I recently had my best vacation experience since becoming a mom, and I felt like I was inducted into a whole new world of awesomeness that I had no idea existed. I went on a CRUISE. Lots of people love cruising, I remember going on them when I was growing up and having a great time. Now having gone on one as a mom, I understand why my parents were so into cruising as a family vacation. Because it is a true vacation.
Yes I know that it’s not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, and yes it’s the kind of place you don’t want to be in case of zombie apocalypse… or actually you don’t want to be on the cruise if anyone is infected, but it would be a perfect place to be if the zombie outbreak started while you were already on board because you could sustain life in survival mode there for quite a long time, but I digress…
For you to really understand why this vacation was heaven for me as a mom, let me paint a picture for you of a typical cruising day for our family (some of the things I will mention are specifically about the Royal Caribbean boat we were on but pretty much all cruises have similar amenities):
7am: Kids wake up, we let them watch the Dreamworks channel while we go back to sleep for awhile after having a light snack breakfast delivered to our room. Then we hang around until my husband and I are caffeinated enough to start the day.
9am: Bring the kids to the breakfast buffet and all eat a real breakfast with tons of options. I pretty much ate pancakes with gobs of whipped cream every morning, but to each her own.
9:30am: Ask our four-year-old twins what they want to do and they start chanting, “Kids Club, Kids Club, Kids Club!!”
9:45am: Drop the girls at the much begged for kids club to play with their friends and do all kinds of fun activities.
10am: Head to one of the ships many pools and have our first adult beverage of the day. I would generally start with a Strawberry Daiquiri while my husband preferred a beer, but we would hang out drinking and swimming and talking to each other!!!
12pm: Pick up the kids for lunch and choose one of the ships many restaurants, eat ’till we are stuffed.
1pm: Head to the kids splash zone for some family time with the littles. Adults would continue day-drinking while the kids run around splashing, having a blast, and generally being adorable. If they got into a bad mood for some reason we would bribe them with the unlimited fro-yo machines throughout the ship and get happy kids again.
3pm: Either take the children back to the kids club or all go to the cabin for a family nap. This is also a great time for the parents to take some solo time doing an activity they enjoy. One day I went rock climbing and another I hit the casino- whatever floats your boat! (Pun intended)
5pm: Either pick up the girls from kids club or wake up from your nap and start getting ready for dinner.
6pm: Head to dinner at the dining room. Our server was the same every night so she knew to have chicken fingers and fruit waiting for the kids so they could eat right away. The adults would choose from a fantastic 3- course menu. We would eat our appetizers while the twins plowed through their dinners.
6:40pm: I would bring the littles right outside the dining room where a kids club staff member would PICK THEM UP and take them to have an evening of fun games and I would go back into dinner and enjoy my meal and desert without having to take anyone out to pee!!
8pm: The adults would all proceed to a different bar each evening and have a few cocktails.
10pm: Pick the kids up from kids club and plop them into bed and they would be so exhausted they would promptly fall asleep and sleep all night!
Now I should mention here that it was my in-laws who took us on the cruise along with my brother-in-law and soon-to-be sister in-law. If there is any way you can go on your cruise with extra family members I highly recommend it. We had an adjoining room to my in-laws, so a few nights they picked up the kids from kids club and my husband and I got to hang out with his brother and his brother’s fiancee late into the night. There may have been a karaoke competition involved, and there was definitely late night pizza from the place that never closes!
Did you notice anything about this schedule that would be a dream for a stay-at-home mom?
How about the fact that I did not have to plan or cook a meal for 7 days?
Or that I never had to go grocery shopping? Or get anyone in or out of a carseat?
Or the wonder that was having tons of alone time? And time alone with my husband?
Or that we could hang out as a family each day and still get to enjoy adult time?
Or not worrying about laundry, or dishes, or housekeeping for an entire week?!
I would also like to mention that because we were at sea, both my husband and I decided not to get any of the rather expensive internet packages and just totally disconnected for the week. It was amazing to not have the distraction of our phones and email. We both told our work that we were gone for the week and if something came up they would just have to handle it! The amount of relief in that was palpable. I could see the tension fall of my husband in the first 24 hours and I felt the same change in myself.
We are in a stage of our lives where between work and kids we are often just passing ships in the night (I know, I’m punny today!) but this vacation allowed us to connect again. It helped us remember that we don’t just love each other but truly LIKE each other. We have a blast spending time together, we make each other laugh, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. 7 days away from the stresses of day-to-day life allowed us to appreciate each other and our kids on a much deeper level.
I will issue a few warnings though:
- Don’t go on a cruise and expect not to gain weight, the most common activity on the boat is eating. My brother-in-law was the best example of embracing the week of vacation when at dinner one night he ordered, “The steak, with a side of pork chops.” (And yes, you can totally do that!) the best way to enjoy your cruise time is to take a break for a few days from the pressures you put on yourself about how you look. There will be people there 100 lbs heavier than you rocking a bikini, so seriously- enjoy that third full calorie margarita of the day and don’t touch a scale until at least 2 weeks after you come back.
- Your children will probably eat nothing but chicken fingers and ice cream. Let them. It is a week or less, and why fight? It’s vacation!
- Get in that vacation mindset quickly: schedules, bedtime, routines- throw them all out the window and just let stuff happen. You will enjoy yourself a lot more. And really, who cares if the kids don’t bathe, they are in the pool everyday- same thing!
- If you are a drinker, invest in a drink package. It is really easy to go through 8 (cough, cough, more like 12) drinks a day- don’t judge I was on vacation! But with a package it is unlimited so you can go ahead and have that extra cocktail to feel like you get your money’s worth.
- There are some “mandatory fun” type activities like clapping along with the waiters as they weirdly dance and sing around the room. Or them making everybody get up and do the Macarena at dinner. I still don’t get that one, but I just ordered a few more glasses of wine on my drink package and jumped right in!
I now understand why people become cruise junkies. It almost forces you to have fun, relax, and enjoy yourself. You loose track of days, and can truly take a much needed break. It’s expensive so it won’t be an every year thing for our family, but who’s coming with me in 2018?!