Sunday, June 28, 2015

bon voyage | travel diary

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As I shared before we teamed up with Royal Caribbean and we sailed to the caribbean aboard their ship the Independence of the Seas. The ship, in all its glory, was our home for a whole week. While there were endless activities from Wall Climbing to Ice Skating to Surf Simulation (all of which were entertaining to watch), we were more likely to be found watching the likes of men 200+ lbs having a belly flop contest - yes, that is right, you haven't seen anything until you experience the visuals of men flaunting their ability to torture themselves while they plummet into the nearest pool - while you cast your votes poolside. The boys have never been so equally entertained or embarrassed, haha! We filled our days on the ship by making new friends, playing mini golf, and eating more food than we ever have in our lives. There is something beautiful about not having to lift a finger, literally. Actually Royal Caribbean's ship had better vacation food than we have ever experienced, and there may have been more than one occasion where we got double desserts. I highly recommend eating late dinners where your children nearly fall asleep and don't notice you eating their dessert, too.

We were lucky enough to have a nice big room with a balcony, which I highly recommend! It gives you a chance to start the day with some peace and quiet while you watch the waves pass you by. It also is a great way to threaten throwing the kids' ipads overboard as a disciplinary tactic when they aren't obeying. I joke! I joke! Truly there is no better way to wake up than the sound of the ocean and the sun calling you out to play.

I hate to brag, but our kids were so amazing on our trip! We laughed and made so many memoreis each day. Brinley learned how to swim in the ocean of all places, and Rowan learned how to exchange email addresses with his new friends so they can stay in touch. This was by far the best and most peaceful vacation we have ever been on - there were endless activities on board to keep us busy. Though, I would like to say it was relaxing the thing is traveling with kids isn't really relaxing, but it definitely was peaceful and rejuvenating. We all came back ready to take on summer with a cheerful attitude (and a great tan!) I was grateful to have time with the older boys and encourage them to be a little more adventurous!


SAN JUAN - our port day at San Juan was low on day light since we didn't arrive until 5pm, but we didn't waste a moment. We hurried over to the fort of Castillo San Felipe del Morro where the boys explored and had fun climbing and scaring the heck out of me while they were overlooking the cliffs on the rooftop. We had a great time chatting about what kind of things may have happened in the fort and seeing a little piece of San Juan's history. We also cruised around Old San Juan where we shopped and took in the candy colored buildings before daylight disappeared.

ST MAARTEN - When we arrived at St Maarten, we were originally going to do an excursion, but the boys urged us to just have a beach day, and well as you know, kids win. So we chatted with a few people (who all recommended Little Divi Bay for families) and we decided we wanted something a little more quiet and unique - thankfully a kind patron of the area told us about La Galion which is where we ended up and we were thrilled! It was so calm and shallow for hundreds of feet - the boys could swim without fear of a big drop off or waves over taking them. After having been on the ship for a few days it was the perfect spot for us! We rented paddle boards and it was the best place to paddle by far, the wind is mostly blocked by the land just to the left of the beach and it is so shallow that even if you fall, which we did, it was easy to get back on! As Andy and I paddled the boys each had their snorkeling gear on and had their heads in the water, it was just a funny little sight, and we did see a sea turtle! There was also a great little place for lunch right on the beach. We loved this beach so much that we ended up not going to a second location which we had originally planned on doing.

ST KITTS - Since we had been to a calm beach in St Maarten's we opted for something with a little more action in the water. We were asking around and one of the taxi driver's who was chatting with us suggested Cockleshell Bay (which is much prettier than google makes it look). I always prefer the thought of bays with children since they are a little more enclosed which makes the waters a little less intense/choppy. It was about a 25 min taxi drive which was mostly scenic! I love that you could see Nevis from the bay which made for a beautiful beach view all day long. The waters were definitely more choppy than La Galion, but we were thrilled because it made it a little more fun for the boys to swim and we also rented Jet Skis which always freaks me out a little with the kids and sharks, you know, the usual. Kidding! We loved having more of a sporty activity to do this day, and there were lots of other people trying water sports that made it entertaining. I actually wish we had known more about St Kitts prior to traveling because I think it would be a great place to go on a sail boat excursion, we saw some other cruisers heading off on one, and I asked if I could tag along, they laughed, but said "no."

I really love that we had a variety of experiences and I completely recommend the beaches we went to. They were extremely child friendly, and though we were traveling in the "off season" I would say they were more underpopulated than most of the other recommendations I heard of. We definitely got to the beaches first and did shopping at the ports on the way back to the ship which I recommend, it gives you the chance to stake your claim at the beach before other's arrive and maybe catch a few photos without crowds in the background. Lucky for us none of the beaches seemed to be crowded during our trip!

Our kids absolutely loved the cruise and we absolutely plan on taking more cruises in the future. When you travel with kids it is so nice to have the activities on board, but have new ports and places to see along the way. The kids had so much fun in the child care  program, Adventure Ocean, that they actually would beg at dinner to attend the evening festivities where they did things like partook in a Pirate Parade and made pillow cases at the PJ Party. They were sad to say goodbye to their Sitters at Sea. We absolutely loved the staff, the food, the entertainment, and the friends we made along the way!

If you have any questions about the ports we stopped at, activities we did, or general cruising inquiries do not hesitate to ask! I love helping families feel more at ease about traveling!

One thing I will suggest is being sure that you fly out the day before your cruise leaves port. We flew out the morning of, and though we had plenty of time to spare it was a lot of added stress in the week leading up. I would not ever fly out the day of again, just because there are better things to think about than wondering if you will make your connecting flight :)

ps I know this is a lot of photos, but when everything is photogenic it is hard not to share! Also, I really want to start printing travel photos for our bare walls, so we can always remember that there is always something new to see and that a place for adventures is always waiting in the distance! Just remember you don't always have to appear in your vacation photos, some times it is just beautiful to recall all the things you have seen along this journey we call life! xx

**This post was done in partnership with Royal Caribbean** Thank you, as always, for supporting our brand partnerships so we can bring awareness to families about products and things we love.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing trip!


Unknown said...

Looks amazing!! White is the black and white beach blanket from? Thank you