Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Carnival Caribbean Cruise {Part 1 - The Ship and Our First Days at Sea}

Over the week of Thanksgiving my family decided we wanted to take a tropical vacation somewhere and after looking into a lot of different options, we finally decided that a cruise would be the most economical for 5 of us and probably the most fun for our crew.  We told the grandparents about our plans and they decided to join us, too!  We had so much fun and the kids thought it was the trip of a lifetime. 

I took what seems like a million pictures during our 8 day cruise and have been putting off writing about it because, honestly, it just seems too daunting of a task with SO much to share. However, I have had so many people asking out our trip and how we liked the cruise, what ship we went on and if I would recommend the trip to others so I decided it was finally time to sit down and write these posts.  I'm going to break it into a few different posts focusing on different aspects of the trip. I apologize in advance for the picture and information overload.  If you aren't interested at all in a cruise then we'll see you back here next week.  Otherwise, read on!  

The Mr. and I actually went on a cruise for our honeymoon and I will say this experience was COMPLETELY different than what I remember from that. Traveling on a cruise as a family with children was great, just different.  I'm sure things have changed a lot in 14 years, but also everything you do with kids is just more.  More work, more fun, more tiring, more exciting...just more! 

Leading up to the trip I had shown the kids pictures and told them about what to expect on the cruise, but it was still hard for them to really grasp and understand what it would be like.  One of them asked, "So it will be like the houseboat, but bigger?"  I gave them a definite NO!  Nothing like the houseboat.  

We drove to central Florida on Friday night and then drove over to Port Canaveral on Saturday morning to board our ship, Carnival Sunshine. The kids were SO excited!!!  

Then as we crossed the bridge and saw all of the cruise ships lined up they started cheering and pointing and the excitement was contagious.  

The boarding process was pretty seamless and reminded me of going through an airport security/check-in process.  Once on board the ship we found our room, dropped our carry on bags and saw where we would be sleeping for the next 7 nights.  We opted for one room and the cabin was WAY smaller than I remembered.  Like tiny and I had to crawl over everyone just to get out of bed and use the bathroom kind of tiny.  However, it worked.  We would do that differently next time and get two rooms, but it was cozy for the week and we did a lot of family bonding!  

We opted for an interior room mostly because it was the more economical choice.  A balcony room would have been nice, but honestly we prefer the interior cabins. It's always dark which means we can all sleep in each day and when I'm on vacation, my idea of relaxing is sleeping in!  

We went exploring around the ship and ran into some fun characters along the way! 

We decided to check out the Sports Square area and all of the activities up on the top for the kids...also known as where we would spend the majority of our time on this ship. 

From water slides to mini-golf, foosball and giant life-sized games like Checkers and Twister, there was SO much to offer. 

The kids jumped right into foosball, the first of MANY games during the week. 

They also gave the mini-golf a go.  Boo-Boo declared this his very favorite part of the ship and all week long he wanted to go "golfing." 

After grabbing a quick bite to eat we got ready for the sail away party and my kids boogied with the best of them. It was fun, upbeat and a good time for everyone! 

We pulled way and set sail just as the sun was setting. 

That night we got changed for dinner and ran into more fun characters on our way to the dining room. 

Each evening when we returned to our cabin the kids were SO happy to see the towel animals that were left for us.  We pretty much crashed that night from all of the go, go, go of the day. 

The next morning we woke up out in the middle of the sea!  It was so cool to look around and see nothing but ocean.  We spent the first two full days of our cruise at sea so we had plenty of time to take advantage of all the ship had to offer.  My mom had promised the kids a trip to the candy shop on board and they were in heaven!  

One thing I loved about cruising with kids was really seeing and doing it all.  There were activities every hour and we could have spent the day by the pool all day (although it was crowded on our sea days) but because they were excited to learn and see all the ship had to offer it forced us to do all sort of fun things we wouldn't have otherwise.  

One fun activity they were really interested in attending was the towel folding class.  We got their early and didn't realize it, but we walked into the morning show that was hosted by the cruise director and broadcast live around the ship.  They asked Blondie to come on stage and tell what she was enjoying about the cruise, but she was too shy, so the other two went up in her spot! 

They told jokes and chatted with them for a while, which was fun! Then the towel folding class began and members of the housekeeping staff shared their secrets to turn ordinary towels into all sorts of different animals! 

After that we stayed up on the top deck a while and Little Mama got up the courage to try the ropes course.  It looked as if you were going out over the ocean and probably would have terrified me, but she was so brave and did great! 

There was also a lot of golfing happening on our days at sea and he was perfecting his game. 

In between all of this activity was a lot of eating yummy food and it was great because of the huge selections for breakfast and lunch.  Ton of people in the dining rooms at all times of the day, but no one can complain that they went hungry.  The kids always ended their meals off with a dessert and the self-starve ice cream station was their favorite! 

One thing I really enjoyed was having everyone get all dressed up each night for dinner.  It's rare that my little guy wears anything but sports clothes and it was fun to see him all spiffy each night.  

After dinner we would usually hang out in one of the pubs with more games and more foosball while waiting on the show.  

The performers on the ship were SO great and super talented.  They had different themed shows each night and kept us entertained all week long! 

We also spent a lot of time in the sports bar area.  The TV in our room got a few channels, but in the sports bar area we were able to catch most the games we wanted to see including this night when we were cheering for the Falcons!  

Whew! I'm going to have to stop there because this post is already super long!  Tomorrow I'll be sharing about the wonderful ports we stopped at along with some other fun things we did on the ship. Then on Friday I'll be back sharing about the special dining options, Green Eggs and Ham breakfast event and all the tips, tricks and pieces of advice I learned along the way if anyone is considering a trip like this.  If there is anything you want to know or have questions about, just leave it in the comments and I'll be sure to answer!  

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