Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Travel Post: Our trip to the Caribbean (Part 1)

Better late than never, that's what I tell myself with each blog post I do. Sometimes I get all gung-ho and do multiple blog posts in a few weeks, and then there are times when you get caught up in life and the blog takes a backseat.

That's perfectly OK in my book. Be prepared for a flurry of blog posts for the next short while!

To recap, my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary this past September, and to celebrate, they took us on a 1-week cruise to the Caribbean and a 10 day stint in Florida, where we had the opportunity to do Disney World!

To date this was probably the most exhausting trip I've ever taken, with the 5800km road trip we completed earlier in March (read the blog posts on that here) coming in second place.

Exhausting as in: 
-My feet are so sore and yet, I keep plugging along.
-My days started at 630am and didn't end until 10pm...
-I fell asleep each night with no issues (if you know me, it can sometimes take me a LONG time to fall asleep!)
-Teething, fevers, colds = WHY do they have to happen during a holiday!?
-Flying with kids. Yikes.

However exhausting it was, it was all absolutely worth it. Here's an overview.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas (I highly recommend you click this link!)

My jaw dropped when we stepped onto the ship. The promenade didn't feel like a typical promenade. Instead, it felt like a gigantic mall. My daughter Rachel asked me if we were on the ship yet! We had a standard balcony cabin - though they have pretty nice family staterooms for a hefty price. My parents had Rachel in their room, while we had Sarah. With how we've set up our customized baby monitor over WiFi (and thankfully the cabins were only a room apart), we could easily be in one room while Sarah slept.  They have a plethora of entertainment available: a water show, a figure skating show, comedians, cover bands, acrobats, the Broadway Cats Show (Where's Macavity? My daughter will ask), and lounge music. We were also pretty fortunate to do a Dreamworks character breakfast one morning too - Shrek, Puss in Boots and Princess Fiona showed up!

This is actually part of the promenade deck!

Can you see the water theatre?!
There were over 6,000 passengers on board, plus I don't know how many crew. I estimate it to be over 10,000 people on board. The ship itself was incredibly organized (they have to be! With that many people...).  I was impressed with the children's facilities as well - they don't permit photography in those areas, so I wasn't able to capture images for you. In a nutshell, they had:

-Adventurer's Ocean club for my oldest (ages 3 to 6) = this is included in the cruise cost. Rachel LOVED the fact that she could go and have dinners with her peers (pizza and hot dogs mostly). She came back several times with art work, stories from the counselors and more.

-Tots Nursery for my youngest (ages 6 months to 3) = this cost $6/hr to participate in. Parents receive a phone that vibrates should the nannies need to get in touch with mom and dad for any reason. Bottle fed babies are welcome, and they even do diaper changes, naptime (there are cribs available), and snacks too. Unfortunately Sarah didn't react too well to the other babies who were always crying (once they left, all was fine!). After two sessions, we decided to not continue as it was always the same crying babies there!

This guy is 70 years old and rocking the waves on the surf rider!
Our ports included St. Thomas (originally supposed to be St. Maarten, but that got cancelled due to Hurricane damage), San Juan, and Labadee.

St. Thomas - Magen's Bay is absolutely GORGEOUS! When it's not pouring buckets. We were fortunate to have 1 full hour of splendid beach time before the downpour came. I had to huddle underneath a tiny umbrella just to stay warm. A bit of damage is visible from the hurricane that passed through only a short while before. You can see a number of flattened palm trees, and there were groves completely barren.
My three loves at Magen's Bay

San Juan - Rachel decided she wanted to stay at the Kids Club rather than to come off-ship with us. Good plan, Rachel! It was a hot and humid day, and thankfully I had my baby backpack to carry Sarah rather than lugging a stroller through the cobblestone roads. The three of us spent close to 3 hours wandering around, even visiting the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, and a glimpse of Castillo San Cristobal (Sarah fell asleep in the carrier so we decided to head back to the ship then). It was a good way to walk off all that food we ate!

In San Juan :)
Labadee - Arguably our favorite port from this cruise. Royal Caribbean owns this peninsula and they've done an impressive job there - bringing work to the Haitians through tourism, as we learned. On the west side, you face literal open sea. This is perfect for those who want to experience some rougher waters. We went to the east side naturally, for calmer waters. There's a small beach that was perfect for Rachel to roam around. She loved rolling through the sand, while Sarah would walk in the shallow waters (with one of us holding her hand of course!).  I did not want to leave.

My big girl doing her beach poses... she was doing this half the time!

To be continued... I will be doing a Disney World overview for the next post - with some comparisons to Disney Land. 

Travel is awesome! :)

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