Day 1: Sea Day in the Gulf of Mexico

Day 1: Sea Day in the Gulf of Mexico

We had a VERY exciting day at sea!

It was a little breezy, but the weather was GORGEOUS.  In the mornings, we wanted some light long sleeves, but thankfully, by midday, we were swimming!

We wanted to enjoy breakfast in the dining room (since on port days we would hit the quicker buffet), but it didn’t open until like 8:30 or so (and thanks to a little girl, we were up around 6:30/7 most days) so we had a little time to kill.  We walked around the upper decks.

Remi loved splashing in the puddles and attempting shuffleboard.

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One of the funnier moments was we were just hanging out in the lobby area, and in walks Mr. Potato Head! A certain little girl squealed so loud and ran to him! Everyone around saw it and thought it was too funny!

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Breakfast was DELICIOUS.  I had cereal crusted french toast, steak and eggs (you can order whatever you want!)

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After breakfast, we played a little bingo and Remi played with our bingo dobbers.

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After losing playing bingo, we changed into swimwear and went to the Lido deck! The water was a little cool, but it was SO NICE.  Tyler and I had a good system: he stayed in the water for when she wanted to jump and splash, and I stayed out for when she played outside (the design of the pool sort of creates a big puddle around the pool because the water can slosh out of the pool as the boat moves…so she liked to play in the puddle, too).  She also played in the showers outside the pool.

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We returned to our room to see our first towel animal! Remi loved them…and she had to immediately see ours and go into Mimi and Gigi’s room to check if they had one too!

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She took a great nap and then we got dressed for the evening. We stopped at the arcade (since she saw the casino and gladly exclaimed “Chuck E Cheese!”) and played a few games.

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She HAD to have a purse like us. All ready for dinner!

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My sweet girl!

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Another delicious dinner and then our waiters danced! She was VERY intrigued with them being “on the tables” (really, on some columns where they stack plates and such).

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It was Super Bowl Sunday, so instead of shows, we got to watch the game in the main theater. Not a bad way to watch the game!

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Later that night, Tyler put Remi to bed and me and the moms watched Bohemian Rhapsody on the big screen in the open air on the Lido deck! Then we crashed from a full day.


BIG BOAT!

BIG BOAT!

For weeks now, we’ve been telling Remi we were going on a family trip (Thanks, Daniel Tiger, for the phrasing and introducing the idea of a road trip to her!) to a big boat.  We split the drive up and left Friday after work and drove halfway.

The hotel stop was a litttttle rough because a certain little girl had slept 2 hours before arriving, so she was WIRED and ready to go and NOT go to bed.  But after we finally went to bed, we got some rest to finish the drive the next morning.

We rolled into New Orleans in time for lunch! PTL! We went to my favorite spot: Mulate’s. Delicious cajun food and geared us up for getting onto the boat. Remi kept saying “BIG BOAT” ha!

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I’ll be honest. I screwed up BIG TIME. I grabbed the wrong paperwork for Tyler, and (after proceeding to fully melt down crying when we realized it), we had to make an emergency call back home and have some friends quickly get to our house and send us a copy of his paperwork. But thankfully, we all got on board.

And we got into our rooms, unpacked and taught Remi how to cruise.  First stop: ice cream!

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We had our safety drills and then enjoyed the views along the Mississippi river as we left.

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A little windy, but ready for vacation!

Remi very quickly found that there’s always fun music playing and dancing is a vacation must!  She found some friends and a stage and went to town.

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We enjoyed the big dining room every night.  I was thankful for our placement in the room- sort of tucked into a corner so our toddler could wiggle and giggle during the long 3-course meals.

She LOVED the food. She’s a great eater and loves soup, so every night she got to try the soup appetizer. She was totally into the strawberry soup (she asked for it several nights later). Our waiter couldn’t believe our tiny girl was SO BIG using the big spoons and ordering adult food (they had a kids menu, but she’s not a pizza/nuggets/fries kid).  This night, she ate soup and shared our entrees with a side of veggies.

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We didn’t stay out very late. We took Remi back to the room for bed and all crashed.


Vacation? Booked!

Vacation? Booked!

Maybe we’re crazy, but we just booked a family cruise for February!

We are headed to Cozumel and Progresso, where we’ve been several times before, but we wanted to try cruising with Remi.  We hope to go on an Alaskan cruise in 2020, so we wanted to try a (cheaper) shorter cruise before committing to all that an Alaskan cruise involves (more $$, more time, flights, etc.)

Our moms are going with us, so we will be able to have a little more relaxation time than if it were just the three of us (plus, we like them and enjoy traveling with them). We do also plan on taking advantage of some of the on-board kid’s activities- I’ve heard GREAT things about the quality of childcare and kid fun with Carnival.

We have a few things to work on before then, but it’s 6 months away, so we have time.

 

Any tips for cruising with toddlers?  I’ll take all the advice I can get. 🙂


Packing List for a Cruise

Packing List for a Cruise

I am by no means a cruise expert.  Yes, I have been on 5 cruises…but we met people who have been on 30+! But, I do some experience packing for cruises.  And I’ve learned some important lessons.  Now, do I usually overpack? Yes. But, I make sure to take everything I need….including the stuff in this packing list for cruise success.

A friend of mine is about to leave on a cruise, so I thought I would make this post to give to friends who are setting sail.  Hope it helps!  You may not have a cruise booked, but you might want to to pin it to your travel board for later!

Let’s understand this: Packing for a cruise is a little different from packing for a normal vacation. For starters, there isn’t a Walmart on board to pick up random stuff.  There are some gift shops, but if you forget something important – you will pay big bucks for it onboard.  Here are some of my packing tips for a cruise.

