Today we started another grand adventure. We are heading to Fort Lauderdale for a few days followed by a Caribbean cruise, and then 5 nights in Vero Beach. When we travel we like to take long trips to make the effort of traveling and packing for seven people really worth it. It takes us a few days to find our groove too.
|Who needs more than one seat?|
|Good thing we travel light!|
|Best Western Plus Oceanside|
The loud college kids were in one of the two hotel rooms between Marc’s and my rooms. There was a common balcony alongside the whole strip of rooms and the partying “kids” were super loud. Marc even called down to the lobby to complain after about an hour of it but it didn’t do much good. Finally we turned the fan on non-stop in our room and managed to fall asleep. Overall the hotel was fine though. The beds were comfortable, they have done some recent updates and the location is good for the price especially since breakfast was included.
This morning we started the day at the free breakfast buffet at the hotel. The kids all enjoyed making waffles and Zach enjoyed decorating his pajamas with yogurt.
About the time we finished breakfast, Marc texted to see if I was in my room wanting to send Zach over. I told him Jacob could come and get him to have breakfast with us. Well, all the rest of the kids came with in their PJs and uncombed hair too. Our rooms have different standards apparently.
|Just a big igauna hanging out by the pool|
After the pool we went back to our hotel for a break. Before long it was time to walk to dinner. It’s kind of a pain not having a car. We can’t take a taxi because then we have to carry 2 car seats everywhere. So, we’re a little stuck here, but not too bad. (We didn’t know about the Sun Trolley yet which could have taken us anywhere we needed for a $1pp per ride.)
Tonight we went to Oasis Café where we had a very unique dining experience. The booths here are all swings! The kids loved swinging back and forth while we waited for our food. Zach liked chasing the pigeons around. The food here was okay, nothing special, but it was a nice setting with a decent view of the ocean except for a very busy road in between.
After dinner Kyrie dropped her phone in…some water…so unfortunately we lost all of the pictures we had taken so far. Not to mention the pain and expense of getting her phone replaced. But I got it taken care of at the Verizon store without too much trouble and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of pictures for the rest of the trip. (Luckily we didn’t lose any pictures because my phone automatically uploaded them to Facebook before taking the plunge.)
|Fort Lauderdale Beach|
Then we walked over to where we were supposed to pick up the trolley to go down Las Olas, but it was really hot out, and everyone was walking super slow and we waited a long time for a trolley that never came. Eventually, we decided it was about time for lunch and we saw some places by the Crocs store, so we headed back over there.
|Four new pairs of Crocs|
|A napping swimmer?|
We took the Sun Trolley to Da Big Kahuna for dinner. We had a good time enjoying the panoramic ocean view and the good food. Zach had fun walking around the table and getting attention from the waitresses. We ended up walking back to the hotel because the trolley stops running at 6:30pm
|Da Big Kahuna on third floor overlooking the ocean and beach|
|Outdoor seating with a beautiful view|
March 21, 2015 Embarkation Day – Oasis of the Seas
|Grandma keeping Zach safe while we loaded up|
We all met up with Melissa and her family at the port at 11:00am and were on the ship before noon.
|Deck 4, The Grande Dining Room|
|Jacob's shirt eerily matched the boy's in the retro poster above him|
We had planned on going to the specialty restaurant Sabor for lunch, but decided on Johnny Rockets instead because the Sabor restaurant didn’t have a very kid friendly menu. Johnny Rockets was a big hit and we still were able to avoid the embarkation crowd at the buffet.
|Grandma, Grandpa, and Zoe|
|Avery and Ella enjoyed the smiley face ketchup plate|
|Kids Pools and Splash Areas|
|Beach Pool and one of the many whirlpools|
|Muster drill is pretty boring - except the "wash your hands" song!|
|Our kids just sitting there. No Dancing, no clapping.|
|Grandma and Grandpa getting into it a bit|
|While Zach was still sitting|
|The kids' table|
The waiter laid down the law with the kids even before they had a chance to get rowdy. Avery called the experience "evil dining" and especially took it upon herself to make sure the other kids didn't act up. His tactic worked pretty well. The seating arrangement stayed the same throughout the cruise. It wasn't all bad for the kids. Our waiter showed his kind side by bringing all the kids brownie sundaes.
