Vacationing Via Cruise Is Easy; But Watch Out For The Plastic Straws

It has been a while since I posted.  It has been a combination of being very busy at work and very lazy once I get home.  I thought I would post today about our most recent vacation.

Last month I took a vacation and I had wanted to try being Zero Waste as much as possible.  There were some successes and some failures.  But overall, I have learned a few things that I will try for next time.

My husband and I took a cruise on the Norwegian Jade.  It was perfect timing and I really needed a vacation.  I needed a reason to not think about work for a week. Also, to be able to eat and not clean up.

Typically, I only carry my luggage on because I hate the whole checking luggage process as it wastes a lot of time and is a huge inconvenience. This time my husband was going to check his luggage so I just put my stuff in with his.  One checked luggage between the two of us wasn’t bad; but it still created the checked luggage sticker waste that you can’t do anything with besides throw it away.  This was to and from.

We stayed at Best Western Plus JFK Inn & Suites in Houston for two nights in February; one at the beginning of our vacation and once at the end.  The stay was fair but the customer service was wonderful.   The downside of our stay here was that breakfast for my husband and I created a lot of waste since many things were individually wrapped and dishes were all paper and single use destined for the trash.  I couldn’t see any recycling stations for plastic waste so everything we created ended up in the trash.  I was selective in my food choices; but, everything created waste.  The juice comes in individual wrapped plastic containers, the coffee are single serving containers.  If you want a satisfying breakfast you will create waste.

Breakfast Waste

I had brought my reusable coffee cup which I forgot to bring down for breakfast.  I don’t have a zero-waste kit that has sustainable silverware so that is something I will invest in for my next trip.

Once aboard our cruise, we wander around a bit to see where we will be living for the next week.  If you have never cruised before, you should definitely give it a shot.  The food is amazing and there is plenty to do.

Norwegian Cruise

We sat down to lunch, and had our first adult beverage.  Thus far, I felt pretty good about the amount of waste I was producing daily.  Dinner comes out on glass dishware and we have fabric napkins.  We end up eating all they bring out.  Through the cruise dining, we find out that bread comes out with every dinner.  This fills us up before we get to the main course so we eventually request no bread every time we sit down.  We don’t want to waste food, if we can prevent it.

Another thing I noticed is ALOT of the bars on board serve drinks in plastic cups with straws.  I decide that I am not going to order any drinks that come in these cups.  My husband on the other hand did so we ended up producing about 10-15 drinks worth of plastic cups and straws.  Even when I put up a small fight about this with my husband he commented that he was here to enjoy himself and wasn’t going to worry about waste.  I couldn’t argue, could I?  I mean we were on vacation and I was arguing about a few plastic straws.  The cruise line did recycle so I stopped worrying about that.  I just decided to pick my battles.

We stopped at 3 destinations: Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize and Roatan, Honduras.

In Cozumel, we didn’t have anything to do so we just walked around the port area.  We did have an amazing lunch.  Best guacamole ever!

Mexico Lunch

In Belize City we took a bicycling excursion through the rain-forest.  When we made our decision on the excursion types we did, I wanted to choose the type where we were being sustainable and humane.  There were ATV excursions and horseback riding excursions.  I don’t want to produce excessive pollution and I didn’t know what kind of life the horses had so I didn’t want to support that.  Plus I like active excursions because on the ship, granted there is a gym, it’s easier to sit back around a pool than to run.  I needed to get some fitness in somehow.

On our bike excursion my husband got to sample a termite.  He ate a terminate.  I couldn’t fathom doing this.  Apparently they taste like mint?  Who’d have known.

We had some delicious local lunch (plantains are amazing).  We saw a little friend hanging out in the water while we were eating.


After lunch we had some time to relax by a pool in Belize City.  We chose a couple of comfy hammocks.


On board the ship again for a couple of days we ate buffet for breakfast and lunch, listened to Bob Marley live music, hung out in the library to read and just relaxed.  It was awesome.

Our last stop was Roatan, Honduras.  It was such a lush island.  We did the Gumbalimba Park excursion.  We got to meet tropical birds and monkeys.  Going into this, me not liking monkeys, I was a bit concerned.  We did get to meet a few birds personally.

Honduras Tropical Bird

It rained the whole time we were out there.  The tour guide said to expect wet and stinky monkeys.  The first time they jump on your shoulder you aren’t really ready.

Honduras Monkeys

We have one more relaxing day before we arrive back in Houston.  We get to tour the Houston NASA Space Station as one final excursion.  We got to see Mission Control…

Mission Control

…and the NASA Training Center.

NASA Training Center

The vacation was much deserved and I learned a lot for my next vacation.

  1.  Be vocal.  Ask for no straws.  The first few times I have done this I get a confused look.  The more you do this the more confidant you will become and easier it will be.  Also, if you have an idea to make an establishment more sustainable, tell them.  I sent an email to the hotel in hopes they replace disposable plates with reusable ones.
  2.  Try new things.  I never thought I would have an enjoyable experience that includes monkeys.
  3.  Travel light.  Over packing only means you will have to unpack more things when you get back.  Most often you don’t need these extra things anyways.  Also, we washed our undergarments and socks in the sink (I brought laundry detergent with me) so I wouldn’t need to bring as much.
  4.  Instead of becoming upset when you are given a drink with a straw, use it as a learning experience and practice ways of asking for no straw.  This can pertain to anything, not just straws.
  5.  Bring along a zero-waste kit.  You can find these online before you travel.  It will take little space in your luggage and you will produce much less waste on your travels.

Do you have additional ideas on how to travel zero-waste?  I would love to hear them!

My 30th Birthday Miami Beach

I wanted to do something big for my birthday since I was headed for the big 3-0.  I dreaded this day.  I can’t say why.  Honestly, now that I am 30 I don’t feel any different.  Anyways, so I went on vacation with a friend.  We both wanted a beach vacation so we went to South Miami Beach.  I was there before, but wasn’t impressed.  I realized that when I was there years ago we stayed in a less than ideal location.  This time, we booked a studio condo in south Miami Beach, not a hotel.  I prefer condos so we can eat in the rental as opposed to eating out for all meals.  I dislike eating out often so we bought foods we could eat in the condo.

I feel in love with Miami this time.  Miami has beautiful Art Deco architecture that I admire.  Seeing the buildings at night highlighted in neon is something that I have never seen before.

A couple of things we decided to do on vacation that is a little more green:

  1. We did not rent a car.  We stayed in a location we can walk everywhere.
  2. We didn’t watch TV.  You are on vacation, you don’t need a TV.
  3. We rented bikes to go to further locations.
  4. We took a bus to the airport.  It was cheaper and mass transit is greener.
  5. We recycled.
  6. We packed light.  Actually the first time I have traveled with only carry-ons.

Even when on vacation I am constantly reminded of my impact on the earth.  I try to live with the smallest footprint possible.  I have made a couple of decisions while on vacation.

  1. I want to start eating healthier.  My husband and I have subscribed a 2nd year to a CSA.  We get our organic veggies from a local farm.  Our veggies will travel a lesser distance to reach to us and it’s organic!
  2.  I also want to start composting again.  We used to have a machine that would compost here at home, but we weren’t impressed with the noises or smells that came from it.  We can drop off our veggie scraps at the yard waste collection sites spread out all over the city.
  3. I want to do more biking to get places as opposed to using a vehicle.  With gas going up, I want to save money and pollution by using my bike.