Our Family Cruise Vacation

My family of 7 went on a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean! We returned last Sunday, sailing from April 1 to April 8. Our ship went from Galveston, TX to Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras. My wife and I, with our 5 sons, shared two adjoining staterooms with balconies aboard the Carnival Breeze–a fun ship!img_3998

When people ask me how the cruise went, I struggle to summarize it with just one word. Was it good? Yes. But it was many things, really.

The cruise was a big pre-planned family event: a total of 10 kids and 8 adults!

Parenting 5 young boys in a normal daily routine is challenging. Trying to do that on a huge ship crowded with thousands of people and coordinating events with other family members is even more challenging.

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Think of some of the logistics: my family alone had 14 bags to keep up with! We each had one suitcase and one back-pack carry-on. Some clothes and shoes were in fact lost on another continent during the cruise.

Just getting around the ship with 5 boys–ages 3 to 11–was an exercise of quasi-controlled chaos. But once we got to where we wanted, the excitement and fun ensued.img_4462

On a personal level, I was challenged because Carnival ships are all about outgoing fun. I think they were designed by and for extroverts–I am of the opposite of that. So things were a mixed blessing. But I’m not going to complain!

My wife and I did have moments of respite and relaxation. That’s code for “we had a babysitter.” Carnival cruises have what’s called Camp Ocean where you can leave your kids for a few hours at a time. It’s set up well for security and safety; they even give you a dedicated cell phone to use so they can call you anywhere onboard if needed.

img_4144This gave us adult time with other family and even some solo time. One day, my wife and I had a few hours alone on a shore excursion. We got to stroll through shops and swim at Mahogany Beach on the Isle of Roatan in Honduras, which was a real-life tropical paradise!

The kids had a blast too, of course, and we all made good memories. The number one thing to do seemed to be swimming. But we also enjoyed live action shows in the theater, a comedian, water slides, a ropes course, mini-golf, an arcade, and a library with books and board games.

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Besides losing clothing items and enduring young child potty accidents, the only bad things that happened were some injuries. One of my sons endured two: he got his hand stuck in an elevator door while it opened, and he also stepped on a sea urchin, which filled his big toe with spikes. Yikes!

Another son got his little finger smashed in our state room door. I scrambled a bit to re-open the door because it stays locked and the key card doesn’t always work first try. I slipped it in, got a red light. Tried again, got a green light. My son ended up visiting the ship’s infirmary to make sure his finger was not broken–it wasn’t!img_4066

Did I mention the food though? Excellent! I could do a whole entire blog post on just the food! Here a some highlights. Quality and quantity were great! Variety was fantastic. From comfort food to fancy food, it was all delicious. We even tried exotic food: escargot, frog legs, and ox tongue.

Best of all, despite being a little challenging, Carnival expertly catered to my large family’s difficult dietary restrictions. Four of us must eat gluten-free, and 3 of us must eat dairy-free. My youngest son is the grand prize winner: he alone gets to eat both dairy and gluten free! Yes, it can be frustrating. Yet the chefs and servers all knew how to handle it very well! Thank you, Carnival!

 

One of the most unique things we all got to do was swim with a dolphin. It was trained so we could touch its fins and kiss its nose; it was great! Also, I found time to read a new book during the cruise, which helped me get the down-time I needed while my 3 year old napped.

Did we got some souvenirs from the trip? Of course. Can’t be a minimalist without new stuff to get rid of! For myself, I got just one: a Carnival coffee mug. And I tend to hold on to my caffeine containers.

This fun-filled adventure whetted our appetite for a more elegant type of cruise. That means no hairiest chest contest on the Lido Deck. So my wife and are thinking about splashing out on a solo sailing–just the two of us–for our anniversary! Ah, someday…

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