Latest Adventure – Royal Caribbean Cruise, Western Caribbean Itinerary

Sooooooo excited to share that we just booked a seven day cruise on Royal Caribbeans Allure of the Seas, setting sail out of Miami at the end of April. It’s part celebrating Damon’s new job and part big blow-out vacation since I won’t be able to travel much after this.

Now, you’re probably thinking – they’re going on a cruise with two young kids, while pregnant!?! And you’re right – this is a daunting task, but we’ve taken some pretty big precautions to ensure that a good time is had by all:

  1. The Cruise Line
    1. Selecting a right cruise line is very important. Some cruises are geared more towards young couples, like Carnival, or older crowds, like Celebrity. The most popular family cruise ship is Disney. But they cost 3x’s more than other cruises, and, our kids aren’t into DIsney characters, just yet, so it wasn’t a good fit for us.
    1. We landed on Royal because they have a wide variety of activities for kids and have kids friendly pool play areas that those who are not diaper trained can use. That’s perfect for our water loving kids.
    1. The Ship
      1. I did a lot of research on which ship we would take. Not all cruise ships are outfitted with the kids play areas – these are relatively new in the past few years. So it actually made it easier to choose a cruise ship – since there weren’t a lot.
    1. Itinerary

      1. When cruising in the Caribbean, there are two standard choices – Eastern and Western. Eastern usually has prettier beaches and more days at sea, while the Western cruises have more days in port. We chose a Western cruise as it goes to many of our favorite places (specifically Cozumel).
    1. The Stateroom
      1. There are many rooms sizes to consider – the smallest are interior room, them ocean view, balcony, and finally staterooms. I usually suggest a balcony room for those with young kids as it gives lots of places to spread out their toys and not feel on top of each other. It’s also a great way to give yours kids some quiet downtime without missing out on the wonderful, ocean breeze. I have found its really important to provide the kids a quiet place to relax, away from all of the excitement of the cruise.
      1. We chose the Owner’s Suite – it has a lot of room and it includes the Sky Package. This package gives you a personal escort to your stateroom (no waiting in line to board the ship, then finding the room on your own), includes drink packages for everyone, and guaranteed seats for all of the shows onboard. This makes vacation with kids much easier.
      1. Additionally, most of the suites come with bathtubs! Which means you can actually clean your kids while on board (Most of the balcony and below rooms only have showers).
    1. Alone Time

      1. This is very important part of vacation and cruises have some wonderful options, such as in-room sitters and kids clubs, where they can play with other kids their age and supervised by qualified ship staff.
      2. These are wonderful options, but not great for us as our kids don’t do well with strangers, so we invited my parents to come along with us and they agreed to watch the boys so Damon and I can go off on our own for a bit.
  • So that’s what we have planned, so far. We leave in 52 days and it cannot come fast enough. I hope that we have enough ate-up for us to have a smooth vacation. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.

    Sailing with Princess Cruises- Embarkation

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    We arrived at the terminal in Long Beach (the EXACT same one that you see in The Love Boat). However, we were instantly disappointed. Thanks to modern day security constraints, that we couldn’t see the entrance that was used in the show was blocked off.

    Once we passed through security, we tried to explore in an area that was used on the show. The area was open (i.e.: no ‘Keep-Out signs, no ropes, no security, etc.) but apparently in this port that means ‘Keep Out’. We were instantly yelled at by a member working there. Not exactly an ideal way to start our trip.

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    Once we were on-board things got better. Since our room wasn’t ready just yet, we decided to have lunch. The staff who greeted us were extremely friendly and even personally escorted us to the dining room. Now this was more like the Love Boat – quiet atmosphere, good food, and pleasant service.

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    With our tummy’s now full, we headed to our room where we met our room steward – a very nice gentleman who helped us get settled in. I am an obsessive organizer who needs to put everything away instantly. I feel better knowing where everything is and, in my opinion, you can get out of the room faster when you know where everything is. We had an hour before our lifeboat drill so we decided to check out the ship. 

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    I was excited to see the kids area – the pictures I saw before the trip showed an area with a lot of things for kids to do. The area was so cute – lots of games, a climbing play area, books, and more. Mini-man is too young to be left there alone, but we could take him in with one of us. Unfortunately, we were unaware that this was Spring Break and the ship has over 300 kids in this kids club alone (over 1100 kids on the whole ship). The staff were so nice to advise us that it would be very busy and that mini-man wouldn’t have too much fun playing in this area. 

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    At this point it was time for the lifeboat drill. This is the first time I have cruised that I actually needed to bring my life jacket with me! Once we arrived at our muster station (which was the theater) it was way past mini-mans nap time. He did not want sit in the chair and wait for the drill to be over. Then we had to try the life jacket on him – that was not fun. Once the drill was over, we headed back to the room to try and get mini-man to nap. Unfortunately with such an exciting day, he was over-worked and over-tired. It took a while, but he finally fell asleep and so did I. 

    When I woke up, mini-man was still passed out but I was hungry. Damon volunteered to grab some food and bring it back to the room. While he was gone I discovered the all ‘Love Boat’ channel – score! 

    Once we ate, it was clear mini-man was down for the night. So we snuggled into bed and started our journey towards San Francisco. 

    Welcome Aboard! – Sailing with Princess Cruises

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    Love … exciting an new. Hope aboard – we’re expecting you. The Love Boat! Oh man! After years of LOVING the Love Boat – owning the episodes, watching the movies, reading the books – I was finally taking my own run aboard Princess Cruise Lines.

    Right now, mini-man is not a fan of being in his car seat, which means getting creative when we embark on adventures. We walk everywhere that is close, we have taken a train to San Diego, we’ve flown several places and we’ve even sailed. After doing some research,. cruising seemed to offer the best way for us to take mini-man to a lot of places without having to subject him to the dreaded car seat.

    Damon and I have been cruising for years. However, now that we have mini-man, we realized we couldn’t just lounge all day on the boat and have crazy adventures in each port. After some research and utilizing lessons learned from previous trips, were felt prepared to embark on the Love Boat.

    We chose this particular cruise  because it offered the chance to explore a lot of California, including: San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Ensenada. We had some highs, some lows, and made a lot of great memories.