Day 2, part 1 – arriving in Nassau
Day 2, part 2 – starting the walking tour in Nassau
Day 2, part 3 – ending the walking tour in Nassau
Day 2, part 4 – departing Nassau
Day 2, part 5 – evening on the ship
Day 2, part 1 – arriving in Nassau
I’ve been planning to post this for a while, and it is my last regular post about the Allure of the Seas vacation. I had thought about posting more reviews of various things, but I am not sure when I will get around to that! For now, this is the last regular post, and I’ll post a follow up that lists all of the days together.
As I mentioned in the last trip report, I spent my final hours of the last day on the cruise ship with “Operation Set Foot.” We couldn’t believe all the places on the ship that we had not yet experienced, so we made a goal to “set foot” in as many of them as we possibly could (since our tour started after 11pm, many shops and some restaurants were already closed for the trip).
We started in The Royal Promenade on Deck 5 where we walked into Regalia, The Champagne Bar, and Bolero. Melissa and Jason also “set foot” in The Cupcake Shoppe. We had spent a lot of time on this deck, so many of the places had already been explored. We set foot in Bow and Stern. Previously explored by all of us was On Air Club, Starbucks, The Shop/Solera/Port Merchants, Cafe Promeade, Guest Services, Sorrentos, Adagio Dining Room, and the AquaTheater. We returned later in the tour to catch the Rising Tide Bar. The two shops Guess and Willow were already closed (we caught the fancy Regalia jewelry shop as they were closing, glanced at some diamonds in a case, and walked back out).
We decided to be systemmatic about our operation, so we headed to the lowest deck with public areas, Deck 3. We had already been in the Theater and Center Ice Rink/Studio B. We had obviously been in the main dining room. Melissa had not set foot in the Conference Center, so we headed there. This is where Jason, Gabe, and I had played live poker.
Next was Deck 4 where many clubs are located. All of us had been to the Theater, Comedy Live, Studio B, Hall of Odds, Casino (including the secret spiral stairs), and the dining room. We sat down in the fancy jazz club, Jazz on 4. All of us agreed it would have been a nice place to hang out and listen to the music. I liked the fancy chairs. We also went into Blaze where we were carded with our keys on the way into the club. We felt very out of place here! Most of the areas by now were sparsely populated as the cruise was winding down. Still a few people were left in the dance club.
We headed back to Deck 5 where we went by the Vitality at Sea Spa and walked a portion of the jogging track. We were amused by the motivational signs along the track. We then found ourselves behind the AquaTheater where we discovered The Shuffleboard Court! Every cruise has one, and this was the first time that we had seen it. Too late! We also took a look at the Rock Climbing Wall.
The next mission was to ride The Rising Tides Bar. Melissa and Jason had already had a drink on the bar, but I hadn’t yet taken a ride. First, we had to find the bar. We checked to see if it was at The Royal Promenade on Deck 5, and it was! So, we rode the bar up to Central Park on Deck 8 and each had a drink. I was glad to get the chance to ride the UFO, finally…
Now we were on Deck 8 in Central Park where almost everything was closed. We managed to set foot into Giovanni’s Table and Vintages. We had already been to the Park Cafe. We never set foot in Chops Grille or 150 Central Park. We had been by the Trellis Bar. The Coach, Britto Gallery, and Picture This were closed and remained unexplored by any of us. We had been in Dazzles earlier in the cruise.
Deck 9 only had Dazzles, and we had already explored both levels of that one. Deck 10 only has suites and staterooms. We made our way to Deck 11 where we set foot in the Library for the first time. Jason put a finger under the door of the closed Concierge Lounge. I guess none of us “set foot” in there, but Jason managed to “set finger” in that one. Deck 12 is more staterooms, and Deck 13 doesn’t technically exist. Deck 14 was next where we set foot in the Card Room. This is the same sort of place that Gabe and I spent more time in on our first cruise, but we didn’t even seek it out this time. That’s one of the big differences between cruising by ourselves and cruising with kids, family, and friends! We had already explored the Kid’s Avenue area with the Adventure Ocean things, though we didn’t see every room.
Before we left Deck 11 to continue to the higher decks, I showed Melissa and Jason the “secret balcony” from Deck 11, on the other side of the one where we watched the Belly Flop competition. It’s a very neat view of the AquaTheater, and everyone in our party who has experienced it has had it almost to themselves every time. It’s a neat place to watch something like the Belly Flop competition! The AquaTheater is pretty at night with all the lights.
We had another great view of the AquaTheater and the Boardwalk from the upper decks.
On Deck 17, we found the chapel, some fancy little lounge areas, and the cigar bar (which is for suite guests only most of the time) called the Suite Sun Zone. That one isn’t on the map (I think it was on Deck 17?). We set foot in the Viking Crown Lounge.
Next we explored areas of Deck 16 that we had not previously seen and even set foot into one of the teen-only areas. We walked into the arcade. We walked through the ping pong table “cage” where some people were playing, and I made a freethrow on the basketball court. By now, most of this deck was deserted.
We walked through the Solarium and found one of the cantilevered jacuzzis. I’m sure the view is more interesting during the day!
After all this, we decided to close the day at Sorrentos where I built my first custom pizza. They have an interesting toppings bar where you can request whatever you want. I chose ham, capers, corn, and cashews. I’m not sure that that combination would ever be a big seller, but I thought it was great! That was the first time that I can remember having cashews, corn, or capers on a pizza. I’d definitely have that combination again! YUM!
We ended around 2am for a few hours of sleep before departing the ship and heading home. What a great way to end a wonderful cruise! I just wish that Gabe could have joined us on the tour. Maybe we can arrange that next time!
Hooray for another “at sea” day! The “at sea” days on Allure are especially great with kids with DreamWorks characters, parades, shows, kid-friendly pools, and the carousel.
We had our 3rd and final character breakfast, this time with just my parents. We were still lucky enough to get the best seats in the dining room! I don’t know if we were so lucky because of the size of our party, or if we reserved the breakfasts earlier than most (we did reserve these quite early). Either way, we were pleased.
