found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Can vacation with young kids really be relaxing?

YES!  Just back from a week-long cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas and I’m pretty sure that it could not have been a better vacation in any way.  This was maybe the first family vacation where we all had fun AND were able to relax the entire time. Some of that has to do with the girls getting older and easier, but I’m convinced a lot of it was the cruise experience and the gorgeous, laid-back locale.

The Details: flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we boarded in the afternoon, then sailed to St. Maarten, Tortola, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, enjoyed one day at sea, and then landed back in San Juan in the morning, spent the day touring the city, and flew back to Mpls that evening.

The days fell into a very chill routine that went something like this:

  • Docked in port in the morning, went to Windjammer Cafe for buffet breakfast, quick, easy, tasty. Not exactly 4-star food, but better than typical buffet and something for everyone and girls even went up a few times in their jammies!
  • Left the ship and headed to the beach to swim, play in the sand, and have lunch on the beach.
  • Returned to ship for little one’s nap time. Meanwhile, we either napped, read, spa-ed (just me – the ship spa facilities are awesome, I enjoyed a body wrap, scrub, and mini-facial, and prices far better than at your spa at home), or watched a show
  • Post-nap either walked into the town or stayed aboard for afternoon snack, mini-golf, or a splash in the kiddie pool complete with water slide. Kids also liked shuffle board and ping-pong.
  • Then back to the room to dress for dinner. I’m proud to say the girls actually sat through the three courses, enjoyed the food, and behaved.  This was in large part due to the amazing staff who helped get food out quickly and even anticipated our needs (e.g., bringing fruit out for the kids as soon as we sat down, offering the booster seat, recommending dishes that they thought the kids would like, etc.). It didn’t hurt that they had ice cream every day for dessert – you only live once! 🙂
  • After dinner enjoyed live music, took our older daughter to see some of the dance productions (what adults may find cheesy she finds thrilling!), or visited the ship’s library to read some bedtime stories. Once kids were asleep we could watch a movie, read, or turn-in early.

Keys to success: The staff was so friendly and helpful. Also, we didn’t do any excursions, that way we be flexible with the day and not feel rushed or herded with the crowds. But the biggest factor I think was that we had two connecting staterooms, so we didn’t need “lights out” just because they were sleeping (see below, just left of the picture after the foot of the bed is the connecting door was to our room). It was also nice having two sets of bathrooms and TVs and a little more room for all that luggage. Note: bring your own laptop or DVD player to watch movies as they run some on the ship TV stations but most standard rooms don’t come equipped with a DVD player, at least not on our ship.

Bottom Line: would absolutely recommend a cruise vacation for other families. Royal Caribbean was great, the staff was amazing, and the whole concept is built around ease and convenience, which all leads to total relaxation.  The itinerary, ship amenities, and food were really good and though the trip was not inexpensive, it did feel like a better overall value than a lot of resort vacations. The kids had so much fun, it is easy to imagine another cruise in our future!

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2011 by in adventures and tagged , , , , .
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