For starters, let’s talk clothes.  How long will you be gone?  We recently took a 7 day cruise.  That was 3 days at port, and 3 days at sea, and disembarkation day (the day you get off the boat and leave).  Let’s break it down:
What to pack for a cruise for days at port:
What will you be doing?  We like to get in the water, so for us swimsuits and cover-ups are essential, along with shoes that are water-friendly (like flip-flops, Chacos, or water shoes).  However, we also do a lot of walking around the ports, so we take tennis shoes as well (especially my husband who can’t walk all day in flip-flops).  A day at port looks like this for us:
-Wear swimsuit and coverup with comfy shoes off the boat. Do our excursions. Come back to the boat and change/eat lunch.
-Change into comfy clothes (shorts/t-shirt or sundress) with comfy shoes and go back into the town for shopping/exploring.  
For our 3 days at port I took: 2 swimsuits that I could be active in (read: not a string bikini…I took a one-piece and a sturdy tankini), a couple cover ups, Chaco sandals, tennis shoes, 2 pairs of shorts (one Nike shorts, one khaki shorts), and a few T-shirts.

What to pack for a cruise for the days at sea
These days are pretty casual.  I wore capris and a long-sleeve T (if you are inside at the game shows/casino/music performances…it can get chilly) one day, and yoga pants and tank the other days.  I wore workout clothes one morning, a swimsuit one day when lounging on the Lido Deck…but you won’t need really dressy stuff.  I would take a few mix-and-match items to make your wardrobe stretch. 

For the days on board: take a couple pairs of bottoms, and shirts for each day. I would also bring one or two long-sleeve shirts if you are cold-natured. And maybe a sweater or jacket. Honestly, one pair of capris with a few tops would be fine. (Note: for men, tank tops are not allowed in the dining room during the day….so be sure to pack T-shirts for your husbands for breakfast/lunches in the dining room.  Or you could do room service or the buffets without worrying about that.)

 

What to pack for a cruise for dinner time
For dinners, if you plan on eating in the dining room each night, you will need to find out how many formal nights there are on board, along with the dress code.  With Carnival, these are called “cruise elegant” and they just require men to wear a collered shirt and dress pants (no jeans).  The other nights, it is just no sleeveless shirts and hats for men.  Women are pretty much anything goes on casual nights….but “cruise elegant” is a chance to dress up.  I saw dress pants and shirts (like work attire) to formal gowns.  I wore some sequin dresses because I like to dress up.  Be sure you pack the clothing you need.  You can go to casual dinners in what you wore that day (although I usually change into a sundress), but you have to dress a little nicer for the formal nights.
Late in the evenings, most nights I would put on yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and be comfy after dinner.  We would see comedy shows or performances, but I like to be comfy.
What to pack for a cruise: Other Stuff
Besides your regular toiletries, here are some tips for packing extra stuff for the cruise.
  • Take a watch.  Every activity from meal times to shows is scheduled.  There really aren’t clocks around the boat, so keep time on your watch.  Your cell phone will be off (because you don’t want to pay crazy international roaming charges), so pack a watch to keep time.
  • Take a lanyard. You will get an on-board card that you keep with you at all times (it works like your room key and credit card in one).  If you aren’t wearing pants with a pocket, you can keep it on a lanyard.  The guest services desk can punch a hole in your card.
  • Bring a hairdryer. Most on the boat are really low wattage, so take your own. Trust me.
  • Take a mini-medicine cabinet. You can get medicine on-board, but it is pricey.  If you buy OTC stuff from the gift shop, or get it from the infirmary, you will pay much more than it is worth.  I paid $12 for a bottle of Visine! Woah!  So pack lots of meds.  We took sinus meds, pain reliever, antibiotic cream and bandaids, Immodium, Pepto, Gas-X, sleep meds, and LOTS of Dramamine.  We pop the Dramamine the whole time.  Like every 12 hours on the clock.  And we never feel motion sick.  We take the drowsy kind at night, and the non-drowsy during the day.  Even with my well-stocked medicine bag, I still had to buy Visine and hydrocortisone cream…so pack your bag well!
  • Bring cameras, cards, and chargers.  Carnival cruises (and I’m sure other cruise lines) have a camera shop…but you’ll pay an arm and a leg for these things.  Pack them.
  • Water bottle. You get free tea, water, and lemonade on the Lido Deck.  But the cups are really tiny. If you have a water bottle, you can fill it up and carry it with you.
  • Umbrella/rain jacket. I hope it doesn’t rain on your cruise…but just in case. 🙂
  • Check your cruise line for water and wine allowances.  We could take 12 bottles/cans of soda or water per person, and one bottle of wine per person. This is FREE.  We brought water with us, which is handy for excursion days and taking medicine in your room.  The wine is free if you uncork/open it yourself.  We just brought bottles that had twist-off lids. There will be glasses in your room to drink the wine from. If you take the bottle to dinner, you will have to pay an uncorking fee.  But we just opened it in our room, poured a glass, and then went to dinner.  Easy fix!  
  • Take small bills.  You may want to tip the room service guy (and you should).  When you get to port and want to haggle with merchants, have small bills.  I got most of my money in $1, $5, and $10.  It made for a thick wallet, but we weren’t stuck getting Bahamian change we didn’t need.
  • Alarm clock. There are no clocks anywhere on board (guess they want you on vacation time) but you will need an alarm clock. Your phone can go wonky sailing through different times zones, so it isn’t reliable as an alarm clock.  Bring your own.

I know that is a lot of info on (what you thought was) a simple packing list for cruise travel. But if you plan and pack well, you will save yourself a hassle on board. I hope this info helps!