|An assortment of desserts at the adults' table to tempt Grandma who didn't order any|
|Marc's stateroom with a Central Park verandah|
|Kyrie's room across the hall with an ocean veranda|
Next, it was time for the Frozen in Time ice show. It’s a nice show, especially considering the small (and probably poor) ice surface that they have to work with. My favorite part is the sand artist, Sergei that performs during a break in the ice part of the show (although I’m not sure that it’s too smart to have a guy working with sand right above the ice that people have to skate on!)
|The Ice Queen|
|The Red Shoes|
|The Ugly Duckling|
|Sergei the sand artist|
|The Little Mermaid|
|The Emperor's New Clothes|
March 22, 2015 Nassau, Bahamas
|I think they should still be sleeping!|
|The carousel is the highlight of the Boardwalk|
Jacob and Zoe went to the kids club and I returned to help Marc take the others to the Windjammer buffet for breakfast. My room was restless in the morning, but we definitely slept a lot longer than Kyrie's room.
|The Zach Method: Dip the spoon in, then grab the cereal with your other hand|
It was a nice time to swim. Since many people were off of the ship, the pools were a lot less crowded. The kids kept switching between playing pool games like Sharks and Minnows and sitting in the very hot hot tub.
Jacob, Max, Ella and Zoe decided to have lunch with the kids club – Zoe complained later that she had to hold hands with a boy on the way to lunch. Kyrie, Zach and I had lunch at the Park Café which was quite good.
We wanted to get a nice picture of our family so we were ready ahead of dinner time and on the Promenade where they had many extra photographers tonight. The process was a bit torturous and I could add a whole blooper wheel of pics here, but we managed to get one that would do, thankfully.
|I blame it on Formal Night|
Marc wanted to see a movie that was playing in the Aqua heater tonight, but cranky Zs took up all the time and he missed it. Everyone (especially the Baby Zs) took a very long time to settle down and go to sleep again tonight even though everyone (especially the Baby Zs) were exhausted.
My room was up early as usual. Again, we found ourselves waiting for our chosen breakfast venue to open. The MDR was hosting a DreamWorks Character Breakfast this morning. We did this the last time we sailed on Oasis and chose not to do it this time. But we were seated so close to the group that unfortunately it just made are breakfast loud and slow. We didn't return to the MDR for a table service breakfast again until departure day although I'm sure days without the character breakfast were better here.
|Uncle Jay on the Zip Line|
We spent all morning and some of the afternoon at the pool and several had a bit too much sun. Everyone had fun though and I don’t think anyone was hurting too badly.
|The boys decided to ride on every animal of the carousel while we ate our lunch - They succeeded!|
Zach was still sleeping when it was time to leave for the dining room, which was just as well because I was planning on waiting a half hour to bring him anyway. He woke up soon enough and had a really good dinner for a change (although the food could have been better!) Marc and Zach arriving to dinner a half hour late became our strategy for the rest of the trip. I ordered for them and they arrived about the time our appetizers did too. I worked a *little* better.
After dinner, the boys stayed with Kyrie while I dropped off Zoe at the kids club. She really wanted to go even though there was only about an hour until the show we were going to.
Then I picked up the boys and Zoe and we all headed to the Oasis of Dreams show in the Aqua Theater. The show was great. It’s kind of like a Cirque du Soleil show. There’s a lot going on and the kids loved sitting in the splash zone (which was definitely quite wet!) Now, I would just like to take a moment to say that the Aqua Theater is not a good place to show movies. Several times on each cruise they show movies at the Aqua Theater which would be fine except that the seats face towards the center of the theater and the two screens are on the sides. So, you have to turn your head the whole time you watch the movie. Personally, I think they should add a screen in the center, but I don’t know how feasible it is. Anyway, just my opinion.
|Crowded Coqui Beach|
|Don't eat here!|
Some of the kids were in tears before the food came and when it finally did, it came one plate at a time and we were paying our bill before little Ella even got her grilled cheese with no guarantee it would ever come. Ridiculous.
