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Ask the cruise director: What is your favorite cruise destination?

Dec. 26, 2020
5 min read
Ask the cruise director: What is your favorite cruise destination?
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One of the most popular cruise directors of the past decade, Matt Mitcham, is offering his insights to cruise fans in a series of pieces for The Points Guy. Presented in a question-and-answer-type format, the pieces originally appeared in The Points Guy’s cruise newsletter (sign up here). Mitcham retired from Carnival Cruise Line in August.

Today’s question for Matt: What is your favorite cruise destination?


The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so picking just one favorite destination would be impossible. However, having been fortunate enough to spend almost 14 years sailing around the Caribbean, one of my personal favorites has always been Jamaica.

Jamaica had a bad rep for many years, but they’ve worked hard over the last decade to build up the tourism industry and make tourists feel safe. Don't get me wrong, it still has some sketchy areas, but what country doesn’t. As long as you stay in the tourist spots, you'll be fine.

Traveling anywhere overseas is all about using common sense. If you happen to walk down an alley and there are two men with ski masks on...it's probably a good idea to moonwalk your booty back out of there.

Matt Mitcham has traveled the world as cruise director. (Photo courtesy of Matt Mitcham)

One of the best parts about going on a cruise is all the incredible tax- and duty-free shopping available to you, and when it comes to shopping, Jamaica will not let you down. The trick is to purchase your souvenirs on the way back to the ship. It's amazing to see how much the price drops when they know it's your last chance to buy. Jamaican vendors carry everything from Bob Marley T-shirts to Rastafarian hats (which are always a hit with the men). It's incredible how a few Red Stripe beers and a Rastafarian hat makes a man feel like he's suddenly part of the "Cool Runnings" bobsled team.

Jamaica is also stunning in natural beauty, so make sure you get away from the port area. Check out some of the local attractions such as Dunn's River Falls and the Blue Hole. And don't even get me started on the food! Have you even really been to Jamaica if you haven’t tried the local jerk chicken? This savory treat is a must when visiting this chilled out little island.

Also, Alaska

Like many, Alaska was on my bucket list for years, and it definitely lived up to the hype. It really is a place that everyone should visit at least once. From glaciers to mountains and waterfalls, Alaska is just breathtaking.

I wouldn’t normally say a balcony is a must on a cruise, but for an Alaskan cruise, it really is. Nothing beats sitting on your balcony, wrapped in a blanket, with a hot cup of whiskey…I mean cocoa, watching all the incredible wildlife. Hopefully, you're luckier than I was! I would sit for hours with my wife, just waiting for a glimpse of sea life, and like clockwork, every time I would go to the restroom a whale would leap out of the ocean. This is why I now travel with Depends… just kidding, Pampers are softer.

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A balcony can come in handy on a cruise to Alaska. (Photo courtesy Princess Cruises)

On a Caribbean cruise, you spend most of your day laying on the beach, sipping on a cocktail. But in Alaska, you tend to be a lot more active. There are so many fascinating shore excursions to enjoy, from dogsledding down the glaciers to panning for gold, it's just one adventure after another. Most people need a vacation after this vacation.

One thing you will notice is a change in the demographics on an Alaskan cruise. There aren't many youngsters onboard. The good thing about this is the hot tubs are not full of children, and the elevators don’t stop on every floor. Hooray! As we're in our mid-30s, we thought this might be a little boring. But let me tell you, these people know how to tear up the dance floor. You haven’t lived until you’ve done the cha-cha slide in slow motion.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Mitcham has served as cruise director on several Carnival ships including Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze. Known for his six-pack abs, shirtless selfies and effervescent personality, he was recently profiled in People magazine as the “hunky cruise director.” He was named the cruise world’s best cruise director in 2019 by the cruise industry’s leading magazine, Porthole. You can find him on Instagram at @mattcruisedirector.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees