Over Thanksgiving my husband, Henry and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas, which wasn't nearly as glamorous or relaxing as it sounds. It was a gift from my parents, who treated my entire extended family (three sisters, two brothers-in-law, two nieces, two nephews, and us). My parents' gifts aren't normally this extravagant, but my dad isn't doing very well and my mom wanted to have us all together for a few days.
I like most of my family and I like to travel, but a four-day cruise with a toddler and my relatives is not exactly the vacation I would have chosen. Still, it was free and it was important to my mom, so we went.
Thanksgiving morning we got up at 4am, drove to the airport, and met my family at the terminal. Here's Henry with his twenty-year-old cousin, comparing a wooden toy airplane with the real thing:
I was mostly worried about Henry having a tough time with all the changes and stress of travel. (I also worried about Henry getting snatched at the airport, the plane crashing, a contagious illness spreading through the ship, us all getting sea sick, Henry falling overboard, and the boat sinking.)
But he was amazing. We brought his stroller along and he rode in it the majority of the time, content just to be out and about. He was fine on the plane and bus rides to and from the ship and fine on the ship itself. His fear of elevators evaporated to the point that he was signing "more" when he spotted one.
He napped wherever and whenever he needed to, and at night he slept about the same as he does at home. Which is not to say he slept well. At bedtime, nursing didn't work, so I resorted to narrating a typical day at home, talking about all his toys, what we eat, the errands we run, etc. At one point my husband jumped up to turn off the overhead fan, saying, "I can't hear the story." Expecting a heartfelt "well done" when Henry was finally asleep, I instead heard gentle snoring from both of them.
Our cabin was not designed with toddlers in mind. Not only were the light switches all within Henry's reach, the one for the bathroom was outside the bathroom door. He could also open the door to the hallway, because even when it was locked a turn of the knob from inside unlocked it. The only outlet was also at Henry level, making using a curling iron a tricky proposition for me.
One nice feature of our room that Henry loved was the window above our bed. We pushed two twins together and up against the wall to make one big family bed, and he liked to stand on it and check out the view.
We spent most of our time out of our cabin, though. The main action was on the top deck, and when we were near the railing we put Henry in a harness:
(Yeah, I put my kid on a leash. I told you, I had fears.)
Henry wasn't allowed in any of the pools since he isn't potty-trained, which is probably just as well since he's recently developed a fear of bathtime. But he was pretty happy just running (or strolling) around. There was lots to see.
Every night we ate dinner in the formal, sit-down restaurant, which was sometimes challenging with Henry. Our servers, however, were incredibly nice. The people who worked on the ship were from all over the world, and several of them told us that they had kids back home. One of our waiters, who created a mouse out of a napkin and made it scurry and squeak for Henry, also had a son born in August of 2005, and said he only got home two months out of the year. If I ever whine about needing a break from Henry, remind me of this, okay?
One of the nicest things about the trip, in fact, was how friendly everyone was to Henry. Employees and other passengers all smiled at him, or patted his head, or talked to him constantly. When we came home and went to Target it felt strange that no one commented on how cute he was or tried to get him to smile.
Friday was our day off the ship in Nassau. The weather was perfect. Naturally, Henry slept through most of our walk around the island.
It wasn't as picturesque as I thought it was going to be, and there was a lot of traffic, but it had some charm.
Henry woke up as we were making our way to the ship. He loved taking his time going down the pedestrian walkways.
The toughest day was Saturday. It was the "Day at Sea" and unless you enjoy sitting by the pool drinking, gambling, shopping, or watching things like "The Hairiest Chest Contest," there's not a lot to do on a cruise ship.
Sunday was a bit trying as well. We had to clear out of our cabin by 8am and wait in the lounge for our luggage tag color to be called, which took about two hours. Clearing customs also took some time, though luckily Henry fell asleep right in the middle of it. This was followed by another 45-minute bus ride to the Orlando airport, which Henry continued to sleep through. He woke up at the airport and had fun running around while we waited to board our plane.
There were a few other kids waiting at our gate. Two of them, little boys age maybe three and five, strengthened my resolve to keep Henry away from television and movies for a while. They ran around with toy swords threatening other kids and their parents clearly had no clue how to deal with them. Ironically, when another passenger asked if the boys were playing "Pirates of the Caribbean" their mom said, "No, it's Pirates of the Caribbean TWO."
All in all, it was an experience, and it was nice to know that Henry can really roll with things, but it's good to be home.