I can finally say that I have been on a cruise!! I kept our plans pretty quiet prior to leaving because there was a LOT of possibilities that could derail our plans. Now I know I will get some questions on what it’s like to cruise in a pandemic and honestly I can’t tell you since I’ve never cruised before. I’ll explain later our experience and what we had to consider prior to the cruise but first, WHERE DID WE GO?!
When my cousin mentioned that they had booked their Spring Break to the Bahamas aboard the inaugural sailing of the new Royal Caribbean Wonder of the the Seas I asked, wait can we go with you?!! The 7 night cruise took us to Labadee Haiti, San Juan Puerto Rico, Nassau and CocoCay Bahamas.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale, FL the day before our cruise to ensure that we didn’t miss the boat. With so many delayed and cancelled flights lately we wanted to ensure we had enough time to get there an be ready for our mid-day check-in.
First all adults had to be fully vaccinated, kids that are unvaccinated have to take a PCR test no more than 3 days prior to departure. If kids are vaccinated then they can take the rapid test like adults 2 days prior to departure. Everyone HAS to test prior to boarding and it’s a REAL small window in which you can perform the test. We opted for the at home virtual testing recommended by Royal Caribbean.
Let’s just say I was a nervous wreck that something would go wrong but we all tested negative and off we went!
Like last year when traveling it’s still required to wear masks and we have loved these disposable ones that also have fun prints. Mine are the Rifle Paper Co and the kids can be purchased on Amazon. I did not realize that the kids would be needing masks EVERY TIME they went to kids club so I would have brought a lot more for them had I known.
We spent that first night at the Renaissance Marina Hotel it had a cute pool and was close to Port Everglades making the next day only a 5 minute car ride.
After spending the day by the pool at the hotel we headed next door to The Boatyard, an amazing seafood restaurant and marina which was amazing to see the fancy yachts before we got on our huge ship.
WHAT I PACKED
Across the street from our hotel was one of the BEST stocked Walgreens I’ve ever been to! It was great to pick up a few last minute items that we forgot but the one thing they didn’t have were my AirPod Pros that I forgot at home!! I made a list in this blog post of our Cruise Essentials but an even bigger list on Amazon of things to NOT forget.
When I got on the ship I did a full tour of how we used these items and set up the room which you can see here. We had an ocean view balcony room that sleeps 4 but even with a bit more space using every inch was crucial to my sanity!
While the cruise itself was a 8 day, 7 night trip we also had a travel day to Florida making packing for 9 days. Looking back many people recommended packing sweaters, jackets and warm layers for evenings. Good and bad news is that our evenings were never cool so I had about 4 jackets/ sweatshirts that were never worn.
I also realized I REALLY should have brought more cool nights pjs. The room was always a bit on the warm side and so I needed shorts pjs instead of the joggers I thought I would switch out.
We ended up having a batch of laundry sent after about the 3rd day mostly for kids clothes and undies to get us through the rest of the trip.
- 6 Dresses (shared with my cousin but could have done 4)
- 1 Jumpsuit
- 6 swimsuits (should have brought 4)
- 2 coverups
- 3 tanks
- 5 tees (should have done 3 tees and 2 nice blouses)
- 2 Joggers
- 2 Capri Leggings
- 5 shorts (should have brought 3)
- 1 jean
- 1 wide leg gauze pant
- 1 Athletic Jacket
- 2 Sweatshirts (never wore)
- 1 Denim Jacket (never wore)
- 1 Blazer (never wore)
- 1 Cardigan (never wore)
- 3 pairs flat sandals
- 1 pair sneakers
- 2 pairs dressy sandal/ heels (I could have just worn my dolce vida the entire time)
- 3 bras (bring strapless, cross back for tanks & everyday)
- 9 pairs of underwear
- 1 small dressy purse / 1 small athletic crossbody bag
- 4 pairs of earrings / 2 necklaces / 2 sets of bracelets
My travel day onto the boat I wanted to be comfy yet ready to change into a swimsuit ASAP if needed. We actually didn’t end up swimming that first day because we had unpacking to do. Setting up the kids at kids club and selecting shows.
