Ahhh!  Cruising the Gulf of Mexico!  Who doesn’t want to have a wonderful experience cruising the Gulf of Mexico.   With its warm waters, picturesque coastlines, and diverse marine life you will enjoy relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery.  Start by engaging in lots of water activities, drinking in the sun and relaxing on board your ship of choice. There’s something for everyone. If you are trying to convince your loved one to take a cruise, click here for some advice on just how to convince that special someone to cruise with you.  Here are some wonderful things to do  on your Gulf of Mexico cruise:



Beach in the Gulf of mexico



Ports of Call:


Several ports along the Gulf Coast serve as starting or stopping points for cruises. Just a few stops include Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Galveston, and Houston. These ports offer a range of itineraries and cruise lines to choose from.

In Miami, enjoy a drink along the water , grab a seat at one of Bayside Marketplace’s many restaurants or setting or tour Biscayne Bay’s islands.

Tampa has something for everyone with its amazing Ybor City district, theme parks,  Zoo, the Florida Aquarium, fabulous museums, and a stunning waterfront.

New Orleans is a city full of history and great food.  Take a tour of the historic bourbon street areas for great food and great music.

Galveston offers a variety of things to do as well.  Shop the strand, walk the seawall or ride the rides at Pleasure Pier.

Houston is also a great stop.  Visit the Space Center in Houston or grab a bite to eat from one of Houston’s world renown restaurants.  The Kemah Boardwalk in Houston is a 42-acre complex that features amusement park rides, midway games, waterfront restaurants and retail stores.



Gulf of mexico cruising





Gulf of Mexico cruises typically vary in duration, ranging from 3 or 4 days to 15 days and even longer. Some itineraries include visits to popular destinations like Cozumel in Mexico, Roatan, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Key West, and even some Central American ports. Longer cruises may also venture into the Caribbean Sea such as Kingston, Jamaica, San Juan Puerto Rico and Freeport, Bahamas.  Keep your eyes open for Transatlantic cruises.  They can sometimes provide a great experience and also a great value.



Sunset on the gulf of mexico cruise




Activities and Excursions:


The Gulf of Mexico offers a wealth of activities and excursions for cruise passengers. I have been on many.  Just a few that I highly recommends is swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with sea turtles, swimming with stingrays and even an extended beach day at a local resort.  You can explore beautiful coral reefs while snorkeling or scuba diving, go sport fishing for marlin, sailfish, or snapper, or simply relax on stunning beaches. Some shore excursions include visits to historical sites, wildlife encounters, or cultural experiences depending on the stop.  In my own experience, I find that booking your excursion with the cruise line provides you with the assurance that you will not be left behind at the port of call.  The cruise line assures those that book through them that if a problem arises, that they will not leave you behind.



pirate ship in the gulf of mexico



Wildlife and Nature:


The Gulf of Mexico is home to a lot of different marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, and beautiful types of fish. During your cruise, many excursions invite you to view and/or interact with many different creatures.  Though the turtle snorkel excursion that I participated in did not allow us to touch the sea turtles, it did allow us to see hundreds of them rising and falling to the sea floor.  The water was incredibly clear and were able to see the turtles 20 to 40 feet below the surface of the ocean.  It was an amazing site to behold.  Because the turtles are protected and are endangered, there is a fine imposed for anyone who touches or harasses a sea turtle in Mexico or the United States.  As of this writing, that fee can be anywhere between $1000 and $15000.



lizard in front of a store in the gulf of mexico




Weather and Seasons:


Be sure to think about the weather and seasons when planning your Gulf of Mexico cruise. Hurricane season in the region typically runs from June to November, with peak activity in August and September. However, many cruises during this season tend to be less expensive and great value cruises can be found during the months of August and September after most schools are in session.  Because of the cruise lines and their ability to track storms, they can and will go around strong storms.  Just remember that when they do divert, sometimes the itinerary may change.  But, if you do miss an excursion because of the diversion, most of the time the excursion charge will be credited back to you while on your cruise.  Just check policies of each individual cruise line.  You may want to check weather forecasts and consider travel insurance that covers unforeseen weather-related disruptions.



Cruise Lines:


Different cruise lines offer Gulf of Mexico itineraries, and each has its own amenities, entertainment options, and onboard activities. Look at each cruise lines to find the one that best suits your preferences and budget.  I have personally chosen Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian for the Gulf of Mexico cruises.  Many other lines offer great itineraries such as Celebrity, Princess and Oceana.  I love the entertainment that Disney and Norwegian offer.  Royal Caribbean has many amenities such as their North Star , flowrider and rock climbing wall.  Though Disney tends to cater to families and does not have a casino on any other their ships, adults will find plenty to do and have designated areas that are “adult only” areas.  The Disney spas are famous for relaxation and rejuvenation.  I have been on multiple Disney cruises with my husband without children.  It was an amazing vacation.  Norwegian offers the “haven”.  What an experience! With designated and hidden away suites at the top of the ship, these cabins are the most luxurious, well-appointed and spacious accommodations. Not only will you have access to all the ship has to offer, you’ll enjoy the personal service of a 24-hour butler and concierge throughout your entire stay.  Bottom line:  research each cruise line before you choose the one that is right for you.  Whether you are looking for luxury, activities, entertainment or value, you will find the perfect cruise line with just a little research.




Little boy relaxing on a bed on cruise ship in gulf of mexico




Travel Documents:


Ensure you have the necessary travel documents for your cruise, including a valid passport if visiting international ports. While some Mexico destinations may only require a visa, I find that it is best to have a passport.  Apply early.  Since covid, there are reports that the passport system is taking longer.  If you choose not to apply for a passport, it is essential to check the entry requirements for each destination you’ll be visiting and ensure you have the appropriate visas or travel authorizations.  Check and double check.  Get it in writing if possible.  You don’t want to get to the port and be left behind because you do not have the appropriate documentation.  For some information on taking trips without a passport, click here.



Passport and airline ticket




Be sure to check with the cruise line or travel agent for the most up-to-date information, including specific itineraries, ports of call, and any COVID-19-related travel restrictions or guidelines that may be in place. Enjoy your cruise and have a fantastic time exploring the beautiful Gulf of Mexico!

Until next time!

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