Here we are on vacation at last! We’re taking a trans-Atlantic cruise from Florida to Rome, our first big family vacation with Carter. Doug and I have always traveled together, and we were determined to keep traveling even after we had children, even though we knew the experience would be different. Here’s where we start to find out just how different...
We got up Sunday morning and took our time getting packed up, then took a taxi to the cruise ship terminal. Doug had said he had a surprise for me (our anniversary is coming up), and had been teasing me about when I would get it. He’d said on Saturday night I would get it Sunday, and though I had a short list of possibilities in my head, I still had no idea what it might be.
It turned out that the surprise was that Doug had upgraded our room to the penthouse suite! And it’s gorgeous, OMG! It’s about 1500 square feet in all, including a big balcony. There is a separate bedroom with a HUGE bathroom, a stocked wet bar, a dining room, and multiple televisions. The deck is really big and has comfy chairs and a whirlpool tub big enough for all three of us to get in. There’s even a baby grand piano in the room – who needs a piano on a cruise ship??? Ha! Here is a slide show of pictures of the room.
The room is actually very baby-proof, which makes sense if you think about how much a ship might get tossed around. There are lovely breakable objects on shelves, but they’re glued down, for example. We also have a butler named Rikki! He’s nice, and his job is to take care if us, pretty much.
Here are some pictures of Carter checking out the room.
So far it’s been a lot of fun, though it’s definitely a different experience traveling with Carter. One of the things I didn’t do that I should have was to think about this experience from Carter’s perspective. It didn’t really occur to me until a day or so into the trip that Carter doesn’t understand that we’re on vacation. All he knows is that his world has suddenly, inexplicably, changed. His home is different, and his toys are different and his routine is different, and he’s in this weird place that seems to be populated almost entirely by senior citizens who like to come up to him and pinch his cheeks. In other words, he’s a little overwhelmed.
The first clue I should have recognized was that he was really freaked out by the lifeboat drill. The sight of all those people in bright orange life jackets was a bit too much for him! And then that night we went to the main dining room, which is loud and big and bright, and full of people. Poor Carter was overwhelmed and started screaming, and we ended up taking turns eating while the other walked around in the lobby with him.
After that, we decided to take advantage of the fact that we can take our meals in our room. We were already having breakfast in the room, and it turns out that in the penthouse suite, you can order the same dinner as you would get in the dining room. We did that the second night and it was a lot better! Carter was much happier, and we realized we liked it better in the room anyway.
The other nice thing about having this huge room is that there is plenty of space for Carter to crawl around and play. When he naps or goes to sleep at night, we can close the bedroom door and still watch TV, talk, etc. It’s a little harder to go stir crazy in such a nice, big room.
The first five days of this cruise are at sea while we cross the ocean, which means we don’t have anything to do but hang out. We’ve explored the ship a bit, but mostly we’ve focused on getting Carter settled into a routine. There’s a children’s play area on the ship that we can take him to, where he can play with some fun toys and crawl around. If he was over 3 we could leave him there to play and go do things by ourselves – something to think about in the future!
We have been getting in the whirlpool on the deck in the evening for Carter’s bath, and he really likes that. He likes his nightly bath anyway, but he seems to especially enjoy that it’s a big bathtub for all of us. As soon as Doug starts to fill the tub, he gets really excited and goes to stand next to it to watch. He’s going to sleep really easily, which is a relief. Sleeping is not an issue these days; it’s more the awake time that we’re trying to figure out how to help him with. He is clearly confused about why we’re here and needs extra support. We’re hoping that in a few days he’ll get used to being on the ship and we’ll be able to go out and explore a little more.
In the meantime, we’re just playing it by ear. We’ve found that the lunch buffet works well for us, for example. It’s not as overwhelming as the dining room, and the food is immediately available. Carter is definitely a good eater, so luckily that’s not an issue! Yesterday we went to the wine bar in the afternoon and were able to hang out there for about an hour before Carter got bored.
Tonight we have a babysitter from 5-8 while Doug and I go to an early dinner. We’ll see how that goes! If it works out, we’ll do that every few days to get a little grownup time. Carter is still a little freaked out and so has been extra clingy to me, so this may be a bad idea, heh. We’ll see!
Everyone has been really nice so far. I wasn’t sure how people would react to us bringing a baby on the cruise, but the vast majority of the other cruisers are senior citizens who like to come over and coo over him and tell us about their grandchildren. There are 4 other babies on the ship, but we haven’t run into any of them yet. One woman on an elevator asked me how old Carter was, and then said, “I left my baby at home, and I miss him.” I asked how old her son was, and she said 8 months. Eight months. 0_o I can’t even leave Carter for more than a few hours before I miss him too much to function. I can’t imagine leaving a baby that young for 2 weeks!
We’re about a third of the way across the Atlantic at the moment, and we’re currently two hours ahead of east coast time. Every night we turn the clocks forward one hour, so by the time we get to Europe we’ll be adjusted. It’s actually a nice way to deal with the time change compared to flying over and doing 8 hours all at once.
Not much else is happening now, but I’ll continue to try to take pictures and post about what we’re doing. :-)