My Favorite Cruise Ships
We are the Zimmerlins... Jim and Kellyn. (Pronunciation tip: it rhymes with Helen.) Kellyn and I are in our mid 50s and we live on the central coast of California. We have been on 22 cruises since 1996... 20 good ones with Carnival cruise lines, one not-so-good one with Norwegian, and one great one with Princess.
Jim & Kellyn Zimmerlin
at the Paradise Point overlook in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
My Best Cruise Photos
photography nut, and usually bring my Canon DSLR and
a tripod with me when we cruise.
Here are some of the best photos I've taken on our cruises...
The Carnival Glory docked at the island of Grand Turk
Please note: The photos and videos on this page are my original creations, and none are stock photos supplied by Carnival.
For information about the camera used to shoot both the still photos and the videos, click here.
Night shot of one of three swimming pools on the Carnival Spirit.
You can see the lights of Acapulco in the background.
A look at the Carnival Elation as she leaves San Diego bay.
Larger versions of this photo (suitable for use as your computer desktop background) are available here
I'm an early riser, so I've seen quite a few spectacular sunrises from the deck of a cruise ship!
This one was taken off the west coast of Mexico, during a cruise on the Carnival Spirit.
The best cruise we've ever been on was a 14-day cruise on the Carnival Breeze.
It's the newest ship in the Carnival fleet, and the most beautiful.
While sailing out of the port of Miami on the Carnival Breeze, I looked back and saw this beautiful sight.
We were being followed out to sea by the Carnival Glory.
A lineup of cruise ships in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Besides the three in the foreground, can you spot the two other cruise ships in this photo?
The Disney Dream and Holland America's Eurodam are barely visible in the upper left.
They are docked facing away from the camera, so all you can see is their aft ends.
The Carnival Spirit makes a quick stop for a medical evacuation off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.
I took this shot from the balcony of our cabin on the Carnival Splendor.
I snapped this photo of the Carnival Elation docked in San Diego while I was on the deck of the Carnival Spirit.
We were returning to San Diego after an 8-day cruise on the Spirit.
It was a beautiful scene, just before sunrise.
The Carnival Glory docked at Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos islands.
Carnival corporation spent a lot of money building their own pier and developing a shopping/restaurant complex here.
It's really great! The best part is the largest "Margaritaville" in Jimmy Buffet's chain of restaurants.
The "FlowRider" surfing simulator at the Margaritaville next to Carnival's dock in Grand Turk.
I shot some great video of people wiping out on the FlowRider. Click here to see the video.
The hot dog stand up on the sports deck on the Carnival Magic.
If you'd like to see a lot more pictures I shot on the Carnival Magic, take a look at this page.
The Carnival Inspiration docked in Ensenada, Mexico.
You might be surprised to learn that there's a lot to like about these older, smaller Fantasy-class ships.
To see what advantages they have over the newer, larger ships... take a look at this page.
The Carnival Splendor... docked in Mazatlan, Mexico.
You may have heard about the incident in November of 2010 where fire struck the Splendor's engine room.
We cruised on the Splendor about nine months prior to that incident.
Ironically, we were cruising the week of the incident...
but on the Carnival Spirit, not on the Carnival Splendor.
The Carnival Glory docked in St. Thomas.
This photo was taken from Paradise Point.
You can see the "skyride" cable car over on the right.
At home, the only comedians I ever see are on the television.
On a Carnival cruise, they have a comedy club with four different comedians.
Comedian Lenny Schmidt (on the left) was hilarious on our 2012 Carnival Magic cruise.
Looks like a post card, doesn't it?
I took this photo of the Carnival Valor during our September 2011 cruise.
Besides all the fun to be had on the cruise ship itself, a great thing about cruising is all the fun you can have on shore.
Here's my wife, Kellyn, enjoying one of her favorite shore excursions, ever!
This is the zip line at Wild Canyon outside of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
We always book a balcony cabin, because we like to sit on the balcony and watch for marine life.
Here are some dolphins swimming near the Carnival Spirit in Manzanillo Bay.
I managed to get this picture of two of them, but there were a lot of others...
as you can see from the rings in the water where other dolphins had splashed on the way in.
previous cruise, we had an even more amazing dolphin sighting!
A pod of dolphins swam over to the ship to frolic in the wake.
As luck would have it, I did have my Olympus Stylus 1050SW digital camera with me at the time
and it can record video... so I managed to record a short video of the dolphins as they approached the ship.
Click here to see the dolphin video
This is an interesting shot I took of the Carnival Spirit with my Digital Rebel,
using a long exposure to give the water an unusual look.
Akumal, Mexico... one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been.
We snorkeled with gigantic wild sea turtles that graze on grass growing just a few feet offshore.
