Allure of the Seas

 

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!

 

My 30th Birthday and Fort Lauderdale

So when we decided to go on a week long cruise we quickly decided we wanted to get down there a few days before the cruise. One just for logistics of making sure plane delays/cancelations didn't make us miss the ship, and two just to add in a few extra days of vacation. We have actually Never done a beach vacation where we don't Do anything. Not as a family anyway. I did a week on the beach in NC last summer with my family, but never with just Drew and the kids. Are vacations are usually busy exploring and go go go the whole time. I honestly have never even Wanted a beach vacation with nothing planned.

Till now. I thought it would get old/boring just being on the beach/pool with nothing planned. OH how wrong was I. Turns out, its Amazing. Im sure most of you aren't as shocked as I was. 

In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

We flew in 4 days before getting on the ship, and decided to stay a little bit outside of Fort Lauderdale for a couple of reasons, One we wanted less crows and Two I was able to find better hotel deals a little ways out. It didn't make a difference to us since we weren't planning on really leaving the area anyway. We were able to get a great hotel with a suite (which was actually really big and had two separate bathrooms!) that was right on the beach and had a great pool for the kiddos. Another bonus which we didn't realize when we booked, the pool area had a happy hour every night with free drinks (!!) and snacks, so you can guess where we were every night from 5-7...

Every day in Fort Lauderdale was spent pretty similarly. We would wake up, head downstairs to breakfast by the pool, then we would head up and change and either go to the pool or the beach. Even if we went to the beach we would head to the pool to swim after the beach and most days had lunch right there by the pool. Then we would do naps and swim some more/happy hour and get ready and go to dinner. Once we had dinner at the restaurant at the hotel because we were too tired and hot to walk to dinner, once we were super tired and just ordered pizza, and a couple of the nights we walked the 3/4 of a mile to the pier area where there were lots of restaurants. 

I turned the big 3 0 while in Florida and it was the best day! We went to the beach and then during nap time I went and got a facial at the hotel spa followed by a delicious dinner right on the beach outside. Soren fell asleep on the walk to dinner so he slept through most of it. A sleeping baby makes for a pretty relaxing dinner!

Turning 30, on vacation with my family sure made it nice and relaxing! I had been dreading 30 for a while, till the last couple of months. Im thinking a vacation for every birthday should be the standard! One can wish!

Another super special thing happened while we were in Fort Lauderdale. A friend I met online in a What to Expect group while were were pregnant, so like back in 2011, moved to Florida a year or so ago and when she found out we were going to be in the area she drove the 1.5 hours to come hang out with us one afternoon/evening! It was so amazing to see the babies together (now 4.5) Its so crazy meeting someone you have only known online, but it felt completely normal at the same time, like were were just old friends getting together. Kiddos and husbands all got along great too! Thanks for meeting us Nadine! We Definitely have to do it again!

As we were driving in the car service to the cruise port from the hotel we were talking about how this was probably the first time in our adult lives that we have spent 4 whole days within a mile radius. Crazy huh? We literally never left the blocks surrounding our hotel, which is So not how we normally do things. Next time we are in this area we definitely need to rent a car because I know there is SO much to do, but not having any plans was the perfect way to start this vacation, as our week on the ship was much more the go go go we are used to. 

 

Back again!

Ive said that a few times lately haven't I? This time we are back from our 11 day vacation in Fort Lauderdale and caribbean cruise. We got back at 1:30 Sunday night, or rather Monday morning, and Jasper started school 7 hours later...I hope his teacher realizes that first day was the quietest/calmest he will be all year, from pure exhaustion. 

By now the kids are back to their normal crazy and wild selves, while Drew and I are still exhausted. Oh to have the energy of a 4 or 9 year old. 

Oh yeah, NINE year old. Jasper turned 9 in Jamaica while on vacation (and I turned the big 3 0) more on both of those later!

I'l be back to share a bunch pictures from our trip (though surprisingly i didn't take That many) and a fun go pro video thats in the works, and I'll leave this picture, I believe the only picture of all five of us from the entire trip..typical! 

Wanderlust; YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch

Last month,before our big move, we had the opportunity to escape the city and head into the mountains for a weekend of fun at YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch. It ended up being the perfect time to go because Denver reached triple digits the entire weekend we were away..no thanks!

We arrived Friday evening just in time to roast marshmallows by the campfire and play some mini golf in the dusk before it was time to head to our room for bed. We stayed at one of the lodge rooms (they also have yurts and cabins and camping!) which was really good sized with two queen beds, a couch, table/chairs and plenty of room to move around. Perfect size for our family of 5! Plus it had a balcony! We try to get rooms with balconies when we are traveling, its so nice to have a little place to escape to once the kids are in bed to have a drink, talk, watch netflix on the iPad...

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the cafeteria on sight and then had a busy day filled with zip lining (so much fun!!) tubing (also a blast, probably our favorite activity we did) archery shooting for Jasper and Drew, more mini golf and rock climbing. The kids were basically in outdoor heaven. 

We went into Winter Park to grab some medicine for Soren who had a slight fever and was teething so we got back to late to have dinner at the cafeteria, which ended up being a good thing because it made us try the grill on sight. We enjoyed delicious pizza and french fries (why is this the best combination!?!) while enjoying the best views out on their patio. Perfect ending to the busy day. After ice cream and playing at one of the many play grounds on site, we all passed out hard! Something about that mountain air! We all slept in (which never happens in every day life and certainly NEVER happens while we are all sleeping in a room together) so we rushed to eat at the cafeteria and then went to the lake where they were having a fathers day fishing derby, where Jasper caught his very first fish! I think its time to find a lake around here for him to go fishing, because he hasn't stopped talking about it since! 

ymca3.jpg

After a morning filled with fishing it was time to pack up and head back home. No one wanted to leave! The weekend went way too fast and we didn't have a chance to try so many of the activities! I guess that just means we HAVE to go back. For an entire week next time! There's also mountain biking, an indoor pool, horse back riding, a craft room (which looked Amazing) organized activities like kickball/ hungry hungry hippo (kicking myself for not making it there in time for that) and so many more activities we wanted to try! When traveling with three kids I'm learning to lower my expectations. My instinct is to PACK AS MUCH FUN and activities into our days. I want to DO ALL THE THINGS, but that just doesnt work when you have three kiddos, nap times to deal with and all that, so I am learning to try to stop trying to fit it all in. So hard to do in a place filled with so many fun things to do! We are definitely going to need to plan a trip for the winter also, they have out door activities then too, like snow shoeing and cross country skiing!

Thank you so much YMCA of the Rockies for hosting our family for the weekend! We can't wait to come back again! 

We made a little gopro video of some of the footage from our trip!