Personal projects are for growth and exploration—add in realism later
The purpose of this personal project was to go where no designer had gone before. Ok, maybe not that dramatic but I was pushing myself beyond what I am normally comfortable with. We often live in a word of requirements, it was time for me to break out of those constraints and push my boundaries. I can talk to the realism later, when going through the project.
Research and a single idea can change the course of a project. Find the core at the beginning
The entire direction of the site changed when I realized that the site was not a travel site but a cruise site. It was all about the travel experience and lightly about the destination. If the site was based on travel the ability to search and find a travel day would be much higher on the page. The real purpose of the site is to convince you the experience is worth the money you are about to spend.
Visual storytelling can trump written content—until it doesn't
In general visual story telling is more emotive, reads quicker, and keeps the eye engaged on the content...but it often lacks context. Words can provide necessary content when the visuals are done with their part of the job. An icon may not communicate the exact same thing to everyone but with a simple bit of content you can provide quick context to the icon.