Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What a Month! Part 2

6/5/10 Sooooo... we get on the ship and drop off some stuff at the room. We are hastily shuffled towards the buffet restaurant for lunch. The food is great, the staff is AMAZING, and all seems well. For anyone considering cruising, the 2 biggest pleasantries of a cruise vacation are BY FAR the FOOD and the STAFF. Now, one might not think that the staff would have such a huge impact on the cruise experience, but it REALLY DOES. If you are like me, and you like to talk to people, I guarantee that the fleeting thought of "I should totally invite this person to dinner at my house after the cruise is over", may very well go through your head after a few days. You may not linger for long on this thought, but I bet you it will cross your mind...

6/6/10 Today is Mindi's birthday. We try to stay upbeat, but the lingering news of her sister's illness, coupled with the fact that we cannot seem to find a hot vegetarian dish that is not Pasta Primavera is obviously making our vacation a little less carefree. In addition, we realize, to our dismay, that there is absolutely NOTHING for Harris to do on the cruise. There is a children's program, but they will not accept any kid in pull-ups, or under age 3. When I asked them if I could sit in a corner of the children's area and play with him and their toys, they told me that it was not allowed. "Didn't you bring any toys for him to play with" she says, with an innocent look on her face... grrrrrrr... oh, you mean, in between the diapers and formula that required their own duffel? well, noooo, I thought that we might have access here. I didn't even want to leave him there, I just wanted him to have something new to play with. Her only other suggestions were to let him run around on the tennis court, and to take him swimming. 2 problems with that, if the weather was nice, the courts were occupied. If the weather wasn't nice, the weather was NASTY, and, as far as the pool goes, no children were allowed in whilst wearing swim diapers. I buck the system there with a big F U, and take him in the pool WITHOUT a swim diaper... heh heh heh... On a good Samaritan note, I ask him politely to tell me if he has to pee... does he tell me he needs to? No. does he pee in the pool? probably... On a positive note, Harris tries his first chicken leg, and loves it.

6/7/10 Over 48 hours on the ocean, we are going stir crazy. After the quick discovery that this cruise is meant for the "older set", and noting the interesting contrast between "aaaaw, look at the cute little one", vs the evil eye that says "your child is single handedly RUINING my vacation", we are ready to GET OFF THE BOAT. We dock in Juneau, Alaska, and proptly begin our search for our first letterbox. (Even more info about Letterboxing Here). While we don't find the letterbox, we do discover a park! With a swing set! And a slide! Wow, who gets that excited about a park? It reminds me of the time we drove from Chicago to Seattle over the course of 4 days, and after 24 hours of corn fields, we finally spotted a few cows, and nearly pissed ourselves with excitement...

6/8/10 We receive news about Mindi's sister. She has passed away. Long story short, she died at 27 from complications of a gastric bypass (almost 3 years ago), coupled with poor life choices. At this point, the rest of the trip becomes blurry.

6/9/10 We eat our way through another day, and buy a new toy for Harris at port. Which port? I have no idea.

6/10/10 We eat our way through another day

6/11/10 We eat our way through another day

6/12/10 We eat breakfast, then disembark the ship. Our friend Diana picks us all up. We make a quick stop back at the house, and then Diana takes Mindi swiftly to the airport, to hop on a plane to Miami for her sister's funeral.

I was with the 2 kids alone Sat, Sun, Monday, and part of the day Tuesday. It was not a big deal- not too difficult for me to be alone with the kids, so that was good. Mindi and her mom and remaining sister are doing as well as can be expected. It is so sad to think that Feb14th, 2007, Mindi lost her father, David, to cancer, and not more than 3 years later, she lost her younger sister too.

The icing on the cake? We came home to a broken microwave.

And now, a tidbit about cruising with children:

Cruising with kids is AWESOME. I know that some people might be nervous about the whole thing, but once you get on that ship, it is like you are in a town on the sea. There are lots of things to do (assuming you pick the right cruise) and, like I mentioned before, the food is spectacular and plentiful. (I gained 5 lbs in a week). I beg you, however, to really do your homework if you are cruising with children. Some cruise lines are better than others at entertaining families with small children. We cruised with Holland America. Now, I thought that the ship was nice, the food was excellent and the rooms were great, but it was obviously, like I said before, a cruise for the older set. Upon arriving home, I did some research into other cruise lines, and discovered that the 3 best cruises for families with little ones, are Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney cruise lines.

If you have had a good experience on a cruise with kids, I would love to hear about it!! In addition, if you have any questions about an upcoming cruise, I am happy to answer it!


  1. First, I'm very sorry to hear about Mindi's sister. That is terrible news to receive at any time, but in the middle of vacation, when you're not even in town, that's very hard.

