I very seldom hand over the reigns to my blog, but when my 4-year-old son Ryder requested to guest blog on my site, I just couldn’t resist. Long time readers will remember the last time he did so – over two years ago – with his piece, “Big Brother Blues“. This time, the subject matter is much more cheery: our recent adventure with Fisher-Price aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas.
Of course, he may have employed a ghost writer to help just a little – but I promise, the opinions are all his own. And fair warning – it’s a lengthy, detailed account of his entire time on the cruise ship – but if you’re looking to take a family vacation in the near future, you really should read what he has to say. Take it away Ryder!
Hello Readers! It’s Ryder again, Lena’s boy. Two weeks ago, my mom – along with her fellow #FisherPriceMoms – took our family on a great big cruise ship. In fact, it was the biggest cruise ship in the entire world! At first I was scared because it meant leaving home for one full week, and then I was sad because I realized that I had to miss school (which I’ve recently come to love). But when we walked onto the ship, it was like I was entering another world. My Mommy kept using the word “majestic” over and over, and my Daddy said “freaking huge” a lot. To me, it was simply my sweet little dreams come to life.
Our first night there, we had a chance to meet all the other families and children who would be traveling with us. My Mommy calls these women #FisherPriceMoms, and they’re just the nicest Moms ever. And, they had a few pretty cute daughters, if you know what I mean…. but more on that later. Our first night was simply magical, because my Mommy and Daddy were so at peace. Long after Reid fell asleep, I stayed awake and peeked at them through lidded lashes. They sat on the balcony, quietly talking while my Mommy’s hair swayed in the breeze. I’ve never seen her so restful in the evening, and my Daddy was grinning from ear to ear. I knew it would be a wonderful trip.
The next day, I woke bright and early, ready to spend the day with my family. But, my Mommy had other plans. She took me to a place called “Adventure Ocean” – a place where I could spend time with other children while she attended to business. Since I’m four, I was enrolled in the “Aquanauts” program, where I had the chance to learn about local customs, do cool science experiments, make great new friends – or just hang out and play with toys.
I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t know why Mommy left me, and I didn’t want to play with the other kids. I wanted Reid! Where was my baby brother? I sat in the corner and cried, and stayed there until Mommy returned two hours later. Doesn’t she know that strange situations make me anxious? I was so relieved to see her. I made her promise not to send me back there again, and she promised – though I could tell she was concerned.
(Later, I heard her tell my Daddy that Adventure Ocean was meant to be a wonderful place for children to have fun, so parents could enjoy their vacation too. But you know what? That works for some families, not all – because every child is different. They then decided that the best way to enjoy our first family vacation was to just spend it together. I was so relieved. Reid was asleep, as usual. The dude misses all the good stuff!)
And that’s when the trip really got good for me, because I spent a lot of time with my family, had the most amazing experiences and precious memories, and even had a chance to feel sand in between my toes. It was epic.
Later that day we had a chance to walk around the entire ship for the first time. Since I’m a car buff, I appreciated the little things – like a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K casually parked in the middle of the Royal Promenade. In this “neighbourhood”, there were also shops, restaurants and even a Starbucks, where I would stand in line with Daddy every single morning. I don’t get it dude, it’s just coffee!
That evening, Mommy dressed us up for a “formal night”. It must have been a pretty big deal, because everyone was dressed so nicely – some men were even wearing tuxedos! Reid and I enjoyed the best chicken fingers we had ever had, and Daddy couldn’t stop raving about fwaw-graw or something like that (it didn’t look very appetizing). Now with My Time Family Dining, the kids can be served their meals first and then picked up by Adventure Ocean staff, so their parents can enjoy the rest of the dinner in peace. I gave Mommy one look that said “please-please-please don’t send me away” and we enjoyed dinner as a family for the rest of the cruise. It was fine! I don’t think she minded. Not much, anyways.
