Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cruisin' The Ocean Blue!

Posted by Heather at Sunday, July 08, 2012

Formal Night

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On June 24th, we gathered with about half of the Petruzzi family for a week of sun, fun, food and cruising aboard Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas. We caravaned to Port Canaveral. Eventually, we all made it onto the boat- there were twenty of us total- for a seven night cruise. Our group included Grandma Petruzzi, Mom, Dad, myself, Ted, Katy, Aunt Mariella, Jenna, Adam, Jason, Michelle, Brian, Uncle Paul, Aunt Sue, Uncle Doug, Aunt Cindy, Christa, Derek, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Lee. 

The first night, we enjoyed our first sit-down dinner in the formal dining room. Our tables were split by age- "Kids" and "Adults." I guess some things don't change- even if you yourself have a child! Katy did alright for the first dinner. She hadn't had her nap so she was a little cranky, but not unmanageable. We called it an early night for bed and woke up refreshed and ready to go.

The first full day on the ship was a day at sea. So, we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Windjammer dining room and then we hit the H2O Kids' zone. Katy wasn't so fond of all of the unpredictable water fountains but she did like the hot tub! After a nice lunch, Katy took a nap (Daddy, too!) while I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon poolside with my Kindle.

After Katy woke up from her nap, we explored the ship- 14 floors is a lot of ship!- and then we got all dressed up for our first formal dinner.

Let me digress a bit and say that Royal Caribbean was WONDERFUL about Katy's food allergies. I have never been in such an understanding, accommodating environment when it comes to food allergies. I only had to tell our waiter, Percival once about Katy's allergies to eggs, nuts and soy, and the rest of the week was carefree when it came to feeding her. Even in the environment of a buffet meal (like breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer), the chefs were accommodating and willing to make a special meal for Katy and/or point out "Katy-approved" foods when asked.

Katy ate like a queen the whole trip! She may only be two and a half, but she ate more than most grown adults! She ordered steak most nights and ate more than her fair share each time. Dinner was a delight, mostly in part to our wonderful wait staff. When we got to the table, Katy had a bowl of strawberries already waiting for her. They made sure to order her food first and make sure she wasn't waiting too long to eat. She managed to wolf down two steaks a night- I'm not kidding!! She delighted in drinking chocolate milk every morning and she loved being spoiled with hot dogs, french fries and raw onions at lunch (yes, my child LIKES to eat raw onions!).

We landed in Labadee, Haiti on the third day. Labadee is Royal Caribbean's own private island oasis. Uncle Jeff and Aunt Lee rented a cabana on the island. The cabana was quiet, cool and definitely a special treat! We enjoyed a relaxing, picturesque day swimming in the turquoise water, eating a delicious spread and playing in the sand. Katy fell asleep on the way back to the boat so it was naps all around!

That evening, we let Katy stay up late and watch the Masquerade show. We weren't sure how she'd do since it was so late, but she loved all the lights, sparkly outfits and singing. Katy lasted almost to the end of the show before she fell asleep in my lap.

On the fourth day, we landed in Falmouth, Jamaica. I joined Mom, Grandma Petruzzi, Aunt Mariella and Michelle for high tea at the Good Hope Estates. Good Hope Estates is one of the oldest, most well-preserved estates on the Jamaica. We had the chance to tour the house and take in the breath-taking views. Tea was relaxing, if a little too hot for my liking.

After dinner, Uncle Paul and Aunt Sue volunteered to watch Katy while Ted and I enjoyed some "kid-free" time. While Katy was happily playing and wearing out Uncle Paul and Aunt Sue, Ted helped "Team Petruzzi" ace the "80s songs" trivia (We beat our "rivals," the Webbers :-). We even won a magnet picture frame for our efforts! Then, we went mini golfing with Mom and Dad at the top of the ship. I've never been very good at mini golf on dry land, let alone a rocking, moving boat! Good thing we didn't keep score! It was fun to have some time just to ourselves.

We landed at Grand Cayman on the next day. We joined Uncle Doug, Grandma and Christa for a little shopping excursion. The shopping area was a little further than we had expected, so we ended up hailing a cab and being dropped off at a very nice, quiet shopping area. This was the perfect, non-touristy find. We enjoyed some frozen yogurt, explored a new book store, Uncle Doug got his falafal and Katy splashed around in the fountain. Katy ended up getting so drenched in the fountain that we ended up getting back on the boat with a "naked baby" (aka, topless toddler because she didn't want to put the wet shirt back on).

After dinner, we participated in the 50s and 60s music trivia. While we didn't necessarily rock at it, we did have fun. Ted got called out in front of the whole crowd for his funky dance moves. When he finished dancing, Katy ran up to him and the trivia coordinator asked Ted, "This isn't your little girl, is it?" Katy confirmed the genealogy when she clung to Ted's neck. Katy even won a special prize for dancing and bopping along to the music- she stole the show!

After trivia, we took in the show, It was a musical montage of fairy tales called, "Once Upon a Time." There were lots of princesses and singing and Katy loved it all! She watched the whole show with rapt attention.

The last port of call was Cozumel, Mexico. It was a busy day at the port because not only was our ship there, but also two other Carnival ships! Good day to be a vendor selling your wares to tourists! Katy and I started out with Aunt Mariella, Mom, Dad and Grandma. We did a little shopping and then parted ways- Grandma and Aunt Mariella went to a Mayan museum and Mom and Dad went shopping for an anniversary ring for Mom. We tagged along with Mom and Dad for awhile and then we took a taxi back to the boat in time for a late lunch and nap time.

While Katy and I were exploring Cozumel, Ted went snorkeling with Brian, Jason, Adam and Jenna. They took a catamaran out a ways and then spent the afternoon looking at coral reefs and swimming. After they finished snorkeling, it was time for some fun! Swimming! Rum Punch! Bouncy pads in the middle of the ocean! Fun, fun! The only misstep was a lobster-red back for Ted after an afternoon in the hot, Caribbean sun. Since you could clearly see where the life preserver straps crossed on Ted's back, we joked and said that Ted was either part of the Swiss or the Red Cross.

The next day was a day at sea. We woke up and then hit the H2O zone before the masses got there. We had fun swimming and sitting in the hot tub. Katy even braved the fountains! That evening, we watched the ice skating show. While the skaters weren't exactly at their best- one of the skaters fell on her head- eeek!- Katy enjoyed all of the lights, costumes and dancing.

Each night, Katy was excited to see what animal our stateroom attendant had folded our towels into. She kept calling them her "baby" and she insisted on cuddling said, "baby." She got very upset with me one day when I actually used the towel "baby" for it's intended use. Oops!

We were sad to land in Port Canaveral and end our vacation at sea. We had such a good time and Katy was did really well. She lapped up all of the extra attention and she enjoyed seeing all of the new sights and sounds. Cruising with a toddler is definitely manageable and we would do it again in a heartbeat!

Other than a little rain on the first day and then again on one of the days at sea, the weather was sunny and hot- exactly what you would want on a Caribbean cruise! The food was first class and we had such a pleasant experience concerning Katy's allergies- she didn't break out in hives once, the whole trip! Of course, the company was hilarious and we all had fun!


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