Have you ever been on a cruise? Have you thought about doing one but then thought better of it? Maybe even thought it would be a bit of a floating retirement home type affair?
Have you thought about doing one but then thought better of it? Maybe even thought it would be a bit of a floating retirement home type affair?
This was us, they were pretty much our exact thoughts!
When we first decided to take a trip to the Caribbean we naively thought that we’d be able to casually hop on a plane from island to island, you know as you do, jet-setters that we are (ha not quite).Maybe not! I mean you can but that sh*t is expensive! It is also basically impossible to catch any kind of local boat or ferry type service. Apparently, this has to do partly with trafficking…of humans and drugs…lovely.
And so the genius idea to cruise was born. We had always wanted to do one – do you ‘do’ a cruise or go on one? – I don’t think we’d ever thought it would be with 2 tots in tow though and as I said before there was the whole floating retirement home thing…
We booked it anyway…actually, we booked 2 anyway – might as well jump in at the deep end. We opted for Thomson’s ‘Paradise Islands’ and ‘Caribbean Cocktail’ cruises, both starting and finishing in Barbados.
Seeing as we’d already been in Trinidad for a week prior to this (visiting family, I know right? not a bad deal) we just booked the cruise minus any flights etc which meant we had to make our own way to the port. This resulted in a stupidly early flight from Trinidad to Barbados, on quite possibly the smallest plane I have ever seen, with 2 very sleepy tots, a harassed Hubster and an ‘I don’t do early don’t make me growl at you’ wife.
Long story short we turned up at the port in Bridgetown in a taxi (whose driver tried to take us to his church – well it was Sunday) a bit hot and sweaty, a lot tired and hoping to every and all gods that we wouldn’t have to wait hours to be able to board.
Note to self: it is probably wise to plan these things in greater detail rather than going for the fly by the seat of your pants hope for the best type method. I have never really understood the pants analogy but hey, it seems to work for us…
Luckily we didn’t! After being shown where to leave our bags (which later appeared in our room – don’t you love that?!) and given an envelope with welcome info, we toddled off down the dock towards our boat – The Thomson Celebration. There was actually a bus but ‘the boys’ were a bit passed the point of any form of transport by then – unless we wanted to endure the all-consuming rage of a 3-year-old who needs a nap- funnily enough we didn’t.
So having walked down passed the other ships with mutterings of ‘ooo look at the big boats’ to keep previously mentioned 3 year old distracted, we went through ‘Embarkation’ which is basically having the most unflattering photo in the world taken (think hair plastered to the head, baby in arms and 65 million ton backpack on back type splendour).
Detaching the ‘big one’ from the leg of the poor man that was just trying to hand out welcome drinks, we grabbed our boarding cards and climbed on board.
Cruise ships are huge. Like REALLY big. Ours wasn’t even a particularly big one and I still managed to get lost on a daily basis – we saw one so big it had a zip line through the middle of it…exactly…
So after a quick stop by our cabin, which initially had me in all sorts of cabin fever panic because, well, let’s just say they’re compact shall we? (To be fair we opted for a bog standard one because we figured we’d only be sleeping in it anyway) we set out to explore.
(I later realised after a particularly enthusiastic bout of splashing courtesy of the ‘big one’ that they actually fill the pools daily…with sea water…makes sense really there being plenty available and all that).
Numerous buffet restaurants with copious amounts of delicious looking food…check.
Obligatory A la Carte restaurants…check.
OH MY GOD…it can’t be..can it? Is it? IT IS!!! But do they?? They only bloody do!!! (Insert images of parents reaching more extreme than necessary levels of excitement here).
Have you guessed yet? The holy grail of any holiday with kids…every parent’s dream…
Kids Club…CHECK! and they take 3-year-olds…DOUBLE CHECK!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love ‘the boys’ more than anything in this world or any other and travelling with them is beyond amazing, BUT…sometimes a little bit of peace goes a looooooooong way…
And it was amazing. The ‘big one’ LOVED it! They ate pizza, they went to the shows, there were games and (shock, horror you’d think he’d deprived all of his young life) there was a TV…I’m pretty sure in the space of 2 weeks he watched minions about a million times!
Plus if we managed to time it right…and we made sure we did… the ‘little one’ had his nap while the ‘big one’ was at kids club which meant…happy hour cocktails for Mummy and Daddy…oh…hell…yea!
It was actually my birthday while we were onboard and the girls from the kids club offered to look after the ‘little one’ as a treat so that we could go out for a ‘grown-up dinner’. Obviously, we said yes.
We didn’t really spend that much time onboard, there were only 2 ‘sea days’ and we spent those by the pool and joining in/ watching some of the many organized activities. All of the crew were great and amazing with ‘the boys’. They were well and truly spoilt to the point that they basically had their own waiters at the end of it who brought them their favorite treats as soon as they saw them! Nothing was too much trouble.
Our cabin was small (as previously mentioned) but very comfy and had everything we need, including a travel cot for the ‘little one’. There was also a twice daily turn down service…is that what you call them? basically someone came and tidied up all of our crap twice a day…actually ,now that I think about it I hope it’s ‘normally’ twice a day and that we weren’t just an extremely untidy exception who had the poor crew twitching in the corner by the time we left…
There are obviously organised excursions every day, a couple of which we did purely for the ease of it, but you can jump off at whichever port you are in and walk straight into (literally) a local tour guide on the dock who will do you the same tour for half the price. If you then walk a bit further out of the port there are usually more local tour guides who will do the same tour for half the price again, so if you’re willing to go with the flow there are some bargains to be had! who doesn’t love a bargain!
The way we came to think of it was this… You come back after a day exploring somewhere beautiful, you have dinner, maybe watch a show, have a good night’s sleep (or not if you have tots like ours) wake up in a completely new beautiful place, because all the travelling has been done for you while you were asleep and…repeat! How have we not before realised the complete and total awesomeness (yes that’s a word) of this?!
Have you seen the promotional videos Thomson did #notforme ?
The very talented and popular Uk bloggers/ vloggers ‘The Michalak’s’ also did the same cruise not long after us and you can see it on their vlog…
Well after an unforgettable 2 weeks, we left having had an amazing time, with some beautiful memories, and having decided that cruising, Caribbean or otherwise, is definitely for us!
P.s. We will also be blogging about the islands we visited and the best things to do with kids very soon!