This trip was sponsored by Royal Caribbean. All opinions are my own.
We just returned from our trip with Royal Caribbean on their Oasis of the Seas 8-day Solar Eclipse cruise. Yep, I said that right – a SOLAR ECLIPSE CRUISE!! What is a solar eclipse cruise you might be asking!? Remember the Great American Eclipse that we just had at the end of August? Yeah, well the ship intentionally sailed along the path where we could view the eclipse in full totality and see the entire sun covered by the moon. We watched the eclipse from the top deck. The day fell dark and it was an amazing. It was a truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget. To make our trip even more exciting, leading up to the cruise we had an incredible celebration on board. The ship passed out solar eclipse glasses to everyone and just before the eclipse, we celebrated with a concert from DNCE and Bonnie Tyler. She sang her famous song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and then sang it AGAIN DURING THE ECLIPSE! How amazing is that?! We caught a lot of it on video and in case you haven’t seen our video post yet, you can see our video recap HERE.
Taking a cruise for our family vacation was amazing. The #1 reason that I kept coming back to was the fact that your room is literally an elevator away. Anytime the kids needed a nap or the littlest one got fussy, we rode an elevator up for a break. And you don’t feel bad for missing anything either because there is non-stop action on the ship. There is something to do at every hour of the day and night! From shows, parades, karaoke, carousel, rock climbing, pools and eating yummy food, no matter the hour of the day there is always something to do.
Here are 7 things to know before booking your first cruise with little ones
((SCROLL DOWN TO SEE OUR VACATION PHOTOS!!)
Research Family-Friendly Cruise Lines
Our experience was amazing and a big part of the reason was the fact that Royal Caribbean caters to families. The shows and activities their ships have onboard are perfect for the whole family. There is something for each age group. My kids loved going to Adventure Ocean® a few nights on the ship when my husband and I went to dinner. I mean c’mon, a kid-free sushi dinner on the ocean, how does that not sound amazing?? One night in Adventure Ocean® they had the kids dress up and put on a show for us in the kid’s theatre. My girls had a blast! My kids also loved to be by the pool almost every day that we were on the ship. The kiddie pool was perfect for my little man and I have to mention the Boardwalk area where they had a carousel and character meet & greets with their favorite Dreamworks characters. If you have older kids or teens, there are even designated places for the older kids to play. Like I said, there is literally something for everyone. 🙂
Bring a Single Umbrella Stroller
Royal Caribbean’s ships are HUGE. The ship we were on, Oasis of the Seas, is the largest cruise boat in the world. You will need a stroller if you are traveling with little ones. Even our 4 and 5-year-old took breaks occasionally and sat in the stroller when our 2-year-old wanted to walk. With that said, leave your bulky single or double stroller at home and opt for an umbrella stroller, not only is it easier to travel with but the hallways to your staterooms are very narrow. You will want something that you can easily maneuver in tight spaces. But a stroller is a definite must!
Communicate with your ship’s crew before you leave on your trip and let them know if you have any special diet restrictions or food allergies. My son has multiple food allergies and it was one of my fears traveling with him. To put it short, Royal Caribbean was nothing less than AMAZING and accommodating. They arranged for my son’s special foods to be prepared at every single restaurant we ate at. He was brought a plate at each sitting that was specific to what we requested, and we had no issues the entire 8-days we traveled. They basically told me, if he needs something and we don’t have it, we will get it. If we wanted to feed him in the room prior to us going to dinner, they arranged for us to order it to be delivered to our room. Truly accommodating. The food on the ship is amazing and in case you don’t know already, your food and drinks are all-inclusive!! There is FREE SOFT-SERVE ice cream, any time of the day, whenever you want (kids dream)! There are other speciality restaurants that you can eat at that aren’t included, like the Sushi restaurant we ate at called Izumi, I highly recommend you try those speciality restaurants, they’re amazing!
Take Frequent Breaks
Traveling with kids is a much different experience than when it was just you and your hubs traveling. Go with the flow and take breaks as needed. As I mentioned before, the best thing about a cruise is that your room is literally an elevator away. We woke up early most cruise days, that is, the days that we were sailing and didn’t port, we ate breakfast then we either took off exploring the ship or we headed to the pool. Everyone exerted a ton of energy pretty early and when we saw that everyone needed a rest, we headed up to the 11th floor to our stateroom for a nap. Some days the kids napped for 20 minutes, some days longer and some days we just needed quiet time to rest. Take as much time as you want, then head back down for a dinner and a show. It’s your vacation and your schedule is whatever you want it to be!!
Book the right Excursions
You and your family will have the option to book off-shore excursions at the different islands you will port at. Our favorite excursions were beach days hands down! I found that beach days were the most relaxing for us as a family, and that is because my kids are still really young, so they had the most fun when there was no agenda or schedule. The girls can literally paddle around in the water for hours and our littlest one loves to sit in the sand and look for shells. On our last port day, we traveled to Nassau, Bahamas and we went to Blue Lagoon Island. We had lunch, played in the crystal clear water and the kids even got to get their faces painted. This had to have been one of the highlights of our trip. One of our days we traveled to the gorgeous island of St. Thomas and went on the Coral Land & Sea excursion and went to the aquarium. Except that this was no regular aquarium. The aquarium was actually a huge building that went below sea level and had windows all across the bottom so that you could see the fish in their natural habitats. My kind of aquarium!! If your family is on the more adventurous side there are excursions like snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and even helicopter rides!
Now I have to first say that I am a sensitive person when it comes to nausea. I cannot even ride in the passenger seat of the car when my husband drives or I will start feeling sick. Now, let me tell you that I did not feel sick once on the ship. Royal Caribbean’s cruise boats are so huge that it doesn’t even feel like you’re moving most of the time. I added in this tip though because it was the very first thing some of my friends asked me when I returned from the trip – Did you get sick?? Apparently, I have a lot of friends who are now interested in cruising but are scared they will get seasick. No one in our family got sick or felt nauseated at any point, but there are meds that you can bring as a just in case type of thing. I have heard that patches are great and there are even bands you can wear that help with nausea. Bring some along if you are scared but don’t let this fear stop you from taking a cruise! Trust me when I say, it’s worth the risk! Oh, and to calm your fears, even more, there is a full medical staff onboard each cruise ship that can handle almost everything. I found this to be quite impressive.
Whatever your kids like to do or play with, bring them. From books to tablets to bath toys, bring them! These are great for those rest times when you head back to your stateroom. They also help the little ones by bringing some familiarity to a new place. You can see what our oceanview family stateroom looked like in this post, my husband gives a mini-tour. You can see that we had a shower and my kids do well with showers, but if you have a little one who loves baths, you might consider bringing a small baby pool too if that is what they like.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that we were cruising on the biggest ship in the world. I think our ship had around 5,000 passengers on it. Yep, you read that right, 5,000 people and that doesn’t include the crew! The thing to note about this is the fact that it never felt like that. There were never any crowds, we had many nights of long, peaceful walks on the deck where we felt like we were the only ones still awake. There were never any lines to get on the carousel and the baby pool never felt overcrowded. I think that is a good testament to the fact that there are literally endless things to do on the ship. We spent 8-days on our cruise and there were still things that we didn’t get a chance to do.
I can’t say it enough. Our trip was amazing and I can’t fit all of our vacation photos into this one post, so stay tuned because Part 2 is coming soon! But for now, here is some of our trip in photos.