This was another Madagascar breakfast with Alex the Lion, King Julian, and Gloria. At all of these breakfasts, each character came out to music and did a dance right in front of our table before visiting each table one by one for greetings and photos. We started with Alex the Lion.
King Julian was next. It took quite a bit of coaxing for Cullen to get a photo with King Julian! He wasn’t a fan of him the first time he met him, and he wasn’t a fan this time. He did warm up a little bit.
The kids seemed excited about Gloria. Cullen told several people at breakfast about the How to Train Your Dragon ice show. “Fwagons! Fwagons….FLYING!”
After breakfast, we walked around the ship a bit (and probably checked to see if we could ride the carousel, but I guess it was closed). We went to the photo gallery to try to weed out more photos. We knew we were going to have to decide what we wanted to buy today, and we had dozens of photos to choose from. I’m glad we had two portfolios so that we could put our possible photos in one and the rejects in the other. They didn’t have a place that you could dump photos you didn’t want, so this was a very convenient alternative!
The kids got a bit bored of photo sorting (who can blame them), so we headed back to the cabin to get the strollers. We had a date with progressive trivia at 11am! The final round of Progressive Trivia was general knowledge, and some of the questions seemed quite difficult and random! We ended up getting 13 of 20 correct. This didn’t win us the round, but it was enough to be declared the CHAMPIONS of the Progressive Trivia!!! We had so much fun with our teammates. All of us were playfully competitive and joked with each other about winning it all. I mean, we joked, but we seriously wanted to win it! It was a pleasure and honor to play with a Jeopardy champion (he’ll tell you that he was a loser, but I still think that 2nd out of a tournament makes you a Jeopardy champion in my book!). We were so glad they asked us to join their team.
And, as a bonus, we won quite a bit of swag! Each of us won a tote bag full of everything that they gave out at all of the trivia events and then some. Inside each Royal Caribbean tote bag was a hat, magnetic photo frame, keychain, camera case, wallet, pen, and umbrella. I’m sure I’m probably forgetting something. It was awesome to have come so close to winning so many trivia events on this one, but we won the one that really counted! We also were awarded gold medals (which we wore much of the day) and a bottle of champagne. We felt that our new friends deserved the bottle of champagne. We wouldn’t have even had a team if it wasn’t for them, and they paved the way with a stellar first two rounds. The progressive trivia was a highlight of our cruise for sure!
We had to rush off right after the event to try to make it to the 12pm DreamWorks water show. We hated to rush after our big victory, but we were looking forward to this water show! Unfortunately, we soon learned that both showings were cancelled. We were disappointed! The ship was rocking so much that too much of the water was sloshing out of the AquaTheater pools, so it was dangerous for the performers.
We regrouped and decided to head to the Solarium restaurant for lunch. We got there and realized that the restaurant was also restricted to over 16, so we begrudgingly headed to Windjammer for the first time on our cruise. With so many options on Allure, we never felt the need to go to the Windjammer. We’ve found the buffet in the past to be mediocre at times (on other ships). It was actually pretty good. Perhaps it was a plus that we were fairly hungry and had low expectations? If this had been a meal earlier in the week, I’m pretty sure we would have frequented the Windjammer a few more times.
After lunch, we took the kids to the carousel since we knew our opportunities were limited now that we were nearing the end of our vacation. We took the kids back to the room for Cullen’s nap, and I headed to the casino to meet Debbie, my mom, and Melissa for the slot tournament. We all had a plan to enter together and split the profits. We hadn’t quite figured out what we were going to do if we won the cruise, though! I think we could have worked out something, I’m sure.
We soon learned that the tournament would take more than an hour! We had thought that it was going to be a quick thing. oops. We had to wait a while before playing our first round. The slot tournaments are amusing. We discussed our “strategy” – was it better to use one hand on the button or alternate? Was it better to use finger tips or your fist? Should you wait for the reels to stop spinning and pause in between pushing the button or just pound on it relentlessly? I mean, really, there’s lots to consider in such an important event. We made some new “friends” and rooted each other on (one of our friends photobombed behind Melissa in this photo of us getting ready to start).
It was so much fun to be lined up along one bank of machines! We were able to glance over at everyone’s machines to see how we were doing. We were doing awesome for a while with Melissa, Debbie and I in 1st, 2nd and 3rd! Twelve people were playing each round, and then the top 12 from the first rounds of play would play in the finale. Sometimes nobody qualified from an initial round, and sometimes several would qualify. In our round, Melissa qualified! Unfortunately, the rest of us were out.
By the time all of the first rounds were complete, we learned that they had enough entries to give away TWO cruises. We had a 1 out of 6 chance of winning a cruise! We had a 50% chance of winning at least our money back, so it was exciting! Unfortunately, we didn’t win anything except Melissa’s consolation prize of a bruised and swollen fist. Who knew that slot tournaments were so dangerous??
I had checked on Gabe a few times to let him know our slot progress and to check on the kiddos. I didn’t expect the tournament to take so long! I went back to the room, and we got everyone ready for dinner and headed to a pirate party/festival at the boardwalk. I think it was mostly for families whose kids were in the kids’ club. So, we ended up meeting the penguins again instead (Maddie opted to just ride the carousel).
And then we rode the carousel again and again. Again.
The kids posed for a cute photo.
We then headed to the Blue Planet show with Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents. The show started at 5pm. It took a while for it to start, and when it did it just wasn’t interesting enough for little kids. Cullen couldn’t be quiet, so I took him out of the theater. I was disappointed because I thought that I was going to enjoy the show!
I tried to stand near the back of the theater, but the show just didn’t keep his attention. So, Cullen and I went exploring. I let Cullen completely lead me around the ship. It was entertaining to see where he wanted to go. We met Po the Panda.
We went to look at the Christmas tree and car in the promenade. We went up and down and up and down and up and down the marble staircase in the promenade. We went into the Boardwalk, and I was shocked that he walked right past the carousel! He paused a little bit to play on the play structure next to Rita’s Cantina. He then headed for a set of stairs that I had not previously explored next to the AquaTheater. We saw a beautiful sunset. He went up and down those stairs as well. He then said, “I’m done. Let’s go.” and lead me to a door that ended up taking us directly to the hallway with our cabin. We were on the ship for almost a week, and I had no idea we could get to the AquaTheater this way!