This is an interesting shot I took of the Carnival Spirit in the morning light.
We were staying across the street from the pier in San Diego, at the Holiday Inn,
and I got this shot from the balcony of our hotel room as the Carnival Spirit docked just before sunrise.
People watch the sun set in to the Caribbean from the back of the Carnival Magic.
A local guy tries his luck fishing at the dock next to the Carnival Conquest... in Key West, Florida
The nicest (and most expensive) cruise ship cabin we've experienced was the Captain's Suite on the Carnival Sunshine.
Take a look at my Carnival Sunshine review and you'll probably be surprised to learn that I have
absolutely no desire to sail on this ship ever again!
One of the best cruises we've ever been on was actually one of the shortest and least expensive.
Click here to read about our very first experience with Princess cruise lines.
Night shot of the Lido deck on the Carnival Inspiration.
The secret to getting this kind of photo is to bring a tripod onboard with you and to do a long exposure.
No set of Carnival cruise photos would be complete without a picture of a towel animal!
Our very first cruise was in 1996 on Carnival's "MS Holiday".
I think we left the kids home for almost every other one of our cruises after this!
Almost 18 years after that first cruise, my camera and Kellyn's hair style are both a lot better!
MyViral Cruise Video
A few years ago, when we were cruising the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Spirit, I shot a video of people going down the new Green Thunder waterslide. The Green Thunder slide had just recently been added to the ship... and to this day, no other cruise ship -- Carnival, or otherwise -- has anything like it. Instead of the traditional twister-slide design of most cruise ship waterslides, this one starts off with a straight-down vertical drop. You get in to a chamber, they close the door around you, and then the floor drops out from under you and you fall straight down. Scariest two seconds of your life! Then it turns in to a normal curvy waterslide and before you know it, you've splashed down in to the end of the ride. It's the craziest, scariest, and most-fun waterslide at sea!
So, when I got home from that cruise on the Carnival Spirit... I edited together my little Green Thunder waterslide video, uploaded it to YouTube, and didn't give it another thought. To me, it was just another in a series of many cruise ship related videos I've posted to YouTube over the years. I literally forgot all about it and went on with my life for the next couple of months. Completely unknown to me at that time... the video went viral on YouTube! And I didn't even realize it.
One day, a couple of months later, I was just goofing off at my computer and I decided to take a look at the statistics on my YouTube channel to see how many people had been watching my videos. Up until that point, 1,000 or 2,000 views would have been really good for one of my videos. Imagine my surprise -- no, that's not a strong enough word -- imagine my total SHOCK when I discovered that my Green Thunder waterslide video had over 2,000,000 views at that point! That's two million... and that's a LOT of views for a YouTube video.
The first thing I did was to call my son, Jeff, to share the news. I knew that he's Internet savvy... and that he, of all people, would appreciate how amazing it is for a YouTube video to get two million views. His reaction, upon hearing the news, was that I absolutely must monetize it.
Monetization on YouTube is the process of allowing them to run ads along with your videos. It can be either those ads, similar to a TV commercial, that run before your video plays... or it can be those little text or banner ads that are superimposed over the video as it runs. By allowing YouTube to run ads with your video... you earn a portion of the advertising revenue if someone watches a TV-style ad all the way through without skipping it, or if someone clicks on one of those text or banner ads. That's what monetization is.
So, Jeff's immediate advice was that I had to monetize it... and I had actually realized that same thing for myself before I had even called him. Hearing him say it, too, gave me even more motivation. I didn't really have a clue what kind of advertising revenue we might be talking about... and I knew that I had really blown it by not monetizing it BEFORE the first two million views... but all I could do was to monetize it at that point and hope that two million views was just the beginning. And that's exactly what it was.
Before I go any further with this story... let's take a look at my Green Thunder waterslide video... the one that went viral on YouTube.
As it turns out, the first two million views were indeed just the tip of the iceberg. It boggles my mind to be able to say that my little video has now been viewed over 23 MILLION times on YouTube! Is that crazy, or what? Just to put that in to perspective... if you go to YouTube and do a search for "Carnival Cruise" and then sort them by the number of views, you'll find that my video is -- by a wide margin -- the most viewed YouTube video about a Carnival cruise that there is. In fact, don't just limit it to Carnival. Do a search for "cruise ship" and sort by number of views and you'll find that my little Green Thunder video is the #1 YouTube cruise ship video of them all!
Now, let's discuss this a little, shall we?
First off, you're probably wondering... have I made a ton of money off of it? The terms of my the monetization contract with YouTube forbid me from discussing the specifics of that aspect. Let's just say that I'm very happy with the advertising revenue. And yes, the IRS is, too.
