My 5 Day Cruise to Mexico with Just a Carryon and Backpack

My 5 Day Cruise to Mexico with Just a Carryon and Backpack


Over the past two years, not being able to travel outside the US has been tough. I’m someone who usually loves jetting off internationally a few times a year, so being grounded has been a real struggle. Initially, I held back from traveling once the borders reopened; safety concerns loomed large. But then, I decided to take a leap and booked a 5-day cruise from New Orleans to Cozumel and Yucatan (Progresso) Mexico.

Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly itching to jump back into cruising just yet. But when one of my best friends mentioned he was going with his family, I saw an opportunity. So, I decided to join them, bringing along my daughter for company. It seemed like a chance to confront my apprehensions about cruising during Covid-19 by sharing the experience with others.

Before the pandemic, cruising had always been a favorite way for me to explore multiple ports and immerse myself in different cultures. But now, I had reservations. I wasn’t sure if the cruise lines would be able to ensure my safety with their cleaning protocols. But hold on, I’ll circle back to that concern later. Let me tell you how I managed to pack everything I needed for six days into just a carryon and a backpack.


So, here’s the deal: my daughter threw down the gauntlet and dared me to fly to New Orleans for our 5-day cruise to Mexico without checking a single bag. Let me tell you, at first, I was scratching my head, wondering how on earth I’d pull it off. I viewed countless YouTube videos and Googled like there was no tomorrow. But guess what? I cracked the code.

I managed to pack all the clothes I needed into a carryon and backpack combo. Here’s the rundown: 2 sleeveless A-line dresses, 2 pairs of denim shorts, 1 pair of upscale biker shorts, 1 pair of white capri pants, 2 razorback t-shirts, 2 spaghetti strap camis, 3 tank shirts, 3 ankle-length dusters, a 3-piece duster set (complete with shorts, crop top, and ankle-length duster), a leather belt, 1 lacey black dinner dress, 2 sheer lacey blouses, a 2-piece tankini, 12 pairs of panties, a nightgown, 2 baseball caps, a fedora hat, flat sandals, flip flops, 2 backpack purses, and a small cosmetic bag packed with brushes, along with another one loaded with chargers for my watch and phone. Oh, and let’s not forget the 2 cosmetic bags of accessories and a tiny one with meds.

I packed all the clothes and shoes into a large Vera Bradley quilted duffel bag, while the accessories found their cozy spots in the backpack and one of the purses. And you know what? Not only am I now totally convinced that you could pack everything you need in just a carryon and backpack, but I also managed to pull it off myself. So, a big shoutout to my daughter for throwing down the challenge!


Heading to the airport we were not nervous about the long lines because a month before the trip I applied and received TSA PreCheck IDs. This is the best thing since sliced bread and anyone not taking advantage of it is missing out. We were able to go through the expedited short lane while the regular lanes passing through TSA was so long. We also did not have to pull out our liquids or take off our shoes and belts. It was an absolute breeze to go through TSA to get to the boarding area. The process to get the TSA PreCheck was so easy because all you do is apply through application, schedule an appointment at the enrollment station then pay $85 fee that cover you for 5 years.

Cruise Amenities

Now back to the actual cruise. When I cruised prior to the pandemic the activities, excursions, and the promotional items you get from the vendors that wanted the advertisement and opportunity to highlight their products were abundant. The cruise on Carnival Valor this July 2022 was nothing like those cruises. First, walking into my cabin I did not find a welcome basket of trial products. The furniture was dirty with stains and the walls had greasy streak marks even though the cleaning process was good. You always saw the crew wiping down walls, stairs, chairs inside and outside of the elevators. The problem is it was too many passengers on the cruise.

All the pools available was not enough to accommodate all the passengers that wanted to swim. The pools were over crowed everyday making the water look so murky and disgusting. The cruise line even closed one of the two pools for a full day because they could not keep it clean due to the abundance of passengers in the water. The entertainment although good listed on the website was not brought to fruition on the cruise. My 20-year-old was bored to pieces most of the time because she was too old for the camps and not old enough for the bars.

Cruise cabin room at turn down.


Can we say, “nickel and dime your passengers” for everything from the Wi-Fi, beverages including coffees to sushi and steak dinners. I remember more items being included in the cruise price verses what we now have where more items are an extra charge to enjoy. And the minimum is what you can look forward to being included in the cruise price. As we expect the prices increase but is it uncommon to expect the cruise line to get better not worst. The food was plentiful and had a variety of choices. The favorite for my daughter and friends was Guy Fieri Burger Joint and Pizza Pirate. She loved getting pizza late in the night since I made her join me in the dining room each night for dinner. I mainly did this because I don’t do buffets and it was to many people on this cruise for that.

The seaside brunch in the dining room was top notch and worth the trip each day. The room service menu also was unfortunately part of the cut so there were minimum items that were included in your fare. The Reuben sandwich could rival any I have had on land. I must admit I only did the buffet on the Lido deck once to enjoy a meal with my friend and his family. The food was below standard to me, and parents could not keep control on their kids on the buffet even though the crew was on hand to try to help control/ monitor the food bar.

To summarize my cruise the CDC should really mandate that cruise ships park for at least 24 hours between cruises. This will give them the opportunity to sanitize and clean more thoroughly than what they are able to do now. It is safe to say I will not be cruising again for a while. My initial concerns for not cruising yet, were solidified with this cruise. But for everyone brave enough to take the leap I say have fun and be safe.

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