He walked down the hall and went to the elevators where he pressed the down button and we rode down to the promenade again. He climbed the marble staircase again and we ended up at the Boardwalk and rode the carousel over and over for the last time. We met Mort near the carousel when we were leaving.
I then took him to the photo gallery where I glanced at our photos again, and we were in the right place at the right time for the final flash mob.
We headed towards dinner and ran into Patsy and Jim who were joining us since Mick and Debbie made reservations at one of the specialty restaurants. Somehow after being on the ship for almost a week, I managed to try to find our table on the wrong deck of the dining room! Oops!
During dinner, the waitstaff sang the customary Royal Caribbean farewell song. Almost everyone at our table couldn’t decide between the key lime pie or the brownie sandwich, so we all ordered both desserts! The brownie sandwich was fabulous. YUM!
Melissa, Jason, my mom, and Gabe’s mom all went back with our family to watch the Move It Parade from our Promenade window. That was a neat place to see the parade (and great for people watching throughout the cruise), but it didn’t engage the kids as well. It was still fun! We could see Patsy and Jim in the promenade near one of the kiosks. They had a great place to view the parade, and the characters stopped several times right in front of them to dance.
We had done some packing earlier in the morning, and we did a bit more packing after the parade. My mom came by to watch the kids while we went to the photo gallery with Jason, Melissa, and Gabe’s mom to make our final decisions and purchase our photos. I headed back to the cabin while Gabe had one last hurrah in the casino with his mom. I did some more packing as we had to have our checked bags out in the hallway by 11pm.
Gabe came back with just enough time for me to make it to “A Selection of Fountain Shows” at the AquaTheater where I ran into Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents. I was glad that we went to that as it was like a mini Bellagio fountain show. I wondered if the same people programmed and built the fountains, but I don’t think that’s the case. I put some of that in the highlights video.
I checked with Gabe, but he was ready to crawl into bed with a book. Melissa, Jason, and I initiated “Operation Set Foot.” Our mission was to set foot in as many places as we could that at least one of us had previously not explored. I’ll post all of those places and photos in my next cruise post.
Favorites from Day 7:
Gabe: Winning the Progressive Trivia
Kerry: fountains, Winning the Progressive Trivia, and Operation Set Foot
Maddie (her words): Meeting the Alex and the characters
Cullen (my best guess): Exploring the ship with Mommy
After two port days, we were ready for another “at sea” day (our favorite sort of day!). This was the morning that all twelve of us had character breakfast reservations. The line to get into the dining room was long, and they didn’t open the doors until 5 minutes to 8am (when the breakfast was supposed to start). They didn’t seem very organized on this day! Today’s characters were all from Shrek: Shrek, Puss in Boots, and Fiona.
On the other hand, Shrek came out almost immediately after we sat down. Half the people hadn’t even made their way into the dining room yet, including most of the rest of our party. They pretty much missed Shrek! Cullen wouldn’t have anything to do with Shrek. As soon as he saw Shrek, he said, “I don’t like Shrek.” I guess he doesn’t like big ol’ ogres.
We had the best seats in the dining room, again. Lucky us! By the time the rest of our party arrived, Shrek had moved onto another section.
Everyone was ready for Puss in Boots, and we got a rare photo of everyone in our group. The lighting was challenging in the dining room, so our photos didn’t come out too well in there.
Fiona was our favorite character from the breakfast (and perhaps our favorite on the cruise!). She was very animated and sweet with the kids. Cullen was absolutely smitten with her!
After Fiona left our table, Cullen blew her a kiss and looked after her wistfully and said, “Come back, Fiona!”
After the breakfast, which was another chocolate breakfast, we headed to the pool. It takes quite a while to get everyone in their swimsuits and to apply the sunscreen. Cullen hated being contained to the tiny pool, especially since Maddie wasn’t allowed in that part (technically). Maddie had a great time in the pool with Grandma and Daddy. She continued to enjoy the family hot tub. Cullen just wasn’t happy, so the two of us went back to the room to shower and change while Maddie stayed at the pool a bit longer.
Cullen and I headed to the carousel. We rode it many times!
My parents had attended a special event at the AquaTheater which was some sort of session with Captain Johnny (motorcycle and all). Maybe it was the Crown & Anchor event?
The AquaTheater and carousel are in the same Boardwalk area, so they joined up with us afterward at the carousel.
We also saw Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents. Everyone rode the carousel with Cullen. He was having so much fun! I can’t believe that Cullen convinced Jason to ride the carousel. Jason was against riding it, but he softened when Cullen batted his blue eyes at him. So cute.
Maddie and Daddy eventually joined us when we were getting some specialty hot dogs from The Dog House. I had a chicken hot dog with bits of apple mixed into it. I got Cullen a plain one and cut it into small pieces.
Next, we headed to the How to Train Your Dragon Ice Show. Cullen was excited to meet one of the “fwagons” (his word for “dragon” on this trip). Maddie refused to eat a hot dog, so Gabe ended up taking her to get a sandwich on the way to the show. They were about 45 minutes later than planned, since Maddie had been having such a wonderful time at the pool!
Amazingly, all twelve of us made it to the show! Gabe’s mom had not been feeling too bad, so she decided she didn’t need her patch the day before. Unfortunately, she was feeling quite seasick for most of this day. She felt better for a little bit, so we were glad she felt well enough to join us for the show! The ship was moving quite a bit almost the whole cruise.
The How to Train Your Dragon ice show was great! This was one of our favorite shows from the cruise. The kids loved it, and one of my favorite moments of the entire cruise occurred when the first dragon appeared on the ice. Cullen gasped and exclaimed in awe, “DRAGON!” It was priceless.
