Travel

Cruising into 2015

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2015 is getting off to a busy start!

I’m joining Heart Breakfast – a big adjustment for all of us given that my usual involvement with Heart involves us listening, daily, on the school run! All very exciting – but a big change for my little family.  So when Royal Caribbean asked if we’d test out a family cruise we were beyond grateful for the chance of some quality family time before our new life begins – an adventure before our new adventure!

Here’s our diary…it’s a long one so grab a coffee and be in it for the long haul! (see what I did there!)

Day 1 – Overnight Miami, Florida  – Boarding – Fort Lauderdale

A seamless 9 hour flight from Terminal 5 and British Airways landed us safely into Miami where we were whisked to the stunning Turnberry Hotel for a wonderful overnight. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I do tend to judge a forthcoming break by it’s stopover accommodation. What’s not to love about a 5 star overnight then a morning enjoying the pool, waterslide and lazy river, before departing for the port and our first glimpse of the magnificent Allure of the Seas!  Wow – it’s a big ship!

ONECheck-in was busy but well managed and the kids were ecstatic as we walked into the impressive and cavernous Royal Promenade complete with a vintage car, chandeliers, cafe’s, shops and err… bar that moves up and down between floors!  Glass lifts (more excitement) whizzed us to our 7th Floor Balcony Stateroom and while the kids gasped at our ocean view I worked out where all our stuff would go. The room was well designed and the kids bed was a sofa by day, bed by night.

room

Then, off to explore the 16 passenger decks complete with ice rink, cinema, theatres, 5 swimming pools, kids clubs, zip wires, FloRider surfing, basketball court, cafes and restaurants where we could enjoy our complimentary meals and Central Park – a park, on a boat! The kids fell into bed, buzzing with excitement and I fell onto a massage table in the Spa, while Heidi and her hot stones worked their magic for 50 minutes plus a “First Day 15 minute Bonus”!  I know!

Day 2 – Nassau, Bahamas   

Up early and more squeals (mine!) as we found ourselves in the Bahamas and started the day with an amazing buffet breakfast in Adagio, the main restaurant. I already fear the cruise calories! Then to shore and a day excursion to the stunning Blue Lagoon – exactly as you imagine a beach in paradise to be – all white sands and aqua blue waters.   The kids were open mouthed as they watched our fresh coconut prepared with a huge machete and I loved watching them play on the beach and instantly chill.

NASSAUWe had a magical day before heading back to Allure to continue our travels and chill in my favourite area so far – Central Park – the first ever living park at sea – which feeds my soul!  With this and other open spaces, the boat is seriously well designed with none of the “shut in” feeling you might imagine at sea.  I could tell the kids loved it too with Akira saying “If I ever met the person who made this, do you know what I’d say? Thanks“!  Sweet boy.

Day 3 – Sea Day  

Lovely waking up to the sound of waves this morning! Buffet breakfast in the Windjammer Restaurant on Deck 17 with it’s amazing panoramic views and it was time for a bit more exploring. We went to check out the kids club Adventure Ocean, complete with Science Labs and everything you could want for your kids with 3 clubs for ages 3-11. You can check your kids in for free, enabling them to make new friends and enjoy themselves while you enjoy some quality adult time.  There’s even a Teen Compass Club which looked pretty cool and I was quite temped to waltz in myself!

KIDSEarly afternoon we headed to the ice rink of Stage B and watched How to Train Your Dragon – on ICE!  It was brilliant.  The rest of the day was spent chilling by the kids Splash Zone with it’s fountains and whirlpool – even kid-sized sun loungers!  I had a great time reading my book while the kids tired themselves out for the night had loads of fun!  Tonight was a “Dress Up” evening – one of two on the cruise. I’ve been loving the casual approach to dining and even the dress-up nights aren’t enforced.  But I marvelled at some amazing cocktail dresses and secretly enjoyed putting a dress on!

SPLASHZONEDay 4 – St. Thomas, Caribbean 

Today we woke up in St Thomas in The Caribbean and the kids LOVED bumping into some huge lizards on the jetty!  We did an excursion to one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world at Magden’s Bay.  Not surprisingly we weren’t the only people to think this place might be worth a visit (!) but had a wonderful day chilling by the water and enjoying a cheeky pina colada on the sand. The kids were in heaven!

