• Up until this year I had never been on a cruise before. 
  • I decided to take my 10-year-old son over Spring break. 
  • The cruise desperately needed some TLC and we lost power twice. 

Until this year, I'd never been on a cruise — and I swore I never would. As someone anxious in general, I had plenty of reservations. What if there was a norovirus outbreak? What if I got seasick? What if the ship hit an iceberg, sinking like the Titanic? But as I brainstormed potential Spring break destinations with my 10-year-old, I reconsidered.

As a single mom, I don't love navigating new places alone, and organizing a weeklong vacation felt overwhelming. Setting sail on a fun-packed cruise ship where everything was pre-planned was the perfect solution.

I booked a five-night Key West and Bahamas cruise through Celebrity, leaving from Miami. To avoid feeling trapped, I chose a stateroom with a veranda. We could sit outside in the salty ocean air and enjoy the stunning views.

Our pitstop in South Beach

To keep things stress-free, I bookended our trip with a full day and night in South Beach. Neither of us had been there, and the day before our cruise, I splurged on The Miami Beach Edition. The 5-star property, with private beach access, ocean-facing pools, and an on-site ice rink and bowling alley, did not disappoint.

We chose Estiatorio Milos for Easter dinner, a Greek seafood restaurant where fish flown in fresh from the Mediterranean are displayed. The experience included a chef visiting our table to discuss the day's offerings. Our trip was off to an incredible start.

Our cruise experience wasn't great

Boarding our cruise ship, the Celebrity Summit, went smoothly, and we went right to our stateroom, which appeared as advertised. On the balcony, we watched the sunlight dance on the water's surface. I relaxed, letting my worries slip away.

But when I went inside and opened the bathroom door, the musty smell of mildew overwhelmed me. During that night's shower, I discovered why as the water collected in a pool at my feet. From then on, we wore our flip-flops and showered fast.

We made our first port and explored the delightful city of Key West. But our boat couldn't dock the next day due to high winds, so we missed our second destination, Bimini, Bahamas. Disappointed, we explored the boat, looking for fun diversions. But other than gambling and drinking, there wasn't much to do.

The pool was rusty and dirty, and the "arcade" consisted of two Xboxes in a small room. The ship, built in 2001 and refurbished in 2016, desperately needed some TLC. Chipped tile, stained carpets, and broken faucets were a few of its glaring issues. My son checked out the gift shops while I grabbed a coffee. A salesperson put a $2,000 watch on his wrist, encouraging him to make the purchase. Luckily, he knew better.

We even lost power

During a several-hour power outage, our imaginations took over. We discussed the possibility of onboard pirates — zero communication from the crew didn't help. At one point, dark sludge crept up through our shower drain, and our toilet stopped working. When the power came back on, the $270 Wi-Fi didn't, and it remained spotty for the rest of the voyage.

The ship went black again during dinner the next day. The staff served our meal in the dark like nothing was amiss. At that point, we wanted off. The next day, we docked in Nassau, Bahamas, where we played in the ocean. I let my son take me on a Jet Ski ride, which was the highlight of his trip.

The following morning was debarkation day. We couldn't get off the boat fast enough.

We enjoyed another beautiful day at South Beach, sinking our toes in white sand beaches and exploring the outdoor Lincoln Road Mall.

Though our cruise experience was probably an outlier, I won't chance it again. But South Beach? We're in love.

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