After the ice show, most of us headed over to the AquaTheater to see the belly flop competition. Melissa, Jason, Mick, and Gabe headed for the theater itself, and Debbie, my parents, the kids and I watched from the 11th floor balcony. The 11th floor balcony was a neat place to watch! We could hear a lot of what was going on, though sometimes it was difficult. We had a neat bird’s eye view. We almost had the entire balcony to ourselves. I guess not very many people know about it since several (most?) of the balconies overlooking the AquaTheater are special suites with huge private balconies. You can see the balconies on the other side in the next photo of Cullen.
The belly flop contest was amusing, and it looked quite painful. Unfortunately, Gabe’s mom started feeling ill again and had to go back to her cabin at some point. The winner of the belly flop contest made a giant slap when he hit the water. Ouch! Every time a competitor did a belly flop, the audience would hold up fingers indicating the score from 0-5. The activities director “counted” our votes from way above the theater as well. We had a video (from the theater) and photos from several vantage points of the final group belly flop.
The kids were a little cranky and restless during the belly flop competition. It wasn’t an interesting enough thing for them, and it certainly wasn’t engaging for them to be so high above the action. The kids were obviously tired, so we took them back to the room for nap. Gabe put Cullen down for nap while Maddie played her DS. She kept getting frustrated by the game, so I had her lay down on the bed while I rubbed her back. She must have been a very tired little girl as she actually fell asleep (that never works!). Gabe read his book and snoozed while I went with my mom, Patsy, Jim, and Melissa to watch Jason do the FlowRider.
Jason had already done it once, but we convinced him to do it again. I showed a clip of him in the cruise highlights video. Here’s a photo Melissa took of Jason on the same try.
Melissa, Mom, and I went to the Win-a-Cruise bingo. Mom and I shared an electronic “card” where you play 30 cards at once. At least they still give you a paper card or all the fun would really be taken out of the experience! I got very close to winning once with only one number left for bingo, but none of us won. I checked on Gabe, and everyone was still snoozing. I went to the Movie Character Photo Quiz with Melissa and Jason. We did fairly well with this trivia, but we were 3rd (again). As a bonus, I picked up a quiz for Gabe since the photos of the movie characters were on a worksheet type printout.
I headed back to the room where we had only a few minutes to get ready for dinner because we had a date with our Progressive Trivia team. The category for this session was sports. Jason and Gabe were the primary contributors. We only missed two questions, though it wasn’t due to much of my knowledge! After this session, our team was still in first place.
We headed to dinner which was the 2nd formal night which was also lobster night. I didn’t get the lobster, but a lot of our people did. Cullen made a mess with his fruit soup and “formal” clothes, and then he wanted to be all sweet and sit on my lap and hug me. The photographer came around a few minutes later, and I couldn’t resist this photo since it tells a story (and how sweet is that little boy??).
We all headed to 70s music trivia where we did better than expected again, and we almost won…but we ended up with 3rd place. Again! We still felt pretty good about our trivia performances on this cruise, and we had a lot of fun participating in all of them. I especially like the name-that-tune type trivia sessions.
Gabe took Cullen back to the room and put him to bed while Maddie and I hung out a few minutes with Melissa and Jason and then decided to go see Fiona and Shrek who were appearing back to back in the promenade. Maddie was so cute with Fiona! She was very excited to see Fiona and hopped around with joy. She also did a crazy dance in the promenade just before Fiona appeared (which I also caught on the video). Maddie and Fiona danced together, and Maddie was so excited.
Shrek appeared a few minutes after Fiona disappeared. He’s not as fun and interactive as Fiona.
Melissa and Jason needed to check on email as they were in the process of buying and trying to sell houses. Maddie and I explored a little more, and then I took her back to the cabin for bed. It was a late night for her.
I ended up seeing Jason and Melissa a little later and spent a little time with them in their room with Melissa’s parents before going downstairs to see the 70s dance party in the promenade. Gabe could hear and see the festivities from the room.
Gabe was tired and wanted to relax in the room instead of going back out, so I grabbed him a soda and arranged to meet Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents for a drink. I found my parents and we went up to the Solarium Bar where we were supposed to meet the others. We thought it was odd that they scanned our cards when we went in. I guess they made sure everyone was over 21 or something. We couldn’t find the others and gave up after a little bit. They had ended up going to a different place, as we found out the next day. We were all tired anyway, so I headed back to the cabin to go to bed.
Favorites from Day 6:
Gabe: playing with Maddie in the pool and when Cullen said, “dragon!” at the ice show
Kerry: Maddie dancing in the promenade with Fiona and the moment when Cullen said “dragon!”
Maddie (according to her): pool and dancing with Fiona
Cullen (my best guess): fwagons!
It’s been 3 months since the trip, but it still feels like yesterday. Or last week. Or something. Hmm, maybe it does feel like it has been 3 months. Anyway. I’m still going to crank out these trip reports so that I can look back at them to create our photobooks. I’m determined to get these things finished!
So, where was I? Ah, yes, I had finished our “at sea” day, so now we’re ready for our port day in St. Thomas. St. Thomas was new for the four of us.
We woke up around 7:15am, which is a fairly normal time for our family. The kids seemed to have slept better the night before. We had plenty of time to get ready for our shore excursion to Magens Bay. Gabe’s parents were going to breakfast at the same time, and they shared their beautiful views from their balcony as we were coming into the port. We were already much more impressed with St. Thomas than we were with Nassau!
We ended up with the a la carte service in the dining room for breakfast while Gabe’s parents tried the buffet. After breakfast, we tried to see our photos but the photo place wasn’t open. We then went to see if the carousel was running, but it wasn’t either. We were getting ready to head off the ship to head to our excursion, and Cullen required a last minute diaper change. I suppose his timing could have been worse (like just as we were boarding the bus).
The first thing we noticed when we got off the ship were all the iguanas on the rocks! I was then happy that I could get my free Diamonds Direct charm as I thought I wouldn’t be able to get the one from St. Thomas. They had a store right at the port, of course.
My parents did an excursion that involved a sailboat, snorkeling, and drinks. Melissa and Jason did an excursion that involved a boat, beach, and snorkeling. Melissa’s parents had an excursion as well. I think that Gabe’s parents explored St. Thomas on their own.
