I am finally getting down to blogging about my cruise trip in June! I’ve been so lazy to blog ever since expecting my second kid.. Every time I have free time, all I want to do is sleep. Anyway I haven’t had a lot of free time, because I have been bringing MF all over the WORLD! Hubby and I decided we should travel more before the second kid is born and while MF is still under 2 years old and gets *almost* free travel. We brought him on a cruise, to Gold Coast Australia and we’re going to Johor later this year to visit Legoland / Hello Kitty Town + Little Big Club! Yes, we are awesome parents! Of course, the Hello Kitty Town part is more for my enjoyment than for MF’s, but whatever… My friends keep telling me that I have such a good life, don’t need to work, everyday bring MF out to play, yada yada.. But I always correct them: Nope, it’s not me who has a good life.. It is MF who has a good life!
Okay, so I digress… Back to the cruise. Royal Caribbean‘s Voyager of the Seas visited Singapore in June for a short stint. It was touted as the biggest cruise ship to cruise Southeast Asia to date. Just how big was it? We managed to capture a photo of the Voyager next to a Star Cruise ship:
The downside of bringing MF for a cruise with Royal Caribbean (RC) was that he was charged FULL FARE. It is RC’s policy that kids (even infants) or any age are charged full fare. So in return for the $1000 we had to pay for MF, here’s a run-down of some of the baby-friendly facilities that *hopefully* makes it worth the price:
1) Babies 2 Go!
RC allows you to pre-purchase items such as diapers, wet wipes, bottled baby food and water etc from their website and they will have it ready in your cabin when you arrive. This minimizes your packing, an excellent idea especially if you are on a fly-cruise and don’t wish to carry so much luggage around. I didn’t use this service since we were on a round-trip cruise from Singapore and didn’t have much luggage to begin with.
2) Royal Babies
Every morning, they had two playgroup sessions for babies 6-18 months. MF attended the playgroups twice, as on other mornings, we got off the ship to go for land excursions. One of the sessions involved playing with musical instruments while the other involved playing with Fisher-Price toys.
MF totally LOVED the playgroups. I think he enjoyed it much more than going for land excursions. Given a choice, I think he would have spent the whole 5 days on board the cruise ship.
3) Dreamworks Experience
One of the reasons we chose this cruise was because they were having the Dreamworks Experience. It doesn’t happen on all RC’s cruises, you would need to check their website for the schedule.
You get to meet and take photos with many Dreamworks characters such as the Madagascar cast, Kungfu Panda and Shrek.
There was a Dreamworks Character Parade, similar to the kind of parade you see at Disneyland, but smaller scale. Take note that the parade only happens once throughout the whole cruise, so you need to hop down early to get a good spot to view the parade.
There was also a Dreamworks dance party by the poolside one afternoon, which MF enjoyed dancing along to.
There were also Character Meals where we had breakfast with the Madagascar characters. These sessions are strictly for families with kids only and you need to make a reservation for it the moment you board the ship, because there are limited places.
They also had some 3D movie screenings, but that happened at night after MF was sleeping, so we never made it for any of the screenings.
4) Sports Activities on board
There were tons of sports facilities on board, though most were useless to 17-month old MF. If you have an older kid, they can go swimming, ice-skating, roller blading, rock-climbing, play mini golf and jogging. RC doesn’t allow kids who are not toilet-trained into their pools, not even with swimming diapers. But MF got to play mini golf, because they had really short golf clubs for kids.
5) Food glorious food
One of the concerns of bringing young kids on vacation is the food. We brought some of our own food pouches and baby jar food, but while on the cruise ship, MF mainly ate whatever we ate. For breakfast, you can choose to eat at the buffet or in the dining room. At the buffet, he would eat whatever bread or cereal or eggs that were available with a packet of milk. At the dining room, I would order scrambled eggs and fresh milk for him. For lunch, we were usually not on the ship, but when we were, we ate at the buffet where MF would just eat some pasta or noodles, fish and fruits. For dinner, we always ate at the dining room. MF was entitled to one dish, so we would order either pasta or fish for him, and they always served bread before dinner. We would then hop up to the buffet for fruits.
For dinners, we always went back to the same table at the same time (they call it My Time Dining). So from the second day onwards, the table was always prepared with our special requests (high chairs and straws for the kids and Chinese menus for my in-laws) before we reached and we got to know the waiter who served us pretty well by the end of the trip.
In between meals, there was a cafe that you could go to grab some pastries or cookies. But no, the Starbucks coffee was not free. They serve normal coffee at the cafe for free though.
There was a library on the cruise ship with a small collection of children’s books. For babies, they had bedtime story sessions there, but it happened kinda early (during our dinner time) so MF never got to attend.
7) Rooms with comfy beds
Before this cruise, my only other cruise experiences were with Star Cruises and Louis Cruises long long time ago and both times, we had to sleep on bunk beds because we chose the cheapest room option. For RC, even for the cheapest rooms, you will get a proper bed. However, they do not provide cots for babies, so be prepared to co-sleep with your babies.
There were many shows to watch on board, ranging from acrobatic shows to magic shows to ice-skating shows. It was a bit of trail and error, MF enjoyed some but didn’t enjoy some. For those he enjoyed, we were able to sit throughout, otherwise we left early and went to look for other entertainment.
9) Towel Art
This is a bit out of point, but somehow, the towel art by the RC staff became one of the things I would look forward to every evening, and MF loved them. After cleaning your room, they staff would fold the fresh towel into the shape of an animal – a different animal everyday!
That kinda summarizes our experience (or rather MF’s experience) on the cruise ship. I will blog more about the land excursions on a separate post. If anyone were to ask me if I would recommend going for a cruise with a baby / young kid in tow, I would say DEFINITELY. Cruising is the most relaxing and easiest way to travel with kids. You can travel from country to country without having to board a plane – no need to crack your brain over how to entertain your kid for hours in a boring confined space and worry that your baby’s crying will disturb other passengers. You can visit many destinations without having to change hotel, so no need to keep packing and unpacking. If you need to change / nurse your baby or your baby needs a nap, you can just hop back to your room anytime. What’s there not to love about cruising?