The next day, Tuesday, was simply AWESOME. We visited our first port of call, Labadee, Haiti! I had never been on a beach before and was excited to play in the sand with Reid. (He’s more of a water splasher, but I’m more of a two-feet-on-land kind of guy.) We took a ferry boat to the island and Daddy couldn’t stop marveling about the gorgeous view – but I think he was actually referring to the docked Allure of the Seas.
Mommy loved that the beach is privately owned by Royal Caribbean, so the food and water was straight off the ship and therefore safe to consume without hesitation (she worries about stuff like that). I loved the feeling of sand under my feet, the warm sun on my back, and even the little crab that came out to play! On the way back to the cruise ship, I made my Daddy promise that we could come back the next day. He just smiled… but I don’t think he answered me. Huh.
Back aboard the ship, we each had a shower and a quick nap. Naps on vacation are the best naps ever! I’ve never actually seen Mommy nap before, but even she closed her eyes for an hour or so. It was refreshing and just what we needed after a long afternoon in the sun. But we couldn’t dilly dally too long – there was a Cupcake Decorating Class at 5:00pm!
Reid and I each had the chance to decorate our very own cupcake. Reid had a lot of help from Mommy, but I did a lot of it myself. (Although I did eat the cat’s nose – I just couldn’t resist! How can anyone resist licorice?) It was a lot of fun and a great way to sneak in some creativity before dinner.
After dinner, we discovered the most AMAZING thing ever – the Allure of the Seas Boardwalk! It’s the best of Coney Island in the middle of the sea… and it even has a handmade wooden carousel! I can’t remember how many times Reid and I rode round and round… but all of a sudden it got dark outside, so we must have been there for a while.
Expecting to go back to our stateroom, Mommy and Daddy had the most wonderful surprise for us – the magnificent Oceanaria Aqua Show. It had a very Cirque du Soleil feel about it (or so I overheard) and was complete with high divers, acrobats, trampoline artists and synchronized divers and swimmers. Reid was absolutely mesmerized and I loved it too! I thought that maybe you’d like to hear more about it, so I found this for you:
“Embark on a mystical adventure under the sea as an ancient underwater civilization is revealed. You’ll admire the bravado and gracefulness of the aerialists and divers who navigate the waters with unparalleled speed and accuracy in this amazing AquaTheater extravaganza. The pool comes to life with shooting water and colorful lights that seem to dance to the music. Enjoy this beautiful choreographed fountain show on a starry night.”
The next morning, while we were supposed to dock in Falmouth, Jamaica – Hurricane Sandy interrupted our vacation plans. Of course, safety was always everyone’s main concern (especially mine – I only weigh 38 lbs! I could easily be tossed around in a tropical storm) and so we sailed on until we reached Cozumel on Friday. Having two days at sea was pretty awesome, though – it allowed us to fully appreciate all the Allure had to offer. (Wow, I sounded like Mommy for a second there.)
Our day started with a very special breakfast – a DreamWorks Madagascar Character Breakfast! In addition to the food being delicious, the larger-than-life characters stopped by our tables for a hug hello. Reid was all for cuddling with them, but I was a teeny bit
scared reserved. What can I say? Giant lions freak me out.
Well, since we couldn’t make the sun and sand that day – my Mommy decided to treat us to ice. An ice skating show, that is! We had a chance to see the “How to Train Your Dragon” Ice Show. With fire-breathing dragons, a spectacular light show and wonderful figure skaters (doing those loops and turns that make me dizzy) we clapped and clapped until our hands hurt. Reid was once again glued to the performance, and even I loved how the story was put to ice. Two thumbs up!
Later that afternoon, we decided it was time for a little water play. The Allure of the Seas has four pool areas, but for the most part, we hung with our peeps – you know, the under 12 crowd. The H2O Zone is the interactive water park for kids and families, and it’s filled with geysers, sculpted fountains and waterfalls. You can also play with some cool water toys such as spray cannons and umbrella jets, or just cool off in one of the two splash pools. It’s awesome.
