Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our Transatlantic Cruise In Review

We just got home two days ago from an elaborate vacation-the good kind where you're ready to come home. My husband and I booked an eleven day cruise across the Atlantic to Barcelona, Spain. I'd been on four and five day cruises around the Bahamas before, but had no idea what to expect with this one. Two variables made me especially uneasy- my pregnancy and bringing our three year old along for the ride. So here's a little breakdown of the trip:
Day 1-3: Conditions at sea- absolutely beautiful weather. Smooth sailing waters. We spent these days around the pool. The Norwegian Epic had three large pools (one of which was adult only, with a huge movie screen over it), and an adorable kids play area. This was the nicest pool experience we've had on a cruise yet. I liked how one of the pools had a shallow area with stairs where Taliila and I could play without being fully submerged (I'm a baby and don't like cold water). Most cruises only have a single pool with no shallow end. There were also three water slides, a climbing wall, and a trampoline we didn't take advantage of.

Day 4: Conditions at sea- still fairly calm, weather was starting to cool down. Wind was picking up. The pool was no longer appealing- brrr. We spent this day hanging out around the deck outside on the sports court, and inside the casino. Taliila was in love with the kids program where she was allowed to be dropped off from 9-12, 2-5, and 7-10:30 free of charge. This was awesome. Tony and I got plenty of time on our own to enjoy all the cruise had to offer.
Our Room 

View from our Balcony
Day 5-8: Conditions at sea- rocky and I had no idea it'd be so cold. I mean, I should have known. We were in the middle of no where. Kind of scary. The crew said it was the calmest they'd seen. I'd hate to see it at its worst. We spent our days inside. The pools initially looked like wave pools and then were drained. We watched live shows on the ship, like Blue Man group, and Duo Yalba. Taliila got to meet Nickelodeon characters.  I liked that I didn't feel the need to do EVERYTHING because we had so many days to fit everything in. On other cruises I felt the need to go, go, go all the time. Not the case with this one. We felt very relaxed as a result.
Taliila got to meet Dora, Diego, and Sponge Bob.

View looking over our balcony. We were actually on the 14th floor, hard to tell here.
Day 9: I was super-ready for land! We arrived in Funchal early and got off the ship around 10am. This was a fascinating island owned by Portugal, but closer to Morocco. Very European, with a great mix of metropolitan stores and local shops. It was quite mountainous and there were cable cars in the air that you could take up to the top. I was also excited to finally be able to wear shorts again. The pools were refilled, and the sun worshipers were out in full force when we got back on the ship.
Cobblestone streets 

Day 10-11: Conditions at sea- much warmer and smoother, but still not warm enough for my liking. Taliila deemed it ok to swim in the kids area, but I sat in the sun to watch.
Day 12: We arrived in Barcelona early. Woke up around 8am, ate breakfast and got off the ship.
Unfortunately we weren't staying in Barcelona so we opted to head straight to the airport instead of lugging our bags around while trying to see some sites. We flew Ryan air to London for 100 euros total for the three of us! And visited friends in Bury St. Edmonds for a long weekend before flying to Toronto and driving home.
It was cold in England, too! 

Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise. I've always found cruising with kids to be the least stressful way to vacation. I wish I had known what to expect, weather-wise, so I wouldn't have been so disappointed about not getting to swim/ sunbathe as much as I wanted to. There's always something planned on the schedule to fill your time, and the food on Norwegian is much better than what we experienced on Carnival. The best part, I think was the kids academy for Taliila. She loved it and is still talking about it. The staff was exceptional with the kids and she came back to our room every night with her face painted- her favorite! If you're contemplating a transatlantic cruise, I hope this helped. It was truly the least expensive way for us to get over to Europe and enjoy ourselves in the meantime (our total cruise including all the money we spent at the arcade on the ship, and tip money was under $2000 for a balcony room for the three of us for 11 days... the flight alone would have cost more, let alone all that food and entertainment).
I know we won't be able to take a vacation like this for a while with our newest addition arriving in October, so I'm grateful we got to experience this now.

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