My family just returned from our summer vacation. Our vacation of choice this summer was a cruise. The hubs and I LOVE cruising so as soon as the girls were old enough, we cruised with them. The first time was so successful we decided to do it again.
Let me be clear, there is nothing about a family vacation that says vacation. The only vacation we had was from our alarms. The girls are not self sufficient so as long as we are on vacation together, there is no vacation from daily parenting crap. All your kids' annoying habits come on vacation. Your annoying habits come on vacation. And for the icing on the cake, the hub's annoying habits come on vacation. Why the hell does he leave the bathroom door open when he takes a leak? For the love of everything holy I'd rather wake to an alarm clock than to the sound of him peeing. Jesus man, shut the fucking door!
WE LOVE CRUISING!!!!!!!!!!!
We have always cruised with Royal Caribbean. I cannot tell you one thing about any other cruise line, so do not ask. I don't what is better, what is worse, etc. I ONLY know RCCL. This summer we cruised on The Allure of The Seas. Google this ship - you MUST see it. AMAZING.
Tips for cruising with kids.
1. If you can afford it, get two rooms or a suite and try to get a room with balcony. Cruise ship cabins are SMALL. They are so damn small that when you are in the bathroom, you can sit on the toilet and still reach the sink to spit if you are brushing your teeth. You can literally shit while you brush your teeth. The bathroom plus the room are so small you can trip and have no where to walk if just one pair of shoes is left out. If you leave a hair dryer out, the whole vanity area is full. SMALL, SMALL, SMALL! On the flip side, you are only in there to sleep or to get your groove on with your spouse, so as long as the bed is the right size....book the cruise!
2. You will not get sea sick. The ship is HUGE. Typically you do not feel anything. You may here or there feel something, but in general it is not an issue. Our kids had to look outside to know if the ship was moving. In my "old age" I will tell you I get nauseous from swinging with my kids, spinning in circles, riding in the backseat of a car, the teacups at Disney, a carousel, and from my husband's driving (just his, no one else's). I do NOT get motion sickness on the cruise. Don't worry about that. If you are worried, you can walk around with a patch behind your ear or wear some bracelet thing. Book the cruise!
3. EAT AND DRINK EVERYTHING! Seriously. Drop a few pounds before you leave. The fruit is fresh, the alcohol just flows, the meals are incredible, the specialty restaurants are phenomenal, there is 24/7 ice cream, pizza, sandwiches, etc. You will gain weight. You will gain weight. You will gain weight. Let your kids eat! Come on, live a little. French fries are not the devil. Ice cream for breakfast is not the worst idea. Virgin pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris by the pool are fun. Cookies, cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, vegetables, fajitas, chili, chips, salad bars, turkey, prime rib, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, a full bar at every corner - pure gluttony. It is a week- just eat and drink and Book the cruise!
4. Order room service! Room service is included in the price of your vacation. Yes. Included. We wake up every morning for a week to room service. We eat breakfast and drink coffee on the balcony of our room overlooking the ocean and just smile. It is my favorite part of the day. There is nothing more gorgeous than the deep blue sea meeting the light blue sky - breathtaking. The girls enjoyed eating in their beds. I for one, hate sleeping with crushed up frosted flakes. Book the cruise!
5. Send your kids to the kids' club. In order to participate, a child must be 3 and potty trained. If they do not meet those requirements, you pay for the babysitting. Three and toilet trained? Kids' Club is included in the price of your cruise. The kids can go to "camp" from 9-12, 2-5, and 7-10. It is divided up into ages 3-5, 6-8, and 9-11. Twelve and older go to the teen area and that is come and go as you please. The teen area looked awesome and I know they have some dance clubs just for them. Our girls went to camp every night from 7-10. A few nights they stayed later and we paid by the hour. After 10 pm, there is a fee. Our girls made friends, enjoyed the activities, and would go running each night to their camp room. Every. Night. Book the cruise!
6. Do not make your kids eat with you at night. Dinners on cruise ships are LONG. Whether you are in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant, the three course dinner (sometimes four) is eaten leisurely. If your child can sit for two hours, eat with them. Mine can make it about an hour and then they get bored, fidgety, etc. We feed our kids in the buffet area (Windjammer) before camp and then the hubs and I have date night. We get a nice break from the kids and don't have to listen to any whining during dinner or listen to them say they don't like the food choices. Book the cruise!
7. Enjoy the amenities on the ship. Included in the price of our cruise was zip lining on the ship, put-putt, ice skating, surfing/boogie boarding, table tennis, basketball, rock wall climbing, and a carousel. There is also a fitness center. There are many classes you can take (wine pairing, yoga, cooking, etc). Some classes are free and others you pay for. It is all printed out on a daily itinerary left in your stateroom each night. Book the cruise!
8. Have fun while at port. There is always something to do on the islands. You can snorkel, go on an ATV, swim with dolphins, hike, scuba, lay at the beach, shop - and so much more. We swam with dolphins and went to a turtle farm in Grand Cayman, we hiked in Jamaica, we went to a butterfly farm and swam in the ocean in St. Maarten, we swam and collected sea shells and rocks in Labadee - the islands are beautiful. Our girls love seeing new places and E1 picks up the differences in economics, population, agriculture, etc. We have some great educational conversations while cruising. Book the cruise!
9. Stay on the boat while in port. When the ship is in port, almost everyone gets off to explore. The pools are empty and the ship is quiet. You can enjoy all the food, bars, and amenities with very few people. This cruise, we chose one port of call to stay on board and we had a great day. This decision is not for everyone, but we enjoy a calm day of nothing while on vacation. Book the cruise!
10. Have a great time! Sleep in, stay up late, go to bed early, get up early, lay in bed all day, swim all day, eat all day, drink all day, do whatever you want - the possibilities are endless! Just remember, not all kids are go with the flow so set appropriate expectations for your kids. They whine, it is hot. They whine, they are tired. They whine, they are kids. Book the cruise!