanted to take Bob to Senor Frogs, a popular and pretty wild bar on the water. They have the yard drinks that seem huge but are actually a rip off (tested at home). Stick to getting a large drink of your choosing because you’ll have more alcohol than what comes in a yard drink, even though it looks bigger (very deceiving!)
In the evening, we booked a sunset cruise excursion. We were taken on a glass bottom boat around Paradise Island as the sun was setting to get a closer look at the mansions and of Atlantis. Our guide told us all the celebrities and interesting people that own these places or have owned them in the past, which was pretty interesting. We came back around to dock as soon as the sun was setting which created beautiful pictures and a great sight to see.
Cococay is Royal Caribbean’s private island and was my favorite stop on the cruise. Right now they’re in the midst of building a dock for the boat so the cruise is pretty much anchored in the middle of the ocean. Smaller boats pick up groups from the ship to shuttle them out to shore. I was prepared for this because we had to do the same thing on my last cruise. PSA: for those of you who get seasick, I strongly suggest taking something for this smaller boat shuttle because it moves a lot more than the cruise ship does.
The island is absolutely breathtaking, with light colored sand and the bluest (and clear) water. As soon as you get into the water, you can see all the fish swimming around you. There are lots of chairs laid out on the beach so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything or getting the exclusive chairs as an excursion. You just have to check out towels on the ship to bring over and you’re set!
Lunch is also provided on the island so there’s no need to go back to the ship. And if you have the drink package, drinks are also available. Bob and I wanted these pineapple drinks that cost about $11 extra, but totally worth it for all the island vibes!
We were only able to enjoy this port for a couple of hours because it started to get too windy for the boat shuttle. Royal Caribbean made an announcement over the speakers that we all had to get in line to go back. Still an enjoyable day and unlimited pool time back on board!
Key West is beautiful and there are so many attractions! All the excursions listed seemed really interesting and fun but Bob and I decided to do our own touristy things. We went to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum showcasing the treasures Mel Fisher found from the Atocha shipwreck. This was super interesting to see how much they uncovered from this shipwreck near the Keys.
We walked along Duvall street and around Mallory Square, where we visited the aquarium and tried conch fritters. We finished up our trip by trying the chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick! Delicious!
Overall Cruise Experience
The boarding process was the smoothest I have honestly ever experienced. I wish that Bob had been on other cruises prior because he couldn’t understand how shocked I was that we got on the boat within 15 minutes, tops.
I loved the Royal Caribbean cruise! The service and staff were absolutely amazing and I couldn’t ask for anything more! Our room was cleaned a couple times a day and was spotless. Dinner in the main dining room was always superb and our servers (shoutout to Mario and Nicola!) were so attentive, accommodating, and just fabulous to be around! My favorite meals were the Chicken Cordon Bleu, and the Vegetable Korma and my favorite appetizer was the French Onion Soup.
There are endless amounts of things to do onboard at nighttime as well! So many bars as well as a casino to gamble all your money away (I won $60 on the slots!). The theater group they have onboard is awesome and the singers and dancers are all so talented. The Cruise Director is hilarious and puts on great adult only shows, especially the Love & Marriage Game Show, which was their take on the Newlywed Game. I’ve been telling everyone about this show – it was so funny! There’s dance parties, karaoke, comedy shows, trivia, literally anything that will keep you busy as long as you’d like! The only disappointment I had was not making it to more events!
Enchantment of the Seas was one of my best cruise experiences so far! Remember this ship the next time you’re booking a cruise!
Reservations: I had previously (at least a week prior or so) gone on Bulla Gastrobar’s website to make a reservation for brunch. Seating and service will go a lot smoother if you make a reservation beforehand. With Doce Provisions, we didn’t need to make a reservation. On their website it states that you will if you have a party of 8 or more.
All opinions are solely my own. This is not a paid promotion in any way.
Check out my vlog of the trip: