Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cruising with Kids

So my husband and I first went on a cruise for our honeymoon back in 2002.  Since then we were hooked.  It was a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas on the Majesty of the Seas.  We picked Royal Carribbean over the other cruise lines because of the more active entertainment they offer on board, such as rock climbing and ice skating.  Cruising is fun if you love the ocean.  It is convenient to not have to worry about food literally 24/7 and to be able to walk downstairs for broadway-like shows.  Plus, you get to visit a variety of different places.  Here's a picture of our ship, Grandeur of the Seas:

Why we pick cruising with kids over other type of vacations:

·       Meals!  We don’t have to worry about cooking or what restaurant to go to... or what time to eat even.   With the buffet menu, they can try a little of this and a little of that.  When our toddler wakes up an hour earlier than everyone else, I can take him upstairs and have breakfast with him before his sisters wake up.  We can even order room service at no extra charge any time of day which is super convenient.

·       Childcare.  Our two girls were able to enjoy crafts and games and entertainment while the adults get a short break.  We can drop them off and pick them up anytime and for as long as we wish as long as they are open.  They have childcare for younger children less than 3 as well but you have to pay.  We did use it one night when we had an adult-only dinner with my mother-in-law to celebrate her 70th birthday.  It was $8/hr which is not bad considering normal childcare costs.

·       Entertainment.  What other venue can you walk a little ways from your bedroom and go watch broadway like shows?  In other settings, once our kids are asleep at night, we pretty much are stuck with watching a movie on our computer or just entertaining ourselves on our laptops.  However, on a ship we have the option to take turns going out even after they are down.  Without driving anywhere we can go watch live entertainment, go for a midnight snack or just relax somewhere on deck gazing at the moon and watching the waves crash.  They even have in room babysitting which you have to pay for.  We didn’t use it but I suppose it is always an option for those who want to explore the ship as a couple.  In the past, we go with enough folks that we can rotate who watches the kids at night.  When they are older they can stay up and do activities in the kid programs as well.

·       Destination.  It is a much more fun way to get to the Bahamas or Alaska or whatever other destination then just flying with the kids.  And once we get there… more fun activities to do on land!  It is a little bit of this and a little bit of that… but with my personality… it is much less work than trying to plan a whole vacation in one spot for a whole week.

What would we do differently next time?

·       Book earlier so we can get a family stateroom .  They ran out for this trip so we all stayed in one room.   It was painful since our youngest would wake up the others sometimes in the middle of the night.  The family staterooms have a separate room for the kids and just more room so we’re not stepping on each other.

·       Wait until the youngest is 3 years old.  The kid program on our ship was called Adventure Ocean.  It is free but the youngest age is 3.  I was a little worried initially because the kid area looked small and my kids’ last cruise experience was with Disney Cruise, however, I was pleasantly surprised with the program.  It was great to be able to drop off our two oldest for a couple of hours and know that they are having fun.  They have a different theme each session and the kids usually come back with neat souvenirs and crafts that they made.   Highlights this trip include: dressing up like pirates one night dancing to gangnam style & a talent show that they put together for the parents on the last day.

·       Go on a bigger ship.  Bigger ship means more activities and newer facilities.  However, it would also mean we would have to fly to Ft Lauderdale since that is the closest port where the large Oasis of the Seas or some of the Freedom of the Seas ships sail out of.  It was nice this time around to not have to pay for airfare and just drive to Baltimore to board our ship.  Other ports we can drive to include New York and New Jersey, however, none of the bigger ships leave out of those ports at this time.

Alright... next post will compare our Disney vs Royal Carribean cruise experience =)