MAGDENSThe shore excursions are brilliantly organised.  You don’t have to do excursions on your shore days but they are a great way to explore and comparing notes with people who made their own way to Magden’s Bay we realised the excursions are good value for money.  The kids loved taking in a bit of the St. Thomas’ culture as we drove around and there was time for a bit of souvenir shopping before getting back onboard, enjoying a lovely dinner in Adagio and collapsing into bed early.  The sea air does that to a family !

Day 5 – St. Maarten, Caribbean 

Keen to make the most of our last shore day, we had an early breakfast and disembarked into Philipsburg, St Maarten. You can walk everywhere from the jetty but we decided to save the kids legs and jumped onto a water taxi to the beach – literally a stones throw from Allure.  We enjoyed a wonderful day lying on the beach, enjoying the surroundings, then wandering around the quaint streets, enjoying a bit of shade from the intense sun.

PHILIPSReturning to the boat at night was pretty magical and back onboard we headed to Rita’s Cantina for an amazing mexican meal, including the best snapper I’ve ever tasted, anywhere in the world!  The food onboard is seriously amazing quality and, aside from some speciality restaurants, included. Even the speciality dining is subsidised, so it’s brilliant value. The evenings on the Allure’s Boardwalk area are pretty magical and the kids loved the unlimited carousel rides and we ended the night with a stunning fountain, light and music show in the Aqua Theatre.

EVEDay 6 – Sea Day

Waking up on a Sea Day is pretty cool as a parent as you’re instantly more chilled than on shore days!  We had a brilliant morning watching the FloRider and Trey mastered it with ease. The kids loved watching all the beginners and their wipe-outs, describing it as “a real life You’ve been Framed”! There were so many activities to do onboard for an active family – we loved Flo-Rider, Crazy Golf, Basketball and ice-skating as a family.  Kaya and I also loved the Zip Line – 9 decks up and not for the faint hearted, Kaya was JUST big enough to ride it, so celebrated by doing it 20 times!

FLOThis afternoon Trey took the kids to watch Penguins of Madagascar 3D while I got a couple of hours to myself on our balcony and realised the true joy of an ocean view balcony – no tan lines!! Shh!  Don’t tell!  Tonight was another “Dress Up” night and we had a lovely Tuscan dinner at Giovanni’s Restaurant, our outdoor table bringing back happy memories of our wedding in Tuscany, then headed to Dazzles bar to enjoy a bit of entertainment.

DAZZLEDay 7 – Sea Day 

Another leisurely day at sea to enjoy everything Allure has to offer – today it was all about being entertained.  My action girl Kaya did the Zip Line 15 more times (I guess that apple didn’t fall far from the tree!) before we headed to Adventure Ocean to watch the puppet show Imaginocean, which the kids loved!  We then watched a Madagascar Show “Let You Entertain Me” then the wonderful Blue Planet show in the main theatre, containing one of the most stunning “underwater” scenes I’ve ever seen on a stage.

ENTThe onboard entertainment and shows are all included in the price of the cruise and the quality is brilliant. If you worked out how much it would cost to take a family to the theatre to see Chicago, Ice Shows, Water Shows, go ice skating, listen to comedy and music performances – the fact that it’s all included makes for great value and it was liberating as parents to be able to allow the kids to do and experience so much, without worrying about what it was costing us.  The kids loved bumping into Shrek and other Dreamworks characters throughout the trip and by the end thought they were truly their buddies!

Day 8 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida & Home

All too soon there was the sadness of disembarking first thing in the morning and a fond farewell to all the phenomenal staff who’d made our stay so special. Then again, with a Captain who rides Harley’s around onboard (no kidding!)  the goodwill clearly filters down for the top. Not flying till the evening we eeked out the holiday vibe with a Shore Excursion to The Everglades and before we knew it, we were whizzing around on an airboat, fans whirring behind us, alligators and the best rainbow EVER ending our trip in style.

GATORSHuge thanks to Royal Caribbean for helping us kick off 2015 with the most amazing family experience!  So who would benefit most from cruising?  EVERYONE!  It’s truly a great holiday option because it’s perfect for all ages, as illustrated by the huge number of extended families onboard.

