We enjoyed a relaxing family vacation last week.
That’s the first time I can ever recall thinking that way after a trip with my children. I usually am relieved to a degree to get home because I’m so exhausted.
Family vacations with kids, ages 10 and 9, are simply not known for being restful, but in our case last week truly was for the most part.
We took the boys on our third Disney cruise last week with stops in ports in the western Caribbean. On this cruise, we were thankful for the time we had to enjoy ourselves while our kids took part in all the supervised and planned activities aboard. The kids were taking part in gatherings with other kids every day of the cruise. Disney understands entertaining the kids for portions of the day and evening helps to make a wonderful vacation for the parents.
Since the parents are not allowed in the areas where these kids activities are taking place, we were on our own with assurances we would be reached if they needed us. We assumed with our special needs son, Carson, in the mix we may hear from them a couple times a day for behaviors or not understanding what he wants because he’s non-verbal. Truth be told, we were only contacted once by the kids’ club folks, and it was about an accident involving an exit sign falling on Beckett, who jumped to touch it in one of the hallways.
•When we were not in port, and sometimes even when we were, our days involved breakfast with our kids, some pool time or game playing on the sports deck and then lunch with them. By mid-day, the boys were ready for the kids club for afternoon activities. That’s when Pam and I would head to the adult-only decks and enjoy our afternoons. It was heavenly.
It was during one of these lazy afternoons when I recalled thinking five years ago I was not a cruise person. I was wrong. I thought the crowds in a confined area would be too much. That is not the case at all on a Disney cruise. While there are 4,000 customers on board the massive ship, it doesn’t feel like it one bit.
The whole concept behind the cruise is to provide opportunities for parents and kids to enjoy themselves independently. In our case, Pam and I were able to relax alone together for hours at a time each day while the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. A vacation should be about making family memories, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with a heaping dose of rest and relaxation. This cruise checked both boxes.
•On the ship, Carson had an entire culinary team at his disposal. It was amazing.
Being gluten and dairy free, eating out for him can be challenging. We can always find something for him, such as a hamburger or grilled chicken, but his options are typically limited.
On this trip, Carson ate like a king. He had a wide range of options, including pizza, pasta, chicken tenders, seafood, cookies and breads. The best part for him was the gluten- and dairy-free dessert options the chef made available for him daily. Each night he was surprised with different sweet selections.
When it came for the last night and the choice was his for his final dessert, it was an easy call – a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sundae. While there was certainly sugar in it, the sundae was made so he could have it. The delight on his face each night when the desserts came out was priceless.
To top things off the kitchen team gave us six boxes of cookies he could eat on the way home because they knew we had a long drive home.
Of course, he’s still working on those at home.
•Like most parents, we always ask our kids the favorite part of their trips. For Carson, it was the kids club and having his own private chef all week.
For Beckett, it was the late-night rides on the onboard water coaster ride with me. One night I even lost our room key on the ride, leading to a massive search and quiet knocks on our room door to try and wake up Pam without awakening Carson. We retraced our steps a couple times while laughing hilariously at the fact it was almost midnight before finally heading to guest services and getting a new key. When I asked the attendant if there were any security questions for me, she made me feel silly, which Beckett loved. He likes when I’m made fun of I think. She said, “no Mr. Green we have numerous photos of you right here to confirm who you are.”
The other highlight for him was nightly karaoke appearances in the club. Pam would take him each night. He would sit with the teenagers and carry on waiting for his turn. He evidently learned some new terms, which we are not crazy about. Nonetheless, when his time came to sing, he thrived and relished the applause. He was a star, even if it was just for a few minutes late night in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
•What was the highlight for me? Along with all the fun memories made with my family, I have to say it was afternoon napping, which is a foreign concept to me. With the kids occupied, no Internet service purchased and nothing but blue skies and a breeze every day, I enjoyed short daily siestas in the adult-only area.
I was missing those this week.