All Aboard!

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After two days of play in Miami the day had finally arrived to board our cruise ship.

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We were booked for a five day cruise to the Bahamas aboard Norwegian Sky. Everyone was pumped up and eager to get to the Port of Miami where we would be boarding the ship, but before we could start phase two of our adventure, we had to take care of some business. Namely, returning our rental car to the airport.

So, at 10:30 am Toby dropped the seven of us off at the port with all our bags and left to drop off the car. We knew that it would take Toby an hour or two to drop off the car and catch a taxi back to the port to join us, so we planned accordingly. We found a spot of ground where we could set up camp, and pulled out the games Rusty had packed in his bag.

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We kept ourselves entertained for almost two hours with endless rounds of miniature UNO and LRC. While we played we enjoyed people watching, as guests from the last cruise disembarked and the new guests lined up to go through security.

When Toby arrived we gathered up our gear and joined the throngs of other vacationers in line. After wending our way through security and check-in, we found a bank of chairs in the massive waiting room where travelers are held until the ship is ready to open its doors to the next group of guests.

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We didn’t have to wait long before our group was called to come aboard. As we walked up the gangway to the ship, everyone got their first glimpse of what would be their home away from home for the next five days. Despite how impressive the cruise ships appear from a distance, nothing really prepares you for the enormity of those “floating cities” until you are stepping aboard.

For Rusty, Molly, Braden and Tyler…all first time cruisers…the impact was even greater.

We boarded the cruise ship sporting our new t-shirts, “Cruise Squad 2020.”

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We were ready to get this vacation started!

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We began by snaking our way to the top deck where a buffet of food was waiting.

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It was the kids’ first glimpse into the unending smorgasbord of food that would be enjoyed over the next five days. Everyone made a plate and we found tables outside where we could soak up the sun and take in the view while feasting.

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All the kids were blown away by the vast variety and quantity of food that was available at no cost, 24 hours a day.

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They had a hard time believing this was reality. When we confirmed that this was indeed the case, Rusty looked at us with awe, asking, “You mean I can come up here anytime I want and get a plate of fries?”

We nodded our affirmation, “Yep!”

He thought he had died and gone to heaven, and he wasn’t alone! All the kids were enamored by the unending ice cream station, pizza shop, crepe station and the endless desserts offered in between their Hobbit meal schedule of eight meals a day.

After everyone was feeling full, fat, and sassy, we headed out to explore the ship. The individual guest rooms were still being cleaned from the guests that had disembarked hours earlier, but we were allowed to explore the common areas of the ship. We walked around, acquainting ourselves with the layout of the ship, and taking note of the many areas we wanted to return to over the next five days.

We wandered from floor to floor checking out the many attractions scattered across the ship including: stores, restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, arcades, spas and even libraries on the ship.

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While we wandered we stopped at Entourage, the teen club, to sign Tyler up.

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This hang out is equipped with activities for guests ages 13-17 to enjoy. As we looked over the activity schedule Tyler expressed a desire to join the teen club, despite the fact he would be on his own. The other two boys were too old to join him, so while they spent the week taking part in other activities throughout the ship, Tyler took full advantage of the awesome activities planned by the teen staff.

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He made friends and spent many hours a day away from the family, hanging out with other teen guests on the cruise.

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It was such a great opportunity for Tyler to step outside his comfort zone and he loved the freedom of coming and going at will, hanging out with peers.

This was also nice for Toby and I, as we were able to enjoy periods of non-parenting relaxation.

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After touring the interior of the ship we headed back to the top deck where newly arrived guests were congregating around the pool where live music was playing in preparation for our sail away celebration.

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Braden migrated to the basketball courts, an area where he would spend MANY hours over the next five days!

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He and Tyler shot baskets while the rest of us headed to the shuffleboard area to play…

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Soon after we had enjoyed a few competitive games of this classic shipboard game…

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an announcement was made that guests could now access their guest rooms. We headed to the 7th floor where Rusty and Braden were sharing a room,

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Molly and Tyler were roommates,

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And Grace and Zach were shacked up.

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Our room, which had been booked in the same hallway as the kids, had been upgraded to a window suite on the 10th floor. What a lovely surprise!

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At 5:00 we left the port and headed to sea.

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After the mandatory lifeboat drill we were free to begin enjoying the ship.

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Our evening began with dinner in the formal dinner where we enjoyed an AMAZING dinner…one of many over the next week.

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We were seated by the window were we got to watch the sun sink behind the ocean as we ate.

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At each meal in the formal dinning room we were given menus to peruse.

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Guests could pick out an appetizer, main course and dessert.

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Some items on the menu were staples but many changed from night to night and it was always fun to see what new fare was being offered that evening!

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The food was UNBELIEVABLE…both a feast for the taste buds, as well as for the eyes. I couldn’t resist documenting our plates all week in pictures. I could make a foodie scrapbook with all the pictures I took of our meals. Is it sad that I have more photos on my camera of the food I ate then of myself?! I couldn’t help it. The presentation was so appealing.

After dinner we headed to the first show of the evening.

As the week went on we fell into a sort of daily schedule that included meeting for breakfast every morning at 8:00 am where we went over the day and the excursions we would be doing as a family, and then again at 5:30 for dinner in the formal dinning room. This allowed us to have set “connection times” as a family, while allowing for individual activities apart from each other during other times of the day. Usually at dinner we would look over the evening schedule of activities and take note of what events everyone wanted to attend, pairing off accordingly. For many of the bigger evening shows we would all meet up and sit together in the theater. On that first night we all went together to two, back-to-back interactive game shows where we competed as a family against other teams.

One was a “Family Feud” type game show where we had to guess the most popular responses to certain questions. Braden was our team’s runner, racing to make sure we weren’t the last team to submit an answer. It was so much fun!

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The next game show was “Name that Tune.” The crowd was split into two groups that competed against each other by being the first to name the song played by the band, and secondly by have team members finish singing the words to the song. Grace and Molly killed it with their Mama Mia knowledge, but we all ended up pitching in, pushing our team to victory.

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It was an awesome start to what would be an incredible week.

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Day two: We would be headed back into port.

Key West, here we come!

 

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