Parenting

Barbie cruise adventures: Second stop — Jamaica!

Tracy and her family continue their travel adventures in Jamaica — and learn how to dance like mermaids.

Anna gets her face painted and learns how to dance like a mermaid (below).

It’s hard to believe that, when this cruise opportunity came up, I wondered if seven days at sea might be a bit much for us first-time cruisers — especially the kids. Now that we’re wrapping up Day 5, I want to cry that it’s almost over. We’re having an amazing time.
 
On Wednesday, we docked in Falmouth, Jamaica, with a planned group excursion, which included a bus tour, visit to a working plantation and trip to the beautiful Dunn’s River Falls. My advice: If you’re travelling with kids, skip A and B and go directly to Dunn’s River Falls. The “tour” consisted of a two-hour bus ride on a highway, showing not much more than luscious greenery, with little insight into anything Jamaican. It was lovely for the first 20 minutes, but the kids were bored to death and overtired by the time we arrived at Brimmer Hall Estate. There, we hopped on a jitney and toured the plantation, which didn’t offer much interest for the kids, either. I loved walking through the plantation owner’s home (especially since I just finished reading The Kitchen House, and pictured this as the “big house” described there. Also because of reading that book, I understood why the home had no kitchen). We then hopped back on the bus and went to Shaw Park for a very fast lunch, and then got back on the bus to drive to Dunn’s River Falls.
 
All of this travel took up most of the day. By the time we arrived at the Falls, it was about 3:00 p.m. Dunn’s River Falls is beautiful — the big deal here is that you can climb up the falls, which Anna and I did, along with some people from our group (they say kids as young as three can climb, but I wouldn’t have brought Avery; while the rocks aren’t slippery and the current isn’t overly strong in most places, you need some weight and dexterity to get your footing). We formed a human chain and made our way up the rocks. It was so much fun — Anna loved it too and, as always, I love her thirst for adventure and her fearlessness. When we arrived back at port, the shops were all closed and we had to get on board quickly as the ship would soon be leaving. On the upside, this probably saved me lots of money, and even if the day was not what we expected of our visit to Jamaica, Dunn’s River Falls imprinted a great memory of our time there.
 
As we relaxed onboard Thursday on our way to Cozumel, Mexico, we were suddenly all too aware that our hours on holiday were dwindling quickly. Sean and the girls took advantage of the less-busy time at the kids’ pool area early in the morning, while I wandered around the ship’s shops. There was complementary face painting and balloon animals by the beautiful carousel. Then we had a family-style lunch with our group at Giovanni’s, one of the specialty restaurants (delicious!). The group of men and women on this press tour are absolutely lovely and Sean and I and the girls were enjoying getting to know our new friends from Ireland, Australia, Brazil and New York City.
 

The girls had a blast at our next Barbie event, Mermaid Dance Class. Dance instructor Sophie taught them some moves that will be put on display at the grand finale event on Saturday. We’re all eagerly anticipating the big show.
 
On Thursday afternoon, we finally had a chance to take advantage of Adventure Ocean, the ship’s kids’ club. Many of the parents in our group used the club to entertain their little ones so they could do some kid-free activities, and returned with rave reviews. Our girls had been dying to go, but our schedule had been too busy. So we signed them in for a couple of hours while we just wandered around and enjoyed the peace and quiet. It was nice to see them come back with happy tales of games and fun. The staff at the kids’ club seems really great — so much so, many of the kids wanted to spend more time there than with their parents!
 
The girls are becoming too accustomed to going to bed at 10:30 p.m. (and, seriously, still waking up before 7:00 a.m. — ugh!) and finishing every meal with decadent desserts. But such is life on vacation especially, we’ve learned, on a cruise ship like The Allure of the Seas.