Second, you might be wondering if Carnival is aware of the video. Well, Carnival is a big company. I know that a few people within Carnival are aware of it... but I imagine that most are not. John Heald, Carnival's Senior Cruise Director, is aware of it... because I've shared it with him, via his Facebook page, and he has congratulated me on it. I've heard from a few other people within Carnival about it, too. The most interesting contact was from someone with Carnival's advertising agency who approached me about using the video in a Carnival advertising campaign. However, when we started talking specifics... the deal fell apart because I am unable to provide a signed release from the people featured in the video authorizing Carnival to use them in their advertising campaign. It's legal for me to share the video on YouTube without a release from all those people in the video... but it wouldn't be legal for Carnival to do so in an advertising campaign. All the people in the video are just random passengers... I don't know any of them... so there's no way for me to get releases from them.
Finally, can lightning strike twice? In other words, can I come up with a second viral video? Well, I keep trying! You just never know what's going to catch on. I keep shooting videos and posting the interesting ones to YouTube. As of this writing, I've got 77 videos on my YouTube channel. But none of the others have come close to matching the popularity of the Green Thunder video. At least, not yet!
My Weather Page
Keeping an eye on the weather is an absolute must before and during a cruise vacation. To make it easier for me to find everything I needed all in one spot, I put a special weather page together. I really made it just for me, but if you've got a cruise coming up... you might find it useful, too. Check it out here.
The Cruise Ships We've Been On
If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:
Our January 2014 cruise on the
Our December 2013 cruise on the newly remodeled Carnival Sunshine
Our September 2013 cruise on the Carnival Conquest
Our April 2013 cruise on the Carnival Breeze
Our October 2012 cruise on the Carnival Inspiration
Our August 2012 cruise on the Carnival Magic
Our Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our April 2009 Carnival Paradise cruise
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our 1996 cruise on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday
What We Love About Cruising
you've never been on a cruise ship, you might be wondering what all the
fuss is about.
What's so great about cruising? Let me tell you!
Great food, and plenty of it! If you like to eat, this is the vacation for you. There's food available at all times. Besides the main dining room and the casual buffet, there is also free 24/7 room service on Carnival. And free 24/7 soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt, too!
Plenty of entertainment! At home, we just never go out to a comedy show, and rarely go out to listen to a singer or a band. On a 7-day Carnival cruise there will be shows by FOUR different comedians, plus a variety of musical acts, and several Broadway-style shows. There's also a variety of little things like trivia games, scavenger hunts, ice-carving demonstrations, and a hairy chest competition!
Sunshine! During your normal life at home, how often do you take the time to go sit outside in a lounge chair and read a book? How often do you make it to the beach, or to a swimming pool?
Warm weather, and warm water! The climate is very mild where I live. Daytime temperatures here are mostly in the 60's and 70's. While we live only a short distance from the beach, swimming in the ocean is out of the question... the water temperature is in the 50's. I wouldn't want to live somewhere where it was hot every day... but for a week or two, it's a welcome change! And being able to swim in 70-80 degree ocean water is my idea of paradise!
No chores! A cabin steward cleans my room, changes my sheets, and cleans my toilet. A kitchen staff cooks for me, and does the dishes. This really IS paradise!
No allergies! I'm super allergic to mold... and I think there must be some in my house somewhere. I'm always fighting allergies here at home. But not on a cruise ship! Wow, do my allergies clear up once a cruise begins. I guess it makes sense... out on the open ocean, where would mold and pollen come from? And you know what else you don't have when you're sitting in a chair on your balcony on a cruise? Flies, mosquitos, and gnats.
Spend some time with the one that you love! There's nothing like being together for a 7-day cruise to foster some good communication and some good times between two people that love each other. And in those rare cases where a certain someone gets on your nerves... it's a big ship... take a walk!
Cheap vacation, if you want it to be! More so than any other cruise line, cruising with Carnival is extremely affordable. If you compare a Disney cruise to a Carnival cruise, you'll find the comparable cabin on a comparable Carnival cruise is about half the price. Compare to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and you'll find Carnival is usually at least several hundred dollars cheaper. And if you're on a super tight budget, there are ways to keep the price of a Carnival cruise incredibly low. My son and his girlfriend have booked a 7-day Carnival cruise for $700... and that's not $700 each, that's $700 for the two of them! They did this by booking the cruise well in advance... by cruising during a month where demand for cruises is low... and by booking an interior cabin (in other words, no windows) on the lowest deck of the ship. They like having no windows in their cabin, because they like to sleep late in the morning and with no windows you have no sun waking you up at the crack of dawn. And remember... on a cruise, all your meals are included... so you don't have to set aside any extra money in the vacation budget for that.
