Pre baby I was what is known as a ‘traveller’ when it came to holidays. I explored countries.
I didn’t just book a resort and stay in one place for the duration of my time away. I would fly into a destination, spend a few days there and move on- trying to fit in as much of the country as I could. I would take internal flights, use trains, buses, boats and taxis to make my way around. Staying rooted for the entire time was never on the agenda.
I guess I’m known as a ‘travel explorer.’ I get excited about planning each part of my holiday, and planning the experiences that I want to try at each stop.
Since having my Son however, holidays with him just can not take this form.
Not long ago I decided to brave our first trip abroad, and booked a flight to Amsterdam. With flight times of under an hour, I thought it would be good testing ground to see how he took to the skies. Lets just say I haven’t repeated the experience since.
What my child needs and requires is certainly not the way I like to travel, and so we’ve avoided spending money on booking a holiday, as ultimately we can not find a happy medium.
While he would be happy at an all-inclusive I would go out of my mind, being pinned to one place. And while I would be happy exploring different areas to my hearts content, I don’t think it would make him very happy. It would be too exhaustive for my Son and that wouldn’t be fair at his age.
^^ Image supplied by Norwegian Cruise Line
I have never considered going on a cruise before. I’ll hold my hands up and say I didn’t think it was for me. I never saw the appeal of being stuck on a ship. Plus I’m prone to being a bit sea sick.
But since my debacle with flying with a toddler I have been curious. But I’ve not keen to splash the cash without knowing what to expect.
So being invited on board the Norwegian Escape would finally allow me to choose which camp I wanted to sit in.
^^ Private balcony from my stateroom
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer size of the Norwegian Escape. It is huge. With 1651 crew on board you should get an idea of just how large the ship must be. But it is this size that means it’s adaptable to the needs of all the passengers on board.
There is something for every age group.
For babies there is the Guppies Nursery, which is for children aged 6 months to 3 years old.
With 7 staff members looking after a maximum of 10 little ones at any one time, I knew that on board my little man would be safely looked after if I decided to book him in for a couple of hours (fee of $10 per hour). With sensory based activities, games, toys and a little quiet room for sleeping beauty’s, every need is catered for. Having on board helpers would give me that much-needed relaxation time I wouldn’t otherwise get on a holiday.
For children aged 3 to 12 there is the Splash Academy, which is complimentary. They can learn to juggle at circus school, play sports and get to know other children their own age to socialise with on board. If they don’t want to explore with Mum and Dad when the ship docks at a new location, they can stay on board with the staff at the Splash Academy at no extra cost. Great to have the option isn’t it?
The troublesome teenagers have their own complimentary area too called Entourage. It’s a strictly no parent zone, where teenagers can hang out, go tenpin bowling, watch movies, create some art, play video games, dance, sing and have parties.
If that wasn’t enough, there are loads of family based activities too such as the splash park. This toddler pool would certainly appeal to my child. He loves the water, and the shallow depth would mean he could happily wade around in it playing with the tipping buckets and water cannons safely under my supervision. With a mini golf course and a sports complex we’d be able to keep active with him and let him enjoy time up on deck. While he’s too young for the ropes course, I did give it a go and had a blast. I walked the plank, which took me 8ft out to sea from the ship edge and zip lined around the edge of the ship over the waves as the ship sailed through the evening.
While I didn’t have time to explore the Aqua Park they have certainly catered for a variety of individuals from the daredevil, who would love going down Free Fall- the fastest water slide at sea, to the more sedate slide aficionado.
With a multitude of hot tubs around the top deck of the ship and a number of pools there’s certainly space for everyone to enjoy the fresh air.
They’ve also catered for those that want a little adult time by having some areas dedicated to over 18’s. With one of the areas providing a pure luxury service; such as providing chilled towels, skewers of fruit and water spritzers along side a full bar service, I know that’s where I’d be if Little London was booked into the nursery- well there or at the spa!
With most of the food on board being complimentary that would take the hassle out of being a Mum- providing that much needed holiday feeling. I wouldn’t have to worry at all about what to feed my child. On top of that with so much food choice- including a big healthy selection, I know there would be something at breakfast, lunch and dinner that would suit my child, and both myself and my other half.
With a variety of places to eat from buffet style to sit down dinners you can also choose the location you dine to suit your family. For me the buffet style was the most casual and where I would feel most comfortable with my Son.
While I would be quite happy to live off the complimentary food and drinks, as a couple it’s always nice to go out for a great meal and an alcoholic drink- just the two of you.
With the variety of childcare on board, travelling this way would allow us to enjoy some couple time by picking one of the many great exclusive restaurants, which isn’t part of the complimentary package but certainly worth the treat.
The food I tried at Food Republic was beyond delicious. The Asian fusion cuisine and experience really hit the spot with me. With sharing dishes such as bulgogi tacos, rock shrimp rolls, dates with chorizo and black cod skewers I knew I was onto a winner. What surprised me is when fellow traveller Sarah from Group Leisure turned around after a mouthful of brussel sprouts and declared that that was her favourite dish and proceeded to finish off the plate! But then again it was cooked with bacon and coated with something that tasted divine. I think other fellow traveller Mrs Shilts also mentions the delectable brussel sprouts on her blog post too!
^^ Baja Fish Tacos
^^ Those delectable Brussel Sprouts
One thing I do regret is not having enough time on board to fully take advantage of the brilliant bars. I missed out on the mojito bar; where you can order a tray of 6 different flavoured mojitos. I also missed out on another of the cruise liners signature cocktails- the margarita. Both of them remained a mystery to me until I started looking through Instagram pictures from other guests at home! Damn.
With treats like macaroons and italian ice cream also to be found there was a lot I missed out on- which again goes to show how big the ship is. My aim for the night I stayed on board was to make sure I saw everything, even if for just a second so I could give you a full review. I failed on that front. I’d need a full week minimum to manage that!
With theatre productions, comedy clubs, musicals and more in the evenings the ship becomes whatever you need it to be while taking you from place to place, allowing you to travel to a variety of destinations but with ease.
For me, that’s what makes the whole idea of cruising seem appealing. I can still be the travel explorer I once was (the Norwegian Escape goes to places such as Honduras, Belize, Bahamas, St. Maarten, Mexico and more), but I can also make sure my child has everything he needs to make the experience enjoyable for all of us. I ‘d be able to relax and have some down time, but also create special memories with my child. As for suffering with the occasional bout of sea sickness, our journey out to sea and back again didn’t phase me in the slightest (and we did stay out at sea all night and hit some rough waters).
My one issue right now would be the flight to head over to Miami where the Norwegian Escape calls home. I may have to stick to cruise liners that leave from UK ports and consider venturing further afield when I have a child that won’t cause a ruckus on an aeroplane!
But either way, the Norwegian Escape has convinced me that cruising is certainly a travel experience worth considering to suit everyone in the family and certainly one I’ll be looking into.
I have also created a vlog of my experience on board the Norwegian Escape which you can see here:
(Disclosure: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post.