Vacation? Yes, please. We usually plan our own itineraries when we travel abroad. I enjoy spending vast amounts of time looking for places to eat, spots to visit. Gratifying too, especially in Tokyo, when we figured out how to navigate the city on their public transport! So mention a cruise getaway, and I felt a little unaccomplished. No planning, researching or discovering little nooks and alleys? MEH! Let’s see how this goes.
Boarding times are staggered according to your room’s location on the deck, but you can always choose to board early in order to lunch on the ship, which was what we did. “Windjammer” is open for all 3 meals of the day, including tea. We’ve never made it to tea, as there are always activities going on, and besides, they feed you very well for lunch. Windjammer serves the food buffet style. It can be a little unnerving to look for a table and get your food during the peak period, especially if you pile your plate too high, and have to take a long walk back amidst the crowd to your table!
Eating at the main dining area is more sedated. You get to choose your dishes from a small selection, and the waiters serve it to you with some small talk. Though they are only open at lunch on certain days.
Kids have their own little menu, of mostly Western dishes. The closest thing to anything Asian was a starter of a chicken noodle soup, which Nic ordered 3 night in a row.
Highly recommended is the ice skating performance “Ice Under the Big Top.” The skaters hail from USA, Poland, Japan and Australia. Try to get a seat in the front row if you are keen for an interactive experience!
One of the highlights of the trip was the Meet and Greet breakfast session with the DreamWorks characters. If you did not manage to make a reservation prior to the trip, try to book it once you get on board. Several families tried to gatecrash for picture taking, but were politely refused.
If you missed out on this session, there are definitely other chances . The ship has slotted in at least one Meet and Greet session a day for the characters. Just refer to the itinerary, and wait in line patiently for that Kodak moment!
Other activities on board include rock climbing (for kids 6 years old and older), movie screenings and ice skating. Royal Caribbean also has a drop off programme for children aged between 3 to 11 years old. Joel and Nic were in the Aquanaut programme, in which one night was a pirate theme, where everyone did a parade through the ship’s Promenade, shouting a pirate cheer.
In the end, am I a cruise convert? At times, it felt like being on holiday with 500 other families, and the queue for some activities can take awhile. One thing that we don’t have to worry about was the food, as they even have a free flow of yoghurt, pizza and hot dogs if you have space for it. As my friend best described it, a cruise vacation is best for the very young, or the very old. For those in between, they may be better suited for a land holiday.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with Royal Caribbean in any way, and paid for the cruise ourselves. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.