The family and I were on the “road” again. In actuality, we were on the sea! We took our kids on a week long cruise on Royal Caribbean’s (and the world’s) largest ship, The Allure of the Sea.
A year ago, last spring, my hubby Chris and I and our friends Meredith and Chip (you remember them from Turks and Caicos blog post on June 22, 2017, right?) booked passage on one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s music cruises. Chris is a huge O.A.R. fan so we booked the trip that they were headlining. It was Chris’s first time cruising and he was hooked.
It really makes mathematical sense. Chris and I are big fans of Las Vegas and cruising is like taking a hotel/casino and floating it from exotic port to exotic port. Winning! He liked the cruise so much that he thought for certain that our kids would love it as well. We booked for last June (2016) and set sail. The kids had an amazing time, so summer vacay 2017 was decided, family cruise #2.
Which brings me (and you) to today. Being the largest cruise ship in the world comes with all kinds of fun for passengers. The ship offers the best of a Las Vegas trip: great restaurants, excellent shows, pool time, cocktails, casino games and gambling, and let’s not forget the buffet. Throw in the fact that most is included in the cost of your passage (minus alcohol and upgrades on restaurants), and add in some tropical islands and their offerings in excursions and it makes for one fun, relaxing and memorable vacation.
This particular trip had the perfect mixture of ports of call and days at sea. Our first port was The Bahamas where we purchased an excursion to the infamous Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. This spectacular hotel and casino was gorgeous! The architectural details were ridiculous (in an amazing way). (You know I’m an architecture nerd.) We had access to the facilities for the day. Our plan was to visit the aquarium, but we had so much fun at the enormous water park, we never made it elsewhere. It was a really fun day of water slides, river rapid rides, beach, and pool time. A quick bus ride back to the ship and we departed for our next port of call, St. Thomas.
St. Thomas is one of my husband’s favorite islands. It is quite beautiful. Being a US territory, there was a little bit of comfort in moving around there. A lot of the folks working there that we encountered, were young American 20 Somethings. We booked a snorkeling trip who’s captain and crew were all, as David Bowie would sing, young Americans. (You know you just sang it.) For me, snorkeling is just super fun. Once I get over the shock of the cool water, I love just cruising around seeing the under water sights. The crew members jumped in the water with us and took us on a guided tour of the sea life. The highlight was a three-legged (or is it finned?) sea turtle named Lucky. (The second highlight for me was snorkeling holding hands with my daughter. Something I’ll never forget.) Snorkeling was followed by some beach time on a little bit of heaven that had a restaurant with killer fish tacos and mammoth sized burgers.
Once returning to the ship, we began our first day at sea. If you’ve ever cruised before, you understand the gloriousness of a day at sea. These are lazy, amazing days. Sleep late, lounge poolside until…??? And enjoy the amenities of the ship. The Allure is chalked full of stuff to do. From the top down; there is zip lining, rock climbing, basketball, pick up soccer games, table tennis, swimming, water aerobics, movies, shopping, eating (of course) AND drinking (if so desired), and even ice skating! I didn’t even mention the spa, the gym, artificial wave surfing, the teen center, kids adventure center, OR the carousel. Or how about lunch and a nap?! They really have it all. Plenty to keep the masses busy and entertained, rain or shine, and we did most of it.
Our final port was St. Kitts. This being my second trip to St. Kits via cruise, confirmed that this is MY favorite island (oh, but shoot, I love Haiti too…hmm). I love the fact that it isn’t as developed as some of the other islands. On a previous trip, we took a fascinating jeep ride throughout the island and learned about the multitude of medicinal plants that grow naturally. It makes me want to cozy up with one of their medicinal teas and watch Mother Nature’s magic kick in and turn me into The Bionic Woman. Once a booming sugar cane producer, you can still see the remnants of the abandoned sugar mills dotting the landscape.
On this trip, however, we had an amazing dolphin experience. A super short trip from the port, we took a 5 minute bus ride to the dolphin attraction. We were paired with another family of 5 and got to take turns holding the dolphin and getting towed and pushed out of the water by the gorgeous animals. It was a thrilling experience. Equally as exciting was watching my children interact with the dolphin. You could almost see their horizons expanding and their minds opening to what other dreams might be possible for them. It was a beautiful thing.
Our final excursion was complete. We had two more days at sea to relax and enjoy what the ship had to offer. It was really hard to say goodbye to the ship and sea and the extended family that we shared our week with. Another successful trip for the memory banks.
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1 Picture from www.glidemagazine.com
2 Picture from www.knowyoumeme.com
3 Atlantis Paradise Island
4 Ice skating on The Allure of the Sea
5 The Boardwalk neighborhood on The Allure of the Sea
6 The Central Park neighborhood on The allure of the Sea