By the way, the food was good when we finally got it and the real fruit smoothies were amazing and they came quite a bit faster than the food. Just wanted to put in some positives!
We’ve been to Maegan's Bay and Sapphire Beach and I would highly recommend both of those over Coqui beach.
Now, with that being said, I would still say that we had a decent time. The kids (and we) had a really good time playing in the water. Jacob and Kyle tried snorkeling for the first time and overall it was better than not going. It just probably would have been a lot better if we had stuck to our original plan.
Zach had a little nap in the open air taxi that brought us home. We enjoyed the scenery, although we wanted to jump ship and join Disney's Fantasy when we saw her in port. (She was the last ship we sailed on and we couldn't help but compare Oasis to her this time. Fantasy fits our family better!)
|Fantasizing about DCL's Fantasy.|
|Shopping in port before boarding|
|The girls and "Vanessa", Zoe's new doll|
When we arrived back on the ship it was nearly time for dinner. The ladies (except Zoe) plus Grandpa Greg ate at the dining room, while the rest of us ate at the buffet. I think it worked out well. I’m sure the ladies had a nice peaceful dinner and the rest of us seemed to enjoy the buffet (especially Zach).
|Ella gives it a try|
It was a quiet dinner. We all sat at "the kids' table" and the highlight was a challenge our waiter gave Avery to move an empty soda can from cup to another without using her hands or touching it at all. She liked it so much that she asked him to challenge her brother Kyle with it the next night.
|The sign on Max's door tonight|
After that, the boys were anxious to get to the kids club for Free Arcade night and Zoe joined a pirate party at hers. Lots of fun for all!
|The band of 3-5 year old Pirates|
Ella led the way to the Pirate Show trying to get us there on time… “Come on… I can’t let my sister down.” The three to five year olds in this Pirate Show were adorable and hilarious. At one point a little girl interrupted the show with some funny and unplanned comments that would have won the grand prize on AFV if only we had captured it on video. Zoe looked so surprised and pleased to see us all there watching her. So cute!
|Meanest pirate look she could muster|
Ella, Zoe, Vannessa and I ate at the small buffet in the MDR this morning. The offerings are a lot fewer than the Windjammer, but it's a lot less hassle when you have kids that can't serve themselves. They pretty much just ate cereal anyway.
Sorry to complain again, but I wasn't happy with breakfast on this ship. There should be more diverse options. Every place seemed to have pretty much the same thing. At best, cooked to order eggs; but trying to find a made to order omelet with real eggs was not an option. The quality of the food was better in MDR but not worth the wait.
The guys got off the ship about an hour later and met up with the ladies, only to find out that they didn’t find a place to do the hair braiding. They were told that they would have to go to the beach for that so they waited for us.
So, instead of going to Little Bay Beach as we had planned, we just went to the big beach that you can take the water taxi to (or walk to in about 15 minutes.) We knew that there was a hair braiding place there and decided that was more important than going to the correct beach.
|Oasis looks like the mama. I'd say papa, but there all girls, right?|
Max and I did some shopping at the port. We were too sunburned from the previous days that we needed to stay out of the sun today. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as we walked around the corner after leaving the others in line for the water taxi, we saw a hair braiding place. Ahh, well. Max carefully looked through each shop for something suitable to replace his confiscated conch shell. He eventually did find a cool spikey shell that made a lot of “ocean noise.” We also got him a baseball cap which he wore backward to keep the sun off of his neck. He wanted to make sure that didn’t count as a souvenir though.
|Enjoying the sights of St. Maarten without braving more sun exposure|
After dinner, Zoe went to the kids club, Avery and Ella went to the dance party and the boys and I took a walk around the jogging track. The boys had a lot of fun running around and Zach fell asleep in the stroller. Kyrie headed to the adult comedy show which she said was really funny.
