If jet lag is only good for one thing it is this: organizing, editing and blogging about a week-long cruise. Given how many pictures I take – and how packed our itinerary was – I didn’t let my 3am wake-ups go to waste.
As you may know, my dad (HI DAD!) and step-mom are into cruising these days. Last year they took us on our first cruise to Alaska. This year they got way ambitious and took us on a Mediterranean cruise.
I feel very lifestyles-of-the-rich and famous when I say cruising on the Mediterranean.
Before I go any further I have to give the biggest thanks to my dad for taking us on this extravagant trip, it was truly the experience of a lifetime; and to MaryAnn for the weeks of work it took to plan all the flights, transfers, research the shore excursions, and make sure that nothing was left to chance.
Once again I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves but suffice to say it was an incredible time.
The boys have never been on a long international flight and Mexico, though technically international, has a distinctly bargain basement fee when it comes to air travel. My dad and Mac travel all the time for work and have a kazillion miles and are loyal AF to Delta. So we flew Delta.
I told the boys to prepare themselves for luxury. There will be blankets, pillows, free drinks, movies, and lots of food that doesn’t come from my backpack.
I remember the first time I flew on a plane by myself when I was six. The flight attendants were so nice and they gave me a special lunch (it was a hotdog because it was a kid’s lunch) in a pencil box that had wings, pencils, and a deck of cards. THIS WAS ALMOST 40 YEARS AGO PEOPLE! Clearly it made an impression.
Delta has brought back that feeling of the travel experience itself being something memorable.
The boys were just as impressed. We loved the 300 movie selection AND video games that you could play with anyone else in the plane.
We flew from Denver to JFK and JFK to Barcelona. Naturally Mac had a driver waiting for us.
Scratchy’s phone fell out of his pocket on the ride to the port which spurred a buzz-killing near melt-down. I took it as an opportunity to instill in him the value of letting go of things that you can’t change lest you ruin your whole day.
That said, our driver spotted the phone and gave it to Dad and Mac’s driver to give to us. Crisis averted.
This would not have worked out so well if we had picked up a rando cab driver at the airport. Thanks Mac!
We took the Norwegian Cruise Line once again, not only because I have an affinity for Norwegians but because Mac has devoted countless hours to figuring out what the difference is between Family Balcony vs Balcony vs Sail-Away Balcony vs Mid-ship Balcony vs Large Balcony.
I know this sounds minor but the kids really, really, really dig waterslides and the Norwegian Epic said it had a waterslide. Holy shit, who knew they had full-on waterparks on ships?
The boys exhausted themselves on at the pool until the grands arrived.
Given that I just paid an undisclosed amount of money to have my fat sucked out, I was freaked out about the buffet and free bar. While I tend to believe in a more intuitive approach to diet and exercise, I got a Fitbit for the trip and vowed to walk 10 miles a day and always take the stairs.
Cruise ships are all about levels and I didn’t see the inside of the elevator until we disembarked and had to carry our luggage. I must have climbed 100 flights a day but …
I ate a lot of salads, eschewed frozen mixed drinks and desserts, and kept it to one pass at the buffet because despite the t-shirt I saw several people wearing that said “What happens on a cruise stays on a cruise” I know for a fact that the weight gain indeed does not. That shit comes home with you.
My dad and I had a little friendly competition about who could show the most discipline.
When I say friendly, I mean full-on adversarial as I sic’ed the kids on him with plates full as treats and waited with camera at the ready.
The ship was wonderful, the food was abundant and tasty (an Indian executive chef meant amazing Indian cuisine for every meal) the entertainment was first class.
Norwegian decided in 2014 to do away with cheesy cruise entertainment and go with top-notch Broadway shows. We saw several shows including the fantastic Cirque Dreams dinner theater …
Priscilla Queen of the Desert (I loved every second of it and was jumping up and down at the end) …
And Burn the Floor was extra fun because I met some of the dancers beforehand and they winked at me …
The women were glamorous, the men were sexy and masculine and flaming, and the dance was first class.
I know it seems like a small thing but our cabin steward was really great at making towel animals. The kids looked forward to what he came up with each evening at the turndown.
What can I say? It’s the little things.
We embarked in Barcelona and spent the entire first day at sea with our first stop being Naples and Pompei …
And then Naples for the afternoon …
The next day we were up at 6am so we could have breakfast and get off the ship for a day in Rome. What a gorgeous city. We saw the Forum and the Colosseum and had a beautiful lunch of pasta, pizza and gelato at a shaded outdoor café.
Next up was Pisa, a quick train ride from Livorno.
I couldn’t resist the necessary photo of my kids holding up the Tower of Pisa.
I loved, loved, LOVED Cannes. Our ship was too large to fit into the port so it anchored off shore and we took “tender” boats to town. We joined a walking tour to get a feel for the layout and then everyone went back to the ship for lunch.
I stayed behind and enjoyed an afternoon of window shopping and wandering around the streets. I got that travel feeling; it was the best.
I had a wonderful prix fixe meal with a couple glasses of wine …
It made me miss Sideboob.
Our last shore excursion was Majorca. We took a bus to a historic estate/museum in the hills. It was a wonderful counterpoint to the busy cityscapes and despite getting off a tour bus, we felt like we had the place to ourselves.
There was village area that showed rural life, beautiful grounds, a large estate that revealed how olive presses, mills, wineries, textile mills, water power, and home life looked. It was truly fascinating and we could have spent all day there. We were happy to end the trip with a wine tasting and appetizers on their verandah.
We spent our last night enjoying the ship, getting drinks at the many bars on the ship, and taking in live music. We skipped the ice bar, but in hindsight we should have checked it out.
I particularly enjoyed the dueling piano show while my dad really liked the classical guitarist who played at Maltings.
The next morning we were up at 5am for a quick breakfast and goodbyes. I wish that my dad and Mac lived in Boulder, it would be wonderful to be able to see them whenever we want. But barring that, they really go out of their way to maintain a strong connection with the boys. The boys love their grandparents so much.
My dad and I talk many times a week and our connection has never been better. I love you, Dad.
It was a solid 24 hours of travel to get home and the boys were exhausted. On the final leg home Scratchy kind of lost it and started quietly sobbing, “Why is this flight taking so long.” Dude, I get it.
It was wonderful to come home to an almost silent Boulder. It was 9pm and the streets were deserted, I forget sometimes how much I love it here and how I live in a a place (though not Cannes or Majorca or Rome) is still a place that people love to visit.
And the animals, I was so happy to see them.
So that was my trip. The boys leave for sleep away camp next week (we get two weeks of no kids!) so it will be all about happy hour. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to get back on a regular sleep schedule.
Maybe I’ll start right now with a nap.