We experienced some confusion when trying to find the meeting place for our shore excursion. We were then told to follow “that guy” and “that guy” high tailed it “that way.” We had a hard time keeping up with him! Luckily, we kept up with the guide and boarded our open air “bus” (making sure to put the kiddos on the inside). We attempted to apply sunscreen on the kids on the way, but that was quite a challenge.
Our “bus” made two scenic stops as we climbed the summit overlooking the harbor. St. Thomas is quite beautiful.
We met Lady Gaga, the donkey. Melissa’s parents told us later that they had seen Lady Gaga, too.
The “bus” ride was a little scary at times, especially with two small children. Magans Bay Beach was much narrower than I expected it to be, but it was absolutely beautiful with few people. Right away, we wished that we had brought our swimsuits. The water was so calm, and the weather was perfect. We could have easily taken the kids into the ocean here!
They were happy to play in the sand.
And walk along the beach barefoot.
And spend time together in the sun!
We had a difficult time getting decent photos, despite the beautiful settings. We were happy that a stranger offered to take one, even if it isn’t awesome of the kiddos.
The kids enjoyed flinging sand into the approaching waves. It’s a good thing that the beach wasn’t crowded. They ended up flinging sand all over.
Oh, and I got pooped on by a bird! Somehow that didn’t seem so bad with such beautiful surroundings. Hooray for wet wipes!
We had overpriced mediocre food at the “restaurant” on the beach, continuing our trend of sub-par dining experiences when not on the ship.
After lunch, we had just enough time to glance in the gift shop and take a potty and diaper break. We hurried back to the parking lot to meet the bus. And then we waited for an hour. We were annoyed. Fortunately, this wasn’t an excursion that was cutting it close for departure time on the ship, but have you ever waited an hour for a bus with two kids under 4? They were getting restless, to say the least. We were already pushing Cullen’s naptime back an hour or two, so this didn’t help matters!
He looks happy here, though, doesn’t he? Between the beach and the parking lot were some interesting trees to run around.
When the bus driver showed up, she didn’t even apologize for being so late. The ride back seemed even scarier than the way there. I imagine the driver was in a hurry to get back to port. Cullen didn’t want to be on the bus and cried the first 10 minutes or so, saying, “I want to get off the bus. I want to get off. I want to get off.” Fortunately, we made it back safely.
We made it back to the ship and got everyone showered. Showering the kids in the tiny shower on the cruise ship is an interesting experience. Thank goodness for the detachable shower head/sprayer! We let the kids relax with some cartoons. Cullen was obviously not going to nap as we missed his window of opportunity.
We tried to see our photos again, but the photo gallery was closed. Again. We ended up meeting up with Melissa and Jason, and we all lingered by the Progressive Trivia since it was the music round. We weren’t planning on playing, but one woman got our attention and asked, “hey, do you know this song?” I said, “you’re trying to cheat!” She convinced us to join her team, though we warned her that we couldn’t promise to make it to other trivia rounds. The husband and wife were the trivia champions from rounds 1 and 2. Also, the husband had placed 2nd in the Jeopardy Seniors Tournament some number of years ago (how cool is that?). This was the 3rd round, and the name-that-tune trivia wasn’t their forte. Fortunately for them, we knew most of the answers. We always manage to meet some fun people from each cruise, and we were so glad by the end of the cruise to meet Sandy and Jerry!
We ran the strollers back to the room and ended up being about 15 minutes late for dinner. Maddie insisted on sitting next to Grandma, of course. Cullen was a bit restless due to having no nap. He did enjoy the fruit soup again tonight, and he especially enjoyed feeding it to himself. Of course, much of it was all over the front of his shirt!
Gabe took Cullen back to the room a few minutes early to get him ready for bed. Grandma and I followed soon after as Grandma had offered to babysit for us this night.
We headed to the comedy show with my parents and Melissa and Jason. The comedy club is a very small place, but somehow we never noticed that Melissa and Jason’s parents were there, too.
The comedy show was very entertaining, though I learned that it can be awkward to sit next to your parents at a comedy show. You probably don’t always want to know what your parents will find hilarious. Of course, I’m mostly joking about the awkwardness. It didn’t outweigh everyone having a good time seeing a show together!
We had some time to kill between the comedy show and Qwest. We first went to get our photo taken with Puss in Boots at one of the scheduled photo ops.
We chatted a bit with Melissa’s parents in Central Park, and then we headed up to play mini golf. It was far too crowded, so we played the first and last hole and wandered around trying to decide what to do.
At some point, we walked through the Promenade, and I grabbed some tasty pizza from Sorrentos.
We went to Dazzles to watch the Finish the Lyric Game Show. It was entertaining enough, but most of the songs were lame. We ended up leaving partway through the game show so we could grab seats in Studio B for Qwest.
We have seen Qwest many times, but this was the first time for Melissa and Jason. It’s an adult scavenger hunt, and it just has to be experienced. I’m always amazed at the crazy things that people will do. Usually, you form your own teams and our team generally bows out about half a dozen questions into the game. This time was different since the venue is so large. They divided us into 8 large teams with two team captains each. Most items were passed down to the captains, but sometimes items required audience members to come to the stage. Melissa ran down at one point and wiped out on the slippery floor (and almost took out the camera man!). Fortunately for Melissa, people did far more embarrassing things on purpose. It’s a crazy event.
When it was over, it was late and we headed back to the cabin to relieve Grandma of her babysitting (and napping with Maddie) duties.
Day 4 favorites:
Kerry: beautiful beach views
Gabe: the beach
Maddie (according to her): the beach
Cullen (according to him): the water
We had originally planned to do the carousel tour of St. Maarten, but it was cancelled. Melissa and Jason actually had all of their originally scheduled tours cancelled. We woke up early, as usual, and I went down to the shore excursions desk to figure out whether we could book a last minute excursion. Jason was down there doing the same thing. We got a list of the ones that were available, and I picked one of the only ones that seemed feasible with the little ones. We knew we wanted to do another beach excursion since the kids enjoyed St. Thomas so much! We saw my parents and Gabe’s parents on their way to their early art tour of the island. Melissa’s parents were on another tour.