Jacob did rock climbing in the morning and Max, Ella, Jay and I did it a little later. Grandpa Greg wanted to give it a try, but they didn’t have a big enough pair of climbing shoes for him. I didn’t have much success myself. I’d like to blame it on the loose rocks in the section that I was in, but Jay managed to climb all the way to the top in the same section.
The kids got their faces painted in the Promenade. They loved that! Zoe passed on her standard scorpion and picked a pretty design for her forehead.
|We weren't thinking about how long this would take to wash off before dinner|
|Pizza at Sorrento's while waiting for parade|
|Ella and Zoe observing the boogie boarders|
|Jake and Max switching out|
|Come Fly with Me|
|We finally ate at Windjammer for breakfast. It was meh just like all the rest,|
|Black Light Show in Kids Club|
|See the ship passing?|
Kyrie and I took turns packing and the kids were pretty lazy/tired this afternoon, so they mostly just watched TV. Plus there were really no activities the kids were interested in on the ship today and they were bored with the kids club.
Max and Ella went to lunch and then hung out with the rest of the family. Kyrie and I took the Z’s to Sabor for lunch. That kept Zoe happy for a bit, but Zach was restless and had no interest in sitting in his seat or even the restaurant in general.
|A tired Zoe|
|The carousel always perks her up|
I took Zoe to the matinee showing of CATS. She fell asleep on my lap within five minutes of the start. She slept through the first half and I needed to move around after being trapped in one position so long, so we left at intermission. The nap was just what Zoe needed! The scenery , costumes, and performance of CATS was quite good, but not so compelling that I felt I was missing out by leaving at intermission.
|He actually made it to dessert!|
The comedians were the same as the adult show the other night. The headliner was very good. Zoe wanted to go the Kids Club after dinner, but then was disappointed that she had missed the show.
|My little copy cat|
March 28, 2015 Everglades Holiday Park
Marc and I decided to eat breakfast as a family for the first time on this ship. We went to the main dining room together. Ironic that we were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary and we spent so much time apart on this cruise. From now on, we'll be sure to get connecting rooms.
This morning we disembarked the ship, which was quite an ordeal. We had the 8:45am group, but we weren’t off the ship until about 10:30am and we didn’t get out of customs until about 11:30am. A week ago we were boarding the ship at that time! I didn’t hear any official reason for the delay, but one of the security people speculated that it was because of spring break and the fact that more teenagers were on the ship than usual. Because of that, they speculated, a lot of people who would have been off the ship early, waited until later and caused a large backup. In addition to the long delay, we also had a missing booster seat when we picked up our luggage. I looked around the entire place but couldn’t find it. Luckily one of the people in charge of finding luggage had better luck than me. They found it under a suitcase on the complete opposite side of the building. They found it just in time for Marc to meet up with us at the other side of the huge snaking line to clear customs. Our porter was great in facilitating this process.
|A lot of crying going on in both vehicles as we headed to the Everglades|
|Some kind of bird related to a chicken|
That worked out alright and it was a very informative and interesting tour even though we didn’t see any more alligators. We saw a lot of birds and fish. We saw a fish jump out of the water and then Jay pointed towards the water to show someone where there were other fish and then one jumped out of the water and tried to get his finger! We joked that it must have been a piranha, but the driver said that the fish in the water were oscars and bluegills. The tour lasted about an hour and was a lot of fun.
|A herron... alligators worst enemy (eats eggs)|
|Our own wildlife show|
Marc’s Mai Tai and my Bahama Mama helped too!
|Frowns turned upside down when we stepped foot on Disney property|
One of my favorite things about staying in a DVC villa (or any nice timeshare) is the full kitchen. Might sound silly, but it was great to just make eggs and cinnamon toast for breakfast this morning. A few strawberries on the side and it’s the best breakfast we’ve had since we left home. Not to mention saving big bucks by not having to go out. We bought $90 worth of groceries and it fed us three breakfasts and two lunches. Considering we spent $70 to $100 per meal on this trip, the grocery stop really paid off!
