If you missed part one, read it HERE.
Day 3: Monday, October 10th. This was our first full day on the Freedom of the Seas and a Day at Sea. There were so many things going on at all times but the only thing the boys really wanted to do was play at the pool. We were pretty okay with that.
As a side note, I thought it was interesting when we’d tell people that we were going on a cruise, many reacted with an “oh, you’re not taking the kids.” Ummm yeah, we’re taking the kids! “Oh, then it’s a Disney cruise?” Ummm nope. That cost twice what a Royal Caribbean cruise costs. “Oh.” It really threw me for a loop and I wasn’t sure if everyone else knew something I didn’t. There were fleeting moments during the cruise when I thought in the back of my mind “ohhh, this is what they meant.” For instance, there would be something Ryan and I wanted to do at 1pm but that would mean dragging the kids away from the pool at noon to get them back to the room, get them dressed, and drop them off at Adventure Ocean. It just wasn’t worth it. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy hanging out with them – we did. There were just a handful of times that we thought, okay, it would be really nice to take a cruise as a couple sometime too.
We had 5:30 dinner every night and Monday was a “formal” night. This was something I really stressed over in terms of getting ready for the trip. I worried over what to buy and what to pack – and did WAY too much of both. I was afraid people would give us dirty looks if the boys weren’t wearing suit jackets etc. We don’t have jobs or lifestyles where we have to dress up so this is totally our of our element as a family. Of course I had some dresses, but the guys had little to nothing to wear before I went out on a mad spree two weeks before the trip. Ultimately, we didn’t go too over the top and I was happy. We could have packed way less but there were men at formal dinners wearing everything from polo shirts with slacks to full-blown tuxedos. The boys thought they were pretty fancy and handsome…however they had no desire to get dressed up like that again.
Apparently I didn’t take any photos at the pool that day. I can’t say enough good things about the Adventure Ocean program. Every night after dinner, we dropped them off there for about 3 hours so we could catch a show, have a drink in the hot tub, or just try to figure out excursions for the next day (big mistake not booking in advance). They absolutely loved going. They met friends who they would then play with at the pool the next day. The kids’ club provided them with entertainment, physical games, crafts, and so much more. It was great for all of us.
Leonardo’s Dining room – such a big part of my memories of our family time on the cruise ship!
Day 4: Tuesday, October 11th. Tuesday was our first port of call and we docked at Labadee, Haiti. With Hurricane Matthew making a direct hit on Haiti just one week earlier, I wasn’t sure if we would still be going there but there was never an update to our itinerary. Turns out Labadee is a small section of the island on the northern coast that is privately leased to Royal Caribbean in an area that was not directly affected by the storm.
Monday night while the boys were at Adventure Ocean, we spent some time trying to figure out our shore excursion for Labadee but we couldn’t decide what to do. Unfortunately, the excursion we’d hoped to do had an age limit of 5+ but a height limit of 48″+ and little Dexter just isn’t there yet. We ended up having no plan and decided to wing it the morning of. WELLLL let’s just say it turned out to be a good thing because somehow, somewhere, this gal lost 3 of our 4 Seapass cards. We were in the gangway when I went to get them out and they weren’t in the pocket in our bag where I thought I put them. After about 45 minutes of sheer panic, I went to guest services like a puppy with his tail between his legs and told them I lost 3 of our cards. The dude definitely seemed annoyed but within 5 minutes we had new cards and were on our way off the ship.
I was stressed, I’d been lugging 2 bags and dragging my now-grouchy kids all over the ship looking for those dumb cards, and I was ready to relax. We went up to a golf cart and said something along these lines: “please take us to a cabana that we can rent so that we will have a place to sit all this crap down and start enjoying our day.”
Had we taken 10 minutes to check out Labadee, we would have discovered that we could have hung out on the beautiful beach (beach chairs provided) for free. However, we did enjoy our cabana, the beach, the floating beach mats, the cocktails, and the private buffet. I have to admit, I kept thinking about the locals. The people that were serving us fruity drinks and food and cleaning up after us faster than we could clean up after ourselves. I felt like a jerk. I felt like a stupid spoiled American for being there on this beautiful little piece of their island that was in utter ruins on the other side of the mountain. People died…probably family members and friends of the people who were serving us. People lost their homes. We were crabby because we were inconvenienced by misplacing cards and hauling around heavy bags full of cameras, sunscreen, and beach towels in the Caribbean heat. Yeah…jerks.
Despite being a loser (of SeaPass cards) and my guilty conscience about being a privileged American, we had a great time. It was gorgeous. I was not expecting to be as impressed as I was but we loved it there. I wish we could have stayed longer and explored the area a bit more.
We were back on the Freedom for a 330pm departure from Haiti so we got ready for dinner and then rushed the boys to Adventure Ocean because they didn’t want to miss out on the “Pirate Parade”. Those brave childcare staff took all the kids down to the Royal Promenade to sing pirate songs and dance pirate dances. I was impressed at how organized it was and how well all the kids did – you would have thought they’d been practicing for a week. It was kind of adorable how excited they were and then multiply that times one hundred when they realized we were there, watching the parade!
We went to bed happy, ready for a big day in Jamaica on Wednesday.