    My family has cruised since my sister and I were small (there were far fewer child-friendly cruises then), and LB and I are SO excited to take The Bean cruising someday! We have done the HAL Seattle-Alaska cruise, and I agree with your assessment about the kids program - it's just not set up for small children. We haven't sailed with Carnival, but Royal Caribbean and Disney both have fabulous kids programs. I was too old for the Disney programs by the time they came around, but spent some great summers playing on the Royal Caribbean ships. This summer, we're cruising with Disney as a "babymoon," and looking forward to checking out the programs for small children. One thing that's great about Disney is that they are set up to take very small children on their ships, so you can spend an hour alone or with your sweetie, instead of having to trade off on baby time. Disney also has the most kid-friendly food around, and the dining is more welcoming to families with children (no surprise, there).
    Another family we know with 3 little ones also liked cruising with Royal Caribbean, and used an in-room babysitter from the ship so they could attend dinner (their kids have 6:30 bedtime). I'm not sure about whether they sent the 18-month-olds to a play program, though.

  2. oh so sorry for Mindi's loss!

  3. Ugh, I'm so sorry to hear about mindi's sister, that's horrible!!

    We did a Rosie cruise 2 summers ago throughout the NE and it was amazing for kids. Next summer we're planning to do Alaska out of Seattle on Princess and heard that was a great one with kids... I hope so ; )

  4. I'm so terribly sorry for your and Mindi's loss.

    Our community pool has a no swim diaper rule as well. It really annoys me since our bean has never once pooped in a pool or in her bath and I have a hard time believing that no adults or potty-trained children pee in the pool. Not that I ever would, mind you, I just think others might.

  5. So sorry about Mindi's sister. How awful to get that news while away too.....

    I'll be thinking of you guys during this time....

    As for cruises....I hear the R Family Vacations ones are awesome.....would love to go with the kidlets next year...

  6. I'm glad to hear your trip was great, but I'm so sorry to hear about Mindi's sister. I lost a sibling under completely different circumstances, but I know it's not easy however it happens. Thoughts are with you guys.

  7. So sorry to hear about Mindi's sister. :(

    Good for you for going in the pool with Harris. What a ridiculous rule. And, the kids area for kids over 3? Man, who needs it then? Well, I guess 3-year-olds aren't grown-ups, but they're certainly able to sit still and entertain themselves on a ship better than those under 3.

  8. I am so sorry to hear about Mindi's sister. What a horrible loss.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on cruising with kids. We love cruising but have been hesitant to even consider it until our son is five or so. We might reconsider now! (And I hear that the R Family Cruises are great too.)

  9. So sorry to hear about Mindi's sister. I'm sorry for her (and your) loss.

    We took Noah on a Carnival cruise last year and it was so-so. My wife's sister was getting married at one of the ports, so it was a big family cruise. Unfortunately, the dates they picked were 2 weeks before Noah turned 2. At 2, kids can spend a LOT of time in the daycare/toy area...basically any time except during lunch hours. They refused to make an exception, even when I told them that the travel agent had told the bride/my MIL that kids under 2 could play there. We talked to a supervisor and the only thing they would let us do was play with Noah there, supervised, during the 12-2 lunch time frame. That was it. And we had to pay (vs. kids over 2 being free).
    I think our biggest mistake was letting someone else (my MIL) make all of our arrangements. We had a tiny, loud room while the bride and in-laws had rooms with verandas. We would have had different expectations if we knew we could not use the play area--such as picking a room with a veranda, and bringing tons more toys. As it was, we spent a lot of time sitting in a dark, windowless room trying to entertain Noah, with occasionally trips on deck to see what was going on. We also had the same pool problem you mentioned-he was in swim diapers at the time, and that was not allowed in the pools. So, we could take Noah up on deck, but he would just be frustrated that he could not swim. We had some good times, and I don't want to complain about everything, but I would have waited until he was 2.5 and out of diapers so he could play in the daycare and swim in the pools.

  10. Oh my god, I can't believe babies/kids in swim diapers can't go in the pool on the cruise! That's awful... and good to know!


  11. We've cruised on several lines... but HORRIBLE for the kids..they made us pick them up in the middle of the day for 2-3 hours... you must be kidding me! I dont want to leave my kids somewhere every minute but I dont want to be constrained to a 3 hour no childcare schedule in the middle of a day..
    Holland America..beautiful but as you say, really geared for the older set. We went to Alaska in May and our kids were 3 of only 10 kids on the whole ship.
    and then Disney..hands down the ONLY ship to take kids on. My kids never wanted to leave the childcare and frankly I wish I could have spent some of my day in there... just cant say enough about it!!!
    Just found your blog and really like it. My daughter and her girlfriend live in Washington.
    They are hoping to get married next year, but may come back to California so it's legal.
    I blog at:


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