|The Rocket Garden|
|Mural of the International Space Station|
When the movie was over (and everyone had ice cream), we headed over to the space shuttle Atlantis exhibit. This was definitely the big draw at the space center. They have quite a bit going on in this building. First you watch two 12 minute movies about the space shuttle and then the screen opens up to the room with Atlantis actually on display which is pretty impressive. It was definitely neat to see the space shuttle up close.
|Mocked up cockpit|
|Another crawl through area for the kids|
They have a crawl through replica for little kids that ends in a clear tube suspended way above the ground. I was surprised that Zach would crawl in it.
|Ella and Jacob|
|Zoe and Max|
We spent most of our time in that building since that’s where most of the stuff is. We didn’t get to much else. There is another IMAX movie, an early spaceflight building, and a “Meet the Astronaut” exhibit (I don’t remember what it was really called). There is also a bus tour out to the launch building which would have been interesting for the adults and the big kids, but probably would have been torture for the little ones, so we decided to save that for some time in the future.
We got back late and decided to have dinner at the quick service restaurant by the pool rather than brave a sit down meal with tired kids. It was just right!
March 30, 2015 Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
|This was the view of Zach we saw most often-- dashing off somewhere|
|Ella, a natural model|
|Jacob is reluctantly dancing here. He just can't resist organized activities.|
I’m impressed by all of the advertised organized activities and surprise activities too that this resort has going on. Besides the pool party daily, there are various other things going on almost hourly from sun gazing to campfires. We’ve been considering letting Jacob take a 3 ½hr surf lesson on Wednesday and Max take a fishing fundamentals class. Both have extra charges but sound pretty cool. There’s more stuff like that too as well as lots of free activities.
|Giant bubbles appeared from a hiding cast member|
|Heading "home" after a fun day to get ready for dinner|
|Zoe ready for dinner complete with her Royal Caribbean pirate bandana|
|Woke Zach up from a nap for dinner. It's gonna be another great dinner! :(|
March 31, 2015 Another pool/beach day
|Seagull in foreground, Pelicans in background|
|Ella doing the limbo at the pool party|
The kids played at the pool party again and Zach played a lot in the pool and at the playground. After lunch we went to the beach. The waves were quite a bit gentler today.
I’ve finally had a chance to get some reading done the past two days. I’m about two thirds through a book I was supposed to read for a seminar I missed during this trip. I still wanted to read the book and it is good.
There was a lifeguard stationed to be sure all the people there hours early stayed out of the pool. The cast members soon passed out hula hoops to occupy the kids. Bleachers was open so many people had breakfast by the pool.
|Kids Splash Area|
|Dare Devil Zach used the slide as a monkey bar for quite a while swinging back and forth|
|Pool games at the daily|
Time passed super quickly today. I never even had time to finish my book (or read any more of it.) We had lunch at Bleachers. Then the Zs really needed a nap.
Well, another vacation is coming to an end. The Z’s are taking a nap right now, which is quite a break for Kyrie and me. Those little ones have been quite a handful on this trip. I know it’s tough for them to have their schedules all disrupted and have so much going on all the time, but this vacation has seemed harder than usual. Anyway, I know that we’ve all had a good time and also look forward to getting back to the routines of being home.
|The original sensitive child aka honorary "Z"|
|The Zs awaken and join us for miniature golf|
Dinner was good again, but for some reason the service was really slow today. There weren’t that many people, so I’m not sure what the reason was.
|The sun setting on our last night of vacation|
|Zach explored avery little thing on the way back from dinner|
|He had to be dragged back inside!|
|Still pitch dark when we checked our luggage at the curb|
A few pics from our travel home
|Cute cars at the car rental return. The horns sounded so funny, the kids called them "giggle machines."|
|Sun coming up now on the tram after the security point|