Parenting

Our first family vacation

After two adventurous days so far, Tracy shares her family's experiences on their first-ever cruise.

Anna and Avery enjoying their "Barbie experience."

It has been a crazy couple of days. I fully believed I would have been blogging along the way, but it’s not until tonight that I’ve found my way to my laptop. And barely — the girls are crashed out with their Barbie pillows and blankets after a long, beautifully warm and exciting couple of days, and I’m quickly about to join them. Adventure awaits, again, tomorrow, and now’s the time to rest. But first: catch up. (And how strange is it to blog on a balcony on a moving ship in a nightie and bare feet right now?)
 
The girls did amazingly well on the flights to Florida. Avery had never flown before, and we had to transfer planes (and race to catch both!), and did I mention that the first left at 6 a.m.? Yes. So we were all up at three, and neither slept, but they were both total rock stars. There was a shuttle to the boat, which took about half an hour and they both crashed out then. Until we approached the water and saw the mammoth ship that would be our home for the next seven days — Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. I knew it was big, but to drive up to its enormity was jaw-dropping.
 
You’d think it would be a madhouse getting 4,000 people on board, but this is one well-oiled machine — and not just for those on press trips. The girls moaned about more and more lines, but they went so quickly, and with such pleasantness among the staff, that before we knew it, we were at the door of our statesroom, which welcomed our girls to their onboard “Barbie experience.”
 
Magnets, door hangers, silky pillowcases and throw blankets swathed the room in pink, much to Anna and Avery’s delight. Even better — their own new Barbie dolls and wardrobes, with tote bags to carry it all. They were in heaven, thankfully so, as we got some time to get organized while they detoured into their imaginations.
 

Day 1 was really kind of a blur — we were all tired and trying to orient ourselves around the ship to find food and water and check out all the astounding sights of this place. But we stumbled upon the water park, which has a big splash pad, a kiddie pool, a kids’ hot tub and a bigger circular wave pool (and that’s just the kids’ area), and the girls insisted they get their bathing suits on right now. How could we say no?
 
We opted for an early dinner at a café instead of our scheduled 8:30 p.m. meal because we didn’t think any of us could stay up that late. We crashed out and slept like babies — but only until seven a.m. Because, vacation or no vacation, my kids seem programmed to get up by seven.
 
Today was filled with fun in the water, touring around to check out the different areas of the ship — in particular, the Boardwalk, with its beautiful carousel, and people doing face painting and balloon animals.
 
But the big event of the day was Tiaras & Teacups, our first Barbie event, which aimed to teach the girls some etiquette basics while learning to serve lemonade and fancy cakes to their lucky mom.
 
Tomorrow, we hit Labadee, Haiti, where we’ll spend the day at a water park and touring around, before heading back to Barbie experience #2 at 5:00 p.m. I hear that people at home are anticipating a “messy mix” of weather this week, so I am soaking up every ray of sun and fun I can!