What I did over summer vacation

imagebot (2)Thank God that’s over. A week on a ship in Alaska with two kids. Ugh. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. It was supposed to be a fun and relaxing vacation for all of us.

Before I go forth, I know I sound whiny. I should be grateful that we could take a vacation at all, when so many people are struggling just to get by. I was grateful. I am grateful that we could pay for a vacation. We hadn’t had one in three years. I’d lost my job and funds were tight, until my dad died and left us money, and believe me, I did pay for that (Just search “Dad”). We’d visited family a few times, on their dime, but it had been a long time since we’d gone on a real vacation, where you stay in a hotel, or, in our case, a boat.  We paid good money for this vacation and we expected it to be worth the expenditure. And this wasn’t our first rodeo. We’d cruised several times before and thought we knew what to expect. What could be better? A floating resort with free babysitting, starting and ending in Seattle so no flights with the kids! Woohoo!

It sounded like just what we needed. We chose Royal Caribbean this time, since Carnival (our usual cruise company) was having so many problems. We booked our tickets and eagerly anticipated the trip.

The big day came and we boarded the boat. The kids were excited about being on a big boat, but that got old quick. Kids’ club had an open house the first day, but no playing until night time. The first thing we learned about kids’ club was that our kids would not be in the same program, as we’d hoped. Our two-weeks-shy-of-three-year-old would have to be with the babies and tots. We’d wanted the kids in the same program so that our son would feel more secure when we left him, and in no small part we’d wanted the same program because that one was free. Babies and tots had to pay $8 an hour. Kids had to be three to get into the older program, and we’d hoped they’d let him slide, but then we read the brochure, which said that the program was a diaper-free-zone. There was no mention of the diaper issue on the website. Incidentally, Carnival would have put both kids together AND changed diapers. For free.

When we went to the casual dining room at lunchtime, we had mediocre food and crappy desserts. The discovery of the disappointing desserts didn’t bode well for the trip. Dinner in the formal dining room was good, and the desserts were better, so  at least I knew there was somewhere to get good food.

The first day was a day at sea, where we looped around land into the Pacific Ocean to get up to Alaska’s Inside Passage. Between the rougher waters and driving hard, the boat was rock-and-rolly-rolly-poly. Kids’ club opened at nine, and my husband brought the kids up while I went for a swim. I thought he was supposed to find something to do and I had all the time in the world at the pool, but that was not the case. What happened was, kids’ club immediately called him to retrieve my daughter, who was seasick. It wasn’t her first time on a boat but it was the roughest ride she’d ever had. He took her back to the room where she lay on the bed moaning (she gets that from him) and wouldn’t even get up to pick up medicinal wrist bands and medicine.

My husband spent all morning with my daughter in the room, while I swam and chatted with a woman I’d met at the pool. I got back to the room at 11:00, to be greeted by an angry husband.

“You were supposed to be back here at ten!” he said.

“No, we didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did. You said you’d be back at ten!”

I took a deep breath. “That was not my understanding. I didn’t think we’d set any time.”

“Well, I’ve been here all morning with her.” He told me what happened.

“I’m sorry, Honey, I didn’t understand what we were gonna do.” He was still mad, but what could I do?

“Now that you’re here I can go get the sick bands.”

“Okay.” I sat down next to my daughter. “Do you want to go get the bands now? They really work. I used them the whole time I was pregnant with you.”

“Ohh…kay,” she said, and we went to the gift shop. I wanted to go right away, of course because she was sick, but also because I’d been on rolly-poly boats and seen the bands sell out.

Fifteen minutes after she got the bands, she felt better, and we picked up our son for lunch. Then kids’ club was closed for several hours during which the kids could ostensibly nap or use the pool. Our kids don’t usually nap and the indoor pool (because it was cold out on the Pacific) was only open to kids for two hours during lunch and again from 4 to 8 p.m. There was a movie on board but it was out at the outdoor pool, and it was cold and rainy. So we had the kids with nothing for them to do until 4 p.m. and that ran into dinner. We stayed in our room and watched TV. That got old fast, and the kids started to fight. I was exhausted, though, from not sleeping well through the rolly-poly night before, and all I wanted to do was lie down. My husband was still mad about our misunderstanding in the morning, so no one was taking the kids anywhere.

That night was formal night, so we got the kids dressed up early to have our pictures taken and went to dinner. The wait staff was fantastic. They loved the kids and vice-versa. After dinner we did the drop-off at kids’ club and we had three hours to ourselves. By that time, my husband had cooled off and we enjoyed our time together.

Our son had just fallen asleep when we picked him up. The babysitting staff said he’d been asking for his baby to sleep with him. But he was asleep – a relief because it’s a nightmare to get him to sleep away from home. Our daughter was up and she loved kids’ club, another relief. We looked forward to the next day in Juneau, when we could get them off the boat. (To be continued.)