First off here's a little go pro video we made of our week long cruise if you want to just skip all the reading :)
I'm going to have to break up this post into several posts or it will be a novel. And not a short one. There just too much to say about this trip and I don't want to forget any of it! So this post will be about the actual sea days, and I'll go into more details about this different ports we visited later.
Sunday is the day Allure leaves and returns to Fort Lauderdale, and since everyone has to get off the ship before anyone is allowed back on, it can get hectic. We left our hotel around 11:30 ish and got to the ship and ready to board around 1 (we met my dad first.) Before getting on the ship you have to go through security, so the whole process was about 90 minutes from walking up to the ship before we were Actually on.
Until a few months ago Allure of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in the world...freaking HUGE. For at least 3-4 hours after we were on board Tindra kept asking 'So when are we getting on the boat?', she literally didn't even believe us when we kept telling her over and over again that we Were in fact already on the boat. Not till we were standing on the 15th (out of 17) floor, standing on the back as we were sailing away and Fort Lauderdale was getting smaller and smaller did she realize that the floating city we were in, Was the boat.
I think there are 24 restaurants on board, and we only had time to visit maybe 6-7 of them? SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. (And I'm not just saying that because my dad is the executive chef) We didn't have a mediocre meal the entire time vacation (except in cozumel, but that one doesn't count.) We ate at Windjammer, their huge buffet most of the time, just because its easiest with kids. But this buffet is unlike any other buffet I've ever eaten from. They had every type of food for every meal. Want Chinese food? Sure. The rice chips I used to eat daily in Bali and haven't seen since? Yep got those. Gluten free? TONS of options. All the kid friendly food you could ever want? Yep, burgers, fries, chicken, soups, fruit, desserts, literally I can't think of any kind of food that wasn't available up there. We all got in ruts though and started eating the same thing for breakfasts and lunch because there were so many choices it would get over whelming. I stuck with my mini croissants with fresh cheese and cucumber slices most mornings. And of course the hot sticky cinnamon rolls they were walking around with. Mouth. Watering.
SO besides eating SO much food. Probably too much food, we kept ourselves insanely busy. Every morning after breakfast we would head to the pool on sea days. If that was the Only thing we did the entire trip, the kids would have had the best time of their lives. Thats literally the only thing they needed. The pool for the big kids and the little splash park for Soren. Drew and I would take turns in the pool and crawling around with Soren.
The kids slept insanely good on the cruise. We are blessed with amazing sleepers! But also, they were just exhausted when it was nap/bed time, so that helped also! After naps every day we would walk around and find other things to do, like rock climbing, mini golf, cooking shows, meeting different Madagascar (the kids movie) cast members, carousel rides (every single day Im pretty sure.) There are SO many kid friendly things to do on the boat and we didn't have time for even half of it! Guess we need to go back...
At night we would try different restaurants, all kid friendly. Even the formal dinners catered to kids, though I did have to go walk around with Soren once during the formal lobster dinner. His food came first and by the time mine came he was over sitting at a table. One night my dad ordered us a bunch of different entres to try and we ate that on our 10th floor balcony.
We kept the kids on Colorado time, so they were up till 10-10:30 most nights (8 in colorado) so that gave us lots of time to do all the things we wanted to do, vs just having them to go to bed at 8. PLUS it meant they 'slept in' till 8 most mornings.
A few nights after the kid were in bed we left them with my dad and went to do some of the 'adult' things. They have a casino on board (Drew might have loved this the most) water shows, Mama Mia performance, comedy clubs, piano lounge, more bars than I even know...really SO much to do! Walking back to our room at midnight one night I couldn't believe how many people and even kids were up walking around! It was like a mini city that never slept.
One of the amazing things we got to do (it pays knowing one of the executives on board!) was go up to 'the bridge'. Thats where they steer the ship, and all of that. The kids thought it was Super amazing to get to hang out up there and steer the ship. And ask all sorts of questions to the captains right hand man. Mom and dad might have also thought that was freakin awesome.
I was a little nervous about going on a week long cruise with three young children (everyone that I know who has been on one has only gone with kids that are older) but it went so smooth, and everyone had SO much fun. There are so many great programs though for the older kids, that it made me Really excited to plan a cruise for when the kids are older, and Drew and I can relax a little more. I saw parents with older kids send them off with the friends they had met in kid/teenage club sit and relax at one of the many small tables playing a card game, or reading a book, or even napping! That was obviously not in the cards for us, but we just had a different kind of amazing vacation.
So the big questions we kept getting, would we do another cruise? And the answer is absolutely! But we will probably wait till the kids are a bit older. At least maybe at the point they are all done napping? We kept saying the days were flying SO fast, because by the time you factor in the time for eating out three meals a day with kids, and the time it takes to get dressed/changed into swimsuits/ready for dinner etc and then plus a 2.5-3 hour nap every afternoon. it didn't feel like it left a whole lot of time to relax/play/explore. But those kinds of vacations will come, and we will have the rest of our lives to vacation like that. For now we have young children, and even though it can be crazy/hectic/stressful traveling/vacationing with them, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thank you Royal Caribbean (and my dad!) for such an unforgettable week!