We were docked on the Dutch side of the island (called St. Maarten), and we chose a tour that would take us to a beach on the French side (called St. Martin). I grabbed some muffins from the Royal Promenade and some towels from the pool deck for our beach excursion. After not having our swimsuits the day before, we didn’t want to make the same mistake twice! Melissa and Jason decided to join us on our tour.
We had to wait a bit to get to our bus, and the kids were anxious to get moving. We got on the bus and sat in the very back where Maddie sat with Melissa and Jason and Cullen sat with Gabe and me. Once again, Jason tried to steal one of our children! Melissa looked like she was in on it this time. We had a running joke the rest of the day that Melissa and Jason had special custody of Maddie that was only valid on St. Maarten. When the tour guide came by to check our tickets, she assumed Maddie was their child.
Our tour guide gave us some good information about the island and how the French and Dutch sides interact and the differences between the two countries. At some point, we heard a loud noise and maybe even smelled a rubber burning sort of smell. Before we could make it to the beach, our bus broke down. Those of us near the back wondered if some belt had broken, and sure enough that is what happened.
We had to evacuate the bus and wait for a replacement. Our luck with buses was not stellar for this trip! Fortunately, we weren’t delayed for too long. Maddie thought it was hilarious that we made a joke that the belt busted because the bus ate too much at the buffet. We were only delayed about 15 minutes, and they compensated with a later departure from the beach. They greeted us with fruity beverages, and we had reserved lounge chairs on the beach. We had the option to buy umbrellas, so we took advantage of those.
The kids spent a lot of time playing in the sand.
Unfortunately, the waves were too strong for the kids at this beach, and the beach had a ton of seaweed. Maddie wasn’t a fan of the seaweed (and I don’t blame her!). She didn’t like that it kept getting tangled up in her feet.
We played on the beach a little bit and then had our “free” lunch at the restaurant. This beach was a bit more developed than the one that we had visited on St. Thomas, but the food wasn’t much better. We were glad it was free! They even gave us some extra fries for the kids for free. While we were eating, we heard a big thump and assumed that maybe a coconut dropped from the palm tree next to us. We looked over and saw a huge iguana! The waiter then chased it back up the tree. Those things are everywhere.
After lunch, we played some more on the beach. We had been warned ahead of time that the beach would have dozens of peddlers trying to sell towels, sunglasses, toys, necklaces, and other assorted souvenirs. The tour guide advised that we can get all of these things near the port cheaper than what they are probably asking on the beach. She advised us to simply say “no thank you,” and by the end of our visit to the beach both Maddie and Cullen were telling the vendors “no thank you.”
Early in our beach adventure, we saw a very cute doll with a long dress. The doll was “reversible” with another head instead of feet so that when you flipped her over she had a differently patterned dress. One side had a sash that said “St. Maarten” and the other had a sash that said “St. Martin” representing the Dutch and French sides of the island. We thought that was very neat but we resisted buying it the first time. We figured that we would get it back in port, but the more we thought about it, the more we wished that we just had bought it from the first lady. We didn’t see another one for a while! Finally, either the same woman came through or another one with the same doll, and we decided to buy it. I’m glad that we bought it since it was actually more expensive back at the port! Maddie was thrilled.
Melissa, Jason, and I went for a swim in the ocean which was wonderful. I did a little body surfing and swimming around in the waves. We had to be mindful of the undertow, and we kept getting swept down the beach. It definitely wasn’t a kid-friendly place to swim.
We were at the beach for about 3 hours which is more than long enough to get sand everywhere. We had a difficult time getting the sand off of us (especially since the shower was public and most of the sand wasn’t in public places…though the beach does allow you to be topless and not far down the stretch was a nude beach. I preferred to keep my suit on, thanks!).
We headed back on our original bus which had been repaired. Maddie and Cullen fell asleep almost immediately.
We had two tired kiddos!
Melissa and Jason opted to get off the bus in town and take a water taxi back to our ship later. Gabe and Cullen headed to the ship while Maddie and I explored the shops near the port.
We walked around together and bought some souvenirs.
We ended up getting a St. Maarten monkey for Cullen, a shirt for Maddie, and a shirt for Daddy. We listened to a little bit of the steel drum band and then headed back to the ship.
Cullen decided that his short little nap on the bus was enough for the day, so we put the kids in the stroller and walked around after showering. We ended up at “Who Am I” interactive trivia where they showed pictures of famous people. We got 17 of 18, but they were having technical difficulties with the interactive parts. We did end up getting a prize after all. Cullen wasn’t terribly happy.
Gabe and his mom went to play bingo with Maddie while Cullen and I ditched the stroller and went to walk around the ship. He was a little difficult since he didn’t get enough of a nap. We explored the upper decks where he found a row of pool chairs and had to sit in every.single.one. It was on this little excursion that I realized that I had trained Cullen pretty well to stand in front of things and pose. He did a lot of walking up to random things and standing in front of them waiting for me to take a photo.
Cullen and I hung out with Melissa and Jason and Melissa’s parents until we went to dinner. Melissa’s parents had dinner with us this night since my parents had reservations at Rita’s Cantina. Cullen pointed out that Melissa’s mom, Patsy, was “not Nana.” This was the night that the waiter did the mouse trick for Cullen where he folded a napkin to resemble a mouse and made it “jump” onto the table. Cullen thought this was great, and he tried to mimic it. You can see Cullen trying it in the video.
I cracked up every time I saw this photo of Melissa and Jason being shocked at the size of Allure of the Seas.
Gabe took Cullen back for bedtime while the rest of us (Melissa, Jason, Melissa’s parents, Gabe’s parents, Maddie, and I) headed to 50s and 60s music trivia. We surprised ourselves by getting all but two questions correct! Unfortunately, we still lost.
I took Maddie back to the room where Cullen was already sleeping. Gabe and his mom went to the casino for a bit, and Maddie and I read some books. I started to look at the Cruise Compass schedule for the next day, and I marked a few things that we would be interested in doing. Maddie asked, “Did you mark the pool and carousel?” I snoozed a little bit with Maddie until Gabe came back with his mom. His mom offered to snooze with Maddie while Gabe and I went to play poker. Gabe had won about $30 in the casino.