K x

Allure is heading to Europe in April and a family of 4 can enjoy a 7 nights including flights from £1,999 per adult and £1,499 per child during peak. 

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23 Comments

  • Reply Alison Perry February 10, 2015 at 11:06 am

    WOWOWOWOWOWOW! This looks like such an awesome trip (definitely think you and I have similar tastes in holidays!)
    I’m so keen to try a cruise, as like others say, I would NEVER have contemplated one before, but seeing how fab they look for families is making me rethink things….

    • Reply Katy February 10, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Ah – you’d LOVE it! So much fun! And a spa 😉 x

  • Reply Franglaise Mummy February 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Wow, just wow! I have been put off from going on a cruise for the longest time, assuming it was just for oldies. Our 8 year old went on one last summer with my mother-in-law and they had a blast, so it is on the bucket list now! It looks like you had the best time ever!!! xx

    • Reply Katy February 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      I’m with you! I was sceptical too, but we had a fab time! xx

  • Reply Lucy Goodwin January 31, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Well, I thought cruising was for the old folk but clearly not, looks amazing!

  • Reply Michelle Reeves (bodfortea) January 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    What an amazing break! It looks like you all had a fantastic time and perfect timing before you start at Heart Breakfast – hewge congrats on that by the way! – would love to do a cruise one day (please tell me there was no sea sickness though… ) x x

    • Reply Katy January 25, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Good question! Totally forgot to mention that! I was nervous as Kaya gets very car sick, so I took “sea bands” with me just incase, but NOTHING! Not one bit of nausea for any of us. Amazing! xx

  • Reply Clare Goldsack January 23, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I’d really like to go on a cruise one day. A friend took her family last year and said it was fab. The ships these days are just amazing. Glad you had such an amazing break before all the early mornings start. Good luck with the show. Cxx

    • Reply Katy January 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Thanks! xx

  • Reply Kate Takes 5 January 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    As if I wasn’t depressed enough already! This looks and sounds absolutely amazing. I followed your pics during the trip but to see it all together – wow!

    • Reply Katy January 24, 2015 at 8:05 am

      I can TOTALLY recommend a bit of winter sun to start the year! It’s the way forward! Although – don’t worry – I’m back in -7 now 🙁 x

  • Reply Donna @ Little Lilypad Co January 23, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Wow wow wow!
    I have been talking about cruising with children and you have definitely shown how fabulous it can be! Thank you for helping me make my decision a little easier!

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Always glad to be of help! 😉 x

  • Reply Helen Wills (@ActuallyBlog) January 23, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I am literally open-mouthed at how much cool stuff there is on that ship! I mean, an ice-rink?! In the Caribbean?? And a park?! Amazing!
    I had always written off the idea of cruising, and even more so once the kids came along, but ours are a similar age to yours, and I would totally reconsider, based on your review, and a couple of other family cruise reviews I’ve seen recently. Cruise operators have completely changed the game!

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      They HAVE Helen! You’re so right. Families are the future and changing the face of cruising completely! x

  • Reply Sonya Cisco January 23, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Wow, looks like an A-MAY-ZING holiday! The kids look so utterly happy in all the pics – total envy at all that sunshine as I sit typing in 3 cardigans and fingerless gloves!

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Don’t worry – I’m back now! Only just got the feeling back in my nose after this mornings school run! x

  • Reply Suzie Douglas January 23, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Ah. All looks wonderful. We have been thinking about cruising with the kids for a while. Your account makes it all the more tempting. I am going to check out some itineraries right now (at -3 degrees here today it’s lovely to think about the summer!) Thanks for sharing Katie xx

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      I know, right?! It’s -7 here at home today so I’m tempted to check out those itineraries myself! x

  • Reply Sarah laybourne January 23, 2015 at 8:31 am

    That holiday looks and sounded amazing! Getting me excited about our holiday in the sun in April . Good luck with your new job I am sure you will be fab x

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much! Ah – April – how exciting! xx

  • Reply Helen January 23, 2015 at 7:29 am

    wow! That looks amazing & your kids look like they’re screaming with joy the whole time!
    Good luck with the breakfast show!.

    • Reply Katy January 23, 2015 at 7:30 am

      They LOVED it! I love seeing their faces when they’re on a beach x

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