Now doing it again I would have stopped, grabbed our first yummy drink and sat and figured out any speciality dinner reservations as well. We didn’t get around to booking until the next day and nearly everything was booked even on a ship that was LESS than half capacity. Eventually as the week progressed we were able to find some openings and went to dinner at The ChopHouse and Wonderland.
Instead we spent the afternoon exploring all the areas of the ship from the teen room to playscape, mini golf, 10 story slides and a full boardwalk our minds were blown on how HUGE our ship really was.
PLAYSCAPE & MINI GOLF
KIDS CLUB (AGES 6-12)
Bottom of the 10 story Ultimate Abyss Slide
We were though able to get into see the Ice Skating show called 365. This was such an incredible performance!! The host at the end mentioned the amount of technology being used to put on this show including tracking devices on the skaters for the spotlights to follow them electronically.
At the time of our show they only had 10% of the props that were supposed to be in it and only 3 weeks of rehearsals!!
After a LONG day were were all exhausted and headed back to the room for some much needed sleep.
DAY 3- AT SEA
The first day at sea was our chance to really get settled and start to relax. We headed to the Windjammer the buffet restaurant where we loved the food so much we had almost all of our breakfasts at. The kids loved the waffles and fruit and the adults went for the smoked salmon station and custom omelets.
After breakfast Erin and I headed to the spa for a hot stone massage. Let’s just say they were still working out their kinks on that first day because they started our massage about 30 minutes late and instead of us having separate rooms (we booked separately) they put us in a couples massage room. Good thing I love my cousin and we are both comfortable around each other!
I did love that the spa uses Elemis products and has a salon as well as a smoothie and juice bar attached. If you are wanting salon services though book early, they seemed to be fully booked even on the first day.
After massage it was time to enjoy the pool! It was a bit windy the first day but laying out and watching my kids swim and play in our high 70s weather was perfection!
Target Swimsuit (tts, L)
Cabana Life Coverup size down S/M (use code RECRUITER20 for 20% off)
That night was the “formal” night at the main dining so we all got a little dressed up and enjoyed some fabulous food. Honestly as a family we loved the main dining room as much if not better than any of the other restaurants on board. We realized that much of the food served in the speciality restaurants you can get in the main dining room for an uncharge but still less than what you would pay in the reservation restaurants.
After dinner was our “Broadway” style show. The Tap Factory was a high energy dance and music performance. The performers were incredible and we loved some of the added humor. Since this was our 2nd late night the kids got back to the room and I think were asleep before I finished brushing my teeth!
DAY 3- Labadee, Haiti
I tell you what waking up to this view was probably the highlight of the trip! It was so incredible after a day at sea to look out our balcony and be surprised by such a beautiful island. We grabbed a quick breakfast, packed up and headed to beach as fast as we could.
This is one of the private Royal Caribbean islands so they have a huge set up for lunch, staff everywhere AND no mask requirements. We did not book anything specific for this day but was so happy that we found a staff member that showed us a nook further down the beach that had very gentle waves and a great place to set up for the day.
Swimsuit (tts, L)
Around 2pm my cousins took the kids back to the ship to get cleaned up and head to kids club for a few hours before our evening magic show. After we headed to the ship about an hour later we hit up the casino for the first time. It was great to have some fun adult time while the kids were playing. We then grabbed them for a quick dinner at the pizza place and headed to the magic show by Jamie Allan.
While it was good it was a bit hard to follow for my son and with a day in the sun and the 3rd late night he fell asleep after about 15 minutes. The girls liked it and so did the adults.
DAY 4- San Juan, Puerto Rico
This port was a completely different pace from Haiti. When we arrived it you can immediately see that it was going to be more of an exploring type of day. My husband had heard in San Juan that we had to try the to try the local mofongo so that was pretty much our main agenda item.
When we got off the boat we found the Castillo San Cristóbal, which had incredible views of the city and ocean. Plus exploring the dungeon was right up the alley of our boys!
