So, we did something completely different this year and sacrificed our traditional Thanksgiving and headed off on a cruise to the Bahamas for the week. I apologize for not posting in so long but life has been so hectic preparing for this trip and attempting to get ready for Christmas. Currently my house is half decorated for Christmas with a lonely pumpkin on the front porch. And there are mountains of laundry everywhere. But we had so much fun – totally worth the chaos.
Cruising from Baltimore
When we initially planned on a vacation over Thanksgiving week we debated traveling to Disney or to a Caribbean resort. Then we remembered that we didn’t want to fly over Thanksgiving with three rambunctious kids. A friend at work mentioned taking a cruise out of Baltimore so we decided to give it a try. It was less than a five hour drive and the cruise terminal and parking were completely manageable. The only downsides are that there were a few chilly days on the boat and because of the travel time the boat stops at less ports. But we would definitely cruise out of Baltimore again.
We cruised on the Grandeur of the Seas – it is a smaller ship so we enjoyed that there were only about 2000 people on board. We just read today that Royal Caribbean is selling this ship to another company so I don’t know what the future is for this route.
- Day 1 – Depart Baltimore
- Day 2 – Day at Sea
- Day 3 – Port Canaveral
- Day 4 – Coco Cay
- Day 5 – Nassau, Bahamas
- Day 6 – Day at Sea
- Day 7 – Day at Sea
Our stay at Port Canaveral was relatively short as the boat was late arriving at port. We took a trip to Kennedy Space Center and were only there for about three hours but Royal Caribbean was awesome and refunded a large portion of what we paid for the excursion. The kids favorite part was the Space Shuttle simulator. It was pretty cool!
Coco Cay is Royal Caribbean’s private island and it is amazing. We paid extra for admission to the water park and the kids had a blast. We rode the “tallest water slide in North America” and they cannot stop talking about it. There were so many slides and an awesome wave pool. Outside the water park there was a small beach and the largest swimming pool I have ever seen! All of our food was included for the day and our only complaint was that the water in all the pools was really really cold!
There were many options for excursions in Nassau and we debated going to Atlantis for the day but since we did a water park the previous day we decided on a more low key day at Blue Lagoon Island. It was a beautiful beach on a clear calm lagoon. Perfect for small kids. Again, lunch was included. There are tons of additional activities on the island including dolphin encounters and swimming with pigs. But we decided to stay low key and splash around in the water and play in the sand. Our only complaint was that the day passed by way too quickly.
Around the Boat
The kids loved being on a ship and exploring. They were so impressed by the idea of a hotel on a boat. We went in the pools and the kids were in the hot tubs when it was freezing out. We played ping pong and the kids spent a few hours in camp so mom and dad could reconnect and enjoy the “adults only” section of the boat. They loved getting dressed up for dinner and trying new adult foods in the dining room. It is such a safe environment for them to try new foods because if they don’t like it they can still get a cheeseburger and it doesn’t cost me anything. They felt so grown up going to the shows at night – their favorite was a magician who totally impressed them. But they enjoyed the dancing and singing as well. I now have hope that my boys will sit through their sisters dance recital in a few weeks. The only thing we struggled with was “waiting”. There is a lot of waiting in line or waiting for activities and the kids did get bored. We played a lot of mad libs!
Thanksgiving Away From Home
I am such a traditionalist when it comes to holidays that I struggled a bit with not being home for Thanksgiving and changing our traditions. But we normally spend Thanksgiving as just us – a family of 5 without grandparents or other relatives so we weren’t really missing out. We actually celebrated with my in laws the week before our trip and other than missing the parade it was the same. And Thanksgiving on the boat was AWESOME!! They had fun activities all day and served a great Turkey dinner – or so I heard since I chose the beef tenderloin! Best Thanksgiving dinner ever!! And we let the kids stay up way too late for a Thanksgiving Dance Party complete with a balloon drop and the “World Famous Dancing Turkeys”! We were all exhausted but had so much fun. The kids are already scheming to have a dance party complete with balloon drop at home next Thanksgiving. We definitely made memories that will last a lifetime!
There is so much to say that I plan on writing a post soon with all my advice and tips for cruising with kids – from packing to activities to expectations. I learned so much on our maiden voyage as a family and I know that any future cruises we take will be even smoother.