A great way to vacation with family and friends! It's fun to go cruising with people you know... even if some of them are people you only want to spend a little bit of time with, not a lot. You all have so many options on a cruise vacation that you can choose to spend as much or as little time together as you want. Do your own thing and meet up for a meal or two... or spend every minute of the day together, if you want to. There's so much flexibility on a cruise!
See the world! In fact, see multiple parts of the world all in one week. I had no idea Acapulco Bay was so beautiful until I cruised in to it. I had never been to the Caribbean until a cruise ship took me there. Before cruising, all I had ever seen of Mexico was Tijuana and Ensenada... and they aren't very impressive! But once I cruised to Cozumel, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta... I suddenly got a look at the best of Mexico. I had no idea that one of the greatest barrier reefs for snorkeling is off the coast of Honduras, until I cruised there. And who would have thought that I would have so much fun in the Cayman Islands, or on the island of Roatan? I had no idea what those places were about until a cruise ship took me there. Now I admit, cruise ships typically only spend 8 or maybe 12 hours in any particular port... so you only get a small taste of life in each of these places. But if you want to spend more time there, you can either cruise back there again sometime... or if you totally fall in love with a place, you can fly there some other time for a traditional vacation.
Seeing dolphins, whales, turtles, sting rays, seals, and colorful fish! I guess this is the perfect opportunity for me to share some photos of marine life that I've seen while cruising...
About a mile off shore of Cabo San Lucas, during a cruise on the Carnival Splendor.
Here I am holding a puffer fish near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, during a cruise on the Carnival Spirit.
We had a couple of great cruises to Acapulco, and always saw turtles in the water once we got within about a day of reaching Acapulco.
We were just sitting out on our balcony, anchored off Manzanillo, when this sting ray started flying out of the water over and over again.
We were surprised that we didn't see many dolphins on our Caribbean cruise
considering how many we had seen in our multiple cruises to the west coast of Mexico.
If you really like dolphins a lot, there are quite a few places you can go to spend some time up close with them.
A colony of seals near Lovers Beach in Cabo San Lucas.
In several ports of call, we have seen photo opportunities with iguanas.
Speaking of wild life, don't forget the towel animals that your cabin steward makes for you each evening.
We save them, so that by the end of the cruise we have a whole menagerie.
Sometimes people make a funny face when we're talking about cruising and I mention that Carnival is my favorite cruise line. It seems that Carnival has a bit of a bad reputation out there... but I suspect that's mainly among people who have never actually been on a Carnival cruise!
We've been on twenty Carnival cruises, and they have never let us down. Every cruise has been fun, memorable, and a very good value. There are a lot of cruise lines to choose from... but Carnival is a little different than the others in a few respects. First off, the pricing is tremendous. If you compare a Carnival cruise to a comparable cruise on just about any other cruise line, the Carnival cruise is going to be less expensive. And on top of that, the other cruise lines charge extra for some things that are totally free on Carnival. As an example... compare the high-end burger joints on Carnival versus Royal Caribbean. On RCCL, they have "Johnny Rockets"... on Carnival it's "Guy's Burger Joint". The big difference is that you can eat at Guy's Burger Joint at no extra charge.
Another thing about Carnival is that they put a big emphasis on FUN. They don't call them the Fun Ships for nothing! Take a look at this video I shot on a "Fun Day At Sea" on a Carnival Ship, and then think about cruising with a bunch of 80-year-olds on Holland America Lines!
(To start the video playing, click on the triangle)
got you here, may I show you our
several parti colored Cockers and breed them as a hobby. In
fact, I've owned Cockers on and off for over 40 years! If you
would like to see more pictures of my Cockers, including cute puppies
from some of our previous litters, please visit our
If you find this web site useful, and appreciate the effort it took to create it... please consider helping us cover some of the costs of keeping it running. Due to the extremely high amount of traffic and bandwidth on our site, our web server costs amount to hundreds of dollars per year. There are two easy ways you can help us cover these costs:
If you click on the Amazon.com banner and then make any purchase from them, they will send a commission our way. The more you spend with them, the more they send our way. We pay our web server costs from these commissions.
Another way you can help us cover our server costs is to make a direct donation by clicking on this link:
There is a LOT more to this web site than just this page!
Please explore the rest of the site by viewing our table of contents,
or by clicking on one of the quick links below.
All About Our Cocker Spaniels
Zim Family Home Page
Meet Jim Zim
Cruise Ships: Our Favorite Vacation
If you've enjoyed this web site, please take a moment to let me know!
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a web site of your own? Please link to us! Just copy this code to your site:
<a href="https://zimfamilycockers.com">Zim Family Cockers</a>
(you can modify the text of the link, of course)
Click here for a banner that you can use on your site.