CRUISING WITH A FAMILY OF 107 KIDS PLUS AN INFANT
7 RCCL cruises, and I'd have to say this might have been the best one yet! I'm trying to think of something negative to say, but there's really nothing worth complaining ... Read More
CRUISING WITH A FAMILY OF 107 KIDS PLUS AN INFANT
7 RCCL cruises, and I'd have to say this might have been the best one yet! I'm trying to think of something negative to say, but there's really nothing worth complaining about. Its sad that anyone reading this will get no help from embarkation and dis-em info because the last RCCL cruise from Norfolk has left for the season - Norfolk was a beautiful port to cruise from, and the ship had a true air of Southern hospitality from all the Virginians, Kentuckians, No. Carolinians on board.
Pre-Cruise: Spent a night in a local hotel, had friends drive us to the port in the morning, left our two cars in the hotel lot for free. Spent $100 for a hotel room which included a dinner and breakfast, as opposed to spending $135 to park at the port. For anyone reading this, wherever you cruise from, if driving, look into hotel deals that will include parking - many offer such deals, they just don't advertise them.
Embarkation: A breeze except for traffic. Arrived 11:30AM - minor lines, onboard within 15 minutes. Up to the Windjammer to begin a week of 5 to 6 meals a day. Cabins were available at 1PM.
Cabins: Minor disappointment that nothing noticeable was done to cabins at Drydock. There was some wear to the woodwork, but everything was spotlessly clean and in perfect working order. We had a D1 balcony stateroom. The balcony is about 4 by 6 - very small with two chairs and a table, but useful. Two cabins (7626 & 7628, adjoining) for the six of us which included a 1 year old. Very comfortable beds (even the sofa bed - futon) in my opinion. Our pre-night stay was in a very nice 3 star hotel with very soft mattresses which messed up my back - it took a couple of nights on RCCL's fine bedding to get it back to normal. Typical RCCL bathroom with a shower curtain. If you bring some small weights (fridge clip-on magnets worked great) and attach them to the shower curtain it stays in place. Otherwise the shower curtain will be your best friend throughout the cruise. Storage space was more than we've had in other cabins - quite sufficient.
RIDDLE #1: Why do wives appreciate the toilets on cruise ships? Answer: Because husbands have to close the lid to flush and therefore can't leave the seat up.
Food: No complaints here. The five adults among us were totally pleased with all our Dining Room dinners. Our 1 Year Old granddaughter was treated like an absolute princess everywhere onboard, but especially in the DR. After our first night a bowl of diced fruit was waiting for her every night as we came to dinner, and they truly fawned over her (and all of us for that matter), at each dinner. We had one lunch (last day) in the DR, and my wife is very sorry we didn't utilize it more - a killer Salad Bar, along with many unique lunch choices. Had several Room Service breakfasts, and some excellent Spinach/Artichoke dip from RS also.
Note to Readers: this review is kind of rambling all over the place - you might want to fasten your seat belt. While I"m thinking about it, I wanted to mention some items I brought: duct tape, bungee cords, super glue. I actually used them all. The bungees and duct tape held my Yankee flag on the balcony. The super glue was used by a fellow M&M'er who broke her glasses and used the glue for a temporary fix. Oh: clothespins too. Handy on the balcony and in the shower (the showers have a little clothesline for hanging wet suits, etc.).
RIDDLE #2: Why did my cruise remind me of a book I was reading, THE TRAGIC HISTORY OF THE SEA? Because it was a tragedy that the cruise only lasted nine days! We never did more than a 7 day before. I was wondering if 9 days was overkill. NOPE! I'm still trying to figure out where the time went - it was over way too quick.
Entertainment: Best Variety of any cruise I've been on. CD Keith Williams was excellent and very personable; I admire a CD who acknowledges me and remembers meeting me days earlier. Assistant Irky: all I can say is "Heh, Heh, Heh!". (You'll understand if you meet him). The opening show had a comedian (haven't totally unpacked and can't find Day 1 to remember his name - Barnhart maybe?). Other nights had Comic Pianist Glenn Smith (great show), Comic Juggler Charlie Peachock (my favorite show of the cruise), Comedy/Magician Farrel Dillon, Horizon (Motown singing trio with an excellent performance), Vocalist Dolores Park, Comedian Chas Elstner. Lots of activities onboard (trivia, Nintendo Wii tournaments, live music, dance lessons). Don't miss The Quest (unless you're a 17th century Puritan).