We spotted Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents in the promenade from our cabin window. We went down there in time to see Melissa purchase hats for Jason and her dad.
We checked out some more of our photos in the photo gallery and ran into my parents at Rita’s. It seems like everyone was having a great time! We chatted for a few minutes with my parents and Melissa’s parents, then Jason, Gabe, and I headed to play poker.
The poker game was perfect with so many players throwing around their money without a clue as to what they were doing. Unfortunately, my cards were less than perfect. Gabe’s last hand had him losing his stack with a set of Kings to a runner-runner straight (and he did not slow play any of it). I lost the rest of my stack with two pair AK versus a set of Queens. Oh well. It was nice to play some real poker, and we wished that two small kiddos weren’t going to be waking us up bright and early the next morning! We were at the kind of table that can be very profitable given a longer session. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to play for very long. It was a little frustrating!
Favorites from day 5:
Gabe: watching the kids play in the sand
Kerry: swimming in the ocean
Maddie (according to her): the beach and sand
Cullen (my best guess): playing in the sand
Let’s see. Where was I in these trip reports? Ah, yes. The second part of Day 3, our first full day at sea. We left the Boardwalk area and headed to the Royal Promenade where all 12 of us met in front of On Air. We grabbed donuts from the Donut Shoppe in the Boardwalk to entertain the kids (and offer a snack) while we waited. We snagged some tall bar chairs from On Air and waited for the parade to start.
We were given a tip from a previous cruiser that this would be a good spot for the parade, and they were right! We weren’t directly in front of any of the stages, but we were in a great spot to see the parade pass by. This was our view down the promenade.
This was the first time that all 12 of us were together in one place. It was so nice to get everyone together! Jason took this photo. I swear he was there, too!
They do a great job with this parade. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed it. We had had a wonderful time at breakfast, but the parade became the highlight of the day. The kids (and Mick) were a little restless waiting for the parade to start, but once it did, everyone was entertained.
All of the characters who made appearances around the ship were in the parade as well as a few other bonus characters and costumes and props. The penguins seemed to “remember” Maddie and did a dance in front of us. Other characters danced right in front of us as well.
For the most part, our photos of the parade were terrible! We probably would have been better off to take video, but I don’t think any of us did this time. I really was able to enjoy the parade as Cullen was on my lap, and I wasn’t responsible for taking any photos for once. It’s nice to take a break from that every once in a while!
After the parade, we all went our separate ways. We went back to the room to get on our swimsuits and take the kids to the pool. We were excited about the pool since it had a splash area for the diapered crowd. We thought at first that the whole area that was about 2″ to 6″ of water was suitable for Cullen, but it turns off that he was restricted to a very tiny splash pool. We were apprehended by the pool police and banished to the baby pool. Cullen was not happy, but I was thrilled because the regular splash pool water was FRIGID. The baby splash pool was nice and warm. Cullen’s area is in this photo to the right/front.
Cullen was not happy about being restricted to this tiny pool. We made the best of it, but he couldn’t understand why Maddie could play in the other areas and he was stuck with the babies. He got over it after a little while and splashed around a bit. The whole area is pretty neat with water guns and fountains. Maddie explored more of the area with Daddy. She accidentally stepped from the 3″ splash pool into the 2.5″ pool. Fortunately, Daddy was right next to her when it happened (and I saw it happening from across the way). I yelled to Daddy to save her, and he was quick to scoop her out of the water. She went completely under and was not happy about it, to say the least. Plus, the water was cold! Her favorite was the family hot tub, set to a warm but not dangerously hot temperature for wee ones. I don’t blame her. The water in the regular pools was definitely too cold! Nana and Papa saw us at the pool and took some photos, but I won’t be posting any of me in a bathing suit here (or anywhere, for that matter). Let’s just say that they didn’t come out too well.
We grabbed lunch from the Wipe Out Cafe which is your typical pool area burgers and junk food. It will do in a pinch, but it’s not going to win any awards. Once we figured out where it was (the ship is huge, remember), it was convenient. We ran into Mick and Debbie, and I headed back to the room to shower and get ready for my cupcake decorating class with my mom.
The cupcake class was at The Cupcake Cupboard in the Royal Promenade. Mom and I had signed up for the class weeks ago, and it was fun to do a mother-daughter thing together. We weren’t the only mother-daughter duo in the class.
Our supplies were organized for us, and they gave us step by step instructions on how to make a burger and fries out of cupcakes.
They turned out pretty cute (and tasty)!
Meanwhile, Cullen was napping and Maddie was playing in Grandma and Grandpa’s room. Nana and I went back to get Maddie and Grandma so that Maddie could meet Shrek, Fiona, and Puss in Boots. Maddie was excited, and it’s one of the few times you can get your photo taken with multiple characters. It’s also one of the few meet and greets that they do not allow you to take your own photos. Of course, we had to buy that one.
We joined Papa along the way and headed back to the cabin to check on Cullen’s nap. He woke up a few minutes later, and we all headed to On Air for “Songs with Color in the Title” music trivia. Nana, Papa, Grandma, Gabe, and I formed a team and did pretty well. We had 32 out of 40 points, but we ended up 3rd. Oh well! Maddie fell asleep during our trivia session. The movement of the ship is quite soothing, I guess! And the ship was rocking on our sea days on this cruise!
Gabe and I headed to the meet the penguins again and ride the carousel with the kids. Cullen wanted to meet the penguins, but Maddie was more interested in riding the carousel.
After a few times on the carousel, we decided to try Pets at Sea, which is located next to the carousel. It’s very similar to Build-a-Bear. The kids had fun picking out their special new friends and outfits.
They both picked bunnies with Royal Caribbean sweat suits. Inside each bunny is a star that they used to “make a wish” (well, somehow I don’t think either of them understood that concept).
We went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner and headed to meet Alex the Lion on the way. Alex was huge, but Cullen and Maddie weren’t scared and enjoyed meeting him!
We all paused to get our photo taken together.
