Let’s do a recap of this trip. It’s the first ever trip that our family of four went on (previously, there was only Baby1, or we brought the grandparents along to help take care when Baby2 came along). For Dear1 and Dear2, it was a test to see if traveling with a 2.5yo and 5yo by ourselves is do-able. Gegege….
Let’s first talk about the routine for the first 8 days on the Mariner of the Seas, cruising days. We’ll wake up at about 7+am (as usual, Baby2’s biological clock), both kids drink milk, head out for breakfast, have a morning activity, lunch at 12nn, nap from 1 to 4pm, bath, dinner at Top Hats and Tails at 5.45pm (first seating), walk around until Show time at 8.45pm, watch Show, bedtime around 10pm. Very nice schedule! For port days, we’ll usually head out after breakfast, tour the port (Vung Tau, Hong Kong and Xiamen) in the morning, and return to ship by mid afternoon for the kids’ nap. The evening plan remains. Nice again!
As for what we did, we did lots!
Adventure Ocean: Baby1 was old enough to join the programme (for 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12) so we left her there on some days. Baby2 was not toilet trained yet so we can’t smuggle her in for the 3-5 group. :) Baby1 had so much fun there. She had superhero theme, made some snacks, pyjamas party, came in tops for standing board jump (she was disappointed that she didn’t win a prize for hula hoop, and strove to learn this properly!), made a bacteria house, etc. She even won the grand prize in Family Bingo! Adventure Ocean is really good; kids enjoy so much fun, and parents get to take a breather. There were very few kids onboard the entire cruise, so Baby1 had lots of attention and lots of opportunities to play. We target to sail with Royal Caribbean again in 3 years time, when Baby1 is 8yo and Baby2 5yo, kekeke!
Royal Tots: The last time, we couldn’t find the Royal Tots. This time, there was a room with many toys, so Baby2 spent her mornings there playing while Jie Jie is at Adventure Ocean. There were only a few toddlers onboard, the most we saw at Royal Tots was 2-3 other toddlers. So Baby2 had nearly all the toys to herself. And Dear1 and Dear2 just sat around and relax, hehehe…..
Shows: It was a nightly look-forward for us, the kids included, to the singing and dancing shows, piano show, music show, magic show, ice-skating show, entertainment show. The kids may not understand or appreciate fully, but they do enjoyed them very much!
Food: As of any cruise, eating forms a very large part. We had 3 full meals everyday; breakfast and lunch at Windjammer or Rhapsody Blue (ordered room service breakfast once and had hotdogs lunch another time), the nightly dinner at Top Hats and Tails, and the occasional snacks from the Royal Promenade (that’s too much eating!). The spread was sumptuous, service people entertaining, Baby1 learnt to order her own dinner (she liked the congee so much that she ordered it almost everyday), and Baby2 tried to do magic – make the butter disappear (without success!).
Outdoor Activities: Dear1 and Dear2 did rock-climbing, Baby1 tried ice-skating, we ‘swam’ in the hot tub, played a bit of basketball, did 2 rounds of Mini Golf (Baby2 too!). A pity we didn’t get the chance to play table tennis. A note: We should have capitalised on those times when the ship was not cruising to do mini golf, else it’s too windy to play outdoors. Hmm, plus the sun must not be too hot too.
Indoor Activities: We went for a Detox Seminar and an Art Seminar while Baby1 was at Adventure Ocean, and brought her to a towel-folding activity on the day when she had bad behavior and no Adventure Ocean as punishment. She had so much fun folding turtle, swan, elephant, rabbit out of towels though!
Photos: We bought the Photo Package on the first day and had the next 8 days going from one booth to the next. We ended up with slightly over 200 photos in total. So for USD 250 (usual price USD 349), each photo costs ~USD1.50 (usual price per piece is about USD 18), 1hr free internet too, plus a CD to take home, and lots of fun posing away!
What have we learnt?:
1) Fly-Cruise is definitely a Yes-Yes! The Ship was at 65% capacity only, and about 90% of them Caucasians! We couldn’t figure out where did all these Caucasian retirees from all over the world came from, but it definitely means no crowd at all the physically active places (rock climbing, skating, arcade etc). We even managed to get front row seats at the Savoy Theatre every time, and front row seats meant that our kids have unblocked view throughout the entire show! And no kaisu Singaporeans nudging forward at meals; it was simply great. There was plenty of personal space for everyone and no one place was over-crowded. We never had difficulties getting a seat at Windjammer.
2) Adventure Ocean was great! It keeps the children fully occupied and engaged. Baby1 asked to attend Adventure Ocean every day.
3) We missed out on night activities such as disco parties, pool parties, late night outdoor movie screening, karaoke competitions, late night talk shows at the theatre because of the children’s bedtime. Perhaps we’ll be able to attend some of these activities on our next cruise while the children are older.
Just a quick description of our 3 days stay in Shanghai. We stayed at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel along Nanjing Road. We spent quite a bit of time exploring Nanjing Road throughout the day – searching for local breakfast food along the side streets, shopping for souvenirs in the malls, traveling up and down Nanjing Road on the pedestrian train! In addition, we also visited The Bund, Yu Garden, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, People’s Square, and the district around the Oriental Pearl Tower. We didn’t go up to the observatory because it was covered in fog. Finally, we end off our trip with a “gala dinner” at 海底捞. The next morning, we took the Maglev train to the airport and flew back to home sweet home.
We had great fun travelling as a family! Looking forward to our next family trip!
-Dear1 & Dear2