In a sudden burst of spontaneity, I made the decision to embark on a last-minute adventure. The thrill of an imminent voyage was enticing, but as I booked merely two weeks in advance, the premium I paid for both the cruise and flights reflected the haste of my decision.
Day 0: On May 4th, right after the school bell rang, we set our sights towards Miami. My original plan involved landing at PBI airport, but the day prior to our journey, I came to the realization that the only feasible route to the port would have involved a taxi ride, something I wanted to avoid to spare the hassle of lugging car seats. Consequently, I opted for a switch in airports. Yet, with all the rush of last-minute reservations and alterations, I sacrificed the opportunity for upgrades. However, we were fortunate enough to secure Comfort Plus, even with a layover in Raleigh. Amidst our red-eye flight, the unsettling announcement of a cell phone catching fire managed to startle us, but the quick resolution and reassurance kept us at ease.
Day 1: Our arrival in Miami marked the beginning of our sea-bound journey. Foregoing baggage collection, we made our way straight to the Delta lounge. This sanctuary offered a welcome respite; we indulged in refreshing showers and donned outfits more suitable for Miami's tropical weather. The transition from airplane to cruise ship was smooth; we hopped on a shuttle bus to the port, sailed through the identification process, and boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise. Our first culinary stop was at Johnny Rockets; while the children's chicken left something to be desired and my vegetarian burger was lackluster, the shakes proved a delightful treat for the kids.
We made haste towards the Splash Away Bay - a lively splash area with smaller waterslides - where the kids spent a thrilling afternoon. The adjacent Sprinkles, with its endless supply of soft serve ice-cream in classic vanilla and chocolate flavors, was an added bonus. However, upon reaching our room, we were met with a rather disappointing scene - unclean quarters with a discarded sock and dirty wash rag, and a faulty balcony handle that fell off upon touch. Despite reporting these issues to the customer service desk two floors down, the solutions - a mere cleaning and repair job - failed to fully compensate for the unsatisfactory experience.
After freshening up, we registered the kids for the club and utilized our pre-purchased arcade allowance, which proved to be an enjoyable activity despite the small size of the room. The absence of lines at the "Perfect Storm" slides was a stroke of luck that my oldest child seized eagerly. The remainder of the day was filled with another round of showers, a brief workout for me against the backdrop of a breathtaking sunset, and dinner at Chops, where I relished an excellent lobster main course along with Prosecco.
*note if you partake in the specialty dining--you should reserve all upon boarding
Day 2: The second day, dedicated entirely to cruising, kicked off with breakfast at the Windjammer buffet. Miniature golf, a round of refreshing smoothies at the Lime and Coconut, and lunch at Izumi specialty restaurant marked the daytime itinerary. Between sashimi, lobster truffle roll, and shrimp tempura for me, and yaki udon for the kids, our gastronomic adventures continued to flourish.
By tactfully utilizing childcare, we managed to fit in rock climbing, water sliding, and more Splash Away Bay fun - all peppered with copious servings of ice cream. As the day waned, we relished pina coladas served in pineapples and proceeded towards the main dining room for dinner, which proved satisfactory at best. The evening concluded with an outdoor movie by the pool deck - an endearing touch to a day brimming with activities.
Day 3: As the ship anchored at Nassau, we savored breakfast from Windjammer on the balcony, basking in the panoramic view of the port. Our original plan involved an exhilarating swimming encounter with pigs on Rose Island, coordinated through Viator. However, windy conditions had us re-route and reschedule to a later tour in Nassau. In the meantime, a stroll around the local market led us to an unexpected hair-styling adventure; a single braid quickly turned into a full head of cornrows, adorned with vibrant beads chosen by the kids. Our transportation to the beach, a lively van blasting music, elevated the already high spirits. The company was Bahway Bahamas.
At the beach, paddleboards, floats, and anchored floats provided endless amusement for the kids. The arrival of the pigs, who were as adorable as anticipated, elevated the beach day's fun factor. We relished in feeding them on the beach, in the water, and even on the anchored floats. Our Bahamian escapade also included an interactive lesson about the local crabs. The day culminated in a satisfying meal and a Bahamian soda during our ride back. Returning to the cruise ship, a quick cleanup was in order before a final hurrah at Splash Away Bay. We concluded the day at the arcade, exchanging accumulated points for prizes, and dining at Giovannis, where despite a hiccup with the wine, the pizza was a hit with the children.
Day 4: Our departure day was as thrilling as the rest of the trip. A scheduled Everglades tour with the cruise proved to be a swift method of disembarking from the cruise ship. The tour was brimming with wildlife encounters - bird sightings, a thrilling airboat ride, and even a brush with an alligator, accompanied by a show by one of the Gator Boys. Our Everglades adventure ended with an adorable photo opportunity with a baby alligator. Following our excursion, we headed to MIA, making a passenger drop off at FLL. Post-FLL, we encountered traffic which resulted in a 1-minute window for check-in. Despite some confusion with check-in, thanks to an accommodating gate agent, we managed to board a flight in Comfort from FLL (changing airports and departing 3 hours later, but direct). The lounge provided a chance to refresh and refuel with some Lobster bisque before we boarded our flight, where everyone managed to catch some sleep. Upon reaching our home airport, our luggage was already waiting, making for an easy transition from airport to home, concluding our whirlwind adventure on a smooth note.
I am not a cruise person, but my kids had a blast—so overruled on becoming a regular