We tried to get some photos in front of the Christmas tree, but the kids weren’t too cooperative. We headed to dinner. Mick and Debbie had a show at 7pm, so we had an expedited dinner. My parents had a reservation at 150 Central Park where they had a fabulous dinner.
It was Italian night, and we were disappointed that Mick and Debbie had to leave before we were serenaded by the waitstaff. It’s the same pretty much each cruise, but I enjoy it! Cullen was restless during the meal, and we tried distracting him with Monkey Lunchbox towards the end of the meal. At some point, Jason finished his meal and took Cullen outside to watch the elevators so we could finish our dessert. Clearly, Jason was trying to steal one of our kids again!
Gabe took Cullen back to the cabin for bedtime, and I took Maddie to look at some of the photos. Mom and I had stopped by the photo gallery after our cupcake class. The way that they do the pictures on this ship is really cool! Your sea pass has a number that refers to your carousel and folio number. They use some kind of facial recognition, and I was surprised that almost all of our photos made their way to our folder. We didn’t have to search the walls to find every photo. I loved that system! Since we had two cabins, we had two folios, so we used one for our potential keepers and the other for our rejects. That worked out quite well and helped us narrow down our choices out of dozens of photos.
Melissa, Jason, and I decided to take Maddie to play trivia in the Schooner Bar. Jason took Maddie while Melissa and I stopped by the restroom. When we showed up in the Schooner Bar, the bar tender had offered to bring a Shirley Temple for Maddie. I was concerned that it would be made with a caffeinated soda, but I was relieved to see it was made with Sprite. Maddie had never had a carbonated beverage, and I wasn’t sure I wanted her to have soda! There was no need for me to worry as Maddie had one sip and made a panicky face and said she didn’t like it. I was glad, and I hope that she won’t have soda again for a long time! We ordered her an orange juice instead, despite it not being a complimentary drink in the bar! Maddie happily wiggled and played Monkey Lunchbox while we played Modern TV Theme music trivia. We ended up 3rd again. We keep getting close!
We escorted Maddie back to the cabin, and Melissa, Jason and I spent a few minutes in the casino. It was long enough to lose some money! I did not have much luck in this casino! I came back to the room to let Gabe play real, live poker. He ended up winning about $200 (though we did not end up ahead with our gambling on this trip!). Woohoo! As we predicted, the competition on the ship was fairly soft. Gabe was excited to get in some real poker time.
Day 3 favorites:
Kerry: the parade
Gabe: the parade (though he might also say winning at poker!)
Maddie (according to her): the pool
Cullen (our best guess): maybe the chocolate breakfast? getting a new bunny at Pets at Sea?
I definitely prefer itineraries where the first full day is an “at sea” day. I do like the ports and excursions at times, but my favorite cruise days are sea days! Of course, if we did the same itinerary in the future, I’m pretty sure we would just pretend that Nassau was a sea day, but that’s another story.
The kids were restless at night again and we were all up around 6am. We had to be up early for the first of three DreamWorks character breakfasts (“Rise & Dine!”). The 8am start time is a bit harsh for all three at sea days, but most days we’re up with plenty of time to get ready anyway.
We had made our reservations weeks (months?) in advance. My parents had already gone in, and they were unsure of how many of our total 12 people were going to be at the table this morning. Because of that, they gave us two tables of 6. It turned out to be a great mix up because we had the best seats in the house!
The character breakfasts are also “chocolate breakfasts” with selections on the menu with and without chocolate as well as chocolate pastries. I felt a little guilty about the state of Cullen’s chair at the end of the meal, but then again whose idea was it to have a kids’ chocolate breakfast?
They don’t tell you ahead of time which characters are coming to each breakfast. We got the idea that there would be two Madagascar breakfasts and a Shrek breakfast. This was the first of the two Madagascar breakfasts, and Mort was up first. Our two tables were the best place to see each character arrive and dance. We were in this “island” area with only about 6 tables, so we felt pretty special indeed.
Our photos from the character breakfast didn’t come out so well. That didn’t stop us from taking a ton! Dad was the first one of us to meet Mort.
Cullen started to warm up to the characters at this breakfast, but he still wasn’t quite sure.
Next were the penguins!!! We took that opportunity to get a group photo of all of us (Melissa’s parents weren’t at this breakfast).
The penguins always had a lot of personality with their silly antics.
Cullen was excited about the chocolate laced pastries.
Gloria was the last of the characters at this breakfast. The kids tried to give her a big hug.
After breakfast, we headed to the Boardwalk where we thought we might ride the carousel a few times. It wasn’t running. We hadn’t yet figured out the schedule for the carousel, but I think it typically didn’t start until 10am. We spent some time at the play structure next to Rita’s Cantina.
The kids enjoyed climbing and sliding and climbing and sliding. As long as we had an adult at either end of the structure, it was fairly relaxing to let them climb and slide.
Cullen posed for some more photos.
Since the carousel wasn’t open, Debbie decided that she wanted to go and do the zip line! Our first mission was to find Mick. We knew he’d probably be somewhere on the pool decks, so we headed up to Deck 15. We searched for a little while and finally found him basking in the sun. When we got to the zip line, we saw Melissa’s parents and learned that Melissa and Jason were waiting to take their turn on the zip line! We had to wait a little bit, but we could see that the carousel was running again (since we were directly above it). Gabe and his mom took the kids back down to the carousel, and I took video of Melissa and Jason ziplining.
The zipline experience is very short (less than 10 seconds), but it’s a pretty cool thing to do. Melissa, Jason, and Dad were the only ones who ended up actually doing it. Debbie was ready to do it, but they closed the line RIGHT before she stepped up to wait her turn. She was disappointed! Some of the rest of us thought we might do it, but we never got around to it or made it a priority. Oh, well. That’s something to do next time, I guess!
The kids took a few spins on the carousel before the “Move It” parade.
We might have gotten our money’s worth for the cruise based solely on our rides on the carousel. Seriously, this was the greatest thing for the kids. They could have ridden it all day for 7 days.
Next up…the Move It parade and cupcakes and the rest of day 2 (maybe I can fit it in one more post? maybe?)…