RIDDLE #3: What was the most popular animal at The Quest? A Zee-Bra (joke stolen from Sub or Yoga - can't remember who told it first, but thanks).
Excursions: Our three younger ones (22, 21, 19) did the Segway Tour in San Juan. They all enjoyed it and my son insists he's buying one when he gets home. In St Thomas we did the Champagne Catamaran. Good snorkeling, great beach, great Rum Punch (it must have had tranquilizers in it because I got back to the ship and slept for 14 straight hours!). Several of our M&M'ers did the Turtle Cove snorkeling, and if you're into snorkeling that was probably a better choice, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed our excursion. In Samana many of us booked directly through Tours with Terry (easily found on CC threads). That was an advantage of reading the M&M thread for our cruise - all 35 or so people on the two excursions were M&M'ers! We had about 17 horseback riders, others did the ATVs through Terry, and myself, wife and daughter were taken to a beach with our granddaughter where everyone met up after their rides. We had our own private Caribbean beach for two hours before everyone got there - it felt like being a millionaire - no one else around, lying in the sand with no one in sight, being able to scratch my arse without worrying who's watching (Oops! TMI!). At Labadee we did a snorkel excursion, and the snorkeling was the best I've seen in four Caribbean cruises. More Rum Punch, but this was a shorter ride so I handled this one better.
A note on Samana and Labadee: these are very, very poor areas. Several of our M&M'ers brought clothing and school supplies to give to locals. If you have room in your suitcases, please consider doing the same - they can really use it. You can very easily find someone who will take the items and give them to someone in need.
Cruising With An Infant: I asked a lot of questions on CruiseCritc about cruising with infants, and many posters said we were crazy for trying it. WRONG! Our granddaughter had a great time (she's 13 months). She's a smart little cookie who looked forward to her fruit bowl and bread at dinner each night (not to mention great kid's dinners and trying everything we had), and she learned what elevators do. Some spare time was spent following her into an open elevator, following her off as she explored a new deck, following her back on when they opened again.... We brought our own Pack'N'Play for her to sleep in (we drove, making that easier), but RCCL does provide them. She slept all night every night, and enjoyed seeing the ocean and beaches for the first time in her young life. No regrets at all about bringing her. What helped was having five adults (grandparents, parents, aunt), who could take turns, sometimes missing an excursion or show to stay with her (a very small price to pay for the great memories we now have).
Meet & Mingle: If your cruise is seven days or longer, DO sign up and attend the M&M. We had 107 sign up for ours, probably 60 to 70 present. RCCL gives out several prizes and our group also brought our own prizes (little samples of our hometown areas - marinades, mustards, trinkets, shirts). We had so many items brought that every family present won at least one thing; we had to re-draw for the last several items because everyone had already won something, so we started again. We were quite well represented throughout the cruise (10 of 12 Belly Flop contestants, members on the 2nd & 3rd place Quest teams, a majority of the Sexy Leggers) - yeah, we had a fun group. Corresponding with each other beforehand added to the pleasure of getting to know each other, and feeling like a family before we even met. I shall keep my Pink Mohawk wig as a fond memory of my M&M friends.
RIDDLE #4: What does my title mean,"Cruising With 107 Kids Plus an Infant"? This was a very "young-at-heart" group (I'm 56 but haven't grown up yet). I swear this cruise was almost like a Fountain of Youth! Our age range was from a 1 yr old to numerous teens to late-late-late 50's. And all 107 kids played together very nicely.
Debarkation: As Platinum members we had a private lounge to wait in. Only problem was the lounge couldn't hold half the people who qualified for it. Finding luggage was easy unless you were like one poor person whose tag fell off their bag, thereby meaning their bag could be anywhere in the terminal. Tip: if you have extra luggage tags put more than one on each bag - that way, in case one accidentally gets ripped off, your luggage can still find its way to the right location.
RIDDLE #5: Why am I sitting at my desk typing this instead of sailing someplace on a relaxing, enjoyable cruise ship? Sorry, I don't have an answer for that one myself!!!
Thank you, RCCL. Thank you, my many M&M friends - we really do miss you all (and for you many Southerners: we really do miss y'all). Read Less