Cruising With(out) Children!

NEWS | | September 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

So I had enjoyed my earlier trip, without kids. Drawing from past experiences on planes and hotels I was not altogether looking forward to 8 days on a trip with my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids – to death – but I don’t always enjoy every little thing they do. Having 2 young and highly adventurous kids means they get into everything, and then some. Yeah, I did not have any illusions of lying serenely in the sun. In fact I had painted a bleak picture in my mind to psyche myself to deal with the worst tantrums ever.

Then I learned about Camp Carnival – where you could leave your kids for free on cruise. Did I mention that it is for free? I got excited, seeing especially that it was split in different age groups. Then we had that mandatory water safety orientation and I got a glimpse of the number of people on board (though I just saw a smaller sampling at my muster station) and I thought no way am I going to leave my kids with this huge crowd, they are sure to get lost. After a few whining moments I got brave to take a look at the camp and was surprised to see a wonderful controlled environment. We got a phone to ease our paranoia (we could call and so could they) though to be fair I would have to mention that they gave these to parents of 2 and 3 year old kids only. I loved the structure of the day, similar to school – a mixture of song, play, learning, crafts, drop in performances, exercise, etc and did I mention free?

Well free until 10pm, and after that a small nominal fee per hour until 3am (I know, I wondered what the bedtime would be for those kids too). Since I am so reluctant to let my babies go I let them go for anything from 1 to 2 hours at a time. Only thing was for the first few times we have been so excited that by the time we decided what to do time was up.  Just sitting around with grown- ups only has been a treat for us. So while the kids “camped” I treated myself to a Spa Sampler. Though I really could have indulged in a complete facial my wallet could not (not that the prices are too far off from an average spa salon) and anyway I am glad I took advantage of the massage treat. Make no mistake that the quality is top-notch. Ok, so maybe I might be slightly biased by the fact that the massage therapist hails from South Africa too – ok, get this she lives a few streets away from my home.

This also allowed hubby to take in one of the daily entertainment treats. I was surprised that he came back relaxed and the kids got their need for activity out, and this allowed us to all meet, relaxed, for the formal dinner night. Even without using camp we have found that taking turns to put the kids down afforded us some alone time to do whatever we want.  Even if we opted for activities with our kids the cruise programs made it a no-brainer. I mean I am a mama if someone preps (and shops) for a craft can do it, so it was delightful to find dad and daughter embroiled in a mad dash game of scavenger hunt. Taking in a game of miniature golf on the top of the ship with my girls was fun, and would have been more-so had dad stopped with the whole technique of holding the club etc.

The fact that back home in Boston we have all the technology at our disposal also means we have become a slave to it. I swear I suffered withdrawal symptoms the first day (ok, maybe I still do a teensy bit). So even for the most attached parent or the most reluctant to let go, somehow a cruise, especially one as long as ours, does get you to relax. Go figure.

Disclosure:  Carnival Cruise Lines is sponsoring the trip for my family.

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