For dinner, Daddy decided it was time to visit one of the fancy restaurants, so we tried the Brazilian Steak House called Samba Grill. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what the heck was going on there. These men kept coming to the table and serving us course after course of barbecued meat! It was confusing, I tell you. So I asked Mommy to find an explanation:
“Samba Grill introduces a sumptuous steakhouse experience with personality and flare. Brazilian music fills the air as the Solarium Bistro transforms to a hearty authentic churrascaria. The dining experience includes a wide selection of nightly prepared soups, salads and appetizers at the buffet. The main course is the feature and includes 13 different meats carved tableside. Samba’s gaucho servers, Brazilian style cowboys, provide a unique flare at the table as guests can choose from each of the featured signature meats that are presented from the churrasco grill and carved individually for each guest.”
Um, whatever. I loved the sausages though, so I’m not going to knock it.
The next morning was an ordinary day at sea – with some extraordinary adventures for us aboard the cruise ship. First, I watched as Reid participated in a Fisher-Price Royal Tots Interactive Play Group. Designed for kids aged 18 -36 months, he pretty much played for about 45 minutes, which Mommy referred to as “learning”. All I know is that the room was filled with a bunch of Fisher-Price toys, and Reid was having a lot of fun.
Next, I made my way down to the boardwalk where I picked up a couple of my girlfriends. Don’t hate.
For lunch, we visited Giovanni’s – another one of the specialty restaurants. This one was MUCH more kid friendly than the night before, though, so I had a great time. I’m not quite sure why, but my parents literally drooled when they brought out the plate of appetizers. I dunno – all this stuff just didn’t do it for me. But the pasta was rather delicious.
After lunch, we had a very special treat: a Little People Birthday Party! Not only did we have a chance to sing, dance and eat cake – but we also got to meet some of our very favourite Little People. Hi Sonya Lee!
Later that afternoon, we had the BEST time on the Fisher-Price Power Wheels Racetrack. It’s really kind of cool – they kick the adults off the basketball court, bring out the most amazing Power Wheels automobiles, and give kids (ages 5 and under) a chance to put the pedal to the metal. Reid and I found a Jeep that seated two and we took it for a spin. It didn’t drive as smooth as my Escalade (just sayin’) but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. Bonus: each child had about 10 minutes each, which was awesome.
That evening, we once again donned our monkey suits for formal night. Daddy wanted to skip it and just have a hot dog on the boardwalk, but Mommy kept insisting that it was lobster night, and over her dead body was she missing lobster night on a cruise ship. So, we went, and I’m pretty sure it was worth it. Whatever, I had chicken fingers.
The next morning, I woke up to find us docked at a strange and beautiful island – Cozumel, Mexico. We had so much fun in Cozumel. First, we enjoyed a two-hour bus tour that included stops along the coast and at historical sites. Next, we spent a few hours at Playa Mia Beach, where Mommy had two margaritas and Daddy took Reid in the ocean to swim. It was very relaxing and I’ve decided that I really like Mexico – especially the tortilla chips and salsa that we snacked on before left.
When we arrived back at the ship, Daddy decided that he wanted to take a nap until dinner, so Reid and me watched a movie while Mommy worked in the stateroom. Mommy warned us to savour every moment because tomorrow would be our last full day on the ship, which of course made me sad.
We woke up on Saturday morning ready to cram in all the things we hadn’t yet experienced – but then Mommy decided that what we really needed was some more water fun. So off we went to the H2O Zone once again. After we dried off, we took in ImaginOcean – a spectacular black light puppet show that features the underwater adventures of three friends. I suppose Mommy should have paid more attention to the opening announcements, because we got soaked in the front row. It was so funny!
Finally, we ended the late afternoon with a round of Mini Golf. Since the course is on the 15th deck of the ship, it’s such an amazing view and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Of course, Reid didn’t really abide by the rules of mini golf, so we had to cut our game short. Still, it was a lot of fun.
That evening we had an early dinner and Mommy did all of the packing. We were all sad to leave the next day. As you can see, every single day held an adventure for us thanks to Royal Caribbean and Fisher-Price. Mommy would call it family travel at its best; I just call it the best vacation ever.