Warning! Long and detailed for our family record keeping purposes!
Oh.my.word! What an experience! This short family vacation was so eventful that we need a vacation at home to recover from it. It was an incredibly exhausting trip, but worth the amazing experience of exploring new things with our kids. The purpose of the trip was to spend time reconnecting with Doug's dad's cousins. Hence it was dubbed the Cousin Cruise. We were joined on board with his cousin Debbie from NY and his cousin Lynette from FL. They both brought their families along.
Our trip began bright and early Thursday morning (1/28) at 3:30 am. Doug and I woke up, dressed, finished loading the car, then carried three sleeping children wrapped in blankets to our van. We had an hour drive to the airport, checked in the ridiculous amount of luggage needed for the five of us, and eventually caught our flight at 5:45 am. Doug's parents, brother, brother's girlfriend, and our niece traveled with us. We had a layover in Atlanta that was a painful four hours long. All of us were running on so little sleep, yet the kids were fired up and impossible to sit still. We all took turns trying to keep them busy yet safe.
We arrived in Miami and got to our hotel around 3 pm. We stayed a a gorgeous hotel, with amazing rooms and a wonderful pool. We decided a soak in the hot tub was in order immediately. Eventually, we hopped out for a light dinner and drinks. I was so, so, so ready to go to bed by 7 pm, but the kids kept us going a little longer. We were awoken at 10:30 pm by a call on our cell phone- Aidan's school has an automatic system and it said that school was canceled for Friday due to snow! After that, we got a pretty good night's sleep and woke up ready to go.
Friday, we boarded our ship, the Carnival Imagination, around 1:00 pm. The check in process to board a cruise ship is lengthy, even if you do get your papers printed in advance. The kids were excited to get on board and just in awe of the huge ships. We found our way to the cafeteria style dining room and had lunch immediately. By then, we were able to check out our cabin and drop off our bags before exploring the ship.
It was really windy in Miami when we set sail, so the kids didn't hit the pool right away. They require everyone to attend a presentation on ship safety and we learned that the kids had to wear a wristband at all times. Sean, unfortunately, HATES wristbands, largely due to the fact that he's had to wear them in medical settings so many times in the past. Usually hospitals let me put it on his ankle and he handles that better, but the ship said no way. Even Ella had to wear one tightly fitted. Sean fussed with his wristband pretty much non-stop until we finally got it off at the airport on the way home.
After getting settled in a bit, the kids found the putt-putt course on the highest deck and enjoyed running around there. Unfortunately, Sean made a putt putt in his pants, so I had to take him to our room for a clean up. Nice way to start the weekend, scrubbing poo out of pants. After that accident, Doug and I were on high alert with him and made him attempt potty breaks as often as we could to avoid another accident.
That evening, Doug offered to stay in the cabin with a napping Ella and Sean while I went to dinner with Aidan and the rest of the family. When Ella woke up, Doug took her to have sushi with him while I hung out with the boys. We quickly seemed to get the layout of the ship figured out. Sean had issues handling the crowded or noisy areas which made it hard for either of us to go out of our room with all three alone or just the younger two alone. We needed one of us to mind Ella (who greatly enjoys choosing her own paths to take) and the other to mind Sean (who went into lock down mode when he didn't want to go in a certain area.) It's a lot of walking on a ship to get from place to place and Sean was determined not to be the one doing the walking.
When we returned to our cabin at bedtime, the boys were delighted to see the bunk beds set up for them to sleep in and the towel animal the cabin steward made for them. We were very unsure of how the bunk beds would work for us, since they've always been reluctant to sleep apart from us. Well, the sea air and steady motion seemed to work wonders on them! Both boys eagerly climbed into their bunks and put themselves to sleep! Sean lasted about half the night, then climbed down into the big bed with Doug, Ella and I. Aidan slept like a log all night long without a peep!