We found some local mofongo and mojitos and rested since it was pretty hot and humid that day and the kids were a little wary from all the fort exploring.
Then we walked about 10 minutes to see the famous Fortaleza Street (umbrella street) where they were putting up new butterflies.
While we only spent a few hours in San Juan I felt like we really got to explore such an amazing place! We headed back to the boat since my husband and I had dinner reservations at the steak restaurant Chops Grille.
The food at Chops was really good and with the 3 course dinner I had more upscale menu items than what was offered in Main dining. In the future I would maybe just do one date night like this but did not feel the need to try all the “extra” restaurants.
After dinner was the show we had been waiting for! InTENse in the new Aqua show that will be on Wonder of the Seas. Now this show only had about 3 acts fully complete when we saw it but WOW I can’t imagine what it will be when it’s done.
I got seriously teary eyed when the host announced that it was an all female cast and having our two girls sitting front row watching these incredible women was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Since the show was not fully done they also brought in world juggler Viktor Kee and tight rope walker Julian to add the the experience but honestly I wanted to see more of the girls!
DAY 5- At Sea
Seriously at this amount of entertainment and things going on we NEEDED at casual day at sea. On this day we did more exploring of the boat and RELAXING!!
We spent the morning at the pool but this time the kids hit up the water park side, wave runner, deep pool and hot tubs. Had lunch at the Mexican restaurant near the pool and then we cleaned up (but at this point I was over actually doing my hair) to try the robot bar, see a towel folding demonstration and play a little Mexican Train.
By the evening we did dress up again for the semi-formal night and went to Main Dining for a great family dinner.
DAY 6- Nassau, Bahamas
The morning we were still at sea but by noon we had docked at Nassau Bahamas. This is where my husband and I went for our honeymoon almost 15 years ago so we were super excited to be back! Now for the kids we booked the pirate ship cruise and it was a blast. Lots of role playing and circling around the island made for great scenery.
Once the cruise was done though I wanted to find a BEACH! Now I asked around but apparently not well because we ended up with the kids and at Spring Break beach filled with college kids. We did find one area a bit more quiet to let the kids play in the sand but we didn’t stay long.
We got back to the ship and once again got cleaned up for dinner. This time I switched up my jumpsuit from casual to more dressy with heels. I only wore these heels twice so I feel like I could have done without them completely. I did wear this jumpsuit a few times though so it was a great option to pack. I know sizes are getting limited so check this one out by the same brand.
DAY 7- Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas
Even looking through the information prior to the cruise I really couldn’t understand what CocoCay was. It’s part waterpark, island, pools and beaches. As we got a few days into the cruise we realized we really wanted our last day on the beach in a place where we could all relax. Luckily the guys were able to snag 2 beach beds for our family on “Chill Island”.
The app was really confusing because prior to the cruise it seemed that the price was $150 per person but instead it was for all 4 of us! This included a comfy bed, 2 beach chairs, cooler and a more private area of the island. It was worth EVERY penny!
We later looked at the cabanas and honestly I’m so glad we went with the bed. The cabanas have more of a couch set up with 4 lounge chairs.
We also rented an adult and kids snorkel with the hopes of seeing some great fish but we saw almost nothing!! Instead we spent most of the day just as we had hoped, relaxing and playing in the sand and water.
We were sad to leave CocoCay because it was such an incredible day at the beach but had to get back for our last “fancy” dinner at Wonderland.
This speciality restaurant is described as pushing the culinary envelope. Dishes are designed to tantalize your taste buds and present a visual feast which I will say is great if you have adventurous eaters. We are lucky that just the girls attended this dinner because I think the experience might have been lost on the guys!
And that closes the door to an amazing and incredible cruise experience! We got up the next day around 6:30am to pack everything and get off the ship by 8:30am. Unfortunately due to minimal flight options and weather we didn’t make it back to DFW until about midnight so it was a long last day. If possible I would recommend a noon or 1pm flight the same day you get off the ship.
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